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


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 -
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
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

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


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!