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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

witch•sploi•ta•tion n. In literature or cinema, the use of the Craft--or, more broadly, paganism in general--for sensationalistic (usually horror-inducing) ends.

You know the genre. Wicker Man I (“the one without Nicholas Cage,” as a local movie marquee put it during the midnight Samhain run last year), To the Devil a Daughter...so many to choose from. Somewhere off in the sticks there are (bwa-ha-ha) still real, live witches (or left-over pagans) and they still practice...(shudder)...human sacrifice. Whoa, dude, way scary.

A coven-sib recently confessed to me that her bookshelves are filled with trashy novels with the word “witch” in the title. Magenta, you're not alone. I resemble that remark myself, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I'm so out of touch with the greater Pagan community--especially the American one--that I might as well have been living under a rock the past few months. Every now and again, however, news seeps down to me, and yesterday I was suddenly confronted with the news of Kenny Klein's arrest on multiple counts of possessing child pornography.

I don't know Klein; I've read some of his posts on PaganSquare, and I've heard others talk about him, but I have never exchanged words with him, not even written ones. I can make no statement to his character beyond his now-tainted image. I don't know anything about Kenny Klein, and yet the news of his arrest and the charges for which he will be brought to court have hit me harder than I would have expected it to.

The Wild Hunt has a relatively complete account of the circumstances, so for anyone wishing to know more about this situation, I would kindly ask you to read up there as I feel no need to repeat Jason's hard work. As of this moment, Klein is not convicted of anything, so I won't comment on his guilt--one way or another--but I do want to comment on the greater ramifications of a Pagan Elder being charged with not only possession of child pornography, but also facing multiple testimonies of people who have felt intimidated and unsafe in his presence during festivals. If you read the article, you will see accounts of many people uncomfortable by his push for physical contact despite being told 'no', and one person even testified to keeping an eye on any kids around Klein long before this turn of events on Wednesday.

This is the part where I warn you about triggers for abuse, rape, rape culture and (male) privilege.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Ted Czukor
    Ted Czukor says #
    Yes, it is a great piece. And it applies to people of all faiths. Years ago I was a member of a New Thought Church in which "hug
  • Courtney Weber
    Courtney Weber says #
    This is a great piece--thank you for sharing this. I really resonate with the "entitlement" aspect that comes in touchy-huggy Circ
  • Tabitha
    Tabitha says #
    Excellently said!!!

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
 
Over the past few months I have been a silent observer of troubling waters within the Pagan community. I was saddened to read many eulogies of Pagan leaders and authors. I watched firestorms of disagreement rage through the community, kindling arguments, sometimes productive, sometimes ugly. I listened as leaders discussed toxic influences of racism, cases of cultural appropriation, and issues of privilege. I met burnt out leaders and frustrated elders and saw dysfunctional group dynamics. And now I am following the blogosphere's reactions to the latest news of Pagan author Kenny Klein

This is a hard time for the Pagan community and I am deeply saddened by all of the losses, conflicts, and problems. But rather than wanting to distance myself from the community I feel more at home in the Pagan community than ever, and here's why. 
 
For over a decade I traveled the US and Europe,  visiting communities as far right as Christian reconstructionism, as far left as radical anarchism, and plenty in between. Conflict, discrimination, in-fighting, leader-bashing, and scandals were found in all of them, no exceptions. Since coming out as a Pagan, several Christians confided in me regarding their "secret lives" and I learned just how deeply communities are plagued by secrets and hypocrisy. 
 
When I was a Christian I responded first with denial, then disgust, despair, and finally bitterness. I struggled through jadedness and finally found renewed hope in humanity. I have seen too much in too many communities to feel shocked by the recent allegations, but my heart aches for all of those whose trust was betrayed, whose voices were not heard, and those now left to sort out conflicting emotions. 
 
While much of this feels familiar, the reaction of the wider community is taking me by surprise. There is the typical denial, flight from the community, the "I-told-you-so" attitude, the "no true Scotsman" argument, etc. But there is also an outpouring of thoughtful responses by Pagan leaders and writers from all over the country. 
 
The openness and courage with which Pagans are facing this news is different from anything I have ever experienced. Likewise, despite heated and sometimes ugly arguments, the overall tone of controversies in the Pagan community is significantly more friendly than what I am used to. I have tried to explain this to some leaders in the Pagan community. I understand their frustration and astonishment at my claim that it could be much worse, so much worse. Despite all of the difficulties, there is so much depth and beauty in how this community deals with it. 
 
I don't know why the Pagan community is so different. My best guess is the different basis for ethics between Paganism and Christianity. In our Christian communities, we expected to be transformed by our faith and through the influence of the Holy Spirit. We expected to be spiritually healthier than the rest of the world. We expected our communities to be more ethical, more "Christ-like". Non-Christians were supposed to be able to tell we were Christians by the sincerity of our love for one another. 
 
In Paganism we don't have this expectation. Several writers have pointed out that as our community grows, we will have the same problems as society. Jason Pitzl-Waters, among others, anticipated we would be faced with a story like the arrest of Kenny Klein sooner or later. This willingness to face reality is incredibly refreshing and valuable to me. Expectations of moral superiority or even perfection leave communities blind to dysfunction and ill equipped for dealing with scandals. Abuse gets covered up, predators are moved around within the community while victims are blamed and cast out.  
 
As Pagans we have no rules handed down to us from a holy book, catechism, or priest. Each Pagan has to wrestle with their own ethical framework. Maybe it is this struggle that causes Pagans to respond with such a level of honesty, integrity and humility.  Our Pagan community is far from perfect and the problems we are facing are real and serious. But after all I have seen in other communities, I can't help but also feel grateful for what we have. We have people speaking out with courage. We have leaders sacrificing much for a community that often shows little gratitude. And we have the freedom to acknowledge the complexity of our problems with honesty, depth, and integrity. 
 
When I first became a Pagan, I was terrified of spiritual communities and took refuge in the option of becoming a solitary practitioner. Shortly afterwards I received a calling to serve the Pagan community. I often felt inadequate and frightened but made the choice to commit. I am glad I did. For someone coming from a culture of victim blaming, cover up, and shame, the responses of the Pagan community have been deeply moving. I thank everyone who found the courage to tell their story and all of the leaders who have offered thoughtful responses on how to make our community safe. 
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Predators, Sacred Space and a Call to Maturity

How do we want to present ourselves to the world? How does the world at large view the Pagan community, and are we happy with the way people see us?

These questions have circulating for years, and often the answer is something like, “Why should we care what they think? All they’re going to do is judge us anyway - and they’ve already made up their minds.”

But not every mind is made up. In fact, there’s more openness toward Paganism and other paths outside the Judeo-Christian framework than ever before. This is why it’s crucial that we step up to the plate and shape the discussion to the extent we can. If we refuse to do so, we can rest assured that those who already have made up their minds will shape it for us … and we won’t like the distorted picture they’re sure to paint.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Bahama Mama

Maybe it’s the crazy winter, or maybe I’m just a beach baby, but right now, I’m yearning for some cobalt blue water. There’s nothing quite like a trip to the ocean, but as I learned on a vacation with my mom, not all ocean waters carry the same energy.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Fairies Don't Like Iron?

I had heard that fairies don’t like iron.  This really nonplussed me since their landing pad in Ireland was Iron Mountain.  It didn’t get that name for nothing. It really is iron rich.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Bee Smith
    Bee Smith says #
    Glad that you found this helpful. Instinct is magical. But it is also a gift to have one's instincts affirmed.
  • Francesca De Grandis
    Francesca De Grandis says #
    Yes, this is the sort of thing I was referring to when I emailed you last year, about my experientially learning about faerie folk

I'll take my magic without the K, please.

Ah yes, magic-with-a-K: that pretentious archaism that supposedly differentiates the genuine article from illusionism. The new magical realism at its most twee.

Why, Posch, why?

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Maybe 10 years back a coven-sib and I spoke to the local Unitarian Pagan chapter about our group. Afterwards, someone came up and
  • Diotima
    Diotima says #
    I'm glad to know that the post was not meant to be scornful. But when you say that magick is a "pretentious archaism" you imply th
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Far from it. Gods help me, Diotima, I care very deeply about our people--so old and so young, so wise and so foolish, so courageou

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

This post was previously published as part of the 2014 Ostara Tarot Blog Hop.

 

Previous Blog | Master List | Next Blog

 

Our topic this time is creativity and what springs forth. Well, that’s my loose interpretation of our Blog Wrangler’s theme. Joanne Sprott charged all of the Tarot Blog hoppers to discuss creativity.

 

Zentangle by Arwen Lynch Poe, 2014There is so much I could do on that subject.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Loki the Horned God

Today I'd like to present some meta thoughts on Loki’s depiction, spurred by an interesting conversation on my FB about Loki being likened to a Satanic figure in the Norse pantheon, and me mulling over how this is actually a backhanded compliment. I could rant on how Lu/Satan is unjustly vilified, but that’s a rant that is probably better handled by an actual Luciferian. I am not an expert on Lucifer, but the vilification of horned depictions of Gods is relevant to my interests.

image

Horned!Loki on the Kirkby Stone.

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  • Jön Upsal's Gardener
    Jön Upsal's Gardener says #
    Aside from the problematical identification of those images to either side of his head on the stone as horns (they are both too lo

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_crossroads-in-woods.jpgI shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

Robert Frost

 Astrologers are all abuzz these days about the upcoming “Cardinal Cross” in April, which involves the ongoing Uranus-Pluto square I have mentioned so frequently. Those two planets are now being joined by Jupiter in Cancer and Mars retrograde in Libra to form an equal-armed cross – the cross of manifestation. They all line up closest with each other — and with the Sun of the USA’s chart — right around April 22. In addition to this, there are two eclipses coming up in the month of April. Right now though, let’s take a look at the New Moon in Aries on March 30th, which is predictive for the month ahead. The chart I am working with is cast for Washington, DC, and so is predictive for the entire USA.

Why, yes — as you may have already heard if you keep up with astrology, it *is* a rather intense chart. Mars — retrograde, in its detriment, and tucked away in the 3rd house in the WDC chart — rules the New Moon. Passive-aggressive describes this placement pretty well, and given Mars’ rulership of the foreign policy, higher education, philosophy and religion 9th house, we are likely to see veiled hostility, avoidance of confrontation, underhanded actions, and knife-in-the-back behavior in any of those areas, because when Mars ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy. Ditto for 3rd house areas of media, communication networks, transportation, early education.And, yes — the Cardinal Cross kicks ass, and Mars is part of that. But you can avoid a lot of the pain and aggravation if you get off of the aforementioned fundament and put it in gear.

You can’t escape change, especially if you have key planetary placements in the Cardinal signs. In fact, many of you are right in the middle of a period of profound change. The Cardinal Cross can give you a lot of power to change your life for the better, but you’ll need to participate enthusiastically in releasing the old to make room for the new. The choices you make now are exceptionally important. You’ll want to have goals in mind, and a clear focus. I can’t emphasize enough how much this chart requires flexibility, focus, and a willingness to act with empathy and in line with your core values.

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  • Greybeard
    Greybeard says #
    Interesting about an alignment of larger planets. Some recent physics papers suggest that planetary alignments cause tides on the

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Priestessing as a Verb
I first began to utilize 'Priestessing' as a verb during my second week postpartum.
 
During that time I texted my childhood friend, Melanie, from the couch that I was unable to leave. Being stuck on the couch was a surprising situation for me to be in, for while I had planned on doing a 40 day sit in with my newborn Maiden, I hadn't planned on my carefully planned for home water birth becoming a C-section, nor for the recovery time that it would entail. Least of all was I planning on getting an infected cyst inside of my inner thigh just as I began to get the strength to be up and about for extended periods of time on my own.
 
I had envisioned the sit in being peaceful (which for the most part it was) and myself floating around on a cloud, wearing my baby, breastfeeding and napping, and, while I did nap and breastfed with her consistently I was definitely not floating nor was I wearing her. My stomach incision was too painful and at the moment that I was texting Melanie I was sitting on gauze pads sans pants or underwear oozing pus and blood onto the pad as my baby slept nestled in my arm. I was in shock from an operation that I wasn't expecting, new Motherhood hormones and that darn infected cyst. To top it all off, I  was only 8 days into my 40 day sit~in I was starting to feel stir crazy. 
 
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  • Molly
    Molly says #
    Loved this very much!
  • Candise
    Candise says #
    Thank you so much, Molly. xx

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

There's been a some buzz about the Sacred Space conference here in the magical Mid-Atlantic and the series of rituals/workshops that focused on Appalachian magic. I was lucky to get to go to a number of these and blogged about them over at hecatedemeter.wordpress.com.

While it wasn't identified as part of the Appalachian thread, there was another workshop/ritual that focused on the Goddess Columbia (for whom the District of Columbia is named) as an American Athena. Along with the Appalachian sessions, it served to ground the conference in this specific landbase:  America, the East Coast, the Potomac River watershed. That's a development that I believe is hugely important and I am convinced that the magic that came out of this year's Sacred Space was a sum greater than the whole of its parts.

Prior to the Columbia workshop/ritual, I was chatting with one of the Priestesses about political magic that we've done in Columbia's District. She mentioned dropping charged stones around certain government buildings, often right in front of guards. I described workings where my circle had charged birdseed and then I'd gone off to play the harmless old woman, feeding the pigeons -- right outside the Supreme Court building. We both had a good cackle about doing magic in plain sight.

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Last week, as the Full Moon in Virgo was making a transiting conjunction with my Natal Moon (that's an intense time of discernment and analysis for our non-astrology speaking readers), I experience two very strange occurrences. What was really strange was they were really both about the same hot button topic for me, but from opposite ends of the spectrum. One involved me as a student, the other as a teacher. It produced a lot of internal dialogue, conflict, communication, and ultimately a few snarky Facebook posts. It was the Facebook status updates that inspired our esteemed host, Anne Niven, to ask me to write about it in more detail. I didn't think I was going to, but with some time and distance, I got greater clarity on the whole thing and thought, if she thinks I should share it, then why not? Anne's certainly encouraged me to write quite a few things and, if it should prove helpful to anyone else beyond me, then mission accomplished.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Count_of_St_Germain.jpg

The first episode was an email I received from a spiritual teacher whom I have had no real contact with for many years, and haven't studied with since the late '90s. She is not in my Pagan-Witchcraft world, but more from my early New Age-Holistic world. Let's call her Tara, for simplicity's sake. While I'd like to think the intentions of Tara's email were good, to warn about a potential legal issue with the system she taught me, the letter came across as scolding and sanctimonious. I thought perhaps I was being oversensitive and shared it with a family member and a mentor. Both agreed it was not just my imagination. The part that really got me was not that Tara was sanctimonious, but it was the spirit in which she expressed it. The teachings Tara taught me were a healing system based in the New Age concept of the Ascended Masters and part of her critique ultimately boiled down to “the Ascended Master does not agree with what you are doing.” The email contained no questions, no invitation for a dialogue. It was a proclamation: The Ascended Master has made it quite clear he wants it done this new way, not the old way you learned.

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  • Morganlafey
    Morganlafey says #
    Sorry you had to go through such chaos with a past teacher and former student of yours. However, I love how you extract the less

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

In the midst of my studies and quickening social and family life, it has been a refuge to gather with the women at the monthly circle. Their energy is gentle and genuine, and they speak my language. In the isolation I found myself in for the past few years, I hadn’t realized that –  besides the loneliness of my world being greatly reduced to my own household and family – I had lost having anyone to talk to who knows anything of magic and spirituality. For the first time, I was alone in those waters.

Well, I was kind of alone in them in my youth, but in a less lonely way, since I was in a more magical thinking type of society (though less spiritual than they’d like to think) than the society I’m in now. So the waters were broader back then, when I explored alone – I never felt alone.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Khona-Lee.jpg

(http://moonywolf.deviantart.com/art/water-walker-93567927)

This has been more like a small cave lake, where the spirit-fish are quiet, if present at all.

It is interesting to me that coming back out of the underworld, into the sunlight and warmth of new friends, and renewed dedication to mothering my family, and reconnecting all the connections, has brought connections to moonlight, as well.

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  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    Thank you so much! I appreciate the help. The chant is beautiful, and I'm going to start using it right away!
  • Ivo Dominguez Jr
    Ivo Dominguez Jr says #
    This is a moon chant that you may enjoy. http://www.ivodominguezjr.com/Panpipes_Pagan_Chant_Site/chants/moon-oh-come-into-us.html

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
A Wiccan on Wiccanate Privilege

There's been a lot of talk since PantheaCon in the blogsphere recently about Wiccanate privilege.  I was not at PantheaCon, but to the best of my ability to determine, it is a general sense of being marginalized in the Pagan community that exists among a variety of Pagans who do not follow a path that resembles (at least superficially) Wicca.  They feel that most "Pagan" rituals and gatherings are Wiccan-normative, and they would prefer that this assumption is not made in pan-Pagan ritual, conversations and gatherings.  There have been some excellent articles on the topic; here's one at the Wild Hunt; here's one at Finnchuill's Mast; here's one by T. Thorn Coyle in regards to a controversial "Wiccanate" prayer she gave at the gathering; here's one at Of Thespiae (a Hellenic Reconstructionist blog); here's a couple by fellow PaganSquare writers Stifyn Emrys and Taylor Ellwood; here's a couple by fellow Patheos writers Yvonne Aburrow, Niki Whiting, Julian Betkowski, John Halstead and Jason Mankey at Raise the Horns; and P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, writer of "Queer I Stand" at Patheos, has commented about it extensively around the internet though I couldn't find a specific blog post on the topic in my search (though e was at the conference).  If you read all of these, you'll probably get a good handle on the many different sides of the issue and what various people's take on it is: and if you read the comments, it will be more informative still.  If you haven't done so yet, do it; then come back here in an hour or three if you still want to hear my opinion.  Don't worry, I'll wait . . .

Here's my thoughts as someone who identifies as a Wiccan: I think that those who are advocating for this are right!  I think that most people, within and without the Pagan community, do assume that "Wiccanate" paths are the norm.  And I do think we need to be more inclusive and accommodating in our language and form.  No question about it!  Our community is still small enough that I don't think we can afford to alienate each other.  Let's try to get along in a climate of mutual respect.

I think it might help to have an idea of where the problem came from.  Back in the early 90s, when we were all using bulletin boards and Yahoogroups to open these conversations in a collective way that wasn't in-person at festivals, most of the books out there were indeed about essential solitary "Outer Court" Wicca.  Most people came to Paganism through these books.  Most of us still do.  So I (being one of those sorts) got on a bunch of different Pagan groups to chat and learn about stuff, and identified myself as a "solitary Wiccan".  I suppose the reactions I got were fairly indicative of what was typical: some initiated British Traditional Wiccans (who, don't get me wrong, are justifiably proud of their accomplishments because it takes a lot of work to earn those degrees) told me that because Wicca was a special initiatory mystery tradition descending from either the unbroken line of the Craft back to Neolithic days, or Gerald Gardner, I could not be Wiccan because I was not an initiate.  I imagine that my reaction was very similar to that of others like me; I found the term "Pagan" or "Neo-pagan" (which both Oberon Zell and Isaac Bonewits have claimed to have coined; I wasn't there so I don't know) and began calling myself an "eclectic Pagan" instead.

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  • Samuel Wagar
    Samuel Wagar says #
    I guess "Pagans for Peace" is a derivative of Reclaiming in some way, although we haven't done Reclaiming style stuff forever. Wel
  • Christine Kraemer
    Christine Kraemer says #
    Sorry to ignore most of your article in favor of a minor point. Speaking as someone initiated into both Feri and Alexandrian Wic
  • Sable Aradia
    Sable Aradia says #
    Thanks Christine for clarifying! I must admit that to me as an outsider who comes from Wiccan and "Wiccanate" roots, Feri does lo

We've arrived at the Spring Equinox again, which means its time to strike a balance. Use your Book of Shadows to develop and track this magical work.

Weigh Your Words. Four months have passed since Samhain, the new year, where you probably planned all sorts of wonderful changes for yourself. Draw a scale on a clean page in your Book of Shadows. One one side, write or draw all the things you've managed to accomplish since Samhain. On the other side, write or draw those things that are still in progress or waiting to happen. Look at both sides of the scale. Which side is heavier? Of the things you still have to do, are there any that you found difficult? What did you do when you were faced with that challenge? Did you put it off, or try and succeed? Or fail? How did you feel about that? Maybe you're in the midst of a task right now--how is that coming along? What about your accomplishments? Even if that side of the scale has less on it, perhaps those things took a great deal of work. Think about it and write down your feelings.

b2ap3_thumbnail_balance_20140326-160609_1.gif

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Women in Druidry

Within Paganism, there appear to be an equal number of women and men in leadership roles.  One of the most popular Druids today is Emma Restall Orr, one of the most popular Wiccans is Starhawk.  Heathenry has Galina Grasskova and Diana L Paxon.  There are countless others in all pagan paths and traditions that stand alongside the men in equal roles of leadership, teaching and more. 

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  • Joanna van der Hoeven
    Joanna van der Hoeven says #
    I hadn't heard that about Welsh bards - interesting!
  • Lia Hunter
    Lia Hunter says #
    This post makes me want to go explore Welsh mythology more. I hadn't picked up on a passivity in the females of the stories, but I

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

The Gods made only one creature like them—man.  Greek TV documentary

The sight of a reptile or an amphibian usually provokes, at the very least, a feeling of repulsion in most people. Natural History of Lesbos

In the past days and weeks the two tortoises with whom I share my garden have woken up from a long winter’s sleep.  Henry, testudo marginata, has been up for a while now.  More than a month ago when I was cutting back and weeding in the area of the garden where he had been sleeping, Henry roused himself to sit in the sun near me for a few hours each day before creeping back under a shrub.  At first I thought I had disturbed him, but when he came back out day after day while I worked, I began to wonder if he was coming out to say hello.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAScotty, testudo graeca, was nowhere to be found.  As I moved my work around the garden, I did not find him in the corner where he had slept the previous winter.  This worried me slightly, but I figured he must be under the rue in the one area of the garden still to be trimmed back.  Imagine my surprise when I almost tripped on him on my way down the stairs to the cellar.  Clever boy, he must have found the garden entrance to the cellar open one day in early winter and slipped in.  The fact that I found him at the foot of the stairs and not in a dark corner was evidence that he too had heard the call of spring.

What we love we protect and what we know we love.  Natural History of Lesbos

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  • Brea Saunders
    Brea Saunders says #
    ...I look forward to your posts here at W&P ever since you did that one entry about the spirit of dolls. Now I find you have tort

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
SPREAD: Inner Stillness

--Stephanie Arwen Lynch-Poe

b2ap3_thumbnail_ArtofLife_9Pentacles.jpg“When you lose touch with your inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.”

—  Eckhart Tolle

I read this quote a few years ago. It stuck with me. I wanted to use Tarot to explore how to regain that state of being in touch with my inner stillness. I see it as a breach of faith with myself when I lose this quiet place in my spirit.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

Sometimes it is easier to just sit back and not try to take that step forward. Maybe dealing with the negativity that has become so common in my life is easier than stepping into the unknown. But by dealing with this negativity I have noticed that over the pasts two years my health has declined, my motivation has declined, as well, my positive attitude and outlook has declined.

 

I have sat through almost two complete new moon cycles since my last blog post without writing or reading, just taking my free time to contemplate and reflect.

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