The Fairytale Witch, Greed, & Joy

The Fairytale Witch, Greed, & Joy

Why Are Old Women in Fairy Tales usually Evil Mean Witches?

Many traditional fairytales portrayed elderly women as monstrous witches. Descriptions included despicable eating habits. These witches were gluttons who scarfed down absurdly massive quantities of food in a single sitting, as I’ve seen in paintings of Baba Yaga. Worse, they ate children.

I’ve been thinking the root of such lies was likely greed, at its worst. I imagine selfish people begrudged an old lady her food—her right to life—and, in the same vein, coveted her land, the source of food. They wanted all resources for themselves, leaving nothing for anyone else, not caring that it could be a death sentence.

These skinny ladies in old tales usually stayed bone thin despite dining on children and disgustingly extravagant banquets. Perhaps she represented elderly women actually struggling without much to eat, the mischaracterization meant to provide the justification to rob them regardless. In other words, if an elderly woman was resented for eating any amount of food, then misrepresenting her reasonable or insufficient meals as gluttony provided an excuse to “righteously” rob her—greedy witch! She did not deserve food and its source—land and livestock.

Logic plays no part in justifying wrongdoing. A person gorging themself yet maintaining a thin frame makes absolutely no sense. However, reasons to steal and oppress don’t need to be reasonable; any excuse will do. Spread nonsensical slander about an aged woman, and her neighbors who are greedy like the slanderers will cheer about their thievery. The slanderers have given those neighbors permission to follow suit with other vulnerable elders.

I can easily imagine greedy envy turning into disgust about an elderly woman’s meals. A person’s selfishness often disguises itself, even to that person. Disgust is an effective disguise, distracting everyone from the real greed by projecting it on to an innocent elder.

When they call an old lady a dragon or witch, I take it as a compliment because I am a real dragon and witch. Many dragons and witches are kind and generous with food, magic, and other treasures. They also protect people from oppressors.

Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Land

Land, food, and greed are tied together. Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness was originally Life, liberty, and the pursuit of land. For whatever reason the phrase was changed, the original version outlines the basis for a classless society. Land is wealth at its most fundamental level. The right to pursue happiness is vague enough to establish the pretense of forgoing classism. In some ways, classism is simply systemic greed: one group taking too much for themselves so that another group does without, whether the classes are delineated by gender, race, or any other excuse to oppress.

Eating an Entire Pizza Topped with Anchovies and Joy

I was visiting my friend, Jenn Campus. As usual, we touched on one of our favorite topics: food.

I mentioned that I’d made a pizza from scratch and was delighted because I was going to get to eat the whole thing. I live alone, so that pizza constituted two or three meals (with perhaps a salad added). Yum, a couple of pizza meals!

I also told Jenn some of my realizations mentioned in this essay.

Then Jenn’s husband and foodie companion Roberto joined us. I again shared my delight about eating the whole pizza. I added that I’d been wondering how much of a pizza each member of their family got in a meal. Given their large family, I imagined they had to divide a pizza up, and perhaps no one ate more than a slice. Roberto, who’s Italian born, responded that eating the whole pizza is “very Italian of you.” He added that each family member always got their own pizza, except maybe the children split one.

Roberto’s comment was wonderfully affirming, even though I hadn’t told him my thoughts about old ladies and food. My Goddess spoke through him. Though the following were not Roberto’s words, She was saying, “Let old ladies eat the whole pizza!”

Jenn, when I’d mentioned greedy people begrudging an elderly woman her food, suggested that they possibly begrudged her the pleasure in food. Good point. Especially for me. Joy is one of my life’s keywords.

Have You Ever Been Attacked for Being Happy?

The right to pursue happiness—joy—includes the right to land or a comparable means to material well-being, such as a reasonable wage instead of employers earning far more than is even decent while employees can’t make ends meet.

Oppressive religious bodies often portray joy solely as non-material pleasure, as if it’s sinful to care about worldly things. This pseudo-spiritual propaganda fools many people; they become unwittingly complicit in their own oppression (internalize their oppression), by thinking they’ve no right to a proper income.

I’m not implying joy relies entirely on material well-being. Depending solely on the material for happiness creates greed. However, it is appropriate and healthy to pursue both material and spiritual well-being and find a balance between the two, instead of seeking only one or the other.

Your happiness is sacred. Convincing you to abdicate rights by shaming you as if you’re selfish and uncouth to care about worldly things is an attack on your life and your happiness. If you internalize those attacks—internalize your oppression—you might shame or otherwise hurt yourself when you desire joy, start to feel joyful, or have even the smallest joyful experience.

I’ve always feared I’d be punished for my joy. I thought I’d conquered that fear but am revisiting it to overcome it at a new level.

Internalized Oppression Can Damage Physical Health

I have a lot of joy in my day. That doesn’t mean I’m free of problems around it.

It is easy to internalize oppression so extensively that deep-seated, self-destructive beliefs or emotions can affect one’s physical health.

For twenty years, I’ve had serious physical problems caused by extreme swelling that is unrelenting, throughout my body, and visible. (E.g., one of my eyes became swollen shut for days. The doctor asked if something had struck my eye. The swelling was so huge that I looked like someone had socked me.)

Years of exercise, food choices, herbal remedies, and shifts in lifestyle and attitudes reduced the swelling bunches, and with it the number of serious symptoms it had caused. There are far fewer. But a great deal of swelling—and hence serious unremitting symptoms—remains.

The swelling throughout my body is demonstrated in my eyelids most days. It often looks like a blister—white cell buildup under the skin. What is my body fighting?

In desperation, earlier this year, I decided to go grain-free. The swelling abated radically within days. If the improvement had continued at the rate it was going, my need for a wheelchair would’ve been gone, or near gone, within a year.

However, I suspected that I do not have a grain allergy, but that a deep-seated, subtle anorexia was compelling me to deny myself my “daily bread,” as if I don’t deserve food.

I also wondered if I have a deeply-hidden inability to stand on the ground of my truths. Stand, instead of using a wheelchair. I’m pretty good at standing for my truths, but there’s always another layer of growth. Internalized oppression can be subtle and deep.

(These two things I wondered about are related in ways I don’t fully understand yet. The understanding I do have is beyond the confines of this essay.)

I decided to eat grains again. That might seem ridiculous, given that serious symptoms were abating so readily. But I don’t want to deprive myself of my “daily bread“ longterm only to find that I ignored the spiritual solution that would’ve been the longterm fix. Ignoring the source of the problem will simply make it manifest in another way, sooner or later.

Plus life-threatening allergies already seriously limit the foods I eat. If the decision to be grain-free is subtle anorexia, elimination of foods from my kitchen might escalate until I allow myself to eat only a few types of food—not enough to maintain health. (I’m not implying that being grain-free is anorexic per se.)

Psychological states can cause serious medical problems. I do not mean those problems are in one’s head. They are quantitative symptoms, measurable by Western medicine. I need to overcome my fear of being attacked and stand up.

Overcoming Internalized Oppression and Claiming My Rights

I wrote a large portion of this essay before the pandemic and the economic severities it has caused many people. For months, I put the piece aside, to focus on blogs that seemed more related to current affairs. My mind kept returning to this piece, and I couldn’t figure out why. Eventually, I realized it is utterly relevant right now. Perhaps it’s even more important than it was before the pandemic. Elderly people are spoken of as disposable. Greed is rampant, as are illogical excuses for it. People worldwide are struggling and scapegoating, divided instead of standing strong and successful together. … There’s that word standing again.

Hm, elder abuse and the other problems described in the above paragraph are not new. Well, my real point is that I realized the article’s relevance. And that my not seeing the relevance was internalized oppression; I turn 70 this year so am at risk of being scapegoated—viewed as disposable in a society often structured by greed.

There’s another reason the article is relevant. Our current worldwide trauma can deepen longstanding internalized oppression, perhaps reopening healed wounds. That can result in horrible demoralization and other devastating states that stop us from doing what’s needed to take care of ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities.

Nevertheless, it can be an opportunity to see inner oppression and overcome it. In my case, this has included revisiting my fear I’d be punished/attacked for my joy.

That fear is reasonable. If repeatedly attacked for your joy, whether by family, friends, or societal beliefs that joy deserves rebuke and infliction of shame, you might come to expect and fear attack. However, I refuse to live in fear.

Simple Magic Spell to Claim My Right to Food, Life, and Joy

Simplicity has magic: to do the spell, just recite the liturgy below once or, if it feels right, repeatedly. You don’t have to do anything fancy, “right,” or grimly serious like the Great Master Wizard of the Universe. (No, the Great Master Wizard of the Universe isn’t a real thing. I made that up.) I found myself laughing as I wrote and then said the liturgy, and if anything’s right for this chant, laughter is. I intentionally made the chant silly.

When you speak the chant, include the title in your recitation.

Pizza, Prosperity, and Joy Chant

I get to eat the whole pizza.
I can pay for the whole pizza.

To add extra magic to the spell, eat a good meal immediately after the recitation. Kitchen magic!

Preparation before reciting the liturgy is not necessary. You can jump right in and do the spell. If you feel preparation would be helpful, here are suggestions:
* If you prefer to set up magical protections before you do any ritual, do so.
* Take three to fifteen deep breaths. Nothing fancy, just natural deep breaths.
* Examine yourself for internalized oppression regarding your right to food, life, prosperity, and joy. Then try to feel that inner negativity, then start the chant.

As I said, I wrote much of this essay before lockdown, before revisiting my fear of punishment. The revisit makes me doubly happy for the lighthearted chant, which was in the original draft of the article and balances its seriousness. I want my heart light. I want to continue to find fun and beauty no matter what. When in my most difficult times, I see more than ever the vital importance of trying to find joy, even if it’s small.

Those two silly lines hold power for me. Perhaps they’ll also work for you. A simple, silly spell can have great power. (The spell’s strength is not always obvious until you use the spell.) The chant, beneath its silliness—and supported by its silliness—is a ritual to overcome my internalized oppression and claim my right to food as a woman, human, and elder. Since food is central to life, I’m claiming my very right to exist, which shouldn’t even be in question, but the greed of the world challenges our right to live. The liturgy also claims my right to joy.

You needn’t be elderly for this liturgy to be relevant to you.

Self-Awareness, Self-Defeat, Self-Absorption

I like my head in the clouds and feet on the ground. Magic is not enough. I’m doing additional things to decrease swelling, while eating grain. In other words, I suspect not standing sufficiently in my power, truths, and being, coupled with the internalized oppressions of fearing attack, are causing the swelling and, once lessened, will no longer do that. So I’m trying to overcome these inner blocks.

Here is one way I’m trying to do that, in case it suggests action(s) you might take to overcome internalized oppression and/or medical problems caused by it.

I have a daily spiritual practice of watching myself for certain faults to which I am prone. Now, I’m trying to enlarge that practice (temporarily, until it becomes no longer necessary), by becoming more aware of when I’m:
* afraid of being attacked for my joy
* not allowing myself joy
* not noticing or letting myself feel my fear of attack
* not standing fully in my being and truths
* not being sufficiently self-aware and thereby unable to stand fully in my being and truths

About the last item in the list: I’m trying to, more than ever, be aware of my cellular levels, be present to the moment, and forsake numbing, that I might more than ever know deep levels of myself and of what I’m feeling and being. When I have that degree of self-awareness, I trust in magic. I become my child-self who believes in greatness. I stand on the ground of my being and truths at deeper levels than ever. If I hit that level, often enough, we’ll see if I need the wheelchair anymore.

I should add: the self-awareness I’m describing is a far cry from self-absorption. For example, I am of service when I stand for who I am and what I believe in because, in that state, I work more effectively.

Goddess Sehkmet, Please Replace My Fear with Power

I’ve been asking Goddess Sehkmet to remove my fear of attack and replace it with power. I’m praying to Her because I sense She’s especially good at empowering people to be proactive. I want to step up to the plate more than ever by 1) claiming my right to food, life, joy, and prosperity, 2) standing in my being, and 3) doing whatever else is needed to gain maximum abundance and joy and be of maximum service to my community.

Though I’ve read no lore corroborating the ability I’ve above attributed to Sekhmet, one of my students did teach me that Sekhmet protects Ra and carries out His business. (I’m not attributing the student by name because they prefer anonymity.) That reinforces my sense of Her. I’ve seen Goddess Sekhmet referred to as a “protector of truth,” which also seems to make Her the perfect help for the concerns I am discussing here.

Drawing on my above thoughts, I wrote a prayer to Her:

Goddess Sehkmet, Please Replace My Fear with Power

Sehkmet, remove my fear
that I may step up, step up, step up.
Goddess Sekhmet, protector of truth,
help me stand stand stand
in my being and truths.
Sehkmet, grant me the power to
claim my rights, my rights,
my rights to food, life, joy, and prosperity.
You Who protects Ra and carries out His business,
please protect me and grant me the power to protect myself.
Help me carry out my business of
good food, long life, abundance, joy, and service.
So mote it be!

If concerted spiritual efforts do not diminish swelling significantly after 6 to 12 months, I’ll get rid of grain.

Food is life. Food is liberty. Food is land—abundance, property, the earth on which we stand as free people. So mote it be!

Kitchen Magic

One of my pizzas, ready for the oven:

Here’s a rough recipe for it: no measurements, complete list of ingredients, etc., because I tend to wing it and eyeball it in the kitchen. But I put the recipe here in case it gives you ideas.

The crust is my adaptation of a gluten-free pizza dough recipe that was at https://www.mashupmom.com but is now gone. It was the first gluten-free pizza dough recipe that suited both my palate and allergies.

If memory serves, the recipe uses brown rice flour and garlic (among other things), with eggs and flaxseed meal to hold the dough together.

To make a more flavorful, high-protein dough, I added sunflower seed meal, almond meal, garbanzo flour, and enough garlic to curl my toes.

I wanted pizza but didn’t think I had the makings for tomato sauce. Then I remembered tomatoes I’d dried and frozen. I reconstituted them quickly by putting them and a bit of water in a pan and simmering the mixture down a bit. Topped the pizza with goat cheese. Yum.

When I cook or talk about food, the power of kitchen magic visits me. (The little pizza chant is kitchen magic, at least for me, because it focuses on food.) Sharing the pizza recipe brings to mind another reason the crone was hated for her kitchen activities. Hearth magic is power available to oppressed groups, thereby threatening oppressors. Elders will have had many years to hone their power, which makes them all the more threatening.

A kitchen is often the heart of a revolution. People quietly talk at the table, where food, beverage, and camaraderie build the strength needed for the fight to live free. So mote it be!

More Kitchen Magic

Add magical healing to medicinal herbs. How to Enchant Your Cup of Tea: https://stardrenched.com/2017/03/29/how-to-enchant-your-cup-of-tea/

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Honoring the Ancestors: The Man Who Raised Me

Photo of my beautiful young parents

Honoring the Ancestors: The Man Who Raised Me

Honoring ancestors has many aspects for me as a witch, and just as many for me as a human and individual. I want to touch on a few, before talking about my dad.

Ancestors Who Were Oppressors

Human nature being what it is, we all have ancestors who were horrible people, and some who were outright oppressors.

When I teach how to contact ancestors, do ritual with them, and live in alignment with the old ways of our forebearers, someone inevitably asks, “What should I do about awful ancestors? I don’t want any contact with them, let alone honor them.”

Whether the student deems those ancestors oppressors or terrible in other ways, the question is important.

The answer can’t be one-fits-all. Nor can I personally hang the problem all on one hook; I’ve had to approach it from a lot of different angles, including the following:

I myself have had to make peace with awful ancestors. For one thing, I don’t want hate in my heart. I can no longer bear the damage it does me.

For another, making peace helps me regain wisdom lost over the ages—herbal medicine, witchcraft, and other empowering choices suppressed by oppressors.

My very first ancestors at the beginning of human time (well, I believe the line from which I descended started long before that, but I won’t get into that here) started threads of wisdom and power that have spun forward in time. Every one of my ancestors has held and holds a piece of that thread. I don’t want my resentments to break the thread any further than has already happened. Even if an ancestor contributed to that breakage, I want to repair it.

Making peace doesn’t mean I ignore injustices ancestors have perpetrated, any more than I’d bury my head in the sand about living family members who are complete racists or otherwise awful.

But I find some peace in my heart, and that is how I honor ancestors whom I otherwise want nothing to do with, and thus repair threads that might’ve been damaged by them and my own hate. This is what I’ve learned through my own trial and error and what works for me.

What Is Ancestral trauma?

Ancestral trauma—or ancestral wound—is the suffering of a family member or members that then passes down to the next generation and the next, until it is healed. Though it’s passed down through behaviors and internalized oppression, as a shaman I also sense a maimed energy that each generation picks up. That energy also transforms the familial DNA. The behaviors and internalized oppression help create and maintain the energy. And vice versa.

Finding peace about awful people in my familial line is part of how I’ve healed the ancestral wound they passed down to me from the trauma they themselves caused to my other ancestors and that they themselves might have suffered. Carrying hate in my heart continues the legacy of hate and holds trauma securely in my DNA. Feeling hate is one thing. Holding onto that hate is another.

Ancestors if You’re Adopted

Another common question is how to deal with ancestors if you’re adopted. There are so many questions when it comes to that, including one relevant to this post: making peace with an abusive adoptive parent who has passed on, or with their ancestors.

A family member of any kind carries (or breaks) the thread of ancestral wisdom, power, and information. My theory is that, should that family member have adopted you, they hold a piece of the thread not only in their own bloodline, but surprisingly enough, hold a piece of the thread in your own bloodline. There’s not space here to go into that theory. But, if you’re like me, making peace with adoptive parents who’ve died could be important.

Awful ancestors are no small concern. There can be huge challenges, including endless questions. It takes time to deal with it all.

For example, it’s taken years to make peace with my father who has passed on. And I still experience some hate for him. I will continue to work on it.

Learning to align with my ancestors that I might live in the magic, beauty, wisdom, and power known by my forebearers has been an ongoing process. There’s been no single step then, voila, all done. But I take one step at a time, and that yields big results.

I’ve repeatedly needed to take different types of action.

For example. I’ve had to channel a lot of ritual to do this work. But now I have a body of rituals I can continue to use and also teach in my classes, and draw on for one-on-one shamanic counseling sessions. (Links to information about classes and counseling are below this essay.)

My first ancestors spun threads of wisdom and magic. Generation upon generation added more threads, until now thick ropes connect me back into the past, to my very first ancestors.

The answers that help me might not be the right ones for you. My experiences are not your experiences. But sharing our experiences can be healing. The following story about my father represents a bit of my journey making peace with him.

May 12, 2020:

Honoring the Ancestors: William Stafford

Dad, looking worn My father was always on the outside looking in. And he loved music beyond all reason.

He was a small-minded, violent man, who suffered a hard life.

I found his name in the census, which shows that, at seven years old, he disappeared from his mother’s household.

I found someone by his name in another household, that of a farming family. I suspect Bill had been sent out to work and live on a farm because there were too many mouths to feed in his own home. This is possibly corroborated by information one of my relatives has provided. In the census, Bill appears back with his mother a few years later.

Around the time he disappeared from home, his mom remarried. Did Bill’s stepfather not want him? Was this one of the first times Bill was on the outside looking in, face pressed up against the glass?

After a stint in the military during World War II, he returned from overseas and disappeared again. As a child, I was told that, during that period, he was in the south, “living with hillbillies, and ended up on a Georgia chain gang.”

My young father in uniform

Decades later, I asked him about it. All he’d tell me is that it wasn’t a chain gang. It was prison or jail, I can’t remember which, and he wouldn’t tell me why he was arrested.

After his time in the south, Dad came back to Boston—where we lived—and continued to be on the outside looking in.

He would pretend to be Irish, in a town that adored the Irish.

He would pretend to be a cop. In 1964, I was 14, and the Beatles were playing in Boston. The arena was a madhouse. When the concert was over, the crowd poured out into the lobby, and there was my dad, come to drive me home.

“How did you get in, Dad? Why did they let you in?”

He had convinced the security guards that he was a cop. Perhaps he’d flashed them a fake badge; I can no longer remember.

There was a police radio in his work room in the basement. My dad, the not-cop.

He chased fire engines. One time, he pursued one of those howling trucks, only to see it turn onto our street. He kept following. The truck stopped at our house.

Always on the outside looking in. A spectator to his own house on fire.

The man was as right wing, racist, sexist, -ist, -ist, -ist, as you can get. But when I was sixteen, I met a guitar-carrying hippie who didn’t have a place to stay. I brought him home. In retrospect, I don’t know why. Dad hated hippies.

But dad didn’t throw the kid out, didn’t care that he was a peace-loving hippy with long hair. The guy was carrying a guitar, and that’s all that mattered.

Or, maybe, Dad knew what it was like to not have a place to stay. Perhaps that’s what happened.

Bill loved folk music as much as he hated liberals. In those days, folk music was paired with Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, and revolution. Dad didn’t care.

I wonder if his appreciation of folk music came from his hillbilly friends.

Bill loved show tunes. This macho man raised me in a home where vinyl recordings of Broadway musicals constantly played in the background. I still know a lot of those lyrics by heart, and still happily belt them out to entertain myself.

Dad looking worn but happyWhen I was 14, I asked him and Mom if I could start going to folk music clubs. These were clubs for adults, and were not in my neighborhood. They were in downtown Boston and Cambridge.

Mom and Dad went to a club with me and decided I could go to them on my own.

Their attending the club with me was bizarre because they usually had very little to do with me. I was a feral kid who’d raised herself.

But there was Dad’s love of music again (and Mom’s huge-hearted ability to foster my wild dreams and artistic escapades).

Within months, I was playing some of those clubs myself as a musician.

When Bill died, I felt like someone hit me in the head with a 2 x 4. But only days later, I needed to be in the music studio. Before recording my album, there’d been 10 years of starts and stops. Recording were finally underway, due to circumstances that were temporary, the deadlines were incredibly tight, and I didn’t know how much longer Bruce Smith—my coproducer—would be available. It was now or never for this, my first, album.

It just so happened we were scheduled to record a song I’d written about Dad years back. When I arrived at the studio, I told Bruce that I’d probably break into tears at some point, and to give me five minutes to cry, and that then I’d be as professional as always. I also told him to not pull any punches when we were critiquing the mix; I didn’t want him being sensitive to my feelings; I wanted the best possible recording.

When recording the song, I thought of how Dad’s face was always pressed up against the glass, an outsider looking in. He would’ve loved to have been in that studio with me that day when I was recording a song about him, would’ve loved to have been on the same side of the recording booth’s glass walls.

The album was a bestseller. Dad would’ve loved that.

Mark Chimsky, who’s edited some of my books, asked me for a blurb today. I don’t usually give blurbs. The whole blurb thing is often just one big dishonest elitist scam, with people in power giving blurbs only to other people in power, and excluding most everyone else. But Mark is one of the most ethical, dear individuals I’ve ever met. He would’ve opened the window if he’d seen Dad’s nose pressed against the glass.

Later that day, I saw my blurb along with 19 others. The top blurb was from Johnny Cash. There was my name right below Johnny’s. I wanted to cry. The two names together would’ve meant a lot to Bill.

It doesn’t matter whose name is where. It’s all ego and illusion. Bill’s lack of self-worth drove him to construct a false ego, which he kept inflated by pretending to be Irish in the Boston of my youth, where Irish was a big deal—and an Irish cop at that, which was an even bigger deal—and by bragging about his teenage kid who played guitar.

He kept his false sense of self inflated by hating everyone who wasn’t … him. America was better than the rest of the world. Massachusetts was better than the rest of the country. Our neighborhood was better than all the other neighborhoods. Our family was better than all other families. And he was better than everyone else in the family.

He’d disappeared from the census, disappeared into prison, and disappeared into the recesses of his own self-doubt. So he bragged and hated.

I’m not saying his choice to brag and hate is the inevitable result of being made invisible and being shoved to the other side of the glass.

I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been made accountable for his hatred. I’m saying his choice is understandable.

I didn’t like Bill. He was an awful man, in ways there’s no point in giving details about here. A few years ago, when I found out that he wasn’t my biological father, it was a relief to know that we didn’t share DNA.

But I’ve come to understand that he was an intelligent, passionate, inventive fellow, and that he was shoved around and denied, denied, denied. (For one thing, he was a self-taught electronics engineer and resented that lack of college education kept his earnings low, despite many years in the electronics field.) I’ve come to compassion for this guy who helped make my childhood miserable.

No, I didn’t like Bill. But I’ve come to appreciate him.

… I guess in that sense I’ve come to like him. I appreciate his wandering restless spirit that led him to the south after he’d already been in Europe, long from home.

I appreciate his intelligence, vehemence, passion, and determination.

I’ve often wondered if he was one of the young boys who hopped trains during the depression, thrown out of the house because there wasn’t enough food. If so, that was a hard time, and he was a vagrant, wandering. I appreciate that he wandered away from his own soul, and the closest he could get to chasing after it was running after fire engines.

Wherever he thought the fire engines would bring him was an illusion, even when a fire truck brought him home to our house. And somehow, I’ve come to even like Bill for that.

I imagine somewhere, on the other side of the veil, Bill is wandering. I can’t imagine he’s been laid to rest. I can almost see him with my otherworldly eyes, see him waiting for reincarnation, needing another chance.

Dad looking worn but happyThough it’s geared to inflate his false ego, I’m happy today to tell his spirit, wherever he is, “Dad, look, look where my name is. Next to Johnny Cash’s.” And, “Dad, I never mentioned it before. My album with the song about you on it? It was a bestseller. And that book I told you I was writing, right before you died? Bestseller and dedicated to you.”

It doesn’t matter whose name is where. The prestige of a best seller doesn’t matter either. It’s all ego and illusion. But I’m happy to tell Dad where my name went today and to tell him the album and book gained recognition. Because illusions can be all someone has. Blessed be, William.

Additional Material

Honoring mothers: https://stardrenched.com/2017/09/18/ancestor-magic-mothers/

Mentioned above, the best editor ever: https://markchimskyeditorial.com

Newsletters to stay abreast of upcoming classes: https://outlawbunny.com/newsletter/

Spiritual counseling for ancestral trauma and other concerns: https://outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/

Magic Cats: Goddess Bast, Fairy Kitties, and Feline Familiars

Painting of a magical cat by Francesca De Grandis

Magic Cats: Goddess Bast, Fairy Kitties, and Feline Familiars

“Women and cats will do as they please, and men and dogs should relax and get used to the idea.”—Robert A. Heinlein

Superstitions about Cats Being Evil Aren’t True

We all know the superstitions. A black cat crossing your path is bad luck. Cats will jump into your infant’s crib and steal their breath. Bah humbug.

I wouldn’t allow a cat into a crib, in case it accidentally smothers the baby. But a cat has no demonic agenda of stealing breath. Cats are God’s creatures.

They are held dear in culture after culture.

Most people know they were worshiped as deities by ancient Egyptians, but respect for felines is worldwide.

For example, there is an Italian myth, found in the book, Aradia, Gospel of the Witches, about a fairy cat who helped the Goddess Diana play a trick on Her brother. This resulted in all of creation coming into being, showing that kitty was one pretty special feline.

There’s also the ubiquitous Japanese sculpture of a cat with one paw raised. You’ve probably seen it in restaurants. That statue brings good luck.

Who Is the Goddess Bast?

Bast is an ancient Egyptian Goddess.

Often portrayed as having a human body and Lioness head, She was considered a fierce protector. Later, images of Her tended to be a house cat, with perhaps a sistrum (a rattle used in ritual) by Her side. The shift of Bast’s image from lion to domesticated feline accompanied Her becoming the patron Deity of women, children, and domestic cats.

In the ‘80s, I saw so many images of the house cat version of Bast having a gold, hoop earring piercing one of Her ears, that I assumed it was traditional. Then, I researched to see if the gold hoop is a modern addition, but couldn’t find the answer.

Bast loves perfume. This delights me since beautiful scents are part of my magic. Next time I use scent in a spell, maybe I’ll wear my Bast amulet and ask Her to bless the spell. I think perfumes would be a lovely offering to Her, too.

I personally do not believe She became any less fierce or effective a protector when She became domesticated. Humans no longer live wild in caves, but we remain fiercely protective as parents. And One of Her aspects is a loving parent.

Bast as a Fierce Protector Goddess

Bast has a ferocious side, which I turn to for protection.

While making three Bast amulets—photographs of them are throughout the remainder of this post —I was super aware of how well She protects me. Bast sometimes looks like a cute little kitty, but She’s fierce.

a magic cat amulet necklace

One of the many blessings from the entire feline kingdom is protection. Princess Beast, the cat who lives with me, looks like the sweetest, gentlest little ball of fluff, but she once reared up and attacked the postal carrier with such viciousness that the person scrambled out the door in fear.

When writing this post, I used voice recognition software. It translated my spoken words the feline kingdom as “God the lion kingdom.” That wild change cracked me up because my trickster Goddess sometimes guides me through incredibly funny voice recognition mishaps. I feel the particular synchronistic rewrite about cats affirms that in every cat resides mighty lion Deities, both male and female, lending us Their immense power, ferocity, and protection. And that Bast’s power is unquestionable, no matter how She is represented.

Bast Also Has a Gentle, Loving, Nurturing Aspect

In my experience (as opposed to any lore I’ve read), sometimes Bast turns into a cutie, an adorable kitten curled up around me with gentleness and love. Except that, being a God, the gentleness and love with which She surrounds me is immense beyond measure.

Words can’t convey what I experience when I visualize the universe being run by a Deity Who is as sweet, gentle, and softly furry as a kitten. All fear of any God or of a hostile universe leaves me. It is as if Princess Beast, who curls up on my lap, purring, affectionately licking my hand, has a larger version—an immense version that is God, curled up around me, and governing all things so lovingly that my material and spiritual needs are well taken care of.

That visualization is not the only time I’ve turned to Bast for help when I forgot that my Gods are loving, kind, and sweet, instead of judgmental, uncaring, and disdainful. Here’s another time:

I try to not chastise myself for my oh-so-human feelings of anger, but one day, I was actually hating the part of me that feels anger. I don’t want self-hate; it serves no good purpose. Hate for myself is not healing. In fact, self-hate hinders change.

After making the Bast talismans, which invoke Her into your life, She showed love for the part of me that’s angry. Her love transformed both my hate and anger. A God condemning me for my anger would not have helped me.

Another time, I was hot with anger at someone who’d seriously messed with me. Bast not only wrapped Herself tenderly and lovingly around me, so that I did not hate myself for my anger, She also told me I needn’t be pulled down by fear of my anger or of the person messing with me. That message helped me face my anger, be empowered by it, and release it, all of which in turn allowed me to take appropriate steps, on both the magical and mundane planes, to protect myself.

She also made it clear She would show Her other side should that person try to mess with me again. Picture a guest walking in my door, and Princess Beast instantaneously going from cuddling with me to leaping off my lap in order to prepare to slash out fiercely at the guest, should they be dangerous.

Witches and Cat Familiars

Witches keep cats or other animals as familiars (magical helpers).

My familiar, Princess Beast, hangs out with a poppet. (I made it probably in the ‘80s.)

I am such a cliche witch: I adore cats. Whether it’s the Goddess Bast, the fairy kitty in the aforementioned creation myth, or the black and white feline who’s been meowing at my door recently, then scrambling off as soon as I appear, I cannot resist a cat.

I find all cats to be Fey, and haven’t been without a cat familiar by my side for decades.

Familiars Are All So Different

Every cat has their own personality, magic, and lessons to give us. Every one of my familiars has come to me right when I needed its particular powers.

Teenie, my familiar of 17 years, may she rest in peace, was peaceful, loving, and noble. She tried to teach me these virtues. Ganesh, a high energy fellow who lived with us for a few years, embodied and taught me lessons in joyful chaos. Princess Beast is a comedienne, an utter Holy Fool who helps me be lighthearted and enjoy life more.

Teenie, 2013

Princess Beast as a silly kitten

Princess Beast constantly offers photo-ops, whereas Teenie usually hated having her picture taken. She tended to immediately change whatever darling, gorgeous, or otherwise noteworthy position she was in, if I grabbed the camera to capture the moment. She taught me to be in the moment instead of losing an experience by trying to document it.

Even as a kitten, Princess Beast loved surprising me with photo ops. Here she portrays a cat Goddess bigger than Gaia. Gaia statue by Oberon Zell-Ravenhearr

Bast Talismans / Kitty Faerie Charms

I made three talismans that invoke blessings from the Cat Goddess Bast and Faerie cats.

I make charms my own way. So I’m not suggesting you need to make them the way I describe below. I just like sharing my magical process.

I imbued the talismans with the feline magical energies described in this post, as well as the power to grant blessings you personally might expect from the sacred feline realms.

Two of the charms are necklaces. One is for me. (Mine is the one with the paler cord.) A friend will probably be buying the other one.

Two magic cat amulet necklaces

Here is what I strung on both necklaces:

I am 90% sure each pendant is carved from a single piece of ribbon jasper. Ditto the cat in the wall hanging, later in this post. I love how different colors emerge in a ribbon jasper carving, especially when a skilled artisan takes advantage of it.

I find ribbon jasper exudes happiness and contentment. This was not taught to me by a human but directly by the stone itself. Ditto its happy, grounded energy that helps keep my feet on the ground when I’m walking between the stars.

The carvings remind me of a Victorian cameo. I’m an old hippie who loves Victoriana, so it is inevitable some of my designs end up BoHo meets Queen Victoria.

Immediately above each pendant are three large beads. The smaller two are moss agate, a stone I find wondrously Fey; a stone that appears so mosslike seems a magical marvel to me. That Fey energy is a good match for these talismans. Could anything more Fey than a cat? They run into the room when you’re doing a ritual because they want to join in. They stalk invisible beings. And many a strega (traditional Italian witch) honors the fairy cat who figures prominently in the aforementioned creation myth.

Detail of a magic cat amulet necklaceThe largest of the three beads is a focal lampwork bead. I go to great lengths to acquire items that help make each of my talismans shines with both its own unique beauty and singular magic. I buy beads carefully, taking my time. The lampwork beads in these two talismans are two of 18 unique beads I commissioned from Jill at https://www.wyomingsilvers.net. (I’m not suggesting Jill is Pagan. I’ve no idea. I found her shop because I love lamp work glass.) I’ve acquired a number of pieces by this talented artisan.

Woven up each side of both necklaces are designer seed beads. They have a mottled appearance that goes perfectly with all the natural stone in the necklaces.

Woven with the seed beads are three larger, round beads on each side. They were destash so I don’t know what they are. I suspect they’re serpentine because their surface has the “waxiness” of that stone. I’m not a gem-identification expert.

Serpentine is one of my favorite stones.

Or perhaps the round beads are not serpentine but the same stone as the cat cameos: I carefully sorted through a few hundred of those round stones—I love fastidiously creating talismans—to find ones that best match the carving, and I was able to match some well enough that it made me wonder if they were the same stone.

Regardless, these beads have a lovely, smooth ancient energy—gentle and peaceful.

I’m really happy my friend and I will have sister necklaces.

I make one of a kind charms. Sometimes, when creating one to sell or gift, I make a somewhat similar one for myself while I’m at it. I don’t make them identical, mindlessly going about the work. Quite the opposite. For example, I sorted through my moss agate and lampwork beads to find the ones best suited to each pendant.

Sometimes my Gods make it quite clear I’m not to create the similar piece for myself: e.g., I won’t be able to make the one for me work aesthetically, or its cord gets hopelessly tangled.

The Third Bast / Fairy Cat Talisman Is a Wall Hanging

a magic cat amulet wall hanging

It is strung on waxed cotton cords. The large orangey barrel-shaped bead is copal. I seem to remember amber being sacred in ancient Egypt. I didn’t have any, and copal seemed a perfect substitute. The large, long faceted piece is probably bone. Bone represents the eternal. The idea of a cat’s nine lives represents the same thing to me.

Here’s a close-up of the two wee designer beads I selected to put right above the kitty. Tiny bits of loveliness hold magic:
Detail of a magic cat amulet wall hanging

When knotting the cords in this amulet, I tied in blessings. When adding beads, I added blessings.

Crafting amulets is an important part of my magic and witch spirituality. To read a bit more about my talisman-making journey, check this out: https://stardrenched.com/2018/08/31/making-talismans/

I don’t get a chance to create talismans to sell very often right now. When I do, my newsletter subscribers often will get first shot at purchasing them. Click below to subscribe.

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Fairy, Faerie, Faery, Fey, Fay, …

Fairy God, Francesca De Grandis, 2010. Painting of a foliate face with deer horns.

Different Spellings: Fairy, Faerie, Faery, Fey, Fay, Fae…

1) Does the Spelling—e.g., Fairy vs Faerie—Change the Meaning?

Some people use the various spellings to convey different meanings. The distinctions made shift from wee group to wee group, and continue to change from month to month, and thus might cause more confusion than they alleviate when voiced in a large public forum.

The main differentiation made is between the fairies who populate Victorian literature—darling, wee, cute, winged creatures—and the Faeries of ancient lore. (I’ll define the latter in a moment.) Individuals who voice this distinction often insist the Victorian darlings are inauthentic and a corruption of the “real” thing. I disagree.

The Fey Folk (Fae Folk, Fair Folk) take on many guises, and many a child, before losing their otherworldly site, has seen the Victorian version. I will not trample on a child’s vision.

Several of those children, grown, have told me how they suffered when they came to the Pagan community, hoping this’d be a place they’d finally be understood, only to have their visions invalidated, once more. How awful!

The boastful disdain, subtle or overt, for the Victorian fairy and people drawn to them makes me sad. It seems the naysayers want to garner attention, by showing they know an old spelling: Faerie. As if that made them superior to people who don’t use that spelling. These naysayers are authenticating and inflating themselves, by saying they are not someone else, as if the someone else is less than them.

The longer I live, the more I know most Fey Folk don’t give a hoot about your spelling. They do get annoyed by people who are snobby.

So I say: spell as you will. If you want to explain your view of the Fey, rock on! A specific spelling might not be the best way to explain. As I said, meanings of the various spellings constantly shift. Honor your own concept, share it if you feel like it, and walk away from anyone who turns down their nose at it. (Here’s a little humor about snobby magicians: https://stardrenched.com/2012/10/04/fluffy-bunny-pagan/)

2) Who are the Fey/Fae/Faerie/… of ancient lore?

Opinions vary. I believe they’re part of the Old Religion—shamanic culture that predates Christianity—and that there are at least the following four categories of Faeries (how I spell the word here doesn’t matter to me):

* ancient Fey Gods

* an ancient African tribe on the Dahomey coast, people with a tiny stature who migrated throughout the world, teaching their enchantments. That makes sense to me. Almost every culture has lore of a small, dark, magical people. And Africa has been the origin of so much of the world’s culture that it likely could also be an initial source of much magical culture. 

* descendants of human women who mated with beings from the sky. The latter are considered Gods, angels, or aliens.

* any otherworldly creature, as opposed to just humanoid beings. All magical entities—e.g., dragons—are traditionally called Fey/Fae/Faerie/….

3) The Fairy Queen Honors Varying Visions of Her Kind

And She doesn’t care if you refer to Her as Faerie Queene, Faerie Queen, or Faery Queen.

A relationship with the Fair Folk is a human heritage. It does not belong to an exclusive elite who insists there’s only one type of relationship, or one way to view the Fae. That supposed elite tends to be obnoxious about the spelling. It’s a subtle way to tear down anyone else’s involvement with the Fey.

The older I get, the more I want to honor everyone’s relationship to the Fair Folk, whatever form it takes, as long as it is ethical, and with ethical Faeries. (This article Ethical (and Unethical) Fey Teachers talks about ethical and unethical Fairies: https://stardrenched.com/2012/05/30/ethical-and-unethical-fey-teachers/).

I’ve vowed lifetime after lifetime to continue to part the veil between the mundane and Faerie realms. I cannot do that work unless I honor the various relationships with—and mental pictures of—the Fair Folk. In that spirit, I celebrate folks’ preferred spelling(s).

Honoring everyone’s ideas of the Fey doesn’t imply that my particular relationship with them is milquetoast. My Fey life is amazing. It’s precious and special and crazy powerful and deep. I suspect many a person feels their particular version is amazing, precious, special, crazy powerful, and deep. That’s wonderful! Beautiful!

We can all have different amazing versions, and cleave to them without invalidating anyone else’s. Mine is so strongly a part of me that I feel secure enough to support those whose experiences are wildly divergent from mine. When we embrace our own experiences, we’re free to support other experiences without feeling they denigrates our own. When we honor other folks’ experiences, we are more able to embrace our own.
Nordic Faerie I met in the ‘90s. She is over 5’ tall, and was my webmaster for a while.  Francesca De Grandis painting of blonde woman with wings and modern garb.

4) Lore, Linguistics, and Anthropology Have Special Magic

Language and anthropology fascinate me. The history, lore, and linguistics surrounding each spelling are important and beautiful. (I’m not going to get into them in this post, because they’re not core to the main thrust of this essay. Besides, many other writers could do much better jobs of explaining the cultural backgrounds of the various spellings than I could.)

If an individual finds freedom, joy, and magic in a spelling because of the meaning its cultural background suggests, that’s beautiful. I enjoy doing that myself. But it’s only one of the options I draw on (and not a main one). Were I to insist it is the only approach, and therefore you must cleave to it, my haughtiness would not be true freedom.

As a poet and mystic, I cannot let my use of language be restricted to cultural backgrounds of words.

5) Faerie Secrets Are Alive and Demand Freedom

Right now, using all the spellings works for me. I don’t want jargon that restricts me. I want words to free me. A dogmatic use of language obscures the paths to fairy secrets. Words cannot contain Faerie secrets, anyway. I want to use language to point me toward the Fey mysteries. To do so, I personally need all the spellings.

They each evoke a distinct Fae reality for me—or several—providing various powerful opportunities, various portals.

Additional portals appear because a spelling might evoke something different from one context to the next. So I won’t decide that one spelling shall always mean one specific thing, and another spelling shall always mean another specific thing, no matter how much the history of the words might denote otherwise. Otherworldly mysteries transcend logic or fixed definitions; there’s an ever shifting poetry to all this that I need to honor, the ever-changing poetry of life as it manifests moment to precious, unique moment. That which is alive is not fixed. I am not saying you must honor the poetry of this. I’m talking about what currently works for me.

Each spelling also has its own poetry and a melody. The poetry and song may shift from context to context because, as I said, mysteries are alive, and as such ever-shifting.

An abundance of spellings is an abundance of Fey opportunities. I won’t let any mortal bar me from Fey realms, for even a minute, by insisting something is legitimate and correct only if stifled in a constricted language box.

Call it Fae, fairy, or fantabulosis, capitalize the words or not, but Fey experiences and the fairies themselves run from those who try to confine them.

Painted this picture of one of my ancestors in 2012. Francesca De Grandis painting of an African woman with pointed ears like an elf’s.

An example of how different spellings provide different portals:

In my 30s, I started using Faerie instead of Fairy because the former evoked the idea of mystery and majesty to me in a way the latter hadn’t. The language shift was affirming and freeing.

Eventually, restricting myself to that spelling felt less affirming and more naysaying, less freeing and more restricting. In fact, it felt like mystery and majesty were diminished by restricting myself to that spelling.

I continue to use Faerie. It invokes my past lives and other things I treasure. No spelling is ruled out.

Often, I’m using the various spellings as synonymous. If I labor over spelling decisions all the time, I’d make myself crazy, because, in my own way, I’d be trying to trap Faerie secrets in verbal boxes.

I need to choose my spelling carefully when it feels important, and the rest of the time just go with the flow, perhaps using my intuition as part of that.

I’m having a ball with all the spellings. So much magic is invoked. I love being a wordsmith, bard, and poet. I love how lore, culture, and my personal history impact meanings.

Another example of spellings as portals:

6) Faerie Tale or Fairytale?

The more typical spelling evokes a turning point in my life, and all the power thereof.

When I was in grade school, my teacher told a fairy tale about a generous little girl who kindly gave water to someone who was thirsty. As a reward for the child’s generosity, her water-ladle flew up into the sky and became the Big or Little Dipper, I can’t remember which.

I ran home to excitedly ask my mother if the story was true. Goddess bless Mom for answering, with a completely straight face, “Yes.” Mom was a Strega, and her reply nurtured my innocent trust in fairy tales and magic. This put joy in my heart, when I was desperately hoping for an alternative to the bleak view of life that reigned in my neighborhood.

Today, there’s no doubt in my mind that magic is real, as real as a kiss. There’s no doubt in my mind that Fey matters are real, including a-good-Faerie-appears-to-grant-your-wishes-with-a wave-of-their-wand. No doubt in my mind the universe is constantly doing a powerful spell for us to have love, abundance, etc.—our hearts’ desires. There is magic surrounding us and taking care of us.

The day I ran home to ask my mother about the reality of fairytales was a turning point. My life would’ve been horrifically lacking had Mom laughed at the joyful hope in my young heart—hope of magic and possibility. Instead, Mom’s response was an important contribution to my certainty of magic.

So I won’t give up the spellings fairytale, fairy tale, fairy tales, fairytales. They—not Faerie tales—call forth a specific certainty of magic. Faerie tales calls forth in me another type of certainty about magic. but what’s important to say here is:

Today, Fairy tales, Fairytales, etc., invoke the childlike wonder I felt at my mom’s remark, and a child’s utter belief in magic. The part of me that understands the very realness of magic as a fanciful reality, as opposed to, for example, magical realities being mere metaphors for psychological states, comes forward.

When that part of me awakens, opportunities abound:

My spells are powerful. I get to enjoy visits to the other world, where I am blessed with joy, peace, bliss, and power. The enchantment that fills the universe and surrounds me blesses me and carries me to my ideal situations, whether worldly or otherworldly. So mote it be!

Fairy witch, Francesca De Grandis, is the author of “Be a Goddess!” A teacher, guide, and healer, she offers long distance classes, rituals, private counseling, and healings. Her Goddess spirituality embraces practical magic spells. Raised in a European-based shamanic family tradition that includes both Italian sorcery and Celtic shamanism, Francesca’s witchcraft is a multicultural Faerie shamanism.

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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.

stregamoon

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 as 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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