Mysticism in Times of Crisis

During crisis, mysticism can become a source of strength, renewal, and hope, or foster self-destructive escapism and denial. This post has an empowering ritual.

Please note: though this post discusses how to avoid denial and escapism, sometimes it is important to let them be. Trust yourself to make the right choice. Or, if unsure, ask for input from a trusted expert. For one thing, denial and escapism can be trauma symptoms that help you cope.

Some situations can feel like too much to bear, and I long for something bigger and more powerful than me to fix my problems. I turn to mysticism for the solution. It often works.

Sometimes, all doors seem shut, and I am desperate for a door to open somewhere, somehow. I turn to mysticism. It often works.

However, mysticism can be healthy or unhealthy. Personally speaking, my otherworldly endeavors must be very grounded in my real life, so I get my feet on the ground and remain down-to-earth. I will explain what I mean by that. … Well, a full explanation would take pages, but I can quickly explain enough for the purposes of this post.

Some of my rituals are not as mystical as other rites I perform. All magic is mystical, but there are varying degrees. Sometimes I do very mystical rituals; they might have highly lyrical liturgies and fanciful images, and create a very trancy, sparkly, buzzy experience. Other times, my rituals are less mystical, more direct, and more straightforward, e.g., they proceed in a rather mundane manner, directly dealing with my inner blocks, by necessitating I own up to a specific anger, fear, self-doubt, sense of powerlessness, or the like. I often deal with anger, trauma, fear, etc., in extremely mystical rituals, but that would be escapism were it the whole of how I handle inner turmoil.

The ritual below deals with unsettling emotions, self-defeating beliefs, and the like in quite a grounded manner, while also including more mystical ritual elements. The more grounded aspects of this little ceremony help keep it from feeding denial and escapism.

The Choice to Have Power: a Ritual for Magnificent Selfhood and Divine Support

This magical spell can help you experience spiritual renewal and fortitude, and feel longed for peace and hope. Other possible benefits are increased confidence and a substantial claiming (or reclaiming) of selfhood—who you are deep down, with all your strengths. The ritual also helps you tap into the Goddess’ immense power.

If, when doing this ceremony, you feel you are not doing a “good enough job,” not to worry. The sheer attempt is sufficient.

If unsure how to implement part of my instructions, you might explore whether that text is suitable for one of the three following approaches.

1. Do a visualization. For an example, let’s use the ritual’s paragraph “I choose to live in the reality of my truest self with its wisdom, balance, and magic. I settle into that reality by letting my body sink into it. I sink into my truest self with its wisdom, balance, and magic.” Decide what physical sensations you might experience if you trusted that you had wisdom, balance, and magic, and then imagine your body feels that way.

2. To continue using the same example, you could recite that paragraph as a liturgy, slowly reciting it two or three times. That can be powerful.

3. Or read that paragraph aloud as if you were telling a Faerie tale, and try to go along with the mood of the tale.

Here’s the ritual:

I choose the reality in which a caring Goddess holds me close.

To implement that choice, I start by looking inward to find what inside me keeps me from living in that chosen reality.

For example, do I fear that no deity can be kind? Do I believe that choosing happiness is somehow deserting my loved ones if they remain unhappy? Is false pride keeping me from relying on something other than my own resources? Or is something else in me blocking me?

If there is more than one block, I choose only one to work with in this ritual today.

I center into the reality of that block by letting my body sink into it. I don’t analyze the block, try to change it, or do anything else to it. I sink into it.

I choose the reality in which a caring Goddess holds me close. I center into that reality by letting my body sink into it. I don’t analyze it or otherwise get overly cerebral about it. I sink into the caring Goddess Who is holding me close.

I choose to live in the reality of my true self, with its wisdom, balance, and magic.

So I look inward to find what inside me keeps me from living in that reality of marvelous selfhood. Do I think that optimistically trusting in myself is self-inflated? Do I fear I’ll be deserted if I live according to my own ideals? What’s blocking me?

If there’s more than one block, I choose only one to work with in this rite.

I center into the reality of that block by letting my body sink into it.

I choose to live in the reality of my truest self with its wisdom, balance, and magic. I settle into that reality by letting my body sink into it. I sink into my truest self with its wisdom, balance, and magic.

So mote it be!

Additional ritual instructions:

1) During the ceremony, if you don’t land smack dab in the center of your personal essence, at least momentarily, you likely moved radically toward it. Try doing the ritual once a day for five days, over the course of a week, to continue the energy’s positive direction.

2) If you feel performing the ritual once didn’t progress you toward your magnificent selfhood at all, it could’ve happened anyway—even to a large degree—without you feeling it yet.

3) If the ritual felt effective, or even fairly so, you might want to do the ritual twice more over the next week, to re-find, remain in, or move deeper into the reality of your most competent beautiful self who is living in the care of a loving Goddess.

4) Here are two reasons to work on only a single block in the ritual:

Sometimes, working on more than one not only diffuses a ritual’s energy but also turns the rite into escapism.

Also, focusing on a single block allows me to own up to it on a gut level, rather than just recognizing it with my mind. That gut recognition can make a big difference in whether I can move past that block or not.

I’d love to hear how this ritual goes for you.

… I want to time how long it takes to read and execute this ritual. … It took nine minutes, reading slowly. That nine minutes includes time I added for pauses in case someone needed to go over the instructions to better understand them. The timing also represents doing the rite as you read the post, as opposed to reading it all first then going back to do the ritual.

I timed for three reasons. I wanted to see if this is a ritual that easily fits into a busy schedule.

Brief ceremonies can be powerful.

I also wanted to see if I might use the ritual in the Virtual Pagan Monastery, an event held via group phone calls. The meetings are mini-retreats that last fifteen meetings, and I lead a ritual in each one. A nine-minute ritual leaves us time to open with the quick protection spell with which we always kick off meetings. We’d also have time should anyone need to jump in to ask a question about instructions as we were doing the rite. Perfect!

My third reason for timing is that I love my Virtual Pagan Monastery. It’s a chance to touch down a few times a week with other seekers and lead a rite to take care of ourselves. But some folks don’t enroll because they don’t realize that brief rites can be powerful. So now this little ceremony is here to prove otherwise.

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Diana’s CrossRoads During the Pandemic

Diana’s CrossRoads During the Pandemic
Creating Spiritual, Physical, and Financial Wholeness in Crisis

I’m at double risk regarding Covid 19, being elderly and disabled by a chronic health problem. I’m also unable to receive medical care, due to corrupt bureaucrats.

So I understand that ethics and inner empowerment are possibly irrelevant luxuries for some folks when life gets really hard. But not for me. My spiritual wholeness and commitment to serving community during this crisis are tantamount.

After repeatedly conquering circumstances that easily kill people—e.g., poverty and life-threatening illness—I saw that, for me, my spirituality at such times was an essential tool for both surviving and the subsequent establishing of my happy, prosperous life.

At a ritual I led last week, we each found ourselves at a moral crossroads and made decisions about which route to take. In the months ahead, I think a lot of people, myself included, might face a lot of moral crossroads. Most of mine will likely be about the need to dedicate myself more than ever to relinquishing false ego, surrendering to my Gods, and serving Them and all Their children. At least that’s what came up for me during the ritual.

During the rite, I channeled the “script,” so it’s not written down. But I’m hoping to convey a bit of its sentiments in this post.

We each went to the otherworld and stood at the archetypal trivia with Goddess Diana. In Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia, C.M.C. Green says the crossroads of Diana is not the cross-shaped junction made when two human-made roads cross, but is the Y-shaped trivia found in less tame environments and is created by animals’ travel. Green spoke of paths that connect to make the trivia as wild and dangerous, explaining that a human walking such trails might stumble upon a ferocious animal, and an animal traveling thusly through the forest might come upon a hunter. I couldn’t find the passage in the book again that discusses this; I hope I’m not misrepresenting Green’s work.

The day of the ritual, the roads’ deadly possibilities represented moral dangers to me.

Morality is not an abstract, for me. For one thing, when I do not make moral decisions, my good fortune diminishes. The diminishment isn’t always related to the decisions, per se. Poor ethical choices block me from blessings. Ethical choices increase not only my wholeness of spirit but also the wholeness of my finances, physical health, and every other part of me. For example, when I sink endlessly into worry about finances, income dwindles if not outright evaporates. It is only human to fret. But, at least in my particular case, living in that mindset is being self-involved, which isn’t a virtuous state.

I’m not implying poor ethical choices cause all misfortunes. I was talking about my own life. Plus, my good fortune is far from dependent upon my flawed, human efforts. My generous Gods have my back. But any of my problems not of my own making can be exacerbated by my poor choices.

I cannot speak for other people, but I am by nature a selfish stubborn person, who suffers from ego. I do not know if these propensities in me are greater than in anyone else, but they have caused me great suffering. I work hard doing everything I can to do away with these flaws, but, being human, will never reach that goal.

I recently hit a point where I felt I had to dedicate myself to my efforts to eradicate the aforementioned traits more than ever. More about that in a bit.

There are always opportunities for my selfishness and false ego to exert themselves. For example, it’s easy for me to condemn someone hoarding supplies during the outbreak. My reaction to hoarders is pure ego. Instead of climbing up on my high horse by harshly judging someone, I want to remember we are all flawed, and we’re all in a growth process, learning and growing, so there is no logic in judging.

It is easy to spot obvious immoralities, such as hoarding supplies during the pandemic. It is harder to spot subtler immoralities, such as condemning hoarders. Flaws can be sneaky, disguising themselves so that we don’t see them in ourselves.

The overinflated ego of judging others hurts me. Grandiosity can make me feel I am above the need to look at my own failures. Time spent in outrage is time I need to look at my own errors that day, cook myself a good meal, and otherwise be good to me. Plus the time I spend judging others is time needed for being of use to community.

Judging others also closes heart and mind, not only to the those judged but to everything. I want my heart and mind open to the Goddess’ guidance about ways I can support my community during the pandemic. I want to do everything I can as a shaman and human to help folks—myself included—stay on an even keel, stay whole, stay on top of things, and remain effective.

It’s impossible to walk on air like a saint. However, my past experiences of major crisis taught me how to keep returning to an even keel, keep returning to practices that build wholeness, and thus stay on top of things and be effective.

For me, listening to my Gods and staying close to Them is a priority. It helps me stay centered and strong, so I’m able to take good care of myself and be of maximum service. And I need Their constant guidance to be effective. They give me ideas about everything from the logistics of executing a mundane chore that seems beyond my limited physical capabilities, to the creation of specific shamanic events that’d serve folks well right now.

Important aside: My upcoming three week event is one such event: https://stardrenched.com/2020/03/16/upcoming-event-3/

Crisis and trauma are crossroads at which I grow—even if I can only do so quite slowly—or go down big time. The chances for selfishness and false ego to emerge quadruple. So, given that the societal traumas of the past year have impacted me, I’ve dedicated myself more than ever to pursuing surrender, service, and egolessness.

As an example, here’s one way the chances to stumble ethically increase: possibility of hardship can make one feel like one must do something wrong in order to survive. The expression It’s just business embodies that attitude. It excuses ill behavior by positioning the choice for morality in the face of survival threats as a new and different quandary, specific to one’s own situation, instead of as a core aspect of spiritual struggle since earliest human times. In fact, we might say that, in a way, (and only in a way), the dilemma of choosing one’s spiritual ideals over survival might be the essence of morality (or an essence). This is not to suggest that one should not fight for survival. Survival can be the moral choice.

I hope the above paragraph or anything else in this essay doesn’t sound preachy, judgmental, and black-and-white, as if 1) anything less than perfection makes you a complete failure, 2) we should shame ourselves for the least mistake, and 3) I alone know the correct steps in crisis, and thus am capable of making moral decisions for you. To the contrary, I believe that, under the pressure of crisis, people might need more than ever to be gentle with themselves and others: more than ever accept how imperfectly we act, more than ever esteem the littlest step we take toward our moral ideals, more than ever honor every act of kindness we make, and more than ever respect the need to take breaks from solving problems.

And I surely don’t know what anyone other than myself needs to do.

In any case, moving on: Many of us on spiritual paths can easily fall into focusing on spirituality as a tool only for personal gain. E.g., “If I meditate to be more serene, I’ll be more levelheaded. Then I’ll be able to earn a better living.” Though I think using spiritual tools to enrich one’s material life is healthy and important, and I teach that sort of application, it’s not healthy for me if it’s the whole picture. I need spirituality to also be a means by which I stay in shape to be of maximum service to the Gods and all Their children.

I have watched people who, when navigating hard times, cleaved to Spirit solely as a tool for their own sole betterment. It backfired, increasing their selfishness, false ego, and bitterness, and often causing them serious financial, romantic, and other problems. Some of those folks persisted endlessly along the same path, which turned them into horribly harmful people. It frightened me. I don’t want to be like that.

And, as I said, if my spirit is not in reasonable shape, neither are my finances or anything else.

Moreover, when I forget spiritual tools were gifted me both for my own personal betterment and to keep myself in shape to be useful, I find myself on an emotionally distressed hamster-wheel, with thoughts like, “I’ve got to improve myself. If I don’t, there’s going to be a disaster. If I don’t there’s going to be a disaster. A disaster. A disaster.”

Then, focusing on spiritual tools as a means to getting in shape to serve restores my balance, peace, common sense, joy in life, and trust that the Gods have my back.

I had three choices standing at the trivia. Going backwards didn’t seem a choice because you can never return to the past. But I could stay where I was. Sometimes that’s the moral stand. For example, I might need time to be with what I’m feeling, or to rest and gather the strength to move forward, or to choose which direction to take, or to plan my first steps along the road I choose. (Self-care is a virtue.) And sometimes I am just stuck. Moving forward is more than I can manage, and I can make a choice to accept that, and thereby surrender to life as it is, since I too, even when I’m stuck, am part of life.

My second option was the right hand pathway forward (I don’t know why it was to the right). On it, I could move forward into once again deepening my commitment to serving, surrendering to my Gods, and letting go of false ego.

The left-hand path was also a path to greater surrender, usefulness, and egolessness, with one difference—compassion for myself.

I realized, looking with my otherworldly eyes, the right-hand path at my particular crossroads included constantly chastising myself for not changing fast enough and for not being “better.”

That path also required I view each of my missteps, no matter how small, as proof that I’m a complete moral failure, and that my vigorous moral strivings are insincere. Forgetting that we all stumble a great deal, I’d live in fearful certainty that my smallest error would lead to moral, emotional, financial, or other disaster. The path also had me traveling along, all the while overlooking my improvements and all the good I do.

Whereas on the left path, I’d learn to walk toward my goals with compassion for myself. That self-care would consist of
* acknowledging that we grow bit by bit (with occasional, magnificent leaps and bounds)
* celebrating my progress
* being gentle with myself when I fall short
* admitting my errors without becoming fatalistic
* recognizing my dedication and the vigorousness of my efforts
* honoring my achievements—great and small
* seeing the good I do
* and enjoying the celebratory pleasure of being grateful to the Gods for giving me the ability to do the things in this list.

Two of many reasons I love my friend, Jenn Campus, is that she keeps surrendering to life and focusing on service. The day after the ritual, I happened to see an exquisitely worded Instagram post of hers (she had not been at my ritual): “We have yet to see the spring of this pandemic period. We are still in the brutal winter—wondering if our stores will see us through, wondering who will be standing with us on the other side of it…even if we will be one of the ones still standing. … In the words of Sophie Mainguy, a French ER Doctor: ‘We are not at war and we do not have to be at war. … The firm ambition of a service to life is enough. There is no enemy. There is another organism living in full migratory flow and we must stop so that our respective currents do not collide too much. We are at the pedestrian crossing and the light is red for us.’ ”

Jenn’s post is related to what we did at the ritual. I love my fellow seekers.

The doctor’s eloquent statement about remaining quarantined to avoid the coronavirus has meaning on the mystical plane, as I am sure the good physician knows. For me, that layer speaks of abiding by life however it manifests, which for my own practice is the same as surrendering to my Gods.

Surrender to life is not about giving up or being a doormat. I will continue to stand up for my rights and the rights of others.

Surrender is not about forsaking all pleasure. Surrender helps me use the enormous amount of ethical magical and mundane power available to create the world I want, a world of joy, beauty, and abundance.

Surrender also helps me be of maximum service, whether I am providing shamanic services for my beloved clients, or dialoging with the vet as I try to understand her patient but nevertheless confusing dietary proposal for my ever sick kitty.

During the ritual yesterday, I felt Diana blessing the path I chose. I felt the power She gave me to do what I need as I begin along that path. I felt chills throughout my body from the starlight, moonlight, and sunlight with which Diana filled me.

I also knew Her amazing help that day wasn’t enough. I’d need Her continual help as I walked that path. I have to constantly rely on my Gods. I don’t remember the prayer I said about getting divine help along the road I’d chosen, but I wrote a comparable prayer. Here it is, should it be helpful to you:

Magna Mater, Great Mother of All, Bear Madonna,
and Our Good Father, Co-Creator of All,
Wild and kind horned Pater,
please give me the power and wisdom
needed on the path ahead,
each step today and in these coming months.

Help me affirm:
I have a healthy ego.
I release my false ego.
I acknowledge my limits.
I acknowledge my limitlessness.
I celebrate my inner and outer beauty.

I dedicate myself to joy, usefulness, and power. I give myself to My Divine Parents, that You may shape me and use me as You will. Your desires are also mine, deep within my cells, even if unknown to me for now. I can and do create the amazing loving, beautiful world I truly want. So mote it be.*

I will probably need to make that prayer a lot in the coming year.

The ritual described above was one of the free rites I lead once a month. I’d love it if you joined me in any of them. They and other upcoming events are announced in my newsletters. Subscribe for free here: https://outlawbunny.com/newsletter/

I love you, be safe.

* Attribution: I read spiritual literature of all kinds. As a shaman, I seek the core of reality, and it is found in disparate places. There’s an Alcoholics Anonymous prayer in which are the words God, I offer myself to Thee—to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt.

My prayer’s words I give myself to My Divine Parents, that You may shape me and use me as You will are an adaptation of the Alcoholics Anonymous words I quoted. Their sentiments, for me personally, are vital to me, absolutely vital to my spiritual, psychic, physical, and financial well-being, and every other imaginable aspect of my well-being.

Chaos, Dragons, and the Magna Mater

Chaos, Dragons, and the Magna Mater
Fey Mysteries

stregarose2Chaos has been vilified throughout human history. Yet it is from chaos that all creation comes.

The Bible lied when it said God spoke into the chaos—the darkness—to create the cosmos. No mere word created us or anything else. The chaos, which is often called darkness, is both darkness and light, and is the Great Mother Goddess—the Magna Mater. She, with Her fertile chaos body, gave birth to all existence.

Note my last sentence: She, with Her fertile chaos body, gave birth to all existence. Usually creation myths refer to the darkness and chaos as passive, not active participants in creation. I worded my sentence carefully. She, with Her fertile chaos body, gave birth to all existence. How different that is from the myth of Tiamat as the supposedly demonic dragon who was primordial chaos and killed by Marduk, who then divided her body to create the universe, part of her body making the heavens and part of her body making the earth.

The implications of that myth have led to one nightmare after another for humankind.

stregamoonAffirmation: I will not be cleaved in two. I remain whole. I recognize the loving chaos and loving darkness within me. I refuse to bow to misrepresentations of them. I see within myself both my loving darkness and loving light. Each day, I know in myself the Dragon, Great Mother Goddess, the Magna Mater, Who loves all of existence and all humankind. I serve Her throughout my day by doing what I love and by lovingly serving all I encounter. With my fertile chaos dragon body, I can birth all existence; I have the power to manifest my heart’s desires.

stregaroseThe implications of the Biblical myth that God spoke into the chaos—the darkness—to create the cosmos have led to one nightmare after another for humankind.

No, no mere word created us. That was a lie so that we’d succumb to oppressors’ words and fear Her Divine chaos. The oppressors’ priests wanted to rip us from our own fertility and the magic to create our own worlds.

If there was a word, it was a poem, a chant, a magical spell, a cry of exultation, a cry of purest joy, a cry of purest love, from the Goddess and God, as They made love in the process of existence coming into being. No almighty God condescendingly divided light from darkness. No no no. The Magna Mater drew the light from Her own body. That light is Her Son Whom She loves. Unlike the God of the Bible, She does not distain Her other half.

stregamoonChaos still reigns today, beneficent, though we divide it into hours and moments, schedules and goals, as if the weave of life was like a weaving on a human’s loom—line after parallel line laid out precisely, everything organized in a linear manner like a grid. No, chaos—Goddess—weaves every which way, and yet the garment She weaves is a life that fits us more perfectly than the most carefully woven garment we ourselves could make, a life more beautiful than any we ourselves could weave.

Through generations and lifetimes, society’s weaving of lies and suppression have robbed witches of their immersion in and trust of chaos. From chaos, that dark matter where there is also light, comes our magic.

stregamoonMy worldview—the world I just spelled out—underlies my teachings.

Dragons are descendants of the original chaos. My worldview helps reveal the hidden underpinnings of draconian magic.

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An attribution regarding my remark “The Magna Mater drew the light from Her own body. That light is Her Son Whom She loves.” In the book, Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, the Goddess draws the light from Herself and sees it as Her brother, with whom She falls in love. It is a beautiful myth that you might want to read. I also need to give another reference: in that myth, the Goddess and God make love to create the cosmos, and it is a magical spell.

Dear reader, my above essay is excerpted from a course I teach called Dragon Magic. Unless something changes radically, the essay is also in the companion booklet for a divination deck I created. The deck has not been released yet. To be kept abreast of upcoming classes, Fey freebies, and other offerings, click the banner below:
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Dragon Magic and the New Year

The affirmation in this post is not only well-suited for dealing with the specific problem described in the post, it is also a good all-around affirmation for starting the new year. Toward the end of the post, I discuss why.

As 2020 begins, here is one of the things I’m thinking about.

Some of the most powerful magicians I know appear to have very little power.

There’s a Chinese myth that dragons, underwater, appear to be carp to those of us who are looking down at the water.

When the dragon emerges from the water, its draconian nature is revealed.

In case you don’t know, goldfish are wee carp. Innocuous little creatures. If the myth that koi are dragons in disguise is true, then the carp’s small, gorgeous fluid fins must be massive, gorgeous, thrusting dragon wings. (Koi is another term for carp.)

It is easy to lose sight of one’s own power or to not even know it in the first place. For one thing, our society seems tailored to distract us from our oh-so-amazing powers—both magical powers and worldly strengths. That ubiquitous attempt at distraction plays out even in the Pagan community.

One such distraction from magic is the prevalent Pagan belief that magic must be flashy and boast of dark mysteriousness in order to be truly effective. Mind you, I do know that dark mysteriousness is real. And it evaporates upon boasting.

… Well, there are times to boast. For one thing, my mother taught me, “Toot own horn. If you don’t, no one else will.”

However, appropriate tooting is different from the words of people who don’t know the difference between boasting about magic and actual magic. … Hm, there are times when boasting is magic and adds to magic. And that does not invalidate my point:

The insistence that truly effective enchantments are flashy and are done by a person who boasts of dark mysteriousness invalidates other people’s power, constantly. And boastful naysayers are often individuals with far less magical strength than the person they are invalidating.

The following simple poesy can be recited as an affirmation. I wrote it to help folks be in touch with their own power.

Even if you are not dealing with a Pagan who is playing out the my-magic-is-stronger-than-yours absurdity, the affirmation is sound empowerment.

Part of my personal belief is that dragons hold all the power of the universe in them—all the magics. This is not something that anyone ever told me. It’s my experience as a dragon—yes, I’m that dragon often mistaken for a pretty little carp.

My belief about a dragon holding all power helped shape the affirmation. I use it simply as a way to get in touch with my enormous strength—getting in touch with the fact that all power is mine—whether someone is trying to invalidate me or not. So reciting it is a good way to start the new year.

I swim through the waters of creation.
Below the surface,
powerful legs thrust, and
powerful wings beat.
All the power of the universe resides in a dragon.
All the powers of creation reside in a dragon,
below the surface of the water.
Below the surface of the water.
So mote it be!

Dear reader, If you are drawn to dragons or other fantastical creatures, subscribe to my newsletter.
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“Thunderstorm” Energy, Overt Power, Gentle Magic, and Subtle Magic

Huge positive changes can happen stat when you combine overtly huge powers, “thunderstorm” energy, gentle rites, and subtle magic.

As a young witch, I studied with a guy who’d acquired extremely powerful rituals, which he taught indiscriminately, to whoever attended his classes.

By and large, the energy of the rituals slammed into and through his students, frying their circuits, and opening pathways to demons.

A few of the rites were okay per se, but they didn’t suit the energetic structure of all his students. Such rites were an energetic torrent the unsuited body/psyche could not withstand. For them, it was like being shelterless and hit by a thunderstorm.

The collection of rituals as a whole was also disastrous. Along with the aforementioned problems, the body of rites, as well as the cosmology on which they were based, bit by bit instilled a subtle grandiosity and an, equally subtle, lack of moral accountability in the individuals who did this training. They started hurting people around them, badly.

The grandiosity was partially caused by students acquiring a specific ego structure that can be a temporary means to get through a certain part of a shamanic training. In the case of the aforementioned teacher’s students, that ego structure became a permanent fixture, turning into grandiosity—e.g., self-importance, overestimation of one’s psychic perceptions, and sense of entitlement. This further fueled the students harming people, often completely unaware they were doing so.

Furthermore, that specific ego structure that I mentioned as helpful is suitable only to certain individuals, temporarily. Even the brief period those individuals experience this ego-state is risky.

Most of the errant teacher’s students didn’t realize their immense problems stemmed from the lessons. The power coursing through them was exhilarating, seemingly proving they had found something that really worked. Plus, they saw immediate positive results in their lives. But these improvements were short term and part of a process more destructive than beneficial. The “buzz” felt during the rites became a drug, keeping improvements in their lives and in their psyches at bay, instead of creating forward momentum.

While studying with the teacher and in the years after, I witnessed his students fall prey to drug addiction, suicide, and more.

Here’s another reason most of the students didn’t spot what was happening: society as a whole portrays brute force as the most effective—and actually only real—means to an end. E.g., many individuals consider the acquisition of wealth and resources through both warfare and ruthless business practices to be norms humans must resort to, if they want success in life. This portrayal becomes internalized by some magic seekers, making them believe being buffeted by life and by their magic is the basic state needed to move ahead.

Not realizing the source of their new problems, the students figured they were at fault, and just needed to work harder at the lessons. After all, the teacher boasted about his lessons’ power—his demeanor, tone of voice, and words exuding, “Ooh, look how dark and mysterious and dangerous we all are. We are real witches, not like those pretend witches.”

Later on, I became the go-to person, when one of that teacher’s students fell apart. For example, I was at a Pagan festival, and someone came into my tent and said, “Francesca, so-and-so did a blah-blah-blah ritual with their teacher last week, and now is completely falling apart. She’s a mess, can barely speak. Can you help?” I took care of her. I even had to do an exorcism on one of his students.

I was raised in a shamanic family tradition. I was already teaching witchcraft and working professionally as a psychic, when I went to study with this deluded teacher. So I had a different perspective from his other students, as well as the ability to psychically see the damage caused.

Surprisingly, the harm he caused was a good lesson for me. Though I could manage the energy he was teaching, I came to see that managing it and wanting it as a lifestyle were two different things. I knew the energy wouldn’t be healthy for me long term (aside from a few bits here and there).

Seeing how this energy adversely affected those around me also affirmed that witchcraft is not one-size-fits-all. I committed all the more to my approach as a shaman:

You see, I neither heard nor read anyone mentioning that energy could fry a person’s circuits, or that some seemingly benign energies can open pathways to demons. I neither heard nor read anyone mentioning a rite needing to suit the energetic structure of the person doing the rite. I neither heard nor read anyone mentioning rites, and the cosmology on which they were based, subtlety instilling grandiosity and lack of morals. I neither heard nor read anyone mentioning a specific ego structure as a means to get through a certain part of shamanic training. And so on. I developed all these theories myself and, with no one else mentioning them, it would’ve been easy to have mistrusted myself. But the problems caused by that errant teacher’s lessons proved my theories to be sound. And, as I said, I committed all the more to my approach as a shaman:

Many lessons I teach, and spells I do for my community members, are gentle yet effective. Their immense power is often subtle. My students/clients report miraculous improvement in their lives. The changes are long term. When appropriate, I teach and perform rites that run overtly powerful energy, or energy I liken to thunder; the two types of energy are sometimes one and the same, but not always. (The thunderlike energies taught by the aforementioned teacher were, by and large, not healthy for anyone. But there are wondrously beneficent thunderlike energies.)

I am gentle with myself energetically. Yes, dynamic power like thunder is great. Yes, power is everybody’s birthright. But there are many forms of “thundering” power and not all suit everyone. And some are tied to demons. (I don’t risk hanging out with anyone who thinks they can safely play with demons.) I run only the thundering powers that suit me. I teach only the ones that suit the specific individuals attending my classes. When needed, I meet with those students one-on-one, to teach them additional powerful rituals tailored to their particular energetic makeup.

Gentle is a big power and just as dynamic as “thunderstorm” magic. Gentle powers are among the strongest. Subtle powers are also among the strongest.

So, though I can run more overtly huge powers, ditto “thunderstorm” magic, and both are a large part of my practice, I need to use gentle and subtle powers just as often.

The proof is in the pudding: my students’ success in their professional and personal lives demonstrates what happens when gentle and subtle magics combine with more overtly powerful and “thunderstorm” ones.

Sometimes I feel like the spells I am doing to improve a given area of my life are getting nowhere. Then I try to remember that, often, change takes time and happens in incremental steps. When I do this, big change can arrive all the faster, perhaps quite soon. This is a smarter course than spells that slam energy at me.

Small progress adds up to big progress.

Big changes can be happening, even when I don’t see them.

A therapist once told me you might not notice a big change in yourself till a year after it has happened. Wow!

Big external changes can be well underway, but I won’t notice.

And, as my students and I can attest, huge positive changes can happen immediately when you combine overtly huge powers, “thunderstorm” energy, gentle rites, and subtle magic.

So mote it be! Goddess, thank you.
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Pagan Authors and America’s Class System

Pagan Authors and America’s Class System
Money and Hierarchy in Today’s Paganism

Warning: I am standing on a soapbox.

Recently, someone with whom I’d been conversing on Google+ for a few weeks was surprised to realize I was an author and she owned one of my books.

It might seem odd that her surprise surprised me. I asked why she was surprised. I don’t know if my question seemed ingenuous and pretentious. She kindly responded that she does not run into authors. Ah, of course! I understand.

The thing is: I get out of touch with stupid consensus realities, so forgot it is unusual for a best selling author to be available, acting just like a community member. That’s why I didn’t initially understand her surprise.

But as long as big name Pagan authors are hard to be in contact with, they help create a class system in our community.

Before going into that, here are examples of how our American class system plays out in Paganism, for context.

There are a lot of people with money in Paganism. Nothing wrong with money, but I’ve encountered many wealthy Pagans who refused to say hi to me, let alone speak with me. They blatantly snubbed me.

Check this out: some of them, including big name authors, snubbed me until they found out I had major media access—e.g., scripted a segment for a Barbara Walters show—then acted like I was their best friend. One of them even gave me family tradition material! Ugh! What a fake!

Another example: I met someone at a Pagan conference who later became my student. She eventually told me I’d been the only one at the conference who’d said hello to her. This happened at a “spiritual” conference? What a joke!

There are many reasons people get ignored at spiritual conferences. But class is often one of them. Some people’s excuse is they are too busy. At the conference where no one said hello to the woman who became my student, I was scheduled to give two presentations, one concert, etc etc. “Too busy,” in the case of some moneyed people, translates into “too busy focusing on my own selfish needs and those of my elite group.”

One last example: I don’t expect conference staff to always stop to talk. They may have so many responsibilities that they need to move at a lightening pace, zooming past people in order to get to the next responsibility. But I was stunned that the staff at a major Pagan conference couldn’t even smile at participants as they ran past them. That seemed less busy and more self-important.

So I tried an experiment to see if I was right or if perhaps they were just a very shy group or something: I let it “slip” that I had just done a televised ritual for a quarter of a million people. Suddenly all the self-important people had smiles for me. They became utterly gracious. Not good!

Okay, back to author accessibility. Discussing it necessitates highlighting some of media’s dark aspects, so I want it clear that I’m very grateful to be in the media. Not many people get that chance, especially women raised without money like me. But I need to talk about the darker sides to give a whole picture.

The world of corporate media promises hopefuls that success in publishing, acting, etc makes one part of an elite that enjoys money, prestige, and a pedestal all of your own to climb on. As a women who grew up without much money, I hoped for more than I had as a kid, but I refuse to get it by joining in a class system. I’ve paid dearly for that decision—slandered by colleagues, constantly plagiarized, and worse. It seems if you won’t join in being an oppressor, they’re going to do everything they can to oppress you, lest you blow the lid off things and reveal their true nature.

One of my editors was shocked I put my phone number in my books. A marketing consultant told me that international authors do not teach small groups like I do. But I believe spiritual teachers should be accessible.

There’s a game you’re supposed to play. The game’s a trap. It eventually stifles your creativity and innovation, until your work becomes a pale imitation of your earlier creations. Stifled innovation allows a class system to thrive; otherwise, authentic dialogue and inspiring art might nurture social change.

I’m grateful for media access, and I hope I use it wisely. I have tremendous admiration for people in the media who stick to their guns in terms of the content they produce. I know how hard it is for them to do it. Being in the media is not the bed of roses portrayed by the powers-that-be.

The upper echelons want you to think media life is inevitably easy. They hope this lie will make you jealous of your blue-collar friend who worked their butt off to get a foot in the door of an upper class scene. Why? So you will not have your friend’s back when push comes to shove.

The powers-that-be have another reason to convince you life in the media is innately easy. They’re trying to cover up the actual facts: if you’re in the media and refuse to play the elite class game, it’s beyond rough going. As I said, you get slandered and otherwise trashed—sometimes to point of financial destitution and psychological devastation.

Is it worth it? I can only answer for myself. I get tremendous satisfaction from expressing myself. Also, I chose to become a public figure because the Goddess asked me to. It’s always worth doing what my Gods ask, whether I see how it pans out for me at the time or not.

There is money to be made. There’s nothing wrong with that. Legitimate, caring shamans, whether Native American or Celtic, charged for their services in ancient times. But if money is made through supporting our class system, Paganism oppresses us like the huge religious and spiritual groups that many Pagans left to be free of oppression.

Oddly enough, being accessible makes people suspicious of me sometimes. For example, when slander about me was making the rounds about 13 years ago, someone I was mildly acquainted with asked me what the true story was. I didn’t want to get into “He said,” … “She said,” because that seemed like going around in circles.

So I responded, “Come on over the house, hang out with me. Do ritual with me. Then decide for yourself what you think about me.”

LOL, the woman thought I invited her in hopes of stealing magical secrets from her—secrets that I was actually the author of myself, although she did not know it!

Good grief!

I’m not suggesting public figures be without boundaries. You cannot survive the public arena without them.

For example, a lot of people try to use me as a scapegoat. They think I have media access because I’m “one of them,”—e.g., someone not as deep as them or who has not faced as many challenges as they have. After all, how could I have accomplished all I have, if I’d faced tremendous challenges? Poppycock! Yes, challenges can defeat us, but too many assumptions are made about people in media. Whatever shadow projection someone wants to use as a punching bag, it can do terrible things when projected onto someone. That someone, after all, is a real live human being, with all the vulnerabilities of a human.

Another example: Between death threats, nut cases, and the sheer quantity of well-intended but intrusive readers, I’m protective of my home address.

Sometimes people who love my work almost force themselves on me as a best friend, not realizing they’re being discourteous, pushy, and perhaps outright scary. So home address aside, I have to make boundaries.

I also have to take care because my work is controversial; I’ve been picketed by so-called Christians, and I can tell you, it is terrifying to sit in a wheelchair, physically defenseless, while a bunch of people led by a man dragging a 10 foot cross think you’re evil.

When my dad died, I learned the importance of a private phone number, instead of using my private phone for business.

At his passing, I felt like I’d been hit in the head by a two-by-four. I could barely speak and needed support from friends. But I couldn’t pick up the phone when it rang, because if the person on the other end was a stranger asking about my shamanic services, I was so emotionally overwhelmed by dad’s death that I couldn’t even explain I wasn’t in good enough shape to discuss work.

Yet I needed to answer the phone, in case friends called, because they might not have left any messages—it’s daunting to leave messages when somebody’s died. This was before Caller ID, so I had no way of knowing who called unless I answered the phone. So I was isolated when I was in great need.

But none of these are reasons to be completely unavailable.

Ok, I will get down off my soapbox now.

I first posted this essay in 2016 on http://witchesandpagans.com/

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Notre Dame Is Burning

As devastated as I feel about the fire, I also have feelings at the exact opposite end of the spectrum.

I didn’t know about the cathedral fire, until I received an email that happened to mention it. The friend writing the email was grief stricken and hoping the stained glass would not be destroyed. I checked online for more info. Good Gods!

I felt terrible grief and started to express that in response to the email, when the phone rang. It was one of my shamanic students. Before discussing my upcoming class in Faerie Druidry, she mentioned her sadness about the beautiful art in the church being ruined, specifically the same window that was mentioned in the email.

I have the same feelings about the art. Plus I have a special memory of visiting that church years back. Very special.

Despite being devastated by the destruction of Notre Dame’s beauty and by losing a piece of my own personal history, I have other feelings that are at the opposite end of the spectrum. The following information is from https://www.eutouring.com/facts_notre_dame_cathedral.html: “The Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris is often affectionately referred to as The Forest because of the many wooden beams that have been used in its construction, and each of the beams came from a different tree, many of which were around 300 to 400 years old.  In fact this building is made up from 1,300 oak trees that represents approximately 21 hectares of forest.”

That cathedral required acres of trees being wiped out to support so much stone masonry.

During the phone call, I was hit with a past life memory. They chopped down my sacred groves, to build yet another church on a sacred Pagan site. They killed ancient living beings to create a monument solely to their own egos, for no God would have exacted praise that cost those oaks. 

So, even greater than my immense grief is the jubilant cry in my heart “Let it burn!”

How an Empath Can Protect Themselves from Group Discord

If you’re an empath being hurt by a group’s emotional distress, the following liturgy can help safeguard you. The liturgy is also a good idea when you see a group’s emotional uproar on the horizon.

The group could be a family, nation, all nations as a whole, colleagues at your workplace, or other group.

The liturgy also helps provide defense against troubling emotions that an individual in the empath’s vicinity has.

Background:
* An empath is a person who picks up and actually experiences other peoples’ emotions. This experience can be distressing and overwhelming, especially when someone near the empath is having immense rage, terror, or comparable distress.
* An empath can use psychic safeguards to keep those disturbing feelings at bay.
* I believe an empath might pick up terrible national or international ambience—feelings of terror or other anguish. Such a huge group’s uproar can slam into the empath. Safeguards are needed.

I also believe the blows suffered from national or international distress are likely to hit the empath’s subconscious mind. The empath suffers without knowing the source of their pain.

If the liturgy discusses issues that feel irrelevant, I suggest you use it anyway, unchanged, as an experiment. Some things don’t seem useful until you use them. For one thing, the liturgy’s ideas and magics are geared less to how your mind reacts to them, and more to how your gut instincts respond.

Also, I boiled down some of my theories into this liturgy, so this brief poesy covers a great deal of ground, both by implying it and through outright statements. In addition, the best means for conveying my theories was through lyric, to provide experiential learning of the liturgy’s overt and implied ideas.

To use the liturgy, simply recite it, silently or aloud, very slowly, perhaps pausing after each line. The liturgy has two parts, both of which have a title. Those titles, as well as the title of the piece as a whole, are part of the liturgy’s magic, so include all the titles in the recitation.

Empath Protection Liturgy

Part One:
I Repudiate, Reject, and Repel
Invaders and Presumptions:

I am not a dark hole you have a right to fill or to feel.
I am and own the dark emptiness
that is the source of all creativity,
from which springs projects and progeny
I myself—not you—initiate.
My life and soul
—my empty darkness—
are filled and felt by me;
they—not you—are my source.

Part Two:
I Claim My Life; I Live My Life;
I Love My Life; I Myself Fill My Life:

I am and own the dark emptiness,
the originator of all creation and creativity,
the original creation and creativity,
the source of all creativity.
I am the source of projects and progeny I initiate.
My life and soul—my empty darkness—are filled and felt by me;
they are my source.
They are the source of all goodness.

So mote it be!

An aside, which is a theory of mine: one reason a patriarchal culture deprives women of control over their own bodies is it’s an effective way to make women view themselves as mere receptacles for other people to use/fill however they want. Once that idea is instilled, it affects all parts of a woman’s life; she is supposedly an emptiness someone else has the right to fill for childbearing, sex, negative shadow projections, and more. Even when a woman knows better, such a belief can operate powerfully in her on a subconscious level, causing major problems. The feminine void is the original power, but oppressors, not wanting women to know that, try to reduce a woman’s emptiness to a commodity that she has no right to, but that greedy people have the right to use/control. End of aside.
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Dear reader, gaining power can be challenging, but sometimes it can be easy and fun. My book, Baba Yaga’s Apprentice, is an easy, fun read. And it’s perfect for you if you’re empathic, introverted, exceptionally magical, or sensitive psychically. The book has other benefits as well. Check it out: https://stardrenched.com/2017/02/28/baba-yagas-apprentice/

Peaceful Prosperity Now! So Mote It Be!

For me, prospering financially, emotionally, and spiritually requires fully engaging in life, not backing off from whatever’s occurring. Being human, I readily forsake the moment, but if I move into the now on a somewhat consistent basis, abundance comes, accompanied by serenity. One of my blocks to being in the moment is finding glory in self-pity. I try to avoid it, even when things are at their worst, because self-pity makes my defeat more likely. For example, when we thought I had only months to live, trying to avoid self-pity and instead committing to the moment and being of service to it allowed triumph; now I have another 20 years in me.

I want to feel my life is of epic proportion. However, I don’t want to create that feeling by constantly dwelling on my problems, making them grow in my mind, so that I view myself to be an abandoned, struggling hero.

Mind you, my problems are constant. Some are dire. And, as is the case with many individuals, there are ways I am an abandoned, struggling hero, who should be widely admired and is, instead, viewed as complaining about nothing. (Has this happened to you?) Stories of my heroic achievements despite great odds have been stolen to be portrayed as someone else’s, usually one of the very people who tried to block my goals. (Has this happened to you?) I don’t want to ignore any of that.

I do not want to dwell on any of it, though, with the gorgeous self-pity in which I, too readily and too often, indulge. Goddess, please help me not use atrocities perpetrated on me as an excuse to indulge in self-pity. Compassion for myself is not the same as the glory of self-pity.

I want a life that feels huge from the joy I experience, my awareness of my accomplishments, a commitment to live in reality good or bad, and the attempt to be fully who my Gods made me. I’m grateful my Gods give me the ability to constantly do the things cited in this paragraph. I want to do them more. More! Living myth is an ancient magic, one of the most powerful spells I know. It has not prevented all my misfortunes. Tragedy is part of life. However, living myth has made enough differences that my existence has been filled with beauty and abundance, instead of being a tragedy as a whole.

I imagine many people, like me, feel huge one moment because they’re living fully, kindly, and gracefully, and the next moment feel huge from having mesmerized themselves with a self-pitying tale that, even if true, is self-damaging when recited over and over to oneself. (There are times when repeatedly telling the same story of a problem is part of a healing process. That’s not the sort of repetition I’m referring to here. … If you view existence panoramically, a constantly repeated, self-pitying tale is part of a healing process, but the panorama might have to provide such a widely sweeping view that we’re looking at that self-immolation in the context of a healing process that happens over several incarnations. Or, if looking at a single lifetime, every detour from healing and empowerment is part of moving toward that healing and empowerment because every step along the way to health is needed. But I want to avoid as many detours as possible, which means being honest with myself about how self-pity derails me, damages me, and makes me feel powerless so that I am deterred from taking action to stop other people from hurting me.)

I want a life that feels huge and abundant because I face problems as if I have a sword in one hand and a tea cup in the other. I’ll deal with the problems with sword or tea cup, depending on which is most suited to the problem meeting me. If I only use the sword, I’ll hack away 24/7 until my life is shredded to ribbons. Sometimes, I can best solve a problem by sitting down and savoring a cup of tea.

I want to be a mythic, mystic, enchanted servant—to the Gods, the Tree of Life, all its inhabitants, and my oh-so-flawed-yet-perfect-and-beautiful self.

I will have peaceful prosperity now! So mote it be!

Note: if you don’t see how my above thoughts are related to having peaceful prosperity or having it now, trying to figure that out is a shamanic ritual. Even spending two minutes trying to figure it out will move you toward peaceful prosperity, whether you can find your answer or not. I’d love to hear from you about how that goes. If you already see the relationship between this essay and peaceful prosperity now, and apply it in your life, please tell me the results.