Tuesday, August 30, 2005

A prosperity spell

Moonchild has posted instructions for a lovely prosperity spell she's been casting.

Are Goddessless Christians targeting Pagan youth?

Jason Pitzl-Waters has the scoop.

Top 10 Things Heard in a Pagan Store

From Secrets of a Witch, whose author, I presume, is proprietor of said pagan store:

10. So, all of the sudden, I realized I was dressing my north altar to be my south altar! I thought I was losing my mind until I remembered that Mercury was in Retrograde!!

9. What do you mean you don’t have Wolfsbane??? Don’t you know without Wolfsbane my Mugwort and Mandrake Root are useless????


5. Q. What is that thing called?
A. A Pentacle
Q. What’s it for?
A. It’s a Pagan symbol that represents the elements and the spirit
of the faith upon which we’ve built our religion, our lives, and
our concept of God.
Q. Oh, okay! I’ll take it! Look Honey, I’m buying a Pentathingy!


2. This herb can be used for summoning the Devil… or on chicken.

Read the rest.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Sex, art, poetry, myth, magic

In his interview with Tim Boucher, Gnostic priest Jordan Stratford characterizes Wicca - or the elements that attracted him to it as a teenager - as a religion of sex, art, poetry, and myth. That was the best concise definition I've heard in a while. I added the word magic, and now when people ask me about my spiritual practice, I can reply that it's one of sex, art, poetry, myth, and magic. Beautiful.

Adonis and I are headed into the Adirondacks this weekend for canoeing and camping. I can't wait to be out in my temple again.

Bright blessings for your weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2005


I don't know from Gnosticism, but I like much of what Jordan Stratford, "an ordained Priest of the Apostolic Johannite Church," has to say in this interview on Tim Boucher's site. Here is a taste:

When I say that Protestantism is Spiritually bankrupt I mean that it’s evident that the Spirit has abandoned it. It’s anemic, suburban, vapid. The spiritual Geiger counter doesn’t tick there. There is no deeply resonant myth in guitar masses, big screen tv’s, mega-church mega-missions, or applied pop-psychology. All those smarmy websites with picnicking shampoo-and-conditioner couples holding up babies or golden retrievers in the sunshine. Only those traditions which are sombre, iconic, and dimly lit create space for Hermetic reflection and illumination. Glossalalia, interpretive dance masses and Kumbaya are just embarrassing for everybody. And if your congregation is larger than your high-school grad class, flee.

The whole interview is very smart.

Also, from Stratford's blog, the Seven Principles of Cosmic Spirituality, with which I'm totally on board:

1. The entire cosmos is the manifestation of Divine Mind—every molecule, every cell, every creature, every rock, tree, mountain, planet, blazing star, whirling galaxy and universe of galaxies.

2. We are all an integral, interconnected part of the whole cosmos and our own inner world is a holograph of the cosmos within us.

3. One basic datum underlies every religion under the sun, the principle of Incarnation. The Word or Logos, God’s self-expression made manifest, has given the light of its divine spark to every mind/soul coming into the world. Christians call this the Christ or "Christ in us." Other faiths have different names or modes of expression for this same inner reality.

4. Every religion whose ethical core is summed up by the word "compassion" or "loving-kindness" to all other creatures without exception has a vision of the truth and is a valid "way" to Transcendence.

5. No one faith or religion—whatever its claims may be, alone has The Truth.

6. True cosmic spirituality is steeped in, flows from, and derives its most powerful analogies and metaphors from the natural world – from the tiniest bit of dust to the spiralling stars above.

7. The core aim of cosmic spirituality is radical transformation, both personal and societal.

Monday, August 22, 2005

The Pagan Carnival

Jason at The Wildhunt Blog has done an excellent job compiling the first Pagan Carnival, "a bi-weekly summary of the best writing in the modern Pagan, Heathen and occult blogosphere." It's a wonderful idea for on-line community building, and it inspires me to want to write better posts! If you read something on the Pagan web that you think Jason should include in the Carnival, drop him a line at jpitzl@wildhunt.org

Well done, Jason!

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Reading and enjoying the weather

The weather the last two days has been glorious: in the 70s, low humidity, breezy, crystalline blue skies. (Note to the Goddess: we could still use a good, steady, soaking rain.) I've been enjoying a couple books I've taken out from the library, both of which I want to add to my personal library when I can. Goddess Initiation, by Francesca de Gandis, is a 12-month program based in Celtic Shamanism, with a host of straightforward and practical exercises that are by all accounts quite powerful. The reviews at amazon.com, to which I've linked (although I encourage everyone to buy books from their local independent booksellers), express strong opinions, whether positive or negative. I enjoyed reading them. Both Starhawk and Margot Adler praise her work, and those are good enough recommendations for me. The cover art is a bit cheesy; sadly, that's too often the case with Pagan books. The other book I'm reading is A Witch Alone by Marian Green. This is also a 12-month - or, more accurately, 13 moon - course in Wicca. It's pitched at a level higher than beginner's, although I think beginners could still gain a lot from the book. I'm enjoying Green's very good writing.

I've also lately found some inexpensive books at used bookstores. (Best score: a hardcover, unmarked copy of The Chalice and the Blade for $1!). I'm always updating my occult library page, so if you're the sort of person who loves to browse other people's bookshelves, have a look. I welcome suggestions wholeheartedly.

(A note to amazon reviewers: if you can't spell - if you don't know the difference between 'your' and 'you're' - I'm not going to take your reviews seriously. Don't waste your breath.)

Monday, August 15, 2005

Rock. On.

FYI: I'm going to stop calling myself a Witch and start calling myself...

der Hexenmeister

(Link via Tim Boucher)

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Liberation and limitation

Tim Boucher has seredipitously posted about the complementary roles of liberation and limitation in spiritual practice. I say "serendipitously" because I've been thinking and writing about limitation as a means to opening more space in my life for the things I truly value (see my posts on simplicity below). Worth a look if you've been thinking about grounding and/or creativity.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Further thoughts on simplicity

Simplicity is not about deprivation.

Simplicity is not about adopting a scarcity mentality.

Simplicity is about developing awareness of the choices I'm making every day.

Simplicity is about consciousness, about being awake.

Simplicity is about being honest with myself.

Simplicity is about making choices that further my well being.

Simplicity is being deliberate about how I want to live.

Simplicity is about conserving energy and resources.

Simplicity is about gratitude to Gaia and humble acknowledgement of her gifts.

Simplicity is about having enough.

Simplicity is about taking enormous pleasure in swimming in a pond, making lunch at home, camping under the stars, walking to the library to find new books, sitting and talking with a friend on her front porch, going to the farmers' market, slowly gleaning my possessions and giving away what I no longer use.

Simplicity is about responding to my body's needs: for food, movement, touch, sex, laughter, sleep.

Simplicity is about slowing down regularly to hear my soul's call.

Simplicity is about creating the life I want to have.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

First thoughts on simplicity

I grew up, like anyone born and raised in the U.S., in a puritanical, Protestant culture. Many of my ancestors were Scandinavian Protestants; if you've seen the movie Babette's Feast, you'll have some idea of what I'm talking about. I also grew up a woman in a culture that expects women to deny themselves. I've practiced self-denial in the strange modern forms it takes: dieting, chastity, losing touch with my needs and wants. Somewhere along the way, I decided to throw off the culture of restriction and denial, and to embrace pleasure and abundance.

But it's not that simple. What happened is that I "polarized." I wasn't "escaping" cultural norms; I was simply working at their other extreme. The culture says "work hard;" I disdain hard work and try not to do it. The culture says "diet;" I eat whatever I want without regard to health or even, really, pleasure. (And there's nothing counter-cultural about that: the messages we get are polarized and extreme: "work hard, play hard;" "diet and indulge yourself;" "save your money, go shopping.")

I couldn't understand why eating lots of sugar, buying myself little (or big) treats, and spending lots of time "relaxing" in front of the computer weren't making me feel better. And then my therapist asked if I'd ever thought about limits as a way of taking care of myself. Restrictions as a positive thing? No way! If I don't let myself go out to eat, life will be no fun. If I don't order dessert, I'll feel deprived. I deserve that piece of jewelry, and it's so inexpensive. I don't have to exercise if I don't want to! And so on. Welcome to my inner five-year-old.

The ironic thing is that, despite my commitment to pleasure, I've been living without ways to take care of myself, and that doesn't feel good. I don't eat regular meals, and then I go out for a big, exciting restaurant meal with friends. I let myself run out of groceries, and then I feel deprived and hungry and have to order a pizza. I stay up too late and sleep in. I eat too much sugar and feel like crap. I'm in debt. I'm overweight. My dissertation isn't finished. My apartment isn't clean (although I've been working on it this week, even in the heat, and it looks much better than it did). I'm not trying to be hard on myself (although I'm excellent at that). I'm just trying realistically to assess my situation and say: what I'm doing isn't working for me, it's not producing the life I want to be living, something has to change.

In addition, we have very little money this (academic) year. I'm on unemployment and am working on finishing my dissertation, and Adonis is in graduate school. Last year, on the other hand, we were both fully employed and had plenty of money. I have everything I need. I have clothes, books, grocery money, rent money; we have a car (although Adonis takes it to school with him); I have beautiful state parks and plenty of cheap or free ways to entertain myself. I just can't spend a lot of money. That's hard for me; I tend to live beyond my means. But I'm really thinking about how to make (financially necessary) simplicity a spiritual practice for myself.

Right now I'm working on building awareness. Adonis and I sketched a budget, and I'm keeping track of everything I spend in a little notebook. Consciousness works! Yesterday I didn't buy a small, pretty ring that was only $11 because I reminded myself that this is a spiritual practice (even though I don't really know what that means yet). I'm proud of myself.

Sweet passage, Monica Sjöö

You already know that Monica Sjöö has died. I learned first from the Furious Spinner yesterday; the Wildhunt Blog also has a nice collection of commentary. Last night at my women's circle we lit a candle on the altar to help light her way; it burned down as we spent the hours telling our stories from this summer's Pagan festivals and Witchcamps. We also admitted that none of us - for shame - has read her work, even though we know of her work. I somewhat blithely promised to read The Great Cosmic Mother. Zoe cautioned me to be careful what I promise the dead. So now I really have to read it! (I've always intended to, you know.)

Monday, August 08, 2005

Some notes for future blogging

Here are some things I've been thinking about and may blog about when I can collect my thoughts:

(1) What does it mean to be Pagan clergy? How does one train and where does one serve? Is that my path?

(2) What does it mean for Paganism or Witchcraft to be a public religion versus a private, secretive one?

(3) Voluntary simplicity as spiritual practice.

(4) Taking care of oneself as spiritual practice.

(5) Should I get a tattoo?

Sunday, August 07, 2005

Mercury retrograde and my iBook

Since the planet Mercury is in retrograde, I decided it would be a fine time to reformat the hard drive on my iBook. Foolish, foolish mortal! I risked the trickster nature of the god, and I lost.

Mercury, as you likely know, governs communication and travel. When Mercury goes retrograde, which happens three times each year for about three weeks, we are advised to slow down, think matters through before acting, regroup, rethink, put off important decisions, and take special care with travel plans and communication. It isn't the time to reformat a hard drive.

I needed to reformat because I installed Tiger (the newest Mac OS) on my 20-month-old iBook G4 about a month ago, and ever since, my computer has been running slowly and programs have been frequently closing without my prompting. I was seeing way too much of that little spinning rainbow circle. This was driving me crazy. The advice I got was (a) to do a "clean" reinstall of Tiger and (b) to upgrade my RAM to 512 MB. Since the RAM will cost me $150, I decided to do the reinstall first to see if that helped matters. The good news is that it has.

The bad news is that I lost data. In moving information from the iBook to my external hard drive and back onto the reformatted iBook, I managed to lose: the contents of my address book, all archived email messages, and all Firefox preferences (which allow me to navigate my blog-world - what you don't know is that I have two other blogs). Notice anything about the particular data I lost? Yep, it all has to do with communication. Ha!

I wanted to blame someone for this misfortune, but despite the fact that Adonis was helping me, I couldn't blame him, since it wasn't his fault. We did everything by the book, we believe. We have no idea what happened ... except that we tempted Mercury, and he laughed at us.

Be careful out there.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

A Witch's playlist

A while back I started assembling an idiosyncratic witchy playlist in iTunes. Here is what I have so far; I'd love suggestions.
  • A Witch - Monty Python's Holy Grail (Yes, you can get this on iTunes! "She turned me into a newt!" "A newt?" - pause - "It got better...")
  • Building a Mystery - Sarah MacLachlan - Surfacing
  • Witches' Song - Marianne Faithfull - A Perfect Stranger ("Shall I see you tonight, sister, bathed in magic, greet? Shall we meet on the hilltop where the two roads meet? We will form a circle, hold our hands and chant, let the great one know what it is we want.")
  • Mysterious Ways - U2 - Achtung Baby (A bit of a stretch, I know. But still, at the end: "We live through miracle days. Spirit moves in mysterious ways.")
  • Gypsy - Fleetwood Mac - Greatest Hits (It's cheesy, but I actually like this song. Anyone remember the video?)
  • Crescent Moon - Cowboy Junkies - Pale Sun, Crescent Moon ("Won't you come with me?" she said. "There's plenty of room in my iron bed. You're looking cold and tired, and more than a little human. I know I'm not part of the life you had planned, but I think once your body feels my hand, your mind will change, and your heart will lose its pain.")
  • Under Your Spell - Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Once More With Feeling ("The moon to the tide - I can feel you inside - I'm under your spell - Searching - Like the sea, pulled to you so helplessly - I break with every swell - Lost in ecstacy - Spread beneath my Willow tree - You make me complete - You make me come....")
  • Losing My Religion - R.E.M. - Out of Time (This song has always resonated with me, even though "losing my religion" is really a southern expression for I can't remember what. Also, check it out.)
  • I Put a Spell on You - Creedence Clearwater Revival - Chronicle, vol. I
  • La Bruja - Salma Hayek - Frida soundtrack
  • The Mummer's Dance - Loreena McKennitt - Book of Secrets
  • No Man's Woman - Sinead O'Connor - Faith & Courage (Because the song sounds so frickin' cool.)
  • I Am a Vamp! - Ute Lemper - Berlin Cabaret Songs (Fantastic song from the decadent days of Germany's Weimar Republic: "My bed belonged to Pompidou; like Loulou I have bright red hair; I dance as well as Solomé; and treat my Baptists just as fair. I wear Mata Hari's dress, the ring of Marie Antoinette; the fairest Helen wore this corset to a gala Trojan fête. I am the poison of the Morgians; I am a witch like Joan of Arc. I wear the stockings of Dubary, bathe in coffins for an art.")
  • Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered - Rodgers & Hart (Ella Fitzgerald) - Best of the Songbooks ("Those ants that invaded my pants - finis!")
  • Witches - Cowboy Junkies - Caution Horses ("Come dance in the moonbeams, ride the night wind, make love to the darkness, and laugh at man's sins.")
  • Daddy I'm Fine - Sinead O'Connor - Faith & Courage ("strong independent Pagan woman singing")
  • The Christians and the Pagans - Dar Williams - Mortal City (What Pagan doesn't love this song? "The food was great, the tree plugged in. The meal had gone without a hitch ... till Timmy turned to Amber and said, "Is it true that you're a witch?")

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

All hail the Flying Spaghetti Monster

Here's a fun refutation of "Intelligent Design" theory. ("Intelligent Design Theory is neither intelligent nor a theory: discuss.") The graphics are particularly worth a look.

(Via PZ Meyers)

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

First harvest

Noddy at Numenous Thoughts writes about eating locally "as an act of Divine Connection." I like that idea. I've eaten local foods for years as a way of supporting the local economy and the local organic farms, as well as nurturing and protecting the environment and my health. Now I'll add the idea of eating locally as spiritual practice to my thoughts and intentions.

This week is Local Food Week where I live, too. People are pledging to spend $5 this week on local foods (no problem!) and several restaurants are offering meals made entirely with local foods. (Hmm, I think I know what Adonis and I are doing for dinner tomorrow night.) This evening I walked with a friend to pick up our farm share for the week: corn, onions, carrots, beets, potatoes, tomatoes, summer squash, and herbs. At the farmers' market today I got green peppers and chard. I have peaches and blueberries from the fruit stand. I'm stocked with local garlic, honey, and wine. I cleaned out the fridge this evening and arranged all the food so I could easily see what I have. It's a good time of year, and I feel very blessed.

Say it, sister!

Morgaine, of The-Goddess, has a new blog, with Psuedo-Adrienne, called Women's Autonomy and Sexual Sovereignty Movements. Morgaine is an unabashed Witch. (Is there such a thing as an abashed Witch?) Here is a sample of what she has to say about women's sexual sovereignty.

I want women to be treated as full and equal citizens under the law. I want the law to stop tolerating men’s infidelity, and stop penalizing women’s sexuality. I reject the monotheist idea that sex is only for procreation, and that engaging in sex is somehow “wrong”. It is a normal adult activity that people should be free to enjoy in an honest, responsible manner. The state has no business in the bedroom. It’s only input to sexual activity should be to prevent the spread of disease, and it isn’t even doing that. Only women should have the power to make decisions that affect only women. No Uterus, No Opinion.

Yes, that phrase is harsh, and men bristle at it. I don’t care.

My uterus is not a political issue, and no male is authorized to negotiate the disposition of it. Ever.

Having a child is an awesome responsibility. I admire the people who choose to do it. Stewardship of another human, whether through parenting, teaching, or healing, is a sacred act that should be taken on with an open and loving heart. We cause only harm by forcing people to have children they don’t want. The current declines we are seeing in the crime rate are in direct correlation to the availability of legal abortions. It is wrong to force a woman to risk her life if she is unwilling or unable to carry a pregnancy to term. It is pointless for society to create a burden on women, social services and the legal system when we have a perfectly viable alternative to unwanted pregnancy.

Bush, ID, and the politics of ignorance

I like a good fantasy as much as the next Witch, but my ultimate loyalties lie with the reality-based community, and I couldn't be a Witch if in affirming my spirituality I had to disavow science. It's a common misconception about Pagans - one I myself held for many years - that we believe in the supernatural and are unscientific. But Paganism is a naturalistic path. Many Pagans are science geeks and wonks. Many of us may also believe that science isn't the only paradigm for knowledge; personal experience, and poetic interpretation of that experience, is also valued. (And here we could have a discussion about what counts as knowledge ... but we won't.) But I've never known a Pagan who was so willfully ignorant as to deny evolution, and I've never known one as anti-intellectual as the fundamentalist Christians who endorse so-called "Intelligent Design" theory. Now George W. Bush has told reporters that he supports teaching ID in our public schools. You can find details and analysis here, at PZ Meyers' excellent blog.

Phyllis Curott, in her lecture at Starwood on the growing theocracy in the U.S., addressed the religious right's hostility toward science. She said that widespread ignorance among the citizenry is an important component of social control, and that the religious right's dismantling of public education is a deliberate part of their political agenda. Those of us who are Americans and who care about our country have to fight back.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Reflecting on Lughnasadh

Here is a lovely personal reflection on the meaning of Lughnasadh by a Texas pagan named Andy.

I did it!

Those of you who know me will be shocked to hear that I did manage to make it up before dawn to meditate. Then I went to the gym.