12/22/08

Submission to deity

Moon Phase: Waning Snow Moon
Sign: Scorpio
Weather: Cold, recovering from a pair of snow storms; strong winds, with sub-zero wind chill
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This was a bit of a discussion question on a pagan forum that I've decided to poke my head in at from time to time again. I've thought about it and I decided that I should cross post my reply to here, because I believe it is relevant and interesting to anyone who may be reading this blog.

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Hmm... Submission. It's such an interesting word. It can be used in so many different ways and contexts, even with respect to deities. I suppose I should address this in as complete of a way as I can, because I may manage to bungle what I'm trying to express if I leave something out. Please bear with me as I put my thoughts to paper (electrons??), because this is being written as the thoughts occur to me.

Submission is something that can not happen with out one choosing that position, in my opinion. When one is forced into a position that could be described as submissive, one is subjugated, which is an act of violence and one is then held in thralldom. Submission, on the other hand, one chooses it and can choose to leave the position as well. The distinction is made in the mind. Sure, a submissive may be in some form of bondage, but their bonds rest far lighter then those of a thrall because the submissive accepts their bonds. A thrall will resist them and when tired out from the active resistance will resent them, which is a passive resistance.

Now, putting this into the context of dealing with gods, it is my opinion that when ever one chooses to act as a vessel to convey a portion of the godhead into the world, one is submitting to the god in question. Each time a Wiccan High Priestess Draws Down the Moon or a Wiccan High Priest Draws Down the Sun, they are submitting to the associated gods. The same can be held true for any oracle who consents to serve as a mouthpiece for a deity.

I think that the popular opinion that when one subsumes their will in the face of divine will is an accurate description for submission to the divine, as well. I don't believe, however, that this is the entirety of it. When one is dealing with a person who is clearly under the influence of a deity to the extent that their personality is subsumed (I call that state god-ridden.) then choosing to place yourself into a position of subservience to the person who is god-ridden is also submission to a deity.

I believe that this last form of submission to a god is the most challenging because of the fact that it requires for the person who is engaged in submitting to the god-ridden person to have a high amount of knowledge about the person who is god-ridden and a high amount of knowledge of the deity in question. Also, it requires an enormous amount of trust.

While I am willing to engage in the first two forms as I feel appropriate, I have to say that I've only encountered a handful of occurrences that I am willing to engage in the third form of submission. I don't generally trust people enough not to fake being god-ridden for the sake of a quick power-trip. I've also encountered quite a few people who will do just that.

Now, all of this is coming from the perspective of someone who is a BDSM aficionado, preferring the Sub role most of the time.

11/8/08

Thoughts on Samhain

Moon: Waxing Snow Moon
Sign: Pisces
Weather: Mild, changeable and cloudy, seasonably cool
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Samhain has come and gone. We just completed several days of unseasonably warm weather with temperatures ranging up into the lower 70s. My birthday was yesterday and I am now 30. Somehow, over the course of the last several days, I have also found myself facing some exceptionally difficult and painful things. It has not been easy.

I question if the matters of the heart which I have been struggling with are a rite of passage in their own respect. I've had dreams of the Horned One comforting me. I've also had a dream of myself. In it, I was an old woman with a small child on my knee. The little girl looked up at me and said, "Gran-ma-ma, what did you do when your Momma didn't love you?" In the dream, I answered, "I loved her anyways. And she loved be but she wasn't good at it."

It is something that brings my mind back to love and the Lady. I may be odd, but I've come to understand that the Lady's precepts and law is very simple and it is "Love." I think I finally understand that love does not mean blindness or submitting to abuse. As heartbreaking as it is to be hurt by another in their blindness, it is far worse to submit to such treatment needlessly.

In my mind, calling abuse love is among the worst forms of blasphemy that can be expressed. Now, I'm not generally one to throw about the word blasphemy or anything else like that given the religion I practice is not one that cleaves closely to the words of some elder, strict dogma, or any other element of organized religion, where that term is used fairly regularly. I suppose when you look at this it may not be technically blasphemy, but it's quite close. Perhaps anathema is correct instead.

Quibbling over terms aside, the Lady does not want us to be fools. Yes, we're called to love unconditionally, as that is what pure love is. Unconditional love, however, does not make us a slave to the one we love. Unconditional love does not excuse abuse or condone it.

11/5/08

Waxing Mourning Moon & Memories

Moon: Waxing Mourning Moon
Sign: Aquarius
Weather: Unseasonably mild, high thin clouds
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I don't know why I did it but I looked at her blog. A part of my heart broke as I looked and read. It was as though I could hear her voice again as it sounded in life, not that strange whisper of clairaudience that I hear now when she visits me. I looked at it and I wanted to cry.

I miss her so much. So many words left unsaid. So many things that I wanted to share with her but it just doesn't work well now that she is no longer here walking the green earth with me. Oh, I suppose I could tell her everything I wanted to say but I can't ever feel her arms around me, see her smile, or listen to her laugh with that husky, rich laugh that she has after she's drunk a bit too much coffee and snuck a cigarette or two.

They say that we have soul mates and kindred spirits. I believe she was one of mine. I believe that she was a long lost soul sister of mine whom I wish I had met long before she came into life a few years ago. I cherish the memory of her laugh and everything about her. I'm struggling to live with the courage that she thought I had. It's so hard when you realize that everything about a friend is gone except for the echo of their life.

That spark, that essence of them is not here anymore. It's across the veil. And as close as they can come to us, they can never fully reach us except with heroic effort and some cost to them. So, I sit here and I mourn. I struggle with tears that refuse to be shed and this lost, confused sense of hope. I know we will meet again in the green fields of the Otherworld. We'll laugh and talk of my son and our husbands. But right now, I just want to weep because I can't hear her voice.

And the pain of her bodily absence from my life deadens my ear and senses to her presence on the otherside. Though I'm sure she knows I am there and grieves for me even as I grieve for her, as she always seemed to know my pain even though we didn't know each other for very long on this earth.

10/25/08

A few thoughts and a dream of the Horned One

Moon phase: Waning Blood Moon, approx. 2 days before New Snow Moon
Moon sign: Virgo
Weather: Seasonably cool, cloudy, and fair amount of rain

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It's been a difficult, difficult several days.

Full moon came and went. I've been torn between illness and feeling so damn depressed that I can't clearly remember what I did that night. I know that I did something, but I can't recall what. This is what comes of my forgetting to update any blog, journal, or anything else in a timely manner, I suppose.

Samhain is coming fast. With it comes a great deal of very hard emotional work. It's ironic that the waning moon is in Virgo. I've been struggling so very much with matters of home, heritage, and family, as well as my femininity. With this waning moon, I can tell that things are being cleared away. Blockages are being removed and unhealthy bonds are getting severed. I've taken steps to remove myself from unhealthy situations and I have been progressing forward. Quite possibly at a rapid rate.

But if I'm making such successful headway, why do I hurt so very much?

I don't know what Samhain will bring. I do know, however, that all of this is going to come to a head and will reach the point of resolution. I'm welcoming that, because I'm tired of this pain that's always been lurking beneath my skin and deep within my soul.

I need to face the Dark Mother and the Horned One. I need to do it to free myself from the past, but I'm afraid to do so. Fear, however, has not stopped me from doing what I needed to in the past.

I've had this dream several times over the last few days. I was an infant or a small child, cradled in the arms of the Horned One. As he held me, I felt safe and unafraid. The scents of the deep forest were all around us and I only saw darkness, except for him. He was illuminated as a person would be under the full moon that's covered by shadow at one time or illuminated as a person would be only by star light with a new moon. In the dream, he simply held me and rocked me.

I think that his comfort is what I needed to get thru the last several days as the realizations had been getting ready to break thru. I know that there is something more waiting, but I'm not sure what. It'll be revealed soon, I think. I just wish I could hold that calm feeling of safety and being unafraid, being at peace, within my heart as I moved forward thru all of this. So much fear, pain, and confusion have been bubbling up when I haven't been stuck with the misery and fustration of being ill recently.

10/12/08

Waxing moon, waxing challenges.

Moon phase: Gibbous waxing, one day before full
Moon sign: Pisces
Weather: Unseasonably warm, fair skies and mildly humid.
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As the moon has transitioned closer to full, I've found the challenges in my life has increased and more illumination has been shed on my weaknesses. As the month where Samhain falls is generally the month were much of the work one engages in over the year comes to completion, I recognize that this month is going to be quite challenging. I'm not exactly enjoying it, but I understand and accept it. It's easier when you accept the reality of the challenges before you then it is to try to run from them.

This said, I'm unsure what exactly I should do when it comes to engaging in magical work for this month. It's been a hard debate as to if I should actively engage in magic for my Aunt's bit of a problem. She has a love struck individual who is quite infatuated with her and her feelings for him are only friendship. It's made things somewhat uncomfortable and she's asked me to cast something to help him find someone who he will have his affections returned in the same fashion and be happy with.

Since the disasters that I've witnessed with respect to love magic, I generally try to avoid any of it. Most people are asking for one thing and wanting something entirely different. Only rarely does it work in the way that's what is desired and in those cases it is because desire and will are aligned to make it happen. I find it difficult to agree to do a spell for some one else on the matter of love because of the challenges that get additionally entangled if a third party is doing something on this front.

With every spell that one does, they will entangle themselves into it as well. I've observed over the years that, for example, if you bind someone against certain behaviors, you in turn bind yourself against them. It is a sympathetic restriction that serves to help reinforce the focus. Most people don't realize this reciprocal element of magic. It makes the question of what to cast and how to cast it become more important to any given Witch.

It also makes the question of what you're ethics say about your spell work a much larger one. I'm currently wrestling with that one right now. As I've been thinking about it, I'm tending towards casting one specific thing. Something to bring them each a healthy, loving relationship, that will support them in completing the things that they must engage in on their respective Life Paths. It would be something that can resolve the discomfort of both individuals and promotes their well-being. It also is something that I'm willing to do because it serves to reinforce what I've been working on here for myself.

Then there is the other matter that I'm struggling with. I'll write about that in a little bit, as I've a few household things to attend to. I suspect, however, there is going to be quite a few comments and thoughts murmured about in response to this next post.

10/1/08

Just some rambling.

I'm going to probably wander around thru a few different things. If it's difficult to follow, don't worry about it. I'm having a hard time keeping it all straight in my head right now too. I think it's part of the reason why I've been feeling alternately anxious and on edge of late. The first thing that comes to mind is I don't know how to do what my spirit is pushing me to do.

Nothing's worse then feeling called to take actions that can directly place yourself or those around you in difficult positions. It's one thing if I had just myself to be concerned with. But I've got a husband and a son who could be affected by the social backlash. I mean, I'm openly practicing witchcraft and the rumor mill has started flying on this. It makes it fairly clear that if I start engaging in more service to the community oriented activity, I really shouldn't mention my spirituality or faith. After all, people around this little podunk town aren't really going to understand, appreciate, or even accept it.

Nope, it'll be more of the 'Didn't you know? She's a devil worshipper and she probably molests that little boy of hers!' kind of bullshit. It doesn't exactly make me have warm fuzzies at the thought of going out and helping the community at large, publishing anything on a large scale, or doing any thing along the lines of public education about this misunderstood belief system. I mean, how can I put my husband in that position of potential risk? Sure, his boss is a nice guy but small town politics could end up in such a fashion where the man gets flack from the busy bodies, who just happen to have a stranglehold on the local political scene and it could end up in my husband losing his job all because I started to make some waves by doing the right thing. It'd be one thing if I was Christian or one of the more accepted alternative faiths.

I think that's been my big hinderance right now. I'm used to people giving me shit. It's just something that I kinda had to deal with for years. But... Now, I've got my boy who can either become a target or a victim of the kind of bullshit that resulted in things like my property getting vandalized and my best friend harassed. Shit like that is horribly wrong and too many people turn a blind eye to it. No matter how good and decent people like to say small town America is, there's is always the old boy's network dark-side of those little towns and the misfits are the ones who get shit from 'em for simply being there. But I can't push this stuff aside much longer. It's crushing my spirit and making me get progressively more upset and anxious.

Then I've got this other thing that just keeps running around in my head over the last week or so. The person who this is directed at knows who they are so I'm not going to mention names. This is driving me nuts! It's obvious she's in love with you and I think she's too blind to see that love is reciprocated. I think that the thing stopping her is the deep fear that comitting to expressing that love directly is going to kill the friendship and possibly drive you away from her. Please, please don't make the mistake that I almost did. Don't let the opportunity infront of you slip away because you're too worried that she's going to be scared off by what you feel for her.

She loves you for who you are, she always has! Gods only know how rare that is in this life. Grab a hold of that love and hold on to it for everything you can, because it is exactly the same kind of love that's between my husband and I. I can tell you right now, that love has kept me alive when I was so depressed I was on the verge of killing myself. It has sustained me in my darkest hours and I thank the gods for the kindness that has granted me to have that love in my life. Loving from a distance is a living hell, especially when there is that kind of soul wrenching force of emotion there burning inside you.

I'm infatuated. I lust. I'll admit, I may obsess a little at times. But it was obvious to me when I saw the two of you together, no one on this Earth could hold a candle to her in your eyes. Love like that is sacred. It is blessed and you need to seize it before life slips it away from you. Our lives are too ephemeral, too short... They aren't enough to contain that potential indefinately or to hold that kind of blessing in waiting.

Why have my readings for you been just strange and confusing on this front, because you're looking at all of the paths except for the one that you're on. This isn't something that you're supposed to fight. The more you fight it the more miserable you become until you either give in, are forced into it, or you are destroyed. I've seen people fight their life path and I've seen them destroyed by it. Good things came to them but they refused them because they didn't come in the package they thought they were supposed to. Genuine and wonderful things came into their lives, but they were pushed aside as trivial because they were familiar.

Please, for the love of anything you hold sacred, don't make that mistake.

9/29/08

Raising a witch?

Moon Phase: New Blood Moon
Moon Sign: Libra
Weather: Seasonal, overcast with a threat of rain and humid
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As I sat with my son this morning and read to him, I was rather delighted to see that he is showing a lively interest in books. It particularly struck me, however, that he loved to listen to me chanting some of the Wiccan chants that I know and use occasionally. We just sat and rocked as I chanted a few different ones. He especially enjoyed We All Come From the Goddess and The Earth is Our Mother. It is my hope that when he gets a little older, he will perhaps have an interest in witchcraft.

I can't say that I'm 'raising' him to be a witch. I detest the concept of forcing religion upon a child. While I agree that children do need to have structure to build from and grow with intellectually and spiritually, I can't condone forcing religion upon them. As such, I've been taking a careful look at how I want to approach this topic. My dear husband has told me that he trusts my judgment and is going to follow my lead on this matter. While witchcraft may shape elements of how we raise him, I believe I'm going to keep as many of the options for him to explore open as I can.

When he gets older, I won't be disappointed or upset if he chooses to practice a different religion then myself or his father. I may be upset if he decides that his politics or his religious beliefs are going to come between him and us, but I can't say that I'll have any control over that. What I want is for him to find the path in his life that helps him to grow to be the best person he possibly can be and to find something in his life that gives him stability within himself. Some people find that within witchcraft and others find it in atheisim. While he's little, however, witchcraft can act as a proving ground and a place for him to learn.

So, he may be raised with witchcraft around him and he may choose to continue it as he gets older, but I don't think I can 'make' him be a witch anymore then my neighbors can 'make' me be Christian.

9/22/08

Blessed Mabon, everyone!

Moon Phase: Last Quarter Wine Moon
Moon Sign: Cancer
Weather: Clear, above normal temperatures, mildly humid
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It is Mabon and it feels like the year has flown by and yet it has also dragged out. So many, many things have manifested this year that I set into motion earlier that I've been a bit overwhelmed. I think it is safe to say that this year has been a highly successful one for my magic focused efforts. Some of the manifestations I'm not pleased with, but it is because I recognize that my focus was improperly directed. The spells worked but since I didn't target them right, I didn't get the result that was as I needed, but rather what I desired at the time.

Let that be a warning to any neophyte witches reading this; you really do need to be careful what you ask for because you will get it.

The rather large and difficult magic focused upon becoming more genuine to who I am and stripping away the hinderances to my doing the work I am supposed to in this life has been... well, difficult. A great many of the comfortable lies that I've told myself over the years have successively shattered. And many of the qualities that I've been uncomfortable with about myself... well, I'm finding myself forced to examine them and make peace with them. It is not easy to take on such a challenge, but I recognize that it is something that I need to do for the sake of myself, my marriage, and my child.

I think that the most challenging part of having that particular bit of magic manifest is dealing with the very large fear of rejection and of being assaulted for what I am doing. It was a long and difficult road to get to where I could openly wear my pentacle in public with out the urge to hide it beneath my shirt at the first scowl that I saw. With continued effort, I know that I will be able to face down my other fears even as I build an environment that is safe and protect my child from harassment akin to what I faced in my childhood and teenage years.

The funny thing is the same harassment that I faced from people outside of the Craft I have also faced within the Craft for the way that I approach witchcraft and the entire direction that I've been moving in. It has made the entire thought of writing about the tradition I'm practicing rather terrifying for me. The safe and comfortable anonyminity of a blog or random posts on message forums makes the confrontations strictly verbal and at a relatively safe distance.

I have found, however, that the initial pull I felt at 18 has grown stronger and I need to write. I suppose this is part of the process of engaging in the work I am supposed to, I am not sure. But I know for certain that I can't push it aside anymore. I just hope that this will not result in too much difficulty for my family. After all, witches are not exactly popular in my neck of the woods despite all of the proclaimed religious tolerance of the community. I've been accused several times of being a devil worshipper on the basis of my jewelery (which is quite tasteful and discreet). Fortunately, the vast majority of the hostility has been diffused thru a quick and educational conversation.

It did make me chuckle, however, when one person walked away saying, "Wow, now I can tell people that I really do know a witch! And she's pretty cool!" Some of my neighbors are pretty funny! :)

But, just as I have been taking stock of how my herb bed has done and reviewing how things have progressed with my flowers, I am seriously looking at how harvest is coming in in things like my magical efforts and such. So far, I think the harvest is shaping up well, despite the bit of a problem I had with depression over a large chunk of this summer.

9/10/08

Dreams and reality.

Moon Phase: Gibbous Waxing Wine Moon (6 days from Full)
Moon Sign: Void of Course between Capricorn & Aquarius
Weather: Clear, slightly cool, some high clouds and a few 'cotton-ball' clouds, light breeze

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Last night I had a dream that I was at Lilydale. As I was there, one of my paternal aunts, the one who is a witch, walked up to me. She placed a hand on either of my shoulders and looked me intently in the face. In the dream, she was a few years younger then myself. As we were there, her wife was dying. My aunt said to me: "You're now the High Priestess. But you can't do it yet until you've been given the sacraments."

She said, "This is for your initiation." Then a garland of pumpkin orange hibiscus flowers (with midnight blue stamens) nearly as long as I was tall were wrapped about my waist, some how becoming only long enough to do so. We moved, somehow, to a park setting that I had seen in quite a few of my other dreams before. A garland of vivid, almost technicolor red hibiscus flowers (with pure white stamens) and red poppies was set on my head. As she did so, she said, "This is for your handfasting. Even though he's not here, it doesn't matter. It's after the fact anyways."

As she took a sky blue ribbon and cut it, we moved to the field behind the steel barn on my Grandfather's farm. Standing there among the Queen Anne's Lace, chickweed, and burdock, she put the four to six inch length of ribbon in my hand. Then, we were on the front porch of their house as it was before they remodled (over 15 years ago). She said to me, "You know the rituals and rites. You probably won't need this." She then handed me an inch thick booklet of papers that were printed off from her computer.

My dead Aunt, her wife, was in the midst of saying something to me as a couple approached me to be handfasted. Her face and form seemed to blur, like looking at something at the bottom of a clear pool of water and a series of waves rippled across it. Only one thing came clearly to me as I woke from this dream: "You're the High Priestess."

To say the least, I was perplexed by this dream. When I have dreams like this and wake with part of the dream still before my eyes, I know that something is wrong with some one I know. Somehow, I knew that something was wrong with my friend Rose. I had assumed that it was a simple matter of illness and I'd hear later. Then, a few hours ago, I get a phone call telling me that she died in her sleep last night.

It didn't surprise me. I find myself feeling confused and yet understanding the vision I had almost two years ago of her surrounded by children in a few years from now. It is when she'll be reincarnated. I don't know why I was shown that, but everytime I think of the vision, I can see it. She is sitting crosslegged on a white blanket in a brilliantly lit room. All around here are various small children and she is happy. And she is dressed in white with a blue stripe running along the hem of the shirt.

Am I in shock right now? Or did I expect for this to happen? I don't know. I only know that the coven she ran with our mutual friend David is even more stricken. First, in May, with the fire, came a terrible emotional blow. Then with the diagosis of her illness back almost two months ago, I can't be sure if it was one or two months ago now she was diagnosed, came another. Now, the third thing has come, her death. I feel horrible for her widowed husband. The man woke in the morning to find the love of his life lying dead beside him. I'm fairly sure that he tried to breathe life back into her cold lips and it is my sincere prayer that he does not curse himself for not waking earlier.

He is living one of my nightmares. Gods, please be kind and give him all of the aid he needs in this hour. He has lost everything.

9/7/08

Thoughts for Harvest tide

Moon Phase: First Quarter Wine Moon
Moon Sign: Sagittarius
Weather: Clear, cool and humid.
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Lughnassadh has come and gone. My son's first birthday has come and gone, as has my husband and mine fourth wedding anniversary. In our home, I find myself looking about and questioning what manner of harvest I'm taking in this year. I can't help some of the feelings of bitterness coming to me as I review this.

The home we're living in was the one that I found to be a wonderful prospect for us to move into. It's since failed to live up to that hope and I'm finding myself rather disenchanted with it. Here it is, September, and we're not unpacked and there's many points about this place that I simply can not stand or am troubled by the potential safety concerns to my son. Even as I have made headway in dealing with the management of this apartment complex on getting these things resolved, I'm still struggling with the feeling of regret. I hate to admit it, but it seems to be leading into depression again.

I'm thankful for my son's health and well being. He's grown so very, very much over the last year. The burgeoning toddlerhood is making itself known in fits of temperamental behavior and assertiveness. I try to cherish it, but it is difficult. Even in the face of that challenge, however, I have to say that I am delighted that my son is becoming more independent and self-sufficent. It is not that I desire for him to be a full grown man in this time so I don't need to concern myself with his needs. It is a wonderful thing to watch him grow and develop. I feel profoundly blessed and humbled to witness this ordinary miracle.

The magic that I cast back at Imboleg and the efforts I have been engaging in to support that change within myself are making themselves evident. Some of this process has not been easy and even somewhat painful. However, letting go the disingenous habits I have acquired and the similar traits that I've attempted to force upon myself are in my best interests. As such, I shall, as the expression goes, thole and deal with it as best I can.

Oddly enough, I am finding that among the things being revealed to me about myself is how closely what I was raised with and how I look at the world resemble Asatru. Specifically, the Virtues upheld. I was particularly struck by the Virtues of Courage, Truth, and Hospitality. It was, however, when I came to the realization that an expression which has shaped my world-view could have been uttered by one whom is Asatru that I was taken aback.

That expression is:

It is better to give too little then to give too much.

That little expression among many others that I've encountered and found myself holding onto generally fit well into this picture of life as painted by that religion. I have also found things that I desperately needed to have been taught as a girl because they are crucial elements of that worldview which was instilled in me by my parents but in a flawed fashion. Particularly was the matter taught thru the rune Gyfu and the virtue of perserverance.

Gyfu, the rune of Joy is detailed by Ragnar Storyteller in this fashion:

Rune WUNJO ----- Joyfulness over Guilt.

We take pleasure in being human.

There is no shame or guilt about our sexuality, our strength or our greatness.

Upon the matter of the virtue of preserverance:
We hold to our path until its completion and are not ashamed to be strong.
In the two of these, I find a third thing which is surprisingly comforting. This third idea is that what gains we have made in our lives, be it wealth or anything else which others may envy, we shouldn't be ashamed of.

6/18/08

The hands of the Gods.

Moon: Waxing Moon (one day away from Full), Sagittarius
Weather: Cool, humid and partially cloudy
~*~*~*~*~*~*~

As I've spoken to several of the witches I know, it's been coming to light that a great deal of strange things have been happening of late. The strange dreams I've been having, like the one I recounted earlier, coupled with the unexpected and odd difficulties that have been happening are all combining to make me believe that the hands of the gods are at work here.

Now, some may say that divine intervention or a miracle is a wonderful thing. I would argue that the value of such an experience is subjective and it can only be defined as an event of an origin that appears to be from the gods. Divine intervention happens every day in my opinion and it can be either for or against our interests. It can also not even touch us at all.

Sometimes, I suspect, those of us who are sensitive to changes on the spiritual level of things can get a whiff of those changes on the way. We can, I believe, also tell when the gods are at work on something. I believe that they are working on something now, something big and that I'm going to be one of many people who are caught up in serving as vehicles of the will of the gods.

I've been in that position. It's never entirely comfortable. It's actually fairly unnerving when the words come a little too easily and the actions flow more smoothly then you think it possible. Sure, it can be a wonderfully liberating experience, but it also feels as unnerving and uncomfortable as hydroplaning or getting caught on black ice at 55 miles per hour.

Still, I agreed to serve as a mouthpeice of the gods as I threw myself into the trade of learning divination. Such as it is, I hope that nothing too horribly life altering in a negative fashion happens. I always worry that it will, even though at the far side of the experience it always shows to be a good thing. Perhaps I should trust this entire arrangement more. It's rather difficult to do, however, when the gods of chaos are about and think that you're a 'good kid and could use a little help.'

After all, the gods do not think as men do. What they think is helping and what we think of as helping can be two dramatically different things. Maybe we'll get lucky and have a meeting of the minds this time.

6/12/08

Dreams of Ragnarok?

My husband and I both has bizarre dreams last night. When I woke, all I could think was that I had a dream about Ragnarok and I said so. My husband said in an uncertian voice "I think I did too." I'm putting this up here and out on the internet to see if anyone else had simmilar dreams last night.

I dreamt of flooding and a great deal of strife. It wasn't flooding like what is going on in the Midwest right now. It was not the flooding where water explodes up out of the sewer and water mains under the street in great towering geysers, like in some movies. Nope, this flooding was buildings filling up with water and then the doors bursting open to gorge the flood waters into the streets with the dead, dying and struggling people in them.

In this dream, I had, I was repeatedly separated from my husband, at times with my infant son with me and at other times my son was with my husband. Each time, I told the person separating us that I would go but I would continue to love my husband. This theme persisted thru the dream, even as strange combats were faced and even stranger conflicts that managed to some how affect the world at large though they were immediate and local.

At the end of the dream, the flooding had stopped and I was walking along a broken tree on the ground. It was an enormous tree that had been felled due to the storm damage, for along with the main portion of the tree I could see that there was tree rot thru the tree. Now, as I walked along the tree, I saw flashes of the events that had occurred earlier in the dream and other events that seemingly were within the same time frame. Snow had been falling and over the mud there was a lacy layer I had been walking on prior to walking on the tree.

Suddenly, things changed and I was standing in the upper branches of another tree. It was Christmas/Yule and there, in the tree with me, were eight generations of reindeer, eight to a generation (each generation back a greater multiple of eight, actually). They were arranged in a Penrose triange with one at the head, three, then five for the first grouping, followed by the next multiple and so forth. The final part of each grouping turned as a line to look at me and say,

"We don't move until it's time. We don't move until she's ready. You don't move until it's time."

They then began to move forward off of the branches before me until the sleigh went past. Along the outside of the traces that the deer were hitched in, there were christmas tree lights for running lights, lit by their own power and the deer weren't moving of their own accord, but standing and just moving forward like on some kind of moving sidewalk. As the sleigh went past, Santa Clause looked over and it wasn't Santa Clause. At first, it was Odin dressed as Santa, which struck me as weird. Then it became Loki who said to me, "You survived. Everything's changed."

Meanwhile, down below the tree, people were celebrating and happy. I knew that my husband was at work and the baby was asleep in his crib. Even the dead had been returned to life and health, celebrating and joyous. My husband, who was at work, would be finished soon and I'd be home with him and the boy in a moment. This was all my certian knowledge, even as a part of me was insisting that the entire dream was strange and some kind of message. But, as Loki said, "Everything's changed," I woke. He was smiling rather benevolently and amusedly, as though having given me some kind of odd puzzle to figure out and a happy present at the same time.

So, when I woke and I announced that I had a dream about Raganarok and my husband said that he thought that he did to, I began to tell him this dream of mine. At which point he stopped me and told me that he also had a chaotic dream of flooding, but it was very strange flooding. He couldn't remember all the details, but at the end of the dream, he was at work pulling parts out of a computer that they needed to continue to work properly before the flood waters rose enough to do damage to them.

I wonder what this means. We don't usually have dreams the slightest bit simmilar, and it's highly irregular that the correspond as strongly as they did.

5/20/08

A candidate for the World Tree.


Moon: Full Flower, Scorpio
Weather: Fair skies, unseasonably cold, risk of frost
~*~*~*~*~*~

I believe that this image could be a fine prospect for a modern rendition of the World Tree, upon which hung Odin for nine days and nine nights as a sacrifice by himself to himself.

Look up "Tree of Art" and you'll find images of the carvings that cover this tree. It is, to say the least, amazing.

5/16/08

Dreamwalking

Moon: Gibbous Blossom Moon (2 days from full); Sign of Cancer
Weather: Cool, cloudy, and intermittent rain, under a low pressure system, with the remnants of that cool front that passed thru last night still around.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Dreamwalking, you may have heard the term before. If I've spoken to you personally about some of the 'witchy' stuff that I do, it may have even come up in conversation. I figured I'd just put out there what exactly this activity is.

When I say that I've been dreamwalking, I'm referring to one of two things:
  1. Astral projection while sleeping.
  2. Astral projection into the dreams of another person.
I have recognized over the years that the mind has considerable power in this state because it is fruit borne entirely of the mental flexibility of the practitioner. It is possible to present yourself in any number of ways when you are dreamwalking and even to impersonate others. Your mannerisims, however, usually give you away unless you make a close study of the person whom you are going to impersonate.

In last night's dreamwalking experience, I found myself encountering a friend of mine. He was rather surprised by how I had chosen to present myself. When I dreamwalk, I don't initially begin the experience dressed in robes, jeans, or anything else. Initially, I appear nude because I do not identify myself very strongly with individual garments that I own. Some people, when the engage in astral projection will envision themselves dressed in clothing. I think that's due to some sense of discomfort when they are nude and possibly a touch of self deception to hide from bodily 'flaws' that they feel they have.

I don't engage in that because I don't even stop to consider something like that. Instead, I just focus on being present. As a result, my mental efforts are not going to grant me clothing when I intially enter into the appropriate state for astral projection. (If you're wondering, yes, there is a *lot* of visualization applied in these practices.) As I recognize that when I engage in astral projection, it is possible for others to see me on that plane/level/realm/(what term are we using today?), I will either decide to envision myself clothed in what I am wearing at the time or do something different.

Most frequently, I will simply grasp some of the shadows that are about me when I engage in this and draw them about me to form my clothing. At other times, I will grasp and draw about me mist or something else, even something such as light that I see with my mind's eye there around me. This startled my friend because I don't believe it was something he'd encountered. I suspect that not many folks stop to think about the implications that your mind can affect the area about you when you engage in astral projection. The greater force of will you apply, the more of the area you can affect.

A fine example of this can be seen in some of the final scenes of that movie which was so popular several years ago. I believe it was called The Cell. It is possible, also to affect others in their dreams. The scene where the psychologist confronts the serial killer after bringing him into her mind is a fairly good visualization of a conflict between two people over a setting and other elements that come with dreamwalking.

Can you kill another person via dreamwalking? No, I don't believe so. If it were possible, then there would be a man that would be dead several times over for the times that he's walked into my dreams and attempted to assault me. I do think, however, it is possible to come away feeling poorly from the experience. It is a question of how much weight you give to it and that you allow it on you in your waking life.

You can choose how the situation unfolds, even kick another person out of the dream that has walked in. It is all a question of how you direct your will.

And, as Herr Freud said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. It takes a great deal of patience and self-knowledge to determine what traits are markers of dreams where you've actually been dreamwalking or interacted with some one who has walked into your dream. It does, in my opinion, however, indicate the prospect of one having the capacity for telepathy. That is a different topic for a different post, though.

5/7/08

Beltain Fires

Moon: Waxing Blossom Moon, Gemini
Weather: Clear skies, mild. Some cloud cover expected later as a cool front begins to enter the area this evening. Possibly unseasonably warm today, meteorologists hesitantly said it may get up to 80 degrees F.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

At Beltain, a fire was often built by the ancient Celts to ward off illness. This fire was known as a need-fire by mythologists. One of the fire-festivals, Beltain not only had need-fires lit as part of the observances of the day but fires that were also dedicated to a solar deity. Or at least, this is the popular theory for why the bonfires were lit on this day by the ancient Celts. Wicca generally celebrates this holiday as a combination of the German witches' Walspurgis Night and the Celtic Beltain, usually on the first of May.

The focus upon fertility and certian popular ritual elements, such as Dancing the Maypole, come from the Germanic origins. The lighting of fires and reconing this as the beginning of Summer is derived from the Celtic cultures. Generally, Beltain is viewed as a celebration of the earthy pleasures of life, ranging from sexuality to food. It is considered by many traditions to be the day to celebrate the union of the God and Goddess of Wicca, as well. All of this, however, is not the focus of my post here today. It, rather, serves as context for the real content of my post and I am now going to move away from this to a somewhat odd direction, but you'll see how I tie all this together.

Last Sunday, I was going to go to a ritual to celebrate Beltain with some very dear friends of mine. That ritual, however, did not happen as planned. For, you see, the night before their home caught fire and burnt down. They were lucy to escape with their lives, but they lost everything. Sadly, they were unable to rescue their beloved pets (two cats and a quite aged rat). It was odd a few days before the master of the house had said that bringing my infant son to the ritual would not be a problem because there was "not going to be any huge bonfires to worry about." I thought that was rather odd phrasing at the time, but now I look back on it and question if there was something of a premonition there.

To say the least, they are devestated and feeling a mixture of things ranging from relief that they are alive to guilt and self recrimination. My friends, even as they are struggling to plan how they will move forward, are struggling to understand why this tragic accident befell them. Right now, they see only loss. I really can't say a word to begin to even approach that issue, though I see something odd about this entire situation.

Sometimes, we have events happen in our lives that are major points of change in our lives that are seemingly destined to happen. We may have flashes of intuition of them before they occur and we may heed those warnings, or we may put them aside as just strange accidents. Over the last several years, perhaps longer I am not sure, there has been some kind of odd incident involving fire surrounding Beltain for these people and the coven that they are a part of. One year, the oven functionally blows up that day (which is very strange considering that was an electric oven) and then another year, all of the candles burn unusually fast and hot. Yet another year, people were some how burned by the candles for the ritual and prior to the ritual there was something of a rash of minor burns to people who were cooking food to have at the post ritual dinner. As I look back over the last several years that I've known this coven, I see that each Beltain, something went strange with fire.

I think that perhaps they could have been warnings of this year's fire, or indications of something different. I'm not sure. I am inclined to say, however, that they were precursors to this year's fire and a bit of preparation for the message that was supposed to come out of it. As the person who was not part of the situation, I recognize that my statements here sound terribly callous. It, however, is not my intent to offend. I apologize if I have or manage to do so as I proceed.

Now, I look at all of this and I have to say that the fire this year which burned down the home of my dear friends is a continuation of the pattern established from prior years. (I think I can include the top popping off of an oxygen bottle as people were smoking at the dinner after last year's ritual as part of the list of Beltain fire incidents, by the way.) I don't know for certain if they are part of a series of warnings, but I think they placed the ground work for a very large, life changing event, as happened here. I also think that this life changing event is one that was going to happen no matter what actions occured the day before the fire or years before it. I suspect that this is the hand of the gods at work here or destiny, which ever you prefer.

It may sound strange to say that. It most definately is not what one expects to come from the gods whom are supposed to be benevolently inclined towards their worshippers. Heck, it's a very bizzare event to occur just about a week after I had given the mistress of the house a birthday gift that included a home blessing for prosperity and protection as part of a belated birthday gift. As I look back on this situation, I think my intuition prompted me to make that home blessing and protection charm as this fire was coming because I felt that it was needed. Heck, the fire orginated in the kitchen and my intuition told me to make something that would go in the kitchen.

I see in this situation, however, that they are going to rise up like a pheonix. Pheonixes are rather special to me. I identify quite strongly with them. They are a powerful symbol of rebirth and continuance. They also signify great triumph over adversity. I see this here singifying their strength and a renewal. In this fire, I feel something very large at work in their lives to force them to recognize just how powerful they are. I don't know what else is at play here, but this fire is no ordinary fire. It is a continuation of the fire magic that was done on Imbolc, and I suspect that there will be additional echoes of that fire magic of change and renewal is going to manifest until Samhain.

My intuition tells me that they're being given something far larger then everything they lost, though they can't see it yet or feel it's presence yet in their lives. Once the shock has worn away and they have completed the grieving process, I think they will see it. Their old life was cleared away for a purpose. Such a dramatic severing ensures that they can not return to the past, despite how ever tempting it may be. It would have come even if the fire hadn't happened. It may have come via a car accident or something else of a crisis. And my intuition tells me that it would have come at Beltain anyways. This is the largest of the fire festivals and it is the time where the vast majority of fire magic is performed. This also, I know, is when the Gentry begins to set to work on things as well.

And I know that my friends are going to feel that presence quite strongly as well, for the Good Folk are highly inclined towards them. Help is going to come to them from strange places, but I know it will be appreciated, even as it brings confusion. I just wish I knew what I could do to help them. This is not the end but rather the end of a beginning, despite all of that loss and destruction that surrounds them.

4/30/08

Tarot Meditation: Justice Reversed

First off, I'd like to say that I really enjoy the option of just clicking on a free website for a quickie reading. I enjoy Facade because they've got alot more decks then I have and I can still interpret the cards myself if I wish.

I've been experiencing a little difficulty of late. So, I decided that I'd go the route of using Facade to get a quick one card reading. It's in some ways the same as a professional hair dresser using a box of hair dye from the drug store to dye their hair. It's not going to have the same polished elegance and such as going to a professional for the service. You may have to do the work yourself, or at least a fair amount of it. And there's a chance that it may not come out quite as well as it would if a professional had done it, but it's also quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive.

And, well, some days, I'm just lazy when it comes to myself. Anyways, I decided to go for a single card reading and get a little clarification of just what my challenge is right now. And what do I find but Justice reversed. It wasn't exactly a happy find, but I wasn't horribly surprised.

Justice is a card that, amusingly enough, is one of two that I have had associated with me via numerology. The other card is Temperance, but that is a different topic. But, as I was saying, so I have Justice reversed for my one card summary of it all. It's not a huge surprise because my life has been terribly out of balance, off kilter, how ever you choose to express it. Any way you slice it, I've been having difficulty keeping just about everything straight in my mind. I recognize that my emotions have been clouding my mind far too much to allow me to remain at a reserved and analytical distance from it all.

It's funny in a little way that this card popped up to describe the situation. It also kinda indicates what I need to do to get everything under control. Take the emotion out of it and just look at things from a factual perspective. I've never been that good at that with my own life, but it is a skill that I need to exercise on a somewhat regular occasion. It looks like I've hit another point where I need to do so. Here's hoping that the card is indicating that it will not be too difficult for me to do so, right?

4/29/08

Strange dreams.

Moon: 3rd Quarter, Waning Gibbous Worm Moon; sign- Aquarius
Weather: Cloudy, moderate chance of precipitation, unseasonably cool
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I've been having strange dreams again. The one I had last night has left me feeling a bit disturbed. I honestly don't know what to say about it. I'm posting it up here because perhaps the people out here upon the internet have some kind of idea as to what this could possibly be. Because I'm stumped.

I dreamt that I had a small infection in my hand. As I probed it, I found what appeared to be a sliver that looked like a very thin bit of driftwood or ivory, or perhaps a fish bone. It was situated within a fold of skin. As I opened the fold of skin, more of this sliver became visible and I decided to expose as much of the sliver as I could to make it easy to pull it out. Soon, I exposed a small ring of similar slivers. I then found that at the base of these slivers were tiny fingers.

I next then found myself looking at my feet and my doctor was explaining that this was because i had absorbed my twin in utero. My joints in my toes were odd because I actually had extra bones in them from my twin's feet.

The thing that was strangest and most disturbing was that the tiny fingers had a sinister feeling to them, if that's possible. With these long, pin thin nails that stood up like porqupine quills from my hand once they were revealed in the joint between the thumb and forefinger.

I don't know what to make of it, but it's been at the back of my mind all day.

4/20/08

Thoughts.

Moon: Full Worm, Scorpio
Weather: Unseasonably warm, intermittant rain
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Sometimes, messages come to us from unexpected places. Sometimes, the messages are ones that have been getting thrown to us many, many times now but we attempted to deny them.

I know that I have a purpose and that I have agreed to do something important with my life.

I know that I am afraid... no, terrified of doing this.

I also know that my fears are inconsequential because no one can judge me for what I do.

After all, who judges us on how we live our lives and do so with out proving themselves a hypocrite?

It doesn't stop me, however, from feeling this fear.

Here, I try to remember that little litany against fear and the message buried in it. The message that we are ultimately in control over our selves and what we do with our lives, even as to how we feel about a situation.

4/3/08

Book of Prophecy, II

A sound body and mind lends itself to a sound spirit. A sound body is healthy, clean, and strong. A sound mind is free from the doubts that encourage self harm, hungers knowledge, and filled with creative fire. From these elements is a sound spirit forged.

Greet the day with joy and gratitude. Greet the night with reflection and tranquility. By this way do you begin to have peace. Live your life with a sense of wonder and a keen knowledge of the joys given to you. Even the smallest thing is a magical wonder to treasure.

Self-empowerment comes in many forms complete the smallest task in your day and take pride in the work and that you performed to the best of your ability. You shall quickly find that by doing this the largest of tasks are the easiest and you can succeed despite any odds.

Speak truth of your heart without fear. Truth shall shelter and protect you from harm. With simple words and honest ways, all things can be righted and the balance restored. At the end, great things will have been achieved without effort.

All life is my beloved children.
We take joy in the beauty of all.
Each thing about you has a spirit or you would not.
I ask my children to love each other.
I ask my children to help each other grow.
As every mother would.

Behold, all about you, I am present.
Yet, my dear, if you do not look within, you shall never see me.

3/31/08

A glimpse into the past.

Moon: Waning Sap Moon, Void of Course
Weather: Seasonably warm, cloudy and intermittent rain

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Here, you can find the view that I had on the Goddess about ten years ago. Somewhere in the last decade, my perspective changed, however. Virtually everything espoused here, I had stated myself in some fashion, or something akin to it. On one hand, it makes me smile wistfully at seeing it. It reminds me of the sense of joy that I had in realizing that my beliefs were validating who I was at that time and that it was healthy to have such a thing in my life.

I realized, however, that it was far too limiting to take this stance.

Much of what is presented by these people, however, does serve well for the neophyte that is seeking to broaden their perspective when they are new to witchcraft as a religion, specifically to Wicca or the form of witchcraft that is popularly practiced in the United States.

I ask, however, that the neophyte who cleaves to this perspective remembers something important:

The divine is not limited by our perspective and is not what we shape it to be. Each of us experience the divine as we are to see it for our own need. It is an independently revealed experience, there by all visions of the divine is correct.

Remember tolerance, young Witch, remember tolerance.

*~*~*~*~*~*

Edited to add:

In the near future, I will post here that which I was told to share with these people. It is my deep hope that the message that I bear brings only peace and wholesome things. Having the gift of Prophecy is at times as much of a curse as it is a blessing, for sometimes I fear what follows in it's wake.

3/27/08

An addendum to the invitation to discussion.

Moon: Waning Gibbious Sap Moon, Void of Course
Weather: Seasonably mild, partially cloudy, light breezes from the north-west

The information for the moon reflects the following was written yesterday.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

This is addressing the fact that there's a large population (at least in the area I'm in) of young witches and inexperienced witches who are looking for guidance. I believe that the average age of these witches is about 20 to 25.

Alot of those teen witches who were targeted by the marketing efforts of various big publishing houses (specifically Llwellyn) who focused upon making a more mainstream version of witchcraft (predominantly Wicca) are now in a position where they're at a point of being taken advantage of, at best, if not seriously harmed at worst by the unscrupulous others within the larger community of witches and others.

The attitudes that are espoused and encouraged in the 'pagan authoritarianism' that Cain so eloquently dissected elsewhere (I quoted it here.) are what support and continue this type of situation. It creates a culture that implicitly encourages abuse and manipulation. It sets up a power structure and dynamic that disenfranchises the neophyte and the seeker even as it claims to be assisting them in gaining wisdom and providing the emotional support of a community of peers. This supposed support, however, is nothing more then hammering down those who seem to poke their heads up above the waterline in the sewers of bullshit that is rampantly shoveled into the group at the most basic level, that being that of the coven, and fails to serve the needs of anyone except for those who are at the higher levels providing the bullshit and the hammer of 'authority'.

Quite frankly, it disgusts and disturbs me to see blatant lies held up as irrefutable facts. it deeply troubles me when people who question any of the 'Elders' of the community or the leadership of their coven, be punished for doing so. Especially after they had been encouraged to do so prior to their association with witchcraft (generally this being the tradition of Wicca, in all of it's forms). The 'Elders' are held up as authorities who are not to be challenged or questioned. Present anything that makes them look poorly, you are decried and often subjected to a great deal of harassment, never mind if it is true or not.

3/25/08

How long must we wait for a serious discussion?

Moon: Waning Sap Moon, in Scorpio
Weather: Fair skies, seasonably cool, there is a thaw underway

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I open my post today with the same question that I put as my title:
How long must we wait for a serious discussion?
Now, you may be wondering just what we're supposed to be discussing seriously. The discussion in question is over how Witchcraft will proceed forward. Not just one Tradition/sect, but the entire community. There's a group of people who uphold themselves as Elders. Generally, they're not questioned by the population that have come after them and are found to be leaders in the community. Some of these people have founded their own traditions and others have been practicing witchcraft longer then the others about them, thus are viewed as Elders.

I do not claim to be an Elder. I haven't reached that point yet in my life where I feel that I have sufficient experience to be able to claim that title rightfully. However, I have worked as a High Priestess and I have run a few covens over the years. I think this gives me some grounds to hold this discussion with the Elders of our community. This combined with my years of serious study has prepared me for this discussion that simply must happen.

There is a looming crisis within the community of Witchcraft that has been ignored for at least a decade if not longer. Some elements of this crisis have been actively encouraged, even, and this must not continue. The community of Witchcraft has hit a point in our growth and development that we now need to make some tough decisions and answer some serious questions. The discussion that needs to happen is focused upon several different points, but they all combine into creating this crisis.

It's been a thing that we just don't discuss. There have been people who have used Witchcraft in it's various different Traditions/sects (including but not limited to the myriad forms of Wicca) to manipulate and abuse others. Often, this is put down by the community at large as the actions of a fringe group and we do our best to say that the responsibility for that action is squarely upon the shoulders of that person who has done so. We can not, however, continue to do this. Within the community of Witchcraft, especially within the traditions of Wicca that are known to the mainstream population, there has been an environment cultivated that encourages such things. The tolerance of this must not continue.

As a community, we need to not merely denounce and reject the actions of these people. We need to change the culture of our community and actively resist this. Witches have been struggling for the entire time that we've been in the public eye (in the modern era of Witchcraft) to repudiate the concept that we are a dangerous cult. As we're insisting that we are not a dangerous cult, unfortunately, there has been a great deal of effort poured in to whitewash the cults that operate under the auspices of our practices. I'm not talking about one tradition, but virtually all of the traditions of Witchcraft have been abused and encouraged to become safe havens for those who would use the relationship of the coven, especially the leadership positions within a coven, as vehicles for manipulating coven members into doing what they want.

This must stop! We can not tolerate this anymore. The community of Witchcraft needs to change so that we are not turning a blind eye to abuse any more. The community of Witchcraft needs to change so that we are not implicitly encouraging the establishment of covens that are run on the basis of the authority of one person. All dissenting voices should not be silenced. If we truly have Elders in our community, if we truly have leaders in our community, they need to step forward and assume the mantle of leadership and act the part, not simply say that they are.

I am a country witch. I haven't spent much time in the urban setting and I recognize that many, many witches are from that upbringing. I am a hereditary witch. Some of the ways that I do things are how I've been taught in my family and are going to be quite different from how others do them in their traditions. I am a scholar of my religion, a theologian of sorts, and I have quite high standards for what I expect myself to state to others with respect to what I believe and my practices.

These facts and many more that make me different from other witches, does not change the fact that the community of witchcraft needs to change. We can not tolerate this attitude that people who disagree with the Elders are somehow evil or out to destroy witchcraft. And yes, I have encountered that attitude many, many times. We can not tolerate this attitude that the word of the Elders is law and to be obeyed. Nor should we worship the ground they walk upon. They are human. They are failable just as I and anyone else are. In the words of my own mother, they need to take of their britches to shit, too.

This is a change that needs made from the younger part of the community. From the Elders, we need to see true leadership. Not mandates from on high, not holding forth on a topic for the sake of having your acolytes parrot back to you things you feel are particularly brilliant. This kind of thing is a large part of the reason why people left the more mainstream faiths. They did not want some one handing down to them dictates of how to practice their beliefs. And we also need the Elders to not simply dismiss a questioning voice or a dissenting opinion.

Engage in real discussion and present why that dissenting opinion is incorrect, if it truly is. Those who question should be embraced because they are looking for teachers. As Elders, you have a responsibility to teach others. You have a duty to guide them on their path and help them to master the tools they need to reach their own goals. You, yourselves, have questioned your own teachers. You were not batted down and ordered to be silent. You were not chastised and mocked for it. You were not punished for challenging your teachers.

Cease and desist in this barbarism that you are engaging in, Elders. You prove yourselves unworthy of the positions of leadership that you have claimed. You show that you are little better then the bigoted priests and ministers whom you insisted were ordering your lives about from the pulpit when you started on the road to this point. The only differences between you and them is the clothing and how the setting is composed.

If you're a pagan, read this.

Please note, this was written by Cain, a Discordian whom I highly respect. He's probably one of the most brilliant people I have ever met and has written some of the most amazing things I've seen in a very long time. That said, this piece he has written should be read by any pagan, especially those who are in leadership positions.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Deconstructing Pagan Authoritarianism


As a Discordian, I often feel it is not only an obligation, but occasionally a duty to undermine, question and, if necessary, personally destroy authoritarian systems of control and coercion. Sometimes I do it out of deep-seated distaste, sometimes out of boredom and sometimes for profit, but that is another debate.

Furthermore, I subscribe very much to the views of the noted child psychologist, Jean Piaget, who considered that socio-cognitive conflict was a critical part of the learning process. While researchers have rushed to note that this does not necessarily mean confrontation or opposition, these are in fact important facets of socio-cognitive conflict. If we wish to learn and evolve, it is only through disagreement and conflict that we can ever hope to mentally improve ourselves.

Therefore, when I see groups who not only approve of creating an authoritarian system that stifles this dissent, but that it hypocritically takes this position under the mantle of some philosophy or religion, I get somewhat annoyed. And when I see groups or individuals giving out advice on how to perpetuate this state of affairs...well, that has to be answered. Especially on the internet, where such advice may be put to immoral use, even if that was not the original intention of the author. Such an article would be, for example, How to Keep Your Coven from Being Destroyed by David Petterson (aka Eran). Under the guise of saving covens from villainous trolls, he gives very sound advice on how to maintain systems of control, and his work has been fairly widely disseminated.

I intend here to critically analyze his arguments, both in order to show this is in fact the case, and to highlight the authoritarian strain that it helps legitimize. A follow-up counter-essay may follow, but for now, this alone will do.

Eran starts off by laying out what he sees as “the problem”. Namely that

We've all seen Covens fall apart, or larger umbrella organizations torn by internal strife. Sometimes, this is simply part of the natural cycle of creation and dissolution, an outworn group dissolving to make room for new growth. But at other times, a group with much promise can be damaged or destroyed while seemingly still young and healthy.


There are a number of problems here, right off the bat. Firstly, there is the false distinction between a “natural cycle” of strife and the (presumably) unnatural once he dislikes. What counts as natural, and what does not? As you'll find out from the rest of his article, what he means by not natural is that it was an intended outcome, or one that arose from purposefully created strife. However, can we really say that is not natural? Purposefully created strife may be the product of legitimate grievances that can be resolved in no other way. Since humans exist in a state of competition as well as cooperation, any conflict resulting from that must be 'natural', if we are using the most widely accepted definition of the word. A similar vein of thought might conclude that any group that did succumb to internal strife lacked the necessary legitimacy to make it effective anyway. A group with solid foundations and that has not sought to create grievances should be able to deal with a level of internal dissension. If it cannot, there is clearly a crisis of legitimacy going on.

Secondly, his comment about groups that seemed to be young and healthy. Firstly, its an anecdote, which should make anyone suspicious right away. Secondly, how do we know his perceptions are not faulty? A coven may have many problems or structural weaknesses they wish to hide from outsiders, in hope of attracting more members, attaining certain goals, etc etc. Unless one has intimate knowledge of the group in question, how can one come to a conclusion about its actual potential? It seems very...convenient to lay the blame on some outsider, some scapegoat.

The process by which this happens sometimes seems mysterious and incomprehensible. At times, it's impossible to clearly see what went wrong. Looking at the tragedy after the fact, it seems as if everyone did everything right. There were, perhaps, misunderstandings and miscommunications. But most of the people involved honestly and sincerely tried to understand everyone's point of view, and they did all the correct conflict-management and conflict-resolution kinds of things. But somehow, everything they tried simply made matters worse.


There is an inherent presumption here that the divide or problems are surmountable, that the group can be “perfected”. Sometimes, no matter how sincere a person is in their beliefs, and no matter how much they want to end the conflict, this is impossible due to irreconcilable viewpoints. You have heard of irreconcilable ideas, yes?

It's almost enough to make you paranoid, and wonder if there's a cowen plot to break the will of our most dedicated and ethical people.


Yes, its the devilish tricksters, the Cowan, out to break those of the Old Religion! Ahahahahaha! Or, possibly, you have a problem with taking responsibility for problems that arise in your community and constantly make references to external agents as being the problem. I know which I think is more likely.

A while back, Isaac Bonewits published a review of a book which explored this subject. The book is called, Antagonists in the Church: How to Identify and Deal with Destructive Conflict, by Kenneth Haugk...Isaac highly recommended this book, in spite of it being written from a Christian perspective and intended for a Christian audience of ministers and lay leaders....For a modern Witch or Pagan, reading Haugk's book frequently gets tiresome, because Haugk honestly views conflicts within Christian groups as ultimately being the work of the Devil out to destroy the True Church. But putting aside the Christian apologetics, there's an amazing amount in there which is useful and incredibly insightful.


Again, I can see a number of problems here. You are essentially taking your model for conflict from an absolutist and somewhat paranoid interpretation of Christianity, which lays the blame on the Devil. The only difference between yourself and Haugk is that he uses the Devil, and you use outsiders. The form is otherwise exactly the same, an original and totally committed source, external of course, that creates all this conflict and disorder.

Here's a very important insight: Such conflicts don't "just happen." The really destructive ones, the really vicious fights which tear apart Covens or larger groups, conflicts which break the spirit of the most dedicated Elders, these conflicts aren't accidents, and they aren't the consequence of simple misunderstandings or miscommunications. No; they happen because particular individuals made them happen. There is a class of personality traits which makes certain individuals crave conflict.


How convenient. I suppose blaming it all on a personality type means you can avoid the need for any sort of self-analysis or critical questioning of your own handling of the issue. Also, the conceit that such conflicts are always planned is incredible. As someone who has experience as a conspirator and instigator in some conflicts, I like to consider myself an actual expert in the area. And I can tell you this much: there is no such thing as a single, original cause of any fight. A vicious and destructive fight can be totally sincere and honest, or it can have multiple origins, some legitimate and others done for self-gain, or other reasons entirely.

The personality traits they possess can be identified, and their techniques can be thwarted or rendered ineffective. To handle them properly takes prior knowledge and preparation, however. It also requires a willingness to take firm action, and to freely exercise your legitimate authority as a Coven Leader.


Presumably, any technique that works on such a personality obviously bent towards conflict and destruction would undoubtedly also work on anyone who raised legitimate problems or issues which a Coven leader decided they did not want to address or resolve. After all, if they are not good enough to work on such “dedicated” individuals, then they are worthless, and if they are good enough, then they have multiple applications.

How useful that it also allows the Coven leader to exercise their “legitimate” authority over others. How is any sort of authority legitimate, least of all within religious groups? From whence does such authority derive? Do you have control with the consent of those you exercise power over, or is it based within your religious structure, your “advanced knowledge” or indeed other factors? Many covens are susceptible to nepotism, corruption and the Big Fish in a Little Pond Syndrome, all of which don't sound especially good sources for authority at all.

Since this is a religious context, I'll also give some thoughts on the theology of it all. Regardless of how Haugk views the matter, as Witches we needn't see it as a conflict of good vs. evil, but rather as a case of treating the people around us in the ways which are appropriate to each individual person. Nor is it a case of a cowen plot, but rather of processes which are entirely natural, though discomforting - in the same way a plague or a flood or an earthquake is entirely natural. Though the Gods of Nature throw such disasters at us, we needn't stand passively and merely accept the destruction. If you live on a floodplain or geologic fault, you can, and should, make proper preparations to minimize how badly you'll be hurt.


But wait a minute, you just said above that this is not a natural process? So which is it? Are these people part of a natural system of universal checks and balances on autocratic jerks, or are they not? You contradict your opening statements, which makes the coherency of your train of thought suspect.

And if you build your house on a floodplain or geological fault line, then you're an idiot, or you have to accept the element of risk in your actions. I mean, if we're going to extend metaphors here.

Really destructive conflict is caused by people who are driven to engage others in unwinnable contests. Such people generally have very low self-esteem, little regard for those around them, often a rather loose grip on consensual reality, and frequently possess a fair measure of paranoia. Their low self esteem makes them want to tear others down, in order to make themselves look better by comparison. Having little or no regard for others, they won't care about the damage they cause, and frequently won't even recognize they've caused any. Being unable to distinguish reality from their own rich inner fantasy lives, they will be very convincing liars, because they honestly believe the incredible things they say. And their paranoia is often justified; when they act on their inner drives, they start causing damage, and people stop liking them. Paranoiacs frequently do have many enemies, and few friends.


I question Eran's psychological credentials. For starters, this is taken directly from the description for paranoid personality disorder. Does Mr Eran have any proof that such people actually suffer from such a disease? What is his evidence? Or is he just using mental illness as a particularly nasty and underhanded slur against people who upset the status quo? Surely if these people are sick, then they deserve our sympathy and medical attention, not scorn and belittlement.

I of course question the entire psychological profile put forward here. Again, from personal experience, those who are most suited to creating real, debilitating conflict are usually very sophisticated and adept in social situations, and have a very good grasp on social dynamics and human behaviour in general. They would have to be, in order to create the sort of problems that tear a Coven apart. Unless it was a very weak coven in the first place, of course, in which case my criticisms about legitimacy apply.

All this makes them very guarded and closed-off and secretive, though they'll frequently hide behind a carefully-constructed mask of outward friendliness. One such person was overly fond of the most famous quote from Machiavelli: "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." That kind of deceit and duplicity is something to look out for.


A Machiavellian personality is nothing like paranoid personality disorder. Goddamnit, if you are going to pretend to diagnose people with serious mental illnesses, as least keep some coherency in your argument. Such a person would likely tend towards psychopathy, because while they can understand and model their behaviour according to social expectations, they themselves feel no real compassion, benevolence or sympathy because of that empathy.

And again, we are assuming a priori that there is some sort of mental issue going on here. I find this pattern of implicit dehumanization of critics both worrying and somewhat disgusting. Some people enjoy conflict out of boredom. Have you never seen two cats start a fight simply because they can? And, as always, it overlooks legitimate or accidental conflicts entirely.

In a Pagan context, it wouldn't be appropriate to use this imagery of Eternal Conflict. We'd do better with an image more in keeping with Pagan myth and symbolism.

Something like "Shiva" or "Kali" would be an improvement. After all, destruction is a natural process, though one which we don't want to stand too close to, if we can help it. But then, destructive people get most of their strength from the fear and worry they can inspire in their targets, and putting on them a label like "Kali" gives them far too much power. Better still would be a term which, while not minimizing the danger, doesn't give them more respect than they deserve. The Books of Raoul say, "Every ecosystem needs maggots," and so I've heard the term "maggot" used effectively, though that seems to go too far the other way. A word I've chosen to use is "troll."


Wow...hate Hindus much? Both Shiva and Kali have very important roles within Hindu cosmology, ones that are mirrored elsewhere by deities like Coyote, or Hermes, or Eris. I note the objection to the use of the names of the destructive deities isn't the implicit insult to other religions either, but to not give them too much credit or power. So instead you steal an internet phrase.

In much of European mythology and folklore, giants, trolls, and ogres are embodiments of the forces of Chaos, natural forces which often batter at the walls of civilization or even at the orderly forms which Nature Herself creates. Chaos is not an "evil" force. It's simply the flip side of the creative impulse. Seeing destructive people as chaotic rather than as evil helps to place them into a useful and meaningful Pagan context. Of all these chaotic embodiments, trolls are sometimes among the strongest - yet they also have an unintentionally comic side, as we're reminded by fairy tales such as the "Three Billy Goats Gruff," or modern stories such as Tolkien's "The Hobbit". Trolls can be easily outwitted, if you know something about them, for sunlight turns them into harmless boulders. An understanding of the true nature of destructive people is the sunlight which renders them impotent and ineffective.


Oh wow. This is incredible. You're actually being serious here. If we're going to talk folklore, then fine. To extend the metaphor, yet again, the giants of Norse mythology were a destructive force because the Gods denied them immortality. They jealously kept the apples which granted them immortal life in Asgard, and refused to share their powers. The hierarchy between the giants and Aesir looks a more likely cause of conflict than anything else you care to name. But after all, you've already decided those who engage in conflicts are mentally ill, so I doubt rational arguments will sway you much.

Secondly, conflating chaos with destruction and evil, opposed to order? What is this, Christianity 101? I think a generation of avant-garde artists want a word or two here, not to mention several thousand Discordians. Chaos is value neutral, and can as often lead to creation as destruction, since its primary element is that of change. Order can easily be as oppressive as chaos, if not more so, because with oppressive order, the possibility of change or difference is removed. Classical Greece is a perfect example of creative chaos, and the Roman Empire a perfect example of oppressive order.

Thirdly, will you please make up your mind? Are trolls scary and uncontrollable, mentally ill individuals who can reduce entire communities to strife, or are they easily dispatched? You can't have it both ways. This is starting to sound like a Bush speech, hype the threat, then promise the supposedly easy cure. Which of course begs the question no-one ever asks, that if the cure is so easy, why is the threat so dangerous?

Frequently, trolls are unaware of the damage they're causing. A cornered mongoose doesn't really want to rip you to pieces; it just wants to get away. So too, a destructive person will usually deny wanting to cause pain. .... This is the key in a nutshell: trolls are not healthy people, so they can't be expected to act in mature and healthy ways. And treating them as if they were mature and healthy is like treating a cornered mongoose as if it was a beloved housecat. The results are not pretty.

A mongoose or a plague-carrying flea is not likely to change into something else. Neither is a troll. Unless you are very, very skilled as a counselor, nothing you can do will help a troll get healthy. In fact, things you'd normally do to help other people will just make matters worse. If you are understanding and patient in response to a troll's dishonest or destructive acts, what troll learns is: dishonesty and destructiveness is rewarded by patience and understanding. This encourages the troll to continue being dishonest and destructive.


Ah, pseudospeciation at its best. Trolls are not only mythological creatures, they are mongooses, and plague-bearing fleas. And, just like terrorists, they cannot be negotiated with, since they are supremely irrational (except when they are being deviously Machiavellian and manipulating people into doing their bidding, one presumes).

Because trolls need conflict, they are very practiced at it. Experience is a good teacher, and most trolls will have had an enormous amount of experience by the time they are old enough to join a Coven. If you wind up being the target of a troll's attacks, fighting back is not a good idea. Trolls are very, very good at turning any frontal assaults to their advantage. They are even better at finding and manipulating more subtle responses. One of the most powerful defensive tricks they have is pretending to be the victim. Once you respond - in any way, regardless of how measured and controlled your response is - they begin telling everyone they know about how mean you are, and how cruel and vicious and vindictive you're being. It's a good way to turn your own friends against you, and begin making you feel isolated and paranoid. This tactic has the additional advantage of turning attention away from whatever unethical acts the troll was doing in the first place.


Unless of course, they weren't involved in any unethical conduct, and they really are a victim, that you are victimizing. This paragraph says to me “ignore anything the so-called troll says! Everything will be a lie, they can't be trusted!” So much for the truth winning debates, instead the solution would seem to be isolation and ignoring the points raised. Again, avoiding the necessity of, oh, perhaps taking a critical look at yourself and your role in the conflict or drama.

So, patience won't help; retaliation won't help; love and support won't help. Explaining the situation won't help, and neither will proposing solutions or compromises, nor will mediation or engagement in any sort of dialogue. If you wind up in any dispute or argument with a troll, doing any of these things will simply make matters worse, and will probably result in incredible pain. Yet these are exactly the approaches you should use with most people who are not trolls. Most people are healthy. Trolls are not, and should not be treated as if they are. Trolls are not healthy; they won't get healthy, they don't want to get healthy, and keeping them near you will eventually let them harm you.


WE DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH TERR-UH, TROLLS. So you may as well not bother engaging any person who is causing any sort of minor upset, since they are a troll (supposedly). The only thing that can be done is to remove them as soon as possible, and ignore anything else they say or do. Only then can our pristine and perfect world can be restored.

That is part one of both this essay and my response completed. The next should follow shortly.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Read the rest of his essay on his blog.

3/18/08

Yay! Sleep deprivation!



I really need to be awake when blogging.

3/16/08

Facing Fear Head on.

We all have times where we're afraid. Sometimes, that fear is so intense that the world seems to become nothing but a vast morass of oppressive forces at work for your destruction. It may sound funny, but I think that the high influence of science fiction classics in my education and upbringing has proven to have an interesting effect upon how I view fear.

I present to you this gem of wisdom from Frank Herbert's Dune:
The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear
I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.
It may sound a little foolish, but I try to keep this in mind when I am facing my fears.

So, as I sit here facing fears regarding small details of life, such as money, I strive to keep this in my mind. It's been something that has been there in my mind since I saw a movie version of Dune when I was a kid. It's funny, however, that something like this would stay in my mind in the face of so many things.

I think, however, that precious little from my forays into science fiction as a girl has ever served me better then this. (I've cross posted this into my other blog as well.)

2/29/08

A recurring dream/vision.

Moon Phase: Waning, Gibbous Moon
Moon Sign: Sagitarius
Weather: Cold, moderately cloudy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I occasionally will have visions of things. Sometimes, my ancestors will come to me in them and tell me things or give me tasks to do. There are times where I can make sense of them quickly. Othertimes, I may over complicate them in my efforts to make sense of them. This, I suspect, is the case in the one that I present below. This has been a recurring dream in the midst of the dreams of nonsense. This dream, however, has been particularly clear. I know that there is a message here. I just can not make sense of it.

Now, to place a bit of context here. I am dreaming of the native american women to whom I am related. One is my great-great-great grandmother, a Souix medicine woman. The other is her grandmother. They are related to me on my mother's side of the family. They've come to me at other times with answers to major questions or information. They've also taught me things as well. All of this said, here is the vision that I have been struggling with. Please, some one, help me make sense of it.
I am walking on a dirt path thru a forest. It is late Spring/early Summer. The air smells wet and heavy, though the Earth is dry. I believe it will rain sometime later. The walking stick in my hand is warm and my sandals are uncomfortable because my feet are mildly swollen. Ahead of me on the path, she is waiting as she always is. On her stern face, however, is a smile. She is proud of me for struggling up this far and actually showing it on her face, rather then a curt nod of approval.

The baby is squirming in his sling across my shoulders. He's secure, so I am not worried. I think we may need to run, but I don't know. The ground here is uneaven. The soil has a red color to it, smells strongly of clay. I think I'm in western Georgia, but I'm not sure. This place never seems to have any firm indications of where it is, except for the forest, mountains, and the humidity. Ahead of us is the village. Nothing here has changed in the years of having visions of this place. Grandmother has come out of her home. She never does that. But now, here she is, standing in the sunlight with her steel grey hair gleaming in the dappled light.

She is also smiling. It is a plesant surprise, but I am now wondering why they are smiling. I walk up to her and embrace her. She nods and claps me on the shoulder before pointing up to the top of the hill (mountian? what is this place? I've had dreams and visions of being here and I just don't know!). I turn and begin walking up the path and they walk with me. It is silent, but they've never been ones to idly chatter. As we walk, I see that there is a large stone outcropping up here. The stone is flint and remains jagged and sharp, despite countless years of weather wearing at it.

I'm motioned over to the edge of it and told to sit. They sit beside me and point away off to the East. There, on the horizon, I see open green fields turning to sand. Among them, people are flailing, covered in bugs. Various stinging and biting insects swarm over them. I'm told that this is what is coming and that pure, clean water will help prevent this from coming into my home.

They then point off to the West. There, the horizion appears as though there is a sunset, but all in shades of red. Away, as far as the eye can see, there is bare bedrock in an uneaven broken sheet. Animals and people are fleeing as this barrenness spreads, spurred on by wind. Where the sun would be setting, there is a point of darkness. It is almost oily black, but it has a depth with out luster. Within it, there is a figure of a darker black walking forward. All of this spawns forward with each step.

They then point to the North. Snow and wind blind me for a moment. Then, I can see children playing, shreiking and screaming with laughter. The air is so cold that it takes my breath from me and my lungs burn. The snow falls faster and faster, piling up higher. Soon, the children are no longer laughing but crying. They want to come in out of the cold, but can not for they are lost in the snow. The places where their footprints were in the snow are filled in and swept clean by the wind.

Then, they point to the South. I'm told to watch and not say a word. I see smoke. I can smell inscence, I believe it is frankinscense, but I am not sure. It is heavy and cloying, I can taste it on my tounge. A woman is groaning and crying out. Her belly is huge and her head is hanging down as she lies back on an odd looking chair. Her feet are raised and her shoulders are as well. It as though she is sitting in a crouch, like a hospital bed with stirrups for labor or a gynecologial exam. The chair is made of red wood, almost looking like fresh cut cedar when it is wet. I can not see her face. Her hair is long and twisted. She is coated in sweat and seems to possibly be in labor. I don't know, all I see is her straining to no apparent avail. After a few moments of additional struggle, she leans back and begins to weep and cries out with anger.

Something that is supposed to happen is not happening and she is tired. As a person wearing a turqoise/aqua colored paper mask approaches, she begins to yell at them. "No, don't you dare poison me with those things. You claim they help but they don't! Don't you dare put them in me! Now, get away! Go!" The smoke rises and stings my eyes as it obscures my vision.

Then I see the trees on the hills with their leaves dancing in the breeze. I hear bells and the Grandmother takes my hand and pats it. She kisses my son, who is sleeping, on his forehead. She walks away down the path. My other ancestrix sits by me. She's waiting for me to do or say something. But I don't know what I am supposed to do. Down at my feet, a pregnant mouse comes out of the grass and stares up at me with a large seed in her teeth. She sits up on her hind paws and begins to eat, staring up at me expectantly.