Dreams

nightmares_and_sweet_dreams_by_randomdraggon-d61nu3s

At least once a month I dream about Jehovah’s Witnesses. Usually I am at a meeting or assembly wondering why I am attending when I don’t believe anymore. The fact that I am disfellowshipped is always present in my dreams. I am treated differently in each dream. Some JW’s talk to me, some don’t, some are terrified of me.

Roy is always expressing surprise that I should dream about them so much. Apparently, he never does.

Last night, I dreamed I was associating with a JW family who seemed bent on converting me. They didn’t know I was an exjw and I enjoyed being part of a community again. The husband and wife were very kind and hospitable…at first. As the dream went on it became more and more apparent that they wanted something from me. The kindness soon turned to madness. They made it very clear what was expected of me in return for their hospitality. I tried to tell them I was a Df’d ex-JW. They acted like they didn’t hear me. Then I tried to use reason and point out that nobody would want to join their organization because the members were obviously bat-shit crazy. This didn’t get through either. Finally, I shoved the pentagram I wear around my neck in their face and shouted, “I am a witch and an apostate!” They gasped in horror and shrank away from me like they were vampires and I was wielding a crucifix. I turned and bolted for the parking lot only to find my car wasn’t where I had parked it. I saw a mob of large, angry JW men coming after me. I could see violence and hatred in their eyes. I started to run. I couldn’t find my car. The mob was descending. I knew they meant to harm me.

I woke up.

A couple of weeks ago, I dreamed I was in my best friend’s house. We had been inseparable when I was 17-20 years old. I spent a lot of time in that house and was visiting it to see some work that was being done. In the dream I was Df’d, like always. There were crowds of JW’s around me. Some would turn their backs on me when I would approach. Children would break out in hysterical screams if I got too close. I happened to walk by a group of JW’s who were huddled together. From their gray, indistinguishable midst stepped someone I knew. She walked up to me and gave me a hug. She told me how much she had missed me, and how she always loved me. I thanked her for her kindness. I knew she faced the judgment of others just by approaching me and I was honored by her gesture.

I woke up wondering why hers was the only face I could put a name to. Then it occurred to me–was it possible she was dead? I read a book recently by Mary Ann Winkowski called When Ghosts Speak. Mary Ann is a medium who can talk with earthbound spirits. She says that many spirits stick around after they die and neglect to cross over. But the surest way to know if a spirit has crossed over is if they appear in our dreams, which is how they communicate with us from the other side.

I have never had a dream about this particular person I will call Sandy. We travelled to New York together in 1996. She threw me my bridal shower in 2002. I loved her and valued her, but hadn’t seen her in years. I knew her health hadn’t been good. But that’s all I knew.

I contacted a mutual friend on Facebook and found out Sandy had died a few days before.

I felt like Sandy had given me a wonderful gift! It warms my heart to receive validation and love from the other side. She didn’t need to give me that message. I’m not even family. But I wonder if part of the reason I received that message wasn’t because I was the only one open to it. Her entire family is still very much in the collective JW consciousness. I heard Sandy. I recognized the message for what it’s worth, and I honor her for going to the effort to deliver it.

The world really is a magical place!

Coven Cautions

About eight months after I decided I was done being one of Jehovah’s Witnesses it occurred to me I could believe anything I wanted. I know, I know–why did it take me eight whole months to figure that out? I had 38 years of other stuff to sort through. I spent most of that time unlearning everything I had placed my faith in. I visited a lot of ex JW websites and partook in a lot of forums–all intended to uproot a lifetime of indoctrination.

As I said, at some point I realized I could learn anything I wanted and worship in any way I wanted. I knew I was fed up with Christianity and organized religion as a whole. JW’s spend a lot of time convincing their followers what is wrong with every other religion out there. Once a person realizes there is something wrong with JW’s there really isn’t much left. So I chose a path that has intrigued me since I was 13 years old–Paganism. I remember the stories in the Old Testament of the evil and debauched Canaanites whom God drove out of the Promised Land. Their sex orgies, temple prostitutes, drunken revelries, and illicit sex made their religion sound a whole lot more fun than burgeoning Judaism and its many rules.

Now, I could be a pagan if I wanted. I could study witchcraft or the dark arts, if I wanted. I could even (perish the thought) touch a Ouija board or have a seance, if I wanted. However, I had no idea where or how to get started. I didn’t even know what to look up online. I didn’t know the proper terminology or anything. I was on Craigslist last summer and found a couple in a nearby town looking to form a coven. They even offered instruction for those with little to no experience. I promptly shot them an email and heard back within a day or two. They wanted to meet and interview me before they let me know where they lived. No problem. I met them at the local Barnes & Noble. They were a pudgy couple we will name Jerry and Sandra. Jerry claimed 16 years of practice as a Wiccan and was a high priest. He also, apparently, had numerous large and successful covens in the Portland area. (Even one in which he was the only man and they all tried to put a love spell on him, according to him.) Once i had heard all the foregoing I felt I was in good hands, and, once I apparently passed muster, they informed me of the books I would need for instruction and ritual. I ordered the books (cost me $50) and arranged to attend the first meeting. It was about this time I was informed that the three of us, and one other, made up the whole coven.

We had our first coven gathering the following weekend. It was supposed to be a picnic near the river. I drove 50 miles to attend this coven gathering and the other gal, the other newbie, didn’t show. Not only did she not show this day, she never showed. I never met our potential fourth. The picnic was a disaster and every instinct I had told me to run. They brought four dogs on the picnic and Jerry’s mother, who he proceeded to fight with most of the time. The whole picnic was spent fighting the damn dogs: they didn’t have enough shade, they didn’t have enough water, they wanted to eat our food, they wanted to lay on the blanket after getting wet, etc. Now might be a good time for me to clearly state that I am a cat-person, through and through. I find dogs demanding, messy, needy, loud and irritating (I also find I tend to avoid children who display the same tendencies).

Now that I have alienated 80% of my readers I will continue–soon after this ill-omened picnic, Jerry decided to schedule the first initiation of his wife and I. Sandra and he had only been married two years. She had left her husband and two kids in Louisiana to be with a man 5 years her junior. They had met on the internet. Sandra was more a victim of cult mind control than I. She didn’t have the capacity, intelligence, or self-esteem to escape her southern Baptist roots. She was always apologizing for things, and though I felt a lot of pity for her, I find her shouting at the dogs during rituals rather annoying.

So she and I were initiated without having the slightest idea what we were doing or why. Jerry performed the Alexandrian First Degree initiation ceremony as laid out in the Witches Bible by Stewart and Janet Farrar. He performed the 5-fold kiss on our nude bodies. I don’t have a problem with nudity, never have. After the ceremony, he lights up some marijuana and I take a drag or two. It’s pretty good stuff so I am feeling it and we’re just sitting around talking. It’s not long before he informs me how much he likes the way I smell, then they start talking about sex. I find they are open to most everything: menage a trois, polygamy, swinging, etc. Well, I should say, that Jerry is open to himself swinging but he gets violently ill whenever his wife tries it. I seemed to be the only one in the room aware of the unfairness in this situation. Eventually, the high tapers off and I go home. I must say, I was feeling pretty good about myself for the first time in a long time–somebody actually found me attractive.

Over the next couple weeks I keep trying to get Jerry to show me things or teach me or even answer questions and he just looks at me with a look so blank that his narrowly spaced eyes almost cross. They live in a huge apartment complex in a one bedroom. Their bed is in the living room so they can make the bedroom the ritual room. There is a big black and white flag on the wall with the words FUCK YOU and a picture of ‘the bird’. Oh, and by the way, Jerry is an ex-con. It is becoming quite clear that I am going to have to educate myself. So I start to ask if they have any recommendation for a good book on solitary witchcraft. He lent me a couple books by Silver Ravenwolf. I devoured them! By the time I was halfway through the first one I started implementing the things I was learning at our coven meetings and I quickly realized I knew more than he. I also had more than he did: a besom (broom used in ritual), a pentagram (also important in ritual), a sword (nice to have but not as necessary as the previous two), a scourge (necessary in some initiation rituals)and a bell (also necessary with certain rituals). I had all these things within the first month (the sword, scourge and bell I had for years). I quickly realized he spent most of his money and time on pot. Sometimes I would drive the distance to attend a coven meeting only to find the plan was just to smoke and talk. That is not what I was there for!

He finally found a fourth. A nice guy who worked at the local Burger King and looked like Captain Jack Sparrow–I am not kidding you. A month after he had joined, Jerry decided to initiate him into the coven. I volunteered to act as High Priestess and spent hours sewing a chiffon ritual robe. On the night of the ritual I brought my sword, bell, athame, robe, scourge and the books I was returning. That night belonged in a SNL skit. As we were burning incense and sage for the ritual space the smoke detector kept going off until I reached up to the ceiling and ripped it down. Then the dog pee’d in the hallway. During the ritual, the neighbor walked into the apartment and informed us she had fallen in the parking lot and was bleeding, but could she please take our pictures in our cute ritual robes. WTF? All of this was occasionally punctuated with Jerry telling me how beautiful I was and what a beautiful body I had. This after informing me some weeks earlier that if I wasn’t getting enough sex at home he could help me with that. Fiasco doesn’t even begin to describe that night, and Captain Jack Sparrow never returned.

About this time, I was introduced to the genuine pagan community of my local area. Where there were full moon ceremonies every month and Tarot and Reiki classes all offered by a licensed professional counselor. I loved the group I met at her house and the energy was intoxicating. I paid one more visit to Jerry and Sandra’s. I wasn’t there for 5 minutes before I felt like someone had sucked the energy right out of me. I could tell there was some negativity in the apartment but I felt like everything in me was telling me to run. I left with some stones they gave me as I was just getting into the power of different gemstones. A few days later I couldn’t figure out why I was so depressed, then I remembered the stones. I hadn’t cleansed them. I quickly burned some sage and cleansed them of any impurities or negativity. I had learned to do that through a school I had found online called Witch School. I had also found a font of books and literature and have joined a group on Facebook of exJW pagans who are always teaching me.

I think I do owe Jerry and Sandra for showing me the proper direction in which to take my self-instruction. Jerry couldn’t teach me anything because I honestly don’t think he knows much. Even after 16 years he didn’t have any ritual, invocation, or chant memorized. Everything was read from a book. Which I think seriously inhibits energy and power. I am constantly working on memorizing rituals and invocations. They keep advertising on Craigslist for coven members and in fact their recent advertisement asks for people only within their city limits–this was a blatant slight against me because I told them I couldn’t come and meet with them since money was tight and I couldn’t afford the gas. I thought that was better than saying I didn’t respect them and couldn’t stand the psychic drain in their company. Why must he surround himself with a coven? His rituals are empty of feeling and spirit, so it couldn’t be the prospect of a greater cone of power. I think it is a power trip for him. He likes being in the lead, with his own private harem. I don’t know what happened in his previous covens but sex, and sex with him particularly, seemed his primary concern. Unfortunately for him, all I needed to do was read a single book before I knew more than he.

Since then I have run into a few solitary witches who flat out refuse to join a coven and I can understand why. If you are a practicing, or aspiring, witch be careful in your choice of covens. Interview them to assure you’re a good fit, and don’t make any commitments until you have attended some rituals. Don’t be too trusting until your trust is earned. And make sure if you choose to have sex with the High Priest/Priestess that you won’t hate yourself afterwards.

Guardians of The Watchtower

It is almost 3:30 AM on the morning of September 27, 2011. The new moon is less than two hours away. Why should I care? Because I have been studying Wiccan/Paganism for the last couple of months and the phases of the moon are very important. The last few days before new moon are considered ‘the dark of the moon.’ A dark time for witches. Some consider it a time for dark magic–if the need should arise. It is ruled over by Hecate(pro. HE-katae), the crone goddess. If you wonder what she looks like, think about every Halloween witch or cartoon witch you’ve ever seen. She’s old, with a pointed hat, broom and cauldron. The pointed hat symbolizes the upward spiraling Cone of Power (which many witches seek to obtain during their circle rituals), the broomstick symbolizes a sweeping away of the old, and the cauldron symbolizes transformation. Why are these things important at this time of year?

All Hallows Eve is the Pagan New Year–beginning after sundown on October 31st and continuing till sundown of November 1st.  Samhain (pro. SOW-en), the Pagan holiday that coincides with Halloween, is Gaelic for ‘summer’s end.’ The harvest is complete, winter is beginning. Pagans at this time (much like modern people on December 31) reflected upon their physical mortality and the nature of change and transformation in the cycle of life and death. It is the most important time of year for a pagan and the most psychically charged. The veil between the living and the dead is believed to be thinnest at this time so the spirits of ancestors and loved ones can be honored. It’s not a time to worship Satan as witches don’t believe he exists. The pentacle they wear (whether right side up or upside down) symbolizes the 5 elements from which all things exist: earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. The upside down pentacle characterizes the second degree witch who must come to recognize her dark side during this time–much like Luke Skywalker.

Back to the phases of the moon. Every phase has various characteristics that must be taken into account. New moon is used for personal growth, healing, or blessing a new project or venture. Full moon is used for banishing unwanted influences in life, protection and divination. The waning moon is for banishing/rejecting things in life we no longer want–like excess weight or negative habits/emotions (if hair is cut during this time it will take longer to grow out). Waxing moon is a time to attract things into our lives like prosperity, abundance, or magic. Since I am awake (I went to bed at 9pm last night only to awaken bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at 2am)   I will likely go outside at 5:08am, light a black candle (to dispel negativity), and say an invocation to Hecate. Tonight I will likely hold a private ceremony and perform some candle magic in which I ask the Goddess for guidance in some aspect of my life.

As previously mentioned, I have only been studying this for a couple of months, but as I read over it I realize how surreal it is considering I was a Jehovah’s Witness only a year ago. I am enjoying the freedom of this new belief system and the ability to practice it wherever, and whenever, I want. I also find it empowering after coming from a patriarchal dominated religion. What I am finding most interesting, however, are the pagan roots even among Jehovah’s Witnesses. This probably doesn’t sound like a big deal as all religions have adopted pagan customs and holidays. But JW’s held themselves above the rest. The reason they don’t celebrate holidays and birthdays (or anything really) is because of their apparent pagan roots. Customs and traditions are considered taboo by JW’s because of their often superstitious origins (i.e. throwing the bouquet at weddings or the traditional toasts). I didn’t even have a wedding cake at my wedding because I did some research and found its origins to be steeped in fertility (like everything else at weddings) and I didn’t want any part of childbirth.

So for me to encounter, again and again, pagan influences within Jehovah’s Witnesses has been fascinating and enjoyable. October is a very auspicious time for JW’s. They feel this is the month when Jesus was enthroned as King in heaven in 1914. This is also supposed to be the month when Armageddon occurs. Is it an accident that this same month is the conclusion of the pagan year? I don’t think so.

As I cast my first circle as a practicing witch, I noticed something interesting. Part of the ritual is a calling forth of The Watchtowers. The witch faces east, west, south and north and calls The Guardians of The Watchtowers requesting assistance in the ritual to follow. Can you imagine how strange it was for me to use the term Watchtower in a pagan ceremony? It was surreal to say the least. This is not a new tradition, either. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn (late 19th-early 20th century) was a branch of Freemasons who not only created the modern-day Tarot deck but also  had the custom of opening rituals by calling upon the Watchtowers to cleanse and purify a space. The Watchtower has long been considered sacred to Artemis (Diana of Ephesus)  who wore a crown in the form of a Watchtower. The founder of Jehovah’s Witnesses, Charles Taze Russell, could not have been unaware of this since he was a Freemason, as the Cross & Crown image on the Watchtower bore out. (The term ‘Golden Dawn’ not to be confused with “Awake!” predecessor “The Golden Age” and Russell’s series of books, “Millennial Dawn.”)

A supposedly popular ritual of Satanists is the passing of the bread and wine representing Jesus blood and body. Only, they do not partake. Their ritual involves the rejection of the Host, the holy sacrament, Jesus sacrifice. Jehovah’s Witnesses (ex or current) will know what I am getting at, but for those of you who are still in the dark–the most important day of the year for JW’s is the Lord’s Evening Meal in which the emblems representing Christs body and blood are passed. These emblems are passed, untouched, by 99% of the participants. Roughly 10,000 of the more than 7 million Jehovah’s Witnesses get to partake of the host. The rest practice a sort of subconscious rejection of the sacrifice since JW’s teach Jesus is the mediator for only those few who partake. Satanic ritual? Whether they are aware of it or not, it is.

These are only a few of the parallels I have noticed since my studies began, but they only convince me all the more that, as Solomon said,  “That which has come to be, that is what will come to be; and that which has been done, that is what will be done; and so there is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecc. 1:9) Religion comes as an answer to societies needs, bringing with them the roots of previous belief systems. Supposedly, the predominant features of Jesus birth, death, and life can be found in myths that existed long before his apparent birth (see: Horus). Warlike religions were created while society was in its adolescence and conquest and war were rampant. Peaceful religions (or religions who were supposed to be peaceful [Islam, Buddhism, and Christianity]) came about as man evolved from fighting to thinking. And apocalyptic religions (i.e. Adventists, Mormons, and Jehovah’s Witnesses) were born as a response to the increasingly secular world. But religion has failed to bring man deliverance and has only prevented scientific advancement. Society seems to be moving toward a more secular view which I applaud as the only way to evolve past the dark ages of religious intolerance. I hope for a time in which prejudice and judgment are replaced by peace and acceptance. This will only be possible when religion dies and spirituality takes over.

Re-Dedication

It is mid-way through summer term and I should be studying for a midterm in poetry class for tomorrow. Instead, I am wasting an exorbitant amount of time surfing the internet and meeting new people on Facebook. I have recently joined an ex-Jehovah Witness FB page where conversations are constant and engaging. I have friended quite a few people on there. I am always hoping to find someone I know or at least someone who lives nearby, but, alas, no luck so far. It is interesting to meet people whose upbringing was remarkably similar to mine, or possibly even more restricted. Like one family who would never by anything from Proctor & Gamble because of an assumed satanic symbol on all their products.  Another would buy Lucky Charms but dump out all the cereal and throw away the box because she couldn’t keep around something that was “magically delicious”. Others couldn’t eat hotdogs, or watch Disney movies, or have Smurf dolls or trolls. If anyone ever tells you JW’s are not superstitious, don’t believe them! As we all know, superstitions come from ignorance and we really shouldn’t expect anything different from a group of people who aren’t permitted to educate themselves beyond what is printed by the Watchtower society. I am glad, however, that my father wasn’t of the superstitious breed. We never went beyond the things written–it’s not our fault that the religious leaders did. Other than the usual prohibitions for all JW”s (i.e. holidays, birthdays, dances, pledge of allegiance, etc.) my father was very strict about holiday cartoons, spiritistic movies/books, and language–Crap, poo, fart, gosh were all no-no’s. The reaction would have been the same if I had used the other four-letter versions. Music was also something that my father couldn’t tolerate. I’m talking pretty much any kind of music. I went through a 50’s phase when I was about 17 and was told I couldn’t listen to Elvis because some of his songs had the word “rock” in them. I learned to keep my radio under my pillow. “You had a radio?” you might ask. Yeah, believe it or not. My parents bought it for me when I was six years old and it still worked well into my 20’s. I got more use out of that gift than anything else I ever received during childhood. I doubt my dad spent more than $12 for it. Since JW’s don’t have Christmas or birthdays, some have “family days” (oftentimes on parents anniversaries) where gifts are exchanged. I only remember our family doing this once, but the memory has always been golden to me. It was when I got the radio. My mother was still in relatively good health and she prepared a nice dinner for us, and dad bought the board game Sorry! which we spent the evening playing–and everyone let me win. My mother became bed-ridden soon after that and life became less joyous and more to be endured. We never had another day like that, which makes that one all the more poignant.

I am rambling, sorry. The real reason I started writing this blog was to inform you of my recent initiation to a local coven. Last Friday, on the full moon, I was initiated and am now considered a first degree witch. It was an interesting event and not as easy as it may sound. My hands were bound behind my back for 45 minutes which became extremely uncomfortable. I had to repeat certain vows while my hands and feet were bound and I wore a blindfold. I also had to answer in the affirmative to a series of questions which reminded me of the questions asked when I was baptized as one of JW’s when I was fifteen. So I am rededicated to another faith–a faith very different from the first. I have been doing a lot of reading in The Witches Bible by Stewart and Janet Farrar and finding it very interesting. I am in a small coven and am looking forward to attending some larger festivals. I have a lot of learning to do, though, and find the prospects exciting! Any other New Age, or Wiccan believers out there?