A Whirlwind Tour of Non-Conventional Religions in the US

A Whirlwind Tour of Non-Conventional Religions in the US

Prologue

One part of the definition of a religion is that is that it is an organized body of information which is termed religious because it scientince cannot prove it. I it could be proved, it would be called science. Therefore, the one question which is not appropriate to ask about any person’s religion is “Is it true”. From the viewpoint of an outsider, all religions are equally true or false. Religion is a belief which a person holds about questions which can’t be scientifically proved.

The historical background of any religious movement is a valid study as part of increasing one’s understanding of the religion; however, truth about any religion does not lie in either its history nor its documents. Furthermore, ALL religions known to humankind have been used for exploitation by some crowd-pleaser who has selected it as the medium for his message (and whose purpose is more usually the too familiar constellation of power, money and hedonistic enjoyment which has fueled so much human activity.)

Christianity, Islam, Mormonism, Spiritualism, Confucianism, Tao, and, to a lesser extent, Wicca, were founded by prophets a single, historical (or probably historical) individual who originated the sect. Other religions just grew from what people felt was right to do.

Any religion may be called a cult. At the end of this paper, you will find a Cult Evaluation tool invented by Isaac Bonewits, which provides a yardstick by which to measure the possible (social) toxicity of a religious group or organization. Please be aware of the prejudicial use of many of the words describing religious beliefs fall into the error typified by the statement; “My religious faith, your myth and HIS superstitions”. In the last analysis, the truth about any religion lies only within the heart, mind, spirit, etc. of it’s adherents.

A last note: be aware that I have a sense of humor. If you don’t, I recommend that you read this material very carefully in order to avoid getting everything bass-ackwards.

A Few Words of Background

Non-Conventional is the current politically correct way to refer to a religious movement which does not fall within the pattern of religious expression recognized by the population in general. It’s a stage through which all religions must pass on their journey towards being a popular religion or an old religion.

I was tempted to add some types of Christian groups to this list as there are a number of sects which are surely considered non-conventional by long established Christian denominations. However, since their basic religious matter is clearly derived from the Christian Bible, and because it strikes me as impossible to point to a clear beginning of this branch of Christianity, I had pity on me and shall not attempt this task.

I have chosen to exclude some non-conventional religions because they are not new. Technically, Mormonism could be said to belong in this category. Certainly Christian Science, Spiritualism, B’hai, Sufism, Yoga, etc. qualify as non-conventional. However, these are either long established and have therefore achieved somewhat of conventionality; others are so clearly outgrowths of conventional religions on another continent that I felt they didn’t exactly qualify. Besides, this document is running nearly 30 pages right now and I know you don’t want to read that much!

Discussions of the historical backgrounds of many of the religions I mention can turn into a matter of some disagreement among the various followers. Any discussion of them would run to a great many pages and provide me with the opportunity to display vast amounts of brilliant scholarship–so I’m just not going to get into the question at all. Nothing arises out of a vacuum so be aware that there is both a general preparation of the minds of people before a new religious expression can find fertile ground, and that it’s probable that no religion ever owed nothing to the past.

There have always been new religions and in general the response from the old religions has not been particularly welcoming. Usually any new religion has had a very difficult time getting started. However, the ideas and philosophies which became part of our society in the 60’s have engendered a population far more open to a different kind of spirituality. With the additional pressure from the Woman’s Movement and the Desegregation of our country, many, many people have found that their expectations from a personal religion have changed.

Introduction

The term Non-Conventional Religions has become the scholarly designation for most of the new religious movements active in the US these days. This avoids a number of terms which can be considered derogatory by some or many of these groups. I particularly avoid the term New Age as most of the groups which comprise the non-conventional religions feel the term is trivializing. It’s often said that the main difference between New Age and X religion is a couple of zero’s. The cost of a Neopagan three-day weekend, for example, probably averages out at something under $50; a New Age weekend on the other hand can cost anything up to $500 – and that sum might not include lodging in a hotel.

Falling most clearly under the New Age category are a number of philosophically driven groups from The Farm in Tennessee to upscale teaching/living foundations such as Esalin, to Scientology. The majority of these groups are based on the literary output of a single individual. They have quite varied beliefs, but outside of Scientology, they appear to have very small memberships and little in common with any other groups.

Miscellaneous groups

New Age

“The New Age Movement is in a class by itself. Unlike most formal religions, it has no holy text, central organization, membership, formal clergy, geographic center, dogma, creed, etc. People who identify themselves within this category often use mutually exclusive definitions for some of their terms. The New Age is in fact a free-flowing spiritual movement; a network of believers and practitioners who share somewhat similar beliefs and practices, which they add on to whichever formal religion that they follow. Their book publishers take the place of a central organization; seminars, conventions, books and informal groups replace sermons and religious services.” Religious Tolerance Organization

Scientology

“The Scientology religious philosophy contains a precise system of axioms, laws and techniques, exhaustively researched and documented as workable. As such, it provides the individual with the ability to dramatically improve conditions, not only in his own life but in the world around him.” Church of Scientology

A great deal of information is available on the web. The material on the web sounds more like self-help psychology than a religion to this reader but I admit I didn’t devote very much time to it.

Easlen

“Esalen was founded in 1962 as an educational center devoted to the exploration of unrealized human capacities. It soon became known for its blend of East/West philosophies, its experiential/didactic workshops, the steady influx of philosophers, psychologists, artists, and religious thinkers, and its breathtaking grounds blessed with natural hot springs. Once home to a Native American tribe known as the Esalen, Esalen is situated on 27 acres of spectacular Big Sur coastline with the Santa Lucia Mountains rising sharply behind.” Esalen

UFO’s

When I began reading science fiction sometime in the late 1940’s, some adult grabbed my book to see what I was reading and tossed it back to me with the comment that it was very silly; “man couldn’t ever go to the moon”. Given that a few of the UFO sightings are rather convincing and the implication therefore that out there somewhere are alien minds who know more than we do; understanding the rational of a religious movement with a focus on aliens isn’t difficult. A representative example may be seen at “The Raelian Revolution”.

Satanism

Classical Satanism, as practiced by Anton LeVey’s Church of Satan, isn’t Neo-pagan at all; it’s the obverse of Christianity–the deliberate placing of the principal of evil in the position of deity. Other groups whose deities are chosen from the darker faces in the old pantheons are frequently classed with classical Satanism due to sharing the essential belief that the ends justify the means. The founders of these groups may call themselves Satanists , Left Hand Path, or other euphenisms. The Egyptian god Set, lord of the underworld, is a frequent sponsor of these groups although there are many other possibilities.

Unfortunately, a few teens may gather a slight knowledge of some sort of Satanism from movies, comics, books and gossip. Occasionally a small group of such bubble gum Satanists carry their explorations way, way too far. More frequently, a teen who has become interested in one or another form of Neopaganism will be accused by parents and teachers of Satanism on the theory, I suppose, that is it isn’t Christian, it has to be Satanist.

There is a very wide spectrum of Satanism with some groups essentially harmless, although their devotion to selfishness can make them a group with whom it is rather difficult to interact. Extreme political conservatism seems to go hand in hand with Satanic beliefs. Groups (realistically, these tend to be extremely temporary) can be devoted to aggressive evil-working. The leaders of Satanic groups are unanimously controlling and dictatorial which could easily be predicted from their beliefs.

Satanism is frequently classified with Neopaganism. However, since Satanist groups are based on a dualism completely foreign to the multiple pantheon embraced by most Neopagan groups, this categorization is incorrect. Because Neo-pagans are, by definition, non-Christian, they in no way practice classical Satanism and indeed, have no belief whatsoever in such an entity. Most Neo-pagans are much more interested in following a more positive path and avoid any magical work which will cause harm to others. While Satanists frequently call themselves Neopagans or Witches or Wiccan, they are not accepted by those people.

Only a few years ago, the talk shows were full of people claiming to be battling a “great Satanic conspiracy”. They made absurd claims of Satanic activity. I remember one which if you worked out the numbers, said that some 300 babies in New England were murdered on each of the major celebrations of Satanic groups. Somehow I feel certain that the authorities would have noticed and a great deal of media attention would have been directed towards that area if this had been true. Most of the claims of those seeking publicity on TV or in lecturing to church groups or police cannot bear any actual investigation of their exaggerated and inflammatory claims. It’s just their way of making a dishonest living.

There is a great deal of anti-Satanist propaganda issued by some of the extremely conservative sects within Christianity. For the most part their writings consider all forms of occultism to be Satanic and, indeed, apply that term to all forms of religion, even other Christian sects, except their own. Their books and other communications are marked by very poor research, lack of specific documentation and extreme statements. See the writings of Kerr Cuhulain on WitchVox for an extensive examination of this trend.

Ethnic Based Religions

Oriental Religions

I do not intend to cover any of the many religious movements which, while seen as unusual in this country, are related to established religions in another. This primarily applies to the oriental religions of Buddhism and Hinduism, Taoism and to a much lesser extent, Confucianism. The majority of these groups maintain clear lines with groups within the originating country and their practices are orthodox within their traditions.

African Religions

Additionally, there are a number of growing groups who look to sub-Saharan Africa for their basic focus of which I will only mention the African/Spanish/Roman Catholic combination which is the basis of Santeria and several varients found in the Western Hemisphere. Individual practitioners of these syncratic religions may be closer or farther from working within Roman Catholicism. However, Santeria is in general entirely comfortable with this amalgam of native African and American (primarily South and Central American) beliefs and techniques. There are some signs that the Roman Catholic Church is becoming less comfortable with the situation.

Some small enclaves exist in the Americas which practice a more direct and less Christianized form of African religion. One such group may still be found living on the outer islands of the Carolina coast.

Please remember that each tribe in Africa practiced it’s own religion. Here in North America, what religions arrived depended on just what tribes the slavers had visited and how much chance individuals transported were able to retain either as memory or practice. In general US culture, the Uncle Rhemus stories are the only noticeable inheritance from them. While many younger people may not be familiar with these stories, most have heard of the hare and the tortoise race which contains much of the mythology of those tales.

Santeria

Most of the practices of Santeria and it’s related traditions of Curandero (herbal and non-material healing techniques) and Bruja (pure magical practice, called Witchcraft by some, frequently with a focus in destructive or hurtful practices) and Candomble, a Brazilian version of Santeria, have a long history in the Western Hemisphere. Vodoun, Voodoo, is related to Santeria and is practiced by many as a native religion in Haiti and New Orleans, USA. Candomble, it’s name in Brazil, does differ from Santeria due to including religions from a different part of Africa. While I feel that Santeria and it’s sisters belongs here with the religions which are not classed as Neopagan, many practitioners may class themselves with the Neopagan paths.

On the surface, Santeria appears to be very strongly based in Catholicism, particularly with regard to the Saints. However, the African and native South and Central American elements are very strong. Animal sacrifice is a part of Santeria practice and their rights to maintain it has been confirmed by the US Courts. Santeria’s practices clearly conform to the basic “laws of magic” and are in general focused on obtaining healing or benefits for the practitioner or the person they agree to aid. Like most religions with an element of magic, Santeria includes methods of seeking harm to specified individuals; however, ethical practitioners prefer to maintain “clean hands” and avoid all harmful work.

Santeria is both a participatory religion with priests and congregation and a magical service available to anyone who pays. A Santerian congregation participates more actively in their rituals than is true of many practicing a more conventional religion. It’s appropriate to consider Santeria to be paleo-pagan (see below), that is, the religious practice of an indigenous culture. Although, particularly in the case of the African elements, these paleo-pagan practices were impacted by the Catholicism of the conquerors and slavers, many ancient practices were retained and incorporated into the web of Santeria.

The practice of Santeria is most often found among our population which we call “Latin America” and whose peoples are generally a mixture of Indian, African and Spanish bloodlines, A few people whose background is Northern European and/or Northern American Indian have followed that path and even studied for its priesthood. Santerian Botanica are visited by many other varieties of Pagans as they stock a very wide variety of herbs and herbal preparations and the very widest variety of candles imaginable. SEE

Neopagan Religions

Since a Paleo-Pagan religion is defined as one practiced through time by an intact cultural group (this can include Native American Religions, Santerian religions and the religion of any tribe anywhere who has managed to avoid destruction from European colonists or their neighbors), so Neo-Paganism is the modern movement of religious thought which has rejected the monotheistic, one all-powerful god philosophy in favor of a more populated cosmology. Neopagan paths almost always incorporate much of the Acquarian Age’s interest in personal growth and personal spirituality.

Neopagans believe that children are born holy and without original sin. They believe that divinity is likely to manifest in a female form and in a multiplicity of gods and goddesses, as well as lesser beings, many of whom are worthy of respect, love and worship. They do not, however, believe in any divine or semi-divine figure of ultimate Evil, leaving such concepts to the dualistic monotheists. Most Neopagans believe it is necessary to respect and love Nature as divine in Her own right, and to accept ourselves as part of Nature and not Her rulers.

Most Neopagans believe in accepting the positive aspects of Western science and technology — most of us love our computers! –but also in maintaining an attitude of wariness towards the supposed ethical neutrality of that science and technology. They believe that ethics and morality should be based upon joy, love, self-esteem, mutual respect, the avoidance of actual harm to ourselves and others — human or nonhuman — and the increase of public benefit. Most believe in some variant or another of the principles of “karma,” that the results of their actions will always return to them, sooner or later. They think that human beings were meant to lead lives filled with joy, love, pleasure, beauty and humor.

Neopagans believe that with proper training, art, discipline and intent, human minds and hearts are fully capable of performing most of the magic and miracles they are ever likely to need. Neopagans believe in the importance of celebrating the solar, lunar and other cycles of our lives. Most Neopagans believe in some sort of afterlife, usually involving rest and recovery in the Other world before reincarnating. Most Neopagans believe that people have the ability to solve their current problems, both personal and public, and to create a better world. [The preceding information on Neopagan belief comes from Isaac Bonewits.

Most Neopagan groups base their activities on research into the past. There are two approaches to this research; syncratic and traditionalist. The syncratic groups will study many differing non-monotheistic religions and magical and religious practices and will select what appeals to them from each. The traditionalist will select a single ethnic group or religion and will attempt to recreate their religious activities and, in some cases even the entire society. The syncratic or eclectic process is probably the older as information on religions of the past was scarce and quite difficult to get hold of unless you happened to live near the British Museum or the Library of Congress.

Like some of the conventional religions, Neopaganism does not have one written set of rules of behavior. For them, morality and ethics are completely self-imposed. Those who follow a path which includes working personal magic tend to teach a very strict honesty and self-knowledge as these form the foundation on which magic may be successful. While there is agreement that it would be really “nice” if everyone would tell the truth all the time, never hurt other people, and put energy into “good” causes; like the population at large, actual living ethics are in some confusion. Since imposition of morality by force of law is inappropriate in a country founded to maximize individual freedoms, we can expect periods of confusion from time to time.

Clergy

Regardless of what specific beliefs Neopagans hold about deity, virtually every single one feels no need whatsoever for anyone to “mediate between him/her and deity”. While many of the various Neopagan sub-groups have provisions for some leadership from clergy they serve other purposes than that. In general, teaching is the primary duty of Neopagan clergy along with counseling which is an activity absorbing large amounts of time for every variety of clergy I’ve ever heard of! Additionally, they organize rituals, celebrations and other events bringing groups together and participate in public duties with other clergy such as opening prayers for assorted events, and networking with other Neopagan group and, more and more of recent years, with more conventional clergy.

The Neo-Pagan Spectrum

Witches, Wiccans

Probably the best known group of Neopagans by those outside the movement, are the Witches or Wiccans. (These two titles will be considered synonymous. Many followers of this path do define these as different, unfortunately these definitions are attached interchangeably to each word!) Wiccans have in the past referred to their religion as the Old Religion and there is an elaborate mythology supporting this statement. Research over the last 5 years has shown that *most* of this story is inaccurate. However, since portions of it even appeared in Encyclopedia Britanica as well as most of the writings of its early leadership, that some still cite this as fact may be an honest mistake.

On the other hand, a certain amount of the myth of antiquity isn’t entirely incorrect. I am convinced that many families did preserve family secrets of what is best called folk magic or hedge witchery. In fact, the population deriving from many of those areas retain a good deal of folk magic currently labeled superstitions. Pure salt has been an item of magical practice throughout all the ages we have any information on at all. Therefore, the superstition of throwing a pinch of spilled salt over one’s (left) shoulder is probably a remainder of a general religious or cultural belief in treating this substance with respect. Similarly, few of us would accept the gift of a knife without finding at least a penny in our pocket to pay for it. Since most religions, dead or extant have some background of sacrifice, the knife being the most usual actual tool of even non-living sacrifice, it doesn’t take anthropological research to see a connection.

Relatively isolated villages in the British Isles and even in mainland Europe are known to have practiced without any real gap, “folk customs” which are identifiably descended from pre-Christian religious practices. Even in the Americas, in addition to the many Native American groups who have managed to preserve the activities of their pre-Colombian ancestors, such places as the Appalachians preserved folk tales and folk magic, particularly weather prediction and planting, to this day. Alex Halley, in his research in Africa for his masterpiece, Roots, showed that in actual fact oral tradition may be *more* accurate than written tradition. While the Wiccan religion itself was by no means passed down in *any* sort of entirety through the ages, *some* of it’s knowledge and practice seems to have been.

The Witchcraft Insanity
The Burning Times

It’s impossible to talk about modern Witches without spending a moment discussing the Inquisition of the Roman Catholic church and the slaughters which this Holy Office perpetuated and/or encouraged; as well as the Witch persecutions of a number of the then new Protestant churches. The definition of Witchcraft used universally by the Witch hunters included the worship of Satan and most of the aspects of classical Satanism. However, most of those accused and sentenced clearly were not involved in the rites described in the records. Those executed were drawn from simple heretics and Jews, from folk healers and midwives, and from single, old, and/or ugly woman of all sorts.

How many people lost their lives in this persecution, which extended over several centuries and reached from Scotland to Poland to Spain,, is simply unknown but undoubtedly lies between the greatest and smallest numbers you find in print. It is also difficult if not impossible to sort those charged with Witchcraft from Heretics which came in dozens, perhaps hundreds of different varieties. In mainland Europe most Witches and Heretics were burned but in England, Scotland and what is now the US; there were *NO* burnings. Witches were hung, pressed, drowned and variously done to death, but none were burned.

Without going into detail, there’s a lot more to this period in European history than Witchcraft. It was a society under extreme pressure from many points and a religion (Christian) under conditions of schism and threats of destruction and it’s accurate to say that as a culture, insanity ruled at times. It’s important to remember that it’s possible that no one executed in any way practiced either Satanism or Witchcraft.

Witchcraft Today

“Wiccans respect the great forces of Nature and celebrate the cycles of the seasons and the moon. They see divinity in the sun and moon, in the Earth Herself, and in all life. The creative energies of the universe are personified: feminine and masculine principles become Gods. These are not semi-abstract, superhuman figures set apart from Nature: they are embodied in earth and sky, women and men, and even plants and animals.

To most Wiccans, everything in Nature — and all Goddesses and Gods — are true aspects of Deity. The aspects most often celebrated in the Craft, however, are the Triple Goddess of the Moon ( Maiden, Mother, and Crone) and the Horned God of the wilds These have many names from various cultures.

“There are many branches or traditions of Wicca in the United States and elsewhere, such as the Gardnerian, Alexandrian, Welsh Traditional, Dianic, Faery, Seax-Wicca and others. All adhere to a code of ethics. None engage in the disreputable practices of some modern cults such as isolating and brainwashing impressionable, lonely young people. Genuine Wiccans welcome sisters and brothers, but not disciples, followers or victims.

“Wiccans tend to be strong supporters of environmental protection, equal rights, global peace and religious freedom, and sometimes magic is used toward such goals. Wiccan beliefs do not include such Judeo-Christian concepts such as original sin, vicarious atonement, divine judgement or bodily resurrection. Craft folk believe in a beneficent universe, the laws of karma and reincarnation, and divinity inherent in every human being and all of Nature. Yet laughter and pleasure are part of their spiritual tradition, and they enjoy singing, dancing, feasting, and love.

“Wiccans tend to be individualists, and have no central holy book, prophet, or church authority. They draw inspiration and insight from science, and personal experience. Each practitioner keeps a personal book or journal in which s/he records magical “recipes,” dreams, invocations, songs, poetry and so on.” [From WHAT I S WICCA ? ; An Introduction to “The Old Religion” of Europe and its Modern Revival; by Amber K*, High Priestess].

Wiccan Practice

Wicca is an initiatory religion. This means that the normal progression of a new member is to spend a period learning about the religion; participating, possibly only to a limited extent, in its activities and when a certain level is achieved, the individual is the focus of a ritual which opens the secret knowledge of the group to the participant. While at one time this practice was connected with the need for complete secrecy, these days it has more to do with making sure the student has learned enough to be able to practice on their own. Wiccans normally keep track of their initiatory line, which serves as an introduction to stranger Wiccans. Unfortunately, it is also used by a few to attempt to gain unearned status.

The centerpiece of Wiccan life, for most groups, are the rituals held on the eight great holidays (Sabbats) and the lesser rituals held at the full or dark of the moon (Esbats). A Wiccan Circle [church services] begins with the creation of sacred space, called Casting the Circle. At this time, the powers of the four elements are invoked at the points of the compass and deities invited. For most groups, the ritual will follow an accustomed form which is repeated for every ritual.

At this point the ritual will change according to the occasion and the work which the group has undertaken. If the group intends to Draw Down the Moon; i.e. evoke the presence of the Goddess (or sometimes the God) into one of the ritual leaders generally the High Priestess it is done now. After the work of the ritual has been done, power raised and directed into the group’s purpose, most groups will share the cakes and cup. Similar to Christian communion only on the surface, the deities are thanked for their bounty, the cake or cup is shared with deity by crumbling or pouring it onto the ground, a fire, or into a container to be taken outdoors and offered as soon as the ritual is over. The group passes the food and drink around to everyone, The participants ground neutralize any excess energies they have retained — and then the deities and powers are informed that the ritual is over and the circle is dismissed or taken completely down.

Within this framework of circle ritual, the group may chant, drum, sing, dance or all together or they may empower talismans, tools, or themselves for a special task. Healings are done as part of ritual or positive change may be encouraged by casting papers or objects symbolic of bad traits or habits into fire or water.

Other common practices of Wiccans include lighting and burning candles for a particular object or other types of spell casting. There are countless different methods of magic and a number of books have been published recently giving instructions and suggestions for them. Wise Wiccans keep in mind that one must be extremely careful what you ask for as well as working in the mundane world towards their goals.

British Isles Wicca; also called British Traditional Wicca

Most of the Wiccan groups in North America trace their roots to the British Craft and to Gerald Gardner. Below I am listing a very few of the major divisions of this denomination of Wicca.

Gardnerian

A retired British civil servant, Gerald Gardner, must be credited for beginning the modern rebirth of Witchcraft (which he called Wicca). In 1954, after the revocation of the British law against Witchcraft, he published Witchcraft Today which told the story of his meeting and being initiated by a coven of Witches in the New Forest area of England. Many Wiccan groups stem directly from this coven and most others owe their existence to his publications and the publicity he sought to encourage such growth. Gardnerian groups in the US tend to be quite secretive and nearly impossible to find. Their teachings also are considered extremely secret even though Gardner himself published almost all of them. Red Garters, a Gardnerian publication and the Traditional Witchcraft site have further information on the Gardnerian Tradition.

Alexandrian

Alexandrian Wicca was founded by Alex Saunders, self-styled King of the Witches (Please note that there never has been, nor is, nor is at all likely to be a King of the Witches); it is not known where he learned of Wicca nor who initiated him if indeed anyone did (oral traditions say he was initiated by Gardner). Alexandrian teachings and rites are almost identical to Gardnerian but Alexandrian groups tend to accept more change and are far less secretive and reclusive than Gardnerian groups.

Seax Wicca

Raymond Buckland was a Witch initiated by Gardner who came to the US and with his wife, Rosemary, founded a number of covens which are the ancestors of many current Gardnerian groups. Eventually Buckland became interested in his Saxon roots and founded Seax Wicca. This tradition is presented in The Tree and may be the first appearance in print of a self-initiation ritual. He has written a great number of books [Amazon.com lists 32] including Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft; Llewellyn Press. The Seax Witta website has more information.

Church and School of Wicca

This group, well-known if only because they advertise in a great variety of publications, was founded by Gavin and Yvonne Frost in 1968. Gavin learned the Craft in England where he was born; Yvonne was born in the US. Their school has provided the basic education of a great number of Wiccans. The Frosts have published a number of books, 9 are listed on their website.

Ravenwood

“Ravenwood Church and Seminary of the Old Religion was founded at Michaelmas of 1975 by our Witch Queen and Elder High Priestess, Lady Sintana, to provide education for any interested in learning about Wicca. Through the past quarter century Ravenwood has led the fight to preserve religious freedoms and First Amendment rights for all Wiccans. Today Ravenwood’s Seminary is one of the best known and best respected educational centers for Wicca in the Southeast.” Ravenwood website

Ravenwood opened a public Wiccan church in Atlanta, GA at a time when Wicca was almost unanimously hidden. Through confrontations with police, zoning officials and upset neighbors, this group has held firm to the great benefit to everyone now in the Craft. The basis of this tradition came from Syble Leek, a British Witch who spent a good deal of time in the US and Lady Sheba who is the mother of the American Celtic Tradition.

Books I recommend to my students

Books I recommend to my students

Required Reading

Deepening Witchcraft – Grey Cat, Of course!

Antagonists in the Church: How to Identify and Deal With Destructive Conflict – Kenneth C. Haugk Interesting book written by a Lutherin Minister pointing out that some people are troublemakers and ways to encourage them to go make trouble somewhere else.

Well-Intentioned Dragons: Ministering to Problem People in the Church – Marshall Shelley. While this book is similar to the book above, it focuses on people who are problems but who can be pursuaded to change.

Real Magic: An Introductory Treatise on the Basic Principles of Yellow Light – Isaac Bonewits. Such an excellent examination of the organization and mechanics of magic that I send you to read it rather than trying to precis it in my book.

Language in Thought and Action – S. I. Hayakawa. A very interesting and readable book which will help you understand the magic of words.

Wicca Covens: How to Start and Organize Then – Judy Harrow. Small group management, when the group is made up of Neopagans is a very challenging task. Judy shares both her extensive training and experience with Wiccan Covens with you. It may not solve all your problems but it will surely help.

Spiritual Mentoring: Judy Harrow. Clear, professional advice to help you work with your students.

Philosophy of Wicca: Amber Laine Fisher. One individuals perception of Wicca and its cosmology. I recommend it on a practical level to help you get your beliefs into clear words.

Pagans and the Law: Donna Eilers. This book explains Federal law and the rulings which affect the freedom of Pagns to worship and be. Many people do not understand much about the law and it’s important for you to realize how it works. Donna’s book is very readable and clear.

Highly Recommended Reading

Wiccan Meditations: he Witches Way to Personal Transformation – Laura Wildman There are plenty of books on guided meditations, although the title doesn’t really indicate it, this book helps you learn how to be a good and responsible meditation GUIDE. Laura tells you what to watch for and how to tell if people really are in the right trance state. She also helps you write really good meditations. A must-have if you work this way.

Pagans & Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience – Gus DiZerega. Gus attempts to point out ways that Pagan and Christians can communicate and reach some understanding of their various paths.

Fallacies and Pitfalls of Language: The Language Trap – Morris Engle. Learning to listen and read with wisdom and discernment.

Arguing Constructively – Dominica A. Infante. An argument isn’t a fight, nor is a confrontation. Why it is good to disagree out loud and how to present your case well and avoid common methods of confusing the point.

The Pagan Book of Living and Dying: Practical Rituals, Prayers, Blessings, and Meditations on Crossing over — Starhawk and M. Macha Nightmare. One of the jobs of clergy in any religion is to deal with death, dying and the people immediately affected by this passage. This book gives you information, tools and rituals to help you be of real help to those enduring these difficult times.

The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft – Ronald Hutton. While Hutton must never be taken as the final word on the history of Wicca, he brings new light to our history and helps us see where the truth will probably bee found. I’d require this, but if I did, people would complain it’s too difficult to read. Frankly, I think if you aren’t fascinated, you really aren’t qualified.

The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles – Ronald Hutton. This book explors just how much we DON’T know about pre-history. This one IS difficult reading but is rewarding if you can make your way through it.

Spirits of the Sacred Grove: The World of a Druid Priestess by Emma Restall-Orr. It provides an indepth discussion about how one woman functions as a priestess through the different cycles of the year. Provides good info on modern Druidic practises in the UK, plus how one woman deals with the problems and situations in her group. It’s really eye-opening.

The Practical Pagan : Commonsense Guidelines for Modern Practitioners by Dana Eilers It’s an excellent assortment of tips and advice Dana has collected from mailing lists and personal experiences. It’s well written.

Books I think are particularly interesting
Origins of Modern Witchcraft: The Evolution of a World Religion – Ann Moura. Ms. Moura submits a hypothysis that much of the religion of the Medeterranian began in India. While the book doesn’t prove this point, anyone seriously interested in pre-history would do well to read it. There are many arguments about her hypothysis but I do think the book is worth reading.

Acts of Faith: : Explaining the Human Side of Religion – Rodney Stark and Roger Finke;
and The Churching of America, 1776-1990: Winners and Losers in Our Religious Economy – Stark & Finke. These two books are the work of two Christian sociologists who have taken a fresh and refreshing look at Christianity by the numbers and they provide information of interest to Pagan clergy — probably without the least intending to.

More books on the History of Wicca

Crafting the Art of Magic, Book I: A History of Modern Witchcraft, 1939-1964 – Aidan Kelly. Kelly believes that Gardner invented everything — although he also believes Gardner couldn’t have done it since he was dyslectic. Interesting book but not to be taken for truth. I strongly suggest reading this book AND the next together and after you read Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon.

Rebirth of Witchcraft – Valiente. Valiente was one of Gardner’s high priestesses and headed the group who were the first to split off — due to a disagreement about publicity. Her account of the early years of Wicca in England is very interesting and makes good reading.

The White Goddess: A Historical Grammar of Poetic Myth – Robert Graves. This is a book written by a poet about his muse. It is not a history — he didn’t claim it was history. It is, however, a very interesting and visionary book and Graves’ perceptions of the Goddess appear in modern Wicca.

What’s Your Wicca Iq? – Laura Wildman. This book is interesting in itself — it’s fun to see just how much you do know. It’s also useful to use to check how much a new student already knows. Or use it for a trivia game!

Suggestions from students and readers

Pagans and Christians is also a book by Robin Lane Fox, seems pretty comprehensive. You might let others know there is more than one just in case they grab at a book sale and don’t pay attention to the author..which is what I did…..just knew the title, not the author. I liked it anyway!

Emotional Blackmail: When the People in… When the People in Your Life Use Fear, Obligation, and Guilt to Manipulate You by Susan Forward, Donna Frazier I think it would be VERY useful in terms of the counseling part of a priest/ess job description. Yes, it is more personalized, but it still might offer some insight on exactly HOW to point out to someone that they are engaging in this behavior.

Pagan Celtic Britain by Anne Ross Celtic Books will be added to each category of this list. Specialized lists will also be accumulated by subject. I.e. counseling, history, etc.

Other good books you won’t regret reading

In Praise of the Crone: A Celebration of Feminine Maturity – Dorothy Morrison. Dororthy’s wry, witty and iconoclastic personality comes through her words most clearly. If you’re bummed about reaching menopause, Dorothy will let you in on other ways to feel. I highly recommend it.

Power of the Witch , by Laurie Cabot

Can a Left Brain Learn Magic

Kybalion: A Study of the Hermetic… by 3 Anonymous Initiates [A bit pricey for such a small, and slim, book! It’s a book on Hermetic philosophy, included simply because it’s teachings so closely mirror those of the New Physics!)

Books on New Physics recommended by Wade White

The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the new physics , by Frita Capra

Holographic Universe , by Michael Talbot [A favorite of mine!]

Stalking the Wild Pendulum: , by Itzhak Bentov

Synchronicity: The Bridge Between Matter & Mind, by F. David Peat

Looking Glass Universe: , by F. David Peat

Three Roads to Quantum Gravity , by L. Smolin

Physics and Psychics: The Search for a World Beyond the Senses, by Victor J. Stenger

The Unconscious Quantum: Metaphysics in Modern Physics & Cosmology, by Victor J. Stenger

Mind into Matter: , by Fred Alan Wolfe, Ph. D.

Bridging Science and Spirit , by Norman Friedman

The Quantum Self Human Nature & Consciousness as Defined by the New Physics, by Danah Zohar

Mysticism and the New Physics , by Michael Talbot The Holotropic Mind, by Stanislav & Bennett

The Self-Aware Universe: How Consciousness Creates the Natural World, by Maggy Goswami

Quantum Reality: Beyond the New Physics, by Nick Herbert

The Conscious Universe : The scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena , by Dean Radin

Space, Time and Medicine , by Dr. Larry Dossey

The Conscious Universe : , by Paul Davies

In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics & Reality, by John Gribbin

Schrodinger’s Kittens & the Search for reality: Solving the Quantum

Hyperspace: .The Universe and Its Mysteries by John Gribbins

Who’s Afraid of Schrodinger’s Cat : An A-to-Z Guide to All the New Science Ideeas You Need to Keep Up with the New Thinking, by Ian Marshall & Danah Zohar

The End of Time: The Next Revolution in Physics, by Julian Barbour

Enjoy… And, have a truly beautiful day! Blessings… Wade White

PLEASE NOTE: that these books are not listed in any particular order within the categories.

 

List of Workshops

List of Workshops

Workshops and Lectures for Neopagan Audiences

So I’m a First Degree, what comes next?

Looking into the education of Wiccan and Neopagan religious leaders; what do they need to know and where can they go to learn it. What standards should our leaders expect to meet. What is the proper work of our clergy and other leadership and how is it similar or different from Christian clergy.

Advanced Magic

So, I’ve burned a candle, what comes next? What is magic really and what are some good ways to reach its power? Does magic get more complicated as you gain experience and it gets stronger? What are correspondences and how should we use them. What are you supposed to do when people ask you to “send energy” to someone?

Circle Ritual 101

One hour orientation workshop to prepare first time attendees at a Neopagan gathering for the evening ritual. From the underlying assumptions involved in casting a circle to the meaning of the tools on the altar, this workshop will prepare people to understand and enjoy most common forms of Neopagan ritual. Also answers their questions about what they should do, what the appropriate behavior is and what they may feel.

Witchcraft, Wicca, Eclecticism and Fuzzy Bunnies: Mapping the Permutations of the Witches Craft

What do these titles mean or are they just counters in status games? Is British Traditional Wicca the only legitimate Wicca and is everyone else just playing around with cheap constructs which are meaningless because they don’t have the secrets of real Wicca? Is eclecticism a long-standing tradition of both Witchcraft and Wicca or is the word properly used to display distain for pretend Witches? How much eclecticism is too much? Are Fuzzy Bunnies New Age or just untrained Wiccans? Do New Age ideals harmonize with those of Wicca? Where do we draw the lines – should we draw any lines?

Workshops for a General Audience as Well as for Neopagan Audiences

These may be presented as lectures, particularly if only an hour to two hours can be allowed.

Introduction to Neopaganism with an emphasis on Wicca

A survey of the spectrum of paths within the modern Pagan movement including the Asatru (Nordic religions) Druids (religious paths from Ireland, Wales and Galllic France) Wicca or Witchcraft (originally an English background movement) Santeria (Spanish/African/Native Central American Path) and generic Paganism.

A booklet can accompany this workshop, in which case there is a fee of $3.50.

Introduction to Wiccan spirituality

What’s different between Wicca and the other Neopagan religions? How do Wiccans view the universe and their place in it? What are their beliefs and practices. Why do Wiccans do ritual and what is it for? What is the meaning of initiation and do you have to be initiated to be a Wiccan? What is meant when Wicca is called a mystery religion?

Some Philosophical Questions of Our Time

Spirituality and Religion; Ethics and Morality; Freedom and Family Values; Responsibility: personal and to society. How can one choose and how does one live a good life. What do the Gods need us for. Why do some people say we’re in the PostModern Age and what does that mean?

Workshops for Ritual Leaders

I am in the midst of designing a series of workshops aimed at working ritualists. These workshops will be limited enrollment and are restricted as to number of participants and will admit only individuals who have experience leading rituals). This series will include the following:

Speech For Ritualists

This participatory workshop will help you to be heard and understood in both large and small group rituals. It will cover how to read poetic and prose ritual, what to avoid and will teach a variety of skills needed to improve ritual communication.

Note for Festival organizers: Participation in this workshop must be limited to people already experienced in leading ritual and no more than 8 people may be enrolled in it. The workshop takes a minimum of 2 hours and cannot be presented in less. More students may be accepted and more can be taught if the workshop is presented as a two-day workshop with 2 hours scheduled each day.

The 13 Basic Ritual Gestures

Communication using body language is an important skill which will help you perform good ritual. This class categorizes and explains the gestures and aids people to realize what works in what situation and why. Attendence limited to 12 people. There is a $.50 charge for copies.

Designing Public Ritual

Understanding the basic structure of ritual. Why is large group ritual different? How to design ritual that encourages full participation for all. Those attending this workshop should have some experience attending both public and small group ritual.

Ritual as Theater

Good ritual must draw and hold the attention of all the participants and should result in everyone having the feeling that they were a full part of what was going on. Although public ritual must take into consideration the unknown range of skills and experience of those attending, everyone should leave feeling that the experience was energizing, effective and inspiring. Good ritual is always good theater and good theater results from following some established principles and technniques.

Short Bio for Program Booklet

Grey Cat
High Priestess and Founder
NorthWind Tradition of American Wicca

Grey Cat is the founder of NorthWind Tradition of American Witchcraft (Wicca) which began with a coven formed in early 1986. She is the author of Deepening Witchcraft; Advancing Skills and Knowledge; ECW Press, Toronto, 2002, and co-author, with Dr. Medicine Hawk Wilburn, of American Indian Ceremonies; A Basic Guide to the Medicine Path, revised and reissued by the authors in 2003. She has had articles published in a variety of Pagan publications and has appeared at festivals and gatherings throughout the Eastern US.

 

American Indian Ceremonies

American Indian Ceremonies
Medicine Hawk and Grey Cat announce the release, on July 1, 2003, of a newly revised edition of American Indian Ceremonies. This basic book, which sold steadily for over ten years, is a beginners guide to the more common ceremonies of the Medicine Path. Published by the authors and Three Moons Media, and edited by Barbara Ardinger, the book is available wholesale or retail from Booksurge or from this web site. Retail price is $15.95 and wholesale prices offer standard discounts. Retail outlets may go through R.R. Bowker’s Books in Print or Global Books in Print or call BookSurge directly, toll-free, at 866-308-6235.

Walking a medicine path means being truly at one with your environment. If you live in the city, there is no reason why you cannot walk the medicine path right where you are. You may take the concepts of the Sacred Pipe and the Medicine Wheel with you anywhere you desire. The authors present a contemporary set of instructions, based on native spiritual ways, to help you be one with the environment and our Living Earth.

Medicine Hawk and Grey Cat present a practical and straight-forward invitation to join into the fabric of our land and it’s ancient ways, adapted for today’s society. The sacred powers of this land are not dead – nor do they sleep. Through authentic ceremonies we can all tread the mystery of Turtle Island.

The medicine path does not cry to everyone. Not everyone answers, and for some it may be a long and difficult journey, whereas for others it may be the short way home. If you respond to the call of the medicine path, you will have much to learn and much to do. Following this path will take time from your usual amusements and it will change your life Although the Ancestors have given rough guidelines on how to follow the medicine path, exact instructions cannot be given because each one of us walks his or her own path.

The medicine path has currently taken the interest of many people as the latest fad in alternative spirituality. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The path is, however, much, much more than a fad or adventure. If you are reading these pages in order to have a general understanding of American Indian spirituality, you are welcome. Studying the medicine path, even if only out of curiosity, will help bring to you a greater understanding of the ancient spiritual presences here in Turtle Island.

For you who have heard or felt the call to the medicine path as the direction for your life, we can only help set your feet upon that path. The true medicine path is yours alone. It is within you, and your knowledge of it has been preserved for you by your own totem spirits. You, alone, must learn who they are and what they have to teach you.

The Great Spirit, Galunlati, has set his hand upon this land. His spirit keepers live within its trees and rocks, its streams, lakes and mountains. Whatever path to spirituality you are called to follow, it should move upon the land in harmony with these ancient ancestors.

Dr. Medicine Hawk Wilburn has a BS from Mercer University, an MEd from Georgia State University and a PhD from Southwest University. Born of American Indian and German ancestry, Hawk began his journey along the Medicine Path with the mother of an elementary school classmate, in the early sixties, in South Florida. He is author of Totem, Thunderhead, the Life and Times of a Half Breed and Urban Santeria. Hawk is a sixth grade teacher and university professor of education in Southern California, where he lives with his son, Ray and where the Inland Empire Grey Cat Coven meets regularly at the Temple of the Grey Cat.

Grey Cat, of unmixed European bloodlines, became active in Wicca in the early 1980’s. She was trained in British Traditional Wicca and founded her own group, Northwind Tradition of American Wicca, which has continued for 15 years. She is the author of Deepening Witchcraft; Advancing Skills and Knowledge; ECW Press, Montreal, 2002. Grey Cat has more than 15 years of experience in Wicca as a student and teacher contributed chapters to Witchcraft Today Volumes One and Two Grey Cat has also been active in the national Pagan community, serving with the Covenant of the Goddess, the leading national organization of Wiccan Covens, and as a board member of Ar n’Draiocht Fein, a modern Druidic tradition founded by Isaac Bonewits. She lives in Tennessee.

The fully revised edition will be released July 1, 2003. The first edition (American Indian Ceremonies; A Practical Workbook and Study Guide to the Medicine Path by Dr. Medicine Hawk Wilburn and Grey Cat; Inner Light Publications, New Brunswick, 1990, ISBN: 0-938294-72-5) sold steadily for a decade before being allowed to go out of print. The new edition, completely revised and with new material, was made possible by Three Moons Media and is available in print or as an e-book from Three Moons Media Bookstore or from Booksurge. Signed hard copies are available from this website.Retail outlets may go through R.R. Bowker’s Books in Print or Global Books in Print or call BookSurge directly, toll-free, at 866-308-6235.

 

Do we need more witch wars?

Do we need more witch wars?

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to observe several individuals whose behavior has gone well beyond that acceptable even to such an accepting community as ours. While I have finally become peripherally involved in this unappealing mess, and the email is happily flying far and wide, it is not the present open conflict that I wish to discuss. Because things did not come to this point from nowhere. There is a lot of background and I wish you all to consider just what has contributed to the present state of affairs.

First of all, almost everyone actually and honestly dislikes confrontation. Well, why not. It isn’t at all pleasant and unless you are very argumentative and competitive there is practically no joy in it for any of us. And so when things are proposed in a meeting that we don’t quite agree with, we shrug our shoulders and say nothing. We don’t want to take a chance of starting a witch war. And when some untaught idiot declares that he or she is an important high Priest/ess and they will judge whether or not YOUR or someone else’s initiation is valid, maybe you sit low in your chair and tell yourself that surely soon everyone will notice that the so and so has absolutely no idea of what he/she is talking about. Why start a witch war over it?

How often do you let little bits of oppression go by because you don’t want to get into it with someone? Wicca, of course, does not lend itself a fully democratic or consensual pattern any more than a high school does, and for much the same reasons. Most Wiccan groups are made up of a teacher (or teachers) and students. The students are generally at various levels, some seniors, some freshmen, but students none the less. And because Wicca has to teach non-objective processes, teaching generally includes times when the student must follow the teachers directions without understanding why. In a situation like this, a certain amount of autocratic behavior is unavoidable. Additionally, the students are in the group because they want something that they can only get if the teacher says so–initiation.

Pretending that a teaching group can be run completely upon fairness and democratic principals is to build an atmosphere of untruth that cannot in the long run serve the group well. In earlier times, witch wars could be more difficult to start because groups tended to be far more widely separated. The old rules separating covens by a league, a hundred miles or whatever measure was convenient to the person editing The Laws, are impossible to apply in a modern urban setting. They wouldn’t help anyway. With the greatly increased mobility of our culture, the enormous number of gatherings available, and more even than these, the Internet, neither closeness nor distance has much effect.

It’s ironic that in these days when students are rather more plentiful than are the teachers to work with them; when two groups, representing theories of Wicca so disparate that students suitable for one group would almost certainly be turned down (or soon leave) by the other; wars over student grabbing can still occur.

But back to my topic, I think that we set ourselves up for these witch wars. When a group of normally intelligent people sit there and vote someone in as dictator; when dozens of rightfully respected leaders allow a thoroughly inappropriate person to assume a position of leadership; when Priests and priestesses who have already been victimized by a so-called leader whose in it for the money (and sex) allow the person to keep on operating; when leaders who earned their degrees with years of work and study accept a “third” degree who hadn’t even heard of the tradition until night before last when h/she slept with the Priest/ess; then they bear a great deal of responsibility for the damage the behaviors that these people do to the Craft.

I realize that I have a reputation for being obnoxious. I earned it! When the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes, I’ll go out and announce it to all the world. You mean you hadn’t noticed the old fart was naked? Don’t make me laugh; you’re intelligent, observant, and have normal eyesight (with correction). You just didn’t want to “make a fuss”. Well, I don’t expect you’ll be surprised to know that I think we need more people making a fuss.

There’s so much that’s right about Wicca and with how things are going for Wicca. We should be proud of what we’ve achieved, but there is also a lot wrong. We still don’t need any popes, no inquisitions, and we don’t need to be a fertile field for malicious gossip. What we need to do is to take responsibility. We can’t destroy our charlatans, our candidates for Wiccan pope, our ill intentioned masters of manipulation and inventors of ugly gossip, can’t jail them, can’t even run them out of town. But we can laugh them to death! We can speak out when we know something is just plain wrong, when it’s abusive, when it’s deceitful.

Those who stay above criticizing anyone, who make their lordly way urging everyone to keep the peace at any costs, who knowingly allow inquirers or new students to be victimized by someone they know to be an inappropriate teacher are contributing to the wrongs. Blowing the whistle may not make you popular, but it does contribute to getting a good night’s sleep.

Don’t interpret this to mean that I’m advising you to let yourself go, judge every group not in your own line as “not really Wicca” and criticize every other HP around in an attempt to increase your own greenness in this little pond of ours. As well as weeding out the thoroughly inappropriate people who have clawed themselves to some sort of position in our world, we need to increase the respect due to those teachers, Priest/esses and leaders who have the well being of the community and their own people fore. most in their minds. We need to spend more effort in treasuring our good leaders as we do in laughing the bad ones out of Dodge. And NOT just the ones who perfectly agree with us. Whatever their tradition, if it’s goal and methods are oriented toward the growth of the members and students, it is our responsibility to support their efforts. We’re not in some kind of Olympic competition here. I don’t care if the Temple of the Goldenrod has more qualified third degrees than my own Warhoop Wiccan Tradition. What’s important is that Lord Wellendowed and I support each others paths and are not reticent in our opinion that Lady Kissmybutt is teaching pure, unadulterated Witchcrap.

Responsibility seems to me to be the A #1 most important ingredient in personal honor, a subject about which we certainly have heard a lot of nonsense. Honor is doing what you said you’d do, EVEN IF IT HURTS! Honor is looking inside yourself all the time so you KNOW what your motives are. Honor is standing up for what’s right and making a fuss about what’s wrong. Wisdom is finding a way to tell the two apart. Responsibility is making sure of your facts either way before you open your yap. If somebody told you that being a high priest/ess was going to be a piece of cake, I’ve got news for you: they lied! It’s hard work getting there and it’s a lot harder living up to it. All the same, I’m asking you to do just that; live up to it.

 

Deepening Witchcraf

Deepening Witchcraf
“Deepening Witchcraft is a practical, engaging and enlightening guide into ‘next step’ Witchcraft and Neo-Paganism.”     –Wren Walker, Co-Founder of The Witches Voice (www.witchvox.com)

As we move out of the shadows of the broom closet and into the bright light of our wider communities, each of us can benefit from reading the thoughts, experiences, observations, and wisdom of this Crone.”     –M. Macha NightMare, coauthor (with Starhawk) of The Pagn Book of Living and Dying and author of Witchcraft and the Web.

Deepening Witchcraft: Advancing Skills and Knowledge focuses on the needs of leaders in Witchcraft, Wicca, and Paganism in general. Grey Cat, founder of the NorthWind Tradition of American Witchcraft, brings her extensive leadership experience to one of the first books to offer guidance to advanced practitioners of Witchcraft.

The opening chapters of Deepening Witchcraft focus on the intellectual inner disciplines of the advanced student. Grey Cat then explores the connections between historical Paganism and its modern form,, addressing Neopagan beliefs, ethical systems, and the process of growing through magic.

The second half of this book is a practical guide. Grey Cat provides advice on teaching, designing public rituals, practicing advanced magic, and sponsoring public events. A chapter on spiritual growth offers both philosophy and concrete suggestions to overburdened clerics, and the growth of Paganism is examined in chapters on community relations. Grey cat shares the practical fruits of her experience in this essential book.

With an introduction by pioneering activist Lady Sintana, founder of the Ravenwood Church of the Old Religion in Atlanta, Georgia.

Grey Cat has more than 15 years of experience in Witchcraft as a student and teacher and is the founder of the NorthWind Tradition of American Witchcraft, a group focused on training and education. She coauthored American Indian Ceremonies with Medicine Hawk, and she has contributed to Witchcraft Today Volumes One and Two. Grey Cat has also been active in the national Pagan community, serving with the Covenant of the Goddess, the leading national organization of Wiccan Covens, and as a board member of Ar n’Draiocht Fein, a modern Druidic tradition founded by Isaac Bonewits. She lives in Tennessee.

To suppliment the information in the book, Grey Cat has enlarged this web site with additional materials she hopes that her readers will find interesting and useful.