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Observations

Yesterday was Election Day here in the U.S., not a Presidential year, but there were LOADS of local elections held nationwide. Gubernatorial races, State House & Senate races, Mayoral races, as well a plethora of other small governmental committee, board and Judicial races. These types of election years don’t usually garner lots of media coverage, but this year? These – normally viewed by the general population as “minor” elections – have brought about some startlingly positive results (In my oh so very liberal opinion).

I woke up this morning to find that several local area GOP incumbents have been ousted by a Democrat. While NYS as a whole is viewed as a “Blue State”, the county in which I reside is generally VERY “Red” (Right-wingers everywhere, y’all!), so this was some pretty exciting news!

This, coupled with the news of key Dem wins elsewhere:

  •  Ralph Northam (D, VA) and Phil Murphy (D, NJ) each won Gubernatorial races against the current GOP Lt. Governors of their respective states.
  • Philadelphia, PA elected liberal Democrat Larry Krasner as their new District Attorney who has promised to end mass incarceration and the death penalty. (Go, Larry!!)
  • The cherry on top: In Virginia, yes Virginia, Danica Roem (D) defeated Del. Robert Marshall (R) in VA’s 13th district becoming the first openly Transgender candidate to the state House of Delegates – she will also be the first Transgender candidate to be elected and seated on ANY state legislature! (You go, girl!)

Now that I’ve rambled on about elections you’re probably bored to tears, but hear’s where this all got goofy with pop-culture wisdom in my little Pixie brain. As I read the news of these remarkable victories across the nation I started to hear George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” in my head. Confused?? Don’t be! Lemme ‘splain.

This wonderfully deep song by the late and exquisitely talented crooner is about him reclaiming his identity and reveling in the joy that he felt in finding and being his true self. In my mind, that is what’s happening with these elections. We are reclaiming our national identity as one of diversity, one that helps its citizenry, one that looks out for the health of future generations and our planet.

Freedom! is the battle cry of the Democrat, the Liberal, as well as the Republican who is sick of having their party’s ideals distorted and eclipsed by an overwhelmingly self-serving demagogue.

I think there’s something you should know
I think it’s time I stopped the show
There’s something deep inside of me
There’s someone I forgot to be”

Life is about “Give and take”, you cannot keep taking from We the People and expect we won’t fight back. Our country was built on the ideas of lifting people up to be able to fulfill their dreams, not tax them into obscurity and use them as virtual slave labor to help the rich get richer. So, let’s keep this up people. The utterly important Congressional Mid-Term elections are next year. It’s time to stop our nation’s descent into the past. Keep fighting the good fight, and we have a real chance at moving ahead to a brighter future.

Freedom!
Freedom! (oh freedom)
Freedom! (my freedom)
You’ve gotta give for what you take
Freedom! (hold on to my freedom)
Freedom!
Freedom! (my freedom)
You’ve gotta give for what you take”

So, sit back, relax, and listen to the awesomeness that was the lovely George Michael.

Do NOT, however, sit on your laurels…continue to resist.

Endings Don't Really Exist #WednesdayWisdom #Pagan

Some of you may be confused by the title of this post, but as most of you awesome readers are pagans, I think you’ll get what I mean by this.

I like to look at endings as beginnings that’ve gotten a bad rap. Think about it. A birth is the beginning of life, but also the end of a pregnancy. Ends are simply transitions and/or transformations. We simply move on to another state of being. This holds true whether we are talking a change in careers, a change in marital status, or a change from corporeal life to ethereal life.

That’s something to keep in mind this time of year. Not only are we currently in the midst of a seasonal transition…but as Samhain approaches it becomes much easier to catch a glimpse at the ethereal side of life as the veil between this world and the next becomes quite thin.

You may also want to mull the concept over if you’re going through something that traditionally feels like an end. Examine the situation and find the positives. What new thing has (or could) come out of this “ending”? What opportunities await you as you embark on this new leg of your life’s journey?

The Pixie commands thee to find that silver lining!! lol

Anyway, here’s a few quotes to drive home what I’m talking about…the first one is the one that sparked this little Ramble Train. It’s a little something that was stated by the Master of Horror, and my favorite author, Stephen King! 😀

“Life is like a wheel. Sooner or later,

it always come around to where you started again.”

Stephen King

 

“Our life is an apprenticeship to the truth that around every circle another can be drawn; that there is no end in nature, but every end is a beginning, and under every deep a lower deep opens.” 

Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

“The world is round and the place which may seem like the end

may also be the beginning.”

Ivy Baker Priest

This last one, including the photo, is mine. 😉

 Endings Don't Really Exist #WednesdayWisdom #Pagan

NormalI have not posted in a long while. It’s been a tough year, and the last few weeks have been particularly difficult…and will probably continue to be so. But, this week I feel the NEED to write, and I’m going to warn you now, this could be my wordiest post yet.

Yesterday, as anyone who hasn’t been living in complete and total seclusion knows (therefore if you’re reading this you are not one of those unlikely few) Robin Williams took his own life. Many of you may feel as though you are sick of hearing about it and that is, of course, your prerogative…but I need to bring it up, because it hit me monumentally hard.

It may seem silly to some, especially since I don’t normally subscribe to “celebrity worship”, but I always identified with Robin. Like many of you, I grew up watching him on Mork & Mindy. He never failed to brighten my day. I was one of those who would get mocked for being a bit different. I had an extra curvy spine due to scoliosis, walked on my tip-toes, had freckles, was goofy and awkward, and my opinions didn’t always fall in line with everyone else. So to see Robin bring Mork to life every week, and to have Mindy and the others love him despite his odd behavior, and sometimes because of it, meant the world to me. Mork was nowhere near “normal”, and that helped…a lot.

Later on, I watched his stand-up and learned that not only was he funny, but he was incredibly intelligent. I was also never confused at how he was able to connect A to B by way of L, M, D, R, Sasquatch and the square root of 144. As someone with a completely non-linear, A.D.D. riddled brain I could see and understand his train of thought. The comedy he wrote and performed also let us know he had his own demons to fight…and that although he was laughing, it was indeed a fight. Most importantly, though some of our struggles were different, he let me know I wasn’t the only one struggling…and it helped.

I have suffered through varying degrees of depression for most of my life. Some periods were darker than others. Yes, suicide was contemplated, and attempted. The reasons behind the attempts seem silly now, but the feelings that those reasons spurred into life were overwhelming and all consuming. Luckily, I had enough friends that gave a shit, and they helped me climb out of the depths.

The years went on, and my struggles continued. Through it all, Robin was there with a new role. Whether the film was a comedy or a drama, his portrayal held a bit of both. I could always see, in those moments when his character was contemplating this or that…dealing with adversity…dealing with tragedy…struggling with identity, that he was drawing from his own experiences. Not old experiences of his younger days, but the day to day struggle to just get through the day, and to feel as though you deserved to have done so.

So, to me, Robin Williams represented Hope. Hope that it gets better, hope that I can get through it…because “If Robin can, anyone can.” Unfortunately, it was too much for him on that day…he was unable to ride that dark wave to the shore where he would have felt stable again.

I am not the only one who was shaken to the core by the news. Nothing I feel can possibly compare to what his friends and family are going through, but that does not make the pain that I and others are feeling any less real.

Today I decided to remember his brilliance by watching some of his movies, reading some of his quotes, and creating a cover photo for my facebook page that features him and a quote. I also decided that it’s time to stop looking to others for Hope. I need to find it within myself…and I think I have. Robin is still an inspiration. He hung on for so many years, and provided joy and kindness to so many along the way. He was compassionate, he was generous, he was not the Norm.

So many with depression say things like “I just want to feel normal”. Through all that I have been through, I have never even entertained this notion. Why? Normal is defined as “conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected”…Who wants to be “typical”? I don’t, that’s for sure. I don’t believe that everyone should embark on this  Quest to be Normal. That’s just setting yourself up for a whole heap of self-loathing and living a dull life. Trust me, these are not good things for the one who is severely depressed. I think what we are really looking for (but may not be able to voice) is a Quest to Acceptance & Understanding…a Quest to Self…a Quest to Peace.

As we that struggle continue on, we will have good days, and bad. We will know others that shall have the same.  Remember as you move through your life that just because someone is smiling and laughing, it doesn’t mean they are not suffering. Everyone suffers, to different degrees, but everyone does. So whether or not you know someone is dealing with mental illness, be kind. Show compassion. Listen. Reach out sincerely. Share your own experiences if it seems like it will help, and keep your mouth shut when it won’t. Offer distractions. Be supportive.

Whatever you do, don’t tell someone to just “get over it” or to just “be happy”…if it were really THAT simple, don’t you think we would have tried that already? Ask how you can help, do not tell them they’re being silly, or that they just need to “Pray more”. Granted, I’d say a good 99.9% of you reading this are pagans, and pushing prayer isn’t usually something we do…but, sometimes it happens. lol

Yes, a person’s faith – whatever it may be – may help from time to time…but it is not a cure. To try and peddle it as such is irresponsible, and could prove to be outright dangerous should one’s prayers not be answered in a way they would like.

If you are suffering, reach out, write or speak your feelings to someone (it sure helps me at least), do what makes you happy, avoid alcohol when you feel yourself sliding into the pit (even if you’re NOT an alcoholic…it can lead to bad things), sing, paint, crochet – whatever floats your boat….and if you need to cry for a while? That’s ok too. There is no one “magic treatment” that will make all your troubles disappear. All we can do is survive them. Just like that old Zen Proverb says “Fall down seven times. Get up Eight”.

Striving for “Normal” is just making yourself feel as though YOU aren’t good enough, but you know what? YOU ARE! As a dear friend likes to say “Let your Freak Flag fly!” Embrace what it is that makes you, YOU. Celebrate your differences, because if everyone was the same, we would never have any change and there would be nothing new. Nothing would ever get better… everything would be boring. Who the hell wants a life that is stagnant and boring?? I don’t.

“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. Hey. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice-versa, the bad things don’t necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant.” The Doctor (From Doctor Who’s: Vincent and the Doctor)

Add to your own Pile of Good Things as often as possible, be sure to add to the good piles of others as well. If it all starts to feel like too much, PLEASE, seek help. It may feel like nobody CAN help, but reach out anyway.

I wish you all Peace, Love, Understanding, and the continued Strength to find out how Amazing you can be.

 

_____

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

National Hopeline Network: 1-800-442-4673

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386

 

Garlic

Garlic is an herb that people either love or hate. Those who hate it can’t seem to get passed its…fragrant nature long enough to discover its bountiful deliciousness. 😉 Garlic is without a doubt my favorite herb. I use it every chance I get.

It is quite a handy thing to have around, especially if you’re a Witch! It is widely renowned for its uses in the Culinary, Healing, and Magickal Arts. Garlic has been grown and used in all three aforementioned Arts for roughly 5000 years. It was widely used in ancient Egypt, India, China, and Babylonia. If one were to travel through these ancient lands you would see garlic offered up to Gods, people using it for the swearing of oaths, and also its use as a form of currency.

I’m going to talk a little about the Magickal & Medicinal uses today, so I guess I’d better start off by saying that I am not a medical professional, nor a licensed Herbalist. Anything I say is based on books I have read, as well as my own personal experience. So, don’t take my word for it, do your own research, and be sure to consult a qualified Health Care Provider if you are ill. (Thus ends my “Hey, don’t sue me if this doesn’t work blah-blah-blah” message 😉 ).

This aromatic bulb is sacred to Hecate and is left at crossroads to honor Her. On a personal note, I was thrilled when I discovered garlic’s link to my lovely Patroness. It seemed yet another one of those little clues left by The Universe that She has been with me throughout my life…even when I was not yet aware.

Among garlic’s uses are Exorcism, Protection, Purification, Lust, and Health. Most notable is its use in Vampire Lore to keep the lively blood suckers at bay. Which, thankfully, The Vampire Diaries has not subscribed to…keeping my dreams of a Date with Damon Salvatore alive! lol *ehem* Well, anyway…back to uses.

Some ways to use Garlic in your Magickal Life:

)O( Hang strands of garlic in your pantry to protect food stores from vermin.

)O( Place cloves of garlic above doorways to keep illness and evil from entering your home.

)O( Carry for protection against storms, as well as physical & psychic attacks.

)O( Braid of garlic hung above entryways to your home will keep away thieves and other unwelcome guests.

)O( Burn garlic skins indoors to ensure prosperity and harmony within the home.

)O( Hang a braid of garlic above your bedroom door to draw a Lover to it.

Garlic Correspondences

Botanical Name Allium Sativum
Folk Name(s) Ajo, Poor Man’s Penicillin , Stinkweed, Stinking Rose
Part(s) Used Cloves, Whole Bulbs, Flowers
Gender Masculine
Nature Yin (Active)
Planet Mars
Element Fire
Deities Hecate, Kali Maa, Mars
Magickal Associations Exorcism, Health, Lust, Mental Clarity, Protection, Purification, Vigor (Physical Energy)
Astrological Signs Aries, Scorpio

Medicinally, garlic is truly a healing herb to be reckoned with! It has properties that make it effective as an anti-viral, an anti-fungal, an anti-biotic (even effective against antibiotic resistant bacteria), at reducing cholesterol, as well as boosting immune system functions.

Probably the oldest written record of garlic’s healing abilities is the ancient Egyptian text Codex Elsers, dated around 1500 BCE. Within this ancient medical guide are instructions for 22 remedies that facilitate garlic as a cure for heart disease, worms, and even tumors. Garlic continued to be used for these ailments even once the herb was brought to The Americas. I find it astounding that the Native tribes of the New World came to use the herb for the same ailments as the Egyptians did centuries before.

So how does it work? Its bulbs contain compounds that can form allicin by way of an enzymatic reaction that is activated by crushing or chopping it. Allicin reduces cholesterol and reduces stiffness of blood vessels, making it integral in treating and preventing Heart Disease. Garlic is also jam packed with anti-oxidants (compounds that protect cells from damage that can lead to ailments such as cancer, atherosclerosis, inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkison’s & Alzheimer’s). Some of these power-house bits of nutrients are beta carotene, zea-xanthin, and Vitamin C, just to name a few. 

Here’s some Dosage Info via WebMD:

For High Blood Pressure –  Fresh garlic 4 grams (approximately one clove) once daily, by mouth. (Fresh garlic typically contains 1% alliin)

For prevention of Colon, Rectal, and Stomach cancer – Fresh or cooked garlic 3.5-29 grams weekly, by mouth.

Here’s a little chart of Vitamin & Mineral Info I compiled. As you can see, you get a lot of bang for your buck with this bulbous beauty!

Garlic Nutritional Information

Amount of Nutrient per 136g

% of RDA per 136g

Calcium 246 mg 25%
Copper .4 mg 20%
Iron 2.3 mg 13%
Magnesium 34 mg 8%
Manganese 2.3 mg 114%
Phosphorus 208 mg 21%
Potassium 545 mg 16%
Selenium 19.3 mcg 28%
Sodium 23.1 mg 1%
Zinc 1.6 mg 11%
Vitamin A 12.2 IU 0%
Vitamin C 42.4 mg 71%
Vitamin E (Alpha Tocopherol) .1 mg 1%
Vitamin K 2.3 mcg 3%
Thiamin .3 mg 18%
Riboflavin .1 mg 9%
Niacin 1 mg 5%
Vitamin B6 1.7 mg 84%
Folate 4.1 mcg 1%
Pantothenic Acid .8 mg 8%
Choline 31.6 mg N/A
Omega-3 Fatty Acids 27.2 mg
Omega-6 Fatty Acids 311 mg

Source: Nutrient data for this listing was compiled from USDA SR-21. Percent Daily Values (%DV) are for adults or children aged 4 or older, and are based on a 2,000 calorie reference diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.

Personally, I use raw garlic to cure pretty much whatever ails me. If I feel that I’m getting a cold, or other viral nasty (particularly one involving a sore throat), I start chopping garlic to put in my eggs & mashed potatoes.

With Mashed Potatoes, I prepare the potatoes, then mix in a few cloves of chopped raw garlic. It makes the potatoes taste fabulous, but more importantly, the potatoes make the raw garlic more palatable and less harsh on the stomach.

With scrambled eggs I use 1-2 cloves chopped and thrown in with 2 eggs. The eggs cook so quickly, that the garlic is merely warmed. Once again, the eggs taste great, and the eggs help protect the stomach from being overwhelmed by the garlic.

A little additional info for nursing Moms. While using garlic for medicinal purposes while nursing isn’t harmful to your baby, it will likely change the taste of breast milk, which could have an adverse effect on your babies nursing habits. So I advise using much caution. (Don’t want the wee ones to stop eating!)

Alrighty! Now, if you’re looking for more info. I recommend:

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Magical Herbs

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen

Herbal Antibiotics by Stephen Harrod Buhner

The Cherokee Herbal by J.T. Garrett

Now go forth and nom on some Garlic!

I’m taking a different approach to this week’s post, as it’s more of a photo-essay. I created it using photobucket’s “stories” feature, which still seems to have a few bugs in it, but it was still fun to put together.

Anyway, the story takes place in Salem, Massachusetts at Samhain of 2008. I was on vacation with my Mom, and we ran into quite a few folks that weren’t to happy to have a bunch of Witches taking over the town to celebrate our Sacred Holiday. Have a gander, and let my photos tell the tale of how I dealt with it all.

While the protesters that were strewn throughout Salem had me quite annoyed at the beginning, I chose not to let their over-zealousness about what they thought the state of my soul was get me down. I cannot control what they believe, nor do I wish to. I do wish they’d realize that their signs, flyers, and shouts of hell-fire aren’t really doing anything to further their agenda, but all I can do is act in a manner befitting the Divine Spirit that lies within me

A little addition: Since I originally drafted this post on Tuesday, Fred Phelps (former leader and founder of the Westboro Baptist Church famous for picketing the funerals of Gays) has passed away. Since (and even a few days before) his death, I have seen many people urging others to picket Mr. Phelps’ funeral. Personally, I do not see what that would accomplish, other than perpetuating all the nastiness and bile that the man himself used to prescribe to. Regardless of what we feel about how he led his life, anyone in attendance of his funeral is entitled to say goodbye in peace. Whether or not those individuals would afford any of us the same courtesy is irrelevant. I see nothing productive coming from lowering our standards of behavior in retaliation. That is only my opinion, of course…you’re certainly entitled to your own.

 

Faeries!Being that my not-so-alter-ego is that of a Puckish Pixie, Faeries are something quite near and dear to my heart. Their history is also rooted in Celtic Irish Mythology, which makes them quite important to my Spiritual Path as well. So, where to start? How about we head on back roughly 4000 years, and take a brief peek at the Tuatha de Danann.

The Tuatha de Danann were, quite literally, the People of the goddess Danu. According to the Annals of the Four Masters (chronicle of medieval Irish history, compiled between 1632 and 1636 in a Fransiscan monestary), they were a powerful ancient tribe who ruled Ireland from 1897 to 1700 BCE. Until they were defeated in battle by the Milesians.

According to legend, after the Milesian’s victory their leader, Amergin, was called upon to divide the land between the two Peoples. He cleverly split the land with the Milesians Ruling that which was above ground, leaving the Tuatha de Danann to rule all that was below.

The Tuatha de Danann were led underground by their King, The Dagda, and became known as the Aes Sidhe (people of the hills). They are the Faery People of the Otherworld who have been known to intervene in human wars on the side of justice and righteousness.

Throughout most of the Medieval period, Faeries were not seen as beneficial beings to have around. Most people during this time felt it necessary to protect themselves and their families from the fae. It was believed that they would steal children and leave them with a less-than-stellar replacement….why they supposedly did this is not entirely clear. It is possible that this was the way for people of the period to explain away childhood ailments and physical deformities.

Towards the tail end of the Middle Ages, however, as folks were gearing up for the Renaissance the Fae became an integral part of tales told by Bards before the Royal Court. They were fanciful stories of love & trickery…and not nearly as dark & sinister as what some of the superstitions had most recently been. And, while I think that most of these stories still weren’t exactly accurate in their portrayal of faeries, the essence was correct (especially in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Perhaps these Bards (especially ol’ Will) were far more in tune with the nature of things than even they realized.

So, what are Faeries as we know them today? Simply put, Faeries (aka: Fairies, Wee Folk, Pixies, etc…) are nature spirits, but simple is hardly a word I would use to describe them. My favorite description of them comes from 17th-century Scottish minister Robert Kirk who said they are “a middle nature betwixt man and angel.”

Faeries come in many sizes from quite wee to that of ourselves. They are humanoid in their appearance, but they appear to us as more ethereal beings than physical. They reside between realms/dimensions, which is why most people are not aware of them and why even those of us who are aware tend to only catch glimpses of them…most will see them as a glimmer of light that flashes quickly by, barely noticeable at all.

“I believe in everything until it’s disproved. So I believe in fairies, the myths, dragons. It all exists, even if it’s in your mind. Who’s to say that dreams and nightmares aren’t as real as the here and now? Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.” ~John Lennon

In my experience, faeries like flowers, clover, a nice sunny spot on the lawn, shiny stones & soft tinkly chimes. They also like to hide things…lots of things, at least lots of MY things! LOL They also like water, be it a birdbath, a fountain, or a babbling brook. They like the reflective quality of the water, the way the sunlight glints off the surface…not to mention the way they can make faces at themselves in it. They are also big fans of fun, laughter, integrity, honesty & sincerity.

Generally, the Fae do not like loud sudden noises, clutter (although I think the ones surrounding me must be an exception to this lol), or dirty water. They are also not big fans of dishonesty, chaos, selfishness, or abusers. Basically they are not fans of nasty people & nasty habits, and you certainly can’t fault them for that! 😉

To become friends with these wee winged ones, one must help create a pleasing environment for them (Pretty flowers, a fae house, a fountain and/or birdbath etc), and show respect & a love of nature. Once you’ve created the environment, spending time outside, and being playful will show them you’re not a stick-in-the-mud and just may be someone they want to party with!

Another thing you may want to do is appeal to their love of shinys. Not to say that their friendship can be bought with baubles, because it can’t. However, a gift of a few lovely stones to show them you appreciate them will certainly go a long way in gaining their favor. I mean, who doesn’t like a nice shiny???

Give them their space…meaning don’t intrude in their environment ALL the time (nobody likes a guest who overstays their welcome, including the Fae). Be a decent human being and be kind to nature and all her creatures…and don’t be a phoney. The Fae detest falseness and to be false in order to gain their trust will only backfire.

 

Delving into the Dark Side...I Hear There's Cookies!

I’ve been thinking about this a lot this past week, and frankly, I think the Dark gets a bad rap in the eyes of many in the Pagan community. I’m not just talking about hexes/curses here (they are a part of this conversation, but I’ll get to that later).

I’m starting off by what many seem to forget as being part of the “Dark Side” of Magick: The Shadow Self. Shadow work is diving deep within yourself and facing all the things your Ego has shoved below the surface as a coping mechanism. A lot of this shoving of nasties into the boxes of our mind occurs when we’re growing up because we’re just not emotionally equipped to deal with them yet…others get shoved in along the way because we think we’ll be ridiculed, or embarrassed if others don’t see the quality in a certain aspect of our personality. These mind box dwellers are our fears, our rage, our unbridled lust…anything your Ego may have seen as a sure sign you would be marked an outcast by society and/or your peers. Huge Props to Carl Jung for introducing this portion of our Psyche to us *Insert Old School Arsenio Hall Dog Pound woofs and fist pumps here*.

Personally, I’ve been delving into this dark, sometimes murky, place within myself for most of my life…which is probably why Hecate was destined to be my Main Goddess-Squeeze (yup, just called Hecate my Main Squeeze, it’s ok, She digs me. 😉 ). Walking a torch-lit path of Self & Universal exploration that has lead to more periods of transformation than I could shake a freaking stick at, and I know there are more to be had along the way.

“Enlightenment is not imagining figures of light but making the darkness conscious.”–Carl Jung

Here’s my Pixie Geek Epiphany on the subject: Even Yoda knew that Luke must face his own Darkness when he sent him into the cave on Dagobah. When Luke asks him what’s in the cave, The Jedi Master replies “Only what you take with you”. Which turned out to be the fear of and anger towards Vader…and that he may destroy himself in the process of destroying his enemy. (I also believe this scene embodied his fear that a great Darkness resided in himself as well).

Yoda says “Fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger; anger leads to hate; hate leads to suffering.” This is correct…if all of these feelings go unchecked. However, if you acknowledge them and then set them aside –much like we’re taught to do with thoughts of “what should we have for dinner” during meditation– we are then able to focus our energy on what needs to be done. Luke had to accept and acknowledge his darkest fears in order to be able to effectively channel that energy into fulfilling his destiny along the Path of Light: Restoring Balance to the Galaxy. (I think this is something Luke discovers and fully processes between episodes, and is echoed in Luke’s attire in Return of the Jedi. As the “white knight” of the story, he now wears black.)

And now we get down to the nitty gritty that’s bound to get some people’s knickers in a twist: Curses *Dun Dun DUNNNNN!!*

I’ve been reading a lot of opinions on the subject and decided to have a little “Witch Chat” with a friend, let’s call him “M” (for Magnificent!), who is quite skilled in this arena and see what insight I could gain from his experience. I found that much of what I had discovered through my research coincided with his hands-on knowledge.

I kept encountering different versions of a quote…that quote got me thinking, so I decided to see if I could track down it’s origin. I was finally able to attribute it to Z. Budapest (Now, whether she was the FIRST Witch to say this, I have no idea, but if anyone happens to know, I’m all ears!)

If you cannot hex, you cannot heal. If you cannot curse, you cannot cure.” – Z. Budapest

This idea intrigued me, and does make a certain amount of sense. Basically, if you don’t know the ins and outs of how hexes and curses work, how can you effectively counter them? Think of it in terms of another sort of healer: The Doctor (and, unfortunately, I do not mean the one that get’s to fly around in a blue box through the whole of time and space…*sigh*). For a physician to be able to cure their patient, they must first understand the disease and how it works. This knowledge comes as a result of much study, both from books, and in a lab. Studying how a particular virus reacts with this, that and whatever. These diseases are also generally studied on lab animals to test treatments. While this is the ‘darker side’ of the medical world, it is generally thought to be for the Greater Good of humanity.

Staying with the physician angle, the phrase “First Do No Harm” comes to mind…Sounds a lot like our own Wiccan Rede, right? This widely used nugget of wisdom, thought by most folks to be part of the Hippocratic Oath, was actually coined by Thomas Inman around 1860. Regardless of its origin, it is held in high regard in the medical community, and seems to be a rather sound ideal.

Here’s the thing though, a surgeon must cause harm in order to heal their patient…you heard me right they MUST cause harm in order to heal. They have to cut through layers of tissue, and sometimes remove organs or masses.

A curse or hex can be used in the same manor. A localized strike to eradicate the cause of a malignant situation. I also believe that, much like surgery, all other options–both mundane and magickal– should be considered heavily before easing on down the cursing road.

“We all need to look into the dark side of our nature – that’s where the energy is, the passion. People are afraid of that because it holds pieces of us we’re busy denying.” ~ Sue Grafton (Mystery Author)

My wonderfully insightful conversation with “M” also brought up the notion that most people, including most “regular folks”, curse one another rashly & irresponsibly on a daily basis. Think about it…a great many things have escaped our lips in the heat of anger when someone cuts us off in traffic. As Witches we realize that “thoughts are things” and we (hopefully) carry that practice over to our mundane lives. Understanding the Power that resides within your words and actions helps us to better choose the appropriate time and place to wield it.

My Mother ingrained the phrase “There’s a time and a place for everything” into my consciousness at a very young age, and I think it also applies to the act of Cursing & Hexing. One could even say that, on occasion an act of “Compassionate Cursing” may be in order. Alright, yes, I see the confused and perplexed looks on many faces, so let me explain what I mean.

Contemporary Thelemite Ryan Murray points out in his lecture “Curses, Hexes, and the Magical Destruction of One’s Enemies, that Aleister Crowley defines Compassion as “A rooting out of the weeds and a watering of the flowers”. Which is to say we feed and nurture the beautiful, while destroying that wich sucks the life/beauty/energy out of that which is beautiful (Murray uses the term ‘Vampiric’, which seems to bring the point home quite well). He makes the point that a Compassionate Gardner removes/destroys the weeds because, if allowed to remain, the Gardner would eventually have no flowers, fruits or vegetables because the weeds will have taken over. (I have had this happen…it’s not pretty, lol)

In a Magickal context, there may be things/situations that act as weeds in our lives, sucking the nourishment from the very soil that surrounds us (or someone we wish to help) while overtaking us as we become weaker (What can I say, I love a good analogy!). In such situations, when we’ve tried everything else –weed blocker/mulch/crushed stones (which equate to protection Magick and mundane avenues in the “real” world) it may become necessary to take on the role of the Compassionate Gardner, and eradicate the problem swiftly, and deftly…with the least amount of upheaval to the garden as a whole, in order to save it and help it to thrive…and to regain Balance. (Oooooo, there’s that dreaded “B” word, showing its bumpy self in yet another post!)

“The more we deny that we have a dark side, the more power it has over us.” ~Sheryl Lee

Whether or not you wish to explore what can be achieved by tapping into your own ‘Dark Power’, Your Dark Side should at least be confronted, and integrated into the “whole” of your being, in order for you to be able to realize your full potential in both your magickal and mundane life.

My purpose for writing this post was not to start a heated debate on “Light” vs. “Dark” Magick…mainly because Magick is Magick. It has no color, it just is. When I was younger, I used to think in absolutes. Things were either right or wrong, black or white, this or that, but I have come to firmly believe that the Monkees were on to something when they sang “Shades of Gray”. My purpose was to get you to think, to question, to explore, and to challenge things you thought you knew…or to simply see another point of view in an objective manner.

Oh, and the cookies?? Turns out they were actually Nuggets of Wisdom in the form of quotes…So, I guess all those T-shirts were mistaken 😉

Life is About Balance

 

Give A DamnOriginally, this week’s C post was going to be about Creative Visualization….well, that one will be finished at a later, yet to be determined date, because this one smacked me upside the head and demanded to be written.

So, what prompted this sudden change? Quite frankly, it was the seemingly endless acts of douchebaggery committed by many who felt the need to leave venomous comments regarding the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. I was blown away by the number of “He was an addict, he deserved to die” comments that were posted.

Yes, he was an addict, but he was also a phenomenally talented man, who happens to be from my area, that has many friends and family members that cared for him a great deal. So the fact that some of these comments were from people that reside in the area made it even worse, as the possibility that said friends and especially family may be more likely to see them. It angered me, but more than that…it broke my heart, and made me wonder when did society lose its ability to show compassion??

Compassion is often on my mind. Perhaps because my Sun Sign is Cancer, or because my coven works with Kwan Yin, or maybe it’s because my parents were a bit like Larry and Abby – Dharma’s folks on Dharma & Greg-. Yup, Dad had a pony tail (until recently), Mom was super-liberal and (occasionally) a little too open about her sexuality….trust me, there were MANY tmi moments, lol.

Whatever the reason, I find that at least once a week I see things online that make me wish more people would find their way to be more compassionate and just plain Give a Damn about others…including, if not especially, those who believe or have done something that they can’t get on board with.

Compassion: a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for someone struck by misfortune, accompanied by a desire to alleviate the suffering; mercy

The atmosphere of this wonderous place called the internet is one that, unfortunately, seems to be a place where thoughtless and hurtful words flourish. Perhaps it’s the sense of anonymity we have because we are sitting in front of our computer, or on our phones, rather than face to face with those we’re speaking with. I find it hard to believe that those same people that left such hurtful comments online would be able to say the same if they were standing in a room opposite Mr. Hoffman’s girlfriend and children…and if they could? Well, I’d bet they were in dire need of some compassion themselves.

So why does it matter? Why try to temper your thoughts and words with mercy, even when faced with someone that annoys you or evokes strong emotions, whether you know them or not? Well, for one thing, listen to the wise words of your mother (or at least MOST people’s mother): “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all”….or “Treat others the way you want to be treated”.

From a Wiccan/Witchcraft perspective those who follow the Rede should think about the whole “An it Harm None, Do What Ye Will” thing…which, is kiiiind of a real nice way of saying “Don’t be a Douche”, and I think that’s a pretty good rule, no matter what path you follow. 😉

Showing compassion to others, and ourselves for that matter, fosters an environment in which love KuanYinCardand understanding can thrive. With compassion, love, and understanding we are able to grow without fear of judgment…and if there is enough compassion, love, and understanding, we learn to ignore the judgments that do arise and become truly free.

So for crying out loud, Give A Damn! Try to leave the venom and cynicism behind. You can keep the sarcasm, I love it, I employ it often…it’s fun! Just remember to not use it with cruelty. Yes, that’s a tricky one right there, but it’s possible…I promise! 😉

If you get good at giving a damn, then try Giving Many Damns! Not only will others feel better because one less person is giving them shit for ‘this, that or whatever’, but YOU will feel pretty great too. Here’s a little secret: Spreading Awesome makes you MORE Awesome…and Compassion is PRETTY FREAKING AWESOME!

Release judgments about yourself and others, and focus on the love and light that is within everyone. ~ Kuan Yin Card from The Goddess Guidance Oracle

Be willing to see that there are reasons for everyone’s behaviors. You may not agree with how they’ve handled the hand they’ve been dealt, but that does not mean that you cannot recognize that they are  indeed struggling. Your compassion could be what sparks them to reexamine their approach…it may not, but hey, once again, that is for them to figure out on their journey, not for you to preach and judge about…you may have some things of your own you should be focusing on instead.

Once you’ve gotten skilled at giving many damns, move on to giving More Damns than Anyone! Ok, so it’s not a competition, and you really shouldn’t try to make it one (the whole thing sort of loses its sincerity and purpose that way). What I’m saying is that if we all practice the ways of Compassion or Giving a Damn, they become second nature after a while…raising the level of Awesomeness of ourselves and our communities to new and greater heights. On a personal level, it connects us even more deeply to the Divinity that lies within us all. I believe that compassion is actually one of the things that sparks our connection with the Divine…so if you’re struggling in this arena, try giving a few extra damns and see what happens.

I’m not saying that if everyone who reads this begins to go through each and every day with a mindset that is based on being compassionate to everyone they encounter that the world will be a noticeably better place…but what can it hurt? Each action we take, every word we say has an effect on something or someone. It’s a ripple effect that continues on to things and people that we cannot foresee. It’s a reasonable assumption that if the pebble that you throw into the lake of Life is thrown with loads of venom and snark that the ripples the stone sends out would also contain remnants of that which put them into motion. Soooo, why not toss your pebble with kindness and compassion? Send out some good ripples and hopefully pay that kindness and compassion forward. It can’t hurt!

AllTheDamns

 

CovensteadThis week’s post is really just a bit of a mushy reflection on my part, so please, bare with me.

When I started this path almost 11 years ago, I never thought that a group of local witches would be something I would ever be a part of…let alone one that had an honest to goodness Covenstead.

Most Covens have a place they meet on a regular basis, or the members take turns hosting events at one each others homes. Many times the High Priest or High Priestess will host events at their home. My High Priest and his husband have gone one step further than being hosts…they have mindfully created a Spiritual Home, not only for themselves and the rest of the Coven, but for local Pagan Community as well.

As you can see by the photo that accompanies this post, we have a permanent altar that sits at the center of our designated outdoor ritual space. The circle resides amongst 3 separate gardens; A serene shaded Chinese garden,  a whimsical nook we call the Fairy Grotto, and the spectacular herb garden you see in the photo above. When I walk into this glorious park-like setting, I always forget that we’re in the middle of suburbia, lol.

It’s not just the lovely outdoor setting that makes me love spending time there though. I actually have many reasons. I’ve known my HP since we were in the 3rd grade together, so hanging out with a life long friend that shares my love of the Goddess is beyond spectacular in and of itself. It is where we come together as a Coven and as a community to celebrate the Turn of the Wheel and venerate the Goddess. It is a place of spiritual education, as we work through our respective degree studies. But, mostly, it is a place where I find comfort simply by being there.

I know that I’m usually all sorts of goofy and make jokes and stuff (I’m a little quirky, it’s ok, I know this 😉 )…but talking about the way I feel when I’m there gets me all sorts of sentimental like. It is my sincerest hope that everyone, no matter who they are, or what Path they are on in This Life, has the opportunity to feel the same level of Peace somewhere. Everyone should have that. Someplace to go to take time away from the stresses of modern life, a place where you will not be judged, a place where you always feel welcome and loved. A place to just…Be.

I will stop gushing now, but I really felt the need to just express my gratefulness.

May you all enjoy your weekend…May you all have a Blessed Imbolc…and may you all have someplace that you can feel… the Comfort of a Covenstead.

)O(

 

The Theory of Polarity states that all things manifest from interactions between pairs of Complimentary Opposites. Light and Dark, Masculine and Feminine, Positive and Negative, North and South, Samhain and Beltane, Fire & Water; all of these are opposite halves of the same coin. We cannot have one without the other, it is a symbiotic relationship from which remarkable things are created.

It is much like the Eastern philosophy of Yin and Yang which describes two primal opposing but complementary forces found in all things in the universe. Yin, is the darker element. It is passive, dark, feminine, downward-seeking, and corresponds to the night and the moon. Yang, is the brighter element. It is active, light, masculine, upward-seeking and corresponds to the day and the sun.

It is through our understanding of how Pairs of opposites relate to one another and the Universe, that we re-enforce the importance of Balance. This applies even in our mundane lives.

For example: I find it most interesting that even though my Husband and I do not fit the ‘typical mold’ of our respective sexes…He is far more domestic than I am, and is perfectly fine with quiet evenings at home. I also enjoy a nice quiet evening, but I much prefer a night out with the boys watching things blow up in the latest testosterone filled action flick. I swear like a sailor, yet he (the former sailor) just doesn’t see profanity as an art form the way I do, lol.  I do, however have a typical female trait or two, just as he has some traditional male traits.

The Theory of Polarity applies to us (as a couple and as parents) because, while in an nontraditional manner, we still maintain the balance and calculated tension of complimentary opposites.

In understanding this, we learn that when one Balances a Pair of Opposites, for Example Black and White…we discover where the most amazing magick happens…in the middle…with Shades of Gray. Which leaves me with a lovely song in my head…one that encompasses the struggle to distinguish between the extremes. When we are young and naive we see this as either This or That…with Age and Wisdom we come to learn that its not so simple. While this may seem daunting and disappointing to some, I think that understanding the middle ground is the Key to EVERYTHING.

With that, I leave you with The Monkees…Shades of Gray. 🙂