Sunday, November 27, 2016

Headscratcher: Nevermind the misspelling man behind the curtain

It really is annoying when ever I hear or see the red herring terminology like this little gem I found online, by someone in my area who promotes himself as a local leader and is taking students, for a minimal fee, to teach Craft:

"I call what I teach, a modified form of Gardinarian Wicca. What that means is that I use traditional methods for teaching, and very traditional forms for ritual. Any Gardinarian coming to my ritual would immediately recognize it... The difference is that I have modified some elements in ways that work better for me. This is the basis of Witchcraft..."



Yeah.  That.

So my fellow pointy-hatted scholars....how many things are wrong with this diatribe?  Let's count, shall we?


ONE:  This guy charges for training in the Craft --- this in and of itself tells me that he hasn't had British Traditional Training, because if he had, he'd know we don't ever charge for training.  It is bad form, bad juju, bad manners.  If he is teaching his own form of the Craft, he can do what he likes in so far as charging for it ---although as a potential student, how would you know the value of the teaching is worth the cost of the class?--- but his stuff isn't BTW-based then, since he's ascribed a financial value to it.


TWO:  Spelling it 'Gardinarian' is a sure-fire way to say you are either too lazy to spell-check Gerald Gardner's name and thus the namesake tradition....or else you were being purposefully sneaky by not using the correct spelling, thereby giving yourself the ability to say "I used a variant of old Gerald's name to denote my stuff is a variant of the real Garderian tradition."

That latter bit then brings us to...


THREE:  Saying your stuff is a variant of something to which you are not privy is ridiculous.  It is impossible to truly know what encompasses Gardnerian traditional Craft practice unless you are an initiate of that tradition....so how can you say yours is a variant of something you do not know first hand??!?  Moreover, you wouldn't be exposed to all of the teachings of a Gardnerian tradition unless you were brought all the way through to 3rd Degree, and then given permission to teach it, with duly made oaths to not expose what you've been foresworn in your practice and revelatory experience to others, unless they too are proper people, given similar initiation into the tradition and likewise foresworn to protect it?

Thus, what we have here is someone once again wanting the "pagan street cred" of claiming knowledge of things he may only have barest gleanings about, then making assumptions and suppositions about those little bits and then "making it his own" in some fashion and claiming his is a "modified version" of the whole encompassing reality of a tradition to which he isn't a member.


DOES THAT SOUND LIKE SOMEONE TRUSTWORTHY ENOUGH TO TEACH YOU THINGS ABOUT SPIRITUAL EVOLUTION AND GRACE?  LET ALONE CHARGE YOU MONEY FOR THE PRIVILEDGE OF HIS DEIGNING TO SHARE HIS INSIGHTS WITH YOU?

I think not.

But there are folks like this out there, gang.  Still.  They think people like me --the people who call them out on their verbal slight-of-hand and dubious integrity in Craft teaching--- they think I AM A BIG MEANIE POOPYHEAD.


With all due respect, I'm just protecting my tribe, my tradition, good sir.  I'm doing what my oaths say by shining a big spotlight on you.


And if you DID have the initiation you claimed to have, you'd know this.  You'd know better.

Go do you your own Craft thing.  Go teach others, and do so with all good intention and aplomb.  I applaud you and wish you all good success.


Just stop trying to ascribe some vague notion of that my tradition, however you may bastardize its spelling, is a "stamp of approval" toward what you're doing.

To Tree or Not to Tree? THAT is the question!

Well, as you can see, I said yes to the tree. 


Surely there is enough precedent for tree-hugging and nature worship within paganism as a whole, enough allegory for the Tree of Life in ceremonial magics to see the whole useful symbolism of having a decorated tree in the house during the holiday season.

For me it serves the purpose of making my Catholic parents happy because they look at it and see Christmas.  It reminds me of my childhood too, with all the family gathered 'round and enjoying company and Santa with all the trimmings.

For me today, the tree gives me thoughts of happy Winter Solstice celebrations with my witch-family and carrying on the traditions of burning the Yule log  (NB: mines a fake tree, I have a separately collected wood specimen for the Yule log burning).

And besides all that....I like the whole hoopla of getting the family together to decorate the tree and the house with lights and branches and pine cones.  I love the smelling all the wintry smells of pine needles, of mulled spiced cider, of gingerbread and cinnamon.  I love being out in the cold long enough to appreciate the warmth of the fireplace and a cup of cocoa with whatever marshmellows are left over, those that didn't fit atop the sweet potatoes at Thanksgiving.

This year's tree is special for me.  This is the first holiday season that I am spending with my fiance since moving in together.  Like so many other things, we came into the relationship with our separate stuff and are now learning how to combine it into OUR stuff. 

I'm enjoying the process of seeing what familial traditions are sacrosanct for each of us and which we want to jettison and create anew, just between us.

So this tree is one such...er, mulligan.  I had the tree itself, but the old decorations reminded me of a past life with my ex-husband.  Similarly, the stockings that my fiance had held too many memories of his ex-wife and kids, now estranged and distant.

Thus, we went out to pick something else for OUR future together.  Something that would speak to the colorful and bright new life beginning together while we're both somewhat beaten down and jaded and steadily approaching 50. 

Never too late for a happy ending, kids, so ELECTRIC PEACOCK it is!!


Monday, November 21, 2016

All I want for Yule is...herbs that might kill me

So in my due course of getting to know the local pagan/heathen/witchy lay o' the land in my new homeland of Denver, I have been sleuthing out all the pointy-hatted retail goodness.

One such recent excursion yielded a surprise I was not expecting...finding a tiny little apothecary shop, tucked back in a mostly deserted multi-tenant building.

The usual containers with tumbled stones and crystal points
A bunch of books on chakra balancing, contacting spirit guides and herbal gardening
Random statuettes of various dashboard-mountable deities
and then...the ubiquitous wall of glass jars with herbs.

But this was different.

These had the Latin names and warning labels...not just descriptions of whatever Scott Cunningham or Paul Huson cited as potential holistic and magical uses.

And there, among the dusty glass containers of Dittany of Crete and Comfrey and homegrown white sage.  There.  In the jar at the tippy-top shelf:  amanita muscaria - the red cap!



This little bugger is NOT something to mess around with, and frankly, I was really shocked that it was available at all.   However, not much should surprise me here, in the land where every shopping plaza has a med/rec herb retailer and driving with the windows down on a Friday after work smells like a skunk farm. 

Fully dried caps that still retained something of their former telltale reddish hue with white spots.  The jar had three of them inside, the largest of which rivaled some portabella sandwiches I've eaten at swanky restaurants.  These babies are to be sold by weight, by the gram. 

For giggles, I asked for the price of the big fella...a whopping $80.00 for that guy.  I liked his smaller, better shaped and mostly intact brother for a $35.00. 

I've decided to make myself a little shadow box of fine specimens that are traditionally included in a flying ointment.  Kind of like one of those specimen boxes one would mount fascinating insect in for further study.  Goddess knows I'm neither suicidal nor foolhardy enough to try to concoct such a thing.

But imagine what a preserved collection of herbs like that would be, a unique conversation piece that fellow witches invited into my private office/library would find darkly humorous.

Now then, where to find some Datura and a full Mandrake root?  Maybe that hoodoo store I passed the other day on my way home from work can procure something for me?

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Mountains, Meet-ups and Remedies for Being Lonely

Ok, so I made it to Colorado.  I'm here!!  I'm here!!

I'm sort of unpacked (it is a rental until May after all, then we hope to move into a house we BUY).  I'm mostly settled into my new job.  I'm delighted to be living in the same freaking state and house as my long-term love interest.

Now, Hallowe'en/Samhain is fast upon me....and I've got nuthin'.

I've battled through the homesickness of family and friends back in Chicago by way of FaceTime and care packages. 

But what to do without any of my pointy-hatted community of Brothers and Sisters of the Art?  I miss them like crazy.  And at this time of year, they're missing my annual tradition of bringing a Cauldron full of jello-shots to the Samhain feast! 

So what's a lone-witch in a new town to do?


Why....go back to school, of course! 

A goodly dose of humility and an opportunity to see how a western Wicca 101 looks from this new scene is in order.

Had attended a lovely, well-comprised lecture about "Magick and Spellcasting" today, as directed and hosted by a practitioner who appears to have actually had some training.  She knew her stuff and was an excellent speaker. 

I learned a lot.  I reinforced a lot.  I was grateful as heck to have a few knowing smiles thrown my way since it would seem that teacher figured out I was a ringer auditing the class. 

I had to smile throughout because this particular class was one of my favorites to teach and it was illuminating and delightful for me to view it from the student's chair all over again.  In any case, I walked out after thanking her for the lesson-within-the-lesson and was greeted by a warm autumnal day with a sunny, resplendent, Colorado bluebird sky.

One way to meet new friends is to go back to trying on the newbie hat for the day.