Sunday, 12 August 2018

Sandwitch once again

I have landed!

I am finally moved in and settled in my new space. Moving is always a special kind of hell, and this was definitely that. It took a good 12 hours to load all of our stuff into the truck - we had a lot of logistical issues (truck was too small, had to go rent a trailer, etc). Thankfully we cleaned most everything the week prior, so there wasn't much left to do when we left. But that teaches me to move during Mercury retrograde! I had no choice, but things may have gone a bit smoother had we not moved that exact weekend.

It was a very strange and surreal feeling to stand in what was once home, now just an empty shell, stripped of all that made it home. It seemed so small. We lived in that space longer than I have lived anywhere in my life, so there were a lot of feelings tied up in that space. Lots of love and loss. Lots of wonderful and terrible times. However, being used to moving around a lot as a kid prepared me for another move, and I had a very strong feeling that this would end up just fine.

Our new place is very quiet - I barely hear our neighbours. I mean, we live next to a gas station and it's still super quiet. We're in a little bedroom community headed out of the city, so you walk 3 minutes and you're surrounded in nature. Our new place is also smaller than our last place. With that has come some pretty heavy adjusting, but we've got maybe 2 or 3 boxes left to unpack and then we are completely set.

My prior office/spiritual space was approximately 7ft x 7ft. I was able to have all of my goods in there and then have people in and move around. However, our new place did not have a den area. I was able to commandeer the 5ft x 5ft electrical/storage room as an office and spiritual space, and I am super happy at how functional the space is, and how much room I have!

I really love the feel of it - sometimes tiny spaces can really surpass your expectations. I have enough space to do work, but also do workings, meditate, and hold my spiritual library (all the other books live in the living room). I've actually fallen in love with the space. I still have to organize the library (that is tomorrow's task) but it's 99% complete.

Aside from the actual work of unpacking, I have a job (the first of many offers, I am quite sure) that starts on the 20th. Different government organization, a little more money, similar hours. I'm looking forward to it, and to earning money again. I am a person who enjoys routine and having work. It will help me to settle into the new life we are building.

I am also excited to get involved in the Pagan community again. The community here is much smaller and has a lot less drama. My previous community was very toxic, and my experiences had left me pretty soured on the idea of working outside our family unit. I am attending a meet and greet tomorrow, which I'm excited about. I have very fond memories of past pagan gatherings, and I am hoping that it can be something we can look into for next year.

Now on to more short term goals - get to the beach, have a campfire, swim in the ocean.

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

"Openness may not completely disarm prejudice, but it's a good place to start."

My life is a pile of boxes right now (well, my office, as a sample size):

It's hard to feel connected to much when everything is all packed and taped, but I do make do. The countdown is on, only 5 days left until we are driving the trucks to our new place. Or, I should say, our storage locker where everything will be stored until we can move in after August 1st. This next week is going to be super hectic, but I know the craziness is all just temporary until we get settled in our new place.

There's always a bit of excitement in a new place. There is the process of making it feel like home. This one is a bit of a challenge, since we have only seen the space via FaceTime with descriptions from my mother and stepfather. I am determined to make it ours, as we're hoping that this will be our last space before we move into a house.

In other news, I think I have finally come around to identifying and feel comfortable and confident enough to come out with.

I have done a lot of searching and thinking and have determined that I identify as pansexual.

Pansexuality, or omnisexuality, is the sexual, romantic or emotional attraction towards people regardless of their sex or gender identity. It falls under the bisexual umbrella.

So, Deadpool.

I have had feelings for girls when I was younger (teen), which I never really gave much thought to because it was never something I considered as an option. While I am twice married to two wonderful men, the fact that they are men is not the reason for my attraction. I love them for who they are, not how they identify. If they were women or intersex or transgender, it would not make a difference. I have thought back to my younger years, and I know that any attraction I have had for people has been based on them as a person, and not what biological sex they are.

It feels weird to come out at my age. I have dealt with a lot of internalized baggage (I can't be bisexual because it feels too restricting, I'm married to 2 dudes and thus am not queer enough, the feelings I have had for girls in the past were so long ago who knows if they were even real, etc), and I've beat myself up over the last decade with imposter syndrome BS. I've tried to cover my tracks the same way a lot of closeted individuals do - insist they are super straight.

But I'm not. I've known since I was probably 12 or 13 that I'm not, but I just never accepted that girls were an option, or that anyone regardless of their sex was an option. I was brought up Catholic, and even though I eschewed that world long ago, old habits die hard. I have always been attracted to people based on who they are. I mean, I am physically attracted to them, but I don't think of physical sexual characteristics, I guess. I don't consider myself gender-blind, it just doesn't factor into whether I would find someone dateable.

I can't tell you how much more free I feel, being able to actually be open about my relationships, my spirituality, and now my queerness too, I guess.

Monday, 25 June 2018

The Chariot. The Star. The World.

So I hinted a while back that I had some big things brewing. Now that I have some actual, definitive news, here it is - we're moving!

We're actually doing an inter-provincial move and going back to my homeland.

Why? Why the hell would you move there? There are so few people. It's so small!

Well, friendship, here is the truth of it. My mother was diagnosed a few years ago with a benign brain tumour. A neuroscientist friend of mine once said she won the brain tumour lottery - it's small, benign, slow growing, and in an easily operable location. She's been managing it with medication. All of that said, her daily pain has grown worse over the last year or so,  and she has had to up her pain medication. All of this has been taken into consideration, and she has chosen to arrange for surgery in the fall.

Aside from my mother's health, It's really come down to 3 points:

Point the first: We've had a really rough few years here. Friends that I thought would be ride-or-die for life were revealed to be duplicitous, cowardly, and toxic. It was a deep betrayal, the deepest, and while I do hold forgiveness in my heart, my mind will never forget. So I did a bit of surgery on my social life, and have kept my nearest near, and those I have near I fully and absolutely trust. I cut the cancer out, so to speak. There have been job changes, health scares, and mental health issues. All of that while trying to provide support to my family away and keep myself sane. The last 2 years have given and taken way, and it feels like a good time for transition. This is the least important of the points.

Point deux: We have been looking to buy a house. We have a downpayment squirrelled away, but the houses here in this city are so expensive. We've been pretty adamant we didn't want to settle for a semi-detached - we've shared walls with people for a long time, we really want to have the detached home. We could easily afford a semi, but we're holding out for a detached in a semi-rural setting. That is simply going to be easier to afford back home, where houses are 3/4 of the price. We'll be hopefully renting for a bit first, but we're hoping to find the perfect property in the next year.

Point Très: We want to spend more time with our families. D's family lives here, but he's never lived outside of this province, and he really wants to make the move. DPM's family is back home, and no one is getting any younger. My grandmother is still around, and I want to spend as much time as I can with her. I think we want to spend time with our parents while we have them, and really get to know them as adults. DPM and I left fairly young, so it would be nice to reconnect. We also have friends that are pretty much family and have been for over 20 years. We want to see their kiddos grow and spend more time with them too, since we rarely see them.

So DPM's gotten a job, which he starts end of next month. I am still in the midst of trying to transfer (the joy of government jobs and red tape) but I have a few irons in the fire as well. I also will have EI to fall back on if I don't quite land something immediately. D's going to come without a job, so he can get the lay of the land and allow our animals to get used to living elsewhere. Then he'll start looking for something. He's kind of a jack-of-all-trades, so I imagine he'll find something fairly quickly. We still have to find a place to live, which is it's own stress, and the rental market is rotten over there. I'm essentially living in the online classifieds. We couldn't start looking until one of us had a definitive offer, and DPM got his this morning.

So all this got me like:

There is so much too do! We have to put in our notice here, we have to book the U-haul, we have to pack. We've got 14 boxes packed so far, but it's all books. The hot and heavy packing will start in earnest next week.

I am so looking forward to going home again. I am looking forward with reconnecting with the land of my birth. I am looking forward to this rebirth - because it's been tumultuous and hard and it still will be for awhile.

But it will all be worth it. Nothing worth having comes without some kind of fight.

Sunday, 24 June 2018

the world is a dumpster fire

Are we really going to talk about this again?

Yes. Yes we are.

Why? Because I said so. But this is the last time, I promise*.

The Pagan and polytheist community has a racism problem.  It has a sexism problem, a rape problem,  a fundamentalist problem, a homo-and-transphobia problem.... basically, it has all the trappings of the big 5 without the dogma.

I feel at this point it's an old, played out record. We all know there are people in this community who don't deserve to be here. Who are trying to co-opt and steal our symbols, our rituals, and our gods for their own nefarious purposes. We know this. I HAVE WRITTEN ABOUT THIS IN MY OWN COMMUNITY. People are so content to just ignore it, maybe post a few angry memes on Facebook, and go about their merry way.

As someone who is anti-racist but also identifies as heathen-leaning, I have to stand that much taller and keep my nose that much cleaner so that the people who are working to steal everything we have worked so hard to legitimize won't lump my ass in with them. I stopped wearing a Thor's hammer because after Charlottesville, I didn't want to be mistaken as some kind of neo-nazi sympathizer or worse a neo-nazi myself and get my ass kicked. I don't discuss runes or the sagas or ancestry with anyone I don't know, lest I be lumped in with the fuckers from the AFA. I choose my words very carefully outside of my bubble, because it could easily backfire.

Yes, it's hard for me. It is SO MUCH HARDER for people of colour. So much harder for them to just feel safe and legitimized in a pagan space, especially in a Northern European pagan space.

The whole of the alt-right - their marching orders are to find weakness, inflame, and radicalize.

Here is a very scary quote from this article: (emphasis mine)

... I learnt a huge amount about how people and groups are connected, how the movement operates and what it was planning. I found out how the movement interacts internationally and how important the social aspect of activism is in radicalising and retaining members. These groups attempt to become all-encompassing organisations that go far beyond politics, into art, religion and social life making them incredibly difficult to leave. Tragically I’ve seen how social pressure inside these groups can make ordinary people support genocide.
The far right is often treated with complacency. Should we let them into the public debate? Their views might be different, but aren’t they just other opinions...

Sometimes it is hard to see where the line is drawn for Heathen/Asatru/Northern Polytheist, and racist. The line is blurry. It's more distinct in other sections of paganism, but again, it is getting harder to see. In our quest to be inclusive, we are turning into a breeding ground for predators and the alt-right.

In the Pagan community, we have people who are in active roles of leadership who are espousing hatred as though it is fact. We have the sneaky, ingrained racism, like asking someone of Asian or Black ancestry if they feel 'comfortable' worshipping a god like Brigid because 'wouldn't they feel more comfortable with Isis or Guan Yin'? Or people outright ripping pieces of practice or mythology from closed traditions because it's like, beautiful. Yet we refuse to accept that we have an issue. 'No way', you say, 'Pagans are all about love and light and we welcome everyone!'

The kicker for me is that we're such a small group of people that people think it doesn't matter. IT DOES. It matters because I matter and you matter and we all matter. Our safety and comfort and HUMAN FUCKING RIGHTS matter. It doesn't matter how small the group, there is always the potential for some nihilistic racist sexist shithead to wander in and grope someone at a ritual, or use racist epithets in common conversation, or talk about them 'queers' in a derogatory way. There are always the people who hug when you explicitly ask not to be touched, or ignore your requests to stop appropriating their culture, or are outright fucking hostile about who you are as a person. Our first and foremost reaction should be that it is unacceptable. It is unacceptable that we and members of our community feel unsafe, or feel like they aren't welcome.

Most of the issue is that people are afraid to rock the boat, don't want to make waves or take the risk of making someone mad. Trust me, as someone who is partially ostracized from my own community because of the 'drama' I caused during the racist fuckwit debacle, you have little to lose. This community as a whole needs some strong leaders who are willing to stand up and say that the toxic behaviour that we are complacent to is unacceptable, and demand change. Real change. There are some old-school leaders who have grown far too fucking comfortable. I don't fucking care how useful someone is in a group - if they are being racist or sexist, or harming people, get them the fuck out! We owe it to the community that we serve, and the people we are leaving the community to in the coming years.

Also? That whole 'it's not my problem, I'm not getting involved' only goes so far. That works when Felicia and Robert are having a personal fight, but not in this context. There is right behaviour, and there is wrong behaviour. Staying 'neutral' is a coward's game when racism and bigotry are involved. Eventually, everyone picks a side. Be on the right side.

Remember what I said earlier, about this being so much more difficult for a person of colour? Well, they don't always have the freedom or privilege to speak as frankly or as openly as we can. There is some legit oppression, and that can end up with people fearing for their lives or safety. So we need to make sure our voices are strong to have their voices heard. We need to rise to the occasion, and then step back so those folks can have their say and have their concerns heard. It's easy for me - I'm a white cis-woman loudmouth that no one really likes anyway. I have nothing to lose. For someone who feels unsafe or unwelcome, it's not as easy. However, we also need to know when to step back, because we should not be speaking for those communities - we should just be making it safe to speak for themselves. Being an ally is an important way we can use our privilege for good.

*promise valid only until something else comes along to piss me off.

Friday, 27 April 2018

The Devil's Advocate

So. I had this big long post saved that I've been picking away at, but I have had a stressful day and it would be just like today to see someone get offended and start coming at me for posting it. Not today.

Today I'm going to talk briefly about the term devil's advocate, and how most assholes online are doing it wrong.

Okay. So a devil's advocate (DA), in layman's terms, is someone who takes the position in a "debate" that they do not necessarily agree with, but they argue it's merits for the sake of debate and discussion. It used be the title of the dude that had to come up with all the shitty reasons why someone shouldn't be canonized into sainthood, poke holes in all their claims, and basically find an excuse not to celebrate someone for their miracles. Or whatever. Both of those definitions don't exist anymore.

In modern parlance, the person claiming devil's advocate status is the person who is simply looking to stir the pot. Most often they are not arguing a term they do not agree with - they see it as simply presenting another point that they see valid in a discussion to weigh all sides.

Sounds okay right?

Yeah, so you'd be wrong.

Most of the time, the DA claims to be arguing the point of the oppressed, or the point least represented. In fact, the vast majority of the time, you see it being used to reinforce flawed cultural norms and to create fear, confusion, and to disarm their opponent. For example, you're debating the benefits of gender neutral washrooms so that all gender identities feel comfortable. The DA sneers 'but have you considered/what if/what about if the trans people invade the bathrooms and rape the women?!'

That is a viewpoint shared by a number of very ignorant people. It's not right, but they are playing on that fear and confusion.

Devil's Advocacy is a tool used frequently by members of the far right to express their vile opinions under the guise of 'free speech' (which, motherfuckers, is not a thing in Canada and in the US only protects you from retaliation for criticizing the government) and actively try to either engage in some kind of bullshit posturing or outright attack.

Look, I understand the concept of reviewing other's viewpoints, especially those you don't agree with. I think it's important to do, both to try and understand the machinations of that side of humanity and to self audit our own beliefs. I don't, however, require someone to attempt to convert me or bait me. It won't work. I don't need to subscribe to or agree with those views to understand them, same as I don't need to put my hand in a bonfire to see if it's hot. I can see it just fine, thanks. Jumping into the fire won't show me anything different.

It is pointless to argue on these matters. Most of the time it won't make a lick of difference. Generally if someone breaks out the 'I'm just playing 'devil's advocate' statement I tune them out because if they actually and truly wanted to argue a point they don't agree with for the sake of discussion, they'd be arguing mine.

Basically, my post is simple: devil's advocacy does not exist. It's just arguing, plain and simple. Let's just call it as it is and be honest.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Love is a verb, Love is a doing word.

It's hard to believe this is my first post for 2018, but here we are.

I mentioned on my Facebook page that there was some big news coming up, and it was going to be life changing. As usual, the universe works in mysterious ways and nothing has been finalized. I am hesitant to say anything until we have confirmation, so I will save that for when I have actual news. As a definitive, I can say I am not having a baby, so let's not even approach that one.

This winter has been quiet and introspective, as I had hoped it would be. I have had a lot of quiet time to work with my craft. I have been reading a lot, working with my tarot decks more, and generally being more productive. Now that I am working towards a goal, it's easier to motivate myself.

On top of all of that, I have been very busy. Writing, working, and spending time with the important people in my life.

One thing I have been thinking about recently is the amount of chaotic energy there is right now - in the world, in our lives, and in our communities. I am finding that energy is feeding a trend I am sadly seeing more and more. The dreaded Witch Wars (tm).

I'm not talking about the people calling out abusers or charlatans in our community. I'm not talking about victims discussing their abuses or anything of the sort. I'm not talking about the people who are trying to rid the community of racists and neo-nazi scum. That? Justified AF.

I'm talking about the honest-to-goodness, shade throwing extravaganza that I have been witness to for the last few years.

Honestly, from the outside, it's exhausting. Someone is having beef with this other person and so they write a blog post or a scathing Facebook post or whatever to tear down this other person, who has minions who comment and defend the person attacked and attack the person who made the post, whose minions then attack the other minions and it devolves into this dick-measuring shouting contest with no actual relevance. And so the attacked person posts a Facebook post defending themselves and slamming the other person, so the minions attack one another again and so we have the circle of crapulence that is arguing on the internet.... well, kinda like this classic video:

I guess my first question is this: WHERE DO YOU GET THE TIME TO BE ASSHOLES TO ONE ANOTHER? It's exhausting watching, so I admire the energy you devote to essentially attacking some stranger on the internet. It's like an endless battery of hatred.

Enough. Getting the last word doesn't make you better or more correct.

How about this: how about we all focus on our own paths and less on the people around us. How about we stop picking fights with other members of our community for fun.  Instead of seeking to tear each other down for a seemingly meaningless argument, let's focus on the fact that our time here is not infinite, and it is far too short to focus on that bullshit.

Again, I'm not referring to calling people out for their racism or bad behaviour - simply the never ending streams of vague booking, shady Facebook posts, attack blogs, etc. I am far from perfect, and the list of people I dislike or would like to verbally tear a new one or tear down is regretfully long - but I ain't got time for that shit! I'm too busy living life - and honestly, you should be too.

Instead, I'm focusing on what I can actually change. Working toward acceptance, working through fear and doubt. Working to be a better ally for those who need it. Working on being a person who chooses love over hatred. The last point is hard for me, because I have had many hurts that have left deep scars, but I am getting there.

A very wise man said "My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world."

So let us choose to be supportive rather than oppressive, hopeful rather than fearful, and let us choose love above hate. There is far too much hatred and oppression in the world. Witches are wielders of change - let's use that change for good. Let's be badasses together and lift each other up.

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Go home, 2017, you're drunk.

Ugh. This year.

I don't feel like going into the gory details, but these past 2 years have been just awful in so many ways. The past 2 months have been some of the hardest months I have ever had to face. It is still ongoing. Christmas/Yule was a bust this year. My own practice has taken a backseat to all the chaos that is currently reigning supreme.

I am exhausted and worn out and just done. Done. I couldn't be more done. Mentally, physically, emotionally, esoterically. I feel like I have been fighting a war and I'm at a stand still. I feel like I've aged 5 years in the last one.

Despite all of these setbacks, all the exhaustion, and all the utter horseshit that this year has been, there have been some wonderful parts of it. The actual bits of my spiritual practice I have been working on have been really affirming and give me confidence. My family and friends are wonderful, beautiful human beings who have been immensely supportive and wonderful. I always find it interesting that you truly find out who is a true and steadfast friend when trouble rears it's head - the ones who stay are the ones to be treasured. The few goals I set for myself (my reading goals, my decluttering and downsizing, and improving my finances) have been very successful. I have a great many things to be grateful and humbled by.

Trust me, I count my blessings every single day.

Despite the 3 ring shit circus that is currently masquerading as my life, I hold a great deal of hope that things will improve. I know that it is hard and it will take work, but I also know that in the end  it will all be worth it!

So I know I haven't been around as much as I would have liked. I am hoping to change that in 2018. I hold a great deal of hope that life will settle and I will have other, new goals to look to.

Sunday, 8 October 2017


yeah, I watermarked them.
As is tradition, we went apple picking for Harvest Home. It's a nice tradition we've created for ourselves, and something that I look forward to every year. This year, we decided to take our dog. He's a great little companion and he had a lot of fun. He also looks a bit like an orc or goblin, much to our amusement. He had his first birthday on September 10, so he's officially a doggo now.

We usually go a little later in the season, so there wasn't much available. It has been a really hot early fall - temperatures have been in the mid-late 20's C, and it's been humid. We hadn't had that cold snap necessary to kickstart the apples sweetening. Still, we were able to grab a few varieties that led to some pie and crisp making. I made one of the best apple pies I have even made, so there's a notch in my belt.

We ended up in the flower field at one point, and there were hundreds of butterflies! Every step we made was like scattering fluttering confetti from flower to flower. There were a lot of beetles and bees out too. It was one of the most calming places I've been in a long time, and it was nice to commune with the land spirits and feel enriched afterward. I swear, my blood pressure immediately normalized and my breathing was so calm.

That evening D and I headed out the the beach to burn some corn dollies we had made in petition for a bountiful harvest and in thanks for the recent rains.

All in all, very low-key. Magic doesn't need to be big or elaborate. It's all about intention.

I've been laying a bit low. I've been focusing on my mental and spiritual health right now - there have been some stresses that I've been trying to take in stride. I've been picking through my reading - I'm trying to pick up the pace, as I have 9 more books to read before the end of the year to hit my personal goal. I've also been making preparations and plans for Samhain. Lots of little things to pull together - making cascarilla powder with extra protection properties, drying the remaining corn dollies, picking up some novena candles - as well as prepping for the regular feast and apple cider.

So - mainly an 'I'm still here, just focusing on other things' kind of update. I have a few other articles I've been slowly picking away at that I'm hoping will be ready before Samhain.

Tonight is fussing around in the nook, resetting the altars, offering to the gods and spirits, and hopefully some journaling and reading.

Thursday, 31 August 2017

The Spirit Initiation

Initiation is a rite that many witches go through to enter a covenant or understanding with a group or within a tradition. Many covens use initiation rituals to symbolise the death of the old self and the metamorphosis into the new self, as part of the group. Many shamans have written and spoken about their perilous and painful initiations to bring them to their new expressions of self.

There are two schools of thought in the traditional witchcraft community, two different sets of initiations, as demonstrated by renowned occultist Andrew Chumbley; the red thread and the white thread. The red thread is the physical initiation, usually conducted by a coven. It is the physical bond that is formed with your path. The white thread, however, is the initiation by spirit.

There are a lot of schools of thought on spirit initiation. In layman's terms, spirit initiation (sometimes noted as a shamanic initiation) is a death. It is the slow dismantling of the self, a breaking down the bits of the self to use as kindling for the fire it is about the start. It is a complete and total metamorphosis. It is a death - death of the self, death of the preconceived, death and decay - and it is difficult.

The metaphor of death is used in many traditions, from Wicca to Shamanism to Voudou. For some, it's a mere ritual. For some, it's symbolic. For others, it can be an experience that draws a practitioner  and forms a bond or a oath to that particular path. These spirit initiations are almost always unpleasant, and in some cases can exacerbate already existing depression or mental health issues. It manifests differently and in differing intensity, depending on the person experiencing it. People will sometimes describe the experience as feeling flat, deflated, empty, destroyed, or broken.

There are a variety of ways that it can manifest. For some, it is a long and unexplained bout of depression, or it's a persistent and on-going series of nightmares. For others, it borders into hallucinations, or can manifest as a physical sickness. These are usually marked by an initial period of personal crisis or trauma. It is almost always lead by a spirit of some kind. Some more traditional witches believe it is the Devil. Some, a horned god. Others see it as a spiritual guide who its meant to guide you through your transition, and there is always the possibility of a god intervening and guiding as well.

The main characteristic is that it is an ordeal, in the classic sense. It is pushing yourself to the point of breaking, and then acknowledging that you want to know more. When you hit that lowest point, that is the death and rebirth - that is the moment you are guided forward, like a newborn sprung from the womb. It is an unpleasant and torturous event, but it serves the great purpose of burning away all the unnecessary bullshit, and honing you into a sharp and sure weapon. It makes you dispose of the hurt and trauma of the past and forces you to truly connect with the spirits and your own power.

How do you know if what you am experiencing is not just symptoms of your mental illness? My answer is this - sometimes it is hard to know. I know that for me, it was helpful looking at all of my spiritual experiences and life experiences before it happened, and looking at my own bouts of depression in the past. Based purely on my own experiences and speaking with my therapist, I can safely say that the last year or so has been an abnormal cycle for me. I won't go into it too much, because I honestly feel these events can be a very private thing - but I think that some co-morbidity existed in my own case. However, my own transformation (which I am just coming out of) is very rooted with the traditional shamanic initiation - trauma or crisis event, spiritual revelation, and healing.

It is very important to develop a routine of self care and to ensure you care for all aspects of your health - mental, physical, and spiritual. Most of all, do not be afraid to seek help if you feel it may be more an issue with mental health than initiation.

This type of initiation is not for the faint of heart, but those who are not cowed by it will find a great deal of wisdom and power at the end. It can be terrifying and intimidating and soul crushing, but for me it is worth the effort.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Illegitimi non carborundum.

With all that's happening in the world right now, I wanted to take a moment to talk about racism and discrimination in the general pagan community.

I know a lot of people see pagans and witches as a loving, hippie-dippy, group who couldn't possibly contribute to such a hateful thing. It almost makes me want to laugh. Not only does the pagan community contain racism, parts of it actively enable and perpetuate it.

I have written extensively about my own experiences in my own community 2 years ago, when a local white supremacist was harassing me online, attempting to defame me, and attacking and slandering members of the community who are people of colour (POC).  I cannot speak for any of those POC, I do not know their experience. I can only speak for myself and what I saw happen. I saw members of my own community, members and organizations that I have worked with and that I have trusted, back up a known white supremacist with 'they're just proud of their heritage' and a refusal to do anything to protect other members and potential members of the community, even with proof. I still see people that I know and used to respect attend their events or promote their events.  Our community here is so steeped in racism, and it is enabled by the people who have the power to prevent it.

I can't even imagine what it would be like to walk in the shoes of a POC here, seeing a whole mess of white folks who claim to be welcoming and accepting, sheltering a known neo-nazi. It must be so uncomfortable. It must be so infuriating.

Unfortunately, you see a lot of prevalence of neo-nazi beliefs and behaviours in the Heathen and Asatru community. Our gods have been co-opted by the jack-booted masses, looking to perpetuate their ideals of a pure race (which, newsflash, doesn't actually exist), white is right, and hatred of the other, searching for ways to twist the words of the gods to justify their tirade of fear and hatred. You have groups like the Wotan network, Asatru Folk Assembly (which is officially classified by the US government as a hate group), and the Thulean Perspective. You have the Heathen Harvest, the Soldiers of Odin, the Wolves of Vinland. People take the beliefs of the Thule Society and the pro-Germanic beliefs of the Nazi party during WWII, and mix it with good old fashioned fear. Presto, welcome to the new nationalist kindred: whites only, please.

You run into a lot of issues with any POC who dares to work with gods from any of the northern European pantheons: it's as though they feel that anyone who isn't lily fucking white has no business working with their gods. Oh, did you buy them? Do you have a fucking deed of sale? I mean, try not to mention that northern Europe has never been 100% white, what with all the Romans and Moors who travelled there long before and long after they were Christianized. You think they didn't intermarry? Don't dare mention that most of the population of northern Europe is Christian, and they are praying to a brown, middle eastern Jew. Don't mention that their gods were queer and sometimes brown. Like, get the fuck over yourselves.

Don't even get me started on the racist practice of cultural appropriation, or the claim from some groups that are clearly not closed cultures (cough NAZI HEATHENS cough) that POC are stealing their beliefs. The POC have no right to the Germanic/Norse gods (what are you, their fucking keeper?), that they should (and this is a quote I have see many times) just stick with their own African gods, or go back to Africa where they belong.

Heathenry is not closed culture; it is in no way under threat of extinction, and it's practitioners were not subject to genocide or mistreatment. So yeah. How about no. How about this: we all should just listen to our POC and listen to what they say about their cultures and their practices. We white folks have no business telling them what we can steal from them; we've done quite enough of that, thanks.

As much as we claim that 'hate is not a pagan value', to some it is. A belief they hold deep in their very souls. It starts, insidious at first,  as a belief in pro-nationalistic, pro-tradition rhetoric. It speaks of bringing together the 'disenfranchised', whose culture is being threatened by the cries of diversity. It slowly turns into anti-immigration, anti-islam, anti-feminism. Then it turns into marches and gatherings to 'preserve their culture'. Then it turns to violence. Then murder.

Example? Varg Vikernes. Super racist metal musician, confirmed northern practitioner, convicted arsonist who burned down churches, and convicted murderer. Now that he's out of jail, he preaches intolerance and violence through the Thulean Perspective. The man is so full of hatred, and because he was a popular musician, he commands a large audience.

Tackling the utter mess of the racist pagan community is not an easy task. I have no easy answers. All I know is that in times like this, there are 2 quotes I live by:

“Where you recognize evil, speak out against it, and give no truces to your enemies”
-Havamal, stanza 127

and the always quoted:

"When bad men combine, the good must associate; else they will fall one by one, an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle."
- Edmund Burke (often misquoted as 'all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.')

The most important thing to do in times like this is not not be silent. We need to stand up against racism whenever and wherever we see it. We need to own our own racist shit, and strive to be better. We need to listen to the folks who are suffering the most, and do what we can to make sure their voices are heard - and we need to let our voices rise up to combat the hatred.

We can't literal nazi fucks continue to co-opt what we have tried to build. Been there. Done that. Pretty sure we fought wars about it. It means making hard choices. It means removing people from your life who have decided, for whatever reason, that there are numerous people who do not deserve basic human rights. It will likely mean ending decades-long friendships, or family. It will mean standing up for what is right, even if it is what is hard to do.

We have to look at what these communities have become, and be absolutely disgusted at the state of them. We need to be the helpers. We need to be the ones to push to create change.

If we want this community to survive, we need to fight for it. If we can't save it, we need to burn it down to kill the disease, and start again.

At my desk at work, I have 2 yellow sticky notes on my wall. The first says "Illegitimi non carborundum." Don't let the bastards get you down. The second is the lyrics from a song that was covered by The Barenaked Ladies:

Let's kick at the darkness together, shall we?

Friday, 11 August 2017


I really love this time of year. I dread summer every year, because I hate the heat and the drought, but there is something magical about August, particularly mid-late August. The colours are gradually fading into the tones of autumn, the yellows and pale greens, the leaves starting to lose their brilliant green lustre. The pops of goldenrod. The cranberries ripening from pearly white to lush garnet gems. The days are hot, the evenings cool. I have been fortunate the have the companionship of my dog to get me out to enjoy all the beauty, and to see the excitement of all the new smells and sights every time we go out is a blessing.

I am growing to love August.

It's also the symbology, the beginning of the climax of the growing season. Everything is starting to slowly wind down - the wheat will be harvested. The proverbial squirrels are starting to gather the nuts from the ground.

It is the beginning of the move inward.

This is the first time in a number of years that I have found myself really focusing and enjoying the season. The last number of years have been chaotic - many changes. This year there is a sweet calmness that I finally - finally - get to savour.

D and I celebrated Lammas, the first harvest, by making a loaf of spelt bread with harvested flowers from our garden. We drove out to the shore, the wild cliffs, and we chanted and sang and prayed for rain. We sowed the seeds of our intentions to be harvested in the coming months. We listened to the waves crash perilously below us, felt the fog and sea spray kiss our cheeks. We poured libations of fresh water, left offerings of bread, honey, tobacco, and money.

It felt incredible. Even after grounding, I felt like I was humming for days. I slept like a baby.

This is the beginning of the time of year where I feel the most in tune, the most powerful. The days growing darker, the temperatures dropping - I live for it. I feel like I have more motivation, more stamina. I am doing the things I love again - baking, reading, writing, creating. This movement,  this energy, this change - I am ready for it.

Monday, 24 July 2017

To Be Silent

The Witches Pyramid has four points: To Know, To Will, To Dare, To Be Silent.

Honestly, I think this is the most important point on the pyramid. It is also the one that is sorely the least adhered to.

To be silent is to keep your own counsel. It's allowing the things you experience and connect with to hold a deep significance without allowing the opinions and feelings of others influence what you have experienced. There are a lot of people who have the sole purpose of naysaying, shaming, and trolling others. Trust me when I say this - it does matter, and it will effect your magic and workings.

This is the mystery of Mystery traditions - some things are oath bound, some things are private, some things are not meant to be spoken aloud. It is also minding your own business and not pressuring others to reveal what they are not comfortable doing.

To be silent is to respect that there are others who may work with you who do not wish their secrets and experiences shared with others. I have written at length before about the dissolution of covens and working groups - and the fact that your responsibility to hold the silence of other does not end with those broken bonds. There are experiences not meant to be shared. There are truths spoken in confidence when there is vulnerability - we have a responsibility to uphold that confidence. Even if your former coven mates are your bitter enemies, or jilted lovers, or dead - it doesn't matter. The bond of silence is sacred, and permeates all we do. It protects us, grounds us, and nurtures us.

I have learned many lessons about silence in the past few years - this is now a point that is important and sacred to me.

To be silent is to honour your power.