Saturday, May 22, 2010

12,500 Years

I Am The Witch Of This Watershed

A weird river thing, a thing of the marshes am I.
A creature with small green shoots growing out of the gentle flesh behind the curl of my ear.
With weird-shaped dead branches growing through my cunt.

I am not like these people among whom I move.
I am not.

I can think through their problems, but I am not "of" them.
I can, hmmm, look. Over there. The sunlight sparkles on the river and the water laps against the trunks of trees. There are wood ducks and there were, a few hundred years ago, great swans.

A weird river thing am I.
The word of fairie claims me, calls to me, shows me myself all water-reeds among the waves of this river. This one. The one that flows so closely to the hall of power. This one.

A weird river thing, a thing of the marshes am I.
A creature with small green shoots growing out of the gentle flesh behind the curl of my ear.
With weird-shaped dead branches growing through my cunt.

This Potomac.

Picture found here.

Religion Of The Moon

There are some things that you just know about yourself, know in the bone.

One of the things that I know about myself is that I will always, no matter what else, come what may, chance what might, I will always be a complete sucker for good poetry. Is it my Sun in Pisces, my Ascendent Gemini, the placement of Neptune in my chart? I don't know, but I do know that when I am coughing my death rattle, I will still be in ecstatic love with good poetry.

Here's some:

Remember the moon? Remember the night when you were fifteen and you crept out of your house at night when you were supposed to be asleep, to see the moon? And it was so bright you could barely believe it was real, and the glare from its shining made an enormous cross in the night sky, and the grass was a dangerous carpet of silver blades, and the trees all had sweet dark secrets they told you, carried to you on the wind that touched your bare arms, cold as butter? You saw it then for a minute – the great map of the planet and all the stars and whirlpools in the black honey of space spread out before you, and you stood as though you had been driven feet first and planted in the earth, knowing this would be your religion, forever. Well, somewhere inside you there is a story and a dance for that moon and that night and they are waiting for you to give them breath and body. Because the more you dance the moon, the less you will forget Her in the face of terror, clocks[,] and currency. Birds covered in oil. O Religion! Bind me to the moon. Bind me to unforgetting, and in that binding[,] the unfettered freedom of Knowing how to continue, and going about the Work with holy resolve.

OK, it purports to be prose, and, wracked, I'd admit that it's prose, but it's very poetic prose, isn't it?

If we can just read enough poetry to "go about the Work with holy resolve," we can all die happy, I think. I can, at least. Can you? What does it take for you?

Picture found here.

Saturday Poetry Blogging

Close your eyes
And do not peek
And I'll rub Spring
Across your cheek-
Smooth as satin,
Soft and sleek-
Close your eyes
And do not peek.

-Aileen Fisher

We're experiencing a rare prolonged Spring, here in the MidAtlantic. Often, we go from 40 degree weather straight into the nineties, with high humidity. But, this year, we've had a lovely, real, Spring. It's such a gift. Have you had a real Spring where you live?

Picture found here.

Can You Face The Goddesses/Gods And Claim That You Are "The Witch Of This Place"? If Not, Why Not?

Joanna is asking some good questions. How many can you answer? How many will you commit to being able to answer by Samhein? Ostara? Beltaine? If not, why not? What else are you doing that is more important than being the Witch of your place?

- What are the trees in my neighborhood? When do they bloom? What do their fruits and seeds look like? What insects use the trees? When do they shed their leaves? How do their seeds get to new sites to grow?

- What is the flowering sequence of local flowers? When does the first bloom of each species appear? When are half of the flowers of a species in bloom? When does the last flower of each species bloom? Are some species found growing together more often than others? What does the dead plant look like in winter?

- How do the patterns of clouds and light change over a period of weeks? What things are happening around me that seem to be affected by changes in the sky? 8

Like many other spiritual practices, spending time in nature each day encourages us to slow down, to pay attention, to breathe deeply, to practice gratefulness, and to connect with Mystery. I have found that a sure-fire cure for depression — even in the depths of a gray and gloomy winter — is to go for a walk to my secret place and soak up the energy there.

Joanna's discussion of finding your own, secret place in nature reminds me of one of my all-time favorite poems by David McCord:


"This is my rock,
And here I run
To steal the secret of the sun;

"This is my rock,
And here come I
Before the night has swept the sky;

"This is my rock,
This is the place
I meet the evening face to face."

Now that Landscape Guy's put a real rock in my garden, it is where I go to "meet the evening, face to face."

Picture by the author. If you copy, please link back.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Worth A Read

Africa's chief witch hunter is on the defensive.

May she reap what she's sown.

Friday Poetry Blogging

Invocation of Hecate
By Aleister Crowley

O triple form of darkness! Sombre splendour! Thou moon unseen of men! Thou huntress dread! Thou crowned demon of the crownless dead!

O breasts of blood, too bitter and too tender! Unseen of gentle spring, Let me the offering Bring to thy shrine’s sepulchral glittering!

I slay the swart beast! I bestow the bloom Sown in the dusk, and gathered in the gloom
Under the waning moon, At midnight hardly lightening the East;

And the black lamb from the black ewe’s dead womb I bring, and stir the slow infernal tune
Fit for thy chosen priest.

Here where the band of Ocean breaks the road Black-trodden, deeply-stooping, to the abyss, I shall salute thee with the nameless kiss

Pronounced toward the uttermost abode Of thy supreme desire. I shall illume the fire Whence thy wild stryges shall obey the lyre, Whence thy Lemurs shall gather and spring round,
Girdling me in the sad funereal ground With faces turned back,

My face averted! I shall consummate The awful act of worship, O renowned Fear upon earth, and fear in hell, and black

Fear in the sky beyond Fate!

I hear the whining of thy wolves! I hear The howling of the hounds about thy form, Who comest in the terror of thy storm,

And night falls faster, ere thine eyes appear Glittering through the mist. O face of woman unkissed
Save by the dead whose love is taken ere they wist! Thee, thee I call! O dire one! O divine! I, the sole mortal, seek thy deadly shrine,

Pour the dark stream of blood, A sleepy and reluctant river
Even as thou drawest, with thine eyes on mine, To me across the sense-bewildering flood
That holds my soul for ever!

Picture found here.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Modern Witch

Lots of great comments in response to this post about living as a Witch in this modern world.

I thought that I'd mention a few of the things on my iPhone that aid me in my practice. Obviously, there are songs on my iPod that reflect my religion. From this to this to this to this. And, I keep this YouTube on my iPhone and have whipped it out and played it at Sabbats more than a few times. I also have an iPhone "app" (see how hip I am?) that tells me what phase of the Moon we're in and the astrological sign in which that Moon appears. I have the (oddly accurate) Goddess Tarot on my iPhone and, wonder of wonders, I have a compass on my new iPhone. I can be out in the middle of nowhere on a foggy day and determine the directions, and, thus, the elements, and, thus, cast a more accurate circle. I've used the camera/video app to take pictures of altars pre- and post-ritual, pictures of my sisters, shots of tarot spreads to preserve for later review.

I don't keep my BoS online, but, eventually, I probably will. Still too attached to being able to draw pictures, tape in recipes and pics from magazines, seed packets, and dried herbs to go there yet. I keep a lot of photos online and use them to illustrate rituals, illustrate blogs, keep me inspired.

And, here, via a wonderful friend of mine, are a bunch of gardening "apps."

As I say every morning upon awakening: "It's all real. It's all metaphor. There's always more."

(Slightly disturbing) picture found here.

And This Is Why

I am known in my circle as the "One Who Loves Birthdays". Honestly is it too much to ask that once, just once a year, each of us gets to feel like this?

No! No it is not too much! All acts -- all -- acts -- all acts of love and pleasure are rituals of the Goddess. All. Acts.

Picture found here.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wednesday Garden Blogging

These are Bowles Black Violas; I've been trying, not v successfully, to grow them for years. Ordered seedlings this year from Select Seeds and they've gone gangbusters. Deadheading helps, but I'm too hammered at work these days to be meticulous about it.

It's As If Nature Were Some Awesomely Powerful Force That We Can't Control

I completely stole this from watertiger.

I can't help but wonder how different it would have been if the people involved had grown up with any conception of the worship of nature. How would a group of Pagans have reacted differently to this storm?

A Woman Clad With The Sky

Here's a fascinating article about religious and political uses of nakedness throughout the ages. The interview, with Druid Philip Carr Gomm includes an interesting discussion about the Pagan practice of worshipping skyclad.

Speaking of angels, nakedness has been put to many uses in religion. You’re an expert in English magic, including Druidism and Wicca. How do these interests overlap?

In Wicca, and to a lesser extent in Druidism, worshiping "skyclad" (i.e. clothed only with the sky) is used as a way of getting closer to Nature and to Deity. One might think that conventional religion, in contrast to these modern pagan approaches, would shun nakedness. But in reality there are numerous examples of religious leaders using nakedness to engender mystical states or get closer to God. The first third of my book focusses on this largely unknown history: looking in particular at the way nakedness has been used not only in classical Paganism and its modern revivals, but also in Hinduism, Jainism, and most remarkable of all, Christianity. I finish this part of the book with a quotation from Dolly Parton which nicely unites Pantheistic and Christian themes: “Sometimes I like to run naked in the moonlight and the wind, on a little trail behind our house, when the honeysuckle blooms. It's a feeling of freedom, so close to God and nature.”

The skyclad rituals that I've done have been some of the lovliest and most intense ones that I've experienced. IANAFP (I am not a festival Pagan) so maybe my experience is not the norm. Do you worship skyclad? In a group or alone? Only for certain workings or certain times of year?

Picture found here.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What I Do

One of my chief interests is: How do we live as Witches in an urban, 21st Century, professional world?

How do the tenents of ancient, Earth-based, religion -- e.g., respect for nature and matter, connection with the cycle of the seasons, manifestation of the Goddess(es), worship of the fleshy, female-body part of life, Moon-based community, and, well, and everything in the Charge of the Goddess -- translate to life in the "capital of the free world," modern office buildings, iPhones, calendars kept on computers, Facebook, commuting in rush hour, conference calls, briefing billion dollar cases? How do we live as a Witch at work, keeping up modern homes, gardening in this ecosystem, having the modern families that we have, being in the circles that we're in, communicating mostly "on the grid," being unable to schedule a dinner with two other Witches on less than a month's notice because one of us travels extensively for business, one of us has a big deadline at work, one of us is juggling theatre subscriptions, belly dance class, several blogs, and work?

I could figure out, I like to imagine, how to live each moment as a Witch in a small cottage in a wood, waking with the birds, gardening, praying with the cycles of the Moon, gathering herbs, spinning wool, dancing the Spiral Dance at established community festivals, and doing divination for village girls. I could determine, I think, how to live each moment as Priestess of Mother Earth, on that mist-shrouded Isle of Avalon, surrounded by sister-Witches, outdoor temples, sacred studies. I could have been, I tell myself, a kick-ass Priestess of Athena or the Eleusian Mysteries, had I lived in a time when society, itself, was organized around those religious lynchpins. I even think that I could live well as a Witch in some dystopian future Bene Gesserit convent (a word so like "coven") or some Honored Matres group. But those are not the challenges that Hecate's set for me. Oddly, she wants me to live as a Witch in this distinctly un-Witchy world.

Yet, I am a Witch, and I need to be a Witch. I need to fully engage that spiritual practice in a big city, commuting twice a day in congested traffic, confronting homeless people, needy young lawyers, frustrated paralegals, a super-hero-obsessed G/Son who already knows how to access YouTubes on my iPhone and needs me to help him connect to nature, and a circle of women who are all more busy than is good for the functioning of any circle (I, myself, being chiefly to blame). I need to invest in the stock market as a Witch. I need to decide which mosquito-repellants (if any) to employ as a Witch who (1) needs to be outside and (2) needs to respect Nature. I need to function as a Witch in the death-match that is modern, high-stakes law and as a woman whose spiritual practice demands integrity from her. I need to be a Witch when I take clients out to dinner at the Palm, to be a Witch when I send e-mails, to be a Witch when I write letters to my Senators, to be a Witch when I do dark Moon magic to impact legislation, elections, the ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.

It's never been easy: living as a Witch. It's never been, even for those foremothers we envy, clear how, in any given time, one could live the life and be a Witch. And, at least today, it's more often a choice between: living as a Witch and staying employed, as opposed to: living as a Witch and staying, well, alive. I get that. And there's not, on first glance, a lot in the ancient texts to give me guidance. And, yet. And, yet.

What I do is to wake up each morning and re-dedicate myself, wake up each morning and pray. What I do is to take the route to work that takes me past a river, past weeds, past a homeless man with whom I have to interact. What I do is to try, consciously, to interact with young lawyers, paralegals, secretaries, and, yes, even co-counsel as a Witch would interact and not, merely, as another lawyer would interact. I try to pay attention to dreams (oh, look, we'd already cut off that branch w/o realizing it!), tarot, intuition. I try to buy food for me and for my family from local sources and to knit intention into the sweaters that I make for G/Son when I sit on conference calls, to invest with intention, to support with the money I make causes close to my heart. What I do is to garden consciously, after spending hours and hours in meditation with that land. And, what else I do is to sit every day at my altar, currently heaped with sage stems and leaves that I cut away from the living sage that returned from this winter's bad storms and will make into smudge sticks, and to ground, cast a circle, say the Ha Prayer, run the Iron Pentacle, go to my place of power, do magic, and, with gratitude, return.

What do you do?

Are there Witchy uses of email, iPhones, Blackberries, microwaves, lawn care services, investment advisors, YouTube, cars, computers, antidepressants, Facebook, and smart meters in today's world?
Picture found (warning) here.