Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Beltane Safety

I wanted to project a happier message than I did last year, and also not talk about myself very much in a Beltane article. So here it is. (We don't all party as hard as suggested below, but I wanted to be inclusive.)

Before you jump those balefires--or each other--consider these safety tips so you can make it to the next Beltane, too!

Hike up your robes. I'm not even talking about after the ritual. The fire does not care that you are Lady Impressive, 3rd Degree Awesomechilde of the Very Big Deal Coven. Be aware of those loose flowing garments when you are near an open flame.

Be honest with your partner/s. Let them know if you are in a relationship, whether it is open, and under what terms. Your lovers may not know unless you tell them. Do it as much for your own safety as theirs!

Wrap that Maypole. Use protection. Talk about birth control and disease prevention as appropriate. Make sure everyone in the bed really wants to be there and what they want to do, and respect their limits.

Know your own limits. Decide roughly how much you will drink before you take that first sip. If you don't think you can control it, don't start. Know ahead of time whether overnight is an option, or arrange a safe, sober ride. It will end better and everyone will have more fun.

Prepare for a good morning. If you imbibe, remember to drink plenty of water and eat something with protein.

Let the bugs bug off. Remember to use insect repellent if you are spending time outside, especially at night. It doesn't have to contain DEET to work. Some very effective repellents contain essential oils instead and just need to be reapplied occasionally.

Know where your friends are. Nobody's suggesting you babysit adults on what could be the sexiest night of the year. Just keep an eye out for each other. If you think someone is receiving intimate attention they don't want--or if they're in no condition to consent--stand up for them! Just go up and ask her (or him) if everything is all right. You could change the course of your friend's life.

Pick a location you can trust. If you don't feel safe at a certain party, ritual, or camp, you're allowed to vote with your feet. Go celebrate the season in a way that makes you feel good.

Have fun!  Open yourself to the fullness and joy of this sunny season.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Carry On and Carry On

I want to be gentle about this, but I'll still be honest. I'm already tired of looking for the helpers. Sorry, Mister Rogers.

Anytime anymore when catastrophe strikes, someone posts a picture of Mister Rogers, saying that his mother responded to any bad news by telling him to look for the helpers, because there is always someone who is helping.

This is true. It is also just one little thread out of the entire tapestry of experience and observation.

Redirecting ourselves away from negativity is useful and very much necessary, I'll admit. If we didn't do this, we probably wouldn't have made it past the caveman days. If we remained stuck worrying what was going to happen next or didn't consider the possibility, however slim, that things could change for the better, we as a species could not have made it to the present day.

So instead, we ventured out of the cave and tried those berries, ventured closer to that pretty dancing orange stuff where the lightning just struck, whatever. And those of us especially who believed in a higher power--within us, outside of us, or both--believed that life could continue somehow: maybe for us, maybe for someone else, but it would indeed go on.

That's what it's all about, going on. It's not just a feeling. There is more to hope than simply hoping. It's an active thing. It involves doing something as if what you are doing matters, as if the future exists. You plant a tree in hope that someone after you will sit in its shade and look after it. You brush your teeth in hope that you will be munching corn on the cob for many years to come.

It doesn't mean to keep calm and carry on. Calmness is a very temporary state of life, unless you are experiencing a coma or a morphine drip. It is possible to carry on while, well, carrying on. And sometimes you should! Keep loud and carry on. Keep doing whatever it is you do and carry on.

Chop wood, carry water. Take a bath. Replace the batteries in your smoke detector. Life goes on whether you do or not.

Donate blood if you're able. Get your marrow typed. Clean up a highway or a river. These things are also necessary, and they make the world better for others as well. They may seem small and unrelated to the bigger picture, but they get you out of the house at the very least, and at the very best they can save the lives of people and wildlife.

And if making some noise will improve the situation, or at least improve the silence, do it!

These are all very conventional things to say. You may be jaded about these suggestions. I offer one more.

Do something today that feeds you in a non-physical way.

It doesn't have to be an entire Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, although I have seen people perform that to lift a group's mood. For me the other night, my 'ritual' was as simple as smudging myself with white sage and watching the last part of Fantasia 2000, where the spring fairy brings the earth to life after the firebird has scorched it.

At times like these, witches often say 'ground and shield.' I agree with this excellent advice, for every day and for times of trouble. It is a good beginning. Keep going with that.

Get your feet in the dirt or in a body of water. Put your face to the sun. Feel the breeze outside. Dance around a fire.


The news can wait.