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Pagan merchants continue to wrestle with occult bans-TWH

Terence P Ward — August 22, 2017 — Leave a comment
TWH –It’s still not a good time to accept credit cards while Pagan. As was reported in March, terms of service forbidding fortune telling and other “occult” practices are enforced arbitrarily, and sometimes without warning. A new twist in the tale was discovered by Yeshe Rabbit, who was advised that not using a particular processor for the forbidden transactions is not enough. She was told to remove the offending services from her business web site.

The Sacred Well, her shop with two West Coast locations, now uses a different provider, but she’d like to work on clearing this climate of uncertainty once and for all.

picture: [Carmel Sastre, CC/Flickr.]

The ban on occult products and services stems from a purely mercenary motivation: the fear that customers will be unhappy and demand their money back. It’s for that same reason that lottery tickets can’t be purchased with plastic.
The lottery comparison is only superficially similar, however. For one thing, it is a clearly-defined category of merchandise, as opposed to the board and mushy “occult” grouping.

For another, it’s unlikely that anyone has told the owners of shops selling lottery merchandise that they won’t be able to accept credit cards for any merchandise if they continue to sell those scratch-off tickets.

“TSW was designated ‘high risk’ because, according to CardConnect, we mentioned ‘reiki, herbal smoking blends, and psychic readings’ on our website,” Rabbit said.

“This was after 10 years of working in our industry without any significant chargebacks or complaints. It was not based on our existing record of sales, only on wording on our website.” That wording has not been changed in the recent past, she confirmed.

Like many store owners, Rabbit acknowledges that she didn’t study the fine print when she first signed her CardConnect agreement some ten years ago, but that changed when she heard about other Pagan vendors running into problems.

“We made sure that we were not using any single processor for any activities listed in the fine print of their policy. CardConnect had a policy against psychic readings. However, since we did not use CardConnect to process readings, but rather used it to process sales of merchandise and classes, we thought we were abiding by the policy,” Rabbit explained.

“However, when they notified us that they planned to terminate our service,” she continued, “they specifically cited that we offered readings and smoking blends on our website.”

Rabbit said that she wrote back, letting the agent know that they used other processors for both readings and web sales, but they did not budge.” Card Connect told her that the store would “need to take those pages down to retain their services, even if [they] were using those services for a separate part of the business that did not violate their policy.”

“In the end, we chose to close our account,” Rabbit said.

A call to CardConnect asking for media relations was transferred to the voice mail of a Chelsea Cole, who did not respond to inquiries by press time. Cole was asked to confirm that CardConnect policy includes the restrictions that Rabbit described, and whether those limitations extend to CardConnect clients with lottery tickets for sale.

What’s clear is that at least one card processor is coming down harder still than earlier in the year, with attempts to dictate terms that extend well beyond what one might expect.

“They are not interested in any proof that our practices are linked to a legitimate religious path,” Rabbit said, “even though Paganism and Wicca are recognized by the government and armed forces for things like chaplaincy and headstones.”

Picture: [Sacred Well Portland [Courtesy]

The fact that services such as divination are used by some individuals as part of their sincerely-held religious beliefs is a complicating factor which could well hold sway in a court of law, but getting there is an expensive and cumbersome process which the stereotypical Pagan merchant can ill afford to pursue.
If Rabbit had those resources handy, she said, she’d be more inclined to just start a processing company of her own. “It’s tempting to dream about creating the kind of infrastructure that supports the world I want to live in, where there is true religious freedom and respect for diversity of beliefs and practices,” she said.

Rabbit is confident she could write a report that demonstrates that there is no need to for any processor to consider the Sacred Well a business risk, but she’s not sure it would matter much. After all, a 115-page business plan backed by considerable research was ignored by a commercial realtor in one West Coast city that simply refused to rent any space to a Pagan shop.

“I fear that would happen if we tried to do that here,” she said. “Perhaps if several businesses did this and approached these companies en masse, it might be more effective.”

The number of Pagan merchants isn’t big enough to get changes through a boycott. That’s evident in the other demand made of Rabbit, concerning her business web page.

CardConnect representatives “did not provide any explanation about why they felt they could dictate the content of our website, even after we offered proof that the activities they find objectionable have nothing to do with their processing equipment or services,” Rabbit said.

That kind of demand makes little business sense if it would lead to a loss of revenue for the processor.

Rabbit believes that if changing this state of affairs were to be successful, it would be as a leaderless movement, with responsibilities shared among actors. “I can see myself instigating, contributing, and collaborating in a movement among Pagan business owners to address the religious intolerance directed toward our products and services,” she said, “but I don’t know that anyone needs me to lead in that field. We are all business owners and capable entrepreneurs.”

She added, “I would love to team up with people like Jane Hawkner, Susan Diamond, and Phoenix LaFey around this. And, truth be told, if we really want something like this to be successful, we would benefit greatly from the business wisdom of Cat Yronwode. She is brilliant.”

Unless and until these policies are clarified or modified, there is little a Pagan business owner can do other than read the fine print of every agreement carefully, and to have one more more backup plans in place.

As Rabbit discovered, even complying with the letter of the policy is no guarantee that someone at the other end of the phone won’t decide it’s too risky anyway, and close the account. Absent the deep pockets for a lawsuit or the community will for a movement, signing up for payment processing while Pagan is no more certain than the promises made by some world leaders to take in war refugees and give them permanent homes.

We will continue to update this story as new information is received.

* * *

The work of journalist Terence P. Ward was made possible by the generous underwriting donation from Hecate Demeter, writer, ecofeminist, witch and Priestess of the Great Mother Earth

source:http://wildhunt.org/2017/08/pagan-merchants-continue-to-wrestle-with-occult-bans.html

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Everyday Joys of Witchcraft

 AUGUST 15, 2017 BY JASON MANKEY

But I still find happiness, solace, peace, and astonishment nearly every day. Much of that is because of the Craft I practice. I find joy from the Craft in my home, my backyard, the vistas just outside my front door, and in my gods. The best part is that they are all things I can, and generally do, experience everyday.

The joy this flower gives me cannot be put into words.
The joy this flower gives me cannot be put into words.

The Wonders of My Backyard

Due to living in the overly full Bay Area most of my rituals take place indoors. There’s just no privacy in our backyard, making it a bad place for ritual, but that doesn’t mean the space outside my backdoor is lacking in magick. My backyard is nearly a second ritual space and is full of things that inspire me and bring me closer to my Craft.

Watching life spring from a seed and then nurturing that seedling side by side with Mother Earth brings me a sense of joy I have trouble putting into words. I give them water, but She’s given them the Earth and Sky they need to thrive. I think of the pumpkins that have taken over my yard as my children and look in on them two or three times a day. (Four of them are actually pumpkin sized at this point, it’s going to be a good Halloween!)

My pumpkins are like weird silent children.
My pumpkins are like weird silent children.

I’ve never been much of a meditator but my garden is a form of meditation unto its self. It relaxes and centers me, it also inspires me. When I’m having a rough day I spend a few minutes starting up at the multi-faced sunflower towering over everything in the garden.

The fey live in our backyard behind our lemon tree and watch over our little piece of green-space. Since we’ve begun honoring them with libations and gifts our backyard has blossomed as a magickal space. I’m grateful for their presence.

My backyard also connects me to the Wheel of the Year and brings the sabbats home for me. Lammas was the start of tomato season and by Yule the kumquats, grapefruit, and mandarin oranges should be ready to eat. I’m not a great gardner, but I’m a joyful one.

Shrine to Cernunnos.
Shrine to Cernunnos.

The Gods Are Here

Why do I do what I do? Because I believe in the gods and magick. Both are fundamental to my Craft and it’s reassuring to know that my gods are close to me. When I need that little extra something all I have to do is visit our shrines to Brigit and Cernunnos or perhaps give Pan a chance to wink to me on the wall in our ritual space (our deities speak with Laura Tempest Zakroff).

I’m sure that those who don’t believe in the gods wonder just why I worship the gods and what they or I get out of it. I honor them because it brings me joy, and I get so many things from them. I get reassurances, energy, power, blessings, inspiration, and a sense of purpose. They make the writing easier, and one of them even helped to give my wife and I a place to live.

When someone enters my house I don’t think there’s any question about the gods being present here. They charge our home and help to shape our lives. And by honoring them I think I give them power and influence. Our relationship is reciprocal. As Gerald Gardner wrote of the gods of Witchcraft:

“. . . . while the gods wished them well, they were not all-powerful,that they needed man’s help; that by performing certain rites men gave them power; also that the gods wished men to be happy and that acts which gave men pleasure also gave the gods joy and power, which they could apply to their own uses as well as to the benefit of man.”

I was just 30 yards away from a humpback whale the other day.
I was just 30 yards away from a humpback whale the other day.

The Natural World

I live in a valley nestled between two small mountain ranges with the San Francisco Bay just a few miles from my house and the Pacific Ocean just twenty-five miles away. Silicon Valley is often filled with smog and it’s loud and full of people, but it’s also magickal in a way that makes my heart soar. Looking at those hills is still awe inspiring and gods help me if I ever find myself jaded when they are in my field of vision.

There are soaring pine trees across the street from me that I know are there simply to hide the ground of defense contractor Northrop Grumman, but I still find myself appreciating their majesty. The trees outside my home scrape the sky with the arms and speak to the possibilities that lie within nature.

The sea and the hills will never get old . . . .
The sea and the hills will never get old . . . .

The natural world is a constant reminder of the power and beauty of the Great Rite, which many people erroneously think is only about heterosexual sex. To me the Great Rite has always been about joining in its many forms. The mountains I see daily were formed when two tectonic plates collided and a whole host of factors when into creating those trees (pollination, soil, sun, water). When things join worlds and universes (not to mention mountains and trees) are born.

My Chosen Family

My Witchcraft is responsible for many of the most important relationships in my life. The love I receive from my coven is beyond compare. Those people are my chosen family and I can’t imagine living my life without them. But the Craft has given me even more than that.

If success in life is measured by friendships I am a very rich man. When the stupid hits the fan it’s gratifying to know that I’m loved and cared about. No matter what is written or said about me I know that I’ll be all right because of the relationships I’ve cultivated through Witchcraft.

My Evie Monster is a friend in her own strange way.
My Evie Monster is a friend in her own strange way.

Many of those friends are people I’ve never met fact to face, but the respect we have for one another is still a very real thing. Paganism today is full of squabbles, spats, and lots of other ignorance, but there’s far more good out there than bad. It can be tough to remember sometimes, but it’s the truth.

If you are reading this and have ever said a kind word or shared a post, thanks for being a part of that chosen family.

Source: Patheos blog Raise the Horns

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Gems, Crystals and Stones: Apatite

Apatite

Image result for fluorapatite

 

I recently bought one of these beauties from a Gem show in town called Gem storm. The one I got was a Flourapitate.

HISTORY:

Apatite is named for the Greek word apate.  It is pronounced as ap-a-tite. However, it means deceit. This fits because Apatite gems tend to look very similar to other gems.  Gems in this group was discovered in 1786, 1832, 1860 and 1990’s.   Up until recently these gems were never used in Jewelry because its a very soft stone and can be delicate. Due to its many colours its become quite popular.

COLOURS:

Depending on each gem stone in this group the colours can range from almost anything. The colours of these gems are; purple, blue, pink, brown, gray, green, violet, red-brown, white, yellow and even colourless.

SPECIAL PROPERTIES:

Apatite is said to bring many benefits to those who own it. It can help with the immune system, cleanses the glandular, lymphatic and meridian systems as well. Mentally it can help with negative emotions relating to self conscious. Also it helps the wearer accept things in their life like love, self love, comfort and support.

CARING FOR YOUR STONE:

This is some extra information that is important to know with these gems. The best cleaning method for your gem is washing ti in warm soapy water. It is risky if you try a ultrasonic cleaning.  Do not expose the stone to any acids, high heat or rough wear.  If its expose to large amount of heat it will lose its colour or it’ll change colours. A lot of light can make the colour fade if the stone is pink. Be careful not to scratch or damage the stone in any way. If your stone is in a jewelry form, place it in a different area than the rest of your jewelry to prevent scratches. You could also wrap it in a felt cloth when putting it away.

TYPES OF GEMS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. 

Here is a list of the different types of apatite and what they look like. However as mentioned above they do come in different colours.

Image result for fluorapatite

Fluorapatite

Image result for chlorapatite

Chlorapatite

Image result for hydroxyapatite gem

Hydroxyapatite

Image result for carbon-apatite gem

Carbon-Apatite

Chlorophane (photo won’t upload) – navy Blue/Green
Maganapatite (photo won’t upload)- white/brown, baby blue, pruple/blue, pink, light green
Sammite (photo won’t upload) baby blue,  brown, pink, pruple/brown, clear
Image result for staff apatite

Staff-Apatite

Image result for strontium apatite

Strontium Apatite

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Apatite gems can be found in Canada, Russia, U.S.A, Mexico, Germany, South Africa, Australia,  Afghanistan, Portugal, Pakistan, Austria and Brazil.

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Moldavite: An intro

Moldavite:

Moldavite is one of the rarest minerals on earth. It has a rich history, prized since the Stone Age and used not only for arrowheads and cutting tools, but as a spiritual talisman and amulet of good fortune, fertility and protection. It has been linked to legends of the Holy Grail, thought to be an emerald that fell from the sky out of Lucifer’s crown before he was cast from heaven.

image

Moldavite is found almost exclusively in the Czech Republic and is named for the area in which it was first found, the town of Moldauthein. It is generally believed that moldavite was formed when a large meteorite crashed into the earth roughly 14.8 million years ago in what is now the Bohemian plateau. Moldavite is a type of tektite, which is a natural glass that is formed from extraterrestrial impacts with the earth.

Metaphysical and Healing Properties:
Moldavite is useful for counteracting cynicism and connects even the most world-weary adult with the wonders of the universe. It eases away doubts and calms worries about money by providing solutions not previously considered. Moldavite works extremely well in combination with other crystals and stones (particularly with the energies of quartz), increasing their effects and healing energies.

Moldavite is considered to be a powerful aid for meditation, spiritual development, astral travel, dream work, and past life regression. Moldavite also increases one’s sensitivity to spiritual guidance and intuition. It is a stone of psychic protection. It is thought to be a powerful healing and rejuvenating stone. Moldavite is also a stone of the heart, reaching into the deepest inner self and bringing truth to the surface. Its resonance brings the heart into union with the mind, allowing them to work together in partnership, encouraging empathy and compassion.

Moldavite has an intense energy vibration, so it is important to see how this stone affects you before wearing it or carrying it regularly. It is known for amplifying energy and emotions. Add moldavite to wands and crystal grids to intensify their effects.

Source:http://blackmoonmagick.tumblr.com/post/79935000882/moldavite

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Chicago Library Seeks Help Transcribing Magical Manuscripts

SMITHSONIAN.COM
he Newberry Library in Chicago is home to some 80,000 documents pertaining to religion during the early modern period, a time of sweeping social, political, and cultural change spanning the late Middle Ages to the start of the Industrial Revolution. Among the library’s collection of rare Bibles and Christian devotional texts are a series of manuscripts that would have scandalized the religious establishment. These texts deal with magic—from casting charms to conjuring spirits—and the Newberry is asking for help translating and transcribing them.

As Tatiana Walk-Morris reports for Atlas Obscura, digital scans of three magical manuscripts are accessible through Transcribing Faith, an online portal that functions much like Wikipedia. Anyone with a working knowledge of Latin or English is invited to peruse the documents and contribute translations, transcriptions, and corrections to other users’ work.

 “You don’t need a Ph.D to transcribe,” Christopher Fletcher, coordinator of the project and a fellow of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, tells Smithsonian.com. “[The initiative] is a great way to allow the general public to engage with these materials in a way that they probably wouldn’t have otherwise.”

The three manuscripts now available online reflect the varied and complex ways that magic fit into the broader religious landscape of a shifting and modernizing West. The 17th-century Book of Magical Charms contains instructions on a range of magical practices—“from speaking with spirits to cheating at dice,” according to the Transcribing Faith website—but also includes Latin prayers and litanies that align with mainstream religious practices. An untitled document known as the “commonplace book” explores strange and fantastical occurrences, along with religious and moral questions. Cases of Conscience Concerning Evil Spirits by Increase Mather, a Puritan minister and president of Harvard who presided over the Salem Witch Trials, expresses a righteous condemnation of witchcraft.

Newberry has brought the manuscripts to light as part of a multidisciplinary project titled Religious Change: 1450-1700, which explores the relationship between print and religion during this period. The project features a digital exploration of Italian broadsides—advertisements for Catholic celebrations and feasts—a blog and a podcast.  In September, a gallery exhibition—also titled Religious Change1450-1700—will focus on the ways that print galvanized the Reformation, the 16th-century religious movement that led to the foundation of Protestantism. One of the items that will be on display is a copy of Martin Luther’s German translation of the New Testament, which made the Bible accessible to ordinary lay people for the first time.

The magical texts will be on display during the exhibition because, according to Fletcher, they add nuance to our perception of religious life during a period marked by grand, transformative movements. “The Reformation and the Scientific Revolution are very big, capital letter concepts that we all hear about in Western civ courses, or social studies classes,” Fletcher explains. “When we talk about them that way, we lose sight of the fact that these were real events that happened to real people. What we’re trying to do with our items is give, as much as we can, a sense of … how individual people experienced them, how they affected their lives, how they had to change in response to them.”

As an example, Fletcher cites The Book of Magical Charms, with its meticulous chronicle of occult practices. “Both protestant and Catholic churches tried very hard to make sure that nobody would make a manuscript like this,” he says. “They didn’t like magic. They were very suspicious of it. They tried to do everything they could to stamp it out. Yet we have this manuscript, which is a nice piece of evidence that despite all of that effort to make sure people weren’t doing magic, people still continued to do it.”

By soliciting the public’s help in transcribing its magical texts, the Newberry hopes to make the documents more accessible to both casual users and experts. “Manuscripts are these unique witnesses to a particular historical experience, but if they’re just there in a manuscript it’s really hard for people to use them,” Fletcher says. “[Transcribing the documents] allows other users to come in and do word searches, maybe copy and paste into Google, try to find [other sources] talking about this sort of thing.”

Fletcher quickly scanned the documents before putting them online, but reading through users’ translations has reminded him of some of the manuscripts’ more fascinating and bizarre content. The Book of Magical Charms, for instance, proffers a rather unusual method for alleviating a toothache.

“One of the remedies is finding a dead man’s tooth, which apparently was just available in 17th-century England,” Fletcher said. “That was just really cool to see that.”

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Strawberry Moon Aka: Honey Moon or Rose Moon

It is said that Creator gave us plants for everything we need here on this Earth for medicine. All we have to do is honor and care for them; this will assure us many years of healing. The strawberry plant is important in our culture, and if it is not honored or used, then it will disappear from this Earth. The strawberry plant was given to the women; all of this plant is for healing of the women. The berry is a natural medicine for the womb, and the leaves make tea for childbirth. The roots are used for healing after childbirth. The strawberry is used as an estrogen enhancer during the transition time between childbearing years and the time of matron-hood.

For weeks, the young women would gather these small and sweet berries until the first full moon. On the day of the first full moon, there would be hundreds of women gathering for the ceremony. By then the Moon was as full as the huge fat-bellied pottery jars filled with crushed berries.

In mythology, Strawberries are connected to the Norse goddess of love, Freyja. Also, a Norse legend exists where the spirits of children enter the afterlife by hiding in strawberries that are
taken to heaven by Frigga, Oden’s wife. In Magickal work, strawberries are ruled by the planet Venus, are associated with Fairies and can be used for love, luck, passion, and abundance.

The strawberry is a berry that is attached to many positive things
through symbolism and folklore. The structure of the leaves, being trifoliate, represent Mother Goddess maiden , mother and crone. In Victorian flower language, the berry also
symbolizes perfection and “sweetness in life and character.” and modesty …because the berries are often found under the leaves. This is a time to reflect on what youve accomplished in your year. Time to savor the sweetness that comes with ripeness.

this is also a time to show your gratitude to the magickal bee. the amazing honey that is a gift from the lord and lady. a mixture of milk and honey are always a potent offering and addition to any alter. honey aids the body and the soul. It has been used to strengthen the body against viruses, as an antibiotic for wounds, for rejuvenation in beauty products, and a little honey on the bedside table can really sweeten things up in the bedroom. heh….. remember also the honeybee when you light your alter candle. and the significance of the wax we gather to light our way in the darkness.

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Isaiah 1:10-20 … What I See

I am sitting here listening to Aenima by Tool so that I can try to convey what I see in the world around me everywhere.
I will be using the first chapter of Isaiah from the New International version of The Bible.
If you are ready, let us begin, starting at verse 10:

10 Hear the word of the Lord, you rulers of Sodom;
listen to the law of our God, you people of Gomorrah!

I think that God seems a little upset with us, don’t you?

11 “The multitude of your sacrifices- what are they to me?”
says the Lord.
“I have more than enough burnt offerings,
of rams and the fat of fattened animals;
I have no pleasure in the blood of your bulls and lambs and goats,

Remember that at the time this was written, animal sacrifices were a very normal part of religious observances.
All God is saying here is that he doesn’t give a crap about our religious rites. Something else is on his mind. Continue reading

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Thoughts on a book

I just finished book 1 of “The Book of God, The Apocalypse of Adam-Oannes” by E. V. Kenealy, published in 1872.  An interesting read, definitely lets you peer through the lens of another era of thought. The crux of this book was the argument for an ancient world religion and culture from which we can trace all of modern culture.  The central theme is that of the Naros, or cycle of 600 years, which can be found throughout ancient symbolism and myth.  This 600 years cycle began with Adam, the first divine messenger to a humanity falling from a golden age, followed by Enoch 600 years later.  Enoch was followed by Fo-hi (China), Brighou (Hindu), Zoroaster (Persia), Thoth (Egypt), Moses(Jewish), Lau Tsu (China), Jesus (Jewish), Mohamed (Persia), and Ghengis Khan.  By this cycle there should have been another messenger around 1800, but none was named.  You’re guess is as good as mine as to who it could be, if the cycle is to be believed.

I am fascinated by the study of ancient culture, and having read a lot of Graham Hancock, I tend to believe that there was an ancient golden age with a highly advanced world culture rivaling our own.  Approximately 12,000 years ago there was a cataclysmic event that destroyed this civilization.  The remnants spread out to teach the surviving humanity and try to rebuild civilization.  It is a story that resonates with me, and that is all it is.  A story.  Looking that far back in time there can be no definite truth, no final interpretation of fact, the final draft of our history.  It is all just the weaving together of disparate facts with our imagination filling in the blanks.

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Interesting blend of physics, kabbalah, and sacred geometry.

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