Witches&Pagans #25 - Element of Air

Witches and Pagans #25
  Element of Air

The element of Air, in modern Pagan usage, has a wide range of associations: it is the element of new beginnings, of flying/feathered creatures, and of the mind.To many, Air is also associated with the direction of the East. Above all Air represents the qualities of all things ordered and classified by the intellect. Its emblematic tool is the athame — the ceremonial black-handled, double-bladed, unsharpened ritual dagger of Wiccan regalia — which represents the “sharpness” of the well-disciplined mind. The offerings that our dedicated contributors gathered together for this issue are a wonderful smorgasbord of the myriad aspects of Air, ranging from academic pedagogy to the simple act of breathing. What a feast!

Beginning at the end, Monte Plaisance relates the epiphany and initiation that led him to Hellenistic polytheism in “Dying into Life.” His unalloyed joy at finding his true path touches the core of intuitive “rightness” that characterizes the experience of so many of us who convert to Paganism as adults. This same sense of “coming home” is reflected in the loamy, grounded richness that Sarah Lawless brings to her account of finding her avocation — collecting feathers and honoring the spirits of the birds that give them — in our first feature article: “The Girl Who Found a Feather.” Enthusiasm for the winged denizens of Air likewise fills Aynia Torres’ tale of how companion birds influence her practice in “Feathered Familiars.”

Moving from the literal aspects of flying to the metaphorical ones, we are thrilled to present Michael Night Sky’s interview with M. Macha NightMare. Macha, who has been “on the broomstick circuit” for the better part of thirty years, is known for her unmatched networking and organizational skills as well as for her leadership in the progressive, politically-active forms of Paganism characterized by the Reclaiming tradition. Macha’s piercing intellect and willingness to speak truth to power comes through in this captivating interview.

Also crossed off our to-do list with this issue is a topic so large it’s taken us seven years (!) to nail down: online magickal learning. Tireless reporter Kira Nuit contacted dozens of schools, students, and faculty to research “Seeking Wisdom: Making Sense of Online Education.” Kira adroitly outlines the complexities of this ubiquitous form of education, plus offers potential students a directory of almost two-dozen schools, academies, and seminaries. Moving from the point-of-view of the student to that of the teacher, Christine Hoff Kraemer and Sierra Black delve deeply into the many modes — personal, coven-based, community, and online — of magical pedagogy with “The Teacher Shall Appear.”

An oft-overlooked way of interacting with the Element of Air is revealed by Diotima Mantinea’s discourse in “The Power of Air.” Not to be outdone, we’re featuring the first of four articles on the elemental magic of cooking by chef Dawn Hunt, a rollicking tale of an unusual festival encounter by Eric O. Scott, five poetic evocations of Air, a visit with chant mistress and musician Kelliana, and an Air “makeover” from Tess Whitehurst. Plus Archer meditates on the practice of spiritual veiling, Ashleen O’Gaea and Kenaz Filan advise us to look to children for wisdom, Galina Krasskova reminds us of the power of the elemental nations, Ruby Sara muses on the magick of weather, and Deborah Blake teaches us simple ways to connect with Air.

As Air is the element of new beginnings, We're very excited to introduce new columns from three of the most captivating people on the Pagan scene. Inveterate trickster, Craft pioneer and Pagan scholar Fritz Muntean is one of West Coast Paganism’s true originals, and we are pleased to share his wisdom with our readers with his column, “The Crafty Curmudgeon.”

Many of our readers tell us that they are looking for a more rooted, earthy spiritual practice: less flash and glitter, and more “dirt” magick. With “Old World Witchcraft” prolific author and lecturer Raven Grimassi Raven delivers the goods with an uniquely valuable resource in these chaotic times. Last, but not least, Hecate Demetersdatter offers her cogent, lyrical, and level-headed commentary on current events, politics, and earth religions from her perch near the Potomac in her new column “Looking for Trouble.” We hope you'll enjoy this issue, which we believe is worthy of the mercurial, fascinating, element of Air.

96 pages, released in September 2012.

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