TPE: B is for Belligerent

Belligerent is not a word most people think of in a positive aspect. Honestly, it is the case of my turning the concept on its ear right now, because belligerent almost always has a negative connotation. You know what else has a negative connotation? Not being part of the mainstream religious set. The farther you move away from that mainstream activity and the more pressure you get from society to bend back into their comfortable norms. The problem is, the norms are comfortable for THEM and not YOU.

When confronting this as a young woman, I got angry. Then I got belligerent. When people did things like called me Satan's whore, I didn't just shrug off their comment. I got right back in their faces and challenged them to prove it. I demanded that they produce evidence that their accusations held water. This lead to a few narrowly avoided physical confrontations and my locker being the target of theft several times. It was, however, something that I just couldn't 'ignore' them and hope it would go away.

People say that if you ignore bullies they'll go away. That's not exactly true. They'll keep at it until they are satisfied with the damage they caused. This means that they'll escalate the harassment until they get the reaction they want out of you. I got belligerent and dug my heels in when I hit the point that the harassment became unmanageable by non-confrontational means. I had people tell me that I was getting angry over nothing, but they weren't in the position of having people telling you all the time that your way of life was wrong and that you deserved what you got (and worse) because you simply weren't Christian. They weren't in a position where they had to struggle with the question of if you said or did the wrong thing, would the bullies go after your younger siblings. (That happened once. That bully had the misfortune of taking on all three of us at once due to that. And we didn't fight fair, we fought with what ever worked. My only regret about that instance is that we didn't draw blood from that little shit.)

Sometimes, you just can't be passive. Sometimes you have to dig your heels in and get ready to fight. The trick is recognizing what battles are worth waging and what ones are not. In the USA, there's been an uptick in the 'conservative' Christian rhetoric. It has lead to people who just want to practice their religion in peace being the subject of harassment that goes beyond someone spitting on your and having terrible things to say about you, your family, and what their opinion of your afterlife is going to be. People are being told that they can't have a church because its not some flavor of Christianity. People are being told that they can't participate in public prayer because they're not part of that accepted group. There are people who are dealing with their lives and livelihoods in danger all because they're openly practicing their religion.

I wish it was as simple as screaming Odin and beating the piss out of the biggest jerk in the room. But we're not kids in the schoolyard anymore. And anyways, the schoolyard has become a more dangerous place over the years. A shoving match and a few punches have been morphing into collective beat-downs. (Do a few google searches on the topic of violence in schools and you'll find evidence of it. It's repulsive.) Now, we have to fight smarter. We have to take the fight into the courts and press it as high and as far as it will go. We have to take the fight into the larger community and reveal the bigots for what they are, generally the western equivalent of the nutjobs who are out there as terrorists in the world. When it becomes necessary to defend ourselves with force, we must always make a point of never being the one who starts the fight and always being the one who finishes it.

We need to get angry and be belligerent. Nobody is going to ride to our rescue. We have to do it ourselves. And if we don't do it, how much worse is it going to be for the next generation? Because these kinds of problems don't just go away. They fester and get worse as time progresses.


I'm not a fuzzy bunny.

Waxing Gibbous Hunger Moon (Age 10 days)
Sign: Gemini
Weather: High clouds, moderate breeze from
the west, intermittent flurries
Snow pack: approx 3 in

I'm having difficulty writing that book of meditations right now. Today, we have wandered into the think positively area and I feel really squicked out by it. The gods are leaning on me to write it this way. I'm doing my best to get out of the way and just take what they want down, kinda like divine dictation. My discomfort, however, is making that really hard. It doesn't help matters that I'm approaching a topic that is somewhat sensitive for myself - poverty. As much as I can appreciate people wanting to pray away their problems, my repulsion to the idea that prayer can fix poverty repulses me to the point of physical nausea.

I think I'm misinterpreting something about what They are saying but I can't figure out what it is. I'm stuck on that one point. People living in squalor with out the funds to put food on the table or clothes that are fitting for the elements is not a problem that goes away with just prayer. I don't want to write down that if you pray and think happy thoughts that this problem goes away. It doesn't work like that. You have to do a fuckload of work to help manifest the solution to your poverty problem. And sometimes, not even that will be enough. I can hear someone telling me that this is a case where I'm short on faith.

It may be a little bit of that. Struggling to pay bills for the last several years and watching as the costs of everything goes up makes it hard for me to keep my head and my heart in line on that front. When you find yourself thankful that you've got enough money left over after paying bills that you can pay for groceries, laundry, and still have enough left in case there's some kind of emergency over the next two weeks, you have a hard time not thinking about it. When you struggle financially, you struggle in other areas to. I guess it's only natural that you would struggle faith wise. 

The Christians have this expression "God help me. My spirit is willing but my flesh is weak." Maybe I'm dealing with some version of that right now. I'm pretty sure that my clawing my way out of a depressive episode is not helping my outlook much either. Throw in the fact that I haven't slept well in months with out the assistance of medication (and even then it's usually not a restful sleep) and you have a witch who has a hard time seeing what good her prayers and magic make in the immediate sense. The worst thing is, I feel this pressure to present a serene face to the world over on Veiled Witch when I'm pretty sure mentioning something about this struggle might be a good thing there.

I don't know what to do right now. I feel the need to write this down but my aversion is so strong that I feel queasy from it. A surly part of my brain says I should just take some pepto and push through it. But I know, on some level, that if I just force myself to push forward, this will come out wrong. I can't move forward on this in anger. Because the anger will distort the message. At which point I will be made to repeat it again, until it comes out right. Because the gods do shit like that. Maybe I'm just having a bad day for writing. I suppose that could be the case too, right?


TPE: A is for Anger

I'm a little behind on my TPE posts. I apologize for that. Scumbag brain has been making it hard for me to keep track of things.

Anger is the dark secret of emotions. No one wants to admit to having it on a regular basis. No one wants to talk about it. If you express it publicly, it had better be in a controlled, family friendly fashion or it scares the neighborhood. It's basically the red headed step-child of emotions.

The thing is, anger is really powerful. Anger can literally move nations to action. Don't believe me? Look at all the wars going on around the world. At the root of them, someone is angry with someone else and they decided to march on a road of bones. The magical community gets really squicked by anger, except for the people who are on the left-hand path or practice grey magic. I suppose I fall into the grey magic category.

You see, I use my anger (when I am able) to blast my way through the proverbial road blocks that pop up in front of me. Where some people would sit and sigh and sob about a problem, I get angry. Then I take that anger and channel it into bending the world to my will. Some people would tell you that this is a very dangerous thing to do. They'd be right, because if you're not ethical about it you can do a lot of damage. Heck, even when you're being ethical about it, you can still do a lot of damage.

The thing is, there has to be a point where you stop being overrun by the emotion and see it for what it is. It is energy. Anger is a very powerful form of energy. Shape it correctly and you can force a problem to be resolved or create a monstrosity. The question is, how are you going to use it. And that's always the question when you set out to do magic. Don't fear your anger. Don't let it rule you either. Make it work for you and you'll be bending things to you will as well.

Letters to Loki # 9 - Long day is long.

Hello there Sly One,

It's been a rough while since I last wrote. I've been dealing with a depressive episode and only today have I felt like I had my wits together enough to actually write you via the blog. It's somewhat amusing that even having slept approximately half of the day away, I still feel like I have had a very long day. I suppose being depressed will do that to you.

I've been looking at my writing project and feeling like what I am producing is garbage. I will not delete it or do anything rash like that. I am just feeling very unsure about it. I have been doing what I can to stay too busy to be sucked into the trap of unhealthy thinking. I honestly don't know how well that has worked out today. I've gotten a little bit more knit on this scarf I'm making and I got at least two pages written on the manuscript. It was, however, difficult work to get either done.

You're right, by the way, and I'll publicly admit it, I have been too hard on myself. I am not doing very good with the whole self-compassion thing. It's exhausting and I feel like I'm doing it all wrong. Yeah, I know, it's counter-productive to put things in those terms but it was the best I could think of right now. I apologize for not having enough faith in myself and getting snippy when you encourage me. It's really a thoughtless thing to argue with someone when they're just trying to get you to see the positive side of things. I apologize for that.

You've said it several times over the last week that you're furious with the people who hamstrung my confidence in my writing. I was thinking about this after you said it again earlier this evening. I suppose I never really thought to take the perspective that my difficulties were learned. I'm not talking about glaring typos and grammatical nightmares. Those are all me when I get sloppy about things, I own that. But the idea that what I write simply isn't good enough for anyone to see and that I don't have the stuff (skills/knowledge/authority/whatever) to write about given topics... I never considered that this was something I learned.

Now, however, as I look back, I can point at some people in formative years who made a point of telling me how badly I was doing things (even when I did them right, they found something to criticize) and insisting that I had no legitimate talent. I thought about it this evening and I am of mixed feelings about this. On one hand, I suppose the first step to resolving the problem is recognizing there is one and what the signs of its presence are. On the other hand, this shift in my personal narrative makes me very uncomfortable.

And I'm pretty angry about the fact that I'm uncomfortable with shifting my personal narrative to more positive terrain. I don't know what I'm going to do with that anger. I may just go ahead and do some artwork. Knitting isn't exactly good for anger unless I'm so angry I need something to hyper-focus on to avoid tearing someone's head bodily off their shoulders. I'm going to do my best to get through the squicky feels about doing artwork from a place of anger. You're right, after all, what ever I put down on the canvas or paper can't harm me. In some respects, it's literally binding that thoughtform to the physical object and reducing its sway over me.

I also really should have that conversation with Odin. My avoiding him really isn't doing any good and I suspect if I keep it up any longer he's going to come to me and start the conversation. And he probably won't be in a good mood when that happens. Irritating Odin is pretty big on my DO NOT DO list.

I guess I had more to say then I thought I did. Thank you for being so patient with me. And thank you for getting so angry and outraged on my behalf when the bad stuff from the past pops up. It validates me and I don't have word to express how much that means to me. I'll try to do better tomorrow. Who knows, maybe it will be a good brain day. I kinda needed because I've got to go out of the house and do stuff tomorrow. Ah well, I won't whine about it because that doesn't change anything. Thank you again.

Love and Gratitude,


Rough day for writing.

Waxing Hunger Moon (Age: 4 days)
Sign: Void of Course
Weather: Partly cloudy, seasonable temps
snowpack depth unchanged.
I spent my day working on my newest manuscripts. Yes, I have wound up working on two books at the same time. I have a deadline for the first but not for the second. I have been feeling pretty low about my writing and if I'm qualified enough to write these books. To say that Loki has been opinionated about this is to make an understatement like saying the Sun is a little bit warm.

Loki is spitting mad about the people who 'hamstrung' my confidence in my writing and mystic stuff. When he hasn't been muttering in norse (which sounds shockingly disturbing when said rapidly in a half snarl by a deity that is furious), he has been poking me to keep writing when I have been wanting to give up on this project. It's a comforting but awkward thing for me to have him so angry on my behalf. He's a bit calmer now but earlier today he was very upset. I turned my music up kinda loud to drowned out the sound of his swearing.

My mood has been all down and angry for a while now. I know I'm in a depressive episode. It has been a rough ride and I'm angry with the fact that I'm even dealing with this right now. The more depressed I feel, the angrier I get. Unfortunately, that anger isn't solving anything. It's just making me short tempered and giving me heartburn. Freyr's right, I really do need to calm down over this. But the anger just keeps coming back. I found it kinda amusing that the moon is void of course on a day that I'm having a difficult time with my mood and stuff. I'm half tempted to see if my mood cycling matches up with lunar stuff. But that's just the geek in me coming out.

The Filianic daybook is slowly coming along. I'm almost finished with the second month's worth of meditations. At the same time, I am writing down my visions, meditations, and spiritually moved recitations. I feel like an enormous fraud to be referencing my own work here. Still, it is what I have to work with.


TPE: Divinities

Old Wolf Moon (Age: 27 days)
Sign: Capricorn
Weather: Just above freezing, partly cloudy,
snow total around 4 in
I am a polytheist. I believe in many gods. I worship many gods. I am involved with many gods. Some of what I do looks like a study in paradox. I believe and work with a goddess of a monotheistic religion. At the same time, I believe and work with the gods of the Nordic pantheon. And I have passing interactions with deities from pantheons that I don't generally involve myself in. (At times, those interactions I try desperately to avoid but get boxed in on that front. And I'm looking at you, the lwa. I know you've got eyes on me. Here's your public acknowledgement, as I agreed not long ago to do.)

Some may think that my involvement with a deity of a monotheistic religion would negate the polytheism. That makes the mistake of assuming that only one religion is correct. As strange as this might sound, all religions are correct. So, is Ragnaroc going to happen? Yep, so is Armageddon and a laundry list of other things. They all manifest differently. The upheaval you see in the world is partly due to that manifestation. (Oh, on the point of doomsday scenarios, they have happened, are happening, and will be happening all at the same time. Because gods experience time differently then we do. So, all of the endings are happening at the same time as all of the beginnings. And all the stuff in the middle still happens to.) 

We can't constrain the gods to human perspectives. This would lessen them and reduce their stature to projections of ourselves. I'm not saying that archetypes are not important and useful. And I'm not saying that there are not large scale projections of ourselves out there. (Look up egregores and you can get an interesting view on how that little trick works.) But gods go beyond the level of egregores. Egregores are limited in what they do. They operate on the basis of how they are programmed. Gods, on the other hand, are like cats and will do what ever they damn well please, regardless for how humanity wants it to go.

They are intelligent, sentient forces that create, sustain, enliven, control, and destroy universes. To some extent, our universe is a single thing. But we must acknowledge that there is an aspect of the universe that is accessible only for the individual. My experience of the universe is different from your experience of the universe, which is different from the experience of someone ten thousand miles away. And all these experiences are different from that of a blade of grass, an animal, or protozoa. And if you are an animist, there is the myriad of things traditionally considered not to be alive by Western thought (this tradition going back to the Enlightenment, if not a bit earlier) that have their own experience of reality. Somewhere, in the midst of all this soup of experience, gods move through it all. 

And the 'truth' of reality and its relationship to deities is a murky thing to puzzle out because we have no way of knowing all the information on our side of the relationship, let alone begin to comprehend anything of the deities and their side of the relationship. It is a mystery. Some people get afraid when this mystery is pointed out. I find comfort in it. It tells me that somewhere in the universe, there is a meaning to what happens that goes beyond pure causality. Given that my experience with deities has been generally positive, I am inclined to think that meaning is something positive.


TPE Week 2: Personal Practice

Share your favorite spiritual/magickal practices. What tools are incorporated into your daily practice? What feeds you and replenishes you?

I have a love for divination. I always learn something new each session. While I enjoy the luxury of having someone else divine for me, I also deeply enjoy the practice of doing so myself. I have a wide range of divination tools that I use but my most frequent tool of late has been my rune set. Now, my primary tool for divination for others has been a tarot deck (and I have 11 to choose from because they're all so pretty) but I have been using runes more for other people as well.

I also deeply enjoy spiritual practices that connect me with the gods. I regularly burn candles for them and when I have the opportunity I burn incense as well. I pray daily and meditate often. To be honest, daily doesn't do justice to how often I communicate with the gods. But, my practices tend towards attempting to make every act a prayer, no matter how small and common it seems.

Prayer and ritual gestures such as the lighting of candles give me a deep sense of connection and stability. I find that it supports me through the times of difficulty and gives me a means to share my joys even when I lack the words to do so.

TPE: Post 1 (2nd attempt)

Well, I clearly did not pay enough attention to how things are going with The Pagan Experience Project.  As such, I am now going to do the post for week 1 again. This time keeping with the theme for the week.

TPE Wk 1: Resolutions

  1. To write more in my Book of Shadows (I'm still catching up on material from last July.)
  2. To write more on my blogs (here and Veiled Witch)
  3. To be more active in my efforts to grow socially (social phobia is awful.)
  4. Finish the daybook manuscript before Moura.
  5. Become more active with magic and rituals again

Letters to Loki #8 - Last night.

Hello there Commander Insanity,

I am still a bit annoyed with how last night went but I admit that I do see the humor in it all. I suppose that I was being a bit to rigid in refusing the apologize to my stuffed bear for using it to hit my husband. I still maintain that I had no reason to apologize to an inanimate object. You and Beloved, however were of one mind on that front.

It was when you both agreed that a pillow would have been fine as an impromptu smiting tool because apparently that is clearly an inanimate object that things crossed the line from goofball to insane. I think you could have made your point with out it. I wound up laughing and hurting my ribs because of it. I'm still smirking over it, but I am a wee bit annoyed with that whole business.

I will confess, you are right when you say that my pride is a cold comfort on a winter's night. I get the message, I need to stop being so damn proud and accept that I am allowed help when I need it. And that I need to stop being so damn proud and be willing to make a fool of my self for the sake of humor. I really do. I just wish that it could have been done with out making my ribs hurt more.

They're still aching from the laughter last night. Any one who says that you don't use humor as a weapon doesn't know you very well. Also, I think I can never hear the phrase 'kiss the dwarf' with out snickering now. Oh, one last thing, the next time you send me a dream of zombies please don't show up as one. That was just too damn weird. (Of course this request probably means I will be having that dream for the next week.)

Still snickering at it all,

The Pagan Experience Project: Post 1

Old Wolf Moon (Age: 22 Days)
Sign: Libra
Weather: Bitter cold, clear skies
approx. 4 in snow on ground
I have decided to participate in the Pagan Experience Project. It was nice to learn that this was taking up the void left when the Pagan Blog Project ceased at the end of last year. I will be striving to stay on top of this and write at least once per week on here. 

I have made a little change to how I am posting the initial information on my blog here. Because it is winter and some may be curious, I am going to start tracking what the total snow fall is when I post. I confess, I am a little bit of a weather geek but this motivation to track the weather and such at the beginning of my posts is actually rooted in something that I learned a few years back. Apparently during the Colonial era of the United States, it was found to be quite common that people began their journal entries with a quick note about the weather conditions. This is a nod to my ancestors from this era of history.

Like the Pagan Blog Project, I believe I am going to work my way through the alphabet. I am honestly cheating with this first post. Because my reasoning is A is for Announcement is just flat out silly. Still, this is what I am doing for this first post. I will still be posting my weekly letters to Loki. Recovering from some illness, I found that I didn't get as much done as I wanted to over the last few weeks. Sadly, I think this means I forgot to post a letter to Loki last week. I know it is part of the reason why I forgot to post this week's letter yesterday.

Still, I am going to post that next, so I think this covers that base. I may or may not make that letter do double duty and have it be my second 'A' themed post. I'm undecided.


Rant re: Your Native American Totem meme

Waning Wolf Moon (Age:  18 days)
Sign: Virgo
Weather: bitter cold, lake effect snow

I've seen this meme flying around Facebook. I'm pretty sure it is on other social media platforms too. It is a click-quiz that proposes to determine what your "Native American Totem" is. I've seen several variations of this meme over the last few years (if not longer) and I am rapidly hitting a point where I want to poke people with a stick for posting it. I recognize that all things Native American are popular in fashion and pop culture right now. Their version of Native American chic is a repulsive lampooning of these dignified cultures and should be rejected.

I can understand if someone who is fairly new to the idea of animal spirit guides latches on to the idea that the Native Americans know more about it then the rest of us. It is intimidating to start researching spirit guides, especially when you come at it from an angle that doesn't seem to have much going on from your background (for example Asatru doesn't really have an official line on animal spirit guides). It is tempting to use something from another background because it is 'ready made' and can theoretically be applied by most anyone with a minimal amount of research.

There is, however, a big problem with that. It is called cultural appropriation. This is when someone assumes elements from another culture into their own activities with out any sensitivity or consideration for the original source of the material. A fine example of this, with the Native American cultures, is the use of warbonnets as a fashion prop. For the cultures that warbonnets originate from (and by the way, the Native Americans have multiple cultures and its an idiot who thinks there is only one), a warbonnet is both formal military dress and military honors. Wearing a warbonnet as a fashion statement is like putting on a full formal USMC uniform with a bunch of ribbons and medals that you not only haven't earned but you're not even remotely attached to the USMC and wearing it. Sadly, however, there are people who feel that stealing things such as warbonnets and wearing them for fashion are appropriate because the cultures they are taking from are 'defeated.'

There is a lot wrong with the idea of stealing from another culture. It is even more offensive when you are doing so from one that has suffered mightily at the hands of the 'dominant' culture. It is rubbing salt into those old wounds after forcibly reopening them whilst denying that there is anything wrong with that behavior. It is utterly callous and disgusting to do so. Now, there are ways to borrow elements from another culture with out engaging in cultural appropriation. When the elements adopted are done so from a position of respect and scholarship, it makes it possible for the person adopting those elements to do so in a manner that honors the original culture.

Now, some people may be wondering if an animal spirit guide is the sole property of the Native American cultures. While the concept is heavily influenced by how scholars (both professional and hobbyist) interpret the concepts from Native American cultures, the modern take on animal spirit guides really has developed into something different and unique to our time. While it is tempting to say that these ideas are for the really serious modern shamans, the modern understanding of animal spirit guides is fairly accessible to most anyone. The people who apply the label 'Native American' to these concepts (which are what is pretty much always shown in these memes) do so out of an attempt to 'legitimize' the concept by associating it with an older culture and earlier era.

This, however, is not necessary. I have friends who are modern, urban shamans that work with animal guides all the time. They don't paint things in the terms of 'Native American' anything because they don't need to. What they are using works with out any need to 'legitimize' it. While they recognize that there are some common elements between the animal guides of Native American cultures, they own the fact that what they are working with is a product of our society and era, of our culture. And that is more then ok.

I just wish that more people took that approach, to be honest.


Letters to Loki # 7

Hey there Loki,

I'm not sure what I should write. I just learned that my great aunt Jackie died last night. I suppose I am in a bit of shock. I feel horrible for my great uncle Ed and my second cousins Eddie and Wayne. Also for Wayne's boys who have lost their grandmother. I'm pretty sure that I won't be able to make it out to Long Island for her services.

It upsets me to watch the fading and dying of my grandparent's generation. While I recognize that it was simply a matter of time, it still bothers me. They have lived through so much. I don't know if it is selfish and cruel of me to want them to hang on a bit longer. Down inside me, however, there is that little girl who wants to keep her whole family close. The passing of my great aunt just reminds me of how much of that dream has and is slipping out of my fingers.

I'd write more but I just don't have the words.


Dreamwalking whilst ill

Full Wolf Moon (Age 13 days)
Sign: Cancer
Weather: Windy, thaw, rain
In the midst of my resting today, I went dreamwalking. I didn't intend to do it. Generally, when I am sick, I try to limit my expending of effort to recovery, even on the spiritual level. Still, as I was resting this afternoon, I went on a spirit journey.

I found myself in a corridor with white walls and lots of light. There were windows along the right hand wall that looked out over a garden. The corridor was more like a very large room then a hallway. It was like some kind of hospital with many beds situated by the windows. In the spiritual realms, I was just as sick as I am physically, which doesn't usually prove the case when I go dreamwalking but I think it was just a sign of how ill I felt. 

As I shuffled down this corridor in my scuffed up slippers, rumpled pajamas, and fluffy pink bathrobe, I noticed how the space was mostly empty. I got the impression that this place of healing was experiencing a temporary lull in occupancy. I walked to the bed at the end of the corridor that was nearest to a set of french doors that looked out onto the garden and sat down. I was impressed with how clean and tidy everything was there. It was like the image of an 1800s hospital ward, if it was empty and spotless.

As I sat there on the foot of that bed, I heard someone come into the corridor from a doorway back behind me. I looked over and saw Freyr walking with a diminutive woman. He towered over her. She was dressed like the archetypal image of a civil war era nurse. Honestly, she looked so much like the images of Clara Barton that I was impressed. She was dressed in white and had a starched white apron. Her salt and pepper gray hair was carefully caught up in a caul and pinned up quite elegantly. 

This 'nurse' had such an air of command about her that I could only think that she was the head nurse of the ward I was in. The nurse and Freyr were talking about something as they approached in a language that I didn't know. It sounded like a cross between gaelic and german. When they reached me, Freyr gave me a smile as the nurse gave me a stern look. She took my pulse and felt my neck. Then she made some sort of pronouncement before walking off. 

I was waking up as Freyr sat down beside me and wrapped an arm around my shoulders. I woke up coughing and with the feeling that he was helping me sit up. I'm pretty sure that he brought me to this hospital-like place I went in my dream. I do not think it was mere coincidence that after this dream, as I woke up more fully, I started feeling better then I had been earlier in the day. I just wish that I could have understood what they said. I suspect that I will be dreaming of that place again tonight.