Do Not, Read this Article!: The Akvan

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (

You know how little kids play the opposite game? It’s when they say one thing, but mean the exact opposite of it. Therefore, “I want to play”, means “I want to sleep”. I want to eat, means I’m not hungry. It’s only slightly less annoying than when they realize that you can ask why to anything! Well imagine a powerful evil spirit that thought exactly the same way! Ack!

We’re talking about Akvan. Akvan is a div, which is an evil spirit in Persian mythology whose modus operandi is to do harm to humans. Whether it’s through spreading lies or destruction, it is all done for nothing more than the pleasure of it. Of great power and strength, Akvan has the stereotypical wide mouth, fangs, and horns of a demon. He has claw-like toenails on his wide flat feet and a tail that is not quite hidden by his short skirt. Akvan is a very large and powerful example of a div, but fortunately, he is lacking in intelligence and is entirely predictable. He will always do the opposite of whatever is asked of him.

Akvan is featured in the Persian epic poem Shah-Nameh. In it, Rustem, the hero, is sleeping when Akvan disrupts him with a surprise attack. Certain of his victory, Akvan asks Rustem if he would rather be thrown from the mountaintop and be devoured by the beasts on the rocks below or thrown into the sea and be devoured by whales. Well, Rustem knew Akvan’s weakness, so he said that he wished to be thrown from the mountaintop. Akvan tossed Rustem into the ocean. Since Rustem was a strong swimmer, he was easily able to navigate his way to shore.

The moral of the story is most demons and evil spirits have some kind of weakness or fatal flaw. You will do well to learn as many of these as you can…by reading many more columns in The Magical Buffet.

Magical Buffet Mythology: Daphne

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (

If you’re like me, when you hear the name Daphne your brain goes to the redheaded damsel from Scooby-Doo. Crap, is that really just me? Well, the Daphne from Scooby-Doo was jokingly referred to as “Danger Prone Daphne”. The poor girl was constantly falling down the trap doors or being snatched by the villainous men in masks. Daphne Blake was, in fact, always the hapless victim. (Until Hanna-Barbera revamped the series and turned Daphne into a female MacGuyver of sorts.) The fact is Daphne made sure to end up involved with solving mysteries, and would pay the price by being the damsel of the story (with Velma being the brains, Fred, the brawn, and Shaggy and Scooby the bait). The Daphne we’re talking about is just as much a victim, but instead of seeking out mysteries to cause her trouble, she just needed to live during the time when Greek Gods visited the Earth.

When dealing with ancient myths you are likely to encounter many different versions of the same tales. That becomes multiplied by a dozen when you’re dealing with someone who A) wasn’t a god, and B) existed to justify essentially one custom. Welcome to the enigma of Daphne.

The consensus seems to be that Daphne was the daughter of the river god Peneus. A few sources describe Daphne as a priestess of Gaia and an extremely potent oracle. More sources describe Daphne as a woman who delighted in ranging the woods, much like the goddess Artemis, Daphne longed to stay chaste and free in the forest. Of course, the freakin’ Greek pantheon had to get in the way.

Apollo, who was the Greek god of light, truth, healing, medicine, and archery, fancied himself as quite the archer. He thought so highly of his skill that one-day he decided to smack talk Eros (known as Cupid to you Roman types) about his archery prowess. Eros, showing the personality traits we’ve come to know and love in the Greek pantheon, responded first by shooting Daphne (you know, the woman minding her own business) with a blunted lead arrow and then Apollo with a golden arrow. For smack talker’s sake, it should be noted that Eros hit both targets in one try. The lead arrow would dull the desires of love in an individual, not too tough considering Daphne wanted to remain unwed and chaste. The golden arrow was the infamous patented and trademarked arrow-o-love that Eros is famous for shooting at people.

Apollo became consumed with love and passion for Daphne. The chase was on. Daphne fled as Apollo followed professing his love for her. Now Daphne was in pretty good shape, she was young and spent most of her time outdoors, but come on, Apollo is a god. Eventually Daphne’s strength and stamina were fading and Apollo was getting ready to sweep in for the conquest.

That is when Daphne cried out to Gaia, or in some stories her father, and begged for help. Her pleas were heard, and Daphne was transformed into a laurel tree.

Apollo was filled with such sorrow at losing Daphne that he respectfully took a branch from the tree and made a circlet to wear upon his head. This made the laurel sacred to Apollo and his followers soon took to wearing similar circlets.

You can choose to see Daphne as some sort of embodiment of the feminine free spirit. Perhaps she’s an important piece to the Greek mythological puzzle. In my opinion, no matter how you view Daphne, or her tale, at the end of the day she’s stuck as a tree. That kind of sucks.

The Rainbow Connection…Connections, Actually

Article by Rebecca
Image by Will Hobbs (

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows?” Well Kermit, it’s because there is a ton of associations with rainbows. Rainbows are featured in more myth, more legend, and more symbolism than you can shake a Muppet at!

Anyone that watched the television show “Mr. Wizard’s World” can tell you that rainbows are merely the result of the sun’s light shining through drops of moisture in the air (generally rain drops or mist). This forms the familiar arc of multicolored light that we recognize as a rainbow. The colors generally being identified as Roy G. Biv, in other words, red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. (People also use the phrase “Richard of York gave battle in vain” to remember them.) However, this is The Magical Buffet, you know that we ain’t talkin’ science here!

The rainbow is an important “geographic” location in the form of the rainbow bridge. In the Norse cosmology, Bifrost is the rainbow bridge that connects Asgard, the land of the gods, to Midgard, the earthly realm. Japanese creation myth says that Izanagi and Izanami stand on the Floating Bridge of Heaven to create the land; the bridge is believed to be a rainbow. The Navajo believe that the rainbow is the bridge between the spirit and human worlds. The Hindu god of war, Indra, shoots arrows from a bow that is a rainbow. In parts of India the rainbow is referred to as “Indra’s Bow.” In the Bible, the rainbow is a symbol of the covenant between God and man. It is a symbol of God’s promise after the Flood to not destroy humankind again. In addition, Christ is sometimes shown enthroned on a rainbow at the Last Judgment. The rainbow demonstrates His heavenly power and mercy. There is also Iris, who is the personification of the rainbow and messenger of the Gods in Greek mythology.

That was fun, but you know what’s more fun? Talking about gender and sexuality! In some folklore, such as that of the Albanians, Serbians, Hungarians, and the French, the rainbow is associated with sex change. In the Chinese culture, when a secondary rainbow appears (which is caused by a double reflection inside the rain drops) the brighter one is male and the darker one is female. Then, there is gay pride. The rainbow is used as a symbol of pride within the homosexual community. Why? Well, in 1978 Gilbert Baker designed a rainbow flag to symbolize gay pride and diversity at the San Francisco’s Gay Freedom Celebration. The colors and the meanings of them, for the original pride flag were hot pink (sexuality), red (life), orange (healing), yellow (sunlight), green (nature), turquoise (magic), blue (serenity), and violet (spirit). These days the flag generally has only six stripes, but it is still recognized nearly universally as a symbol of homosexual pride and of support for the community.

Just so you do not think that homosexuals and their supporters are the only ones to ever use a rainbow in a flag format, Italy used a rainbow flag as symbol of peace. It became very popular in 2002 as a sign of protest over the impending war in Iraq. A rainbow flag is also used in Peru and Ecuador to mark Inca territory. The International Co-Operative Alliance used to have a rainbow flag as well, but after concern of it getting confused with the gay pride flag they changed to a new design that still prominently features the rainbow.

It’s not all divinity and gay pride though. Ancient Peruvians claimed if a rainbow were to enter a person’s body they would become ill. In Malaysia, there is a belief that walking under a rainbow causes a fatal fever. Folklore in Hungary suggests that if you point at a rainbow, the pointing finger will wither. African mythology talks of Nkongolo, the Rainbow King, as a cruel tyrant. Perhaps that’s why in some parts of Africa it is dangerous to point at rainbows.

As you can see, the rainbow plays an important role in many myths, legends, and religions all around the world. Most of the time, the rainbow is a positive symbol, one of unity, diversity, peace, and divinity. Of course, it sometimes is associated with illness and disease. This can make the rainbow a thing to be feared. I think that Jack Tresidder hit the nail on the head when he entitled his entry about the rainbow, in his book “Symbols and Their Meanings”, “The Ambivalent Symbolism of the Rainbow.”

Product Profile: Little Hippie Chick Creations

Little Hippie Chick Creations

I am lucky enough to live in the mountains of Northern California, surrounded by Ash, Oak and Bays. Inspiration here is boundless. I find it lying on the ground. You can bet that when you get your hair comb from me, it was just a few days before, a mossy old log. I enjoy making all my creations from 100% salvaged material. I never buy any of my wood.

I make beautiful, earthy, natural art for women. I say all women are beautiful…Naturally! My combs are inspired by every woman I meet. They are functional, tough and beautiful-just like women! I really like the thought that I am not just making hair ornaments-I am making heirlooms. These are definitely something you can wear and love everyday and then pass them along. I believe in the spirit of women.

It is a bond we all share and that is timeless. When I am working, that’s what I think about. Inside every one of us is a Goddess! I feel it is my job to remind women about that. My Grandpa would say you carve away everything that did not look like an Indian; I say you carve away until the spirit shows. Then you sand it smooth and make it glow!

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10 Questions about the Baha’i Faith

1. What is the Baha’i Faith?

Thank you for this opportunity to respond. I’m tempted to give Louis Armstrong’s classic reply, “Man, if you don’t know, I can’t tell you,” but you might get an idea that it’s some kind of jazz heaven, which actually may not be too far off. Baha’is believe in Progressive Revelation, meaning that from time to time God raises up Messengers to educate humanity, such as Buddha, Abraham, Krishna, Moses, Zoroaster, Christ and Muhammad and that the latest one arrived in the 19th century and is named Baha’u’llah – meaning “ Glory of God” in Arabic. He lived and taught mostly under exile and in imprisonment in Middle Eastern lands such as Iran, Iraq, Turkey and what is now Israel. These Messengers reiterate the eternal spiritual truths that are the foundation of all world religions, but also give social teachings for the age in which They appear. This age particularly needs guidance for an emerging global consciousness; ethics and morality for international travel, finance, ecology, communication, science and technology; and the realization that the entire globe and its inhabitants are in the same boat traveling together. (As Baha’u’llah stated, “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”)

Humanity on its own has no hope of solving the colossal challenges besetting it today. One of the most remarkable elements of this Revelation is that it gives not only a vision of the new World Order, but actually gives a blueprint of how to achieve it. So Baha’is worldwide are endeavoring to establish this order right in the midst of the crumbling of one human institution after another. Baha’u’llah has given the believers this directive: “It is incumbent upon every man of insight and understanding to strive to translate that which hath been written into reality and action,” and emphasized that we all have a part to play: “All men have been created to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization.”

2. What are some the basic teachings of the faith?

Every major world religion teaches the same basic things, those being the nature of God and Truth, morality and virtue, prayer and worship. The emphasis is different, according to the needs of the times: Judaism emphasized the law, Christianity focused on love and good works and Islam concentrated on submission to the Will of God. The Baha’i Faith’s overriding value is unity: God is one, His Messengers are one, religion is one, humanity is one. Therefore the thousand-year mission of the Baha’is is to effect the organic unity of the entire human race, for it is written “The well-being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established.” Principles that accompany this central mission are removal of prejudice, gender equality, universal education, universal systems of governance, justice and currency, and a language through which the whole world can communicate. One other very important Baha’i principle is that mankind has progressed to the point where each individual’s spiritual progress is his or her own responsibility; therefore it behooves every person to independently investigate Truth and reality for him or herself. Ergo, there is no clergy in the Baha’i Faith.

3. How does the Baha’i community view and interact with other faiths?

Baha’is regard all humanity as their brethren. The Founder proclaimed, “Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of friendliness and fellowship.” They tend to spearhead and are often over-represented at interfaith gatherings. . Just once I would like see a Baha‘i jump up and yell, “All you heathens are going to Hell!” but (sigh) it just isn’t going to happen. (This is just kidding, of course.)

4. For our readers who may have not have heard of the religion before now, is there a fictional character in television or film that embodies the ideals of the faith?

Ha ha. I consulted some of my Baha’i friends on this one and got suggestions such as “McGyver,” since he used non-violent technological ingenuity to solve problems, the humble Frodo Baggins on his glorious quest of faith or “Star Trek” with its multi-ethnic co-operation boldly braving the final frontier.

5. What holidays do Baha’is observe?

There is a calendar of 19 months of 19 days each, with a few extra Mardi-Gras-type celebratory days at the end to round out the solar year. And the faith has holy days celebrating the births and deaths of the central figures, as well as a few others, such as the Day of the Covenant, Nov. 26, celebrating the fact that God does not leave humanity adrift without guidance. Individually, believers tend to celebrate just about any festival of any religion or culture with other friends – we love a party!

6. What is the biggest misconception, if any, about the religion?

The Baha’i Faith is not, nor ever was, a sect of Islam. It grew out of an Islamic environment, as did Buddhism out of Hinduism or Christianity out of Judaism. Also, since it is so all-embracing, some get the idea that it is eclectic and syncretistic, drawing from the good points of bygone traditions and philosophies, or that it accepts all faiths as being equally true and valid. In actuality, the Baha’i Faith regards all major world religions as one Faith of God, “eternal in the past, eternal in the future” and itself as simply the latest stage in this unfolding faith of the one God Who has been called by many names. Its principles and beliefs have been divinely revealed in the same way as the Ten Commandments, the Vedas, the Dhammapada and the Qur’an have.

7. According to, Dizzy Gillespie, Carole Lombard and Rainn Wilson were/are all Baha’i. Would you be offended if I said that was really cool?

Many distinguished people are Baha’is, but they don’t get obnoxious, obsequious or obstreperous about it. They found universities, establish socio-economic projects and are inventors and innovators. The head of state of Samoa is Baha’i, as was Queen Marie of Romania and other royalty. The faith has attracted great minds such as Tolstoy to Tagore to Khalil Gibran. It has even been rumored that President Woodrow Wilson got the idea for the League of Nations from his Baha’i daughter! Another Khalil, Khalil Green, shortstop of the San Diego Padres, is perhaps the most well known Baha’i presently in popular culture. In America, the duo of Seals and Crofts (“Summer breeze, makes me feel fine . . . . “ c’mon sing it with me now) spread the faith by giving talks after their concerts in the 1970s. Other Baha’is include K. C. Porter (producer to Santana and Ricky Martin) and British funnyman Omid Djalili (remember him from Whoopi’s sitcom?) Cool! Hot!

8. Do you care to comment on the plight of the Baha’is in Egypt?

The Baha’is in Egypt are a fairly small community, but have been placed in a quandary. They are required to carry ID cards that identify their religion. They have no problem with this, as Baha’is in every country are obedient and loyal to their governments. But Baha’is in Egypt have only three choices: Christianity, Judaism or Islam. It’s like those dating sites or online questionnaires where you only have a limited number of responses, none of which apply. But there is no “other” option, and it will not let you skip the question or continue without answering. Baha’is cannot lie about their religion, and without these ID cards they have no access to education, medical services, employment or many other basic services. So they are continuing to work to get the Baha’i Faith official recognition so they can have legal status just like other Egyptian citizens. This Baha’i blog has a lot of information about the situation:

9. Where can I go to learn more about the religion?

Even though there are only about 5 million Baha’is worldwide, we are spread like a thin film over the entire planet, including in such unlikely places as Greenland, North Korea, the Faroe Islands, Tasmania, Alaska, Mongolia, Madagascar, Botswana and virtually every island in the Pacific. So with a little checking in phone books or word of mouth, a human representative of probably the most hospitable community in the world can be found. But beware: You will be plied with tea and sweets and all the literature on the faith you’d ever want. Baha’is, however, do not proselytize. Since it purports to be the most truly international and universal expression of spirituality, it is not surprising that Baha’i sites abound. A couple of main ones are and You are most welcome to contact this author at

10. Parting shot! Ask us here at The Magical Buffet any one question?

This is confusing, but if I read it correctly, you want me to ask you a question. Okay, I’ll be brief, I mean boxer. I see that you love feasting at the salad bar of heavenly delights, but do you ever get spiritual indigestion?


Bio of Geza Farkas:
Geza (rhymes with amaze-a) Farkas, the Funky Flutist of Faith, became a Baha’i in 1997 after a lifetime of study of the works of the world’s great mystics, saints, and seers, since he sensed that in it appeared that which has never appeared before, namely a blueprint by which all of human civilization can be spiritualized, and not just a few special individuals. Hungarian by birth, Canadian by nationality, and Indian in spirit, he has recently emigrated to Chicago and lives near the Baha’i House of Worship for the North American Continent in Wilmette, known as the “Mother Temple of the West.”

Organization Profile: The Church of Iron Oak

text provided by The Church of Iron Oak

The Church of Iron Oak , ATC ( ) is a Wiccan church located in the Melbourne , Florida area. It is composed of several covens and groves under an administrative High Priest and High Priestess. Iron Oak was formed in 1992 as a church affiliated with the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Index, Washington.

The Wiccans are Neo-pagans, who see the world as a temple for worship. As such, the term “church” refers not to a building, but to an organization. Pagans are those of the many faiths that are not Jewish, Christian or Islamic. On the other hand, neo-pagan refers to the pagan movement that began its rapid growth during mid-last century as it spread to the United States. The largest group within neo-paganism is Wicca. Included within the Wiccan belief is that our ancestors of years ago still teach us the lessons of life and death and that we are all interconnected with nature. That is, all men and women, all humankind, animals and plants are one in spiritual unity.

Iron Oak is English Traditional Wicca with an additional philosophical leaning called the “Smith Path”. English Traditional Wicca is the tradition followed by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church ( led by Pete Pathfinder Davis. Wiccans have a faith in Goddess and God and the sanctity of all living things. Wiccans are their own priests and priestesses, for they believe that each person has Goddess and God within them and each person may make their own communion and bond with deity. Since Wiccans are pagans, they neither believe in, nor worship Satan since it reflects a concept that exists only in Christianity, Judaism and Islam. This is true for other pagan religions such as Hinduism and Native American paths. Wiccans see the universe governed by cause and effect and are a part of that universe, not to own it or control it, but to respect it and sanctify it. Wiccans also believe in magic, the power of faith.

The Smith Path refers to the principal that each person can reach their goals in life by their attitude and their work. This may seem like a simple truism were it not for the fact that many are not successful. For this, the founders of Iron Oak observed that the ancient ironsmiths combined their work with their religious practice making the work itself part of the connection with divinity. This was a concept later adopted by the alchemists with their quest for the sacred work.

The Iron in the name ‘Iron Oak’ refers to the sacred metal of the ancient ironsmiths. These smiths were accepted as shamans and magicians because they used the metal from the sky god given to them in the form of meteoric iron. In Babylonia , for example, the name for iron was anbar, or God’s metal, sometimes translated as sky-metal. An was the god of the sky. The smiths regarded their use of iron as a sacred work often performing rituals while undertaking certain activities such as setting up a forge. Because they used extremely hot fires and were able to create powerful tools and weapons, they were regarded as powerful magicians by their countrymen.

Because of the respect shown to the smiths by their countrymen, the smiths themselves were transformed in the way they regarded themselves. They regarded their work as sacred and the care and devotion to quality became part of their spiritual connection to deity.

The Oak relates to the tree that was held in high regard by the ancient Druids. The name “druid” itself is translated as “oak-wise” and it included people who had high specialization and high status in ancient Celtic society. The tree is known for its magnificence and strength. It is strong not by rigidity but by bending in the wind without breaking. Together, the iron and the oak represent the combining of strength through flexibility and the transformation of the sacred work.

Iron Oak Activities

Iron Oak has many programs for community outreach and for training. The church is a regular supporter of Project Response, a local AIDS victim support group. Members who attend workshops and rituals are asked to bring donations for Project Response.

We celebrate the eight sabbats of the year and are open to guests outside as well as inside the church. We also conduct a number of workshops including the widely-known Athame Maker’s Workshop. The latter provides attendees an opportunity to make metal ritual implements by casting or forging under the watchful eye of the members of the Guild of Govannan. This is an organization of smiths within Iron Oak who are trained in the operation of the equipment and a variety of metal and wood working techniques.

As others in the Neo-pagan world, Iron Oak teaches members to have a high regard for nature. Humankind and the rest of nature are part of the whole fabric of divinity. All living things share the divine spark of life. For that reason, members are asked to do the common sense things of conserving our resources and avoiding polluting our lands and waters.

Iron Oak has a number of training programs. One is the Outer Court, the general entry point for membership. The Outer Court is a class to introduce interested people to both Iron Oak and to Wicca. It is composed of a series of meetings held on the first and third Thursday of the month. This format gives an opportunity for those to both meet Iron Oak priests and priestesses and provide each student with a comprehensive study of Wicca and its practices. To join this class, just call (321) 722-0291.

Once a person graduates the series of classes, they may affirm to the church and attend workshops and other special events. They may also join one of the Iron Oak covens for more advanced training. The advanced training is part of a clergy program that can lead to full ordination in the internationally known Aquarian Tabernacle Church. Ordination at Iron Oak is accepted by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church and at ATC churches throughout the world.

Iron Oak church leaders are encouraged to participate in outreach and social programs. This includes providing teachers to local colleges as part of world religions study and participating in DEOMI, the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute located at Patrick Air Force Base near Satellite Beach, Florida. The mission of DEOMI is to provide training in the administration of military, EO, EEO, and human relations.

Iron Oak was also the founder of the Florida Pagan Gathering ( ), currently the largest pagan festival in Florida with more than 500 attendees twice a year. This festival grew from the Iron Oak Freedom Fest and was renamed when the festival was spun-off from Iron Oak to become a separate entity.

Iron Oak can be reached by the following:
The Church of Iron Oak, ATC
PO Box 060672
Palm Bay, FL 32906-0672
Phone: (321) 722-0291
Web :

The Mechanism of Magickal Energy

By Colleen Deatsman and Paul Bowersox

Everybody knows that the manipulation of quantifiable energy to yield repeatedly consistent results is called science. These scientific results can be achieved independent of the operator. We pagans know that the manipulation of unquantifiable energy to produce anecdotal results is called magick. Often times, these magickal results seem operator dependent. That doesn’t mean that consistent results aren’t achieved with magick, it just means that those who manipulate energy through magickal practice need to approach their work understanding the mechanism driving the process. That mechanism, once understood, can operate independent of the magickal operator to produce consistent results. This basic mechanism will be discussed here.

So, what form does your pagan practice take? Are you strictly into the Goddess? Maybe the Goddess and God together? Perhaps the formless non-dual? Whatever your orientation, your pagan magickal practice boils down to three universal elements. These three elements are the same for us as they are for the Buddhists, the Hindus, or the Judeo-Christians. They are the holy trinity of spiritual discipline, and when properly employed, these three comprise the key to the kingdom. They are:


Any spiritual practice can be broken down into these three components. This implies then that no matter what we may embrace as our beliefs, or in what circumstances we may find ourselves, we will always be able to recognize and embrace these common threads, finding joy, solace, and magick, no matter what.

In my books Inner Power and Energy For Life (Llewellyn), I detail the many ways to utilize intent, focus and energy for self-healing and as a means to enhance awareness. These components are also particularly applicable for use in magickal ritual and manifestation.

Intent can be viewed as the goal, the purpose, or the meaning of the practice. Shamans set their intent before they journey in trance to non-ordinary reality. Without proper intent, they may as well be daydreaming about unicorns and fairy dust. This might be fun, but it doesn’t amount to much as spiritual discipline. Intent binds the shaman to the task and enables Helping Spirit energies to effectively interact with them. Candle magick is another practice completely anchored in intent. The witch who performs candle magick has a specific outcome in mind before the candle is ritually lit.
Every ritual, in fact, has an intention, the goal being understood and the meaning clear as the ritual is performed. Clarity of intent is essential if the energies of the universe are to be manipulated magickally for our use. The old computer adage, “garbage in, garbage out” can just as easily be applied to any spiritual practice where intent is utilized. As I said, that’s EVERY spiritual practice.
The tricky part of intent is that we first need to know what we want. We need to fully understand what we are really after before we can make anything happen. In my private counseling practice, I get people all the time who have no idea what they want, or why they want it. It’s common for people to say they want more money. I always ask them why. Invariably, their answer, their actual goal, is something completely different. That’s why understanding and addressing one’s intent is so very important. How can anyone expect any degree of productive outcome from magickal practice with inaccurate, conflicted, or undirected intent about what is desired?

Do you want a new love interest? To what end? If you are going to draw someone into your life through the magickal manipulation of energy, what are you planning to do once they appear? Will you employ the same behaviors in the same way that contributed to your ending up alone in the first place? This is something that must be addressed with intent. Do you want inner peace, spiritual insight, or to gaze upon the face of the Goddess? Okay, but what then? What do you plan to do with that peace, that perspective? Intent demands not only that you know what you want, but that you fully understand the purpose of your desire, what it means to you, and the shift within you that will allow your manifested intent to be integrated into your life. Without this, we might as well just play mumble-de-peg with our athames and call it a day. Nothing will come of magickal work without proper intent.

The second element is focus. Focus is the means, the discipline, and the pointed action we take to set our intent in motion. During ritual, energy is gathered, built, and concentrated through the action of focus. For a Zen Buddhist, the practice of sitting in meditation is the focus. Meditation itself isn’t the intent of the practice, nor does it generate any energy on its own. What meditation does is focus. The actions performed in ritual; the calling of the quarters, the invocations and banishings, are all performed as acts of focus. We cast the circle to pinpoint the area of activity. We banish to dispel any influences that may draw energy away from our intent. We invoke in order to specify the energies we wish to manifest. All of this is focus.

This is extremely important to keep in mind if you are someone who designs rituals for your group or for your individual Book of Shadows. Keep it simple. Keep it focused. The idea is to concentrate all of the energy on the intent. Unfortunately, in the attempt to make ritual “interesting”, elements are sometimes added for dramatic effect that dissipate the energy instead. We must always remember that what we focus on, we give energy to, and what we give energy to, we give life to. Every time you direct the focus away from the desired intent, you spend some of the energy you have raised on that digression. That might be fine for high holidays or feast days when part of the intent is to spread the energy throughout the community, but it is counterproductive when one is trying to co-create a new reality. Focus is the mechanism we employ to deliver the energy we have raised to the intent we have specified.

The third element is energy. Energy is everything. Energy is eternal and energy is everywhere, all the time. The universe hangs on an energetic web. This web exists just outside our everyday perception, and it is the ubiquitous undercurrent that we draw on by setting our intent and performing our acts of focus. Energy is the fuel, the currency of the universe, and the spirit’s stock in trade. We have to realize that everything in the physical and spiritual worlds is comprised of energy. Each of these things or beings has its own energetic character, to be sure, but it is energy nonetheless. We use energy to accomplish a particular task, or we direct energy in order to encourage an energetic response from a particular source.

When you come right down to it, all magick is the exercise of energetic sourcing. Source-ery, if you will. We draw on that source energy, focusing it and concentrating it until we can release it as high-octane fuel to power our specific intent. If we have done our job properly, that energy will be enough to usher our imagined desire from the ethereal plane of concept into the physical world. Voila! We have now manifested our desire through the application of intent, focus, and energy.

When participating in the magickal manipulation of energy, it is important to remember that the universe is sentient. All matter is densified high-vibration universal energy, and all high-vibration universal energy is intelligent. No matter what you might think of our current President, even he is comprised entirely of intelligent universal energy. For this reason, we must always exercise responsibility when employing the triumvirate of intent, focus, and energy. We must keep in mind that every component of the universe is interrelated. When we co-create reality, we are changing the shape of the universe by redirecting and reforming the currents of intelligent energy within the web. That great power demands great responsibility. Part of that awareness of our responsibility requires being accountable for what we do. Just because we know how to manipulate and focus energy, doesn’t mean we must feel compelled to use it compulsively. It’s been said that if you carry around a hammer in your hand, everything starts to look like a nail. That self-centered view is what has brought our world to the brink. Energy, being intelligent, also has memory. When we magickally manipulate and direct energy in the service of our intent, we leave our mark upon it, like psychic fingerprints. That action is tied to us. Because of this, we can never perform magick anonymously, or create a reality without accountability.

As members of a spiritual path that reveres our Mother Earth, we must employ our energetic expertise with discretion, wisdom and responsibility. In this way, we will forever be part of the solution rather than part of the problem, no matter what our specific beliefs or practices might be.

Blessed Be.

Colleen Deatsman, MA, LPC. Author of Energy For Life: Connect with the Source (Llewellyn 2006) and Inner Power: Six Techniques for Increased Energy and Self-Healing (Llewellyn 2005), is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Registered Social Worker, Reiki Master, Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist, Certified Alternative Healing Consultant, and Shamanic Practitioner. She has a Masters degree and owns a private practice in counseling and alternative healing services in Michigan.

Paul Bowersox is a writing coach, editor and contributing writer for a number of authors and publications including Inner Power: Six Techniques for Increased Energy and Self-Healing and Energy For Life: Connect with the Source (Llewellyn). He is always interested in new projects and can be e-mailed at Paul currently lives, writes, and works in rural Northeastern Pennsylvania.

This Just In: Harry Potter Readers Won’t Go to Hell

Well, now that the seventh book has released, the world can see that all the Harry Potter controversies have been much ado about nothing.  Let’s see, there were the plagiarism complaints.  If you have ever read the fabulous graphic novel “Books of Magic” (If you haven’t go buy the first book today!) you can see why some people have a problem with Rowling’s “innovative” ideas.  Then there were the feminist groups remarking on a lack of strong female characters.  Their argument being that where Harry Potter and Professor Dumbledore show limitless courage, bravery, and wisdom, their counter parts Hermione and Professor McGonagall show frailty.  In addition, of course, there were the concerns from religious organizations that the Harry Potter universe of witches and wizards would lead the youth down a path of wickedness.
Everyone can relax; you’re not going to go to Hell (if you even believe in such a place) for reading the Harry Potter books!  Well, at least according to the Church of England.  Diocese of Oxford Bishop John Pritchard was quoted in The Christian Post (Click Here for Story) as saying, "Jesus used storytelling to engage and challenge his listeners.  There’s nothing better than a good story to make people think, and there’s plenty in the Harry Potter books to make young people think about the choices they make in their everyday lives and their place in the world.”
Owen Smith, a youth worker at St. Margaret’s Church in the United Kingdom, has written a book called “Mixing it Up with Harry Potter”.  The Church of England’s publishing company is publishing it.  The Church’s press release states, “Using film scenes in which the characters make tough decisions to prompt discussion about moral choices and extracts from the books that demonstrate the power of words and their impact on others, the resource has creative ideas for using the Potter books as a basis for Christian teaching.”
Smith has also written “Mixing it Up with the Simpsons”.  According to Globe and Mail (Click Here for Story), “Mr. Smith started writing the book 18 months ago when pre-teens at the Sunday school where he teaches told him they were far more interested in The Simpsons and Harry Potter than Jesus and apostles.”
It’s nice to see a religious body recognizing that there are moral lessons to be learned in stories, not just traditional Bible stories.  There are many good moral lessons to be found in the television show “The Simpsons” and they’re in the Harry Potter series. 
Personally, I’ve been working on the “10 Moral Lessons of The Family Guy.”  I’m at five and counting….

You Got Your Halal in my Kashrut!

The warm, cornmeal-batter smell of fresh fried catfish filled my father’s kitchen. The bubbling grease in the “Fry Daddy” in the corner just set the mood even better. Typical for dinner, my mom asked me, “What do you want to drink?”

“Milk please.”

“We’re having fish, you can’t have milk with fish.”


That statement immediately derailed our dinner plans and launched a lengthy discussion as to exactly why I couldn’t have milk with fish. In the end, I had to live with the answer, “just because, it’s not healthy.” It was only a few years later that my parents finally relented that there was no good reason for it. Eventually, my parents gave up on this taboo and the milk jug came out even on fish fry nights.

Later, I came to understand that, even though my family is far from Jewish, this was somehow most likely a holdover from the Kosher requirement to not serve meat and dairy for the same meal.

But really, where do you get these customs? No Pork? (Don’t take away my Bacon!) Specific rules for slaughtering of animals and draining of blood? Eggs for Easter?

Well, here are one man’s thoughts on the matter.

In times past, it was the job of the church to shepherd their flock through the trials and daily tribulations of life’s dangers. In a time when preservative methods, refrigeration and the like were all but non-existent, food quality was a great source of concern for health and wellbeing. Additionally, agriculture was in its young years and not nearly so well developed as today. Many of the best ideas for how to properly tend crops and herds were foreign to the cultures of the time.
And, what better way to get people to behave and follow a code or guideline, than to go ahead and make it the will or direction of God?

Hence was born, the religious restrictions on diet and food consumption.
The restrictions and customs span the world’s religions. Most notably, Judaism has the Kashrut, which defines which foods are “Kosher” and may be eaten (as well as how they must be prepared), but goes far beyond just that. In Islam, you find the Halal, detailing a very similar list of requirements. However, Buddhism and Hinduism have light, less formal requirements. Christianity meanwhile is rich with traditions of its own.
Would anyone believe that it is a coincidence that nearly every religion from the time preceding recorded history to modern times prescribes periods of fasting in the spring and/or the fall?

Fasting during those times serves to conserve food stores for lean months ahead (Fall) or conserves already depleted food stores before Spring crops are harvested. Additionally, the periods of fasting force the body to consume toxins built up in the system and allow organs a period of rest prior too or following time spent consuming a less healthy diet lacking vegetables and other nutrients.
There are agricultural concerns as well. Avoiding unnecessary meat consumption during the Spring helps insure that there is sufficient diversity in the herd for breeding and growth of the herd, as well as protecting mother’s to be from the slaughter.

Specific taboos were developed as well. In some cases, such as Pork, the reason for proscribing the food ‘seems’ clear to most. At a time when most meats were slow cooked over a spit, it was not guaranteed that Pork would reach the necessary temperature to kill the worms which cause the parasitic disease, Trichinosis. Rather than risk this, it was outlawed by the culture.

However, what seems fairly clear for most may not be so simple. An idea gaining popularity among anthropologists is that Pork was forbidden by Middle-Eastern cultures more for the fact that Pigs, in an arid climate, require a great deal of water, and that pigs left to roam free will consume grains and food products valuable to the human inhabitants of that region.

Agricultural basis for food taboos may be more widespread than originally thought too. It’s widely known that devout Hindu’s don’t eat beef. Is this due to the cow being “Sacred” in Hindu culture as most Westerners think? Or was it because in years past large herds were kept that contributed to deforestation and overgrazing, which further contributed to the loss of cultivated lands and growing deserts? Thereby forcing a reduction in herd sizes and making it unfeasible to consume cattle, which were still needed as beasts of burden.

Also, herd quality suffered over time. The tradition of the time was that the visit of an “honored” guest prompted the slaughter of the finest bull in the herd. The loss of this quality genetic material to the herd saw a steady decline in strength and stamina of the animals, making them less suited to the lifting and pulling duties required of them.

Of course, in other cases, the food associated with a particular holiday seems to be a mystery. As a kid, I loved coloring and hunting for Easter Eggs, and along with that, loved the boiled eggs and deviled eggs sure to come later, but, why eggs for Easter?

Well, when Christianity came along it was supplanting many older, less well-structured religions. However, in order to attain the buy-in of the common folk, certain holidays had to be preserved in part, if not in whole. Easter was converted from Ostara, a spring fertility holiday. Eggs, Bunnies, get it? Both are common symbols of fertility.

Sometimes it is necessary to make up a reason to eat a particular food for a Holiday. Every good Jewish child knows that Hanukka celebrates the one day’s worth of Olive Oil that burned for 8 days to light the eternal flame while more Olive Oil could be pressed and prepared. And to celebrate this, Jewish households the world over cook Potato Latke’s in Olive Oil.

Wait a minute…Potatoes? Potatoes come from the New World and were unknown to the Jewish people at the time of the miracle of the oil and for hundreds of years after. However, centuries later, at a time when new food substances were needed to ward off hunger and when it just so happened that the last of the Potato harvests were becoming available, Jewish people needed encouragement to embrace the Potato. Thus was introduced by the Temple, the Potato Latke, “traditional” Hannukah food.

Sometimes though, the foods you eat for your religion are just part of the religion. I can think of no other reason to have Matzo Meal inflicted on you, than a form of penance and remembrance for Passover and a people fleeing oppression and having no time for leavened bread.

Also, as time goes by, the more strange customs, alien to modern society, fall gradually into disfavor (but can still be found somewhere). Feel free to google, placentophagy.

Lastly, the next time you sit down to a traditional dinner or you gaze longingly on that one tasty looking item you can’t have (mmm, bacon), stop to ponder why it is the way it is. If you dig deep enough, you may find that the answers surprise you.

Greg Bullard has driven in all 48 contiguous U.S. States, Canada, Mexico and has been sure to stop for a bite to eat in everyone of those places. He’s almost half as charming as he thinks he is, not quite as conceited as he seems to be and did we mention, he loves food? Visit Greg’s website

The Driver’s Ten Commandments

If you watch “The Daily Show”, “The Colbert Report”, or heck even “Headline News”, then you’ve already heard about the “Driver’s Ten Commandments”.  This was part of a larger document, the “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road”, that was issued by the Vatican on June 19, 2007.  Technically, this is old news, with it being July and all, but in case you hadn’t seen this already I’m covering it now, also, I think it’s fun and timeless.
Actually, despite how easy it is to poke fun at the “Driver’s Ten Commandments” I feel that I should do the thing that no news outlet has done yet, which is provide a little context.  As I said, the “Commandments” are part of a larger document.  This document was never intended for the average Joe Catholic.  According to the presentation at the beginning, “These Guidelines are aimed at bishops, priests, religious and other pastoral workers, as a further step towards a pastoral care that pays increasing attention to all expressions of human mobility, and is integrated within ordinary, local and parochial pastoral care.”  The “Guidelines for the Pastoral Care of the Road” covers four very separate categories that are connected by that pavement river we call, the road.
Part one is, “Pastoral Care of Road Users”, which includes the infamous “Commandments”.  The other three parts are, “Pastoral Ministry for the Liberation of Street Women”, “Pastoral Care of Street Children”, and “Pastoral Care of the Homeless”.  Still funny?  The fact is, this document is to help provide guidance to Catholics leaders on the church’s stance on these topics and how to help educate others in the subject matter and how best the Church can help solve the dilemmas of these groups. 
Yes, road users are a dilemma.  Don’t believe me?  Then you do not have to commute for your job.  I worked in retail for over 10 years.  You know what made me dislike people?  One year of commuting to my office job.  Accidents, reckless driving, the stress of traffic jams, drunk drivers, and more, are all important issues that face every driver, whether they’re Catholic or not.  The “Pastoral Care of Road Users” is comical in it’s presentation of the problems drivers face (“In addition to traffic congestion, people are directly exposed to dangers deriving from other related problems, such as noise, air pollution and intensive use of raw materials.”), but it does encourage the Church to help educate people in the importance of traffic safety and to contribute support for campaigns and programs aimed at bettering roads and traffic safety.  For all of the document’s comic value, and believe me, it has it in spades; at its heart, it’s a well-meaning document.
Now that I’ve been far more fair and generous to the Catholic Church than I may ever be again, let’s check out the “Driver’s Ten Commandments”!
I. You shall not kill.
II. The road shall be for you a means of communion between people and not of mortal harm.
III. Courtesy, uprightness, and prudence will help you deal unforeseen events.
IV. Be charitable and help your neighbor in need, especially victims of accidents.
V. Cars shall not be for you an expression of power and domination, and an occasion of sin.
VI. Charitably convince the young and not so young not to drive when they are not in a fitting condition to do so.
VII. Support the families of accident victims.
VIII. Bring guilty motorists and their victims together, at the appropriate time, so that they can undergo the liberating experience of forgiveness.
IX. On the road, protect the more vulnerable party.
X. Feel responsible towards others.
Actually, now that I’m reading them, I can’t bring myself to poke fun because I cannot help but wish that more people on my commute seemed to follow these.  Although, there is a few that are missing, maybe I need “Rebecca’s Ten Commandments for Drivers”.
I. Thou shall not speed in the slow lane nor go below the speed limit in the middle lane.
II. When it is merely cloudy, and there is no precipitation, thou shall not drive as if there is precipitation.
III. Drivers shall not decelerate just because they are on a bridge.
IV. Drivers shall not decelerate before the exit ramp, for the exit ramp exists for deceleration.
V. Likewise, drives shall accelerate while using on ramps, for they are designed for acceleration.
VI. Drivers shall use their blinkers whenever they are turning or changing lanes.
VII. Drivers shall not use cell phones, even if a hands free device is employed, while driving.  There is a reason why our Lord created voice mail.
VIII. If thy vehicle is incapable of achieving the minimum posted speed limit, than thou shall not drive it on that road.
IX. Thou shall decelerate if necessary to let a driver merge.
X. If at all possible, thou shall not be on NY I-87 at the hours of 8:30 a.m. or 4:00 p.m.
If you’re interested, the entire Vatican document can be found here: