The Contemporary New England Witch

The Contemporary New England Witch
Ms Faith

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What Has Defined 2016 For You and What Will Define 2017 For You?


Edward Woodward as Spirit of Christmas Present in the 1984 movie "A Christmas Carol" adapted from Charles Dickens's novella

Good Morning My Witchy Reader,

Ah well, yet another year is coming to a close for all around the world. Yes, many Pagans see our New Year starting on November 1st, but come January 1st, with billions around the globe seeing it as a "new" beginning, that gives it a magick all it's own. As I have often said, Pagans have the best of both worlds, we can celebrate all the holidays if we choose. Today, I wish to reflect on the year that has almost passed and to think about what it has left with us. On social media, I am seeing so many people lamenting about all that went wrong in 2016. How horrible it was, and how they just want it to be over.

Hmmmm. (Tapping red tipped witchy nails on the table, as I contemplate this) What a pessimistic, morbid, melancholy way of looking back. I long to ask in the manner of Charles Dickens's Spirits of Christmases Past and Present. "Was there nothing that brought you happiness in the past year?", "Was there no joy at all in your year?", "Can you find nothing to be grateful for?", " Was there no love, laughter or enjoyment of Life?"  "Can you not see the abundance in your life, when so many in this world have only 'ignorance' and 'want'?"  

What I plan to do, is not to complain about all that went wrong in 2016, things go wrong every year and always have and always will. It's easy to complain about everything that is not perfect in your life. It is so easy to pick and separate out all that didn't work as you had hoped. The negative is so easy to notice and attract. But I'll tell you a secret. It is just as easy to pick out and attract the good, the positive and the wonderful things that have happened. It is really up to you and what you decide to focus on.


Instead I will look at the last year, 2016, and count all of my blessings. I will pick out and choose all of the wonderful things that have happened. I will be grateful for the wonderful students who have found Enchantments and come to class every Saturday morning excited and eager to learn. I am grateful for good friends that help me out in the shop when I can't be there, just so I don't have to be there all the time. I am grateful for the customers and tarot clients who come and spend time and money in an effort to keep  us in business, during a time when it is so very easy to simply shop on-line with a few short clicks of the keyboard.
I am grateful for modern medicine that allows my 17 year old cat to live with diabetes and to enjoy a full, happy life that she chooses to spend sleeping on a heated blanket all day! I am grateful for my father having successful heart surgery, and my mother having new medication and good doctors to help her with her Parkinson's. I'm grateful for my sister and brother in law for taking care of my parents and taking the spark plugs out of their car when they decide they want to go for a joy ride! Neither should be driving! Hee hee I am also grateful that they live in a town of only 700 people! 

I'm grateful for the love of family, and of reconnecting with my wonderful family, at the aunt's dinner, and long lost family and friends I haven't seen in years, all because of Facebook. I am so grateful a doctor suggested vocal exercises that turned into singing lessons that have me singing for anyone who will sit still for a few minutes! Hahaha and it makes me so very happy and it has affected my health in positive and wonderful ways. 

I am grateful for my Muse and for best friends. For those who have always believed in me, even when I have not. For those who have loved me, even when I don't feel so lovable. I am grateful that I found the Goddess so early in life and that she walks with me, each and every day, not just on Sundays or on special holidays. She is always with me, whispering in my ear, like the angels who whispered in the ear of my grandmother. Giving gentle suggestions, and encouragement and support and I'm grateful that I have learned how to listen to these Divine messages from Deity. 

I am grateful for the magick that I discovered within at an early age and that stays with me and gives me insight, knowledge and visions that allow me to help others and to give guidance when asked. I am very grateful, that at my age, I have learned how to be strong and to put aside people who are harmful, hateful and just wish to bring me down and who do not care or love me. And to not feel guilty or remorseful, as I have done these things for my better self and so I can live a happy and fulfilling life. 

I'm happy for a husband that has been with me for over 33 years and so many, many blessings that I could go on and on. It really is easy, so easy to look for and find the blessings. Truly .  .  .  good and bad are going to happen. The principle of Polarity is one of the principles of the Universe, it is how it works. Up must have down, cold must have hot, and good has bad.  I also know that when something 'bad' happens, it is up to me on how I perceive it, and what I do with it. How will I let it affect my life, what lessons will I learn and will I keep the negative wrapped around me as a shroud or will I set it aside so light can come in and I can move forward. But this is my choice and only mine. 
One of the greatest lessons I have learned so far, is Life does not happen to us, but we create our reality. In all of it's layers, and shadows, it's ebb and flow. If I do not like my reality, I create it anew. 
It is our place to decide what we will focus on and what will define our life. I, and I will only speak for me, I will focus on the good, the happy, the blessings and the love in my life! So Mote it Be!!


May you and your loved ones have a healthy, happy and loving New Years! 


Live, Laugh and Always Love, Ms. Faith 



© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited. 

 If you know someone who would like my work, please send them this link. If you or they would like to be included on our daily email distribution list send me an e mail with your email address to be included. If you ever wish to unsubscribe to this blog, please contact me and you will be immediately removed from our list.

Monday, December 26, 2016

The War Between the Oak King and the Holly King


Merry Christmas, Happy Yuletide, Happy Hanukkah, Season's Greetings to one and all,


There is an ancient Celtic story that has been told throughout the centuries since at least King Arthur's time, if not before. It is the story of the Oak King and the war he has every year with the Holly King.
It is a war, a battle for dominance, if you will, that takes place each year at the Winter and Summer Solstices.

In Celtic mythology, the Holly King is considered a dark king and his image is a wren, whereas the Oak King is a King of light and his image is a robin. They are brothers but also adversaries each fighting for dominance over a half of the year.

The war starts again at Midsummer, Litha, the Summer Solstice and the Holly King and Oak King fight for dominance, with the dark Holly King winning and he reigns from Midsummer until Yule when the war starts again.  He represents the upcoming winter, the dying of the fields, the decomposition of the leaves in the forests as it turns to humus. In addition to the darkness, the Holly King represents the inner mysteries and hidden knowledge.

He reigns until Yule, the Winter Solstice, the Christmas Season. For the ancient Celts the Yuletide, Winter Solstice represents the re-birth of the Sun God, the return of the Sun and the lengthening of the days. Then they battle, the dark Holly King and the light Oak King and the Oak King wins the battle at Yule and reigns until the Summer Solstice. He represents growth, new abundance, fertility and everything new.

So right now, a few days after Yule, the winter solstice which fell this year on the 21st of December the Oak King is reigning supreme. It may not seem like it, with freezing temperatures, snow fall imminent and ice and cold an everyday occurrence, but each day the light remains just a little longer. The nights grow a little shorter, and by the beginning of February we shall see small, tiny glimmers of spring. The Canada geese start flying back, the ice starts to break up in the rivers, warming trends start to appear. Then the Oak King's season of light and warmth becomes more apparent.

This war happens every year, and it most likely started as a story created by the ancients, as so many stories were to help explain to the children and the people the turn of the seasons, the natural world around them. The Celts were known for their storytelling and the story of the battle between the Oak King and the Holly King was told for centuries until it finally found it's way into modern literature. It is found in literature such as the Golden Bough written by Sir James George Frazier originally published in 1890.  Robert Graves also mentioned the legendary battle in his book The White Goddess published in 1948.

Both of these classic publications are part of a formal basis for early Pagan practice in the late 19th and 20th centuries.  If you can get a copy of these books you are fortunate indeed. The battle of the Oak King and Holly King, continue each year and as one gives way and the other takes over and then they switch every six months, it also notes how the ancient Celts saw the Year split into two halves, the light half and the dark half. There are, of course variations, as are typical for a legend that spans centuries. Some during the past have recognized the Kings taking control over their half of the year at Samhain and Beltaine, so each was in his full glory by the time their respective Solstice came along.

For scholars of Celtic mythology, there are many stories which discuss various concepts of history, nature and magick and for those who wish to read even more you can get a copy of the Mabinogion, which is a Welsh book of Celtic stories which were orally passed down and originated in the 12th and 13th centuries. It was then first published in print in 1838.

There is so many stories and history surrounding Yule and Christmas, I wanted this ancient story to be told once again.



Live, Laugh and Always Love, Ms. Faith













© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited. 

 If you know someone who would like my work, please send them this link. If you or they would like to be included on our daily email distribution list send me an e mail with your email address to be included. If you ever wish to unsubscribe to this blog, please contact me and you will be immediately removed from our list.

Sunday, December 18, 2016

A Brief Magickal History of Gift Giving




Greetings My Witchy Readers,

The Yuletide season is upon us and for many it is also Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa. For some it is simply a season for gathering with family and friends, going to some holiday parties and perhaps giving and receiving a special gift from a special person.

The history of gift giving is ancient, and magickal and perhaps one of the first social interactions humans have ever engaged in. Archaeologists have found in caves, once inhabited by Paleolithic man, evidence of gifts given. A special rock, a crafted stone tool, a pierced animals tooth or shell to wear as adornment have all been found. It is felt that the male of the species that gave the most desirable gift would more easily attract the mate they were interested in. Many gifts have been found in ancient graves, from the earliest burials. Gifts given, which were intended to follow the spirit of the deceased to the next lifetime.

Even the aforementioned gift items that were tucked into graves and temples, tombs and pyramids of deceased loved ones were not only meant to be used by the spirit of the deceased in the afterlife, but to be a connection, a memory of the loved ones they had left behind.

I did title this discussion, the 'magickal' history of gift giving. Many of the above reasons for gift giving could be considered magickal, and the magickal can also be found in many other ancient gifts once given. When a gift is given, not expressly for a celebratory gift or to mark a special occasion, but one that has a special property, such as love or protection, it is considered magickal.

One of the most famous of magickal gifts recorded in history, is the gifts the Magi brought to the baby Jesus, as he lay in the manger in Bethlehem. Yet the Frankincense, Myrrh, Gold and Silver brought were not birthday gifts, but gifts of protection. The incenses have long been known to bring protective energies to surround a place where they were burnt, and were often burnt in ancient temples, and gold and silver have a long history of protective energies.

In my research, gifts were often given from rulers of one clan or tribe to another for diplomatic reasons, giving elaborate gifts often was a show of ones status in the community, given as dowries when a girl was married off so that she would have a generous start to her new household and the gifts for this type of occasion would have been objects for the household.

I found though, one of the earliest reasons for giving a gift to a loved one, was as a tangible memory. In ancient times, it was a common occurrence for a loved one to move far away, go to war, leave for an extended pilgrimage or trip and sometimes they would not return for months, years or perhaps never return. In these ancient times, there were no devices to record one's picture, and only the very wealthy could afford a portrait to be painted either in a large wall hanging portrait or a tiny picture tucked into a locket.  So the idea of having a gift, a tangible item with which one could touch and remember their loved one became an important sentimental memento. This may have been a special piece of jewelry, flowers which were carefully dried and kept, polished semi precious gemstones, a ribbon, a hair comb, something that could be worn on the body inconspicuously.  Many times these lover's keepsakes were secret, especially if the couple were not married.

Another set of ancient gifts which continue to this day, are the bride's gifts that are given by the bride's mother, or maid of honor, or close loved ones for the bride to wear as she walks down the aisle in the wedding attire. Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. These were not just gifts given to the bride but were meant to bestow good luck upon the bride and the wedding festivities and to bring good luck for the upcoming marriage.

There is a deep psychology to gift giving, that many may not consider in this modern day and age, when it seems so many have so much. That holidays cycle around the calendar and .  .  .   sigh .  .  .   another gift giving holiday looms.  The psychology of gift giving is two fold. On one hand the giver gives a gift with the sentiment and emotions they feel in an effort to connect with the gift recipient.

 Secondly, the recipient then receives the gift and the emotions and sentiments are ideally also received and the connection desired is made.  The sentiments and emotions can be happiness in giving your 18 year old a new car, the joy of giving a sweetheart a special piece of jewelry or flowers, or thanks for a co-worker or boss for the pleasant profitable work experience from the past year.



If you love to give gifts, but find a recipient who does not reciprocate, it is up to you whether you choose to continue to give them gifts. I find, the magick and joy it gives me, far out weighs their lack of reciprocating.  But if you allow their lack, to adversely affect you and make you unhappy, then simply do not give them a gift.  Allowing social expectations to cause stress and negative feelings and emotions will cause you more unhappiness and that is not what the magick of gift giving is about.

Gift giving should make each person, the giver and the receiver happy. It should help make a connection and whether it is to give a memory, send love, draw protection, mark a special occasion, or to give thanks, whatever reason you choose to give, give from the heart. For those are the only gifts that matter.

The history of gift giving is ancient and covers so much more than I touched upon here, but delve into your heart.  Think about the loved one (s) in your life, and give as it moves you.  Try not to let the commercialization of the modern holidays make you jaded,and decide not to give a gift, as even a hand written card, expressing true sentiment can mean the world to someone.

Give of your heart and your love this holiday season, and you will receive it back three fold,


Live, Laugh and Always Love, Ms. Faith









© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited. 

 If you know someone who would like my work, please send them this link. If you or they would like to be included on our daily email distribution list send me an e mail with your email address to be included. If you ever wish to unsubscribe to this blog, please contact me and you will be immediately removed from our list.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Things to Know When You Meet a Witch or Pagan at Yule/Christmas




Good Morning My Witchy Reader,

Witches, witches everywhere!  Yes, more and more people are 'picking up the broomstick' as it is called and choosing to follow a more natural, magickal path. Even if they do not identify as a witch, they might be what is called a Pagan. This is simply someone who chooses not to follow a Judeo-Christian Western Religion.

But, this time of the year, with Yule almost upon us, there is a lot of confusion out there as Christians start celebrating the Christmas season, whether secular or religious and I see a lot of misinformation as to not only the actual history of Christmas but where and how the Pagan history and culture comes in. In addition, people seem confused as to how we celebrate, if we celebrate, and if we do, what we celebrate.

Firstly, this blog discussion, like all of my lectures and writings, in no way ever intends to insult or to denigrate any religion or religious belief. I do not write my own personal opinion, but rather I put down the archaeological, and anthropological history of the world's cultures and people. It is important to understand that many religious texts such as the Bible are compilations of stories and myths that are meant to tell a story and to teach lessons and were not written to be considered actual factual records of events as lived by the people at the time of the stories written.

Well, for those of you who are still with me, let us continue.  This time of the year I see a lot of  signs on church lawns and memes on social media which say "The reason for the season - Keep Christ in Christmas", and this is a lovely phrase, but it is inaccurate. The season that has been celebrated at the end of December, on or near the Winter Solstice, which falls between the 20th and the 24th of December each year and is the shortest day and longest night of the year, has been referred to as Yuletide for many centuries before Jesus of Nazareth was born.

Yule is a Sabbat found on the Pagan Wheel of the Year, and historical evidence shows an agricultural wheel of the year has been used by various ancient cultures for thousands of years. When the Catholic Church started to overtake the Pagan cultures throughout Europe and in turned made Catholicism the required and only accepted religion, they did many things to convert the Pagan population. One thing was to adopt the Wheel of the Year and Christianize the ancient Pagan celebrations such as Yule, which became Christmas. The early Catholics weren't all wrong though, as Pagans have always celebrated this Sabbat as the re-birth of the Sun God, the return of the Sun. The Christians simply personified it to (Son) and the ( birth of the Son of God)

We most easily say "Happy Holidays" as we as Pagans understand that not everyone is or should be a Christian. But when I run into someone who is adamant about saying "Merry Christmas" I say it back. Simply because it does not cost me anything and takes nothing from me.  I certainly would not get all huffy and expect people to wish me a "Happy Yule"!!  A nice, warm, considerate holiday greeting is always welcome to me.

Also, ask yourself, whether you are Christian or Pagan or if you fall somewhere in between,  if you get so offended, all upset because someone gives you a pleasant holiday greeting that does not 'fit' your image of how it should be .  .  .  what is it within you, that brings up these intense feelings? Truly, if someone wishes me a Happy Hanukkah  that doesn't threaten my beliefs or faith, nor so if someone wishes me a Happy Kwanzaa or any other holiday greeting. So, if such a greeting pushes your button it is something for you to look into, within yourself. It has nothing to do with another.

As pagans many of us have evergreens or symbols of them inside our homes as they represent everlasting  life and the return of the spring and warm summer months after the snows melts away. Evergreens are an example of sympathetic magick as they are always green, alive, they never seem to die every year as deciduous trees seem to when they lose their leaves. So, the ancients would bring the evergreen boughs indoors, and eventually these became the Christmas tree which is always symbolized as a evergreen tree. And as sympathetic magick goes, it is the imagery, the visualization that is important. So a fake evergreen tree is just as effective as a real one. I personally do not cut down real trees for this holiday as it seems like a waste of a perfectly good tree life, when a artificial one will do just nicely.

But, I do not judge. It is up to you to use what works for you.  As far as holiday foods are concerned, many Pagans started out in this life like so many others, in Christian/Jewish households or households with no religion but the ethnic culture of their ancestors. So I know many witches and Pagans that enjoy the foods of their childhoods, For me, those foods consisted of  kielbasa, pierogies, pickled herrings, babka breads, ham for Christmas dinner and stuffed shrimp for Christmas Eve. Cheese danish and bagels for Christmas breakfast, and always plenty of fancy nuts, olives, cheeses, relish plates and egg nog.

Some mistakenly think that witches and Pagans have dietary restrictions but we typically do not. Such things are specific to the person themselves. Some are vegetarian, some are vegan, some eat meat, just like people found in any demographic. Some religions have dietary restrictions for anyone that follows their religion,  but not Pagans. You get to choose what works for you.

One additional thing I want to mention, is the misconception some people seem to have that if you are not Christian that somehow we are Godless. That is so far from the truth, that I feel compelled to mention it every now and then. Whether a Pagan or witch believes in a Goddess an a God/ just a Goddess, just a God/ Mother Earth as Gaia, being Pagan in many ways brings you loser to your higher power than some Christians. As pagans/witches, we do not need to go to a church or a Cathedral to find our God. He/She is with us always, always attainable, always in touch. Many of us feel closer by being in a natural place, in the woods, out of doors, in a field or inside of a cast ritual circle. Many of us feel the Divine is not outside of us, separate from us, with us trying to re-connect. No, many pagans and witches feel the Divine is within us, each of us. We understand that no matter what we do, we cannot separate from it, it is always within us.

That concept is probably, by my understanding today, the biggest difference between Pagans and Christians. We do not have the rules that Christians are required to follow. We do not have to confess sins to be forgiven, we need no forgiveness from our concept of God. Perhaps if we hurt those in our lives, forgiving and being forgiven can put things behind us and we can move forward with no resentment or bitterness. But our God/Goddess is complete love and acceptance, no matter what we choose to do here on Earth. We are not required to do penance, or expected to act the martyr and fast, or relinquish a luxury or something we enjoy. The Goddess has given us everything on this Earth, to use and enjoy as we choose.

Many pagans make their own rules as far as relationships, sex and intimacy are concerned. But we do not engage in wild, sex crazed orgies as some seem to want to believe, and are so disappointed when they find out it is not true.  Hahahaha, You are on your own for sex crazed orgies!  As far as rituals are concerned we conduct rituals with clothes on. Some choose to wear ritual garb, like cloaks and robes, others pretty, decorative clothes that make them feel special. This is also a personal choice. There are some groups I have heard of that perform their rituals 'sky clad' which means without clothing, but most of these are in Great Britain. I suppose there might be some in the United States but in 30 years all of the groups I have participated in or been a guest at, we have worn clothing.

I am writing this article after a terse short conversation with a customer who came into my shop last week and made some misunderstood assumptions about witches and Pagans. He was not happy to be corrected and seemed to want confirmation that the more outrageous and colorful legends and lore were true.

We may be magickal, but we are human.  but are we typical, ordinary and just like everyone else, absolutely NOT !!! Hahaha As anyone who has ever really known a witch can tell you. We look at the world differently,  we interact with the energy around us and try to send it out so that it returns to make our world better and happier. Some of us are fierce environmentalists,  some strong political watch dogs,  while others of us stay close to home, stirring our cauldrons and try to make the word a better place in our own small, but significant ways. Like I try to with this discussion I have with you every week,  If one person can read my words and come away with a better understanding of others they share this Earth with,  have more acceptance and knowledge about what we do .  .  .  then I have made a difference. That is all I can ask for.

I hope you go out today, and make a difference, even if it is a small one. They all matter.



Live, Laugh and Always Love, Ms. Faith




© 2010-2016 Faith M. McCann. Portions of this blog posting may include materials from my book “Enchantments School for the Magickal Arts First Year Magickal Studies.” For more information, see www.enchantmentsschool.com or go to the title of tonight's discussion and click, it will link you to my school's website. Please note that the copying and/or further distribution of this work without express written permission is prohibited. 

 If you know someone who would like my work, please send them this link. If you or they would like to be included on our daily email distribution list send me an e mail with your email address to be included. If you ever wish to unsubscribe to this blog, please contact me and you will be immediately removed from our list.