Be a Goddess Master Class

A Six-Week Shamanic Training:
Acquire magical and mundane abilities to match any challenge or opportunity.
Open to all
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Feeling powerless? This class will change that.

Already have plenty of power? Rock on! And if you’re not achieving everything you want, take the next step.

You only need one of the following prerequisites:
* completion of the first 12 lessons in my book Be a Goddess!
* completion of first 8 lessons in my book Goddess Initiation
* one of the entry-level classes in the Mystic Rose branch of Third Road

Students need both books on hand during class, for reference purposes. You only need to have read what was required to fulfill one of the above prerequisites.

Been a long time since you’ve read the book you used? That doesn’t matter.

Click here to enroll in the Be a Goddess Master Class.

FaerieRlmWetWPnk99Many readers say Be a Goddess! and/or Goddess Initiation empower them still, even after decades. I’m humbled by their words.

You may be working on different things now, internally and externally, than when you first used one or both of those books. And you’re a different person now.

And my work is tried and true. Build on your past achievements with it to meet your current needs. Here’s how we’ll do that in the Be a Goddess Master Class:

PastelSqThe books’ magic has unpublished facets that are more advanced. They can meet who you are now, in whatever circumstances you’re in now. I’ll teach you that material. The tools you know will acquire a deeper layer of power, which you can apply to your current situations.

You also learn new techniques. Having one of the prerequisites gives you a shamanic foundation, so we can immediately dive into ultra-focused lessons between the worlds. The benefits? Sky’s the limit! I’ll show you how to apply tools from the books—as well as the new tools I teach you!—for whatever you need: prosperity, creativity, or anything else.

Traditional shamanic lessons include individualized attention, which tailors the training to you. Both beginners and adepts love this class. Make real headway in your goals.

Every meeting includes direct spiritual transmissions that increase your magical and mundane abilities to take control of your life.

Also, you receive the following benefits. And, if you’ve accomplished them already, this Master Class helps you do it more so:
* Strengthen your inner guide.
* Honor the deity within.
* Experience profound soul-healing.
* Serve all our relations.
* Ignite the fey-touched joy that makes life worth living.

BaGMCGreenManDon’t spin your wheels with run-of-the-mill material. Be a Goddess Master Class is a circle of power. Expect twice the progress in a fraction of the time you’d spend elsewhere.

Offered once a year at most, this Faerie shamanism training is core Third Road (Third Road is the tradition I teach), and is a prerequisite for Third Road advanced training.

Nuts and bolts:
* Lessons are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone. Long-distance charges may apply. If so, charges appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* Class meets six consecutive Wednesdays from 6:00 to 7:00 pm EST, starting Wednesday May 17.
* Reserve Weds June 28, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Click here to enroll.
* If you’ve taken this class before, repeat it at half-price.
* Upon receipt of payment, your place is reserved. You’ll receive event phone #, etc., by email. If you need more info, or want to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan, call 814-337-2490. No refunds.

Life is extraordinarily beautiful and extraordinarily awful. We don’t have to bury our heads in the sand. We can use shamanism to face difficulties, conquer them, and create beautiful lives. Click here to enroll.

Book of Shadows

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My Fey kin,

Announcing a two-volume Third Road Book of Shadows:

* consisting of two PDF ebooks,

* every page ornamented by my full color shamanic art.

SmBanrFull price for this two-volume Faerie Book of Shadows is $50. Buy it at the special price of $43.

This is easy traditional witchery with substance: Pagan liturgy, inspirational contemplations, prayer,
mystical musings, and other straightforward magics help you live free and create your destiny.

The books aren’t like my texts that require committing to a training. You can think of some of these Book of Shadows entries as relaxed strolls through Fey landscapes. Entries vary in length. Some are a few words, like a quick visit I hope makes you smile … or even giggle mischievously.

I believe these otherworldly moments, which access Third Road shamanism, add beauty, inspiration, and enchantment to the reader’s life.

This project is a deeply personal sharing—intimate glimpses into both my private Faerie journey and my day as a shamanic guide.

Total pages of the two PDFs is 191 pages. My original shamanic art blesses every page, so mote it be!

Book I is The Third Road: a Faerie Shaman’s Book of Shadows. Its magic overflows into Book II: Trickster, with more Third Road Book of Shadows entries, including my pivotal 4000 word essay about trickster energy.

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Trickster is usually portrayed as a conniving deity or person who perpetuates cruel jokes for our own good. The essay details how this is an erroneous view that squelches freedom.

I have an unusual view of trickster. The essay introduces you to the Trickster who’s neither cruel nor conniving. In a kind manner, she opens the door to freedom and joy. This trickster energy betters my private Fey life and work as a shamanic guide in ways not generally considered the sacred clown’s role, even in modern Pagan culture.

You meet the innocent—and often Divine Feminine—Faerie Trickster from whom all powers and joys spring. Divine Feminine Trickster is explicitly discussed in the essay a tiny bit and is implied in all its words.

I share this previously unpublished Trickster material after so many years because it’s pivotal to the immensely effective magic and enchanted Fey qualities people experience in the Third Road tradition of witchcraft.

Below is a sample page. It is not crisp and clear like the actual e-books because this website blurs images. Ditto the books’ covers.

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I set a low price for high value, because I want you able to acquire an enchanted treasure.

If you cannot afford the set: I’m exploring options for low-income folks. More about that in a newsletter.

This set is two digital ebooks: PDFs with all original art by the author. Available only from the author here:
PrchsBanr1

I decided against selling my last few books on Amazon. This is challenging, but some texts need independence. I sell them directly to my beautiful readers and fulfill orders personally.

From my Fey heart to yours,
Francesca De Grandis aka Outlaw Bunny

Gentle Heart, Palm Up

Gentle Heart, Palm Up: A Seven-Week Class
Learn How Soft Openness and Grace
Overcome Challenges & Help You Live the Essential You

This Faerie shamanism class is gentle, peaceful, nurturing, and powerful. Its tools draw on one’s life challenges as a source of finding shamanic power and ability to both peacefully flow through and overcome difficulties.

You step fluidly into and through any darkness, to meet light, hope, and kindness. The training includes innovative techniques to conquer challenges as if in a quiet dance or luxurious dream. The methods are not available elsewhere.

You learn eight principles of surrender—and accompanying methodologies—that keep you from being a cosmic doormat. I think of this class as naptime for spiritual warriors. :-) These principles create fluidity and passion that make you unstoppable.

This teleseminar is multi-leveled, suitable to entry-level beginners and adepts.

Gentle Heart Palm Up is a prerequisite for Third Road advanced shamanic training.

Self-Portrait, Francesca De Grandis, 2012Nuts and bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* Class meets seven Wednesdays, from 6 to 7 PM EST, starting Weds October 19. The Wednesdays are consecutive except we skip Nov 23, which is Thanskgiving eve, then we resume the next week.  
* Reserve Weds December 14, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition: $250. If you’ve taken it before, repeat it at half-price. Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* To register, go here or click the butterfly below.
* Or pay by check or money order.
* Upon receipt of payment, I email you event phone number, etc.
* Call me—814-337-2490—for more info or to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan. Do not email me. Refunds unavailable.

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Shamanic fluidity creates wholeness, joy, prosperity, and connectivity—register now before energy dissipates.

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.

Magic Is Sacred

GdsBlsRtl

My beloved witch,

The Goddess blesses your rituals. I wrote/painted the above picture-poem as the third and last meme in my mini-series about the sacredness and beauty of witchcraft.

The previous two memes are here and here.

(All three memes blurred a bit, because I shrunk the files so their webpages would appear quickly for you.)

I call them poems, though they could be viewed as prose. To me, they’re poems or prose-poems, both in that they are lyric and evoke magic.

I believe one of my jobs as a bard is to evoke magic. I’ve not seen that description of a bard in a historical text, but I know in my bones and past life memories that the Gods choose some bards to create ritual aka bardic poems.

My class lectures are sometimes lyric and other times straightahead prose, but on some level they are still my concept of bardic poetry.

Are you a bard who creates ritual? Or were you chosen to do bardic work other than ritual creation? We all are given such different jobs by the Faerie Queen.

I combine words with art to further the experience. Even when I first started teaching shamanism, class handouts sometimes had my calligraphy and artwork, though they were far more primitive than they are now. But I feel that extra effort added blessings.

I make memes like this not just for my site but also as Book of Shadow pages for myself and students (aka handouts). I’m fascinated with painting borders around my words to add magic for Book of Shadow pages. I even had to paint a border for the newsletter button below this post.

… Oh, if you wonder what the newsletter button has to do with Books of Shadows, bear with my following explanation, since at first it may seem to have no relation to the topic:

Ok, to me a Book of Shadows page points to your day and how you can live it magically. In the same vein, I teach oral tradition—which the written word cannot convey—and you only grasp oral tradition when you use its lessons by living magically in your day. So, in the final analysis, your day is your ultimate Book of Shadows, because it is your life that holds the most magic, not any text. Your life is the real ritual, not the words on any page.

And my newsletter is a doorway into that oral tradition, because it announces upcoming classes. So I can think of one of my newsletter buttons as the front cover to a Book of Shadows. So mote it be.

Since I view life as the ritual, it might seem contradictory that I work hard crafting my words and visually ornamenting them. But I want my pages to be really good pointers to the magic available in the world around us, so they can help me—and hopefully other people—see how to live a day magically. I believe that is why Goddess gave me gifts with words and art. Blessed be.

BoSNwsltrSm

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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Upcoming Training

Update: The day and time of this event has been changed, so you can enroll if the new schedule suits you better. New schedule: we meet seven Sundays, from 4 to 5 PM EST, starting Sunday November 8. Classes are consecutive weeks except we skip November 29, for Thanksgiving weekend. Reserve Sunday Jan 10, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions. Rest of class info is below:

Come Home to the Faerie Queen
A Seven-Week Faerie Shamanism Training

FeyRealm

The Faerie Queen tells us, “I’m Mother of the Faerie Nation. And more of you are awake to your magic now—lovers, warriors, children and elders, changelings, cats in disguise, bards, wolves, gardeners, corporate executives, tricksters, star-children, and many others. Come to me, come home, I will protect you and tutor you until our starlit cells flow back and forth between us like the milky way in all its immense luminosity. You’re awake now, my Faerie children. The new global Fey village has begun.”

This class responds to the Faerie Queen’s call. You’ll create previously impossible possibilities for you, Gaia, and all beings. Honest. The curriculum is the culmination of decades’ work. Rewrite your DNA and break through to the stars.

Faerie Ancestor who is a guardian to this site. Silk Painting, Outlaw Bunny

Faerie Ancestor who is a guardian to this site. Silk Painting, Outlaw Bunny

The Fey-spark in humans re-ignited. Ancient starlit blood came forward till it finally hit critical mass; Faerie magic’s thoroughly awake in many people. This leaves us with new questions and new approaches needed to answer them:

image* Have you sensed shifts in the human/plant/mineral psyche?

* Can you have self-healing, prosperity, and great sex during present times?

image* Do you feel the mystic part of you desperately needed by everyone, including you, right now?

* How can we better use our new/old/undiscovered/shifted powers, both magical and mundane?

image* Do you find Paganism too dogmatic, not pagan enough? Do you long for fellowship that supports your unique vision?

* How can mystics—ranging from activists to quiet magicians—come together to love, celebrate, and protect Gaia? Can Gaia—and ourselves—be happy, or even survive, without such a tribe happening globally?

This class addresses these issues with innovative magic and fresh ideas.

FDG2015ProfileYou also receive lessons to be your style Faerie shaman. There are different places in Faerie, each special. One is your home. This class helps you go home. If you’re already home, you’ll learn (more) about its unique magic and spirituality, and use them practically to empower your mundane life.

This teleseminar is multi-leveled, suitable to entry-level beginners and adepts.

Come Home to the Faerie Queen qualifies as one of the two electives needed before advanced Third Road training.

Nuts and bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* Class meets seven Sundays, from 4 to 5 PM EST, starting Sunday November 8. Classes are consecutive weeks except we skip November 29, for Thanksgiving weekend.
* Reserve Sunday Jan 10, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition: $250. If you’ve taken it before, repeat it at half-price. Your usual long-distance charges apply and appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* Enroll here.
* Or pay by check or money order here.
* Upon receipt of payment, I email you event phone number, etc.
* Call me—814-337-2490—for more info or to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan. Do not email me. Refunds unavailable.

imageIf you want to be part of this experience, enroll now, because I don’t know when I’ll be able to teach it again. It’s maybe been six years since the last time.

If you see someone else’s class that sounds the same, this class is original material. No one teaches it but me.

Faerie holds daily miracles. I trust that.

Enroll here.

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A mystical event is no substitute for medical care by a trained physician, psychiatric counseling, or other therapeutic treatments. Participants are personally responsible for the consequences of their voluntary participation.

TeleSeminar

FAERIE SHAMANISM—AN ECSTATIC PATH
Seven-Week Teleseminar, 2014

Curriculum includes ecstatic ritual, Faerie wisdom, theoretical basics of Celtic Faerie Shamanism, and some of its more complex aspects.

Companion to Great Goddess Diana

Companion to Great Goddess Diana. Francesca De Grandis, 2012

Receive material to help you discover or deepen your Fey magic: Celtic Faerie Shamanism expresses itself differently in every practitioner. My job as a teacher is to help you build that personal expression, while I also offer techniques for your magical tool box.

Are you on a unique journey? The Faerie Shamanism class steadies your feet.

Also learn training practices and moral stances that increase pleasure. Gain the material satisfactions of an ecstatic practitioner and embrace wholeness, without being snared by addictions or illusions.

Suitable to complete novices, yet adepts learn material suited to them.

An Ecstatic Path is Third Road material (AKA channeled by moi, through rigorous yet joyful efforts) and a prerequisite for advanced Third Road training.

Classes are group phone meetings: just dial the phone to participate.

The group meets seven consecutive Wednesdays, 6:00 to 7:00 PM (EST), starting Wednesday, October 1. Reserve Wednesday November 19, same time, for a makeup class in case I am unavailable for one of the planned sessions.

Tuition is $250. You might also pay long-distance charges; it depends on your long-distance plan; charges appear on your phone bill. The area code for the event is a U.S. #.

Do you long for ecstatic experience? Or enjoy life full-tilt but want to take it up a notch? Click here to register online now. You can also pay by check.

Upon receipt of payment, your place is reserved, and event phone #, etc., emailed to you. If you need more info, or want to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan, call 814-337-2490. Do not email me; my disabilities do not allow me to spend enough time at the computer. No refunds.

This class offers experiential wisdom-lessons not taught elsewhere.

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.

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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/

Bickering, Community Service, and Self-Awareness

Part two in a series on supporting newcomers (and oldtimers) in your spiritual community. May, 2013. Part one is on my other site, at http://www.outlawbunny.com/2011/06/14/welcoming-newbies/

A woman phoned me to inquire about my classes. That’s not unusual; I teach oral tradition style, so feel I should be available by phone if someone wants to ask about my work.

She immediately said that very few pagans are hard-working in their spiritual efforts. This is not unusual, either; I hear that sentiment plenty.

After addressing her community critique, I tried to move the conversation past it, but she kept returning to the issue. She is not someone for whom I’d be a good teacher.

It is only human to bond with someone new by denigrating others. But it is a tendency I try to avoid: While it feeds the ego of the two people bonding (they get to feel superior to everyone else in the world), it keeps them from getting any actual work done. I mean the sort of work that happens in my classes: for example, self-examination, self-care, nurturing of ability to serve community, and building shamanic skills. No, I am not the teacher for her.

Fool, tarot card, Francesca De Grandis, 12-03

The fool is about love. Fool, tarot card, Francesca De Grandis, 12-03

When first working as a spiritual counselor in an occult shop, I received a pretty big shock. I’d been guiding folks in a private practice, mostly by referral. Suddenly I was thrown onto the front lines. Someone would come to the shop to consult with me because their daughter had just died. Or their 14-year-old son had gotten somebody pregnant. Or their husband beat them.

I went home and threw out my lofty new age abstractions. I threw out my Celtic cross spread, at least for most of the shop appointments. (For those of you who don’t know the spread, it makes for a complex lengthy session.) A lot of these shop sessions were only ten minutes long. After that my boss pressed the buzzer: Time’s up!

I sat in my home and started coming up with very fast spreads that would tune me into the heart of the client’s issue(s) and the essence of the advice they needed. I compiled a list of community resources: contact information for women’s shelters, teen crisis counseling, etc. I honed my inner skills more than ever so that I’d sense a client’s needs stat.

I was a working minister.

Decades later now. As then, not all my work is with trauma survivors. Often, I help people with more “everyday” concerns,” as well as train folks in shamanism, other esoteric skills, creativity, and marketing. But I’m definitely always on the frontlines: in community, with a busy schedule of counseling and teaching.

I mention being a shop employee and my ensuing work because: I’ve rarely gotten involved in pagan debates; I am too busy! Mind you, I discuss my work with other front-line ministers who can help me polish my shamanic skills, not burn out, and otherwise address my work. But I do not want to be criticized because of theoretical issues that have little basis and are thrown on the table by angry people with no understanding of what I am really up against on the ministerial front lines.

When we’re busy looking at our own faults, polishing our own skills, taking care of ourselves, and serving community, we don’t have time to unnecessarily criticize people.

Criticism is appropriate sometimes. Each of us needs to be held accountable by community. And healthy debate is joyfully welcomed in my classes because fresh perspectives rise.

The sort of criticism that I’d like to see less of is the endless picayune bickering that seems to produce little. Hmm, well, it produces swollen egos, draws the limelight, hurts sincere seekers whether newbie or oldtimer, and silences timid souls. Important sidebar: It hurts the newbies not only because they feel rejected but also because it encourages them to behave in kind.

Even as an oldtimer, I can feel hurt and invalidated, when people get so riled up and so angry and bitter; and behind their words is the statement, “I am better than you, I am better than you, I am better than you.” And behind that statement is their primary one: “Go climb in a hole so that your sincere efforts don’t shame me any longer.” This can be devastating to newbies who are ardent seekers with hearts wide open!

Those kind of arguments and the comments of that person who phoned me are also tantamount to saying about the person being criticized, “You are the ‘other.’ You are ‘one of them,’ so you are not as worthy of love and respect. I do not have to treat you with caring and decency because you do not have the same vulnerabilities as me.”

Now, if this post ends now, my mental meandering amounts to me just being another superior jerk. But I am going somewhere productive (I hope):

It felt important to paint a recognizable picture of high-handed community strife and its outcome for three reasons:

1) If you avoid insane community debate, you still might be uber-critical of other pagans (or someone else) within the confines of your own mind. When I find myself doing that, it’s time for a good look at myself. Internal criticism (perhaps a running commentary on the superiority of others, lol) has the same impact on me as it would were I voicing it online. Same impact, dude! I might be avoiding looking at my own errors or avoiding responsibility, to either community or self.

Feeling superior is more comfortable than looking at my own faults. And superiority can, oddly enough, make me feel safer than self-care. And superiority is safer than getting out into the world to try to make a difference. You avoid the endless, high-handed criticism of I-know-better-than-everyone-else idlers who are likely to pursue you once you try to make a diff in the world.

2) Angry superiority is what many newcomers first see. Or we might meet newbies with a subtle version of the same thing. I want to make a practice of examining myself for this. For example, is my ego playing out in a more subtle manner? Goddess, when someone inquires about my work, keep me humble, welcoming, self-aware, and focused on love and service. Goddess, at all times, keep me humble, welcoming, self-aware, and focused on love and service.

3) If you are afraid of getting into the pagan community because of what you see, now you know i see it too. You are not alone. Please realize there are people who do not bicker. We aren’t as vocal because we’re busy living. If you ask the Universe to guide and inspire you, you will find us.

And, with us, you can work and dance and celebrate the Gods. Because we are pagan to the bone. Heathens, celebrating the stars, the earth, the seasons, ourselves, and each other.

You will find us. We are here. I am like you.