Tuesday, 30 March 2010
Monday, 29 March 2010
Friday, 26 March 2010
No one likes to talk about that kind of responsiblity, either--and I'll admit to being a bit twitchy myself about banging the "personal responsibility" drum these days, since it's become such a rallying cry among certain political factions that I personally find reprehensible, but I'm damned if I can let people off the hook for making utterly stupid choices. I've made some incredibly dumb-assed decisions in my life, too. Everyone has. But there's dumb-assed and then there's dangerous, and if you're going to go out into the world and call yourself a magician and think you have the ability to shape and change your world, then you'd best be able to demonstrate at least the marginal ability to make rational decisions. It's about the least you can do, and it's a shame that it seems to be beyond so many.
Wednesday, 24 March 2010
Tuesday, 23 March 2010
I'm sure I'd get a lot of hate mail, though, of the "OMG you're so meeen" variety. Or, more likely, I'd receive the kind of response that was often lobbied at me back in the days when I was listmod for
Stuff Pagan Culture Likes. I do like the idea of it, sort of a humorous sociological study, the anthropology of the absurd. Perhaps I will.
Monday, 22 March 2010
you're either a sheep or a goat.
Now, this implies a certain value judgment about these two rather different species, as well as presuming a knowledge on the part of the reader about the behavioral characteristics of them. Let's consider, then.
A "sheep person," therefore, would be one content to go along with the crowd, willingly being led by a dominant personality--preferably one dispensing something desirable, be that food (for an actual sheep) or things of a more ethereal nature (for a spiritual sheep). You'll want to play on that herd mentality, though, because if left to their own devices they might wander off.
Goats, on the other hand, are known to be curious and intelligent creatures, difficult to contain and eager to break loose from any enclosure. They love to climb and explore, will eat just about anything, and tussle for dominance in a group situation. They can be trained, but with some difficulty if the goat isn't inclined to be cooperative. They are also associated with sexual licentiousness.
The "goat person," then, would be smart, curious, and disinclined toward being led. Not your best choice for a follower, actually.
In Greek mythology, Amalthea was sometimes depicted as a goat who fostered the infant Zeus in a Cretan cave. She is also associated with the cornucopia or "horn of plenty," which is variously recognized as the horn from which Zeus drank, or the goat's horn which was broken off, filled with offerings, and presented to the god.
I was born under the sign of Capricorn. Make of that anything you like.
You may be more sheepish or goatlike, or you may be something else entirely. Unless you consider yourself to be otherkin (a can of worms which WILL NOT be opened here at PLv3.1) it's unlikely that you feel a strong association with any particular animal. Me, I'm kind of owly. No word as yet on what Jesus thinks of owls.
* The SB Church in my small rural community regularly posts interesting messages on its sign. I pick only the choicest comments to blog about here.
Sunday, 21 March 2010
If you don't know what spring equinox signifies, I'm not going to tell you. Go outside! (Unless you live where it's still snowing. You can stay inside and curse me for being where it's warm.)
Friday, 19 March 2010
Thursday, 18 March 2010
Wednesday, 17 March 2010
I am wearing green today, but don't read anything into that; I'm very often wearing green. I very nearly chose an orange tunic dress for today, until I heard that there was apparently a move afoot to get pagans to wear orange on St. Patrick's Day in protest of some damned misunderstood something-or-other; that seemed like a bad idea to me, though I couldn't quite remember why (something-something-Orangemen-something-dark-side) until I found a link to this most instructive post which gives a concise explanation. Yeah. Symbols? They mean stuff. It is recommended to know those meanings before engaging the symbols. (For me, it meant nothing other than I like my orange tunic dress and wanted to wear it to be teh hawtness.)
In any case, Naomh Padraig brought about the conversion of Ireland to Christianity, officially at least; there are pagans aplenty in those lands to this very day, though of a modern sort. Some of my distant ancestors came from that part of the world, though I don't have sufficient information to say exactly how beyond the barest of details. I was a heathen child who was painlessly converted to nominal Christianity and happily deconverted in early adulthood. I won't be doing anything special to mark Patrick's day, as the old hooley no longer takes place and I have no desire to go sit in a bar and watch people swill down green-dyed beer and sing Danny Boy over and over. If we do anything to commemorate anything else pertinent to this date, that will be between us.
Tuesday, 16 March 2010
It's difficult to take oneself with sufficient seriousness to begin any sentence with the words "Thou shalt not." But who cannot summon the confidence to say: Do not condemn people on the basis of their ethnicity or color. Do not ever use people as private property. Despise those who use violence or the threat of it in sexual relations. Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child. Do not condemn people for their inborn nature--why would God create so many homosexuals only in order to torture and destroy them? Be aware that you too are an animal and dependent on the web of nature, and think and act accordingly. Do not imagine that you can escape judgment if you rob people with a false prospectus rather than with a knife. Turn off that fucking cell phone--you have no idea how unimportant your call is to us. Denounce all jihadists and crusaders for what they are: psychopathic criminals with ugly delusions. Be willing to renounce any god or any religion if any holy commandments should contradict any of the above. In short: Do not swallow your moral code in tablet form.
Monday, 15 March 2010
I miss Gnosis magazine. The Pomegranate interests me very much, but it's pricey and doesn't appear at bookstores. There are good quality publications like The Cauldron that cover topics of history and folklore and the cultural context of modern paganism, but again they're not readily available, and unfortunately I don't have a subscription budget right now that would allow me to regularly receive them. I wish any of the local stores stocked the interesting foreign publications, but the local population wouldn't buy them; they'd buy the glossy lifestyle mags if they bought anything at all. And I put those down, bemused, and drift over to the next aisle where KMT and Archaeology could be found, filled with comforting articles on Egyptology.
Yeah, I know: cry moar, snobby girl. ;)
When I first went online in the early 90s, I used my Craft name as my online name. I'm still known as such to a handful of people whom I've known since then, but I've stopped using that name online for the most part. If you knew it, and knew me, you'd either laugh at the irony of it or be offended that I of all people would take that name. (I pronounce it oddly, for one thing, and while I have my reasons you might just think me illiterate. You might also think me beholden to a particular deity, which I am not. Worst of all, the name has a connection to a practice which I eschew. Why don't I change it? Well, because it's mine, for reasons that have nothing to do with any of that; plus it's on my papers, and inscribed on expensive things that I can't replace.) In some places, I'm also known by my Shemsu name, which was given to me when I took my vows as Kemetic Orthodox. I have blogged extensively under yet another name, and I've got yet another one here at Blogger, since that previous one was unavailable. I tried on two other Craft names early on before I settled on the one I discussed above. I also have a confirmation name from when I was baptized into the EGC a few years ago when I was more actively practicing Thelema.
The Egyptians knew well the power and importance of names. To grant continued immortality to the dead, it was necessary to "make their name to live," that is to speak of them often, and to recite the funerary offering formulas for them. A New Kingdom text tells of how Isis gained power over Ra by tricking Him into revealing His secret name. For those in the esoteric arts and religions, most of which are still misunderstood and mistrusted by the mainstream culture, having your identity revealed in inappropriate situations can reap consequences ranging from embarassment to open harassment. In a very real sense, knowing someone's name can give you power over them.
Ceremonial magicians have long taken on magical mottoes by which they are known; witches, at least of GBG's type, took on pseudonyms by which to be known at larger meetings, with the idea being that if one of them were taken and tortured, they couldn't reveal the true identities of the other witches if they only knew false names. Nowadays, grandiose and pseudo-fantasy character names have become the norm among the pagani, making it sometimes hard to take people seriously. I wonder how many of the Raven SummerStars and Orion BeltSanders in the world put more than a moment's thought into their naming, choosing something they thought sounded cool or witchy rather than something that expressed some part of themselves. I'll concede that if I were to go back in time, I might well choose a different name than the one I'm known by in the circle; but I don't really regret the choice, and do believe it suits me on some level. And if I'm not, on the surface, the person you might expect me to be based on that name, then I'd say you don't know what lies beneath. Maybe you never will; but that's for me to reveal or not in my own time. Your name carries its own secrets, and its own responsibilities.
Sunday, 14 March 2010
Friday, 12 March 2010
(Enc. Brit. 1810 ed.) "Hypatia, a learned and beautiful lady...a celebrated philosopher and mathematician, and president of the famous Alexandrian school, was born at Alexandria...'She explained to her hearers (says Socrates) the several sciences that go under the general name of philosophy; for which reason there was a confluence to her from all parts of those who made philosophy their delight and study.'
"Her scholars were as eminent as they were numerous. She was held as an oracle for her wisdom, which made her consulted by the magistrates in all important cases."
Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, a celebrated philosopher and mathematician, the author of a commentary on Euclid, in which his daughter is said to have assisted him. An only child, she showed deep interest in philosophy and mathematics from her early youth. Her father instructed her in these subjects with care and diligence, and she soon became one of his most brilliant pupils. Her writings, according to Suidas, included commentaries on the Arithmetica of Diophantus of Alexandria, on the Conics of Apollonius of Perga, and on the Arithmetical Canon of Ptolemy, all of which are now lost.
While Hypatia was living in Athens she came in contact with the Neoplatonic Schools which had been founded by Plotinus, Porphyry and Iamblichus, and identified herself with the Neoplatonic Movement. Later, when she took up her residence in Alexandria, she began to hold lectures and classes in the famous Museum, where her eloquence and profound wisdom, her youth and extraordinary beauty soon attracted great crowds of students and admirers. She was admitted into the intimate circles of the great Alexandrian families, and numbered among her friends two of the most powerful men of the day: Orestes, the Prefect of Alexandria, and Synesius, the Bishop of Cyrene.
The Neoplatonic School reached its greatest heights in the days that immediately preceded its destruction. Hypatia brought Egypt nearer to an understanding of its ancient Mysteries than it had been for thousands of years. Her knowledge of Theurgy restored the practical value of the Mysteries and completed the work commenced by Iamblichus over a hundred years before. Following in the footsteps of Plotinus and Porphyry, she demonstrated the possibility of the union of the individual Self with the SELF of all. Continuing the work of Ammonius Saccas, she showed the similarity between all religions and the identity of their source. (THEOSOPHY, Vol. 25 No. 5, March 1937)
Thursday, 11 March 2010
There is a delicious irony in the fact that my most reliable indicator of spring's return is the appearance of a Roman torture device in a nearby field.
Monday, 8 March 2010
There are people who seek the things that I have literally just fallen into; some of them want those things quite desperately, but cannot find them or are denied them somehow. I think I can understand how such a person might view me with contempt or jealousy or anger, because I know I can come off as being very cavalier about my blessings. I don't do humility very well at all, though if you catch me in the right mood I can wallow in self-recrimination and low self esteem with the best of them. Usually I am just oblivious to the deeper desires of the hearts around me, unable to really plumb the depths of their wants and needs and often unable to find a reason to try. If I have something and I'm inclined to share it with you, I will; but if I get the impression you're trying to extort it from me, or emotionally manipulate me into giving it up, I'll dig in hard to deny you. I'm wary of alterior motives, even the ones I can't understand.
At the time that I met the man who would become my high priest and initiator, along with lover, husband and partner, I wasn't actively seeking much of anything. I found him on a lark--hell, it was practically a dare--and thought he sounded interesting. The word Wicca meant little to me; I was a pagan already, following an Egyptian practice, and all I knew of Wicca was what I'd gleaned from the one Scott Cunningham book I owned. All those little early-70s paperbacks I mentioned in an earlier post I'd quite put out of mind by that time--all those nekkid rituals and whatnot were just hippie free-love crap, remember? But he was Gardnerian and I was bored and curious and a little tired of the rut of my solitary practice (not as much ritual stuff available for the Kemetically inclined back in those days) and I was just willing to suspend disbelief long enough to consider that someone else might have something I'd like to have--knowledge, wisdom, insight, experience. I was in my late middle 20s, book-smart and people-dumb, and went tripping along blithely over the cliff before I even quite realized I was on the precipice. In a very short time I was initiated, then acting as priestess for a pagan grove, then being elevated, then running a coven, and did I have clue-the-first as to what I was in for? Does anyone, ever?
But it came so easily to me, gifts that were bestowed upon me that I never actively sought and probably would not have sought had I thought them through. I was fortunate to have a partner who balanced me so well; I'm fortunate still, in that regard! I learned on the fly and did the best I could, though I know now that I was sorely lacking in
I was a motherless child, in the Craft sense; abandoned early and left to flounder without an experienced female role model. I had to make a lot of stuff up as I went along, draw my own conclusions, think things through far more thoroughly than I might have done otherwise. It's probably the only reason I made it this far, really. My husband wasn't going to banish me as an HPS most surely would have had I hit her with the kinds of impertinence he faced from me daily. But having to think for myself meant that I expected no less from everyone else--Why are you asking me? Who cares what I think, what do you think? I'm sure more than one person mistook me for being a complete know-nothing simply because I would not or could not spoon-feed them my hard-won knowledge, but that just wasn't my way. It still isn't. Fortunately things are different now.
I know there are seekers, those who want to be a part of British Traditional Craft, and I tend to avoid them. What I have, what we have and what we do, are absolutely a part of that current, of that continuum of practice, and yet I know--instinctively as well as intellectually--that we're just off-center enough for it to be a problem. Most of the seekers who seek these ways are also seeking community and connection, and that is something that we can't offer, because we are Independent and keep our own counsel. I don't want to disappoint anyone else who comes to me looking for something that is beyond my means to give.
Saturday, 6 March 2010
Friday, 5 March 2010
was nothing required of me beyond stating my desire to be a part of it, and sending a dollar for postage to the foundation center in Ireland. That much I could handle. It was 1993, IIRC, and by that time I'd been reading on metaphysical subjects literally since childhood and attempting vague experiments in magick since high school. The Egyptian pantheon had grabbed me--I was quite determinedly nontheistic before, even back when I was a nominal Christian--but something about Egypt's deities struck me in a different way. I can't describe it any better than to say that they had an immediacy and a perceptible power about them that was very intriguing and appealing.
I found out about the FOI through a chapter in the book Isis and Osiris by the late Jonathan Cott, may his ka be justified. I was as intrigued by the people in Ireland worshipping ancient gods in their castle as I had been by my Egyptological readings. A postal address was given, an inquiry was made, and in due time I was sent a certificate and some other materials. A couple of years later, my partner and then-fiance joined also, and inquired about our founding an Iseum; and in March of 1995 a charter duly arrived. We were leading a rather half-assed Egyptian mysticism study group at the time, and thus Lady Olivia proclaimed us the Iseum of the Mystic Isis. And now, 15 years later, we're still around.
It's been the most painless and drama-free association I've had with any spiritual organization in all my years, and for that I'm glad and grateful. These days our Iseum exists primarily online, though we do have the occasional IRL meeting; we're having one tomorrow, in fact, to celebrate that 15th anniversary of our founding. (The photo above is of the main Isis shrine I tend for the Iseum.) And after all these years, I'm now pursuing a structured course of study for the FOI priesthood, as well.
Tuesday, 2 March 2010
As if I'd slept a thousand years underwater I wake into a new season. I am the blue lotus rising. I am the cup of dreams and memory opening--I, the thousand-petaled flower. At dawn the sun rises naked and new as a babe; I open myself and am entered by light. This is the joy, the slow awakening into fire as one by one the petals open, as the fingers that held tight the secret unfurl. I let go of the past and release the fragrance of flowers.
I open and light descends, fills me and passes through, each thin blue petal reflected perfectly in clear water. I am that lotus filled with light reflected in the world. I float content within myself, one flower with a thousand petals, one life lived a thousand years without haste, one universe sparking a thousand stars, one god alive in a thousand people.
If you stood on a summer's morning on the bank under a brilliant sky, you would see the thousand petals and say that together they make the lotus. But if you lived in its heart, invisible from without, you might see how the ecstasy at its fragrant core gives rise to its thousand petals. What is beautiful is always that which is itself in essence, a certainty of being. I marvel at myself and the things of earth,
I float among the days in peace, content. Not part of the world, the world is all the parts of me. I open toward the light and lift myself to the gods on the perfume of prayer. I ask for nothing beyond myself. I own everything I need. I am content in the company of god, a prayer that contains its own answer. I am the lotus. As if from a dream, I wake up laughing.
If I am honest with myself and you, dear reader, then I have to admit that I probably never should have been initiated, let alone elevated. Am I a good HPS? I think that I am, and I've been told that I am. Am I a good Gardnerian HPS? Gods, no, at least not in the strict fundamentalist sense. My partner was a very good Gardnerian HP, and he is far better at it than I could ever hope to be; but that's because he gets it on a level that eludes me. Things that make sense to him seem arbitrary and illogical to me; my understanding of such things is academic and intellectual when it needs to be visceral and emotional. He provides that, so we can work together and balance each other out, but I know there are things that I lack, have always lacked, that were necessary to be an effective traditional Gard HPS. And so I'm not.
But what I am is a damned effective non-traditional traditionalist. I'm a very competent ritualist, and my mojo is as strong as it ever was--maybe even more so, since I've learned to play to my own strengths and not worry about what others perceived as my weaknesses. We--that is, my partner and I--finally reached a point where we felt we could own the tradition we'd both trained in and sweated for and nearly broken up over and jumped through an inordinate number of absolutely pointless and stupid hoops for. No one but the most liberal of Gardnerians would likely recognize us as such, even though in practice what we do is about 98% indistinguishable from what you'd find in the strictest trad circle; the differences are more amorphous, more philosophical than anything, but those differences opened up an unbreachable chasm and caused what Mulder referred to in The X-Files: Fight the Future as "the shit-storm of all time." Well, it took us years to wash off the fallout, but we've sorted ourselves out. And if what's going on behind the curtain for me is different than what you've got within yourself, that's fine with me--and as long as it's fine with you, too, then there will be no problem. (Of course, it rarely plays out that way in reality, but sometimes you get lucky. The lucky cases are the people I cherish most.)
So you could just think of us as Independent Gardnerians. We won't come to your circle and expect you to welcome us. Nor will we tell you that what you're doing is wrong or invalid or tell you that you're not proper persons. We don't advertise. We don't want to be a part of some imagined "greater community." What we do want is to work our Craft, and preserve the traditions with which we were entrusted, and to do those things in the way that makes the most ethical and philosophical and magical sense to us. It's not the only thing either of us do spiritually, and it may not even be the most important thing to us, but it is important, and we have fought and worked for it. And like many other initiates who ply their craft in secret because for whatever reason they were a bad fit with the mainstream of the tradition, we will carry on, and those who come after us will do the same.