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Everything Is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless

My circle sister, Donna got hit by a car while she was taking a walk down a residential street with her husband.  She died on Wednesday, February 5th.  How do I make sense of that?  How does Donna taking a walk with her husband + Jason Lutz not paying attention for a moment = we will never see Donna again?

I don’t know.

If we perform magic, shouldn’t we know?  Shouldn’t my circle have been able to save Donna?  What is the point of this if we could not have saved Donna? I think it’s very easy when things are going well to say that if you are alert enough, canny enough, good enough at magic that you can lessen the pain of all situations.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    So sorry to hear about your friend. The loss of my baby brother when I was 13 (and a Christian) led me to doubt that any such loss
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I feel your pain, too. There doesn't seem to be any religion, whether mainstream or far out, that can keep its practitioners from
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    I am sorry for your loss too. I hear your anger and confusion; I felt the same when my husband was in a horrible, life-threatenin
What I Learned on the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete

In Crete we are always being given things—fresh cherries, ice cold bottles of raki, yogurt swimming in honey, and so much more. Over the years it finally hit me—duh—that this spirit of great generosity is a living remnant of the much-earlier Ariadnian ancient Cretan matriarchal tradition of gift-giving.

In matriarchal cultures gift-giving is not something reserved for birthdays and holidays. It is a way of life rooted in the primary understanding that life is a gift that is meant to be shared.

Our lives are a gift from our mothers. Our individual lives have are not something we create or created for ourselves. We all emerged from the body of a mother. We were all given the gift of care and feeding by a mother or mothers. Our mothers did not create themselves. They emerged from the bodies of their mothers and were cared for and fed by mothers. And so on back to the original mother of the human race, known as the African Eve.

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Exactly what I am doing now. Maybe you will write one too.
  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    There is such a narrow view of that word in the modern Pagan culture. I was at Glastonbury this year and Kathy Jones and others sp
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    Someone emailed me about my use of the word "matriarchal." I am using it to mean a society guided by the honoring of mothers and t

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Thinking in Circles

circle round
circle round and celebrate
circle round and sing
circle round and share stories
circle round and reach out a hand
circle
no beginning
no end…

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

It seems to me that the Witches Ladder is one of those unique and valuable, yet greatly under-appreciated bits of craft lore that has fallen to the wayside of contemporary Witchcraft. If you're not familiar with the term, there's a good article you can read here on Wikipedia that will give you the background and basic gist on the ladder. And if you Google it (images) you'll find a wide variety of ladders, made in many different ways and used for many different types of craftwork. Like much of modern day Witchcraft, people have taken an old idea and done something new it, and so have I.

But there are certain challenges that arise from this type of new growth within the Craft. There are so many of us taking old bits like the Witches Ladder, reclaiming it, remodeling it or recreating it. But we're not renaming it. As a result, all these neat new and original creations like prayer beads are being labeled  as "Witches Ladders" and sold on Etsy. Make no mistake, I'm not criticizing the idea of "Witch Ladder Prayer Beads," in fact, I love the idea. I am however, trying to point out the confusion this form of appropriation and re-association can create.

For this reason, among others, we call our Witches Ladder a "Scala," which is Latin for ladder or staircase. We have several different kinds of Scala in our tradition, and today I'd like to share with you the Rota Scala or the "Wheel [of the year] Ladder." Much like the traditional Witches Ladder, the Rota Scala is a length of rope or cord. We prefer twisted manila rope, it's made from an organic fiber and usually consists of three strands woven together. While organic over synthetic is a common Pagan preference, there is a special significance to the three strand braid within our tradition. It represents Tela, the inherent spiritual interconnection between all things. Like an umbilical cord, Tela is our connection to the world and all things therein contained. This interconnection forms a "web," the very definition of the Latin word, Tela.

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Every religious tradition stands in some tension with its society, legitimizing some things in terms of a larger eternal context, but in the process challenging others, sometimes deeply.  As NeoPagan religions increase in America this same pattern is developing. This essay explores how the logic of Pagan religion leads us to question the legitimacy of some important contemporary institutions, particularly the joint stock corporation, and with this questioning, the way our society views the world. 

More deeply than most religions, NeoPagans legitimize and honor the goodness of this world, the sacred immanence that shines through all things.  Consequently, from a Pagan perspective living well in our world requires observing appropriate ethical and moral relationships.  This insight cannot help but lead us to criticize attitudes treating this world as noting but a means for human ends.

Our society’s institutional and legal core views the world as without value beyond its use to us.  A mountain or forest has no more intrinsic value than a crumpled wad of paper.  Our economic system in particular is only able to relate to the world on these terms. Its signature institution, the joint stock corporation, is created so treat everything it encounters as either a resource for attaining its goal of making money, a threat to that goal, or irrelevant. By understanding what is defective about a corporation we can better appreciate what Pagan insights add to our world.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Henry Buchy
    Henry Buchy says #
    'Tapa is innocent, study is harmless, the ordinance of the Vedas prescribed for all the tribes are harmless, the acquisition of we
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Since I did not use the term 'socialist' and indeed included a strong criticism of sate socialism, I see your ability to read and
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    No, pagan is not a socialist political agenda no matter how many silly assertions you make about corporations and economics.
Pantheon Foundation: building 21st Century Pagan infrastructure

When talk is not enough, it is time to build.

This month, with the Claremont Conference on Contemporary Paganism and PantheaCon, I’m taking the month off from my regular blog post to announce the formation of a new Pagan service organization: the Pantheon Foundation.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Hi Sam. Looking at your web materials the initial organization appears to be very heavily focused on CA/Bay Area leadership and m
  • Sam Webster
    Sam Webster says #
    Thanks, Graybeard. Yes, most of us are Bay Area and Jason of The Wild Hunt is in Eugene Oregon, but that aside, you are right on b
  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    So, Sam. Does that mean you are starting out by excluding all the pagans who have different views on so-called "social justice" a

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_heart_shaped_full_moon.jpgYour playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. ~ Marianne Williamson

 If you’ve been anticipating that lovely, romantic Full Moon on Valentine’s Day, you might want to reconsider your approach. Instead of dreaming of moonlit skies and stardust, dust off your altar and pull out your journal and your magical tools, because you’re going to want to work to shift the energy of this Full Moon into some positive results. As with most difficult charts, there is power here, but you need to put a bridle on that horse, or you’ll likely get thrown.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    Ahhh. I love an invitation to rethink things.
Matriarchal or Patriarchal ideal? The utopian myth...

I’ve often read that is it due to a male-dominated, patriarchal culture that the world is in such a mess, with war, power games, aggressiveness and other such “male” attributes to blame. I would posit, with respect and a little humour, that these people have never introduced two new female cats to each other…

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  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    You might enjoy Women at the Center by Peggy Reeves Sanday and Societies of Peace by Heidi Goettner-Abendroth. Matriarchal societi
  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    Thanks Carol - I shall defininitely look into it! x
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Lovely expression, Joanna - and so very reasonable! Your vision is so clear, I wonder that anyone could see it any other way. I r

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Neo-Nazi. Neo-Confederate. Neo-Conservative.

Or, to choose some less loaded examples: Neo-Classical. Neo-Romantic. Neo-Primitive.

Whoever it was that decided to call people like us “neo-pagans” (there are several contenders for the dubious distinction), he was certainly no poet.

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  • Lance Moore
    Lance Moore says #
    The phrase 'neo-pagan' originally came with pride. Back in the '80s when most of us were first finding we weren't alone, forming g
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    I like both the points that Steven made and the points that Chris made; each is right according to the orientation from whence his
  • Chris B
    Chris B says #
    I do not think we ought to be "neo-pagan", but I am afraid that most of us are in fact "neo-pagan". Neo does not only imply "new"

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Every year the same thing happens: the evergreens come down, the hearts go up. It's Valentine's Day--get on your wolf-suit and let's party!

Wolf suit?

It's too early for April Fools—but we're not kidding! Once upon a time, the 14th of February marked the celebration of Lupercalia, “The Day of the Wolf,” an important festival in ancient Rome. What the heck happened here?

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  • aought
    aought says #
    I've seen references to the possibility that Silphium might have also been used as an abortifactant. That might have been importan
Questioning Love: Finding Love Through The Lovers Card

For February’s shadow card, I purposely chose The Lovers as it can be use as a tool to delve into our psyches to learn more about the love, our lack thereof, in our lives.  With the approach of Valentines Day, many people who are unattached begin to wish for someone in their lives that they can share that special bond with.  They yearn for the special love that only lovers can share and sometimes begin to question why they do not have it or why they are unable to find it.  Others that are already attached begin to yearn for someone that is not their current love, someone that embodies different qualities than their current love has.  By looking at the shadow side of ourselves through this card, we can take a look and perhaps discover why we aren’t happy with what we currently have in our current situation.

In the traditional Rider Waite deck, we see a couple striped of their clothes with an Angel overhead coming out of an ethereal cloud.  The Angel appears to be blessing their union as they stand there, under the bright sun, with a tree burning behind the man and a tree of fruit behind the woman.  The man looks at the woman while the woman looks at the Angel.  A mountain stands in the background between them as their feet are firmly planted on the green grass below them.  

The Lovers card is about relationships, love, and choices.  When we are in a relationship, like the couple in this card, we bare ourselves completely to each other, trusting that we will be accepted for who and what we are.  We can look for approval from a higher power (the woman looking at the Angel) to make sure that this is our soul mate – a match made in heaven.  There is a very strong sexual attraction with this card, represented by the tree of desire behind the man and the tree of forbidden fruit with snake behind the woman, reminiscent of the story of temptation of Adam and Eve.  The woman can also be looking at the Angel for an answer for a choice that she needs to make.  Should she give in to the temptation of the man in front of her?  

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The magnificent rock paintings of the Kimberly range in northwestern Australia are among the most ancient in the world, going back tens of thousands of years. Radiocarbon dating of a fossilized wasp nest built over one painting places the nest itself at more than 17,000 years ago, so that the painting must be older -- possibly much older -- than that. Aboriginal people in this region call the paintings, or rather the Beings in them, Gwion Gwion, Giro Giro, and other names.

While making my Woman Shaman dvd, I did a lot of research on rock art around the world. These paintings grabbed my attention, not only because of their tremendous beauty, but because they show dance and ceremonial regalia. Aboriginal tradition says they represent ancestral Beings of the Dreamtime. Because human ceremony celebrates these beings, and reenacts their primordial creative acts, we come around full circle to a likely reflection what extremely ancient rites might have looked like. But from North America it was next to impossible to find Aboriginal testimony about these paintings.

While I was in Australia last year, the very knowledgeable Chris Sitka shared a book with me that contained such testimony, from several senior Law Men. (We know that Aboriginal women have their own Women’s Business in Western Australia, but the book-makers were all men, in the manner of old-school anthropologists who did not understand the implications of this; and so they had no access to the female-only traditions.) The book's title is Gwion Gwion: Dulwan Mamaa - Secret And Sacred Pathways Of The Ngarinyin Aboriginal People Of Australia (Köln: Konemann, 2000). The Law Men who testified are Ngarjno, Ungudman, Banggal, and Nyawarra of the Ngarinyin people (with background added by editor Jeff Doring).

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Coloring Books: A Meditation

Over the last several months, many friends and family have received coloring books from me.  Everything from "The Mystical Mandala Coloring Book" published by Dover to "Fat Ladies in Spaaaaace" by Theo Nicole Lorenz, and several children's coloring books in between.

Why Coloring Books?  Because I believe they're underrated.

Coloring can be a form of meditation, a way to focus on something small and beautiful you control and from within the mind-space to encourage your creative mind to make connections in the subconscious.

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  • Raven J. Demers
    Raven J. Demers says #
    Excellent! I'm so happy to have been helpful. Be well! ^_^
  • C.S. MacCath
    C.S. MacCath says #
    I love it, and it has prompted me to buy others; a mandala coloring book, a goddess coloring book, a steampunk coloring book. I ha
  • Raven J. Demers
    Raven J. Demers says #
    Im very happy to hear it! Now that you've had a chance to look at it, what do you think?

 There are many ways to approach magic—when I look with my Faerie sight, I see that the very fiber of our universe is possibilities and power. 

One style of spell-casting is to choose a certain possibility or flow—for example, abundance or love—then leave oneself open to it. This is often how I do my magic. I believe it's a very sophisticated, advanced working.
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  • Amoret BriarRose
    Amoret BriarRose says #
    All of this post: YES, YES, YES.
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    I am so glad you relate. I really appreciate you letting me know. I see from your bio that you live 1 & 3/4 hours from me. Hi!
Saving money as a community:  the sou-sou

As the Pagan savings challenge progresses, I'm aware that there are Pagans who are not participating because my weekly (and impersonal) posts aren't motivation enough to keep it up.  The pressures are many, and my voice is small.  But my belief in the power of savings is strong.

  • Savings is a discipline, as surely as devotion and magic are, and discipline is its own reward.
  • Savings transforms one's relationship with money, changing it from one of reaction to one of intention.
  • Savings results in a pile of money that literally wouldn't have been there if it hadn't been saved, which is the sort of reward that even the most right-brained among us should appreciate.
  • Savings requires the right mix of patience and attention, which in proper measure can nurture virtually anything.

So in keeping with my sincere belief that each and every Pagan should have a savings plan as part of their spiritual practice, I present an alternative for working groups:  the sou-sou.  It is one of the simplest savings programs to understand, but challenging for the typical American to participate.  It came to the United States from West Africa, and is most commonly used in this country by populations who are on the edges -- or outside -- of the traditional money system.

You know, kind of like some Pagans.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
February Reminders

When February has been Harsh

It's just one foot in front of the other. 
It's just one moment, 
then another, then another-
Till the footfalls mark a footpath
and the breathing is a testament.

~Amoret

It's funny how time flies and yet remains standing still. I blink, and we are in the middle of February. I blink again, and the world outside is still covered in ice and deep, deep snow. 

The winter, thus far, has been educational. 

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Whatever happened to the Thunderer?

The ancestors knew him well: Thor, Perkunas, Perun, Jupiter, Zeus, Ba'al, Enlil, Indra, they called him. The heathens in their wisdom honor him to this day. His name lives on the tongue of every English-speaker: Thunder. And in the many-colored world itself, of course, he's never gone away: his rains still fall, if not quite as they always have.

But in pagandom at large, where is he?

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Cailleach Initiation

Since moving here to the depths of rural Ireland I've found that the seasonal and circadian rhythms rule me very intimately.  This winter I have been truly initiated by the Cailleach.  It's not that we have been snowed in.  We are having the first flurries as I tap this blog. No, it's that when the dark descended, the cloud cover rolled in, the skies lowered, I settled into a long womb time.

I came to a full stop.  I needed to just sit. Yes, there was activity happening but I felt at a bit of a remove.  The real happening was the silence that descended inside me.  The words wouldn't come.  If I tried to force them they were clumsy. It felt as if even Spirit was incommunicado.  Feeling directionless, without a sense of 'true north' I hunkered down into my still centre. In this space I sank into a powerful place of deep trust where I allowed myself to let go of some attachments.

Danu has always felt like an ancient Grandmother to me. Some people say she is Brigit's mother, but my personal encounters tell me she goes back further generations.   For me She is one manifestation of the Hag Goddess, or Cailleach (say that Cal-yuck).  I have an affinity to stone and there are many glacial erratics mimicking chairs that are known as The Hag's Chair.  In a field about twenty yards from my home we have the Cailleach's Chaise Longue.

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Other Triangle and Square Shapes on Crystals (Growth Interference and Record Keepers)

Last time we talked about Keys and Imprints. There are other ways that triangles and squares may present on crystals. We'll discuss those here, namely Growth Interference and Record Keepers.

GROWTH INTERFERENCE

Indentations and markings similar to Imprints and Keys also occur but they fall into a different category. Some of these triangular and square-shaped impressions are caused by what is called Growth Interference. Growth Interference happens when another mineral grows during the development of the crystal and then subsequently disappears.

b2ap3_thumbnail_growth_interference_desc.gifAs well as the square and triangle, more often than not, it looks like a buzz saw was taken to the crystal. Sometimes there is a little bit of mineral left in part of the crevasses.

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs
At A Distance

 

I don't know how many of you have been in this scenario. After dinner and drinks with friends, the topic of discussion veers away from deep occult mysteries to all the things that you could do if you didn't have ethics. This is not a blog post about ethics and morals, though I may cover that topic in the near future. So during one of these less serious discussions, a friend pulled up a website on their laptop for distance Reiki attunements. One merely had to download a few PDFs and study them, schedule a Reiki attunement/initiation, and pay your money via PayPal. By the way the site in question offered these services up to the level of Reiki master. I have no way of knowing if the person who was offering these services was sincere or a charlatan, but for the purposes of this post it does not matter. After much fun was had with some of the cheesier elements of the website, it was solemnly declared that it seemed legit, and then we all cracked up. After the laughter, we proceeded with a real conversation about why this particular sort of long distance initiation doesn't work.

There's a fairly standard model in many esoteric systems that describes the human energy field as consisting of layers that go from the densest being the physical body up to some varying number of layers that end at the boundary between the individual's energy and that of the universe. Without giving away anything that is supposed to be kept secret or private, in a true Reiki attunement there are specific symbols that are implanted into the practitioner's energy field. It is also part of the standard model of ethereal anatomy that the lower, denser layers, are the ones that do the heavy lifting in magickal and energetic work. In order for the symbols to be implanted, the lower subtle bodies of the initiator have to be in close physical proximity to the person being initiated. Here's the catch, the denser the subtle body is, the more it resembles the physical form, and the less flexible it is. Therefore, the denser subtle bodies cannot stretch very far away from the physical body. So for an attunement/initiation that requires alterations to the lower subtle bodies, the initiator must be physically present.

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  • Michelle Simkins
    Michelle Simkins says #
    Thank you for articulating this. I've always felt that distance attunements and initiations seemed off somehow, but have never bee
  • Abbathoniah
    Abbathoniah says #
    You know I think I got ripped off on those "live" sea monkeys I ordered too.
  • Abbathoniah
    Abbathoniah says #
    You know I think I got ripped off on those "live" sea monkeys I ordered too.

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