Wyrd

I’m not going to get into the definition of Wyrd, other than it’s from an Old English verb for “to come to pass, to become” (Wikipedia), it’s sometimes the twenty-fifth rune in runic divination (http://www.midnightmoonchild.com/moonchildtwentyfifthrunepage.html) and it generally represents the mysterious power of Fate. Instead, I’m going to talk about personal examples of how my Wyrd has played out this past year, and address some common issues that come up about Fate with intuitive readings for clients.

When I got up on the altar of the UnitedMethodistChurch in my home town, to sing at my grandfather’s memorial service on Father’s Day of this year, I introduced my song with something along the lines of: “I appreciate the choir’s willingness to make a last minute change. The winds of fate have blown me here, and I’m thankful to have this chance to fulfill my grandfather’s last request of me.”

I sang “Amazing Grace.” My daughter nursed through the entire song, sometimes reaching up to try and take the microphone, but I made it all the way through. I held her with one arm and held the microphone with the other. I felt no shame. She obviously felt comfortable enough to nurse in front of the fifty or so (incarnate) people who were there (the sanctuary was filled up with Ancestors who came to witness our memorial, who I sensed as friends and family of my grandfather, though I didn’t know them all. I sang a variation that rose in key through the four verses, each subsequent verse picking up pitch where the last one left off, the fourth verse sending my voice up to the rafters. By that point I felt totally embraced by kind and gentle arms, surrounded by light, wrapped in love. Later, an aunt told me that many of the older choir members seated behind me, who had sung with my grandparents and me for decades, wore expressions of wonder. 

“But wait,” you might think. “She’s pagan. What’s she doing singing Amazing Grace at her grandfather’s funeral and having this spiritual experience?” Easy. I grew up in that church. It wasn’t quite coming home, but it was a visit to the home of my family. Still familiar, and though different in some ways, mostly the same. The church had used the building for over thirty years, and although the sanctuary has been expanded, the rest of the building has mostly been left untouched. Spirituality transcends walls and stained glass, but it was comforting to return to a place unchanged enough to bring back some of the more pleasant memories of childhood: coming along to help my grandmother while she worked at most of the blood drives that the church sponsored for a good couple of decades in their gymnasium, seeing her work in the kitchen at all the holiday potlucks I ever went to, tagging along with her to meet with a women’s group in the chapel, the same chapel my parents got married in… I recalled the taste of the fruit loop and cream cookies she would make for cookie socials. My grandmother passed in 2010 just forty five days after my daughter was born, so I had no chance to gain the closure of a memorial service with the family. I could hear my grandfather’s voice in the choir when they sang and I caught whiffs of his cologne. To me, the place has a magic that will always be waiting for me, like a scrapbook compiled of passing time.

(further details) A good friend of mine was there, who sang in choir with me through jr. high and high school, and after the service I played my grandfather’s cornet and he asked, “Was your grandfather a communion man?” For him, Communion is akin to my own concept of the Great Rite, a union of masculine and feminine Divine Energy that manifests the Holy Child.

I gestured to the pile of memorabilia left in the sanctuary, saying, “I seem to remember it being special for him. Let’s see if we can find anything here.”

In the stack of papers, I found a newspaper clipping on top of an original photograph of a bunch of men recreating Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. All of them wore beards and wigs and robes and I could tell by the sanctuary that the photo was taken before it was remodeled about fifteen years ago, and my guess by the style of the robes and beards that it was back in the seventies. The newspaper clipping listed all of the men, most of whom are Ancestors now. I showed it to Granger, saying, “I think this means yes.”

“Is your grandfather in Judas’ place? Look, he’s holding a bag of coins,” pointed out Granger.

The role of Judas seemed to fit my grandfather well, not because he betrayed anyone’s trust, but he seemed to go against the grain of convention a lot. He juggled a tricky relationship with alcohol and sometimes full time service for the community, including carpentry work with Habitat for Humanity. In a lot of ways, I saw Christ in my grandfather, too. He took many less-than-ideal circumstances throughout his life, and transformed it all into a work of art. He loved telling jokes, and telling stories through his music. To me Judas represents the divine Trickster energy, something like the shadow of Christ consciousness, connecting to the Divine Troublemakers that carry out Divine Will under circumstances that seem less than ideal (after all, Jesus foretells Judas’ betrayal and himself treats it as a fulfillment of His Wyrd). He and I didn’t realize it, but my relationship with my grandfather in childhood prepared me a lot for my work with Papa Legba, another Trickster, who I consider the Father of Jazz. When it came to telling stories, he would always root for the “good guy” but I remember him saying more than once: “the bad guys are more fun.”

I am certain that the circumstances of my wyrd are what brought me to that place and time. My grandmother’s passage felt to me at the time like she had given up. Whether she had lost a battle, or had surrendered, circumstances led me to my grandfather’s service, instead of hers. He hung in there just long enough for my marriage to break apart in such a way that drew me out to Kansas to stay at an intentional community for six weeks, with ten days between Illinois and Indiana in the middle of that time. I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to my grandmother, but I felt her around afterward. Pa Pa  passed on the day after I arrived at the Light Center, and I was too close not to take H and go the rest of the way home.

The region I grew up in just happens to carry the nickname “Little Egypt.” Of course, the first time I get back to Little Egypt in six years is also the year I’ve dedicated to working with Sekhmet and Bastet. I am in no way surprised, either, that the first night I was back in my home town, the evening of the memorial service, an officer pulled me over (for putting my turn signal one way, then the other, and then going straight because I hadn’t driven in the town for ten years and was trying to decide the best way to get home) and two others joined him (no, they really have nothing better to do at ten p.m. on a Sunday, there). The officer cited me for my license plate not being mounted in the proper place (and the turn signal thing, because apparently that means I might have been drunk), but when I couldn’t provide proof of insurance and kind of broke down when I realized I had left my driver’s license at my aunt’s house in Evansville, the officer who pulled me over gave me two fix-it tickets: one for the light being out where my license plate was supposed to be mounted, and one for not carrying proof of insurance with me at the time. I think the other two were just there for fun, and to fulfill the requirement for Triune energy being a part of my daily existence.

Basically, the responding officer made sure I took my car to the shop while I had access to my parents’ mechanic, which ended up being a ten-day stay-over with my parents while various repairs were exacted on the car.

As much as my parents loved having H and I around, after ten days they were ready to let us go.

After this series of unusual events, it’s reinforced the idea that our Wyrd is something like fate. It’s the process of the bigger picture fitting together that sometimes pushes us toward certain outcomes, so that we have chances to fulfill karmic agreements with ourselves and others. If my husband would not have left me, I probably would not have left him, being determined to stick it out for the sake of our daughter. But, to paraphrase Bonnie Raitt, you can’t make someone’s heart feel something it won’t. It would have ended poorly if P and I had stayed together. Exploring the Light Center was an excellent experience that had the added benefit of landing me close enough to the heartland to drive there in one day, and I was finally in a secure enough place in my spirituality and my emotional maturity that I was able to not take my family’s behavior personally, not get offended by my parents’ open disbelief and sometimes hostility toward my own spiritual beliefs, rituals, and practices. I was able to come to an agreement with them that we would simply not bring it up, but they were welcome to ask me questions, so long as I had the ability to say, no thanks, to the topic at hand. The community in Kansas provided a respite for healing and processing the various chapters that had just closed in my life.

All of this, on top of all of that, happened during the tail-end of my Saturn return. Echoes and fractals of everything have been reverberating everywhere for the duration. I even got pregnant with my daughter at the beginning of the Saturn return, so all the karma that calls for resolution during Saturn return was emphasized and magnified by the occurrence of every little thing I thought I had gotten over from my childhood resurfacing during my pregnancy. Through all this, I know I’m on the right track in life when I can recognize the pattern and it holds beauty and brings resonance out from deep within me.

Questions to ask yourself for discerning the way of your Wyrd:

  • Are numbers repeating a lot for you?
  • Do you see repeating images, such as a significant animal, scenario, or other personal symbol that resonates with you, as you pursue a certain path?
  • Are you drawn to specific places that connect you to occurrences in your past (if you are geographically distant, this may manifest by a particular location bringing back memories of another place from your past)?
  • Do you find yourself being circumstantially brought to a place of resolving unfinished business from your childhood or adolescence?
  • If you practice divination, are the same handful of cards/runes/keys/etc coming up, in combinations that loop back in on themselves?

If you answer yes to three or more, you’re likely getting signals that you are on the proper path for spiritual progression. If your personal oracle is repeating itself, it’s likely you have more possibilities than you are examining, or key solutions to a lesson that is being emphasized, but in my personal experience, repetitive readings have happened both when I’m making constructive choices but am just missing a piece, or I just need a reminder that certain elements of my life are beyond my control and I get to work on acceptance.

What if I feel like I’m doomed to have bad luck?

I heard the question a lot as a telephone psychic, in various ways: “Do I have a curse on me?,” “Do I have bad karma to work out?,” or “Am I never meant to be happy?”

First of all, happiness is always a choice. Sometimes, it’s not appropriate to choose happiness, since life has its natural cycles. Even in the midst of the world falling down around your ears, there is always something you can be happy about. It’s good to have a mixture of emotions in trying circumstances; it’s important to release stress by allowing yourself to have fun in the midst of trouble. The Universe is full of love and wants us to be happy, and yes, directing focus to that energy does allow you to cultivate awareness of joy. Resistance leads to sadness and suffering, so the first step to happiness is acceptance of what is. I’m not encouraging any one to put a happy face on tragedy, but in the process of healing, to allow space for all experiences as they come, not getting totally swept up in one extreme or the other.

Second, negative karma is not a punishment, just like good karma is not a reward. Objectively speaking, there is no such thing as good or bad, it is only our thinking that makes it so. Good and bad are qualities, simply the same as favorable or unfavorable. Like attracts like, so treating others how you wish to be treated works to the extent that you realize that people have varying definitions of “respect” and “kindness” and communicating your own desires and needs to the people around you is a way of giving them tools to help fulfill those desires and needs if they so choose. On the energetic level, the energy you project is the energy returned to you, so if you project energy of feeling as though you are in danger, you will attract dangerous situations. By making yourself feeling safe (and backing it up with solid actions and positive self talk) you likewise ensure your own safety. By projecting an energy of service and receptivity of others’ needs (while maintaining healthy boundaries around your own needs), you attract people who want to help you while maintaining their own healthy boundaries. We create negative karma when we project negative energy at our situation, whether it’s specific people, places, things, or the world in general. If negative karma accumulates, there is always a way to resolve the issue with positive, life affirming thoughts, speech, and action. This draws positive energy in because we are also sending it out.

Third, curses only have as much power as the energy being of the subject is complicit to the aim of the curse. If a curse is laid for justice, for example, it will resonate with the Higher Self level of the entity and the Higher Self will cooperate with the energy of the curse to bring judgment on the 3 dimensional consciousness of the entity. If the curse is laid for unjust reasons, but plays to any self destructive aspects of the subconscious, then the subconscious mind will cooperate with the energy of the curse to undo the target of the curse. I believe that one of the best things a person can do to guard against both curses and undesirable effects of negative karma is to engage in lots of self love, compassion, and positive self talk. When Love starts with the self, it reflects and transmits outward, enabling kind actions and compassion toward others.

Remember, the first step to change is accepting what is: facing our Wyrd.

This blog article is written as part of the Pagan Blog Project (http://paganblogproject.com/). 

Vengeance

 Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned

Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.

       -William Congreve, “The Mourning Bride”

Vengeance appears throughout global culture, all over the place, from ancient mythology to modern fiction (and news, for that matter). Desire for vengeance is a part of human existence. Even noble Boudica, with her brazen stride through herstory, has her own dark side: desire for vengeance for her raped daughters fueled her attacks to bring Rome to its knees and Londinium to a pile of ashes. I personally have noted the energy of vengeance as residing in a low frequency: something that comes up for humanity but which is not necessarily noble, or justified, or anything that helps us make progress on our spiritual path. Maybe it’s from my Christian upbringing, or my Buddhist leanings, but Compassion and Service to me are the highest virtues humanity can pursue.

Commonly tied up with people’s concept of Witches, I have noticed, plays out in a fear of vengeful attacks from the hypothetical Witch. People are still suspicious of Witchery for the fear of being hexed. Voodoo/Hoodoo lore (and all branches of Euro-Afro-Indo-American folk magick) holds countless instructions for exacting vengeance on a person. The black coffin is possibly the ultimate example, the death hex. A person could probably without too much effort hire a practitioner in New Orleans to issue such a spell for a significant fee. Many European folk customs describe gestures like crossing the fingers to ward off the Evil Eye. Accusations abound in written records of the Burning Times blaming Witches of blighted crops, barren cattle, sometimes even deceased family members. Whether or not the accused was even a Witch, whether or not the accused was capable to perform any ‘curse’ as the accusers perceived it, the fear itself was there.

Southern Gypsy Moon Art’s topsy-turvy dolls (http://gothicsouthernbelleart.blogspot.com). She fit the mood…

If a Witch, or practitioner of any kind of the Arcane Arts, engages in vengeful behavior, it not only rebounds in Karma, tying that person more tightly to the one they are hexing, but it also sends vibrations out into the human collective consciousness and affects how people think of Witches. I personally am one of those who claim the title Witch in attempt to reclaim it, like the beautiful Sumerian nomer, kunta.

Vengeance is not to be confused with Hexing. Hexing is banishing, binding, releasing, and can enacts penalties on the person being hexed. It is not to be taken lightly, and I have noticed much more success if I am willing to undertake the consequences that come to me as a result of egoic assertion (I hexed some neighbors to get them to move away from us, once, and ended up moving myself, but it was to a better apartment, so it was all good, but an important lesson in discernment, as our neighbors in the new apartment proved a bit difficult, too). I’ll save the rest of my rant on Hexing for that “H” post I haven’t gotten around to yet.

Vengeance is wanting to hurt someone because they once hurt you. It’s insisting on getting your way all the time because the target of your wrath insisted on their way for so long. It’s wanting what you want, regardless of the consequences.

I’ve noticed that vengeance frequently ends in tragedy, most often because the person seeking vengeance is so consumed by it, once they are finished carrying out their target’s sentencing, they have no other soul’s purpose (the one exception I can think of being the Bride in Kill Bill, but that has to do with passing on life, defending a child, and in the Bride’s and Boudica’s case, daughters… I’m sensing a pattern here).

This is why I refrain from vengeance magick. I am allowed by my own ethos, however, to pursue justice, self-protection, and the protection of those who entrust themselves into my care, via magick.

And so I do. Binding and banishing spells are my friends.

Beware of vengeful acts. If you are thinking of a response to someone else’s psychic or magickal attack (whether intentional or ignorant), sit in meditation for at least ten minutes, three days in a row, before following through on the response you would like to enact. Ask any divination tool you use, “What karma am I inviting into my life in taking this path?” It bears repeating: vengeance simply attracts more of the energy you are trying to repel. Hate is not the opposite of love, but its twin flame. Calm yourself to protect yourself. Walk in peace. Sometimes, the best “revenge” is simply letting go.

This blog was created for Faye Dancing-Cloud’s participation in The Pagan Blog Project.

Victory

This is more of an essay on personal events and ethics, and the energy behind this concept, but it’s a topic I feel is relevant to modern Paganism and Earth based spirituality. Consider it a pagan memoir piece.  

This word evokes from my imagination the Winged Nike, triumphant Valkyrie bearing noble warrior souls of the slain in battle to Valhalla, Boudicca riding atop her chariot to set Roman Londinium aflame. Thinking about modern figures of victory, I see Susan B. Anthony advocating women’s rights, Rosa Parks sitting on that bus, Martin Luther King, jr., giving That Speech, the high school students in Little Rock being escorted to class by National Guard troops, Sally Ride on a space shuttle… The 14-year-old girl recovering from a head wound she got for going to school… Figures from history, be it modern or ancient history, committing infamous acts creates a certain immortality of its own.

Boudicca on her glorious bronze Chariot. I took a picture of her pretty much like this, once.

For me, Victory is a double-edged sword. It evokes simultaneously The Chariot and the 5 of Swords. With The Chariot, the only people on the “losing side” are those unfortunates who know no better than to stand in the way of the vehicle. Nonetheless the “losing side” must be considered a possible aspect of that card. You win, at what cost?

The 5 of Swords is much more bleak. I’ve seen the word “Defeat” as a caption on at least one deck for that card, but even when reversed, I seem to remember an elaboration on the original meaning, modified by “inconsolable.” Other interpretations stress the reversed interpretation to mean burying the hatchet with someone, or transcending a conflict by withholding participation in petty gossip.

Given my life circumstances, I felt drawn to write about this word for the Pagan Blog Project that I am so miserably tardy with. (I’m not giving up! I’m catching up!) Short story: my husband filed for divorce with me shortly after my 30th birthday (best. birthday. present. EVAR.), and I just filed my answer. I won’t go into details because the case is ongoing, but I’m feeling optimistic about the outcome. Last November or so, I started working with Ganesh on my husband’s desk with a simple request: Please influence change in a positive direction, for my marriage. At Samhain of last year, I also began making plans and discerning work with Sekhmet for the following solar year. The husband found a girlfriend in February, as I was in full-on dedication mode to Sekhmet. I got spooked about the new relationship and tried to get him to call it off… he left me for the new girlfriend.

This might seem at first like the ultimate spell back-fire. Friends of mine have chalked it up to further proof that polyamory doesn’t work for most people.

It’s a little confusing, until you zoom in.

In the moment when I see myself getting what I’ve asked for, I feel victorious over my fears that have been looming up to the moment of affirmative action. I also feel hesitant about the role my ego plays in claiming said victory. I learned early on that nobody likes a sore loser, but everybody despises a sore winner. I also wish to keep in mind that any experience of victory in this moment is just a small piece in a larger narrative, The Big Story. A singular favorable outcome does not alone determine the outcome of the whole. So it is with everyone, in everything: each victory in life, big or small, is party to a greater composition of events. I’ve been thinking about the Tarot as a wheel, with all the cards in a circle, an inner circle for the Major Arcana, and a bigger circle for the Minor Arcana, so help me examine opposites in the system as a circle. This would place the victorious Chariot directly opposite XVIII The Moon. Makes sense to me: Chariot, controlled outward momentum leading to calculated success. Moon, sporradic, unpredictable, tuning into inner power. Our Inner Power often does crazy things, beyond our control, beyond our ability to predict (even especially in tune folk). As with everything, I have to look at the shadow side of victory. I have to make sure my ego doesn’t throw me off balance because this event is dominating my life at this time. That’s just the way it’s going, and I’m working to change that, to.

The point of enduring failures is to learn from them. The Chariot evokes memories of specific events I felt led to failures in my life. The specific ones that come to mind were as a result of giving my power over to other people to decide my fate. Listening to someone else because I had tied my fate to them and that was all I knew. I’m done with that. My Goddess tells me so – the evidence in my forthright decisions and actions, with a supportive friend to back me up, but to whom I can say, “I’m sorry, I don’t want to go down that road with you” and she won’t take it personally to the extent of trying to manipulate me into giving her what she wants. She’s too confident for that, simply. This in itself is a situation I have been working with my magick to manifest, and it has come true.

This has been a rough five months. Lots of travel, visiting relatives in the event of my grandfather’s funeral, and now the Turn of the Witch’s Year is upon us, which always adds to my retrospection. My biggest victory so far is the success I see Hazel making every day, towards growth and new abilities. My second biggest is making sure my life grows from the new roots, in gratitude, trust, and pure intention.

I hope that this post hasn’t been too rambly, and that you my dear readers can see the relationship with the topic in my written wanderings.

Blessed be…

(Nourishing Herbal) Infusions

I’ve written previously how my spirituality is connected to diet, and when I catch up on my “H” posts I will write about how it also ties into habits (tricky things, they are). I have cultivated a habit over the past year of drinking nourishing herbal infusions on a regular basis.

Nettle, comfrey leaf, red clover, oat straw, and mullein have become valuable herbal allies for me in the past year. I have been purchasing the dried herbs in bulk from a local shop called Earthly Awakenings who gets their supply through Frontier Herbs. I love this place. It’s small, and carries an eclectic mix of things, from tobacco to rough cut stones to locally made jewelry to Quan Yin statues. I have had some wonderful healing experiences at this shop in the past decade since I first moved to Cache Valley.

I met Susun Weed in 2008, at a women’s spirituality retreat. She gave a talk on the Wise Woman Tradition, including her Seven Rivers of Healing. Following Susun Weed’s Wise Woman Tradition in making and drinking these infusions, I have seen epic changes in my health and my demeanor. I have more energy and feel stronger, thanks to the fact that nettle, comfrey leaf, and mullein are rich in B vitamins. My respiratory system feels stronger, thanks to mullein. My hair is fuller and shinier, thanks to nettle. My nerves are more relaxed, thanks to oatstraw. I feel sexier, thanks to oatstraw and red clover. I have maintained a very healthy weight, thanks to the protein content of nettle (which as it turns out is also a treatment for several ailments, including dysentery).

Infusions are stronger than teas, made by pouring one quart of boiling water over an ounce (by weight) of dried herb, then letting the simple steep for 6-8 hours and straining with a canning funnel and a cloth.

I think the most surprising experience for me is how easily these plants have begun working with me. I am working with more consciousness around the plant, and felt blessed to meet some live mullein on a hike up Green Canyon trail on Saturday evening, which I might see about harvesting later this year. I know a good place to harvest nettle, too (and apparently I need to do this sooner rather than later), up a trail in the Wellsville mountains.

Susun Weed has an open forum at http://www.wisewomanuniversity.org/ for people who are interested in making and studying nourishing herbal infusions. I hope to see you there!

Guides

Here is my first Pagan Blog Project post for “G.” I am so shamefully behind. This parenting-a-two-year-old thing plus running-own-business is like walking through a sand pit, sometimes, for how unproductive I’m feeling. So, this is one of those Paganism 101 articles.

People I meet who are just getting into paganism often ask me: “Does everybody have Guides? How do I find out who they are?”

Here are five simple and effective ways in which to get in touch with your guides. I have collected these through talking to many pagans over the years and asking various people I know, “How do you know your Guides are your Guides?”

  1. Observe nature.

Nature is vibrant and alive, and no matter what region you live, your guides can contact you through your habitat. Take any note of animals you see or hear. Mind what plants you feel drawn to. An attraction is a strong indication of affinity. If you are in an urban area, even visiting the smallest park can lead to sacred experiences.

  1. Remember when…?

Did you have a fascination with learning about or imitating a certain animal as a child? HC, my daughter who is two, was born under the Native American sign of the Wolf. Since infancy, she has communicated by howling. When I was a child, I was drawn to foxes. I had a dream where I turned into one, when I was in college, and ever since then, Fox medicine has served me well. From talking to many people, another common means of discovering guides comes from affinity to a certain period in history or a certain culture.

  1. Dream.

A simple and easy ritual to invoke a dream is to cut a small square of cloth and wrap up some lavender and mugwort, and ask your Spirit to send you dreams of your guides.

  1. Study.

Read lots. Take classes. As I mentioned earlier, affinity indicates a connection. I recommend D.J. Conway’s books as a broad survey of deities (Maiden, Mother, Crone and Lord of Light and Shadow). Go where you feel led. If you don’t know where to start, think of your childhood as step 2 advises.

  1. Invite.

Design your own ritual where you invite your Guides to contact you in the easiest way you can understand. Pay attention to synchronicities, books that you come across, conversations you overhear. Your Guides will surprise you.

What if I do something to call my Guides, but they scare me, or I just don’t like them?

If you feel frightened or overwhelmed by your Guides in any way, or have a hard time getting in touch with Them, then you are experiencing a block between you and your Power. Some of your Guides have been with you since before your birth. They can be Animal Spirits, Deities, Ancestors, Archangels, Fairies, or just about anything you could imagine.

I’ve searched the world over and haven’t found any Guides connected to me. Is there something wrong?

One possibility is that your Spirit chose to incarnate without any “outside help” so to speak, cutting all energetic contracts before birth. If this seems to be the case, then you can ask your former Guides to return to your presence, and make themselves known. If you suspect that you have chosen a new path altogether, then you can choose energies to invite into your life. If they don’t accept your invitation, accept this experience and move on. If you don’t get an answer, wait for that energy to get back to you, and ask another energy to get in touch with you. Do not under any circumstances attempt to force an energy to respond to you.

How do I know that this entity is my Guide, and not some evil spirit trying to take advantage of me?

See this article for some good rules of thumb. Reading the article, I felt extremely lucky to have been spared any hard core attempts to fool me into giving something of my own away. I work with dark spirits, some would call them demons, but I have found that not all demons are evil. Some of them are working off karma so they can ascend. Some abide in their own nature, and work to equalize the balance (the angels can be bastards, too, and not all ascended beings have the best interest of humanity at heart – some are cruising for a fall). I have always asked an unknown spirit to identify themselves, and I use the rule of recognition – if I have to ask their name, they aren’t who they appear to be. I have always been able to recognize an entity’s energy signature in dreaming.

Fathering

This is my second F post for the Pagan Blog Project.

I wanted to write about fornication, but I think that to say it’s too loaded would be understating it. Then again, since I finally got time to actually read my email (life with a two year old and helping to form a new spiritual group, wow) I got an email about a sex seminar:

http://www.sexywitchy.com/sexy-witchy-seminars.php

I think the Powers are trying to tell me something. Instead, however, I’m going to talk about fathers, which is related.

I have a very close relationship with only one Father God: Odin is the most prominent. I was raised Christian, but visibly descend from Teutonic stock. I know others, but am not close to any particular one of them the way that I am with Odin. My other major patron is Gwyn ap Nydd, King of the Realm of Faery, and I think of him as a father, but he’s not classified as a paternal deity, as far as archetypes go.

With YHWH, I feel as though that entity is a raw life force, relatively unpersonified, but concentrated, like the square root of All Fathering. When I think of encounters with the Elohim, I come up with memories of engulfing yawning distance and severity, an Across the Universe kind of far, and not very personal experiences. Father deities who I might develop a closer relationship with are the Dagda and Obatala, but they feel more like guardians than parents. When I look at Odin, I see my Father. I know that He has been there, throughout my life, as the one who comforted me when I fell; the one who let me cry on my shoulder when I was sent to my room for crying in front of my (step)dad. I only have just translated the signs that were there my whole life. I was born on a Wednesday. Corvids have always spoken to me (and according to one source, it’s my Native American birth totem).

When I was 10, I played the part of a valkyrie in an abridged coreographed depiction of Wagner’s The Ring of the Nibelung for this drama program (yes, that one); I was also cast as a river nymph. Then, a personal crisis occurred and I lost my connection to that theatre program and my familiarity with Odin. I was not afforded an opportunity to spend as much time in libraries as I would have liked to, for research into his stories. Somewhere along the way I lost the connection, only to have it restored about ten years later.

Sacrifice, redemption, strong boundaries, and wisdom attained at a price have all been themes for me, this incarnation. I know that Odin has my highest and best in His consideration, and my pledge to him is only dangerous if I break it. I have found that even then, the consequences could always be worse. He has shown me mercy.

I held a personal dedication to him, in 2003. I had just read The Wolf and the Raven by Diana Paxson and felt that some kind of pledge was called for. I had only my intuition to go on. I kept it completely to myself because I was afraid that others might think me careless or uninformed and naive. A friend’s words of caution about Odin went unheeded. My mother already thought I was going to Hell, so I figured, I may as well dedicate to whom I felt the most comfortable.

My work with Odin is not such that I need to hold elaborate rituals for Him to please Him. He works with familiarity that I’m not certain people experience frequently. I’m not saying he’s all laughter and rainbows, it’s more like the relationship Terry Pratchett wrote about with the characters Death and Susan – I have been reluctant at times to have the God of Wisdom and War as my Father. I call, He listens. Sometimes He shows up when I don’t call, but when I need Him and don’t know it – sometimes He makes a request  from me, and other time he urges me. I have not found that he uses me merely for selfish ends, but that when I perform something for Him, that He makes sure I am taken care of.

I believe His most significant work with me so far has been to help me to find the myriad Goddess within myself. My childhood, like many women in this culture, did not teach me to honor my female-ness. I had to learn that, and Odin guided the way back to Erda, Gaia, the root Mother of All.

This is a bunch of UPG, but that’s the best I have. Diana Paxson can speak more eloquently about his lore, which she does in Drumming With the Witches

The Fathers of the World are going to be taking on a new level of responsibility, this year. The next generation, I’m talking about our children, are not going to take any crap. I can see it already, in my daughter and her peers, and she’s only had two years out in the open!

Hail the All-Father,

Hail the Steadying Hand,

Hail the Speaker of Wisdom who reaches out

When the Womb of Earth remains silent.

Thank You for keeping me close to Cosmic Mother

Thank You for Your Poetry: wind blowing through rocks,

River running over mossy stones.

Thank You for Your Wisdom: the scars of war healing into compassion.

Guard my dreams, lend me Your sight,

for I show You my best Honor.

All Hail, Father!

Earth’s Part in My Sacred Path

This is my second “E” post for the Pagan Blog Project.

Pagans today carry an ancient thread of belief from the dawn of our species’ existence: we honor the Earth as sacred.

This practice can be defined in any number of ways. For me, honoring the Earth as sacred means not only dedicating ritual actions to Her healing, but taking practical, sometimes extremely mundane (think, recycling) action to protect and heal the Earth.

Inevitably, some of what we use must be thrown away. My husband and I compost what we can, recycle what we can, and reuse what we can, but there are always those plastic wrappings, the nightly paper diaper, and so forth. Our garbage can fills up about once a week. It really makes me sick to think that some people fill up a large garbage bag more than once a day (I have seen it with my own eyes), and to think of all the landfills that are leaking toxins into the earth and water supply because it’s more convenient to toss batteries, electronics, and medications in the trash than to recycle them. Islands of trash are forming in the oceans because we can’t seem to effectively manage our waste.

I wish to share a vision that I have had, about our Our Mother Earth and the trash we keep piling onto Her body.

One day, I felt distressed by images I had seen recently of all various land fills across the globe and the Pacific trash belt, and I needed something positive to counterbalance my ecologically-based depression. I sat and cleared my mind, and reached out to the spirit of the Earth to show me how we could redeem our landfills. This didn’t come with any instructions, but now I have a chance to share it to a wider audience than just my consciousness.

Eventually, all our landfills will be sifted through, broken down into parts we can use. I have seen in my mind’s eye, when I meditate on energy to bring me peace and lift my guilt for all that I have contributed to the great trash heap, a process involving lots of heavy machinery and people in HAZMAT suits, sorting through all the bags of waste. Trash is sorted into compostable and recyclable materials, and processed by the machines into either fertilizer to be sent to community gardens, or into raw materials to build something else useful. As the landfills are cleared, people will propagate fungus on the newly cleared topsoil that will help to process the toxins in the soil.

I hope I live to see this happen. I hope that by writing this out, it lends energy to the collective mind to focus on bringing this about. SMIB.

Expressions of the Eternal

Instead of an essay, this post is a poem. This is my first “E” post for the Pagan Blog Project.

Expressions of the Eternal

We celebrate each other and ourselves,

our Divine Nature shining through our human shells.

We dance and sing, we chant and cry,

to stir the eternal Power held inside.

Face to face, heart to heart, and hand to hand,

Together in our Power we stand.

We raise the Cone, Draw Down the Moon,

From deep within, our Power blooms;

We know as we ground our magick spell,

we each are expressions of the eternal.

Oddly (or maybe not), the above poem was inspired by this song:

D is for Diet

So, going backwards, this is the D post that was supposed to happen last Friday…

Diet.

I wish to make a confession. I’ve somehow become a food fundamentalist. It goes beyond enthusiasm, to borderline fascism. I am working to step back from the edge of extremism, taking a more moderate Buddhist approach to hospitality, practicing a radical acceptance of what is offered to me, in order to preserve my relationships and my sanity. A fundamental part of my pagan path is the endeavor to live in right relationship with the Earth. My own practice of this belief has led me to obsessive label-reading when it comes to purchasing a new product. I pursue research on to what degree corporations consider environmental effects of what they produce. I avoid high fructose corn syrup and fast food like the plague (and all other fake food, for that matter). It started with being pescetarian through college, moving toward being an omnivore but eating only grass fed, free range meat, to phasing out as much canned food as reasonable and buying as much dried food in bulk as possible, eliminating the white foods (white flour, refined sugar, white rice). Still, I want to do more. I want to someday eliminate plastics from my diet, transition to getting most of my food from the land I live on, and teach other people how to move toward a more sustainable lifestyle, for themselves. To reach others, I have to keep working on being approachable, and avoid conveying to others that what they’re doing isn’t working – it all works, to some extent, but I feel beholden to the law, ‘Do No Harm’ when it comes to my choices of food. Some harm is inevitable, of course: life feeds on life, as the great philosopher M.J. Keenan once growled (see “Cry of the Carrots”). For me, a lot of doing no harm is avoiding unnecessary suffering in the process of going about life.

This ongoing transition is huge for me, considering the place from whence I started. In high school I guzzled Dr. Pepper and inhaled Doritos (mmm, MSG) with all the other teens (wondering why I had such low energy levels and couldn’t think straight in chemistry class). Over the course of the dozen years that I have claimed the Pagan Path, I’ve undergone a transformation in consciousness that has also worked to shift my habits, step by step.

I am a cradle environmentalist, not because my parents were hippies, but because as a child, I witnessed oil spills, toxic dumping, and deforestation (and maybe watched too many episodes of Captain Planet); these events horrified me. I knew even at that early age, that the things we did to the planet, we did to ourselves. These global events, plus my exposure early on to the Cherokee world view, shaped the rest of my life path. My biological family (with a few exceptions) generally practice habits that are not in alignment with my present values. Growing up, we ate a lot of canned food (my parents have shifted to eating mostly frozen food that’s still pre-cooked and possibly worse in terms of health consequences). My grandmother baked exclusively with white flour and white sugar (I didn’t learn the difference between refined grains and whole grains until a middle school science class). I remember eating a whole Big Mac to myself at age 5. I would avoid eating vegetables, opting instead for fortified cereal (except on the rare occasion I could eat out of our neighbor’s vegetable garden). When I embarked on the pagan path, I asked the Goddess to open me up to awareness of my relationship with the Earth; as a consequence, I began to see where the waste was going and where it ended up, and all the waste that went into creating the food I eat, instead of just what was there.

To me, it seems clear that the American/ Western way of life is diametrically opposed to honoring the Earth. As of the year 2000, the average American was eating almost 200 pounds of meat per year (that’s over 50 pounds more than what we ate in 1950, the steak and potatoes era!). Also in 2000, we ate almost 30 statistical pounds of cheese per man, woman, and child, and just over 85 pounds of corn-based sweeteners. Needless to say, these dietary habits are unprecedented by the rest of the world. In 2010, we consumed 31 million tons of plastic waste (12% of overall Municipal Solid Waste). To add insult to injury, we toss out 1/3 of the food that we have available to us.  There is an island of trash forming in the North Pacific because we cannot seem to comprehend the effects of our own waste. I recycle what I can, but feel thwarted when I’m given a gift wrapped in non-recyclable packaging, or buy something only to realize later it contains poison in the form of artificial coloring.

When I first started out a dozen years ago as a baby pagan, I assumed that every pagan was committed to honoring the Earth, and I had strong notions of what that meant. After all, we all ascribe to an Earth-based spiritual path, right? Needless to say, I became jaded with organized paganism in any form for many years, after encountering a group who consumed enough paper and plastic goods to keep up with the rest of our disposable culture, with no talk of change. This happened right out of high school; I became solitary for the next seven years, in part because of not having an example of pagan activism to inspire me to start my own group when I moved to a place with no significant organized pagan presence. I became cynical, thinking that all publically open pagans in my generation were just like the Sunday-Christians of my upbringing (Pagan at the sabbats, could-give-a-crap any other day). It was only when I moved to the San Francisco Bay area and discovered a coven that is openly engaged in activism and community service that I felt able to participate in group ritual again. Over time, I have begun to process a lesson I have known intellectually for a very long time: everyone is on their own healing and growing path. We all have to start somewhere, and just because a person seems lackadaisical about something on the surface, doesn’t mean they are guilt-free about their lifestyle choices underneath.

It’s emotionally difficult for me to hear people give credence to Earth-based spirituality, only to find out they make little or no conscious effort to eliminate fake foods and unnecessary waste from their diet, choosing to eat fast food because it’s convenient and guzzle soda because they ‘need the caffeine,’ with no regard to the harm they are doing to their bodies or the planet. I’ve had to work a lot on my tendencies to be sanctimonious or zealous, and I still have a lot of work to do in that department. It’s not very endearing of me to people if I give them harsh criticism, or if I cause them to feel like what they are doing ‘isn’t good enough.’ I am striving for what E.O. Wilson calls ‘dynamic disequilibrium’ (which sounds a lot like the D/Lakota concept of the Red Road – allowing good and bad to exist as they appear in your world, and not trying to veer too far in one direction or another, thus maintaining travel upon the Red Road). At the end of the day, my methods of self expression are my own, so I can’t own other people’s opinions of me, either. I can only work on walking the Red Road.

Over time, I have become rather strict with myself about what enters the Temple of My Body. I’ve encountered a need to cultivate ease and relaxation around people who are uninformed about their unhealthy diets (you would be surprised at how many of you who try to make healthy choices are really eating fake foods, or the widespread unawareness of how plastic leeches into food), rather than being judgmental of others’ choices. That said, I feel like this blog is an appropriate space to encourage people to engage in some self examination. Take a minute to calculate your carbon footprint. How could it be smaller? How much plastic do you consume? Break it down into small steps. Make more things yourself. Slow down in life. Consider your purchases – do you really need it, or just want it? Is it the most sustainable option available to you? Can you make it yourself? What do you feel you can’t live without? Are those things necessary, or are you just addicted? Be honest. Make your own private list. No one else is looking. Give yourself love and forgiveness for your transgressions against Mother Earth. Remember that just because you have everlasting love from Her, is no excuse to continue in complacency on your path of self indulgence and wastefulness.

Remember also that corporations have no other motive than to make money, and you cannot trust what they say at face value. Ask the Goddess to reveal Her Truth to you, and do your own research. 

Sources:

http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf

http://www.epa.gov/osw/conserve/materials/plastics.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Pacific_Garbage_Patch

http://www.rosenlake.net/er/Lugenbehl.html

http://www.realfooduniversity.com/paleoprimal-lifestyle-sustainable-meat-production/

http://blog.friendseat.com/food-waste-study-worldwide

C is for Creation Stories

Something I love about paganism: it is ancient and new all at once. We reconnect with our ancestors in very meaningful ways. For the people who wish to recreate the Ancient Ways down to the last detail, rituals can become bound by the limited knowledge available. My favorite reconstructionists embrace imagination, using ancient folk songs and circle dances, alongside spontaneously created acts of reverence, to make magick and loosen the bonds of limited information.

It is said by the masters, that Magick is simply powerfully focused imagination. Magick is a personal encounter with the power of our Selves to create something out of nothing. Artists of all sorts tend to be more intuitive than average because they engage in magical exercises without calling them such. Over time, we have created and collected stories, in the veins of culture, passed down from mouth-to-mind over countless generations. We told stories about everything: why the seasons change; why the rains fall; why animals have certain relationships with each other; why creatures have different attributes (ex., “How the Monkey Got His Tail”). Our imaginings paved the way for deeper understanding. We would not have complex scientific systems of theory without having sung the first ballad, created and recited the first Edda, or told the first fable. Throughout time, these stories wove a web of connections to the center of being. At the heart of this web grew the Creation Story.

The archetypal Creation Story is now a patchwork of countless cultures and tribes, some long forgotten, others more prominently known. The interwoven vines of our great ancestral Tree of Lore traces the lineage of our observational relationship with the world around us. My favorite stories are modern retellings of ancient stories that feature egalitarian relationships between God and Goddess. In my personal research, I have encountered many myths that seem to have been retold at one point by a male conqueror. I find that these stories hinder my relationship with the Deities I am trying to contact. (I would be curious to know how other people feel about those stories, whether anyone else wants to re-interpret classical Greek myth so that Zeus and Hera no longer hate each other, and so on…).

In January, I gave a talk at Skyview High school on Witchcraft, Wicca, and Paganism, and read a creation story called “The Goddess Dances the World Awake” as told by Starhawk in Circle Round. I think I can post it here, since I’m giving her the credit – you can find more from all three of the authors of Circle Round at (http://www.starhawk.org/writings/circleexcerpt.html)

The Goddess Dances the World Awake: A Creation Story
retold by Starhawk

Long ago, before anything was, the Goddess awoke alone in the vast dark and emptiness. She had as yet no name and no form, but she felt an urge to move. She stretched, she rocked, she began to dance. Whirling and twirling, she wheeled and spiraled through space.

Her dance set in motion a great wind that followed her, playing catch, trying to caress her. The Goddess danced with the wind, and the wind took form, becoming the God in the shape of a great serpent, Ophion. Ophion wrapped his coils around the Goddess, trying to become one with her, loving her with all his being.

Suddenly the Goddess felt something stirring inside her, as if her dance had come alive. Something wanted to be born. She reached out, and her arms became wings. As a giant dove, she flew aloft while Ophion coiled himself into a nest for her. She settled onto his back and laid a huge, huge egg.

Ophion guarded the egg, sheltering it from below as the Goddess brooded it from above. At last the egg cracked open and the whole universe fell out–suns and stars and galaxies, planets and moons and the green living earth, all spiraling and spinning, whirling and twirling through space in the Goddess’s dance.

So that’s how the world came to be. And the whole universe is still spiraling and spinning, whirling and twirling to this very day, in the dance of life!

Links to Creation Stories from Around the World

The University of Georgia, Department of Geology has this helpful index of creation myths from a slew of worldwide traditions: http://www.gly.uga.edu/railsback/CS/CSIndex.html

Hopi Creation Story: http://www.bigorrin.org/archive97.htm

I just found this site, but I like what I have read, so far: http://www.mother-god.com/matriarchal-history.html

What is your favorite Creation Story?