Sunday, August 20, 2017

The Fool-hearted Notion of Radical Inclusion

In modern paganism, there are so many wonderful things. We have the ability to pick and choose our deities, our practices, and whether or not we are involved with the community. For all of the good things, however, we are human and our humanity often sees us accepting concepts that, in theory, are great, but in reality are dangerous or naive. Radical inclusion is one of those dangerous notions.

I have seen this scenario too many times: A person comes into the community, makes a few, well-placed friends among the elders, and within a few months the rumors start. The rumors come from various places. They come from someone who has done a background check on this person. They come from someone who has taken a story this person has told and it has been researched to be found false. The list of rumors goes on. Those around the person push the rumors away. They hush the people talking. They assure the people that this person is okay. They diminish the concerns of others by saying things like, "Don't be so judgmental," or "Everyone deserves another chance."

When I hear those phrases and others like them, what I hear is, "This person is furthering my own agenda. I know they are not good, but at this point, I don't care. They are disposable... eventually." What I also hear is, "I don't like it when I'm told I'm wrong before I want to acknowledge it." These things are a function of the ego. When one flatly refuses to look at the evidence in front of them and chooses to elevate a person who is dangerous to those around them to a place of power for fear of being 'judgy', is a, flat out, dumb decision. Radical inclusion is the concept where these poor choices come from.

No one in the pagan community would knowingly let a child molester come to their rituals with children present. (And if they do, well, they don't deserve those precious babies.) Just as no one in the pagan community would allow a known rapist into their circle. I have known, at least, one child molester who was utterly appalled to find out that his community wanted nothing to do with him after he betrayed them so. His clergy did an awesome job. They offered him various other opportunities to have a community (such as it was) and ritual without the children around and without those of us who would actively and openly not stand in circle with him. He, of course, refused, because 'how dare they judge me' and 'who are they to judge?'

No one in the pagan community would knowingly allow a rapist in their midst because s/he 'deserves' a second chance. They would not allow a rapist to stand in circle with them in 'perfect love and trust'.  Why? Because, like child molesters, rapists are considered monsters. Interestingly enough, though, if one hasn't actually been caught raping or molesting, the community will, literally, always take the side of the person the rumors are about. Without question and without fail, the community will turn on people who stand up and say, 'this rumor is true because I am one of the victims'. How do I know this? I have seen it on, at least, 3 separate occasions. That's right, victim blaming. But whatever happened to including everyone right where they are? Don't those victims count? So, does that mean this radical inclusion only counts if we can use the people who are included? Or, does it mean we don't include liars and those who would stir the pot? But what about those who lie with every breath and word that comes out of their mouth?

The notion of radical inclusion really isn't that radical and it really isn't that inclusive. Radical inclusion is just another justification for our own ego. Radical inclusion openly allows us to include those into our circle whom we can use to further our own agendas. That same theory of radical inclusion gives us a false sense of superiority over those who would openly and honestly look at the people around them and refuse to participate with those who are not honest or good people. That same theory of radical inclusion gives us a sense of false equivalency when we say things like, "Oh, I don't want to judge Spiritual Practice A because I do this particular Non-Spiritual Thing that is kind of similar in looks but not the same thing at all."

Radical inclusion is fool-hearted, at best. It openly ignores the predators in our midst and gives them the forum and the power they need to predate upon those who are weaker than they are.  It then gives those same predators a platform to ostracize their victims in the name of radical inclusivity. The pendulum only swings the other way when the predator is caught red-handed or enough trustworthy victims come to the fore and share their stories. Until that point, most folks are too willing to believe that the person in question couldn't possibly do that. Then they are shocked to find out the person did the thing. Then they are angry at the betrayal. Then, they go through the cycle again with another person.

This notion we should see the good in all people and each other is a wonderful one. I can always find the good, even in a bad person, but the notion that a tiger will change its stripes or a leopard its spots is foolish. If a community has a man or woman (because it happens and we all know it) making unwanted sexual advances toward people and they don't stop when asked, that person is looking for their next victim. Period. Radical inclusion says, 'maybe they are just overtly sexual and that makes insecure people uncomfortable.' Common sense says, 'maybe this person needs to hear a harsh truth that nobody wants them and to cut it out.'

People often call me a good judge of character, not because I like everyone or even see the best in everyone, but because when I see  (or, feel intuitively, actually) something that set off alarm bells within me, I don't ignore that. I don't ignore it and I don't hesitate to ask others if they feel the same. My intuition has never been wrong. Not once. Sometimes it has taken a while for me to be proven right, but I always have been. Being a good judge of character means looking past other people's glamours. It means looking past your own desire to be included or feel important. It means looking past our own comfort zone. Once that happens, we find that being 'judgmental' is just another way that we protect ourselves from getting hurt.

Brightest Blessings, Friends!
River

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Hermit's Walk

Recently, I moved again. It was probably one of the most grueling and agonizing things that I have done in my life. This is not because physical labor is hard, but because I was physically incapacitated at the beginning of the move and only had a little help. Literally, I was in a cast and not supposed to be putting weight on it, so I was completely dependent on others for almost everything... In theory. Well, I'm too much of a control freak for that. At the end of the first day, we and our two friends (who are amazing!!) got about half of what we needed to do done and in the moment, it was frustrating, but looking back, it's okay. I learned who my friends are and some other very valuable lessons. The biggest lesson is that of the Hermit.

According to Biddy Tarot (my personal favorite tarot website for years now), the Hermit represents soul-searching, introspection, being alone, and inner guidance. Reversed it represents isolation, loneliness, and withdrawal. As an introvert, I need a larger amount of alone time than your average person. I am prone to 'hermiting' from time to time. I rarely feel isolated or lonely anymore because of things like what happened with my move. I know that I do not 'get out' much and thereby people see me through whatever filter it is they need to see me through. As a general rule, this world does not like an introvert. I'm okay with that.

Being the Hermit is so much more than just hanging out alone and learning cool stuff so that you can pass that wisdom along when others are ready.  Often, people get caught up in the alone-ness or the loneliness, but honestly, if you embody the Hermit, you'll end up feeling alone in a group of people, too. For me, the worst part of being the Hermit is being 'up the mountain'.  In many decks, the Hermit is depicted traversing rocky, mountainous areas. This is part of the mystery of the Hermit.

The Hermit stands upon his path, high in the mountains and as such, can see a larger perspective. For instance, if I am standing at sea level I am not going to see as much as the person standing at five hundred feet above sea level, just as they are not going to see as much as someone standing a thousand feet above sea level. I say this not because it is 'better'. It simply means that those who embody the Hermit have traversed further upon their own spiritual wanderings and because they are 'higher up' are further sighted than those who walk the mountains below. When one is farsighted, one often gets ignored. It is easy to miss the impending avalanche until it is too late when the snow is beginning to slide underneath your feet.

The Hermit is also aloof. That detachment is another one of the Hermit's mysteries. When embodying the Hermit, one can see the good or bad up the road and in seeing it for what it is, can remain detached. When warning others of trials up the road, this detachment helps everyone to move forward. The Hermit tends to be ignored while the trials are traversed, and when completed (or not) the Hermit either gives praise or advice, when asked.

Which brings me to another of the mysteries of the Hermit, being the person who works because the work needs to be done without thought of praise. As a culture, we are conditioned to be praise/admonishment motivated. When one feels appreciated, one always works harder. However, the Hermit does not need the praises of others to keep moving forward. The Hermit does not need others to acknowledge him or his work to feel accomplished. The Hermit sets goals and works steadily toward them to achieve them without thought of others. The Hermit does not need to hear how awesome he is. He does not need to hear how much his work means to others. He does not expect others to even notice what he is doing.

Some time ago I was told that my path would lead me to be the Hermit, as though it were a bad or scary thing. Unknown to the person telling me this, I already was. What they didn't realize they were seeing was me coming back to being comfortable in that role. I am and have always been, most comfortable with people coming to me for the lessons they need and then moving on. I have always recognized that I am different. I have always known that I am not everyone's cup of tea. I have also always recognized that I need to be around people like myself and we are so, very few and far between.

The Hermit's Walk can be a scary one. It is a lonely walk, sometimes. It is, occasionally, dark and foreboding. It can lead to a great many conversations with one's self that wouldn't be had if one were with others. The Hermit carries the lantern of wisdom and shines that light for those who need it without thought of praise or, even, community. That is simply what the Hermit does.

Brightest blessings, Friends!
River

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Conscious Destruction: Waltzing with Death

**Please disregard my excessive use of the word Fuck in this blog. I have been using it a lot lately more as a descriptive and less as an emotive.**

As of late, I have been blogging for the intermediate and more advanced practitioners of Craft. This blog is no exception and, as such, is probably dangerous due to the very nature of what it is. Meaning, don't try this shit at home and if you do and you blow yourself up, well, I fucking told you not to do it. (There's your fucking disclaimer, by the way.)

In recent weeks, there has been this huge fucking discussion regarding ritual animal sacrifice and the validity of the practice within my home community. Legalities aside, if done properly, it is no different than Kosher or Halal practices and the animal is given a quick death and its body feeds the family or community. I don't see any wrong doing with this. That is my view. However, I also do not believe that this practice is something that should be readily available to just anyone to witness, either. This practice is one of those mysteries that we don't think about as being a mystery. Why? Well, because in this way we are an active participant in something becoming dead, taking a life.

In today's society, unless you have grown up on a farm that slaughters its livestock or you hunt and fish, you are most likely not going to come across the opportunity to kill something larger than a spider or a snake and who cares about spiders and snakes, right? Well, maybe some of us do, but the point is, in general, we don't value those particular lives like we do, say, a horse or a dog or even a chicken. (And, honestly, that is a mistake we all too often make.)

Looking into the eyes of an animal as it is about to cross over, watching the realization of immanent death in its eyes and watching the trust it had in you shatter, or in the case of a wild animal, watching the fear in its eyes if you don't make a clean kill shot and you have to slit its throat in mercy, changes you on a fundamental level. Yes, I have assisted in livestock slaughter and I have gone hunting a time or two. The very primal, base energy of death changes you.

Magically speaking, this type of death energy is different than what we normally think of in our cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth. The normal, everyday energy of the cycles is cyclical death energy. It ebbs and flows much like the cycles of the seasons. The conscious destruction of a life is Death Energy (note the capital letters there). As the practitioner, you are taking an active part in choosing when that creature realizes its fate. In that moment, you become death.

Now, imagine, if you will, a sacrifice ritual with a dozen active participants and another hundred onlookers. How much energy is going to be raised in a rite that large? A metric fuck tonne. What happens when that energy is released? If you have a good facilitator, it is going toward whatever magic has been spun, whatever offering has been given to the gods, but we all know that no matter how good the facilitator is, some of that energy isn't released.

Everything that was touched by that energy absorbs it, at least some of it. Ritual jewelry, wedding bands, watches, clothing, earrings, body jewelry. All of it will absorb that energy. This doesn't include the energy that is absorbed into the walls of buildings or the ground, trees, grass, chairs, tents, picnic tables, and any other physical thing you might have with or on you. All of those large festival-type rituals have a burst bubble type of action when the energy is released. If it is directed upward (as it should be), little droplets of the energy are going to fall down to the earth like rain because it didn't exactly adhere to the big swell or ball of energy thrown upward. The number of people not letting go of the energy can and does contribute to this.

I'm sure at this point, you're thinking, "Well, ok. So, let's just throw some salt at it or smudge it and make it wonderful, happy energy." Except that doesn't work with Death Energy. That energy is a base energy. It is not changed or transmuted because that's what it is at its very core, much like pure elements in chemistry. One atom of Death Energy is Death Energy just as one atom of gold is gold. It is not the type of energy that you smudge away with sage. There is no 'raising its vibration' to change it from what it is. Conscious Destruction will never be anything other than that.

Okay, well, since Death Energy doesn't change, what does it do? Glad you asked. Death Energy kills things. Plain and simple. Death Energy looks like a blessing in disguise or a curse. This kind of energy often strips away titles. It strips away labels. It strips away all of the outside 'stuff' that we think gives life meaning. We find ourselves looking around us and wondering where all of the people went who make us feel important. We look in the mirror and wonder why people no longer tell us we are beautiful. We wonder why, suddenly, no one wants to hear our words or why, suddenly, we stumble over the strings of our guitar or keys of our piano. Death Energy forces us to look at ourselves, naked and vulnerable with no filters and to find worth in that.

Not only does this energy kill things, but it calls to those who need it. It calls to those who are weak, sick, or desperate. It sings gloriously to the lonely and the scared. This energy embodies the essence of Shadow Work. One must know where one is weak to shed that weakness. One must know why one is lonely to make peace with it. In discovering our weaknesses, we can turn them into strengths if we but work with them.

What about those who aren't ready to deal with Death Energy? What about those who think this is all a load a hooey and salt and sage and sandalwood, et cetera. Well, those are the people I worry about blowing up themselves or others. Those are the people who rail against the world when something doesn't go their way. Those are the people who like to blame everyone and everything around them for their own life going to pot. Those are the people who run up against the wall every time they get just a molecule of Death Energy and stagnate for months or even years. Those are the people constantly looking backward at what was because 'things were better'. Those people don't see the blessings death brings. Those people are not mature enough to recognize the energy for what it is, either. Thankfully, because of the basic and primal nature of that energy, it recognizes the difference between the novice and the master. It gives the novice no more than he can handle while meting out a harsher lesson for the master who should have known better.

As pagans, our lives are always more than simply observing the seasons, the sky, the creatures. There are times when we are allowed to play an active part in the creation or destruction within those cycles. When we choose to consciously destroy life, we take a waltz with death. While on that waltz, we look into the hooded face of the grim reaper. Sometimes we see the gaping maw of the abyss as that death consumes us. Sometimes we see the gaping maw of the abyss as that death consumes us and then explodes into a big bang of the creation of a new cosmos.

Death is not a mystery that most are ready to explore. They are not ready to know what it is like to become death. This is a mystery that many stumble upon without realizing just how much change happens because of it. This is a mystery that, if begged for, the gods don't often deny. It then becomes a case of : Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.


Regards,
River

(Oh, and if you have managed to read this far, I honestly don't care what your opinions on animal sacrifice are, so please don't bother commenting on the morality of it. I believe that is a choice that we make as we walk our individual paths and nothing you can say will change my mind on that. Also, no, I do not practice it in my path. However, if you have commentary on your experience with this type of energy, please, feel free to expand all of our knowledge with your wisdom, as it is always welcome.)

**Also, I'd like to add that I know of only one person besides myself who works so closely with this kind of energy. In fact, she is the one whom I go to when I have lessons that I need to work on with this energy or when I know that I am missing something. If, like me, you are that kind of weirdo, rest assured that you are not alone and there are those of us who quite enjoy raucous conversations about these things.**

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Practical Paganism: Psychic Attack

If I had to guess, there is a metric fuck tonne of literature out there on psychic attack.  I'm sure that I have even written on it a time or two through the years. However, this seems like a good time to do a guide on the different types of psychic attack as well as how to combat them in practical ways.

First, we must describe what a psychic attack is. A psychic attack can be defined as negativity sent toward a person, whether conscious or unconscious, with the intent to do harm. This includes both general negative juju as well as astral entities sent with the instructions to be bothersome. So, what can be done about it? Glad you asked!

Most suspected psychic attacks just simply aren't psychic attacks. What I mean by this is that another person isn't sending the negative juju, we are attracting it. Yes, it happens. Yes, it happens more often than we want to admit. Energy follows the path of least resistance. All energy. From a lightening bolt to an arc welder to a television, energy only wants to complete the circuit and do what it is meant to do. Psychic energy does the same thing. If you have a bad day and your thoughts turn to the negative, what happens? Things kind of snowball. When you go to bed, you reset and you get up the next day maybe feeling better, maybe not.

As human beings, we don't want to hear that we are the cause of our own harm, but we oftentimes are. Those negative thoughts tend toward lowering our vibration and allowing more negative (or maybe more appropriately, low vibration) energy in, which in turn, affects us and it becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

What happens, then, if a psychic attack is just that? What can a person do to combat such an attack? Most books and websites out there make many of the same basic suggestions: smudging with sage, black stones (usually black obsidian and black tourmaline) shielding, bathing yourself in a white, loving light via visualization, etc. These things are suggested because they work.  They are suggested often for the same reason. That said, what happens if you do these first line things and they don't work? Well, they aren't basic, first line things for nothing, right?

If basic stones, shielding, and smudging don't work, I like to do a combination of basic things next. That may sound silly, but sometimes layering works. What do I mean by layering? I mean using multiple artifacts for multiple purposes.  For example: Smudging and placing a combination of black stones near any opening to my physical space. Maybe use tumbled hematite to reflect the energy back (tumbled hematite is shiny and can be used as a mirror) or raw hematite to absorb and ground the negativity. Then, use obsidian to 'cut' the energy. It is, after all, volcanic glass.

After that, a protection and banishing oil using salt, black pepper, cinnamon, bay, rosemary, and cayenne pepper can be made. The salt creates a boundary. The black pepper (again) 'cuts' the energy that might get past the stones. Cinnamon and cayenne pepper are hot and will burn (both literally and figuratively). Bay and Rosemary are both for protection. **A word of caution when using this oil. Cayenne and black pepper will burn the fuck out of your mucous membranes if you don't wash your hands thoroughly after using it!!!!!** Mix it as you would any oil, and anoint your doors and windows with it. I would not suggest using this mix on yourself, as again, the peppers and cinnamon can burn your skin.

Once these things are done, wait and see.  If things get better, you have protected yourself.  If things don't get better, there are other things to be done that are not quite so basic.

One, not quite so basic thing that can be done is the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.  If you haven't ever done it or don't know what it is, you can find this (particularly good) instructional on YouTube. The LBRP is an excellent tool for banishing all negativity. Yes, it does use the archangels, but this is from the Golden Dawn, so it's expected.

Another not so basic tool is the mirror. I say not so basic because mirrors can be broken (as can hematite, from above!!) Of course, one can not simply stick a mirror on the wall and call it good. It needs to be cleansed and charged for its purpose before being placed mirror side out. That's right. You want to see the back of the mirror. These must also be cleansed and charged every so often because they are magical tools in this instance.

A third not so basic exercise is to look your attacker in the eye and tell him/her you know what they are doing and it isn't working.  This is, probably, one of the more dangerous things you can do. It is dangerous because if your will falters for even a moment, your attacker might just know it and can use it against you. It is also dangerous because it is, in essence, psychological warfare.

What I mean by this is that you have to use all of your own confidence and charm when confronting your attacker. How many of us can muster that up? Not many. It takes courage, confidence, and most of all, knowing ones self. You absolutely must be confident in your self, your will, and your magic for this to work in any capacity. The moment a doubt enters your mind, you have defeated yourself.  So, this particular approach isn't for everyone.

However, if you want to try it and you succeed, then your attacker will be caught off guard by a few things.  First, said attacker will be caught off guard by how bold you are. Your bravado (false or otherwise) will let said attacker know that you are not what you seem to be. Secondly, if done right, your bravado will plant a seed of doubt in your attackers mind. This is the reaction you want. You want your attacker to second guess him- or herself. Finally, if this approach works, anything you say after calling out your attacker will plant a seed that you are not to be trifled with.

If calling your attacker out isn't your style, there are other not so basic exercises you can use. I will reiterate, these may not be palatable to some as they are Craft and, as such, may fall within the realm of gray or black magics. (Oh, yes, yes she did!!) And, as we all know, the Universe does not like a vacuum, so what we put out always comes back to us. Before moving on, I ask that we all be aware of these things.

If you're still reading, good. The next exercise that can be done has two different meanings. The fith-fath. In the Irish and Scots Gaelic, a fith-fath is a charm, often spoken in rhyme. It is used to obscure a person from the site of another. We often hear children use fith-faths.

"I'm rubber. You're glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks on to you."

Oh, you've heard that one before? It's a bit of sound defensive magic, I think.

A fith-fath is also the making of a poppet. To create a fith-fath there is a whole ritual that goes with it that I will not get into here, but must life must be breathed into it. If you are interested in learning more about fith-fathing, please feel free to research. These can be used for bindings and other, similar, forms of magic.

A fetch is similar to a fith-fath. Again, depending on your information source, your fetch is created in the physical (like a poppet) with a ritual and sent to do your work to be undone when the task is complete. A fetch can also be an astral entity, similar to an elemental but created by you in the astral realms, sent to do your work and cause change or create havoc in the physical. Either way, once the work is done, it must be undone.

And finally, the Witch's Bottle. Oh a great many things have been written on a witch's bottle, but it's because they work. You can find recipes for them online, so I won't go into the mechanics of constructing them. I will, however, discuss the magical actions that having one creates.  First, they are an excellent all around protection. However, they protect against all negativity indiscriminately. What does that mean? Well, it means that if you have one and you and your best friend have a big fight and said best friend spends the next 3 days (attacking your psychically) and wishing you dead, then said friend dies horrifically and unexpectedly, it could have been the bottle protecting you. Yes, I have seen something similar happen. One does not need to aim the bottle at a specific person.  The inherent magic in the bottle (your intent and its sole purpose) is a very potent passive magic.

The other side to a witch's bottle is that particularly skilled practitioners can find a way to break them, therefore breaking the magic. If it is buried, they can find them and dig them up and then they have something of yours to use in magic against you.

All forms of magic, defensive and offensive, carry risks and benefits. Not all suspected psychic attacks are actually psychic attacks. As always, it is important to wield your magic with responsibility. It is important to weigh the costs and benefits of such magics. Protecting ones self and family from psychic attack is important, but also striving to do the right thing is, too. Always be practical in your workings and always be aware of how they can affect yourself and those around you.

Until next time, brightest blessings, Friends.
River Mourningstar


Sunday, May 21, 2017

Doing What Feels Good in Your Spiritual Practice

Greetings Dear Readers! It has been a great many months and a great many changes since I last stopped by. While I won't say that mundane life has taken over, I will say that it hasn't been all flowers and unicorns with rainbows shooting out of their asses.  Life has been... life: some of it joyous and some of it not-so-much, but I have grown.  I have grown as a person and I have grown in spirit.  Which brings me to the subject at hand, a phrase that has always annoyed me when it is said in spiritual conversations: Do what feels good.

When I hear those in the position of elder or teacher tell seekers to 'do what feels good' it annoys me to my very core. Why? Well, do we tell toddlers to 'do what feels good' regarding playing with other children? Do we tell our tweens and teens to 'do what feels good' when they want to go out and spend time in the mixed company of friends? Do we compassionately look upon our addict friends who are struggling and tell them to 'do what feels good?' No? To all of these? Then why would we tell spiritual toddlers, tweens, teens or even, addicts this?  The phrase 'do what feels good' is one of two things: a misnomer or bad advice.  Here's why.

First, doing what feels good is much different than following one's instincts or spirit guides or gods. Why? Well, most people new to the Craft have to learn patience.  They have to learn to be still and quiet. They have to learn to slow their mundane 'monkey mind' and move past it to actually focus.  Focus is what we look for during meditation. It is how we learn to listen properly.

Doing what feels good tends toward being the path of least resistance. In most instances, this is not a bad thing (and therefore, is not always bad advice) but true meditation takes, literally, years of practice.  When I say 'literally', I mean a long fucking time. I mean daily practice working up from 5-10 seconds at a time (because that's all you get in the beginning if you're lucky) to 15-30 minutes or more. This kind of devotion to a practice is not easy and it does not feel good.

Typically, we do not teach true meditation first. We may instruct seekers on how this is done and tell them to practice on their own, but we teach them other skills to go along with this because true meditation is tough, even for more advanced practitioners. Oh, we tell people to meditate, but what we really mean is for them to learn to focus, relax, and maybe even visualize. Most of those things, in time, lead to true meditation, but none of it is attained by doing what 'feels good.'

Secondly, what 'feels good' to me probably isn't going to be as good for me spiritually as I want it to be. For instance, it 'feels good' to put people in their place with the truth. Got a co-worker or friend who likes to blame the world for their problems when you can clearly see where their actions or inaction has caused the troubles? Don't you just want to look at them and remind them that only they can fix their situation? Yes, we all do. However, honesty and brutal honesty are two different beasts. One can lead said person around until they come to the conclusion (and feel good about it) or one can brutally hack away at said person's argument (which is, honestly, my favorite because it quickly gets to the heart of the matter) and show them the naked truth. I may be doing what 'feels good' to me, but that brutal honesty feels pretty bad to the other person. Haven't we all been that other person? Yes, we have.

Third, and something you don't hear a whole lot about these days, it is almost a guarantee that if it 'feels good', then you can bet the ego is behind it.  The ego likes easy things.  It likes to be right, to be stroked, to be listened to.  It likes to 'do what feels good.' The ego hears 'do what feels good' and smiles.  It says, 'meditation is hard.' It says, 'you don't have to meditate to be adept.' It says, 'you can make it up as you go and people will believe you.' The ego doesn't want us to grow beyond it. The ego doesn't want us to see past what it can show us. The ego wants us to live within our basest desires.  The ego likes it when we 'do what feels good.'

All of this brings me to my final point in the 'do what feels good' talk. As modern neo-pagan practitioners, we have a litany of information out there. We want to believe that everything is fluid and nothing is set in stone, but that simply is not true. (The truth is the truth whether we believe in it or not, remember that.)

There are certain laws that we must live by. (Here, I bet you are challenging this statement in your mind, aren't you?) We must live by the laws of physics. We must even live by the ones we haven't discovered yet. (Gravity, anyone? XD) Spiritually, we must do the same thing. The 7 Universal Laws are a good place to start. It doesn't matter your path, they are universal laws for a reason.

Other laws that aren't necessarily laws, per se, reside in Gardner's 8 Paths to Power and refer to the cost of magic and magical practices. Learning to astral travel via meditation costs a whole lot less, energetically speaking, than learning to astral travel via drugs, sex, or pain. Drugs, sex, or pain may be the path that 'feels good' and it may be 'quicker' option, but the cost will always be greater. There is no bartering. There is no sharing that cost. There is no passing that cost on.  These costs go beyond Wicca, as well. Just because it is Gardner who made them known, does not mean that non-Wiccan's are immune.

Remember, the next time you (or I or any of us) are in a position where a seeker asks for advice or a 'how to', don't just give them a generic 'do what feels good.' Doing what feels good is leading to a generation of spiritually handicapped individuals. Telling a seeker to 'do what feels good' could ultimately lead to that seeker being spiritually maimed or killed. Advising a seeker to 'do what feels good' could lead them down the road to animal or human sacrifice (on your advice) and put blood on your hands. Advising someone to 'do what feels good' could lead them to hooking up with 17 different people on Tindr and getting a disease. (Guess who gets to reap the energetic consequences of that, yup, you, for giving really bad advice.)

Next time, instead of telling a seeker to 'do what feels good', think about the potential consequences of  'feeling good' and, instead, say what you actually mean, unless you actually mean 'do whatever makes you feel good.' However, remember that is a double-edged sword and no matter what happens, you are ultimately going to be affected by the decision that seeker makes due to your words of wisdom. Words have power, right? It's why when we put them together they call it 'spelling'.

Brightest Blessings,
River Mourningstar

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Ah! The Watery Retrograde!

As the old Julian year comes to a close and breathes its final, dying breaths over the next 3 days, I thought I would post just one more time.  This time of year always seems to take it out of people.  It always seems that we are harder on ourselves than we should be.  This is, I think, even more pronounced this holiday season with Mercury being retrograde in Pisces.

Do I blame everything on Mercury when it's retrograde?  No.  However, I do blame certain uncharacteristic things (i.e outbursts, tantrums, and even apologies can go into this category) on Mercurial influence because that's what our fleet-footed friend governs.  I also apply this to specific people and situations, not just a blanket 'Oh! Mercury is being a scamp again!'

This retrograde, I'm noticing a lot more fear and anger than I normally see and it is in people who don't normally exhibit such exaggerated shadow emotions.  It seems that the deep swimming fishes have taken Mercury into the darkest recesses of our hearts and minds and have invited him rummage around.  What he brought back to the surface has not been pretty, for the most part.

That said, what he has brought into the light has been necessary.  Oh, you're soul tired?  Oh, you're worried that people are mad at you?  Oh, your life train has jumped the track and wrecked?  Oh, you're lonely? Scared? Unhappy? Lost?  Good!! Good?  What. The. Actual. Fuck. Muse.  Yes, these things are good. These things are good, if for no other reason, because you are acknowledging them.  You recognize that the status quo in your life isn't fulfilling you.  Your soul knows that what you are doing now isn't all you can or are supposed to be doing.

This is the beautiful thing about our retrograde times.  The things that we struggle with (or ignore!!) can't be ignored during these times of retrograde, so we have to face them.  We have to, at least, look at them for what they are and for how they effect us.  They are burdens that we may or may not even know that we carry.  Sometimes, our burdens are so great that we can not sort through them all.

What about our friends who seem to sail right through these retrogrades? (Don't you look at them and want to choke them out? HA!!)  Well, a few things just might be going on.  I have friends who are currently sailing through this one.  The theme for them seems to be two-fold.  First, when something comes up they step back (maybe not immediately) and look at it objectively.  Those I know who don't have much difficulty with retrogrades have, for the most part, unpacked all of their baggage and recognize it for what it is, even if they haven't actively worked through it.  Secondly, they recognize it as their own.  This one is important. They recognize that if people are pissing them off, then they need to look at the reason why.  The other side of that, though, is that if they piss people off constantly during retrograde (i.e people ask for advice or insight and get mad or they call people out on their out of character behavior), well, they own it.  They accept that their message wasn't wanted or needed, or that the person just wasn't in a space to accept it.  Most importantly, they do this without judgement. It's a 'well, they will either figure it out or they won't' mentality.

One other thing of note that I need to add here about our friends who seem to sail through these retrogrades is this: They may not actually be sailing through, but casting the illusion of doing so.  It is easy, especially on social media, to simply post memes during times personal upheaval and not actually post any thoughts, or to simply go ghost.

So, where am I going with all of this?  I don't know.  This is turning into a completely different blog than I intended.  I suppose here we should go back to the magical axiom that is written at Delphi, "Know Thyself."

For those I know who practice that particular axiom regularly, they have examined their own lives and personalities, their own actions, words, and reactions.  They acknowledge their short comings and their own failings and, importantly, don't dwell on on them as such, but work toward making those weaknesses into strengths.

Life is very much a struggle in every aspect of it.  Ones ability to make it bearable depends on perspective.  Do you look at life as a series of obstacles, shortcomings, or failings, or do you look at life as a series of lessons for your soul?  Do you constantly berate yourself for not being or doing more than *insert circumstance here*?  Do you constantly look at your circumstance and berate yourself because it is less than you expected at *insert age, location, etc*?  Why?  Why set yourself up to suffer?

Know Thyself.  Are you at a place where you can change your circumstance?  If not, work toward that place.  Don't think of setbacks as insurmountable obstacles.  They may just be little forks in the road to get you on the right track.  They might just be tiny little, personal retrogrades that hope you will pause and examine them.

We look at retrogrades as bad things, but they don't have to be.  As this year comes to a close, my hope for you is that the struggles become easier to overcome and the shadows begin to fade.  My hope for you is that you find a light in your personal darkness that guides you over the rocky terrain of life and into brighter, smoother roads.  May the sun be ever in front of you and the shadows cast behind you.

Brightest Blessings, Friends! Happy New Year!!

(Also, for those reading this who are more well versed in astrology than I am, please, feel free to add your wisdom.  I know just enough on the topic to know that I don't know. I tend to observe people during astrological events and glean information based on common actions/reactions during that time.)

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Wishing You a Blessed Season

It appears that 2016 was not a year of writing for this blogger.  It was a year of many things, mostly transitions, but it was not a year of writing.  For that, I must apologize.  I must apologize because there was a time (2015!) when I was much more prolific than I have been this year.  I suspect that 2017 will be different, but as yet, I don't know how.  So, if you care to read on, here are some (mostly) non-pagan musings on 2016 and the transition it offered.

So many I know had a tremendously difficult 2016.  Karmically speaking, time seems to have run out on them.  What does that mean?  Am I being a judgmental bitch again?  No, I'm not.  I'm being observant.  2016 was a supremely karmic year for a whole lot of people.  Suddenly, the excuses weren't cutting it any more.  Suddenly, the rug was snatched out from under people.  They lost (read: the Universe cut away) all of their reasons for not moving forward. They lost all of the dead weight in their lives.  I watched many of the people I care about the most lose nearly everything that mattered to them and some were left with nothing, not even their dignity.

It was a tremendously painful year for me to sit and watch so many seemingly bad things happen to so many people I care about.  I offered comfort to those whom I could.  Others would have lashed out or held on hoping I could fix it for them, so I simply sat back and mourned their losses with them. There was a third group, though, who I watched flail helplessly as 2016 dragged them under.  This third group pained my heart the most.  This third group was hit the hardest.  This third group was hit the most unaware.  It was this final group of people who simply refused to believe that their lot for this year could be tied into their actions.  They refused to believe that their actions and attitudes could have possibly created their circumstances.  They raged and railed.  They swam against the karmic current.  They refused to believe that by their own actions this year could be what they reaped.

My own year was much less traumatic.  My own transitions were moderately smooth, for the most part.  I set my intentions in December and began working toward them.  Some of the transitions, I didn't want to make, but I knew I had to.  Some of the transitions, I bounced happily through.  Other transitions, well, other transitions I'm still looking at the sky and shaking my head.  Interestingly, my biggest transitions have happened since June, when I moved (that being one of them).

Clarise and I moved into a small basement apartment in June.  We were quite happy to spend our evenings eating cheese and crackers and fresh produce while we read or watched television.  It took 3 weeks for all of that to change.  The gods laughed and laughed at me as they sent me an old friend. He helped me transition from living with someone to living alone.  He taught me the art of being alone without being lonely.  He reminded me that there are other people like me out there in the world.  Clarise fell head over all eight tits in love (and she, basically, hates everyone).  He was in transition, too.  We transitioned, together.

We spent a lot of time together, getting to know each other even better.  Now, in less than six months, we are married.  That's one transition that I did not see coming!! (Neither did he!)  Most importantly, we are happy.  Our ways of being are very complimentary of each other.  We think of each other first.  We both wonder what the hell happened, but refuse to question it!

So, as this year wanes, there is more transition.  However, it is good transition.  Remember, if you spent most of 2016 flailing and going from one traumatic thing to the next, then maybe some of your karmic debt has been paid and you are on the road to better than you could have begun to imagine!  Don't wallow in the bad.  Sometimes those things simply have to happen to get us on the path to where we need to be, to be happy.

Have a blessed Yuletide season, Friends.  I will be back in 2017 with more musings and more adventures.

May you always have a candle to light your way in the darkness.  Blessed Be.