Saturday, April 30, 2011

Blame It On Grandma!

Blessed Beltane, my beloveds!

Today I am celebrating my carefully calculated, albeit not so delicately orchestrated....natal escape!  Yes, it's the day I came kicking and screaming, ass first, into the World!

My birth, however, was a lot like this past Easter. It almost didn't happen! 

You see, my parent's marriage began circling the drain long before it had even been consummated.  My mother, was the youngest of seven children, six girls and one boy, who came from a strict Italian upbringing.  My father, was a handsome, blond haired, blue eyed, bad boy, with a wild heart and temper to match!  Despite my Grandmother's dire prediction that no good could come of it, my Mother found him irresistible!  When they secretly eloped at 19 years old, story has it, that my little Italian Grandma took a broom to him! 

For the first 14 years of their marriage, my parents remained childless. The doctors discovered that my mother had a condition that made the possibility of her conceiving highly unlikely. Sad, but probably not the worst case scenario under the circumstances.

The doctors were even more shocked than my parents, when at 33 years old, my mother became pregnant.  Despite their less than a perfect union, they happily welcomed my sister, Leslie into the World.   Still, their joy was tempered with a warning that, due to my mother's age and her difficulties conceiving, they should be thankful to have one child.

If my parent's relationship improved after my sister's arrival, it was fleeting at best. And if my sister's birth came as surprise, can you imagine my Mother's reaction when, 14 years later, at the tender age of 41 years, she found herself, once again, pregnant!  Back in the day, this gave the term "advanced maternal age, a whole new meaning!

My Mother was in a state of complete and utter...denial!  She consulted two different doctors and took 4 pregnancy tests before she accepted the fact that she was going to have another child!   And I can't really say I blame her! Thankfully, abortion was still illegal at the time or I might not be here to tell the tale!   My father, on the other hand, was beyond ecstatic!  You see, he had mellowed with age and looked forward to the "blessed event". 

And so, on Beltane, more years ago that I am willing to admit...a Witch was born!

Talk about wielding a wicked broom!  Way to go, Grandma!

In Darkness, Light!


Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Easter That Almost Wasn't...

So, I guess I don't have to remind you that today is Easter Sunday.  I, on the other hand, actually did need to be reminded.

For the past 16 years, Easter, for me, has been a formality.  I've celebrated it, not because I rejoice in Christ's resurrection, but as a courtesy to those in my family who do.  Please don't misunderstand, I am happy for Christ having risen.  And I'm happy for all those that are happy that Christ has risen.   I simply don't follow in the same footsteps as those that rejoice.

When I was a child, Easter was indeed a major holiday.  Almost as grand as Christmas...or at least, to my child's mind, it felt that way.  My Mother would take me for a new Easter outfit every year.  I'd wait with the same breathless anticipation of the Easter Bunny as I'd had for Santa Claus. The evening before, we would sit at the kitchen table dying eggs and on Easter morning, I would wake to a basket overflowing with jelly beans, chocolate eggs and a huge chocolate rabbit. But, when it was time for the Easter Sunday Mass, it would be my Aunt Mary that would take me to church rather than my parents.  I really don't remember my parents attending any type of formal religious services unless someone married or died.   And while I may have sat patiently through the Mass as a child, it wasn't until I was much older that I actually understood the meaning behind the celebration.

Sure, I enjoy celebrating the Christian holidays. I've always loved the warm fuzzy feeling that the "Spirit of the Season" brings. Given that Christ is one of the Deities I honor, and that I have Christian family, I will still celebrate his birth, but that doesn't mean I feel the need to celebrate all the holidays in his honor. I honor him more often, along with my other Deities, with devotions and offerings on my altar.

In light of my father in law's recent passing, there didn't seem to be a reason for a formal Easter celebration this year.  Our Christian family members are scattered too far and wide for us to celebrate together. Our kid's are currently "undeclared" in terms of their religious beliefs, or at least for holidays where there are no actual gifts involved, and have long since outgrown the Easter Bunny. Although, they so bemoaned the tragedy that is their lives without their Easter baskets, that we broke down and bought them each a chocolate bunny.

I must confess that, while at least for me Easter seemed more of an afterthought this year, we will be celebrating it.  We will celebrate in honor of my father-in-law, Mike and all those who find hope and strength in their faith.  And while Christ might suggest that a celebration in his honor belongs to everyone, I believe, I've finally reconciled that I no longer consider Easter one of mine. 

On March 21st, we celebrated the Pagan holiday of Ostara or the Spring Equinox.  It is also a celebration of the return of the sun and is a time of rebirth.  And although the outfit I wore was not picked out for me by my Mom, it was the one she saw me come into the World wearing!

Easter Blessings!


Friday, April 22, 2011

Splendor in the Grass!

Merry Meet Family and Friends!

"The grass is alway greener on the other side".

My Mom used to say this often when we were growing up.  It's the adage often used during our moments of self-doubt. Whether we are questioning our accomplishments, the choices we've made or the relationships in our lives, what we are doing, in actuality, is holding them up for comparison to see how they well measure up to that of others. At times, this self doubt may be the catalyst for change that motivates us to strive for better. At others, it's the fire of envy that consumes us to the point that we recklessly pursue something that exists only in our imaginations. Unfortunately, we often don't recognize this until we're looking back on what we've left behind.

We've all experienced periods of uncertainty. We wouldn't be human if we didn't. I know I have, probably more times than I can count. But during those times, I've tried to practice the art of mindful stillness, rather than rushing head long into the fire of self-doubt.

The last several months have posed quite a challenge for me.  I recognize this as being part of my initiation process.  Challenging? Yes.  Unexpected?  Well, perhaps enlightening might be a better word.

That greener grass I've gazed longing upon? Well, for as much as it might have appeared to be so, upon closer inspection, it was actually astro turf!   Still, there really is no way to fully appreciate those things we have, without actually comparing them to what we perceive might be better. 

Better? Perhaps.  Or is it merely....astro turf?

We all wear different masks.  We change them in order to suit our situation. Some might consider this "shapeshifting".   At what point does the "shape" become a dramatic break in character and the "shift", a sacrifice of one's integrity in order to get ahead. Make no mistake, the truly wise will see through the blatantly disingenuous.

Weeping for some one's plight without empathy for their pain does not translate into compassion. Even the most mediocre actor can master tears. True greatness of spirit comes from sharing and acknowledging one's pain and offering comfort from your own heart. To offer any less is bound to ring hollow, even to ears that are desperately seeking solace.

Working "in the light" as a matter of convenience does not make one a "lightworker".  Healing is a gift when shared freely with those in need, not merely those that are deemed worthy.  A true "lightworker" has the ability to put aside their ego in order to elevate others to their higher potential.  They recognize the purpose and meaning in all things.  One cannot elevate the spirits of those that they are walking upon.

Personal prejudice has no place in sacred space.  If your group dynamics seems to be more of revolving door rather than a Circle, perhaps it's time to reconsider your place there. While there is always a certain amount of culling involved, if the exodus involves a specific type of person or gender, it may reflect an underlying hostility being carried over from the mundane. 

Trust and respect are cultivated through patience, love and with the passage of time.  They allow us to be strong when things are at their worst and yet, humble in our in our strength.  Trust, honor and respect are not granted based on who we are or what we believe we deserve, but what we've done to deserve them.

"Forgive and forget".  Ah yes, another of my Mother's "pearls of wisdom".  The two have never been meant to be used interchangably. To attempt to forget is to negate those memories that our psyches deem too painful to revisit and yet, there are is lessons held within those painful memories that may protect us from repeating our mistakes.  Forgiveness is the act of moving past one's pain to allow for healing, not denying what that pain has taught us.

And the moral of the story..

If it doesn't isn't grass!

In Darkness, Light!


Friday, April 15, 2011

Fine Tuning the Stereo...

Merry Meet Once Again Family and Friends!

Declaring one's self a Wiccan or Witch doesn't grant carte blanche in terms of acceptance in today's society. And there's a reason for that...

The Wicked Witch of the West! No, not really. The portrayal of the "Wicked Witch" goes as far back as the Bible, but she's a benchmark example of what many of us grew up believing a Witch was supposed to look like and how they were believed to behave. But it doesn't stop there...

Yes, Witches/Wiccans have a fairly substantial stereotype to overcome in order to gain the same acceptance offered freely to other religions.

Mrs. Patrick Stewart fought 10 years simply to have the right to display the pentacle, the symbol of our beliefs, on her husband, Sgt. Patrick Stewart's headstone. Sgt. Stewart was killed in Afganistan. Love your Freedom, Thank a Vet? Mrs. Stewart didn't want thanks. She simply wanted her husband to be honored in the same manner as those who fought and died along side him.

How many of you who practice Wicca or who consider yourselves Witches are actually "open" about your beliefs? Many of us are, but there are far more who aren't. We can't afford to be. And it's not merely a matter of societal pressures, but often, a battle for acceptance that is being fought within our own families as well.

Why? Why does a religion whose basic tenet is, "harm none, do as ye will", have to struggle so hard to gain acceptance? Fear...well, actually fear based on misperceptions. And let's face it, take a good look at some of these images. Why would anyone go out of their way to learn more about what being a modern day Witch actually means, when they have had these images ingrained in their psyches since childhood? Even the most open-minded among us, upon hearing the word, "Witch", conjure up these images, rather than this...

Yeah, that's me.

However, if you are a tourist, visiting Salem, Massachusetts, the perception of what a Witch is supposed to look like is exactly what you might expect to see. In Salem, the "Halloween Capital of the World" being a Witch is business. You may not see someone dressed as the stereotypical Witch, but I suspect you'd be disappointed if there weren't those playing the part. In Salem, a city rich in Witchcraft's history, being a Witch is perfectly acceptable. That is not to suggest that there are no actual Witches in Salem.

I absolutely love Salem and all those that work so hard to make it the lovely and magickal place it is!

However, many of us, dare I say, most of us, are not in the business of Witchcraft. Being a Wiccan/Witch is an expression of our spirituality. It's a religious and/or magickal path, not a career path. It's the way in which we connect with and honor our Gods, not pay our mortgages. We reside in average communities, living "mundane" lives, for as much as any Witch can consider their lives "mundane" in the traditional sense of the word. Unlike Salem, for most of us, being a Witch is not a means of promoting tourism or stimulating the economy.

Personally speaking, I don't know if I will ever gain acceptance living in a place where prejudices arise based what side of town you live on or how long you've been a resident. And, I certainly don't expect to see businesses sprouting up because Ridgewood has it's own "UnOfficial Witch"...and I wouldn't want them too.

Wife, Mother, Surgical Coordinator, Reiki Practitioner...Witch! Tourist Attraction...not so much!

In Darkness, Light!


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

One Witch's, "Violent Torpedo of Truth"

So, I woke up this morning to this video and I wanted to drown myself in my coffee.

Apparently, a group of Salem Witches gathered to perform a "magickal intervention" to prevent Charlie Sheen from using certain words that are "sacred" to the Craft, those being "Goddess", "Warlock" and "High Priest".

So my question is, when did the "Craft" acquire the exclusive rights to the words, "Goddess", "Warlock" or "High Priest?" Those words have been used for centuries and are quite common place. If you've read J.K. Rolling's "Harry Potter" or have seen the movies, you've obviously heard the word "Warlock", haven't you? Or perhaps you've seen Jennifer Lopez advertising Gillette's Venus Razor with their slogan, "Bring Out the Inner Goddess in You". If you're a Country music fan, than you already know that Conway Twitty is the "High Priest" of Country Music! I actually didn't know this, but apparently it's true! What can I say, the World's a twisted place!

And what's up with the resurgence of the word, "Warlock". I can't begin to count how many times over the years, I've been asked, "so is a Warlock a male Witch?" In some Christian and Scottish traditions the word "Warlock" was the term used for a male Witch. However, the English version of the word "Warlock" actually meant "oath breaker" or "deceiver". I can only imagine that the word was dropped when referring to Witches because of its negative connotations. A male Witch was simply..well, a Witch.

I know quite a few well respected occult practitioners that refer to themselves as Warlocks. Charlie Sheen is obviously not one of them. So, it begs the question, if you are a male, who is open about your occult practices, what is the purpose of using the word, "Warlock?" I mean, the male part is obvious, isn't it? As far as the Witch part is concerned, well...a rose by any other name...

All this being said, I want to explain a little about the video for those who might be unfamiliar. What the Witches in the video are doing is referred to as "casting a circle". A "circle" is a protective place of power. It is the sacred space wherein one establishes their connection to the Gods. It is often considered to be "Between the Worlds" and is "a place that is not a place and a time that is not a time". What they are attempting to do is a "binding" which simply means that they will prevent Charlie Sheen from using words that, at least to these particular Witches, are considered "sacred".


So, while we're on the subject of Charlie Sheen violating the "sacred", how bout' those video cameras in ritual space? Shouldn't a place where you are at one with the Gods, be held as sacred? At a time that is not a time, in a place that is not a place, there should be no place or time for watches, cellphones or video cameras. Or at least, this is the way I was taught. And while there may be no hard and fast rules, perhaps there should be.

So, Charlie Sheen presumably used the "sacred" words? Whose words? If you're a practicing Wiccan, perhaps there are words that you consider "sacred", but I'm fairly certain these are not them!

Charlie Sheen may enjoy making a public spectacle of himself. With all due respect to the Salem Witches however, we Wiccans/Witches have enough to do to be taken seriously without riding on the coattails of Charlie's Sheen's "Violent Torpedo of Truth".

Some have speculated that Charlie Sheen has lost his mind. Perhaps he is a little crazy. I suspect Charlie knows exactly what he's doing.

You know the old saying, "Any publicity is good publicity?" In some case, it doesn't always apply.

Consider the Salem Witch Trials. N'uff said.

In Darkness, Light!


Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Curse of Midas

Merry Meet and Blessings Family and Friends!

So, if you've seen the video in my last blog entry, you know that there was a conference held at Harvard entitled the "Social Transformation by the Power of God Conference". Apparently, there are some people that consider Witchcraft and the practitioners thereof, to be a..."contemporary menace to society".

The video, which has been posted on several internet sites, gets funnier every time I've seen it! I especially like the part where Dr. Pat Francis, wails, "we bleed the blood of Jesus over every altar of false religion".

False religion? By who's estimation? Have these people actually done any research into our religion? Or do they simply enjoy working themselves up into a tizzy of hatred and intolerance in the name of Jesus Christ? I wonder what Jesus would say? Perhaps, I'll have to ask him myself, given that, along with the other Deities on my "altar of false religion", I also have a crucifix.

Many of the Witches who viewed this video rallied a response to block the intent of this conference. That's not necessarily a bad idea. One of the worst things one can do is to assume that the negativity that's being generated here won't be effective because you don't believe it will. Quite frankly, I've seen some pretty nasty things happen to those who arrogantly decide that they, "don't believe in that stuff". Obviously, if Harvard hosted an entire conference devoted to ridding the World of us, we must have provided some fairly convincing evidence as to the power of Witchcraft. I mean, I would hate to think that an institution as prestigious as Harvard would be hosting a bunch of right wing fanatics who've taken up the cross against a religion whose basic tenet is, "An it harm none, do as ye will".

Personally, I felt no pressing need to protect myself from Dr. Francis and her merry band of witch hunters. I certainly didn't feel the need to protect myself from the "Power of Christ". No, I was more concerned by the hatred being bred by these self-appointed "Apostles", who are intent on ridding society of it's "menaces".

And how about those "generational curses" that Dr. Francis and her colleagues are convinced are the result of the practice of Witchcraft. Perhaps they should "bleed the blood of Jesus" over the altars of those who inflict the generational curses that follow sexually abused children into adulthood...anxiety/depression, Post-traumatic stress disorders, suicide attempts, substance abuse, self-mutilation...just to name a few. Children born to sexually abused parents are at increased risk of being physically, emotionally and/or sexually abused.

"Inter-generational transmission of physical abuse is thought to develop as a result of patterning parental behavior experienced as a child; that is, a child who experiences physical abuse as a child is at risk to repeat this behavior as an adult (Zuravin, McMillin, DePanfilis, & Risley-Curtiss, 1996)."

Perhaps those of us who practice the fine art of Witchery should hold a conference to illuminate the real menaces to society, those who hide behind Christ while violating the innocent.

Hey, Dr. Francis...obviously not everything that Christians "touch" turns to gold.

Oh, by the way...we're still here.

In Darkness, Light


Proud to be a pentacle wearin, Witchcraft practicin' Menace to Society!

Friday, April 1, 2011