Everyone is aware of the multiple attacks that happened in Paris this past week. The saddest part is that this was not the only horrific act of violence to occur. Two suicide bombers walked into a Beirut marketplace a day before the Paris attacks, which resulted in 44 dead and 200+ injured. Many deaths in the African villages of Ndassima & Mala (as part of ongoing religious violence) took place Monday. Tuesday saw dozens killed in a bombing in Nigeria, as well as a Russian jet destroyed by a bomb over Egypt. Add to that the seemingly endless string of fatal incidents here in the U.S. – whether they be incidents against law enforcement…by law enforcement…or yet another mass shooting.
The World as a whole is under siege by these and other assaults. This fire of violence has only been fueled by the irrational, fear & hate filled reactions by those who’ve heard of them. The masses are rejecting the idea of taking in Syrian refugees for fear that they will be terrorists. The majority of comments I have seen on social media have been disappointing to say the least. Many have come from our pool of G.O.P. presidential…candidates, but the number from regular everyday folks of all walks of life and faiths (including pagans) is overwhelming.
What people in this country seem to be forgetting is that refusing these refugees dishonors the values of this country. The Statue of Liberty tells us this herself.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
It is up to us to end the violence. Each and every one of us, as individuals, holds some level of responsibility on the journey to world peace. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was asked about his view of the Paris attacks. He commented on the levels of violence and bloodshed of the 20th century and concluded that this century’s violence is in effect a spill-over of those acts. So, what should we do? His Holiness says:
“People want to lead a peaceful lives. The terrorists are short-sighted, and this is one of the causes of rampant suicide bombings. We cannot solve this problem only through prayers. I am a Buddhist and I believe in praying. But humans have created this problem, and now we are asking God to solve it. It is illogical. God would say, solve it yourself because you created it in the first place.
We need a systematic approach to foster humanistic values, of oneness and harmony. If we start doing it now, there is hope that this century will be different from the previous one. It is in everybody’s interest. So let us work for peace within our families and society, and not expect help from God, Buddha or the governments.”
I think that’s some pretty good advice. We need to work for peace, and we need to start at home, and EXTEND that spirit of peace beyond that of our friends and family. Rain compassion down on those who need it. Do something to help someone in need. Let go of any attitudes that make you question whether or not someone in need “deserves” help…just help.
Forget about the concepts of “Us” and “Them” for we are all one. “Imagine there’s no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too. Imagine all the people living life in peace…”
I may be a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. So let’s all Imagine, and Give Peace a Chance.
Divination Method: The Secret Language of Animals Oracle Cards
Card(s) Drawn: Dolphin
Key Word(s): Joy, Light, Flow, Compassion
Affirmation: “I follow my bliss, knowing I am worthy to experience joy. Riding the waves of inspiration within me, I bring great joy and light into the world.”
My Interpretation: Firstly, let me say: OMG! DOLPHIN!!!!! OK, now that I’ve got that out of my system, let me say that this coming week has the potential to be pretty awesome…
Dolphins are playful, compassionate, full of exuberance, and just goes with the flow. It’s difficult to be down in the dumps when watching dolphins play in the water, they even look like they’re smiling. They go with the flow, but they do not go it alone. They are social creatures with a very strong sense of community. We know they are compassionate creatures, as there are countless tales of dolphins coming to the aid of humans in distress. While they are gentle and friendly, don’t let that smiling face fool ya, they will also mess you (or a shark) up if need be.
What I find interesting about this draw, is something many usually forget about dolphins. They essentially exist between worlds. They evolved from land mammals and developed the necessary physiology to allow them to survive & thrive in the depths of the sea; while continuing to breathe air into lungs and give birth to fully developed offspring. Think of it this way…the surface of the water is the “veil between worlds” and it is something they cross with ease. It is a part of their nature and adds to the depth of their character. Think about the depths of the sea as the Otherworld. Dolphins could survive as surface dwellers, yet they occasionally spend up to 20 minutes at a time below the surface.
Why do I find this interesting? Well, as we approach Samhain, the veil between the worlds is thinning, making it easier to communicate with those on the other side. Since Dolphins move between their 2 worlds with such ease…this could be a good week to start delving into the Spirit Side of Life, and begin working with your Ancestors in preparation for Samhain.
So, this is what I suggest you do this week:
~ Go with the flow
~ Connect with family (blood or chosen), friends, and that which brings you joy
~ Show compassion to others…but don’t forget to be compassionate with yourself as well
~ Honor your Ancestors
I shall leave you with this video I took while whale watching in California. It’s a pod of dolphins that came to swim along side the boat for a bit. It gets a bit manic in spots, and I recommend a low volume (there’s lots of wind noise, and I may have been a wee bit excited to be so close to one of my Totem Animals). Hopefully it’s enough to kick-start your joy. 🙂
I saw something on Pinterest yesterday that really jumped out at me. It said “Forgive them even if they’re not sorry”. It seems I needed the reminder. It’s difficult though…forgiving someone can sometimes feel like defeat, especially if the offending party has no remorse for whatever it is that they’ve done or said (or NOT done or said). However, the truth of the matter is, you don’t forgive for the sake of others…you forgive for the sake of yourself.
Sometimes it’s an exercise in compassion (See Giles Quote from the Buffy-verse below). If you take the time to learn the reasons or circumstances that have led the person to behave or act in a certain manner…if you can at least see the situation from their point of view, it may not change your opinion about the terribleness of said deed, but if you can at least understand what brought them to that course of action, it is easier to forgive them and let it go.
To forgive is an act of compassion…it’s not done because people deserve it, it’s done because they need it.”
RUPERT GILES, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Grudges do not serve those who hold them, they poison the soul. They take hold and breed distrust and insecurities about ourselves and others. Seriously, who the hell needs that?!?! Nobody says you have to stay friends, or in a relationship, or talk to whomever it is that hurt you…deciding that has nothing to do with forgiveness, that’s a separate matter. Forgiving them lightens the burden on your soul, thus allowing you to continue on and lead a happy life.
Think of it this way: Forgiveness doesn’t excuse what’s been done. Forgiveness prevents what’s been done from destroying your heart & soul.
This also applies to yourself. Did you totally screw something up? Lie to someone? Make a bad choice? Flub up a presentation or project? Well, guess what? I know you’re awesome and everything, but here’s a little secret: You’re also human. Aaaaand Now, I’m hearing Human League in my head: “I’m only human. Of flesh and blood I’m made. Human….born to make mistakes”. It’s sappy 80’s cheese, but I LOVE IT! Besides, they make a hugely valid point. We all make mistakes, so why dwell on them?
Forgiveness doesn’t mean being a doormat….because who says you have to hate someone forever?? Hopefully nobody, because that doesn’t do anybody any good.
I’ll leave you with this…a couple years ago I watched a talk His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama gave that was streamed live via the internet (don’t you just LOVE technology???). Anyway, during this talk, he said that forgiveness is not to accept the wrongdoing of others….and that retaining feelings of anger, hatred and stress do more harm to YOU than they do to those you are harboring them towards. Then he defined what forgiveness really is, and that definition will be my final word on the subject (for today, at least).
Hello all you gorgeous and generous folks that follow this less than consistent blogger!!
Today I am posting something a little different, it’s a post about a fundraiser I’m participating in, and I would love if you could help me out.
I will be participating in the National Parkinson Foundation’s Moving Day event in Rochester, NY on October 4, 2015.
Did you know that 50,000-60,000 new cases of Parkinson Disease (or “PD”) are diagnosed in the U.S. each year?? That’s crazy right? Especially when you take into account the 1,000,000 or so folks that have already been diagnosed.
This is a cause that is very near and dear to my heart, because in December of 2014 a dear friend and coven-mate of mine was diagnosed with Young Onset Parkinson Disease…he’s only 35. We have created a team page for our Coven and we’re hoping to raise all sorts of funds…it sure would make Adam a happy camper!
If you are unable to donate at this time, that’s ok (keep us in mind though we’ve got until October) but please consider sharing this post so we can get the word out.
My Personal Fundraising Page is here: Shawna’s Moving Day Rochester Page
Any and all funds donated via my page will be added to Team Sangha-Sho’s overall goal.
Thank you all so much for reading.
May the Goddess Bless You All
These words popped into my head this morning, and I started to mull them over in my little brain. I figure, if they popped into my head, seemingly at random, then they deserved a bit of attention. This may, or may not, turn into another wordy ramble…let’s find out, shall we?
Why these words? Why in this configuration? What does this mean to me?
Well, obviously (if you know anything about me from this Blog O’Mine at all) sincerity is something I value…and kind of require, from those in my life. However, I started to think of it on a more personal, and spiritual level. Meaning this: It is important for me to be sincere with those I interact with as well….but, even more important, I need to be sincere in my Faith.
“Is a faith without action a sincere faith?” Jean Racine
I feel I have been sincere in my faith, especially in the spirit of the Jean Racine quote above. I do what I can to serve my community and my deities…and find new ways to do this all the time. Don’t think you’ve got to spend all day at a soup kitchen, or in front of your altar for that matter, in order to do this. Simply doing what you can to help others, or to brighten their day. Yup, that dirty joke that pops into your head just might be the thing to salvage somebody’s otherwise craptastic day – so, I say spit it out already (Although, you should “know your audience” in this regard, LOL.). Hold a door for someone, pick up that piece of trash in the parking lot, send healing energy to those that have requested it, listen to someone who needs an ear…whatever. A little kindness and compassion go a long way, and doing it all without judgement is what brings it all back around to being sincere in your actions, and therefore your faith.
On to the second half of my message from Divine today: Quiet Confidence. I just recently realized just how important confidence is to my practice. I spent so many years as a child blocking off my gifts, that it took an awful long time to embrace them as an integral part of me. With practice, along with sharing what I’ve learned with those that could benefit, I’ve come to no longer doubt, not only what is possible, but what is possible for ME to achieve. I know I still have much more to learn, and that there is far more potential to be unlocked…but I am no longer afraid that I’ll fail. I now know that if I do not succeed right away, I simply need to work on it more…it is a set-back, not a failure. All things happen in their own time. We may wish for them to happen quicker…but we do not always wish for things that we are ready for. 😉
“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” Eleanor Roosevelt
Every scary thing I have encountered and successfully gotten past has made me stronger, and more confident. I look at my past self and I see, though I rarely showed it outwardly, a person who was scared of whatever life had waiting around the corner. “I can’t handle this”, “I don’t think I can do that”, “What if I screw up?”, “What if I get the wrong answer?”…these used to constantly flood my mind, and my life was nowhere near as rewarding as I would have liked.
Now? Well, since I have learned to take a deep breath and plunge headlong into the very thing that terrifies me, I have had a much more fulfilling life. What are some of the things that scared the bejeebers outta me? Well: Meeting new people (especially in large groups), taking Wicca 1 (I wanted to excel so badly, the fear of failure nearly paralyzed me), joining a coven, leading a ritual…shoot, the list goes on and on. The point is, I fought my way through the fear and anxiety to achieve these things, and with each success, the level of fear and anxiety I feel upon embarking on a new adventure becomes less and less.
“Therefore, let us not despair, but instead, survey the position, consider carefully the action we must take, and then address ourselves to our common task in a mood of sober resolution and quiet confidence, without resolution and without pause.” Arthur Henderson
Being sincere in your life & faith, and becoming filled with quiet – not overtly boastful – confidence will help you to be able to do whatever the Universe throws at you next…
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.
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 😉