Murray, Margaret A. The Witch-Cult in Western Europe. London: Oxford University Press, 1921.
owls The owl is associated with death, SORCERY and the dark underside of life. To the ancient Egyptians, the owl represented night, death and cold. The Bible (Leviticus) says the owl is an unclean bird. The ancient Greeks, however, viewed it as the sacred symbol of wisdom, for the owl was the constant companion of Athena, goddess of wisdom.
The ancient Romans considered the bird a bad omen, presaging death; Caesar's murder was announced by the screeching of owls. Besides death, the hooting of an owl foretells illness, bad weather and the loss of virginity of a village girl. In European and American folklore, various CHARMS could counteract the owl: throwing SALT in a fire, turning one's pockets inside out or tying KNOTS in a handkerchief.
The Aztecs equated owls with evil spirits, including one regarded as the enemy of the human race, whose name
was "Rational Owl." In Africa, owls are feared because they are instruments of sorcerers (see AFRICAN wiTCHCRAFT). To North American Indians, the owl is a bird of ill omen, either the harbinger of death or a messenger from the dead. The Sauk believe that if an owl is seen at night, it will cause facial paralysis. Chippewa medicine men stuff the skin of an owl with magic ingredients and direct it to fly to a victim's house and cause starvation. Folk healers in Peru use owls to combat negative sorcery. In Peruvian myth, the "owl woman" is associated with shamanistic rituals and magical curing (see SHAMANISM).
Demons in the forms of owls supposed attended witches, accompanying them on their broomstick flights and running errands of evil for them. Magicians and healers used owl feathers as a charm to lull people to sleep.
In some cultures, the owl has long been respected. In India, eating owl eyeballs is said to give a person night vision. The Kiowa Indians of North America believe medicine men turn into owls at death.
Leach, Maria, ed., and Jerome Fried, assoc. ed. Funk & Wag-nall's Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend. New York: Harper & Row, 1972. Opie, Iona, and Moira Tatem. A Dictionary of Superstitions. New York: Oxford University Press, 1989.
Pagan Federation International organization based in London that provides information on PAGANISM, counters misconceptions about the religion and works for the rights of Pagans to worship in freedom. The Pagan Federation also provides networking help among Pagans and "genuine seekers of the Old Ways" and aids in the contact and dialogue among the various traditions of Paganism worldwide. Its mission statement is "to promote and defend the Pagan traditions."
Originally called the Pagan Front, the federation was founded in 1971 by members of the four branches of the Old Religion of Wisecraft. One of the key founders was John Score, also known as M, who served for years as editor of the influential periodical, The Wic-can, which became the newsletter of the federation. The Wiccan evolved into a quarterly magazine called Pagan Dawn.
The Pagan Federation works with institutions, governmental bodies and the public to present accurate information on Pagan religious views and rights. It seeks to uphold Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, to which Britain is a signatory, which states:
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public and private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Membership is open to anyone 16 years of age (the age was lowered from 18 to 16 in 2007) who agrees with these three principles, stated as:
1. Love and kinship with Nature. Reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death.
2. The Pagan Ethic: If it harm none, Do what thou wilt. This is a positive morality, expressing the belief in individual responsibility for discovering one's own true nature and developing it fully, in harmony with the outer world and community.
3. Honoring the Totality of Divine Reality, which transcends gender, without suppressing either the female or male aspect of Deity.
The Pagan Federation sponsors events for members and for the public. It has prison, hospital, community service and interfaith activities. It is a member of PEBBLE.
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