Rose Ariadne's Chitchcraft Blog

Dear Friends,

One of my English friends recently asked me to explain the difference between a Methodist, Presbyterian, and Baptist. Even when I was finished, they still claimed that they didn’t understand what the big deal was between them and why someone would prefer to be one over the other. This got me to thinking about some of the terms in my own religion that sometimes get used interchangeable such as Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches.

So, what are the differences between the three terms and are the differences really that different?

If we look at the terms historically then there are some differences. The term “pagan” was once used to describe folks that lived out in the countryside in small villages and still kept to the “old ways” when the Roman Empire started expanding. It was a generic term that encompassed many people, some of which practiced rituals and traditions that were vastly different from what other people who were referred to as “pagans” practiced.

While the Romans were trying to convert everyone, the term took on a negative connotation because, well, the people were different. They didn’t worship in churches and some of their traditions seemed to be barbaric. Of course, there was a lot of politics behind this, too.

On the other hand, the term “witch” has usually referred to a specific person (or groups of people in some instances) within the community. A witch generally practiced the same traditions and rituals as everyone else in the village, but had something a little extra. Sometimes, the witch had healing powers. Other times, the witch could help with the growing of the crops and bringing on rain or sunshine or whatever else the area needed. As the “old ways” began dying out, and people began converting, the idea of this type of person became frightening. Again, a lot of politics behind this and people tend to fear that of which they cannot explain. Add that to a lot of other people telling you that the person is evil and there is bound to be trouble!

In terms of history, Wiccans haven’t really been around that long, as far as the word itself goes. In fact, although Wicca uses elements of “old ways” and traditions that go back thousands of years, some the spells that are used are fairly new when it comes to the wording and the name has only been around for about 100 years.

So what does all of this mean now? Is Wicca less relevant because it’s new? Of course not! At one time, ever form of religion was new. In the history of civilization, even the Catholic Church is fairly new. The Church of England? Even newer.

Sometimes it’s easy to forget that many practices under different religions can be interchangeable. Although I am not Christian, I can still pray. I don’t call it “praying” necessarily, but talking to the Goddess, thanking her, and asking her to watch over my loved ones…is that really that much different than kneeling at a pew and folding my hands? I am not a Tibetan monk, but I do chant. It’s the meaning that you give behind the practices that sets them apart, not necessarily the terms themselves.

I look at Wicca and even witchcraft as a form of paganism. I once hear someone refer to themselves as being a “Patchwork Pagan” because they had a variety of beliefs and rituals that the followed that stemmed from everything from some Native American tribes to Celtic tribes and modern Wicca.

I find it interesting, too, that many so-called “devout Christians” that I know who really turn their nose up at Witchcraft and Paganism actually practice a lot of traditions and rituals that are very Pagan in nature. Even with their holiday rituals aside, I know people who will send a “prayer cloth” that they have prayed over to me when one of my loved ones is ill and have herb gardens that they use for healing. And isn’t making a wish before you blow out your birthday candle a simple form of candle magic? It is possible for one to practice magick and not actually be a Witch.

So what is a Pagan now? Some people would say that anyone who practices traditions and rituals that have been carried out for hundreds of years but does not belong to any of the big religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Taosim, etc.) is a pagan. Yet, when I had a similar conversation with friends recently, they were quick to say that people in Ireland before the Catholic Church came there were pagans, yet they do not consider Native Americans pagan, despite the fact that some of their traditions, beliefs, and rituals are very similar.

In the end, there really is no set definition that everyone is going to agree on. Personally, I think of paganism are being an earth and nature based religion. Does Witchcraft fall into this category? I would think so. This would still make it a very universal word, however, and describe any person or group that base their beliefs on moon cycles, Earth-based cycles, etc. So that would include some shamanism groups, Goddess worship, Wicca, animism, and many others around the world.

So can you be Wiccan and not practice Witchcraft? Well, I know someone who does. There are Shamanic Wiccans who consider themselves Wiccan but really like it more for the ceremony and not necessarily the magick.

Sometimes, it’s best not to get stuck on a word or a term. In the end, we need to follow the path that is best for us anyway.

Brightest blessings,

Rose Ariadne
Your Warm and Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”


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Posted by Rose | Comments (7)

Dear Friends,

I hope you are managing to keep warm this winter! With the winter solstice rapidly approaching us, I thought I would write a few lines about some of the pagan traditions that have been incorporated into the modern Christmas traditions. Many people don’t realize that a lot of the traditions that they practice were already being used long before the birth of Jesus!

Some people are confused by the fact that I practice Wicca, yet we still follow a lot of seemingly Christian traditions in our household when it comes to the winter season. Well, this is because many of those traditions have been around for a long, long time and have far richer histories than most people imagine.

No one really knows the exact date of Jesus’ birth. In fact, this is very debatable and there are numerous studies directed at finding out. Nevertheless, a lot of historians think that he was most likely born in September, although some argue and say mid-summer. Why not in December? Because the Bible talks about shepherds and their sheep in the field that night-something that probably would not have happened in the cold winter months.

So why is Christmas celebrated on December 25th? There are several reasons. For one thing, the feast of the Son of Isis (the Goddess of Nature) was celebrated in ancient Babylon on December 25th. During this celebration, gifts were exchanged and there was lots of partying and eating.

In Rome, Emperor Aurelian established the date as the birth of the Invincible Sun as part of the winter solstice celebrations that were held in the Roman Empire. Their celebration was referred to as “Saturnalia” and it honored Saturn, the God of Agriculture. During Saturnalia, the Romans would exchange good-luck gifts called Stenae, or “lucky fruits.”

Saturnalia is also important in our history because the Mummers were born there. The Mummers were singers and dancers that traveled from one house to another in costume, entertaining everyone as they went. This is more than likely where we get Christmas caroling from.

In Northern Europe, pagans celebrated Yule long before Christianity came to the land. Yule was their winter solstice celebration and it was symbolic of Mithras, the Sun God. One of the rituals to celebrate Mithras was to light a candle. Yule logs were also burned to honor the sun and holly berries were used to decorate as they were considered to be favored foods of the gods. The Yule log was the middle of the trunk of a tree that was taken to a big fireplace where it was meant to burn for 12 days, hence, the 12 days of Christmas.

This was also about the time that mistletoe started being used, too. It was thought to be a sacred plant and kissing under it brought luck in fertility.

Even Christmas trees got their start during this time. Many people brought evergreens into their home as reminders that the crops would grow again and that winter wouldn’t last forever. Druids used trees as religious symbols and held some of their most sacred ceremonies around them. Romans decorated their halls with garlands and even out candles in trees in order to decorate for Saturnalia.

Some people believe that when Pope Julius I declared that December 25th would be celebrated as the date of the birth of Jesus he was trying to win over the pagans in an attempt to convert to Christianity. After all, if they were already celebrating on that day to begin with…

If you are new to Wicca and you’re worried about giving up some of your favored Christmas traditions then you don’t have to be. In fact, the majority of the Christmas traditions have been celebrated for thousands of years-before Christianity. Knowing the true meaning behind the traditions can help you appreciate them more and even implement them into your own celebrations.

At our house, we love to celebrate. We celebrate the winter solstice and Yule and it’s a celebration that lasts for nearly a week. Throughout the rest of the month, we also have mini-celebrations where we get together with friends, exchange gifts, and generally have fun with each other. It’s a good time of year.

With my children, I try to make sure that they understand where our traditions stem from and that they’re not simply meaningless rituals that we perform year after year. It’s important to know why you are doing something or else the meaning is taken out completely.

No matter how you celebrate the winter season, I hope that you have lots of luck and love on your side. Take some time to step back and appreciate the things that you have in life and take some extra time to let those around you know how much you love and appreciate them.

And don’t forget to be merry and to joyful this season. It’s the start of a new solar year, after all, and only good things can happen from here on out!

Brightest Blessings,

Rose Ariadne
Your Warm and Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”


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Posted by Rose | Comments (2)

Dear Friends,

It doesn’t seem like that long ago that we were celebrating the summer solstice, and now the winter solstice will be upon us before we know it. So what is the winter solstice, why do we celebrate it, and how can we celebrate it?

The winter solstice has actually been celebrated around the world for thousands of years in one form or another. It’s also known as “Yule” which comes from the Norse word “Jul” that means “wheel. That’s a good way to look at it, since the winter solstice is a celebration of light and the start of the solar year.

Of course, most Western culture celebrate this time of year as Christmas, but that doesn’t mean that Christmas is solely rooted in Christianity. There are some Pagan influences there as well.

Many people don’t realize that December 25th was celebrated as a holiday of sorts before it was designated as the birth of Christ. In fact, Emperor Aurelian established the date as the birth of the Invincible Sun as part of the winter solstice celebrations that were held in the Roman Empire. Not long after that, the Christian church also used this date as the birth of Christ. This was in AD 273. In AD 336, the Roman celebration was Christianized and the two celebrations merged, more or less.

Many people also don’t realize that the date of January 6th, which is known in Christianity as the date of Epiphany, originally was the winter solstice date celebrated by the Egyptians.

In our house, we celebrate a lot of the traditions that are more commonly associated with Christianity. Some people find this confusing, as we don’t follow other Christian traditions. The reason that we do this is because a lot of the traditions that are carried out on Christmas truly have pagan roots and were not born in Christianity.

We celebrate Yule at our house and our celebrations last for more than just one day. As a matter of fact, we celebrate for about a week! We exchange gifts, but we don’t limit them to Christmas Day. One of our favorite traditions is to unwrap presents on the night of the 24th. We do this after our Yule Log ritual and we open the gifts by candlelight. The nighttime and candles give our home a magical feeling that is sometimes more atmospheric than unwrapping gifts by the glaring light of morning.

We have opened gifts on the morning of the 25th, but we have sometimes found that the day almost seems less special. If we get up early and open our gifts then we spend the rest of the day apart, playing with our new items in separate rooms of the house. By opening our gifts in the evening, however, we have the opportunity to look forward the evening all day. We cook and decorate and eat dinner together and then light our Yule Log. It makes the day a little more festive.

Red, green, and white are traditional Druidic holiday colors and are still used to decorate for Christmas today. We decorate our house with these colors in order to prepare for the winter solstice, too. We hang holly and ivy throughout our home and place evergreen branches around our doorframes. All the member of our family also help in making a wreath. We place pinecones and holly in it and hang it on the front door in order to symbolize the wheel of the year and the continuity of life.

Santa Claus is still welcomed in our home, but we recognize him as being a multi-cultural figure with an interesting background. He has facets of the Celtic god of the dying year (the Holly king), the Russian winter god (Grandfather Ice), the Norse sky god who rode in the sky in a chariot driven by goats (Thor), the Norse land spirit that gave children gifts (Tomte) and other figures from the past.

On solstice eve, we do a small ritual in which we honor the new solar year. It’s a simple ritual were we meditate in darkness and then light candles to welcome the sun’s rebirth. While many people celebrate the birth of the Son, we celebrate the birth of the Sun.

This year, the winter solstice will fall on December 21, 6:38 P.M. EST. We will celebrate on the 20th, as well as on the 21st. Then, we will celebrate Yule on the 24th and 25th. As you can see, our household is a place of merriment during December! Throughout the rest of the month we try to spend time with friends and family and show our appreciation for their love and support. It really s a wonderful time of the year, regardless as to how you celebrate it.

Here is hoping that your winter solstice is filled with love, wonderment, ad magic.

Brightest Blessings,

Rose Ariadne
Your Warm and Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”


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Posted by Rose | Comments (2)

Dear Friends,

It is that time of the year again; time to prepare the gardens for winter and put away our outside furniture for the upcoming cold months. I am looking at my herbs and feeling proud of the fact that they did so well this past summer. I have a little window unit that I will plant some in so that I can keep them inside and keep them growing throughout the colder months. I will go ahead and pick the ones that are growing outside, however, and dry them out and use them while I still can.

My sage is looking particularly bushy and healthy and I might be proudest of it the most. It almost got taken over by my blackberry bush so it fought a hard battle this summer.

Speaking of sage, this is an excellent time to talk about a smudging ceremony.

Smudging is simply a way to get rid of some of the bad energy that can hang around a place or a person. Negative thoughts, bad feelings, and even bad spirits can hang around a person and these can all be detrimental to both their spiritual and physical health. Negative energy can also surround a place or even an item.

As far as people are concerned, in the past one ceremony that was performed included burning certain herbs and then taking that smoke from those herbs and rubbing it onto the person in question. This was called “smudging” and we still do it today, although not necessarily in that manner. (Though you CAN do it like that.)

Sage is probably the most commonly used herb for this ceremony, although sweetgrass and cedar are used as well.

There are many different kinds of sage, but most of them can still be used in smudging. In smudging ceremonies, sage is burned to drive out spirits that aren’t up to any good. It also keeps spirits out during the ceremony. The sage can help repel negative influences and feelings, too.

If you want to use sage then you can either grow your own, which is very easy, or you can purchase a bundle at a health food store. Don’t head to the spice rack in your kitchen and get down a jar of it-it’s not quite the same thing. If you are using your own, make sure it has completely dried before you use it or else it won’t smoke the way you want it to.

You should then find a ceramic or metal dish to place the sage in. I put sand at the bottom of my dish first. Place the sage in the dish and light it with a match. You don’t want the whole thing to burn up, but you do want to give the flames a little bit of time to settle in. I usually let mine burn for about 15 seconds or so. Then, blow out the flames. You should have a pretty good smoke going at this point.

If you are trying to drive the negative energy out of a house then you can walk around with your dish to the rooms that you want to focus on. Make sure that you visit all four corners of the room. If it is a person that you wish to cleanse, then making a scooping shape with your hand and gathering up some of the smoke and running it down the person is one of the best ways to do this.

Be careful with the container, as it can get hot. This is particularly true if you use metal and you let the sage burn too long. You might want to place a towel or oven mit under it as you carry it. You don’t want to directly breathe the smoke in, either.

Sweetgrass is interesting because many people choose to burn it after the sage, or cedar if you are using it, as burned out.

You can tie the sweetgrass together in a cloth or string, or you can braid it together, as you would long hair. To burn it, you shave little bits of it over hot coals. You can also light the end of it and wave it around so that the smoke flies through the air.

Sweetgrass helps bring in the good spirits after the bad ones have been driven out. It also helps bring in the positive energy and positive feelings. As you are burning your sweetgrass, it helps to meditate or chant so that the smoke is carried to the places where it needs to go.

When I am finished with the herbs, I usually try to light a light gray candle. If I have been smudging a house then I do my best to place a light gray candle in each room. The color helps repel negative forces and helps neutralize a situation.

The trick to smudging is to go into it with good intentions and an open heart. Your own energy will work with the herbs in order to create the outcomes that you are looking for. Although the sweetgrass can be difficult to find, it is a good idea to bring in positive energy after you have sent out the bad stuff. This will help create a balance.

For now, I am sending positive vibes and energy your way, dear friend.

Brightest Blessings,

Rose Ariadne
Your Warm and Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”


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Posted by Rose | Comments (8)

Dear Friends,

Drawing down the moon is one of the most important rituals in Wicca, as well as in pagan traditions. So what is it, why do we do it, and how do we do it?

Drawing down the moon is typically considered to be a group ritual and is often done in covens. However, if you are a solitary witch you don’t have to be excluded from this beautiful ritual. You can do it on your own, too. When it is performed in a goup, the high priestess goes into a trance and along with the help of the high priest, invokes the Goddess into her. Since the Goddess is characterized by the moon, and in essence you are drawing the Goddess into yourself, the term is referred to as “drawing down the moon.”

Witches in ancient times were thought to be able to control the moon and that is how this ceremony first got started. In other times, a popular tract stated that: “If I command the moon, it will come down; and if I wish to withhold the day, the night will linger over my head; and again, if I wish to embark on the sea, I need no ship, and if I wish to fly through the air, I am free of my weight.”

Today, you can simply use your own words during this ceremony. Although some people do use the Charge of the Goddess, others have poems that they like to recite, or simply be spontaneous in their address.

During the ceremony, altered states of conscious can exist and the ceremonial energy that is raised can be astounding. Words that emanate from the high priestess, or the one that has drawn the Goddess into her, are listened to with seriousness as they can inspiring and moving. Even the other women in the ceremony can benefit from this energy and connect with the power.

When the ritual is practiced, it is usually within a circle. The circle is raised by psychic power and is known as raising the “cone of power.” When the power has been raised, either through chanting, dancing, singing, or music, then it can be focused or directed towards a purpose or destination.

The energy can be so great that some people claim to be able to feel it days after the ritual has been completed.

If you don’t belong to a coven then you can still perform the ritual as a solitary one, although it might take on different aspects. Solitary Wiccans still perform the ritual within a circle, but it’s one that they have cast themselves and not one that has been cast by a group. That doesn’t make it less powerful, of course.

It is more powerful when performed under a full moon. In fact, you can gather a lot of energy if you perform it outside. However, if you live in close proximity to a lot of neighbors who might look out their window and think that you’re up to something no good, then you might want to keep it indoors.

When performed on my own, I am lucky enough to be able to use my backyard. After casting my circle, I move my body into the Goddess position, with my feet apart at shoulder width and my arms up and open in a “V” shape. Facing towards the full moon, you can begin by welcoming the Goddess into you. There are many things that you can say to encourage this, but a popular one is: “Goddess of the Moon, You have been known by many names in many lands in many times. You are universal and constant. In the dark of night, You shine down upon us and bathe us in Your light and love. I ask You, O Divine One, to honor me by joining with me, and allowing me to feel Your presence within my heart.”

It’s not uncommon to cry or laugh or to do both when you feel the Goddess move into you. In fact, I sometimes alternate between the two and do both several times. You may have visions during this time, or you may find that some things suddenly become clearer to you. This might even continue on once you have finished. After all, the energy is very potent.

When I feel that I am finished I end the ritual with the words: “I look down upon the sands of the desert, I crash the tides upon the shore, I shine on the mighty trees of the forests, and watch with joy as Life continues every cycle. Be true to Me, honoring that which I have created, and I shall be true to you in return. With harm to none, so it shall be.”

I then use some time to meditate on what I just did and felt and then I close my circle.

It’s a very powerful ritual and whether you perform it in a group or on your own you should be prepared for intense emotions. You also have to go into it with an open heart and without any fear. You are opening yourself up to powerful emotions and energy and it’s important that you be ready for them.

Here is hoping that your days ahead are filled with love and happiness.

Brightest Blessings,

Rose Ariadne
Your Warm and Caring “Resident Witch In Charge”


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Posted by Rose | Comments (5)