Sunday, April 30, 2006
But seriously, folks, take the day to celebrate your body, your lover's body, the earth's body, and all the fecundity and hope and creativity of being alive. Leave an offering for the fairies, jump a bonfire, wash your face in the morning dew, dance around a maypole, deck yourself with flowers, and lie with your lover(s) in a field or forest. Pagan lore has it that children conceived at Beltane have special magic.
The witch at Secrets of a Witch has all posted all manner of information for Beltane: a fertility spell, a wishing powder, a ritual, information on the Maypole, and recipes for blueberry/lavender crisp and fairy kisses.
Morgaine has her own suggestions for how to open the lusty month of May.
Waverly Fitzgerald offers a wealth of information about the holiday.
And, as always, you can find various Pagan perspectives on this holiday and all the others at The Witches' Voice.
Thursday, April 27, 2006
As the crescent moon dawn anew this April spring morning, we join together to contemplate the significance of Taurus. Sign of the bull, ruled by Venus, Taurus is in the fixed element of earth. No astrological sign is more grounded than sensual and security-loving Taurus. But these obvious traits obscure a more esoteric dimension to Taurus. In the pre-Christian world, for instance, religious ceremonies revolved around rituals of sacrifice. Bulls, the animal associated with Taurus, were commonly used in these ancient rites. Consecrated to the moon-goddess, the bull's blood was sprinkled on stone altars and used in rituals of baptism and purification.
Few modern-day seekers would find meaning in the literal sacrifice of a living animal. But reflecting on the archetypal symbolism of ceremonial sacrifice yields rich insights. The archetype of sacrifice teaches that there is wisdom in giving something up in order to make room for the creative spirit of the new. It teaches us that we cannot do or be all things at once. This esoteric principle is fundamental to being "grounded" - the essence of Taurus. Paring down and stripping away limits us - but at the same time gives structure and shape to our free-form spirits.
Making a sacrifice [of something meaningful and important] is a form of emotional ecology. By practicing principles of conservation in how we live our lives, we cultivate a healthier inner ecosystem.
(Pythia Peay, Mooncircles)
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Growing up, I thought all dogs ate dog food - i.e. kibble. When I got Lugh, my vague plan was to feed him high-quality kibble. At the local grain & feed store, I learned about organic kibble made by small, reputable companies, and started feeding Lugh that. But then I found out that my friend Lara makes her dogs' food. Lara is a gorgeous, nurturing woman, a massage therapist and yogini who's studied with Susun Weed. She's the sort of woman who lives on land, makes feminist art, and will make you a cup of tea comprising various herbs she plucks from glass jars in her kitchen. I totally dig her. I started asking her more about what she feeds her dogs. She recommended that I begin with Dr. Pitcairn's Guide to Natural Health for Dogs and Cats.
Further nosing about on the web turned up a writer who's become one of my favorite proponents of feeding dogs whole foods, Christie Keith. She writes that feeding a dog kibble is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Of course, to feed a dog a whole foods diet requires research and care. But it's not difficult. Dr. Pitcairn's book has lots of straightforward, nutritionally balanced recipes. Dogs need a lot more protein than we do, most of it in the form of raw meat, and more calcium, too. They need supplemental vitamins C, E, B, and A, as well as minerals. My pantry now contains such delicacies as powdered bone meal, kelp powder, nutritional yeast, cod liver oil, and Bragg's liquid aminos.
Usually I mix up a big batch of food in my cauldron - er, soup pot - enough to feed Lugh for five days. Having done this for several months, I'm confident in making the occasional meal when I've run out of what I've made from the official recipe. I like to get creative with flavors, too. Tonight I cooked an "ad hoc" (but nutritionally balanced) dinner for Lugh. This is what he ate: Oatmeal and chopped/peeled broccoli stalk cooked lightly in organic chicken broth; supplemented with sesame oil and the pantry items mentioned above; and about five chicken necks out of the fridge. Happy, healthy dog.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Today I interviewed with the university publishing company in my town for an excellent job that I really, really want. Adonis and I are curious but (mostly) patient, waiting to see what the Goddess has in store for us. If I get this job, that will be a big clue. (Maybe we are meant to stay here?) If not, we continue to watch and wait in wonder.
I got some good occult books over the weekend, too, and will post about them shortly.
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
Many Pagans have an understanding of the body as more than just the physical stuff, the gross anatomy. Whether we travel in the astral, work with chakras, read auras, or ground and raise energy, we acknowledge the reality of etheric bodies, energy bodies - the subtle anatomy. My first experiences of the subtler bodies came in yoga practice and my work with a gifted energy healer. Yet only in the last year or so have I begun to understand and accept the significance of energy bodies. I've begun to see energy patterns around people's physical bodies. I take more seriously the feelings I get when I'm around someone. I'm learning to heal with my hands - or to trust the healing I can do with my hands. I sense the life, the chi or prana, in some food, and the lack of chi in other food. I feel the subtle but vivid quality of the flower essence I've been taking. The world comes alive in a whole new way, and while much of the time I'm not tuned in, when I am, it's thrilling.
Within a Pagan belief system, then, we're talking not about "the body" but about bodies. Part of developing one's skills in magic involves learning to sense the subtler realms. Fortunately, since we live in a postmodern age, we have the wisdom of other traditions to help us. For me, yoga has been crucial. It's helped me learn the joys of an embodied spiritual practice and to experience the communication between physical and energy bodies moving together, carried on muscle, tendon, and breath. Lying in corpse pose, I wonder what becomes of the energy bodies when the physical body dies. Are our bodies inextricably linked one to another, or does energy persist, perhaps dissipating, while matter decays and transforms?
Our bodies are no less holy for being temporal, for being born and dying. I eschew any belief system that would rank the physical body less than "spirit" because of the former's inevitable demise. Once I read a poem about the holiness of fragile and temporary things. Yes. Illness is as sacred as health. Purity is a false ideal, and one that hates the body. We're a mess, all of us - earthy, bloody, broken. And we're perfect that way. There is nothing to save.
What does my being a Witch have to do with the way I live my body/ies? How does my commitment to healing the earth and my belief in the sacredness of bodies express itself in practice? What is an ethical way to eat, when one's ethics include the honoring of sensuality? Which practices express distaste for the body, and which honor it? Where does dieting come in? What about cosmetic surgery? What about practices that value appearance over function, like body building or fashion? How about where we live or how we keep our homes? How we have and raise children? Choices of medical care? Accessibility for people with impaired bodies? Caring for people with old bodies? Attitudes toward dying? How do Pagan beliefs about the body/ies affect our beliefs and actions about all of these other things?
Friday, April 14, 2006
But a number of people - intelligent people whom I trust - have reported good results with them. Last time I had a session with my body worker, I told her that I was in a period of letting go of things that no longer serve me - habits, beliefs, projects, and so on. She said that she believed there was a flower essence to assist that process, but she wasn't able to find the book to look it up. So I did some research of my own, and I decided to use Walnut.
Walnut is for those who find it difficult to adapt to change or who are over-sensitive to certain ideas, atmospheres, and influences. It is the remedy for times of major life changes - teething, puberty, pregnancy, divorce, menopause, changes of religion, moving a job or home, giving up an addiction or breaking away from old ties and restrictions, also for the regrets caused by change.... Those in need of Walnut have definite ideals and ambitions and are keen to move forward in life but are held back or side-tracked by the influence of a stronger personality, by restrictive circumstances, by family ties or links with the past.... The positive potential of Walnut is the ability to move forward and remain steadfast to one's path in life, free of the past, and to make necessary changes in life, carrying plans through despite discouragement, objections, or ridicule from others. (From the Bach website)
In this time of transition, when Adonis and I don't know what our jobs will be or where we'll be living; when the people closest to me point out that I've already given up my dissertation even though I'm unwilling to admit it and finally let go; when I'm grasping wildly for the ambitious, analytic, career-focused, empirically minded, cynical woman that I used to be; when I worry that my parents will worry about my leaving my career track; when I want to forge an unusual life path for myself but am afraid; when I'm letting go of my addiction to Coke ... well, Walnut seemed like a good choice.
Do you have experience with flower essences?
Thursday, April 13, 2006
This Libra full moon comes with equal parts ease and stress, which is very appropriate for the sign of balance. Granted, we’re still looking at earth-less skies here, so if things are still feeling a little unsettled, this is probably why. Especially for students trying to formulate summer plans, things may seem particularly “in the air” this year, but don’t worry, the sun will be in Taurus soon.
(Read more at Oculus Divinorum)
This is the full moon festival of the risen Christ, the full moon of Aries/Libra. This ascent is the awakening of the Christ consciousness within our human hearts, the rising of pure love which leads us to the awarness of our universality as members of the spiritual family of humanity and the larger universe. The rising of the Christ consciousness is not the province of any religion or faith tradition. It is the deepest truth and gift of the waning Age of Pisces. Our initiation into the full power of love is the purpose of this Piscean Age; its evolutionary message is to guide us forward on the path of human evolution. This deep Libran knowing of love is the underlying impulse of the full moon of Aries/Libra and reveals to us the true Arian nature of the authentic humans we inherently are and are becoming as we evolve.
(Read more at Mooncircles, here and here.)
In the immortal words of Willow Rosenberg: Go! I bid you go!
United States: While most people are pondering ways to repel the annoyingly over righteous from their doorsteps at the crack of dawn, a couple of lads from Idaho saw an opportunity in taking advantage of the superstitions of others.
Noticing that the wacky American fairy tale of the Rapture was getting wide notice from many unthinking cult members, they decided to set up a service called Post-Rapture Post that allows the gullible to pay a fee to have a personal
I told you so letter hand-delivered to their non-cult member friends and family who have been left behind.
Just write your letter and it will be hand-delivered immediately following the exodus of the pure from the Earth. But you must be thinking to yourself,How can the letters be delivered after the Rapture?The answer is simple. The creators of this site are Atheists. That's right, we don't believe in God. How else would we be able to deliver your correspondence after the Rapture?
Love it. Whatever happened to that Pagan bumpersticker with the pentagram and the words, "Come the Rapture, we'll have the Earth to ourselves"?
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
This morning my pit bull, Lugh, and I hiked for an hour on South Hill, enjoying the spring warmth and sunshine, the sound of the birds, the squirrels for chasing. We came home, and he fell asleep on a quilt in the sun while I did yoga. I'm enjoying the aimlessness of my unemployed days. For some reason, I'm not panicked about our joblessness (Adonis has three months to go till he graduates) or our dwindling bank account. I have faith that things are going to be fine. Things are fine now. I don't know where this faith has come from, but I'm not enquiring too closely. It's grace.
Being unemployed means I can spend lots of time with Lugh while he's a puppy. It means I can take half a day to spend with a friend who's mourning the unexpected death of her dog. I can write, read, meditate, daydream, cook, walk, do yoga, go to the gym. I'm living in the now, because the future is uncertain - we don't know where we'll be living in three months or what jobs we'll have. We're not totally at the mercy of the job market; I'm leaving academia so I won't have to be. We've decided that we'll stay where we are if we can find satisfactory employment, or we'll move to New York City. Either way, I'll be happy. But not knowing means there's nothing for my fantasizing mind to chew on. I'm in the present. It's a good lesson for life, for the future is always this uncertain, even if it doesn't seem that way.
Last week in yoga class, while practicing Vrikshasana, or tree pose, my teacher told us about something yogi Amrit Desai once said: "I may come out of the pose, but I never come out of balance."
My tarot card for this year is the Hanged Man. His message is: let go, surrender, there are forces at work beyond your control. Accept what is. End the struggle. Joanna Powell Colbert has beautifully reintepreted this card as The Tree: "She is able to stay centered even when her world is in upheaval, when the horizon is off-kilter and all things are topsy turvy. Perhaps our yogini is right side up in an upside down world. Perhaps she has learned to 'let go and let God/dess', and perhaps she will teach us how to do the same."
Uranus is transiting my sun and north node, which are conjunct in Pisces in the eleventh house. Uranus is about seeing the possibilities of your life and destiny. But a Uranus transit is a bumpy ride, because, in the words of my astrologer, "Uranus doesn't give a shit what you're attached to." That's hard on the ego, which likes its attachments, thank you very much. You have to have faith during this period, because changes happen like lightening flashes - you get quick, sudden illuminations. You can't get attached to any particular idea about your life, because changes are coming quickly. "You have to let go of what you thought your life was supposed to be like." Shit. That nails my experience of life right now. Topsy turvy. And yet, by some grace, no matter how many times I fall out of the pose, I'm managing to keep my balance.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
First, Jason writes about how the "Religious Left" in the U.S. excludes all but Christians and the occasional token Jew or Muslim. If we want to conceptualize a "Religious Left" as an alternative to the Religious Right, let's adhere to the liberal values of inclusivity and diversity, shall we? Jason's whole post is worth reading, as are the links.
In response, Deborah Lipp writes about how people's conception of religion doesn't even include many minority faiths, including Wicca and other forms of Paganism. The problem with that is that people don't realize there is an alternative to the "big three" monotheistic, patriarchal, religions of the book.
All the time, I hear people say “I don’t like religion” and when asked why, they elaborate “I don’t believe an omnipotent force controls the universe.” People literally don’t know that there is such a thing as religion without an omnipotent and controlling force. They don’t know that there are religions without a complex maze of sin to navigate. They don’t know that there are religions that celebrate all forms of adult consensual sex. They don’t know that there are religions that ask people to think for themselves.
When we say “religion” but mean “majority monotheistic religion” we continue to know only those majority monotheistic religions as the real thing. We reinforce the notion that Wiccans and Hindus and Native American religionists are fluffy, or odd, or primitive, or flaky, or otherwise just not right.
Wednesday, April 05, 2006
Thaleia informs us that today is the feast of Kwan Yin, the Chinese goddess of compassion. Kwan Yin is an important goddess to me. To learn more about her, I highly recommend Sandy Boucher's book, Discovering Kwan Yin, Buddhist Goddess of Compassion.
Monday, April 03, 2006
In my years as a Pagan, I have seen things that could be considered miraculous - remissions, lives extended, prosperity and sanity regained - all events prayed and "worked" for by the groups I was associated with at the time. But I have also seen senseless tragedies, lives ended, and fortunes squandered. If I believed in an omniscient God, these times of trouble could have shaken my faith, or made me wallow in questions of theodicy. But I know I live in an interdependent and interconnected web of life that connects me to all other things divine or mundane. I don't need a study to tell me that sometimes prayer fails, because to say otherwise is to make me a tyrant and nature my servant.
I rarely pray in a traditional sense (talking in my head to God/dess), because that doesn't make sense to me given my beliefs. I accept that ritual and casting spells are forms of prayers, and I say blessings before my meals and regularly thank the universe for things. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that I rarely petition the Goddess for anything other than helping me learn to align myself with nature. And that is the key point. As a Pagan, I'm not looking for supernatural intervention. I don't ask God to come to fix things. If anything, what I do is more in line with that Christian prayer, "not my will but Thine be done." I don't believe the Goddess has a will, per se, but I believe that my task as her daughter is to align myself with her ways. To live in accord, the Pagans say. I will pray for healing, but healing isn't the same thing as the disease going away. Healing is about living as whole beings and honoring our interconnections with spirit and all other beings. Healing can include illness and always at some point includes death. Healing also doesn't occur to an individual in an isolated context. It depends on the web - everything from access to good care, health insurance, the health of the natural environment, love and community. I don't think prayer can be isolated as a variable in order to study its efficacy.
Human beings suffer from great hubris as a species, and I believe one way that hubris expresses itself is in the belief that God takes personal requests. I believe that prayer, for Pagans, is a way to align ourselves with the natural order of things. It is not my wish that my will be done. I rather wish to honor and tend my place in the universe; to surrender my will, and along with it my struggle; to watch, learn, ride the waves, and align myself again and again. So mote it be.