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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Faerie Lammas Ritual 2015

Lms2015

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

Oral Tradition’s Importance

The society that murdered thousands of witches also hid the nature of oral tradition, burying even a hint of its immense power to remove our shackles.

OrlTradSqSm

I’m a dinosaur, but will not give up teaching oral tradition. Its power is needed.

The trend is online classes. There is also some good money to be made there for teachers. But I’m committed to oral tradition, so teaching online isn’t an option. It’s not oral tradition, at least not as I know it.

Mind you, I leave each person to their own definition, and I support each Pagan’s choice of teaching methods. I’m not here to debate what is or isn’t oral tradition, or what teaching method is best.

Instead, here I’m discussing my commitment to the indescribable experience of glory and power conveyed only through a certain style of teaching, whether you call it oral tradition or Francesca’s style or George. :-)

It’s interesting I used the words “indescribable experience.” The term oral tradition was originally used (in part) because there was no point in writing it down. No record could possibly convey it—it was indescribable.

The indescribable beauty and freedom of a lifestyle informed by oral tradition keeps me committed to it.

Beyond my students’ note-taking during classes, any record distorts—and might even corrupt—the original transmission. I don’t allow recordings of my oral transmissions. Nor do I provide transcriptions of them. Sometimes I ask people to refrain from taking notes.

Oral tradition can happen by phone (known as teleseminars). That is the medium I mostly use to teach. We transcend time and space to walk between the worlds together.

Past life memories tell me a communal knowledge of oral tradition was exterminated centuries ago: A society driven to murder thousands of witches also hid the nature of oral tradition, to bury even a hint of its immense power to free us from external and internal shackles. Thus, oral tradition is tangential to how our society as a whole represents it. It is not a discussion group, therapy group, or support group.

You know what? I don’t think I’ll call myself a dinosaur. I’m actually a gorgeous, powerful dragon. The gems in my dragon hoard are the treasures of oral tradition. I’ll keep sharing them, while my dragon tail encircles them and my students from those who would rob us of this heritage.

I don’t expect anyone to believe oral tradition provides benefits and beauty that cannot be received elsewhere, until they experience it firsthand. Something happens I can’t describe here—there’s that word “description” again—because it cannot be explained in writing, it must be experienced.

Technology’s seamless integration into our lives makes tech an extension of a person to some degree, but that does not turn online exchanges into legitimate oral tradition. I do not know a way to transmit oral teachings via vid chat, even if no record of it is kept. Once again, explaining that is beyond the limits of the written word.

No one can understand my underlying reasoning for my position unless they talk with me … talk, as in oral tradition.

Many people have been shocked or puzzled because I’m a best-selling author whose phone number is on her webpage. As hard as I am work writing books that transform lives—I’ll spend a decade writing a single book, because my standard is sky high—I work even harder on oral tradition, because my Gods told me to center there. As powerful as my books are—there are few better—my oral teachings are even more powerful. I love living in oral tradition.

So I put my phone number out there. 814.337.2490. For one thing, some people need a taste of oral tradition to know whether they want to work with me.

To enter oral tradition with you represents a willingness on both our parts to show up—take responsibly for the moment and be present in it. Then unparalleled magic fills us.

I’m blessed by students who take responsibility for their lives. Some live in the now so fully that they make a long-term commitment to learning my oral teachings, so we can moment after moment after moment create mind-boggling changes in our lives.

It’s hard to make that commitment. But even if they have insane schedules, relentless financial pressure, or other enormous, daily demands, they make time. Lo, their schedules become less crazy, the demands get fewer, the pressure relents, and they move into their dream lives. Oral tradition is about living life to the max.
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Upcoming Teleseminar

Update: This class has been rescheduled. I hope our starting it a few weeks later than intended, and moving it from Thursday to Friday, makes it possible for you to attend this extraordinary event, since it won’t occur again for three years.
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Sleep and Other Gods—Applied Pantheism; Life as a Fey-Druid

Nurture your ability to hear Nature’s music. Join its song to heal and empower self, Gaia, and the Tree of Life.

Safe and Powerful, digital painting, Francesca De Grandis. 2013

Safe and Powerful, digital painting, Francesca De Grandis. 2013

For decades, I’ve practiced what I’ve privately defined as Applied Pantheism or Faerie Taoism. I share these personal terms now, because I want to teach more of my Druidic material to fellow seekers.

My loving, protective Gods seem to arrange a flow whereby special people visit this site. So, though some people glibly choose pantheism to avoid inner growth or spiritual rigor, I think you’re like me—wanting the full pantheistic possibility. I created this curriculum for you.

The written word can’t describe oral tradition lessons. And the attempt makes the lessons sound shallow or easily gotten elsewhere. Or what you already know. Or it sounds like hype. Nevertheless, I’ll give a few examples of what we’ll address:
* Relaxed, easygoing interaction with plants, stones, and animals, for guidance, nurturance, company, and mutual aid
* Your innate—but possibly untapped or not completely used—ability to find soul nourishment in Fey realms
* The exact pantheist modalities you personally need for maximum inner transformation
* Courage to serve community joyfully (even when “haters gonna hate”).

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

Nuts and bolts:
* These are group meetings by phone. To participate, just dial the phone from anywhere.
* The class meets seven consecutive Fridays, noon to 1:00 E.S.T., starting Friday April 11.
* Reserve Friday, May 30, same time, for a makeup class in case I’m unavailable for one of the planned sessions.
* Tuition is $250. Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill. The event’s area code is a U.S. #.
* Register online at http://www.well.com/user/zthirdrd/specialevent.html
* Or pay by check or money order.
* Upon receipt of payment,
I email you event phone number, etc.
* Scholarship and work trade available. Refunds unavailable.
* Call me—814-337-2490—for more info or to discuss scholarship, trade, or payment plan. Do not email me.
* Participants are personally responsible for the consequences of their voluntary participation.

Want to be immersed in the immense love available through applied pantheism? Register now.

Turning the Wheel

Turning the Wheel through Personal Myth
Santa, Squirrels, and More

Backstory: I live in faerie tales. This lifetime, I’ve never heard of turning the year wheel with one’s personal myth (in this context, I mean a myth of one’s own making or a myth not generally perceived as related to the year wheel). I remember it from past lives.

Below, you will not find a theoretical exposition on turning the year wheel with one’s personal myth. I prefer to live in my faerie tales, not in my (albeit fabulous) theories. So, I share a little piece of my myth here. You mystics are smart—you don’t need someone lecturing theory at you from on high; mystics usually learn more watching—and feeling—how people actually embody their theories. Equally important, when I talk about my adventures, some people join me in them—I long for shared escapades.

Telling my own myth is no suggestion that it is the best one for you, or the right way for you to turn the wheel. End of backstory.

I blog about Yule starting in September. It is not the crass commercialism of stores that promote Christmas items way too early. It’s actually the opposite; it rescues me from holiday madness.

In Autumn, squirrels gather nuts to store for the winter. In the same vein, I plan my dark months in Sept or Oct. (I have been planning my dark months in the autumn for decades, so cannot remember whether I made the practice up or was taught it.)

According to Chinese philosophy, unresolved issues are more likely to bubble up from the subconscious in the winter. Experience has taught me that, if I do not plan my dark months before they start, I lose my mooring, and easily sink into holiday frenzy, codependent gift-giving, etc.

Every September or October, I get in touch with what I truly want for the fall and winter this year. Eg, Do I need to focus on a major inner healing? If so, is there a theme I can use for the healing rituals? Do I want to decorate the house for the holidays? If so, a little or a lot? Which holidays do I want to celebrate? Do I have the time to cook for the holidays? And so on.

It’s not that I stick to these plans rigidly. But when I lose my center, the plans helps me regain it. Then I can make sane decisions.

An additional piece of my process is relevant to why I blog about Yule so early. As I said, I live in Faerie tales. They are often myths of my own creation. One is that I am a Yule elf. Come autumn, Santa’s elves are very busy planning what’s going to happen over the next few months.

This planning, including what I’ll craft the next few months to put in Santa’s bag, aka my Etsy shop, is part of my turning the wheel of my personal year. I am an artisan, not a manufacturer, so fall—at latest!—is when I need to start planning and making the handful of items I will add to my shop before Yule.

I blog from the heart. I start blogging and posting from the North Pole as early as September. I want to share my real life—the day-to-day of my myths.

I am also spared holiday madness because, being one of Santa’s elf, I instead can spend the dark time focusing on service: I focus on the joy of crafting goods in the North Pole’s elven workshop, high quality craftsmanship, purposeful creativity, and Yule elf tweets/blogs/posts that help people smile during holiday grumpiness. I also get true holiday joy from my absurdly happy Yule elf meditations and costumes. I am turning my personal year wheel, connecting with the season of Mama Earth.

(I mentioned being a Yule elf as a myth of my own creation. I do not have space in this post to thoroughly portray what I’ve created about Yule elves. Nor could a library of printed word hold it because 1) some things can only be conveyed in oral tradition and 2) some things are so integrated into one’s life that they become too extensive to thoroughly share in words alone. But a lot of what I created plays out in my meditations, which feels important to say because, when we take time to really sink into our mythic stories meditatively, we can live them the rest of the day.)

More of how my myth turns the wheel:

Most of the year, I am in my tinker’s wagon, traveling between the worlds. I am a shut-in but my wheelchair has wings, and so do I. Astrally-traveling shamanic guide and fey artisan.

When weather gets cold, I retreat to Santa’s warm, cozy workshop. I still counsel and teach, from my snug Arctic home.

Claus is in my pantheon. So I pray to him any month. One way I turn the wheel through myth is, the past few years, I’ve made my winter plans by writing a letter to Santa in September about what I want for the dark months.

Every year, I have new elven adventures. And my other myths grow a bit. All my faerie tales are more extensive than this post. And are deeply personal. But I risk posting bits online for two reasons.

Telling my myth is a fun way for this shut-in to share her wanderings.

I am dedicating to helping my students find and/or further evolve personal myths, and live them fully to connect with Mama Earth and Divinity. I posted today in hopes I might do that a bit for my dear site visitors. For one thing, I believe that speaking my life supports starry-eyed seekers to trust their own unique mythic being.

EtsyBotmBnrYule

The Faerie Queen’s Innocence

The Unseelie Queen and her pawns would have us give our anger supremacy: They would have us fuel our anger with pseudo-morality, the same angry false righteousness that makes pseudo-Christians betray Christ’s message of love.

imageAnger has its place. It should not be suppressed. Nor should its good power be ignored.

But it too often permeates, perhaps subconsciously, many a pagan’s being, many a pagan tradition. It corrodes their magic, until there is none left—none—and they are left only with the pretense of it and childish boasts of power.

I train my students rigorously in magical technique, but it is not enough in itself. I received impeccable magical training, but my magic could not withstand my anger if it were made supreme.

But we have a choice. We can acknowledge and honor our anger, then let it go. Because when we do, we become sure in our guts that we deserve a place with the Faerie Queen and Seelie Court. It cannot be an intellectual exercise—you have to experience letting go of anger to have gut knowledge of the following:

Anger made supreme is a trap the Unseelie set us. When we release anger, to make love supreme, supreme in our cells, the Faerie Queen’s magic and innocence and love flood us. All our green fantasies, and wishes to see the unseen, come true. We feel, feel, note the word “feel,” we will feel the magic that most people can only imagine as part of a dream. Feel it in our waking hours. We will walk the path through enchanted woods. We will feel the World Tree as our safe home.

In other words, we will be magic. That is what happens when a pagan soul relinquishes anger and owns the love in their heart.

Footnote: This material came to me, right before bedtime, day #1 of the Hundred People direct spiritual transmission. But “material” is an insufficient word because, along with insight, was a breathtaking breakthrough experience, more transformative than any realization.

Giving the weeklong transmission caused me many beautiful learning experiences. Posting about only one of them might make that one incorrectly seem more pivotal than the others. But this is the only one I felt guided by my Gods to discuss at length online, thus far.

Have you had a magical Fey experience that substantiates mine or is otherwise relevant? Please post it below. I’d love to read it. And it will support other site visitors.

CnslingBotmBnr2

Connectivity, Ecstasy, Service

If we believe in the pantheist or Taoist principle of all things being connected, we walk our talk by serving all things. As an ecstatic, I find heart-rendering joy through service.

We are part of a great weave. Call it the World tree, the dance of life, the Tao—call it Fred. We can be codependent in this weave, or we can have boundaries but still be within it. We can fight it, or we can be fed by. And we can surrender to it.

Surrender can be just a fancy pompous word unless we are of service. There are other ways one must follow through on the notion of surrender for it to actually be surrender, but for now let’s focus on service.

But before we do, I need to add an aside: I am not suggesting we must perfectly attain any of the ideals I set forth here. I would be a hypocrite to suggest I have anywhere near attained these ideals myself. I do cleave to these ideals, and do my best to achieve them (though my best is often poor), and this is all my Gods ask of me.

Okay, back to service. We can serve the weave. My belief and experience is that, if we believe the Taoist or pantheist principle of all things being connected, we walk our talk by serving all things. Serving community, serving Gaia, serving all of life, serving family, serving one’s spiritual tradition(s) and spiritual teacher(s) and spiritual student(s), serving one’s Gods.

We must also serve self, self is part of the weave. Sometimes, we best serve by serving self alone. For example, when we are ill or need to build courage to serve others. Or when we simply need time alone to enjoy ourselves.

Ultimately, to be part of the weave, we serve in surrender. I often forget that. In other words, when my Gods ask me to do something, I often try to set about doing it my way instead of Theirs. But to really do that which my Gods ask me, I must also implement it the way They ask. (Oh, my, in this essay, surrender becomes service becomes surrender.)

When we serve, we align ourselves within the weave, we start flowing with it. We start being fed by it in ways that we cannot otherwise. There is healing and empowerment not otherwise available.

What’s more, we experience connectivity so sublime that it is orgasmic. Literally orgasmic. I have great orgasms because I am of service.

I painted this blessing  banner quite a while ago, but post it here bc it is in the spirit of my prayer.

I painted this blessing banner quite a while ago, but post it here bc it is in the spirit of my prayer.

Being of service is truly pagan, it’s not a wimpy trait, it is part of ecstasy. Not only ecstasy between the sheets but also an ecstatic way of life—being joyfully within the weave whether it’s with your family, your coworkers, a beautiful summer day, or the stars in the sky.

I am blessed to feel connected to every star in the universe and know the thrill of all starlight radiating around me, with me, through me. I know this weave because I am blessed to be of service.

My prayer: Gods, I know that serving is a blessing to me, because all things come from you—my breath, my ability to rise in the morning, my joy, my serving. Everything of me is from you. So do not let me think that my service to others makes me superior. Getting the chance to serve others makes me very very lucky! It is to you I must turn if I want to serve: I pray, please bless me with the power to serve—including the willingness to serve. And bless me with the humility to serve in surrender—when You set me a task, help me implement it the way You ask.

CnslingBotmBnr

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.

Spirituality, Small Groups, and Promotion

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

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

Been in an interesting process. Wld luv yr insights.

I was in a position to blog at HuffPo. After mega-deliberation, I decided that it’s not for me, at least not yet. (I’m not anti corporate media: I watch tv and movies, published with HarperCollins, scripted a segment for a major tv network, enjoy YouTube, etc.)

Interestingly enough, after my decision re HuffPo and some other corporate media, I was asked to blog for Dharma Trading Co. And I have absolutely loved working with them! Their audience is nowhere near the size of HuffPo‘s, but it feels right.

Yesterday, Anne Newkirk Niven, editor of Sagewoman and other pagan rags, asked me to blog for her. I was given a choice between blogging for http://witchesandpagans.com, which has 30,000 Facebook likes, or the soon-to-be blog for Sagewoman (7000 likes) that will become part of the larger witchesandpagans site.

After looking at the site, praying, and meditating, I chose Sagewoman. That might seem the poor promotional choice, because I don’t know if it means less readers. You’re supposed to get as many readers as possible, right? But numbers aren’t everything.

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

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

Narrowing my focus sometimes implements one of my life goals: authentic connectivity, which can require a community I get to know.

I am not saying that no one gets to know anyone at witchesandpagans.com. I am not saying I chose Sagewoman in order to narrow my focus. In fact, I am not stating here why I chose Sagewoman. My process of choosing Sagewoman was complex—and partially sheer intuition—and I do not fully understand it yet, so will not try to outline it here. My point is: I made my choice despite the possible numbers, and the choice is in keeping with my life goals. I am not making a pronouncement on what is “right,” I am just sharing my process. Speaking of which:

I do not strive to be queen of the witches. I want deep connection so that, whether in print or in oral tradition, we can get spiritual work done. Am i knocking big numbers? No. There are types of spiritual work you can do in big numbers. There are types of authentic connection that can happen in big numbers. (I must say, though, that big numbers too often consist of folks spouting off about how much they know, telling you how superior they are to you, and decrying the pagan they now think is a jerk.) When going for large numbers feels right and honorable, I do it. The rest of the time, I do work that requires smaller groups. I usually limit class enrollment, for just that reason.

What do you think of all this? My process is terribly against-the-grain in some ways, so I wld love your thoughts, whether you post them here or on Facebook.

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No Need to Fit In!

People trying to decide if I’m the right guide for them often say, “I’m eclectic, so I don’t know if I’ll fit into what you teach.”

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Detail. Faerie Realm, silk painting, Francesca De Grandis

Oh dear! It is terrible that the prevalence of bad teachers requires that issue to even come up.

Most of my students are eclectic. I am, too. Those who look for the core of reality, the heart of magic, and the essence of mysticism do not want to be boxed in by labels (Wicca, hedge witch, Druid, Taoist, Christian), and are not looking for ego-feeding titles. They are drawn to teachers who, whatever their path, support students to find their own idea—and experience—of the core of reality, heart of magic, and essence of mysticism. I hope I’m one such teacher.image

During our lessons, we transcend labels and titles, to focus on finding our individual beliefs, personal myths, and shamanic gifts. If folks already have them, I help them polish their personal approach, even if they’re already master level.

Magic, Spirit, and life cannot be standardized.

I do tend to call my classes “Wicca” or “Faerie.” I’m of the generation in which “Wicca” and “Faerie” referred to (among other things) individualized earth-spirituality. Unfortunately, nowadays, those terms are often used rigidly, to denote a set liturgy and belief system, which invalidates many beautiful Gaia lovers.

You’re not alone if you’ve faced invalidation. When first teaching (eek, that was in the eighties!), I thought I knew the one true way. Then I realized my students were my peers and fellow travelers. Guess what? After explaining I wld no longer support a hierarchy, imageI lost many of my students, they migrated to a fundie tradition of fey magic. I was devastated, stunned that people I loved—many of these were my beloved initiates—could not make that move with me, that attempt at being egoless. It was, and still is, painful to see ego takes precedence over ethics, effective magic, fey sensibilities, and beauty. But I mention my experience because it might be validating for folks who went through something similar. Ok, enough negative stuff. To quote “Buffy, “not for me the furrowed brow.”

Onto the rest of my beautiful day—my Gods’ embrace, a flow of joy, magic, and right livelihood, a flow carrying me toward even more joy, magic, and right livelihood. I hope this post is validating and/or, if you’re considering me as a guide, informative.

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