Comox Valley Critical Incident Response Protocol

On Friday, September 30th, on the new moon, members of local government, community and faith organizations gathered together in the K’ómoks First Nation Band Hall. Around 300 people were present for the Community Witnessing Ceremony for the signing of the Comox Valley Critical Incident Response Protocol.

Photo Credit: Patricia Tate

Photo Credit: Patricia Tate

The Protocol is a powerful statement of diversity, community and acceptance. Members of organizations were invited to participate as signatories, affirming their support of the Protocol. Originally implemented by the Community Justice Centre in 2009, the Protocol was recently updated.

Over 100 signatories convened to sign and show their support of the updated Protocol. I was honored to be one of the signatories, representing the Circle of the Sacred Muse and the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Canada. The Protocol is very much in alignment with the principles of inclusiveness that the ATC-C encourages.

The evening featured speeches by Andrew Stringfellow, former President of the Community Justice Centre; The Hon. Iona Campgnolo, BC’s 27th Leuitenant Governor and Patron of the Community Justice Centre; and Chief Robert Everson, elected chief of the K’ómoks First Nation.

A new choral work was commissioned of Brian Tate for the evening, “Nakeestla”, and performed by the Coastal Voices Chamber Choir. Following the signing, the Kumugwe Dancers and select signatories participated in a Peace Dance.

The evening was an historic one, bringing together the unique diversity that makes up the Comox Valley and affirming the commitment to acceptance and welcoming in our community.

Comox Valley Critical Incident Response Protocol

Whereas

Photo Credit: Patricia Tate

Photo Credit: Patricia Tate

We believe that it is desirable for all residents of the Comox Valley to enjoy the privileges of living within a free, welcoming, inclusive, and civil community; and

We believe that no resident or visitor to the Comox Valley ought to suffer from the effects of harassment, intimidation, threat, hateful actions, physical injury, damage to their property, or other forms of violence which are motivated by bias. This includes, but is not limited to, any bias based upon their race, religious belief or non-belief, cultural origin, ethnic origin, perceived or actual sexual orientation, gender or gender identity, economic status, disability status, or social status; and

We believe that it is the duty of all residents, acting individually and together, to strive for the achievement of a community in which we acknowledge our diversity by affirming our differences and welcoming the contributions that arise from each resident’s unique gifts; and

We believe that every resident has the right to experience the sense of belonging to this community that arises from our daily commitment to creating a better world.

Therefore:

As authorized representatives of the governments, agencies, and organizations named, we accept and agree to work towards the effective implementation of policies and practices within our respective governments, agencies, and organizations that recognize, affirm and encourage the inclusion of all; and we commit our governments, agencies and organizations to the implementation of the integrated responses to racist, homophobic and hate-based critical incidents which are the subject of this Protocol; and we encourage all residents and visitors to the Comox Valley to welcome and engage with each other in ways that incorporate the principles of inclusion, affirmation of difference, and broadening our understanding of one another so that these principles shall be evident in the ways in which we live and work together.

Blessings,
Mary

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Back to School

September is almost upon us, and that means back to school. Circle of the Sacred Muse is also heading back to school with our Seeker Class (aka Wicca 101) starting on Tuesday, September 15th!

The Seeker Class is an eight week class and will cover:Seeker Class

  • History of Wicca and Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Canada
  • Ritual Etiquette
  • The Ordains
  • Ethics and Gossip Craft
  • Esbats – the Moon and the Goddess
  • Sabbats – the Wheel of the Year
  • Altars and Ritual Tools
  • Casting the Circle and Calling the Directions

Classes will take place in the meeting room at Games and Grounds in Courtenay, beginning at 7:00 pm. There will be a nominal charge to cover photocopying, and we encourage everyone to buy a coffee or tea from the coffee shop. If you are interested in participating, please email Mary. We look forward to seeing you in September!

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Circle of the Sacred Muse is proud to host Vancouver Island Pagan Pride Day

Vancouver Island Pagan Pride Comes to the Comox Valley

Pagan Pride Poster 2015On Saturday, August 22nd, Pagans from all over Vancouver Island will come together for the first time at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds Rotary Bowl to celebrate 11 years of Vancouver Island Pagan Pride. After 10 successful years of celebrations in Nanaimo, Vancouver Island Pagan Pride is on the move to share the festivities with other parts of the Island.

Pagan Pride Day is an international project that promotes tolerance and understanding between people with different belief systems through education, activism, charity and community. The time of year is carefully chosen to celebrate the harvest and share the fruits of our efforts with our community.

Vancouver Island Pride Day aims to show the public what Paganism is about through a daylong collection of workshops, rituals and demonstrations. It’s also a time for the Pagan community to come together and celebrate our diversity with live entertainment, vendor tables with goods and services from pagan or pagan friendly businesses and organizations.

“I’m very excited to be bringing Pagan Pride to the Comox Valley. There are a lot of people who are curious about Paganism, or maybe have been practicing for a while, and this is an opportunity for all of us to connect with the broader community, make a contribution and have fun doing it!” says Mary Malinski, High Priestess of the Circle of the Sacred Muse and Maiden of the Aquarian Tabernacle Church of Canada.

Each year the Pagan community dedicates its hard work and energy towards raising donations for a charitable organization that has a positive effect in the community at large.  In previous years proceeds raised by Vancouver Island Pagan Pride Day have been donated to organizations like the Canadian Diabetes Association, Cystic Fibrosis Canada, and many others. This year Pagan Pride is collecting non-perishable food items and donations for Lush Valley Food Action Society and the Comox Valley Food Bank.

The 11th annual Vancouver Island Pagan Pride Day will be held on Saturday, August 22nd at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds Rotary Bowl from 11 am to 6 pm. The event is open to everyone and admission is free, though donations for the Food Bank and Lush Valley are highly encouraged.

See the schedule of events here. We look forward to seeing you on August 22nd!

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Casting Magick; Witchcraft Ethics.By Phoenix Ryder.

It begins with the question, “Should I or should I not cast magick?” While magick can be a very powerful and positive thing in our day-to-day lives, as solitary witches, it comes down to ethics.

However, you may say, “I am not harming anyone and I am not doing it for personal gain. “ Yet Think again, do you really know what the outcome will be?

To cast magick one must take full responsibility: for the energy, you send out that manifests on this earthly plane and beyond.

If I cast magick then, what ethics should I consider? Many Wiccans have revered the Wiccan Rede, while not all Pagans agree with it; it serves as a good reminder of karmic law. The Rede however is not meant to be viewed as dogma, as seen in other religions, of if you do something that might be considered wrong, or bad, you will pay for it, like a sin. It is meant to remind a witch of the responsibility he or she takes when energy is cast out of themselves and into the world around them. Who is to say then what is right or wrong, good or bad, in this human experience of life? For the soul’s experience is neither, it just is a learning experience.

Many believe it depends on the intent of the person, what is in their heart. “The path to the underworld is always taken with good intentions” comes to mind. The world is full of magick, everywhere around us. People hurrying to work in the morning, praying for no traffic, the lights that come on in the office, all of these were visualized, created and manifested by the mind. The universe is constantly reacting to us in all forms. From the sunshine to grow the plants on our patio, to the thoughts we think, using the Law of Attraction, to the feelings we emit from our auric fields, to the actions we do every day.

Therefore, to cast responsible magick, a witch must think, “How is this going to affect the universe around me?”. Every living atom, cell and being has free will. Affecting that free will affects every outcome. For with great power, comes great responsibility. All this talk about responsibility may not sound very fun, however” I just want a little extra money because I have that expense that came up,” or “I just want to draw love into my life,” or “I would really like it if that person would stop bothering me,” that can’t be so wrong, can it? I do not mean to harm to anyone, and my intentions are pure, so what could go wrong?

It is called the ripple effect. Have you ever dropped a rock into a pool of water and watched the water ripple out, come back in, ripple out again, then come back in and repeat the process? This is what the Wiccan Rede is asking of you to consider, how might the energy you send out affect others? Is the money you are asking for going to come from an unexpected source, like an inheritance? Is that new partner that you asked to be drawn to you under the right circumstance with their free will included, going to come before you were ready for it? What if in the cosmic plan, you and them were meant to be together, however because you forced your will and manipulated energy, the universe’s outcome changed, therefore changing your destiny and theirs. What karmic consequences would there be for that? Would you want to know, or could you foresee such a thing?

When casting magick, one should never cast it on, or over another being. To act in this manner, is to be playing the role of a God or Goddess. Yet we are mortal beings, so to do so is to then be manipulating universal energy we have no right in doing so. Those karmic responses, or lessons as I prefer to call them, can have swift and just energy returning to you in ways that could cause you further suffering, or prolonged struggle, that is unnecessary. The point of life is to evolve, you chose your lessons before you reincarnated here, do you really want to knock yourself down the spiral ladder and have to work yourself back up again? Why cause yourself more work, if you do not have to. Life is a precious gift, and we are here to enjoy it, grow and be all we can be, with all the human possibilities of this lifetime, why not choose to make it better instead of worse?

Changing the perspective here a little bit, how would you like it if someone cast magick on you without your knowing? Even if they intended to help you, for example sending you healing energy for that cold you were suffering from. What if you were meant to have that cold as the universe’s reminder for you to take care of your body, your temple, yet with that energy sent your way you did not get the universe’s reminder, or lesson? Even if you have permission to cast magick on another, we do not know what “lessons” or contract they signed with the universe before they reincarnated here. So while we may say” I am sure they would approve of this, or I have permission, and pure intentions, so it should be ok…” I would still caution otherwise. If you are to cast magick at all; first do it on yourself, second are there any mundane ways you can achieve your goal without casting magick? If not and you are still in need are you are willing to take full responsibility for the energy you send out? If it does not harm anyone, then proceed. Know though you will receive any karmic lessons in return for the energy you send out, if it does not manifest correctly.

I would also remind you to “be careful, what you wish for.” What you may think you need, may not be what you needed at all. The Gods know what your contract is and will remind you of it if you go off course of your path. First with a tap on the shoulder, if you do not heed their call, the next time it will repeat the lesson with more impact, until you get it. So always, trust first that the Gods are guiding us, and the universe provides, and that you are exactly where you need to be, in this lifetime of learning, for it is the journey, not the destination that matters. May your desires be fulfilled, may the goddess inspire creativity, and the god passion, to live your life in true alignment. Brightest Blessings, Phoenix.

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The Importance of a Ritual Team

I had an interesting experience with rituals this weekend. I had two completely different rituals that I was leading within the space of 24 hours. And they really were completely different experiences.

The first ritual was on Saturday night, and it was a Full Moon ritual. For one reason or another, none of our regulars were able to attend. So the ritual was myself, my priest (my husband) and three new people. I really felt the absence of the people I have come to rely on for their energetic support. It felt more draining than usual performing that ritual on our own and holding all the roles that we can usually share among other attendees.

Team Pagan shirtThe second ritual was on Sunday afternoon. It was a Croning Ritual for one of the leaders of ATC Canada. For this ritual, I had a full complement of people in all the ritual roles (maiden, steward, and four quarter callers). They weren’t all people I have worked with before. In fact, some of them I have never been in ritual space with before. The big difference was that they are all experienced in ritual, so they all knew their roles and held the energy in a responsible way. I was able to rely on them all to do their roles without any concern. And it made my job very easy.

I’ve been told before how important it is to have a core group to work with, and to do some rituals with only that group. I haven’t really experienced a close working group on its own.

My first experience with ritual was an open circle. Many of the women came every month, and yet it was open for new people to attend at any time. When I moved to Vancouver Island, I searched for a new group to attend. I couldn’t find one that was open to new people. So I started my own based on my previous experience.

Over the years, the group has changed. People have come and gone, and it is no longer a women-only circle. More recently, in the past couple of years, a small core group of people have become regular attendees. I’ve slowly begun passing more and more responsibility out to these core people. I didn’t realize how much I’ve come to rely on them.

The ritual team is the support structure for the priestess and priest. Sure, one person can do it all themselves. I did when I first started, when I was younger and less experienced. And yet the whole ritual is more powerful and more fulfilling when you have a team working at it together.

I’m grateful to Goddess for providing me with this clear example of the difference between doing it on my own (well, with only one other person helping), and having a competent team supporting me. I think I was starting to take that for granted, and for that I apologize.

I am grateful to the experienced folks who pitched in and made my job so easy, and made the ritual truly flow on Sunday into a beautiful and powerful experience.

And I am grateful for those core people in my own Circle who support me on a regular basis. You truly enrich the experience, for me as well as for everyone else who attends. Thank you.

Blessings,

Mary

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Hey, There’s a Newsletter Out!

It’s been a while since I posted anything here. I’ve been wrapped up in studying at the Wiccan Seminary, teaching at the Wiccan Seminary, and all that other stuff I tend to do. My apologies for not keeping you all up to date.

Anyway, I finally sat down and sent out a newsletter for the events coming up in May and June. You can read it here, if you haven’t already signed up for our mailing list. And if you haven’t signed up yet, why not? There’s a box to the right for you to sign up now!

Blessings,

Mary

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One Does What One Must

by Mary Malinski

Athena speaks of Medusa:

She was one of my favorites. As Arachne would have been, had she not tried to set herself above me. But Medusa chose to serve, and she did it well.

Most people think I only favored men, and sided with the Gods. That’s because that’s all they tell you about. In truth, I uphold the Law, even when it is not comfortable for me to do so.

Athena_aegisShe was beautiful. She could have had any husband she chose. She was also clever. She kept them all close enough to think they had a chance, yet far enough away to keep her vows. Men came back with offerings more frequently than they needed to just to see her face, and so the temple prospered. They made up questions and petitions just to speak with her. And still she was a faithful priestess. She was very much like Penelope in that way. I liked her, too…

Then my uncle, Poseidon, who almost always found quarrel with me in some way, heard of Medusa’s beauty. He would have her, priestess of mine or no. As with all others who courted her, she refused his advances. But one cannot always deny the Gods. He forced himself on her. To add insult to injury, he raped her in my temple.

Though it cost me much, I had to uphold the Law, the very Law that I had handed down that said all vows are sacred and breaking them must be punished.  If only she had taken other vows…Some of my priestesses were married women.

Since I could not seek revenge on my uncle directly, though I very dearly wanted to, I made sure that he would never touch Medusa again, by turning her into a Gorgon whose very gaze turned all that she looked upon to stone.

At first, in her anger, she sought men out and turned them to stone. Eventually, in her grief, she exiled herself, and found company with the other Gorgons, the only creatures not affected by her deadly stare. She became a story mothers told their children to frighten them into doing as they were told, and a prize for men who wanted an unbeatable weapon, though none of them succeeded in obtaining it.

Medusa tired of constantly being hunted. I took pity on her, and so it was I who whispered to King Polydectes the prize he should require of young Perseus as a wedding gift. I gave Perseus my shield, and asked father for his and Hermes’ aid. I told Perseus how to approach Medusa by looking only at the reflection in the shield. And I guided his hand, so that Zeus’s sword struck true to end Medusa’s suffering. Once Perseus had his justice with lecherous Polydectes, he returned her head to me. I placed it on the aegis, to keep her close to my heart, in gratitude for her faithful service.

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Coffee Cauldron Postponed to Tuesday

Hi everyone,

Just a head’s up that the Campbell River Coffee Cauldron scheduled for this Monday, November 12th will be postponed to Tuesday, November 13th at 7:00 pm. Many of us will be at the Accelerated Wicca training in Duncan, and we don’t want to miss meeting up with you!

Blessings,

Mary

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No Full Moon Ritual for October

Our ritual team has decided that with two Samhain rituals on October 28th (and the Rocky Horror Picture Show on the 27th!), we will not be holding a Full Moon Ritual in October. We will resume our regular Full Moon Rituals in November.

Happy Samhain everyone!

Samhain Jack-o-lantern

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Prison Chaplaincy in Canada

Like many British Columbian pagans, I have been following the news about whether or not Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is going to allow the posting for a Wiccan prison chaplain to stand. It made a big splash in the news at the beginning of September when Corrections Canada advertised an opening for a part time Wiccan prison chaplain, and then the next day, Toews put a halt on the posting.

On Friday, the federal government announced that it would be cancelling the contracts of ALL non-Christian chaplains at federal prisons. Frankly, I am shocked.

According to an email that was sent from the minister’s office to CBC News:

“The minister strongly supports the freedom of religion for all Canadians, including prisoners,” the email states. “However, the government … is not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding. The minister has concluded … chaplains employed by Corrections Canada must provide services to inmates of all faiths.”

As a Wiccan priestess, I am disappointed, but not terribly surprised that the contract for Wiccan chaplaincy was cancelled. While Wicca and Paganism are officially recognized religions according to the federal government, that doesn’t mean they are accepted by everyone. I regularly encounter people who are misinformed about our beliefs and practices. I’m not enough of a conspiracy theorist to believe that this drastic move on the part of the Public Safety Minister is targeted only at our faith.

As a Canadian taxpayer, I am angry. The email states that “the government… is not in the business of picking and choosing which religions will be given preferential status through government funding.” Isn’t that exactly what they just did? The Christian ministers clearly received preferential treatment in this case.

Religious AcceptanceI have nothing against Christianity, or its ministers in general. I have met some wonderful ministers who were very open and non-judgmental regarding my beliefs. I have even had the opportunity to speak at an Interfaith Dialogue held at a Presbyterian Church, and was welcomed warmly. However, just because someone can accept my beliefs doesn’t mean they can minister according to my beliefs, much less the beliefs of the Muslims, First Nations, and Buddhists who are represented in larger numbers than the Wiccans in prison.

Analytically, I can almost understand the majority rule that must have been a part of the decision making process. More than half of prison inmates declare themselves as Catholic or Protestant. So if they have to choose one over the rest, it makes sense to choose the one that will serve the majority of inmates. However, on a humanitarian and ethical level, I really have a hard time understanding why a person should be denied the spiritual service they prefer because they believe differently than the majority. Just because the majority believe a certain thing, doesn’t mean it is the only right belief anyone can hold. How many inmates are going to be encouraged or pressured to convert because the priest serving their prison is adamant that his is the “one, true religion” and therefore every other faith is wrong?

This kind of duality – I’m right and you’re wrong – is what has gotten our planet into countless wars throughout history. I long for the day when everyone understands that beyond the basic needs (air and water), no one thing is right for everyone, and THAT’S OK. We all eat different kinds of foods for nourishing our bodies. Doesn’t it make sense that we can nourish our souls in different ways as well?

Blessings,

Mary

 

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