Saturday, December 8, 2012

You CAN go home again

So what the hell happened?  The short answer?  The PA/NJ thing didn't pan out.  For a lot of reasons... 

In all seriousness, I found myself fighting through a severe depression/panic attack around mid November and decided that enough was enough.  Time to pack it in and go back home, trying to keep some dignity, some sanity...and having chosen the lesser evil of being mortified to be on unemployment during the holidays rather than exacerbating an untreated ulcer and having a full-on breakdown.

Tough life lesson there.  Learning that, sometimes, the smarter thing to do is to give up the present fight and live to fight another day.

So I'm back in Chicago.  Still working with my headhunter and interviewing a few times a week.  In many cases, I've "got the job" except that the employers know that the economy is in their favor so they can offer ridiculously low salaries and get desperate folks like me on sale.

The last two places I spoke with would have me work at the same rate I made in 1994...for an amount about one-half what I'd been making for the past 9 years.

Yeah, yeah.  I know that at some point I'm going to have to suck up my pride in order to eat and not default on my debts.  I really, really, really didn't want to be one of those divorcees who has to move back home with her folks until some knight in shining paycheck can come in and offer to pay half the rent and utility bills.

Damn proud Irish-Polish-German gal that I am, I wanna save myself.  Damn proud witch that I am, that's exactly what I'm gonna do, using every means at my disposal to get my energy and efforts flowing the right direction to get that to happen.  So. Mote. It. Be.

On the brightside, I do have the support of my covenmates and local witchy community pals.  Lots of generous folks who have offered to lend their own time and energies to helping me get my footing back on the path and my collective shit together in my head.

Ah, dear old life I still willing to suffer to learn?  Heck yes. YES!

But I'm about over the suffering for no good reason business.  Am ready to be productive and better able to use this low-point of my life as a jumping off point to something better.

For now, I'm focused on Solstice spiritual endeavors and Yuletide awareness.  Put up my tree, am taking my hikes in the woods to see what nature is up to, and am enjoying having my family and friends nearby to celebrate all that is good in this life.

And isn't that the whole point?  The belief and the trust that there is a new beginning around the corner.  Even though it may not be visible, it may not yet be tangible...but good things, new life, new is happening even now, behind the scenes.  We have to trust the process, the movement of the Wheel.

During the esbat last week, I got a thump on my noggin from Goddess-Mom and God-Dad. 
((internal dialogue in gently reprimanding and chuckling voiceover))
        Oh ye of little faith, daughter.  You know these better.
        These notions of Perfect Love and Perfect Trust...they are a constant in the world
        and they are what move the universe.  You have to stop trying to force what will not move,
        stop trying to figure out what isn't yours to discern or rectify. 

       Just open up, stop fighting everything that is presented to you and just trust, know,
       believe that there are things moving that you cannot see, actions taking place that you
      can neither control nor influence. 

      These are OURS to handle and you, daughter, have done your part.
      Trust that We love you and will do Ours.  We will help to get you where you need to be next.

Guess I needed that.  Needed that reminder.  And the funny thing is that the same message seems to be everywhere at this time of year and I just never saw/heard it properly until now  All this time, it has been echoed right in my face, and still I'd missed the obvious, Their message: 

    You've got to believe to receive.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

I'm not even supposed to BE HERE today!!

So in case you don't know, I have temporarily relocated to New Jersey. 

My search for employment has led me to take a short-term contract project from October-thru-January in Philadelphia, with the company who has hired me putting me up in a bed-and-breakfast over the bridge in New Jersey.

Yeah, in time for the once-in-a-lifetime freakish storm to hit.  Frankenstorm the media is calling it.  Seriously.

Something about the confluence of Hurricane Sandy and the usual nor'easter and the full moon bringing the tides in to the max.  All that equals some sort of what the hell am I doing here in time for this complete freak-of-nature weather system?!

As if I wasn't already feeling out of sorts, homesick and confused about what the hell direction my life is going in?  Now I have to wonder if in the next 24-48 hours if I will be caught up in some jacked up thunderstorm to end all thunderstorms?

Gotta tell you, I had a moment of WTF, followed immediately by what was true, hysterical laughter....wherein I decided I would be wearing striped tights for the next 2 days, in the event that the old Victorian house (the B&B) happens to fall on that my family can come from Illinois to identify my body and say...."Yes, that's her.  The house fell on my sister!!"

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Eastbound and a little down

Ok, so in our last dramatic episode, we'd learned that our intrepid heroine was about to be unemployed, possibly without a place to live and certainly panic-stricken about her life circumstances....DAMN YOU STINKING SATURN TRAVELING THROUGH MY LIBRA SUN SIGN!!!

Well, the upside is that Saturn has finally moved on into Scorpio, which according to the astrologists I know and follow, that's supposed to finally, finally, FINAL-freaking-LY mean that some of that quicksandy, wheel-spinning, going-nowhere-fast feeling is about to abate, allowing me to find some firm life footing and begin moving forward in a direction.  Hell...any direction at all would be nice, eh?!

Thus as of 10/5, obstacles would finally begin falling away, and that date happened to coincide with a job interview I was on in Texas.  Everything seemed to go really well there.  The company had good things to say, the personnel personalities and I seemed to click nicely.  Not altogether thrilled, I admit, with moving to a 'red state' and into an area that boasts a very vocal Baptist Christian bias, but if these folks are going to pay me enough to not only survive but thrive, I can probably muster the inner fortitude to keep my mouth shut and my broomcloset door well-lubed with some cosmic, karmic WD-40.

Things appeared good, but then, they've delayed on making the offer, citing the desire to wait until next year when they can safely budget to "afford me."

This came a little bit as a shock (to both myself and the headhunter who lined this deal up), but the interviewers caught wind of the fact that I'd also been interviewing with a couple of companies out on the east coast, one of which said they could hire me for a short-term gig immediately after my present gig ends just before Columbus Day.

The short version of the outcome is this:   Looks like I'll be headed to the City of Brotherly Love and Cheesesteaks for awhile, starting at the end of this week.  Then I will have to wait to see if the Alamo remembers me enough from my recent video and in-person interviews to offer me a permanent home come the first of the year.

Or, who knows?   Maybe ol' Chi-town isn't done with me yet?  Stranger things have happened.  Wouldn't it be nice if one of these local companies would find it in their hearts (and wallets) to find a way for me to not have to leave my family, friends, deep dish pizza and the motley crew of this Midwest melting pot pagan community after all?

Then again, I might win the lottery too....anything's possible.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Whirlwind of WTF

Wish I had a good excuse for not posting much....again....and I sort of do.

Thank the gods I'm nearly at the end of this "year 42" where I'd asked the Lord and Lady after my last birthday to help rearrange my life to get me on the proper path I should be on.

Wow.  Be careful what you wish for....yes!

So as you'll recall, I've been divorced, moved out of my home and into an apartment...then comes this latest bit of "AAARRRRRGGGGGHHHH!!!" this month, just to wrap up the final few days before my 43rd birthday later this week.

September Recap:
  • Had a small car accident involving the parking situation here at the apartment complex.  No serious damage, but did jack up the custom paint and gave my door a few dings, which I cannot afford to get fixed right now.
  • The reason why I cannot afford it is because I was informed just after Labor Day that the place where I've been working for the past 8+ years will not be renewing my contract and as of October 5, I will be unemployed.
  • As a did just come through this divorce and moving thing in recent months, I have zero in the way of a nest-egg saved up, and so it looks like it is a good thing that I never fully unpacked in this apartment, because I'm going to have to leave it since I won't be able to afford the place anymore.
  • Have been sending out resumes and interviewing like crazy, but my niche-type job is such that there isn't a likelihood that I will find something local anyway, so it looks like I will be moving to PA, TX or FL in a matter of two weeks.  Either that or wind up sobbing on a friends couch while I contemplate how to give my two cats up to the Humane Society since I probably can't bring them with me wherever I end up.
And so, as you can see, I've been a little preoccupied.  Insomnia, mild panic attacks and low-grade depression have been the ghosts that haunt me and have my writing muse hiding under the blankets of late.  Just not in the mood to rant about all things witchy when I can't seem to rouse myself up for much more than watching reruns of RuPaul's Drag Race and eating what's left of the canned goods in the pantry so that there will be less to pack.

I'm somewhat joking/exaggerating, but only just so, when I say that I'd thought my midlife crisis was supposed to be about bemoaning the lack of a second childhood...not being fearful of having to eat Ramen because I don't have a job or a place to live or a romantic love interest or a frigging clue as to what sort of regimen the Mighty Ones are trying to kick my ass with for opening my big frigging mouth when I blew out the candles on my cake last year.

Well, gonna ride this out for another week and hopefully once that happens, I'll have a better grip on where I'm going, what I'm doing and who may or may not be a part of that.

In the meantime, hope this Equinox energy balances me out too.  I could use something to stop the mental-emotional seasickness I've got going on.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Deja Broom: "So you want to be a Gardnerian?"

"DEJA BROOM" denotes a blog repost from my old site.  Feel free to read anew, or refresh your memory to re-live the ranty goodness.  Otherwise, skip this repeat and await more modern mayhem.

So you want to be Gardnerian?

If you are seeking to become a Gardnerian witch, the only way to do so is to become an initiate through a vetted, properly lineaged Gardnerian group. That is not to say you cannot be a perfectly wonderful witch of an eclectic stripe, but being a part of the Gardnerian tradition, or any lineaged tradition for that matter, denotes some very specific things.

Gardnerians are one of the various types of British Traditional Wica (BTW), that is to say one witchcraft variants whose origins stem from the New Forest area of the UK. Other BTW groups may include Alexandrian, BlueStar, Kingstone, Mohsian, Central Valley Wicca, Georgian, Protean and others.

Gardnerians, specifically, are of an initiatory mystery religion with various, traceable lines of initiates who are all linked with a common ancestry back to Gerald Gardner. Gardnerians all share a core set of materials --- written, demonstrative and oral --- which have been taught to every member of the tradition in a somewhat standardized method of hands-on/directly communicated, experiential and relevatory practices. These practices include certain rituals and techniques which can only be transmitted from teacher to student, in person, and via an alternating male-to-female, female-to-male fashion.

Ok, now that we've gotten the "legal mumbo jumbo" of our rough definition out of the way, I do have to stress that one cannot become a Gardnerian without being initiated by an existing member of the opposite sex, most often by being adopted into an existing coven. You cannot "pick it up" through reading books written by known or purported Gardnerian authors, nor by following along with one of those alleged copies of the BOS found in the public domain.

There is a word common to all BTW folks....that is the notion of "vetting."

Vetting is a means of vouching for or otherwise fact-checking amongst each other so that we can avoid frauds in our midst or so that we can confirm which level of attainment (degree) a person has reached and therefore not prematurely disclose teachings to which the person may not yet be privy. It is essentially the tracing of one's initiatory family tree showing the links of the claimant in the tree and up through their "who begat who" all the way back to Gerald Gardner, and at each level, the named people in the tree can verify their predecessors and antecedents in the transmission of initiations and subsequent elevations to prove that the claimant is a legit practitioner.

Know that such "avoidance of premature disclosure" is not designed for the purpose of higher-level members to lord things over those who are not of similar attainment or degree to receive the knowledge, but to ensure that the person who has not yet reached that degree may have the opportunity to fully experience the revelation directly and for themselves, without the influence of another's opinions. In short, we don't want to "ruin the surprise" of letting everyone come to the same epiphanies as we had done back when we were being trained using the same tried-and-true techniques and exercises.

Vetting is standard practice for BTW folks. Every tradition keeps records of who its initiates are, who is upline or downline from everyone else. And so we can do these periodic checks of folks claiming to be members so that we may: (1) confirm if a claimant was indeed initiated into the tradition as s/he has professed by verifying such attainment with his reported initiators and upline, (2) that the claimant has indeed been passed the requisite material (written, demonstrative and oral) which further verifies his/her understandings of the essential standards/core common to all other members of the claimed tradition and as befitting his/her professed degree and (3) as a method of recordkeeping so that when claimants are proven liars about being a part of a tradition as a deliberate act to defame or otherwise cause negative influence under the auspices of the tradition, we can confront such individuals and counteract their influence.

So it is important to note that as a seeker of any BTW trad, you too have a right to some level of vetting to ensure you aren't being led astray by someone claiming to be of a tradition that they may not be affiliated with.

If you are sincere in seeking out BTW training, I encourage you to join the Yahoo chat group called "Amber and Jet" but also to warn you that it is NOT your typical public pagan atmosphere. It is a group where various factions of BTW teachers, scholars and students come together to answer honest seeker's questions.

I strongly recommend before you jump right in with whatever questions you have there, that you read through the archives since most questions have been asked countless times before you. Speak little and listen much....get to recalibrating your understanding about how a traditionalist thinks versus how an eclectic person thinks about the styles and methods of practice. They are VERY DIFFERENT, VERY DISTINCT paths and not merely a dip of a different pantheon or the changing of a few words of poetry which separate the two.

Also, get to know the other styles of BTW beyond Gardnerian. It may well be that one of these other varieties appeals to you and you may not have known it existed. It is usually far more important to find a coven family that you connect with than it is to try for a specific BTW tradition. In the end, you'll see that the match more than the means makes all the difference.

Lastly, be prepared to have to actually seek out training for awhile. Do not hold the expectation that simply because you've expressed and announced your desire for it, that it should be given to you. BTW folks are selective about whom they are willing to take as students. This isn't an open cattle-call whereby we take anyone and everyone just because they say they want it. Like schools of higher education, we look for the best and the brightest ---you'll hear the term "proper personhood" bandied about--- before we consider passing on the tradition that we have grown to know and love, who will take care of it after us.

And be prepared that in some cases, you may have to travel to study with a group. There may or may not be a BTW group near you. Folks have been known to drive for hours or take flights several times a year to undergo training.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Deja Broom: The Rede and Flogging the Equine Carcass

"DEJA BROOM" denotes a blog repost from my old site.  Feel free to read anew, or refresh your memory to re-live the ranty goodness.  Otherwise, skip this repeat and await more modern mayhem.

I don't want to make this into yet another full blown beating of an already dead horse (hence the blog title), but comments I've heard lately make me think perhaps a gentle note concerning the Rede was in order.

First, not all pagans, nor all witches for that matter, acknowledge or follow the Rede.

Second, the Rede was not invented by Gerald Gardner. The version that Gardner used in his work is pretty widely accepted to have been derived from a few different sources, not the least of which came from Gardner's interactions with Aleister Crowley and the O.T.O.

What Gardner was passed by his initiators --- and yes, Virginia, Gardner had initiators, he did NOT invent this thing called "Wicca" --- was a skeletal system of beliefs, practices and rituals. Like other burgeoning occultists of his time, Gardner had often sought out and traded information with other practitioners, using his best judgment to reconcile the information he gleaned to from others against any then-known historic evidence in order to corroborate and supplement the set of practices, rites and ideas he had been given to work with.

This was not any mindless grabbing of whatever came across Gardner's path, as some of the more fluffy variety of eclectics do today. No sir!

Gardner took vast amounts of reference notes, had intellectual dialogs in person with other occult contemporaries and wrote many, many letters to others not within his immediate scope of travel. Most of these letters are not available or currently accessible to the general pagan populace, but as an initiate, I assure you they do exist.

Getting back to the Rede discussion...

Third, the Rede has often been cited and misconstrued in modern parlance (post the neo-Wicca explosion starting in the mid 1980s) as a morality tool or censuring of conduct. This is not the way the Rede was meant or intended as it was presented by Gardner to his students. That the meaning of the Rede has been altered into something used to "scare" practitioners into following a certain ethics standard or group of social mores is a recent affectation. The way the Rede is oft recited and defined today shows some meandering away from the original meaning and interpretation that Gardner had intended it for his students and downline initiates.

This, I believe, to be primarily due to the way the Rede and other elements of what had been material intended for a limited, properly trained and oathbound audience were subsequently modified and co-opted by the masses, being (re-)defined by folks who had...ahem..."come to such information through illicit means" by stealing such information from Gardner's work.

The Rede, like other documents collected and written by Gardner and his various HPS kindred were originally only supposed to be privy to oathbound initiates. As such, often the written material had accompanying oral lore and teachings that would be passed from teachers to students that would clarify, and further explain, the written items.

So when this material, that had once been the sole intellectual property of those who were duly trained in the way Gardner himself was trained, found exposure through...ahem….inappropriately published sources….the written material alone did not fully convey the whole picture.

However, because these now public voices and published authors were not exposed to these elements via the usual training from which they ...ahem..."borrowed"... the information, these people were not privy to the way the material was intended to be dispersed as part of the closed Tradition. They only saw what was "written" by Gardner and did not also receive the oral lore which accompanies the written and which would have further explained and defined the Rede in the way Gardner meant it to be understood by his students.

This left the door open for the publishers and plagiarizing authors to offer up their own opinions on what they felt was the meaning behind a pretty vaguely written sentence. Essentially, in so doing, they were taking Gardner's idea out of its original full context of the teaching, using only an abbreviated version and then changing it with their own theoretical understanding of the abbreviation.

It was like they got a recipe for a cake with a few ingredients missing and then attempted to pass of their lop-sided, inedible finished product to everyone as the same delicious cake with buttercream frosting as if they had indeed used all ingredients.

Add to this the passage of time (try like 50+ years worth) and the actions of "the telephone game" which can slightly alter things just by permutations upon permutations of individual interpretation....and you get the watered down, off-the-mark way you hear the Rede rattled off the cuff by a lot of folks today ---- that the Rede means "You're allowed to do absolutely anything you feel like but in doing so cause no harm to anything or anyone, ever!" ….as if this is hard and fast dogma.

A veritably impossible task if ever I've heard one! No wonder some witches think it is a bunch of horse-pucks!

Fourth, the real meaning of the Rede is not “You have carte blanche to do whatever you want so long as you don’t hurt anyone or anything.” That is logically impossible anyway. Anytime you affect a change, you alter the status quo and in doing so, you’re essentially hurting something that was accustomed to the status quo.

Nor should the Rede be taken as a dire warning about having your “karma” go up or down on some cosmic akashic tally sheet of the Gods. It is a euphemism all about being mindful of, and taking personal responsibility for, your words, your actions, your deeds and your witchery.

The accountability for same is not necessarily three-fold (another euphemism) but you’d better believe that when you will and enact a change, something will also enact a change in, for, or to you. Gee, sounds a lot like quantum physics and natural law, doesn’t it?

Hmmm, maybe some folks need a visit to the hard science section of the book store along with the usual jaunt down the New Age aisle, eh?

Now let's send this poor horse back out to its pasture in the Summerlands, shall we?

Rosy Palms - not what you're thinking!!

Just a quick public service announcement...

If you are planning to create a John Barleycorn effigy/corn dolly for Lammastide, and follow the usual instructions that suggesting that you soak the wheat and rye sheaves in water for about 40-60 minutes to make them more pliable before you bend, twist and weave them....make sure that the stalks you purchase from the craft supply store or roadside farmstand have not been dyed.

Not only will you save yourself oodles of time scrubbing the droplets sprayed all over your countertops, cabinets and will save yourself the mighty embarrassment of having to explain why your palms look like you've taken up henna fingerpainting as a new hobby.

But still, my JB was pretty damn cool, if I do say so m'self.  HAPPY LAMMAS!!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Heads Cut Off The Political Chicken

Delving into politics.  And food.  Kinda.

First, everyone is entitled to hold an opinion and to share an opinion. Sometimes the opinions of others aren't going to be something with which you personally agree.

THAT is what Freedom of Speech is about --- being able to give voice to one's views which have been based upon one's accessible knowledge and life experience.  This speech is knowingly subjective and likely will be different from the knowledge base and life experiences of other peope.  So the whole Freedom of Speech business is about being able to hold discourse about such things without recrimination, reprisal or censure.

What it does not mean is having the freedom to denegrate someone whose exposure to facts and/or life experience have led them to alternate points-of-view.

The problem is that sometimes people take the differing opinions of others very personally, as if under personal attack, when no such slight is intended or purposeful.  They feel somehow victimized by the idea that someone isn't agreeing with their views, and so those damned dissenters are obviously then disrespecting me and making me feel bad.

**** This issue tends to rear its ugly head when folks are debating politics or religion ****

Well, let's look at this a bit.  Holding a different opinion DOES NOT denote that the speaker is making any sort of judgement about those who don't share the same views.  Holding a different opinion DOES NOT automatically imply discrimination or equate with subtle hate speech.

Just because I don't share your opinion on a given topic does not mean I dislike you as a person and all you stand for.  It simply means that on this particular subject, we've looked at whatever relevant data we've been exposed to in our respective travels, compared it to our life experiences thus far, weighed the perception of it with our stock emotional range and arrived at a conclusion about how the subject makes us feel about ourselves.

No one is force feeding you, no one is demanding that you side with the conclusion they've arrived at through their own process just because they happen to be sharing their opinion with you.

There isn't any judgement going on, other than the judgement you have of yourself upon hearing the opinions of others.  You get to choose how to feel, how to react.  It is ON YOU!!

So all that offering up an opinion really is, is one person's wish to vocalize a view that they hold and they are offering it up in the "court of public review" and then the individuals comprising the public are free to assent, redress, or amend their own views accordingly.

The mileage of other people and their private experiences can and should vary, because we all come from different backgrounds, have different levels of education, have lived within different demographic populations, and have acquired experiential knowledge first-hand that colors our viewpoints.

To quote Voltaire: "I do not agree with what you have to say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it."
So yes, I think the intellectual contrasting of opinions is not about being combative of the other person, but is instead asking that everyone involved with the conversation use this opinion to take a more critical look at the foundations of their own feelings on the given subject.

While debate is not a personal often is perceived as a challenge, although not of a personal affront to the recipient's character.  It is offering a challenge to see if you can match the root of your opinion to the conclusion arrived at by others.  Can you review your findings and see if they are made more substantial when confronted by opposition or do you see where your prior assessment may be missing some insights that this other person found that you didn't....or that you found that he didn't.  Now is your chance to share, learn and offer the basis of your opinion back to allow the other party a chance to review and give rebuttal.
Healthy debate is good. Diversity is good. These things should be welcomed because they teach us to reach beyond what we currently believe and empathetically reconsider viewpoints outside ourselves, beyond our present scope.
While after doing this review we may not always be convinced enough by the viewpoint of others to change our own POV, we might least engender a more compassionate understanding of that other person's experiences that generated their opinion.
Which brings me to this whole stupid Chik-fil-a thing.

Their owner is as entitled to espouse and voice his opinion as anybody. If you don't like what he says and want to "vote with your dollars" by not buying food from his restaurant chain, then do it.  If you want to use your "voting dollars" to show your support of his opinion, then do that. Since when did food become a political rally?

I'd say....since Hooters. Yeah, Hooters.

I've never set foot in one of those joints because I, private citizen little me, long ago decided that the kitschy/gimmicky concept of using a slang term for women's anatomy and making the uniforms none-too-subtly denigrating to women, were unacceptable to me and so I choose not to purchase what I've been told are their remarkably delicious hot wings.  Ever.

Do I think that the owner of Hooters has a right to run his business like this? Yes.
Is he entitled to hire only a certain segment of women who are willing to dress like that for tips? Yes.
Do I think that by doing so he's being a misognyist sleazeball? Yes.
But he still has a right to his opinion that women dressed in risque clothing will help him sell more chicken wings.
So it is with Chik-fil-a.  I happen to disagree with the owner's opinions about the GBLT community, and so therefore I'm going to not spend my money in his establishments and buy my drive-thru chicken sandwich from some other place.  I'm making that political, for me, not for anybody else.

Hmmmm....Chik-fil-a....Hooters....waitaminute....maybe the problem isn't so much political agendas as it is CHICKEN?!   *grin*

Sorry.  Just trying to inject a little humor.

Still I don't see the point of getting all bent out of shape for the Chik-fil-a guy voicing his opinion. He's entitled to it, even if you don't agree....which I don't. 

It may be that he had such a sheltered life that he has had no contact with the GBLT community ever.  Or was brainwashed by pressure-laden dogma without having had actual real-life interaction with GBLT people after which he could form a more realistic understanding.

All one can do is vote with your dollars then.  Which I will do.  Besides, Wendy's has a damn good asiago chicken sandwich on their menu.

Still doesn't make everyone a homophobe for buying Chik-fil-a.  No more so than shopping at Hobby Lobby ---a retail craft store which proclaims that it is closed on Sundays to allow its employees the day off for church service--- makes everyone who does automatically an anti-semite since the store doesn't insist on being closed on Saturdays too.

When it comes to politics, religion, and other such hot topics, I don't think anyone has all the right answers. The best anyone can do is explore, experience and use a lifetime honed skill that combines critical thinking with empathy. It is then that you can follow the course that is best for you and compassionately allow others to do what is best for them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

John Barleycorn must die...and I have to write about it!

Ok, so as absentee custodian of this blog, it is my duty to report that I've finally completed my move into my new apartment and am mostly unpacked now.  At the very least, I'm back online and able to write more frequently. 

Starting now! 

So here we are at the crux of another holiday....Lughnasadh/ Lammas/ Loaf Mass / gee ain't it hot out!  Today is also a full moon, so I'm going to keep this pithy and relatively short.

For most of the big holidays, a few of the local traditionalist groups in Chicago metro and their various pagany pals and retinues gather together to celebrate the sabbat together, feast, make merry, gossip about each other and the "pagan community at large" and just have a general good time.  Some of us are a few decades or more into the Craft, so we have that tongue-in-cheek sense of humor about things, which makes rituals fun and mostly light-hearted.

As we hail from different trads, we do a round-robin thing with a different HPS hostessing the rite and sharing a watered-down (read:  not oathbound) version of how their group would normally celebrate the seasonal rite. 

This time, it is my turn to wear the pointy shoes and striped tights (well, since we're not doing the Gardy thing, I have to wear something y'know!)

And I'm really quite excited to write a little ditty for this particular festival.  I like the harvest festivals.  Something about the winding down of Summertime's extreme exertions of heat and growth and production of bursting fruit...the coming to term...the ripening...the culmination of all that abundance, by way of making the outcomes into something nourishing, sustaining...the PURPOSE of it that potent energy to yield a tangible result that you can now hold in your hands, take a big bite out of and pronounce it YUMMY, FILLING and GOOD!

I like the healthy WHOOSH! of the scythe in the field --- or in this modern age, to see the combine rolling all that grain and corn through the blades, shooting it in a magnificent arc into the waiting bin trailing along behind. 

Yeah, and I really like the clever old English poem about Mr. Barleycorn.  You've probably heard it set to music by Steeleye Span or maybe Traffic....yummy!  The tale of the seed, growing to shoot through the soil, gracefully reaching upward toward the sun, turning golden with the Midsummer heat and then ol' John Barleycorn's eventual demise at the hands of the reapers, the miller and finally being partially ingested and partially reseeded so that he would return again the following year.

Gotta love a story with an adventuresome plot.  First, the rise of our gentle hero in who is faced with dangerous odds.  Then there's his struggle to prepare himself for battle, followed by a wild chase and a climactic moment when our hero recognizes that the situation calls for making a "personal" sacrifice for the greater good.  He offers himself up, and in a twist of fate, finds that his choice offers him rewards beyond imagining.  He becomes a legend, a symbol and blessing to others.  Nourishment for the spirit.

Sharing bounty among family, friends, community.  Labor and hope made manifest.  Real.  Tangible and yet ephemeral.  Breaking bread.  Warm barley cakes drizzled with clover honey...and whisky aged in barrels that offer a heat which warms from inside when you take a sip.

Gratitude for work, for toil which yields plenty.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Packing Rat

Am moving.  Am shopping and packing.

It brings to mind the stand-up routine from George Carlin about the difference between stuff and shit:

The going through an accumulated decade-worth of stuff and then debating what's worth hanging onto...and thereby having to Tetris it into a cardboard box.  The shit that isn't worth keeping anymore, that gets to go into the recycle bin, the compost pile, the stuff by the front door that will be collected by some charity or other when their box truck stops by at the end of next week.

Amazing how much stuff and shit one collects.  Things.  Things you wanted, thought you needed, were certain you could not live without...but in the end, just more and more niggling little things you now have to bubble wrap or wedge in amongst your socks or bath towels so that they don't get broken by the dear helpful friends and movers who will be hauling your possessions from this current domicile to your new digs.

I'm paring down my life. 

I'm finding that I don't need as much stuff to make me feel sated, make me feel accomplished, make me feel happy.  Sort of liberating to say goodbye to so many 'formerly must-have' items.  They feel cumbersome and out-of-step with my outlook these days. 

And it isn't just aesthetics either, although surely in my Libran heart of hearts, I've moved on from the decor and mood of the past direction in some ways too.  Kinda over the whole 'French Country with a kitschy-bohemian look' vibe.  Waaaaay over the 'yeah I bought that at the Ren Faire, how did you know I'm pagan' look too. 

Want to rock something more tactile, more daring, more evocative of who I am in this new phase of my existence.

Yeah, still a witchy gal at heart.  But maybe feeling a little more Serena and less Samantha...unless you're speaking about the Sex and the City one.  *grin*

So I've begun jettisoning things that no longer fit in, and started repurposing and collecting smaller things that do.  Meaningful things.  Things that I adore and have saved up for.  Things that make my heart sing, when I need to have something just for me.

Because at this stage, hell yeah, I'm single.  Hell yeah, I'm childless and over 40.  And hell yeah, I'm going to ride this delightful wave of Auntie Mame-hood for all it is worth.

And that is why my new adventures are awaiting me in 2.5 weeks.  I've got the lease on the new apartment all signed and ready.  I've been storing away new furnishings while parting with the old ones.  And that is why everything on this new adventure started with one chair that spoke to me....

The picture doesn't do it justice, but yes... it is chartreuse green velvet, curvy, tufted.  Um, with rhinestone buttons.

Let the fun begin! 

Friday, May 18, 2012


I'm one of those people who believes there are no coincidences.  Things happen for a reason.  People enter into our lives and exit from our lives at the times that they do for a reason.

In my opinion, there is a things happen in the way that they do for, basically, one of two reasons:

The FIRST possible reason is causal reaction. 
Either you have done something / said something or didn't do something /didn't say something...and this has led you to this present situation or caused this present circumstance to occur.  By this, I mean you made a choice at some early point in time, and the present occurrence is a result of that decision (or lack of decision).  Thus, this seemingly coincidental occurrence is a consequential event brought about through your own influence in the world.  Karma, as witches tend to perceive it, says things happen in the NOW, not in the HEREAFTER, and we are responsible for the NOW and our movements in it that ripple onward.

The SECOND possible reason is that an outside influence is purposefully acting upon you.
Other persons or outside forces --which may be other living, corporeal beings in your environment OR may be at least beings of spirit capable of interacting with this plane of existence in some fashion like Divine Beings, the Mighty Dead, or other non-corporeal but active creatures-- they may elect to bring to some idea or life-lesson to your attention by "pinging" your perceptions about it.  Someone else's decisions are impacting your reality, causally or purposefully.  They, or at least their influence, is confronting you and challenging you to both notice that impact in your life and now make a conscious choice about how you will acknowledge and react to what they have shown you or caused to be acted upon you.

The important thing to remember in either circumstance --again, this is in my opinion-- is that YOU get to CHOOSE how you will acknowledge and accept and react to things. 

You get to process the situation, the content, and weigh it against your prior life experiences, calling to mind your emotional reactions to things, how you may or may not have reacted in prior circumstances, or if this is a wholly new experience for you, to judge it against anything remotely similar you've been exposed to and then choose what you feel is an appropriate reactive response.

What is unique to the witches' viewpoint here, is that we tend to be very attentive to the fact that we are in control of both our response AND how we internalize our immediate reactions to stimuli of circumstance.  In so doing, we get that heartbeat-wide space, that moment of captured breath, wherein we can sit with the emotion for just a bit and then decide if our usual gut-reaction or knee-jerk default response is appropriate and of due force given the situation.

We are aware, so very aware, that whatever feedback we give....that will bear continuing change outward, sent rippling and at some point, returning to us in a way we must be responsible for and accountable for.  We must be prepared to deal with what we send forth.  We must be accepting of what happens, since we are the mindful architects of our reality, we witches, we benders and shapers of our world.

This is often an uncomfortable role.  And yeah, everyone has "moments of humanness" when we would so much rather dive into the "ignorance is bliss" mode.  But when we've set foot on this path of the Craft....from the moment we'd declared to the Gods and the Mighty Ones that:

Yes, yes, yes! we do really want to suffer to learn,
and we really do want to have the power
 to move consciousness with our will, yes we do!

Well, my darlings, that comes with a serious price tag. 

You cannot un-know your fate, your burden of being responsible than the next guy.  You've accepted that yoke and now you must pull that around with you.

It isn't all bad though.

You do get to know more about the fact that you, YOU!, are the "man behind the curtain" in a lot of ways concerning your own destiny.  You aren't merely some pawn who is forced to mete out your life in a sort of rat-in-an-endless-maze kind of way.  There is enjoyment in accomplishment to be had.  There is personal recognition for growth and all those lovely epiphany moments that occur.

Like when you meet a friend for the first time and things seemingly just "click" between you naturally.

Or when you have a sense of deja vu about a locale and just seemingly know which turns to make to bring you to a destination that has something which feeds your spirit.

Or when you come across something remote and beautiful and meaningful, seemingly hidden in plain sight, just waiting for you to find and experience it.

There are no coincidences.

Wake up.  Pay attention.

The universe and all the creatures in it...they are speaking to you in symbolic language every day.

See.  Touch.  Taste.  Smell.  Listen.  Feel. 

Breathe with the whole of your being and take it all in.

Then, go do something miraculous with it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Well?  I survived the whole divorce thing.  March 26th.  Over.  Done with.  Amen and So Mote It BE!!!!!  Am about to embark on the adventure of renewed singlehood....sort of. 

But before I get into that whole story (and perhaps that's one for a different post, at a time when I'm feeling all gossipy and/or confessional-in-that-way-that-several-good-vodka-martinis-provide), I am still riding on the invisible coat-tails of Beltane energy and sort of letting it wake up my esoteric nerve endings.

Sort of like psychic yoga.  Or astral knuckle-cracking.

This renewal, rebirth type of sensation is how I pretty much made it through the legal wranglings and past the emotional booby-traps.  It was an amicable thing, for the most part...but there was still no shortage of feeling less than stellar about having tried to make a life with somebody who, in the end, decided that I wasn't the appropriate person to grow old with.

Truth be told, he wasn't perfect for me either, but me...well, being me...didn't want to give up because I don't like failure.  Don't like letting go when there might possibly be one more small avenue of "trying to fix things" that I hadn't attempted.

But yeah.  Did them all.  Walked away with a clear conscience.  And an empty wallet.  And am stuck with a house I don't want...which I'm the primary on the mortgage still with the ex-husband...and am acting as landlord as he...and his new girlfriend...are about to move back in.

Like I said, long damn story.  And possibly Jerry Springer.  Which is tragic to think about.


My newly acquired freedom has given me a really, really big fat hug o' happiness.  A second chance at living a more authentic life in many ways, instead of the drudgery and struggle to keep working on a relationship that I was the only one willing to work at it.

Which brings me to my point of today's little ramble:   Beltane and the Magical Art of Asking the Right Questions.

Yes indeedy, folks.  Talking about chatting with the "Deity-esque Mom and Dad" and telling them a heartfelt THANK YOU for the life-lesson I'd just endured....the clue-by-fours about what decent partnership and relationship should and should not look like, feel like....and now coming to them saying that I want to be open to trying again.  You know, since I'm not entirely thrashed for the experience.

More so than the whole dating scene...I am trying to figure out exactly what it means to me in terms of being a priestess and witch.  What it means to have a decent male around to my femaleness, in both a Circle-worthy sense and yeah, kinda in a wouldn't it be great to have that in an everyday sense too?

So that's where my head was at yesterday as I did my little bit of solo work.  Which yeah, I get it, Beltane is the last place you want to be solo to begin with...perhaps more so as a Gardnerian...but still.  Being alone was exactly the right thing for me yesterday, for making my appeal to the Mighty Ones and to my Gods.  It was especially important because there cannot be room for the new, the better opportunity if there is still "stuff" in the way.  Gotta make room, because hey, Nature abhors a vacuum and only when there is room for something new, will something new arrive.

And as for vacuums, I'm done with my life sucking big time like it has in recent years.  Time to just settle my own self down, remember who I am, reacquaint myself to the core values and preferences and singular things that make me the unique and weird broad that I am....and then see what happens when there happens to be some puzzle piece that fits those now empty spaces.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Countdowns and seafoam

I'm feeling really frustrated today. 

I have these moments, sometimes several days worth, when I'm anxious, waiting for things to shift and move.  Just so tired of being trapped and stagnating in this rut....things taking too long towards my impending fresh start and new beginning as everyone keeps promising me will soon come.

Ah, this "winter of my discontent" needs to come to an end already!!

Today I'm channeling my impatience into physical tasks, like painting and spring cleaning.  Makes me feel the way a gardner does when forcing a bulb to bloom indoors, ahead of its natural schedule, just out of need to see something blossoming, fruitful, beautiful.  I need proof of growth, need evidence of change. 

I want to feel joy and hope bursting through the dark, like eager tender shoots coming up through crusted soil.

There are 15 days until Spring Equinox.  There are 21 days until my divorce is final.  There are 23 days until I go on my vacation to visit "mother, mother ocean...I have heard your call..." down in Florida and shed my tears into the salty, cold Atlantic.

I always feel better after a visit with the waves.  Somehow the water makes me feel small, carried, just a hairs-breath from being swept away in the way that my emotional tides sometimes do...but even in that there is a dark beauty, a constant, a rhythm that and pattern that I cannot comprehen but can only trust is there....that there is a source beyond my ken, beyond my grasp of human understanding....that the waves and the shhh-shhh of the water lapping and crashing, turning rock and shells into sand over time and with patience....that there is a reason for all this.  That the Wheel will keep turning no matter what I do, no matter what happens, no matter how small my life may be in the cosmic scheme of things.

A little pleasure in that, despite my immediate pains. 

Change is inevitable.  Growth, maturation, decline, endings, renewal.  All of it happens in ways we sometimes cannot fathom, cannot prevent, cannot forsee, cannot anticipate or prepare for....but always, a continuation.

Sometimes you ride the Wheel....sometimes you are caught beneath its tread....but always, it moves forward.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Zombies: things that are cool, but rather disturbing

Along side the whole vampire/werewolf teen angsty thing, there has also been a subgenre featuring old monster movies and might guess, partially relative to the 2012 end-o-the-world fascination.  *erp*

Well, at least the zombie thing has produced some remarkably creative, creepy and covet-worthy objects d'art.  And my being a Halloween ephemera collector, I have to say some of it fascinates me enough that even in my most Libra aesthete moods, a part of me secretly wishes she had the nerve to actually purchase a few of these disturbing delectables. 

I know....weird, right?  As if I could pull off that whole gothy vibe without looking like an aging hipster who is trying to hard. 

Anyway, here are a few "decidedly shocking, but still so freaking kick-ass" items that would probably cause any of my future dating prospects to run screaming in the other direction --- unless of course said gentleman IS some aging hipster who is trying too hard ((tee hee)):

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Back to the land of the living...and blogging!

Alrighty then.

Quite a bit o' time has passed....and with it, a whole lotta personal life crapola.  Not the least of which is my impending divorce fun. 

The soon-to-be-ex-husband moved out in mid-November.  I struggled a bit through the holiday season, but mostly made it through emotionally intact....and what is more, stronger, relieved, and dare I say it...happier.

Well, getting that way.  Day by freaking day.

Got myself an attorney.  Got myself in financial good stead.  Getting my house cleaned up, emptied out, repainted and ready for the real estate market in the spring.

Most importantly....upgraded my car to a midlife crisis worthy mobile...a snazzy new convertible sports car.  Yes indeedy, this gal  ((thumbs pointing to chest)) is not going to "go gently into that goodnight" of forty-something female singledom without being armed with some cooler, self-indulgent toys to compensate for her second crack in the reliving the reckless youth she never had to begin with.

One of the many things being recovered, reconciled and revamped? 

You guessed it.  This blog space.  Back from the dead.  Full throtle and damn the torpedoes.  Or something.

So thanks for the patience gang, if any of y'all are still out there in internetland.  Am back....not with a vengence...but certainly with a new shine on my brass ovaries and a revved up new besom to cruise around and rant to Hel and back astride.