10/25/12

Contemplation

Waxing Blood Moon (Age: 10 days)
Sign: Pisces
Weather: Fair, unseasonably warm
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
In my enthusiaism, I believe I accidentally offended the Filianic women that I have begun corresponding with. I seized upon the images here as wonderful modern icons. I was then explained that they would not be canonical and therefore inappropriate icons. I posted an apology for the uproar I created.

As I walked out to run my errands this morning, I prayed on this matter.

I struggle to see how this is a more fitting representation of the Lady. I am to understand that the birth of the Daughter is a spiritual birth. Apparently images of the Lady suckling her Child are not canon as well. I am trying so very hard to understand this.

I can accept that clothes prevent the sacred from being seen by those who would profane it.

I struggle with the idea that the natural state of humanity is incorrect. I have prayed on this and no illumination came. The Lady simply smiles indulgently. I think I am struggling with something that is a strictly human concern. I suspect this is why she says nothing and gives no indication as to if these images are correct or not.

I am trying so very hard to understand. I am at a place where I am not comfortable. So much is shaken up and in the middle of it all, there She stands.

10/18/12

Can't anyone help?

Waxing Blood Moon (Age: 4 days)
Sign: Sagittarius
Weather: Mild, partly cloudy
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I'm called to following the Goddess in the aspect presented from the Deanic/Fillianic perspective. As I do research and attempt to find others, I am instead finding dead ends. Abandoned blogs, closed websites, and groups that appear to be inactive. I am becoming quite frustrated. I don't understand why I am called to this, I don't understand how I am supposed to proceed.

I acted according to Goddess's prompting and I have been praying the Fillianic rosary. I look for other things that could possibly guide me more upon this path and I find nothing. I confess, I am very frustrated. I don't know what direction I am supposed to turn. I'm called to follow a monotheistic Goddess faith along side my strange from of heathenism. I struggle to make things work when I have been operating from a shamanic flavored eclectic Wiccan framework. 

A part of me is so frustrated that I want to cry. A part of me leapt at the prospect that perhaps I was joining a community of other believers. I find, however, that there is no one else answering my call. It makes me feel horribly alone to see where things had started and then floundered. I feel like I'm late to the party and those who are inside won't let me in.

The perverse irony of the feeling in the light of the Christian parable has not been lost on me. I don't know what to do. I'll say my prayers and just do my best to trust the Gods to know what they are doing.

Humility & other thoughts

Waxing Blood Moon (Age: 3 days)
Sign: Sagittarius
Weather: Mild, light breezes, fair skies
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I've been focusing on the Mother Goddess over the last several days. She's inspired me to take some big steps after the ritual on Sunday. I sent a manuscript off to a publisher on Tuesday. Today, after a great deal of consideration and prayer, I wrote a letter to my Mom. And I'm sitting here working on my other writing projects with a consideration as to how to get them ready for publication.

All of this work, in the face of depressive and mixed episodes, it has been challenging. I've just been utterly worn out by the end of the day. That said, my home is clean (thanks to some assistance from my Aunt on Monday), my children are healthy, and my life is in some measure of order. I can't say this is something that came as a magical result of the ritual. But there is a distinct change to how I am approaching things.

The panic of everything is going to go wrong has lifted to a very large degree. I am also finding myself humbled by what I have accomplished. There is not the usual 'I don't understand? Doesn't everybody do this?' thought going on. I am looking around and realizing that I do a lot of hard work. And that I do it well. This kind of realization is fostering a sense of personal pride and just leaving me in a mild state of amazement. 

Today is not a mixed episode, depressive, or manic day. Today is just a 'normal' day. And I am seeing enormous impact here from that ritual. It gives me hope that I will continue to improve as this goes on. I am going to make a point of accepting the Mother Goddess's love. I am going to make a point of communicating to her my gratitude. And I am going to try to reach out to others who follow her.

When the Asier, Vanir, and Jotnar are all encouraging me to do this, it has to be something important. Now I just need to get matters settled with Loki. Flamehair wants me to act as a major priestess. My initial answer was 'No, my boys can't handle the chaos.' The discussion is now transitioning into one of what is needed to make that happen. If Flamehair wants me to do this, he will work with me to make it possible and to make sure that it doesn't create problems for my family. I must admit, however, his occasional bribe suggestions have been funny.

10/16/12

A Prayer

Ave Matris.
Ave Filia.
Ave occulta Deae,

10/11/12

Praying the Filianic Rosary

Waning Wine Moon (Age: 25 days)
Sign: Leo
Weather: Fair skies, seasonable temps.
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

I just finished praying the Filianic Rosary. I did so as instructed on the Mother God website. I meditated upon the sacred mysteries as directed. I wasn't sure what to expect from this.

I am sitting here on the verge of tears. Let me start from the beginning, because I am rather starting in the middle of things.

As I was getting my materials together (my written copy of the prayers and one of my goddess rosaries), I thought about the concept of being in spiritual exile and sin. I thought very carefully about this point. It is one that has continually rankled me about religions that have a salvation focus. So, before I started to do these prayers, I examined this point.

It occurred to me that exile need not be banishment. Indeed, exile is not always self induced. The question arises, then, how could the term exile apply to me? I have resisted this term because of the heavy Christian connotations that we have 'chosen' our distance from the Divine or inherited the condition by virtue of our birth. It struck me like a thunderbolt that I could quite easily describe myself as in exile.

Am I exiled from some treasured homeland? Not exactly. And my exile wasn't self imposed. My exile comes from being forced away from the loving relationship that I so deeply desired with Mother. The barriers between myself and this relationship are my conditioned fears and behaviors. When I realized that, suddenly the anger at the concept of exile melted away. Beneath it, I found a deep sense of grief.

I then looked at the question of sin. I have not knowingly committed crimes against any Gods. Then a quiet voice whispered to me from within myself, that I have. In my failure to love and care for myself, I have committed a great sin, a great crime against the Goddess within me. The sense of grief deepened.

I then looked at this and the cycle of self neglect and self abuse. I realized that I did need a guide out of this state. I recognized that such a guide could be termed as a Savior. It was as though something suddenly became unlocked and I had the blinders that I had been wearing fall off. In the light of this understanding, I gathered together my things and decided to pray.

At first, the prayers were mechanical and awkward. As I moved deeper into them and eased into trance, I found myself tearing up at the parts where I plead for the Goddess's comfort and aid. I still feel that half painful sorrow. I tried to keep my focus on the mysteries. This, however, was subtly pushed aside as a vision came over me.

For the first time in years, I found myself back in that place of cobalt blue light. Within the light, there was a figure. It looked like all of the icons of the Virgin Mary. She stood before me, her arms out stretched. Roses were beneath her feet of all colors. Their scent hung heavy in the air, so much so that even after I finished praying, I could still smell them. I stood before her, struggling with the urge to burst into tears. I took a few steps forward and she took me into her arms.

I then came out of the trance. I still revere and follow the Aseir, Vanir, and Jotnar. I don't know how Dea is going to figure into this. The thing that I had been searching for in my quest to build a relationship with Goddess has been revealed. I had gotten a glimpse of it in the past and it was so very, very powerful. It was something that nearly drove me to my knees. I have found it again.

Ave Dea.

10/10/12

Mother?

Waning Wine Moon (Age: 24 Days)
Current Sign: Leo
Weather: Cloudy, rainy, cool
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I have been getting called to become involved with the Filianic faith. This is something that the goddesses of the Asa, Van, and Jotnar are all very strongly pushing. It is a strange feeling. They're not telling me that I'm not to follow them, only that I should follow this goddess as well. As such, I have been trying to keep this in mind as I go through my day.

I have started looking for prayers that I can use in the course of my day. I found this one on my first attempt of searching and I found it incredibly appropriate. It is a confusing place to be right now. This depressive episode isn't helping things any. I am, however, going to do my best to put the gods first and resume my work as a priestess.

Part of that work means being the best person I can be. It means doing what I can to be the best housewife I can be. It means doing what I can to be the best mother and spouse I can be. All of these things are blessed under the auspices of the goddesses I follow. I am not sure how this will come into the relationship with Dea.

I don't know if I am supposed to strive as a priestess or as a lay person. I feel rather confused as to how I should proceed. It's much like if the gods were telling me to pursue Christianity. I suppose, I should pray and wait patiently for clarification to be shown to me.

Until my next post, may the gods bless and keep you all.

10/4/12

The Gods are not Subtle.

Waning Gibbous Wine Moon (Age: 17 days)
Sign: Taurus
Weather: Seasonably warm and mild
~*~*~*~*~*~*~
The Gods are not subtle all the time. When the decide they are going to make sure you know something, it seems to be engraved upon a brick and thrown at you sometimes. I had a cosmic 'clue by four' swung at my head today. An advertisement for me to subscribe to a professional Art magazine was sitting in my mailbox this morning. This is on the heels of having a small selection of work featured in an art show last month and being asked back by the director of the show for next year's exhibition.

And then there is the mountain of comments from people talking about how I should be getting my writing published. When it rains, it pours. For a little while, I was feeling like I was pretty worthless as an artist and an author. Then affirmation started rolling in like a great wave. I have decided that I am just going to focus on my work and let the rest of it all settle out on its own.

I feel as nervous as a cat in a rocking chair factory right now, but the Gods have put me on this path. And they are part of a rather large group who are pushing me forward. If I don't go willingly, I suspect I am about to be dragged. Being dragged forward into the future is not half as much fun as it sounds, even if that future is something pleasant.

I gave an oath to the Gods that in return with their help with a health matter that I was struggling with yesterday that I would take my writing (including this blog) more seriously. I am in the midst of working out a posting schedule, this way months don't go by with out even a peep in here. Look for more material in the near future.

9/2/12

A Vision of Mischief.

About three years ago, I had a dream where I was in Odin's hall, though I didn't realize it. And I watched Loki nudge a servant into another person and a platter of food hit the floor. As Fulla (who was nearest) came to deal with the mess, Loki snuck into her room and stole a pair of silken shoes.

So, he changes the shoes into a gold colored ribbon and ties it to his belt. Fulla catches Loki as he's walking away from her chambers and demands to know what he's doing there. Loki smiles and says feigning innocence that he wanted to give her this ribbon he found. Holding up the ribbon he changed her shoes into
Fulla give him a 'yeah right' look and goes into her chamber. She notices immediately that her favorite pair of shoes are gone.
 
She comes out and starts demanding that Loki give them back. Loki again feigns innocence and Frigga's attention is caught by Fulla getting angrier by the passing second. Fulla pokes Loki in the chest and says "I know you took them, now where are they. What did you do with them?"
 
Loki grins like the smart ass he is, waves the ribbon and says "In a very safe place." Fulla looks around the hall. notes that some of the weaving supplies look like they've been messed with. So she begins tearing her way through the pile of equipment as Loki sneaks off to her chambers and returns the shoes.
 
As Fulla is going through everything and basically muttering every single insult she can think of with regards to Loki, Odin was in on the joke and able to see through the magic. So Odin is there, beginning to guffaw as his wife is getting exasperated with Fulla rearranging all of the weaving equipment.
 
Loki walks up behind Fulla and taps her on the shoulder. he then mildly suggests that she try looking in her chambers again. Fulla glares at him. Frigga tells her to go look and immediately put Loki to work fixing the mess made by Fulla. When Fulla finds the shoes, she lets out this furious shriek and Loki says 'Gotta go.' and bolts out of there as Odin damn near pisses himself laughing and Frigga looks like she's ready to throttle the two of them.
 
I woke to the sound of Odin laughing and watching the door into Odin's hall swinging shut as Loki pelted it out of there.

8/22/12

1/2 Year veiled.

Waxing Blue Moon (Age: 5 days)
Sign: Scorpio
Weather: Fair, Cool
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
So, I have been wearing a veil for half a year now. Looking back on it, I think it has contributed to my feeling more in control of my life. I know that it has done wonders for my sense of safety. I don't know what my therapist would say about how it impact my psychological well being, but I am not doing this for the sake of my psychological health, that's just a pleasant side effect. I am becoming more comfortable with my appearance and viewing myself as a beautiful woman. This is a very big step.

Images like the one above and those of the Blessed Virgin Mary have proven inspiring. As I look for more images from around the world and in history, I find myself becoming increasingly more comfortable with veiling. It is now a case where I don't feel fully dressed with out something on my head. When I'm in the house and around my family, I am going bare headed but it is not as frequent as it used to be.

The general reaction of my scarves has been neutral to pleasant. I was concerned at the beginning that I was going to encounter a lot of hostility. Instead I found people actually tending to treat me with greater deference. Men pause to open the door for me and people are more patient with me. I think it is because most of the women around here who cover are members of the more conservative Christian groups. I say nothing to disabuse anyone of the notion but it has made for a pleasant surprise.

In my spiritual life, I am finding that my scarves act as a reminder for me that I am sacred. It encourages me to treat myself with greater respect. I am leaning towards making or buying a special veil for only when I do oracular work. I am torn as to which would be a greater benefit. Amusingly, one of my new favorite scarves was picked out for me by Loki, one of my patrons. Sigyn, one of my matrons, has said that it is appropriate that I wear a veil to tell the world that I am a married woman and a priestess. She hasn't explained to me how that exactly works, but she is also strongly advocating that I have a special veil set aside for when I pray or do magic, as well as a special shawl for this.

8/9/12

Ponderings & Poppets.

Waning Wheat Moon (Age: 20 days)
Sign: Aries
Weather: Fair, seasonable temperatures, 
mild drought conditions
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Loki and Odin have decided to put me to work on eradicating unhealthy elements of my past by way of a funeral. I've made the poppet in question. I have done what I could to impress the painful and terrifying aspects of the past into it. I feel, however, that I have not done a reasonably good job of it. I am reluctant to do much along the lines of something with this poppet because I am so incredibly hesitant to accidentally fling harmful energy back down the line towards other people.

I don't want to hurt them, no matter how much they have hurt me in the past. I feel that it is not my place to mete out punishment. Loki, Odin, and the other Aesir have been decidedly silent on it. Hel simply looks at me, waiting for me to act. It is unnerving. She knows, however, that I will need her help on this, so she waits for me to turn to her.

8/1/12

Meditation: Places of Spirit - The Garden

Below is a guided meditation. It is somewhat rough. This is because it serves as an outline which you may improve upon. To find your way 'out' of the meditation, simply have the subject walk on the path that leads directly to the door. Then have them unlock the door, exit, relock the door, and use a standard trance ending procedure.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
Before you is a door, an entry into a hidden, secret place within yourself. This place is known only to you and is sacred, for it is part of you. In your dominant hand, there is a key. You unlock this door, pass through, and then turn, locking it again. You are safe from all harm here, all psychic energy thrown at you waits beyond the locked door as you remain safe within yourself.

When you turn from  the door, you find yourself before a vast garden. It stretches as far as the eye can see. It is filled with all manor of green, growing things. Flowers of every color, trees, bushes, and things that are fantastic, wondrous plants of your dreams flourish here. This garden is the garden of your spirit.

As you walk through it, you find that there are plants and how they are arranged correspond to your dreams, desires, and goals. You find there are other plants and features that correspond with other aspects of yourself. As you become acquainted with your spirit garden, you realize that it is a landscape that reflects your soul in all of its multiple facets.

Places that are healthy and pleasing to the eye are the healthy parts of yourself that you are comfortable with. Places that are healthy but not aesthetically pleasing are healthy aspects of yourself that you are not comfortable with. Places that are unhealthy are the parts of you which are unhealthy spiritually. Negative habits appear here as invasive plants, weeds, and plant diseases. This includes the unhealthy thought patterns that are the basis of these habits.

You will also find that there are places within your garden that lead to parts of your mind. One path leads you to where you put the parts of your spirit that you hide from the world at large. Another leads you to where your dreams take place. There are many, many different paths in this garden and the plants aligned along them correspond with each aspect it deals with.

At the center of the garden is a structure. It is the most sacred part of this garden. Within, you have a sacred space where you commune with the Divine. It is as elaborate (or simple) as your ideal place of worship would be. It holds all the tools you would need and is always accessible to you.

Blessed Lughnasadh!


7/31/12

A message.

She asked for a person who could do channeling. Then there was nothing but silence. I question if it was a genuine request or not. Then Loki made it clear to me that there was a message. One that he'd been trying to express and she simply was not understanding it. So, in my efforts to be of assistance, I have offered him the format of my blog here to carry that message. Out of respect for the parties involved, I am not going to mention names. If you read this and you know it is meant for you, then the job has been done. Otherwise, it just is a few random electrons on the internet. And Loki is nothing if not random.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
You want me to give you signs. You need to open your eyes. You have received signs. Many of them. You act like a petulant child when they are not the ones you wished for. You claim that I am not showing you my love and then you blatantly reject what my people tell you. MY PEOPLE. Not Odin's, not Frigga's, not any one else's people. Not the random volva who you encountered. People who I have taken by the hand and I have claimed as MINE.

In your self absorbed claim of superiority, you want to reject them. They are as kinsmen to you. And you are too blind and too proud to see it. I am disappointed. I am not a man to be trifled with. I'm not a puppy to be lead about on a leash. I am not some love sotted fool to be lead about by the nose. I am LOKI. I am the World-breaker. I am A GOD!

Your half hearted selfish desperation disgusts and disappoints me. I expected more from you. I thought you were going to stand up for yourself. I thought you were going to walk confidantly at my side. Instead you scorn Sigyn, spit on Freyja, and cower away wailing that you are ignored. THIS WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

Stand up. Treat yourself and the people around you with some measure of respect. This petulant whining child behavior is going to end. No woman of mine acts in this fashion. It is one thing if you are a child, but you are long past that point of your life. Now act like it.

7/30/12

Lughnasadh or First Harvest

Here's a lovely song from Omina to listen to as you think upon this high holiday. I celebrate the first of the harvest festivals with a new altar arrangement.






To the left, I have my god representative statue (Buddha) and a small jar of ears of wheat to represent the Greenman. I have an electric candle lit for Loki and a small glass heart that he gave me. Underneath the god statue is the washcloth that I knit for Loki. A candle jar filled partially with salt for holding inscence (which I was burning earlier) sits waiting for that offering.

In the center are the ears of wheat I cut from my garden just a short time ago. The antique silver bud vase was a thrift store find. The square mirrored candle plate, like the vase, are there for aesthetic value and to evoke the four elements. The round doilie was made by my great-great-great grandmother. It is placed to honor my ancestors and those who have come before me.  The pentacle at the forefront of the altar is from a late friend's altar. It is there to honor the Divine that is beyond and encompasses all forms.

At the right, I have my goddess representative statue (Kwan Yin) and a statuette of Mary (this incidentally is also how Sigyn has manifested for me). About the goddess statue, I have my small wrist distaff. I would have an athame on the left side of the altar but what I had been using as a kid friendly athame fell to pieces in my hands last week.   I have a soapstone oil burner that serves as my 'hearth' for my Brigid devotions. There is a small electric candle in there. A silver bowl for offerings sits waiting.

When the full moon comes this week, I will give a small offering of flour (or cornmeal, I haven't decided which yet) and wine. I will also put out a small offering for the Dead. It will soon be time to honor them as well. Between now and then, however, I am going to take the time to appreciate what I reap from my efforts over the growing season.

My harvest includes a bumper crop of oregano and basil. (I honestly don't know what I'm going to do with all of this.) I have my four ears of wheat (with the fifth left out for Freyja). I almost have tomatoes. The first of those will go on the altar. I am almost ready to harvest a few other vegetables too. To say the least, the first fruits of my harvest will be set upon the altar as a way to give back to the gods.

In my more spiritual harvest, I have a much closer relationship with my deities. I have grown stronger over this last year. I continually strive forward in my efforts to become healthy, learning more about how to appropriately treat myself. This may not sound like spiritual growth to some people, but it is for me.

7/21/12

Meditation: Trance Induction No. 1

Breathe deep. Feel the air filling your lungs slowly. Hold it in for a moment and then let it ease out. Exhale slowly, letting the tensions and worries go out of your body with your breath. Wait a moment, aware of your heart beating in your chest and the feeling of waiting in your lungs for air. Inhale slowly, savoring the cool air moving in through your nose, down your throat and into your chest. Feel your lungs filling like balloons, pleasantly stretching out to accommodate your breath.

Pause a moment, lungs full and a pleasant tension in your body. Exhale and feel all of the tension pass out of you, dissapating with your breath into the air. Now, as you inhale, the state of relaxation deepens. A feeling of serenity fills you eve as your lungs fill with air. When you exhale, all lingering anxiety and tension fades.

You are now in a state of deep peace and comfort, like when on the edge of sleep and yet aware. You breathe easily and comfortably. Inhale, exhale. Relaxation fills your body, starting at your toes. You curl them and feel the tension in your feet peak, then uncurl them and feel the relaxation replace it. Up the back of your calves, the tension peaks and then melts away. This wave moves upwards into your thighs and hips. Slowly, gently, it passes up through your abdomen and into your chest.

It spreads across your chest and down your arms. You can feel the tension melting out of you, like water running down and dripping off your fingertips into the earth. The relaxation moves through your neck and over your face. Your entire body is relaxed. You are at peace, rested and comfortable, yet alert.

Meditation: Places of Spirit - The Cave

There is a cavern with a hole at the ceiling of it, which allows light in. There is a lake with a river that feeds into it and an outlet. The light filters in and reflects off the water as it illuminates the mist. It is a blue-ish mist where the light doesn't touch, glowing on its own. Where the light does touch, the mist is a brilliant white/gold. There always is the form of a woman in the midst, though her apparent age always changes.

The entrance to that cave is a long, vaulted passage that snakes about. As a result, the light of the entrance doesn't reach the cave. It is pleasantly warm in the cave and the mist is refreshingly cool. The water of the lake and streams, however, is shocking cold. At the rear of the cave, there is a narrow tunnel which the water pours through as a roaring river. It is very dark there. Near the edge of this tunnel, there is a shallow, sandy bear with a shallow bottomed boat. There are no oars or other method of directing it, however.

To reach the small beach, one must swim across the water. On that small beach, it can be seen a small silver circle on the stone of the wall. Along the edge of the tunnel, there is an incredibly narrow path that is barely wide enough for one person to walk and the roof of the tunnel over the path is just high enough to allow one to stand upright.

A breeze blows up the tunnel and smells of the sea.

Hard theology and such...

If you are curious about where my tradition stands on various matters, I highly suggest you peek at my companion blog The Veiled Witch. It is a more formalized exploration of my tradition. I will be discussing a wide range of things from theology (which was my original intent to discuss here but then the blog grew) to ritual formats to the art and science of spell craft*.

* This will not be a publicly accessible spell book. I will be discussing things such as how to craft a spell and why they work. Look in this blog for occasional spells and tips on how to improve your magical efforts.

Covered in Light (drama)

In the span of twenty four hours, the group has exploded with drama. I recognize with rapid growth, the potential for drama multiplies exponentially. Put three people into a room and you have a small potential for drama. Put thirty people into the same room and you have a huge potential for drama. The sad thing about this is the fact that all of this drama threatens the very existence of a group that I think is much needed in the pagan community.

Some of the detractors of the growth explosion claims that it is currently a fad to be a pagan who covers. Some of the detractors have claimed that we are excluding people of ethnic background that are not 'white'. Some of the detractors have accused us of engaging in cultural appropriation and ideological theft.

Seriously, people?

Covered in Light began as a small group of like minded people supporting each other. There was no decision made to exclude people of ANY race or ethic background. We were all expressing support to people of any religious path. In the beginning, CiL included people of Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, and pagan backgrounds. We explored the question of cultural appropriation. As a group, we determined that being pagan and covering wasn't any sort of ideological theft. As one of the women so wisely pointed out, there are only so many ways you can manipulate a piece of fabric. The only restriction made in group membership, that I have EVER been aware of is that the group is for women - including transwomen.

I, for one, don't want to see Covered in Light go the way of Mysticwicks. Mysticwicks turned into a cesspool. People were actively attacking each other and  there was a lot of hankypanky going on with the administration of the forums. Covered in Light is on the verge of self destruct because of rapid growth and the associated difficulties. I think this would be a very bad thing because I think that the pagan community needs CiL.

Yes, you read that correctly. I think that the world wide pagan community needs Covered in Light, or something similar. I believe that the explosion of the groups numbers (we're currently at 200 as of last count) is not because of a fad or some people decided it would be fun. I think it is because there is genuinely a need for the pagans who cover their heads as part of their worship practices to have support. 200 people is but a drop in the ocean that is paganism. I believe that there are many women (and men) who would (or do currently) value the supportive network of others who cover.

Yes, there will be some silliness. There will even be a touch of drama. Large groups of people and a form of communication that is challenging (the interwebz) will always breed nonsense and drama. I sincerely hope that I can slap up another post on here in a few days happily announcing that CiL is continuing on, possibly under a different name.

7/20/12

Pagan Blog Project: O - Odin

Odin, also known affectionately as 'Old One Eye' and 'Old Crow' by my patron deity, is a very wise deity. He is also very, very much like his blood-brother. Some people who are coming to this blog may be expecting me to expound upon this with a great deal of UPG thrown in. Others may expect me to be drawing off of the lore and the verified PG that is flying around the internet. I'm not going to do either, actually.

Instead, I am going to humbly submit a poem for this week's PBP post. I don't write poetry as often as I did in the past. I am attempting to fix that. I hope that Odin finds this offering acceptable. I hope that my readers enjoy it.

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

Old One Eye, He calls you
That looming presence
The One who watches me as I cast spells
The One who waits in the raven upon the tree
Watching, watching as I water my plants

You hung upon the World-Tree
You gained the wisdom of the Worlds
How clumsy my stumbling must look to You
Handling the Runes with a child's hands
Struggling to read, to see what is there

Patiently, You watch me
Brooding like a storm on the horizon
You wait and watch
Soon, Your voice will roll like thunder
I pray that I will have learned enough
To hear You by then

7/15/12

Pagan Blog Project: N - Narfi & Vali

**UNVERIFIED PERSONAL GNOSIS WARNING**

Loki's sons by Sigyn are Narfi and Vali. In the old stories, as part of Loki's punishment (either for insulting the Aesir at Ageir's feast or for his role in Baldur's death, the lore is unclear on this) Vali is turned into a wolf that tears out the throat of Narfi. Loki is then bound with the entrails of his slain son in a cave with a snake placed over his head to drip venom into his eyes until Ragnarok. He is attended by his wife Sigyn.

Context setting with respect to the lore, let's launch off onto a tangent. Many people envision Narfi and Vali as young men. Some even depicting them as children. What is forgotten is that Vali was a grown man with a wife and a child of his own. And that his child was grown when this took place. It stands to reason that Narfi was also grown. I propose that what people are being shown is not how the attack happened but how it was viewed by Loki.

As a parent myself, I know that I will always look at my children and in some respect continue to see them as small, fragile little babes. I know that I will still have that maternal feeling of protectiveness long after they have grown and have families of their own. I believe that Loki looked at his sons and saw them again as children. It is also my belief that Vali's transformation into a wolf was akin to a death as well. Imagine, if you would, the intelligence of a man trapped in something that could not communicate or act as a man.

Loki's told me that their deaths was weirgeld for his role in Baldur's death. He speaks of the events (the death of Baldur, the death of Hod, and his own punishment by the Aesir) with great sorrow. At times, he expresses anger. At times he is quiet and simply mournful, almost withdrawn even. It is a tragedy that Loki has expressed deep, deep sorrow that it was necessary for the fate of the nine worlds.

It is my hope that Narfi and Vali can come to be known in their own rights. The beauty of the world is that the past, present, and future are all interwoven. It is something that has, is, and will happen all at the same time.

Hail Narfi and Vali, Loki's youngest sons.

Covered in Light

 I am part of a group called Covered in Light... it consists of women who cover/veil for whatever reason and encompasses all religions and beliefs. Recently, some of our Sisters have been treated horribly in public... so.... we are organizing the First Annual Covered in Light International Awareness Day to promote understanding and tolerance.

The date is Friday, September 21, 2012.

A facebook page detailing the event will be coming soon, but I would like all my friends to consider wearing a covering of their choice to stand in solidarity.

You are all such a supporters of Tolerance for all that we were hoping to have you mention us on your pages to help this go viral. Thank you in advance.

http://coveredinlight.org/2012/07/14/first-annual-international-covered-in-light-day/

7/8/12

Hail Loki.

You remind me to be courageous.
You encourage me to laugh at the absurdities of this life.
You press me to speak the uncomfortable truths that no one else can tell.
You drive me to distraction.
You confuse and befuddle me.
You exhort me to continue forward despite my fears.
You laugh at my foolishness.
You inspire my children to confuse and amuse me.
You show me that I can live with mental illness.
You remind me that I am stronger then I think.
You tell me old stories and lies, mixing fact and fiction into a potent but heady brew.
You tolerate my prating with a smile and then promptly remind me how it doesn't matter.
You drive change forward with aggressiveness that reminds me how necessary it is to grow.
You pull me forward when I balk or stumble in fear.
You pick me up when I fall into despair.

You are my friend.
You are my confidant.
You are loved by me.

Hail, Loptr.
Hail, Flamehair.
Hail, God of Inappropriate Laughter.

Thank you for encouraging me to be the best I can.

7/5/12

Substitutions

One can substitute Mandrake root with any other root of the nightshade family. Failing this, Poison Hemlock root or others from the carrot family.

DO NOT CONSUME POISONOUS PLANTS!

7/4/12

Pagan Blog Project: N - Names

Names have power. This is a very old belief that is present in many, many cultures since antiquity. Bynames (also known as epithets or kennings) are some times used in ritual purposes as a means of avoiding invocations of certain deities or beings. (Not that it's terribly successful.) The time in our lives where names are usually considered the most is at our birth, when our parents name us.

Our birth names are argued by numerologists (and a few others) to shape our fledgling personalities and a measure of how our life unfurls. Names that are considered to be old fashioned are reputed to belong to people who are of a 'stuffy' nature. Names that are considered to be glamorous are reputed to lend the possessor a measure of that good fortune. Similar other folk beliefs abound.

In Wicca, many people have a public name (much like my various pseudonyms) which are used for networking and such. They have their magical name that is their call name from the gods. Some people use their magical name as their public name. I was taught not to do so because one's magical name is something sacred and not to be shared except with people whom you trust implicitly.

It was believed in the 'old days' that one's magical name could be used against them. Thus, it was taboo to speak it out loud. Also, in the 'old days' nicknames or something else of the sort were used to make it a little harder to have the names of coven members tortured out of them. Thus, if a coven comprised of people from three different villages only knew each other by these nicknames, this ensures the safety of the coven. This, however, is lore that is on shaky ground anthropologically. But that is a topic for another day.

Pagan Blog Project: M - Meditation

Some people find meditation difficult. I believe this is because they take the wrong approach to it. They see the images of people sitting in full lotus with their eyes closed and no apparent connection with the rest of the world. They read of extremely practiced people who meditate managing to accomplish impressive mental feats. The most impressive, I think, was the level of discipline and control exhibited by the Buddhist monk who lit himself on fire in protest of the mistreatment of the Buddhists by the South Vietnamese government in 1963. These are exceptional people who have accomplished exceptional feats of the mind.

A novice should not expect themselves to accomplish this. They will be quickly frustrated and disappointed. Quite possibly enough so to never attempt meditation again. Meditation, however, is a simple practice that serves to help sharpen the mind and quiet the spirit. It is something that can be done with out any emphasis upon belief in any 'higher' entity. It is simply a mental exercise that can be beneficial for most anyone who endeavors to engage in it. There has been serious scientific study that has verified this claim to be accurate.

A quick search about the internet shows that much has been written for the lay person about how to engage in meditation. I will not rehash that material, because it has been more then sufficiently covered by others. Instead, I wish to share with you my experience with meditation.

One of my favorite forms of meditation is walking meditation. I focus upon the physical sensations of walking and on my environment. It is not as 'deep' of a form of meditation as others, but I find it quite enjoyable and an excellent form of stress reduction. I combine the positive endorphins from light exercise with mindful attentiveness to my environment. More often then not, I find myself noticing things like small flowers along the sidewalk, the pleasant way light slants through the trees, or the smiles of people having a pleasant conversation as they are waiting in their cars for the light to change.

Another active form of meditation that I enjoy is spinning. I'm not referring to the popular exercise but rather the craft of making thread from raw fiber. Part of the reason why I enjoy it, I admit, is the fact that it is a simple, repetitive task that I find relaxing. I am sure that other people find knitting to be soothing for the same reason. I find myself able to go into a 'deeper' meditative state whilst spinning because my attention is more focused upon a single act. At times, I may combine spinning with walking, and then it is just as if I am doing my usual walking meditation.

I also have a more restive form of meditation that I find highly pleasurable. That, quite simply, is prayer. Sitting in quiet, contemplative prayer is more like the image of meditation that people expect. I don't sit in a special posture. (My arthritic knees don't let me get into full lotus and at times make it hard to sit with my legs crossed on the floor, sadly.) I close my eyes to help cut distractions. Sometimes, I have a set of prayer beads on hand. I will use them to count my prayers to help me stick to a certain time frame for meditation.

Any action done with mindful attention can be meditation. If you are mindful and attentive while washing the dishes, this is a meditative act. If you are mindful and attentive while reading a book, this is a meditative act. The beautiful thing about meditation is how it can be anything you need it to be.

6/29/12

Pagan Blog Project: M - Magic

I'm pretty sure that everybody and their cousin are posting about this topic. Magic seems to be one of the most popular parts of modern paganism. I'm not going into talking about the 'woo' stuff. No descriptions of rituals or anything else dramatic like that. No talk of energy manipulation or anything else that is stock and trade.

If you want to see powerful magic, I've got something amazing for you. Watch children growing up. Watch seeds burst into plants and those plants stretching up to the Sun. Watch the processes of life all around you. Each of these things are magic. All of the ordinary wonders that we take for granted, take a second and recognize how amazing they are.

The statistical likelihood of life on our planet is small compared to the rest of the universe. The statistical likelihood of YOUR existence is small. There is but ONE person like you out of all of humanity. This is wonderful. It is magic at work.

6/21/12

Pagan Blog Project: L - Love

The sun rides high, this Litha and passions often do so as well this time of year. Heat and humidity can bring out the surly qualities in most anyone. That, however, is not the focus of my entry today. Today, I am writing, yet again, about love.

Love is a topic that is close to my heart. It is a wondrous and special emotion that can bring out the extremes of one's personality. Many people think of romantic love when ever the word is mentioned. Love, however, has many more facets. Let me take a moment to list the different forms of love that there are out there in the world:
  • Romantic
  • Filial
  • Platonic
  • Obsessive
  • Agape
  • Abstract
  • Self
  • Narcissistic
This is a partial list. There could be many, many more forms that could be added to the list, but that will move me away from the main point of my writing today.

I am of the opinion that our capacity for love is one of the traits that sets us apart from the other species. I believe that it is possible to describe the devotion of a pet for their owners as love, but I think it is a greater likelihood that it is pack oriented behavior projected upon the humans that is in the pets life. I don't think that this is some how diminishing the experience of love, only that we're anthropomorphizing the animal's experience and failing to consider it from their perspective.

If there can be no consensus on even one aspect of human emotion, how can we possibly begin to approach an understanding of an animal's emotions. Further more, it is an enormous act of hubris to claim that we can understand the emotions of a deity. They may speak to us but the do so in terms that we may understand. We will never fully comprehend the depth of love a deity may have for us.

Let's stop trying to play pin the meaning on the word (a lexographic version of pin the tail on the donkey) and accept that there are aspects of love that we'll never understand and are far greater then human conception. Only by accepting this can we begin to truly understand our own capacity for boundless, unconditional love.

6/18/12

Pagan Blog Project: L - Loki

At one point, I didn't dare mention Loki by name. I was fearful of him bringing utter chaos into my life. Having experienced a great deal of unpleasantness, I was more then a little gun shy about directly invoking him or mentioning him. Even when I did so by a round about way via epithets, Loki still made a significant bit of noise to make his presence felt.

I guess it was about a year and a half a go, I realized that my anxiety over getting Loki's attention was doing me more harm then good. It was a measure of 'I surrender' and a measure of 'just do what you're going to do, already!' behind my decision to mention Loki directly. Since then, I think it's happened at least once a day. Amusingly enough, life has calmed down a fair amount.

A part of me says that the random outbreaks of weirdness on the heels of mentioning Loki's name in the past was quite possibly a case of him trying to get my attention. At one point in the past, I figured that people who had an active relationship with their deity was something that happened on a special case basis. I didn't feel isolated or rejected by my gods. But I didn't have that daily chat with them kind of relationship either. To be honest, it was the daily chat relationship that I was looking for. (Oh, for a cheap laugh, I had made the typo of  'loki-ing'.)

I now have it. And it is with the deity that I had least expected it to happen with. Loki regularly makes snarky comments about life, people, and the gods. He offers me encouragement and advice when I am struggling. He exhorts me to do things that are healthful and good for me. It's like having a friend at my side. It feels a little strange to say that I am friends with a god, but if the Christians can do it, then so can I.

Loki, thank you for being here for me, even when I didn't realize that was the case.

6/4/12

Pagan Blog Project: K - Kitchen witch.

My mother had one in her kitchen. I now have one in my kitchen. I'm pretty sure that family back in the old country had them in their kitchens. The Kitchen Witch doll is a simple little luck charm. I made myself one from a corn husk doll, a bit of fabric, and a wooden spoon I had decorated and blessed a few years back.

It's a very simple little thing. I made a point of giving the doll a headscarf. I figured since the goddesses in my life have been appearing veiled, I may as well make my kitchen witch be veiled as well. All the materials I used are recycled or similarly something I had on hand.

The corn was a major portion of my lunch today and it was delicious. I cut up the other cobs for the boys to have tonight with dinner. The other husks were used to make other corn husk dolls. One was a failed attempt and got promptly put into my composting bucket. The other is out in my flowerbed as a little scarecrow.

5/27/12

Gardening & Domestic Magic

As kitchen witch, I have many areas that magic is applied outside of the ritual circle. In my kitchen, for example, I use a lot of magic with my cooking. I bless food to bring health and well being to those who consume it. I will use herbs based on their magical associations in addition to their culinary uses. I (try) to incorporate home blessing magic into all of the cleaning that goes on in the kitchen. A simple pot of chicken soup turns into a powerful 'potion' for healing when you add a little magic. And like any spice, a little magic can go a very long way.

I have also been busy at work striving to employ magic in my gardening. Unlike some other lucky souls, I haven't the space for a big flower bed, vegetable bed, or herb bed. The majority of what I am growing is in pots arranged to get the most sunlight as possible on the back deck. I have a small flower bed that only gets sun in the late afternoon. A few other flowers in pots with some houseplants, and that's the extent of what I can do for gardening. I work, however, to make each thing I am growing or dealing with in my gardening have as many uses as possible.

It is the act of incorporating as many facets of use into my magic that, in my opinion, sets me a part from more ceremonially oriented witches. Kitchen witches don't frequently have the time, resources, or inclination to use a vast array of specialized anything. You will find that our favorite tea cup doubles as a chalice, the favorite knife in the knife block is also the athame, and instead of a crystal studded wand, we use a wooden spoon.

Each item in our home has a potential magical use. I believe that this makes our lives more full of magic. I believe this makes it easier for us to access our magical abilities and more inclined to do so when the situation could call for them. It may be planting according to the moon phase or sowing blessings with each seed, but gardening can be just as big of a source of magical blessings as cooking. I, however, am a little bit biased.

5/20/12

Pagan Blog Project: J - Jewels

Jewels have had a very old association with magic. They have been used in talismans for as long as humanity has been doing some form of magic. They are interesting and quite valuable. I have a special fondness for a few stones because I find their magical properties to be helpful in my life. One may wonder what gems these are that I am so taken with, so please allow me to share this little list of stones.

  • Amethyst - Amethyst has an ancient association with preventing poisoning and drunkenness. It is, I have found, an excellent stone for protection. It is also well aligned with any sort of magic that focuses upon spiritual matters.
  • Amber - Freja's tears are said to be this stone. It is a resin based stone that ties back to ancient times. I find it to be a very good link to my ancestors and the spirits of the land.
  • Agate - Agate has always been a good stone for protection for me. I think it is because of the fact that the majority of agate that I have used has been from geodes, which carry an essence of that protective shell to them.
  • Bloodstone - Bloodstone is a stone of deep strength and healing. It is associated with purification.
  • Hematite - This is an excellent stone for grounding energies. It is a very gentle grounding and works very well for protection magic.
  • Quartz - A stone of purity and clairvoyance, quartz has been a go-to for almost all magical workings for me. I have a special fondness for milky quartz.

Pagan Blog Project: J - Justice

I think we're up to the letter "J" but I am honestly not sure. Life has taken me away from blogging for the past few weeks so I am a little bit lost. I will try to do another post on a different letter later this week. Apologies made, let's move on to the topic, shall we?

Justice is more then just a tarot card or a concept of the legal system.

Justice is also a powerful Aspect of deity. Most people are familiar with the icon of Lady Justice. This is an ancient goddess that we have carried forward iconographically though people generally don't understand the image. Justice is blindfolded to represent objectivity. Her scales are symbolizing the balance of truth and equanimity. Her sword represents reason and justice.

The modern icon of Justice is a synthesis of several ancient goddesses. There's lots more detail upon this at the wikipedia page I linked to earlier. In ancient times, Justice's impartiality was not depicted by a blindfold but rather by her maiden aspect. The addition of the blindfold came in the 15th century when someone decided to be clever in their interpretation of her. It was also a nod to Fortuna. The sword is from the goddess Nemesis, one of the Furies. It is retributive justice in that manifestation.

I think that we very delicately dance around outright propagation of the goddess of Justice. I suspect that if our society were to tend towards polytheism, she would be one of the first goddesses represented in the new pantheon. A part of me says that we should seriously consider this face of deity for worship. I question, however, if we are truly ready for Lady Justice to turn her gaze upon us and judge us for our actions as a people.

5/4/12

Pagan Blog Project: I - Intention

Intent is a very important thing. Unfortunately, people can have very good intentions and their actions have poor results. It is shockingly common to hear "I didn't intend for that to happen" in daily conversations. Failing to align your actions and intentions makes it very difficult to successfully perform magic. Brutal self examination and honesty is required of us when ever we sit down to do a spell or any other form of magic.

I say it is brutal because we must not give quarter to self deception. If we can not say with full certainty that we intend for XYZ to be on our karmic debts, then we shouldn't engage in it. This is not only how one take the measure of a honest person but how we should weed out that which we should not engage in. All of us have different tolerances for unpleasantness. We all have different tolerances for hardship.

We must keep these things in mind when we consider the possible outcomes of our magical actions. Acting with intent and self-understanding allows us to be successful. It keeps us from hamstringing ourselves subconsciously due to a misalignment between intention and act. It keeps us from taking on karmic burdens that we simply can not handle. And, most of all, it keeps us honorable.

That, however, is all my opinion on this. It is the fruit of my own learning experiences. It may be that somewhere down the road, my position changes because I have learned something new.

4/22/12

Pagan Blog Project: I - Incubate

Incubate is an interesting word. It comes from Latin and is used mainly to discuss the development of something. It was originally used to discuss the process of hatching eggs. It's synonyms include the word brood.

Why am I discussing the word incubate? Well, partly because I couldn't think of a good 'i' word. Partly because it is an interesting little concept. Incubation, germination, growth. They're all very powerful concepts. We invoke them regularly. We lie metaphorically in the state of contemplation and consideration of things when we are 'hatching' an idea.

Incubate is a word that was used in the deep past mostly with respect to birds hatching eggs. Birds are almost universally considered 'Air' oriented. They are possessed of the inspiring ability of flight. Their song greets us in the morning and sends off the day at dusk. Ideas are often described as having wings. Thoughts are often described by poets as feathered things that flit and flirt about like their avian counterparts.

It is an interesting little flight of fancy. And it all started with the word incubate. Makes you wonder just how many other things can take wing and become their own song with a little ingenuity and imagination.

Pagan Blog Project: H - Handfasting

Unlike my last Pagan Blog Project entry, I'm not going to get ahead of myself and say that I'll be posting multiple entries. It is my hope to get caught up letter wise and let the blog posting count take care of itself. Life has been really busy of late and I haven't had the opportunity to sit down and post much of anything in any of my blogs. I'm lucky if I get my three pages written in my daily journal. Rambling aside, thank you, dear Reader, for being so patient and waiting for me to post. I deeply appreciate it.

Tonight, I am writing about handfasting. Some traditions call this a 'trial marriage' that is expected to last for a limited period of time. In many ways, it serves the role of engagement. We, however, don't tend to consider such things in our culture at large. Engagement is prelude to marriage and handfasting is largely unknown. In the writings of the early modern witches, handfasting was an obliquely touched upon matter. More emphasis was place upon developing liturgy and defining the relationship between witch and deity.

In my own tradition, handfasting is synonymous with marriage. There is no 'trial' aspect to it. One can have the relationship last for a predetermined period of time (such as the famous 'year and a day' period) or one can leave it as a life long commitment. Or some variation of the above. The important part of handfasting is the fact that these people are entering a solemn commitment to each other, witnessed by the divine and all of life. Oaths (an entirely different topic) are weighty things and when affirmed in such a ceremony, it is my belief that they take on greater importance.

The legal matters of recognizing a handfasting as a marriage, in my opinion, is simply a matter of paperwork. The swearing of oaths and calling upon the divine and all life to witness it is a far greater thing. Such an oath carries a deep karmic impact that can last throughout one's lifetime. It should be approached with great care and consideration. The contract between the ones who are to be wed should be carefully worded with provisions made for future concerns.

When we look at ancient marriage contracts, we find them resembling prenuptial agreements. The union made is built with considerations for offspring, financial matters, and the possible dissolution of the union. I think it is highly important that such considerations return to the discussion of handfasting (and marriages of any sort, even civil/secular ones). As romantic as the idea of 'till death do we part' sounds, there is a greater likelihood of other matters arising and creating a rift in the union. Taking time to plan for how to approach such a possible rift before it happens gives greater peace to the people who are dealing with it.

I have seen too many ugly divorces where people focused more on engaging in emotional warfare then upon peaceably dissolving the contract between them. I've seen too many situations where the children of a now loveless union become pawns in said emotional warfare, leading to deep emotional scars upon everyone involved. (It is my opinion that such behavior is emotional and psychological abuse of the children and should NEVER be tolerated.) Taking the time before one enters into marriage to consider the possible dissolution and how to make it as amicable as possible is not just wise.

It is a statement of love. It is a statement of respect for the people in the marriage and any children who may be born of it. It says 'I care enough about you to provide a respectable means to conclude this union if we find that we can not continue it later.' It is an act of compassion. And it makes me sad to see people who failed to consider such things allow the ugliness of the moment of their divorce burn away the happiness that was there with the memories of their marriage. It is a sorrowful thing and I suspect that their past selves would have been heartbroken and horrified to see it.

4/14/12

Weaving, spinning, and purging poisons.

Waning Worm Moon (Age: 23 days)
Sign: Aquarius
Weather: cloudy, warm, with rain expected later
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
For a few days now, I have been having dreams of Sigyn. Some of them are very straight forward and have content that I am not permitted to share except with a very small number of people. And in these dreams, Sigyn has given me work to do.

She wants me to continue my efforts to get better at spinning. She has told me that this is to be an important part of my life as time progresses forward. Sigyn has told me that I must learn to be better at weaving. I will be making something for her, though she hasn't told me what. And then there is the third task that I was given in my dreams last night.

In my dream, Sigyn placed a small stone bowl in my hand. She told me that I was to fill it with poisons. I was confused and she clarified. All of the unhealthful thinking and habits that I have acquired are to be purged. I don't know how I will fill this bowl and it seems terribly small for such a large task. Sigyn tells me that I will receive the physical vessel soon. The substitute vessel needs to be something strong and has the capacity to contain magic.

I suspect that this may be one of the tiny ritual cauldrons that I own. I'm not entirely sure how comfortable I am with this process. It is, however, one of the ones that has been set before me to do as a priestess. I don't know if I am supposed to write things down on slips of paper or impress the psychic energy of the thought into a stone and place it in the bowl. Sigyn hasn't answered me on this one. I think that's because she is confident that I will figure out the best method for me to use.

I may, in the midst of this, restart my worry jar. I had one at one point. Somewhere in the midst of the last move it went missing. Oddly enough, I don't even remember what was in that jar. So, I guess it did it's thing. Right now, I just feel a powerful call to go out for a walk. Maybe, I'll do just that. It's not a bad way to end the evening.

4/7/12

Pagan Blog Project: G - Goddess Centered Life Goals

I'm going to type up two 'G' entries tonight. To my readers, I apologize that I forgot to post on this last week. I've been running in circles trying to keep up with the kids. I must first make a confession before I proceed to write upon this topic. I am not very good at keeping focus upon the Goddess. I've had many traumatic experiences revolving around maternal influences that make it very challenging for me to engage the Goddess on a deep level. Please forgive if any of this sounds awkward. I am foraging ahead on some new (to me) ground here.

It may be a mouthful but 'Goddess Centered Life Goals' is actually a new focus of mine. In some ways it is a return to a previous position with deeper self knowledge. When I was a neophyte, I was exceptionally starry eyed about the idea of a deity that had some kind of resemblance to myself. As I moved from soft polytheism into harder polytheism, I moved away from the Great Goddess of Wicca and into more focused relationships with specific deities. I'm not saying that one was better then the other, it was just what happened.

After Samhain last year, I realized that I needed to built up my relationship with the Great Goddess. It was then that I sat down and looked at some of my life goals. How can these life goals be viewed in the context of my relationship with the Goddess? It was a question that felt strange and uncomfortable. I kept asking myself until I began to sense I had some kind of an answer. (Relentless self-examination is always part of the key to personal gnosis, in my opinion.)

I looked at myself and where I stand in this journey called my life. I saw that my faith played a very large role. I saw that my life as a mother was extremely important. My life as a wife and helpmate was extremely important. And it suddenly occurred to me, this is part of how the Great Goddess manifests. It was profound in its simplicity.

Then I went back to the myths that formed the framework of the Wiccan relationship with the Great Goddess. I studied them and looked at my life. I asked myself, how can I understand my life in terms of the mythology of the Great Goddess? I asked, what is the way that the Great Goddess has manifested in me?

I'll be honest, I don't have answers to those questions. I'm still doing research and engaged in contemplation on the matter. I think, however, that as I consider my relationship with the Great Goddess it will be come clear to me just how I am one of her faces. And I think that it will not only manifest itself in my life goals but in my relationships. And I think that it will be incredibly empowering when it happens.

Until then, however, I'll do as the Buddhist monk: chop wood and carry water.

4/1/12

Plant magic & gardening

Waxing Gibbous Worm Moon (Age: 9 days)
Sign: Leo
Weather: Cloudy, cold and light breezes
~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~
I have started my gardening efforts a tad early. As a result, I recycled several plastic bottles to serve as mini-greenhouses during this cold snap. It is my hope that they did what I needed them to and helped my seedlings survive. Much of what I have planted so far hasn't been with emphasis upon magical uses. It has been more to accommodate the growing conditions and my deep desire to have flowers. While there is nothing wrong with this emphasis, I am going to transition my next plans for planting more along the magical, medicinal, and edible lines.

There will be a large circular bed that I will be planting soon. I need to thin out a flowerbed that is overstuffed with day lilies and I think I will be taking the square area that is filled with stone and putting something there that is pleasant and can bear partial to deep shade. I have a good deal of plants in pots and there will be many more.

In my efforts, I hope to have some sort of way to encourage my children to get excited about gardening. I may be putting aside a pot of soil just for them. I'm still considering my options. My youngest is 2 1/2 years old so he's not going to be as focused on the new experience as his 4 1/2 years old brother. Either way, however, I want them to learn that plants are also living creatures that we should be respectful of. I really don't like how the other children that they play with wantonly rip leaves and twigs off of plants.

Speaking of twigs, it is my hope that the maple twig that I have in a vase of water will put out some roots. If I am lucky and can get it to do so, I will be putting it into a nice little pot and keeping it in the house. I love the idea of growing a tree. And it is my hope that our next move will be to a place where we can 'put down roots'. My dream is to do so by planting a few trees to grow with our family in our permanent home.

I know that plenty of people live in apartments and are quite happy with them. It has always been my dream to have a house with a big yard and a garden. As part of my efforts to support this dream, I am going to attempt to coax this twig into rooting and putting it into a pot. There's lots of people who have grown trees in pots. I like the idea of doing so until we have ourselves a house with a bit of property.

I think that my garden and plants will reflect the health of my home. As such, caring for them is a manifestation of how I am caring for my family. And where some people call their pets their 'fur babies' I tend to call my plants my 'green babies.' I love the idea that my 'green babies' can grow and bring fulfillment and blessings to my home.

3/25/12

Pagan Blog Project: F - Focus

It may seem a little odd that I am writing about focus or the ability to concentrate intently but it is a really important aspect of my practices. And I believe wholeheartedly that it should be part of the discussion of rituals and all spell craft. It is, as I understand it, part of the fundamental skill set for successful religious practice, regardless of any religion practiced.

I have encountered a lot of neophyte witches and seekers who are very unfocused. They want to learn but are overwhelmed by what is available to them. I have a good friend who is in many ways struggling with this. (Yes, I'm talking about you Teal. :D) It is very important to be able to sit down and concentrate on something that you are working on.

This is seen in education, professional sports, and everything inbetween. In the sphere of the matter of religion, our ability to focus helps us considerably when we go to pray. Prayer has become something of an object of study for me recently. I have been undergoing some learning experiences and finding that my own ability to focus my mind leaves room for improvement. This, however, does not disqualify me from exhorting others to engage in the same work.

Indeed, I suspect it makes me especially well qualified for this discussion. Academics have their own set of exercises to help us learn to control our minds. Different spiritual practices have different techniques for focusing one's thoughts upon points of contemplation. We, as witches and pagans, should devise our own. While there is no harm in using the techniques that have been successful for others, establishing our own set of practices helps to tailor them to our unique needs.

In a perfect world, I think that all religions would have someone available to teach its members how to pray, how to meditate, how to contemplate, and how to step aside and leave matters in the care of the Divine. Sadly, most of us are stumbling around and groping in the proverbial dark to find our way to wisdom. Experience has shown me time and again, that one of the light switches that helps us illuminate our ignorance and reveal the truths buried beneath it is our ability to focus our minds.

That, however, is my opinion.

3/20/12

Blogs of interest

Waning Sap Moon (Age: 27 days)
Sign: Pisces
Weather: Fair skies & unseasonably warm
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I'm starting a list of blogs that I follow in case anyone who reads this wants to know who's work I am reading currently. If your blog is on the list and you want it taken off, let me know. This post will be getting updated as I add other blogs to the list.

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Witchin' in the Kitchen
(who has a pashmina give away going on, so go check it out!)

The Fruit of Pain

Looking Up at the Clouds

Tealights in the Dark
(who I really hope will be updating soon, I really enjoy their writing style)

The Iconoclastic Domina

Loki's Bruid

Gangleri's Grove
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I'll be adding more as I encounter them upon the interwebz.

3/18/12

Pagan Blog Project: F - Flamehair

Hail Flamehair!

Some people don't give you enough credit. You are the embodiment of entropy. People like to say that you're 'just chaos' and fail to consider the fact that with out chaos the universe would not exist.

There's a lot more to you then that, but this is all I can think of right now. My children have rather sapped my brain.

3/10/12

Pagan Blog Project: E - Elves

Waning Gibbous Sap Moon (Age: 17 days)
Sign: Libra
Weather: Clear, seasonable & light breeze from the west
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Ah, elves. Also known as fairies, the good folk, the fair ones, and pixies (to name a few). These nature spirits are known throughout the world by different names and are of as wide of a range of personalities as people. Most of the people that I know who are not pagan tend to view elves as the quaint diminutive servants of Santa Claus. Others who are a bit more bookish will think of Tolkien's elves. If I'm lucky, I run into some folks who are mythology geeks and are familiar with some of the old stories about these interesting spirits. (Alas, I am not as lucky as I wish to be on that front.)

My approach to elves is colored by my spiritual education. I was weaned on the myths of the Nordic people, predominantly those surrounding the Aseir and Jotuns. Usually, the Aseir were presented as the good guys and the Jotuns as the bad guys. Aside from this, we had the stories of the brownies and similar spirits from the British Isles thrown in for good measure. It made for an interesting hodge podge, especially when a dollop of Iriquoi mythology got thrown in.

I approach the elves with caution. The spirits of the land and that which lives upon it can be fickle. They are reluctant to deal with humanity because we have moved our awareness away from being in tune with nature. When you happen to begin interacting with them, strange things start to become common place. Things randomly going missing and then reappearing in odd places becomes normal. Gifts appearing on your doorstep or somewhere else that you regularly frequent, such as the perfect crow's feather or a stone that sits just right in your hand, starts to happen as you pay more attention to the care of the flora and fauna about your home.

As I said at the beginning of that last statement, I approach them with caution. I have no doubt in my mind that these spirits are powerful and have the ability to bless us or curse. I have seen what has come from being on the good side of these ancient beings and what has come from being on the receiving end of their ire. People who are loved by the fair ones seem to have a magic touch with plants and good luck. Those who are scorned watch as their very efforts to coax anything to grow wither on the vine, as though the plant itself has refused that incarnation. Bad luck plagues them and, for the truly despised, it can even manifest as a measure of illness.

The old stories speak of one being 'elf shot' when they are ill for no apparent reason and fail to recover until they have appeased the angry fae. I do not think these are just stories of illnesses that are poorly understood. I believe that buried among those stories of illnesses that were misunderstood there are accurate accounts of people who have been some how cursed by the fair ones. Given that there seem to be more accounts of people who have some how angered the fair folk then of people who have been some how blessed by them, I suspect that the fair ones are not as prone to tolerating human nonsense as certain Victorian authors would have us believe.

Do I have a relationship with the fae? Yes and I work very hard to make sure it is a good one. In part because I value their friendship and have found their company pleasant. The fae are very wise and can teach us a great deal if we are truly willing to learn from them. And, I admit, a fair dose of superstition has me cautious in my dealings with them. That, however, is part of how I was raised to approach them.

Our cultural background colors a great deal of how we interact with the local nature spirits. Some people talk of how hobgoblins and nixies seemed to have emigrated with the Scots, or other spirits with different nationalities. I'm not sure if it is because some truly did emigrate with families or if that was how those people understood the spirits they encountered.

3/6/12

Hail Flame Hair! Hail Scar Lip! Hail Loki!

Waxing (almost full :D ) Sap Moon (Age: 12 days)
Sign: Leo (soon to be void of course)
Weather: fair skies, mild
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I am positively giddy right now. After several days of spinning my wheels on what to do in contacting Loki, some excellent advice/instruction from ArtCat, and my picking up the pen again in His honor, Loki gave me a distinct message today.

He told me he wanted some cheap whiskey and onion rings. I don't claim to understand that but I am thrilled. I had missed his snarky comments and droll observations about things in my life. It was a palpable ache and rather distressing. It was, in short, excruciating.

Throw on top of that I had been having a bad couple of days in the more mundane sense, I was rather miserable. So, upon ArtCat's advice, I had taken up the pen and started writing in the devotional journal that I started a few months ago at Lopt's urging. I let my ego get in the way of that work. As ArtCat so excellently pointed out, I fell into the trap of treating Loki like Odin. As a result, I got the silent treatment.

As I was writing in the journal, I suddenly found Loki at my side. He was looking at me with a mildly exasperated look when I paused and muttered that I didn't like what I was writing. I then sighed and reminded myself that criticism such as that is more like Odin then Loki and I need to be more tolerant of myself. I actually said out loud "Stop thinking like Odin."

Loki laughed at that. All out belly laugh. I didn't think I was being hilarious but everyone tells me that when I'm exasperated, especially with myself, I am drop dead funny. Scar Lip seemed to think so. He then told me to write what he said. It was an odd experience to write out both sides of a conversation with him. I'm so used to just talking to him.

Flame Hair (who just giggled at my typo of 'Flamer,' I think he may not be sober right now, I honestly don't know) said that I needed to have reminders of our conversations. I guess that's what I'll be writing down in the journal for now. I've decided to stop trying to fight it. I'll just write what ever he puts in my head.

I still feel really self conscious that he wants me to write about the ugly things in my past. That, of course, is why he wants me to write it. He still wants me to get to know Sygyn. He insists it is good for me to know her. Loki really wants me to get past my fear and I think it's really great that I've got his support. (Who can't argue that you've got a really awesome supporter when a deity is in your cheering section? Certainly not I.)

It's funny in that unfunny way that he's being so patient with me as I try to sort out the psychological baggage and trauma. I get the distinct impression that he is, to some extent, handling me with kid gloves. I feel a bit embarrassed by it. He, however, doesn't care if I'm embarrassed or not. Loki does what Loki does, damn who ever the hell gets in his way. So, when I go 'but I feel stupid' he gives me a pat on the head and a look like what you give a child who so totally doesn't have a clue and are really struggling in their efforts to understand.

Did I mention this is a hit to the ego? Yeah, he kinda laughs at that too. Tells me that I'm not some scary monster and to stop feeling like I am. It gets awkward at times. When the Father of Monsters tells you that you're not a monster... you wonder is it a compliment, rebuke, or statement of fact. Given that I'm getting an annoyed look right now, I'm guessing it's a statement of fact.

Ah well, somedays I guess I'm more dense then I am on others. Still, Loki is talking to me again!

3/3/12

Psychology vs faith (aka i hate c-PTSD)

Waxing Sap Moon (Age: 9 days)
Sign: Cancer
Weather: Clear, cold & windy
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I sit here at the keyboard chilled in body and mind. The shawl I am wearing may warm me up physically but this psychological chill is harder to shake. I live with a myriad of psychological disorders. Until recently, it seems like they didn't have much of an impact on my faith and how I expressed it. Now that I sit and look at it, however, I must admit that they have run roughshod over an enormous part of my expression and put limitations on how I experience my faith.

For the longest time, the experience of a maternal Goddess was infrequent for me. Not because the Goddess wasn't maternal. It was because I tended to shut down when it happened. I dissociated, at best, or I panicked. Now this has spread to my relationship with Loki. This is very upsetting for me.

Loki is a father figure for me. He's a friend and close companion. To have it happen where I can't cut through the panic to hear his reply when I pray, it scares me. My spirit guides tell me that this is normal for someone who has borne as much trauma as I have. They tell me that this is temporary and it will be relieved soon.

One of the last messages that came clearly from Loki was that I should find someone to act as his mouthpiece. A person to facilitate a conversation between him and I. At the time, I said 'ok.' and then put it on the mental back burner because I was eyeball deep in nonsense with other matters. Now, I sit here and I realize that directive was in preparation for this time.

I don't know how long this is going to be. I hope it'll be only a few days. I didn't realize how much I bantered with him and I had come to depend upon his input until just now. He said it was to be for a conversation. I feel a significant amount of dread right now. I'm fearful that I am going to discover that the Loki I speak to in that conversation is going to be very different from the sarcastic, smartass and sincere Loki that I've come to know. That what I have experienced is not Loki but rather what I wished for Loki to be.

I hate this.

Pagan Blog Project: E - Epiphany

Waxing Sap Moon (Age: 9 days)
Sign: Cancer
Weather: Clear, cold & windy
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Epiphany is such a delicious word. It is not only the name of a high feast day in the Christian religion, but also the word we use for sudden intuitive understanding. It also is used to denote a manifestation of some sort, most frequently with respect to deity. When I think of this word, I smile. It just rolls off the tongue like a song, in my opinion.

It was an epiphany that lead me to where I am today. Sudden intuitive understanding that I could be far healthier and happier then I ever had been in the past set me on the course of healing the psychological traumas in my past. Visionary trances and similar experiences have happened to me and directed me in my expressions of faith. It is something that I think of and smile.

It is a beautiful experience that I sincerely hope that others may have as well. I can not think of anything more wonderful then a direct experience of the love of one's deity of choice. Every single vision that I have had relating to the gods has been an expression of that love. It is incredibly humbling. It is also so wonderfully beautiful that it literally moves me to tears.

After having the challenges of life leave me jaded, this infusion of wonder is like watching the first buds of green springing up from the earth. It is like the sweet smell of the sap running in the maple tree out in my front yard. It gives me a fresh breath of life and reminds me of all the wonder that is awaiting me.

3/2/12

Domestic Goddess & I

Waxing Sap Moon (Age: 8 days)
Sign: Cancer
Weather: Overcast, warm, high winds expected
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Over the last several days, I have been contemplating the idea of the Goddess as a domestic figure. Images throughout history have shown goddess figures engaged in domestic tasks. Indeed it was part of the mythology of the world's cultures to have goddesses who specialized in such things.

With the advent of Christianity, the Blessed Virgin Mary took up the cause of domestic cares in her iconography. Various saints have been ascribed to watch over everything ranging from weaving to house cleaning. Domesticity is nothing new in faith of any sort.

Indeed many images modern such as the one above from Eric Gill and in antiquity have shown this. It is a curious thing, then, that I haven't taken such an idea as a 'domestic Goddess' and incorporated it into the worldview that I work with. As I have made progress in my efforts to recover from psychological trauma, I am discovering aspects of the Goddess that I have neglected to consider in my efforts to flee from those aspects in myself.

It was a rather upsetting realization. I am learning, however, that the Goddess is not troubled by such things. As I learn to connect with her again on an intimate level, I am finding that I feel a strong pull to embrace images such as those of the knitting Madonna and such. It has been a learning experience.

I am finding that such images are becoming foci for meditation. And with meditation upon them, I am discovering aspects of myself that are intimately twined with them. It is as though I have opened Pandora's box to discover that instead of the fabled plagues and evils of the world, it contains treasures and great blessings. So, I am striving to keep the domestic aspect of the Goddess at the forefront of my mind.

It is for this reason why I keep my little wrist distaff and a spindle on my altar. It reminds me of her. It is also part of the reason why I am looking to incorporate a Goddess image into the decor of my kitchen. This way I can look and be reminded of her presence everywhere, including in myself.

2/25/12

Pagan Blog Project: D - Dynamics

Waxing Sap Moon (Age: 3 days)
Sign: Aries
Weather: Cold, windy, & light lake effect snow
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I've decided to participate in the Pagan Blog Project. They're working their way through the alphabet two weeks at a time. Currently, this is the second week for the letter 'D'. I'm going to be discussing dynamics.

The word 'dynamic' often brings to mind vitality, activity, and effervescent personalities. It also can be used other fashions. It has also been used colloquially to denote relationship paradigms. It is this colloquial usage that I am referencing. There are many dynamics of this sense in the world. Three big ones that we consider in metaphysics are:
  1. Cosmological
  2. Theological
  3. Interpersonal
Cosmological dynamics revolve around the relationship between man1 and the universe at large. The questions that arise in consideration of cosmological relationships are myriad. They range from the questions as to the origin and nature of the universe to the questions of moral consideration regarding man's actions in relation to the multifaceted elements that comprise the known universe. Indeed these questions are so plentiful that I can not begin to condense them in a single post, let alone as part of one. For cosmology is a complex philosophical topic of inquiry in its own right in addition to being a serious subject of pursuit in theoretical physics.

Now, one may wonder why I give consideration to cosmological dynamics. This is a very important part of the worldview of any given belief system. Humanity has questioned the nature of existence for as long as we have had the capacity. As such, we have created stories, theories, and cultural mythos to quantify, define, and explain what we observed. It is from this primeval urge to understand what we interpret from our senses that the foundational elements of religion are formed.

As Joseph Campbell so brilliantly illustrated in his work The Masks of God and as J. G. Frazer detailed in his The Golden Bough, religion arose from stories accepted by a people, then enacted as ritual dramas and shared with other people. These stories defined for the culture they originated in the answers to the philosophical quandaries that fall under the heading of cosmology. In Wicca, we have a patchwork cosmology. Our stories are varied and highly eclectic. Nowhere else is this more visible then in how we delineate our relationship with the divine.

Theology and divinity2 are twin academic pursuits that attempt to describe that relationship. Experiential knowledge of the godhead3 shapes subsequent theology. There are two ways that this knowledge can be accessed. One is by way of personal revelation. The second is by way of analysis and reason.

The major religions of the world are predominantly based in revelatory experiences that happen to a given person (commonly referred to as a prophet) and then disseminated amongst the population of a culture. In the Abrahmic faiths (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), the revelatory experience happens to a patriarch who then shares this with his children. This eventually extends to others who have adopted the belief system. Authenticity of the revelations are based upon comparison to established canon. Disputes as to the veracity of a given revelation are what has given rise to conflict between these related faiths and within each respective belief system4.

Wicca lacks a body of work to be upheld as canon. For some individuals, this is argued to be a weakness of the religion. Quite frequently, these people argue that Wicca as a comparatively young5 religion lacks the validity of history. This argument fails to consider the influence of historical religions upon modern Wicca. Additionally, the cellular6 nature of Wicca places greater emphasis upon the individual's experience versus that of the community. It is this highly individualize nature that makes it difficult to collate and assess the collective knowledge with respect to the nature of the godhead and how man relates to it.

This forces a neonate to adhere to the maxim7 from the perennially popular Charge of the Goddess because they can not rely upon other sources. Covens assist neonates in exploring their relationship with the godhead, but they can not provide full revelation of it. This is a stark difference from religions such as the Abrhamic ones. There, the community at large has defined the collective and individual relationships one has with the godhead. There is a body of work upheld that one can compare their experiences to and thereby attest to the veracity of what they have had revealed to them.

For Wiccans, they must deal with the murky waters between mystical revelation and possible madness. We must continually ask ourselves if we are being genuine in our activities towards the godhead. We must continually assess within ourselves the veracity of what has been revealed to us throughout our mystic experiences. This requires a mature understanding of ourselves and our limitations. It also requires that we be ever honest in our dealings on the theological front. Duplicity serves no good and can quite possibly hinder our efforts to deepen our person gnosis.

This brings me to my third point of consideration, this evening. Interpersonal relationships are tricky things. Throw religion into the mix and they become volatile at times. This is where the other popular maxim8 upheld becomes a useful consideration. Individual freedom is highly prized by Wiccans. This cherished quality does often get a bit of humor when one attempts to organize a group of Wiccans to do something (the phrase 'herding cats' comes to mind). Individual freedom is essential to Wicca. While some would wish to establish some sense of orthodoxy for Wicca, this would deprive this religion of its appeal for a great many of its followers.

The fludity of Wicca allows for this faith to embrace all types of people and all types of worldviews. It is a strength of this faith for it to be so accessible to individuals. For each 'fluffy bunny' that one encounters who seems to espouse random platitudes with a beatific, yet empty smile, there are countless serious practitioners who strive each day to deepen their knowledge of themselves and the world. Paramount to this faith is respect for that individuality that gives Wicca its strength. As such, many Wiccans strive to conduct themselves with utmost respect for each other and all life about them. As a religion that is frequently panenthistic and pantheistic, this is only a natural outgrowth of such worldviews.

At the core of all the dynamics we witness at play in Wicca is this respect. We honor each other, the world, and the godhead. With this, we ensure our continued liberty and growth.

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1. I am using the term 'man' in the classical sense of referring to all of humanity. This is simply a matter of convention. No implication of patrifocal leanings are intended.

2. I am using the term 'divinity' to pertain to the study of the applied theology of a given religion. This is a minor departure from the typical usage, which to discuss this academic exercise with strict respect to Christianity.

3. I am using the term 'godhead' as a gender neutral term for the genderless paradoxical All commonly understood as God or Goddess. Aristotle defined this as the Prime Mover.

4. I recognize that there are many other major factors that are at play in the state of affairs between the Abrahamic faiths. For the sake of simplicity, I am focusing only upon this particular aspect.

5. Wicca, from an anthropological perspective, is argued to have arisen in its contemporary format with Gerald Gardner. The existence of the New Forest Coven which the late Mr. Gardner was initiated by has been the subject of some academic debate. This blog's position upon the debate is to withhold supporting either side until evidence is presented to conclusively prove one or the other.

6. Autonomous individual groups (covens) of practitioners operating with only loose social connection to each other.

7. "And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without." (from Reclaiming's website)

8. "An ye harm none, do what thou wilt" ~ proverb