Pagan Trends, Absolute Truths, and Trusting Yourself

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Trends change rapidly in the Pagan community. We often see “an indisputable fact” ricochet to its exact opposite within years. These “truths” cause immense discord. How can we navigate these treacherous waters without disavowing our own personal wisdoms? We all find our way of doing it. If I share mine, perhaps that might make finding yours easier.

So, a story:

Way back when, most American Pagans insisted traditional craft was nonexistent. People became downright nasty in their disdainful insistence there is no traditional witchcraft. Nowadays, many Pagans discuss traditional craft, what it is, how to do it, and where to learn it.

The party line back then was that anyone who claimed a traditional craft lineage was a liar. The person in question might be completely discredited.

To the best of my understanding back then: a big name Pagan dishonestly validated the material he taught by saying he’d gotten it from his grandmother, a traditional witch, but he lied about her being a witch.

People just decided, if he was lying, everybody else must be. Good grief!

Ok, let me continue this tale by adding how it affected me personally:

I was raised in a longstanding European-based shamanic family tradition. This was hardly a secret to some of the Pagans I knew. But, in case it’s useful context for the rest of my story, I didn’t have a best selling book yet, so the number of people who knew anything about me were far far fewer than later became the case.

You can imagine, amidst all the vitriol and possibility of being totally discredited, I was thoughtful about when to mention my traditional witchery to a Pagan. I wanted to avoid the near certainty of being branded liar in the larger Pagan community.

Close friends knew my family background, and I’d tell others when it was important. In fact, when the bestseller did come out, its back cover mentioned my mom was a Sicilian witch. To do otherwise would’ve insulted her and all my witch ancestors. But I also used discretion. For example, skirting my family history in casual conversation.

What I’m saying is: navigating the dangerous seas of trending “absolute truths” was challenging—for one thing, it can be frightening to buck popular opinion—but I found ways to maintain integrity while also guarding my emotional equilibrium. We can keeps our spirits whole. Here are two navigation skills that worked for me:

One is knowing it is vital to trust your own beliefs and respect the value of your own experiences, despite people who try to hit you over the head with trends to make you feel ignorant or otherwise not as “authentic” a Pagan as they are.

The second navigation skill is discretion. I want to practice discretion about whether to say something.

Nowadays, most people use the word discretion to mean holding silence. But discretion can also mean wisely considering the best course of action, judging each situation according to its specific circumstances. I’m using the latter definition here. So, in terms of our topic, discretion might lead one to speak—to good purpose—or to remain appropriately mum.

It’s vital to speak up for your beliefs when there’s good reason. Losing self-respect does not constitute successful navigation of treacherous waters.

As to choosing silence, let’s start with the example of avoiding arguments with people who aren’t going to listen.

Back when mentioning a family tradition might completely discredit you with many people, I was at a dinner party where someone who was constantly on power trips declared, in a high and mighty tone, that as a scholar she was devoted to naysaying the possibility of a family tradition. She did not know I came from one. I didn’t tell her. (A friend in the know did surreptitiously wink at me. That was lovely support.)

Most people who jump on trending absolutes will neither listen nor engage in a courteous, informative exchange of ideas, because they’ll rush to prop up wobbly egos with pseudo-knowledge. They’ll just try to browbeat you into feeling you’re wrong, though that may not be their conscious motivation, bless them. Wasting your time in a verbal entanglement amounts to letting someone’s pseudo-truth get the better of you. Your time is sacred.

Yet if she had been honestly interested, and merely misinformed about whether traditional witchcraft existed, I might have discussed my family.

Important aside: Though I avoided an argument at the dinner party, I admit my record’s not perfect with that sort of thing. Luckily, seeing how it depleted and upset me helps me not repeat the mistake any more. A hard won lesson, but one that frees me from other people’s opinionated insistences.

This blog is long but the following feels vital. Another example of discretion and silence:

(Please note, I’m going to use traditional witchery as an example in this essay again. That’s a coincidence. The examples have no relation. So don’t think you need to connect the dots between examples.)

More than once, a segment of the Pagan community inflated their position to one of dominance by stating “superior” pseudo-truths, and I could have deflated their posturing by disclosing a bit of traditional witchcraft’s sacred lore.

I stayed mute about the lore. I was blessed to have received it, so would not disclose it merely to prove a point to people who would not have viewed it as precious information but who would have pawed it.

They’d have greedily grabbed at it as mere words—exploited it as verbal fodder they could parrot to appear in-the-know and first string. (Heh, at least I got to feel smug about keeping my mouth shut. … Ok, I admit, feeling superior wasn’t good for me.)

Had I said anything authentic, nobody would have cared. The agenda on their table was to show how important and “wise” you were. That was not an agenda I wanted to be part of, even though telling them traditional material would’ve moved me to the top of the food chain. But climbing up would have actually, as the old expression goes, dragged me down to their level. … Goddess, I was tempted anyway. … Maybe smugness about my silence was my solace.

My story about being silent is relevant to discretion stopping fake truths from derailing your personal hard-won beliefs, in the following ways:

Opening my mouth would have been my ego reacting to theirs, as well as meeting their attempt to move up in a hierarchy with a similar attempt of my own. Both of those would have betrayed my personal belief in not living in ego or falling prey to power struggles.

It also would have wasted my time and life force, instead of me going about my merry business, living happily according to my own ecstatic truths.

Responding to someone’s power play with one of our own can be incredibly tempting, but also incredibly damaging to ourselves. Ego-driven magic and power-hungry grabs put someone on the slippery slope of chasing chimera more and more, less and less living joyously in the beautiful world the Goddess created for us.

Had I shared the lore for the purposes of my ego, I also would have debased that material. Reduced to mere words in order to feed my ego, the power of that beautiful material would’ve been lost to me, crumbled into dust like Faerie gold.

There’s one more way someone’s pseudo-truth would’ve gotten the better of me if I’d blabbed sacred knowledge for the sake of ego and dominance. I would’ve betrayed my following personal truth: I hold my religion sacred by only using it for honorable purposes. To do otherwise, I would truly have failed navigating the rocky seas of community-enforced pseudo-truths and sunk to the depths.

When magic and spirituality become tools to create unhealthy hierarchy—aka dominate others—they go sour. So does the spirit of the practitioner in question. His soiled shamanic path is handed down to his students, its very essence feeding their worst aspects, perhaps subtly but thoroughly. A nightmare for the community.

When magic and spirituality remain tools to serve, in respect for our differences, those tools become more powerful and capable. So do our spirits. Free of contentious opinions and excess verbiage, our innate magic fills each day, often silently. We become blessed by—and a blessing for—community.

I hope some of my above opinions are useful to you.

I teach traditional craft. My Gods bless me with wise students: They are wise in so many ways, but one is that we all respect each other. Honoring our differing views as assets allows each of us to uniquely contribute to the group’s magic and well-being. This in turn allows each of us to benefit from all the participants’ strengths.

If you’d like to join us, I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Subscribe to my free newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

Have a magical day.

Traditional Witchcraft, Spirituality, and Ethics

FDG2016TphatCurrently, it is a prevalent opinion among Pagans that traditional witchcraft was strictly magical, lacking theology or moral aspects. While I can respect that theory, it is not congruent with my own experiences. I suspect whether traditional witchery had sacred or ethical aspects varied by locale or by family tradition.

I never argue with anybody’s experience, only their theory. Theory is ever-changing. I’d never want to invalidate anyone’s experience, including my own. I’ll share mine below.

My experiences lead to conclusions that differ from the aforementioned current popular Pagan position. I hope to add to the Pagan dialogue on the topic, and provide support for those who, like me, have an unpopular point of view.

Growing up in a family tradition, I learned magic and a mystical worldview con leche. Therefore magic and mysticism were a given, as much a part of life as the air I was breathing. In the process, a religious and ethical worldview was deeply ingrained in my cells.

Note I say “my cells,” not “my brain.” It took my entire childhood and adolescence to imbibe the tradition’s basics, because cellular lessons take time.

The understandings of the tradition were so deeply imbedded in our home life that much of the family tradition was taken for granted, not out and out spoken, but more implied and lived. This includes the theist or moral aspects.

In fact, calling it an understanding in the above paragraph is somewhat of a misnomer. It is not so much an understanding as a way of being.

In any case, a lifestyle with many of its important aspects being subtle or unspoken seems an earmark of many traditional witches I have met.

When I got older, I saw that this subtlety sometimes causes people who were viewing the family tradition from the outside to not see the tradition’s deep religious and ethical roots, only the more overt—and perhaps less core—trappings. When I participated in family traditions in Europe, I usually found deep religious and ethical roots in them.

Observers are not engaged in the family culture. They are standing outside it, watching. Only by being part of a shamanic family culture over a long period of time can one can really understand the culture. The notion that to watch something is to fully understand it is a fairly current concept of scholarship. As I said above, learning the traditional witchcraft of my family required an experiential, long term lesson.

It has become almost de rigeur to insist traditional craft never had sacred or principled aspects. This makes it important to me to write this post about my family tradition, because I feel I’m speaking up for my Gods, for my witch ancestors, and for others who feel as I do.

I do not like it when a theory ceases to be a theory and becomes a mandated belief—in other words, when someone is mouthing somebody else’s words to, consciously or not, invalidate other seekers. Unfortunately, the concept that traditional witchcraft had neither ethical nor theological base has become yet another Pagan rote declaration, usually said—or written—in an intimidating tone of I-know-better-than-you-so-whatever-you-think-is-stupid.

I can admire people who authentically believe other than I do. An informed and friendly exchange of ideas about traditional craft, spirituality, and ethics could be a lovely thing. Healthy debate is a wonderfully educational process for everyone involved. A supportive, respectful, and thoughtful exchange of ideas can do wonders.

But debate is not the same as trying to legitimize and define one’s path by invalidating someone else’s. That hurtfully invalidates a lot of newbies who already feel insecure about their belief system. This can crush a newcomer’s spirit.

Coming to our community, hoping to finally find fellowship, but instead encountering someone just as invalidating as mainstream society, can be doubly heartbreaking, because they thought they had finally entered a safe space. So they often never participate in our community again, and end up without support in their Pagan explorations.

People who need to squash others in order to validate their own power have less power than they think, and more mere bluster than they realize.

Thus, I felt impelled to write this post to support invalidated Pagans.

A last thought on traditional witches and ethics: perhaps in some cases, a lack of morality had less to do with any tradition and more to do with human nature. Some people just take anything, even that which is moral and sacred to begin with, strip it of those roots, and use it for their own selfish—or even evil—goals.

I hope this post is a useful contribution to Pagan dialogue about traditional craft.

If you want experiential lessons in traditional craft, I teach The Third Road, a tradition I channel, informed by the magic of my ancestors and my mom. (Channeling teachings is part of traditional craft.) I teach mostly via group phone calls—aka teleseminars. Here’s the link to subscribe to my newsletter, which tells you about upcoming classes: http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/InfoForm.htm

Bless you.

Faerie Lammas Ritual 2015

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NewsPrpl

Please join me for a Third Road harvest celebration, Thursday July 30 at noon to 1:00 EST.

Let’s celebrate our harvests and manifest additional bounty.

Let’s honor ancestors, Gaia, and other Gods.

The event is a group phone call. Free and open to all. (Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill.) No experience needed.

To participate, call 1-712-775-7000. When prompted, enter 1095248#. Dial three to five minutes before noon; it can take a bit to connect, and latecomers are not allowed.

If you want to experience oral tradition, this ritual is an opportunity.

Mark your calendar.

Goddess Bless, Francesca De Grandis

Sacred Doubt

May I not let doubts drive me into fear-based decisions.

DoubtRecently, I was feeling shaky about my decisions in a couple of life’s arenas: I had doubts about how I approach relationship with my Gods. I was also doubting one of my financial decisions.

The doubts popped up during ritual. At first, I thought these distractions during rituals lessened the rites’ power. But I’m realizing that doubt is part of the spiritual process. Sometimes, it’s good to doubt. Sometimes, doubt adds to a ritual. (Yes, doubt during a rite can lessen its power. But I’m talking about something different here.)

I started thinking about the benefits of doubt. Doubt can lead us to change our minds for the better.

Doubt can also lead us through a process that, in the end, helps affirm our decisions and cleave to them better than ever.

Moving all the way across the country sometime soon, to return to California, is a huge decision and risk. For example, I’m giving up ownership of a three-bedroom rural home on 7/10 of an acre, with a $700 monthly mortgage payment (!) to rent at a much higher monthly cost. Eek! So I wrote a prayer about doubt. The prayer could also be used as an affirmation. I share it here in case you find it relevant to your own personal life.

If you use this prayer/affirmation, please tell me how it goes. I’d love to hear your experience, because it will be unique to you.

Sacred Doubt

May I accept my doubts.
May I recognize doubts as part of life.
May I understand doubts as sometimes part of a self empowerment process.

May I not run from doubts in myself.
May I not run from doubts in other people.

May I not let my doubts drive me into fear-based decisions.
May I not let other people’s doubts drive me into fear-based decisions.

Instead, may I remember that my doubts are a part of me
that might be need healing or empowerment.
May I give that part of myself love.
May I give that part of myself respect.
May self love and respect heal my doubts, if they need healing.*

May I allow my doubts to bless me,
with power or other gifts.

Though there are times it’s good to validate,
invalidate, or analyze my doubts,
may I take time for simple gentle awareness of them.

May this simple, relaxed observance
allow my cells’ innate wisdom
to guide my whole being, both body and spirit.

Note 1: I added the phrase “if they need healing,” because sometimes a doubt does not need healing. For example, a doubt can be a partial recognition of a truth we haven’t grasped yet. When we honor doubt, instead of trying to “heal” it, we allow space in our consciousness for the partially hidden truth to fully emerge.

Note 2: Here are instructions for the above-mentioned simple gentle awareness. Instead of watching your doubts with a sharp effortful focus that is a tiring strain, rest your attention on your doubts gently, the way your head rests on the pillow at night.

Use the comment field below to tell me your own thoughts about doubts. We all have different experiences. Perhaps yours are so different from mine that they will enlighten me. Or perhaps yours are fairly similar to mine, which would be helpful affirmation for me.

Blessed be, Francesca

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On your life journey, you deserve the best tools. Click here to learn about the Faerie Ritual Set: http://www.outlawbunny.com/2014/06/11/frs/

Druid (Elven) Chant

Yule14BlackThis is a seasonal chant. It can be used not only for the Winter Solstice, but also for winter months subsequent to Yule.

If you recite it, please tell me what happens. Walking through falling snow, I channeled this poem. When the Goddess gave me a line, I chanted it immediately, while continuing my passage beneath a gray snowy sky. The experience was a gift from the Goddess, and doubly joyful when, reaching home, I managed to get a version of it in writing, because now I can share it with you, my fellow seeker (as well as use it again myself). Sharing our journeys blesses me utterly. So it would be wonderful to know your experience with this chant.

And, by the way, it works perfectly well without the snow storm, LOL. You do not need falling snow to use this chant.

Druid (Elven) Winter Solstice Chant
Francesca De Grandis, 2014

With the falling snow,
stars plummet to ground.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I, elf, know my losses.
I, elf, know my losses.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I, elf, know my pains.
I, elf, know my pains.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I, elf, am not trapped by any sorrow.
I, elf, am not destined to mythic melancholy
or an inevitable tragedy of erroneous lore.

Yule25BlackAaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

Stars descend with the falling snow.
The chill and the heat bless me.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

All the power of the stars is mine.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

My powers are from the dark Mother Goddess.
My powers are from the blazing newborn King.
My powers are from the earth’s molten core.
My powers are from the fiery silver stars.
My powers are from the Dragon flame—all cauldron fires are mine.

By my powers, I easily manifest utter connection to my Gods.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

weebossideBy my powers, I easily manifest self.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest beauty.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest self-love.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest usefulness to others.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest peace.

Yule29BlackAaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest fun.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

By my powers, I easily manifest happiness.

By my powers, I easily manifest wealth.

By my powers, I easily manifest health.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I easily manifest connection to all my self.

I easily manifest connection to all things.

I easily manifest integration within myself.

I easily manifest integration within the World Tree.

Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.
Aaahhhhhh, wooooooo.

I easily manifest Faerie.

Aaaaahhhhhhhh.
Wooooooooooo.
Aaaaahhhhhhhh.
Wooooooooooo.

Om.
Om.
Om.

purchsbanr2

Prayer of Forgiveness

Prayer of Forgiveness
How long before I always forgive readily?
Francesca De Grandis, 2007

I ask the butcher, “Carp?”

“Sure,” he says. Immediately dipping his large meaty arm into a fish tank directly behind him, he pulls out a large fish, throws it on the floor, and raises a killing tool. All of this happens within fifteen seconds of me saying, “Carp.”

I am shocked: Unexpected death will happen within seconds. Nevertheless, while the butcher’s arm descends, before he can slaughter the animal, I bless it. “Thank you,” I silently say, “for giving your life to feed me.”

I am surprised, though pleased, that all my years of shamanism kick in more quickly than the merchant’s automatic killing blow.

That night, I eat the fish, with love for it, gratitude, and in peace.

PiloCsStudy

Click painting to see it clearly.

I want to forgive my enemies in the same manner, trust the life cycle of one being dying to feed another—whomever Goddess deems the sacrifice in the cycle of the minute, the hour, the day, the lifetime.

I want to bless my enemies, saying, “Thank you for any way you fed me or not. I eat the results with love for you, gratitude, and in peace.”

This does not always kick in quickly. It seems that I need more years of growth and practice before I automatically forgive. Goddess, if it is your will, make me a person who readily and immediately forgives. And if it is your will, make that change in me right now.

——————————
Want a spiritual counselor who doesn’t rest on her spiritual laurels but keeps growing? Want support doing the same so your life keeps expanding? Make an appointment with me: http://www.outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/

The Ecstatic Path, Serving Community, & False Ego

The Ecstatic Path, Serving Community, and False Ego
A few thoughts, May Day, 2012

Detail, Root Woman, Digital Art, OutlawBunny.

The occult shop I worked in during the 80s had lockers out back, behind the building. Our customers would buy candles, which we would dress (for example, anoint with magical oils), bless, and then burn in the lockers. Some customers requested prosperity blessings, some asked for healing, some for other things.
 
It was such an odd priesthood by some standards, if not utterly dismissed and invalidated. The bunch of grungy lockers with wax dripping all over them was part of something many would consider hokey, outright ridiculous. But it was the real deal—powerful magic, and of service to community.
 
Priesthood (ministry, call it what you will) takes many sincere forms. Some have more prestige than others. But whether one receives a lot of acclaim or none at all, the Gods know when the heart is filled with juicy desire to serve. And this desire fuels our joy constantly. And the Gods bless such a heart. And the Gods know when, instead, the heart is heavily burdened, made sad by a self-deceiving ego-drive to be at the top of the heap. And the Gods bless this heart, too.

Root Woman, OutlawBunny. If you’re interested in a print of this picture, click on it to go to my Talismanic Art Bazaar.

There is no heap. There is only the joyous dance of life and the chance to serve within it. May all we humans learn at deeper and deeper levels to dive into life fully, not mistaking titles and pomp for ecstasy and caring. And may we always know that ecstasy and caring go hand in hand, like lovers. 

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With its recent relaunch, this site is now split between three servers. (I know there are other options, it’s a long and grassroots story.)

http://www.stardrenched.com is mostly for the site’s blog, events announcements, and new additions to the site’s Grimoire. 

Clicking anywhere on the above nav bar, except blog, brings you to the site’s original domain. Among other things, it has all Grimoire entries prior to 2012.

Way back, there wasn’t space for everything (this site is ancient), so some side pages got put on feri.com 

This blog explains it a bit more.

I recently announced the “revitalized site” as “launched” but it’ll take months, maybe  years, to polish the new look, finish updating text, etc. 

I continue to blog at my other site. Two blogs with two separate RRS feeds. Welcome, old visitors and new!

Blessing #2 and Gratitude

Detail, Faerie Landscape, Outlaw Bunny

As the relaunch of this site approaches, I pray to all gods I hold dear, World Tree, the lines which I come from and which I create, and the rest of my Faerie crew, please keep safe and bless this site.

Please keep safe and bless all who support this site through their direct work on it or simply by visiting in good cheer.

Please keep safe and bless me and mine, all my work and all my life.

May this site be maximum fun and beauty, helping cosmos, my Gods, Tree of life, the lineages I come from and which I create, the rest of my Faerie crew, and all beings stay safe, whole, ecstatic.

May this site be maximum service, helping all be safe, whole, ecstatic.

Keep me and my work in your light
that my own light be bright—a beacon.
May all I do and am be a shining beacon
for those who should see it—not a beacon to me,
because I am too frail to carry anyone,
but a beacon leading people to Divinity, as they see it,
that they be loved so fully as to be stardrenched.

May I shine bright in joy.

May I shine free from harm.

May I shine hidden from anyone who’d try to
extinguish my light or otherwise harm me and mine.

May all for whom I am the right spiritual guide find me.

May this site create abundance for me and tribe. 

May this site and all my work
be a welcoming hearth to star-dusted travelers.

May all I do here be according to the Divine Will.

Thank you. So be it.

Dear visitor, a bit of the above blessing is adapted from an earlier prayer I wrote on my other site.

On another note: Humbled by blessings in my life, I had to paint this banner to express gratitude. It hangs in my kitchen. I put it here to send thanks into the universe, to you who bless me—this includes a site visitor who blesses me simply by a single good-willed visit here, whether now or any time since the 90s when the site started.

It is such joy to love my gods, ancestors, and the rest of my community­—the joy of loving a blessing itself.

I feel excited wonder about all the blessings this site has received during our revamp of it, so want to share about that in upcoming blogs.

Thank you for visiting.

Kathi, my webmaster. I painted it in gratitude for and homage to this amazing woman

Blessing This Site

Blessing the revitalization of this site and ever-revitalization of my life. The festival of Imbolc approaches. Brid, all the Gods on my God committee (AKA my pantheon, dear visitor to this site—Faerie Gods, Oxala, Exu, Great Trickster Goddess, and all other gods I hold dear), my ancestors, and the rest of the crew, thank you!! The updated site is not ready to show yet, but I want even our process setting it up blessed and bawdy, holy and fun, and of service. May I remember that being whole and centered and healthy during the huge amount of web work needed on this project is in itself a service to the cosmos, Gods, all humans, all beings. May I be my best for the folks helping renew the site, never letting my worry about or ideals for the site’s renewal interfere with me being supportive and fun.

Thank you for being with us in the months of prep needed to get even this far. You bless me.