Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The People of Mari-El - Europe's Last Pagans

I like to have a little bit of everything on my blog, and I especially enjoy learning about different cultures and their indigenous beliefs. I had never before heard of the Mari El and find their history fascinating. I'm sure you'll agree and I hope you'll enjoy this fascinating guest post from Ty Hulse.

On a hot Summers day, in a sacred grove of trees, a small crowd of people gather around a cluster of spruce trees. A few men stand among them saying prayers to their ancient deities just as they have for thousands of years. The Mari have no churches. Instead they worship in the ancient groves, like the ancient Germans spoken of by Tacitus, and the earliest Romans, Greeks, and some of their fellow Russian people. For it is in the wilderness, the forests that they believe the gods and spirits live in, so it is wrong to try to contain them in a building.

Often called Europe's last Pagans many of the Mari people never actually converted to Christianity or the Muslim faith. Even during the Soviet Era when the religion was outlawed the people of this Russian province would sneak out into their sacred groves to pray. So it was that the Mari Traditional Religion (MTR) became the only indigenous faith to survive in Europe. Although to some extent many of them still have images of saints in their homes, are baptized and they may cross themselves during ceremonies. There is a varying amount of Christian and Islamic faith that has worked its way into their religion. If one read about how their religion was structured a hundred and one looks at it now it will become apparent that they pay more attention to a supreme deity than they used to. At one time it was much more common for them to believe that the world of gods was a hieracrchy and just as a person in a country would be more likely to talk to their local representative than the president the people of Mari-el used to spend more time worshiping the local deities than the distant ones.

Historically it was common place for the Mari to worship the Keremet a form of regional and or ancestor spirit which reflected their veneration for the animals, rivers, rocks, mountains and trees. At the same time they also feared these entities. Thus sacrifices were made to the Keremet to appease the spirits and avoid their mischief. This internal dualism was common place in the "fairy faiths" of Russia and indeed throughout Europe and Asia. The Maris believed in the existence of an underworld with bright and dark places with those were good and honored going to the bright places. Yet they believed that ancestor spirits could still interfere with and influence the world of the living for good and bad. It was important to them to worship their own ancestor spirits because of this, with the eldest men acting as a form of deputy for the ancestor spirits in the world of the living. This in turn gave the elderly men a place of honor within the Mari society. They also believed in animal reincarnation / resurrection and when they would sacrifice an animal they would burn its heart, lungs, liver, tongue, cartilage, and so forth in a sacred fire. This act was important for they believed that the fire was the intermediary between men and the deities and would therefore carry the soul of the animal which was contained in these parts to the deities so that the animal could be brought back to life. After the animal had been sacrificed its skin would be hung in the sacred trees to help expedite this process. again as with many of their rituals we see this same thing occurring from Asia to Ireland. In England for example Christian priests complained that people would still hang animal head and skins from sacred trees long after they had supposedly converted to Christianity. In a large part this is what makes the Mari so interesting, because there are at least some connections between their beliefs and those of the other "fairy faiths" in Europe which have lost much of their knowledge. I use the term "fairy faith" because the word fairy means "those which control the fate of humans." Thus in its original meaning fairy was analogous to deity, only its role was slightly different. In this sense the Mari belief, especially that of a hundred years ago, involved creatures which the Celts would recognize as fairy like and others which they would recognize as being like deities.

Deities and spirits, or fairies dwell within the forests and some 500 registered sacred groves in Mari-el Russia. These sacred groves traditionally had three entrances, one for the animals on the eastern side, another for carrying spring water (which was used to purify animals, people and more) on the southern side of the grove, and the last on the western side for people to enter. When a community enters a sacred grove to pray the priests choose the trees (which are most often oak, birch, or linden) through which the prayers of the people would enter heaven. Similar to how the Greeks, Romans and Germanic people believed Zeus, Jupiter, and Thor respectively could be reached through sacred oaks. In addition to their worship of a primary deity who has multiple natures, spirits, and ancestors the Mari believe that there is an all encompassing life force which gives living things strength, power and energy that all things depend on. This inner power unites everything and is very similar in conception to Tao in Chinese folk religion, Pneum among the ancient Greeks, Vagi among the Finnish peoples, or Brahma among the Hindus.


I have translated many of the fairy tales of the Mari people into English for the first time and am compiling aspects of their religion and beliefs on the web at http://zeluna.net/mari-el and am doing the same with Russian fairy tales at http://zeluna.net/russian-fairy-tale.html

Monday, January 30, 2012

Indoor Fire

Since the next Sabbat to come is a fire festival I wanted to do a quick little post telling everyone how to make an indoor, smokeless fire. This is perfect for anyone who lives in an apartment, has to little space outside for a fire, or for when it's just too damned cold outside.

Me and my husband have done this several times. It's beautiful and mesmerizing to watch. We're both a little fire crazy so this is a nice way to get our flame fix.

It is insanely simple to create and most of the ingredients you need you can find at a dollar store.

You will need :

Epsom Salts

 
 
Rubbing Alcohol



and a Mini Cauldron


or any other small cast iron pot.
 

You should also have something to put the fire out with if it gets out of control and something heat proof to rest the cauldron on. You can you a couple of bricks or a stone trivet. I just bought a rubber heat proof mat from the dollar store.

Pour 1/2 a cup of Epsom salts into your cauldron of choice and cover it with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol.
 
Light it with a match and enjoy the beautiful blue flames it creates.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Celebrating Brighid

As many of you already know the Celtic Goddess Brighid is honored at Imbolc. With the day itself fast approaching I thought I would take a little time to pay homage to her.

Brighid is someone of a Jill-of-all trades. She has two sisters each with the name Brighid and is considered the classic triple Goddess. Together they're associated with healing, crafts, and home. She was thought to watch over women during child birth and was also patron to musicians, artists, and healers. She has also been known to be helpful in matters of prophecy and divination.

Brighid's name comes from the Celtic word Brig meaning exalted. She is known as the High One of Strength and the bringer of civilization. Her worship was spread all over Ireland but originated in the southeast region known as Leinster, and was attended by and all female priesthood.

Brighid was the daughter of the Dagda, a Celtic fertility God and supreme deity of the land. She was the mother of Ruadan who was half giant and half God. Early myths say she was married to the Irish King, Bres Mac Elatha in an attempt to form an alliance between the Tuatha De Danaan and the Formorian sea-giants.

In their attempts to help transition Pagans to Christianity it is likely that she was turned into St. Brigit of Christian mythology. As St. Brigit she was either a virginal blind nun who gouged out her own eyes in an attempt to keep her self pure, or a friend of Mary mother of Jesus and her nursemaid/ his foster mother. St. Brigit is honored at Candlemass, what the Christian's hoped to turn Imbolc into.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Imbolc Mac & Cheese

With Imbolc right around the corner I start thinking of all sorts of yummy dairy laden delights to whip up. As I've mentioned before I can't really celebrate Sabbats. One way I can make the day a little more special for myself is by putting on my Kitchen Witch hat and cooking up a Sabbat themed meal.

One of my husbands favorites is my home made macaroni & cheese casserole. I love the versatility of this recipe. I've made a scrumptious seafood pasta bake with green onions and peas, I've made a ball park version with bell peppers and kielbasa, and I've made an Italian version with fresh herbs and sausage. Add a fresh salad with seasonal veggies on the side and you've got a full meal.

Despite the many ways I've transformed this our staple version is usually filled with chopped ham and broccoli. I hope you try it out for your Imbolc festivities.

Ingredients:
  • 1 pound macaroni
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup minced onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 8 ounces shredded Cheddar or Colby cheese (for a creamier cheese sauce use 4 ounces shredded and 4 ounces Velveeta)
  • 1 bag frozen broccoli
  • 1 large Ham steak chopped
Directions:
  1. Cook macaroni according to box directions, add broccoli during last few minutes of cooking time.
  2. In a medium saucepan melt the butter and saute onions and garlic on medium heat. When the onions are tender slowly stir in flour until it makes a yellow paste. Gradually whisk in milk stirring constantly over medium heat until sauce thickens (you'll know it's thick enough when it coats your whisk).
  3. Add salt, pepper and cheese and stir gently until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth.
  4. Combine cheese sauce, ham, broccoli and macaroni and pour into a greased 13x9inch baking dish.
  5. Bake for 30mins at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. When finished cover with tinfoil and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before serving.
Enjoy!

Friday, January 27, 2012

The High Priestess


I've read many sources that interpret this card using Judaic and Egyptian mysticism. The pillars flanking The High Priestess for example are supposed to represent Jachin and Boaz of Solomon's temple, and she is clearly holding the Torah in her hands. As I don't follow these spiritual practices I have developed my own interpretations from the symbols on the card.

The High Priestess is partner to two other cards in the deck. The Magician who we've already met and The Empress. The Priestess balances both of these cards. While the Magician represents active physical power, The High Priestess represents inactive, mental power. The High Priestess is the impassive and emotionless representation of the sacred feminine in contradiction with The Empress's bubbly warmth. She is the master of platonic relationships while her sister The Empress is the archetypal mother and wife.

1 We see a veil of pomegranates behind The High Priestess. The Pomegranates represent the fertile ground of possibility. Don't be mistaken though, the fertility is not sexual but personal. It is the ground upon which we realize our full potential.

2 Upon The High Priestess's head we see a crown. Some see this as the crown of Hathor, the ancient Egyptian bovine fertility Goddess. It is meant to look like the horns of a cow with a solar disk resting between them. When I see this I see the symbol of the triple Goddess. Both interpretations however further symbolize the fact that she is meant as a feminine archetype.

3 Caught up in her gown we see a crescent moon. The crescent moon symbolizes mystery because it is not fully visible the way the full moon is. Depending on the answers you're seeking and her placement in a reading The High Priestess can represent the unconscious mind. She can also represent all of the things the unconscious mind is capable of. Perception, foresight, and intuition.

4 The Torah she holds might symbolize ancient wisdom and The High Priestess's keen penetrating mind.

5 The cross in the center of her chest is a controversial symbol. While many may see it as a biblical representation of crucifixion. However, since most of this cards symbolism is rooted in Judaic and Egyptian mysticism, and neither the Jewish people or ancient Egyptians worshipped Christ it is much more likely meant to be seen with a broader definition. It can be looked at as representing the four elements, eternal life, health, and union. When seen in this light it represents The High Priestess's self-reliance. She has all of the mysteries of the universe locked within her being.

6 The pillars on either side of The High Priestess aren't just marked with a B and a J, they are black and white. The opposing pillars represent her balance, serenity, objectivity, and sound judgment.

Key Words: Inactive, Impassive, Emotionless, Platonic Relationships, Potential, Mystery, The Unconscious, Perception, Foresight, Intuition, Wisdom, Penetration, Self-Reliance, Serenity, Objectivity, Sound Judgment.

When doing inverse readings: The opposite of The High Priestess is someone who rules from a place of passion. They have poor judgment and aren't willing to dig for truth. They're someone who is happy being ignorant and accepts the first explanation they are given for anything.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

In The Broom Closet

Earlier today I saw a YouTube video where a girl was talking about coming out of the broom closet. As this is something I struggle with on a daily basis my interest was immediately piqued as it always is when I hear other people talk about their experiences with this particular problem. To be perfectly honest I was ... less than pleased.

To give a rundown of what she had to say, apparently she's annoyed by the very term "broom closet" as it's just a cutesy pop phrase that pagans use. According to her it's trivial compared to coming out as a homosexual which is something much more dire. She also said that most people who talk about coming out are simply looking for attention and that most people who find paganism are turned onto it by the glamorized Hollywood examples they see in movies and on television and that people shouldn't come out "too soon" because you can't really be pagan until you study ALL religions.

To express my issues with this one at time, for starters what the hell would you like us to call coming out. Does someone have a better, simpler, more accurate phrase than that. If they do I'd really like to hear it. Let's be honest it's the same thing as coming out of the closet. The only difference is you're expressing your spiritual beliefs rather than your sexual preferences. Calling it the "broom" closet rather than just the closet is our way of keeping it separate and NOT trivializing the struggles of someone who's trying to tell their friends and family that they're gay.

Secondly while bringing home your partner for the holidays is much more serious than simply wearing a pentacle to Thanksgiving without raised eyebrows, coming out for a Pagan is still terrifying. Pagan's are bullied, physically and verbally. To this very day people are murdered for being Pagan, or because someone assumes they're Pagan, all over the world. Even in America there are people who won't bat an eyelash at sending death threats to someone who's pagan. Open Pagans have been ostracized from their communities and families. Pagan homes and business have been vandalized by some nut or another. Coming out to your friends, family, and the world at large could leave you open to a whole shit-storm of hate. Don't tell me coming out as a Pagan is fucking trivial.

As for talking about it for attention, I live in a household with my devoutly Christian parents. I have to listen to them ridicule and insult Pagans. They talk about how they're wrong, evil, going to hell, and how they've all been foolishly duped into worshiping Satan. I have to listen to all of this bullshit with my blood BOILING and I can't say a word. I live here with my husband and son and I have to keep the peace. I can't even come out on Facebook because my mother, other family members, and people from my parents church are on there. Every time I like a pagan page I do so with bated breath wondering if someone will notice and say something. I have a Facebook page linked to this page and I can't connect it to my personal page for fear someone might see it. And that's just Facebook. All of my spiritual books I have to either keep hidden or pretend they're fiction. I can't practice Rituals, I can't openly celebrate Sabbats or Esbats. Other than my husband, my friends and this blog, I live in secret. I don't talk about coming out for the attention. It's something I dream about and wish I could to do without having holy water and salt thrown at me. I tried telling them in my teens and they told me I was possessed.

Finally being pagan isn't something I chose. It's just who I am. I tried with all I was to be Christian. I went to church, excelled in Sunday school, I got married in a church and had my son baptised in one. Finally after years of feeling spiritually numb I gave up and gave in. Being Pagan is what resonates through my very soul. As for studying, I do that because it interests me. Even if I didn't though, I would still be Pagan, I just wouldn't have a name for what I was. There is no one person who can know everything there is to know about every religion there is. There will always be something new uncovered and unknown. Don't tell someone who's brave enough to share their faith with the world that they shouldn't do it until they've done more homework.

I don't like to bash people which is why I won't name names, and I won't link to the video. If you've seen it you know what I'm talking about. I don't care who you are. Don't trivialize someone's experiences and struggles simply because you think you're above them. I'm glad for you if you have a secure enough family and social situation that you can feel confident telling everyone who you are. Not everyone has that though and just because you do, doesn't mean that's the norm. Before you start insulting someones struggle, try a little empathy.

Elixir of Brighid


Warm a pint of milk in a small saucepan. Add a teaspoon of honey and 1/8 tsp of vanilla. Stir constantly until the honey is dissolved. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Pour it into your chalice and drink to taste the sweetness of the Goddess.

Perfect for your Imbolc ritual.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

My very own blog button



 

A Pagan Movie - Made by Pagans for Pagans

A few days ago I received an email about a Pagan movie recently released on DVD called Dark of Moon. I had heard about this movie a few months back but hadn't heard anything new about it until very recently.

 ~"Dark of Moon centers around the Coven of the Mystick Light...a group that formed in college, lost some members to graduation and careers, and has settled down into a comfortable practice for the past few years. The coven consists of two women (Beth and Sammi) and three men (Zeke, Miller, and Drew). They have no connection to any Tradition, and consider themselves leaderless, deciding everything on consensus.

But one of their members isn't happy. He feels like his spirituality, and his life, are stagnant. He wants to get more out of both, and a chance encounter with a Gardnerian Coven leads him to leave his old group to join a Traditional teaching coven.

This act shakes up the small circle. They all look at their lives, and decide that some things just aren't turning out the way they wanted. While some of it's members dedicate themselves towards finding a better job, the film focuses on Beth, who longs for a relationship that will both warm her heart and nurture her spirit. She drags her acid-tongued friend Sammi along for the ride, and their journey takes them from a Pagan activist group meeting, to a psychic development circle, an ADF Druid rite, all the way to the Gardnerian Covenstead where their friend defected to. Along the way Beth and Sammi have their eyes opened to many possibilities...and the audience gets to enjoy the ride"~
I get excited when I hear about any type of new Pagan art being released. Be that a new movie made by someone who actually knows what they're talking about, a new book, or a new musical artist. I also think that when this stuff comes out we should support it. If we keep putting our money into what's important to us we stop it from receding into the shadows of economic decline. When I buy my Llewellyn calendar every year I make sure I buy it from a local pagan shop, so I'll be sure to buy this film as soon as I can.
From all that I've seen and read this movie seems to be about REAL Pagans, no Satan, no ridiculous powers, no flaky hippies. Which is a nice change from the overly doctored Hollywood version. I loved Practical Magick, but let's face it, it wasn't all the practical. We can't jump off the roof and we can't light a candle by blowing on it.. even though that would be extremely awesome and save us all a bundle on lighters and matches. Most pagans, myself included,  nitpick at things like The Craft, and Buffy, and Charmed but it's not every day you see someone saying "you know what, I don't like what's out there so I'll create something different."
Dark of Moon is an independent  film directed, written, and produced by Taliesin Govannon and filmed by Noelle Bye Hanson. For more about the Cast and Crew and to purchase your copy visit Dark of Moon - The Official Movie Site.

Monday, January 23, 2012

From Jerks to Nice Guys

Saturday I did a post about the 4 major negative personalities of women, to keep things equal I had to make sure I talked about the men too. These are the Men that everyone should steer clear of. That includes other men, befriending these people is simply telling the world that you condone their behavior therefore you secretly wish to emulate them the same is true for the Feminazis of the world. Stay away from them ladies. They're never decent friends, it gives the world a poor opinion of you, and nine times out of ten they're looking to screw you over. That being said,
1 The worst type of guy out there is the abusive jerk. There really isn't much that needs to be said about this type of asshole. If a man hits you, pushes you around, or exhibits any violent tendencies toward you at all, run. Everyone loses their temper and lashes out occasionally, but being a real man means knowing how to express that without the use of your fists. Get out, seek help, go to a shelter, do something. Only you can take the first step. I know it's hard but even if that means sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night to go to a neighbors and then the cops do it.
2 The himbo. You know the guy I'm talking about, the Mr. Perfect everything, which wouldn't be bad but he knows he is and won't let anyone forget. This guy is the ultimate narcissist. He thinks he's Adonis and feeds off of other people thinking it too. He will do anything and everything to have his ego stroked and doesn't care who he hurts in the process.
3 The loser. Sadly more often than not the only one painting these men as losers are themselves. They have no self-esteem what so ever so they don't ever do anything for fear that they'll fail. They completely lack ambition and rely on you to make them feel good about themselves. They're needy, and clingy, and often times insanely jealous.
4 The "nice guy". These men are becoming more and more prevalent, and it's nauseating. I talk to at least one a week. They can't spend more than five minutes with someone of the opposite sex (or same sex depending on their orientation) without going on and on about how sensitive they are. The hetero version of these men usually sounds something like this "I love women, they're all so perfect and beautiful, and they're right men are all pigs. I hate men. Sometimes I wish I was a woman, but that's just because I'm so in touch with my feelings. I wish a nice girl would give me the time of day but they either think I'm gay or they just want a jerk" GAG!!! Most intelligent women can spot these manipulative freaks a mile away. Saying that they love women and hate men is not endearing, it's sexist and manipulative. I have some advice for these men. Saying all women are perfect is stupid. No one is perfect and if someone falls for that line of crap they're someone you should be staying away from to begin with because they obviously aren't stable or mature enough to handle a real relationship and neither or you. Really I could go on for hours about how idiotic they sound and how irritating it is to talk to one of these guys.
As I said for the ladies, if you find yourself falling into one of these categories, don't get mad, get help. The only person that can change you is you.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Book 3: Honor Bound

For my third book I've found what I hope will have a slightly more adult flavor than the last book. I've chosen Honor Bound by C.J. Archer, Book 1 in the Witchblade Chronicles. A supernatural romance novel set in Elizabethan England.

Isabel's quiet life as an assistant to one of London's famous apothecaries hides a deadly secret A secret that could see her put on trial for witchcraft if the authorities uncover the truth. But when the authority figure who shows up at her shop is Sir Nicholas Merritt, she's at risk of losing more than her life. She could lose her heart and soul, and the man she loves.

Royal spy Sir Nicholas Merritt can't believe his luck when he stumbles upon Isabel during an investigation. He's been searching for her for 7 long years and now he has her again, in his bed and in his life. Except she's resisting all the way. Worse still, she's somehow tangled up with a plot to assassinate the queen. To hold onto her this time, she must find out why she left him while hiding a secret of his own that could tear them apart forever.

Note: Each of the Witchblade Chronicles books is a complete novel with different characters. They do not need to be read in order.

I'm really looking forward to reading this book. I love period novels, and I love novels set in foreign countries, especially in Europe. Also I'm never one to look down on a well written romance novel.

The Trouble With Spells Review

Today I finished The Trouble with Spells by Lacey Weatherford. I've mentioned a couple of times that the review of this book is not going to be pretty so if you're a fan of the book or the series, try not to take offense and remember that we're all entitled to our own opinions.

I said when I first started reading this book that I loved the Twilight series. Apparently so did the author. Before anyone gets huffy with me I've done my research and I'm pretty sure that the Twilight series started coming out first, if I'm wrong please correct me. There are just way to many similarities. He's the resident bad boy that all the girls want and all the boys are jealous of. He can read her mind (although she can also read his). She's asks him for sex while he turns her down to protect their virtue and to keep her safe. Also he says he wants to marry her when they've been dating for maybe a few weeks. He also sleeps next to her every night and keeps a quilt tucked around her to separate their bodies (just like the Twilight series).

The biggest difference between the two books is that they're witches instead of vampires. Also they're apparently Christian witches. Odd but not entirely unheard of. I'll give her a little credit for making an attempt to talk about the Rule of Returns and for getting the names of some magickal tools right. I don't have a problem with the Harry Potter or fantasy style of witchcraft writing but accuracy is always nice.

In my opinion it seemed like a combination of a Silver Ravenwolf 101 book and Twilight with a splash of Practical Magic and Sabrina the Teenage Witch for good measure. Other than that there were some small language quirks that I found irritating (two people who live in the same house are not "visiting" with each other simply because they're chatting). Also Portia was a little to vapid for my taste. Unless one of the sequels literally falls in my lap I don't think I'll be searching out the rest of this series.

Over all I'd give it a 1 out of 5 rating.

Be A Feminist, Not A Feminazi

This morning I decided to visit a site I haven't been to in about a year, Heartless Bitches International. I found it when I was a teenager and fell in love with their kick but, take charge, attitudes. I've found myself returning over the years to be tickled by their scathing wit, and to remind myself that there are like minded people living in the world today. One has to really look into and explore the site appreciate what they have to offer and to understand that they aren't really heartless, they just aren't ruled by their more tender feelings. Something everyone needs to step back from every once in a while.  
Gender equality is an integral part of my pagan beliefs and after a morning of having my feminist flame kindled I decided to share my own views on with a short series on feminism and female empowerment. There are 4 types of women who severely hinder the trail our fore mothers have blazed. First there are what I would call feminazis. By this I mean women who instead of wanting equality for women, want superiority. They think that for some reason their uterus grants them infinite rights that surpass others. They think that somehow it furthers their cause to treat all men like simple children. They lump all men into stereotypes just as demeaning as the ones they abhor being lumped into. Treating men like dirt doesn't do anything to prove they're mature reasonable adults who deserves equal or in their case superior treatment.
Then there are the princess feminazis who think that they're so wonderful they shouldn't have to do anything at all. They have no interest in being independent and standing on their own two feet. They'd rather live in a perpetual childhood that allows them to play all day, and all night and never have to contribute to their families, relationships and society at large. They want to rule the roost without putting in the work to earn them that right. These women seem to fancy themselves "Goddesses" who are alluring, brilliant, and so above the tasks of mere mortals that everyone else should wait on them hand and foot. Last I checked Goddesses have never been above putting in a hard day's work. While the aforementioned feminazis disrespect all men, the princess versions disrespect everyone, including their fellow women. The classic and nauseating passive-aggressive "femme-fetal". "Why no sir, I can't do that I'd chip a nail, you're a big strong man, can you do it? Oh it's done? Men are so easy to control." Gag!
The other side of the coin is the subservient slave. Men are the King's of their castles and should be left wanting for nothing. I don't what more I can say about these ladies, other than I pity them. Someone at some point in their lives beat into them that they aren't worth anything unless they're serving some man. While their situations are sad it's hard to feel for them since they won't leave the situation they're in.
The fourth and final kind of woman who needs an extreme wake up call are those that lead two lives. They play subservient slave for their husbands and then the ultimate feminazis while with their girlfriends. They moon over every new beau, and when the relationship ends they tell everyone within earshot that men are dogs and pigs. The female side of the nice-guy problem. For some reason they can't figure out why men don't want a women who cares so much, it must be because they're all shallow. They provide no positive example for other women or young girls and actually set us back on the road to an equal future.
If you're a woman and you find yourself in one of these categories don't get offended, you can change today. Also don't think I'm singling out women, men are just as bad and you can look for a post about them in the next few days.

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Magician

While the Fool comes first in the deck he is noted by a 0 instead of I due to his lack of life experience. The card we see as I is The Magician, the master of all.
Looking at the card itself you'll notice where the number 1 is marked there is a table laden with the symbols of the other four suits, also representative of the elements. The Chalice (Water), The Sword (Air), The Wand (Fire), and The Pentacle or Coin (Earth). This represents his control over the universe. The table can be seen as a work table which can represent his creativity, talent, and skill.
Around The Magician's waist marked by the number 2 we see a snake eating its tail also called the Ouroboros. The Ouroboros symbolizes immortality, and The Magician's power over the cycle of life and death itself.
Above his head marked by the number 3 we see the universal symbol for infinity. Like the Ouroboros this symbolizes his willpower to control the very fabric of time. The Magician will stop at nothing to be the master of all.
The number 4 points to the position of The Magician's arms. He has formed himself into a lightning rod which represents many aspects of his personality and purpose. He is balanced and conscious of the entirety of life. As above so below. It also symbolizes the concentration he utilizes in order to achieve his level of mastery.
Some key words you may consider when doing your own readings may be: Mastery, Control, Creativity, Talent, Skill, Immortality, Power, Willpower, Balance, Concentration and Conscious awareness.
If viewing the card as inversed perhaps this is a person who craves power without retrospective, or perhaps someone who uses their talents for negative ends. It can also represent someone who is the exact opposite of The Magician, someone who is weak willed or insecure.

Happy Birthday To Me

Things in my life, while they haven't been crazy have left me in a state of mental upheaval. We desperately need to move out of here and both my husband and I have been working our buts of trying to make it possible. As per the Witchy Reading Challenge I've been doing a lot of extra reading lately and am just about finished with Book 2. So you can expect my review of it soon (it's not going to be pretty).

On Sunday I turned 25. The glorious man in my life took the day off from work and my mother watched Adrian so we could go out to breakfast, and then off to a day of lingerie shopping. Yes, I have a sick obsession with bras and panties, I'll have 30 bras and one pair of jeans and be totally okay with it. My mother cooked my favorite dinner, pot roast with mushrooms and root veggies, and a black forest cake for dessert. (YUM!) 

As happens every year I realize just how much older I'm getting and I spent most of the day joking that I was half way to 50, and 5 years from 30 (aging has always been a big deal to me, not sure why), and I did have to internalize that 25 is a big milestone. If 50 is middle aged then isn't 25 like quarter aged? I know that sounds silly but to me that means a whole 1/4th of my life is gone and never coming back. I've contemplated stuff like this for my entire life.

Much like when I first turned 18 it leaves me with a feeling that things NEED to change. It really forced me to evaluate my life. What do I want the next 25 years of my life to entail? Do I want to be here? God's No. I want us to be out, and on our own, and independent, preferably long before I'm 30. It's important to make the best of the situation you're in but it's also important to strive for better at all times. Also much like when I turned 18 that feeling brings a change on the horizon. I started dating my husband when I was 18 we were married at 19 and I never looked back.

So here's to the upcoming year and a hope that things will be different.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Book 2: The Trouble with Spells

Continuing on the Witchy Reading Challenge I'm starting book 2, The Trouble with Spells by Lacey Weatherford.
 
Portia Mullins had always lived the life of a normal teenager, up until her sixteenth birthday. She is then informed by her grandma that she is actually a witch who is a descendant of a long line of witches and warlocks. After overcoming her disbelief she finds that being a member of the coven comes with one great perk in the form of the school's handsome bad boy, Vance Mangum. Vance and Portia have an immediate connection as a budding romance begins, only to be threatened by turbulent skies on the horizon as Vance's checkered past rears it's ugly head to haunt them. Portia is forced to use her untried powers in defense of everything she loves in a desperate attempt to hold onto the one thing that really matters in her life.
 
I'm not usually into Young Adult Romance novels but I LOVED the Twilight series so I figured I'd see how this one is. I mean really, how can a book with hot guys and magick be bad, right?

Bewitching the Werewolf Review

Last night I finished my first book for the Witchy Reading Challenge. What a sexy book, or rather short story, and not shy sex either, in your face sex.

I liked the main character Megan Stephens. She's funny and quick witted. Her client, Zachary Conner, seems like a man any woman would want to spend a little time getting to know. Both him and the animal inside.

It was a little rushed ever for a short story however but on the whole a very fun read, also it included a excerpt from her book Love is Darkness so that was nice to have.

All in all I'd say I give it a 4 out of 5 rating.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The Fool


The cards begin at 0 with The Fool. The Fool represents the Questioner at some kind of beginning. Many see it as representative of the beginning of life itself, or adulthood. You can see where 1 is marked on the card that The Fool is on the cusp of something, about to step off a cliff. Now as the questioner we only see a very small portion of the cliff. It could be high and dangerous or low to the ground and safe. This is representative of being unaware of what is yet to come.
Where 2 is marked we can see that The Fool's face is upturned to the sky, ignoring what may come. This symbolizes a leap of faith. He is a free spirit willing to take risks, and dive in without looking. It may symbolize a spontaneous individual or perhaps one that needs a more spontaneous spirit.
Both 3 and 4 show the possible influences over The Fool. They could be perhaps what has driven him to his thoughtlessness. The sun at his back could be urging him on gently while the small white dog is more of a mystery. It could be a faithful companion or something nipping at his ankles pushing him away. This is something that relies entirely on the questioners interpretation.
5 shows The Fools arms open wide and his things packed. He is ready to face life head on and embrace it with all he has.
Key Words: Beginnings. Unaware. Leap of faith. Free spirit. Risk taker. Spontaneous. Thoughtlessness. Innocence. Naivety.
If you are someone who uses inverse means when doing a reading consider all of the qualities that were just presented. Think of the ways in which these could be a negative influence in one's life. Perhaps it is someone who purposefully ignores clear signs in order to carry on with irresponsible behavior.

Book 1: Bewitching the Werewolf

Today starts Day one of Magaly's Witchy Reading challenge and I'm putting reading Bag of Bones on hold so I can start Bewitching the Werewolf a short story by Caroline Hanson.

When witch for hire, Megan Stephens, is assigned to help the local werewolf pack leader find a mate, she thinks the job will be easy. Get in, get him up and get gone. But when she meets Zack Connor, she realizes her future might have a lot more dog jokes in it than she ever imagined.

I found this book for free on my Kindle but it seems to have received fairly high reviews so we'll see. As soon as I finish I'll be sure to post my personal review. If you've read it and you love it or hate it let us know what you think.

Check out the Witchy Reading Challenge page or head on over to Magaly's Pagan Culture blog for more info.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Inequality for All

Until today I had never even heard of Jessica Ahlquist or her struggle to have a prayer banner removed from her school wall. In the post is a link to a similar article in support of Damon Fowler. While both of these teens are atheists they help to bring light to a serious problem that everyone of a minority faith (or no faith at all) has experienced on some level in their lives.

There seems to be this opinion among most Christians (I understand that this statement doesn't represent all of Christian faith just a vast majority of them) that they're being attacked. That those of us who are not Christian are all out to rally together and stop them from practicing and celebrating their faith. They fight when Christian tablets are taken out of courtrooms, and when prayers are removed from town meetings and school functions, and take particular offense over the holiday season when people dare to say Happy Holidays rather than Merry Christmas. Conservative law makers even try to support bullies on the grounds that they should be able to speak their minds about whatever they want if their faith dictates them to do so.

There is always a common thread among those who get into a huff over these issues. "They're spoiling our fun" "We're not hurting anyone" "Really it's more historical than religious" ultimately what they mean to say is "How dare the little people challenge the status quo, we were happy with the way things were." They spout long speeches that have no basis in real fact saying things like "this country was founded on Christian principals" No it wasn't. This country was founded on principals of freedom and fairness. If you happen to see those principals reflected in your religious tenants it's simply because all positive standards are founded on common ground. Not because your religion was the ring leader.

It's doubly sad that they are so convinced that their religious freedoms are being infringed upon but have no problem infringing on the religious freedoms of others. If you want to display prayers and religious scripture on your own homes, in your church, and in your private schools be my guest. But I pay taxes just like everyone else, I am not Christian, I don't feel comfortable paying for Christian rhetoric to be shoved at my child, and if my child is not Christian they shouldn't be forced to have it looming at them every day. It is a clear example of the school supporting solely those that are Christian whilst suggesting that those of any other faith (or lack thereof) couldn't possibly wish for those things for their school.

I personally have no problem with the prayer, it says nothing offensive, however, why must it end in Amen and why must it address the Christian God. Why can't it simply be a school mission statement there by purporting a positive message and being inclusive. Why does it HAVE to be Christian, why does it HAVE to be a prayer. For some reason people think that unless it has some type of Christian flavor it's not really a positive message.

Meanwhile they get offended and attack Pagans and Atheists alike if they dare to try and celebrate their beliefs publicly. A woman who decided to challenge the "all are included" policy at her child's school was turned away and told after the fact, after bibles were distributed and long standing Christian activities had taken place within the school, they she could not hand out Pagan literature because policies were being revised. I've read countless articles documenting pagan shops being attacked and vandalized by Christian's, and recently a woman was told she had to check with the librarian in order to access pagan and occult websites because their filtering system deemed them as criminal.

There is a clear double standard out there and those who benefit from it are not happy that people are standing up and asking once and for all for things to be fair. Either ALL religions have a place in government or NONE of them do. Personally I think it easier if religion stays a private matter rather than a public one.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Tarot 101

Did you notice that little tab over there on the far right?
Something has inspired me to start offering some 101 information to help people learn more about Tarot cards.

I've been working with and studying Tarot cards for about Eleven years and have never been disappointed by what the cards have to tell me. Now when I say that, I don't mean that I've never had a negative reading. I certainly have. Every time I've had a negative reading and try to either A) ignore it, or B) scoff at it, the reading has come true anyways. Whenever I've had a negative reading and have tried to work with it I've been able to turn things around or at the very least come out on the other side with a little less shell shock.
Everyone has a different approach when using Tarot. Some use the cards as a meditation tool, some use them as a way to focus their perceived psychic abilities, and others use them simply as a divination tool. While some may argue that these are all similar approaches I feel that they are very different and the choice between the three gives insight into the person who is working with them.
Whether you are asking a serious question or are just looking to have a little fun Tarot Cards can be a powerful and exciting tool. I hope the knowledge I've gathered for myself will be useful to someone else.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

You're Going Out in That?!?

Tonight I decided to post about a topic that may seem harsh but I feel should be addressed. Clothing and appearance. First let me say don't worry. I have no intentions on getting into some lengthy post telling you what's in this season. Also I'd like to make it clear that I am a full supporter of wearing what makes you comfortable and damn anyone who doesn't like it. Hell I've been known to go to walmart in my PJs myself. Now that being said....

If you are a regular reader you may be aware of the fact that I live in New England, more specifically Massachusetts. The state of the the beloved Witch City, otherwise known as Salem. Surprisingly enough, I've been there a few times. As I said before, you should dress in whatever way makes you the most comfortable with you, however some of these people (who I'm sure are all lovely in their own right) dress as if every day is Halloween, and yes I meant to say Halloween and not Samhain, because they all look like they're going to a who can find the most ridiculous outfit party. Now that's fine if that's the way you want to dress, but then don't be surprised when people can't take you seriously, and they think you're just some nut who never grew up.

I'm a little eccentric, and I can appreciate others who are as well but some of them man... wow, they just take it to a whole new level. They've got their eyes ringed in so much eyeliner they look like raccoons, long black robes, every color of the rainbow streaked through their hair, and enough jewelry to anchor a ship. Not just young people, oh no. I'm talking men and women in their 50's and 60's (and up) too. There's nothing wrong with a statement piece or two, but their entire bodies are statements. They just scream "LOOK AT ME, I'M ODD, LOOK AT ME." Then they babble on and on about how unfair it is that Witchcraft isn't taken seriously. Gee, I wonder why. You tell people "no it's not like The Craft, or Harry Potter, it's a real belief system" All the while they're looking at you thinking Then why do you look like you teach at Hogwarts.. didn't I see Snape wearing that same outfit, actually no, his was a little more tasteful.

I don't think it's right to judge people for the way they look, I don't, I think it's really unfair. The problem is, before someone opens their mouth the only impression you have of them is what they look like. Sadly enough, sometimes someones appearance is just too distracting to allow you to fully focus on what they have to say. Some of the more cliched looks are fun, and well down right sexy and I don't really have a problem with them, but the fact of the matter is you wouldn't wear a ball gown to go grocery shopping would you? and you wouldn't wear a nightgown to your sisters wedding. It's called dressing for the occasion.

I hate to put things this way.. but it makes us all look bad. Especially if someone asks you about the way you dress and you tell them it's "traditional ceremonial garb". First of ritual or ceremony is supposed to be sacred, it's a private communication between you and your Gods/Goddesses/Ancestors. So why are you wearing your "ceremonial garb" to Starbucks? Planning on calling the corners over your latte are we? I'm guessing not. Second of all, I'm a little bit of a history nut, there is nothing traditional about what these people wear. If that's what they're going for they might want to try something like this....
Not something that makes them look like an aging hooker, or Esmeralda after a bender.

Now I'm not trying to insult anyone but really take a long look in the mirror and ask yourself why you dress the way you do. Is it because you want to or simply because you can. Try to remember as you put on your eighth coat of mascara and are chipping the porcelain on your vanity with your 20 pound ankh necklace that the reason people don't take you seriously has nothing to do with your belief system. By all means dress whatever way you want, if you want to wonder around with a tinfoil hat and a cape, it's really none of my damned business. If however you dress like that simply for the attention and because you're trying to fit into the mold of what a Witch is "supposed" to look like, you're just adding to the problem.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Just Not Funny

This afternoon I logged onto my facebook to take a break from some cleaning I was doing and see "If Fred Got Two Beatings Per Day..." WHAT?!?!?!? I just had to read this article and yet again I'm angered by the public school system.

Apparently Beaver Ridge Elementary School in Norcross Atlanta decided they would try some "cross curriculum problems" in an effort to combine social studies and math. One question was "Each tree had 56 oranges. If eight slaves pick them equally, then how much would each slave pick?" again I say WHAT?!?!?!? What the hell is wrong with these people? You wanna add some social studies to your math here's a question. "If 8 evil and bigoted slave owners are forced to free their slaves and each has 10 slaves, how many men does that free."

When, as would be expected, concerns were brought up the spokeswoman for Gwinnett County school Sloan Roach was quoted saying
We understand that there are concerns about these questions, and we agree that these questions were not appropriate.
"Oops our bad" I'm sorry but maybe you should have these discussions before you send home the damned homework, or gods forbid if you plan on changing your curriculum style you notify the parents with perhaps a sampling of what it would look like. These half-assed apologies are not good enough. They just aren't I'm sorry.

I want to have the utmost respect for teachers, I really do. Yet time and time again they disappoint us all. All over the news we hear reports of teachers beating students, bullying students, having sex with students, telling students to bribe them for good grades, shoving religion at them and generally warping their young minds in unspeakable ways. What does the public get in return? These half-assed, half-hearted "apologies" if you can call them that. "I don't know what I was thinking" "It was a misstep in judgment" "We were just trying something different" "I didn't realize the impact of what I did would have."

I'm sorry but don't our tax dollars pay their bills? I think we deserve a little more than some cliched speech. I'll say it again, it's just not good enough. We entrust these people with the future of our world and they treat it like it's a chore, and damn us for expecting them to be good at their jobs, because let's not forget, that's what it is. Teaching youth is their JOB, and if anyone else is bad at their job or abuses their power in grievous ways we would expect them to be FIRED. Instead these people wipe away tears in front of the cameras and act like they've been victimized. They're frustrated with the public for being expected to answer for their actions.

If you're a teacher and my little rant has offended you I apologize that was never my intention. I'm just sick to death of these people who just fall into education because their dream career fell. They're bitter and are treating innocent children like some sort of science experiment, or something less than human simply because they think they can get away with it. It is NOT acceptable.

High Energy Sunday

For anyone living in the Northeast I have one question. What the F*** is up with winter? It's weird, it's.. sort of cold but no snow. I'm someone who gets MAJOR spring fever, and that's the way I feel lately. A little too wired, a little too jittery dying to go bask in the warm sun, but it's cold. So I'm stuck inside and it drives me crazy. I'll feel a little better come Imbolc. That's usually when I take a deep breath and remember that Spring is just around the corner. Today seems to be an especially hyper day but it is Sunday after all and is powered by the energy of the Sun, not to mention there's a full moon out tonight. So all of those things combined together are leaving me feeling manic.

Last month I did a post on nourishing your inner masculine where I talked about remembering the duality within each of us and the fact the Goddess and the God are inside all of us, no matter what our gender. I've taken great strides toward attuning myself to that energy and it's definitely helped. No more nightmares about my husband leaving me, no more feeling soft and helpless. I've found the my inner hunter.

Despite all of this though I still feel more connected to the Goddess. I tend to think of Spring and Autumn as the Goddess seasons while Summer and Winter are the God seasons. During the days of the Goddess are definitely when I feel more alive, and lately that's the way I feel. With the seasons being so.. off it leaves me feeling far too contained. Like my spirit is just too large for my body (my cat seems to sympathise, she's been going spastic). It's a good feeling but at night I feel drained, and during the day I have a hard time staying focused and getting things done.

Music seems to help funnel the extra energy so I spend a lot of time listening to music and dancing around.

My current selection

Does anyone else ever feel like this? If you do, how do you handle it? Do you have any special tricks for keeping yourself in check or do you just let it flow?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Three-Fold Law

Way back in October I did a rambling little post about my thoughts on the Wiccan Rede and Rule of Three. While I know that was some time ago, sometimes it takes me a little while to organize my thoughts properly in a way that makes sense. So here's another whack at explaining what I believe about the subject.

Bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people all the time. Luck is luck and it can't be controlled. Sometimes it's positive, sometimes it's negative, and it really doesn't base itself on whether or not your a nice person. There is no cosmic checks and balances system making sure good people are always rewarded and bad people are always punished.

However, you still need to be aware and take responsibility for your own actions. Everything you do, good or bad sets in motion a series of reactions. If you treat someone poorly, it's not a big stretch of the imagination to understand they won't hesitate to treat you poorly in return. If you treat someone with courtesy and respect it's not unreasonable to expect the same treatment from them. Although as everyone is different and lends their own personal scope to every situation you can't 100% anticipate someones reaction to your actions, thus adding in the luck factor.

Now obviously this is rationale that can lend itself to every facet of life, not just personal relationships, and it makes sense to assume that people who make good decisions have more opportunity for good things to happen whilst people who make poor decisions are more likely to have those decisions negatively impact their life.

I've heard it said and I very much agree that Paganism is a thinking persons religion. You have to be responsible for your own behavior. Regardless of whether or not you are rewarded you should simply try and do the right thing, because it is the right thing. Even so, good people will falter from time to time and it may seem; due to their own sense of guilt; that the world is heaping punishment upon them, but it's not some unwritten cosmic fact. It's just the ebb and flow of life.

I hope if anyone is struggling with the ideology of the Rule of Three and Harm None this will help a little, and I hope it was a little more clear than last time.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Energy Request

I have been sitting on pins and needles here at home. Last Friday my husband had an interview at Charter for a dispatcher. The interview went well and he was told that he was one of three which had been selected from 150 applicants and that on Tuesday they would narrow it down to one or two.

If he got this job it would be the start of something really fabulous for us. We've been bottom of the barrel poor facing homelessness and selling off our stuff just to buy groceries. For the past four years we've had to rely on living with other people, first his mother, than my grandmother, and now my parents. As of right now we are three people in one bedroom and Adrian is just about 4, he needs his space and quite frankly, so do we. The job he has right now doesn't seem to be going anywhere and while we can get by there is no way he makes enough week to week for us to move out, not even into a cheap apartment. If he got this job we would actually have enough income to MOVE OUT. So we've both been crossing our fingers and toes and asking the entities that be to please, please, please let him get this job.

Well he was called in for the second interview (YAY!) only to find out that they hadn't done any narrowing down at all (BOOO!). So really we don't know what this means, good or bad, and we don't know when he'll get called to find out if he's been selected.

I can't control their selection process, and I can't control the job he has to give him another promotion (which still wouldn't earn him as much as this job), all I can do is sit and wait, and pray, and plead, and visualize the outcome that I want. I've sent my request into the universe and am contemplating how I can make it clear that we are ready and willing to accept change in our lives.

If you'd like to send a little energy our way please do! Light a green candle if you have one and keep us in your thoughts. I'd be glad to do the same for you if you ever need a little spiritual boost.

Thinking about all of this has made me consider doing a Pagan Prayer Chain so if you haven't done so yet please check out my facebook page for more info.

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