Saturday, August 07, 2010

Saturday Garden Blogging

When I moved to this cottage, it had two fig trees, an older one in the front and its younger sister in the side yard. The woman who lived here before me planted them, but never got a harvest from them. She married, had a family, and needed to move to a larger place. So I get the benefit of her planting. Trees are like that.

Every year, I make a bargain with the birds. I tell them, "The figs that I can't reach are for you. No fair taking a few bites out of all the ones that I can reach." I keep my part of the bargain, but I can't say that the birds are completely honorable concerning this arrangement.

This morning was almost Autumn-like, and I was out for several hours weeding the woodland garden and picking up magnolia leaves. (Has anyone ever successfully composted those leaves? They're like leather. Magnolias are originally swamp-growers and I guess those leaves might, in a few years, decompose in a swamp.) My reward was, here just a week out from Lughnasadah, to harvest this bowl full of figs. Good thing I have rosemary in the garden and bought goat cheese at the farmers' market!

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

Saturday Poetry Blogging

The Witch's Relationship to the Land

[R]oots are essential to the [W]itch. Just as she needs to know human nature if she is to find the freedom to use her emotional energy and that provoked in others, so must she know the natural world around her and its own flows of energy. A [W]itch, then, is entirely committed to her landscape. She doesn't just know how it functions; she aims to know every part of it. In constant relationship with it, she becomes attuned to both its short cycles of change and its long journey of changing.

It need not be a beautiful rural environment; the witch may be happier in the big city, the suburbs, or a place needing protection or regeneration. Wherever she is, she seeks out that intensity of connection with all those who make up the ecosystem. . . . Every action is a potential interaction, acknowledging presence, purpose and communication, and where the energy is strong, her respect rises. It may be with the mountains, the darkness, the forest or deer; it may be with the river of traffic, the wind that moves around the buildings, the sunlight on glass, the scents of anger, hunger and wit. Wherever she is, enthused by the divine hum of creativity, touched by the powerful desire to control, the witch seeks and finds her dark [G]oddess of potential.

Emma Restall Orr in Kissing the Hag: The Dark Goddess and the Unacceptable Nature of Women.

Restall Orr is acknowledging a point we still sometimes conveniently forget: Most modern Pagans live in urban environments. If we're to live our religion every day, and not merely a few times a year when we go on vacation or head for a Pagan festival, then we need to be Pagans, Witches, in the cities where we live. And, as Restall Orr explains, that means being in relationship with the natural world (of which humans are a part) in our cities. We can't just sit inside a sealed apartment and read books about communicating with trees, healing some abstract place called "the land," and imagining the wonderful magic we'd do if we lived in a cottage by the sea.

There's probably a narrow strip of blighted land right next to the parking lot of that sealed apartment. The soil may be crap, made worse by not-well-removed construction debris, litter, poorly-planned runoff, and the fumes of the cars that drive past. There may be a few weeds struggling to grow on the hard, cracked soil and in between the rocks and concrete. Occasionally, a crow may land there, looking for a place from which to fly out and pick at roadkill, in between the cars that whiz past. And it's right there, out your window, every day.

You don't need to travel to it or wait for that far-off day when you move to a bit of land that will call to you for relationship. You can visit that strip of land tonight, when the crescent moon is high and the traffic slows. At first, you might just walk on it, introduce yourself to it, tell it that you want to get to know it. Caress and breathe on the weeds. Go back inside and learn their names. Those are good plants for this land; they can grow there even under bad conditions. Maybe tomorrow night, you can take the land a gift: some used coffee grounds for the soil (Starbucks will give you bags and bags for free), some water that you've blessed for the weeds. Maybe you can do that every night between now and the Dark Moon on the 10th. Maybe one night, you'll decide to pick up the litter. Maybe one night, you'll send the energy of sex magic to that bit of Earth. Maybe one night, you'll notice how much healthier the weeds are looking. Maybe when they go to seed, you'll save some in a small brown envelope that you've covered with runes.

And that's how it begins. What happens to that strip of land as Autumn comes on, as the weeds die? How quickly does its snowcover turn to black from car exhaust? What might you do in the Spring to encourage what were 5 weeds to turn into 15? How will "your" place call forth what Restall Orr describes as your "dark [G]oddess of potential"? How will you call its forth? What will the resulting relationship look like?

Picture found here.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Friday Rain Blogging

We had a wonderful rain last night. It left the ground damp and the plants ecstatic. (Made weeding v easy!)

And I love to fall asleep to Summer rain.

Open the window, and let the air
Freshly blow upon face and hair,
And fill the room, as it fills the night,
With the breath of the rain's sweet might.
Hark! the burthen, swift and prone!
And how the odorous limes are blown!
Stormy Love's abroad, and keeps
Hopeful coil for gentle sleeps.

Not a blink shall burn to-night
In my chamber, of sordid light;
Nought will I have, not a window-pane,
'Twixt me and the air and the great good rain,
Which ever shall sing me sharp lullabies;
And God's own darkness shall close mine eyes;
And I will sleep, with all things blest,
In the pure earth-shadow of natural rest."

- James Henry Leigh Hunt, A Night Rain in Summer

What A Witch Does

Earlier this week, I wrote about the relationship between control over our emotions and the ability to, right to, advisability of doing magic. I've seen, and I imagine that you have, as well, people who had some native ability to direct energy but who had almost no ability to control their own emotions, their tongue, their actions. My advice: Shield. Move Quickly Towards the Door. (And of course, we're all on the journey; I've never met the completely evolved human. But it's part of my work, as a Witch, to keep working on myself and to keep searching for those who have danced a bit farther down the path so that I can learn from them. It's one reason why doing magic in a community of women is so important to me.) And epic poetry and national legends are full of stories about those who were corrupted by their native ability to do magic, those who didn't do the interior work needed to create a safe container for that power. So it's not that you can't do any magic until you've spent years doing the alchemical work of turning the impulses of a two-year-old into gold. But your ability to do effective magic and to step into your true power as a priestess, mage, magic-worker, Witch does depend on a growing ability to control yourself and your emotions.

While someone studying the art of magic might gently yet thoroughly become aware of each potential stumbling block that remains in [her] soul, the [W]itch within all of us may not learn how to do this with such discipline or studied attention. [Hopefully, the passage of time and] the roads of experience . . . with luck and a fair wind, allow us as women to know ourselves better, acknowledging and accepting who it is [that] we are. We grow more emotionally intelligent: the ability to identify an emotional energy when it is triggered, with a sense of where and why it was sourced, allows the [W]itch to understand its force, its reason, its craving and direction.

Emma Restall Orr in Kissing the Hag: The Dark Goddess and the Unacceptable Nature of Women.

I owe my friend S., one of the most intent-upon-knowing-herself people I've ever met, for my real introduction to Jungian concepts, including shadow and projection. There are dozens of books, courses, psychotherapists out there that can help each of us to identify -- and learn to dance with -- our own shadows, to show us when that inexplicably strong reaction we have to something that someone else does is really projection (our own shadows' way of saying: "Hello! I'm still here and I'd still prefer to remain hidden, even though I also long to be known. Look! Over there! Someone else doing [insert reflection of shadow]! Go get them!" It's often some of the most valuable information we ever get -- if we learn how to use it.) Learning to, in Restall Orr's words, "identify an emotional energy when it is triggered, with a sense of where and why it was sourced," is one of the most important ways that a Witch acquires control over herself. Shadow work with a good psychotherapist can help, as can dream work, daily practice, journaling, art, meditative dance or other exercise, working in community. How are you working on this? What has worked for you in the past? What shadow within you keeps distracting you from your true work as a Witch? How would sitting down and having dinner, doing ritual with, making love to that shadow enhance your work as a Witch? When do you lose control?

Restall Orr explains that emotion:

doesn't overwhelm [a Witch] or take the ground from beneath her, but instead she contains it without a struggle, pausing to consider the wisdom of any action she might take, pausing until her view is extended in every direction. Nor does holding the emotion for a moment, a day, a year, dissipate that energy; when she is ready, the [W]itch has the ability to direct that emotional energy, with all its force intact, in a perfect vibrant stream of creativity.

It takes practice.

LOL. Yeah, it takes practice.

May my practice be in the service of the Goddess. May your practice be blessed.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

That's Bullshit

I'm no lover of a lot of Muslim, or xian, or Jewish, for that matter, policies towards women. But this whole ginned-up outrage, well, Sam's right: That's Bullshit.

She Doesn't Have Warts On Her Nose? Fuck You.

Asheville Citizen Times: Fail.

Let's count the ways:

1. Not capitalizing "Witch."

2. Cute hahahah about how she doesn't have warts on her nose. Do their stories about rabbis also note that said rabbi doesn't have a big nose? Discuss African American ministers and note that their lipes aren't really "that" thick? Make fun of the pallor of Episcopalian ministers? Amazedly note that Father O'Sullivan didn't show up red-nosed and drunk? No? Well, then, . . . you know the rest.

3. But she has learned to cheerfully endure the suspicious glances, spoken and unspoken disapproval of those who learn of her Wiccan belief system. How accommodating of her. What was her other choice?

4. The comments. Nuff said.

Byron's amazing and does a great job writing about her religion. The Citizen Times, not so much.

Picture found here.

A, B, C, Capital P

Extra points to the Vernon Morning Star for capitalizing everything that should be capitalized. Their upcoming Pagan Pride Day sounds grand.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

How Much Moral Authority Do You Have When You Say, "This Is My Will; So Mote It Be"?

She isn't just baking cookies, stitching outfits, penning sketches, drafting stories, [doing surgery, writing briefs, managing associations, editing national business journals, running volunteer organizations, hiring for government agencies] alone in her sanctuary, in some isolated bubble of creativity. The [W]itch's work is more than simply personal expression. She is fully involved in and conscious of the ongoing creation of the wider world in which she lives. As such, her work affects others, as [] she is affected by others' presence; and it is becaues others are involved that she asserts such control over every task. Yet that control is not imposed on her; whatever she is expressing, the skilled [W]itch does so with complete freedom. Without the freedom to act as she wants or need to, her magical art is entirely compromised.

There are two basic keys that allow her this freedom.

The first is a profound understanding of her emotional self. . . . [She] know[s] that [her] power is dependent on an ability not just to feel emotions as they rise within or around [her], but to manage those forces of [her] human nature.

Emma Restall Orr in Kissing the Hag: The Dark Goddess and the Unacceptable Nature of Woman, pub. by. O Books.

Too many of us never even bother to attempt to manage the forces of our own human nature before stepping up and asking to command the powers of the universe. How many Witches have you known who couldn't manage, hell, who couldn't even control, their own emotions out of a paper bag? Managing the forces of our own human nature is an ongoing work. Have you begun it? How? When? Why? What do you do daily to grow in this area?

For me, recently, it's meant showing up to walk on the treadmill, even on those days when I don't "want" to do so, even when the stress of my workday would give me a "good" excuse, even when, left it its own devices, the force of my human nature could convince me that I "deserve" a day off. That seems awfully "mundane." But, if my word's no good on this plane, what can I expect it to mean when I move between the worlds and start making declarations? I have to wake up every morning and recommit. Because I believe with all my heart that I have been called to do the work of a Witch. What work calls to you?

Picture found here.

S/he's A Witch

If you think this is going to "stay in Africa", I have a used broomstick I'd like to sell you. It was used only by a little old lady, flying to coven on Full Moons.

Picture found here.

The Batshit Is Strong In This One

The stupid waxes wroth, as well.

Points off, as usual, for failing to use the simple rules of capitalization.

Picture found here.

Back Off, Sheriff

Great Pictures of Nottingham's (heh!) Pagan Pride Day. Kudos to the author for capitalizing "Pagan."

Minus points for feeling the need to explain away the fact that the celebration was held on a Sunday. The xians don't own Sunday. Have you ever seen anyone explain away the fact that xians were meeting on a day/place/time/location sacred to Pagans? If not, then . . . you know the rest.

Picture found here.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Do Not Let This Universe Regret You

Monday Poetry Blogging

They Sell You What Disappears
~Hoa Nguyen

They sell you what disappears it’s a vague ‘they’
maybe Capital T who are they and mostly
poorly paid in China

Why does this garlic come from China?
It’s vague to me shipping bulbous netted bulbs
Cargo doused with fungicide and growth inhibitor

What disappears is vague I can’t trade for much
I can cook teach you cooking ferment
bread or poetry I can sell my plasma

They are paid poorly in Florida
picking tomatoes for tacos
Some CEO is surely a demon
in this poem

Need to buy need to buy or else
you are always paying rent one month away
from ‘the street’
3 neighbors asked for money this week
We are guilty
bringing in sacks of food bought on credit

Trademark this poem mark this poem with a scan code
on the front and digitally store it somewhere
not to be memorized “by heart”.

Picture found here.

What a Long, Strange Trip It's Been

Odd to think that a movement you watched birth itself is becoming the subject of so much research. And, speaking of historical research, on Facebook, Phaedra Bonewits reports that:

Isaac's personal papers will be going to the American Religions Collection at the library at University of California, Santa Barbara. So all you researchers will be able to rummage through his stuff :-)

What an amazing opportunity for historical and other forms of research! As Wikipedia reminds us, "Bonewits graduated from UC Berkeley in 1970 with a Bachelor of Arts in Magic, becoming the first and only person to have ever received any kind of degree in Magic from an accredited university." So it's fascinating to now see UC preparing to receive and provide access to his personal papers.

(As you may know, Isaac Bonewits is gravely ill. His contributions to modern Paganism have been groundbreaking and important.)

More on UC Santa Barbara here.

The American Religions Collection:

(ARC), much of which was assembled by J. Gordon Melton, primarily documents non-mainstream religions in America. The collection contains monographs, manuscript collections and serials. Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions (6th ed., Gale Research, 1999) provides descriptive references to the various religious groups and, to a considerable extent, the collection is organized along the lines of the Encyclopedia.

Monographs in the American Religions Collection are cataloged in Pegasus and can be searched by author, title, subject etc.

The largest manuscript collection is the American Religions Collection (ARC Mss 1). Correspondence, newsletters, flyers, articles and clippings relating to hundreds of religious groups are contained in the collection. Other manuscript collections includes manuscipt material relating to specific religious movements or collected by other individuals.

Some serials in the American Religions Collection are cataloged in Pegasus. Many other serials in the American Religions Collection are indexed in a database.

For more detailed information on materials in ARC, contact David Tambo, Head of Special Collections (tel. 805-893-3420, fax. 805-893-5749). Dr. Melton also may be able to provide research assistance on an appointment basis; contact the Special Collections office (tel. 805-893-3062) for further details.

Picture found here.

Hymn to Hecate

O nether and nocturnal and infernal
Goddess of the dark, grimly, silently
Munching the dead.
Night. Darkness, broad Chaos, Necessity
Hard to escape are you . . . you're Moira and
Erinys, torment, Justice and Destroyer,
And you keep Kerberos in chains, with scales
Of serpents are you dark, O you with hair
Of serpents, serpent girded, who drink blood
Who bring[s] death and destruction and who feast[s]
On hearts, flesh eater who devour[s] those dead
Untimely, and you who make grief resound . . . .

~Papyri Graecae Magicae, quoted by Tim Ward in Bearing Torches: A Devotional Anthology for Hekate, published by Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Picture found here.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Sunday Dance Blogging

First Of The Month Bazooms Blogging

Ladies! Listen up! Detecting breast cancer early is the key to surviving it! Breast Self Exams (BSEs) can help you to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages. So, on the first of every month, give yourself a breast self-exam. It's easy to do. Here's how. If you prefer to do your BSE at a particular time in your cycle, calendar it now. But, don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

And, once a year, get yourself a mammogram. Mammograms cost between $150 and $300. If you have to take a temp job one weekend a year, if you have to sell something on e-Bay, if you have to go cash in all the change in various jars all over the house, if you have to work the holiday season wrapping gifts at Macy's, for the love of the Goddess, please go get a mammogram once a year.

Or: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention pays all or some of the cost of breast cancer screening services through its National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program. This program provides mammograms and breast exams by a health professional to low-income, underinsured, and underserved women in all 50 states, six U.S. territories, the District of Columbia, and 14 American Indian/Alaska Native organizations. For more information, contact your state health department or call the Cancer Information Service at 1-800-4-CANCER.

I know that a recent study indicated that early detection via breast self exams might not be "cost effective." I'm not a scientist, but when I read those studies, they appear to be saying that sometimes women find a lump during the BSE that turns out not to be cancer. Those women have caused some expense and have gone through some discomfort in order to find out that the lump wasn't cancer. I don't know about you, but when that happens to me, as it has a few times since my first mammogram found a small, curable, cancerous lump, I go out and buy a new scarf, take myself out for a decadent lunch, call everyone I know, and declare it a good day.

Send me an email after you get your mammogram and I will do an annual free tarot reading for you. Just, please, examine your own breasts once a month and get your sweet, round ass to a mammogram once a year. If you have a deck, pick three cards and e-mail me at I'll email you back your reading. If you don't have a deck, go to Lunea's tarot listed on the right-hand side in my blog links. Pick three cards from her free, on-line tarot and email me at I'll email you back your reading.

Picture found here.