"The God of the Bible locked in mortal combat for the souls of men with the goddess of revived paganism---...Few in the church and the popular culture realize the enormity of the revolution going on around us"(1).
The Demise and Resurgence of Witchcraft
An article discussing the historical roots of "The Craft" describes the ritual space marked by a circle:
"The roots of the religion called Wicca, or Witchcraft, are very old, coming down to us through a variety of channels worldwide. Although any general statement about our practices will have exceptions, the following will attempt to present a basic foundation for understanding. Some of the old practices were lost when indigenous religions encountered militant Christianity and were forced to go underground for survival. The ancient mystery religions were lost when the practice of the rites was stopped and the old oral traditions were no longer available. Parents transmitted their traditions to their children, with parts being lost and new parts created in succeeding generations. These survivals, along with research into the old ways, provide a rich foundation for modern practice. Other factors contributing to the revival of the Craft are archaeological and anthropological studies of the religious practices of non-Christian cultures, the works of the Golden Dawn and other metaphysical orders, and the liberalization of anti-Witchcraft laws. Modern Witches hold rituals according to the turning of the seasons, the tides of the moon, and personal needs. Most rituals are performed in a ritual space marked by a circle. We do not build church buildings to create this sacred, ritual space -- all Earth is sacred and in touch with the Goddess and so any place, indoors or out, may be consecrated for ritual use. . . ."(2)
Paganism and Witchcraft probably give the best basic description of the circle as a spiritual ritual tool, and these groups are using circles today in our modern world. Linda Harvey of Mission America writes,
"In Feminism and Religion, Rita Gross explains how it is more possible to openly practice witchcraft in the twentieth century than in previous times(3). She also outlines a little bit about how it is done. A small group, working in a circle, draws power together, which is called raising energy. Chanting, drumming and dancing can be part of the event. Then when the energy is high enough, the power is 'sent' to a destination. While Gross doesn't say it, obviously this can be used for 'good' (as perceived by the group) or evil.(4)
Harvey says feminist spirituality does indeed know how to raise and project such power by changing the consciousness of the participants:
"Where does the power come from? Gross is firm about the fact that it does exist. 'The feminist spirituality movement, more than mainstream religions, understands both that ritual works, and how it works.' And how does Gross think it works? 'By changing the consciousness of its performer [the Wiccan ritualist]"'(5).
Peter Jones, author of Spirit Wars, says that "The Craft" is experiencing an unprecedented rejuvenation:
"'Witchcraft is the wave of the future,' states Peter Jones firmly in Spirit Wars. He notes that at the 1993 Parliament of the World's Religions in Chicago, witches were given official status(6). In Salem, Massachusetts, the local ecumenical group includes representatives of Protestant churches, Catholicism, a Jewish rabbi, and the high priest of the Rosarian Order of Wicca.(7) The famous witch Starhawk maintains that it is through women that salvation will come to the world, presumably using witchcraft as needed(8).
If then, there is a new rise of what adherents call the "oldest religion," one would expect a resurgence of its rituals and ceremonies as well. I want to begin the second part of this series by looking at the circle as the one essential ritual in Witchcraft, and its use as a form to bring to fallen man healing and integrated wholeness of the body, soul and spirit. But there is more to this than just healing at a personal level. The goal is that the resulting whole person is then united with all other "whole people" to form a unified humanity, in tune with itself as well as with the powers above and the planet earth below. What then? The one humanity, now in balance with Mother Earth and Father Sky, will take its place in the universe which is also healing itself through the powers that be. But how can the simple circle of the "Old Religion" have such a vast vision and seemingly impossible dream? Because the circle of Witchcraft is basically the same as the circle in all other cultures and traditions, and the other traditions share the same vision and dream.
No one can deny that there is a current religious awakening throughout all traditions, and they are all coming together for the very purpose that I described above. As we look at the powers of the circle in ritual, it is important to keep in mind that this is not a report on Witchcraft, but a report on prayer circles. The circle is necessary to both. Without a circle there could naturally be no prayer circle, and the same is true for Witchcraft. Of all the literature that I have found concerning the Circle as Form, the writings of Witchcraft stand out as the best source to describe the expectations of a person using the circle and its accompaniments. These rituals and their expected results are basically the same in all religious cultures and traditions. The question we need to eventually ask is, "Have these circles penetrated modern Christianity?" This question was raised for me when I read how one of the prominent leaders of the Welsh Revival used the circle as a tool for revival. In some teaching materials from the Catholic Charismatic Renewal's National Service Committee in Malta, I read:
"Answering the question, 'how do you have a revival?' Gipsy Smith, a man used by God during the Welsh Revival at the beginning of this century, replied, 'Kneel down and with a piece of chalk draw a complete circle all around you - and pray to God to send revival on everything inside the circle. Stay there until he answers, and you will have revival!'"(9)
Does being enclosed in a circle release the power of revival in an individual? More importantly, are such practices being carried out in today's global "revival?" I will give my answer to that in Part Three, but for now, I want to establish some criteria for examining such practices by explaining the powers behind the circle, and how they are tapped, in the realm of Witchcraft.
In Part One, we saw that prayer circles are widespread and accepted as a way of prayer in almost all religious and spiritual traditions. In Witchcraft, the circle is the very foundation of all ritual, so we want to begin by defining the circle as used in religious practice.
Defining a Circle as a Spiritual Tool
"Circle - a primary symbol representing the first level of the atmosphere. . . . Syn. VAYU . . . . 4. used in psychic ritual ceremonies of all kinds as a cut off place between good and evil vibrations; the evil is on the outside and all inside are safe; 5. term meaning 'psychic development circle' for both physical psychism and mental psychism; each person sits facing the center of the circle to lock out negative energies. . . ."(10)
In the following, Donning more fully describes the "Psychic Development Circle:"
"Psychic Development Circle - (current: mental mediumship circle) a chosen group of people who meet regularly once a week to develop themselves in MENTAL MEDIUMSHIP skills under the guidance of a trained MEDIUM; they sit in chairs in a circle; . . . the circle holds good vibrations and closes out all negative vibrations; persons must be compatible; each one develops his own mental mediumship. . . ."(11)
The Circle As A Form
In the spiritual world, circles are considered Forms. This definition spans the simple shape drawn on a piece of paper to the ritualized drum-beating, chanting, hand-clapping Circle Dances of the New Age.
In a paper on ritual dance written by Laura Shannon, she stated,
"This experiential workshop is based on simple folk dances, the living descendants of the primitive healing dance which is also the ancestor of dance/movement therapy. Along with creative improvisation and meditation on ancient images of woman, they provide a structure for a 'living ritual'. This helps us journey to the roots of healing dance and to the source of our empowerment as women. We are enabled to find a new context for our present-day questioning, and new hope for the future we imagine. . . . "The simplest village folk dances are the ones which have survived the longest, . . . Through them we can touch the source of dance as healing, communal expression, and receive new inspiration for our inner journey as well as our work in the modern world. "Dance therapy is said to have its roots in primitive healing dance as it has been practiced throughout history. . . . The early dance forms themselves have, for the most part, disappeared, but their influence is apparent in the ethnic and folk dance traditions descended from them: Lange tells us that 'there is a visible connection between the art of the vanished "primitive" cultures and those still existing' and that 'these connections have lasted into contemporary times. . . . ' The circular dance pattern can be seen as a mandala, where the personal circle is aligned with the circle of the universe, and so the universal symbol of unity and totality becomes a personal symbol as well. The mandala enables each dancer to centre herself and harmonizes the different energies of the individual dancers into a balanced whole. . . . "These images are increasingly available to us and lend themselves beautifully to movement work. Gadon believes that 'The Goddess once again is becoming a symbol of empowerment for women; a catalyst for an emerging spirituality that is earth-centered; a metaphor for the earth as a living organism; an archetype for feminine consciousness; a mentor for healers; the emblem of a new political movement; an inspiration for artists; and a model for resacralizing woman's body and the mystery of human sexuality.'"(12)
What is a Form? Donning explains,
"Forms - 1. (esoteric) shapes that have a hollow within their boundaries and therein produce a captured, concentrated special energy within that hollow that can be utilized for meaningful purposes, i.e., the pyramid, circle, cone, sphere, square and other geometric forms; . . . (Tai Chi) specific patterns of movements in the dance have meaning which bring a feeling of oneness. . . ."
The Circle As A "Form-With-Power"
These Forms, regardless of their material or color, exude an energy to the occultist and New Ager. In the following definition of "Forms-With-Power," we again find the circle mentioned as a Form of protection:
"Forms-With-Power - shapes that are used as psychic tools because of the potential within their areas or because of their character or their metamorphic value, due to their peculiar structure; 'form' is the external appearance of a clearly defined area as distinguished from color or material; a particular way of being that gives something its nature or character; since antiquity, there have been forms, shapes and formations that people have found to be useful for their information, guidance, or protection when working psychically; shapes that exude energy include the cross, the swastika, sword, circle, cone and pyramid; shapes known for protection are the circle and the hexagram"(13)
All of the above basically describes where the circle as a "Form-With-Power" gets its power. The simple idea behind what is called "the raising of power" within the circle is that the energy in the area surrounded by the circle is compressed within that space until it peaks and is released. This release, either to the inward parts of the person or outwardly, is effected (1) by the spoken word of the person once the power is received, (2) through one person to another, e.g., through Therapeutic Touch (transference of power) or, (3) in the group to bring about healing and a consciousness of unity with all things and people.
The Scope of Circles in Ritual as Forms
Circles of power are not necessarily visible:
"Magic Circle - 1. an imaginary circle drawn with a pointed finger or a real circle made with substance (e.g., string, rock-salt, chalk [see Gipsy Smith quote above]) around the person, persons, or objects that desire protection; performed with or without ritual or ceremony; belief: NO evil forces can penetrate the circle line; 2. mandala-mudra combination used around an area where something spiritual is to take place; builds energy and isolates the activity in the center of the circle so the individual or group can more easily control the energy generated, e.g., Sufi twirling; . . . ."(14)
The form and context of a group practicing Witchcraft may vary from other groups. One such form is the "Circle Dance" mentioned earlier: "The circular dance pattern can be seen as a mandala, where the personal circle is aligned with the circle of the universe, and so the universal symbol of unity and totality becomes a personal symbol as well." Besides dance, some use elaborate ceremonies, and others just simple meditation, holding to the old witchcraft adage, "And It Harm None, Do What You Will." In many cases, the people themselves form the circle and are the circle. What appears to be common to all, though, are the acts of consecrating a sacred place, casting a circle around it, calling quarters, the invocation of a spirit (usually believed to be "God"), raising and directing energy, grounding and centering, and closing the circle. It is in the center of the circle that energy is raised, to be released by the person at his or her own discretion. It should be noted that Pagans warn that once a circle or other form is used to initiate a ceremony, it is dangerous not to carry out that ritual very precisely.
Sweeping And Clearing Away Obstructions
When Pagans cast a circle, the area within the circle must be cleansed. This process is called "sweeping." A Pagan named Daphne speaks of sweeping in "The Elements of Pagan Ritual" on her home page:
"Sweeping the circle is a way to clear unwanted emotional baggage, 'vibes' and to prepare the circle space for casting. The handmaiden literally sweeps the ritual area with a broom, often called a besom"(15).
Here is what Wiccan Selena Fox says about "clearing away obstructions" in relation to the waning of the moon during the ritual:
"I am Pagan. I work magic by the Moon to help and to heal others, myself, and the Planet. The Triple Goddess of the Moon guides me. I activate beginnings in the Waxing, energize manifestations at the Full, and CLEAR AWAY OBSTRUCTIONS with the Waning and Dark. I take part in rituals at the New and Full Moons, and I know that my Circles are part of a great web of Circles that meet at these times around Planet Earth"(16).
Casting The Circle
Once the place to be consecrated is chosen and swept, the circle is cast for the ritual. Daphne states that,
"Ritual space is defined by walls in churches, [or] by casting a circle in Pagan rituals. Circles are cast using the sword, the athame, or in some traditions, the wand. Usually the Priestess casts the circle. Holding her tool, the Priestess walks about the ritual space, defining the sacred area with that tool"(17).
Selena Fox notes that there are a variety of ways to chart a "map of consciousness" for the ritual:
"While the map of consciousness with its seven directions and Sacred Sphere form works well for me and for others, it is important to note that it is but one of many maps within Paganism today. Traditions vary not only in the number of directions honored, but the correspondences associated with each direction and the order in which the directions are worked within ritual. It is important that practitioners chart their own maps according to their own traditions, preferences, and experiences. The map I use and present here has evolved over time and continues to evolve. Feel free to adapt it for your own needs"(18).
After describing her own ritual, Pagan Daphne comments,
"This is a *very* rough outline of a ritual. Rituals vary from tradition to tradition and often from group to group within any particular tradition. Some groups work in robes, others work skyclad, which means nude (clothed in the sky). Some rituals are outdoors, others inside. Sabbat rituals may be more involved and complex than esbat rituals"(19).
The Map Of Consciousness: The Geographical Directions
The wide scope of freedom to create one's own methods within Witchcraft ritual even extends to the number of directions used in the Ritual. All use the compass directions, which extend from the center of the circle to the North, South, East and West. Pagan Selena Fox uses seven directions for her ceremonies, and describes the various choices of other traditions:
"The Sacred Circle with its directions is called by some, the 'Magic Circle,' and by others, the 'Medicine Wheel.' Some traditions emphasize the four compass directions of the Circle. Others work with the four compass points plus a central point representing unity. Some also include two additional directions in the center, up and down, to create a Sacred Sphere as well as the Sacred Circle. Qualities, images, colors, and other symbolic associations with the directions vary from path to path, but the idea of Sacred Circle as a place of balancing, healing, and wholeness extends across traditions. "I work with seven directions in my personal spiritual practice, in doing healing and counseling, and in guiding group rituals at Circle Sanctuary and elsewhere. The seven directions are an integral part of my Pagan worldview and provide a framework for understanding and for action. My correspondences of the compass directions and central point with the five Elements of Nature have developed from my work with Wiccan spirituality and contemporary psychology over the past twenty years. My use of the up and down directions emerged from my studies of multicultural Shamanism and my practice of spiritual environmentalism"(20).
In the words of Selena herself, we can easily see that the use of the circle touches all Wiccan and Pagan traditions across the board.
Again, we find a sense of ambiguity in the feature of the ritual called "calling quarters." According to a Wiccan named Randi,
"Calling quarters is when you call to and invite the Ancient Ones of each direction and invite them to you. Their are tons of ways to call quarters. No one way is right. You can take different ones from books, or make your own. They can be memorized, read, or spontaneously said. . . . Remember these words DO NOT have to read exactly, or even at all. Feel free to change the words to suit your purpose"(21).
The Five Elements and the Magic Circle
The "Ancient Ones" are summoned as the elements associated with the four directions: fire, air, earth and water. A fifth, spirit, is associated with the center of the circle, and invoked either as a living entity or an energized power that can be experienced, used, or transmitted to accomplish the will of the user. Since the Five Directions are available to everyone no matter where they are, Selena Fox, one of the most noted witches in the country, explains that, no matter where she is at the time, she can raise power in order to project it for good:
"When I do magic in rituals, before I raise and direct energy, I seek always to look at the larger picture of which my needs are just a part. I endeavor to work for the best for all as well as to help myself . . . . I also do rituals elsewhere on the land and at other places, outdoors and indoors. My worship and rituals can be anywhere since my sacred circle is portable. Wherever I am, I can set up a circle around a sacred sphere with seven invocations: to the four compass point directions, to the Cosmos above, to the Planet below, and to Spiritual Integration in the center"(22).
The invocation of these five directions is not confined to Witchcraft alone, as this entry from Donnings, "Tattwas":
"Tattwas - (Eastern) plain, simple, unornamented geometric symbols used to stir the primordial part of the MIND, INSTINCT, and SYMPATHETIC NERVOUS SYSTEM to psychically learn information regarding CREATION and antiquity; these symbols are the SQUARE, CIRCLE, CRESCENT, TRIANGLE, and OVAL; represent the magical elements for FIRE, AIR, EARTH, WATER, and SPIRIT; meant to stimulate information before the archetypes had formed in racial consciousness"(23).
Transformation comes to the person performing the ritual by invoking these directions. As in the circles described above, Selena Fox invokes the four directions and their elements for a change in personal consciousness, though she says that change is meant to be for the good of all things as well as herself:
"I am Pagan. I attune myself to the four elements of Nature -- Earth, Air, Fire, Water -- and to the fifth element, Spirit, which is the spiritual force that connects all. I see these Elements in Nature -- the Earth in the soil and rocks; the Air in the winds and atmosphere; the Fire as the lightning, fires, and electricity; the Water in the springs, rivers, oceans, rain, and other waters on the planet; and the Spirit as Divine Unity. I also see these Elements as aspects of Self -- my physical body and physiology is my Earth; my intellect and thoughts my Air; my will and actions my Fire; my emotions and feelings my Water; and my Inner Self, my Soul, is my Spirit. I endeavor to keep myself healthy and in balance in all these parts of Self. I work toward a restoring of balance of the Elements in the environment"(24).
The Three Optional Directions: Spirit, Up and Down
Of the fifth direction, the center of the circle, Fox says,
"This is the direction of Spirit. Its Nature form is the Divine Soul stuff that links all life together. It is the synthesis of the Elements and the directions. In human life, this is the spiritual realm and the dimension of the Divine in its many forms. In connecting with this direction, pay attention to the core of your being --your inner Self. Honor the Divine as you know it -- Goddesses, Gods, Nature Spirits, Ancestors, Spiritual Guides, Love, Unity in Diversity. Connect with balance, harmony, beauty, wholeness, integrity, and bliss. Healing modalities include dreamwork, inner journeys, understanding inner guidance, worship, ecstatic dance, drumming, chanting, invocations, vision quests, and spiritual service. . . . "This map also makes a distinction between the Element Fire and the unifying Element Spirit. While in some systems Fire and Spirit are one, in this map they are separate, since Spirit is viewed as a synthesis of all Four Elements"(25).
Later, Fox describes a part of her ritual where she invokes "Spirit" in the center of her ritual circle. This is Divine Unity through which all things realize oneness with the universe:
"Finally, stand and face the center, with your arms outstretched before you. Call to the power of Spirit, of Divine Unity. Call the Divine by the name(s) you know it. Then, bring your hands to your heart and experience oneness, balance, and wholeness. Pay attention to any inner guidance that comes to you. Give thanks"(26).
What we have described thus far is a circular plane, with the four directions extending outward from the center of the circle. It is the same balancing of self (wholeness) with the balance in nature (balanced ecology) being sought in the environmental movement, in which people experience oneness with all things on earth. To fully accomplish this oneness, some look also to two other directions, Up and Down, as described in Fox's "Sacred Circle, Sacred Sphere":
"This is the direction of Sky and Cosmos. Its Nature forms are the sun, moon, planets, stars, meteors, galaxies, and deep space. In human life, this is the realm of cosmic consciousness. In connecting with this direction, pay attention to your being part of the community of life in the universe. As you contemplate the heavens, use your imagination to reach out into mysteries of outer space and other worlds. Experience yourself as an inhabitant of a planet moving through space. Reflect on creation legends and on stories of humans that have ventured forth into space from our planet.
"This is the direction of Planet and Sacred Place. Its Nature forms are the biosphere of Planet Earth and the community of life-forms (such as creatures and plants as well as other humans) in your own home environment. In human life, this is the realm of planetary consciousness. In connecting with this direction, pay attention to your being part of the tapestry of life in your local area as well as being part of the greater community of life on the Planet. As you contemplate this, use your imagination to feel connected with the web of life that includes trees, herbs, creatures, microbes, and the Elements as well as other humans. Experience yourself as a part of the biosphere, also known as Planet spirit or Mother Earth."
Invocation of the Deities
Randi, the Wiccan whom I quoted earlier, describes the feature of the ritual called "Invoking the Deities." She leaves a lot of room for choice, according to the need, in which deity one would invoke:
"Now this part varies greatly on what your magickal purpose is and what tradition of Gods you follow. For instance, for a love spell, one might call upon Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of love. Or you may just call the Triple Goddess and Horned God. Now I've read some beautiful poetic invocations. I've also read ones that take up three pages of typed paper and make absolutely no sense to me. Write your own and see what you come up with. I usually just say what's on my mind. . . . . I firmly believe in writing your own, or improvising on the spot. Make it short, sweet, simple, but right to the point. Remember - when calling the deities, you have to use your mind, too. You just can't blab something and not mean it. Imagine the Goddess floating in through the trees or the God coming through your window and taking Their seats inside the circle(27).
Ending the Ritual
"After the work of the circle is done, the circle is dismantled in the reverse order. The Gods and Goddesses are thanked, their candles extinguished. The elements are dismissed and the circle is banished.. The circle is often ended with the words 'Merry Meet, Merry Part, Merry Meet Again.' This is a common goodbye phrase in Paganism(28).
The Unity Of Circles Across Time, Space And History
Earlier, I quoted Selena Fox as saying,
"I am Pagan. I work magic by the Moon to help and to heal others, myself, and the Planet. . . . I take part in rituals at the New and Full Moons, and I know that my Circles are part of a great web of Circles that meet at these times around Planet Earth"(29).
As Selena believes her circles are joined with "a great web of Circles that meet at these times around Planet Earth," so Daphne believes hers are joined to others down through the corridors of time, history and space:
"The Call to Worship is an essential part of worship in many religions all over the world. In Judaism the shofar is blown, in Protestant and Catholic churches the church bells are rung. In Pagan rituals we also begin with some type of Call to Worship, some way to let everyone know that ritual is about to begin. Some traditions sing a song, some read from their Book of Shadows. This is a way to focus everyone's attention on ritual and all that it entails. In doing ritual we are connecting with everyone who has ever done ritual before. Every ritual action connects us with every time that ritual action has been performed"(30).
First Spiritual Temple
Though not coming under the classification of Witchcraft, a good example of the power of group prayer circles can be found on the web site of The First Spiritual Temple, a nondenominational Christian Spiritualist Church founded on June 28, 1883 by Marcellus Seth Ayer(31):
"The circle above represents a circle of spirits, joined in prayer, standing around a healing light. Half are in body; half are in Spirit. They have joined hands, forming a bridge between the two worlds. Our faith tells us that once you entered this page, a link with Spirit has, indeed, been established."
The page goes on to state some typical reasons for the prayer circle:
"Just follow these simple instructions and know that you have joined this circle of Spirit in your healing request:
"* Call on God, and invite your loved ones, in Spirit, and all those who lovingly join you in prayer at this time. Remember that you are Spirit.
"* In your mind and heart, join into the circle where the hands are illuminated --representing the bridge between those in body and those in Spirit -- and place your prayers into the central Healing Light, bringing meaning, life and action to your healing request.
"* Pray for those for whom you have requested healing and comfort. Pray for your own needs as well. Feel the wholeness of yourself, as Spirit, and all that you are a part of.
"* Ask God and Spirit to receive your healing prayers, as you sit for a few moments in silent meditation and prayer.
". . . And always remember: you are Spirit. With God's help, you can step beyond your problems. It is to your SPIRIT -- the eternal you -- that God had made this promise"(32).
At the dedication of First Spiritual Temple on September 27, 1885, the consecration was made by Spirit Star. Here we find one of the main purposes of the prayer circle: global unity in diversity resulting in released power. The unity is brought about, in part, by the use of the described prayer circle:
"I consecrate this Temple to holy living, to universal brotherhood (sisterhood), to the cultivation of that spirit which the Divine Master brought with him, in his life and teachings when on earth, to unity of the spiritual life with that of earth, that there may be but one life, one brotherhood (sisterhood), one God and Father of us all; that from this place may be taught that wisdom which shall recognize more than teachings from the intellect, even the development and wisdom of the heart-life; that here the hearts of people may be awakened to do, as well as their heads to think, for only through the wisdom that comes from both heart and head can God be brought near to help us in all our endeavors. And may all who come to listen have receptive hearts to be taught how to live the divine life. Amen"(33).
The Unity School of Christianity Foundation:
The "Silent Unity" Prayer Circle
Charles and Myrtle Fillmore were the founders of The Unity School of Christianity, which was founded on two things: a covenant with "Spirit of Truth" and a prayer circle called "Silent Unity." Though there are differences, the Unity School was and is basically "New Thought." Many of today's heretical Word of Faith teachings stemmed from the "New Thought" teachings of Unity:
"The Filmores never desired to have a church, but they wanted a teaching institution. . . . In December of 1882, they entered into a Declaration and Covenant with what they called the Spirit of Truth. It read:
"'We, Charles Fillmore and Myrtle Fillmore, husband and wife, hereby dedicate ourselves, our time, our money, all we have and expect to have, to the Spirit of Truth, and through it, to the society of Silent Unity. It being understood and agreed that said Spirit of Truth shall render unto us an equivalent for this dedication, in peace of mind, health of body, wisdom, understanding, love, life, and an abundant supply of all things necessary to meet every want, without making any of these things the object of our existence.'
"The basis of the movement was Silent Unity, a 24 hour a day prayer circle available to all. The educational basis came later in the form of a series of 'Lessons in Truth' by Dr. Emily Cady. These lessons became the first Unity textbook. There is some difference between what Fillmore himself believed and what Unity asserts today. He was a product of his times. . . . "(34).
Today, the Unity School of Christianity is still carrying on with its original foundation, the covenant with the "Spirit of Truth" and "Silent Unity":
"Silent Unity: The Light That Shines for You
"Located at Unity World Headquarters, Silent Unity has come to be known as 'The Prayer Place,' where someone is always praying, twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. . . .
"What is Silent Unity?
"The name Silent Unity refers to the spiritual core at the heart of all people. This spirituality, which transcends all religions, is our link with each other and with God. It represents a oneness -- a unity. And we can best access this spiritual unity through the silence of prayer.
"A Century of Continuous Prayer
"Silent Unity is a worldwide prayer ministry that, for over 100 years, has been in continuous prayer with people of all faiths. Through times of war, peace, depression, and prosperity, the prayer vigil in Silent Unity's chapel and the brightly shining beacon atop its tower have continued uninterrupted. "Through our telephone prayer ministry, ministry of correspondence, and Daily Word magazine, we reach out to millions of people throughout the world each year. . . . "If you wish, you may link your heart with Silent Unity at 11 a.m. (CT) Monday through Thursday for the Silent Unity Prayer Service. We also invite you to take part in this service, held in the Silent Unity Chapel, whenever you visit Unity Village"(35).
Here is a long-standing effort by a non-Christian school of religious thought that has communicated with a "Spirit of Truth" through a covenant, through teaching, and through an unscriptural plan and hope for mankind, and its very foundation is a prayer circle. Notice: A simple reading of the above shows that, although void of most of the ritual of Witchcraft, the philosophy in back of Unity's use of ritual prayer circles is the same as that of the Craft.
What Does All Of This Have To Do With The Church?
I want to look at the answer to this question next month in Part Three. As I wrote earlier, this present part is meant to lay a foundation for discernment, and the information above is essential to that discernment. Why? Because the Bible is silent on the current-day revival's use of prayer circles and accompanying rituals. As I said at the beginning of this article,
These rituals and their expected results are basically the same in all religious cultures and traditions. The question we need to eventually ask is, "Have these circles penetrated modern Christianity?" I do not believe any Christian would knowingly participate in such practices, and next month I want to take a look at God's word and what it does or doesn't say regarding the practice of prayer circles.
(1) Peter Jones, Spirit Wars: Pagan Revival in Christian America, 1997, Main Entry Editions,PO.Box 952, Siloam Springs, AR 72761, p. 251. For information or to order, call Main Entry Editions, 1-800-574-2978.
(2) "Witchcraft - General Practices: Historical Roots to Modern Practice," http://www.cog.org/general/iprac.html).
(3)Mission: America - Spring 1997, "JUNK THEOLOGY: How Goddesses and Witchcraft Are Invading The Church by Linda P. Harvey," http://www.atgi.com/missiona/past/junk.html citing "Feminism & Religion," Rita M. Gross, Beacon Press, Boston, 1996, p. 211.
(4) Ibid., p. 213.
(5) Ibid., p. 211.
(6) Mission: America - Spring 1997, "JUNK THEOLOGY: How Goddesses and Witchcraft Are Invading The Church by Linda P. Harvey," http://www.atgi.com/missiona/past/junk.html citing "Spirit Wars," pp 147-148.
(7) Mission: America - Spring 1997, "JUNK THEOLOGY: How Goddesses and Witchcraft Are Invading The Church by Linda P. Harvey," http://www.atgi.com/missiona/past/junk.html citing "The Goddess Revival," Aida Besancon Spencer et. al, Baker Books, 1995, p. 45.
(8) Mission: America - Spring 1997 citing "Spirit Wars," p. 148.
(9) Malta Catholic Charismatic Renewal Teaching Material: PRAYER - THE FIRST TASK OF THE LEADER by Nikol Baldacchino, Chair. of the Nat'l Service Comm. of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal in Malta, http://user.orbit.net.mt/yosgra/teach1.htm.
(10) The Donning International Encyclopedic Psychic Dictionary by June G. Bletzer, Ph.D., 1986.
(12) "Living Ritual Dance for Women: Journey out of Ancient Times," C:\ALLTHI~1\CURREN~1\DANCE_~1\LIVING~1.HTM; this paper was published in the American Dance Therapy Association 27th Conference Proceedings, Maryland, October 1992, Laura Shannon, Dip. D.M.T. (U.K.).
(16) Selena Fox, "I Am Pagan," http://pilot.msu.edu/user/rohdemar/earth/IAmPagan.html; CAPS mine.
(18) Selena Fox, "Sacred Circle, Sacred Sphere: Mapping Consciousness with Seven Directions," http://www.circlesanctuary.org/aboutpagan/SacredCircle.html.
(20) Fox, "Sacred Circle, Sacred Sphere."
(21) Randi's Wiccan Grove, "Ritual Steps," http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Oracle/6223/ritsetps.html.
(22) Fox, "I Am Pagan."
(24) Fox, "I Am Pagan."
(25) Fox, "Sacred Circle, Sacred Sphere."
(27) Randi's Wiccan Grove, "Ritual Steps."
(29) Fox, "I Am Pagan."
(32) Prayer Circle Link, http://www.fst.org/healcir.htm.
(34) "Science of Mind, New Thought, Unity And The New Age Movement," citing excerpts from "Open At The Top, The Life of Ernest Holmes" by Neal Vahle, http://www.new-thought.org/suggest.html.