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)