Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Introspections About War

Last night I watched Lone Survivor, a film documenting the true story of a Navy Seal team in Afghanistan. This film has been critically acclaimed as a tale of heroism, of patriotism, of glory. And it makes me mad as Hades. Not because it's a bad film. No, I thought it was well and respectfully done.

It makes me angry because in 2015, after thousands of years of warfare, we still haven't learned. War is a needless waste of human life. War is not an effective way to solve our differences. War doesn't change minds, not in a large sense. Sure, individual soldiers are often changed by the experience - sometimes in a positive way, most times in a damaging way. But the cultures that clash don't come out with a greater respect for each other. No, hostility simply becomes more deeply entrenched.

It makes me sick to see the lives of the youth of this country wasted. Many young people from poor or simply rural backgrounds are targeted by military recruiters. They have few options in their lives. Many live in small towns whose main industry was shipped overseas. A tour in the military offers them a stable and decent career, or a ticket to college. They're sold this idea that they are making the world a better place, that they will become heroes, that what they are doing is noble.

Our service members are being sold a lie. Sure, there are times when we are forced to fight, like the World Wars. Goddess grant that those times never come again. But in these modern times, most of our conflicts are purely about politics. It is an ugly thing. What's worse, some of these wars are really about controlling resources.

I ask you - who benefits from all this? Is America "more free" because of the war in Afghanistan? No. The extremist factions who we allegedly were targeting have not gone away. Their resolve to destroy us has only strengthened. Mostly, we damaged the citizenry. Let us not forget that part of the problem in that particular country was of our own creation. The US trained and equipped Afghan soldiers to serve our purposes against the Soviets.

So. We go to war to serve the interests of politicians, many of whom are also involved with big oil and of course, military contractors. We lie and tell our youth they're saving the world, our youth who have no jobs available to them because American business owners shipped our industries overseas. We waste our precious resources on war, when we could be solving the many problems in our own country.

With every war, we go deeper into debt. We lose more and more of our credibility as a nation. Our actions as a nation say "We are bigger and richer than you. We will do whatever we like to you. We will destroy your cities, your homes, your people. We will even attempt to impose our culture and system of government on you. You cannot stop us."

With these pointless wars, we continue the notion that might makes right. That force is appropriate. That human life does not matter, especially those lives that are different from ours. That making money for oil companies and military contractors is more important than anything else.

I say no. There must be an end to the violence. There must be an end to the lies.

I spent many years walking the path of the warrior. I trained in every martial art to which I could gain access. I studied martial philosophy. I am proficient with a bewildering number of weapons. I even considered joining the military. It's hard for me to believe now that the only reason I did NOT join the military is that at that time, they did not allow women on the front line. Yes, I wanted to fight. I wanted to use my skills, to test my resolve, to exercise my sense of honor.

What I did not realize at the time was that my personal anger was behind all of this. I have written before about the tragedies and injustice that I suffered in my early life. I was angry. I was divorced from my emotions. For a time, I was even divorced from my sense of womanhood.

I also havehad a savior complex. It was as if saving others from suffering would someone expiate my own suffering, my own pain. This is actually not a terrible thing. The dark side of the savior complex for me was the unacknowledged wish to cause suffering to others to reduce my own suffering. It was never so bad that I wished harm to the innocent. No, I wanted to harm evildoers. I had no way to strike back at my own abusers, so the injustices of the world were my target.

Thankfully, Goddess knew better than I did. She knew that my sensitive, empathic soul would be scarred and besmirched by the horrors of war. She knew that I was not beyond help, not beyond healing.

I now know that the path of war leads only to death. It has no meaning. There is no nobility in this, no glory. It is pointless and wasteful. Surely, if my home and family were truly threatened, and there was no other option, I would fight. But nowadays, I would try everything else in my power to avoid it. And I would only have done what was necessary, not something good.

I am no longer a physical warrior. Now, my work is raising consciousness with words, with spirit, with love. I will not trouble you with another call for activism. No stirring rhetoric here about the return of Goddess, the reintegration of the feminine to heal the scars of patriarchy.

No. I'm simply a woman who is sad, a woman who is still angry, a woman who is tired of being angry.

I cry for all of the people who are infected with toxic ideas. They think that they have a monopoly on truth, that everyone else is wrong and it is their holy duty to correct others. They think their Gods want them to strike down the unbeliever.

I think that the Divine is unknowable. I think that the Divine is an energy that encompasses and permeates the entire Earth. And I think that force is love and creation. That force has nothing to do with war, with ideology, with domination or control.

If I'm wrong, and the Gods do exist as separate entities, and they really want us to suffer and harm others, then this is not a world I want to live in.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Charge of the Horned God

With thanks to Susan Seddon Boulet
The Pagan Experience - Wk 3- May 18 – Deity and the Divine – This will be the third week’s topic every month and an opportunity for you to share with everyone those who guide, inspire and inform you. Share your favorite invocation or devotional to the Deity of your choice. 

This week, I choose the Charge of the Horned God. There are many invocational and devotional pieces that I love. I've written a few, as well. Today, though, I feel moved to share this particular piece for a good reason. This is how I came up with the name of my coven, Clan of the Wildlings. This explains what a wildling is, and who protects us.

These are the words of the Horned One, whose names are un-numbered:

I am the wild hunter of the forest deep.
I am the fire upon the hill.
I am the sower of the seed
And the tiller of the soil of the earth.
I am the golden warrior
Whose arrows are the shafts from the sun.
The thunder is my hoof fall;
The wilderness my shrine.
I wield the oaken staff,
The elements at my call.
By day I am the sun;
By night I ride upon the wild winds.
I am a stag, a tree and the mountain.
My seed works within the earth's dark womb

For I am the Horned One, Sire of the Universe,
Love and Consort of the Goddess am I.

In the wilderness doth my spirit dwell
And all wildlings and fugitives of oppression
are cherished within my heart.
To these, my hidden children,
I am provider and protector
For all things wild and free
are in my keeping
And all things of beauty and freedom
and love delight me.
Swiftly I come to merriment and laughter, my invocations,
For I am the Lord of all life.

Yet also I have a dark face
For I am Death. The Reaper of Souls.
And terrible is this my dark face
to those who know not the mystery.
Yet to my hidden children,
Who know and love my spirit,
My dark face is also sweet,
For tis the face of deep and hidden wisdom.
I am the giver of knowledge
Life and death are mine to give
From death thou shalt be reborn
unto new life and love.
Therefore seek my spirit and know me
Bright and dark;
Then shalt thou know my mystery.
For I am the Ancient One,
Gentle and fierce:
My faces outnumber the stars:
I am Cernunnos, Herne, Pan, Lugh, the Ancient One

Lord and Sire of the Universe All.

Blessed be!

Sunday, May 10, 2015


The Pagan Experience - Wk 2- May 11 – Time – How do you measure time? How do you make use of linear time in sacred space? How do you call forth the space of timelessness in your physical life? How do you integrate the two for your magickal/spiritual work?

"Time is an illusion. Lunchtime doubly so." - Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

In this age of the smartphone, I no longer wear a watch. Even before the smartphone, I haven't always worn one. Oh, I remember having a swatch back in the day. And I have a bit of a fascination with diving timepieces. Though thinking back, I was most fascinated with the idea of knowing what time it was in the different areas dear to my heart. And of course, the phases of the moon. But really, my goal in life is to live in such a way that I don't have to know what time it is.

My happiest times are timeless. When I am lucky enough to have the time to go backpacking, my sense of time is in harmony with nature. I get up when it becomes light, I eat when I'm hungry, I rest  when I'm tired, and I make camp when there are two fists of sun left in the sky. When it gets dark, I make a fire. Sometimes I go to bed early, and other times, I stay up to watch the stars and spin out speculative ideas, dreams, plans and other such malarkey.

My real life at this point is quite scheduled. Each year, as I build my business, it becomes more and more regimented. The two weekdays that used to be my "free time" have even been encroached upon. In fact, this year, I'm working to reign my schedule back in. I need to spend my time on the most productive work activities and leave myself ample unstructured time. This unstructured time is rarely spent in idleness; mostly, it ends up being used for business administration, neglected housework, writing or artwork. 

Meditation and Yoga are what allow me to do the things that I do. The practice of meditation, especially, acts as a reset button for the nervous system. It breaks the stress cycle by giving us the experience of timelessness. I think it also works because we are withdrawing our senses from the outside world, but that's my own theory. 

This year, I'm also going to start turning off and putting away my phone. I've always been a believer in setting healthy boundaries. Keeping defined office hours has always been a goal of mine. The reality, though, is that I have gotten sucked in to our instant gratification, always on, instant response culture. I've been known to work all night, to stay up late and get up early to work. This has definitely been to my detriment. I've been battling fatigue and burnout for some time now, and I'm taking action to correct this situation. This weekend, for example, I have put a moratorium on work and social media. 

So timelessness in my daily life is meditation, keeping office hours, limiting screen time and spending plenty of time outdoors. 

In ritual…this is an interesting question. I've never given any thought to how I use time in ritual. Generally, I focus more on what needs to happen in sacred space, rather than how long it takes. My experience has been that it all works out. When I enter ritual headspace, things flow in the timeless time of the Gods. I don't think about it, or plan it. 

I do like to celebrate full moons and sabbats close to their astronomical time. I think there is a special magic in celebrating the moment AT the moment. That's one of my goals for my spiritual practice, actually. I want to arrange my life in such a way that I *can* celebrate celestial events at their actual times, up to and including the ones that happen at inconvenient times like dawn or in the middle of the night. 

Accomplishing this form of observance will entail:

  • Advance planning - what will I observe, and when does it happen? (atlas or calendar, website, app)
  • Take all Sabbat days off from work (I'd like to take full moons too, but…I do have to work at some point)
  • Schedule a late morning after night observances

So here we have a high priestess who is most comfortable in the timelessness of nature, who paradoxically also is interested in observing the exact moments of celestial events. One foot in each world, so to speak. That actually does make sense for me.

I'm a half-breed in so many ways. A starry-eyed mystic with a logical, organized mind. An artist and poet who firmly believes in the scientific method. A lover of nature who thrives on endless unmeasured days who wants to study the movement of the heavens by night. Fitting.

That is my magic - I have one foot in each world. I can drop into the timeless mind of ritual consciousness, and I also have a day planner.

Friday, May 1, 2015

The Revolutionary Fires of Beltane

The Pagan Experience - WK 1- May 4 – Fire –  What ignites your passionate fires? What fuels your spiritual fires? What rages in fire’s destructive wake within you? And, what has healed from the cauterizing flames? How do you honor fire? How will you embrace its transformative powers?

Perhaps at some other moment, I will respond to this prompt point by point. Perhaps I'll also discuss fire as an element, as I have done with other elements. But tonight, on this blessed night of Beltane, this holy time to rekindle the need-fire, this is what I have to say. There are tragedies galore all over the news right now. The suffering has a palpable weight, a smell, a taste, a texture, a sound. It galls in my throat, it clogs my nose, it befouls my mouth, it pains my ears and fills my eyes with tears of sorrow and rage. I cannot bear it. No more. Vive la rivoluzione!

“If we respected each other, if we respected animals, and if we respected the land, then we could dispense with laws and cut the middleman out of morality.”

-       Tom Robbins, Another Roadside Attraction, p. 253

Justice. The real meaning of freedom. Nowadays, these are radical notions. But I say that I will stand. I will speak up. I will not be silenced. We simply must make a change. We must control ego to bring about peace. There must be a change of consciousness, a raising of our collective vibration. We must wake up and unite as a community, as a nation. We must interrupt our daily routines to make our collective will heard:

We want our country back.

This country cannot belong to a privileged few. It was a built with the blood of millions. We sacrificed our lives, our homes, all we had in the pursuit of freedom. Ironically, we first fled here to escape religious tyranny. A tyranny that now threatens to return.

The real tyranny is the use of force. Any group can abuse their power and cloak it with a mask of their choosing. The moment we stop focusing on living our own bliss and instead turn to directing the lives of others, we are lost. We have turned to tyranny.

Perhaps our country now is dissolute. Perhaps we are overfed and decadent. I say this is exactly the goal of that privileged few.

Their tactics are most ingenious and dastardly. They force the lower classes into poverty by shipping industry overseas, where laborers are unprotected by our own democratic laws. Their wealth grows in proportion to the degradations of our own citizens.

Meanwhile, their products are weapons that pacify the populace. Television and all forms of media tell us what to believe: go to work, earn lots of money to enjoy the finer things in life (and we’ll tell you what those are). Believe. Exclude, bully and harass others that are enemies of the state. Be silent, be passive and consume.

Industrial food keeps the populace foggy, sick and addicted. An endless cycle of artificial chemistry to addle our brains: sugar, salt, fat, carbs. Dead food. Not food at all. Bloated, sick bodies cannot resist the whims of our ruling class. We can barely get through the week, caring for ourselves and our families. Fomenting a real revolution is currently beyond our means.

With a pacified populace and an endless supply of capital, the tyrants turn to larger prey: the world stage of politics, war and trade. This too is a cycle – start a war to create demand for defense contractors, stimulate the economy, make more money, consolidate more power…lather, rinse, and repeat.

The global players vie for control of resources. People, animals, plants, all of our natural resources and our blessed Earth itself, these things are bought and sold, used and abused. Like a diseased animal, the global economy fouls its own nest, with no regard for its own survival, much less that of its descendants.

I say to you, all my relations, what shall we do?

We must unite.

We must act.

We must not use violence to achieve our goals. As a person acts so does s/he become. We must first heal ourselves in body, mind and spirit, in thought, word and deed.

It begins with self-love. It begins with the knowledge that all beings have worth. All beings have their place in the web of life. What we do to any part of the web affects the entire web.

We must practice love. We must practice compassion. We must practice freedom. We must practice peace.

We must rise above the urge to harm, to diminish the light of others. We must accept that our differences make us strong, and that we are strongest together.

We must unite.

We must act.

We must remake this country. Reclaim it. Re-sanctify it wit the pure light of freedom, of justice for ALL. We must have equality, dignity and opportunity to thrive.

We must take our country back.

So mote it be.

A Blessed Beltane

Calloo, callay, what a wondrous day! Beltane is here, and it's one of my very favorite holidays of all! There are many fine blogs and websites with extensive information about this important Sabbat, should you care to learn more. This post is not a dissertation on the nature of this day.

Today, I just want to share my joy with you. I am grateful to be alive on this day, the dawn of summer. I am so fortunate to live on a homestead out in the country. We have been working hard to nourish and honor the spirits of our land, to bring our steading back to life.

Today, we begin to enjoy the fruits of the season. The farmer next door has ripe strawberries for us to pick. In our yard, everything is in bloom: roses, lobelia, keeria, iris, water iris, clematis, marigold, azalea and more besides, unidentified blooms that delight the eye. In the garden, vegetables are thriving. We also have kittens to love, little bundles of joy and promise. Our handmade boats now rest under a brand-new shelter. In the mundane world, my new name is legal. Best of all, my Clan will gather this Sunday for high ritual and merriment. I have been given so many blessings, and I am grateful.

I hope that all of you celebrate in the way most suited to your spirits. Enjoy this blessed Beltane - get out there and celebrate! Dance, make love, bask in beauty, feast and make merry - BELTANE IS HERE!

May you know the love of the Gods
May you enjoy the fruits of the season
May your garden grow lush
May you feel the warm sun on your face
May you have love and lust in your life
A most blessed Beltane to all!

Blessed be!