I’m a Stranger in a Strange Land

A few days into the new year, I asked my guides their thoughts on me doing a tarot card spread of the upcoming year. I was told no. That took me by surprise. Some years I get told to study or to focus on different card layouts or even different divination systems. This year, I was told that looking into the future in any form or method I could use (beyond the glimpses of vision that I rarely receive) that was focused on the topic of my own future was forbidden and it extends to a few other individuals as well. It’s simply forbidden. Kinda weird how they reacted. I felt it like a shout in my head, “No!” In asking why “we don’t want you fucking up anything.” Yes, they said ‘fucking.’ Dirty-mouthed spirit guides, they be! It bugs me. That was more energy directed at me to make sure I understood how strongly they felt about this than in all the long years they have been with me, guiding me in my personal practice.

Over the years, I’ve become tight-mouthed about how I practice. I have no desire to fight over UPG vs. tradition or even if what I practice belongs to Witchcraft or Wicca or any other magical tradition. I’ve been a solitary practitioner from the start. But I miss discussions of the things of Woo. A few years back I started walking away from UU-Pagan community and I’ve never found a good group since then. Now, I’m alone in the desert with a land who choose to watch and test me, who is still testing me even now. And they found out I can hear them in my dreams. The Land Spirits here, if I can call them that, are old and hold on to the old traditions. I feel like an interloper here, deaf, blind and dumb, stumbling around like an idiot because I’m a foreigner. They do recognize me and the tendrils of my roots that stretch across the forests of the East coast. I left my power base in moving.

I under-appreciated what I had. I see now how strongly I was tied to the land, so deeply have my roots grown. Here I am a surface creature, whose roots seek to burrow into the earth, though I am no desert creature. I am one of those who is of water, who needs the companionship of the trees. Yet, I am a Daughter of Gaia so my roots tap down in the deep beneath. The Land Spirits here guard what is their own fiercely.

Last Thanksgiving I had a face to face encounters with those of this land. We camped out instead of staying in and making the whole production of a Thanksgiving Dinner. My husband took us to the Windy Hill Campground up in the Tonto National Forest. The whole ride up was surreal. My vision kept overlapping with photos from books I had read as a kid that showed different pictures of the area. I had made it to one of the places in my books! I had never expected to travel in my life. I assumed that I would live and die in Virginia without ever leaving home. There is a giddy feeling of recognizing a place without having arrived before then. It is a beautiful land out there. Desolate and windswept and sculpted by time and water. Windy Hill Campground contains so many strange sensations. The Land Spirits are watchful even there. My first night there I dreamed and faced them. I faced their anger and puzzlement as to the why I was there and on that weekend. I’ve heard their warning and their challenge. In letting the cat of the bag, I knew what the land contained, felt the surface of it near me and knew there was a second place that I knew without having arrived.

The next morning, my husband took us up to the Cliff Dwellings, unplanned, just to see what we could see. It is a choice of a two-mile walk up or the five-mile walk up the mountain to see the dwellings. And I, in my dreams, had walked about the hearths the night before. As my heart was racing from the altitude and my fitness is poor, I choose to look up as I winced of how I got this close. 2 miles, so close yet so far away. Next year, I am walking up that mountain on a pilgrimage into the pictures of a book I’d dreamed with as a child. Next year, I will succeed. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll be welcomed home.

The Proper way to Curse

After all these years, it still cracks me up. Some of my best-crafted curses have a way of boomeranging back on my ass in some spectacular ways. All I can do is sit back and laugh, laugh at myself for it.

I have a tendency of crafting these energy balls in such a way that it’s more of a sword of truth rather than the intent to harm. Even if harm was the impulse and energy and intent that started the process, I always have managed to turn into something quite different. I’ve often let the Universe take the energy I’m tossing and decide how to use it.

I’ve managed to get quite a few of these zingers walloping back on my tail for it too.

You see, I don’t see much difference between a curse and a blessing. Whoever is doing either has no real idea if their desires are good or bad in the long run. I’ve had way too many blessings sent my way that caused unbelievable hardships and harm. And I’ve had a few curses flung my way that had amazing hidden gold.

It’s one of those things, you just never know how it’s going to be. Somehow, you hope for the best and let it fly and accept the consequences whatever they are. When you set out to change the Universe, and you’re not sure if you are doing the right thing, then you got to make it right before you do even if that means that curse you thought was so witty turns into a blessing in disguise.

I recall Lord Shiva to mind. The dance of destruction is the dance of creation. It is one and the same. Curses and blessings are identical.

Top 10 Things I’d like to see removed from Pagan blogs; Snarkified.

And the 10 things are….

Spells, Shmells

It feels cheap and trashy, like going out and picking up a redemption certificate from a street preacher or claiming baptism just because a Priest road splashed you with his car. Make your spells. Sharing them…ugg. This isn’t a show off of magic hour. Paganism is about religion.

Rune and Tarot castings and other such ilk
Why do Pagan blog focus so much on divination? Fortune telling is either an entertainment only business; then what point does it have on a religious blog or….it is a religious practice? It’s just so over done. Everyone is doing it, has done it an right now is contemplating doing it. Stop it!

Crappy book reviews…
Does every 101 book need your very own review added to the scores already out there? So go ahead and add another review promoting another crappy book. I’ve already read ten reviews about that book. I’m skipping yours.

Jewelry, glitter and gold…
I totally get this one. You saw Paganism as a great way to make money and you’re creative too. Perfect combination….make some necklaces, bracelets and earrings and neat what-nots; slap something Paganish on it and proclaim yourself a Pagan. Rake in the money…

Yeah, why don’t you have a e-store?

Altar supplies, the cups and daggers and boxes more..
Ditto for the jewelry. Selling it doesn’t belong on a blog. Yeah, argue all you want. Bite me. Sharing those photos because you want everyone to see your altar isn’t the same thing. But trying to sell me graveyard dust because you live next door to one, get real. I can take a walk to my local one just as well. Or better yet…use the dust from inside my home! Didn’t ya know the whole earth is a graveyard!

Black backgrounds
Those poor misunderstood Goths, Pagans stole your black style. Give it back! Stop Appropriating other Cultures! This just doesn’t’ apply to those half breeds of Pagan Goths; poor souls.

Honestly my poor aging eyes can not handle the extreme contrast of back on white or worse black on red. Smarten up whipper-snapper…you want your elders to read your youthful thoughts.

Correspondence lists
This element beget that sign, that beget this time, that beget that stone…..*snore…..*
Utter dry drivel that has me chewing on my nails in search for water. Ugg…There are so many different lists and none of them agree. I’ll let you in on a secret. They are made up! So make up your own! This is nothing more that someone’s UPG becoming tradition. *winks*

Never Again! Never Again the Burning Times!
Holds her hands up in the air…
Alright, alright…it’s gotten harder to find this meme cropping up anymore. Utter rubbish of myth making, one hell of a case study of telling a lie long enough, people will believe it. But to make sure it stays down, it’s made it to The List.
Proceeds the kick the meme backing into obscurity.

All other religions are big meanie poopy heads posts
You know the ones that trash whatever religion the newly converted Pagan was, like Christianity is all evil, or that Catholics stole Pagan deities and yup this crazy reason is why they should be scorned, ridiculed. Enough already. Take your hate pettling elsewhere. Your stinking up my air.

Love and Light, New Age-y Crud
Light workers of the World un-tie! Guess what….another case of appropriation. Those aren’t Pagans. Of course some might be Pagans….kinda like Gothic Pagans. But the practices are not Pagan. Those are new age-y practices that come from the mighty jumble pot of Pot…that back in the ‘70’s our parents…hmm and I guess for some of us grandparents or great grandparents poured into various religious ideas and practices and stirred. What baked out…..was a chewy mix of new age ideas. The age of Aquarius is not here.


And The Big Disclaimer:

What really sucks is that I may need this. Actually it’s a certainty. I do snarky humor at my best of times and though it might find a spot that stings, humor is what is meant. I do believe that there is nothing under the sun that can’t be laughed at and made fun of or poked with humor. If you found offense, please take a deeper look inside yourself to find the why before attempting to take bites of my delicious head. And I firmly hope the Paganism as a whole as grown up enough to poke fun at it self and laugh.

Laughter is medicine for the soul.
Open wide!

BNP’s are not our gods…

This Month’s Headlines…

Big name Pagans behaving badly sparks off Regular Pagans behaving badly.

Sighs….Monkey see, monkey do?

Some of the current rage on the Pagan blogosphere just makes me want to beat my head up against the wall. Outting a fellow Pagan and saying some rather distasteful things does not excuse anyone else of acting on that same level. And yes, I’m standing on my soapbox shaking my finger at all of the guilty for whatever that’s worth.


Stop sinking down to the very level you claim to be rising above.

Takes a seat in her rocking chair, picking up her dropped kitting and returns to casting on the stitches…

Now there is an important issue here that’s been addressed many times over the long years, the use of pseudonyms. In the interest of fair disclosure, I use a pseudonym and have for many many long years. It is a religious name, a public Pagan name; it is my name.

For a community that every so often holds up the banner of Freedom waving it wildly, the Freedom to choose the name to be called by has been often attacked. I remember when the issue was accountability and now the issue is outings. Both are two sides of the same coin.

I’ve seen this before on countless sites, countless times, always following the same formula; someone gets offended by another online poster  and then attacks the person on a personal emotional level. Never mind that this is a logical fallacy in debate; attacking the person for whatever flaws they may or may not have does not erase the original discussion. It instead muddies the water from all the mudslinging. And that is what I see going on, classic internet trolling with a lot of mud flinging that’s caused me to drag out my hip waders and umbrella just to get close to this mudfest.

And now, the pendulum has swung the other way to the destructive outings of pseudonyms. The recent incident that set off a rash of bad behavior was down to no good reason I can see, beyond petty revenge. Remember, Do Not Feed The Trolls. But I think it bears to keep in mind some old childhood advice, every bully is hurting deep down inside..and for whatever reason they are trying to see their pain on the outside instead of feeling it on the inside.

And this is the second important issue here; our behavior as a community and as individuals does reflect on each of us. We see this far clearer in other communities than our own when an individual is held up to representing the whole of that community and fails, breaks a law and commits a crime usually denounced as not be a “True Blah Blah Blah” to sooth everyone’s ruffled feathers.

And that is the down side to having Big Name Pagans, leaders, grues, priests, preachers, teachers, ministers…of anyone in authority….they can and do fall gruesomely off the podium we of the community place them on. They are after all, only Human and not gods.

So walk softly and walk in love. Think before you speak…check to see if your words help more than harm, uplift more than tear down, support growth instead of destroying it.

Be the good you want to see in the world. It starts with you.

 Sets down her knitting as she gets up from her rocking chair, turning to look at you smiling with a wink as she steps quickly to playful chase her children as lighthearted laughter fills the air…

H is for Hellenic Paganism

This is a bit on the late side for publication. It’s still a valid question. Even with time to let it settle and sit for a bit, I am still full of questions as ever.

I am an eclectic Pagan with Hellenic tendencies. That’s been my tag line for what I believe for many years now. I don’t claim to be a Hellenic Recon or a Hellenic Polytheist. I am neither. Whatever I am, I do draw the majority from Hellenic practice and from the Greek Deities. The rest I gather from sources as guided by my UPG.

Years ago I remember researching Hellenomosis and I ran into an ongoing debate over recons and eclectics. Unfortunately that debate centered on Hellenic recons vs. Hellenic eclectics. The debate itself was the classic “who is and who isn’t” and “who has the right” to declare what makes a person Hellenic. As I was just starting a deep set of researching into Hellenomosis, I decided to avoid calling myself a Hellenic for fear of a nasty online bashing.

I don’t know if that debate was ever solved and indeed I feel that debate is one that can not be solved.

I don’t know what makes a Pagan a Hellenic Pagan. I’ve seen mention to worshiping the Greek Gods, having an Hellenic worldview, keeping a household shrine, worshiping the household Gods, celebrating the festivals according to the Athens calendar, following worship formulas without divination, not following a Wiccaneque ritual format, not using magic or witchcraft, not using UPG, must learn Greek, read original source texts in the original language and plus or minus any number of restrictions, practices and viewpoints.

All that has left me very confused as to what is Hellenic Paganism.

That Old Black Magic

What is “black magic”? Is there even such a thing?
How do you feel about using it?

Inspired by: Black Magic @ Pagan Blogging Prompts & Pagan Blog Project 2013

When I saw the name of the prompt my first thought was; yes, of course there is black magic, just as there is yellow magic, red magic, green magic, brown magic and even white magic. I’m convinced that Isaac Bonewits was right when he wrote Real Magic. Then my eyes drifted down to see the picture that I recognized from Uncle Bucky’s Big Blue Book; aka Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft.  Then I wondered if what was meant by “black magic” was as if from the book The Black Arts by Richard Cavendish. It’s a very good book by the way. Don’t let the title scare you. *wink* Just pay attention to which world view it presents.

At this point I’m at a lost to where to point as what black magic is. Do I delve into the historical references to black magic, The Malleus Maleficarum, the Inquisition and the witchcraft trials? Do I point at other unfamiliar religions as black magic practitioners? Do I proclaim that any and all religions not my own as being a part of black magic?

I’m not going to answer those questions; purely rhetorical.

I’m going to break this down a bit. I do believe in magic. I believe magic is a tool, that it can be used by anyone and for any reason and purpose. As a tool I believe that magic is without morality.

Because magic can be used for any reason, what is it that is labeled “black magic”? By labeling it “black” are we talking about curses? Yes, I think curses are real but what are curses? Binding and preventing someone from doing harm? Or are curses causing harm due to previous actions? How is that any different from cause and effect? Just what makes a curse a curse? It’s something to think deeply on.

Are we talking about magic that deals with death? Yes, I think death magic is real. But what would death magic be? Preventing death? Causing death? Healing the grief over death? Severing an addiction? Consecrating a graveyard? Blessing a person about to cross over? Talking to spirits of the deceased? Keeping an ancestors altar? I believe all that is considered ‘death magic.’

Just what is meant by “black”? There is one axiom in healing; you cannot heal without harm. You cannot handle safe herbs without knowing which herbs cause harm. You can not handle “safe” herbs without knowing at what level or circumstances they do cause harm.  A surgeon has to ‘kill’ the cancer to ‘save’ the patient. A broken bone cannot be set without causing some pain.

Destruction and creation are intertwined; a perpetual cosmic dance.

My biggest problem with the idea of ‘black magic’ is the world view in which it often resides; the black and white duality, the endless battle of good versus evil, the us versus them and the all or nothing mindset. I find that assigning morality to magic and viewing the world in a dualistic mindset dangerous no matter which side; black or white is claimed.

The automatic setup of an adversary invites warfare and infighting, always trying to determine who has it ‘right’ and who is ‘with us’ and who is ‘against us.’ It is this black and white world view that I walked away from when I walked away from the religion of my birth. I feel that the draw of this dualistic world view is fear. Fear permeates it, creates it and fear it feeds on. This is a very primal fear, stoked unchecked can grow to a level that nothing is safe and everything must be guarded against or ‘else’ untold horror, pain and terror will happen.

I feel it is this very fear that most talk of ‘black magic” refers to. This very fear evokes images deep in the primal subconscious according the culture of person. But closer examination reveals that what is feared, is.. that which is foreign, different, and unknown.

Incense, Oil and Scented Candles; Is it safe?

26wk preemie
My daughter five days after birth.

How safe are these things? How safe are these things around our children? What about babies and our pets?

Parents make a lot of sacrifices for their children. They change their lifestyle, child-proof their homes and try to do what is best for their children. And sometimes parenting advice from experts conflict with other experts and even with common sense. It’s not easy being a parent. Mistakes happen. Hopeful the mistakes are minor and no lasting damage is done.

But I’m a preemie parent and a Pagan. Before I brought my daughter home a lot of things had to change in my life. I had to give up my cat; allergies run in the family as does asthma. And that still hurts even six years later and I am still petless.  The smokers in my life had to smoke outside and strip off whatever they were wearing to come inside. I even gave away my cacti; my only houseplants, due to fungi and mold issues that I have.  I stopped painting my nails. I stopped using air fresheners. I switched to unscented dryer sheets.  I stopped doing and using anything that effected the air quality in my home.

Looking back, I remember reading an article about the dangers of scented candles and oils back when I was on several mommy forums while pregnant  It scared me. Candles were bad, candles were good; nobody agreed which was which. I didn’t use air fresher sprays, kept all airborne sprays to a minimum, banned perfume and cologne and cleaned a lot with Lysol. Everything that goes into the air could effect her ability to breath. I was determined to give my daughter the best chance of being healthy by keeping a healthy home.

I changed the way I practice, drastically. I used joss sticks in my daily practice. So much so that it required daily dusting to remove the buildup of incense dust. Back then, that was a small price to pay for those moments I stood before my altar lighting the incense and saying my prayers.

For me it was a no brainer to stop using incense for my daughters well-being.  I didn’t switch to candles or oils in my practice because it felt too risky. Watching her struggling to breath in the NICU during her three-month stay, it didn’t make sense to continue that aspect of my practice. Even today, despite her being a healthy and active six-year-old I haven’t returned to using incense unless it was an outside ritual and away from my daughter.

This experience makes me wonder what other Pagan parents are doing. Do they cut back when their babies are born? Move their practice outdoors? Or eliminate the use of these items for a while?