Sunday, December 22, 2013

Out of the Darkness and Into the Light

Now that Yule is past and the Sun King has been reborn and the Crone has transformed back into the Maiden, the time for reflection is done.  The light has now turned back outward and it is time to begin choosing the seeds to plant in the coming spring.  What challenges were you given to overcome in this darkest part of the year?  For me, this dark period brought a bit of hibernation.  For nigh on six weeks, I didn't do much visiting.  I didn't engage in too much counsel with others.  As the solstice approached (literally, a week ago), I picked up where I left off at Samhain, with the work I was doing.  Looking back, this was a very real side effect of the magic I worked at summer's end.  This will be another blog which is a bit more personal than I usually write, it seems.

On Samhain night, I performed a widdershins ritual.  I traversed into the Underworld and laid 2 precious things at Hekate's feet, and I asked her to transform them into what She needed them to be.  Those things will not be named here because of the nature of the magic, but I will talk about some of the challenges I was forced to face in this dark time.

In regards to the first thing I gave to my Lady, my eyes have been opened to many of my own struggles with it, the acceptance of it.  I have become a creature of habit in my aging and, despite the fact that I like change sometimes, I still resist change more than I let it happen.  I know (and, honestly, have known) that this particular thing is going to transform my life in ways that I simply can not fathom.  She has now forced me to face this and see it for what it is.  It is something I both love and loathe.  It is something that I both want and don't want.  It is something that She has thrust upon my shoulders and told me that I have no choice but to carry.  So, I feel this physical weight upon my shoulders now and some days it is heavier, while some days it is lighter.  She has forced me to look at my own physical, mental, and emotional limitations and I know what I must do.

With the second thing, the Lady opened my eyes to some things which I have known, and honestly, hate.  She has removed my blinders (self-imposed, of course) and poked me in the eyes Three Stooges style.  Once again, I didn't like it, but no one likes having the obvious pointed out when they are being dumb. (And, yes, I was being dumb.)  "This no longer grows your soul," She said to me.  "Why keep holding it close to your heart?"  I gave Her some vapid excuse and BAM! Poked in the eyes. Hekate does not allow me the luxury of being dumb simply for the sake of being dumb.  It simply isn't tolerated.  So, the transformation of this thing has begun in earnest, after holding on to it for so long.  It is painful, probably moreso than the first, but that pain is my resistance to letting it go and simply letting it be what it is.

This second thing has also (and maybe more importantly) opened my eyes to the nature of my own past lives, and one in particular.  I see it playing out in this lifetime in an almost identical way as it did in that previous life.  I don't know if it is simply the nature of the soul and the lessons we carry from lifetime to lifetime, or if it is a lesson heretofore unlearned by myself and/or this other person (whom I am pretty certain hasn't remembered our time together), or if our souls are simply meant to play this out over and over again as we meet throughout the aeons.  The way these things are happening distresses me as much in this life as it did in my memory, but if things keep going as they did last time (and yes, I kept up with this person's life as best I could in my last life) then things will be better than fine for this person and I will, through my sadness, be able to smile with joy at their accomplishments, just as I did before.

The nature of the darkness tends to force us into a state of blindness.  In that blindness we have to use our other senses to overcome our fear and trepidation.  Sometimes, it takes the return of the light to show us that we were never truly blind at all.  Willful ignorance is not acceptable.  Standing still is not acceptable.  Fear is not acceptable.  So, now that the god has turned his face back to the Earth, will you allow the shadows in your life to fall behind you?  Will you muster up the courage you need to plant seeds in the spring?  That is what I plan on doing.  I plan on being courageous and walking toward the light.

Brightest Blessings, Friends!




Saturday, December 7, 2013

Past Lives: The Memories, What Do You Do With Them?

The past life experience and recovering memories is a topic that seems to have a revolving door kind of popularity.  It's a big thing for a while and then it isn't.  However, on some pagan paths, it could be counted as an important aspect for the practitioner.  Why?  It is important because we carry issues, thought processes, and even lessons from our past lives into our current one.  It is important because as practitioners of the Craft we strive to "Know Thyself."

I know that at this point in my life, I am struggling with a particular past life memory.  The last few days of that life spontaneously came back to me about this time last year.  While I lived an honorable life, the last few days were horrific.  I was a high ranking military official type and committed treason to prove a point.  My point was proven and I was put to death, but I did not die.  In the end, I was 'saved' by a witch and when I was well enough to leave, I wandered as a vigilante, of sorts, hunting down those who murdered me and, more importantly I believe, searching for those friends who never left my side.

Over the last year, I have had more bits of this particular past life come back.  I have recognized, in this life, those whom I lost in that one.  Yes, we have reincarnated together.  My struggle is two-fold with this recognition.  First, my honor (I think) won't let me tell these people.  I recognize that they have to remember this for themselves and if they haven't yet then they probably aren't ready to.  I also struggle with the fact that I was pretty bad-assed in that life.  I remember being nearly fearless.  My attitude was almost like, "Let's fuck some stuff up and see what happens!"  I was very principled and had no problem proving a point.

I am not like that in this life.  Am I clever?  Sometimes.  Am I cautious and calculating?  Most of the time.  There seems to be more care in this life to the effects of my actions.  I seem to be more diplomatic in this life and less 'kill them all and let god sort them out.'

So, I am exploring these memories.  I am experiencing them, seeing the action and feeling the emotions over and over and then, I am divorcing myself from the emotions and trying to look at the actions I took from a more objective place.  I am even exploring the emotions to see just why I would feel them in regards to what I did and what happened to me.

Already, it has explained some things to me, at least to some extent.  It has shown me why I have such a strange sense of right and wrong (it tends to be slightly more black and white than most people's), but it has also shown me that sometimes the right thing to do appears wrong to everyone else.  It has shown me that sometimes one must stand alone in what is right, so I appreciate more those who take a stand that may be unpopular.

This exploration has shown me just how important it is to trust those who have proven themselves time and again to be trustworthy.  Here, I mean those who own their words and actions, no matter how popular or unpopular.  More importantly, this exploration has shown me that I must be the same way.  It has shown me that sometimes the right thing to do is to shatter the illusion, whether it is created by yourself or another.  If we do the difficult thing and it is the best thing we can do for ourselves, then we have done right.  (And, maybe this lesson is a modern day variation on the 'kill them all and let god sort them out' attitude, I'm not sure.)

Now, as I figure this past life stuff out, I can see that there are lessons I still haven't learned, lessons I am still learning, and lessons I bring with me into this life.  It doesn't make the emotions I feel presently any more or less palatable, but it does give me some insight into why things are being presented to me in this life as they are.  It doesn't take the fear away, because I am not a fearless being in this life.  However, I can make peace with my choices because I know that I have made them before on one level or another.  Do any of you, dear readers, struggle with past life memories?  Do you struggle to integrate them into this life or just accept them for what they are?  I am sincerely curious.

Brightest blessings, Friends!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ares: God of War, God of Mercy, God of Laughter

Today, I'm going to get a little more personal than I normally do on this blog.  I'm going to talk about my patron god, Ares.  Many Wiccan woman often overlook the God in their lives, for their service to the Goddess.  I am quite guilty of this myself.  I often talk about Hekate and what She has done for me, yet, I do not speak of Ares, and He has been just as pivotal in my growth as She.

I have been a daughter of Ares since about mid-2008.  Yes, He came into my life even before Hekate made herself known.  Early on my newly pagan path, maybe 2002 or 03, I had been chosen by Demeter and Poseidon.  Well, it was kind of a mutual thing.  I asked if I could worship them and they accepted, so Ares and Hekate weren't my first patron deities.  Sometime in 2007, both Demeter and Poseidon began to not be there as much.  I noticed the loss and felt quite bereft that they were 'abandoning' me.

At that point in my life, I wasn't quite as resistant as I am now to change, so I did not rail against them and blame them for being horrible.  I simply accepted it as they moved farther and farther away.  In my confusion, I did a meditation and went to Demeter.  I begged her not to go.  With her kind, motherly smile, she said, "I am not really going anywhere.  You have simply grown past what I can teach you now.  I am stepping away to help those who need me more than you do.  Just keep on this path and all will be revealed in time."

I listened to the words of the Great Mother.  Through my sadness, I kept moving forward.  Poseidon did not even allow me to enter his realm at this point, which added to my sadness.  Months later, in 2008, much was revealed.  I was, again, doing a meditation.  I was asking for clarification in my loss.  I was in a forest, not my normal moonlit beach, walking a dirt path when Ares jumped out of the underbrush with a yell and scared the crap out of me.  Yes, friends, you read that right.  I almost had heart failure because the God of War thought it would be hysterical to announce himself by jumping out of a bush at me.

He wore a long, dark cloak and a hood as he did this, so I could not really determine who I was speaking with for a few minutes.  When I finally calmed down and wasn't screaming expletives at him for scaring me, he helped me get up from the ground and he removed his hood.  Looking fully into his face, I asked him, "Who are you?"  (Instinct told me, but I didn't want to admit it.)

His dark eyes glimmered with mirth and his gave me this lopsided smirk.  "You know who I am," was his reply.  I stuttered and stammered for a moment and he kind of cut me off.  "We have some things to attend to," he said. Ares grabbed my hand and practically dragged me down the dirt path.

We ended up at my beach, where I always met to speak to Demeter and dive to meet Poseidon.  At this point, dread filled me completely.  With a bit of urging (and force) we swam to Poseidon's kingdom.  It was at this point, my greatest of fears were unleashed.  With sadness in his unblinking eyes, Poseidon told me that there were lessons to be learned in the realm of men which he could not teach me because even he did not understand them.  (I suspect that he had no interest in them.)  He told me that there were some things that I must know and Ares would teach them to me because he actively worked in the realm of men.  Poseidon said, "I am giving you to Ares for a year and a day.  The battles you must fight now are beyond me."

Those words were like a knife through the heart.  I begged him not to let me go.  I begged him not to allow these things to happen.  His sadness was evident when he told me that they must happen and that I must learn from Ares.  He then told me to come back in a year and dismissed me.

When Ares and I came back to the surface world, I was angry.  I hated him.  I railed at him.  He, of course, laughed.  He told me to remember that fire.

For the next few months, Ares announced himself in my meditations by jumping out of bushes, underbrush, and trees.  He took great joy in my anger.  He took even greater pleasure when I attacked him physically (and he stood there unharmed, which made me even angrier).  Then, one day, his jumping out of the bushes to scare me (or maybe get my attention) didn't work.  I'd come to a point where I was simply resigned to being forced to work with him.  "What do you want now?" I asked him.

It was at this point that his whole demeanor changed.  "Ah!" He said to me quietly, "You have stopped resisting!  Now we can get to the real work!"

Ares scooped me up and tossed me over his shoulder and he ran through the forest with me.  I didn't go quietly, of course.  When we came to a clearing, he dumped me on the ground.  "Do you think I am all blood lust and killing?  Is that all war is to you?"

At that point, he was right.  To me war was all about blood and murder and I said as much.  His laughter startled me.  "War isn't just about the fight," he said.  "It isn't just about how many heads you can take.  War is as much about discipline and mercy as it is about victory.  Think about all of the warriors you know!  Think!  Are they simply killing machines?"

It was in that moment that I realized that I was surrounded by soldiers, former soldiers, and police officers.  My life was full of the children of Ares and while they might love a good fight, they were some of the most gentle people I'd ever known.  He saw the realization in my eyes and smiled.  "You haven't thought about how medics on the battlefield, in recent wars, would overdose the gravely wounded so they didn't suffer, have you?  You haven't thought about how most warriors prize the still, quiet times with their closest friends and family, have you?  You haven't thought about how many warriors enjoy a raucous party above most things, have you?  Being a warrior isn't just about the fight.  Being a warrior isn't just about winning at all costs.  You would do well to remember these things, girl.  Now, get up off of the ground and get out of my sight!  You have wasted a lot of time fighting this and my patience is wearing thin."

It was some time before Ares came back to me in my meditations.  I spent a lot of that quiet time thinking about what he told me.  The next time I saw him was after Samhain 2008 and after Hekate had claimed me.  It was at the very beginning of the debacle that would become my divorce.

At the beginning of my divorce, I was very quiet and meek (for those reading this who know me, I know that it's difficult to believe!).  I was scared of a lot of the world around me.  My ex-husband, in his drug and alcohol induced fantasy land, began stalking and threatening me and my family.  I got no help from the authorities, none.  They refused to give me a restraining order because a binder full of threatening emails and dated and time stamped tapes of his threats weren't enough.

In those darkest of times, when I genuinely feared for my life and no one else believed me, it was Ares who showed me how to fight back.  It was Ares who I would take these things to and ask him what to do.  It was Ares who, often times, had to put his sword in my lower back to move me forward on something.

My work with the God of War showed me how to face danger (real or perceived) with determination and common sense.  My work with the God of War taught me when and where to be merciful.  My work with the God of War taught me that no one is going to stand up for me unless I have the courage to stand up for myself first.  My work with the God of War also taught me when to keep my mouth shut and simply plan my next move, or maybe just give that person enough rope to hang themselves with.  That work also taught me to revel in the fight when there are no other options.  He showed me that one should never pick a fight, but one should not back down, either, and when all is said and done and the energy is expended, one should pick your opponent up (or allow yourself to be picked up) and be satisfied that it is over and done with.

After 5 years, Ares is still here.  When my year and a day came around, my own thinking had also evolved.  Poseidon gave me his blessing to keep moving forward down this particular path.  While I often dislike these lessons (still) and sometimes wish to go back to the sea kingdom, I know that my experiences have made me stronger and wiser.  There may come a day when I can go back to the sea, but until that day, I do my best to embrace the fact that the powers that be in the universe have seen fit to make this sometimes quite and often underestimated woman a warrior, of sorts.

May your gods bless and keep you, friends!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Sacrifice, Blood, and Pain: Are You Willing to Suffer to Learn?

"You have come to the Craft to learn.  Are you willing to suffer to learn?"  Many times through the years I have been asked if I was willing to suffer to learn my Craft.  Each time, I answered in the affirmative.  So often we believe the suffering to be emotional suffering, letting go or maybe being dragged kicking and screaming before letting go.  However, my personal gods and I go back many years.  We walked this path for some time before I came into group practice, and on occasion, they ask me for a sacrifice.  Usually, this sacrifice involves blood and pain.  For those reading this who may be new to the Craft, I hope your head hasn't caught fire and you haven't run away screaming at the mention of blood sacrifice.  I am fully aware that this is a taboo topic among many Wiccans because we should always 'harm none', and this includes not harming ones self.  The fact is, though, sometimes the gods want to know just how serious their children are about what they ask for (at least my gods do).

Many people who know me, know that Hekate and Ares are my matron and patron deities.  Many who discovered this after getting to know me warned me to 'be careful', as though I had some choice in the matter.  The often hard-headed student needs stern deities, and these two fit the bill.  They accept my offerings (on most occasions).  They nod in the affirmative when I do good.  They have been known to pick me up and toss me back on to my path when I stray.  It is not an easy walk, but if I did things the easy way, I probably wouldn't be where I am today, so I wouldn't change a single step.

Yesterday, I was at work and utilizing my ability to do menial tasks while 'checked out'.  I do that often.  Only a small amount of my consciousness needs to be doing the task, so I will simply 'check out' and go about my spiritual work.  I was designing my Samhain ritual and preparing for my visit to the Underworld.  Hekate and Ares were there and She was listening to me be a selfish child, telling Her what I am going to do and how and that I would like these certain things changed.  She then cocked Her head to the side and cut Her eyes at Ares.  I think they were having a silent conversation, the details of which I have not been privy to.  He smirked and She smacked me in the forehead.  This wasn't a hard smack, it was mostly to get my attention.  And get my attention She did!

"You ask for these things," She said when I stopped chittering away, "but you haven't given us a proper sacrifice in a very long time.  You have been thinking about getting rid of those scars.  Now is the time to do it.  Today."  In deity-speak She said, "Go get your ear re-pierced in Our names.  Your blood is Ours; you are Our child.  Your pain is Ours.  Make it so."  Samhain night it will be 5 years since She claimed me as Her daughter.  In willingly bleeding for my gods and giving them the pain They ask for, I remind myself that I asked for these changes.  I remind myself that I ask for this growth.

Blood sacrifice isn't about killing, maiming, or disfiguring.  It isn't about the taking of another life essence.  For me blood sacrifice is about giving fully.  It is about understanding the seriousness of what I am asking.  Blood sacrifice is about the ultimate gift.  "I give to you, Oh Lady and Lord, that which holds me on this plane of existence."  Even more than that, the act of ritual blood-letting (in all of its forms) always involves pain of some kind.  For my gods, the blood is the immediate outcome of the sacrifice, but it is the ongoing pain afterward and the healing process that is truly my sacrifice to them.

I don't like physical pain of any kind.  It's not that I can't endure it because I have a high tolerance for it, but I just don't like it.  My gods know this.  So, when they ask for sacrifice, it is usually in the form of ink of some kind or getting something pierced.  This sacrifice is two-fold, on my part.  There is the immediate blood and pain, which is offered in a short prayer and evocation at the moment it happens and then there is the ongoing pain, which is acknowledged and reverently offered up multiple times a day until there is no pain any more.  The second part is an important reminder to me that I asked for it.  It helps me to keep moving forward when I don't believe I can.  That physical pain reminds me that I don't have to shoulder the burden of change, that I can, indeed, leave that which no longer helps me grow right where it is.  It reminds me that I do not have to carry it with me, that I can simply accept it and move on.  There are those out there who do not need a physical reminder of this.  I recognize that I have not grown to that point in my life just yet, so I need that reminder and willingly accept it.

So, for the next few months, this particular sacrifice will be in the forefront of my mind.  My favorite word will become, "Ow!" and it will be a constant reminder of my need and my willingness for the changes to come.  As I descend into the darkness of the death of the year and explore the darkness that resides within myself I will become blind, but this sacrifice will be a reminder of the constant companionship I have within the depths of the cauldron.  This pain will be a reminder that all things are temporary and all things are an illusion.  This sacrifice will remind me to keep moving forward and it will remind me that at the end of the darkness of death is the light of rebirth.

Remember, friends, that we have all come to the Craft to learn and we must be willing to suffer to learn.  If we aren't willing to suffer, then we aren't changing.  If we aren't changing, then we aren't growing.  If we aren't growing, then we aren't fulfilling the plans of the gods. Sometimes we must embrace the darkness to find the light.

Brightest blessings, friends!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Loyalty: When do you give it and when do you give it up?

The subject of loyalty has been has been an ongoing theme in my life for some months now.  Not just what it is, but what loyalty isn't.  When does one stop being loyal to another and for what reason?  Most importantly, though, when is loyalty simply an illusion being cast?

The question of true loyalty versus illusion is something I have battled hard with, as of late.  Is loyalty one of those mutually beneficial relationships?  Both parties give and they receive from one another, but once the giving and receiving is over, what is left?  Is it an emotion?  Is it an expectation?  What happens when one party can no longer fulfill his or her end of the relationship in the same manner as before?  Does the relationship evolve and the parties find other ways to benefit each other or does the relationship breakdown completely and both parties end up going their separate ways?  The above makes loyalty sound like some kind of dysfunctional relationship based solely upon two parties using each other to get what they each want.  While this is how I see people using their loyalty, as something to barter with, I do not believe loyalty is something to be used in this manner.

I think back to my own friends and family and to those whom I have been quite loyal to through the years.  They are the people in my life who have not asked for much, but have given much in return.  This giving has inspired me to give back to them, not because I felt that I had to, but because I wanted to.  Even now, there are people in my life whom I have not spoken to in years, if they called upon me for anything I would do my best to fulfill their need.  I would do this, not for the 'reward' of being able to say that I was the one who did it, but because they thought enough of me to ask and because I know that if I were in the same place, they would do the same for me.  That is loyalty in my mind.  It is thinking highly enough of a person to go to them when you are in need, but also that person knowing that they can come to you when they are in need, no matter the time or distance.

So, if loyalty is giving what you can, when you can, then what about those people who like to cast the illusion of loyalty?  What about those people who say they are loyal, but their actions speak to something else?  Have you ever known anyone to look at you and smile and tell you that you can help them (when you offer) and yet they never present to you a way to help?  I have had many people in my life who have done this exact thing.  People who tell me, "Yes, you can help, but first I need to...."  Then, they don't proceed with the next step.  This mentality leaves me with expectations that are never fulfilled and, often, never again acknowledged by the other party.  After a time, these unfulfilled expectations are put to the side with feelings of resentment.  I have offered of myself, offered of my loyalty and willingness to do whatever I can because I want to help, and it is met with feigned enthusiasm and tossed to the side for whatever reason.  For my effort I am damned to failure without ever being able to try.  It often makes me wonder what these people really thought of me.

In my brain, that is not loyalty.  In my brain, that is using someone.  That is keeping up the illusion that a person matters to you when, in reality, they don't.  People are not meant to be used and then thrown away.  If a person is perceived to no longer be of use to you, then you should have the courage to tell them so.  You should have the honor to be able to look them straight in the eye and tell them that they are of no benefit to you.  This way, that person isn't left with expectations that are unreal and unfulfilled.  This way, that person knows exactly where they stand with you and there is no question of why things happened in the way they did.

I am learning much about the 'takers' in my life.  Their words speak volumes, but their actions scream their true intentions.  If loyalty is giving without expectation, at what point does one stop giving?  Is it when the disappointment becomes to great?  Well, that implies expectation.  So, then, can one stop giving and still be loyal?  It is a paradox.  If I offer my loyalty and you accept, then you create an expectation within me.  If that expectation goes unanswered, then disappointment is created in that place of expectation.  So, then, loyalty comes down to a matter of communication.  It is difficult to tell a person that you no longer need his or her help, especially after you have accepted it, yet, that giving back (with or without explanation) is owed to that person.  If they keep giving and you keep taking and doing nothing with it, then suddenly they will stop giving, whether or not you notice.  Once that happens, it probably means their illusions are shattered and they are no longer loyal to you and your purpose.  It also probably means that they have stopped caring to the same degree they used to.  Maybe they stopped caring all together.

A weird little holy man once told me, "People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."  Keep this in mind as you offer and accept the help you want and give in your life because as people begin to see by your actions that their offers to help aren't appreciated, then they will stop offering.  Remember to always keep your word.  If you spend your life giving your word and not following through, people begin perceiving you as selfish.  As men and women of the Craft, we walk a path of service:  Service to our Gods.  Service to our community.

Brightest blessings, friends! 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Mundane Life Mirrors the Spiritual: What is Yours Saying?

As a neophyte, I was taught that ones mundane life had to be in order for one to get his or her spiritual life in order.  That is a concept that, instinctually, I understood, but I had issues grasping the concept in a real world setting.  Until now, that is.  It occurred to me that I haven't had very good examples of that, but that I also haven't been a very good example of that, either.

There is this thought within the pagan community that leaders must near impoverished.  Why?  Why is that, exactly?  Can pagan leaders not have a nice place to live, a decent vehicle, and be able to pay their bills without asking for hand-outs?  Is there some unwritten rule that, as leaders and clergy within the pagan community, we must turn our back on materialism in all forms and struggle to make sure that our most basic of needs are met?  Is there some unwritten rule that we must take into our homes any and all who are in need and ask for nothing monetary in return?  Why?  Why do we do this?  Is it our duty to overextend ourselves to the point of breaking?

On more than one occasion, I have seen leaders in the community do this.  I have seen them take in mouths that they couldn't feed.  I have seen them quit jobs, on a whim, that were needed.  I have seen them get in a bind and have to ask the community to help.  I have been one of the ones helping, even when I didn't, necessarily, have it to give.

Another notion I whole-heartedly reject is that paying dues to ones church or group is akin to tithing.  I wonder, often, if this is an excuse by the members of the group.  Do the members of the group see their spiritual leaders living an unconventional lifestyle and not want to help out because, due to their own concepts (and if said leader is able), they believe many of the money issues would go away if the leader simply got a regular job?  Alternately, maybe the members see the communal living situation and believe that one or more of the able bodied people living there could find work.

I have been there, living with some of my spiritual family, with no income and wondering just how in the fuck I was going to contribute.  Very quickly, I found a job and, very quickly, I worked out with them just how I was going to contribute, not just monetarily, but with sweat equity.

So, if our mundane lives mirror our spiritual lives, what does it say about those who give to the point of poverty?  What does it say about those who take to the point that their leaders are impoverished?  What does it say about those who prefer to take hand-outs to doing the work themselves, physically (if they are able)?  What does it say about those who refuse to do the 'Christian' thing to help out their leaders?  What does it say about the few who see the need in their church and seek to fulfill it, not out of some selfish need to be recognized, but because there is a need to be filled.

When we, as pagans, stop seeing this effort over another with our leaders and start seeing the needs that need to be fulfilled, we come together better as groups.  We grow as people and as groups.  My own thinking, as a student, was that if I had the money to buy myself 5 candles, then I could give 3 of them to my own group.  If I could afford to buy 4 boxes of incense, then I could give 2 of them to my group.  If I could spend $20 on food for myself, then I could spend a little more and make sure that my high priest and priestess had what they needed, even if I was just buying sweets that they normally wouldn't buy themselves.

I did these things, not because I had to.  I did these things because they were needed and I had the means.  Unfortunately, I do not have the means to give like I used to, at least not in a monetary way, and back then, I resented some of the people in my church because they didn't see things the way I did.  However, I have come to learn that most people don't see the world in the way I do.  They don't look at the world in terms of 'what can I give'.  That isn't something I can change in them.  I can only do my part and be a good example of giving when and where I can.

If the mundane and spiritual mirror each other, maybe we should all stop and examine our lives for a moment.  What parts of our mundane life cause us discontent?  Why is that?  What is the spiritual equivalent? The wheel is turning to Samhain and the light is turning inward.  As we come to the final reaping of this year, the time is approaching to look inside ourselves and decide what we will manifest in the coming year.  Think about, not yourself, but your teachers, Elders, and friends.  Think about how you can manifest the things in your life that can benefit others.  Think about how you can set an example.  Think about how your mundane life mirrors your spiritual life and how you can grow and improve it.

Brightest blessings, friends!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

There's no such thing as a free lunch

To pay for magical services or not to pay.  That is an interesting question and one that I got into a debate about today.  There are so many pagans out there who cry from the rooftops that one should never have to pay for any magical service, be it divination or spellwork, teachings or some other service, and I don't understand that thinking.  We live in a society that puts a value on everything, so it would stand to reason that magical services would be no exception, but they are the exception.

Someone posted on a social networking site that they needed a 'real psychic' or a 'real tarot reader' and wanted to know if anyone knew one.  Several people said they did, but no one offered up a name.  Even I said I knew several, but there would likely be a price.  The asker panicked and declared that she was homeless and couldn't pay anyone anything for a reading and that it had to be free.  (Yet, she had access to the internet for most of the day according to the time stamps on her posts.)  Another poster went off on a tirade about how disgusting it was for any magical person to charge anything for a magical service and she did these things simply for the sheer joy of being able to help others. (Though she didn't openly offer to do a reading for the original asker.)  My own thoughts on the subject are as follows and I replied as such to the outraged poster.

As someone who performs certain magical services and charges for them, I find it silly that one would give divination for the 'sheer joy' of it.  What if that card reading is all gloom, doom, and death?  Where is the joy in telling someone that?  What happens when that free reading isn't what the other person wants to hear?  Does one receive joy from the other person calling them a fraud because they are angry?  I have been there and I certainly don't find it joyous.

I charge for magical services for a couple of reasons, none of which are to become rich.  First, if there is no exchange in the physical, a gift for a gift, then the exchange is purely energetic and I may not want that other person's anger in exchange for my time and effort.  Does this make me selfish and egotistical?  Maybe.  Like any transaction, free or not, there's always the risk of buyer's remorse.  If the other party has something invested, he or she is a little less likely to dismiss the outcome if it does not meet with their own expectations.

Also, many people don't understand the concept barter or exchange when they want something, in today's society.  It is perfectly alright to charge a small amount for giving classes and such, for materials and supplies, but if something only involves time, well, they don't see my time as being valuable.  It is not worth anything to them, but divination takes time, doesn't it?  Chakra balancing, auric cleansing, Reiki, house blessings?  Those don't necessarily demand a lot of money for supplies, but they can be time consuming.

My own personal practice is to ask for a gift, whether it be money, a cup of coffee, a stone, or any number of random things that a person might want to exchange.  It isn't about the monetary value of the thing.  It is about the value of the thing to that person.  I was once given a tee shirt in exchange for a chakra balancing.  This shirt didn't cost much for that person to have printed, but she only had a limited number of them printed and it was the last one she had.  For her, it was something she was quite proud of, but it was something she was willing to sacrifice in exchange.  For me, she honored me by offering the very last shirt of a limited number she would ever have.  That level of sacrifice humbled me greatly.

Another reason I charge something for magical services is because I wouldn't simply demand an outcome from my Gods.  Were I to tell Hekate or Ares, "I have performed this spell, now give it to me!" they would thump me on the forehead (or worse!) and laugh!  We don't make demands of our gods, the spirits, or our ancestors, why would we make demands of each other?  We don't expect the gods to hand us our requests on a silver platter, so why do we expect it from each other?

Once again, it goes back to value and the fact that we are programmed to put a value on everything.  What does that say about magical services when we think they should be freely given for the sheer joy of helping?  It says that we don't value each other.  It says that we don't value divination, learning, blessings.  It says that the intangible can't possibly have a monetary value.  However, I see the intangible like a friendship.  The value it has, I can't even begin to pay what it is worth to me.

I understand the knee-jerk reaction of most pagans to scoff at those who would charge hundred of dollars for certain magical services, but the idea that magical services shouldn't be an exchange of some kind is ludicrous.  One does not walk into the grocery store and gather up a basket full of groceries and expect to walk out without paying for them and magical services of all kinds should be viewed in the same manner.  An exchange happens no matter what and we should be willing to sacrifice something in that exchange.  No matter if it is a physical object, a family recipe, a happy story about ones grandmother, or a hand full of cash, the practitioner is giving his or her time and energy, as well as giving his or her undivided attention.  We should always remember to value each other and honor the spirit within.

Brightest blessings my friends!!

Friday, May 31, 2013

PBP Week 23: K is for Karma

I suppose a more proper name for this blog would be, "When Karma Isn't Really Karma."  What I mean by that is this:  Sometimes our concept of what karma is and is not may be skewed.  Does doing something for your own benefit instantly mean that it is a bad thing?  Does the Rede apply only when we aren't operating from an altruistic world view or does it apply only when we knowingly go out of our way to hurt someone or some thing?  What about the Three Fold Law?  What if we, as inherently good people, are operating from a mindset of guilt and duty?  Is karma skewed by our thoughts?

I ask these questions for a reason.  According to the Law of Cause and Effect, all of our actions (and reactions) have an initial cause.  The action/reaction we have is then the effect and, like ripples in a pond, becomes another cause.  However, in thinking about karma and it being an effect of some action, then why is it that bad things happen to good people?  Could it be their mindset?  Could it be that they expect something bad to happen, therefore it does?

I know a woman.  She's a good woman with a good heart, yet she lives in a place of guilt.  She has a very low vibration and that is the place where she lives her life.  It is evident, by her actions, that she feels like she doesn't control anything in her personal life, so she is a complete control freak at work.  She gives of herself to certain people and she is unappreciated or feels unappreciated.  This place where she lives is a very dark one, but since it is all she knows, she chooses to martyr herself to everyone around her.

A couple of weeks ago, life threw her a big curve ball.  She wrecked her truck after spending most of the weekend helping some friends with a fund-raiser for their son with a brain tumor.  Of course, after totaling out her truck, she came to work all gimped up and obviously needing to be at home resting.  She was devastated that she'd wrecked her truck.  I mean near tears over it because she bought this truck and planned on never buying another one, ever.  Period.  She looked at me and said, "You know, whenever I help someone out, something bad always happens to me."  My response was, "Well, maybe you need to be a little more selfish, then."  She was dumbfounded and wandered away confused.

Now, I know that my comment sounded rather callous.  However, if insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then maybe she should try being selfish.  That's where my thoughts went.  But from where I stand, she didn't have bad karma, indeed, doesn't.  When she does nice things for people, it raises her vibration.  Subconsciously, she doesn't want to be better, happier, etc.  So, when she does something nice, subconsciously something bad has to happen to counter it.  Interestingly enough from listening to her talk about things, the 'bad' is a near perfect counterbalance to the 'good'.  She donates $200 to a charity that means something to her and the next day gets a bill for $200 out of the blue.  That's not karma, that's manifestation.

So, do our thoughts dictate our karma?  I think about my own life and how, since changing my view, I don't have 'bad karma'.  Yes, unexpected things happen and I don't live a life of unicorns with rainbows shooting out of their asses, but truly bad things just don't happen to me.  I have friends who just don't have to deal with truly bad things happening, either.  This has led me to believe that what we term karma is a direct reflection of our own thoughts.  If we live in a place of goodness and plenty, we will have goodness and plenty, but if we live in a place of guilt and poverty, then surely it will be ours.

Until next time, brightest of blessings my friends!

Friday, May 10, 2013

PBP: J is for Jesus

Yes, you read that right, J is for Jesus, and I mean that dude who walked around the Holy Lands two millennium ago healing people and collecting misfits only to be martyred on a cross by the Romans.  That guy!  Yes, I'm sure you are flabbergasted at the fact that Jesus has come up and are certain that he has no place in a pagan context (aside from, maybe Christio-eclectic Wicca).  Those things said, Jesus and even *gasp* the Bible can be looked at and learned from in a pagan world view.

To begin, we must strip away our own prejudices (if we have them) in regards to Christianity and the Bible.  If we look at this book in the same way we look at classical mythology, then we can put our prejudices aside.  So, if the Bible is myth, then the stories in it, we will focus specifically upon the new testament here, are allegory.  With that logic in mind, lets look at some of the things Jesus did.

First, he gathered 12 disciples.  Now, I don't know about the rest of you, but I have always been taught that the traditional number for a coven is 13.  Twelve named disciples plus Jesus equals 13.  Second, many of the disciples were given new names.  Peter was Simon and Matthew was also known as Levi.  It is also believed that Nathaniel was renamed Bartholomew.  The scriptures do not specify that all of the disciples were renamed, however, it is generally accepted in the Christian community that Jesus gave his disciples new names to reflect the changes within them.  To me, that sounds like the receiving (or maybe taking) of a magical name.

Also, Jesus performed 'miracles.'  Whether healing the sick, feeding the multitudes, or raising the dead, those things sound pretty damned impossible.  However, do we, as pagans, not perform magic and do some of these things?  Do we not heal ourselves and go on to help heal others through our own commanding of The Power and dispensing of the sacraments in ritual?  Do we not feed those who need it, both physically and spiritually?  Even more importantly, do we not live by many of the same principles Jesus taught? "Be ye kind, one to another. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?"  What about, "The meek shall inherit the Earth."  How many of us walk our path with a humble heart, helping those who need it most?  Is there not a meekness to that?  How many of us stand up in the face of injustice? Oh! Jesus did that, too!  Mary Magdalene and something about being without sin and casting the first stone?

So, outside of a Christian context, Jesus did many of the same things we, as witches, do.  He was, at the very least, a Priest of the Power who walked about his homeland dispensing the sacraments to those who needed it most.  He understood the need for spiritual fulfillment that went far beyond what most of the clergy in his time did.  Yes, his enlightenment earned his own death, but he knew that was coming.  He was 'tapped in' to the same Power we 'tap in' to.

Jesus, the man, the myth, is worth learning about.  We learn from him whether or not we realize it, and we are better people for it.

Brightest blessings, Friends!


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Life: What it offers sometimes isn't what we expect!

Obviously, I have disappeared from Pagan Blog Project for the last couple of weeks.  Life has not trolled me, as it did last time, rather I have been busy with my students and with my own lessons.  Life has been quite awesome, despite the lingering cold of winter.

My own lessons have been more life lessons.  I have been dealing with a co-worker who is inherently negative.  When I say 'dealing with', what I mean is hitting her with so much positive energy that she either smiles or runs the other way.  Either way, her vibration rises for a few moments and she feels better.  Depending upon the day and how she wants to feel is how she reacts.  Lately, she has been running away, but she hasn't been unaffected by the positivity which surrounds her.  (Two of my other co-workers are inherently positive people, so they have been unknowingly bombarding her with positive energy, too.)

I have also found myself coming to certain realizations about life and people and recognizing how I read it or them.  My High Priest teaches that we all live out the myths and legends.  During the lessons on this, I got the concept and saw the truth of his words, but it didn't hit me until recently.  I have called it something different, recognizing it as 'The Pattern.'

All of life follows a specific series of events which repeat over and over again.  We call these things lessons because as we live the lessons, we either fall into a comfortable pattern of expectation (also called insanity) or we recognize the pattern and try something different.  In recent days and weeks, I have found myself stepping outside of The Pattern (at least, more than I normally do) and 'reading' events with a relatively accurate success rate as to how they will end.  Am I correct all of the time?  No.  Predicting when another person is going to give up their insanity (defined here as doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results) isn't quite yet my strong suit.  I'm still working on observing the pattern of trial and error and seeing when frustration leads to a change of habit.  I may never be able to do that reliably with other people, though.  I know this.  However, in working on the pattern in my own life, I should be able to use it to recognize my own lessons and insanities and change my own failures into successes.

I like the allegory I was taught of living out the myths and legends.  It takes a difficult concept and gives a student something tangible like a story to wrap his or her brain around.  It gives us something to relate to because we have all read stories where we were drawn in and lived with the characters as they struggled through whatever was written.  In contrast, the only way I can describe 'The Pattern' is to compare it to being unplugged from the Matrix and being able to 'read' the symbols on the screen which represent certain people or programs.  It's not a perfectly accurate description, but it gives a relatively descent comparison.

So, while I haven't been doing much writing lately, I've been doing other work.  Sometimes life takes away things, like writing, because the receiving of my own lessons are more important.  Writing, for me, is an escape.  I step outside of life, whether it be good or bad, for just a little while, and become nothing more than brain, fingers, and keyboard.  Life has demanded that I be more than that these past few weeks.

Thank you, friends, for checking out my blog in this time, curious to read what I should write next.  It warms my heart and humbles me.

Brightest of blessings, wherever you are!

Friday, April 19, 2013

PBP: H is for Hekate

Hail Hekate, Queen of the Witches!  She who is my sister, mother, and grandmother, Lady of the Crossroads, and torchbearer!  Blah, blah, blah! I could go on and on with salutations, invocations, and other praises to Her.  I could talk about Her history.  I could go on and on about Her in some boring, academic way. (Actually, nothing about Hekate and Her history is boring...)  However, instead, I am going to use this blog to talk about my own personal walk with Her.  She's requested I do so.  Yet, my ego says it's a trite thing to sing the song of my patron goddess, but she begs to differ, so sing I shall.

I have been a follower of Hekate since Samhain of 2008, almost 5 years now.  I can not even begin to articulate just how much I have suffered and how much I have been rewarded in that time.  She is known as a Dark Goddess, and that gives most people pause.  "Dark" must mean bad in some way.  Aren't we conditioned to think that?  For me, "Dark" means tough.  It means strict.  It means she is harder-headed and wiser than I am.  It means that things will be done Her way and in Her time.

I'll begin my story in 2008, on that fateful Samhain night.  Imagine, if you will, a young woman, a solitary practitioner who was wholly in the closet.  As a solitary, I understood that I didn't need a lot of tools to practice my magic.  I understood that I didn't need anything but myself.  For a week leading up to Samhain, I kept getting images of a full altar, a skyclad priestess.  I saw myself calling upon the Crone and asking for guidance.  Until that point, my life had been pretty easy.  I never wanted for much.  I always had a full belly.  I had everything the physical realm could offer, but something was missing.

So, I called upon Hekate, the goddess I saw as the consummate Crone.  She was evoked into my circle and in a rush of power and fear on my part, She was there.  My altar set up was satisfactory and my offerings to her were enough.  Then, She lifted a gnarled finger, pointed at me and said three words, "You are Mine."

I'd been marked.  I asked Her for Her help and she replied, "Are you sure?"  I said I was and asked again.  Another, "Are you sure?"  The third time I asked, she cackled at me and replied, "Be careful what you wish for.  You just might get it." And She was gone.

Since, my life has been in disarray.  I'm not going to say it's all been bad, but every time I step off of the path She has set out for me, I have difficulties. Also in that time, I have had the pleasure of experiencing her as both the Maiden and the Mother.

As the Maiden, She comes to me as The Torchbearer.  Her dark eyes glisten and there is mischief about her.  She holds the flame up high and whispers, "Come, follow me!"  Her steps are light and almost silent, as a deer bounding through a meadow, but her torch guides the way.  I see her light far ahead of me, and then She is near.  I know that there is nothing to fear when we play this way in the darkness.

Often times, She comes to me like this when I am approaching a crossroads and there are serious decisions to be made.  Through this game of chase, she helps me narrow down my choices and I come to a place where they are not so overwhelming to me.

As the Mother, She is stern, but just.  Usually, we meet at a crossroad under the light of the moon.  There is a place we meet that has a small altar, tree, and rough seat.  When I come to this point, I am often weary from weighing the decisions.  I sit in the seat and She puts her hand on my shoulder as I release all of my anguish over my decision.  I find this gesture to be very supportive.  As the Mother, She allows me to take each scenario, each path, through dozens of unnecessary endings before coming to Her and simply giving it to Her.  She allows me this for now.  I know that there will come a time when She will no longer allow it.  There will come a time when She is the one sitting at the crossroads, not me.

As the Crone, She is also full of mischief and mirth, but it is the kind of mischief that can only one with years of wisdom can create.  More than once, I have felt Her near me and, in an instant, She has taken over my brain and words are tumbling out that I could not fathom saying.  Literally, it feels as though She has stuck her finger in my brain.  It can be quite embarrassing!

So many times when I am not paying attention or when I am not listening, Hekate leaves me scraped up and bruised.  It is Her way to let me make a few mistakes.  It is Her way to spank me when I do anything other than she asks.  I would not wish the service of my goddess upon anyone, knowing what I have had to endure, but I would never ask Her to release me, either.

I have said many times and I will say it many times more, "I walk a path of service; service to my gods and service to my community."  Hekate makes sure that my walk stays true to my path.  She allows stumbling blocks.  She removes stumbling blocks.  She gives.  She takes away.  So it is with any path of personal responsibility and any path of personal growth.

Hail Hekate!!

Brightest Blessings, Friends!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

PBP: G is for Gender

Once again, I've done that thing where I'm supposed to write but my inner child throws a tantrum and refuses, so I flake out on PBP.  At least this time I'm only late in getting it done, right? :)

This week's blog is about gender, when it's important, when it's not, and my perceptions on why this is.  Speaking in spiritual or energetic terms, gender is a very nebulous thing.  What we term 'male' energetically is  the projective polarity that sits on the opposite end of the receptive polarity we term 'female.'  I see it, quite literally, as the yin and yang.  Two opposite parts of a whole with a drop of each other inside to keep the balance.

In some Wiccan traditions, gender matters.  In these traditions it is said that only women can draw down both the moon and sun and that men simply can not invoke the Goddess. (Here, I speak in physical, genetic terms of male/female.)  Other traditions teach that this division is a load of crap because both the Lord and Lady reside within, two halves making a whole.  My personal belief is that gender only matters at certain times and during certain rituals, specifically, certain Rites of Passage.

Many Rites of Passage are gender neutral, such as Wiccanings, The Rite of Mystery, and Crossovers, however, many are not, such as puberty rites and your Men's and Women's Mysteries.  My understanding of Rites of Passage is that these rites are a celebration of the individual reaching certain physical milestones in their life and these milestones are specifically related to ones gender and the physicality of the body.

So, what exactly, does this mean for our transgendered and gender queer friends?  It means quite a bit, actually.  Whether you have a uterus or a scrotum, quite literally, determines which mysteries you are a part of.  For instance, it would be quite confusing to put a queer boy through a young girls puberty rite.  No matter how he may try, no matter how much he may identify with the feminine, he would never be able to produce the monthly blood of a woman.  Much in the same way, putting a queer girl through a male puberty rite and asking her to produce semen would create internal confusion.

It is my belief that we must first learn the mysteries of our physical body, whether or not we identify with it or want to change it.  In accepting what we physically are and trying to understand it, we can come to a greater understanding of why we perceive it to be 'wrong' mentally, spiritually, and emotionally.  Much in the same way that the modern world requires a certain amount of counseling and living as the opposite sex before a gender transformation operation, we as pagans should do something similar spiritually.

In this exploration of the physical versus mental/spiritual/emotional it is of utmost importance to recognize that there are spiritual reasons and spiritual lessons for being gay or for being transgendered.  It is not punishment.  It is not the Universe being mean.  To be Two-Spirited is a pretty special thing.  However, to completely ignore ones physical nature and toss it to the side because it doesn't 'feel' right is to deny ones Self of that completion.

Gender only matters when it comes to the physicality of this manifestation.  We have lived many lives, many incarnations, in many physical bodies.  The Spirit simply is, but it must manifest itself in polarities.  When we are one within ourselves, then we can become one with the Universe.


Brightest Blessings, Friends!!

Friday, March 29, 2013

PBP Week 13: G is for Great Work

Within my own Wiccan church construct, when one reaches a certain level in their studies, one must begin thinking about his or her Great Work.  The Great Work is something that is going to be a life-long commitment by the practitioner to help in the furtherance of the religion and their own growth.  For soon-to-be-leaders within the community, this is a very important step.  The Great Work is, in essence, how one will 'specialize' within the community.

Just within my own church, my High Priest has the Great Work of promoting the religion of Wicca through (obviously) running a church, speaking to groups and giving workshops, as well as teaching the religion.  One of the students of the church is leaning toward youth teachings as her Great Work and one of the Third Degree High Priestesses I know has a Great Work of community building.  So, as you can see, the Great Work isn't just things like herbalist, healers, psychics, and writers.  It is where your passion lies within this path and how you best fit into the community.  After all, we still need planners and organizers for the festivals we go to; we also need kitchen witches and bards!

Then, you have people like me.  As I was coming upon my First Degree initiation, I had my Reiki 1 attunement.  I have always had an interest in healing and various modalities of healing, so I figured that it would be a natural progression for me to go into the healing arts and learn several different kinds of healing practices, maybe learn accupressure or accupuncture.  Oh, no!  It's not that easy.

Hekate and Ares never make it that straightforward.  Never.  They say, "Okay, Miss Lady, you want to be a healer?  Here is how this is going to go down.  Once you are initiated, we are going to send you far, far away from your High Priest and Priestess, but we aren't going to let you go it alone.  You will have support!  Then, you are going to truly know what 'the healing arts' are all about."

I am sent to a community that is the exact opposite of what I know.  My home community stretches (literally) from West Plains, Missouri all the way to Lake City, Arkansas and on to Jackson, Tennessee (if not a bit farther).  These people, hundreds of them, are from both churches and covens and they work together in an effort to unify everyone within the community whether they are a solitary or group practitioner.

My current community has these pockets of super amazing people!  Like, I've honestly not met a 'bad pagan' yet, however, there has been some trauma that has bred an aura of fear nearly community wide.  The irony of that statement is that this fear seems to have come from within, not without.  This town is very progressive, forward thinking, and liberal and has a huge pagan community in it.  I have talked to a few who have reached out to talk vaguely about the trauma that befell the community long before my time and I am taken back by the fear.

Is my Great Work to heal this community?  My gods didn't say 'You will heal these people!'  I do not want my readers to even entertain the idea that I am destined for something grand like pulling together a whole community, because I'm not.  However, they did have to show me what can happen when a community does become shattered and splintered.  They did have to show me how the efforts of the few walking their talk can sometimes be a struggle.  They did have to show me that sometimes fear paralyzes groups of people and that they lose trust in everyone completely.

The path of a priest or priestess is, sometimes, a lonely one.  It is exhausting.  It is difficult at times.  Those things said, they have also shown me that things worth doing are worth the loneliness, exhaustion, and difficulty and eventually, the hard work is rewarded.

The Great Work is different for everyone on this path.  It requires years, decades of service to the gods and the community.  It is that one thing that, when we are lying on our deathbed, we can say is our legacy.

Bright blessings, friends!!


Friday, March 22, 2013

PBP Week 12: F is for F.E.A.R.

Ah, Fear!  How are you, you wily fucker?  Still stealing people's breath?  Their words, thoughts, and actions?  Oh, Fear, you are a cunning friend.  You quite enjoy comforting us as you stab us in the heart, don't you?  You like whispering all of those negative things, don't you?  You enjoy the tears, the rage, the hurt.  You live for the moment when you can wrap yourself around any one of us and whisper, "It's okay that you can't.  It's okay that you won't try.  Don't.  Ever.  Try."

As you can tell, I have a long standing, masochistic relationship with my fears.  Through my training in Wicca, though, I have learned that fear is a necessity in life and can even be a good thing.  First, I have been taught to define fear as:

False
Evidence
Appearing
Real

The ego, through fear, teaches us how to look out for ourselves.  This is good, right?  Well, it's a great thing if you are standing on the edge of a cliff.  Fear may cause you to take a step back.  However, not paying bills because they are late for fear that your creditors are going to yell at you isn't a good thing.

Magically speaking, how do we manifest our own reality without fear?  Well, we first have to know what we are afraid of.  Speaking from a personal standpoint, I have, historically, been afraid of both success and failure.  How's that for irrational fears?  I have never failed at anything I put my mind to, and can't think of anything at which I am a complete and utter failure.  I'm horrible at tennis.  I'm too tall for tumbling.  I'm mediocre at painting.  However, just because those things aren't my strong suits, doesn't mean I fail.  It just means that I'm better at basketball, stenciling, and writing.

The fear of success has been my own biggest stumbling block.  If I'm good at this, others expectations will rise through the roof.  That has always been my thought.  If people know I'm intelligent, then they will expect more from me.  If people know this.  If people know that.  Until recently, I attributed this fear to my own ultra-private sense of life.  I know now that it is not.  I understand now that saying to another person I am limitless and believing it are two different things.

After figuring out the root of our own fears, what do we do?  I mean, one can not cast a successful spell if one is afraid of success, correct?  After figuring out what we are afraid of and why, we have to face that fear.  Even if facing it means doing so little by little.  Facing a fear of heights means stepping closer and closer to the edge until you go as far as you dare, and then going one step farther.  It means listening to that small voice of fear, but ignoring it.

When I first began facing my own fears, I had to do so in a manner that calmed and tricked my ego into a false sense of security.  It was literally a case of me telling myself, "Okay, Self, I'm going to do something that  you said is going to hurt me, but I'm going to do it a little bit at a time so we feel safe.  If we get hurt, it will all be my fault and you can tell me so."

For the most part, I know now when I am being irrational, and I can convince myself of this.  Magically speaking, I have done many things  since I began taming my ego and stopped listening to the smooth voice of fear.  How do you convince yourself to face your fears?  Do you?

Brightest of blessings, my friends!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Pagan Blog Project Week 11: F is for Fluff Bunnies

We all know that one guy or girl in the community who has the fanciest of velvet robes, the most expensive athame, dozens of tarot decks, and all of these really cool and expensive toys and relics of the Craft, but he or she couldn't cast a circle to save his life.  People like this are, quite arrogantly by some, called fluffy bunnies, and while they get on the nerves of many people, they may just have a place within the greater pagan community.

The above description is for one type of 'fluff bunny' pagan.  There are many types of them.  There are those who would be called a witch simply to be different and cause shock in other people.  There are those who want to claim the label of witch, but refuse to do the work of going through the degree system and changing internally. Then, there are those who would search for knowledge under the guise of 'knowledge is power' and do nothing with that information.  As the Craft evolves and the religion becomes more prevalent, there will be more and more people who come to the Craft for information, not to learn.

So, what do we do with people who come across like this?  What do we do with those who are obviously more into being different than being spiritual?  We do the exact same things with those people that we do with everyone else.  We love them anyway.  Without getting angry or frustrated, we do our best to guide them to their own understanding of their own personal path.

For those with the 'knowledge is power' mentality, dealing with them can be a bit trickier.  We still love them anyway, mind you.  However, these people come across as sincere seekers who are interested in learning and changing.  Then, when things get beyond the general information on the religion and get into the actual personal changes, the approach is a little more hands off.

With these particular people, there seems to be the mentality that if I know what happens, then I can make the choice to do it or not.  This mentality happens when a person is firmly stuck in the element of Air.  The curiosity about something drives them, but the fear of the unknown stops them short of full achievement and moving into the element of Fire.

Insincere seekers follow every religion and paganism is no exception.  We can only accept these people for who they are and hope to help them find their own true path.  They aren't to be scorned or made fun of, as they have their place just like anyone else.  How do you deal with the fluffier of pagans in your community?

Brightest blessings my friends!!


Saturday, March 9, 2013

PBP: E is for Evolution

When many of us think of evolution, we think of Mr. Charles Darwin and his grand tome The Origin of Species.  What I am talking about here, though, is the evolution of thought and how, as magical people, we differ from muggles.  This came to me as I began to get a migraine at work.  I have been getting them for days now and have chosen to attribute them to dozens of different mundane stimuli.  However, today I stopped and thought about the spiritual implications of a migraine.

First, I always get migraines around my right eye, an eye that was magically... altered.  This is coupled with the fact that (according to the pain in my neck, I think) my self-preservation urge is higher than it should be.  Then, the kicker.  I find myself having a negative conversation with myself around mid-afternoon, nearly every day now.  All of these things on the heels of a physical illness (which has a whole other set of spiritual implications that I'm not going to get in to) and I have a recipe for disaster, energetically speaking, if I don't evolve my thinking and move away from the low energy negative thought forms.

So, just exactly how am I doing this?  Well, like changing anything in my life, it's a process.  I have to begin by recognizing the negative thoughts and I have to acknowledge them.  In my acknowledgement, I ask myself just exactly why I am thinking along those lines.  Asking a simple 'why' stops the negative thought process in its tracks.  Not only does the question stop the negative thoughts, but it also allows me to see just who or what I am blaming for all of my negativity.

When I allow myself to see who or what I am blaming for my negative thought processes, I then ask myself 'why' again.  I have to know if they are really to blame or if I am simply projecting my insecurities upon them.  So, I keep asking why until I come to the answer that involves myself.

Another approach I take, especially if I simply don't have time to have the internal 'why' conversation, is to acknowledge the negative thoughts and then banish them with a hearty 'No!'  When I do this, I stop for just a moment, acknowledge the negativity, tell it no, and then repeat whatever negative thing I was saying with a positive twist.  For instance, "No one else is doing anything that needs to be done around here!" becomes "If everyone is too busy to help me, I will do this work with joy in my heart and a smile on my face."  When I do this, it turns the negative 'why me?' into a positive 'why not?' and it lifts my mood and I carry on with my business.

Evolving our thoughts is not an easy thing to do.  For many of us, this process takes years and years of positive affirmations and moving forward, away from the negative concepts we do dearly love.  The evolution of thought turns into an evolution of self and that evolution of self takes us to better and better places as magical practitioners.  It enacts the Law of Attraction for the positive and good things begin to happen and life is then grand!

Brightest blessing, my friends!

Friday, March 1, 2013

PBP Week 9: E is for Energy

The Law of the Conservation of Energy states, "Energy can neither be created, nor can it be destroyed."  Speaking from a witches perspective, everything is energy.  Everything.  You and I are energy.  Our tools, the food we eat, the grass, the ground, the trees, and even the computer I am using to write this blog, is energy.  If everything is energy, then how is the ground, computer, trees, and food solid?  How is it, if it is energy, different from sunlight or an x-ray?  Just exactly how does all of this fit in to magical practice?

When talking about energy, science and magic meet in a glorious fusion of fact and mythology.  Science lays out in law what our kind have known since time immemorial.  Energy is perceived by its vibration.  If it vibrates more slowly, it is more solid (think of water turning to ice here), and as its vibration increases it loses its solidity (think of water turning to steam).  This is the same thing with emotions and thought.  We have slower vibrations, or negative thoughts and emotions, and we have those which speed up and are positive.

Think about a time when you had a really bad day.  Something unexpected happened and your thoughts and insight turned low.  This negative thoughts maybe caused you to say something negative that you wouldn't otherwise say.  Then you screwed up some important paperwork.  Then your boss yelled at you and you gave him the finger and walked out.  On your way home, you are fuming and not paying attention, so you run a red light and broadside a grandmother going to her grandchild's soccer game.  Now, not only are you feeling quite ill emotionally, but you have now physically hurt yourself.

We will stop with the hypothetical bad day right there and look at the ripples it created, just from a slow energetic vibration.  You said something negative to a co-worker, made a rude hand gesture to your boss, and ended up hurting another person in an accident.  Just these three named people will then decide if they are going to lower their own vibrations (obviously, this is a subconscious thing) to your level.  Imagine if they do and they, in turn, have an effect on three more each, who effect three more each.  Right there it jumps from three to nine to 27.  That's a lot of damn people, and that's only if the ripples stop there.

So many of us don't realize just how our energy effects those around us as we walk this path farther and farther.  We don't realize that others may secretly be jealous of us or dislike us because of our outlook on life.  We don't think about the fact that some people in this world are miserable sods and don't want anything more than their misery.  Understand, when I say 'we', I really mean 'me'.  I have been dealing, as of late, with many miserable people in the mundane world.  For the most part, they are miserable because they won't mind their own damn business, but they don't see it that way.  They have the concept of 'I am my brother's keeper,' when that simply isn't the case.

Now, to jump from people, back to energy.  When we, as magical practitioners, begin learning to work with the energy around us, we connect with nature, with others, and (most importantly, IMHO) ourselves.  We begin to see how the polarities we create manifest our reality.  Or, in my case, my High Priest figuratively bonks me on the head and points it out because I'm am quite obtuse and have Forest and Trees Syndrome.

So, how do we take the negative energy around us and transform it to something positive?  Well, that's much easier said that done, but only because we, as humans, don't like to change.  That said, the first step is to recognize our reaction to the negative energy.  When someone hits you with something negative, what is your first reaction?  When we examine that reaction and make an effort to not repeat it, then we have just raised our own vibration.  When we refuse to stoop to another person's level, we aren't feeding them negative energy and, eventually, they stop trying to get it from us.

I have been told repeatedly by my teachers that love and hate are the same energy.  "You must have loved someone to hate them."  The difference between love and hate is the frequency.  Hate is a very low, slow wave of energy, whereas love has a very fast vibration and a high frequency.  If you don't believe me, then think about someone you know who is always upbeat and positive.  They always look on the bright side of things and can always find the good in everyone and in every situation.  Now, think of them when they are having a bad day or they are frustrated.  These people, those who live in and exude love, tend toward still being pleasant when they are having a bad day.  Their words may not be as soft as usual, and they may be a little short, but they are still nice.  I know people like that and I strive every day to be more like that.  My issues aren't as important.  My this and my that have to take a back seat when I feel bad.

Every day we are bombarded with energy of all kinds.  Every day we choose which of the energies we allow to have an effect on us.  Do you choose to try to live in a high vibrational state or a low one?

Brightest blessings my friends!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pagan Blog Project: D is for Doubt

(I must give many thanks to my Goddess Sister, Ivy Moon, for this topic.  She knows, better than most, how to crawl into my brain and punch the crap out of it with thought-provoking stuff.  Thank you, Ivy!)

Many of us don't associate doubt with being a pagan or magical topic, but it is.  Maybe it's a really important one, too.  We have all performed magic or spellwork that simply didn't manifest.  Many times when this happens, we attribute it to the universe simply having something else in store for us, but could it possibly be that we doubted that it would work?

Doubt is a funny thing.  It doesn't take very much to screw up any chances we might have of succeeding.    Is doubt an emotion?  Is it simply a negative thought?  Dictionary.com gives the word doubt these definitions:

1. to be uncertain about; consider questionable or unlikely; hesitate to believe.
2. to distrust.
3. Archaic. to fear; be apprehensive about.

The first definition leads us to believe that doubt is simply a negative thought, but the last two innumerate emotions: distrust and fear.  So, when we doubt our own magical abilities, are we simply not trusting our own abilities or are we afraid that we might succeed?  

I know many new witches who look to those who have been in the Craft for years and declare them to be 'powerful.'  These seasoned witches have come up through the degree system, in their chosen traditions, and been taught the lessons of the Craft.  The difference I see with many of the seasoned witches, versus the newer ones, is a lack of doubt.  These seasoned practitioners have learned to trust their own power and their own connection to The Power whereas many of the neophytes have yet to realize they have the same connection.  There is that small shred of doubt, the 'I don't know as much, so I'm not powerful.'  

Doubt creeps in when we compare our own path to that of another.  One thing I am taught in my own path is this: I only exist by comparison.  Well, doubt only exists by comparison.  Just because a person has walked their own path longer than you doesn't make them more powerful, only more experienced.  Doubt is the mother of fear and fear is the mother of failure.

When doubt creeps into our thoughts, we must stop and ask ourselves what we fear.  Do we fear failure?  Maybe success?  Those are really the only two answers to any situation.  Aren't they?  Next time you experience doubt, stop and ask yourself why.  Keep asking yourself why until you get to the bare bones of it.  When you do that, you get to know yourself a little better, but you also understand more why you see the world as you do.  

We can all work a little more on ridding ourselves of doubt and in the end, we become better people and better magical practitioners for it.


Brightest blessings my friends!

Friday, February 15, 2013

Pagan Blog Project: D is for Dark Goddess

(And I have completely flaked for two weeks here! o.O Real life sometimes trolls me and steals my writing time.)

So, this week, the Dark Goddesses have demanded a blog.  Well, I can't say 'demanded'.  They never demand anything.  They just get a twinkle in their eyes, a sarcastic-ironic-like grin on their faces, and they say things like, "Hey, don't you think it's time...?" or "Have you thought about..."  This time it was, "Don't you think you need to talk about us?  Maybe dispel some of the myths and fears?"  Therefore, this weeks blog is on the Dark Goddesses and why we shouldn't necessarily fear their sometimes gruesome and fearsome nature.

I know many people who hear the name of Mother Kali and tremble in fear.  Their eyes widen, they break out in a sweat, their breath quickens, and you can see the terror on their face.  For a select few pagans I have encountered, she is the consummate Dark Goddess and they refuse to stand in circle if she is invoked because they have seen her terrible wrath wrought upon those who deserved it, but also upon those who asked for it.

Mother Kali metes out not only justice, but punishment.  Well, it's not really punishment, but it feels like it.  I heard a story one time about a young woman, a drug user, coming to a witch to get justice from Mother Kali and to leave her abusive and addicted boyfriend.  Within a short amount of time after this was asked for, maybe a couple of weeks, the boyfriend was on the run from the law and the girl was in jail for manufacturing drugs (or something equally as dramatic).  The poor girl couldn't understand why she was in jail when what she really wanted was her boyfriend put away.  However, the girl got exactly what she wanted, to leave her addict boyfriend.  Justice was following him as he ran (and was inevitably caught), but the poor girl didn't realize that leaving this young, addicted man, would ultimately lead her to drying out and getting her life straight.  The young woman didn't realize that Mother Kali never tipped the scales of justice one way or another.  If you ask for justice for a wrong, your life should also be just and in balance or She will make it so.

Hekate is another goddess who is quite popular today, and another of the Dark Goddesses.  She may back-hand me across the face for this next comment, but Hekate is kind of like Mother-Kali-Lite.  In that oh-so-horrible comparison, what I mean is that Hekate will, at least, ask you if you are sure when you ask Her for something.

From my own experience and Her claiming me as Her follower at Samhain 2008 and then the life which has ensued, I can honestly say that like all Dark Goddesses, she is not an easy mistress.  At Samhain 2008 I was a solitary practitioner working with the Greek deities.  I'd never worked actively with Hekate and chose to evoke Her, as the Crone, into my circle that night because my life was falling down around my ears and I didn't know what else to do.  My marriage was falling apart (because of prescription narcotics).  I was struggling with bills and my life was not as easy as it had been.  I was losing everything.

She came into my circle that night, withered, old, and wise, and, with a cackle, told me that I was to be her follower.  She said, "You are mine."  Stunned is not a strong enough word for me to use at this revelation of being claimed by a goddess.  Really, what could I say?  No?  That's laughable.  So, I acknowledged this and made an oath to worship Her in all that I do until such a time that She no longer sees that I need Her.  She then accepted this oath and asked me why I called upon Her.  I spilled my guts, talked about all of the horrible mundane things I was going through, and asked her if she would change it.  Hekate cackled at me and said that She could.  She then asked me, "Are you sure that you want this?"  To that, of course, I answered that I did and made her the offering I'd set out on my altar.  She once again cackled, took the offering, and gave me that knowing smirk and replied, "Be careful what you wish for.  You just might get it." And then, she was gone!

The next several months of my life were pure Hell.  I endured physical abuse from my (now dead) ex-husband.  I left.  I went back.  I left again for good and filed for divorce.  He stalked me.  He threatened me.  He threatened my family.  I quit my job and moved to get away from these things.  Through all of this, when I would cry out 'why me?', I would hear a little voice tell me to be strong and to be careful what I wished for.

My life, now, has purpose.  It certainly hasn't been easy and it certainly hasn't been a lot of fun (some of the time), but this great Dark Goddess has also opened my eyes to a much broader world.  She has allowed me to travel.  She has given me wise and fair teachers.  For each step I have taken in the right direction, she has rewarded me greatly, but for each mistake and outright disobayance, I have been firmly reprimanded and set back upon the right track.

Dark Goddesses are like a really good mother.  They discipline you when you stray, but they reward you when you stop being hard-headed and open up to something different.  The discipline can be quite traumatic, honestly, but the good things that happen are quite rewarding.  Having worked with Kali, Hekate, Hel, and The Morrigan throughout the years, I have found the energies of these ladies to be very similar even as their modes and tactics are quite different.  Dark Goddesses are not to be feared for their ways of being, but looked at and understood differently than those not labeled as such.  Some of us need a goddess who will push us down and curb-stomp our face when our stubborn streak kicks in.  Some of us need a goddess who will pat us on the back enthusiastically when we are doing what we are supposed to.

I came to the Craft to learn.  I am willing to suffer to learn.  Sometimes that suffering is greater than other times, but I am all the better for it.  Hail Hekate!

Brightest Blessings my friends!!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Pagan Blog Project Week 4: B is for Body

With the resurgence of the women's movement and feminism in this 21st century we live in, I think there needs to be a frank discussion about our bodies and why we should love them.  As pagan women we are the physical manifestation of the Goddess, so how can that ever be something less that satisfactory?  How can we, as the manifestation of the Goddess in this reality, allow the overbearing patriarchal society we live in decide for us the definition of beauty?

Through the sands of time, women have been the fabric which has held society together.  We take care of the living space.  We bear and care for the children.  Until the last few thousand years, the men in our tribes deferred to us.  So, what has happened?  What has happened even in the past 30 years to make the resurgence of feminism so important?  What has happened here in the west that has angered us so?

From where I stand, the media is the biggest culprit.  Young women look to the media for role models and, for the last several decades, they have gotten smaller and smaller in weight and stature.  In the late 80's Cindy Crawford was at the height of her super model career.  She was almost six feet tall and a size ten.  Ten! Yes, a size ten on a woman that height with an average build is tiny.  That said, she wouldn't be able to model today because she couldn't dream of slimming down to a size zero.

Today's runway models tend toward tiny waif-like things with more hip bone than hip.  Now, am I skinny bashing?  Absolutely not!  I tend toward having more hip bone than hip myself.  The point I'm heading toward is that somewhere between then and now, we women (as a societal whole) have forgotten that Goddesses come in different shapes and sizes.

We forget that the Maiden is depicted as having a more boyish figure because she isn't quite physically mature yet.  We forget that the Mother is round by breasts and belly because of her fruitful and generous nature, just as the Crone is depicted as weathered and bent because of a life of living and having both joys and triumphs.  Most importantly, I think, we forget that it is okay to look like a classic Goddess in whichever stage of life we are in.

As I had my own Saturn's return and came fully into my Mother aspect, I was not thin, but round by the belly, soft and curvy, as some women are.  I loved that body and all of the 30 extra pounds that it had on it.  As I have become settled into my Mother aspect, I have acquired a thinner body and I have come to love it almost as much.  (I don't like being cold all winter, though, and that is probably about the most horrible thing about it.)  Also, as I have settled into this aspect of myself, I have noticed gray hair.  Many of them popping up.  I notice the fine lines on my face, around my eyes, my mouth.  While no one else may notice them, I do, and I'm okay with it.

Our patriarchal society tells us that women can't grow old and still be beautiful.  We can't be beautiful crones?!?  We can't love our gray hair?  We can't rock those laugh lines?  Really?  That's not beautiful?  Filler, implants, hair color, botox.  Those things are beautiful?  Those things fit for everyone?  Should we apply those things to Ceridwen? Hekate? Kali or maybe, Lilith?

Being bombarded on a daily basis with images of young, beautiful, far-from-average-sized women takes a toll on the psyche.  Fat does not automatically equal unhealthy just like skinny does not automatically equal bulimic.  Goddess, however, does always equal Goddess.  It equals Goddess if you are curvy.  It equals Goddess if you aren't.  Goddesses should always love themselves.  If one desires to improve upon her looks because she wants to, then she should.  It shouldn't be done because a friend or partner says it should be.  It shouldn't be done because someone, anyone else says it should be.  If it makes you happy, then do it.  Be kind to yourself, love yourself, Goddess.


Brightest blessings my friends!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Pagan Blog Project Week 3: B is for Beltane

(I am two weeks behind on this.  How did I not know about the Pagan Blog Project?!?!  So, I start right now! PBP is found here.)

Beltane is a long way off right now.  There's still snow on the ground, freezing temperatures and bare trees.  However, Beltane is easily one of my favorite of the holidays.  It is also, from my not-so-distant travels, seemingly one of the most misunderstood.  It is the big fertility holiday and there are so many misconceptions that surround many of our Beltane practices.

I have heard initiates of non-hedonistic traditions say, "Beltane is all about sex, drugs, and rock and roll."  What?!?  Beltane is about getting shitfaced and being promiscuous?  Really?!?  (I've actually asked that question and taken some with that stance off guard.)  I've heard other, non-initiates, say things like, "I hope I'm single during Beltane."  When I asked them why they hoped to be single, their response was, "Well... because... You know, it's a fertility holiday."

Beltane is not about getting smashed on mead and having sex with whomever you please in the name of fertility.  It is not our hedonist holiday.  So many people want to point out that in antiquity people danced around Bale fires naked and paired up to go and do their thing in the woods, and that is why Beltane is about sex, drugs, and rock and roll.

They don't think about the fact that those people didn't have modern conveniences like central heat in their homes.  For nearly half of the year, these people hunkered down in their huts around the hearth to keep warm.  They bundled up in furs to keep warm.  They hoped like hell there was enough food to get through to spring and they didn't starve to death.

Come Beltane these people had just really begun to get out of their homes to plant the crops and let the livestock out to graze.  It had only been a couple of months since the worst was passed and the light was back.  The days got longer and warmer.  Beltane is the first Sabbat where you can even think about running around half clothed, much less naked.  It is the first Sabbat where the threat of frost is past and the warmth of summer is evident.

Our ancestors celebrated this fact because Beltane meant that they had survived the winter, the darkness, the unknown.  They thanked their gods for giving them another growing season, another year.  In their thanks for making it through the darkness, they drove their livestock between Bale fires to have them blessed in the hopes that they mated and had lots of babies for slaughter come the fall so, once again, they wouldn't starve.  They jumped the bale fires themselves for luck and prosperity and fertility of the fields and animals.  Even more importantly than that, people used this holiday to handfast for a year and a day or to confirm their handfasting from the year before (or alternately, dissolve it).  That's also a forgotten bit of lore in our let's-get-drunk-and-screw society.

So, if there is a difference between fertility rites and promiscuity and there is a way to celebrate this holiday with reverence, what is it?  Well, that depends upon your tradition.  In my eclectic tradition (because I really can't speak for other traditions), we spent Yule hailing the birth of the young Sun God, Imbolg celebrating his childhood and waxing strength and the young, Maiden Goddess.  At Ostara, we wake the earth from Her deep slumber and at Beltane, we celebrate the union of the Mother and Father.

Everything is in bloom.  There are young birds and baby animals everywhere.  We work magic toward fertility in our lives, sometimes a continuation of the magic done at Ostara.  Fertility isn't about just sexual union.  Fertility is about putting energy toward the things in our life that will make us better people, things that will help us to grow.  It is a celebration of the Sun God's rise to power and coming into his strength.  He who warms our skin after a long, dark winter.  He who makes the crops grow and fruit so that we may live through yet another dark half of the year.  For it is He who is born, lives, and sacrifices himself year after year to ensure that we can keep living.  We celebrate his life and strength at this time of the year because of his selfless nature.

From this stance, is there a place for the Great Rite at Beltane?  There is, in my tradition, always a place for the Great Rite in ritual, though it is performed symbolically.  There is no need for the literal performance of the Great Rite, unless it is specified within your own tradition or unless it is done specifically for the health and growth of the community.  It is a sacred thing to be done with reverence, not something to be done willy-nilly with anyone and everyone just because it's Beltane.

Beltane is such a misunderstood holiday.  In today's society, people assume that Beltane should be celebrated in a hedonistic way suited for adults only.  That is simply not the case.  When the reverence of our Gods is removed from our high holy days and replaced with lustful, physical satisfaction, we are forgetting the reason for celebrating.  When our intent is focused on partaking of mind altering substances and promiscuity, we leave the Gods out of our celebration.  Our Sabbats are a celebration and remembrance of Them, not for the satisfaction of our own physical nature.  So, next Beltane when you are celebrating naked, or mostly naked, remember to be thankful to the Sun God for warming your skin.  Thank the Goddess for the fruits grown to produce whatever cold drink may wet your lips.  Remember that we are here because they allow us to be here.


Brightest blessings my friends!

**A caveat should be noted here that these opinions expressed do not come from a tradition that is hedonistic.  Every tradition is different and every tradition expresses itself differently.  No matter how you may celebrate Beltane, the thing to remember is to do it with reverence.  We can not celebrate our high holy days without including our Gods and I have, unfortunately, seen this particular holiday celebrated in a very irreverent way.**