Dianne is asking some v good questions. One of the more difficult things to do in Wicca is to grow to a certain point and then to stand upon the mesa and ask, "What now? Now who's going to help me to grow spiritually?" And, to realize, well, no one. It's mostly just you and the Goddess and Air. And Fire. And Water. And Earth. And the Fifth Sacred Thing. And to smile, raise your face to the Moon, breathe, and . . . Dance the next step.
Everyone has gone here before you, but the footprints that they left are deliberately vague. Clad your own dear feet in thousand-league-boots, or only a bracelet of silver around your ankle, or in ballet flats, or in Manolos, or in Renaissance moccasins, or, hell, just go barefoot. But whatever you wear, slip your feet into the almost-invisible footprints left by your older sisters and your mothers and your great-aunts and dance that dance with your own shimmy of the hips.
I feel it, too, the longing for someone lots farther ahead on the path than I am who can at least lay down breadcrumbs. But, too, I love the fact that this religion, more than any other, invites me to dance off into the thorns and weeds and figure out my own path to my better self.
It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more.
DC is, and I'll go to the mat w anyone who says otherwise, a great restaurant town. I have my own personal favorites (Nora, Othello's, Kaz, Cafe Belga, the patio at Morton's in the summer, mostly for sentimental reasons, Cafe la Ruche, Le Gaulois, Taverna Cretekou (OK, the last two are technically in Alexandria), but you can eat out here night after night and never get a bad meal.
One of my oft-repeated rants is that the odious expression "people of faith" specifically excludes Wiccans and most Pagans. For my pipple, you either have, or do not have, some direct experience of the goddesses and/or gods. Faith doesn't enter into it. And, so, you know, Fuck You! Rick Warren and everyone else who goes around pretending that "People of Faith" includes anyone other than a bunch of old, dried-up Abrahamists.
But, this morning, I was standing on the hard-frozen ground. On ground frozen so hard that the cold migrated immediately up through the soles of my ballet flats and into the titanium of the screws and plates in my left ankle. And I was looking, ears covered in rabbit fur muffs and cheeks stinging from the cold, at my garden. Which is frozen. And brown. And, barren.
And I was wondering, as I got into my cold car, with the already-cooled mug of coffee in my gloved hands, if, maybe my conviction that there will, surely, be crocus and daffodils and purple hellebore is a form of faith. Have I been too hard on the "people of faith" callers?
But once I thawed out in my hybrid, somewhere halfway over the Potomac River, I decided: Naw. I don't believe that the bulbs will sprout because someone told me to. I believe that they'll sprout because they have done, for year and years. Which is not to say that it doesn't require some IMAGINATION to believe that there will be spring flowers about now, when it's so cold that it hurts my toes. But imagination is different from faith and, given a choice, me, I'll take imagination every time. My skin, my bones, my heretic heart are my authority.
There are 8 Sabbats (major holidays) in Wiccan practice and, for a long time, Imbolc, celebrated on February 2nd, was the "least meaningful" to me. It's supposed to celebrate the fact that, ever since Yule, the days have been getting longer. But, here along the banks of the lovely Potomac River, early February is deep winter, in a way that Yule can never be. It's cold. Really, frost-spangled, hard, cold. It's dark; one grey day following another following another. The branches of the trees are covered in ice and the idea of crocus or lettuce or spring onions seems a million light years away.
I am sure that, descended as I am from depressed Swedes, I have always had a mild case of SADD. When I was younger and less broke (thanks, George Bush), I used to repair every February to the Caribbean, where there was sunshine, even if my Swedish skin required me to enjoy it hidden in the shade of some palm trees. Now that I am old and impoverished (no, really, thanks, George), I spend my Februaries in DC, a notoriously February-blasted swamp.
A few years ago, I had one of "those" dreams, in which the Goddess Bride, often honored at Imbolc, pulled me aside in her sod-covered cottage on Innishere and stood with her arm around my shoulder, looking out from the snug cottage to the pouring rain. And, ever since, Imbolc has meant more to me. She's the Goddess of blacksmiths and poets, our Bride, and a patroness of all who need inspiration. In the We'Moon Calendar that my beloved DiL gave to me, there's a wonderful discussion of Imbolc:
At [Imbolc], awakening begins and the return of the light seems assured. Energies within the earth, as well as the physical body, begin to gently pulsate as the days lengthen and our hopes turn to spring. Traditionally a time of transformation and initiation, [Imbolc] brings "big dreams" and a raised vibration. Sap rises, trees bud[,] and agricultural people everywhere look to nature for the omens that might tell them whether to plant their crops early or late this year. In our tumultuous time, however, human-caused global climate change has wrought more intense storms and weather conditions, making it difficult to read these simple oracles.
With powerful Pluto having recently entered the physical sign of Capricorn (until 2024), we look forward now to momentous planetary and personal change. The wise woman releases obsolete forms. As old structures crumble, inside and all around us, a mantra can help to stabilize our energies and subdue our fears. Try saying the protective Sanskrit syllables OM AH HUM over and over whenever you feel afraid, and imagine yourself siting safely inside Kali's dance of liberation. Vicki Noble @ Mother Tongue Ink 2008
I love the image of residing safely inside Kali's dance of liberation; it feels oddly like home, oddly like the place where three roads meet, change is possible, poetry can erupt, and molten metal can be honed to a sword's edge. May your preparations for Imbolc bring you to that place, that place where the light grows longer, arrives earlier, remains longer, dances more intently. May you find within yourself that place where you are, indeed, a true daughter of the growing light.
I think some atheist started this and, SPAG bless you, but you should have known you'd only get THEM riled up. But the new thing in DC is for various groups to buy signs, on the sides of DC buses, fighting over whether on not you should believe in the xian god. I mean, we could have bus signs telling people to use condoms or to read poetry or to recycle, but, no, we've got dueling bus signs encouraging people to believe or disbelieve in the xian god, because, you know, that's where we all look for spiritual guidance: bus signs.
The latest round, paid for by the xians, features a picture of the old xian god with a flowing beard touching Adam's (thanks, I see, no women. This doesn't involve me, right?) hand and bears the legend: "Why believe? Because I created you, for goodness sake! ~God."
And, see, here's this thing that the xians are ALWAYS doing that I find just incomprehensible. You should believe in the xian god because some people who believe in the xian god say that he created you. So you should believe in him.
Let's say that I don't believe in your god. How is it supposed to convince me to believe in your god for you to quote your god to me? Can you not, even for a minute, even for the sake of "winning converts," which, apparently, is like winning points in World of War or something, can you not, for the love of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, understand that, if I don't believe in your god, telling me what your god said or what it says in your holy book is, well, unlikely to convince me? Xians do this all the time and it's arguably the stupidest thing that anyone has ever done, ever.
You should wear bright red lipstick! Why? Because it says right here on this tube of bright red lipstick that you should wear bright red lipstick!
You should seek wisdom from tarot cards. Why? Because it says right here on this deck of tarot cards that it will reveal wisdom to you!
You should vote for pro-choice candidates. Why? Because it says right here on this website of pro-choice candidates that you should vote for them!
You should be naked in your rites. Why? Because it says right in the charge of the Goddess, written by Doreen Valiente, that you shall be free from slavery, and as a sign that you be free, you shall be naked in your rites.
What? That didn't convince you to be naked in your rites? But it SAYS right in the Charge of the Goddess . . . .
Really, guys, you're just convincing everyone else that, well, you're not very bright. If that's all you've got, if that's your A Game: you should believe in our god because it says in our holy book that he created you, if that's it, then, well, go home. Look in the mirror. Be ashamed.
Animating the Spirit of Democracy With a Ritual of Unity and Blessing
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 6 JANUARY 2009 CONTACT: CAROLINE KENNER 301-384-8455 301-412-1760
SILVER SPRING, MARYLAND, 6 JANUARY 2009 The Washington, D.C. community of magical and spiritual progressives will join together on Monday afternoon, January 19th, at the Jefferson Memorial Plaza, to sweep the town clean and welcome President-elect Obama and his administration to the White House.
The Ritual of Unity and Blessing is organized by a triumvirate of native Washingtonians, one of whom is the great-granddaughter of slaves, one the great-granddaughter of slave owners, and one the daughter of a populist New Deal Congressman. The ceremony will begin promptly at 2pm with a Witches' Broom Dance, intended to cleanse Washington of the malfeasance, deceit and partisanship of the last eight years.
Washington Witchdoctor Caroline Kenner, a Pagan shamanic healer and organizer for the Sacred Space Foundation, says, "Many of us are worried by the ruinous course our country has taken for the last eight years, and we are also concerned for the safety of the Obama and Biden families. This ceremony gives us a chance to request help from our loving ancestors and our multitude of deities, and to bless and protect the incoming administration. We will begin the work by magically sweeping away the detritus of the worst administration in American history with our consecrated Witches' Brooms."
Wiccan Priestess Katrina Messenger, founder of Connect DC and the Reflections Mystery School, and faculty member at Cherry Hill Seminary, says, "We have an opportunity not only to sweep away the old, we also need to bless this beautiful city in preparation for what is to come. With all that is churning around the world in recent times, we need clear leadership and compassionate hearts at the helm of this great nation. Washington is such a jewel in the larger fabric of peace, freedom, beauty and justice, let us charge this historic incoming administration with all the good juice we can conjure!"
Caroline W. Casey, founder of Coyote Network News (the Compassionate Trickster Mythological News Service) as well as the host-creator of Pacifica Radio Network's, "The Visionary Activist Show," says, "The word "inauguration" comes from the word "augur", the pattern-tracker, the diviner within us all. The augur would walk out into nature to divine the patterns indicating which human was deemed the most responsible steward of the Common Wealth, the well-being of all our relations. And that chosen person would be "inaugurated" as the ruler who weds the land. We invite you to contribute your medicine blessing to our collective brew, and toast our new President, with whom we vow to collaborate: Barack Hussein Obama!"
A large quartz crystal resembling the Washington Monument will be charged with the blessings of unity and protection during the ritual. At the culmination of the ceremony, the crystal will be sacrificed into the Tidal Basin, whence it will broadcast the energies of the ritual to the Potomac River and the world at large. A Drum Circle will follow, lasting until 4:45pm. People from all religious faiths and spiritual traditions, or none, are welcome to join us.
A detailed description of the ceremony, including instructions for parking and what to bring, can be found at www.paganreligiousrights.org starting January 6th.
I've been thinking that what the Blogosphere really needs is a "Dear Mr. Obama" Thread. So, I'll start, and please feel free to leave your "Dear Mr. Obama" in comments. I'll print them out and mail them to the incoming occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. When you move into a new house, it's nice to have some mail for you, already sitting in the mailbox.
Dear Mr. Obama,
I'm an old, emotional woman, a Nonna, and a patriot. I can't walk into the Supreme Court, something I do on occasion for my job, without getting teary-eyed over the words "Equal Justice Under Law," carved above the front door. America, and what She's supposed to be about, are very dear to me. And my sweet, kind, intelligent, musical, imaginative, polite, two-and-a-half year-old G/Son is dearer to me than life itself. Dearer than the planet, dearer than Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. Dearer than the Fifth Sacred Thing. Dearer than, well, dearer than just about anything or anyone.
Today, Mr. Obama, G/Son and I were driving to his house, and I was telling him that he was going to come spend the day with me on your Inauguration Day, since his parents have to work that day, I don't, and his day care center is closed. Mr. Obama, G/Son is at a stage that I'm sure you remember from when your two lovely daughters (may a thousand Goddesses bless them a thousand times a day for a thousand days) were two-and-a-half. Anything that you tell G/Son generates questions.
G/Son wanted to know what "Inauguration" meant. I told my G/Son that, on your Inauguration Day, you would stand up in front of everyone (and that "everyone" included G/Son and me, at my home, watching on line on my computer). I told him that you would stand up and make a very, very serious promise to everyone in our country, indeed, to everyone in the world and to, even, your god, that you would follow some important rules that are written down in a piece of paper that we call the Constitution. G/Son said, "Why he will promise to obey the rules in the Constitution?" I told my G/Son that, before we give one person all the power that we're going to give to you, Mr. Obama, we want them to make a very serious promise to everyone that they will follow the rules, even with all that power. G/Son said, "Even to me? Pwesdident Obama will make the swerious pwomwise even to me?" You weren't there, Mr. Obama. And so, I answered for you. And I said that yes, yes you would, you would make that serious promise especially to G/Son.
The guy before you lied when he made his promise. Dear Mr. Obama, do not fuck up your promise to my G/Son. Do not fuck this up. I am just saying.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."