Monday, March 17, 2008

Rising up out of the ocean*

I had a wonderful, amazing, powerful weekend at the mystery school. I'm only three months away from my ordination! (Or, a quarter turn of the wheel away--this week is Ostara, and I get ordained at the summer solstice.) My class meets officially as a group only one more weekend between now and then. I can't believe how close we are.

There are still several weekends to assist, plus a weekend-long astrology class (optional, so not all my classmates will be there), and a weekend-long integral anatomy class (also optional for my class, since we had anatomy in our second year, but the format for the anatomy class changes a lot each year, so it's always worth going). I'm also traveling in April to work with a "healee" who lives far from here.

My friend John brought me a beautiful orange silk scarf back from India (and a cd of the Gayatri mantra); I intend to wear the scarf for my ordination. John has been a true friend on my journey; a "tree guy" and a radical faerie, he encouraged my interest in Paganism back when I thought I was nuts, gave me my first deck of tarot cards, and has taught me a lot about dog-love.

I've been thinking a lot about "next steps," since this is my fourth and final year as a student at the mystery school. (I will continue to assist for at least another year.) I've almost made the decision to enroll in a six-month apprenticeship program in herbalism, pending financial discussion with my sweet and generous partner. That would begin in May. And I'm seriously considering applying to Cherry Hill for the fall.

I'm so excited by new plans and opportunities. Aries must be right around the corner!

(*The title for this post comes from the Sabian symbol for 1 degree Aries.)

Thursday, March 13, 2008

For your reading pleasure

There is so much good writing happening out there right now by the Pagani of the blogosphere. Here is some of what I've been reading over the past few days.

Dianne Sylvan on the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, our own personal mythos

Hecate on how one crone thinks about that maiden-, bunny-, egg-holiday, Ostara

Angela-Eloise on sacred sex--her post is wide-ranging and pulls together a lot of ideas, so that description hardly does it justice, and she links to lots of other good stuff

Hawk on past lives and what he's learned from observing his three children

Lunaea Weatherstone on making the present day, the present moment sacred (also just a great story about Santa Cruz)

Cat Chapin-Bishop gets itchy about Eat, Pray, Love (the comments are excellent, too)

Sia has two excellent posts on the Spitzer scandal, one highlighting the importance of rights and protections for sex workers, the other on sex addiction.

Whew! Happy reading!

A prayer for Ostara

i'm clear that this world belongs to no one in particular and everyone deserves bread, and quiet, breath, and water. i'm clear that those who order death and those who steal and dominate with bad policy have sold out their humanity. i'm clear the only thing which appeases the most crucial witness (the innerself of conscience) is contrition for oppression, renunciation of excess, avowal against a lethal apathy.

the work is to be alive for the living. to foster growth. to make again a garden of this place.

(Elizabeth Roberts, We'Moon '08, p. 64)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Allow things to be as they are.

The things you hear...

Lots of folks--everyone, it seems--were at PantheaCon (not I), and Evn has a list of "things you hear only at PantheaCon." This is why I love my people.

"The difference is, that's science fiction, and this is religion."

"We're Witches. Why can't we get an elevator here faster?"

"Wait! That cucumber's not consecrated."

"Third floor. Pirates."

"We can use the top of the ice chest for geomancy!"

"I've been writing since I was nine years old. Well, not the gay porn: that's relatively new."

For the whole list, go here.

Crazy desk meme

A meme! I got tagged for a meme! I've been sitting over here in my little corner of the Pagan blogosphere, twiddling my thumbs, memeless, waiting. I didn't get tagged for the book meme. People, I work in the book business. (Perhaps I haven't mentioned that.) I am surrounded by books.

Anyway, Cosette has tagged me for the crazy desk meme, started by Evn at Lover of Strife. (New-to-me blog, looks like fun, fab header.) I'm not sure how interesting my one desk drawer at work is. I mean, I don't have a piece of the Berlin Wall rolling around in it. But I'll do my best. Here goes:

Open up your desk drawers. Rummage about. List ten things you find there. Tag five people.

1. Tom's of Maine cinnamint toothpaste (I love this flavor, Adonis hates it, so I keep it at work)
2. toothbrush
3. small glass jar of Real Salt (because all Witches keep salt in their desk? because I often bring hard boiled eggs for breakfast?)
4. hair brush
5. funky card with an Old Mermaid on it, saying "impossible is a word you humans use all too often"
6. Kukicha tea bags
7. canceled stamps from Singapore
8. replacement tape for the label maker
9. a box of retractable gel ink pens
10. rosemary lip balm made by some local folks

Tagged (but under no obligation): Joanna, Terri, Sia, Sonja, and Deborah

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Healing, one definition

I found this in the April edition of O Magazine:

"When we honestly ask which persons in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not-knowing, not-curing, not-healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness ...makes it clear that whatever happens in the external world, being present to each other is what really matters."

--Henri J. M. Nouwen

Monday, March 10, 2008

Working with "negative" emotions, living in this body - a beginning

Two bloggers have recently made reference to my post, Heal this, in quite different and interesting contexts. (Why doesn't Blogger have Trackback, anyway? I mean, it's a lovely surprise to find a reference to one of my posts while I'm reading someone else's blog, but it would also be nice if the conversations were tracked for readers.)

Medusa asks with regard to the "Heal this": "Are frustration and anger part of a spiritual path? If so, what are their purposes?" I like that those are the questions that came to her while she was reading what I wrote, because I hadn't formulated them myself, but they're good questions. I mean, the answer has to be "yes," right, because those emotions are inevitably part of this being human. Yet I so often find myself trying to disavow such feelings, trying to cut them off or deny them, and wishing I didn't feel them. I know that healing and change come from acceptance and allowing those feelings to be, but how does one accept the "negative" emotions? What is the practice? And does Wicca have anything at all to say to these questions? Or do we have to turn to Buddhism?

Sia writes about taking care of oneself on the spiritual path in If you're such a Goddess, then why do you treat yourself like s%*t? She talks about the daily struggle to make healthy choices, a struggle I share. As I asked my therapist last week, why am I enchanted by choices that may feel good in the very short term but don't in the longer term? And why do I resist simple things that feel really good, like daily yoga practice?

Most of the cultural discourse around "health" is profoundly alienating to me, grounded as it is in a Protestant work ethic and Judeo-Christian ideas about sin and virtue. As I was saying to a friend recently, I long for new narratives. What would an earth-centered ethics of health and the body look like? There are already some answers out there. I see lots of Pagan bloggers thinking and writing about these things, working out their own ways to live ethically and healthfully. I welcome the discussion, encourage more, and want myself to experiment more with passionate, respectful, earthy, joyous, non-linear, earthwise ways of living in this body, on this land.

Friday, March 07, 2008

New moon in Pisces

I assure you this won't turn into an astrology blog, but there have been some big astrological events lately--or at least they've been having a big impact on me. And there is just one more that I want to write about right now.

(One thing I love about Wicca and Paganism, at least as I think about them, is that they encourage reading the events of our lives like a literary text. Did you have the experience in high school where your English teacher would explain the symbolism in the book you were reading, or you would study various critical reviews of, I don't know, The Scarlet Letter, and someone--maybe even you--would complain, "yeah, right, how do you see all that in this book? We're just making this stuff up." Many people--maybe even me, at times--feel the same way about a magical worldview, about religion, about tarot, astrology and other kinds of divination. Did the bird that flew into the glass of my bedroom window [the only time it's ever happened in my seven years living in a window-filled, second-story apartment] on New Year's Day last year while Adonis and I were discussing getting pregnant really presage the miscarriage I had six weeks later? Was that event a symbol invested with meaning? Is it "okay" to read our lives that way? Sometimes I feel that if my life were a novel, the symbolism would be pretty heavy handed.)

I often think of astrology (and tarot) as a set of texts for interpreting human existence. Recently, I've talked about Pluto entering Capricorn and the lunar eclipse in Virgo. Today is the new moon, completing the lunar cycle and beginning another anew. The moon is in Pisces, as is the sun. I found the article by Simone Butler on Mooncircles to be particularly apt.

All addictions stem from the same root: feeling separate from Source. The Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program succeeds because it teaches participants to give their problems over to a higher power. Making the connection to Source through prayer, meditation, or spending time in nature reminds us that we are one with all that is.

During most of March, with the sun in Pisces, a sign that rules both addiction and spiritual surrender, we're asked to awaken from our illusion of separation and jettison crippling habits that hold us back. February's solar eclipse on the 7th opened our wounds for healing, and the lunar eclipse on the 21st shone a bright light on the need to fix what's broken.

(Deborah Oak had a particularly harrowing wake-up call.)

Now, on March 7, Uranus the Awakener conjoins the New Moon in Pisces--a wake-up call for sure. In Pisces, the last sign of the zodiac, we merge with Source on our journey back home....

Trust is a key word for Pisces.... The Hopi say we're in a rushing river, that we should stop clinging to the shore and allow the current to bring us to the river's calm center.... Pisces demands surrender to "what is," rather than railing against what isn't. Surrender leads to the calm center within. Otherwise, you end up lost in your fears--and the endless cycle of addiction.

If you're feeling unusually vulnerable or empty these days, remember that the aching void is also your access point to Source.

As in the beloved Leonard Cohen song,

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

Even at the dark of the moon, blessings.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The cosmic bulldozer

You know how sometimes everything that happens to you points in the same direction? Like you couldn't ignore the signs if you tried? This is one of those times. Witness the power of one pledge. The message? To tend to the roots.

(1) Partly, it's the astrological weather. Pluto has moved into Capricorn, though it will move forward and retrograde throughout this year, before settling in for the ride till 2023. We tend to be afraid of Pluto. He's the king of the underworld, after all. He rules death and transformation. Like death, he's impersonal. He doesn't care if a little destruction is going to mess up your plans. Whatever has outlived its usefulness has to go. Structures that no longer serve us are upended, no matter how attached to them we might feel. Practical Capricorn is firmly rooted in the material world: wealth, home, property, business, building, construction, management of resources. Earthly institutions: marriage, church, government, economy. Got one that isn't working? Pluto is gonna bust it up and break it down. For example, the last time Pluto was in Capricorn (November 1762-December 1778), there was this little event we call the American Revolution.

(2) My own challenges these last few months have been those relating to first chakra issues: home, survival, and money. Here is what Anodea Judith has to say about the first, or root chakra, called Muladhara, located at the base of the spine:

It relates to the element earth, and all solid, earthly things, such as our bodies, our health, our survival, our material and monetary existence, and our ability to focus and manifest our needs. It is the manifestation of consciousness in its final form--solid and tangible. It is our need to stay alive and be healthy, and the acceptance of limitation and discipline so crucial to manifestation. (Wheels of Life, p. 60)

My sister's illness, the trouble with buying a house, some issues with my finances; these all have to do with the first chakra, and with Capricorn.

(3) In my last post I mentioned something called the schizoid defense. That defense has to do with root chakra issues: physical survival, manifestation, living on the earth. Do I have a right to be here? Do I have a right to the things I need to survive (food, sleep, shelter, a job, medicine, health care, love)?


Patterns. In the past I've had trouble grasping how my own schizoid defense works. It's been the one to elude my understanding. But now I'm beginning to see it in the parts of my life I try to fragment and hide from, the places where I practice denial because to broach them seems terrifying. One of the biggest areas, for me, is money. And the message I've been getting loud and clear these last several weeks is that my old way of (not) dealing is really not going to work anymore. Fragmentation and denial are becoming impossible. This is Pluto at work in Capricorn.

Because I'm a pretty grounded person in many ways, and I don't suffer a lot of anxiety, I've had trouble discerning challenges around my root chakra. The cosmic 2x4 has had to swing this way several times. The biggest hit was what got me to begin studying healing in the first place: surgery at the bottom of my lumbar spine. Yes, surgery on my first chakra. Three years later, I'm starting to understand the connections. Survival, support, money, home, earth, belonging, manifestation, deserving.

The structures have been threatening collapse for some time; a few years ago, they started to fall. I picture Pluto as this big bulldozer or backhoe. I imagine Arthur Dent waking one morning to find the bulldozers reflected in his shaving mirror, poised to destroy his house. He doesn't realize that bulldozers are the least of his worries, since his planet is also scheduled for demolition that morning. That's Pluto, blandly informing us that the plans have been on display at the central office for some time for those who cared to consult them.

But the other thing about Pluto? He guards all the earth's hidden riches. To discover them, to spy them glinting in the sunlight, you need only turn over some earth.

Monday, March 03, 2008


I spent the weekend, and my birthday, at the mystery school, assisting the 2nd-year class. We were studying a defense structure--called the schizoid defense by Reich--that is deeply conflicted about being incarnate, being human, living on earth. This defense is characterized by anxiety and fear, and the experience is often one of fragmentation and "checking out." Spending the weekend in that energy was challenging; I found myself feeling distracted, fidgety, irritable. The curative is to ground.

I found myself thinking about one of the tenets, if you will, that I value most in Wicca: life on this earth is utterly sacred and holy. Divinity isn't elsewhere; it's right here. In this moment, in this body, on this land. To hate any part of that, or to wish that it were different, is to fragment, to cut ourselves off from Goddess. If we Witches had blasphemy, that would be it. But the concept of blasphemy connotes blame, and we can't blame ourselves for wanting to escape or for desiring things to be different. That, too, is part of what it means to be human.