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Joanna van der Hoeven is the author many books, including The Path of the Hedge Witch: Simple, Natural Magic and the Art of Hedge Riding, as well as The Book of Hedge Druidry: A Complete Guide for the Solitary Seeker. She has another book coming out in March 2025, entitled The Old Ways: A Hedge Witch's Guide to Living A Magical Life. Find out more through her website at www.joannavanderhoeven.com

b2ap3_thumbnail_Path-of-the-Hedge-Witch.jpg   b2ap3_thumbnail_8.jpg

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The Lone Animator: Imps

In Which Miss Bunny Finally Gets Her Witch-Name

All my cats down the years have come to me with other names: out-names, you could call them, names for everyday.

Though sometimes it's taken a while, they've all got proper witch-names eventually.

I acquired Miss Bunny (AKA the Bun, Bun-bun, the Bunster, Bunny Butt, and—of course—Bad Bunny) just after Lunasa last year. Being a Manx cat with a stumpy little tail, the name fit well enough, but—from the beginning—it struck me as a prose name, a name-from-without.

“Well,” I thought, “the inner name will come.” The first lesson of Witchery is patience.

To reach the new place, sometimes you have to get out of Dodge first. In the course of a recent road trip, it occurred to me: A Manx cat needs a Manx name.

(Closely related to Irish, Manx is—was—the Celtic language formerly spoken in the Isle of Man.)

Presto!

Bonnag is the Manx name for a kind of sweet tea loaf. It's the Isle of Witches calque of bannock, the pan-Celtic griddle-bread.

And thereby hangs a tale: a stumpy bunny tail, presumably.

Bannock is an old and interesting word. (Every word's a story.) In the Anglian dialect of the Hwicce, the original Anglo-Saxon tribe of Witches, it was bannuc: one of Old English's rare handful of Celtic loan-words. (The Scots Gaelic version is bonnach.) This, in turn, derives ultimately from Latin panis, “bread.” There must be a story here, too—it's hard to believe that Britons didn't make bread until learning how from the Red Crests—but that's another tale for another day.

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Lucky and Unlucky Dates

MONTH: JANUARY

LUCKY DATES: 3, 10, 27, 31

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Satanic Philosophy: A Cure for Toxic Spirituality

 

Satanism. You simply read or hear the word and myriad images, connotations and beliefs instantly flood the mind, perhaps even the very heart and spirit. Perhaps you feel dismissive of it as a simple, showy rebellion. Perhaps you feel neutral or uninterested. Perhaps you are appalled.

Does Satanism (specifically true, LaVeyan Satanism) have a place in modern paganism? Are they naturally related? Of course they are. In fact, many modern pagans are far more religious in their practice than even members of the Church of Satan.

It is fair to say that the term “church” is used here loosely as it is not so much a religion as it is a bit of a nose-thumbing to conventional religion yet which does still employ religious trappings, characters, approaches etc.

But there is a very key feature of religion that is missing from Satanism and that is worship. You may now be thinking, “Well, they worship the devil, don’t they?” No, they don’t. Not at all.
Satanists do not believe that Satan or Lucifer (and they are not technically one and the same) are real beings and they do not worship him.

This is usually the first, most glaring and damaging misconception.

Satan is a symbol, a mindset, a way of life. Each Satanist is their own god. Self-worship may sound dangerously like narcissism, but this isn’t the same thing at all. Self-empowerment as one’s own deity comes with responsibility and must be tempered with reason, self-regulation and common sense.

These things are often prominently absent not only from narcissism but also from religion and even from many modern pagan practices.

Last year I reconnected, albeit briefly, with a family member from whom I often find myself estranged and re-estranged. She happened to have met someone that I had known years before, and had not seen, spoken to or interacted with in any way for years.

He and I had been in an informal, primarily Asatru but eclectic pagan group until I saw him more and more for who he was, left the group and ended the friendship.

During his brief acquaintance with this relative, I obviously came up as a topic more than once and at one point he told her that I had become a Satanist. She would tell me this later, as she and I were catching up. It was completely false but I burst out laughing, not balking, so surprised I was at the incredibly erroneous and extreme suggestion.

I can only conclude that he purposely sought to slander me because he was still sore about how I severed ties with him and/or perhaps to make it easier for him to make his way into her pants, knowing the two of us to be estranged at that time. (It did not.)

Regardless of the motivation, it set me thinking and I concluded that, even to modern pagans - outsiders and rebels - the word and accusation of “satanism” still carries almost as much stigma and misinformation as it does with Christians, etc.

Satanism is so loaded and misconceived that even a rune-carving, Odin-worshiping, rebellious, pagan metalhead thought it an effective weapon to use against me; saw it as an insult to me. This sealed this man’s staggering ignorance and immaturity for me, not that I needed more evidence of that. He knew nothing about me, he knew nothing about Satanism, so obviously he saw fit to put us together.

I was not offended by the Satanism part. I was offended by the fact that it was simply a huge, inexplicable, malicious lie.

The vast majority of known and perpetuated lies and propaganda against the Church of Satan has roots in the “Satanic Panic” of the 1980s, which in turn was the result of idiots conjuring "facts" out of purely fictional novels of the 1970s, which were inspired by the birth of the Church in the 1960s. And now here we are, in the 2020s and not much has really changed.

All the weaponized identities and accusations throughout history – witch, communist, transphobe, satanist – carry a hidden truth that the other side, often blinded by fear, hate, delusion and ignorance, cannot in any way tolerate.

More than anything else or any other school of thought, Satanism shines an ironically bright light on everything that is wrong with religion and deity, and even what is wrong with its cousin, modern paganism.
After all, Lucifer means “light bringer”.

Two symptons of misguided modern pagans and other alternatively spiritual types that I believe can be cured by Satanic philosophy are toxic positivity and literal deity worship (not to mention black vs. white magic, virtue signaling, and systems with initiations and hierarchies, but we’ll focus on the first two for now).

Toxic positivity refers to the societal pressure to maintain a facade of relentless optimism, even in the face of adversity or genuine emotional turmoil. Literal deity worship, on the other hand, involves the unquestioning devotion to an imaginary higher being without critical examination or autonomy. Both of these tendencies can be challenged and potentially overcome through the lens of Satanic philosophy.

Many pagans, particularly of a scholarly nature and those familiar with Kabbalah and the like, will know that “satan” comes from the Hebrew for “adversary” or “one who opposes”. This word for a type of person or force that obstructs or obfuscates was, over a long time, eventually conflated with Lucifer, the ancient Roman god who became the Christian fallen angel, and called “The Devil”: the reason and source of all mankind’s evil, vices, and weaknesses.

This very conveniently takes a good deal of real responsibility away from the “sinner”.
One of the most basic tenets of Satanism is “responsibility to the responsible”.

The fight has never been good vs. evil, god vs. the devil. The fight is god vs. human, indeed human vs. human, as humans created all gods. It is the individual against their own self. Rebellion knows no end now, though is frequently without cause.

Now artists like Renoir, classic literature, comedy, one’s own body, anything is fair game now for open protest, rebellion and asinine “cancel culture”.

This is due to disconnection from nature and therefore, reality. Humans will have no idea who they are if they don’t really accept what they are and where they come from. We come from the earth. Satanism is a “religion” of the earth, of the flesh, of the here-and-now.

It does not dwell on or perpetuate dated and damaging tradition, rituals, dogmas, beliefs or superstitions. It does not reside in the world of tomorrow, the so-called hereafter to which no living human can bear any real witness or truth.

What a folly it is to base one’s whole existence on pure fantasy, on nothing that can really be seen or experienced! To judge and even harm one’s fellow beings according to a yoke they inherited and accepted from their parents, their grandparents, and on and on, has been the doom of this world.

I am not a Satanist. That fool was wrong then and he is wrong now. But I am rather a connoisseur, an aficionado, and even a happy champion of Satanic philosophy and reason. Once upon I time I literally judged a book by it’s cover – The Satanic Bible. Years and years later, I read it and found I could not disagree with one word of it.

So I encourage all - especially the occultist, the spiritualist, the pagan, the witch, the shaman – to read and understand The Satanic Bible. It is simply a way of life that opposes, is the
adversary, of the hideous bonds that are the beliefs in the literal beings of god(s), the worship of such, and the fear, control and lies that are at the heart of all religion.

Only the truly empowered are familiar with both the dark and the light, the so-called “right-” and “left-hand paths”. We know all nature and life is balance and opposition. There is no darkness without the light and neither is inherently “good” or “evil”.

But, as certain scriptures ironically warn, that which is good will present itself as evil, and that which is evil will present itself as good. But which is which? Who is really the bad guy? I leave it to you to decide, should you have the courage to explore the shadows.

 

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Oracles of Water: Sedna

 

Keywords: Independence, Courage, Balance, Sacrifice, Restoration
Shadows: Betrayal, Death, Punishment, Exile

Sedna is the Mother of the Deep, the Sea Woman, the Big Bad Woman. She was a woman of her own power, identity and determination and she suffered greatly for it. She made a sacrifice and became the very spirit and guardian of the sea – the global womb from which we are born. Her lessons can be as harsh as the tundra, but not without fierce love.

There are a few different versions of her story, but what they all have in common is Sedna – either the daughter of a deity, an abused orphan, or a beautiful maiden uninterested in marriage – ending up in a kayak with her father (or others) who, in some fear or other, throws her overboard. When she grasps at the edge of the kayak to pull herself back in, she gets her fingers chopped off which then fall into the raging sea to become whales, seals, otters and other warm-blooded marine creatures. And she herself becomes the mighty goddess of the seas who keeps the animals hidden from the hunters if her taboos are broken.

Sedna is concerned with balance and natural order, and we are a part of nature. Therefore, we have obligations. The Inuit understood these varying obligations to everything from personal possessions to family to the spirits of animals consumed. If these were neglected then Sedna would become angry and call all the creatures of the sea down to her and away from the offending humans, who would face starvation.

Sedna’s home is deep in the Inuit underworld of Adlivun, of which she is queen, and there stands her palace of whale bones and stone. It is to this place that the angakkuq (shaman) would take a perilous journey to meet with Sedna and attempt to set matters right. He or she (female angakkuit were rare, though considerably more powerful than males) would comb Sedna’s long, tangled hair. It was tangled and weighed down from all the broken laws, neglected responsibilities, abuse and destruction in the world above; the world that so desperately depends on her world.

When Sedna appears, it is time to set matters right. If you are not asserting your independence, if you are not making sacrifices to get what you want, now is the time to step forward, step into your true self and to be willing to make necessary changes and sacrifices. All loss makes room for new – and often better – growth.

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Time for some personal gnosis here on Gnosis Diary. And also some opinion. And news. 

First up, a gnosis experience I had with an ancestor. After that, I reflect on the marketing of AI/ML chat programs as chats with your beloved dead.

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 April 8 solar eclipse: What you need to ...

 

I have seen twilight at mid-afternoon.

I have gazed into the face of Totality.

I have beheld the Black Sun.

 

By many traditional peoples around the world, eclipses are accounted unchancy and ill-omened events.

(Why not? Seeing them can strike you blind.)

Unsurprisingly, witches see matters differently.

 

What do witches make of eclipses?

Sabaean archpriest Federico de Arechaga (Ordun), while not himself of the tribe of Witches, certainly knew how to think like one.

He was wont to refer to weddings—all weddings: male-male, female-female, male-female (in this he was far ahead of his time)—as “eclipses.”

 

For witches, eclipses—those of both Sun and Moon—are considered Great Rites, hieroi gamoi, alchemical weddings of Moon and Sun.

As local priestess Hillary Pell put it, “The Union of the Gods renews the world.”

They bode, we say, coming change.

 

From Pittsburgh, we drove 72 miles north to Pymatuning.

Swollen with eclipse-pilgrims, the trip—an hour and a half in the going—took four and a half hours in the coming-back.

 

For three unforgettable hours, differences were laid aside. Rightist, leftist, centrist; Republican, Democrat, Independent; Trumpist, Bidenist, None-of-the-Above-ist: as the great Marriage of the Gods, in all its cosmic glory, unfolded before us, we, too, were one.

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