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New Age Worship at National UMW Assembly Bears Close Resemblance to Witchcraft

Yesterday I received the latest newsletter from RENEW describing the May UMW convention in Orlando (and other related occurrences). The description of the Saturday morning opening service in Orlando was startling and took my breath away. In a nutshell: The UMW convention proceedings (Orlando Convention Center in May) opened their meeting (the Saturday meeting) by "casting a circle"...a fundamental ...elemental...basic wiccan [witchcraft] ritual of ceremonial "magick". The invocation used included calling on the "powers of the directions" (North, East, South and West) and invoking (at the same time) the "spirits" of the elements of nature (earth, air fire and water).

This is the way it was described in the newsletter (p. 2):

"One disconcerting opening ritual on Saturday morning began with the choral call to worship, "Spirit of the Living God", and moved from that traditional chorus into a litany wherein the "wisdom of the directions" was sought. Christ was identified as the center of creation, and the cross was at the center point. However, those present were invited to face East,"...the direction of the rising sun, (from which) we glean wisdom and knowledge." Then to face South, "...from the South come guidance and the beginning and end of life..." Participants then faced West, "...From the West come purifying waters..." Finally all present faced North, "From the North come strong winds and gentle breezes". While all present then returned to center to "discover Christ", one had the feeling that the "source" of this focus was not Christ, but the power of the directions.

The following is from Dianic wiccan priestess's book "The Spiral Dance" in the chapter entitled 'Creating Sacred Space':

"The concept of the quartered CIRCLE is basic to Witchcraft...the FOUR DIRECTIONS [north, east ,south and west]..each correspond to a quality of the self, to an element [ie., earth, air, fire and water]]...and forms of personal power... "The 'Guardians of the Watchtowers' are energy forms, the 'raiths' or spirits of the four elements [ie., earth air, fire and water] . They bring elemental energy of the earth, air, fire and water into the CIRCLE to augment our human power. The vortex of power created when we INVOKE THE FOUR DIRECTIONS [N, E, S, W] guards the circle from intrusions, and draws in the higher powers of the Goddess and the God. ("The Spiral Dance", 1979, p. 72)

According to the "Encyclopedia of Witchcraft":

"....the MAGIC CIRCLE provides a sacred and purified space in which all rites, magickal work and ceremonies are conducted. It offers a boundary for a reservoir of concentrated power and acts as a doorway to the world of the gods...Within the circle it becomes possible to transcend the physical, to open the mind to deeper and higher levels of consciousness." (p. 219)

Each "cardinal point" (N,E,S,W) of the MAGICK CIRCLE is associated with an "ELEMENTAL" [ie. AIR="strong winds and gentle breezes", FIRE ="rising sun", WATER="purifying waters", EARTH= "beginning and end of life"]...for instance (???)

"The four elements of nature,, air , fire and water...form the foundation of natural magick. Modern witches and pagans revere these forces. The elements are associated with the CARDINAL POINTS of the MAGICK CIRCLE and with a hierarchy of spirits... "In western occultism, the four elements are considered the basis of all life, not only on the planet but throughout the universe..." (Ency. of Witchcraft)

And this:

"The art of summoning or conjuring a spirit, or ELEMENTAL [ie., earth, air, fire, water], or deity, usually as part of a religious ceremony or magickal rite. In Wicca and Neo-Paganism, invocations are traditionally made to the elemental spirits of Air, Fire, Water, and Earth when the MAGICK CIRCLE is cast. They are called upon to guard the circle and to witness the magickal workings taking place within it." ("Wicca A to Z" by Gerina Dunwich, p. 71)


"[elementals]...also known as 'Guardians of the Watchtowers', or the four directional points at the perimeter of the magick circle, the elements are perceived by witches and practitioners of the magickal arts as spirit- creatures that personify the qualities attributed to the four ancient elements of Air, Fire, Earth, and Water...EAST symbolizes the mind...WEST symbolizes life...psychic powers and the soul, SOUTH symbolizes the spirit, individuality and identity...NORTH symbolizes strength, fertility and the physical..." ("Wicca A to Z")

Here is an edited version...a "sample" circle casting ceremony taken from "Starhawk's" book ""The Spiral Dance" (pp. 69-70)

"Hail guardians of the watchtowers of the East, Powers of the Air! We invoke and call you!..... Hail guardians of the the watchtowers of the South, Powers of fire! We invoke and call you! Hail guardians of the watchtowers of the West, Powers of Water! We invoke and call you! Hail guardians of the watchtowers of the North, Powers of the Earth Cornerstone of all power... We invoke and call you...."

(Note: According to Starhawk, the "elements are interchangeable with the 'directions' according to varying wiccan 'traditions')

Just to "wrap up":

The women of the UMW who attended the Saturday morning opening ritual in Orlando participated in one of the most elementary and fundamental rituals in witchcraft...they "cast a magick circle" and invoked the "power of the elements". They participated in a basic rite of wiccan ceremonial magick....and I'm sure that 95% of them had NO CLUE as to what they were doing!!!

[Course Description: INTRO TO WITCHCRAFT 101: cleverly (and deceptively) presented to the UM denomination. Faculty: GBGM-"approved". Fee/tuition: FREE...graciously funded by the tithes and offerings of United Methodist faithful across the country]

Brothers and sisters, the the re-Imagining folks have been VERY busy while we have been asleep. As Priestess Margot Adler wrote in 1976:

"The Goddess is a live. Magick is afoot!"

Joyce Sohl, GBGM Women's Division Deputy General Secretary, in her closing speech in Orlando identified God's vision as a "new shoot out of a dead stump....I would like to suggest, friends, that we have trouble dealing with newness...transformation, the making of all things new, is scary, risky, and even too radical for some of us...." Indeed. She and other leaders called on the ladies in attendance to be "agents for change"....(I guess it's a "process-thing")

Do you get the picture? An entire convention of United Methodist Women were invited to participate in a wiccan "circle casting" ritual (en masse) at the Orlando Convention Center. The "theme" of the UM Convention was "Make Plain the Vision". And we are FUNDING this "vision"......Keep those tithes and offerings pouring in to GBGM (Riverside Drive), folks.

"The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in close neighborhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar." -Screwtape

Dear Lord, forgive us!

Tom Graffagnino

Editors Note: What is probably most disconcerting about these various experiments in neo-pagan worship in the name of Christ, is that the worship at the UMW Assembly 1998 may have been patterned after The United Methodist Book of Worship, 468, a "Traditional Dakota Tribe Prayer," an "Act of Congregational Centering" in which participants "form a circle, facing the center," and focus on the four points of the compass--north, south, east and west.

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