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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_DarkMother-lowres.jpgAcross the many pantheons and even within single traditions, there are more than a few goddesses to be found personifying sorrow and grief. We can look to these mournful deities to help us through our own times of unhappiness, from mild melancholia to the throes of despair and even to the rising up and moving forward after the worst of the grieving has passed. In our times of need, we can turn to these goddesses for compassion, strength and renewal.

In the Christian tradition Mary bears seven sorrows as a mother who must accept the destiny of her son. Early in Jesus’s life, they are the typical sorrows of any mother, but Mary's heroic strength through the inconceivable grief of his persecution and execution is said to have prepared her heart for the joy of Christ’s resurrection. As a mother I can only imagine the depth of her pain, both emotional and physical. Her stoic countenance tells all. In the hostile atmosphere, she dare not carry on in fits of anguish lest she too be persecuted. Yet it is not likely that fear for her own safety restrained her as much as the knowledge that her son did not need one more added burden; that of worry over the wellbeing of his mother.

We see the same stoic courage on the faces of parents whose child has terminal cancer or other life stealing condition; remaining strong at all costs for the sake of the child. My own brother bade us all not to cry in the final days he had left before succumbing to leukemia. Perhaps bearing our sorrow was one more grief he himself could not stand.

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John Alden Junior: What do they want, these terrible witches?

Cotton Mather: The same thing we all want: a country of their own. 


Wow, speaking of Witchsploitation: a new TV series, set (you guessed it) in Salem, Mass, 1692.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


b2ap3_thumbnail_Majestic-Tree.jpgThere’s been a lot of tragic, difficult news recently as the Cardinal Cross comes in to an exact alignment — which happens today —  and no doubt there will be more. However, despite rumors to the contrary, the news is not all bad. Nor are the effects of this cross. The current astrology is, without question, challenging.  But there are tremendous breakthroughs being made, particularly by individuals who — consciously or not — are working with the energy of this time to manifest their dreams. There might be a lot of emotional upheaval involved in uncovering those dreams, and some hard work involved in making them come true, but we have a lot of cosmic energy to work with. 

If we stay true to our core values, and allow our deepest feelings to surface and be acknowledged, if we connect with the land and listen to inner guidance, then we may find ourselves taking sudden action (Uranus in Aries) that brings us from feelings of grief and loss to certainty and security, and a more expanded knowledge of ourselves. This is well-illustrated by the process Joanna Powell Colbert went through as she and her husband changed course about their living arrangements and a beloved house in the course of a week. She writes about it here.

The way to work with the energy of this time is to be like a tree. Be flexible enough to bend in the storms, be willing to change — to shed your leaves or grow new ones — and yet be firmly rooted in the Earth that sustains us all. Your psychic roots can be found in your core values, in your connections with others, and in your connection with Spirit.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Beltane and the Dance of Opposites

     When I moved to Kitchener many years ago and was looking for the house in which to put down my roots, there was one house which I knew was unquestionably mine. For one, the backdoor had a window etched with Celtic knotwork. Gorgeous! For another, it was a mere block from a permanently installed Maypole. Wondrous! Though the Maypole serves to present banners for the various local German clubs that rock into activity during Oktoberfest, it can’t help but bring to mind the tradition that marked the beginning of Summer in ages past. I loved the idea of living within daily sight of a Maypole and it never fails to fill my heart with joy, even these many years after I first saw it.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Beltane and the Singleton

Beltane is fast upon us – here in Suffolk, the hawthorn is in bloom already, and I have heard the first cuckoo of summer.  The oak leaves are just coming out, and the beech and ash are lagging behind, sluggish after their long sleep.  The garden is abloom, and the forest is filled with bluebells, their soft energy shimmering in the sunlight. It is, indeed, Beltane.

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THE DIVINE DRAMA AND THE UNIVERSALITY OF DEATH


In Greece the liturgies of lent and especially of the week before Easter are known as the “divine drama,” in Greek theodrama.  This may refer to the “drama” of the capture, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus and to the suffering of God the Father and Mary.

However, it is important to recall that the drama in ancient Greece referred to both the tragedies and comedies, most specifically, those that were performed in the theater of Dionysios in Athens.  While we have been taught that the Greek tragedies celebrated “downfall of the hero” due to his “tragic flaw,” it is important to remember that Dionysios was the original protagonist of the Greek tragedy: it was his death and rebirth that was first celebrated.

Some have argued that the Greek tragedies should never be “read” alone, for they were always “performed” in tandem with the comedies, which were followed by the bawdy phallic humor of the satyr plays.  The tragedies end in death and irreparable loss.  But if the comedies and satyr plays are considered an integral part of the cycle, death is followed by the resurgence of life.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

This isn't my usual post about music, but music kind of drew me in a weird direction, because I joined a band with people in it I didn't know, and then this happened.

Sometimes, it doesn't work. The relationship.  Sometimes, no matter how hard you try to respect someone, and no matter how hard they try to respect you, your respective respect for each other just...isn't. Here's a story.


It's like learning how to eat at the table.  Joe Schmoe learned that it was tasteless to put your napkin in your neck.  Josephine Schmina learned that it was untrustworthy to put your wrists below the table.  They met each other and initially liked each other, and started working together and making great music.  It worked out until one time, they went to dinner and Joe Schmoe saw Josephine Schmina put her napkin in her neck.  Then Josephine saw Joe put his napkin on his lap, and therefore his wrists under the table.  They each asked the other, "Don't you know how bad that is?" and "How could a respectable person do that?"  They threw down the napkins and had a fight.  Each one realized that the other one had some deep issues concerning napkins, and they made up.

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I gave a little chuckle when Chang O, Chinese Goddess of the Moon, danced into my life this week. I am a fan of the Chang O card in Kris Waldherr's The Goddess Tarot, as she represents Contemplation -- the equivalent of the Hermit -- and spiritual seeking. I identify greatly with her as a symbol for seeking the Goddess and for seeking my own sacredness as a woman.

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"Celebrate your femininity with pride"

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The Maetreum of Cybele is seeking donations to fund its continuing legal fight to have its tax-exempt status recognized by the Town of Catskill.  I was in court when a panel of appellate judges (New York's second-highest jurists) heard testimony which led to a ruling in the Maetreum's favor, one which was covered by the likes of Forbes and the New York Law Journal.

Like many small towns in this state, Catskill is apparently loathe to take a property off the tax rolls.  Both state and federal governments continue to heap unfunded mandates on local municipalities, which must also manage rising health-care costs and a tax cap which ensures that the revenue will never keep up with the costs without cutting what the law will allow, such as programs for senior citizens and other "discretionary" expenses.

Perhaps that is why Catskill is appealing -- despite the fact that their legal bill is likely to be significant either way.  The Maetreum of Cybele is looking to raise $15,000 for its defense, and I can't imagine the town will spend much less for their part.  Details on how to support the cause can be found on the group's Facebook page.

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Morning Glory ZellFor those who live under a Pagan rock, Morning Glory Zell is a Pagan elder who has contributed significantly to the development of the modern Pagan community.  Along with her partner Oberon Zell (and their other partners) she is one of the founders of the Church of All Worlds, one of the first legally incorporated Pagan church organizations, and an editor/publisher of the very influential Green Egg Magazine.  For many years, Morning Glory has been fighting cancer, and she is now very ill with pneumonia which caused kidney failure, for which she is on dialysis.

There is a crowd funding campaign at GoFundMe to aid in Morning Glory's medical expenses.  They have already surpassed their goal but I remember what it was like to live on the charity of others when my husband was in the hospital after a life-threatening car accident, and I want to help.  If we don't take care of our Pagan elders, who will?

I lost a friend, Lorilei Thompson, last year.  Recently her husband Bradley offered up some of her formidable book collection to me and to anyone else I thought could benefit.  I have expanded much of my library, but I still have a lot of books left that I either already had or don't need.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I had originally intended for this post to continue the Elements series (books about Earth, Air, Fire, and Water). However, after an uncomfortable experience this morning, I changed that focus.

In deference to devoutly Catholic family who are visiting this week, I opted to attend Easter Mass with them. For the most part, it was fine. The church was lovely, filled with incense and spring flowers, the stained glass windows glowing in the sunlight. Then it came time for the homily, in which the priest spoke on the meaning of the gospel. I was a bit startled -- and quite dismayed -- when he stated that Christianity must be right and true because people were willing to die for it, that even the first generation of Apostles must have seen and experienced something real (not a myth or a made-up story) if they were willing to lay down their lives for it.

"After all," he said, "you never hear about martyrs for Zeus or Jupiter or Thor."

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jolene
    Jolene says #
    Ugh. The only time I venture to church services these days are for funerals -- I find there is a heck of a lot less of that sort o
  • Lana
    Lana says #
    Thank you so much for this.
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Thank you for this, Rebecca.
Pagan savings challenge, week sixteen:  other voices

Discovering what other people are saying about the Pagan savings challenge is a source of joy for me.  Case in point:  this PaganSpace.net discussion about different savings strategies.

The original poster says, "I'm not going about it the same way he did just because I don't think it would work for me to be putting more than $5 a week away into savings is practical for my low income family."  I agree!  The level of savings should be challenging, but not impossible.  I'm glad e is adapting the challenge to fit eir own circumstances, because any savings is better than no savings, and developing a saving habit will serve you for life.

Some of the other wisdom shared is also sound, like capturing money saved by being frugal and using only cash.  Anything to get the saving done is fine in my book, even lying.  I use many tricks to stay on track (and I have stayed on track, despite the challenges I have documented; the original PaganSpace poster was left with the impression that I have not hit my goals each week, and I apologize if I have been unclear in that regard.)

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Easter Ego

My most brilliant ideas always come with Easter. Like as if my ego just gives way to deeper knowing and numinosity. There's myriad ways to interpret the Easter festival, Pagan and Christian and and and... For me, this giving way of the ego is poignantly described in the Easter myth. 

The ego is like the habits of the psyche. They long for something fresh, a drop of dew, a stroke of light, fresh air... The psyche will do anything to find something fresh, but.. The amazing things is, that when it finds it, the ego will bite and gnaw at the new whatever until it fits within the containers of the ego..

So it is with Sacred Space. Whenever we find it, the ego will start gnawing and biting at it. Which is beautiful when we see it as an invitation to find it again and agin. Build no fixed temples or churches, for they become the opposite of what you want. 

So this Easter, I honor this shocking process right inside my own psyche, inside each of us. Not that I like it. I honor it in the sense that I take it very seriously. And what I really really honor, is that the quality of freshness, of rainbows in drops of dew, can't be killed. No matter what the ego does to it, no matter how big the betrayal to our own ideals, new rainbows come.

Happy Easter ♥

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

For the greater part of our lives, most of us feel the need for someone to say this to, and we all desire someone who will say it to us: "I love you, and I will take care of you." 

When we commit to caring for someone, we feel a sense of purpose in life. And when we know that a parent or a partner—or a God or a Goddess—is taking care of us, we feel comforted. 

As one who has been a caregiver, I think there is no worse stressor than a chronic illness befalling someone we love. It's almost worse than getting sick, ourselves. The pain of not being able to cure a loved one has dragged millions of us down into the depths of depression. To some small degree, it's comforting to speculate that there wasn't anything more that we could have done; the whole painful episode was written in the stars.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


Family HugLike many other Pagans, I was the black sheep of my family.  My family were hard-working blue collar folk, with some low-level white collar aspirations here and there.  They believed in the ethic of hard work.  They were not at all religious, having had negative experiences with the Anglican church of their youth.  They didn’t understand the mystical bend that shaped my life and experience from the earliest time I can remember.  When I went to my best friend’s Mormon church for the first time, they sat me down to talk to me about it in the same manner that I later would experience when they sat me down to discuss drinking, drugs, and sex.

But I suppose the foundation of my Paganism was laid by the way in which I was raised.  Though my parents shunned the Anglican Church they embraced a lot of Anglican values, and I’m convinced that Wicca is what happens when you expose an Anglican countercultural folklorist to Hinduism.  I was a Brownie and then a Girl Guide, and as Ronald Hutton pointed out, the woodcraft movement was a powerful influence on the development of modern Wicca.  Through my father’s imagination, I learned a sense of wonder; through my mother’s love of the natural world, I learned to find the sacred more keenly in nature than in any human building.

I had some pretty intense mystical experiences – events I would later recognize as higher states of consciousness and satori moments – from a very young age.  I was ten, and in the beginning stages of puberty, when the world of the spirit opened up to me.  I communed with the goddess of the moon Diana whom I’d discovered from school lessons in mythology.  I talked to trees and urged the weather to change according to my mood.  I spent hours communing with the lake near to where I grew up.  I saw visions in the clouds, had dreams that came true, and wrote a poem about a moment of mystical communion with the Sun King that was the Baby Jesus at a nativity scene in a snowfall on the Winter Solstice; a poem my grade six teacher kept.

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Annika Mongan
    Annika Mongan says #
    Thank you for telling this story. Coming out to your family can be so hard and it is great to hear of of the positive connections

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Charting a new course with money

A few months ago, my fellow blogger Deborah Blake wrote about establishing a daily divination practice, something which I have have been doing, first with my personal coin divination system and more recently by using the Lymerian oracle. Recently, in response to the question of, "What will today bring me?" I drew kappa, which means, according to the translation of Apollonius Sophistes, "To fight with the waves is difficult; endure, friend."

Usually that one doesn't give me a super-good feeling.

Not everything is as it seems, though. That evening, I attended an information session for the Hudson Valley Current, a complementary currency that I am helping to beta test in my neck of the woods. This event was to get more participating businesses for when the currency goes live on May 1.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I started the Healingcraft blog in the middle of a spiritual crisis.

The crisis accompanied enormous upheaval in my personal life. Having realized I'd been less than perfectly honest with myself about any number of things for several years, I found myself feeling uncertain of everything. This included my spiritual path. I could still see the beauty of the earth, but doubt accosted me in unexpected places. Examining elemental associations or pondering how to observe one of the sabbats, I found myself feeling weary and wondering how it even mattered.

In retrospect this near-apathy isn't surprising: I was deeply depressed for several months as I dealt with hurts and disappointments that I'd been ignoring for years. But my inability to feel my connection to the sacred worried me, and left me feeling incomplete.

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The Facts of Life on a Tantric Path

In Tantra, there is a famous dictum that guides, “Yair eva patanam dravyaih siddhis tair eva.” It offers us instruction on the facts of life: “that by which one falls is also that by which one rises.” On first glance, it might appear as though this is no different than the adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But the lynchpin of Tantra here is not the resilience we might cultivate while withstanding the blows of living. Rather, it is the paradox that one’s own unique psycho-spiritual mechanism of failure is not merely the impetus toward enlightenment; but it is actually the only thing that has the power to let us finally reach it.

The first step on a path toward self-realization is likely obvious. We must let go of our egos enough to embrace failure as a teacher. While this does allow us to gain resilience from the lessons built right into the fabric of our everyday lives, we must still come to learn the ways in which the beautiful secrets of our soul lie hidden below the residue of failures brought on by the oppressions we carry within us. Most concretely, these are the consciously or unconsciously inflicted slights (and our internalization of them) of our upbringing at the hands of those in various social, religious, and cultural institutions, including our family. Less graspable are the residues of our karma from prior incarnations. Either way, getting to and beneath those layers is an essential step in deepening our progress on the spiritual path. And this work is what makes us capable of understanding our own particular variety of a spiritual homeopathic cure—like curing like—in service to the unveiling of our soul.

Embracing Tantra as a way of life, we set ourselves up for a complete reconstitution of self, from the physical to the psycho-spiritual, in order to find the authentic essence we carry within us.  That essence is our soul, a spark of the boundless Divine that exists beyond the confines of spacetime limitations. In choosing involution toward incarnation, that spark sacrifices its infinite self in order to experience another one of the infinite number of selves expressing themselves through life. Hence, as souls encapsulated, the stuff of failure is inevitable. Just as there exists suffering as a necessary condition of creation (the sacrifice required of the Divine to become manifest), so too must we experience failure as a necessary condition of our evolution.

The encouraging news is that we therefore all have the potential within us to achieve freedom. Certainly, some may choose to impose additional layers of binding residue upon the in-dwelling Divine, choosing to be defended, emotionally wrapped up or otherwise in denial of the way toward health and wholeness. But we all have the capacity for release should we desire it. The challenge is the work and dedication we must put into our own liberation.

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Beltane..because I am weary of the other

The clergy team came together last weekend and plotted the Beltane ritual for Mother Grove Goddess Temple. We'll be in a new park this year--ah, new to us: it's a seasoned public park.

I've been pondering and writing about the Recent Awfulness with Klein and the Frosts over at my personal blog and I can't really manage to dredge up anything else about that that hasn't been said by a hundred other people who have far more Important and Serious things to say about it than I.

So I am turning my thoughts to Earth Day and to Beltane.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Wedding in the works

Well here I am, 60 yrs old and getting married again. My husband-to-be is Dean Pestana and our wedding will be pagan, with a pirate/gypsy theme held on May 31st, 2014. Yikes! Not a lot of time left for me to get everything accomplished that I need to do. but we're old hands at being a couple and since both have been married before neither of us require the white dress and tux flutters of a first time bride and groom (thank the Spirits). We'll have two officiants, one is the leader of a pirate band that plays at Ren Faires and the like and the other is a Wiccan High Priestess. We'll combine the tradition wedding with a hand fasting and the calling of the quarters. I even plan on having a small acting segment where we either have two warring pirate groups bond together as their Captains marry or a raiding pirate party showing allegiance with the island ruling government via a marriage. Our reception is flat out going to be a party, a Hafla, with belly dancers,poi and fire spinners, pirates, an Irish band, (along with canned music) hoop dancing, sword dancing, lots of folks in costume and wonderful geekyness. This is going to be an outdoor event, held in our large front yard under a huge Father Oak and surrounded by all our flowers and various critters that will more than likely photo bomb the pictures take throughout the day. Both Dean and I have a deep connection to nature and we can't think of a better locale than our own yard with trees he's planted and cared for and both our flower and vegetable garden with their Devas and sprites joining with us.b2ap3_thumbnail_Dean-and-sword.jpg

Then the very next weekend I am one of the workshop presenters at the St. Louis Pagan Picnic and although I've spoken about ghosts and hauntings the past three years at this event I am changing my topic--this time the subject matter will be Tantric touch and sensual massage for all us Baby Boomers (and anyone else for that matter) who are still going strong and sexy or for those who want to get their sexy back.b2ap3_thumbnail_janice-pirate.jpg

So for the next few weeks I'll be busy, sewing, preparing my workshop notes and hands on massage demonstration and my first fiction novel will be in at the publishers May 15th. Goddess knows I need the elves to come at night and help carry out all my insane plans to get this finished on schedule and not be totally frazzled by wedding day.b2ap3_thumbnail_book-cover-The-Haunting-of-Booger-County.jpg

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