Monday, November 27, 2006

La bella luna

Via chavala


You are The Moon


Hope, expectation, Bright promises.


The Moon is a card of magic and mystery - when prominent you know that nothing is as it seems, particularly when it concerns relationships. All logic is thrown out the window.


The Moon is all about visions and illusions, madness, genius and poetry. This is a card that has to do with sleep, and so with both dreams and nightmares. It is a scary card in that it warns that there might be hidden enemies, tricks and falsehoods. But it should also be remembered that this is a card of great creativity, of powerful magic, primal feelings and intuition. You may be going through a time of emotional and mental trial; if you have any past mental problems, you must be vigilant in taking your medication but avoid drugs or alcohol, as abuse of either will cause them irreparable damage. This time however, can also result in great creativity, psychic powers, visions and insight. You can and should trust your intuition.


What Tarot Card are You?
Take the Test to Find Out.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Mercury

I've begun taking an astrology class with a teacher I admire utterly. I've been trying to get into her class for over a year, and I've finally managed. I'm intrigued and excited. This six-week term, we're talking about Mercury. (There he is in the picture.)

Here are some words and ideas associated with Mercury -

quicksilver / fugitive / changeable / imagination / trickster / mirror / communication / scoundrels & thieves / messenger / poisonous / morph / untrustworthy / reflector / traveller / deceitful / truth-telling liar / the poison that heals / bloodthirsty / an impudent demon

You know who that makes me think of? Spike from BtVS. (That's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," for the uninitiated.)

My teacher said that Mercury in your chart is that part of your life you're always living, always returning to, always trying to figure out. "If you understand the person's Mercury, you understand what their life is about."

Each degree on the zodiac has a short description, a story or metaphor, attached to it. These are the Sabian symbols, and they're the keys to unlocking the meaning of the planets in your life. Our homework involves "working on" our Mercury symbols to start unlocking their meaning - through journaling, dreamwork, art, etc. My Mercury is at 24 degrees Aquarius. Its symbol is:

A man obviously of the world has turned his back on passion and is giving people a deep and undying wisdom.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

The wisdom of old mermaids


Kim is writing a novel about the Church of the Old Mermaids, and she's started a blog sanctuary to introduce us to their stories. She's also encouraging people to create or find old mermaid sanctuaries in their communities and let her know about them, even send her photos.

I would like to see Old Mermaid Sanctuaries everywhere. They already exist in some places. In other places, we need to rearrange things a bit so they can come into existence—or so they can truly be seen, like wiping film off of an old window. Old Mermaid Sanctuaries are places where we care for ourselves and each other. Old Mermaid Sanctuaries are places where the sun comes up and the sun goes down. Old Mermaid Sanctuaries are places where the heart opens and love flows in and out. Old Mermaid Sanctuaries are places where cynicism does not exist. Old Mermaid Sanctuaries are places where compassion is a verb. Old Mermaid Sanctuaries are places where you and I live. (Read the whole thing here.)

(Art by Joanna Powell Colbert)

Monday, November 06, 2006

All acts of love and pleasure

What brings you joy?

I've been thinking about this question, and my answers - as perhaps befits someone with Taurus on the ascendent - are mostly of the body.

sex ~ massage ~ dancing ~ swimming, preferably outside, preferable naked ~ eating good food ~ laughing ~ being outside, hiking or camping ~ a good yoga class ~ ritual ~ art ~ doing things with herbs ~ my dog ~ an excellent bookstore, especially a feminist bookstore ~ good music ~ delicious smells ~ beautiful clothes ~ open-hearted connection with another person ~ flowers ~ oils and potions ~ books ~ ideas ~ my sweet life partner ~ cuddling ~ waterfalls ~ lakes and oceans ~ tarot ~ lying on the earth

Sensate, sensual connection with the earth, and with spirit, body, and heart, brings me joy.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A blessed Samhain



This card is from the Druid Tarot, and it's one of my favorite images for this time of year, always on my Samhain altar. Blessings of transformation and wisdom to you all.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Planning a Samhain ritual

I suspect I'm not the only one home tonight planning a Samhain ritual. Tomorrow night I'm holding a small ritual in my home for friends. None of them are Pagans or Wiccans; indeed, I have few Pagan friends. Fortunately, I believe I have a gift for offering the beauty of our path, in ritual, to those who don't usually follow it.

I'm sitting at the kitchen table with stacks of books, my working grimoire (in a fabulous Circa notebook), and a cup of tea. Adonis is in charge of grounding and centering, and cakes and ale. I've written parts, so everyone can participate, for the more structured bits of the ritual: the circle casting, invocations and thanks, and explanations of the holiday. For invoking the elementals, this year I'm inspired by the feeling of the elements in our bodies. (Inspiration: Starhawk, The Earth Path.) To wit:

Feel the solid earth under your body. Feel the weight of your body on the earth. Feel the energy of your first chakra, at the root of your spine, connected to the energy of the earth. Feel the red glow.

Spirits of the north, we welcome you to our circle. Bless us with good health, good food, good sex, strong bodies, right livelihood, and the fulfillment of our material needs. Help us experience our connection to the earth, our home.

Most of the ritual is spent in telling stories of our beloved dead. When the stories die down, we'll sing "Breaths" (inspiration: the Druid ritual at Starwood this past summer).

Listen more often to things than to beings.
Listen more often to things than to beings.
'Tis the ancestors' breath when the fire's voice is heard,
'Tis the ancestors' breath in the voice of the waters.

Those who have died have never, never left.
The dead are not under the earth;
They are in the rustling trees
They are in the groaning woods
They are in the crying grass
They are in the moaning rocks....

We'll do tarot card divination and have cakes and ale. Last year I served pumpkin bread and cider. This year it's up to Adonis, and he's muttering something about corn cakes, which has me worried - but it's not up to me.

Now I'm back to planning and polishing.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bippity boppity boo

I've been away visiting my new nephew, who was adopted in South America and arrived home with his parents, my sister and her husband, last Saturday. It was a joyous meeting and reunion at the airport, with two new sets of grandparents, four aunties and two uncles, and assorted cousins, two of whom are themselves adopted. My sister honored Adonis and me by asking us to be the Goddess-parents; my nephew will also have godparents, both of whom are Christian, as his parents are (my sister Lutheran, her husband, Catholic). So call me a Goddessmother, or a fairy godmother. (Alas, "fairy godfather" sounds like a gay mobster, so Adonis will stick with "Goddessfather.")

What does it mean to be a Goddessparent? Well, first it means I welcomed him back and reminded him that earth is a beautiful place, that this is a good incarnation, and that he's safe. We'll hold an earth-based baby ritual for him - not a Wiccaning per se, since he'll also be baptized. I think my most important duty will be to encourage and help him to honor the earth. To tell him stories. Sing to him. Take him camping and hiking. Garden with him and teach him to compost. Give him a membership in an environmental organization.

What else could a fairy godmother do?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ethics, science, and the Goddess

I've tried a few times to write a post about this story, broadcast on the CBS news segment "freeSpeech" the evening of the Amish school shootings a couple of weeks ago. Brian Rohrbough is the father of a boy killed at Columbine; he offers his opinion that school shootings are a result of teaching evolution.

I've tried the snark angle ("science teachers everywhere rub their hands with evil glee"), but it was too easy and unsatisfying. I've tried rebuttal ("evolution doesn't entail that the strong kill the weak; that's a gross oversimplification of the principle of survival of the fittest; fitness is measured by a species's ability to adapt to a changing environment..."). I'm sick of being angry, sick of my own zeal in trying to change the world through force of reason.

Christianity doesn't entail dogmatism, biblical literalism, or other forms of irrationality. But the public face of Christianity in this country too often looks like illogical extremism. Sometime I feel like returning to the mainstream Protestantism of my upbringing just to fight the public face of Christianity in this country. But that's not where my spiritual home is.

Instead of any more snark, anger, or derision - all of which I enjoy perhaps more than I should - let me offer a Pagan counterpoint to Mr. Rohrbough's free speech.

There is no simple answer to the question, why did the Amish school shootings happen? Part of the answer is sexism and misogyny, since the victims were all girls. Part of the answer is the legal and easy availability of guns in the U.S. There are many other reasons, to be sure, some cultural, some more specific to the perpetrator.

How can anyone study evolution and not wonder at the marvels of the universe? Of course, belief in a creator God isn't incompatible with belief in evolution. Indeed, to strip the creator God of the intricacy and wonder of evolution and hand him a magic wand and a seven-day deadline seems to me to insult and diminish that God. Pagans don't believe in a creator God, however. We see the Goddess, dual deity, or multiple deities in nature itself. Science is one way to know the Goddess. The miracle needn't be conjured from some transcendent realm. It's right in front of your eyes.

The "inherent value of life" can be found in nature and in ourselves. There is an emergent morality here. It's not the morality of a stern paternalistic God, the God who says it is right and just for Abraham to kill his son if that is what God demands. (Mr. Rohrbough says that the murder of innocent children is always wrong, but his own religion offers a caveat; when God tells you to murder an innocent child, it's morally advisable to do so!) Pagan morality is grounded in respect, love, and passion for the earth and her creatures. Pagan morality is grounded in reverence for all bodies, including the human body. Responsibility for our actions, for their effects on others and the environment, is central to a Pagan ethics. Acting responsibly can in some cases include aborting pregnancies. We might think that the value of children is increased, not decreased, when they are chosen and wanted, when their mothers actively take responsibility for bringing them into this world. Indeed, around the world there is an inverse relationship between the amount of social support given to children and the restrictiveness of abortion laws. In other words, those countries with the most liberal reproductive freedoms provide the greatest social safety net for their children. Doesn't that say something about the value a society places on children?

The absence of God the patriarch doesn't preclude morality, althought it does preclude morality of a certain kind. And good riddance, say I!

Monday, October 16, 2006

Happy

Yesterday I had a craving for kitsch. I went to the craft store and bought a paint-by-
number kit, a picture of pink roses framed in green toile. Paint-by-number became popular in the 1950s and, like that decade, is inescapably kitchy. Popular themes include horses, kittens, landscapes, bouquets of flowers, Jesus, and patriotic scenes, like a bald eagle framed by the U.S. flag. After the craft store I went next door to the grocery and bought the ingredients for rice crispy treats. I'm munching on them now.

The Samhain decorations are up, and the house is cozy. We lit the first fire of the season in our fireplace on Saturday evening and had friends over for wine and cider. Lugh enjoyed all the attention. He went into the bedroom at 10:30, the usual time he and Adonis get in bed, then got back up when he saw the party wasn't over and we weren't coming to bed. He took to snuggling people on the couch. People brought snacks and baked goods and more wine, and we resolved to host such gatherings once a month through the winter.

Now that I'm working normal Monday-Friday hours, I feel like the weekends ought to be one day longer: one day to clean and run errands and two days to relax and read, see movies and friends. I'm having a hard time committing to a book. I'm browsing my way through Gerald Gardner's Witchcraft Today, Cunningham's book on stone and crystal magic, and Gerina Dunwich's book on spell craft. I've also started rereading Little, Big by John Crowley. It seems the right time of year for it. I leave you with the words that Smoky Barnable sees in a crossstitch sampler at the Junipers' house on his way to Edgewood:

The things that make us Happy
make us Wise.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Books to buy

Here are some new scholarly (hence pricey) Pagan books I want to remember to buy when I'm feeling flush.

Witchcraft and Magic: Contemporary North America, ed. Helen A. Berger (Penn State, 2006)

Magia Sexualis: Sex, Magic, and Liberation in Modern Western Esotericism, Hugh Urban (University of California, 2006)

There is also a new scholarly journal out from Penn State UP: Magic, Ritual, and Witchcraft.

Friday, October 06, 2006

What I'm reading

Worthy reads from around the Pagan web:

At beliefnet, a fine interview with the founder of the Asatru Folk Assembly, Stephen McNallen. He's an eloquent voice for this little-known, oft-misunderstood Pagan faith. I think Wiccans could learn from the explicit honoring of ancestors that we find in Asatru, Yoruba, and Druidry. I don't hear many Wiccans speak of the ancestors except, of course, at Samhain.

Update (11/17/06): Please see Al Billings's comment, below, about McNallen's tacit acceptance of racism in Asatru. If McNallen is to be taken at his word in the beliefnet article, he doesn't condone racism and doesn't see it as having any place in Asatru. Billings, who has personal history in Asatru, says otherwise. I in no way accept, condone, or tolerate racism or anti-Semitism. They aren't part of any "faith" I recognize. I actively support and work toward the end of oppression and discrimination of all kinds.

Molly of Green Hope Farm offers a lovely essay about this year's flower essence from her Venus Garden.

Is it ethical to not worry and be happy? What binds us to worry and unhappiness? Illusion or truth? Can we unravel this dynamic and find a freedom to love ourselves just the way we are, accept the world just as it is, and know that happiness is a moral as well as joyful choice?
[...]
The Alignment Garden helps us know our precise work in world. It helps us align with our divinity so that we can live this purpose. It is not about mind ideas of life purpose but soul truth. It sorts this wheat from this chaff so that we are clear about what is and isn’t our life work and who we are. Don’t Worry- Bee Happy [the essence] supports us to let go of that which is not our work. It helps us let go of the self judgment and guilt that would make us feel responsible for most of the planet’s woes. It helps us to know that being who we are, living the life divinity created just for us, and enjoying this life is not just enough, it is what is meant to be. The concept of judgment is left behind in an experience of grace. And happiness.

Kim Antieau has published the first page of her new, in-the-works novel, Ruby's Imagine, on her site.

Dianne Sylvan has two excellent posts, one on "Advanced Wicca" and the state of Wiccan writing (more of my thoughts on that later) and another on personal spiritual practice and priorities. Dianne's long, intelligent posts are gifts to the thinking Witch and other intellectually curious sorts.

And finally, what do you call a fourth-degree Gardnerian? A Buddhist. For a personal story about the journey from Wicca to Buddhism, read Al's post about his pursuit of mystery.

Happy surfing!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Autumn, pentacles

Welcome to my favorite month of the year! Lugh and I took a long hike in the woods this morning - me in a t-shirt and a wool scarf - and gloried in the crisp air and turning leaves. (Okay, he mostly chased squirrels. Sometimes I sing Goddess chants while I hike so he can find me again after he's run off after some squirrel.) In addition to the busy squirrels collecting acorns and chattering in the tree tops, ducks splashed loudly in the water like children playing. A black and white woodpecker wasn't bothered by my singing, but a blue heron rose up over the water as if I'd disturbed him.

Like most of you in the U.S., I suspect, I've been following the campaign to have the pentacle added to the list of approved religious symbols for military headstones. The issues was brought home to me in a visceral way by this artist's rendering of what the headstone would look like (from Chas Clifton).

Such a simple thing, a symbol, but so potent. I adore the pentacle, but I don't feel comfortable wearing it most places. What does the pentacle symbolize? The stars and the dome of heaven. The element of earth. The human body. Five sacred elements: earth, air, fire, water, spirit. The human being cloaked in divinity. Protection. Mystery. The shining side and the shadow. The womb. An apple - forbidden fruit, forbidden knowledge. Wisdom. The triple Goddess and two aspects of the God. Birth, initiation (maiden), flowering (mother), waning (crone), and death. Love, wisdom, knowledge, law, and power (the "pearl pentacle"). Sex, self, passion, pride, and power (the "iron pentacle"). Interrelationship and interconnectedness. The power to banish and invoke. The five senses. The five-fold kiss. Sacred, holy, necessary.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Pagan Pride 2006


Adonis and I drove a couple of hours to attend Pagan Pride in Rochester last weekend. It poured rain for much of the day, so there weren't many others in the park with us. But it was a sweet, smallish, local festival, with three rituals throughout the day led by three different area groups, good food from a local hot dog vendor, an impressive selection of vendors, some good music, and an array of workshops. We attended the morning talk with the Frosts, which alas was a confounding muddle; an afternoon talk with Patricia Telesco, who is an engaging speaker; and an interesting workshop in prison ministry, which had but five attendees including us. Unfortunately we missed the workshop with Gail Wood, but I got a chance to talk with her and check out her new book. There were events for kids all day, and there were quite a few families with children there. In all, Rochester puts on a good festival, and there appears to be a diverse and active Pagan community there.

In the late afternoon, on the way to our friends' house for dinner, we stopped at a Mennonite farm where, we'd been told, they sell raw milk and butter. I zipped up my raincoat over my black "Witch" t-shirt (and felt a tinge of regret about my bold pro-abortion-rights bumpersticker; I don't feel the need to be in-your-face with the Mennonites). We met a woman about my age, her really hot husband, seven gorgeous, scrubbed blonde children, a litter of kittens, and a huge flock of chickens. We had an enjoyable conversation with them and stocked up on raw butter, raw honey, and apples. We bought milk, too. Apparently it's legal in New York State to sell unpasteurized dairy products on your farm. We're grateful that it's even possible to buy these foods within an hour's drive or so. I've been incorporating a lot more raw animal foods in my diet, especially milk and butter, and building intention around a more old-fashioned, less processed way of eating. (Believe me, I still like my junk food, but it's a process - a path, if you will.) It's a joy to know personally the people who produce most of my food, and to know the land.

We drove on to our friends' house for dinner; Lugh had been staying with them. If you read my brief last post, you know the rest of the story - another dog skitted out, went for Lugh with her teeth, and got my hand instead. Adonis and I didn't get to share a lovely meal with our friends in the country. We drove back to town, me with a bag of ice in my hand and my arm held over my head, and spent the next three hours in a very busy ER, waiting for them to treat my hand. Fortunately, after the inital pain of the bite, it didn't hurt very much, and it didn't bleed much. It's a deep wound, definitely still with me. Strange energy at the end of a fine day. I've been thinking about what it could mean.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Peeking in

It's late, and I need to go to bed. I've finally had a little time this evening to catch up on reading your blogs. I want to write more, but it'll have to wait. I'm only back to typing comfortably since being bitten on the left hand (accidentally) by a friend's dog last Saturday. Very painful. Evening spent in the ER, dermabond in place of stitches, a tetanus shot; it got infected so I had to start antibiotics.

But this week was also Pagan Pride, my first Continuum experience, meditation on the High Priestess, watching "Fierce Grace" (Ram Das) - so there are things to write about. This weekend. Sweet dreams!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The red tent


Yesterday and today I struggled through my work day with headache, cramps, spaciness, and a general mild malaise. The moon is dark, and I'm bleeding. I came home from work and went to bed, dreaming of my own red tent - a place where women could go during their moontime. I imagine it as a room in the Goddess temple I'm planning in my mind and journal, a dream for the future, perhaps. In the temple there would be a moon room.

Enter the temple. It is quiet, and the air smells lightly of incense. Go to the kitchen and find a cupboard with jars of herbs for tea. Put on the kettle; mix red raspberry leaf, oatstraw, lavender, and red clover. While the herbs steep, get out the clay mug, the raw milk and raw honey. Prepare a hot water bottle for yourself. If your bleeding has caught you by surprise, go to the linen closet and take out a new clean cloth to bleed on. Take your tea and hot water bottle, and enter the moon room. The floor is covered in soft rugs. Choose a day bed covered in a grandmother's quilt. Or take a bolster to practice restorative yoga. Light candles. If you like, you can choose an essential oil - geranium, perhaps - to place in the diffuser. The room is quiet, and the light is low. There are windows you can open or close, blinds you can draw or not. There is an altar in honor of women's wise blood.

Lie on the daybed and dream. Let your mind wander. Breathe. Sip tea. Sleep under the quilt on fresh flannel sheets. There are cut flowers and green plants around you. Perhaps a fountain plays. Or a cat curls at your feet. On a small table next to your bed, find a deck of cards for divination. A journal and pen if you want to write your dreams. A piece of chocolate. Someone can come to rub your hands, shoulders, feet, or to give you Reiki. You can be by yourself or with other quiet, dreamy, bleeding women. Turn inward. Let go. You were able to leave work when you needed to, and there is nowhere you have to be.

What would you have in your moon room, your own red tent?

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Venus Bee is back

The lovely Lisa Espenmiller emailed me to announce that Venus Bee is back and accepting new customers. (She was so popular that she had to stave people off for a while.) She's got a blog, too. How can you resist the Fierce Feminist Warrior Balm? I know I can't.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Back to school

I'm lying on the couch with puppy Lugh, who sleeps and sleeps. We're supposed to go for a walk, but he's a lazy pup, and I'm a lazy mama. I'm exhausted, in a happy way, after my first fall weekend at mystery school. The transformations take my breath away. This year is my third year; in June, I'll graduate. Next year prepares my class for ordination. In the fifth year, we'll begin training as teachers. I have two healing relationships with classmates this year - I'm someone's healer, and someone else is my healer. My healer and I are going for an astrology session together on Thursday afternoon to learn more about how we are in relationship. She bought the Idiot's Guide to Wicca when she learned she would be my healer. I thought that was such a sweet gesture.

My grandma is still on this side of the veil, having informed my mother in the middle of the "it's ok to let go" talk that Jesus knows she's not ready to go yet. She's 96! She bought a new car late last year. What can I say? I have tenacity in my genes.

Mabon approaches, and Adonis and I are planning to drive to Rochester for Pagan Pride on Saturday. I'm engaged in a leisurely, self-led tarot investigation/meditation, living with a card on my altar, watching for its energies in my life, then writing a brainstorm in my tarot journal. I know when it's time to move on to the next card. So far, I'm up to the High Priestess. I'm using three decks, the Rider-Waite (with Rachel Pollack's 78 Degrees as a reference), the Druid Tarot for variation on the Rider-Waite, and Joanna's Gaian Tarot, which inspires me to no end.

Adonis is leading a workshop on issues in sexuality for a group of student peer counselors at the university tonight. When he gets home, I hope we can go for burgers.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

On dying

A week ago Adonis and I left quickly and unexpectedly for home. My grandmother was back in the hospital, and dying. Surprisingly, she hasn't passed over yet, but she's 96, and while her mind is clear, her heart is failing. I spent time with her in the hospital, sitting by her bed, making her laugh, watching her sleep. She had the shimmering, luminous look of someone on the threshold. She was beautiful. One night as I kept vigil at her bedside, I felt the fullness of presence in her room, as if an invisible host were standing around her, waiting to welcome her. I imagined her parents and siblings, her husband, my ancestors, were there in the room with us. It was sacred space.

I believe that death is a beautiful, holy, and necessary thing. I thank Witchcraft for teaching me that. In the hospital, in that small midwestern town, how I wished for a temple where I could light incense and candles and gaze upon the symbols of my faith! How I longed for a priestess of the Goddess, someone who shared my spiritual beliefs and who could listen to me. I read and wrote prayers, but I was hungry for tangible, shared, communal spiritual solace. My desire has made me think more about Pagan chaplaincy as a role I could play for others. I also think that Witches, and Pagans more generally, have a lot to offer the public discourse on death. I'm thinking about how we can make ourselves heard and take part in shared, interfaith conversation.

Hekate, wise crone
You who haunt the thresholds, the crossroads
With gentle hands you midwife the passage
from life to death.
You part the veil and usher us into
the next life.
Patient and watchful,
You know there is no hurry
and no delay.
There is only the turning wheel.
And the dive into the deep waters of mystery.

Beloved Hekate, Moira, Fate -
Hold my grandma in your velvet embrace.
Soothe her throat,
Billow her lungs,
Temper her heart,
Take her in peace.
When the time comes -
the immense rush of freedom -
She will run like a girl -She will move into joy -
I know.
The earth is so dear -
And then it's not.
Desire transforms at daybreak.

(Painting by Hrana Janto)

Thursday, August 24, 2006

"She is the most radical thinker of our time"

Sound crazy?

[I've been admiring the alchemical images over at this site. This one is the hand of the philosophers by J. J. Hollandus, Vienna, 1773.]

I've been thinking about the dearth of women among the ranks of the hipster gurus. Ken Wilbur, Daniel Pinchbeck, Andrew Harvey, Rob Brezny - these are the guys I'm thinking of. Where is the connection between guys like these and the thealogians I admire, women like Dianne Sylvan, Stephanie Rose Bird, Starhawk, Carol Christ, Z Budapest, Diane Stein, Susun Weed? You may think I'm comparing apples and oranges, men who build world systems vs. women who write down the Goddess. But I'm thinking of anyone who could count as part of the alternative, progressive spiritual turning. Where are the women? The thinkers, the visionaries, the web crawling mavens. No - the question isn't where are the women? The question is, why does the guru hero-worship belong to men, and why don't those men discuss the women's ideas and influence? It's like two different worlds.

I know the women are off having visions, making art, writing books, and otherwise changing the world. You can't really afford to give a shit about what the big boys are doing. But what can I say? I want a little glory, press, even shero-worship for the women. I want a woman to be called "the most radical thinker" and "greatest philosopher" of our time. Can you imagine?

Monday, August 21, 2006

The stylish witch



I've been thinking about style, or aesthetics - the way we dress the world around us. It's one of those areas of life that's trivialized as feminine (or is that feminized as trivial?), but an appreciation for beauty and the cultivation of taste have been regarded as virtuous pursuits since at least the Greeks. I don't confuse taste with expense; I think extreme wealth is in very bad taste. Indeed, I prefer the creativity evoked by economic limitations (but not poverty; poverty is just harmful - it ain't romantic). Sonja inspires me in her fervent commitment to busting people's preconceived notions about witches' aesthetic (although she may be more heathen than witch these days, but never mind - heathens probably have a worse image problem than witches). We're not all living in country cottages surrounded by herb gardens, or gothic industrial lofts, or our parents' basements. If you're a Pagan and at all interested in this stuff, leave a comment describing your own aesthetic.


I'm torn between a Japanese-inflected Scandanavian modern - wood, leather, and other natural (appearing) fibers, and clean lines - made accessible to a plebe like me by Ikea, and a more magpie, colorful, eclectic, somewhat kitschy, but never twee, style. (I couldn't begin to find a photo on the internet.) I think these styles capture different parts of my personality perfectly, and taken together - not that they work together - express my tastes pretty well. I like handmade things - quilts, clay plates and cups, paintings by local artists. I like bright color, and I like quirky.

And of course, there absolutely must be stacks of books.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Afterlife

There is an excellent trio of posts over at A Pagan Sojourn discussing beliefs about the afterlife from Buddhist, Heathen, and more general Pagan perspectives. Well-researched and intelligent; definitely worth a look (and a cup of tea - it will take a few minutes to read through the pieces).

I myself am inclined toward the view quoted last in Nixie's entry, a view that seems to me expressly Pagan: We choose to incarnate so we can enjoy the pleasures of earthly life, or, "I came back for a good cup of coffee."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Stupidity, wisdom

[snipped the bit about my own stupidity]

In that spirit, some wisdom from Pema Chodron seems in order.

1. The mundane details of our life eat us up. Therefore it is important to keep asking ourselves again and again: What is the most important thing? Since death is certain and the time of death is uncertain, what is the most important thing? Let that perspective be your guide.

2. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. At the gut level, you might want to go for the most comfortable thing. Always go for the stretch. Sometimes the stretch is to stay, sometimes to go. Sometimes to say Yes, sometimes to say, No. You don’t always know. The key is to be willing to go through the shedding and unmasking process.

3. Rest in the insecurity. Remember that when we lose ground we habitually panic and look for something solid to hold onto: that’s a description of samsara. Go at your own pace. And don’t push it. But continue to train in resting in insecurity.

4. Don’t believe everything you think. If you can follow this advice, you will be in good shape.

5. Take exactly what appears as your path.

(Via Al, In Pursuit of Mysteries)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Magic in the history of science

Most people think of magic as being antithetical to science. The standard scholarly view in the history of science has been that the scientific revolution of the 17th century was a decisive break from the magical views of the past. But recently, some historians of science have argued that the development of science was contiguous with the practices of magic. For example, the argument would go, it's not the case that alchemy stood in the way of the development of chemistry; rather, alchemists laid some of the groundwork for the development of chemistry. Fascinating stuff.

The Elizabethan magus John Dee explicitly allied himself with mathematics and science, leaving Cambridge and traveling to the Continent in order to pursue his studies. In England at the time, his allegiance to science was considered anti-intellectual, since university education emphasized humanities in the tradition of the Greeks, especially philosophy, philology, and rhetoric. Dee's alliance with science - note, not with magic - also made him suspicious to the Church. Fortunately, he had a patron and defender in Elizabeth I.

The novelist John Crowley has based many of his works on the idea that the laws underlying the claims of magic used to be true in the same way that the laws underlying the claims of science are true now. There has been a shift between worlds, if you will: what was true then is no longer true now, but what is true now, by the same token, wasn't true then. Now we have Egypt, and our Egypt has its history, but that history is different from the history of the country that once was Ægypt. (I hope I got this right; if you're intrigued, start with his novel, Ægypt.)

Saturday, August 12, 2006

An open mystery

(The painting at right is called "Medicine Woman," by Melissa Harris, from her Women and Magic series.)

I've wanted to blog more often, but I'm too enchanted by the weather and the season to spend any more time than necessary looking at a computer. The days have been clear and sunny, the nights cool, the humidity low. The harvest is coming in, and we're feasting on fresh, local foods. Since we got so much rain earlier this summer, everything is lush and green. It's a sensually extraordinary time, these days after Lughnasadh. Pleasure is simple.

Still, I have so much I've been thinking about and want to write about.

Having come to witchcraft out of feminist spirituality, herbalism, and love for the earth, I haven't known much about the occult tradition in Western thought. (I've read Ronald Hutton, of course, but that's about the extent of it.) Through a series of - ahem - coincidences having mostly to do with my job, I've begun learning more about the history of Western occultism and discovering the sources for many neo-Pagan beliefs. At the same time, I'm noting the differences between gnosticism and Hermetism, for example, and my own Wiccan beliefs. For example, it's very important to me that the body and the world not be conceived of as hindrances to spiritual "progress." And I put the word "progress" in scare-quotes because I eschew all those metaphors of forward, upward, transcendence, enlightenment. Also, whereas I like the idea of initiation as a rite of passage and a transformative experience in itself, I don't think initiation should be used to keep out the riff-raff - to keep the mysteries secret from those who allegedly can't grasp them. As I've said before, I think that when (serious) neo-Pagans speak of the mysteries, they speak not of secrets, but of things that can't be fully conveyed in words or cognitively grasped.

It's an interesting question, whether Wicca and other forms of neo-Paganism are ultimately meant for masses of people. On the one hand, we're a rapidly growing family of religions, although our numbers are still relatively small. We often speak of paganism as simply being the spiritual practice of the pagans, the (apocryphal) country folk, who lived close to the land and honored the agricultural cycles. Maybe Paganism, then, is for everyone who wants to give it a try. On the other hand, we have zero investment in convincing others to become Pagans. We often identify with those who were either honored or outsiders in their societies - the priestly Druids, the village herbalist, the shaman. Most people are (were) none of these. Certainly Wicca, and Druidism to a lesser extent, suffer from fluffy-bunny syndrome. There are those who claim to be Witches (or, Goddess forfend, warlocks), or Druids, or Asatru who have no freakin' clue what they're doing and are doing it for all the wrong reasons. There is a tremendous amount of study, dedication, and practice that goes into participating in any of these traditions. They aren't easy paths. Maybe Paganism will ultimately always be a rarely-chosen spirituality.

I advocate standards, but not gate-keeping. I don't think that only initiated Witches are real Witches. As we continue to mature as a family of religions, our trendiness will wax and wane (cf. Buddhism). While I admit my ego has some investment in being special, different, and counter-cultural - I hate to admit that, but it's true - my deeper self knows she's found her path in this lifetime: to delve into the mysteries but not to cling too tightly to secrets.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Communion

I didn't plan to usher in Lughnasad in my hot kitchen at midnight, wrestling with a chicken.

Take and eat...

The chicken grew up healthily, running around on a farm near here. I hope she had a good chicken-life. Goddess knows most of her sisters don't. If Pagans talked about sin, then I would say that the way we treat other animals is one of our gravest sins.

This is my body...

For 11 years I was a vegetarian for ethical reasons. Meat wasn't necessary to sustain life, I reasoned, and so it was wrong to kill for matters of convenience or taste. Furthermore, the meat industry is cruel to animals - human and non-human - and to earth, polluting, poisoning, and otherwise squandering natural resources.

A few things happened to change my diet. Addicted to sugar, I visited a nutritionst who told me to start by doubling my protein intake. Then my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, and all the soy protein I was eating became verboten. And I read a remarkable book by Kathryn Paxton George, who argues that the vegan ideal is sexist, racist, ageist, and classist - that it relegates all but the most robust, healthy, privileged to a position of moral inferiority.

Given for you...

To live in accord – that, I believe, is a key Pagan value. We seek to find and honor our place on the earth and in the family of beings. The dominant culture doesn’t honor this ideal in the least. Our treatment of animals makes this clear. It’s an enormous violation to raise animals for food in factory farms, and in numbers to support the fast food industry. The animals suffer, the people working in the meat industry suffer, the earth suffers, and we suffer because we consume them. We create, full-cloth, a cycle of suffering as only human beings can.

When you do this...

To live in accord, and to eat meat, means to eat animals that were raised locally and humanely. Kathryn Paxton George argues persuasively that many people need meat in their diets. She also defends ethical, aesthetic semi-vegetarianism – eating meat and plants grown locally and healthfully, in moderation, and taking pleasure in food. Being closer to the source of my food makes it more difficult to deny what I’m doing when I eat an animal. I become more intimate with the cycles of life and death. And because I love my dog so deeply, and think every day about what it means to give him a good life, I also think about what it means for other animals to have a good life.

Remember...

Beings and plants die so that you and I can live and flourish. This is one of the mysteries, and it’s difficult to face. We must take care not to pervert or deny the cycles of life and death - whether by killing people in war or labor, polluting rivers and seas, taking more than we need. Indeed, given what humans have wrought, we have a special responsibility to heal the cycles. Witches and other Pagans may have a special role to play. Our spiritual values place us in a position to articulate much-needed visions for healing. The work that Common Ground is doing in Louisiana seems to me a perfect example of Pagan vision and action.

Remember me...

The earth provides everything we need, including death. She recycles and renews, provides our breath, food, water, and endless inspiration. At Lughnasad we’re still in the height of the growing season, but we harvest the first grains, taking life, to sustain us through the winter. Thus does death come in the midst of life.

And remember yourself...

I stayed up late on a hot night to roast a chicken so I could eat good protein this week. I thanked that chicken as I prepared it for the oven and as I tore the cooked flesh from its bones; I thanked it for providing its life so I could eat. It’s a complex thing; I’m not convinced I deserve that chicken’s life, though I need it. I saved the bones for soup stock and the pan drippings for my dog. I wanted to take that life consciously, in as full an awareness as I could muster, and use every bit of the gift. On this, the first of our harvest festivals, let us give thanks for She who provides and vow to honor Her ways to the best of our abilities. So mote it be.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

More post-Starwood

I've wanted to write more reports from Starwood, but last week was so busy it seemed like there was no spare time for blogging. I just got back from a whirlwind weekend in the big city, where we traveled to celebrate a friend's birthday. The heat there is already shocking, and it stands to get worse this week. Even in luscious upstate, where I live, and where it never gets higher than the low 90s - and rarely that - the forecast calls for 105 degrees midweek. Heat seems to be the news from everywhere. If only I knew Gaia were safe, I wouldn't be so miserable about it.

When I return from Starwood, I always feel more connected spiritually, and these days I've just been feeling so happy to be a Pagan. I'm a big geek. I've been rereading Wild Witchcraft by Marian Green. I've been thinking a lot about spell-casting since Deb's workshop (more on that later). I've also been thinking a lot about my tattoo (which doesn't yet exist). My awesome alterna-nutritionist isn't in favor of tattoos; she believes scars disrupt the body's electrical systems. Drat. I may get one anyway. Now I'm thinking maybe a triple moon. And I want a piece of jewelry I can wear daily to symbolize my faith. For now, a pentacle is out; I'm looking for something more subtle.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Report from Starwood: workshops

I'm a workshop junkie, and Starwood is a great place to indulge my habit. I attended workshops with Deborah Lipp (who will tell you the things you can hear only at Starwood), Macha Nightmare, Christopher Penczak, and Skip Ellison (and some lesser-known Pagans, too).

Christopher Penczak was the biggest surprise and delight. I'd heard of him and seen his books in bookstores, but I'd never read him. I'll remedy that shortly (I have The Temple of Inner Witchcraft on order). Christopher is young, prolific, engaging, smart as a whip, and very knowledgeable. I attended two of the three workshops he offered, and I'm ready to become a groupie. I've never gone into trance as quickly as when led by him. His wide ranging discussions of Wicca, ceremonial magic, spellwork, traditions of invocation, and about 150 other topics, held me transfixed.

I attended both of Macha's workshops on death and dying. Regular readers know that I've been feeling drawn to working more with death, and Macha literally wrote the book on Pagan beliefs and practices. She is truly a Wiccan elder (although not that old; I would guess that she's in her 50s). Her energy is wonderful. Like me, she's passionate about green burial.

Adonis and I held an ongoing conversation about Pagan/Wiccan beliefs and thealogy. Talking about ideas - he knows the way to a woman's heart. We had great connection while we were there. I would like to find more people to engage with intellectually at Starwood, but that hasn't happened for me yet. Maybe next year I should put up a sign: "Smart, idea-hungry Pagans who want to talk spirituality meet at my camp in the Dark Moor...."

Monday, July 24, 2006

Civilization is overrated

This morning I showered, then blew my hair dry and brushed it. I dressed, putting on a bra and underwear, a pair of slightly tailored cropped pants, a cotton shirt, a string of beads. I took off my pentacle. After I brushed my teeth, I applied a little concealer and powder, a little eyeliner and mascara. Arriving at my air-conditioned office, I turned on the computer.

And I chafed at the confinement of it all.

I just got back from Starwood - five days out of doors in all kinds of weather, never to enter a building or car; no mirrors, no showers (well, there are showers, but I didn't bother), no bras - Goddess forbid! - and often, no clothes at all. Getting dressed could comprise wrapping a piece of fabric around my waist. It was bliss.

I've much to write about, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Marginalia




The academic press where I work is developing a small list of occult esoterica, of all things - really smart, scholarly books on occult topics. I'm fascinated by this development and by its timing; things are just starting to take off, and I'm new to the press. I've spent the last few weeks working on a manuscript, and part of the work has involved a trip to the rare books collection to page through books on magic from the 16th century.

I've been seeing an unconventional nutritionist with the intention of correcting subclinical weaknesses before they present themselves as disease. Given my family's history of diabetes, we're working on pancreas, spleen, liver, and adrenals. I've had affection for the human liver ever since I held one during my trip to the cadaver lab last fall. It's a large, substantial organ with great texture. Today during my visit I had an "ion footbath," which is supposed to draw out toxins from the body. I'm taking a lot of whole foods supplements, eating a ton of protein, and drinking vast draughts of water.

A member of my spiritual community has become sick very quickly with pancreatic cancer. I've been moved by the outpouring of energy to care for him. He has a great sense of humor and is quite the philosopher, or so I learned while visiting him over the weekend. Saturday night we had a circle and ritual for him; there were 80 people there, including his mother. It was beautiful. He feels content with whatever the future holds for him, death or life. He thinks it's all an adventure.

I'm attending a study group on Monday evenings to learn more about a particular wisdom tradition; Paul Brunton is a big name. I'm struck by how compatible our discussions are to Wicca, although I'm the only Pagan there.

Tomorrow after a half day at work we're off to Starwood! This time tomorrow night I'll be sitting at the campfire with friends, drinking mead, and gearing up for the Druids' midnight ritual. For now, I need to finish packing.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Ambassadors of the earth

I love Pagans, and I love Pagan bloggers. I've tired of the blogosphere as of late - my other blogs lie fallow - but I keep reading (a) the gossip blogs, which somehow relax me, and (b) the Pagan blogs, which fill me and connect me to like minds.

You know what I love about Pagans? I love our connection to the natural world and the cycles of nature. Kim and Joanna, like me, write about their perfect summers days. Joanna and Sonja, like me, write about the nearly-full moon. Kim and Molly write about fairy medicine, and Sonja writes, too, about her work with the elementals. (Don't miss Kim's magical post about listening to bees.) Reya's a city girl, but she feels the need to commune with green things (check out her fabulous new photo and gray hair, too - and if you really want to be jealous, read her posts about her trip to Rome).

A dear friend of mine, someone who, constitutionally, is all air and otherworlds, and who is learning how not to flee the present when things scare her, calls me her ambassador to the earth. I love that. It's remarkable how, although we are earth's creatures, we humans try to spend so much time away from the earth - in our heads, in the mall, in denial of the "soft animals of our bodies," as Mary Oliver says. "Let the soft animal of your body love what it loves." We Pagans are ambassadors of the earth, and that, I believe, is a special role we play among our fellow earth-travelers. For keeping me connected, even in cyberspace, I thank you, Pagan sisters. Dark earthy blessings to you.

You’ve heard me say that I think we're hardwired for ecstasy. Our bodies are designed for it. I have never questioned that. So many religions and belief systems have us up in our heads all the time trying to get away from our precious, beautiful bodies. Suffering and ecstasy dwell in the same place: in our bodacious bodies. If you give up one, you have to give up the other. As one of the Old Mermaids said, "Laugh or weep. We swim in your tears." (Kim Antieau)

[The painting is "Latvian Green Woman" by Larissa Shellar.]

Summer idyll

Today was a glorious day. Adonis and I went strawberry-picking in the morning (it's late for strawberries, but a cool spring meant they stuck around a bit longer this year). Then we took Lugh for a hike through the woods into a gorge, where we took off our clothes and floated down the creek a bit. Lugh is tentatively becoming a swimmer, and today he swam more, and more willingly, than he has up until now. After our swim we stopped at the farmers' market for lunch and a bit of shopping. I finally got some herbs to plant in pots on my porch; I've been longing for them. I took a long afternoon nap, and this evening we drove out into the countryside to have dinner at friends'. We had grilled buffalo, salad, rum cake, and strawberries. The night was cool, and we sat outside surrounded by herbs, twinkling lights, and the four dogs, watching the nearly-full moon rise. It was the sort of day that reminds us why we love living here.

Kim Antieau has written a fine piece today on the joys of small-town living. I share her pleasure, though our towns are thousands of miles apart. I also share her need to be naked as often as possible in the summer (especially outside and in the water!). I was telling our host tonight that we're having the hardest time deciding whether to buy a house in town (where we now rent) or in the country; both have their charms. He replied that he could never live in a place where he couldn't go outside at 3 a.m., naked, to play his saxaphone, fire a shotgun, and smoke pot. My needs aren't quite so vast, but I appreciate his point.

I bought lavender and calendula to plant tomorrow. I've been craving calendula. It looks like the sun, but its effect is soothing, cooling. It makes a wonderful rinse or salve. Sonja and I are talking about our fiery, pitta natures over at her place. Lady calendula, it seems to be, lures someone like me with her bright, sunny face, but then offers a gentle coolness to balance my fire.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Feeling good these days, looks like

You scored as The Sun.
You are The Sun.
Happiness and joy -
Confidence
Everything looks bright -
Success and optimism -
Things turn out well -
Enlightenment, seeing the real
situation -
Clarity and a flash
of understanding.
- A feeling of freedom and
lightness,
anything is possible.

These cards are from
The Victorian Romantic Tarot.
It's based on original
Victorian engravings,
some of which are
now rare.
Which Victorian Romantic Tarot card are you?

created with QuizFarm.com

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Countdown to Starwood

Two weeks till Starwood!!

Well, two weeks till I arrive, anyway. The official countdown is 12 days. I can't wait - to live outside, to be naked (or not), to be among like-minded people, to live in altered consciousness, to try on new ways of being, to learn (I'm a workshop nerd), to shop, to swim, dance, play, sing, drum.... This year I want to (a) find more queer people, (b) meet more people in general, and (c) be naked more. Last year was my first year, and I was a bit shy. This year, I want to have more conversations and befriend more strangers. I also want to get mehndi and have my cards read (two things I wanted to do but didn't get around to last year).

Let the planning begin.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Healing as spiritual work

Healing = to make whole

What is wholeness? It is the opposite of alienation and disconnection. Wholeness is the integrity of the organism, where integrity is understood as growing, dying, and being reborn within community - human, animal, nature. Wholeness also includes the idea of yoga - literally, the yoking of body, mind, soul, spirit, shadow, Goddess.

Healing comprises the life cycle within the larger cycles of nature. It includes illness and death as part of flourishing. Healing takes place across generations; my teacher's teacher says that the healing work we do in this lifetime heals our ancestors, too, back seven generations. We affect not only the future, but also the past. We bring our gifts to the whole community, and that includes the ancestors. Black currant flower essence supports that work.
I am a student of the Wise Woman tradition of healing. This tradition emphasizes easily accessible, cheap (or free!) simple remedies; sharing information freely; compassionate listening to self and others; renaming weakness as strength; and knowing one's own body as the earth's body and the earth's body as one's own. The focus is on empowerment, responsibility, and self-knowledge. Women's bodies are conceived of as normal - not defective, "different from," or more messy and problematic. (I stopped being a vegetarian when I became convinced that its "moral ideal" was most easily met by a rich, white, young man. The book that makes this argument is Animal, Vegetable, or Woman? A Critique of Ethical Vegetarianism by Kathryn Paxton George.)

Healing is a spiritual project. It's not about curing the sick. (The "New Age," with its emphasis on certain forms of healing work, has been criticized for conceptualizing all humans as sick. For how is that different from believing we are all sinful? But I think this criticism is misguided, relying as it does on a narrow idea of healing.) Healing is about bringing the earth, including ourselves, into balance (which includes a good measure of chaos!). It's a quest, a mythic journey, a kind of midwifery, and a practice of loving attention. Illness of the body, mind, spirit is one means of entry onto the healing path. Environmental activism is another. I believe that Wicca - witchcraft - and other earth-based spiritual practices are also points of entry. And there are many more gates opening onto the road.

(The illustration is "Birth of the Crone" by Durga Bernhard.)

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Coexist

I've seen this bumpersticker around town (and first at Kripalu), and I thought to myself - what? they couldn't have made the "o" a pentagram?


Someone has been reading my mind.










Love it!

Additions to the blogroll

The Pagan blogosphere continues to grow, and I continue to discover new parts of it. I'm expanding the blogroll accordingly. Here are a few new (and new-to-me) blogs I recommend:

This new blog by a smart young Pagan woman called Jenavira is worth reading from the beginning - and it's new enough that it won't take you too long to do so: Essais.

Cypress Nemeton is the new name of a blog that's been around for a while, kept by a Louisiana Druid. (A nemeton is a Celtic sacred grove.)

Lynda Hill's Sabian Symbols is a wonderfully rich resource for those interested in astrology. Recently she read parts of George W. Bush's birth and progressed charts, which contain such symbolism as "a furious storm in a canyon filled with valuable homes," "a gang of robbers in hiding," "two men placed under arrest," and "a large white cross dominates the landscape."

Happy reading!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Tattoo you


Here is a lovely pentacle tattoo, by Traci Hancock. I can imagine a smaller version on my upper arm, perhaps with ivy crawling up to the shoulder.

The symbolism of the pentacle is very meaningful to me. I wish it were more esoteric, so I could wear it without having to explain myself. Then again, it can take courage to wear a pentacle. Where I live and work, there is less concern that I'll be taken for a Satanist and more concern that I'll be taken for a flake.

I also love snake imagery. Here is a nice, tribal-looking snake by Chris Conn. I can imagine something like this on my back, too, with the spiral at my sacrum and the snake winding up my spine.

Monday, June 26, 2006

It's midnight - rambling ahead

Lugh and I are both suffering from restlessness tonight. He spent a long time licking my feet and nosing various parts of my body while I lay on the bed. Energy work, I believe. He laid a paw on my left ankle for a while. The energy in my left leg and foot is sluggish; I've had nerve damage there. The last few days I've consciously been working with that energy. Lugh decided to help out.

Lugh was named for a healing god, which might have been foresight or might have been projection on my part.

Today was my first rough day at work; I've been in my new job nearly seven weeks. I just kept making all these little mistakes, little oversights. It felt like Mercury was already in retrograde, although it doesn't really move thus for another week.

Adonis and I are signed up for Starwood. This will be his first year and my second. Who else will be there? Bloggers Deborah Lipp and Isaac Bonewits will be. Are any of you going? Bring yummy food, rain gear, costume wear, sunscreen and bug dope, and beer (but buy your mead there).

I've wanted a tattoo since Starwood last year. Can you believe I have virgin skin? If there had been a tattoo artist there, I probably would've gotten one. Maybe this year. Not that I can decide what or where. I imagine something like this - but where? Here is a nice site with Celtic and Pagan designs. And this fellow called Sage does lovely work. (Incidentally, if you google "pagan+tattoo," you pretty quickly come up with sites debating whether it's ok for Christians to get tattoos and white supremacy sites. Yikes!)

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Happy Solstice!


From Joanna Powell Colbert's Gaian Tarot

Monday, June 19, 2006

Guarding the mysteries

I once circled with a witch who, with a fierce, quiet power, explained how important it was for her to be a guardian of the mysteries - not in the sense of keeping secrets from people, but in the sense of practicing, sustaining, and defending her faith.

The mysteries aren't mysteries because they're secrets; they're mysteries because they can't be grasped only with the intellect, which means they can't be merely reported. They have to be experienced, and the experience defies clinical description. You won't get it from someone telling you what happened. Really, you had to be there.

And so it was this past weekend, when hosting the graduation and ordination of the third- and fourth-year classes became an initiation for me and my class. Something deep within and around me has shifted and changed. I know that later words will come, words that can do some justice to the change. The shift will be integrated into the narrative of my life; I'll be able to tell the story. But it won't be the whole story. The whole story can only be inscribed in and by my life, my body, my actions, my ecology.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Happy Birthday, Adonis!

Happy birthday, my sweet, sweet man. The Goddess was smiling on us both the day you were born.

Last night at dusk we walked Lugh by the water, the air thick and humid but starting to cool, the sky glowing pink. The new moon was a gauzy silver crescent poised at the place where pink turned to violet in the evening sky.

I love our life together. I love the sweet earth we share.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Lazy weekend

The worst part about blog hiatus is feeling the need to catch up. This hiatus was unintentional; suffice it to say that my new job has taken most of my energy these past two weeks. I haven't been as spiritually focused, but I've been counting my blessings all the same.

Today is a warm, muggy Memorial Day, and Adonis and I are relaxing after a weekend of graduation activities for his brother. The last two days I've felt like I should be motivated to do something for myself - clean the kitchen, which is getting funky in the heat, or shop for herbs to start my front porch garden. But instead, I've been napping, reading, lazing about. I have mixed feelings about this. I wish I didn't.

Apropos of nothing, except my sweet dog, Lugh, I give you this:

Playing with your pet isn't just exercise it makes them HAPPY! You want a happy pet, if they aren't happy, then they're depressed. Health specialists for humans know what depression does to our health, do you think it wouldn't do the same to our pets? They need JOY! They need hugs and pats, strokes and, if it doesn't repel you, kisses! They want snuggles and love. I hate hearing of animal trainers that say, "keep your dog of your bed at night, only the pack leader gets the most comfy spot." OH GET REAL.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Working, blessed

I've been hard at work trying to learn the publishing ropes. My new job is very interesting, but I'm tired. I went from working not at all to working a regular eight-hour day, and I've decided that it's far too much for anyone to work. The cult of work in this country, with people proud of their fourteen- and sixteen-hour days, is sick. Hard work can be a good thing - although I'm not convinced it's good for it's own sake - and anyway we're way out of balance.

Still, it's a good job - interesting work, very nice and intelligent people, a lovely old house to work in, in the town where I want to live. I'm blessed. The Goddess has made it clear that She wants me here, in my spiritual community, tending the books, the dog, and my body and spirit. I need some help with tending my body. My diet has been crap for the last few weeks. I'm trying to be gentle with myself.

Saturday (late Friday) was the full moon in Scorpio. I didn't get my usual post up. Still, if you've been feeling rich, prosperous, or blessed lately, you're feeling the energies of that moon.

I've been experimenting with flower essences and reading Molly's Blog, which I highly recommend. She has a fascinating worldview. I've just placed an order, through a friend of mine who's a Reiki practitioner, for some essences for Lugh and me. I got Maple flower essence after reading this post:

I can get derailed into thinking I need something from some specific person or that other people can hurt me with their actions, even when the truth of the matter is that their actions have nothing to do with me and everything to do with their own learning.

Maple lifts me out of this tug of war of I need this from YOU and nobody else but YOU. Maple reminds me the real job of being in the world as a grown up is to figure out what I need to give myself to nourish and support my essential self and then give it to myself.

[...]

For a start, a Maple tree nourishes all parts of itself with life giving sap. This sap flows everywhere in the tree from the tip of its roots to the top most bud. That sounds obvious even corny to mention, but it is significant. Do any of us take care of all our parts so thoroughly? I have a distinct tendency to neglect figurative and literal parts of myself. A Maple tree never does this. Maple knows its own life is its calling. I have never met a Maple who wanted to be the tree next door. Maple puts all its energy into its own journey of self expression.

These ideas speak to me right now.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Good news

I got the job!

The job, as regular readers may recall, is an editorial assistantship (really an apprenticeship) at a publishing company. I am totally psyched.

It has been an amazing time in my life. There has been a lot of uncertainty but also, somehow, a lot of faith that the Goddess is leading me, that magic is real, that the signs will appear to guide me on my path, and that I can trust my inner knowledge. Getting this job is such a blessing and a portent for the future. I always get exactly what I need, and I'm learning to notice and appreciate that. My work at the mystery school gets deeper and deeper; this past weekend, the Goddess answered my cry for help in a profound and surprising way, much to the pleasure and amusement of my classmates.

I feel Her blessings all around me, and I wish them for you, too.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

Near the beginning of Ghostworld, one of my favorite movies, Enid - an alienated young artist and our heroine - and her best friend Rebecca are at a dorky high school graduation party. A guy awkwardly approaches the pretty Rebecca, ignoring Enid, so Enid butts in to ask, "So what are you going to be when you grow up, Todd?" Todd, looking at Rebecca and in a small effort to impress her, replies, "Well, I'm going to major in Business Administration and, I think, minor in Communications." Enid hauls Rebecca away by the elbow, saying to Todd, "Yeah, see, that's exactly the kind of thing we're trying to avoid."

In that spirit, I offer you a crazy-ass time management guy (why are time management guys always guys?):

Audio learning is the perfect multi-tasking activity. Most people who know me know that I'm listening to audio books, podcasts, etc. several hours every day. I'll do this whenever I'm driving, while exercising, doing stuff around the apartment, etc. I've been able to crank through an unbelievable number of books in the last year.... One of my favorite things to do is to go for a run with a few podcasts or an audio book queued up. In fact, I recently completed the LA Marathon while simultaneously listening to the first half of John Battelle's book The Search. It was kind of fun to know that I was getting both a workout for my body and for my mind.

Yeah, see Todd, that's exactly the kind of thing we're trying to avoid. Books are not information-delivery systems. I don't want to learn to sleep five hours per night, or schedule meetings with friends at the gym so I can work out while fulfilling my friendship duties, or save time by listening to books while commuting.

"There is more to life than increasing its speed" (Gandhi).

Friday, May 05, 2006

Slow

Sonja's blogging about living more slowly, which she describes as mindfulness and enjoyment of life. Like many people, it seems, she learned the lessons of slowness after falling ill.

I remember my early 20s when I lived on cigarettes, beer, Coca-Cola, coffee and adrenaline. Then this all came to a spectacular halt in 2002 when I had 2 major surgeries in 24-hours. I lost my gallbladder to my lousy lifestyle and ended up with liver surgery to repair damage caused by the incompetence of the surgeon who performed the gallbladder surgery. Today I live with high blood sugar problems and Chronic Fatigue. The Chronic Fatigue isn't bad anymore because it was an effect of the surgeries on a cellular level; so it can be beaten. After my almost one-month stay in Vancouver General Hospital, I came to a new awareness which naturally lead to my interests in Wicca, Witchcraft, Taoism, Yoga and Ayurveda.

I stopped being a monkey on a typewriter fueled by caffeine and pop-culture and turned inward and gave myself over to the Earth.

My own lessons in slowness came when I was living in Slovakia just over ten years ago. I didn't have a TV, phone, or refrigerator. The World Wide Web was nascent at that time, and there was no such thing as a computer, let alone an internet connection, where I lived. (Of course, now my town has a web site, albeit a quaint one.) My monthly teaching salary was the equivalent of 25 USD, and it was plenty to live and travel on. The trains were terrifically slow. I lived perhaps four hours by car from Prague (I don't really know), but I spent nine hours each way on trains to make the monthly trip. My teaching schedule was leisurely. I bought my food each day, and had to remember to buy food on Saturdays because all the shops were closed on Sundays. I wrote in my journal. I ate in restaurants (delicious pizza and a pivo for $1.50; a family of four would usually share the modestly-sized pizza, but I ate the whole thing myself and still lost weight while I was there). I read whatever books were available in English at my school, all donated by former American, Canadian, and British teachers. I wrote long letters to my boyfriend back home. I hiked in the mountains. I sat by the river. I drank coffee with my students. Being invited to dinner at someone's house meant picking up flowers or red wine (one kind, available everywhere for about 50 cents a bottle) and spending at least five hours drinking, eating, telling stories, laughing, and drinking some more. The Slovaks had few of the luxuries of modern Western life, and they weren't able to travel easily even in that newly post-Soviet era, because their salaries were so low. But their pace of life was enviable. I met one American who packed in his old life, married a Slovak woman, and stayed because he wanted to raise his children in that culture.

The lessons have slowness have stayed with me to some extent, even as they're harder to live in my culture. I love having to take an hour or two every day to walk in wild places with my dog. I love not having to commute - I don't know how people do it with any sort of satisfaction. My partner has taught me a lot about being committed to time with friends and family and not prioritizing work in the way we're "supposed" to; he still does excellent work, is productive, and earns recognition for it. I've also met a lot of people who place a premium on healing themselves and the world, on building spiritual community, and on cultivating health in the broadest sense. I'm steadily learning how to do what I love - including trying new things to love - instead of just doing what I think I ought to be doing.

I thought I wanted to be a university professor and scholar. Yet the two times I took teaching jobs - wonderful jobs that were truly gifts - I had health crises. I'm still surprised that my body has told me that those seemingly ideal situations were not what I should be doing. Similarly, I love my dissertation topic. But I haven't been writing my dissertation. Good, trusted friends are starting to suggest that maybe my not writing isn't about being blocked (and I haven't been blocked; when I manage to sit down to write, I write), about being lazy, about procrastinating, about refusing to grow up, or what have you. Maybe I'm not writing because some very deep part of me knows it doesn't want to be writing that project. This seems crazy to me - but crazy in the way that true things often first appear.

Slowness. Mindfulness. Awareness. Being fully in my body and fully on the earth. Knowing what I truly desire. These are the difficult, surprising, authentic, and only things.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

New books

I promised last week that I would mention the new books I've added to my occult library. Here they are.

Be A Goddess! A Guide to Magical Celtic Spells for Self-Healing, Prosperity and Great Sex by Francesca DeGrandis - Was there ever a fluffier, more market-driven title? Yuck. Nevertheless, this is a serious book with a lot of useful content. DeGrandis teaches Feri Witchcraft and was herself a student of Victor Anderson's for many years. Her description of Feri, like Starhawk's in The Spiral Dance, is lovely and quite appealing. I do wonder what Reya would say, though, given her cogent criticisms of Feri.

All Women Are Psychics by Diane Stein - Stein, a longtime devotee of women's spirituality and a prolific writer, takes a lot of risks in writing about topics that may seem downright loopy. Yet the more I grow on my path, the more I gain from her books. A few years ago, I would never have bought a book with this title. Now I'm fascinated by it.

The Wiccan Wellness Book: Natural Healthcare for Mind, Body, and Spirit by Laura Perry - I adore books about "alternative" modes of healing, and this is the first I've found written from a Wiccan perspective (although its application is much broader). It's a good book for someone new to holistic models of health and healing, but even as someone not new to these ideas, I was attracted to its witchiness, its clear layout, its emphasis on true wholism, and its easy instruction for beginning to work with the Green Ones.

Odyssey With the Goddess: A Spiritual Quest in Crete by Carol Christ - A very personal book from this academic writer.

Orders of the Great Work: Alchemy by Manly P. Hall - I picked this up at a used bookstore; it was published in 1949. It's a sympathetic, brief history of the alchemical schools in Egypt and Europe and the origins of the Rosicrucians.

The Planets Within: The Astrological Psychology of Marsilio Ficino by Thomas Moore - An early book by the author of the well-known Care of the Soul. Ficino, "presiding genius" of the Florentine Academy in Renaissance Italy, is considered the first depth psychologist. That's all I know till I read this book.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Clean feet

Lugh, my puppy, is seriously licking my bare feet tonight. I don't know why, but I choose to interpret it as affectionate grooming. Sweet dog.

Beltane fairies

Secrets of a Witch continues to post all sorts of good things for Beltane. Here is a fairy spell. I don't know if the fae are real, or if they still exist, but I can't take them lightly. Hey, I've read Jonathan Strange.