PBP Wk 4: B is for Broom Closets and Being Yourself

Monday, January 28, 2013

I know this entry is a couple days late.  Admittedly, it was hard to find inspiration to write this 4th entry for the Pagan Blog Project.  One might think that writing about Brighid would be an easy out, but I've already written about Her.  I've already written about how I came to meet Her in my meditations and how I've dedicated myself to Her.  That's not to say that Brighid doesn't deserve more than one entry, but I do think that She deserves more than just repetitive things written about Her, especially just for the sake of having an easy topic that frees me from putting any effort into this year of Pagan Blogging.

One of the most common backstories in Paganism are of those of us who came to Paganism after having been raised in Christianity.  As I've written before in my blog, I certainly was.  After I was left disillusioned with Christianity and I found that Dream Spells book at Target, which sparked my initial interest in Paganism to begin with.

I was, for the most part, in the proverbial Broom Closet for several years after that.  I was 21 when I became a Pagan.  Naturally, one of the things I greatly feared was my family finding out -- particularly my mother.  I'd grown up having the evils of witchcraft drilled into me, including the opinions of Harry Potter when those books first started coming out (but, somehow, "The Wizard of Oz" was ok.......how's that for logic?)  I think something I found especially funny later on was an article I'd heard touted about among some of the people in my home church.  This Christian-written article went on and on about how J.K. Rowling had "done research into the occult" when she'd written the Harry Potter books.  After I'd read them and had begun learning about Paganism, I had a massively hearty laugh over the memory of that ridiculous article.

I was confident and happy enough to live relatively out in the open about my beliefs pretty much everwhere in my own realm.  It was easy in that regards, for the most part, seeing as how I was living in Texas at that time and she was still living here in Colorado.  Mind you, I tried not to be overly obnoxious about it, but I was open enough to wear my pentacle out in the open without shame......unless I was going to have to be around my parents.  Then it was hidden under my shirt.  I was so afraid of my mother's reaction about my becoming a Witch, I even found myself writing an essay for her for if/when my time in the Broom Closet was ended.

I ended up coming out of the closet to my mother when, during one of her visits, we'd ended up visiting with a then friend of mine who was a Pagan.  Mom saw some of this friend's books and when I saw that she'd seen them, I knew that my coming out of the Broom Closet was not long in coming.  Sure enough.  The next day, Mom brought up P's books and asked about my own beliefs.  Holy hell.  I thought my heart was going to explode out of my chest as this moment I'd long dreaded was finally at my doorstep.

I don't remember everything I'd talked with my mother about, but I remember feeling desperate for my mother to understand that I'd not turned to anything evil.  I was also very much afraid that this knowledge would make my relationship with my mother decline -- well, more than it already had (she hated my ex and rightfully so).  Much to my relief, however, it didn't go as badly as I had thought it would.  I mean, she wasn't thrilled by any stretch, but she expressed understanding for the way I felt about the "Christians" I'd had to deal with as being what turned me off to Christianity in the first place.

As time went on, I gradually became more comfortable with being myself even where she could see it rather than being afraid of what she would think of me.  I wouldn't automatically move to hide my pentacle, be it around her or around anyone else in the family.  And for quite a while, I thought my mother was actually becoming more open-minded about things.  I mean, I guess she was, but recent events have happened that have felt like a huge step back and I don't fully understand why.  I'm not gonna lie:  In many ways I feel like I have lost my whole family.  A recent altercation with my mother, one of the most important people to me in my family, has made me feel again the gap between us.  I'm not going to go into all of it, but one thing she'd mentioned was darkly expressing  "I love you even if I don't agree with all your choices, like religion".   Mind you, that's not verbatim, but that was basically what she was saying and when she mentioned the religious aspect, I felt myself bristle.

I had to remind her that just because I don't follow the Christian path doesn't mean I've turned my back on God or anything.  And I pointed out, as respectfully as possible but also bluntly, that my spirituality is between me and God and no one else.  I also pointed out that I have felt a greater freedom in Paganism to draw closer to God (and Goddess) as I feel I should rather than being forced to do so the way Christians think I should.   It was very frustrating to me to have to re-explain things that I had already told her the day I came out of the Broom Closet.

Make no mistake, I love my family, but it's become quite clear to me (even painfully so) that I don't fit in with them.  I never really have, but my being a Pagan has set me even further apart, but you know what?  As sad as the overall situation makes me, I couldn't really ask for anything different.  I mean, I wish I could have the relationship with my mother that I used to, but I don't know if I ever will.  Between my blatantly different spirituality and the fact that she and Druid had ended up having a disagreement about some religious views when we'd visited them at their home back in September, I honestly kind of feel that many ties have been broken.

Why am I writing about all of this?  Certainly not to scare anyone away from coming out of the Broom Closet if they should feel that it's time for them to do so.  Some people have it easier than others, for true.  Others have had it far worse than I have.  I know people who have had their books destroyed in a violent outburst of rage from parents who thought that such behavior would bring their offspring "back to Jesus" or whatever.  I have known people who face the risk of being disowned and actually were when they took that risk.  Making the choice to live out in the open as a Pagan even in the face of those who might turn their backs on you is not an easy choice.  And it's certainly not one to take lightly.  I have a friend who falls into the Possible Disownment category because her parents (particularly her mum) are Jehovah's Witness, which would basically require her mother to no longer have anything to do with her if her beliefs were to be brought to light.

Some people never really feel the call to come out of the Broom Closet.  Others, even in the face of possible difficulties, have faced it because they felt that it was time.  Don't ever feel pressured to do one thing or the other.  If the Goddess calls you out, fine.  But there are still Asshole Pagans out there (I've met them) who have actually had the balls to pressure people like   "Oh, well, you're not a REAL Pagan if you stay hidden," and other such nonsense.  It's ridiculous how many Pagans out there who really think that they have the right to push their opinions upon people like that.   "You're not a REAL Pagan if you don't celebrate every Sabbat and do an elaborate ritual every Esbat!"  Bleh.

In whatever ways you can, find the courage to be yourself even when stuck in the Broom Closet.   You don't have to be ostentatious with your spirituality.  It's something we walk every day and we can do it without having to draw attention to ourselves.  Just because I'm out of the Broom Closet doesn't mean that I walk around wearing some weird clothes like from "Harry Potter" or anything.  Really, I don't do much of anything different than what I did when I was in the Broom Closet.  In fact, continuing to show ourselves as being normal, everyday people can often be the best testament of ourselves that we can give.  Because when someone finds out that you're a Witch and they've known you for X-Amount of years, they're going to sputter and go, "But you're so normal!"

Exactly.  Which means that we don't fit the horrid stereotypes that have been attached to Witches for so many centuries.

Be yourself as you can.  You're beautiful that way.

Busy, Busy, Busy!!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

While I know that starts with a "B", that is not, in fact, my next entry for the Pagan Blog Project  LoL!!  Though, I suppose it'd be something valid as a Pagan topic  XD

What a tremendous week this has been! For instance, Monday saw our wonderful President going through his second Inauguration.  I was so happy to catch this one!  I didn't see his first Inauguration because, quite frankly, I hadn't really cared at the time.  It was no slight against him or anything, but I'm very wary of politicians.  Too often they make so many lofty, pretty promises that just end up getting brushed under the rug once they're elected and, sadly, too many politicians show their true colors as being a bunch of money-hungry assholes who only truly care about filling their own pockets and the pockets of the rich.  

So, when Obama first got elected, I wasn't one of the people throwing a huge-ass party.  Truth be told, I was rather ambivalent.  I was happy that we didn't elect another Republican, to be sure.  After the mess Bush made, I was thoroughly sick of his brand of Republican.  I was working at a gas station when Obama got elected.  In fact, I was working that Election Night.  So when I had a bunch of customers come in screaming with glee about Obama's election, I had whispered a soft  "Good luck, President Obama.  PLEASE do better than President Bush."   And that was it.

However, as time went on and I began to learn about President Obama, I can speak truthfully that he fully won me over with his repeatedly proving that his heart is truly for the people.  His heart is for fairness and true equality.  His heart is for giving poor people like me the chance to better ourselves.  Because of him, I'm able to go to college.  Because of him, I have a chance to reach for the better and to make a better life for my children.  And it is been in seeing that he truly cares for people --  for EVERYONE, not just the rich folk, that he really won me over.

I was in a TANF class (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) when I first really began to learn about President Obama.  I learned about his beginnings as a kid and the fact that his single mother had busted her ass to provide for him.  He didn't have a privileged childhood, but by gods, he sure climbed his way up so that his daughters could have better.

I seriously don't have the necessary vocabulary to express how much I respect him.  So, when his second Inauguration came around, I was glued.  It is unfortunate that I missed out on the historicness (is that a word?  LoL) of his first Inauguration as being the first Black President elected.  But you know what?  As awesome as that is, I think I still would have appreciated his second Inauguration better for the fact that, this time, it wasn't about the novelty of him being the first Black President.  It was a celebration of the fact that, just as much now as before, he is fighting for equal rights for all.

As I've had to point out to people before:  Do I think he's perfect?  No.  Do I think that he won't make mistakes?  Hell no.  Do I expect to agree with everything he does?  Of course not.  Do I think things will turn Utopian because he was elected to a second term?  Hell no.  But do I think that Obama will continue to do the best he can to make this country a better place for us and for our children?  HELL YES!!!  Abundantly yes!!  Why?  Because he truly loves people and, because of that, he's going to do the best he can for America.

Now, as for other things that have gone on this week:  Tuesday was the first day of the Spring Semester for me and Druid.  :-)  This is the first semester for me to be in on-campus classes in over a year, so I only signed up for 2 classes just to ease myself in better than I did the last time.  This semester, I am taking a 4-credit Math course that combines Basic Math and Pre-Algebra and I am taking my first Paralegal course  ^_^  Thus far I am loving it!!  Yes, even the Math (I hate Math -- it is my nemesis!!!)   No, I'm still not looking forward to having to do the Algebra part, but at least I'm feeling more confident about it because of getting to start off with Basic Math and work my way back up to that point.  I am HUGELY grateful for that, though today's Math class reminded me just how much a pain in the ass things like Long Division are.  Oh well.  At least it's still do-able.

So, now that school has started up for me once again, I don't have as much time on my hands.  I'm still going to make sure to do my Pagan Blog Project entries every week and my 44 Days of Witchery entries as I can, but I can't promise how often I'll be able to do these extracurricular entries.  It'll be easier once we get our internet turned back on because then I won't have to rely on internet connections like Starbucks or things like that that mean I only have so much time to be there.

For instance, I'm going to be at a Starbucks tomorrow while my kiddos are in school, but I'm going to have to make sure I already have my PBP entry already typed up tonight because when I'm at Starbucks tomorrow, my time is going to have to be devoted to getting my homework done since the little connection I'm currently piggybacking off of is not strong enough for me to access the site where I do my homework.

Yay!  LoL

So bear with me.  ^_^  If I'm not on here very often, I haven't abandoned this blog.  I love this blog.  I love it  even more than the last two I had; it feels like home.  But now I must hop off and go pick up my kiddos from school, so I'll catch y'all later!

Gratitude and Graphic Buttons

Friday, January 18, 2013

Today proved to be a huge surprise for me.  My blog's Facebook page has been receiving quite a lot of attention today that I most definitely was not expecting!  I got some wonderful compliments and the amount of Likes on the page doubled from what it was.  Seriously, y'all have made my day more awesome than I can even begin to describe!  I generally don't expect much of a reaction when I write -- not like the more well-known blogs like "The Pagan Mom Blog" or "Confessions of a Pagan Soccer Mom" or anything.  So to have such a strong, positive reception today definitely blew my mind!  :-D  I can't thank you all enough for that!

Even Druid has been chuckling over how squealy I've been today over the wonderful comments I've received!

Because of the increase in the attention to this blog, I figured it was time I figure out how to create a badge.  Nothin' fancy.  Just something that, of course, can be nabbed and posted on other peoples' sites  ^_^  Here's what it looks like:  

It's over on the left side bar and, of course, it has a text box for the code that you can copy (hey, I'm particularly proud of that, I'll have you know ^_^  I'm most definitely not a coding genius by any stretch, so it took me a while scouring Google to find out exactly how to do that!  LoL)

Anyway, enough of my silliness!  I probably should go jam out another couple of 44 Days of Witchery posts!  :-D

44 DoW Day 6: A Favorite God

Thursday, January 17, 2013

I grew up in a Christian home with the God that many call "the Christian God".  In many ways, I find that title offensive because of the way I've heard so many Pagans say it.  It's almost like a sneer, as though He's just as cruel as so many so-called "Christians" are.  But at the same time, I can't really say as I blame them.  It's almost like a "guilty by association" thing.  There are so many so-called "Christians" out there who tout God's unconditional love from the pulpit but then they go right back to treating people like shit the moment they leave their church building.  The way so many of them treat people is not exactly a good or even accurate representation of God and how He actually is.

And, if there are any Christians reading this, please know that I don't mean any offense.  Especially if you are like the good Christians I know: The ones who are beautiful examples of how God truly is -- unconditionally loving, accepting, and who don't hate on other people just because they're gay or of a different religion.  I absolutely adore the Christians I know who are like that.  They are the ones I consider to be true Christians

If you've not been able to guess, God is, well, my favorite God.  There are several Gods from different pantheons that I like and admire, but I still primarily worship and follow the God that I grew up with.  He has been so sorely misrepresented, it's disgusting.  He does not hate people like so-called "Christians" do.  He does not and has never called for "unbelievers" to be put to death.  There are so many things that the Bible describes about God that, quite frankly, I find to be flat-out blasphemy.   Such as how it makes God look like a rutting psycho with Multiple Personality Disorder.   For instance:  God is not going to say  "Thou shalt not kill" only to turn around and go  "Oh, but go kill these people over here because they don't believe in me."   That's such bullshit, I can't even begin to describe!

About the only person from the Bible whose word I fully trust is the Christ Himself and, when He was here, you know what he was trying to get people to understand about God?  That God is Love.   He was basically trying to set the record straight that had been so besmeared by so many "prophets" from before.  For so many centuries, God had been painted up as some wrathful, vengeful asshole who loved nothing more than striking "sinners" down.  And, when a child knows that their parent is being so wrongfully and hatefully spoken about, what is that child going to do?  He's going to try to do his best to get the truth about their parent out.   Hell, that's what I would do if I heard people saying such horrible, untrue things about one of my parents.

But I'm going to be honest:  At one point I was no different than so many other Pagans who scorn "the Christian God" along with those so-called "Christians".  I walked away from Christianity after I went to a Bible school in Texas.  The experience I had there had me flat-out disillusioned and angry at God.  In fact, I didn't speak to Him for quite a while.  I became interested in Paganism, whereupon I went to a local metaphysical shop for a class that they had advertised.  That class ended up being a joke and, quite frankly, a huge waste of my time since the majority of the time was spent with people bashing away on Christianity.  I found myself in the position of defending Christianity (true Christianity -- not the hateful dogma touted by people who are no better than the Westboro Baptist idiots) and one thing I ended up saying during that discussion was:  "It's not God's fault that there are so many Christians who are such assholes!"

Have you ever found yourself saying something that jars you so badly, it's like you've given yourself a revelation that you were badly needing?  That's how it was for me.  And that was when I realized that my anger towards God was not deserved.  It's not His fault that there are so many "Christians" who are so hateful.  He does not appreciate them acting that way, He does not support it (and He never has).  In fact, I dare say that when "Christians" act so hatefully to others and then say that He wants them to behave that way, I do not doubt that it embarrasses God.  Such things fly right into the face of the unconditional love that He wants us to learn.

These are things that I really wish people, fellow Pagans in particular, would actually get, if only so that they would stop lumping God in with the hateful people who claim to follow Him.

44 DoW Day 5: A Favorite Goddess

I know I haven't really done well in keeping up with the 44 Days of Witchery, but at least I haven't completely flaked out.  I may not yet have been able to make a post every day, but at least I haven't given up on getting through this challenge.

On the topic of a favorite Goddess, I will say that I have a hard time choosing.  Obviously, Brighid would be my number one favvie.  She is my Matron Goddess, my beloved Mother.  In Brighid, I have felt the comfort of a mother that I haven't felt in a very long time.  It is no slight against my own mother, but she and I are not as close as we used to be, as sad as that makes me.  I had admired Brighid for several years before I'd felt the call for me to dedicate myself to Her.  I will never forget that magickal day when Brighid first showed Herself to me.

I was working at a call center at that time.  I decided to sit back and meditate during one of my breaks and I had brought my MP3 player to work with me so I could listen to one of my favorite chants, "The Earth, The Air, The Fire, The Water" by Libana.  There is a quiet mysticism about that chant that is just so powerful to me, I can hardly explain.  As I meditated while listening to that chant on repeat, I found myself wandering this beautifully lush forest.  It reminded me of pictures I'd seen of the forests of Washington state.  The trees were breathtaking and covered in moss.  The forest floor had an emerald carpet of ferns, and there was the scent of rich, loamy earth in the air as well as the dampness of impending rains.  I found myself wandering this forest, soaking up the magick that was so potent there, it made my skin buzz.

Before long, I came upon a creek and there She was.  She had long, flaming red hair that fell to Her backside and She was dressed in a simple white gown that came down to just above Her ankles.  She had the most beautiful, welcoming smile I'd ever seen and, even though She never actually said a word to me, I knew exactly who She was.  She had been on my mind for a few days with this sort of pull on my heart that resulted in it aching with longing.  She was standing in the creek when I first saw Her.  When She first smiled at me, I couldn't help myself. I went immediately to her and she pulled me into Her arms for a loving embrace.  She walked with me for a while.  She never spoke, but She didn't have to.  I knew She was showing Herself to me in order to call me to Her.  And when it was time for my meditation to end, I got the feeling from Her that she hoped to see me again soon.

I did another meditation a couple days later.  I was feeling a bit depressed (I can't even remember why) and put on that chant to meditate to again.  She appeared to me again, in that same stream I'd first met Her in.  She beckoned me to take Her hand and she led me down the stream until we reached a point where the stream became a small waterfall that fell into an isolated pool.  She silently urged me to leap into the pool, which I did.  And as I plunged into the waters, I could feel my depression slowly washing away.

Now, at the time I only knew a few things about Brighid -- that She was a triple Goddess of Healing/Midwifery, Poetry/Inspiration, and Smithcraft.  It wasn't until after I met Her in that first meditation that I began to do more digging and I found out a few things about Her that made it quite clear to me that my meeting Her had not been just my imagination.   One of the things that are sacred to her are wells and springs.  In fact, I hadn't even known at that time that she has a sacred well in Kildare, Ireland where her Sacred Flame is tended.  So, the fact that She had first appeared to me standing in a spring was particularly significant to me and even now, the memory of it still fills me with warmth.

She is the reason I have felt the call to achieve my degrees to become a Priestess.

There are other Goddesses I like and admire, such as Athena, Hecate, and especially Selene.  I am fond of the moon goddesses, and Selene is definitely one of my faves in that regard.  I have a feeling that I'm going to be working closely with her sometime in the future.

Being Thankful Isn't Only For Thanksgiving

One thing I have noticed for quite a while, especially over the past year, is how God and Goddess have been bringing us through difficult times.  And I'm not talking difficult times like  "Well, crap, I can't afford to do this and this frivolous thing."   I mean difficult as in  "How the hell are we going to afford this bill and the rent?"

As much as things have, overall, felt better since I got to come back home to Colorado, it has still been a far cry from easy.  It'd be too long of a story to go into everything, but we've had a lot of moments where I've been flat-out ready to panic wondering how the hell we were going to get past the latest scrape.  We managed to recently get past another one as we've been trying to get past this last financial hump before Druid starts pulling in regular paychecks again and our FAFSA arrives.  We had no idea how we were going to pay our rent because of how the job situation has gone for the both of us recently.  Hell, my mother and step-father had ended up helping us with our December rent.  But when things did not go as anticipated to be able to cover January's, my Panic Button got set off once again.

Sometimes it's easier to keep faith than it is at other times.  And I'm not going to lie:  A good portion of our situation was brought on by choices that didn't turn out to be so savvy after all.  Admitting to ourselves as such, I believe, was definitely part of beginning to get our act back together once again.  When it became clear that our finances were not going to be able to hold as had been thought, I struggled to find a job.  That job didn't go as well as hoped and I ended up having to try to find another one.  That becomes unavoidable when that job decides that they're going to cut your hours down from 40 to, first 28, then 24, and then down to 16.  That just wasn't going to work.  Druid struggled to find work too and thought that taking on a paper route would be a good remedy to the situation.

It didn't work out that way, especially because the company that he worked for had blithering incompetencies that had me wondering how the hell they'd managed to stay in business for so long.

The long and short of it, however, is despite how much of a clusterfuck things have been, Druid has found a much more stable job working once again in security.  He, being the better with money out of the two of us, has constructed a much more viable budget for our upcoming semester that I am confident that we can stick to and even be able to put money back into savings.  Now all that's left is getting through this last bit of difficulty before we get the financial boost we've been waiting for.

As I said before, rent was the most frightening of the difficulties.  However, we were able to get some one-time help from our local Human Services office (thank you, Goddess) and that gave us the leg-up we needed to be able to get by on that bill until February, which is when things will pick up.  Now the only other bill we have to worry about is our electric bill.  I have no idea how we're going to manage that one at this time, but all throughout this hardship, I have seen the signs that Goddess and God have not forgotten about us.  I dare say they are hoping that we have learned our lessons from our mistakes.  I think we have.  And because we have been working so hard to remedy them, I believe it has made them even more willing to help us get through.

One thing I have striven to learn throughout all this is recognizing these blessings and signs and remembering to be thankful for them every day.  Life may not be easy right now, but there is always something to be thankful for.  There is always a sign that the Goddess and God are close by and that they haven't forsaken us.

For instance, yesterday I was feeling particularly discouraged about this last pain in the ass situation.  I went to go check the mail and found that there was nothing there but a parcel slip that said I needed to go pick up the package at the apartment office.  That immediately lifted my spirits up as I had a good feeling that I knew what it was.
On a previous entry, I'd mentioned some Pagan children's books that I'd been wanting to get as soon as I could afford to.  Well, I'd gotten a comment from one of my readers who said that she had one of the books that I'd been wanting as well as a few others.  That was a couple weeks ago and then I received the books yesterday!  That was such a help as it immediately cheered me up to be able to look at these books!  It also felt like a sign to me that we're not forgotten and that, even when things feel shitty, there's always something to find joy in and to be thankful for.  Thank you so much for the books, Anne!  I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your giving them to me!  Receiving the books yesterday absolutely made my day!

Something else I'm thankful for and excited about:  After so many years of trying to find a group that I can learn with and obtain my degrees through, I believe I may have finally found that group.  There was an event this past weekend called The Paths and Traditions Fair put on by a few local groups, particularly one called Cro Dreoilin.  Its purpose was to bring potential students and potential teachers and groups together.  It's not easy to find a group or coven to learn under or join.  Even trying to use Witchvox doesn't always prove successful.  So to have this opportunity was very exciting!

It was at the fair that I met Greyheart.  He was there not overly hoping to find people he'd be willing to teach, but he'd felt that he should at least be there so there was the opportunity.  As it was, aside from myself, he'd found a good 2 or 3 other potential students for his teaching group.  I began talking to him after I'd talked to Chris and Kelly, who are the founders of the Cro Dreoilin Celtic Reconstructionist group.  They were wonderfully nice, but I did not feel called to pursue their group further.

When I began talking with Greyheart and (awkwardly as hell) mentioned that I was there to try to find a group that I could learn with and obtain my degrees so that I could attain my goal of becoming a Priestess, he led me to his table, which had some altar items on it.  "Look at the items on this table and tell me which of these tools is the most powerful."

As much as I stammered at first to construct my answer (you would not friggin' BELIEVE how shy and awkward I'd felt at the fair at first!  LoL  I was ready to put my head through a wall!), I finally answered  "These tools are just an extension and even a focus point.  The true power lies within the Witch his or herself."

That made Greyheart crack a smile.  "I always ask potential students that one.  If they can't answer that one, then I know that they're not really ready for what I would teach them."   I'll admit, I felt like the kid who just got handed a gold star for that one.  LoL!  We talked for a long time and, during which, there were several other people who came up to talk to him and it was quite clear that he is a very well-known, well-respected, and well-liked in the Pagan community.  I already liked him.  I liked how straight-forward and no-nonsense he was.  He didn't beat around the bush as he explained to me how he tends to work things and what he expects from his students and what he expects from himself as a teacher.  One of the things I liked is that he doesn't just teach his students the "White magick" but also teaches them the darker things.  And his explanation was a mirror of what I already believe, which I actually wrote about in my Pagan Blog Project post yesterday.   He believes in his students learning to have a balance, to know their lighter as well as darker selves.

Overall, he warned me that this would not be easy and that there would be times where I will definitely have to reach outside of my comfort zone.  I have no doubts of this and while I find myself with some trepidation as to what these things will be, I can already tell just by watching these other people interact with him (some of them being former students of his) that it will be for my own good that I might reach my fullest potential.

I think the only thing that really made me cringe inwardly was the mention of skyclad work.  He brought that up on his own because his personal tradition stems from Gardnerian, but he assured me that his views on working skyclad is that only if it is absolutely necessary.

"I've not had it be necessary yet, but if it ever were to be, you all would be getting a heads up about it quite a while in advance and, just so you know, I've never had it be necessary yet."

Gods, I hope not.  I can handle most anything, but the thought of having to work in a group skyclad pretty much makes me want to break out in a cold sweat.  It has nothing to do with my personal body image (even though it's not a very good self image, I'll admit).  I'm just a very modest person; modest enough that the thought of having to be naked around other people makes me VERY uncomfortable.  I appreciate the fact that Paganism recognizes and celebrates the beauty of the human body, but still.  I don't even work skyclad at home, even before I ever had kids.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaanywho.   I'm just going to hope that that never becomes an issue.

But, overall, I'm really excited for things to start!  They won't be starting until next month, but I'm going to be counting the days!  This will be my Year and a Day and, at the end of it, I have the option of being initiated as a Priestess in the First Degree.  One thing that I liked is that every student has a different initiation ritual custom-made for them.  I'm already told that it's not going to be an easy ritual.  But I welcome it.  So long as it does not involve anything shady, I'm good.  I can deal with difficult.  But I don't think I'll have to worry about anything unsavory.

Even as difficult as things have been, I have a strong feeling that they're going to get better and, so long as we continue to try to make good choices, they'll stay going well.   In the meantime, I remember to be thankful every day for the good things we already have.

PBP Wk 3: B is for Breaking Out the Bitchcraft

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Harsher magick is definitely a hot button topic I've seen squabbled over in the Pagan community.  There are some who swear that "White Magick" is the only way to go and that it is never appropriate to do any "Black Magick".  They tout the laws of Karma and the Wiccan Rede as absolutes with no room for differing circumstances.   And then you have those who flat-out don't believe in Karma and see nothing wrong with throwing out hexes or curses if it suits them.

When I first began my Pagan journey, I used to be just as devoutly against any so-called "black magick" as the others I'd mentioned.  And please just know that I absolutely mean no disrespect to anyone regardless of the views they hold on the topic. Paganism is something that is so personal that it differs for each individual in regards to the path they walk and the views they hold.

The views I have come to hold is that 1: I most definitely do believe in Karma.  I have seen Karma at work and I have seen people, including myself, "reap what they sow", basically.  2: I don't believe in "White Magick" versus "Black Magick".  I believe magick to be like a gun -- its "good" or "evil" depends on the heart of the person wielding it.  I do, however, believe in the difference between "gentle" magick versus harsher magick.  Some magick, regardless of the heart and intent of the person wielding it, is still going to be harsher, stronger, and more tricky than the simpler, more gentle spells such as those we do for healing or to dispel negativity.  It's like looking at a knife set.  Knives can be as dull as a butter knife or as sharp as a martial arts blade.  And sometimes it is perfectly appropriate to break out the harsher magick, or, as I like to refer to it,  "Breaking Out the Bitchcraft".

Spells for justice can be like that.  Especially depending on the severity of the wrong done.  I've seen this one spell that, quite frankly, raises the hair on my neck and I'm sure I'm not the only one who has had that reaction.  It calls upon Hecate, Kali, Persephone, and a few others and beseeches them for justice.  I'm talking "Big Guns" kind of spell.   As in, I would probably use this spell if I'd been raped, someone I loved had been murdered -- that kind of thing.   Like, whoever had written that spell had been pushed a good 100 miles beyond their "Enough Point" and they were fed the fuck up and needed some results last week.  Now, I would not personally use that spell for anything less than a dire emergency of a situation.  I don't believe in using a bazooka on a mosquito.  Not to mention that I already have a particularly healthy respect for Hecate where I would not lightly call upon her for aid (in fact, I've only ever called upon her for justice once) and Kali?  Well, Kali just flat-out scares the shit out of me and if the day ever comes where I feel the need to call upon her, then you know that it's pretty much the end of the world for me.

I also fully believe that curses and hexes can be quite appropriate for magickal self defense.  I have a book by Dorothy Morrison called "Utterly Wicked: Curses, Hexes & Other Unsavory Notions".  I love that she had the cojones to write this book because guess what?  Not everyone can just go through life only ever trying to solve things with the more "fluffy" magick (and no, that is not meant as an insult; I'm not calling anyone a fluffy bunny).  However, I do believe that magick like this takes someone who is responsible and mature enough to take responsibility of the spell backfires and is mature enough to know when it is appropriate to do these kinds of spells and when it's not.   It should be someone who will know to not use them if a simpler solution can be found (again: mosquito Vs. bazooka is not necessary).

Part of me wishes I had known of these things when I was still with my ex-husband and yet the other part of me knows that I was not yet mature or learned enough to know the appropriate use of such measures.  And, of course, that is still the ultimate responsibility of using magick: Personal Responsibility.  If you don't have that capability, then you have no business doing magick.

Even further, however, I personally believe that learning to deal with the harsher magick is a must if one is to keep the balance within themself.  The world has both the nighttime and the daytime, the light and the dark.  It is a balance that should be kept.  But that's just me.  It's not for me to tell other people how they should do things in their personal practices.  My views are simply that:  my views.

PBP Wk 2: A is for Altars

Friday, January 11, 2013

I'm definitely a Pagan who loves having an altar.  I don't get to really have a dedicated, permanent altar as I'd like.  That was easier to do before I had 3 curious children who don't quite yet get that what is on Mommy's altar is not to be touched or played with.  I've got some items set up on my rolltop desk that my parents gave me, but there are certain things, such as my athame, that absolute does not stay on there.  I only bring it out to that space if I'm about to work a ritual.

My altarspace is a little bare since there were several items that I ended up having to leave behind when we made our stuff-everything-we-can-into-the-car move last year; things that were replaceable were left behind.  I even had to leave a crap-ton of my books behind, which still makes me sad  :-(  Especially since I have yet to have the opportunity to replace any of those items that I'd left behind.  That's the breaks of financial hardship.

Statue of Brighid
But not only am I wanting to build up my regular altar, I am also wanting to acquire things to make a shrine to Brighid.  I've seen Brighid statuettes that I have been DROOLING over for years!  These two Brighid statues are the ones that I want the most, but of course, must wait until I have enough money where it's not going to set us back financially.

Brigid Candleholder statue
My dream shrine to Brighid is one where I can have it on some decorative wall shelves.  I have the perfect wall in my livingroom for it and that particular wall is in the South.  Considering that Brighid is the goddess of the Sacred Flame of Inspiration and Creation, the South wall is indeed perfect since that is the representation of the Element of Fire.  ^_^   But all these things that I want to get to build a permanent shrine to Her will have to wait since I highly doubt that She would want me to use bill money for those things.

One figurine of Brighid that I would love to have someday is the one that was made based off of the painting by Jessica Galbreth

It's going to be a while before any of these come about, but hey, I can dream, right?  ^_^   I plan on building both altar spaces up one piece at a time as I can.  When one doesn't have much money, that's the smart way to do it.  Bottom line, I know that, overall, the desire for ornate altars is more for me than anything.  I know that an altar in and of itself is not actually REQUIRED to worship and show reverence to God and Goddess or our Patron or Matron deities.  But it does make for a nice place to sit down at and have as a focal point to show worship and reverence and to spend time with them.  It's like having a little bit of a church space in our own homes rather than going to a church itself.

PBP Wk 1: A is for Avalon

Friday, January 04, 2013

Woot!  This is the 1st week of the Pagan Blog Project 2013!  I'm very much hoping that I manage to do far better with it this year than I did last year.

The topic that I have chosen for this first of the 2 A's is Avalon.  Obviously, there's not exactly a wealth of "factual" information concerning this mystical isle of the Goddess, but there are several things in legend that seem to have come to be the generally accepted ideas about Avalon.  For instance, there is the thought that the holy isle lay right off of the Glastonbury Tor.  Now, mind you, I have no idea what this part of Britain looked like at the time of the Arthurian legends, but there doesn't seem to be a lake anywhere near Glastonbury Tor.  This fact probably doesn't exactly come as a shock to people who have already studied such, but for me, the extent of my "knowledge" about Avalon has mostly come from reading the ever-famous "The Mists of Avalon" by Marion Zimmer Bradley and I've also seen the accompanying movie.  But I just looked at Glastonbury Tor through the eyes of Google Maps and the nearest body of water is around 30 miles away.  Who knows?  Perhaps at the time of Arthur there was a lake by Glastonbury.  I don't know, but from what little I've been able to find about Glastonbury's history, it doesn't sound like it.

Still, from what I've been able to read about Glastonbury, whether it was once the way to get to Avalon or not, it's quite clear that it's still thought of as a holy and magickal place, especially from a Pagan point of view.  The Goddess in Glastonbury

In stories like "The Mists of Avalon" where Avalon is as central to the storyline as Morgaine Le Fay and King Arthur, Avalon was the holy island where girls were sent to be fostered and raised to be Priestesses of the Goddess.  It was said that Avalon was separated and protected from the mortal world by a magickal barrier constructed by the Faeries.  In the book "Lady of Avalon" (also by Marion Zimmer Bradley), you come to find out how and why Avalon is separated from the mortal world, its original connection to the Glastonbury Tor, and even how and why the priestesses first came to the isle.

Avalon holds a particularly high fascination among Pagans.  In the stories like "The Mists of Avalon", Avalon is the ultimate magickal place where one connects to the Goddess as the girls go through the years striving and learning what they need to become priestesses of the Goddess.  Many groups and people in the Pagan community seem to take inspiration from the stories of Avalon and of Morgan Le Fay (myself not excluded) be it in action or in name usage. For instance, there's the Sacred Mists Online College (also their Sacred Mists Tradition and Sacred Mists Coven).  From what I've read about them, they take much inspiration from Avalon in that the Sacred Mists Tradition is a blending of Celtic Traditional and Faerie Wicca.  There's also The Coven Avalon.  And I can't even think of all the Pagans I've come across who have taken a name from the legends of Avalon for whatever reason.

Even for myself:  I took the name Morgaine because, after reading "The Mists of Avalon", I admired how Marion Zimmer Bradley wrote her.  She was clearly human in her frailties and mistakes, she tried her best to learn the lessons set before her and she fought tooth and nail to regain all of her priestess knowledge that she'd forsaken after her falling out with Viviane.  She sometimes made crappy choices but, all in all, she tried her best.  I found her telling in "The Mists of Avalon" to be very inspiring and useful to apply in my own life.  I want so much to be like her.  I want to strive to progress in my learning and practice as she did.

Well, I guess this about wraps up my first entry for the Pagan Blog Project.  I'm sorry if it's not overly coherent.  My thoughts have been in a stressed-out jumble and it took me 2 days to put this together because I've been preoccupied by some massive stresses going on right now.  Perhaps the next PBP entry will be better  ^_^

Proud Pagan Mom

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

This first day of 2013 has brought me pride as a mother.  Aspen, Rain, and I have spent much of the morning and early afternoon talking about Paganism.  What started it was my watching this documentary about witches narrated by Leonard Nimoy called "Ancient Mysteries: Witches".

It's a wonderful documentary. It talks about witches in history both from fact as well as addressing how witches were so demonized; it talks about the witch hunts and, ultimately, ends with how witches are in the modern days.

Anyway, so I was watching this and Aspen and Rain had a lot of questions about the things that the show talked about, which also ended up going on to other topics like reincarnation and ghosts.  It was so nice getting to talk about these things with the kiddos. Even better, our talk seems to have renewed their vigor for learning.  Aspen especially was begging for "witch books" to read!  ^_^  Sadly, the only child-age "witch book" I have is a wonderful little storybook by Starhawk called "The Last Wild Witch".  I haven't been able to afford more children-age Pagan books yet, but that's definitely one of my goals as soon as I've got the money.

One book in particular that I am BADLY wanting to get is a book called "An Ordinary Girl, A Magical Child".  I have seen some amazing reviews about it on Amazon.com and I think it's at the top of my "to get" list in regards to Pagan children's books for my kiddos.  There are some other books I'm interested in getting for the kiddos, but "An Ordinary Girl, A Magical Child" is at the top of my list.

Aspen was even gung-ho to read some of my Pagan books. I had to explain to him that he wouldn't really be able to understand what they were saying; but his desire delighted me nonetheless, which I made sure to express to him.  

But all this childlike wonder and eagerness from him and Rain today reawakened my desire to teach my children the Craft.  It's still frustrating to not really know how, but whining about that isn't going to accomplish anything.  This presents me the opportunity of being able to learn right alongside them in hopes that, one day when they are grown, they'll be able to look back fondly and be able to refer to their childhood as being magickal.

Our Family Goes to a Full Moon Ritual

It had been several months since we were able to attend a ritual as a family, and I mean a ritual not just meant for children.  In fact, the last adult ritual we got to go to was for the Blue Moon ritual that our local CUUPS chapter had.  It was a beautiful ritual and we had very much enjoyed ourselves, but one of my increasing frustrations with this CUUPS right now is the overall lack of family-oriented rituals in the face of all the ones where people would just rather not deal with kids.

Now, don't get me wrong:  I do sympathize and understand that there are times people would just rather not have to deal with other people's kids.  I really do.  But it was really starting to feel as though because there was the Pagan Kids Circle, that took care of the family-oriented stuff and they weren't really obligated to do much of anything where children would be welcome.  Which is fine in some ways.  I love the Pagan Kids Circles and I love how they are for the purpose of teaching Paganism on a child's level.  But come on!  Parents like Druid and I would still like to be able to attend rituals too and if you're in my shoes where the option of finding a babysitter just doesn't exist, then finding a family-oriented circle is the only option there is. And y'all would not believe how difficult it can be to find family-oriented circles or Meetups or anything like that.  Hell, I've even looked on Witchvox in hopes of finding a family-oriented coven to join.  No real such luck thus far.

However, we were recently introduced to a family-oriented open circle and they had a Full Moon ritual this past Thursday. Once I found out for sure that children were welcome, I signed us up for it.  They have a building in south Denver and when we got there that evening, I was pleasantly surprised and delighted for the people who welcomed us did so as though they'd known us for years. Aspen, Rain, and Sage were immediately drawn in and the people were so.  There was another little girl there and she and the kids hit it off right away. Before and after the ritual there were people giving Druid and I plenty of conversation, especially this one dude that Druid seemed to hit it off with.

I know I've already said it, but seriously, I cannot even begin to describe how wonderful all those people were.  There was not that feeling of mere politeness like what we got the last time we went to a CUUPS ritual.  As lovely as it was ( and I LOOOOOOOOOVED the outdoor patio where the Blue Moon ritual was done), that was an overbearing feeling I got -- that we weren't truly welcome but they wouldn't have been rude enough to say so outright.

I don't know.  I guess you can't click with everyone.

But these people?  Genuinely wonderful to us and that seriously makes me giddy to be able to say it  ^_^

So, the casting of circle was done to a chant by Starhawk (? I think?). It wasn't a chant I was familiar with, but I love chants ^_^  After the invocation of the elements and of God and Goddess, a meditation was done.  I really should have written about this sooner because I can't quite remember what the meditation was about.  After the meditation there was an exercise.  There was a little log on the floor.  A person was to step up onto the log and try to balance on it and rely on the aid of people holding them up to do so.  The point was about finding balance in our lives where balance is needed and not being afraid to lean upon those near us.

After this was Cakes & Ale and then the releasing of the circle.

A funny thing that happened at this point was that Sage, my youngest, had to go to the bathroom right before the circle was to be released.  Well, just as the circle leader began, starting with West of course, as soon as she'd called upon the element of Water to release it, Sage flushed the toilet in the nearby restroom.  The timing couldn't have been more hilarious and everybody had a REALLY hard time refraining from just cracking the hell up right there!

Overall, I know the details given are quite cut and dry and it doesn't very well convey the happiness I felt at getting to be at that ritual, nor do they convey just how much I'm looking forward to going to the next one.  But believe me when I say, that ritual was a breath of fresh air that I had been sorely needing.

And now, as I bring this particular entry to a close, allow me to wish all who read this a Happy New Year.  2013 arrived for us almost an hour ago.  I have so many hopes for this year, especially in regards to it being better than this last year was.  Don't mistake me, this year wasn't a TERRIBLE year, but there were definitely things that could have gone a lot better.  Part of it was needing to make better choices and I hope that I do better in that regard this year, especially where my being a student is concerned.  I hope to do better in progressing in Paganism.  I hope to be able to find a coven where I can study as an Initiate and begin truly progressing toward the Degrees.  I especially hope to learn better time management skills.

I hope that 2013 finds you all with good health and prosperity.

)O(  Blessed Be!  )O(