Prayers & Work for Haiti…

Dear Friends and Pagani,

As you doubtless know a 7.0 earthquake has hit the island nation of Haiti.

(Stories on CNN, The New York Times, and New Jersey(dot)Com’s coverage of Wyclef Jean’s calls for donations to the Haitian charity Yele, on his Twitter feed)

In the midst of my everyday and my crazy schedule, my heart has been going out to the people of Haiti and I am trying to figure out how best to help.

I am particularly sympathetic to this issue as someone from Anchorage, AK.  The 1964 Good Friday Quake‘s devastation is something every Alaskan school child studies.  While I now live thousands of miles away, I also live with the knowledge that what historical records we have of the tectonic activity of my hometown says that there is a large earthquake every 20 years or so.  Anchorage is nearly 20 years overdue…  so my prayers and sympathies are very much with the people of Haiti.

When I have the chance I hope to take a candle and a card to the Haitian Consulate here in Orlando, which has a large Haitian population.

In the meantime I will donate what little I can to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s earthquake relief fund (here) and for the moment am just spreading the word.

(more info on the UUSC at their site, and on wikipedia)

There is also an evolving discussion of the different avenues of donation going on at the relevant article on the Wild Hunt.

It is through there that I also found a list of Green Charities operating on the ground in Haiti, if you are as minded of long term aid as well as short term relief you might consider donating to them as well.

A Witches Prayer for the Haitian People

I Pray to You oh Mighty Mother and Forceful Father

I respectfully call out unto All the Holy Powers of the Universe,

Please let all of Your Love and Compassion and Blessing to bear,

On the Island and the People of Haiti in this time of pain and suffering,

May the Holy Powers of Air inspire them and help them to communicate with their far flung families,

May the Holy Powers of Fire warm them and bring the healing of bodies,

May the Holy Powers of Water quench their thirst and bring the healing to their hearts,

My the Holy Powers of Earth feed them and lend them strength,

Blessed may You be,

Blessed may they be,

So mote it be.


Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

An Update…

Shortly after posting this I received an e-mail from PeaceNext, the social networking site of the Parliament of The World’s Religions, with a link to a CNN(dot)com list of charities working to aid the nation and people of Haiti…

The Ethical and Virtuous Witch

Dear Pagani,

I am a Witch, of the type popularly called Wiccan.  In my case this means religious and British Traditional Witchcraft inspired Neo-Pagan Religious Witchcraft.  I came to this path, and later fell off of it for a while, nearly 17 years ago. This essay is my attempt to discuss the core values, ethics, and virtues I have found within the path and faith of Witchcraft.

I can only speak for myself, as a Witch, especially a Solitary one.  These are what I have found, your mileage may vary!

After having studied Witchcraft for a few years and Invoking the Divinities, seeking Them through Ritual and Gnosis.  I prayed and read and studied what I could find at the time… I wanted more, I felt the need to dig deeper.

So the first thing I did was take a good look at The Rede.

Now anytime one talks about ethics or values in the Neo-Pagan Witchcraft world, especially from the Wiccan or Wicca inspired end of the spectrum; the topic of the Rede comes up.

“An ye harm none, do what thou will.”

The Rede is almost always (and in my oh, so humble opinion incorrectly) cited as the only rule, ethical statement, or religious law of Witchcraft. While I disagree with the only part, I would say that examining the Rede, and really thinking about it, is central to understanding the philosophy of Witchcraft.  So let’s take a look, shall we?

First let’s focus on the word Harm…

“HARM (noun): Physical or mental damage.”

Nouns are words that name a person, place, thing, quality, or action. Eliminating the person and place we have Harm describing a thing, quality, or action. This would seem to say that Harm is something that is done by one party or group to another. To do something, to do anything in fact, you need intent. So while you may not always succeed at it, if you strive to do no harm to yourself or others you are practicing the Rede.

Now let’s look at the word “An” in “An ye harm none, do what you will”. An, is the archaic form of “If” so a more modern wording would be…

“If you harm none, do what you will.”

“If” is darned important.  “IF” means that we have the choice to do harm, to ourselves and to others, but that we must face the consequences of our actions.

If… So what if you harm someone, with intent? Since Witches don’t believe in the Devil, we can’t say “the Devil made me do it?” or “It was because I was a sinner!” or “It’s not my fault because I was acting under medication for my sinus infection”.

In fact Witches and a lot, if sadly not all, of our fellow Pagans believe very strongly in personal responsibility as a part of their life paths.  We choose our actions, and we are capable of choosing our reactions, so we are always responsible for what we do and the choices we make.

Harming “none,” also includes oneself. This is a key ingredient in my decision making process… Is it more harmful to myself to allow this situation to continue, than any harm X, Y, or Z might encounter as a result of my decision?  The thing is to be a Witch you must be willing to strive to do no harm. There may come times in life where you have a choice and no matter what you chose someone will be harmed by your actions, but in most cases you have a choice open to you to NOT harm anyone or yourself.

So that takes care of the “Harming None” aspect of the Rede, what about “Do what thou will.”?

This is another area worthy of some examination.   Are you thinking about will as in doing whatever you want?  That’s ok, as far as it goes, but we can dig deeper!  Like a lot of Witches, I look at the Rede’s similarity to certain Thelemic ideas and consider the will discussed in the Rede as being True Will.  Will, with a capital “W”, as being an ongoing effort to live from moment to moment a path of action in perfect harmony with Nature or the Universe; to seek ones ultimate Destiny.

So another wording of the Rede might be…

“Strive to do no harm, and seek a path of harmony towards your destiny”

This is a little more complicated, and adult, than just doing whatever you want; even if you are trying to mind the consequences!

Now the next thing a lot of folks seem to think about, in connection with the Rede, and with the topic of virtues and ethics in Witchcraft, is the Three-fold Law

“What you do comes back to you Threefold!”

Some Witches maintain that this is a core value or belief, other Witches look upon it and go

“Meh, Newton said it better!”

There is some variation of the Golden Rule or the Ethic of Reciprocity in most of the world Faiths.  While I respect the idea of the Rule of Three, as it is also known, I just can’t see myself grounding my actions and values in a system where I am fearing punishment or seeking reward.  That just seems somehow childish to me.

So I moved out from the Rede and the Rule of Three, in my own explorations  trying to figure out how to actively live as a Witch and carry my faith with me into the world.  Then I began to really look at Doreen Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess.

A few passages especially stood out…

“For mine is the Spirit of Ecstasy, and mine as well is joy on Earth, and Love Unto All Beings is My Law.”

“Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it; let nothing stop you or turn you aside.”

“Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.”

These are the things the First Goddess of my heart demands of me.  I remember being so shocked that none of the books I had read talked about the implicit instruction aspect of the Charge of the Goddess.

“Love unto all beings is my Law.”

This passage was the first that sort of hit my in the face when I started really looking at the Charge for moral and ethical guidance.  It is the only place in this sacred piece of poetry and inspiration where The Goddess lays down Her Law… not a recommendation, not a suggestion, Her Law.

The thing is, Love, is complicated!

Love for your family, and friends, and beloved.  Love for your neighbors, your co-workers, and your acquaintances.  Love for the people who cut you off in traffic, love for the scary and possibly schizophrenic homeless guy you walk by on your way to work.  Love for all beings, no matter how violent or vile their actions or pasts…

Now loving someone doesn’t require us t unconditionally or blindly love them and it doesn’t require us to to accept their immoral or unethical behaviors.  As long as it is truly rooted in love, we can practice Tough Love in those cases.

Then too there are those people in the world and in our regional and religious communities who have committed crimes; sometimes horrible and “unforgivable” crimes like murder or rape or worse.

Please Note: I use the quotes because it is easy to forget, especially if we or someone we love has been victimized in the past, that unless the person we are faced with actually victimized us then it is not our place to forgive them.  Only their own victims can possibly do that!

However, if they have served their debt to society, and seek to live a moral and ethical and sane and healthy life now, then all I can do is to be cautious and watchful in my Love for them; because She demands I find within myself, and act with, Love for them!

Like I said, Love, is complicated.  The Law of the Goddess is not unlike the goal or practice of Metta or Loving Kindness of the Buddhists.

So, to paraphrase, again…

“Live a life of Love,” She says do good things, and act with balance and wisdom! She says…

Striving to find Love for all beings, and striving to identify and live out and act upon our Highest Ideals.

You know though, I am still still struggling to identify and articulate my highest ideals; heck that was one of the motivations for starting the International Pagan Values Blogging month blog carnival in the first place!  For me, my ideals are wrapped up within the Rede, and The Law of The Goddess, and the U.S. Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, and many other sources and inspirations.

Then too, as someone who is barely making ends meet, and who is desperately seeking for a second job or one full-time job, a lot of my sense of actively working for my highest ideals; well, it feels on hold.

I do try to do good in the world where I can.  Writing and speaking out in favor of Gay Civil Rights, and Pagan Community.  I participate in workplace giving with a few dollars of each paycheck going to some charitable causes.  I tell myself that I will do more as I am able, but a lot of times that feels nowhere near enough.

So, for now, I try to hold to my ideals as best I can and pray to the Gods for guidance and good things for myself and my family and for the opportunity to act upon my ever evolving Highest Ideals.

It’s not like I, as a Witch, don’t have some guidelines in how to act…

“Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.”

These 8 virtues or qualities are what the Goddess wishes me to try and embody, each and every day.   They are a part of the plan the Goddess has laid out for us, Her Witches.

I have copied down the dictionary definitions of those 8 goals/ideals/virtues, I have sought out quotes about them that strike the same chords in my soul as the Charge does, I meditate and contemplate the meanings of the words and how others have related to them trying to puzzle out my own relationship to them.   I have in this very blog tried to articulate what some of the virtues mean to me, and rambled a bit about striving towards my highest ideals, and of love unto all beings.

The truth is though that these are things I think and pray upon on a daily basis,… now.

“Mother Celestial, and Father Divine,

Let me walk in Beauty and Strength,

Exhibiting Power and Compassion,

With both Honor and Humility,

Let me always remember Mirth as well as Reverence,

That I might be worthy of Thy Perfect Love and Perfect Trust,

And that of those in whose hearts you dwell.

Blessed be, so mote it be”

Originally I did that work studying definitions and contemplating meanings and looking at what others had said or thought about these qualities of character; and then, somehow, I sort of set it aside.   I got distracted from the important matters and guidelines of spirit by the pressures of everyday life, and by giving in to some of my more self-destructive impulses.  It has been a long and winding, educational and rough and yet not entirely unpleasant road back to living my Witchcraft on a regular basis; I am still working on it, and suspect I shall be doing so for the rest of this lifetime.

I have failed to live these ideals in the past, sometimes grievously, but I keep trying… one of the definitions of Strength relates to perseverance…and persevere I do!  Each day I pray my prayer, sometime it comes out more like a memorized recitation than a heartfelt speaking and sharing with the Deities, so I will repeat it… sometimes mantra-like until I feel I have truly thought about each of the virtues and what they mean to me and have had a moment of connection to Them as I contemplated these Virtues I am ordered to embody.

She wants so much from me!  I can get intimidated sometimes thinking about it, yet when I offered myself  to Them they accepted me.  So I persevere and I struggle and I keep going,

And still I struggle, Beauty and Strength, and by extension Health are  issues for me lately.  Well, Beauty is always something I have struggled to find in looking at myself, and to find myself worthy of striving for.  But Strength and health are things I have let slip in the last couple of years.  She expects more of my, and through Her love I have learned to start expecting more of myself.

As I write this I am realizing that one of the key things, for me, about the values and virtues I have found within Witchcraft is that they are things each of us must work with.  Whether you are a Solitary or in a Coven, no one else is responsible for your Grace, your Gnosis, your encounters with the Numinous Divine.

Each of us must look to the values and ethics and ideals and morals we find in our many Pagan Paths.  We must not only study and contemplate them, we must wrestle with them daily as we try to live them and as we carry them with us into the world where we will act in accordance with them.

Peace, and Love, always Love,


Freedom of Religion?

Ok, folks time to get busy!!!

A mother has been denied custody of her child because of the mere
perception that she is a Wiccan!

The lady in question may or may not be Wiccan( or a Witch, or a Pagan
for that matter), but the mere perception that she might be has caused
one intolerant judge to deny her custody of her child!  And another
group of judges to uphold the decision!  What can we do?

Prayers, spells, petitions to our many Goddesses and Gods, these
things can work wonders.  This is a part of my faith and philosophy as
a Witch.  Acting in accord also works wonders, making a phone-call, or
writing letters to the editor, writing your State representatives if
you live in the U.S..  Send letters to the ACLU and to who ever else
you can think of.  Please do something in both the physical and the
metaphysical world to stand up for Religious freedom and basic human


Pax / Geoffrey

A house guest and a few random notes…

We’ve had a guest in from out of town for the last few days, so I haven’t been able to indulge my blogaholic and mouse-potato tendancies.  I’ve been re-reading Elements of Ritual by Deborah Lipp.

It’s a great book and really well worth the read.

I am also in the process of my continueing job hunt and of working on my new GLBT civil rights blog.  I am also wanting to re-read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and to work some on my own personal writing projects…  ambitous thing aren’t I?!?

I don’t feel overworked or intimidated.  Determined, focused even, but not intimidated even though I am setting the bar high.  I think on some level I have really begun to absorb some of the ideas inherent in my daily prayer … I have hesitated with the Witches Virtues posts because I was wrestling with the issue of Power and wasn’t really feeling all that powerful.  The thing is though that at heart we are as powerful as we allow ourselves to be… but that’s another post…



Witches Virtues: Strength

Witches Virtues: Strength

By Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.”

From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

Here in one simple sentence, there are eight simple words, eight virtues, and a wealth of meanings and possibilities and inspirations in a passage from the Charge of the Goddess, where She to tell us how to carry ourselves and what we should aspire towards. Today I am taking a closer look at Strength.

Let’s look at some of the definitions from our trusty dictionary…


1. The state, property, or quality of being strong. 2. The power to resist attack; impregnability. 3. The power to resist strain or stress; durability. 4. The ability to maintain a moral or intelectual position firmly. 5. Capacity or potential for effective action. …

7A. A source of power or force. B. One regarded as the embodiment of protective or supportive power; a support or mainstay. C. An attribute or quality or particular worth or utility; an asset.

8. Degree of intensity, force, effectiveness, or potency, as; A. Degree of concentration, distillation, or saturation; potency. B. Operative effectiveness or power. C. Intesity, as of sound or light. D. Intensity or vehemance, as of emotion or language.

9. Effective or binding force, efficacy; the strength of an argument.

~from the American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd ed.

…I’ve cut out a few definitions related to economics and military terminology and card games, while interesting they don’t seem to cut to the core of what the Virtue of Strength is about; either in general or for me personally.

For myself, I find the many possibilities of what the Goddess asks of me intriguing.  Who is to say that She is narrowed down to one definition for Strength?  Physical, Moral, Intensity, … my momentary favorite is the capacity for effective action.

Here are a few other definitions of, and quotes related to, Strength for your perusal and consideration.

It is interesting to me that in my own mind when I first contemplate Strength I am drawn to the idea of emotional or intellectual or moral strengh and not to the physical.  In fact I know it was this inner strength that I sought when I first chose the Witch name Pax et Fort.

There was a time I was much less neglectful of my physicality, I was in volleyball and weight training classes in High School.

Physical strength and, by logical inference, health are important. We in the Pagan community can sometimes get so enraptured with the spiritual that we neglect the physical. This is something of a problem for those of us in the Pagan community. We all know folks who are all gung-ho about meditating and alternative healing and Reiki, but neglect to visit the doctor.

The more I think about it the more I know I need to work on my own physical Strength, and health.

Witches Virtues: Beauty

Witches Virtues: Beauty

By Pax / Geoffrey Stewart


Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.”

From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente


            Today I am writing about, working out the idea and my understanding of, the First Virtue; Beauty.


            When I started to examine the text of Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess for a deeper understanding of the Witches faith, this passage stood out.  This short, simple, passage lists 8 Virtues, or Values, that the Goddess wants us Witches to embody and exemplify.  In exploring these virtues I started by reading the dictionary definitions of each, since I believe that words have ~and are~ power, and listing those that seemed most appropriate in my BoS; I also collected quotes about each of them that seemed particularly apropos.


            At the time I thought some about all of this, but really didn’t write down or codify my thoughts on the virtues.  In retrospect this is in part because I was shying away from some difficult and deep level personal work.  Beauty is a goodly part of that. 


            For many years I looked at myself and considered myself to be the exact opposite of beautiful.  I thought of myself as ugly.  Just changing that idea was a part of my life journey of my 20’s.  It was not a conscious part of my work or journey.   Somehow though I went from someone who wore extra layer’s of clothes because I was afraid people would notice me, someone who habitually walked with his eyes down avoiding eye contact, someone who spent as little time looking into a mirror as I had to; to someone who posed for an art photography shoot in the nude, to someone who could walk with pride and didn’t mind being noticed, to someone who did a strip-tease for the talent portion of his competition in the Alaska Bear Cub 2000 competition… and won!


            Apparently though, I still have trouble approaching the topic of Beauty, so enough rambling!


            First let’s take a look at the actual meaning of the word…




            1. A delightful quality associated with such things as harmony of form or color, truthfulness, or originality.  2. One that is beautiful.  3. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling.  4. An outstanding or conspicuous example.


            ~from the American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd ed.


            (I thank the Lord and Lady for answering my silent prayer of guidance the day I chose this as my hardcopy dictionary, based in large part on the fact that their definition of “Witch” featured the word “Wicca”.  The above definition functioned as a seed bed for a lot of personal growth on my part as I learned to embrace my own beauty.)


            Let’s take a moment to look at a few other definitions of “Beauty”.


            Welcome back…


            In the information about Beauty, that I hope surfed too, I was particularly amused by the observations about physical beauty in Wikipedia and the studies that show that physical attractiveness is embodied in averageness…  where the photos of different faces were super-imposed and the more you averaged features together the more attractive the resultive face was rated.  Then too, the idea that attractiveness in women, as measuered in ‘ideal’ measurements, relates to likelyhood of fertility.   Some interesting food for thought in ones relationship to Beauty when you start doing this research.


            What about social power of beauty, how the students judged physically attractive get better grades than the ‘average’ looking students, who in turn get better grades than those judged unattractive?  Beauty is power in our society, but is this power only innate or is it a power we can tap into as we learn to look at ourselves honestly?


            I know in my own journey I didn’t find my own attractiveness until I was able to look at myself clearly.  It took me a while to stop feeling bad about the stronger chin I wanted or the thinner face, or the many other features I felt I was lacking in, to let go of my self-hatred, and self-loathing for what I wasn’t.  But I got there, for the most part, I still have the occassional relapse, but I can shake them off, now.  Once I was able to see myself clearly, I was able to accept and love me, for me.  It was then that I was able to start making the most of what I DID look like.  To walk with confidence, to embrace and invoke Beauty’s power in my own life.


            When I started to examine the Virtue of Beauty, I also looked at quotes about Beauty.  Here are a some that I particularly like, and that sang to me in my searching.


“Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude, and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.”

            ~Jacqueline Bisset


“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

             ~John Muir


“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”



“Beauty… is the shadow of God on the universe.”

            ~Gabriela Mistral, Desolacíon


“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”

            ~Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), “Of Beauty”


“People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”

            ~Salma Hayek



            I believe that the quotes that I was attracted to in my seeking tell me a lot about both myself, and, more importantly, truths about the Virtue of Beauty.


            The Virtue of Beauty is wrapped up in our actions.  Beauty is a verb, something one does, not just something one happens to have.  Beauty, as a Virtue, is about being effective and truthful and original.  Beauty reaches into, reflects, and nourishes our souls.  Beauty, being in the eye of the beholder is not only a reflection of ourselves, it is a reflection of the Gods, as indeed all things are touched by the Divine.   Beauty and the perception of it are something that is personal, as deep, as intimate, as important, as our relationship with the Gods.

            To be beautiful is to contemplate a life lived in harmony, and not only of form or color… 


            To be an outstanding example…”


            I think that this might be the key to why Beauty is the First of the Virtues, because in living the other 7 of the Witches Virtues, we cannot help but be Beautiful!


Yours in seeking Beauty,

Pax / Geoffrey




A couple of intriguing links…



A set of Philosophy related links on beauty!




The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty




Witches Virtues

Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.

From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente



            When I started to examine the text of Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess for a deeper understanding of the Witches faith this passage stood out.  This short, simple, passage lists 8 Virtues, or Values, that the Goddess wants us Witches to embody and exemplify.  I started by reading the dictionary definitions of each, and listing those that seemed most appropriate in my BoS.


            As I mentioned in my last post, I recently read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and how much I am enjoying it.  One of the aspects I love about this book is that in encourages one to seek out ones core values and then to prioritize and make decisions based upon the bedrock of your core values.  As a Witch, the 8 Virtues in the quote above are a part of my core values and in the Witches Virtues series of posts I will be exploring each of them in depth.


            I fully expect these posts to be interspersed with other thoughts and ramblings, so I am adding a Witches Virtues category so you can click on the series so far…


Peace, Wisdom, Mischief,




The Virtuous Witch

“Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.”
From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valliente

This passage from the Charge of the Goddess has been a challenge and an inspiration to me in my journey as a Witch. Eight things that She wishes us to embody. None of these words are more than three syllables, but each of them is carrying a lot of weight and power within them. One of the first things I did when I began to contemplate the above piece of the Charge of the Goddess was to look up the dictionary definitions of these eight words and in some cases their root words… humble for humility for example.

Go ahead and take a moment to look them up, and while your at it, take a look at some of their related words…

“Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.”

I looked these words up in my own (hardcopy) dictionary and wrote the definitions that seemed applicable to living my life as a Witch, into my Book of Shadows. From there I developed a prayer that I say each day.

“Mother Celestial and Father Divine,
Let me walk in Strength and Beauty,
Let me exercise both Power and Compassion,
With both Honor and Humility,
Let me always remember Mirth, as well as Reverence,
That I may be worthy of Thy Perfect Love and Perfect Trust,
And that of those in whose hearts you dwell,
Blessed Be,
So Mote It Be.”
~ A prayer by Geoffrey Stewart/Pax

Like other aspects of my daily practice, I have not always remembered to recite this. I lose track of center and balance in the mad rush of daily life. Yet, continually, I am reminded of and return to them.

Taking Valliente’s Charge as a divinely inspired text. Taking it as the Words of the Goddess, and looking at these qualities or virtues as what She expects of Her Witches, She asks a lot of us. I am sometimes intimidated by the thought, but then I remember my prayer, and it helps me not only get through my day; it helps me to stumble towards being the man, and the Witch, I believe my Goddess wishes me to be.