Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's Not "History"...It's "Yourstory"

March 31, 2012: Of course, you studied "history" in school. But there's one huge piece of information I bet not one of your teachers told you, the whole however-many-years-it-was that you had to take that class. That piece of vital information is simply the meaning of the word that named the subject you were studying. It was called "history", not "theirstory". Significant here is the idea that the word is SINGULAR--it was "his" in, the ideas of one person who wrote things down, about what HE thought was happening, and sometimes about what HE thought it meant. And the other piece of that word is "story", as in, a tale we tell. Unless you were actually there and watching, all you ever know about something that happened is what someone told you--a story. And it is important to remember that there is no such thing as an unbiased story, no matter how much people talk about journalistic objectivity. History, the old saying goes, is written by the victors.

And so, dear people, each of us, when it comes to our own lives, is, must be, and can be, a "yourstorian", not only telling, but creating, our own "history". As people of Craft, we all have access to myriads of mythos in the form of stories of Gods and heroes, folk tales, created lore like the "Charge of the Goddess", and books, books, books. Why would anyone need or want to go to the trouble of making up some kind of fairy story to explain their own life? Isn't that a little bit too right-brain? And what good would it do, anyway? The things that happen to us are normally just that, right? Things that happen. They're random and out of our control. I'm sure getting fired or having to move or flunking a class or getting a girlfriend or finding a new friend are really the kind of stuff myths are made of, right? (note presence here of heavy sarcasm) So why bother?

It is my belief that the reason anyone becomes Craft at all is to answer the age-old human questions which deal with the purpose and meaning of life. Why am I here? Where am I going? Does my life matter to anyone but me? Does it even matter to me? In organized religions, there are answers to these questions. The Baltimore Catechism, which I grew up with, says "Why did God make me?" and answers, "God made me to love him, serve him, and be happy with him forever in heaven." But Witches have no God like that, no heaven, no game plan imposed on them by Sacred Scripture, and no easy answers. The question "Does my life matter?" can only be answered, "Yes, if you make it matter." And a personal mythos is one way of doing that.

Don't misunderstand. You already HAVE personal mythos, whether or not you are aware of it. Myth is not "some not-true story people make up to explain things." Myth means a story that transcends the events in it, that means something beyond itself. By definition, all myth is true, because it is someone's description of reality. Myth is the way your world works. If you are living your life you have already made assumptions about your own reality, about the way your world works. You are acting in accordance with these assumptions every time you do anything at all. My purpose in being here is to show you how to deliberately construct the myth that defines your life, to use that construct to assimilate and understand the events in your life which now appear random, and in so doing, change your life in accordance with your own Will and desires, or, in other words, to be aware of, and if you choose to do so, alter, your "mythconceptions" about yourself and your life.

So, you say, what is this myth I am living my life by? Well, here is a worksheet to help you figure out what some of your present assumptions are. No one will see this but you, so be as accurate as you can.

WORKSHEET #1...Myths I Live By

I. Answer as completely as you can:

1. What is the quality I admire most in other people? How do I think a person achieves that quality?
2. What is the thing I wish most I could change in my life? How do I believe it could change?
3. What quality in myself do I most value? Where do I believe it came from?
4. Name something I feel I can never achieve. Why can't I?
5. What is the worst thing that ever happened to me? Why do I believe it happened?
6. What is the best thing that ever happened to me? Why do I believe it happened?
7. What do I like the most in my life? How do I believe it came about?
8. What do I dislike the most about my life? What do I intend to do about it?

Now you should be holding a paper full of your own (tentative) answers to a lot of mythic questions. We might call them your "myth-conceptions". The answers you have given are a rough construct of some ways in which you perceive your world works. In looking at your own answers, you will discover that there are several similarities between you and any mythic hero/heroine you could name: I haven't seen anyone's paper but I will wager most of the following is true:

1. You believe that you were basically handed some challenges in your life which have nothing to do with what you thought you wanted. So you believe those challenges are obstacles on your journey to where you want to go.
2. Some of the circumstances of your life at present came about without your wishing them to occur.
3. There are qualities you admire in others which you believe you do not possess.
4. You feel more responsible for the difficulties of your own life than you do for your achievements.
5. Some of the happenings in your life seem meaningless or random.
6. There are things you wish to achieve which you think are impossible.

What you have here is the raw material of a mythic hero or heroine, one who overcomes obstacles and succeeds through weakness where others fail in their strength. We have all met such hero figures... Cinderella, Tom Thumb, Robin Hood, Snow White. Only this time the hero can be you. And you can use the raw materials of classic myth in several symbol systems to create mythos which will make real, tangible, repeatable changes in your life, here and now.

Check in again tomorrow for some ideas on how to go about that...

Friday, March 30, 2012

An Icon Gone...

March 30, 2012: Yesterday, a beloved poet, Adrienne Rich, passed away. She is and was an avatar for writers, women's rights advocates, lesbians (far earlier than Stonewall) and queerity of many many kinds, not to mention amazing talent with the written word. I can do no better today than share with you three of my favorite Adrienne Rich poems, in hopes that they will make you look at the world a little differently:

One Kind of Terror: A Love Poem


So, then as if by plan
I turn and you are lost

How have I lived knowing
that day of your laugh so alive/so nothing

even the clothes you wore then
rotted away How can I live believing

any year can be the deciding year
when I know the book of plans

how it disallows us
time for change for growing older

truthfully in our own way


I used to think you ought to be
a woman in charge in a desperate time

of whole populations
such seemed the power of your restlessness

I saw you a rescuer
amid huge events diasporas

scatterings and returnings
I needed this for us

I would have gone to help you
flinging myself into the fray

both of us treading free
of the roads we started on


In the book of plans it says no one
will speak of the book of plans

the appearance will contine
that all this is natural

It says my grief for you is natural
but my anger for us is not

that the image of a white curtain trembling
across a stormy pane

is acceptable but not
the image I make of you

arm raised hurling signalling
the squatters the refugees

storming the food supply
the book of plans says only that you must die

that we all, very soon, must die


Well, I am studying a difvferent book
taking notes wherever I go

the movement of the wrist does not change
but the pen plows deeper

my handwriting flows into words
I have not yet spoken

I'm the sole author of nothing
the book moves from field to field

of testimony recording
how the wounded teach each other the old

refuse to be organized
by fools how the women say

in more than one language You have struck a rock --
prepare to meet the unplanned

the ignored the unforeseen that which breaks
despair which has always travelled

underground or in the spaces
between the fixed stars

gazing full-faced wild
and calm on the Revolution


Love: I am studying a different book
and yes, a book is a finite thing

In it your death will never be reversed
the deaths I have witnessed since never undone

The light drained from the living eyes
can never flash again from those same eyes

I make you no promises
but something's breaking open here

there were certain extremes we had to know
before we could continue

Call it a book, or not
call it a map of constant travel

Call it a book, or not
call it a song a ray

of images thrown on a screen
in open lots in cellars

and among those images
one woman's meaning to another woman

long after death
in a different world.


North American Time


When my dreams showed signs
of becoming
politically correct
no unruly images
escaping beyond borders
when walking in the street I found my
themes cut out for me
knew what I would not report
for fear of enemies' usage
then I began to wonder


Everything we write
will be used against us
or against those we love.
These are the terms,
take them or leave them.
Poetry never stood a chance
of standing outside history.
One line typed twenty years ago
can be blazed on a wall in spraypaint
to glorify art as detachment
or torture of those we
did not love but also
did not want to kill.

We move but our words stand
become responsibly
for more than we intended

and this is verbal privilege


I am thinking this in a country
where words are stolen out of mouths
as bread is stolen out of mouths
where poets don't go to jail
for being poets, but for being
dark-skinned, female, poor.
I am writing this in a time
when anything we write
can be used against those we love
where the context is never given
though we try to explain, over and over
For the sake of poetry at least
I need to know these things.


Dreams before Waking

Despair is the question
- Elie Wiesel

Hasta tu pais cambio. Lo has cambiado tu mismo.
- Nancy Morejon

Despair falls:
the shadow of a building
they are raising in the direct path
of your slender ray of sunlight
Slowly the steel girders grow
the skeletal framework rises
yet teh western light still filters
through it all
still glances off the plastic sheeting
they wrap around it
for dead of winter.

At the end of winter something changes
a faint subtraction
from consolations you expected
an innocent brilliance that does not come
through the flower shops set out
once again on teh pagement
their pots of tight-budded sprays
the bunches of jonquils stiff with cold
and at such a price
though someone must buy them
you study those hues as if with hunger

Despair falls
like the day you come home
from work, a summer evening
transparent with rose-blue light
and see they are filling in
the framework
the girders are rising
beyond your window
that seriously you live
in a different place
though you have never moved

and will not move, not yet
but will give away
your potted plants ot a friend
on the other side of town
along with the cut crystal
flashing in the window-frame
will forget the evenings
of watching the street, the sky
the planes in the feathered afterglow:
will learn to feel grateful simply for this foothold

where still you can manage
to go on paying rent
where still you can believe
it's the old neighborhood:
even the woman who sleeps at night
in the barred doorway -- wasn't she always there?
and the man glancing, darting
for food in the supermarket trash --
when did his hunger come to this?
what made the diffence?
what will make it for you?

What will make it for you?
you don't want to know the stages
and those who go through them don't want to tell
You have your four locks on the door
your savings, your respectable past
your strangely querulous body, suffering
sicknesses of the city no one can name
You have your pride, your bitterness
your memories of sunset
you think you can make it straight through
you don't speak of despair.

What would it mean to live
in a city whose people were changing
each other's despair into hope? --
You yourself must change it. --
what would it feel like to know
your country was canging? --
You yourself must change it. --
Though your life felt arduous
new and unmapped and strange
what would it mean to stand on the first
page to the end of despair?

Thursday, March 29, 2012

The God Question

I am a member of the Utah Pride Interfaith Coalition, and tonight we will meet to finalize the program for Salt Lake City's Pride Interfaith Service, to be held as a part of SLC Gay Pride Weekend. So I have been thinking about the concepts of the service, and it led me to some thoughts on Deity, ones I propounded many years ago as the President of CUUPS-Continental. As you all may know, Unitarian Universalism is "covenental", not "creedal". One is asked to follow, not a shibboleth of belief, but a statement of principles on how we shall treat one another. However, once in a while it is something UUs speculate about--what do I "believe"? Do I "believe" anything? Are "think" and "believe" the same thing? And in one such conversation, many years ago, I came to the following ideas. I am re-visiting them now to see where my thinking will take me next. Perhaps you would like to think about them too--

Q: I would like to ask what each of you thinks about the Divine?

I would love to answer this with the disclaimer that the answers I give here are not "My Answers, set in stone" ... they are some answers I am thinking about, for now .... ask me next week, and ...? (Oh, fine, now you've talked about your answers. Now how about giving us some?)

Q: Do you believe that "the Divine" is multiple or singular in nature?

I believe Deity is innumerable, because I don't think of a Being or a Substance, I think of a Force, mutable, (yes, I think the Divine changes) immeasurable, incomprehensible to me in my present incarnation...but in any case, not something one may number.

Q. Is it unique or one of many?

I think It/They cannot be numbered, so this question for me is essentially meaningless. But I
think the APPROACHES to the Divine are without number...and yet each is Unique as the
person/being doing the approaching.

Q. Do you think it is omniscient or omnipresent, omnipotent or omniverous? (and no one laugh!)

I think of Deity as that which is beyond and behind Life. All things that in any way live, change,
develop, give birth, reproduce or have any type of cyclical force of being (which in my universe
includes everything) are reflections of the Divine. It/They are the Reason for existence, and the
goal of existence, and the essence of existence, to be discovered, grasped at, studied, beheld,
delighted in, but never encompassed. As far as Its attributes, those attributes probably exist on
a level that I cannot discuss with any understanding, since their Essence is of another substance than mine. For me to approach or attempt to understand the Divine is rather like a treatise on nuclear physics written by a butterfly. Yet the search and the journey are that thing in my life which gives me and has given me the most profound satisfaction. Of anything I believe I know about the Divine, the only thing of which I am certain is that It is in essence beneficent...or, if one must, by my own paradigm, keep this impersonal, a positive Force.

Q. Do you hold that we may deduce the divine from the incredible order and complexity found in nature, or is it a leap of faith alone?

My personal Universe deduces the Divine from the fact that I Am, and that I can envision that
which is greater than myself, and that I cannot believe that the only things that exist are things
humanity can understand and create. And the fact that there are so many things extant that
humanity can neither fully understand nor create.

Q. Do you believe that each god worshipped exists somewhere and somehow?

Yes, in the mind and heart of every worshipper. Thoughts are extant, so if even one person has
envisioned and worships the God/dess Bludge, s/he exists somewhere. I also believe that the
Force of years of belief in an essentially identical thought-form by millions of people can and
does generate existence for that being on levels we can understand and experience. For this
reason, although they are not in my personal pantheon, I believe in the existence of both
Yahweh and Satan.

Q. Do you think that Gods are thoughtforms only or did they have an existence separate from humanity?

I believe the Gods are humanity's attempts to comprehend elements of the Divine, in forms and
with attributes that reflect either a belief, a hope, a fear, or a wish. And, as I said above, by dint
of belief in these thought-forms. I think they manifest on some level.

Q. Do the Gods walk the Earth or do they live in spirit and soul?


Hmm....I say to myself this Thursday morning of 2012, as I regard this document, generated over 8 years ago...hmm.... I wonder if I still think this way? I wonder what I think about Deity now? Maybe I should go and think about this.....

Wednesday, March 28, 2012


I am certain that all of you have had celebrations marking the Vernal Equinox, Oestare, Spring Thaw, or whatever seasonal and cultural markers you celebrate in your Pagan tradition. There are many possible ways to view this season...people are honoring the Goddess Oestare, or celebrating the fertility of the Land, or planting seeds, or making intentions for personal change, or building nests, or adopting stewardships, or driving out Winter, or a great many other ritual foci. But there is a certain facet to this season which is scarcely mentioned, which I am sure goes nearly universally uncelebrated, and which in the Real World is probably seen more as a nuisance than it is as a Sacred Tool. I am speaking of, and I wonder about your attitudes towards, a certain seasonal constant which is, in my guesstimation, far more likely to receive contumely than celebration.

I am speaking of the sacredness of……Mud. Plain old, dirty, sticky, sloppy old Mud. And I do wonder how many of us can see the ways that this inconvenience can be, and is, transmuted to a Sacred Tool…without doing anything to it save acknowledging its presence.

I remember an old musical…yes, I’m dating myself here….remember “Paint Your Wagon”? And remember Lee Marvin, who can scarcely sing but did himself proud in that film, perorating on his perception that “The Best Things In Life Are Dirty”? At this time of the year, we might be hard-pressed to acknowledge that fact. I am thinking of such things as the massive flooding in the Midwest, the mudslides on the California coast, the possible inundations of dirt and muck and mud that all of us will face as we once again attempt to make garden space out of our frozen and withered yards. And of course, I have to remember that in Lee Marvin’s song he was not actually talking about the mud, but about the gold buried therein; the song doesn’t really celebrate the mud itself, but focuses on overcoming it to mine nuggets of worth. And so…how is it then, that I can believe, and try to convey to you, the idea that the mud itself is useful, that it is an importance, not a mere inconvenience, and that acknowledgement of, and celebration of, our universal muddiness is actually necessary for the development and re-growth we seek in this season? Bear with me a little bit, here, and I will try to convince you.

Mud is, in the natural world, the mixture of dirt and water. For us as Pagani, then, the first association we might make when attempting to understand the “IS-ness of mud” is a complementary set of correspondences, that of Earth: the body, physical health, material goods, real-world circumstances, the Land where we live, our homes, jobs, families and resources; and that of Water: emotion, intuition, dreams, insights, feelings and reactions, vulnerability, mutability, transparency. As with the old children’s game of “rock-paper-scissors”, our possible comparison of these two sets of correspondences is likely to set up in our minds an involuntary focus of competition…which of these Elements is more likely to overcome the other? If you’ve been following the news lately, many of you might cast your vote for Water….the causing of landslides and flooding seems a clear indication that Water can easily, and to our detriment, overcome Earth. On the other hand, if you look closely at Utah and the Western United States, including places like the Columbia River Gorge and Lakes Powell and Meade, the persistence of drought in the last several years and the resultant drop in the levels of lakes and streams might serve to illustrate ways in which Earth can overcome Water. But… about a more esoteric-paganish-witchly way of looking at this?

Suppose we contemplate the ways in which earth and water can work harmoniously together for the greater good? And suppose, in doing this, that we try to concentrate more on the process than on the product? How then might our views of earth and water in combination, i.e. MUD, be modified by this exercise?

Mud has uses which rely upon its being, and remaining, mud. I know you have heard of “mud-baths” and “mud-masks”, even though you may never have experienced one. Many practitioners and clients of the arts of beautification and health swear by them. Of course, there’s mud wrestling, and motocross mud racing, both having become sporting events accepted and enjoyed by at least a portion of the popular culture. Mud is the slurry, called “slip”, which is essential to one phase of the production of ceramics. Mud is the term used by construction workers for the mixture of wet plaster, stucco, or cement that forms an essential aggregate in several parts of the construction of the house you’re sitting in whilst reading this. Mud, as mud, is the essential substance which houses certain life forms that can’t survive anywhere else, including crayfish (commonly referred to as ‘mudbugs’), clams, and certain varieties of worms, frogs and snails. Plain old mud is the incubator for many, if not most, of the seeds in your actual garden, seeds which will produce herbs for healing and magical uses, vegetables and fruits for the table, trees and plants for shade, adornment, and the production of life-giving oxygen. And of course, in certain creation mythologies, including the Christian, Mayan, Native American, Indian, Aboriginal and Egyptian, mud is the substance of which was first formed human life. So, yes, there is a case for the contemplation, and even the celebration, of the existence of mud, just as its own brown, gooey, sticky, slimy self.

However, if you move the discussion into the realm of the symbolic, something rather strange happens. Our concept and acknowledgement of the idea of mud does a 180 degree turn. Indeed, mud in the symbolic sense is often an archetype for exactly the opposite of nurturance or essence or transmutation. Instead, in most modern parlance, the archetypal meaning of “Mud” is “difficulty, confusion, obstruction”. When, for example, your feelings and emotions collide with the mundane world, real life, someone else’s existence, things can rapidly become (and can even be described as) “muddy”. Certain kinds of issues are referred to as “muddying the waters” between people. Right from the pejoratives of the Civil Rights era in the USA to JK Rowling’s use of the term “mudbloods”, we can see in our societal and literary contexts that there is scarcely a positive referent for the idea of mud. Whereas the natural world accepts the necessity of, and usefulness of, mud, the world of symbol seems to have made it nothing but an obstacle to understanding, clarity, and a “clean finish” to events and circumstances. I wonder….why is that? Why have we so disconnected ourselves from the truths mentioned in the above paragraph, especially those about gardening…the truth that, in the natural world of growing things, nothing much can happen without mud?

In symbolic terms, the concept that mud is a GOOD thing is another thing I think we need to re-claim. As many of you know when looking at our current national political, economic, social and humanitarian (or not!) situations, right now, on many fronts, the waters are “muddy.” From gay rights to women's rights to right-wing fundamentalist thought, to "It's the economy, stupid!", we are sitting in a deep, sticky, somewhat hampering and certainly sloppy mud-puddle…..and wondering how on earth to de-obfuscate the situation.

So, it appears it is time to re-invent ourselves. It appears that the mudbath in which we are now sitting is a cauldron of contemplation on ways in which we can and must change our ethos, our interaction with one another, even perhaps the mission statements of our political parties, religious groups--yes, even of our lives. And… it is Spring. So…what seeds are lying dormant in all the confusion? What shall we grow? What shall we discover together?

Think hard, now, about mud. Think of all the ways its damp, earthy smell signals the onset of new life after the bleakness of winter. Think about how it is soft enough for baby roots to push through, succulent enough for nourishment to be drawn from its spongy loam. And decide for yourself that you will find one way in which the present state of confusion can become an asset for you, the beginning of something that will flower forth into beauty. In other words….yes, I am going there…..MUDitate. You're here, right here, in the mudbath. What are you going to create from it?

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What? Me, PRAY? Naw.....Oh, Wait....

"Prayer" is a concept with which many Pagans have some trouble. The commonly-held attitude amongst members of mainstream religions about prayer is that it is a means of petitioning, praising, and thanking God, and many Pagans do not believe in an exoteric Deity from whom come blessings. Most Pagans’ attitudes about the Universe fail to consciously contain a concept of a Being “out there” who hears and answers, or refuses to answer, prayers. Therefore it is sometimes surprising to those of Pagan persuasions to find out that indeed they DO pray, and to examine closely what that prayer consists of.

Concepts Of Prayer

Prayer in the form of communication with Deity is probably the most common type of prayer found amongst Pagans, whether or not they use the term “prayer”, or even the term “Deity,” for that matter. Despite the fact that most Pagans have a diversity of belief about the nature of Deity, we are all aware on some level that there IS a difference between “The Goddess” and “the Goddess Within”, for example. As a former teacher of mine pointed out to me, “Yes, ‘Thou Art Goddess,’ but you didn’t make the sun come up this morning, and I KNOW those mountains were there before you moved to Utah.” Most of us do not believe ourselves to be the final authority on the entire Universe, and whether we call it Goddess and God, Spirit, energy, the One, or many another name, most of us find, or postulate, or hope, that the Unseen Force of Existence is one which is personal and benevolent. Whether or not we feel that we have a parent-child relationship, or see ourselves more as Seekers, Scientists or Shamans, we feel a need to ask the questions and contemplate the vastness of the many possible answers. That questioning, or meditation, or contemplation, or ecstasy, or focus, or wish, is akin to what members of other religions term “prayer.”

One Pagan’s perspective on prayer was rendered thus, in an article on Witchvox in 2000:

*quote* What is prayer? Webster's dictionary says "1)a) (1) an address (as a petition) to God or a god in word or thought (2) a set order of words used in praying b) an earnest request or wish. 2) the act or practice of praying to God or a god"

My understanding of prayer fits this definition and goes beyond it. There is that wonderful moment when a breathtaking vista of undiscovered beauty opens before you on a hike, when thoughts of praise and thanks fly out to the Goddess even before I am conscious of doing so. There is the discipline of focusing my mind and spirit as I write new rituals for our coven, silently seeking guidance as I work. Then there is the not so silent prayer for patience as I negotiate rush hour traffic. And the sharing of energy as the coven raises power in ritual and celebration. As you can see, for me, there are many types of prayer, many moments of prayerfulness, ranging from serious to humor-filled, all of them a means of connecting with the God and the Goddess in my daily life. *end quote*

"Connection" seems to be the most significant element in what this woman refers to as prayer. It may not be obvious at first glance how the focus of such a prayer differs from that of many in mainstream religions, but another source states this more directly:

*quote* Do I pray? No, I do not feel that I pray. Prayer is a plea in my opinion, and my Gods to not need me to plea, beg or whine. They just need me to talk to Them. So I talk with my Gods daily. I do not take the role of supplicant, I take the role of what I am, a child talking to a very patient Parent.

Prayer is overrated. At some point, someone decided that in order to speak with a god, it was necessary to bend your knee in supplication (either physically or mentally) and make a plea to that god. This was supposed to be the only way that you could get your god to listen. Then it was labeled as prayer, and it only worked if you showed the proper amount of respect while doing it.

I show my respect by actually talking to my Gods. They are the original Mother and Father, we are their children. I do not expect my children to speak to me in pleading tones in order for me to answer and assist them, so I do not think the Lady and Lord expect that from us, their children, either. So talk to your Gods, make it known that you have not forgotten them, you love them, and they will do the same for you. *end quote*

To "connection", this writer adds "mutual respect and a feeling of intimacy and entitlement", almost an egalitarian relationship. This idea is not as alien to Pagans as it may seem to members of other religions, as many Pagans hold to an idea that the Gods are created by those who remember and respect and worship them, so there is a mutual need there.

Most Pagans refer to what Christians think of as prayer as “sending energy.” They have within the concept that there is an Energy in the Universe that responds to their connecting with it, in ways often beyond the power of spoken or written language to convey. They may call this Energy Goddess, God, or Spirit…but they do communicate with, respect and sometimes attempt to interact directly with this Energy. Most Pagans also consider that the Christian custom of petitioning, thanking or praising God is as much an attempt to manipulate Energy as is what a Pagan does, only by a different name. Incidentally, the whole idea of prayer, even the word, has the same implication of giving responsibility over to Deity for what happens to one, whereas the Pagan idea of manipulating Energy seems to imply more personal responsibility for the results. Perhaps this is one reason why most Pagans pursue the concept of, and action of, prayer, whilst disavowing the name thereof.

Occasions of Prayer

Most Pagans do not think of what they do as intercession, but as cooperation, with Deity. For this reason, “praying for” someone is probably far more rare in a Pagan’s life than it is in that of a Christian. Part of the reason for this is the belief on the part of many Pagans that we “choose” our experiences in this lifetime, and that someone may be experiencing illness or hardship by their own pre-life choice, to enable them to grow in some specific way. Some one outside the experience would consider it unethical to interfere with that. Another part of the feeling of not “praying for” people has to do with the kinds of ideas expressed below:

*quote* To me “bad prayer” is when the intent is to change or fix the person being prayed for. When fundamentalists tell me they will pray for my soul, it feels like an attack on my soul. These kinds of prayers aren't honoring me as a human being, they are not offered in love (at least not in what I consider a reasonable definition of love). They are manipulative and controlling. I relate prayer like this to casting a spell without someone's consent. Trying to force an individual to behave differently. This kind of prayer is often used as a threat - "I will pray that you find the light and be saved from the torments of hell to which you are surely headed." My translation - "I want you to abandon your uniqueness and connection with the divine because it does not match mine and I feel it is a threat to my world and therefore evil, not just different. If you don't change you will suffer" also can be translated as "I'll have my god beat up your god!" This is the type of prayer that makes Pagans reluctant to use the word prayer. This is the kind of prayer I could do without. *end quote*

A Different View

And yet, we DO pray, even if we do not call it that. At every ritual we “call” or “invoke” the Elemental Beings or Guardians, the Lord and Lady, and sometimes other non-corporeal beings. At least in the Medieval sense (as in “I pray you” or “prithee”) we are then praying, no matter what we call it. When we send energy for healing or for spellcraft, we are praying, even if the prayer is directed at the Universe, our Selves, or has no designated object. When we sing or chant in praise of the Beauty of Life, we pray. When we touch for healing, and call upon Spirit to bless, we pray. When we say “So Mote It Be” as a Pagan form of “Amen!”, we pray. Whether we dance in active ecstasy or silently fall into contemplative or oracular trance…yes, we pray. When we share with one another invocations, "spells", chants and songs, and other ways of making magic in words, we are, perhaps, creating the "Pagan Book Of Common Prayer", whether or not we choose to call it this.

Beltaine Prayers

The next festival in the Northern Hemisphere which is celebrated by a diversity of Pagan paths is Beltaine. The festival of Beltaine is one of the Great Fire Festivals of the Celts, since it marks a seasonal change rather than an astronomical event. For each of the seasonal festivals, a particular energy is invoked. For Beltaine, that energy is “fruition”. Many may still use the word “fertility,” but in our more PC environment people are conscious of things like GLBT Pagans, people who neither have nor desire children, people too old to have offspring, un-partnered people. In order that such folks may participate fully in the energy of the Sabbat, the concept of sexual fertility has been developed into all kinds of fertility, that of ideas, of creativity, of personal growth and development, of human progress, etc. In ancient times the fire, thought of by the Celts as a living Being, was thought to actually contain the “seed of life.” For this reason, cattle and sheep and hopeful parents passed between the twin Beal-teine fires in order that they might be actually doused in the Seed of Life by way of spark or smoke. Today this custom has become “jumping the Beltaine Fire” which people do hand-in-hand with spouse, fiance, family members or friends, or any other one with whom one wishes a relationship of any kind to “bear fruit.” The prayers said at Beltaine include invocations of health, fertility, consummation of projects or artistic endeavors, or any other kind of invocation or spell that can be said to have anything to do with bearing fruit of any kind.

And so, in the spirit of sharing, I would like to give here the texts of some "prayers" that are in harmony with the seasonal energy. Here are some Beltaine prayers from the Ord Brighideach, other Pagan sources, and some of my own composition. Should you choose to use these in ceremony, you are welcome to do so. Should you choose to copy them in print somewhere, please attribute as necessary. All my work is subject to copyright, and I appreciate the ethical stance of those who acknowledge this. So--Pagans, let's pray!

Blessing Prayer

From the BrighidsFire Beltaine rite, 2002

In the name of the One
which has ever been
and shall ever be
anima and animus
chaos and thaos
the first and last breaths of life…-

In the name of the One
which is within us all

In the names of the Ancient and Holy Ones
The Lady of the Moon and the Lord of the Sun
Mother Earth and Father Sky
Goddess and God

In the names of the Mighty Ones of the Four Quarters
The Watchtowers of the directions
The Kings and Queens of the Elements…

Blessed be this time
which is not a time
and this place
which is not a place
and we who dwell within
as well as without.

Beith Se!


Invocation for Beltaine

by Caitlin Matthews

Maiden of Flowers, open the door,
Smith of souls, come you in.
Let there be welcome to the growing strength,
Let there be welcome to the Summer of the Year.

In bud and blossom you are traveling,
In fruit and fragrance you will arrive.
God and Goddess we are calling,
Grant us thy blessings by joining us here.

May the blessed time of Beltaine
Inflame the soul of all beings
Bringing energy and effort ablaze
From the depths to the heights
From the heights to the depths
In the core of every soul
So mote it be.


Beltaine Self-Blessing

She of the stars dancing,
She of the hawk soaring,
She of the moon glowing,
Come to me.

He of the wind sighing,
He of the Raven crowing,
He of the Sun shining,
Come to me.

She of the rain falling,
She of the bird nesting,
She of the lava surging,
Come to me.

He of the deer rutting,
He of the seed planted,
He of the danger answered,
Come to me.

~Flame RavenHawk


Devotional Prayer

He who stands with feet planted firmly upon the Earth,
Wings stretched across the heavens,
a jar of Thunder pouring from His shoulder:
To You, my dear God, I send my love.

She who Rises up from the womb of the Earth,
Arms embracing the four winds,
the streaks of moonlight tangling Her hair,
with Stars in Her eyes:
To You, my dear Goddess, I send my love.

I stand firmly upon the womb of the Earth,
my wings spanning the horizon,
moon beams catching in my hair.

I am embraced between Earth and Sky.
My spirit is expanded by Love.
And Stars shine in my eyes.

~Flame RavenHawk



You who fill the Air with Radiance,
Glowing heat of Nature’s forge,
Bringer of light and life to the weary,
Break us free of the chains of winter
Kindle now the Fire Flowers!

You who dance in the flame of the Wind
Petals blowing as they blossom,
Fragrance bursting into sunlight
Break us free of the chains of winter
Light the Summers Flowers of Fire!

Dance, oh, dance, beneath the sunlight,
Garlanded with fire and flowers,
Lift your eyes to heaven’s glory,
Breathe the sweet intoxication,
Throw off winter,
Welcome Summer!

Aisling the Bard, 2002

(The word “teine” is Irish Gaelic for “fire”, and the Irish or pan-Celtic Deity Bel or Beal, the Roman Belinus or the Hebrew Ba’al, is the ancient Teutonic Sun God also spoken of as the Good Father of the Gods. Therefore a Bel-fire is a “bright fire” or a “good fire.” And hence, for me, the spelling "Belteine" rather than "Beltane")

So, then--do Pagani pray? Well....I think I do. And if you ever talk to the Gods, or a tree, or a Spirit, or the fire, or to anyone or anything that is not another human being--well, I think maybe you do, too.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Ima Weeyotch...

I ran across this again yesterday in going through some old Craft writings. I am considering it today and deciding how much of it I still hold to. I think it is still a basic idea of my own beliefs, and I wish I didn't still need to say this to some people under certain circumstances. But the circumstances do arise, and so, once more, here 'tis, and this is all it is. Those to whom I am speaking know who you are--for you others who read, perhaps there is something to think about here.

The Witch Manifesto

I am a Witch. That is sufficient for you to know. Witches need not disclaim the Wiccan religion nor apologize to its members for what they are and are not. We are part of a long and proud tradition of the art, craft, philosophy, and way of life that is Witchcraft. We were here before Wicca and we will be here after. We are set apart.

Simply naming yourself "Witch" does not make you a Witch any more than naming yourself "neurologist" makes you a brain surgeon. To be a Witch requires study, learning, practice, experience, and talent. Being a Witch is a calling, not a choice. You either are or you aren't. The lot is cast at birth by the Universe and there is nothing you can do about it. Not everyone can be a concert pianist or a best-selling author; not everyone can be a Witch.

Wicca is a religion. Witchcraft is a craft. The comparison of the two is a comparison of apples and oranges. Witchcraft can be used to express the Wiccan religion just as sculpting can be used to express Christianity. However, Wicca is not Witchcraft any more than Catholicism is sculpting.

As Witchcraft is not a religion, the Witch is free to believe or not believe as they wish. Witches may worship a Goddess, a rock, Satan, Will Rogers, The Force, or nothing at all. It is the Witch's choice how to relate to the Universe and none may gainsay that choice. The Witch is self-empowered and relies on no one else to get through life. This means we make our own moral choices, form our own ethics, and decide our own course. An artificial morality may not be forced upon us. We will not be intimidated with "karma" or threats of "three-fold" retribution. We will not be told that these will "get us no matter what we believe." The wisdom we hold is sacred and has been handed down from the Ancients through many generations. Our families and traditions have perfected it and people have both lived and died for it. We will not bear the insult of being told that we are wrong because what we know and practice does not agree with the author of some shallow, mass marketed book from the New Age shelf at Barnes & Noble.

Being a Witch does not require you to be a Socialist, a Democrat, a feminist, ecologically conscious, politically correct, or even socially acceptable. Each Witch makes hir own way through the world and sets the terms and conditions of how s/he interacts therewith. Externally imposed ideals of "right and wrong" and "good and bad" have no meaning to the Witch. The Ethic is the only thing that informs our behaviour.

Witches live and work from within the shadows. This is the ancient and honorable way. We are called out from the Cowan and wish to live separately from them. We don't need nor even want good public relations. We are not concerned with being "persecuted" or fighting for "civil rights." Our validation comes from within ourselves, not from the President, the media, the Christian church, or the IRS. We are unique individuals and no one speaks for us. Wiccans may not say what Witches believe or how Witches think. We have no problem allowing others to follow the course that they choose- or assisting them in it- as long as they afford us the same courtesy. We are not your enemies or your adversaries. We just want the right to be who and what we are; the same right you claim for yourselves.

I am a Witch. That is sufficient for you to know.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

The Write Stuff...

Musings on the differences between writing and being an "author"...first written January 22, 1983...still relevant, March 25, 2012:

I wonder if there is anything more terrifying than a blank page...or a promise, or a commitment, to fill it....

I will never understand what has made me a spectator in my own play, ridden by a desire to have it all without sacrificing ambiguity--perhaps the final act is my admission that what I envision has always greater power, depth, clarity, passion, magnitude, than any feeble effort to enchain it in shallow I seem in my effort to transcend myself...

Madeleine L'Engle (Walking On Water) has reaffirmed for me what I have always known--that one is grasped by the work, which is greater than one's Self...perhaps my predominant punctuation mark is the ellipsis because I don't believe, really, that there is finality to anything...especially creative thought...

I am stultifying in an atmosphere of intellectual richness--starving in a garden, for I have forgotten to heed the admonition, "Take, eat"...I have forgotten the importance of feeding my own fires, as I have abandoned the richness of self-immolation in pure thought...all who draw from me draw out what is there, which I have forgotten to replenish...

I promise myself to read, to write, to pray--every night, just for me--there is no obstacle of life which I cannot overcome with the force of my own personality--if I still possess that force...Let me not to the growth of my own mind erect impediments...

I wonder if "the force which through the green fuse drives the flower" is my own creative energy, or my hookup to some vast cosmic consciousness...Is there an Oversoul--am I a transcendentalist --will I ever know, or would one be able to ask a question like that unless one were one of them....?

I have never succeeded in convincing myself of the worth of my own philosophical ramblings, but have always refused to believe those who have told me I should publish...fear has caused my inertia, as I do not feel what feeble talent I possess can possibly meet the needs of the gods with money and printing presses.

All I write is so real and such deep feeling...I find I never truly put pen to paper unless I hurt too much not can I face the exposure and rejection of my spirit..."most people don't want a piece of your soul", but a writer has nothing else to offer, no other way to communicate with the ultimate reality of existence.

I am too honest not to be vulnerable, too candid not to be shortsighted, too forthright for self-protection--it is uncomfortable to be an idealist, but other ways smack to me of compromise--I cannot cure myself of the lucent reaction to the phenomenon of existence...

My different drummer throws me out of step with reality, but I love his music....and somewhere inside whatever there is of wholeness in me is this determination to suffer it all, live it all, breathe it all, never give up or give in or be bored or get old or stop trying or settle...for anything....I know now that moderation is not my path, nor is wisdom of the sensible sort, for I will not be still and I would rather burn out than rust out...

The world is not as it should be and it's much more wonderful than we know--and a writer must proclaim both points of view, in the face of indifference, at great personal risk, and both at once if possible...Ferlinghetti's "absurdity" is a necessary component of "taut truth", because Reality is not Truth, and much that is not Real is very True, and above all, much that is not True is far too Real...It is this absurdity which the writer must face squarely any time s/he attempts to make existence coherent...

Perhaps the most damning thing that can be said about anything is that "it really makes sense"...for we often abandon passion and intelligence for competence and commonsense---never-- I need to burn and scintillate and push and grow and coruscate and care...I hope...

Is there any reason why we only use 3 to 10 per cent of our brain capacity? Is it not that there is some sort of a synapse--an automatic shutdown valve--which prevents us from giving all of ourselves to anything, "Lest we be as gods, knowing both good and evil"...lest we hear with our ears and understand with our hearts and be converted and healed...

What frightens us so much about the nakedness of Eden--why do we not know that wholeness is holiness--why can we not see that what we think of as our own imperfection is the glory of God, for he made us human and fallible and, being God, could have done otherwise...was it Twain or Lincoln who said, "The Lord must love plain folks, he made so many of 'em"? Is it not enough for us to glory in being plain folks--because what we call "plain" is infinite richness and variety (I'm unique, just like everybody else!)--and there is a tawdry sameness about the roads we take to make ourselves unique...when we hurt, we hunger for home food, and warmth and love---shouldn't that tell us something basic about the emptiness of elegance...?

Maybe I AM a transcendentalist, after all.....


Written in my journal, January 22, 1983

*interpolation when copying, not part of the original* There is a lesson here for the creator, of writing, of not make a thing which is intended to only use part of its capacity and never understand nor achieve how to use the whole of it...for doing any less than the best you yourself can do, and failing to give your whole self, and ITS whole self, to the body of your creation, bespeaks fear that your creation will know, and tell, too much about you, and not remain dependent upon you. Jehova god was a coward, making man in His image and likeness, only not too that the point, that we are supposed to FIGURE OUT how to get there, to our Godness, and we have been given tools and seeds, not fruit and flowers, because we are supposed to grow, ourselves?

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mysteries Both Male And Female.....

I am hearing a great deal in the news lately about the "war on women", the right-wing desire to set history back decades, and noticing with some surprise and associated annoyance that the overwhelming attitude of those who comment on this is one of egregious astonishment. Everyone seems to think there is some "new attitude" commensurate with the beginning of the election season, one which seems to astound those who wonder aloud, or in print, what has "suddenly" happened to women's rights, and why men are "suddenly" so lacking in anything resembling empathy or feelings of equality, why "suddenly" women are seen as a group to persecute and from whom rights must be wrested at any cost....It goes on and on. And it does disturb me, but I have long wondered at one facet of it. Why are not women themselves taking some degree of responsibility for the debacle? We, after all, are instrumental in forming the ideas of the men in our world. We're their mothers.

No, before you get all hot and bothered, I am not blaming the victim. I am trying to observe a difficult situation from a philosophical point of view. Why do we not look at root causes when we see societal ills, instead of trying to cure cancer with a band-aid? I have had thoughts of this kind for many years around this topic, and the essay which continues this blog entry was actually written for the first time in 2003 and needed far too little updating today. It disturbs me that so little has changed that my thoughts of nearly a decade ago are still essentially relevant. Let me clarify:

We wish, we Witches, to empower human beings to understand their true Being, the core of their personality which is of the Gods. We want men, and women, individually and collectively, to express and model both God and Goddess. We call these ideals the "male mysteries" and the "female mysteries". But in the context of our surrounding culture, where we source all that we wish to do in the realm of magic, we have already set ourselves up for failure. We don't exhibit in our world any understanding of how men and women develop the personalities with which they come to the study of the Craft. We take less care with the raw material of Witches, the human spirit, than we do with the raw materials of art, or architecture, or agriculture, or manufacturing. We don't pay any attention to how we are creating, in our families and in society at large, the individual spirit of each man and each woman of whom we will later wish to make a Witch. And therein, it seems to me, lies the true Mystery. Here are some, to my mind, disturbing examples of our inability to see the relationship of the product to the source.

Women for the most part are first to complain about our sons not having "good male role models" and we are quick in some contexts to criticise patriarchy and daddyism. But it rings false, it seems to me, to talk about powerful Male archetypes emerging from a culture that we females complain systematically disempowers women, when much of this "disempowerment" has been done over many decades with the full co-operation, and even at the suggestion, of the women themselves. Likewise, it is specious reasoning to complain that our fathers and husbands cannot accurately model male strength for our sons, when it is we who raise the little 'uns, and it was our mothers and grandmothers who raised the big 'uns.

We do not do enough, we women, to make it clear to the "male establishment" that we will not let our daughters be raped and exploited, and we actually participate in the same exploitation in tiny ways every day. We laugh at sexist jokes and we cater to Madison Avenue's ideal of female
pulchritude by buying the tightest girdles and skimpiest bikinis, bemoaning our weight and
refusing to eat anything that might make us "fat." We do such things as enter our tiny daughters in "beauty pageants" and we actually sponsor agendae that tell girls being "fat" is the worst thing they can be, and being "pretty" is the best thing. We raise our voices loudly to cheer violent contact sports, and the cartoons our sons and daughters are watching on tv are filled with egregious violence; far be it from us, however, to let our children actually see a woman breastfeeding in public or two men kissing. We rant at politics on talk shows, we cry out about how rotten is the "establishment"--but we simultaneously disempower ourselves by vowing that we won't vote because all politicians are corrupt. We support the obscene salaries paid to sports icons in this country every time we sit at a game or in front of the TV for the WWF, and we still have a vast financial dichotomy between salaries paid to men and to women in the marketplace. And most disturbing of all--some of the attitudes of insensitivity and male arrogance which prevent men from fully accessing the Male Mysteries are actually fed to them at their mothers' behest. What, you ask, am I talking about? Well--here ya go.

We tell our sons that "big boys don't cry"...and gods forbid that Johnny should ask Santa Claus for a dolly and actually get it. Especially if Johnny is older than five. We are all still too quick to cast Daddy in the stereotypical role of disciplinarian and general hard-ass, and we passively accept the fact that Daddy makes more money than Mommy even if they do the same job. We cast our children in role models practically from birth, not just pink for girls and blue for boys but trucks for boys and dolls for girls and the constant repetition, even in the home of sensible 21st century parents, of the word "sissy" if a male child shows gentleness or sensitivity, or gods forbid, signs that he might "grow up gay" or "not be manly". And, (oh, boy, am I gonna get it this time!) we are still, we women, all too quick to let other people raise our children so we can keep up with some hypothetical Joneses on the TV. There is scarcely such a thing any more as a stay-at-home mom...yes, yes, I know, "it's the economy, stupid." It does, now, probably take two incomes to live. But we are losing, in some arenas, more than we are gaining by not having both our male and female children raised by focused and fully conscious mothers--and fathers.

If we want there to be Male Mysteries evident in our culture, we women have to let it be known
from the moment that tiny infant boy comes home from the hospital with us that we will and do respect and honor the archetypes, but that we disdain and actively reject the stereotypes. We need to make places in our mundane everyday lives for gentle men, for nurturant men, for strong but not silent men, for little boys who can cry and not be ashamed, can hug another man without looking over their shoulders, can refuse to play football without fearing the curse of the ever-taunting "faggot!!" And a good number of us need to decide that it is important enough to change our lifestyles so we can stay at home and raise our own sons.

If we want the Female Mysteries to be evident in our culture, we need to stop sexifying our small daughters and making it seem from the time they are in kindergarten that how they dress and how they look is the most important thing about them, far more relevant to "getting a boyfriend" than is what they say and how they think. We need to respect our daughters' desires to be "unfeminine" and not demean them with the labels and attitudes that being unfeminine makes them less womanly. Strength is a Female Mystery. Ask any mother.

As long as we are willing, we women, to live in a world where bullying is confused with strength
and sensitivity is labeled "gay", as long as we are unwilling to raise our sons in the knowledge of
the full range of male responses, skills and emotions, as long as we inculcate our daughters from birth with the insidious lie that the most important thing they can do with themselves is make themselves attractive to men, we will not have either the Male Mysteries or the Female Mysteries in our society. And we won't deserve to.

Friday, March 23, 2012

On Teaching, And Learning, And Which Is Witch?

March 23, 2012: I have had much reason to think deeply, lately, of teachers and students in the Craft milieu, and especially of the concept of "teaching Craft" and "the Craft of teaching." And once again, I am revisiting something I wrote many years ago, and finding it still highly relevant. Here it is, for your musing--or, perhaps, for your amusing....

I believe that many of the abuses and problems of "power-over" and cults of personality, which are endemic in Craft communities all over the world, stem from our misuse of, and faulty understanding of, certain terms. Among these terms are "teacher" "student" "teaching" "training" and "initiation".

The fact is, no one can actually teach Craft, and no one can actually learn Craft from a teacher. My mundane profession for 27 years was teaching, and I can attest from personal experience that the process of imbuing someone with the ability to learn the mysteries is absolutely nothing like teaching---but it is VERY like what teaching is *supposed* to be. We in the Western mystery tradition are knowledge-based...when we set out to "learn" something we tell ourselves we are going to "know about" it or learn to "understand" it. So we buy books and begin reading
up in order to inform ourselves. We have a slight contempt for people who don't go to college, who want to "work with their hands" or who are "laborers". We give much recognition and honor to the academic mind. But the academic mind is of little or no use in the process of learning,
apprehending and synthesizing Mystery. Mystery in the Craft definition is the Numinous, the arcane. It is something you encounter, something you undergo or experience, someplace you dwell, something you do or are. It is almost never based upon something you "know" as we "know" biology or arithmetic.

So how is this theory relevant to Craft cultures? In our experience as seekers, we soon discover that there appears to be a body of lore and information out there...some of which is "sacred" and some of which is "secret", and all of which has been invested with a whole bunch of WitchCrap juju by those who have a stake in giving themselves the big head and appearing to be in possession of vast bodies of lore, combined with mysterious techniques and secrets which they will ceremoniously convey to you either on payment of an exorbitant fee or for the proper duration and intensity of ass-kissing in public and private. We do buy books, but we are convinced the first time we meet a "real Witch" that what we are looking for is not to be found in the books. We determine this partly because we notice that "real Witches" are different, and we want whatever it is they have. And our idea here is reinforced by the "real Witches" because they tell us that we cannot possibly get what they have from the books. So we sign up to get a teacher, because we all want at some time to have that thing they have that makes them "real WE-aitches". And the first thing that happens to most of us is that they begin to expound on and refine the things we found. or are finding, in the books. And we don't understand.

Teaching in the mundane world is often pretty useless because students of all ages, especially kids, have a tendency to scorn what they do not immediately apprehend as useful. "When am I ever gonna use this stuff?" is a refrain schoolteachers hear innumerable times daily, especially if
they teach something "useless" like English lit. Schools survive by massive efforts on the part of teachers and administrators to constantly reinforce the relevancy of their information base. But the fact is, we could and should throw out all the textbooks, because the kids are largely right. It really doesn't matter exactly what books the student reads or what scientific experiments the student is exposed to, if the teacher understands hir role...which is not to get the student to absorb a body of information, but to teach the PROCESS OF make the
student so intimately acquainted with the way hir mind works that it can be maximized in its effectiveness and honed like a precision tool. But because Craft teachers live in and were trained in the same Culture as the rest of us, they too often misunderstand. They know they have lived
more deeply. sometimes longer in years, always longer in experience of Craft, than those who come to them for they know that they "know more." And because they are acculturated along with the rest of us, the word "know" kicks in a process of "know? information? share information!" So they immediately begin to try to teach the Seeker what they Know...and often the process dies a-borning, because if they ARE "real Witches," they DIDN'T learn it that way...but they forget that.

What the teaching of Craft really consists of is taking the Seeker through the Labyrinth of hir own personality, helping the Seeker become intimately familiar with the landscape of hir own inner world. A "teacher" of Craft is really more of a Mentor, a Guide, a catalyst for synthesis. All
the real Craft teacher can do is set up experiences for the Seeker, and help that person synthesise the results. It is an innate truth of Craft that "my mysteries are not thy mysteries" and that if they are, the person who is imitating the other person's Mystery hasn't gotten there yet. When one is "learning Craft" --well, truly, when one is really learning anything at all--one is learning to understand the way the Self processes information so that one can adapt that knowledge to achieve Change.

So we have abuses of the role of teacher, and abuses of the learner... and sometimes abuses of the teacher as well, because we do not understand the process. And until we recognize that no one owns Craft knowledge, and that even in the same Trad and Coven , my Craft is not your Craft, and that when I really do apprehend the Mysteries I will NEVER be able to convey that experience to anyone else, we will not understand the process, and we will run a risk of damaging ourselves and others in trying to share it.

So maybe what is needed is an earnest exploration among Craft communities worldwide, beginning right here where we all Are, of what we are really trying to do when we "teach Craft" and of what will maximize our effectiveness in achieving that goal. Because the fact is that a good Craft "teacher", like a good teacher in any other discipline, renders hirself irrelevant and unnecessary as rapidly and thoroughly as possible, and produces not an acolyte nor groupie-type personality supporter but a thoroughly competent balanced self-sufficient individual. And a world of such Witches would be Paradise indeed---but as long as we teachers misunderstand our role we will never get there.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Who Am I, Really.....?

March 22, 2012: I have been musing a great deal on the Self lately. Someone very special has brought some aspects of Alice in Wonderland's journey to my mind, most particularly the Caterpillar's question breathed resonantly through the smoke of a hookah: "Whooooooo AAAAARE Youuuuuuuuu?" And I am not sure I know that, not all of it, not yet. But here are some ideas on the topic.

OK… maybe "ideas" is the wrong word. Maybe I should call them "thought fragments"... each of them dealing with several things all at once, not all of them mutually intelligible or coherent. So I will start this out as a brainstorming, and hope it coalesces into prose somewhere along the way…..

I believe that each individual consciousness is unique, irreplaceable, never to be repeated, and that each life in the Universe, both life that is self-aware and life that is not, exists to fulfill a specific and unique purpose. The purpose of Lives is not interchangeable one with another. No one’s Life, or the deeds of their conscious human life, or the result of their non-self-aware biological or non-biological existence, can ever stand in for, or substitute for, or replace, the purpose or resonance or meaning of any other Life.

I believe that it is the purpose of successive human lives to find out the ultimate purpose of the Being’s Life, and to perform or become that thing. I believe that the Lives we are given, no matter how many times a single consciousness inhabits successive human bodies, are way-stations offering learning and growth opportunities to the Consciousness so that It may grow ever closer to the purpose for which It exists.

I believe that the Being can apprehend its Purpose while incarnate, and that once it discovers the Purpose for which it exists, the remainder of Life is ideally focused on attaining that Purpose. I believe that the Purpose of any Incarnate Being has a focus that is both Personal (for the Self) Interpersonal (for other people), Intrapersonal (for the Entire Race of Living Beings) and Impersonal (for the Universe)

I believe that a Being which has achieved the Purpose of all its lives ceases to incarnate, and becomes a part of the Body of the Universe (of which the Body of Gaia, the Earth Biosphere, is one component, but only one) and is thus available as a resource to other Beings attempting to realize their own Ultimate Purpose. I believe that the things we call The Gods are Beings who have achieved their Ultimate Purpose and have become discarnate consciousnesses who are accessible to humans and other forms of Life as resources in our own journey to our Ultimate Purpose. I also believe that beings such as the Sidhe, Devae, Elves and Gnomes and the like, Dragonkin, and other non-earth based life forms such as “aliens” are similar Beings to what we call the Gods, except that their own Journey to Purpose was not taken in a body that resided on the Earth I now inhabit, but that originated in some other Realm of Living Beings.

I believe that the Gaian Consciousness, the Essential Realm of Earth and Stars, NEEDS the Life upon it, each being thereof, whether human or not, to realize Its Own ultimate purpose, and that for every Being who does not succeed in that Quest, the Being of Gaia is diminished. I also, however, believe that it is impossible NOT to finally succeed in that Quest if one is willing to learn, grow, evolve, and get one’s Ego out of the way. For some people, it does take many lifetimes. And some people opt out of the journey of their own Will, being unwilling to participate in a life-affirming existence, and being killers of the life force by deeds of hatred, waste, destruction, violence, and other life-denying behaviors. Such Beings do not contribute their own Essence to the ultimate well-being of the Gaian Mind, and the sum of existence is forever diminished by the loss of their potential.

I believe the Soul is the Life Force, and that the Human Soul is capable of far transcending the boundaries of living in a flesh casket. However, I do believe that the physical realm of life, including food and sex and color and laughter and music and sharing and reproduction and creation and all the rest of it, is Holy, and that some people’s Ultimate Purpose is to contribute to the knowledge of the World in these realms.

I believe the Soul has personality and consciousness, and that Spirit has consciousness, but not personality. I believe the Soul remembers lifetimes other than the current one, since the Ultimate Purpose of any living being might take more learning than can be compassed in a single lifetime. I believe that a Soul that has fully realized its ultimate purpose joins with Spirit, and has consciousness of ALL other Beings on the planet or in the Realm it inhabits, not only the racial and individual and familial memories of its current or prior consciousness.

A Witch is a Being who is fully conscious that it has a journey to Ultimate Purpose to complete, and who makes use of the tools of the Will and the Intuition and the Unseen Realm to work on perfecting itself. Indeed, it might be enough to say that I believe a Witch to be a Being who is Fully Conscious. This is the reason I believe a Witch is both Born and Made, because I believe there are many unevolved souls who come to Incarnation at the very beginning of their Journey to Purpose, and such Beings cannot possess the accumulation of the Knowledge of Lifetimes that will make them Witches, even if in this life they read and study and know about the Arte.
Knowing about the Arte is not Knowing the Arte, and it takes many lifetimes to arrive at that point.

I believe that is all I wish to say on this topic at this time, since some of my ideas are still evolving or resolving themselves. I am going to promise myself and you the luxury of revisiting this essay in the future and make what changes seem good to me then.