Wednesday, January 29, 2014

An Energetic No

My life has changed so much in the 5 1/2 years since I moved back here, to the place where I grew up. I walk taller than I used to around bosses and bullies. I live more comfortably.  I can run for so much longer than I ever have before in my life--a whole mile, where I continue jogging nonstop and keep my lunch in my belly! (Baby steps, okay?) And if real life had experience points, I'd have gained a bunch of them, between bucket list activities and just plain life happening.

Yet there are other changes that aren't quite so happy. I got fat again after all those years, for instance.

Worse, I also got foggy in the brain. That's what really bothers me.

At first I blamed the fog on stress, sleep patterns, perhaps something I was consuming.

As of the other day, I figured it out.

It started with four innocuous words: 'I'll pray for you.'  These words, although they were meant well, were given with absolutely no thought for my own opinion of them.

While I wasn't excited at the prospect, I left it alone. I didn't do workings or even set specific intentions of my own (in certain areas, anyway) for a very long time. This was mostly because I wanted to see how far I could get with plain old physical and mental effort. It would have felt like cheating otherwise--right?

Well, not so much.

Turns out that if you leave others to their own devices where your own life is concerned, you get what they wanted for you, instead of what you want.

Elementary though that may be, I hadn't realized what a big deal it was to leave that particular cord uncut, that boundary unset. It means my life wasn't a control group after all. It was being controlled, by others, who do not have the right.

So finally, after 5 1/2 years, I took that right away from them.

As soon as I put that declaration into words, in my own mind, something amazing happened.

It got quiet all of a sudden. Where I had previously been engulfed by a smooshy pink cloud of static anywhere and everywhere I went, the cloud vanished instantly. Then I realized it had been there in the first place.

I found it easier to take care of myself, to go to bed earlier, get up earlier, let the daydreams about my book characters flow, and then--wonder of wonders!--write a little bit more about them. Every day I am learning more about that other world where they live. Every day, I am singing the body onto the bones of my story.

Someday soon, my precious story-person will be more than a skeleton, and I will introduce the world to her joyfully. But for now, I drum, I sing, I create the flesh and the hair of the wonderful living creature she is becoming.

That is a very big deal to me.

So now, when someone says 'I'll pray for you' or even 'I'm praying for you whether you like it or not' (which has happened repeatedly), I have already decided to refuse it. Even if I get tired of refusing it out loud, I have drawn a line psychically that no one shall cross. I have said no, energetically, so it doesn't matter if my verbal No is above a whisper. I have spoken.

And now that it's nice and quiet and I can think, I get to decide what to do next.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

The Darkest Days

I've been silent for too long. Not dormant, mind you.

I express gratitude every day for my health and my livelihood, even when I am unsure about them. I have recently done what I can, physically (and otherwise), to keep them. So far, so good.

Also, I have joined a coven. Perhaps two covens: my people are more about hearts than semantics, which is exactly as it should be. Things are good, but I won't talk about that here.

This post isn't so much about me as it is the rest of you: my friends, my family, my community, those of us who 'get' each other or at least want to.

A lot of you are having uncommonly hard times. You've lost loved ones, your income, your mojo. And this at a time of year when all around you is sparkling, jingling, caroling you damn near into silence. The tinsel brigade seems to be telling you that you have no right to feel that way.

I'm here to tell you: you do have the right.

It's the time of year when things get darker, remember? As Pagans and as those who observe and participate in nature, we recognize and honor this darkness. We are not obligated to celebrate a holiday, in or outside of our tradition, any more than we are obligated to pick up the phone when the TV says so.

And it's not just the festive noise of the cash registers broadcasting that unhealthy message. You might be repeating it to yourself, that message about the way you're 'supposed to' feel.

Look, no one ever got out of a serious funk by sheer effort. I've been there. It doesn't work.

The days grow shorter, the nights longer. We say to the universe, 'Really?'

Yet no matter what we say or do or how we feel about it, the tides continue, the world turns, the lights fade.

You're allowed to be pissed.

Whatever deities you believe in, I'm sure they won't strike you down with a thunderbolt for changing the station when a Christmas song comes on, or for crying when you're not 'supposed to' cry.

Honor the darkness. Sit with it quietly, or loudly, however makes the most sense to you and your beautiful howling heart.

It seems to last too long. The darkness is too dark. It's like that every time. I am so sorry. I am there too, perhaps not as deeply as you, but I feel it as well.

When you have had enough, let the Mother help you. For some that is the only thing that works. Walk among the trees. Soak in water. Stand on bare earth. Open your soul-windows to the night sky, cloudy or starry. Don't worry about learning anything or concentrating. Just be there, be there, and be there a little longer.

It is good.

It won't make everything nice and happy, but it bloody helps.

Of course there are professionals who help as well. And there are things you put into your body that help. You know what truly works for you.

But while it is still so dark, please know it's going to be dark a while longer.

And then, when you have already said twenty times that you can't take any more of this, a glimmer will appear. It will happen with or without your bidding, because it is time. It will be the return of the light, the new sun-baby, the one little candle that sheds just enough light for you to see. I'm not saying this to be trite or provide a quick and easy answer; there ain't no such animal. I'm just saying this because it's true.

The light returns. It does.

And you know what?

Even after it does, you're still allowed to be pissed.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Okay, José?

Something is in the air. So many people I know, who don't even know each other, are in a funk, and not the George Clinton variety. They are emotionally exhausted and just plain sad. Right now they have trouble believing that what they do matters. Each one has situations to explain this--there's always a situation to pin it on--but I see it as synchronicity. What is the universe trying to tell us, I wonder? And when will the message quiet down a bit and give my friends some peace?

Some see it as finally reaching the Age of Aquarius. There may be something to that. We are needing to reach out to each other for love and support in ways we never did before. We are concerned about our future, individually and as a whole. And some of us are feeling as rambunctious as teenagers.

Whatever this state is, I am experiencing a slight case myself. While I believe things will work out, I still feel the blows. I feel them when the culture around me is giving me a message that makes no sense: the idea that I am simply a button to be pressed, a robot with a single directive and no other purpose, and that I should not question what I am told, because that means I would be a machine that doesn't do what it's supposed to do. That is a not-exactly-polite way of calling me broken, just for having independent thoughts.

I am not broken. I am Goddess. And so are you. We don't just live life. We are life. Existence counts for something in itself. You matter for reasons that have nothing to do with your abilities and accomplishments. You are a warm soulful animal. You are lightning. You cannot be bottled and sold. You cannot be ignored, not in any way that matters.

I am telling you the truth, because I need to hear it too. And if I don't have someone handy to say these things to me, I can write them down and read them any time I need them.

These days, we need to be reminded who and what we are. It's not that these times are so different from any other times, only that we need the reminder now. Some of us have been in a dark and cold place during what is supposed to be one of the brightest and warmest phases of the year. The warmth is bringing weeds and flowers alike through every impossible obstacle to greet the sun; the sea is suddenly so full of fierce and mysterious lives. So how can we be frozen?

Maybe it's not a matter of temperature, or temperament for that matter. Maybe it's all about motion. We've been standing or sitting (or bending over) for so long we got cramped up.

Any kind of motion, within reason, would be preferable to staying in that mentality of Obey, Just Do It, Don't Rock the Boat. (The messages tend to be more subtle than that, or they wouldn't work.) These ideas, even when well intended, can block real thoughts and real action.

For an example, I could mention the doctor scene from Idiocracy, but I'd rather give you one from real life: 'Okay, José?' That one is from last millennium, when I worked at a small-town bakery. They told me to reach for yesterday's bread and pastries first, even if somebody specifically asked for today's.

'The customers can tell the difference,' I said. I got the rejoinder, 'Just tell them it's fresh.'

'Well, what if they ask if it was baked this morning?'

'Tell them it's fresh. Okay, José?'

I didn't stay there very long. The motion needed to happen, and it did.

And now I wonder, after many such motions in many facets of my life over the years: what are the Okay Josés in our lives today? What are we being asked to do without question, without thought, without regard for another human being, or ourselves, or the world?

And how do we flex what needs to be flexed and get all those knots out?

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The Molten Core

This entry was supposed to be called Shut Up and Jump. Because jumping out of a perfectly good airplane is a metaphor for life. Carpe diem and all that. So let's talk about that part first.

Looking out the open door of a small airplane, seeing three miles of nothingness below you and knowing that you are inexplicably being urged to jump into it: this is what I thought was the most frightening experience in my life. I have done it three times, and each successive time scared me more because I knew what to expect. I jumped, but I was afraid.

I took an even more frightening jump a month or two ago, one that I haven't taken in a long time. Jumping out of a plane is nothing compared to jumping into the very real possibility of love.

A parachute might have helped. Or one of those crazy new wingsuits. Ray Bradbury wrote that you have to  build your wings on the way down. (I'd like to see him try.) Anyway, you get the idea. It didn't happen.

The details aren't the point so much as the leap itself and how it made me reexamine my life.

It's one thing to say and believe that the Divine lives in everyone. It's quite another to feel that you and one special person are king and queen of everything. It doesn't happen instantly but one little grain at a time, until you wake up and see that you're almost done building an entire sand castle.

That day, you find your passion absolutely everywhere. For me, that meant being motivated to learn American Sign Language and really apply myself. I've been trying since high school but hadn't gotten very far. This time, because someone asked me to learn the language for him, I found myself bringing home preschool DVDs; that was all I could find at the library. I learned many useful signs: blocks, potty, and most importantly, imagination. I rehearsed our conversations in my mind while I tried to figure out how to make them happen across the miles.

I'd tell him I was like a turtle for taking so long. I was. Unfortunately, he was like a hare and left me behind. (We're running two separate races now, just to be clear and probably bust the metaphor.)

After that, there was nothing. No words. No contact. He was gone.

I had been scrambling so much to get the technology to make it possible, get the house fixed up for company, figure out how to enjoy cooking, you name it, that I ignored the way my open heart was becoming an open wound.

For years, this has not been the way I have lived my life. I believe in cushions, shields, shelter, protection. That is not a bad thing. I've gotten pretty good at it.

You see, when you live with something long-term like depression and finally crawl out of that pit after years of struggle, you learn to be grateful for stability. You learn to live smoothly and systematically, because that is how you hold down a job. You learn to demand safety, because you used to be in unsafe situations.

You remember what it was like to come very close to homelessness that one winter. You never want to feel like that again. So you live on the surface in order to cope from day to day, from year to year. It works.

Except when the years go by and nothing happens.

This opening of the heart--I don't know what else to call it--penetrated my armor. It easily passed through any ideals, any routines, any medications. It tapped deeply into--


This is the something we are supposed to love when we are witches. This is the bright blazing lava within us all. Call this Pele, if you dare, or call this by your own name. This is dangerous and sublime all at once.

We can love it, hate it, or somewhere in between, but we cannot touch it or get too close to it, for too long, or even look very long at it or it kills.

It is the source of our power.

I catch a glimpse every so often but keep a safe distance. I wonder what it is like to be intensely psychic, to be a full-fledged empath, with nothing standing between you and the molten core that lives and bubbles within us all. A shamanic experience for minutes or hours is one thing, but every day?

How do you live?

I haven't figured it out. As always, I live the best I can. I look for measured ways, vetted ways, to tap into that core without putting myself or others in peril. I may spend the rest of my life solving that mystery.

Until then, like a good Capricorn, I dream big dreams I don't even understand yet and pursue them slowly, as long as it takes. (I'll pursue little dreams too, like learning sign language for its own sake.) This little goat has to be sure of her footing on the way up the mountain. I wait and wait and go slowly, knowing that what is really important in life is attainable if I am patient.

After all, the tortoise won the race.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Where's the Sign for Pagan?

I didn't even remember how to say excuse me in their language, and I wanted to get through the door and into a seat for the show.

It was a local variety show entirely in American Sign Language (ASL), to raise funds for a deaf summer camp. I walked into a room filled with teenagers still primping and painting each other's faces to look like characters from The Wizard of Oz. They were signing to each other. So were most of the adults. For the first time in my life, I couldn't have communicated worth a tinker's damn if I tried.

It's a fascinating experience, being almost the only one in the room who isn't deaf, knowing just enough ASL to be dangerous and to just barely get the idea. Such a strange feeling. I am often alone and am comfortable with that--frequently I prefer it--but this was a new and different kind of alone, so odd I wished I could photograph the feeling.

I didn't even know how to act. When my phone rang, how important was it to turn the thing off? Would it have been all right to check voice mail during a break, the way it is okay for hearing people to check text messages? Was it better to clap during a certain song or let the performers make all the visual noise? Did I do my jazz-hands applause correctly? I could have been from another planet.

Is this just a glimpse of the way Ocean has felt sometimes?

(I'll let her respond, if she likes.)

Ocean is a woman I met zillions of years and hundreds of miles ago. She is Deaf and Pagan. Everybody loved her firewalking workshops. Still, I remember her often being unhappy in the small mountain community where we lived.

To be Deaf or Pagan, just one of them, could be alienating enough, but both? Even today, an online search for 'deaf pagan' leads you mostly to her very own blog.

As she points out, most ASL references don't even mention Pagan concepts. I didn't find anything substantial for words like Goddess when I looked on my own. There's one for witch--the crooked nose of the Wicked Witch of the West--but many people find that sign offensive. (I personally don't mind it, but it's not for me to say, is it?)

As Pagans, we don't always have the numbers or the structure to simply fall back on something that someone else has done, in language, in concepts, in much of anything. We have to tap into the power, however we experience it. We have to be creators, each one of us. We have to make something where there once was nothing.

Good thing that's something we do anyway.

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.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Our Fragile Little Lives

Fragile is not a word I want to associate with this time of year. Yet I'm getting daily reminders of how short and precarious--and how precious--our lives may be.

The egg, the chick, and the rabbit are showing up everywhere now and must be handled, if at all, with gentle hands, to preserve the new and eager life within. But these aren't what I am talking about.

The daily reminders are a bit more personal and human, I am sad to say. At this time of year, at least two of my Pagan friends have been reminded that even their own existence is not a given, that this life could be taken away before its time, whether by illness or by someone else's petty prejudice.

It is tempting to get on the soapbox about these things and say 'Bad things happen to good people because ____' or 'Look, Pagans are still being persecuted.' But when you are in that moment and have just confronted your own mortality--on this plane, at least--reasons don't exist. Everything you have ever known seems far away, and you are left with some sort of wordless thought in your head and nothing else. It cannot be described.

Nor is it always a noble and dignified ordeal. The more I think about it, the more I think it just can't be a storybook experience. It is by nature the opposite of neat and pretty. Like Inanna descending into the underworld, we lose the reasons, the beliefs, all that we know and are and even all that we love. Nothing of ourselves is left but the body.

 I can't speak for my friends, so I'll simply tell you about my own undignified experience.  I wasn't shedding seven garments to venture down to Ereshkigal herself. I was watching X-Files with friends in a dorm room many years ago, sitting on a bottom bunk, when the top bunk collapsed over me. There was a lot of wood-related noise and I heard one of three people screaming somewhere over my head. My head was pinned to my chest and I could not move.

Due to my slouchy posture, it was not the gateway to the underworld it could have been. I experienced a lot of pain afterward, but that was it. So many others have suffered more and ventured further to the other side of the veil.

What is there to say about the very thought of a life cut short? I don't have any good answers. The only thing I know to do is make the most of this life. One thing I manifested at the Ostara chant circle last night was to live a full life.

I will do this partly by simply living it, and partly by recognizing the great gift it is. And for that, I must say thank you.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Feeding the Phoenix Phyre

My feet were hungry for the feel of fallen oak leaves on a fertile pasture far away. I was craving stars and trees, hugs and honeyed drinks, sky for my skin, and song for the little bird in my soul. I required a lovely fire to match the dancing flames within us all. Most of all, I needed the sacred purpose within all of these things. So I went to Phoenix Phyre, a small and friendly Pagan festival at a ranch in Lakeland, Florida.

Last time, at Autumn Meet, I spent a lot of time around elders, listening to learn whatever I could hold in my mind. This time was more about being nurtured and recharged and feeding my spirit. If that meant indulging in an Access Consciousness mini-treatment, I did it. If that meant participating in a round-robin group massage session, I was there, enjoying every minute. I even got the chance to be on the receiving end at the healing circle, surrounded by kind and gifted people and nestled in the shade of a wonderful old oak tree that fell on its side years ago and still continues to live and thrive.

You might say it was a very hands-on weekend. Yet the hands also worked and played for other reasons than my own enjoyment.

My hands joined other hands when someone else took a turn on the healing table. Later, I carried the libation vessel for a modified blot employing the unique names and deeds of all attending it and their ancestors and deities. Our hands also joined together to create tiny seed bags in preparation for the main ritual, and to raise energy in the ritual itself. I was pleased to feel like just one more member of the family and yet still very much myself.

Even when the rain beat down on the pirate party and the power went out, we just gathered under the big tent in the middle and let the family reunion continue by lantern light. I got to know an older couple from Germany whose idea of family togetherness was wrestling alligators for fun. The younger pirates at the party, mostly members of a fire spinning group, sang vivid songs about shipwrecks while the storms roared around us.

The ritual fire never went completely out. It burned high and bright throughout the frankly frightening weather. When the rain was still pouring down, ten or fifteen people peeled off all their wet garments and danced around the fire. I was feeling dancey myself, so I joined in.

I want everyone who is reading this to understand that it wasn't about the male gaze or any other gaze really. While we all appreciate the beauty of dance or the human form itself, in this setting it was not for the benefit of anyone watching, although they were welcome to do so. The real gift of the dancing was in the dance itself. It is sacred and sensual all at once, even when no carnal meaning is intended. It's a celebration of being alive.

So, too, were the fire spinning, fire eating, and fire breathing. I missed another chance at fire eating because it was too windy the day of class, but I got up close and personal to pods of flaming Kevlar anyway when we practiced spotting the fire spinners with a wet towel. I was scared of the fire and had trouble putting it out, but I did it anyway and learned how to do it better. I also practiced throwing poi, minus the flames, while coached by a 13-year-old fire spinner.

The best thing about this festival is the egalitarian flavor of it all. It doesn't matter who you are or who you aren't. I didn't hear a lot of fancy titles. The staff stays mostly in tents and welcomes everyone at their hearth. The sages cook and serve lunch on Friday for everyone in the place. Someone else serves homemade soup at her camp every night for anyone who wants the comfort and the company.

Even main ritual involved everyone. The planning continued for days, during festival itself, employing anyone who showed up for the class. Although one person was in charge, he seriously considered suggestions on chants, the strengths of each individual for various roles, and even the structure of the ritual itself.

It might have sounded like quite the cluster--I might add that the high priestess needed to be changed out--but everything went smoothly when the time came. I heard many comments on how powerful and beautiful and joyous the ceremony had been. It was certainly one of my favorites, the intention being to heal and nurture and build our faith community.

I think it's working.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Cleaning, Pagan Style

I knew someone in college whose first step to cleaning her room was always to take the pictures down from the wall. She worked her way down from there. I never considered that step to be necessary, but I understand the mentality behind it.

When you are manifesting new things, you can't always build on what you've got. Sometimes you have to set aside everything that is not necessary. Sometimes you even have to specify what that is--as quickly as reasonably possible, of course, so that you can move on to creating rather than destroying.

Recently my brother has been remodeling parts of the house that were damaged by water. The previous residents had just slapped wood over the particleboard the floor was originally made of (okay, it's a mobile home and an old one at that) and called it a day. This didn't solve the problem of essentially shoddy construction but only covered it up. When we opened up the floor and the wall, they were filled with nests of big red ants. When I think of what I was sleeping right next to, it still makes me shudder. It had to come out, and fast. (For any that didn't get out of my house on their own, I wish them lemon-fresh bliss in the ant afterlife. Go in peace.)

So there's been some rebuilding going on there. In my spiritual life, I'm still in the process of removing the rotten stuff and whatever feeds on it. I need to be clear about what is not welcome in my sacred space in addition to what is.

And in some cases, I just need to take the pictures off the wall and get down to the bare essentials.

I don't need any glamour when I get together with my spiritual community. I declare that stuff busted. Now.

I don't need a Pagan version of Disney World. The real world, inside and out, is breathtaking in and of itself.

I don't need to frak a Pagan to have a good time (not every time we gather, anyway). That's missing the whole point.

I don't need to support anyone who doesn't recognize the Goddess in me. She is there, even when it's inconvenient or disturbing the status quo or just not 'nice'. Goddess is in all of us, to be respected and cherished, and that means there's no place for hierarchy upon hierarchy or ego games. Go in peace, if that's your bag, but just go. (There's no bug spray for humans, as far as I'm concerned. You gotta stay alive wherever you're going.) I'm keeping the friends I love, along with their naturally beautiful souls and generous work ethic, and tossing the rotten situations that surrounded our meeting. (Once uncovered, some of these can be rebuilt better than ever.) And of course, I'm keeping my Divine nature and theirs.

Since there are healthier and safer settings where we can manifest wholeness and truth and community, let's do this. It doesn't have to be fancy, backbreaking, or expensive. It doesn't have to look good in pictures. It just has to be real.

Let's wake up and make it real.

*snaps fingers*


Sunday, February 17, 2013

From Pink Frills to the Red Tent

From the beginning, I have never felt sentimental about 'blossoming into womanhood' as it is delicately put. While I was a bit curious about the strange diagrams on the boxes of even stranger products, that was as far as the mystery went at the time. I could not understand why Anne Frank was so awed by the process. It was presented to me as an overly pink and frilly thing to use and to be, and I wanted no part of it.

Now I am 40 and have had years of experience with this event, this altered state we call moontime. My opinion has not changed so much as it has evolved; it has gone from pink to red. This comes, as you might imagine, along with awareness of Goddess: not all at once, never all at once, but one facet, one cycle, at a time. I believe this point of view deserves to be fleshed out, shared, and explained.

I once had a lover who taught me to understand. Far from being squeamish about those days in the month, she adored them and adored me. She introduced me to blood-red flannel pads and showed me how her plants enjoyed the rich, dark soaking water. This flow was anything but domestic. It was wild and free. We were brimming with vitality, no matter what else was happening. It was our connection to the great Mother, the Source of all life. The power behind this flow, this force, would someday bring her a child against all hope, she knew (and it did happen, years later). It was a treasure, not a mess. I never felt ashamed of it when I was with her. I felt only beauty. The earth fed us, and we fed the earth.

My male companions, overall, didn't get it. One couldn't stop telling me about a Very Scientific Article he'd read. Doctors were saying women didn't need to bleed ever. It wasn't logical. It wasn't sensible. (I could almost read it in Henry Higgins' voice.) I should mention this was a long distance relationship and he had never had to be around me when I was a few days late, when I felt as if something couldn't be contained within me anymore and absolutely had to burst out.

You see, when I call my moontime an altered state, I mean it. I've come to realize it's not just that I'm feeling fuzzy from over-the-counter pain relievers. It's a whole different plane of existence. My perception is something that goes beyond the five senses, beyond even six. It's on the edge of what I imagine psychedelics to be. I don't see or hear things per se, but I notice them in a way I cannot explain in words.

Have you ever heard a song or read an old picture book from your childhood and just barely remembered the innumerable multiple sensations it spun in your tiny head? Taste and color and texture and emotion rolled together, seamlessly and wordlessly.

It's not a high. It's simply a different point of view, a lucid dream that is more real than reality. All senses are heightened to almost painful levels, demanding a retreat from the world at large. It makes me appreciate the Red Tent from the book by that name, as well as the modern ones set up at some Pagan festivals.

Sometimes this moontime state helps me write better. Sometimes it makes me win at yelling. No matter what it is, it's more than a physical phenomenon.

And I do understand why the previous generation of Pagan feminists would like to keep the club exclusive, limiting women's mysteries to those who have experienced those very real blood mysteries. I disagree with them, but I understand. I would open the clubhouse to women who know their womanhood inside, really anyone who lives as a woman. That includes my friends who were born without lady parts, or those who were born with lady parts that never woke up for various reasons. They must belong too, as they are still women inside, just as women who had hysterectomies are still women inside.

This came to mind recently when I joked about drop-kicking my uterus over a goalpost. (Yes, I even used a stereotypically male metaphor--sometimes my cycle really brings out the butch side.) I do complain about my body sometimes. Not everything it does is easy to live with. I had to clear up the misunderstanding when one particularly blunt friend asked if I'd gotten myself neutered.

The answer is no. I have not gotten myself neutered. I certainly don't fault those who need to or even want to remove the original parts. There are plenty of good reasons out there to do it, and it doesn't make you any less of a woman. But as for myself and my own body, if I am able to keep my womanly bits wild and free for a few more years, that's just what I intend to do.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

The Dancing Crone

Ever remember to be awesome and forget to be happy?

On Imbolc, of all times?

(OK, I don't make too much of a big deal about Imbolc beyond feeling the general idea in my heart and observing the change in the seasons. Granted, there is a limit to how much I can devote myself to a specific deity like Brigid, since I am not a polytheist like most of my Pagan friends. I believe the different names and forms are parts of the same force--yes, even the ones who seem incompatible with each other. It would be much easier for me as a Pagan if I didn't have this view, but I do.)

The day began appropriately enough. Instead of the first robin of spring, which isn't really a milestone in the Southern USA, I heard the unidentified first songbird of Imbolc. The cat heralded this occasion with some excited chattering at the window, basically cat language for 'Yum.'

I made a mental note to myself that this was sort of an Imbolc thing and ought to be mentioned to someone later. Eventually I got out of bed. I was still just kind of there. Meh.

I decided it was finally time to check out the Saturday morning farmer's market I'd been hearing about for years. It didn't just have produce or soap or orchids or farm-raised alligator meat. It was crowded with people and with innumerable local, beautiful items for sale. I probably could have bought something at all 50 or so booths. I smelled and tasted the most wonderful things I never even knew existed.

But I had an agenda, practically a checklist. Forget 'the gay agenda'--the nominally bi agenda for this event was to buy some veggies and talk to someone about the hula hoop classes. Serious business, that. (Oh yeah, and avoid the booth with the very recent ex-in-laws, at least for now.)

On the way to the hula hoop booth, I saw a grinning, snowy-headed woman in a long skirt and sneakers, dancing in front of the live band. I considered stopping there to dance too. It might please the old woman.

Now, my usual approach is to mosey on into a situation, do something cool for a few seconds, then mosey back into the crowd. It involves walking briskly, half lost in my thoughts, and not going too deeply into any experience for long.

I do not recommend that approach.

This time I danced for more than a few seconds. The happy old woman danced with me. She had pink lipstick on her dentures, but she didn't care.

I stayed and danced through the guitar solo, the bass solo. It was long enough to allow this woman's happiness to rub off on me. I forgot myself and realized I was smiling.

She looked at me from under her big hat and asked for my name, listening intently. She said hers was June.

Joy and June. Earlier, that would have been another mental note, another impressively poetic idea to share. At this point, it didn't even compare to the moment itself.

When the song was over we waved goodbye and I headed for the hula hoops, but now I felt different. I was smiling, with a smidgen of a good kind of cry behind my eyes somewhere. Moments are a little overwhelming when you're not used to them.

I intend to have more moments. I intend to make time for them and show up fully for them. I am already alive and do not need to hurry to the end. The Crone knows this, and it makes her happy. I intend to remember the same and let it make me happy every day.

So mote it be!