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.

DNA and Ancestral Ritual

DNA Science and magic meet. I won’t choose between mysticism and science. They can feed each other.

My ancestors are spiritually important to me. So I’m combining science and spirit in a deeply personal way: I ordered an AncestryDNA test kit.

A mystic, I travel through the blood in my veins, back through time, to discover the ancient ways my family once practiced. Today, the logical rational side of me does the same by spitting into a vial. This test tube becomes a chalice that arrived by mail, enclosed in plastic. Two supposedly disparate halves of me come together to feed my spirit.

I mailed my saliva, part of my sacred body, to scientists, who will analyze it to reveal my ethnic background. They’ll go back through many generations, the same way my meditations have. Their work will expand my otherworldly travels.

The lab analysis will determine where my ancestors hail from, based on a science my layperson’s mind can’t understand, no matter how much experts explain it.

Many scientists would be equally puzzled by my ability to uncover historical information by meditating on my blood. I have my expertise, they have theirs. I get to draw on both.

A relationship with my ancestors, in ritual and daily life, is pivotal to me. They lovingly support me. And I tend them. Trance journeys give me a strong intuitive sense of my ancestors. The DNA results can help me know whether my intuitions are correct.

It would be fine to trust my intuition without the DNA results. (Check out my blog about that: Mysticism and Non-Academic Scholarship.) But corroboration is useful.

Science can support my spirituality in other ways, too.

For one, I come from a European shamanic family tradition. Some of my family history has been lost. I’m hoping DNA will fill in gaps.

For example, I might see how major societal events impacted my family’s past generations to shape the family’s spirituality. That familial story could provide context to better understand my own path.

Luck allowed me to gather a staggering amount of anecdotal evidence about my ancestors. Information from relatives, and from strangers I don’t know but who have my last name, and from other sources, provided enormously convincing material, when looked at as a whole. I believe anecdotal evidence is part of folk culture and one source of the old wise ways. This fecund anecdotal evidence can be augmented with DNA science.

For example, the DNA test might help me gather more anecdotal evidence, if it leads to relatives I hadn’t learned about previously. They might know family history I don’t.

DNA results could also be a jumping off point for more ancestral rituals. I love the wisdom of ancient cultures, and appreciate reenactment whether based in textbooks’ history or intuited history. I revere native and ancestral spiritual practices. These leanings feed my desire for DNA info about my ancestral roots.

I can best explain another reason for wanting a test by telling you a personal story.

A friend of mine was part of a DNA study. Before continuing the story, let me be clear: I’m not part of any study. My test kit is from AncestryDNA. They’re not experimenting on me, and their tests results do not show an ancestral timeline such as you’ll read about in my friend’s tale. I checked out some companies, and AncestryDNA seems to give the most comprehensive results. If you’re interested, their kit is also easy to use.

Back to my story:

My friend phoned me one day, and exclaimed rapturously, “I got the DNA results. My family originated in Egypt!”

Then she added, “My later ancestors migrated to Greece. Guess where else my ancestors migrated to?”

I responded, “Mongolia?”

There was a long pause. Then she said, in a stunned voice, “That’s right! How did you know?”

“It was obvious. Your immense love for Egyptian religions motivated you to become an Egyptian scholar, devoted to reviving ancient Egyptian spiritual practices, which became part of your personal devotions. Later, you seriously worked with Greek Gods. Then, you channeled material that had no geographical basis, as far you knew, but later found out that the material resonated with documented Mongolian traditions.”

I continued, “Your family only told you about your Caucasian Irish lineage. But your earlier ancestors influenced your mystical life. Your spiritual quest this lifetime follows the migration of your ancestors, step by step!”

The point of my story: I want to know if my DNA matches my various spiritual leanings.

There can be valid reasons we’re drawn spiritually to cultures we were not raised in. Our DNA might be one of those reasons. I don’t hold with the idea that you should only use the spiritual tools of your obvious ancestors.

Mind you, I am not okaying co-option. I’m saying legitimate cross cultural shamanism exists.

That legitimacy is hard to come by. It would take a whole book to explain how to pull it off ethically and otherwise, so I won’t get into it here, except to say:

By “cross-cultural shamanism,” I don’t mean “core shamanism,” AKA the idea that shamanism is primarily the same in all cultures. I disagree with the modern standardization of shamanism.

My experience is that shamans individualize according to cultural differences, and way past that, individualizing family by family and person by person.

My personal definition of legitimate cross-cultural shamanism is an ethical, thoughtful blend of earth based mysticism as it manifests in various cultures.

Moving on:

I am a little worried. With adventure, comes fear of the unknown: am I going to like the DNA test results?

But mostly I’m excited about the DNA adventure I am embarking on.

And I feel gratitude for science and magic.

When the DNA results arrive, I’ll post them here, and share how it impacts my mystical journey.
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Note: I first posted this blog May 2015 at http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven.html and post it again here for those of you who tend to read me here.
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NewsPrpl

Lenormand Giveaway

Update: Both decks mentioned below have been claimed. But I’ll keep giving away Tarot, Lenormand, or other divination decks til all the decks are gone. So stay tuned to my blogs, at http://stardrenched.com and http://www.outlawbunny.com/blog/ End of update.
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Today’s giveaway is Mystical Lenormand by Regula Elizabeth Fiechter and Urban Trosch.

I have two Mystical Lenormand decks to give away.
MystclLnrmBackstory: Thirty years as a spiritual counselor has led me to use a wide variety of decks. But when gifted a huge collection of divination decks recently, I decided to pass on the handful that don’t resonate with me. I only keep decks I’d use. End of backstory.

The Mystical Lenormand decks are in good condition. I didn’t check whether all the cards are there, though I imagine they are. But then, I’m happy to read with an incomplete set, because it makes the deck unique.

To spread the bounty, I’m only giving one deck from this collection per person.

You don’t even pay shipping. This is a complete giveaway. Giveaway blesses the giver.

Do you want a Mystical Lenormand deck? Instructions:

1) In the comment field below, write the name of the deck: Mystical Lenormand
2) Email me a postal address (U. S. non-military address only) to which I can ship the deck.
3) Include your phone number in the email, in case I have trouble shipping. My email address is outlawbunny at outlawbunny.com
4) Put “Mystical Lenormand” in the subject field of the email.

Important: If two people already wrote the name of the deck in a comment field, it’s not necessarily too late for you. Often, people will do part one of the instructions, then forget to do the rest. First two people to do all four steps of the instructions receives the decks.

I’ll update this post to let everyone know when the decks have been claimed.

I’ll give away another Tarot, Lenormand, or other divination deck soon, and will keep doing it til all the decks are gone soon. The next few months, stay tuned to both my blogs for the giveaways: http://stardrenched.com and http://www.outlawbunny.com/blog/

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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/

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/

Giveaway Blanket

Update on the post below: Someone has already claimed the Tarot deck. But I’ll lay out the blanket again soon with another Tarot, Lenormand, or other divination deck, and will keep doing it til all the decks are gone. So the next few months, stay tuned to both my sites’ blogs for the giveaways: this site’s new blogs always appear at http://stardrenched.com , and my other site’s blogs at http://www.outlawbunny.com/blog/

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Welcome to my giveaway blanket.

I was gifted a wonderful collection of Tarot, Lenormand, and other divination decks. Different people need different decks. So I’m passing on the handful of the decks that don’t suit for me.

You don’t even pay shipping. This is a plain old-fashion giveaway blanket.

The first deck on the blanket is the Llewellyn Tarot Deck. It is in mint condition, though unboxed and without an instruction booklet. I suspect it’s not been used, or used a few times.

I didn’t check whether all the cards are there, though I imagine they are. But then, I’m happy to read with an incomplete set, because it makes the deck unique.

The following photo shows a few cards and the cards’ back.

LlwlnTarot

Btw, if you do an image search on Google, using “llewellyn tarot deck” as the parameters, you’ll see a lot of its other cards, to better help you decide if this is a deck for you.

I want to spread the bounty by only giving one deck per person.

Do you want this deck? Here are the instructions:

1) In the comment field below, write the name of the deck: Llewellyn Tarot Deck
2) Email me a postal address (U. S. non-military address only) to which I can ship the deck.
3) Include your phone number in the email, in case I have trouble shipping. My email address is outlawbunny at outlawbunny.com
4) Put “Llewellyn Tarot Deck” in the subject field of the email.

Important: First person to do all four steps of the instructions receives the deck. If someone’s already written the name of the deck in a comment field, it’s not necessarily too late for you. Often, people will do part one of the instructions, then forget to do the rest.

I’ll update this post to let everyone know when the deck’s been claimed.

I’ll lay out the blanket again with more decks soon. So the next few months, stay tuned to both my sites’ blogs for the giveaways: this site’s new blogs always appear at http://stardrenched.com , and my other site’s blogs at http://www.outlawbunny.com/blog/

I love setting out giveaway blankets, because they free me. To reiterate what I said in another giveaway post: Giveaway expands me, out into the stars. Yeehaw!

Two Prayers for the Sacred Marketplace

This is a follow up to last week’s blog.

image

I wrote this prayer to help me be the best possible merchant of sacred goods and services. I never say it unless I follow it with “Merchant Prayer to Oxala,” which is below. Context for both prayers are in last week’s blog. But first, the prayer above, in case you cannot see it in its graphic:

Hermes, Mercury, Exu, open the road and gate to my profession today, that I may serve. Open the road and gate within my heart today, that I may serve. Open the road and gate, today, for the person whose needs and goals are well met by my particular shamanic skill set. Guide my day in the divine marketplace, today. Help me be a sacred merchant, today. Help me try and try and try, today, for to be a professional shaman who is well-serving community means to ever be resurrected, both in my private life and daily in my commitment to the market place.

I, personally, almost never pray to Exu without prayer to Oxala. So I wrote an Oxala prayer to say after my Exu merchant prayer. You might recognize phrases and concepts from my past writing, because I’m committed to refining, building on, and expanding on my spirituality. The version of the prayer in the graphic is a briefer version than the text below it:
OXlaPryr1

Merchant Prayer to Oxala

Oxala, please,
help me surrender to you.
Help me surrender to you.
Help me surrender to you.

Oxala, please,
help me know in my cells, each moment, that surrender to you is power and peace.
Help me know in my cells, each moment, that surrender to you is power and peace.
Help me know in my cells, each moment, that surrender to you is power and peace.

Please, clear the roads of obstructions.
Clear the roads of enemies.
Clear the roads.

Please, smooth the roads,
making my passage easy to travel.

Please, help me know in my cells, each moment, that surrendering to you allows me your smooth easy roads along which I can travel in power, peace, and success.

Oxala, you made all creation. Please help me know in my cells, each moment, that, surrendering to you, your power of creation is mine.

Grant me the wisdom that, no matter what I ask you for, I accept the moment I am in—the moment you actually send me—and know it, in my cells, as ideal.

Grant me peace.

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Here’s a description of my shamanic counseling sessions, and you can schedule online: http://www.outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/

Hiding, Healing, Power. Pt 2

If you missed part one, here it is: http://stardrenched.com/2012/06/13/hiding-healing-power/

Faerie art, Francesca De Grandis

Hiding - Fey Strega in Training

Hiding, Healing, Power. Part two
Written and painted in March and/or early April, 2012.

This little Italian girl is another example of someone hiding. Why do you think she is hiding?

Dear site visitor, I want you to see the Faerie tale illustrations at their best. When WordPress shrinks a pic to fit the page, it blurs. Please click on a painting to see it unblurred; it makes a real difference.

Everyone who hides has a story. What is yours? It is okay if you hide some of it.

Here is part of hers (she wants to hide the rest): When she first hid, she had a pretty place in her mind. She started building it. First, she made the window frame you see her peeking out of.

She lived behind it with her Faerie cat. She giggled there a lot. The cat dozed in brilliant shafts of sun light that came through the window. As she slept, she dreamt up schemes for the little girl. They had many adventures, and no one saw. Except other Faeries. So many giggles!

It took a long time, a lot of work, and a lot of hiding to build more. (Sometimes you hide to find quiet magic, so that you can even imagine secret places in your mind.)

For years, all she had was that window frame to hide behind. But it kept her safe. I mean, look at all the detail she put into it!

Little Bunny in a Tea Cup. Available as a limited first edition print. For more info, click on the picture

And by the time she had grown up, her home was finished.

Faerie art, Francesca De Grandis

Want to know what adventures she had as a grown up? I’ll post part 3 in two weeks here. I blog once a week, and am alternating between this blog and the blog at my other site. Two blogs with two separate RRS feeds.

Please use the nifty Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ buttons, right below, to share my Faerie tale. Thank you for your support, it’s the only way many folks will know about my new story and refurbished site (the site you are on has been updated lately with a new look and all sorts of other new stuff).  I cannot do it without you! If you do not see the buttons, you’re viewing this blog entry on my site’s home page. Just click this http://stardrenched.com/2012/06/27/hiding-healing-power-pt-2/

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!