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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Review - "Solitaire" by Mama Gina

It's hard to believe that Mama Gina is still a relatively new artist in the world of Pagan music. With her third album, Solitaire, due to be released very soon, she is soon to be no longer be known as the new kid on the block, but rather take her place in the pantheon of Pagan music royalty.

Solitaire has depth and character. Gina'a soulful voice shines in this well mixed and engineered album. The addition of backup players and singers brings a 1970's pop feel to her song "Goddess Walking". I honestly was reminded of the band America. Since they are one of my favorites, that's a good thing. "Old Ways" takes an intimate look at the spirituality in modern times. "Weed" shows off her bluesy side while telling a great tale. She gets to her tribal roots with the powerful "Old Snake Woman" and gives the listener a smile with "Mama Gaia's Going Through Menopause".

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  • Debra
    Debra says #
    Mama Gina is awesome!

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
When Guided Meditation Goes Wrong

I visualize so strongly that a guided meditation can get out of hand if I don’t discuss and plan what’s going to happen in advance. Artists, writers, and theoretical physicists are all types of people who visualize and dream in a fashion that feels real. It’s a sign of high intelligence, and it can be great when one is controlling one’s own visions, while trying to write a novel for example, but even a simple guided meditation intended for relaxation can go wrong if I’m picturing things from my own experience that are different to me than to the person leading the meditation. The following quote from my memoir was one such incident.

The woman leading the meditation had me picture a beach. To her, a beach probably meant some tropical vacation spot, but to me, having grown up in Sonoma on the north coast of California, a beach was a place where waves crashed three stories high against jagged black rocks.

The image at the top of this post is Stillwater Cove on the Sonoma coast. It doesn't look very still, does it? That is as still as it gets on the Sonoma coast.


Quote from Greater Than the Sum of My Parts:
 

     “You’re going to a peaceful, beautiful place, perhaps in the woods,” she said.

     I was transported to Elfland, the redwood forest of my initiation.  Light slanted between the boles of the great trees, illuminating the swimming dust motes.  The light dappled the tiny leaves of a hazel nut bush, swept across spiders’ webs and spotlighted the tunneled brush at the entrance to the rabbit run.  I smelled the redwood dust, and the tang of the sea on the wind.

     But Sandi had not finished her sentence.  “Or the beach.”

     I was wrenched away from the grove, catapulted through the air and deposited on a deserted section of beach.  The strong wind off the sea blew my hair into my face despite my braid, and the light cloth of my pants buzzed in the gale like the reed of a flute.  The crash of the surf, the sea wrack lying on the wet sand, the smell of salt and fish and seaweed, the white glare off the hot sand under my feet, the infinite blue of the unbroken horizon, the crying of the circling gulls, the V-patterns in the wet sand from the suck of the undertow.  So, the beach.  I liked the forest better, but the beach was alright, if cold.  I had never liked the way the wind off the ocean made the warmest day feel cold.

     “You wade out into the water,” said Sandi.

     In my vision, my feet moved of their own accord, taking me into the freezing water of the Pacific, gritty with churning sand.  The waves surged around my knees, and I dug my toes into the sand to keep my footing.

     “You will be cleansed in the pure water,” said Sandi.  “It’s up to your knees now.  Now your hands.  Now your hips.”

     Fear came over me.  One did not go out into the ocean without a wetsuit, not at any time of year.  Nobody but the surfers ever went in above the knees, and I was no surfer.  At pagan gatherings I had seen men… swim out into a bay stark naked to push the offering ship past the breakers, but I was no SEAL either.  I wanted out.  I wanted to get back on the dry sand and get out of these wet pants and warm myself in the sun as best I could.

     “Now your waist,” continued Sandi.  “Now it’s up to your chest.”

     I thought desperately at her, Sandi get me out of here.  Sandi get me out of here.  But I could not speak.  Fear silence was on me.

     “Now the pure, cleansing water is up to your neck.  We’ll go on when you’re ready.”

     I projected desperately at her, Sandi get me out of here, Sandi get me out of here, but I was never a particularly good projecting telepath, and my powers had deserted me when I became depressed, and anyway Sandi would have had to be a receiving telepath to hear me.  Clearly she was not.  I did not really expect her to hear me, actually; it was simply the only means of communication left to me as I sat rigid in the grip of the silence, a long shot though it was.

     “Are you ready to continue?” Sandi asked.

     I shook my head wildly.  It was all I could do.  I could not speak.

     But Sandi did not understand that I wanted to stop the whole thing.  She said, “We’ll wait until you’re ready.  The water will cleanse away your fear, wash it away from you, and you will be at peace.”

     I realized I was going to stand there neck deep in the surf until I agreed to go on.  There was no way out of this but forwards.  I was going to drown.  No, I could hold my breath.

     Sandi asked, “Are you ready to continue?”

     This time, defeated in my attempts to communicate, I nodded.

     “The water passes over your head.  It washes away your fear.  You are one with the peaceful water.”

     It was not washing away my fear.  I hoped Sandi would get me back out before I ran out of breath....

     Finally Sandi said, “Now the water is receding.  Past your neck, past your shoulders, past your waist, past your knees, past your ankles.  Now it is gone, taking your fears with it.  Open your eyes and wake up.”

     I opened my eyes.  I was surprised they were dry.  Did the silence even extend to preventing me from using tears as a signal?  I had been sure I was crying.”
 

During the guided meditation, I could not break away from it or say I wanted to stop because I was only given the opportunity to choose to pause or go forwards, not stop the scenario. The difference between guided meditation is hypnosis is a word and a license. Although Sandi called this guided meditation, she was actually a licensed therapist, so the word hypnosis could have applied also. (She has since retired and moved to another country.) People who are "high hypnotizers," that is, who drop into trance states easily, can be unable to get out of a situation like that without a safeword. I have yet to ever see a meditation leader, ritual leader, or hypnotist offer participants the opportunity to get out of a meditation or hypnosis session once it starts, so, after that experience, I only meditate alone.

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  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    Telepathy didn't work? Go figure.
  • Erin Lale
    Erin Lale says #
    Thank you! Yes, we did discuss it afterwards.
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    You are right, there are many ways that a guided meditation can go wrong. For us who sometimes guide meditations its easy to over
Pagan News Beagle Earthy Thursday Feb 19, 2015

Pagan News Beagle is back! Today is Earthy Thursday and we've got quite a set of stories for you all: nature's own internet run on the backs of fungi, seasonal photos of a lake from Japan, and a Unitarian's position of Ash Wednesday!

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Other People's Stuff

They're all over the world now, but they started out right here in the Midwest: Little Free Libraries.

In front of their homes, people erect what look like roadside shrines, and so they are: shrines of literacy. Open the door to one of these little god-houses and you'll find inside, instead of an image, shelves of books. The idea is, take a book, leave a book. All completely free. It's a great idea: generous, hospitable, practical. Very Midwestern.

A coven-sib and her husband put up one in their front yard. Suddenly, a problem arose: what to do with the Kreesh-chun materials, the Bibles and other “literature,” that accumulated on their shelves?

[A Zuñi elder once remarked: "How can they expect us to take their religion seriously when they throw it away as if it weren't worth anything?"]

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_nametag.jpgMy suitcase still isn't unpacked. My brain isn't, either. Several other writers have already blogged about this past weekend's Pantheacon and eloquently so. I needed more time. 

First of all, it was great. I spent most of my party time in the Black Rose Witchcraft Suite (thank you Devin Hunter for the laughs at night and the headaches in the mornings) and my worky-work time attending rituals, classes on rituals, and discussions on issues surrounding racism in our beloved community. I met new friends in those rituals (#heygwion) and even sat on a panel, myself! "Turning the Wheel: Nurturing Young Leaders and Embracing Change" led by Thorn Coyle. It was more than an honor to be up there with such incredible minds. 

...
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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Shit

It's a curse word. It's the ultimate bad comparison: “Smells like....” “Tastes like....” To the poisoning of our waters and the impoverishment of our fields, we flush it away so we can pretend it doesn't exist. Frequently enough our collective aversion seems to take on a moral tone. Bad shit.

I think we've got it wrong. The opprobrium in which we hold shit is a mistaken opprobrium. I don't think this is how pagans think.

Old English scîtan, “to defecate.” We didn't have fancy Latinisms back then to describe an everyday bodily function and its product. Same with Old Norse skíta and Old High German skîzzan. We've been talking shit for a long time, it would seem. All the offspring of Common Germanic *skîtan, “to separate, defecate.” Separate and defecate. Where's the opprobrium?

The Kalasha of Pakistan are the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush. The greatest festival of their year is Chaumos, the winter solstice. To decorate their houses and temples for the holiday, the children whitewash the walls and cover them with good luck paintings for the coming year: sun-wheels, trees, pastures, hunters, and goats, goats, goats. (The goat is central to the Kalasha economy.)

An anthropologist observing while the children painted these designs noticed that many of them were surrounded by dots; in many of the paintings, the lines of dots actually served to unify the compositions visually. She asked the kids what the dots were.

“Oh, that's dung,” the kids explained. To the Kalasha, dung is a valuable commodity because it fertilizes the fields. Lots of dung is a desideratum because it means lots of herds to drop it, and lots of crops to be nourished by it. Dung = fertility.

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  • Laura Perry
    Laura Perry says #
    Some of the best Indian incense includes cow dung, for exactly the reason those kids said. Also, I find it instructive that the wo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

I’m still trying to wrap my head around Pantheacon 2015. It was a very different con for me, a strange mix of ups and downs. It started off incredibly when I got to watch my wife present for the first time. She got wonderful feedback on her work as a hypnotherapist. Throughout the con, and even after the con, a number of people expressed their appreciation for her session and for the work she did for them.

I got to help Shauna Aura Knight in her ritual facilitation workshop. By simply repeating a chant about Air as three others chanted the other elements, we raised some pretty amazing energy in a small space. I got a tiny glimpse of her ritual skills, and it left me wanting more. Much more.

I was the bad kid in a class on knot-tying, that poor student who wants to learn but needs the individualized attention from a teacher too busy to give it. There was important lesson there for this high school teacher to learn. My fellow witches and I sent protection to the witches of future at Devin Hunter’s Rite of Grand Convergence, and I worked to restore order in the world with Christopher Penczak. I met with men about men’s issues, talked with David Salisbury about establishing a Pagan lobbying day in the nation’s capital, and had the opportunity to meet Krampus, who was taking a break from his holiday season duties.

Krampus

Those were the ups, but then there were the downs.

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  • Tim Titus
    Tim Titus says #
    Thanks Piper. I agree with your thoughts. I felt that Jonathan Korman's letter was well done and the response from the PantyCon
  • Piper
    Piper says #
    Sorry I missed this year, I enjoyed last year alot, The POC suite was full of great people, and there were more offerings along my

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