Friday, December 30, 2011

The Voice in my head, patience and discipline.

There's a Voice in my head that pipes up sometimes. First Husband and I generally refer to it as the Evil Voice. It isn't actually evil - there's no telling me to maim/kill/insert violent or insane act here - but we call it the Evil Voice because if I told most people what it says about them, well, they'd call it evil. It's analytical as hell, unsentimental as all get-out, non-judgmental and objective*, and almost emotionless. When it tells me something about someone's motivations, it's right about 99% of the time. It seems to have no other purpose than kicking my ass and protecting me from people/things that are bad for me, including myself.

I had a conversation with it this morning.

I came downstairs this morning with Stinky Dog, only to find that the rather pricy, less-than-three-year-old LG fridge is not frigging working. Again. I put the Stinky Dog out, made coffee, and unplugged the stupid thing. Then I went outside with S.D. to enjoy the beautiful day and get my morning stimulants in (coffee and cigarette - yes, I know, it should just be the coffee). I turned on my laptop and started doing my daily rounds of witchy blog reading.

ME: Oooo. The Alchemist's Garden has a post about canning. Damn, that looks good. I wish I had the patience to learn how to do that.

EVIL VOICE: Maybe you need to get the patience by doing it.

ME: Shut up. The fridge is dying. I just got up.

EVIL VOICE: We get disciplined and patient by making ourselves do things that require discipline and patience.

ME: 'Cause that's not circular logic at all.

EVIL VOICE: This isn't getting your laundry done, at any rate.

ME:  I hate how you're always right. (gets out from behind laptop to tackle the laundry)

*This is why I'm pretty sure it's not just me being crazy or hallucinating; it just says what it sees/knows, with no values attached. Example: Say someone's behavior has been driving me nuts.

What the Evil Voice will pop up with: Well, that's because Person would rather deal with what they'd like to have happening instead of dealing with what is happening, and that's because X Y and/or Z.

What I pop up with in my own head, or talking to myself out loud: WTF BBQ AMA WHY CAN'T YOU DEAL WITH REALITY LIKE RIGHT THIS FRIGGING MINUTE. AAARGH!!!

You see the difference.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Addendum to Prompt #2/Putting Things Off.

I'd said, in my last post, that it was time to get serious and honest. Which leads me to reflect - and explain, possibly - about what I'm doing/not doing with magic.

I tend to think of doing magic in everything I do; when I cook, I stir widdershins to banish ill health and then deosil for good health, I ask the landwights at the barn to watch over the horses and keep them safe, I toss protective circles around the cars while we're driving. The Great Cleaning Frenzy Of Samhain '11 was not just organizing a lot of stuff that needed to be organized; it was an Edict from Them and an attempt to get the energy moving in the house in a more helpful, peaceful, prosperous way.

But is all this just the same New-Age flighty-wighty "everything is magicakl" crap a lot of us throw out there when we've been slackassing and don't want to admit it? I've never really been a daily-practice type of person. Should I be? Should I at least give it a try?

Yeah, probably.

So I've got another Goal; get to witching. Celebrate the Sabbats and esbats even if I'm sicker than a dog. Celebrate them even if everyone else is sicker than dogs and can't participate. Take fifteen minutes out of every day and hang a Do Not Disturb sign on them. When a problem starts to come up, do both the mundane and magical to solve it - without waiting for the point at which it becomes a critical situation.

Oh, and scrub the kitchen down again.

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Year, New You - Prompt #2, Goals.

It's time to get serious. And honest.

My knees are shot from 20 years (OK, 32, but who's counting?) of riding jumpers. Carrying 50 or 60 extra pounds around isn't helping. I'm being outridden by women twice my age in my lessons, and not because they're on dead-broke old school ponies while I'm riding the piss out of three-years olds.

Come the new year that everyone else goes by, it's time to lose weight. Seriously. I've done it before, I can do it again. I need to and I want to, and no-one's stopping me considering I'm Head Cook these days. So - Goal #1: serious weight loss.

My horse still isn't where he should be, and though I think taking this brutal summer off was smart, there's no reason I can't be out there three days a week getting him back on track. I may need someone there if I ride him, but I don't for groundwork. So Goal #2 - keep the oath I took at our Yule sumbel, and work him at least three days a week.

I've recently turned into a handspinning fiend, and I've taught myself crochet. But my usual slap-dash methods are only going to go so far, and there's a free group that meets twice a week at my local library. I need to be detail-oriented, follow patterns, learn the basics and then some advanced stuff before I start improvising. So Goal #3 - seek out other knitters/crocheters and learn from them.

Goal #4 is the same thing, only applied to magic. Get specific, get serious, get disciplined. Follow the recipe to the letter for once. Look at new methods and try them out the same way I'd approach a new riding discipline; find someone who knows more than me, and do what they say to do in the way they say to do it. Start using magic before a crisis occurs.

Overarching Goal - see what needs to be done, and do it with a Will of iron. How do I plan to back this up? With the loving nagging of the Husbands, and maybe some spellwork for success. Daily meditation to get into the habit of having a schedule again. Posting things on the household calendar so that everyone can see if I'm doing what I say I am/would; my sumbel vow affects everyone who was there, not just me, so there's incentive (besides not pissing off the gods with a broken vow) right there.

And now I'm off to crochet.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Solstice Yule Sumbel Rumble.

Second Husband and I got the tree up, I hung some white and blue lights, First Husband decked the tree with the same kind of lights, and the living room looks like fairlyand. Co-Wife could eat a little colcannon, runes were cast, oaths were made, excessive booze was drunk, and now we're all off to sleep to the lullaby of thunder and rain.

Good Yule, Happy Solstice, and to all a good night. May the return of the sun bless you and yours.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Prompt #1, Witchery, and Time Well Spent.

There's been witchery this evening, which is all I'll say about that, since I don't talk about What I'm Doing until it's done. There's reasons for that which I'll detail in a later post. But suffice it to say, I did Magical Stuff.

I did this Magical Stuff after being in the kitchen from 5 or so until 7:30. I am not only a Baby Cook, but also Rain Cook*; I must have my recipe available at all times. I must play music I like and have total control of. I must be able to make everyone else who is not cooking leave when I decide there are Too Many People in my kitchen. I must have complete and total dominion over the kitchen when I am cooking in it.

This is mostly tolerated because I am a vegetarian who makes a 2-pound meatloaf that kicks serious ass.

I keep saying I can't get into Ceremonial Magic because I'm not detail-oriented enough, but a grown woman who freaks out because she isn't in charge of every. Single. Step. of a recipe does not have problems with detail. Something else, yes. Detail, no.

I've approached cooking in exactly the opposite way that I learned to approach magic - magic is seat-of-my-ass, substitutions, intent-is-everything stuff. Cooking is ZOMG-if-I-try-something-different-I-will-ruin-$25-of-groceries-MUST-FOLLOW-TO-THE-LETTER stuff.

Do I need more cooking in my magic? Magic in my cooking? Probably some of each. And this all gets back to the kitchen becoming my Hearth, the Center of my home, our Axis Mundi, our Yggdrasil, the poto mitan, our Bile (that's an accented "i" that I don't know how to make). The kitchen is where I say my most fervent prayers these days, spending hours making food I hope everyone will love - food that I hope will not only be nutritious but delicious (because if it don't taste good, we ain't eatin' it). It is where I thank First Husband for working all day at a job he doesn't exactly love. It is where I pray my Co-Wife will feel well enough to eat some of whatever-it-is. It is where Second Husband and I are continuing to learn how to work together on things. It is where I thank the Gods that we have food, and pray that those who do not may be nourished somehow.

It took me two-and-a-half hours to make seitan, meatloaf, casserole, and mashed potatoes, and my family's delighted nomming made it Time Well Spent.

I think I have enough magic in the kitchen. It's time to bring it to the rest of my house and life.

*Like Rain Man, but with food instead of numbers.

New Year, New You - New Witchery

The Dropout Dilettante has created the "New Year, New You" experiment at the urging of her Muse (the description of her Muse and their relationship is only funny because it sounds so familiar).

I haven't been doing nearly enough magic. It's like the vacuuming; I keep telling myself that I'm going to get on a schedule, get serious, get disciplined, but then the dog barfs/the toilet backs up/someone gets sick/I have to go find wool roving to feed my new hand-spinning obsession...Yeah.

I don't think magic cures everything. But to paraphrase my good and wise friend Trothwy, what's the point of being a witch if you aren't going to use magic to make things just a little easier? Spellwork may not get me the job I'm currently hoping for, but it might bring something even better. It certainly can't hurt (I know the provisos to throw in to avoid those unfortunate situations where you get what you want and then realize it sucks). Why not ward my saddle for safe rides? Why not ward the cars for safe journeys and fewer repairs? How about a little charm for health in the kitchen?

I agree with Dropout Dilettante's Muse: it's time to start making my own luck.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Weather Report

Sky: overcast.

Temperature: cool, with chickadees and tufted titmice.

Sun: supposedly appearing later on.

Evening forecast: witchery and cauliflower-potato soup.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Sex and Death.

On Samhain, an old friend called. He needed me to do what I'd promised a few months back - come to Mississippi and help him pack so he could get back West to be with his mom, who was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer just two months ago. Second Husband came with me, and we stopped off at the Voodoo Spiritual Temple on the way back to Texas. The altar room seemed like a good place to shake off some of the death vibe, because when we got back, I'd be officiating at First Husband and now Co-Wife's handfasting.

The handfasting was a lot easier than what felt like psychopomping for my friend - preparing him and his things for a trip to the realm of the dead. At first I thought maybe I was overreacting, feeling like this, but apparently his mom's worse off than he thought. He doesn't think she'll see this Thanksgiving. And from what he's telling me, it would be a mercy. There's nothing short of divine intervention that could make this poor lady well.

I'm glad the handfasting came after my grim little errand; the sex is easier than the death, at least in this case, and it makes me feel like those energies are balanced (even if it also makes me think of the Eddie Izzard "Cake or Death" skit and me saying, "Sex AND Death, please" and him giving me that "WTF" look).

It's raining, which means I have to take time off to sit here, blog, and not try to do anything useful, which is good because I am a thoroughly wrung-out witch who'd go stand out in the downpour if she didn't hate cold water so much.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hey, this looks familiar...

While noshing and waiting for a miserable sinus headache to go away so I can continue the CLEAN ALL THE THINGS gulag, I was reading a Strategic Sorcery post about Raven Grimassi. And down in the comments, I found a link.

Of course I clicked. How could I not? Ah. Werewolves. Werewolves with Principles of Belief, no less. Thirteen of them! Thirteen of them...which look really familiar....HEY, WAIT A SEC: Thirteen Principles of Wiccan Belief .

Well, the werewolves did change some words and phrases, but I think you could still call them Wereplagiarists, as there's none of that pesky source attribution or anything like that.

And now I am going to go take some drugs and have a lie-down. This kind of crap always makes a headache worse.

Friday, October 14, 2011


I am a spelling and grammar fiend.

I don't take it as far as some folks; one typo/misspelling/lack of punctuation isn't enough to send me to the comments section/reply button in order to completely ignore the content while I bash someone to death with Strunk & White. I don't assume a lack of proper grammar means that someone has nothing useful to say. Some people just never get punctuation, some people have dysgraphia/dyslexia/what-have-you, some people were busy doing much more interesting things in 8th grade while the rest of us were in class learning to parse sentences.

It does make it harder for me to read stuff when it's not "right", and my brain will refuse to go on until I have let it correct every "mistake" it sees. I am OCD about very few things, but this is one of them.

I've been reading another blog, Ex Libris Hieronyma, which I really like. Her misspelling of "alter" for "altar" was driving me a little nuts, until I considered the following possibility: if we witch-types do magic at our altars, thus altering things, maybe "alter" isn't the mistake I thought it was. At the moment, I have an altar at which I'm not doing any work; I'm just sitting at it and talking to my various gods. I have an altar in the temple/study where most of the work seems to be going on these days; maybe that's my "alter".

Too cutesy? Too much of that "language means what we make it mean" thing, when I think that most of us know that the words matter? Eh. Maybe you're right. But I had a new thought and got a new perspective, and I can't think of that as anything other than a good thing.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Kitchen Witchery?

I didn't learn to cook anything more significant than Ramen, scrambled eggs/omelets, or grilled cheese sandwiches* until I was thirty-eight. The few times I tried, disaster ensued - the most notable of which included Irish Stew With Enough Cloves To Induce Instant Numbness and The Beanloaf That Would Not Die. I had no idea how much spice to put in anything and was lost without a recipe.

One evening, for no reason I can discern, I took it into my head to make vegetarian chili. Having been in Texas for eight years and eaten enough Mexican food to qualify for some kind of honorary citizenship in said county, I thought I could figure out what it ought to taste like, and how to make that happen.

I actually succeeded, and despite the lack of meat, the First Husband was mightily pleased. This is how I started cooking. My repertoire is limited to what I call Mexican Stuff, Italian Stuff, Asian Stuff, and WASP Stuff (casseroles and meatloaf - I, the vegetarian, can and do make a wicked meatloaf. It is 2lbs of beefy goodness, apparently), but neither of the Husbands or my Housemate/Co-Wife To Be seem to mind.

What does this have to do with witchcraft, you ask? Well, the kitchen seems to be turning into my Hearth. I got marching orders from Them about getting the house in order by Samhain, and the kitchen has been the focus of most of my efforts. I am now rather possessive of the countertops, somewhat retentive about dirty dishes actually going into the dishwasher and not just into the sink, and now consider sweeping inadequate for floor maintenance (think Shop-Vac).

Maybe it's all the cooking I've been doing recently. Maybe it's that the kitchen is where everyone's preferences and needs have to be taken into account and balanced on a daily basis. Maybe it's that cooking is still a little like alchemy for me (look, turning meat into food is turning lead into gold for an aesthetic vegetarian). But there is definitely something going on down there, and I can't wait to see where it takes me.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go soak some beans.

*I did, however, manage to produce baked goods like a fiend, including a Venus of Willendorf Cookie for  Cakes and Ale. Go figure.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Money and/or Clergy.

How do you know when you're being legitimately charged money in the magical world?

Some traditions forbid charging for rituals, workings, training, or initiations. Some expect payment for any or all of the above.

Having a general knowledge of the religion/system is probably a good first line of defense. Payment is usually expected for hoodoo workings, from what I understand (which is admittedly little). A psychic, card reader, or palm reader is someone who, regardless of their belief system, will almost always expect to be paid. Voudoun and Santeria require the initiate-to-be to pay for their initiations.

Why is this? I think there are two reasons. The Dropout Dilettante has some good ideas; see her recent post, Etiquette Lesson: Magic Is Not For Free (Sometimes). She likens paying for magical services like spellwork to being no different than paying doctors, lawyers, or other service providers, and I generally agree with her.

Where I disagree is when she compares asking your friends who do magic to do so for free to bitching at your friend instead of seeing a shrink. Magic-using people tend to know one another, and I can't imagine friends not reading the cards or runes for me any more than I can imagine not whipping up a charm bag for them. Hell, I've done handfastings for free because the people involved were friends-who-are-family (and these were not "read-from-a-prewritten ceremony" handfastings, folks - these were customized within an inch of their lives). On the other hand, these people came to my house and checked some dodgy wiring, taught me to cook some vegan specialties, and did other things for me and mine. Maybe the difference is that I do these things for free for people with whom I have a give-and-take relationship in the first place.

I don't charge for my training circles; my tradition forbids me to do so. Even if it didn't, I'd still do it for free because I'm not professional clergy, and that's where the big difference lies for me. Traditions that charge for spellwork or initiations tend to be those where the clergy are professionals - this is what they do, 24/7, 365. If they didn't charge money, they wouldn't eat or have a home. Their communities are supporting them in the same way a Catholic priest or Unitarian minister is supported so that they can do the type of work that a clergyperson of this sort is expected to do.

Now, I did say "tend to" up there, and I know some of you are thinking, "Well, what about people who do spellwork for others, but still have a day job/trust fund/etc?" I'd take those on a case-by-case basis. Is someone charging an exorbitant fee? Do they have a sliding scale? Do their patrons need to come back frequently, spending even more money each time? Do other practitioners in the area seem to charge similar fees for similar services? Is this usual in their tradition, and do they even have one?

In magic, I think we should approach the question of money from the viewpoint of "buyer be aware."

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Witchery! And Some Tasty Little Muffins.

I went to a discussion group about an actual Book O' Witchery today; just me, my notebook, the book under discussion, and a bunch of maps (in case I got lost, because while I do not get lost int he woods, I can get bamboozled while driving in a trice).

It was excellent, and I can't wait to go back next week.

I forgot how nice it is to talk about this stuff with my peers (OK, maybe not "peers" exactly, because I think these lovely folks are more than a little bit ahead of me); it's mostly been new folk for the past year or so. I didn't have to explain anything! I didn't have to convince anyone that it is highly unlikely that they were actually talking to [insert mythological critter here]! Nobody was trying to tell me shit that was provably false!

I really needed this - new perspectives, new people, and getting inspired to start doing some actual witchcraft again. I've been focusing on my training group, among other things, to the point of neglecting my own practice.

It's going to be a witchy fall.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A Sense of Calm.

A book about snake-handling Christians is the impetus for today's post.

See, this journalist goes off to cover a possible murder amongst snake-handlers in Salvation At Sand Mountain, and winds up handling snakes with them. He says, at one point, that he doesn't like, as a journalist, to put too much of himself in a story. And yet a lot of the book seems to be about his longing to discover his roots, his ambivalence about the snake-handlers, and general spiritual navel-gazing. I liked it, but I kept thinking, this would have been so much better if Wade Davis had written it.

That would be Wade Davis of The Serpent and the Rainbow, which is about Mr. Davis going to Haiti to find out what chemicals make zombies in the hope of discovering a safer form of anesthesia and winding up an initiate.

Why would this make a difference? Well, Mr. Davis seems to simply accept Voudoun. There's none of the pesky oh look at the silly uneducated people who don't know about science tone of previous anthropological works. He wasn't trying to resolve any personal spiritual conflicts. He went, he saw, he accepted. Mr. Covington, of Sand Mountain, on the other hand, seems to make the snake-handling about his own conflicts. There is, as they say, a certain amount of drama about the whole thing.

This led me to think about the quality of calm that so many pagans seem to lack.

Priestess, priest, what-have-you - if you're in this position, if you carry this title, shouldn't your life resemble something other than a DMZ? We all have our problems, but shouldn't you have your shit together a bit before you represent yourself as being some sort of spiritual leader? Shouldn't a spiritual leader lack the kind of unresolved issues that are visible from space? Shouldn't your circle/coven/etc be free from people with, say, severe legal issues?

Let me give you an example. One that may land my ass in some sort of shitstorm. One that's been weighing on my mind for a few months.

A certain pagan group I know has a member who was forbidden to be near children after accusations of child molestation. A person in this group has told me that he does not think the accused actually molested any children, but may have done something with someone legally underage. Now, one of the other members of this group (not a newbie, but a Priestess) doesn't want to celebrate Fall Solstice because the accused will be there - and so will under-eighteen persons (you know, that he's not supposed to be near).

This group is plagued with conflict. I won't even get into the story about how the group fell apart for a few years. Suffice it to say, the male leadership keeping their penii in their pants seems to be a recurring problem.


Certain people are required by law to report incidences of suspected child abuse. As an ordained minister, am I one of them? Should I be calling this guy's parole officer and telling them that I think this dude is at religious services where children are present, even if I don't think he's molesting anyone? Should I be hexing his winkie right the hell off if he even looks at a seventeen-year-old-girl funny?

Probably. I'm still trying to decide how to go about it, really. I am friends with some people in this dysfunctional little band, and I'd like to do this in a way that lets me stay friends with them, because they are newbies, don't know any better, and there is the chance that this guy was unjustly accused.

The point of all this, however, is that I can't take this group seriously anymore. There's constant drama, conflict between the members, and the lack of a general sense of calm. One member is a submissive who can't find a decent guy, and it's not because she's a submissive; it's because she's so terrified of being alone that she makes bad decisions. Another still hasn't resolved some pretty big Mom Issues. Another decided that she was ready to be a priestess - and wanted to ask me what to do a month later when she was supposedly getting messages from dead people. Two seem to think that not paying rent and getting thrown out by landlords is just the landlords being mean.

There's no sense of cause and effect. There's no sense that they know their issues and are working on them. There's chaos and drama and what looks like a whole lot of running away from anything they don't want to face. These are not qualities we as pagans need in our clergy. Hell, if these people saw Christians on a reality TV show doing exactly the same things, they'd be laughing and crowing over the hypocrisy of it all.

A good pagan/Wiccan/witch knows what's wrong within and tries to fix it before they start looking without. They may be poor financially, but they should be rich in spirit. They try to resolve conflict. They try to be patient - as my ordaining priestess said, "You will get people who are seeking. You have to be nice even if they're stupid". They have more on the ball than not. Their relationships generally tend to be stable and healthy. They work to change unjust laws rather than just breaking them because "they're dumb" (and then wailing about it when they get caught). They are neither takers nor givers, but somewhere in-between. They honor commitments unless they have a damn good reason not to. When you're around them, you should feel tranquil and happy rather than dreading the next storm.

As a certain bunch of other people say, by their works shall ye know them.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Crazy Fundie Friday!

She's Cindy Jacobs, and she's a nutburger. Observe!:

That jacket is horrible. If I didn't know better, I'd swear the Landover Baptist folks were just pulling the best prank of all.

Whether "Crazy Fundie Friday" will become a regular thing, I can't say. It might get too depressing, 'cause gods know I'd never run out of material. On the other hand, I hadn't heard of her until I saw a bit about her on The Wild Hunt, which does a great job of keeping us posted about such Fundie doings (among other nifty things).

I also decided to yank the "O NOES ADULT STUFFS POSSIBLY WITH TEH SEX!!" warning. I felt like I was participating in the Shrink-Wrapping Of Everything, and I want no part of that.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Burden or Blessing?

"I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing." - Serendipity, Dogma

There's those fluffy bunnies everyone bitches about - all white light and rainbows, all comfy goddesses like soft old grandmas who always give you a cookie, nice, unthreatening gods who resemble Santa and a favorite uncle all in one tidy package.

Then there's the SRS CRAFT types.

(I know. I've reverted to lolcat speak. But they bring out my inner snot-nosed adolescent who knows when the adults in her life are bullshitting her.)

I've been sick with the Sinus Crud for the better part of a week, which has led to a lot of surfing. I've found a lot of cool sites by pagans/Wiccans/witches - especially Lover of strife and his pals; where are all these cool, gay, 30-something guys in Texas, exactly? I'd like to hang out with them for an afternoon at least.

These others started out OK; there was some actual serious stuff for the long-past-101-phase practitioner. Then things got VRY SRS. Posts about how their Gods demand so much, things you could never deal with, but they have to, because this isn't all sweetness and light, it is DARK and SCARY and they're SRS and you're not.

Maybe it's the cold medicine talking, but I thought martyrdom was for Those Other People With The Guy On A Stick (no, not the Asatruar! That's the Guy In A Tree).

I've been given a hard time by my matrons/patrons. I've felt some scary energies. Hell, I've felt some downright malicious ones. I've had to deal with people deciding they were possessed by the demon Sarek (Spock's dad on the Star Trek series, the revelation of which to said possessee apparently deflated the possession somewhat; I luckily dealt with that little disaster from a distance). I've had woods trying to scare me out of them, I've been told to use my own blood in spells (yes, that kind; hey, it's traditional), a past-life meditation told me I was a human sacrifice rather than some Druid Priestess Princess, and I've been known to jump up and down and point at the sky while shouting, "WHAT DO YOU WANT, DAMMNIT?!"


I haven't found this terribly scary or overwhelmingly difficult to deal with. Sometimes, in my duties as a priestess, I have to deal with people who I'd rather avoid like the proverbial plague. Sometimes, having an angry land spirit in your basement sucks. Sometimes, giving all this up and becoming Episcopalian crosses my mind. But I tend to think of all of this as being like any other job: the commute sucks and there's that one guy in Accounting we're all ready to beat to death with the copier, but the break room is nice, my bosses are fair and generally stay off my ass as long as I do my best.

Treating the service of your gods/your witchcraft/whatever as this scary, dark thing that mere mortals cannot handle is like complaining about everything at your job; after a while, I start to wonder why you aren't looking for a new boss. I start to think that you want everyone to realize how important you are, how difficult your job is, because you're really not getting enough out of it to satisfy you.

The fluffbunnies irk me. I want to strangle the people who chirp, "Harm none!" like demented occult Mynahs. I keep waiting for the Morrighan to smite this one dude who insists she's really very nice and just misunderstood. But acting like dealing with the darker side of all this is the only way to be a serious witch is as silly as saying a Catholic priest's gig should be like The Exorcist every day.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Samhain eve is coming soon...*

Last night, Husband #1 and I were out in the backyard, and noticed a little bat swooping over our swimming pool. We were very happy to see the little critter making a dent in our insect population, and when we realized that s/he'd brought a few friends - there was a cloud of bats over our house, swooping and skimming the roof and the patio umbrella and our heads - we were positively delighted.

The half-moon was up, and the little bats were silhouetted against it from time-to-time as they fluttered around. This is when we realized that the bats were over our house, and didn't seem to be anywhere else.

There's probably a reasonable, rational explanation, but really? The bats were only over the witches' house?

I love my weird-ass life.

*I have a tendency to re-write Christmas songs for Samhain. When the holiday gets closer, I'll post "Samhain Wonderland".

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Terms of engagement.

I've been around long enough to know that the minute you say you're a "witch" or "pagan" or what-have-you, that a million people will jump out of the woodwork to tell you how wrong you are, that what you do/believe isn't witchcraft/pagan/what-have-you.

On the other hand, I've seen what happens when we stop having some sort of standard for calling yourself things, leading to "But I Read A Book" 18-year-old High Priestesses and "Druids" who don't know that The Wicker Man is not a documentary.

So - The ocelot's Terms of Engagement, where I'll tell you what certain words mean to me, without the disclaimer that they may mean different things to different people, etc., because this is my little space where I'm not obligated to do such things. Don't agree? Can you explain why without sounding like an officious ass, in a spirit of an exchange of ideas, as opposed to trying to fact-bash me to death? Have at. If not, go slam me on your own blog or something.

DRUID: Priest/philosopher/healer/lawyer (at a minimum) of the ancient Celts. I'll accept you calling yourself this if you seem well-versed in the history of the Celts/one of the Celtic cultures and Celtic mythology, or if you're ADF or Henge of Keltria. If you don't know any of the myths, think Druids were the only ones who used magic, and seem to have no interest in/relationship with any Celtic deities, I will dismiss you as another Pseudo-Celtic Whackaloon (PCW).

WITCH: A person who casts spells, does divination, engages in magical herbalism, heals, hexes, and seems madly in love with Nature. If you don't do any of those things, sorry, but to me, you're not a witch.

WICCAN: A British Traditional Wiccan is a member of a lineaged, initiatory tradition traceable back to Gardner, Sanders, or the Horsa coven. Member of a lineaged, initiatory tradition so similar as to make no difference. Solitary practitioner who's following the available information from a lineaged, initiatory tradition so closely that there's little discernible difference.

I know the party line here - there's stuff you get from a Genuine BTW Trad Initiation that you don't get unless the (oathbound) ritual is followed precisely. However, having known people who got that, and still seemed like insincere asses on a power trip instead of someone who had received a Mystery, I tend to think that's too rigid a rule. So my hard-and-fast take on it is: I may not agree to call it BTW, but if you look like a Wiccan and quack like a Wiccan, I'll probably consider you Wiccan.

If you got all your stuff from Silver You-Know-Who, I'll probably try to tell you why I think she's an idiot, the places where I know she's wrong (fact, not opinion) and then simply walk away.

PAGAN: Non-Abrahamic, Non-Buddhist, Non-Hindu, etc. person who worships usually more than one God/Goddess, follows the eight-seasonal-holidays framework, and tends to be Nature-oriented. Also an umbrella term for Wiccans, witches, and everyone else who isn't Buddhist, Hindu, First Nations trad spiritual practices, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, etc. An amazing term that tells you almost nothing about what a person does believe and do and more about what they don't.

SHAMAN: A word describing a Siberian priest/healer. Period. End of sentence. I grant an exception to Native Americans who call themselves this, because those people have been told what they are and are not quite enough already, thank you.

I will not call you a "Celtic" shaman. Did the Celts have people whose practices included elements similar to (possibly even identical to) those in lands where such people where properly called "shaman"? Yes indeed. But we had our own names for that kind of thing, and not using them is sheer laziness.

I will also refuse to call you a shaman if you are not recognized as such by others, which does not mean your four buddies who are also "shamans". Shamans did not exist in a vacuum, folks - this requires community recognition.

CEREMONIAL MAGICIAN: Someone who does ceremonial magic, i.e., OTO, Golden Dawn, Kabbala, etc. Also includes that guy/gal who owns a lot of books with titles like "Long-Lost Friend" who can always seem to find a parking space/new apartment when they really need one.

RECONSTRUCTIONIST: Someone attempting to re-create the pre-Christian religious practices of a culture.

THE OCELOT: BTW Wiccan, witch, and pagan who manages to be both a hard and soft polytheist at the same time - I believe the Gods are all distinct entities, like individual people (hard polytheism), but I also believe that all the Gods are eventually all the same thing (soft polytheism), because if you put them all together you get the sum total of Godhood. In other words, all the Gods are distinct individuals who, taken all together, make one big God.

The ocelot actually believes in the Sidhe, the Beansidhe, the Washer at the Ford, the Gods (all of them), omens, the Puka, portents, magic (with or without the "k"), spells, curses, Karma, wyrd, orlog, the Holiness of Nature, and a bunch of other stuff.

The ocelot is tired of the following: One-True-Way types, Do-Whatever-And-Call-It-Whatever-You-Want types, people who call themselves "pagan" who won't go camping/hiking/outdoors if they can help it or admit that meat is the flesh of a dead animal and not something that just manifests at the supermarket, people who think witchcraft is all blood and nightshade, people who think witchcraft is all white light and rainbow-pooping unicorns, "traditions" that mostly seem to consist of false claims and infighting, and the failure to realize that not all of us care if Joe Normal Neighbor takes our religion "seriously" just so long as he doesn't kill our pets/proselytize at us/burn our house down with us in it.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Morning report

This morning:

Temperature: Jethro Tull's "Jack In The Green" indoors, Gobi Desert outdoors.

Wind speed: Hummingbird (male Ruby-Throated)

Sun: Skin-frying.

Weather Advisory: Even though it looks like a beautiful summer day in the Rockies (as it has most of this horrifyingly hot summer), it is not, and you will burst into flame and turn into a giant puddle of sweat within ten minutes of being outside. Wait until the sun goes down.

It has been a bad summer for a tree-hugging, horse-riding, going-hiking, garden-tending witch.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Why the serpent and the foxglove?

It seemed like the first post ought to explain the title.

Snakes and the foxglove plant seem to go hand-in-hand with witchcraft. Flying ointments, woodcuts of a snake eating its' own tail, the bell-shaped flowers ringing when fairies are present, a certain wisdom that seems somewhat scary to come by.

I also dearly love Wade Davis's "The Serpent and the Rainbow",  reading about any and all serpent deities, the little striped grass snakes in my yard, and the lovely foxglove plants I grew one year - they never made flowers, but their huge, gorgeous leaves made a fine place for some house wrens to raise a family. I marvel at the fact that the same plant that can cure, can kill.

Warning: blog may contain Ceremonial Magic, nuts, Wicca, soy, neopaganism, traces of nuts, scathing commentary, gluten, classical paganism, cloves, opinionated ramblings, yeast, whimsy, honey, complete seriousness, oats, theological musings, and is created in a facility that contains nuts.

P.S. This is not a democracy; any comments which I deem too nasty will get you blocked, banned, etc.. I don't have to let everyone who knocks into my home, and I don't have to give you space on my blog.