You know how sometimes you have a problem with your computer or some other electronic gizmo, and you can fix it by simply turning it off and on, or unplugging it and plugging it back in? Don’t you wish it was that easy to reboot our own lives? I know I do. Of course, life doesn’t exactly work like that. But there are times when it is easier to give the process a jump-start, and this is one of them....
Towards the very end of Winter, the weather suddenly turns darker. The days have been getting longer, so by early March, there is a lot more daylight. The weather is slowly warming up. There may even be signs of the approaching Spring in birds returning or buds developing on trees. But suddenly a cloudy day no longer has a white or pale gray sky. The clouds are brooding, bruise-colored, dark. The clouds that pour over the mountains on those days are not fluffy and soft. They look dirty, like mop water. I call these dishwater days, the late Winter days when the season has lost all its icy sparkle and it looks as though all the grime and soot from the past three months is being washed away.
Because as thick as the cloud cover is, the clouds get blown away by strong winds, after they dump whatever sleety snow-rain mix they carry, and the whole next day feels fresh and clean. The wind is bracing, not brutal. It suddenly seems easy to think about new possibilities, new ideas. The wind blows through our hair, through our thoughts, sweeps detritus away like a broom.
There is a reason that “spring cleaning” is a time-honored tradition, and that both Lent and Passover traditions codify dietary restrictions that effect a type of cleansing. With the first hints of Spring in the air, we feel the longing to finally cast off the heavy clothes of Winter, we want to throw open the windows and scrub the house down, put coats and boots away for another year. We are waking up from the long slumber of Winter and we want to get cleaned up and get out into the world....
The chart of the Spring Equinox of 2014 is an intense, powerful chart that suggests a strong possibility of a sudden and profound awakening within the country. This chart influences the next three months — until the Summer Solstice — and is cast for Washington, DC, so is predictive for the entire USA.
This chart (find it here, and a bi-wheel with the USA chart here) speaks strongly of ideology run amok — not that we haven’t been seeing enough of that lately in the halls of government, especially here in Appalachia, where Republicans Gone Wild has been the theme recently, and the environment we all live in is paying for their extreme ideology (coal ash, anyone? A cocktail of mystery chemicals? Some tailings from mountain top removal?). I suspect that that there will be strong components of religion and environmentalism in the loud and heated discussions and clashes of ideas that seem inevitable this Spring, not to mention explosive events. We are walking the high wire during this time of the Uranus-Pluto square, and all our focus needs to be on getting to the other side, to a sustainable, life-affirming culture.
But there’s a strong call to spirituality, ethics and evolution in this chart as well. The conjunction of Mercury and Neptune in Pisces is a magical one, with the magic strengthened by the trine from Jupiter. Mercury is in his detriment in Pisces, which is kind of like being at a party where you don’t know the other people, and you’re not sure you want to. But we can give him something useful to do by directing our minds towards creating visions of a better future using the oceanic awareness of Neptune and Pisces. This is a great opportunity to sharpen and strengthen our meditation and visualization skills. Magically, work to connect with tutelary spirits should be well-supported. However, there is also a risk of getting lost in fantasy or embroiled in deception, so it’s important to stay grounded and to listen if trusted friends question our judgment.
Once upon a time in Egypt, back when the Nile was free to flood and recede, the harvest season (Shemu) was at its height about now. Planting would have happened in our late fall (Peret); the inundation would come again in mid- or late-summer (Akhet). Renenutet and Aset (Isis) were two of the goddesses who were honored during this season that most of us know as the vernal equinox.
Temple Osireion likes to celebrate this end of the season of Peret, the coming of spring, the flush of new life symbolized by eggs. Many ancients observed this week as the time that Aset gave birth to Horus. In fact, during our ceremony when we wave participants with a fan, it is in remembrance that Aset turned herself into a bird to stir Osiris back to life long enough for her to conceive.
Sham el Nessim is a very old Egyptian national holiday, but even in modern Egypt thousands of families, regardless of their religion, go to parks and the countryside to picnic, decorate eggs, take long walks, and, as the ancients said, “Sham el Nessim,” “sniff the breeze.” At our gathering, we decorate eggs with ancient Egyptian symbols like the ankh and eye of Horus. Everyone takes a sprig of spring onion after the ritual, breaks it open a little and smells it; this is to keep away the evil eye for the year to come - it’s especially important if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. And we also share lettuce and fish, more potent symbols of the land when it is rich, ripe and fertile.
Sniff the breeze this week as the sun moves a bit higher in the sky. Although snow has fallen on much of the country, most of us are seeing beneath it the first bulbs and green shoots of spring. The air is indeed fresh with the scent of hope, new possibilities in the season ahead.
In all my years, I've never wanted spring to come as much as this spring. In a month, my son will turn a year old, but that's not the only thing driving my excitement.
It started in January; I purchased seeds, then more seeds, a raised bed, and different types of containers I intended to modify. I hopped from one foot to the other awaiting news at the Molbak's information desk when they'd have certain plants in; two weeks ago, I chafed at not finding terra cotta pots at the local hardware store
Just as I engage in fall cleaning in anticipation of winter, my spring cleaning takes place mostly outside now. And this year I've learned how to strap the baby to my back so I can get in five to ten minutes of gardening before one of us is tired. Disability or no, I have major ambitions for our home, and it centers around the desire to work for the benefit of all around me, which includes the neighbors who live in our backyard...
at thirteen I asked give me this
every day of my life
Apparently the Egyptian Goddesses are trying to get my attention these days.
This week brings us the lovely frog goddess Heqet, whose message is:
"Fertility surrounds you in numerous forms. Open your eyes."...
St. Patty's Day can be an odd time of year for we Irish Wiccans and Pagans. On the one hand, the attraction of all things Irish is strong. First there's that stirring fiddle music and the rumble of the drum. The food is mighty tasty, folks are feeling celebratory, and who doesn't like the color of bright, springy green? On the other, who wants to revere a man for driving the "snakes" out of Ireland, a.k.a. the Druids? There is still a spirited scholarly debate regarding how much damage St. Patrick actually did on his own versus the mythic qualities that surround him to this present day. This presents a quandary, but not one insurmountable. I believe that you can partake in festivities in your own way, honoring your Irish heritage. Perhaps this year is one of the most opportune times, when we have the Irish holiday falling within the same week as the Spring Equinox. If you do up a dinner party combining the two, with a focus on some of the more classic Celtic traditions– problem solved!
Take down your favorite celtic knotwork wall hanging and use it as a tablecloth. Hopefully it is nothing you mind cleaning a little spilled food or drink off of. Decorate the table with fresh cut spring flowers, such as daffodils. Invite about 4 to 6 others to join you and pull up a chair. For your menu, think Celtic-eclectic. This is your very own hybrid holiday, after-all.
Had it with tired old corned beef and cabbage? Give this tempting main course a try:...
Several years ago I was facilitating a spiritual discussion group at the Yellow Springs Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. I was serving that congregation as their religious education director and one of the duties I took upon myself was leading this discussion group before we gathered for the weekly service. There was a wonderful gentleman named Chuck who would often attend our discussions and sometimes attend the main service depending on the topic. One Sunday morning after about a half hour of group discussion Chuck spoke up and addressed the small group of about eight or so at the spiritual discussion group with, “You folks talk about being opened minded and affirming of others yet in the course of this discussion you’ve insulted me several times. I’m a Christian. I’m a Fundamentalist. I teach at a Baptist university, and I regularly attend a Baptist Church. And I’m a Republican. Some of you have used these terms like they’re swear words.” After he spoke his mind there was a lot of back peddling. Chuck attended these discussion groups because he valued the discussions and he attended the main service when he was able because he valued some of the topics presented. On those occasions when I was able to preach at the fellowship he would often attend to hear me speak. He was and is a good man. He wasn’t the “enemy,” but he was someone who sought to understand others and dialogue for mutual understanding and respect.
But Chuck presented an important dilemma for Unitarian Universalism and also a dilemma that is pertinent to the Pagan community. How can we advocate tolerance, acceptance and understanding while simultaneously causing alienation and marginalization?
Back in 2010 I attended a conference at Sojourners headquarters in Washington, DC. Sojourners is an Evangelical Christian organization devoted primarily to social justice causes. The conference I attended was focused on promoting education for collaborative faith based social justice programs and encouraged people to travel back to their local communities and organize faith based social justice programs. The point of the training was to get conservative and liberal faith communities to talk to one another and focus on the social justice issues they can agree upon and work together to promote positive change. When I returned to the Columbus, Ohio area I helped with some Immigration Reform events that were truly interfaith endeavors. It was Immigration Reform that was a topic that could unite several very diverse faith groups together for common action. It would have done no one any good to point fingers and shout, “Other.” But together our small voices became a much louder voice. I like to think we did some good by working together. That training at Sojourners was a good opportunity for me and I value that experience....
Seven or eight years ago, I shocked a large group of my Pagan friends. I was at a small festival in Oklahoma that happened to take place during St. Patrick’s Day weekend. I was vending and teaching at this festival (as well as performing my first song) and knew most of the attendees very well. As we were cleaning the dining hall after dinner, I invited everyone down to my vendor table to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with a drink of Irish whiskey. The look of horror on some of their faces was priceless.
Making my living with my magic, I am intrigued with marketing. Deep down, I understand marketing IS magic. We are now deeply immersed in the trend of elevator pitches and Tell-Them-In-One-Word. People spend only 15 seconds on a webpage, we are told, so tell your message fast!!!
I freak at this. I just can’t, and I know I don’t want to. I left science to become free, to follow my heart, not to become the slave of the marketing guru’s. AND, on a deeper level I can tell you they are wrong. Maybe they can help you earn big money. But they are not helping you do the work of your souls calling.
It is simply not how magic works. Magic is about raising energy and creating a field around a specific intention. Ha, you might think, cannot that intention be said in one word? Well, actually not. Because magic is also about aligning with how nature really works. And if there is something everyone agrees upon, from mystic to management prophet to priestess, it is that the world is complex, paradoxical, and full of miracles. So the unexpected truth is, that in order to create your dreams you need to be full of ambiguity!
An example. Ever heard of One Trait Breeding? It is used widely in our cattle industry. Say, someone wants chickens with more breast meat. Then in the breeding all the focus comes to this one trait. Researcher Temple Grandin came across the shocking results of this. She came to a farm where the roosters raped the hens, and if the hens refused the rooster simply murdered them. Temple was shocked, of course, and went to the farmer to ask if he had noticed this. He said: ‘yes, and it hurts me to see it, but you know that is just as it is among roosters and hens’. Temple researched this, and this is what she found: it USED TO BE not normal between roosters and hens. That changed when one trait breeding came in. Within not more than 5 years, the roosters became super macho to the point of being rapists and murderers.
While today is traditionally a day of celebration, a day to toast the Irish and feast on corned beef and colcannon, my family takes a more serious approach. My husband and I are both of Irish descent, and yes, we'll cook our corned beef and pour the beer (not green, though...that's just weird) and play bagpipe music louder than usual, but we will do so not in honor of the venerable Saint Patrick, but instead in honor of the 'snakes' he drove out of Ireland: the Druids, the Priestesses, and the followers of the Old Ways that were murdered or driven from their homes.
We remember and pay homage to the people who died for their faith, and the survivors who lived in terror, keeping their traditions in secret, so that today Pagans and Wiccans the world over can hold their heads up and proudly claim their places in the world. By all means, celebrate today as you have always done...please don't let me rain on your Saint Patrick's Day parade. (Ouch. That was a terrible pun. I humbly apologize.) In the midst of your celebrating, however, pause for a moment, and light a candle for the ones who came before, for the ones who fell, and the ones that continued on, despite all obstacles, so that we could be here today.
Blessings to you on this All Snakes Day.
When the 8 of Swords comes up in a reading, it usually means that your predicament is a product of your own making or imagination. You have confined yourself to the degree that you are unable to free yourself or even see a way out. In the Anna K version of this card, we see a woman looking at herself in a mirror but she is not seeing her true reflection, she is seeing something else entirely. Her mirrored self is blindfolded and wrapped up in a material that is in both her current world and her mirrored world. In the mirror, she is surrounded by swords with a small path in front of her while outside of the mirror she holds a sword in her hand. Since the swords represent thoughts, the mirrored self suggests that she surrounded by her thoughts, allowing them to confine her while the self on the outside of the mirror has more control of her thoughts since the sword is in her hand. Could it be that she seeing that she is doing it to herself?
I've imposed some rules upon my own interpretation of the Pagan savings challenge, some of which are probably going to fall before long.
- I'm using the smallest bills possible, because I'm posting a picture each week and want that image to express abundance. The envelope I use is pretty much maxed out as of this week, and my money shrine isn't large enough to support a larger one, but I still like the look of the growing pile of singles.
- I'm also replacing the cash entirely each week before I add new, to keep me mindful of the flow of money. As the numbers grow higher, the practicality of doing so will drop, because . . .
- I am performing this savings challenge in cash, because talismans are powerful. While there are security concerns for this practice, I have put sufficient safeguards into place that I feel confident continuing in this manner, even if I can't comply with the first two for much longer.
These rules are part of ritual which surrounds my savings, the ritual which places this work into religious context. While I won't be dogmatic about them, I do believe that rooting work with money in one's faith practice will make it more powerful, more successful, and more valuable to the whole person than a wad of cash can be in its own right.
My week eleven savings: $66, 17% ($11) of which I added today.
The subject of memory has become something of a bugbear with me. I remember a lot of things from my childhood which are now impossible to confirm…and this makes me wonder whether my memories are real. I believe they are, but I have no proof. The few people still alive who were around then have their own recollections, which deal with different events from my own.
The reason it's become important for me to verify memories is that, five years into our marriage, my wife spontaneously retrieved a wonderful memory that had been suppressed till then - something that happened, she said, when we had been married for only one month.
We were staying overnight in my Dad's apartment in New York City. Ravyn went to the bathroom in the middle of the night and, upon coming out, encountered my mother standing in the hallway. The two of them sat down on the floor in their nighties and had a wonderful long talk, like two priestesses sharing women's secrets by moonlight. Mom told her how much she loved me, and asked Ravyn to take good care of me. They were both attractive, slender, flexible women; Ravyn was 36, Mom was 59....
Ahhh. Egypt, mysterious and wonderful. When we reached our hotel in the southern city of Abu Simbel early evening we discovered that the hotel had been double booked. All fifteen of us were stranded. At eight p.m. the lights went out and dinner was by candlelight. We drank tea and organic Egyptian wine as we sat in the lounge after dinner and waited. It was near midnight when rooms had finally been vacated! Who knows what happened, but we were happy they had happened and settled into our sparse but acceptable rooms for the night.
The next morning we were off early to see the sun rise over the colossal imposing 67 foot stone carved figures of Ramses II. My foot slipped on the walk and I was in pain. Along with almighty Ramses were the gods Ptah, Amun Ra and Re-Horakte. They lined a sandstone cavern temple. This site was sacred to the goddess Hathor before Ramses decided to build temples. Ever popular and charismatic, on one side of the cavern the statues of Ramses II showed him wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt and on the south side statues Ramses II wore the Double Crown of Lower Egypt. The statues had been plucked from their original site by UNESCO and were now 200 feet higher on this taupe sandstone cliff.
I noticed a row of prepared for flight noble hawks carved of sandstone atop the balustrade leading into the main temple as I sat and Reikiied my throbbing foot. A sacred cliff rose before me. Ramses II also built a smaller but lavish temple for Nefertari here in Abu Simbel. I could feel his love for her in the walls, they exuded kindness and thoughtfulness. Temples were places of residence mostly in times of yore....
Over the past couple of weeks I've been slowly working my way through my Devotional Polytheist post. I wanted to share my answers to the first ten questions. If any of you are also participating in this meme, please feel free to share the links to your blogs in the comments. I would love to read how everyone approaches these issues and concepts.
I'll go with you, I told my friend Lola over dinner when she mentioned her desire to do El Camino. Struggling with recurring cancer, Lola was courageous and confident about taking on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. My hometown priest used to talk about El Camino during Catechism class. Your sins will be pardoned when you arrive at the Santiago Cathedral, he used to say. As a child, I questioned whatever the clergy said, earning their accusations of being a Doubting Thomas. Even though I did not believe the sin absolution story, the idea of walking El Camino intrigued me. But I did not know why. Did I have a secret sin that needed forgiveness?
Years before my dinner with Lola, my best childhood friend Nayda invited me to do El Camino. The pilgrimage was to be in honor of our sisterhood. I loved the idea--spending time with my sister-friend always brought me joy. But, as life happened, Nayda became home-bound taking care of her ill mother. I can't do El Camino right now, she said. So, when Lola mentioned her wish to do the Way of St. James, I jumped at the idea....
For all that I write about money, I've never summarized how I work with it, in a religious sense. In part that's because I only set up a formal money shrine recently, and having that around has caused me to step up my game. Here's a snapshot of my money practice as of today. I'm actually hoping that I will come back and read this in a few years and be amazed by it. Who knows, maybe this will chronicle practices that I will forget, and then reconstruct based upon my own ancient writings!
But even if the internet archaeologists don't find it interesting, I hope some readers will.