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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Facing Depression

 

The suicide death of Robin Williams prompted me to reflect again on my own experience with depression and to share my story in the hope that it can help others.

In my twenties, thirties, and forties, I suffered severe intermittent depressions. My life in those days was a series of ups and downs. When I feel in love and was having good sex, I was in love with the world and could literally feel energy radiating from my body connecting it to the world. When I was dumped, the energy retreated, and I crawled into a dark hole of despair and self-pity from which there seemed to be no escape. In the in-between times, I carried on my life with neither the highs or the lows.

In recent days, a number of people have tried to describe what depression feels like. Here is what it felt like to me.

 It was as if my mind had a single track on which were repeated a few deadly words: “No one loves me. No one will ever love me. I might as well die.” I could not erase the track or jump to another one. The words repeated themselves relentlessly in my mind.

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  • Jason Leslie Rogers
    Jason Leslie Rogers says #
    Carol, Thank you for speaking out about your past struggles with depression. Having lived with bipolar disorder for almost two de

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Amber Power

Some friends of mine own a Baltic imports store: best amber this side of the Mississippi. I was looking at a case of hand-carved wooden items, including some beautiful wooden spoons.

A woman came over and began looking at the spoons. “This one is labeled 'sacred spoon,' but it looks just like the rest of them,” she said. “What makes this one sacred and not the others?”

A reasonable question, certainly. As it happened, I knew the answer, because the owner of the store had told me about it a few days before. “It's sacred because it was carved out of wood from a tree that was struck by lightning,” I told her. In fact, the tree in question had been the oldest and most sacred oak in a grove sacred to Thunder; the oak, of course, is Thunder's tree. Oak struck by lightning in a grove sacred to Thunder: heap big juju.

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  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    Wow, Jason: talk about power. Thunder speed your negotiation.
  • Jason Leslie Rogers
    Jason Leslie Rogers says #
    Thanks, Steven. He's amenable so far. We're just waiting to see if the tree will have to be taken or if the arborist feels like it
  • Jason Leslie Rogers
    Jason Leslie Rogers says #
    I'm in negotiation with an old acquaintance, even as I type, with someone for a piece of this tree. By all the gods above and be

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Rune Magic Brought Me to the Gods

Continuing my story of my personal journey on my heathen path, after I received the rune book for my 17th birthday in 1986, I started applying rune magic to other types of magic I was learning.

 A quote from my memoir, Greater Than the Sum of My Parts:
 
     “Cynthia and another Wiccan lady went with Jay and the regular crowd to Cavedale Road one night.  She taught us to cast circles of protection to keep out evil entities.  “I will demonstrate,” she said, and to our attuned senses the circle she drew in the air glowed with white light.

     “That felt like moonlight,” someone said, and I had felt it too, exactly like moonlight:  soft white light with indistinct edges.

     “Now you try,” Cynthia directed, and we each cast our own circle in turn.  Jim the Goat’s was of granite, Juleh’s a thorny briar like barbed wire, and each in turn I felt them, saw them, all of us seeing the same thing.  When I cast mine, it was an electric blue glow with the twenty four runes written over it in red, repeating forever.  “That looks intricate,” Cynthia said.  For once even she could not identify the substance of a student’s circle.

     “It’s runes,” I said.  She smiled, a knowing and satisfied smile, I thought, as if remembering the book she had given me.”

 
The practice of rune magic led me to the gods. Here is another quote from my memoir. I've put in some additional remarks in [brackets] that were not in the quote but which the reader would have understood in the context of the book. 

     “I performed many rune readings for friends with my homemade set of painted river rocks.  Once Jim the Goat asked me for a magical stick that would turn him into a werewolf, so I researched an appropriate set of symbols and walked along the bike path with my bundle of tools, looking for a likely oak branch.  I spotted one, jumped and grabbed it and it snapped off in my hand cleanly, as if cut.  When I finished the “tine”—jargon for a stick with runes on it—I remarked on this to Jim and pointed out the moss which was still wet and green, and he believed it to hold great power.  Later he told me it had worked exactly as he had envisioned.  Personally I had my doubts Jim could actually turn into a wolfman, but I kept it to myself.

     “Doubt is my enemy,” I told myself often that summer.  [That summer = the summer between high school and college when I was 17.] The runes excited my curiosity about the culture and religion that had produced them, and I made numerous trips to Berkeley with Jay to buy obscure books. 

[It was 1986 and the era of buying books off the internet had not yet arrived. Living in Sonoma, the closest place to access affordable used books of the type I wanted to read was Berkeley, which was a 45 mile trip each way via California's I-580, and I did not have a car. I tagged along with my older brother Jay when he visited Berkeley.]

I decided that this was the path for me, that I had finally found a system of belief that made sense, but though I tried I could not make myself actually believe in deities.  I could easily see the truth behind the myths, that the gods represented the forces that govern the universe, such as sun, earth, grain, communication, and so forth, but I could not see them as existing, only as symbolizing.

     I knew if I could harness the kind of faith that Jim the Goat had in my tine, I could do incredible things, as the masters of chi did when kung fu was of the Shaolin temple, as faith healers still did the world over.  I discarded Asimov’s definition of magic as any technology more advanced than one’s own, and accepted the definition that Wiccans and other pagans used, that magic was an act of will intended to affect reality.  Belief was a power that could unlock the potential of my mind.  I could go far beyond the simple pain suppression techniques I’d learned from the TV, and the enhanced athletic performance I’d sometimes managed in martial arts.  [When I wrote about pain suppression learned from TV, I was talking about Mr. Spock from Star Trek, my childhood hero. He used his mind to ignore pain.] The question was, how to get it?

     I struggled with doubts, as I’d once struggled to learn the Meditation on Nothing.  Just as suddenly as with new meditations, everything clicked into place.  I told myself, “I believe in myself.  I know I can use magic, I’ve seen it many times.  I therefore enspell myself with belief.  I believe because I will myself to believe!”  Then I laughed out loud with the inrush of possibility.”

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  • G. B. Harte
    G. B. Harte says #
    A runic circle or globular shield is an excellent idea. I need to think about how to do this. Gives me something to think upon
The Maetreum of Cybele Continues Its Battle for Legitimacy

"The most certain test by which we judge whether a country is really free is the amount of security enjoyed by minorities." --Lord Acton, The History of Freedom in Antiquity

The Maetreum of Cybele is a 501c federally recognized tax-exempt organization, locked in a tax battle with the town of Catskill, who do not wish to grant a tax exemption to an "illegitimate religion." This legal battle has been drawn out for seven years, in an attempt to spend the Pagan monastery out of existence via legal fees. If you're not disturbed by this information, you should be.

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PaganNewsBeagle Airy Monday August 25

Today's Airy Monday edition is full of fascinating science: what's beneath Stonehenge; a "clear glass" solar collector (imagine powering your cellphone with one!); "greening" a German power plant (literally); an analysis of why more women die from Ebola (and what it means to defeating the epidemic) and why the world smells different after a rainstorm. Enjoy your week!

Stonehenge will never be the same -- or, so says this report from Smithsonian, detailing the (literal) groundbreaking work of a team of scientists who have discovered its underground secrets.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

a1sx2_Medium_IMG_20140820_152830_274.jpgMummies, shabtis, stelae, amulets and more greeted us as we entered the beautiful Carlos Museum on the campus of Emory University last week (in the Atlanta area).  Several Pagan friends have urged me to visit the museum over the years and I finally had the opportunity.  Their enthusiasm was not unfounded.  The collection of ancient Near Eastern artifacts is a fine one, the presentation every bit as impressive as, for example, the Metropolitan Museum Sackler Wing in New York City.

Now that I can read a bit of hieroglyphs, I was like a child with a new box of Lego-blocks, eagerly trying out my new learning of this very old language.  As an art history major in college, a museum is a feast that I drink in like a glutton.  As an neo-Egyptian Pagan, I find myself sighing with deep contentment, that feeling of coming home to somewhere I’ve never been yet know intimately in my inner self. 

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New Moon in Virgo: A Practical Priestess

The New Moon this month occurs in the sign of Virgo (2'19) on Monday, August 25th, at 7:13 am (PDT). Virgo is the archetype of the Virgin goddess, originally meaning, “whole unto herself”.  And, no matter how devoted Virgo is to the people in his or her life, a certain part of Virgo’s psyche always remains “untouched” by the opinions or influence of anyone else. Virgo is a Mutable Earth sign, meaning it is a threshold sign, bridging one season into the next, and it resonates with the grounding and stable element of Earth. Virgo season is summer transitioning into autumn, and this energy is indelibly imprinted into the archetype, giving way to a Mercurial nature in the Virgo personality. The Virgo archetype echoes with the preparation for harvest: we begin the task of separating the grain from the chaff in our lives.  This requires clear-headed logic, as well as attention to our deep intuition about what crops we will harvest, and what needs to be turned back into the soil, or allowed to die on the vine.  The Virgo personality is often lauded as analytical, discerning, and as having a superior flair for organizational activities. When you think of the qualities of the season, this makes sense.  And, although this time of year is fast paced and busy as we get ready to go back to school or work, there is also a quiet turning within now.


Virgo embodies the aspect of the Priestess that is self-purified and dedicated to the practical expressions of serving the divine.  The archetype is associated with all types of ritual, and integrated daily spiritual practice. There is a visceral body/mind connection with Virgo, and you can find many with Virgo strong in their charts working as nutritionists, yoga teachers, herbalists and holistic practitioners.  Health, healing and daily care of the body are all Virgo preoccupations. Virgo is also the inspired craftsperson, using their attention to detail to produce beautiful works in a variety of mediums.  Additionally, they have an innate talent to elevate what others might term “puttering”- beekeeping, gardening, flower arranging and so forth - into an everyday art form.

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