Monday, April 13, 2015

HEADSCRATCHER: a "Wiccan" priestess gives invocation to Iowa state house

Ok, I may be late to speak about this at the online rant party, but believe me, my forehead slapping did occur when I heard about this in late March-early April.

To confess, I thought it was an April Fools' joke at first.  Here's the article, as I first saw it:

But while I am usually happy when well-spoken, educated, non-costume attired paganfolks get a chance to speak about the beauty and legitimacy of our path as a spiritually affirming religion...unfortunately, this follows with my being gobsmacked by the "one step too far" statements the token witchypoo or paganpeep makes, if not spouting Gandolfy, Morgan-Le-Fay-ish stupidity in the press.

Now, I'll also tell you that I've done press interviews myself and I know FIRST HAND that those really swell reporters who seem really sympathetic and interested in what we had discussed during the interview are also the self-same jerkfaces who then published hatchet jobs of what was actually said.  All the off-the-cuff trivial platitudes and sidebar comments that were made somehow took precedence over the really astute, journalism-worthy tidbits that were supposed to be the meat of the article. 

So I get that there is a small chance that Ms. Maynard was taken out of context and really isn't as dumb as she sounds. 

Yet, the quote of hers which sent my bullshit-o-meter to eleven was that she didn't want there to be any negative backlash for her giving the opening prayer.  She wanted to draw a line that she was a self-proclaimed Wiccan and "Wicca has a bad reputation as a religion as many may associate it with witchcraft..."

Hello?  HELLO MCFLY?  Wicca IS Witchcraft. 

If the general public is still all bent out of shape about what witchcraft is, now would have been a really swell time for you to....I don't know....educate them about why it isn't all dark agey ooga-booga and IS as valid a spiritual pursuit as prayer, meditation or other forms of communing with deity.

But no.  You took the cop-out plea bargaining BS way out, huh?  You played into the fallacy just for the sake of having your 15 minutes of fame.

And what is most astounding to me is that you're supposed to be a Cabot Witch?  Um, what do you think ol' Laurie would have to say with you being a freaking sell out?

Well, yeah.  You didn't promote the Craft, you didn't do anything to change anyone's opinions about what,  All you did was have your day in front of the cameras making the rest of us feel like we've gotten shafted by the press in April rather than October.

Thanks for nothing, Ms. Maynard.  That isn't a pointy witch wicca hat you're wearing, clearly says "DUNCE" on it!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Tag....YOU'RE IT!!

I liked your tag post so much Veles, that I absconded with it!! 

1). How did you encounter Paganism, Witchcraft or Magick for the First Time?
Back, back, waaaaay back before da internetz, there was this magical place called the library.  It had books arranged by topic in the non-fiction sections, and they were coded with this sooper-kryptik seeekret archaic code called the Dewey Decimal system.  As a kid, I had a fascination for the occult and spent a lot of time poking around the 133's (occult) and 293's (folklore) 'em all and then asked my mom to ask the library lady to order stuff from other local libraries for me.  Mom though it was "cute that my daughter likes Halloween so darn much."

That, and I wanted to be Samantha on Bewitched.

2). What was your first book? 
I don't recall what the first occult-centric book was that I'd read, but the first one that stuck with me as witchcraft being a REAL THING was Hans Holzer's "Heather:  Confessions of a Witch."  Many of the descriptions of the young woman's life leading up to her becoming a witch felt familiar to me and it made me want to actively seek out the Craft too.  To this day, I re-read that book at least once a year, and have bit of nod and a chuckle at the parts that are legit about the coven experience and those which are exaggerated a bit for the purpose of titillating  readers.  I consider it my first abject lesson in building an inner bullshit meter about all things witchery in print.

3.) What was the first spell you ever performed?
I was a pre-pubescent young waif of a girl...what do YOU think?  Why a love spell, naturally!  *squee!*
What an excellent lesson in what NOT to do, when all you're armed with is you Mom's spice cabinet and some equally squealing girlfriends at a slumber party.

4). What was your first crystal or stone? 
I used to collect funky pieces of limestone, marble and river rocks from my forays into the woods.  But my first "official" stone that I recall was a really cool rutilated quartz point I bought from a rock hound guy at a Christmas bazaar held by the local high school.  I had that baby for years, but it has since been lost in one of the many moves in my adulthood and I trust that's because the Fae have come to take it back home.

5). Who was the first God and/or Goddess you encountered on your Path?
Ooooh....good one.  Well, we learned about the Greco-Roman pantheon in grade school, so naturally there were a number of them with whom I decided I'd chat with in my na├»ve teeny-bopper cobbled-together pseudo-witchery.  I remember trying to chat up Aphrodite, whom I certain must have laugh-snorted at me and waived me off like a mosquito until puberty settled in and I actually gave her something interesting to work with.  Flash-forward to when I first started earnestly seeking and working with others, that's when I became better acquainted with the Celtic pantheons.  Brigid and Cerridwen were center stage for a number of years, until Arianrhod came a-calling.  Since then, Arianrhod and Aphrodite (who now shakes her head at me and my midlife crisis bod) along with Those Whom I Serve in my Gard practices, are the most frequent visitors to my abode.

6). How did you first meet other Pagans?
At first, it was while I was working as an assistant manager in a bookstore and had contact with customers who placed special orders for occult titles.  I'd chat those folks up as they'd come in to collect their purchases and a few of them I'd met for coffee outside of work to speak at greater length about the books they were reading and what they were studying.  Then there was my ordering the magazines GREEN EGG and THE BELTANE PAPERS for our store from the distribution center.  That lead to some more conversations with like-minded folks, timidly buying pagan-friendly subculture reads.  Lastly, with the advent of AOL and the birth of the internet chat group genre, online discussions led to a few in-person meet ups.  A few of my dearest gal pal's came into my life because of AOL.  One is a kitchen witch extrodinare and the other is the foundress of the Sisterhood of Avalon.

7). What was the first Festival, Meetup, or Public gathering you attended?
The first REAL DEAL meet-up had to be one of the mid-1990's Pagan Leadership Conferences in Chicago.  That was the first time I got to witness/participate in a group ritual of that size and attend workshops and classes with people who practiced varying pagan ways...from Asatru to Kemetic to ADF to eclectic witchery.

8). What was the first class or workshop you took?
Oh gawds...I don't remember.  Had to be something from the Pagan Leadership Conference.  An early stand-out was the first time I met Ray Buckland.  I was a bit of an awestruck knucklehead kid, I'm sure...but you have to remember that this was back in the day before those folks were on the whole Llewellyn book-signing circuit.

9). What the first chant you learned?
Eko Eko...taken from that "Heather:  Confessions of a Witch" book.  I had no idea what I was saying, but it sounded good and 'witchy.' I know...

10). What was the first method of divination you learned?
Like most everybody else, I started with the Rider-Waite deck back when I was like 12 or 13, which I had purchased at Gamer's Paradise or some comic book store.  And also like everybody else, I had no idea what the heck I was doing.  I had to keep looking everything up in the little booklet that came with the cards and once I lost that, I was hopeless as a card reader.  It wasn't until my mid-20's that I'd renewed an interest in card reading.  I've since collected a better version of the RW style that prompted me to learn the symbology, color meanings and more in-depth divination techniques.  I greatly enjoy reading cards now, and have also explored mirror scrying, augury and a few other divinatory systems over the years which have served me well.

11). What was your first tool?
First one I made was scrying mirror.  A curved glass clock face that I'd re-purposed and painted the reverse side with several coats of black lacquer mixed with finely powdered mugwort and other herbs, and then a finish coat.  Made a pretty black velvet bag with embossed symbols on it, to keep it in.  Alas I broke it a number of years back, but I've been collecting items to make a new, larger one soon.  The first tool I'd purchased was my athame.  A pretty simple but well-balanced double-edged blade from a guy at the local Ren Faire.  I still use it today, although I've made some modifications to the wood handle.

12). What was the first method or exercise you learned for Energy work?
Techniques from the book "Creative Visualization" by Shakti Gawain.  Later came those espoused by Laurie Cabot in her "Power of the Witch" book and the indispensable "Psychic Self Defense" by Dion Fortune.

13). What is a memorable or favorite First on your path that wasn't included in the above questions?
My first degree initiation.  For all that is written about the experience...nothing can compare to the experience of it.  Even if you think you know what it is all about, may have read about it, heard about it, think you know all there is to know about the ritual and so is not the same as having to do it.  I've been on the receiving end of that and have also witnessed others being brought in after me....magical indeed!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

A bit belated, but no less heartfelt…HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

2014 was pretty bumpy for a lot of folks out there, and I’m definitely in that camp. But tough as it was, I believe it was far better than the year that proceeded it because each one of us sort of hit upon the same idea in our own way….authenticity.

Yes, the past year contained a lot of hard-won lessons. And painful though these personal trials were while we were in the thick of them, it was only after managing to fight and push through them that we learned how powerful and illuminating the value of living authentically truly is.
Midlife-crisis my ass….midlife AWAKENING!!

So many of us approached our lives last year in a constant struggle to “slap on a Band-Aid and keep going,” trying to muddle through situations and circumstances that were not actually feeding our passions or our spirits; doing things because we felt we “ought to do them” and not because we truly wanted to do them or saw wisdom in continuing those old patterns….just being coerced or being lazy by playing the half-hearted old role for sake of not making waves.

But then, something happened. A crux and monumental stand-off occurred between psyche/soul and notions of “ought to“ when deep down we felt otherwise. Something shifted and the epiphany hit us squarely on the noggin: that just “going through the motions” of standard, garden-variety life wasn’t satisfying to anybody, least of all ourselves. Nobody wants to participate in that cardboard cut-out, baby…in our deepest desires, we all want vibrancy, deeply moving, extraordinary L-I-F-E!!!

And that’s why I am so looking forward to what 2015 has in store.

Yes, it will carry the all inherent wisdom of everything in my life which proceeded it. But if I can be brave, trust that I learned from my past experiences -- the good and the bad--- and then, with patient resolve, ACTIVELY CHOOSE everything I actually WANT to be a part of my life from now on (discovering what those people and things are, and admitting them is a big step)….and not allow myself to auto-pilot my way along or meekly accept whatever is doled out….only then I can create a life worth enjoying and being happy to participate in. Who’s with me??!?!

So I’m certain that there will be much to experience and enjoy in these next 12 months. There’s going to be some missteps, sure, but those will be on my terms too, not things I’ll be settling for.

This year will not be another one filled with corrective measures and survival mode….it will be about being brave, and honest and asking for what I want and not being afraid to really make hearty attempts, sometimes multiple attempts, to get it. Brand-new adventures and following through on dreams I’d shelved because I didn’t think I’d ever get around to pursuing them.

So I’m grateful for 2014…and grateful to see it in the rear-view mirror, getting smaller as I move forward.

Here’s hoping my friends, family and co-pilots in life embrace their own authenticity and we will enjoy with great mirth and reverence all the places our lives intersect, overlap and run parallel.

Be blessed and be true,