Thursday, September 23, 2010

Hold On To Your Broomsticks...

Blessed Equniox Family and Friends!

What I am about to tell you may shock you. Then again, for those of you who actually know me...probably not.

In light of the recent "Dabble-Gate" scandal caused by Delaware Senate Candidate Christine O'Donnell's confession that she had once practiced...well, something (she claims it was Witchcraft...but, some of us would beg to differ), I felt compelled to share a few of my thoughts of my own about acceptance.

Many Wiccans have come forward to to defend the reputation of our religion. What has offended so many is not that Christine O'Donnell claimed to practice Witchcraft. That in and of itself would nary cause a stir amongst our community. No, what I believe really has many Witches/Wiccans flying off the broom handle, so to speak, is that during her brief stint as a Witch, Ms. O'Donnell claims she inadvertently picnicked on a blood tainted Satanic altar, thus linking Witchcraft to Satanism.

For years, Wiccans have been trying to distance themselves from any association with the practice of Satanism. The notion that Witchcraft and Satanism go hand in hand is a misconception shared by many. You will most likely hear what Wicca is not, long before you hear what it actually is. "Wicca is not Satanism". "Wiccans do not believe in the existence of Satan". "Satan is a Christian construct." And my personal favorite, "to give evil a name lends it power". And I know, I've assured many concerned folks of these very things myself.

With all due respect however, aren't we being just a tad hypocritical. Is it just me or doesn't this smack of the same intolerance that we've been striving to overcome for these years? It seems to me that what we are in effect doing, is making it glaringly obvious that we are intolerant of someone else's beliefs, to the point that we are going through hell (pun intended) and high water to clarify that WE are not THEM!

No, we're not Satanists. But we're also not Buddhists. I mean, think about it. Do you hear us so vehemently defending our comparison to any other religion? Many of us have found our way to Wicca after being raised in a more mainstream religious background, yet if someone were to suggest that we were practicing Christianity or Judaism, it would hardly be worth mentioning. Yet, compare a Wiccan to a Satanist and all hell breaks lose...literally!

Now, I would be the last person you would hear say, "Oh, those poor misunderstood Satanists" or that Satanism has just gotten a bad rap. Satanism has gotten it's reputation because many people are repelled by their principals, practices and ya know, the whole association with Satan thing. The fact that Satanists don't actually worship Satan makes little difference. Satanists recognize themselves as Deity and hold only their own life perspectives as holy. It is a religion based solely on the "Self". They believe in fully living out and indulging in, their innermost lusts and desires.

"Satanism respects and exalts life. Children and animals are the purest expressions of that life force, and as such are held sacred and precious..." ~

Surprised? I was. I was taught to believe that Satanists sacrificed children and small animals to Satan. Not so much.

Back in the day, when first I began practicing Wicca, I participated in an online Pagan-Christian discussion forum. I remember one of my very first conversations was with a woman who belonged to the the Church of Satan. I recall asking her, with my uppity neophyte attitude, why anyone would want to practice Satanism. I was surprised when, rather than telling me where to put my broomstick, she calmly and politely shared her reasons and suggested a website or two, should I want to a better my understanding of her beliefs. After participating for a while, and being bashed by many of the more experienced Pagan practitioners on the Board, it became readily apparent that not only was she one of the more intelligent posters, but also one of the more respectful as well.

I have to admit, I was actually nervous to visit the sites she suggested, but curiosity got the better of me and eventually I did. Can you imagine how surprised I was to learn that I actually agreed with 9 1/2 of the Eleven Satanic Rules of the Earth! Shocked yet? See how many you agree with...

There are many religions whose beliefs and practices I can't embrace. I don't enjoy the fact that some of the African Diasporic religions engage in animal sacrifice. I don't agree with the Jehovah's Witness who refuses a life saving blood transfusion for their child because it's against their beliefs. And the Scientologists? What more can I say?

Yet, I don't need to agree with what anyone else chooses to believe. I am secure enough in who I am and in the Path I follow so that I don't feel I have to hold up for comparison the differences between us. All I need to do is accept that the path they've chosen is much different my own.

All this having been said, I've met a few Satanists in my time. Not many, but those I've met, I've actually liked! No, I can't say I agree with with their beliefs and you definitely wouldn't find me attending one of their....umm, picnics, yet I don't feel an overwhelming need to cringe when I hear my religion spoken in the same sentence as theirs.

The Scientologists? Well, I'm still a work in progress...

In Darkness, Light!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Who's Asking the Question?

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

So, you may have seen or heard the drama being fueled by Delaware Senate candidate, Christine O'Donnell's admission that she "dabbled" in Witchcraft in High School. If you have heard nothing of the aforementioned, I've included the video for your viewing pleasure.

Now, for those of us who do more than just "dabble", it's blatantly obvious that whatever Christine was doing was not Witchcraft.

"To Know"

That said however, her admission has spawned a barrage of articles, interviews and commentary by everyone who has an opinion on the same, including the Wiccan community. And can you blame them? Quite frankly, our beliefs come under scrutiny so often and we are interviewed so infrequently, that we are often at the mercy of whomever it is willing to speak for us. If someone claiming to be a Witch or Wiccan makes an outlandish statement that portrays us in an unfavorable light, it reflects negatively upon us all.

Yesterday, AOL featured an interview with a young woman claiming to be a Witch, who was raising her son as the same. Personally, I know many people that are raising their children as Pagans, so for me, this was not exactly newsworthy. For the most part, her interview was a positive one, with the exception of her admission that her son was "ritually" conceived. Now, if any newlywed couple were to admit that their child was conceived when they made love on a public beach while on their honeymoon, the most you might hear is, "oh those crazy kids!" If you're a Wiccan however, and mention that your child was conceived during a ritual? Oh. Holy. Fuck! Oh yes, I went there!

"To Dare"

Now, if you were to "give it a Google" and search the sexual practices of Wiccans, I'm certain you can find something about sex magick being performed during ritual. However, if this is performed at all, it's usually between a married or partnered couple in a private setting. What is more common is something referred to as the "Great Rite". It's the sacred marriage of the God and Goddess and it's performed symbolically. It involves plunging a sharp, pointy ceremonial knife into a cup of consecrated beverage of choice, most often wine, juice or water. The athame (see sharp, pointy knife) represents the God, the cup, represents the Goddess.

Isaac Bonewit's once said, "Everybody talks about the Great Rite, but no one ever does anything about it." We miss you, Isaac!

"To Will"

Christine O'Donnell went on to explain her babbling....I mean, dabbling:

"I was in high school, how many of you didn't hang out with questionable folks in high school? But no, there's been no witchcraft since," she said, shrugging off her dalliances with the dark arts.

"Now let’s put that to rest and move on to what we’re going to do," she said.

I was raised Catholic. Given all the accusations of child molestation and cover ups surrounding the Catholic Church, one might say that I hung out with questionable folks too! Talk about dalliances with the dark arts! But....I digress.

Can we really blame Christine O'Donnell? Actually, perhaps we should be thanking her. You see, there are about 3 million of us in the United States that practice Wicca, who don't consider ourselves "questionable folks" and now, we have the opportunity to engage in a little education. We have careers, own homes, support our families and are active, productive members of society and of our communities. No, we don't engage in blood sacrifices. No cannibalism. No Satanism. And while I can't obviously speak for all Wiccans, no ritual child conception. If we were, in fact, "questionable folks", I suspect we would be interrogated, I mean, interviewed, a lot more often.

No, in fact, you really don't hear much about us at all. Unless of course someone opens their mouth and puts their foot in it. In this case, I believe both the Witch and Ms. O'Donnell are on equal "footing".

"To Keep Silent"

In Darkness, Light!


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Only the Finest!

Merry Meet and Autumn Blessings Family and Friends!

This is the time of introspection. A time to venture inside ourselves to see where we've been, what we've done and where we are going. And so, I shall.

I find myself looking back over the past ten years and can't believe how much I, my life and relationships have changed. I'm not talking about the usual kind of changes that occur in all of our lives, but those, "nothing will ever be the same" kind of changes that have us completely rethinking what we had envisioned our future would be like.

Some of these changes have been so mind-numbingly painful that I wondered if I could ever adjust to this new way of "being". Nor did I want to. Ahhhh, but life doesn't oft give us that option, does it? We are offered little in the way of choices. We either rally in the face of adversity or crumble under the weight. For me, the latter was not an option. There were others depending upon my weaving a new life from the tattered strands that were left dangling. Not only for them however, but for myself as well. I found tremendous comfort in the love and support of those whose souls, near and far, that had become a part of my own living tapestry.

Fast forward....really, really fast. What have I done? Where have I been. How well have I adjusted? In some ways, better than I ever dreamed possible. In others...well, isn't there always a hand pulling on those loose strands, just to keep things....interesting?

Yet, I have been blessed! Ten years ago, I would have thought myself truly mad to make such a statement. Yet, it's as if I've glimpsed into a mirror and there, beyond my own reflection, I see the souls of those who's lives have since become a are part of my own. A new and beautiful tapestry has emerged from strands once broken and has been woven into an exquisite cloak surrounding me!

My life is different. Profoundly so. Both figuratively and literally! And yet, if someone would have told me how much my life was yet to change, I would have thought them truly mad! Most, if not all, of those changes have been indeed positive. In many ways, I am living the life I dreamed of as a child, despite being taught that "real" Witches didn't exist. I have discovered hidden interests and gifts that in this fifth decade of life, have only recently decided to emerge. I have seen relationships end that I believed had stood the test of time, while those with the most tumultuous beginnings have taken root to become strong and loving branches in our Tree of Life. I find myself pulling my new tapestry in more closely now, as I bid farewell to those people and things that no longer serve our greater good. I have realized that there is Divine guidance at work in my life, in the knowledge, patience and inspiration of my teachers, in my practice and yes, even in those, "suck beyond all definition of the word" moments that were the most difficult colors to weave into the new fabric of my existence.

The Autumn Equinox is upon us. And again, I find myself dancing on the threshold of change, in both the growing darkness and light yet to come. I look forward with a mixture of breathless anticipation and sweaty palmed trepidation. I am already beginning to see the signs of wear beginning in the old tapestry. Some will require and be worth repairing, while other will unravel completely with new colors taking their place. I must accept that my new "Cloak of Life" may not look exactly like the old, but will still have been woven with the finest of threads!

In Darkness, Light!


Friday, September 17, 2010

Fate, Henry and the Enchanted Rabbit

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

So, yesterday morning, I had planned to get to work early. I was pretty well on my way too. I'd gotten up early, got everyone fed and was out the door on time. I was feeling pretty productive!

I work about a mile and a half from my house, so giving myself 15 minutes to get to work is usually plenty of time. As I stepped outside however, I was met by a glorious Fall morning! I made it all the way to my car door, before taking out my cell phone, calling my coworker and telling her I was going to be late. I started walking.

I remembered thinking that there must be some reason why I made the decision I had, but couldn't imagine what it might be. Then I met...

The Rabbit. As I made my way down one of the more busier streets along my walking route, I spotted something small and furry moving along the sidewalk. At first, I thought it was a chipmunk and expected it to scurry away when I approached. As I got closer however, I came face to face, literally, with a tiny baby rabbit. He perked his little ears as I approached, hopped right over and looked up at me. He was breathtakingly cute! "Hi, baby!", I said, as I watch him nibbling the grass along the sidewalk. As I stood there, completely smitten with his cuteness, I realized however, that he was a mere foot or so away from the road and suddenly, my "maternal instinct" kicked in. "C'mon, Rab", I said and scooped him up in my hands. He was so soft, tiny and helpless. I was amazed that he didn't struggle to free himself as I carried him to the house farthest from the street. I deposited him carefully on the lawn. I turned back once more, just to make sure he was safe, when I found that....he was hopping after me! My first thought was, "rabbits imprint on the first person they come in contact with like baby ducks do?" Great! Now what do I do? I couldn't very well take him with me to work, could I? Could I? I must confess....I considered keeping him! I envisioned walking back home, finding a nice safe, comfy cage and.....

Wait, what was I thinking?! This is a wild rabbit! I couldn't keep him!!! Ray would kill me! Still....I found myself powerless against his cuteness! I was seriously enchanted. NO! I'm not his Mother and I am not keeping him!!! So, I picked him up a second time, but this time...he screamed! Really. Loud!! You would have thought I was killing him! "You can't come! I'm already late for work!!" Yes, I had this conversation, in public, with a rabbit! I carried him, once again, up my neighbor's walkway and tucked him safely behind a bush. Then I hurried down the steps as fast as I could, looking back only long enough to make sure he wasn't following me!

Good deed for the day. Check! Still, now I was going to be even later than I expected. I had to really rush if I was going to make it to work by at least, 9:30.

I hurried along, still thinking about my cute baby rabbit, when I saw two things that really disturbed me. Firstly, I saw the truck belonging to the Handy Man service that, if you'd read my last entry, you know I'm not a fan of and then I saw...The Dog! "It's going to be one of those days, is it?", I thought.

He looked like a miniature German Shepherd, sans owner. As I approached, I said, "Are you by yourself?" He looked at me, tentatively approached, smelled my hand, growled menacingly and ran from me. I scanned the neighborhood, hoping his owner was nearby, but there wasn't a soul around. He began running. Into the street! A car was coming, but luckily was traveling slow enough to stop when he ran in front of their car. Oh no...I couldn't watch!

"Come here", I yelled to the dog. And he did! "Sit", I told him. And, he did that too. Should I try for "Stay?" Three times the charm! I could see he had two identification tags on his collar, but he wouldn't let me close enough to read them. At that point, I didn't want to leave him alone, but I had to get to work! Dammit!

I decided the only option would be to call the Ridgewood Police from my cell phone and have them see if they could find his owner. I was assured that Animal Control would be there shortly, but the dispatcher told me I would need to stay there with the dog. I looked at the time on my phone. Yeah...I was going to be really late.

As I hung up and looked back at my little friend, I wondered what would happen when Animal Control arrived. How would they catch him? Would they use one of those steel poles with the slip collar? He was going to be so frightened! And then what? Would he be taken to the Animal Shelter if they couldn't contact his owner? I thought about pets that were accidentally euthanized after being brought to the shelter. "Ok", I thought....this is the part where I get bitten.

I placed my purse on the ground and plopped down next to it. The dog was about a foot or two away. I began talking softly to him.....repeatedly assuring him that he was a "good boy" and hoping I was right! He eyed me, suspiciously. Note to self: Carry dog biscuits on person at all times. Then I said, "Come here". And he did! He crawled over on his belly lay next to me. At that point, I was finally able to read his collar! His name, I learned was "Henry". I leaned in a little closer, hoping he wouldn't bite my face off and was able to read the address on the collar. I realized the number was only one house away from where we sat!!! Then to my profound dismay, I realized it was the same house with the Handy Man's truck in front of it!

"Oh Henry", I said. "You can't be serious! I got to my feet and called to the dog. "C'mon Henry....I'm taking you home!" He followed me obediently, looking up at me for direction as he walked beside me. As we got to the front door and I rang the bell, I looked down at Henry who was staring up at me expectantly. "I can't believe I'm doing this, Henry! You owe me!" Just then, a woman answered the door. "Hi", she said, questioningly. I looked down at Henry. "Hi", I returned. "I believe this belongs to you?". I explained that I'd found him running around the street and that I had called Animal Control before I'd found her house. She explained that he wasn't really hers. She was "babysitting" for a relative. He must have to gotten out of the backyard. I told her he was a really good boy! She was very pleasant and extremely grateful for Henry's return.

Second Good Deed of the Day. Check!

As I left Henry safe and sound with his "sitter", I walked down the steps, digging around in my pocket for my IPod. Again, a time check revealed that my ETA had well passed. I questioned my decision to walk, about all that had happened thus far and wondered if perhaps fate had been at play. As I pushed the ear buds into my ears, I realized that my IPod had been playing the entire time. The song that was playing....

"What Goes Around, Comes Around" ~ Justin Timberlake

In Darkness, Light!


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Pleased To Make Your Connection!

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

So, if you've read my last entry you know that we had a new stove delivered. This writing however, is not about appliances, but about people.

My phone rang early last Friday afternoon. It was the delivery man calling to tell me that he would be arriving sooner rather than later with my delivery. He had a fairly heavy accent which I found difficult to interpret over the phone. About 10 minutes later, I saw the delivery truck pull up and I opened the door to a very pleasant gentleman in his mid 40's, who had a lovely Russian accent.

It wasn't his accent however, but his first words that struck me. "I'm not a bad guy, am I?". This rather odd introduction took me by surprise and I wasn't sure how to respond. He then asked if I'd mind locking up my dogs. Despite my reassurance that they were friendly, he politely insisted. Then he showed me the scar on his forearm that he received from another customer's "friendly" dog. I agreed, albeit reluctantly.

You see, whenever I receive a delivery, have our gas meter read, or otherwise open the door to a stranger when I'm home alone, I find comfort in the fact that there's usually a large dog or two in close proximity. This gentleman's initial question, "I'm not a bad guy?", did very little to put my mind at ease.

As we chatted and I expressed my concerns about how we might get the new stove through the narrow doorway, he stopped and said, "You know, you're a very nice lady'. Again, I felt uneasy. Not threatened..just uncomfortable. I glanced at the clock to see how soon it would be before my husband would be home. A little later he went on to say, "You know, the last customer made me feel as if he were buying ME instead of the merchandise!" I understood! The comments that I found so strange, were actually his way of expressing his feelings of being treated disrespectfully by another customer. It wasn't anger I heard in his voice, but something else. It was sadness. I felt horrible! Horrible that he had been treated badly and horrible for my own reaction to his words, that were obviously spoken in kindness, rather than with any sinister intent. I did understand. A few weeks earlier, I experienced something quite similar and no less unpleasant.

We had a few projects that needed to be done at home and I called on a local "Handy Man" service to give us an estimate for the work to be done. My intention was to give the job to someone here in the Village, rather than an out-of-town service. Well, when the idiot...(oooops, outside voice), man came by to give me the estimate, he was rude, dismissive and behaved as if he were doing me a favor by hiring him. He chatted on his cell phone, ignored me as I pointed out the various projects, and finally interrupted me while I was speaking to ask, with smug arrogance, "Where did you get our name from again?". Needless to say, the work went elsewhere. Thanks, but I don't really need another, "Man Around The House".

Both these experiences however, were not without merit. They helped me better understand an incident that occurred some 15 years before, but that has bothered me ever since.

We had hired a moving company to move us into our current home. We had used them in the past because they had always been professional and reliable. However, on this particular day, they sent over a man who presumably had been treated badly by previous customers. Either that or he was a few moving trucks short of at fleet. In any case, he decided that this day would be the day that he would vent his frustrations...on me!

As he oversaw the men that were bringing in our belongings, I couldn't help but overhear his conversation. "I know these people", he said. "They're rich and nasty. They don't know what it's like to really work". He purposely spoke loud enough for me to hear his comments. "And her? She's a nothing but a rich bitch!" Oh no he didn't!! Surely, he wasn't referring to me??? His co-workers appeared visibly embarrassed by his behavior.

"Who is this guy?", I wondered. I was certain I had never laid eyes on him before today! His commentary went on for the remainder of the afternoon. He had a multitude of complaints and made rude comments whenever I was in earshot. My husband was at work during the move, so I was at home alone. Despite fact that he had other men working along side him, I felt vulnerable. He was bitter. His anger..palpable.

Rich? He would have probably been shocked to learn how wrong he actually was. We'd spent most of our savings buying our home and when all was said and done, we had just about enough money to pay the movers! As far as my being a "bitch" well, in this case, he was close. After he'd left, I locked the door and called his supervisor to ask how well they screened their employees for mental disorders. Then I wrote a letter to the owner of the company detailing what took place and why we wouldn't be using them again in the future.

Yesterday, I judged a man who was merely complimenting me for treating him well and I did so, as a result of fear. The handy man and the mover? Well, perhaps the handy man had heard my name around town or read something that had been written about me. Trust me. You can't be a Witch in this town without someone having an opinion and it's not always good. Still, I was a potential client and a future referral source. Yet, his ill-mannered disposition lost my business. The mover? Well, perhaps he did have some psychiatric issues or perhaps he was just tired of people treating him as if he was a piece of furniture.

Think about how long it takes to get to know, I mean really know someone. Yet we judge and are judged by others all the time. Often at first glance. Is it an inherent flaw of humankind? We judge based on social class, religion, weight, race, and at times, solely on the opinions of others.

What we are missing? What is it that we fail to see when we are looking at the shortcomings in others. Are we afraid that we see too much of ourselves in some or perhaps not enough of ourselves in others? What I believe we are really missing is the "interconnectedness" that exists between us all. When our lives cross paths, the judgements made in those initial moments can can impact us in greater ways than we can ever imagine.

The Witch, the Delivery man, the Mover and the Handy Man. Before those fateful days, none of us had ever met, nor may we ever meet again. And yet, how we reacted during those brief, chance encounters may have altered the course of our lives forever. Did the Delivery man learn to feel appreciated for his work? Did the Mover lose his job? The Handy Man, most definitely lost a client.

Fear may lead us to misjudge, but there is no excuse for ignorance.

"Judge not, lest ye be judged".

In Darkness, light!



Friday, September 10, 2010

And A Little Pinch of Buddhism!

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

So, I'm discovering that some of my most successful magick comes about when I'm not thinking about magick at all. Seems strange, doesn't it? Allow me to explain.

We remodeled our kitchen several years ago. New appliances, counter tops, tile know, the works. I noticed in the last month or so however, that the enamel was beginning to peel off our stove. Very odd, I thought. The stove isn't really that old and it's obviously made to withstand heat, so I couldn't imagine why this would happen. I casually hinted to my husband, "I think we need a new stove." To which I received the classic "husband" response, "No we don't! The stove works fine! Just because it's peeling, doesn't mean we need a new stove". Hmmph! Is that so!

Well, I couldn't really argue with the fact that it was working fine. Yet every time I looked at it, sitting there....peeling, it irritated me! And each time I would repeat to no one in particular, "we need a new stove". You know, in a distracted, pissed off kind of way.

So, a week or so of this "stove mantra" goes by and one evening after work my husband nonchalantly mentions, "I don't think the stove is working". Oh really??? "Do tell!?" "Yeah", he said, "it's taken about an hour to preheat to 400 degrees". Now, If you listened really closely, you might have heard my heart breaking....but, probably not!

I must confess that I owe a debt of gratitude to my stove! Firstly, because it served me well all these years (no pun intended) and secondly, because I believe it taught me a little about the Buddhist philosophy of "detachment!" You see, in wishing an untimely demise upon my poor stove, I had absolutely no real heartfelt attachment to it, so I wasn't wasting or distracting energy from the outcome by overly focusing on it.

This, I believe, is one of the most difficult things to master when it comes to the practice of magick! It's not that I didn't care about my stove, I just didn't care enough to form any strong emotional attachment to it either way. I know, what you're thinking. "Who forms an emotional attachment to their stove?". Hey, ya never know! Seriously...Google "Stove Fetish". The World's a twisted place!

Think about it though. We have our purpose, intention and the will that drives us to manifest what we need or want. But, all this comes with a heartfelt desire and that is by far the most difficult thing to detach from when we focus on an outcome! We obviously want our magick to be successful. And as hard as we try not to be emotionally attached to the outcome, there's going to be that little voice in our head hoping that we get what we want. If we didn't give a rat's ass, we wouldn't be doing the work in the first place, now would we?

So, here I sit waiting for my new stove is being delivered. And my new goal? To learn and practice, as much as I can, the art of "detachment". Today, I'll also be playing the New Jersey Lottery, and do my best not to give a rat's ass if I wake up a millionaire! So Mote It Be!!

In Darkness, Light!