Please join me for a May Day celebration, Tues, May 3, from 3:00 to 4:00 EST.
We’ll meet in a circle of love to enjoy Spring’s return and heal Mother Earth. I’ll also lead you through a spellcasting for one of your wishes to come true.
The event is a group phone call. Free and open to all. (Your usual long-distance charges apply, and appear on your phone bill). No experience needed.
To participate, call 1-712-775-7000. When prompted, enter 1095248#. Dial three to five minutes before 3:00; it can take a bit to connect, and latecomers are not allowed.
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Wakening Yourself and the Earth
Winter blahs? Or just need a boost any time of year? Let’s use every means possible to be awake and to wake the earth, so we can dance together and with Her, in celebration of our collective wild, honorable beauty.
My following 2007 article was originally published in Faerie Nation Mag.
Where I live, many people become depressed around February and March. There’s not a lot of light here in the winter, and the cold and snow keep folks indoors with cabin fever. Moreover, local economic problems that prevail all year round exacerbate any seasonal difficulties.
To combat our February/March ickiness, my friends and I decided to go out together. While we weren’t sure what we’d do, it didn’t matter. The important thing was that getting out of our houses would break the monotony.
When deciding what our outing would consist of, I also happened to be pondering the local population. A good number of exceptions aside, there seems to be a collective lack of self-worth, accompanied by a general sense that there’s no point in being a dreamer who strives for a better life.
Though economic hardship accounts for some of this, it seemed to me that there must be a hidden additional explanation. The area is filled with natural beauty and power that should be uplifting and motivating people. Why wasn’t it? Or, if it was, why wasn’t it doing so enough? Perhaps, in a town where Christian fundamentalism is the norm, an energy field had been created that squelched the earth’s joy? What if the spiritual power of the land was being repressed?
Mind you, I understand that many Christians feel a spiritual connection to the earth. I’m not implying they don’t. Just about everyone here gardens, which makes them appreciate nature and its gifts. I could add lots more about a real appreciation of the land here, felt by most residents. To some extent, folks are uplifted by the land here. So what I’m addressing here is fundamentalism. It is so stifling and uber-controlling that maybe it doesn’t just affect people’s spirits but also the spirit of the earth here, so that it can’t give everything it wants to give us.
Okay, maybe my words seem like crazy talk, but I decided that doing a ceremony to free the land here from its mystical chains was not only a great idea, it would also be a fun way to shake my friends and me out of our winter doldrums.
I started to write the ceremony below, to wake the land from any lethargy, stupor, and even oblivion that might have been forced on it. Before doing so, I happened to mention my idea to Faerie Nation Mag staff member Ade, and joked, “I’m writing a ritual to wake up the power spot here so that it can overthrow local patriarchy.” We laughed, but then it seemed I had accidentally summed up one of the logical outcomes of my ritual.
Here’s the rite I wrote, shared with you in the hope that if enough people use it, the hopelessness that comes from repressive mentalities everywhere can be better combated. Not that this ritual alone is sufficient. The problem must be attacked from many fronts. However, we who are mystics bring a very specific gift to the mix. In addition, the land is alive with abilities beyond muggle imaginings. Let’s draw on that potential.
In serving the earth, we wake ourselves up from any negativity that we’ve fallen prey to.
If you lead a friend or friends in the ritual, please read them the whole article for context, because it empowers—and is a chalice for—the rite. Also please attribute the article and ritual creation to me. Attribution heals Gaia and ancestors. Lack of attribution makes bad mojo. Blessed be.
Step 1. Find the (or a) major power spot in your immediate area. My friend, Kush, suggested finding out what the first building here was, that it was likely put on a power spot. So I called the town’s Visitor’s Bureau and asked what the first building was. I also asked what the first church was, since they are often on native sacred sites. A local historical society might also be a good place to call—that’s who the Visitor’s Bureau referred me to.
If you can’t find a “major power spot,” go to a place that resonates for you. Or just find a square foot of dirt somewhere and go stand on it for the rite. Or sit in your own living room! The earth is all one piece, and it is alive and aware. Wherever you do the ritual, the area you live in will, as a whole, hear you. We did the rite inside a local church.
Step 2. Once in your spot, say out loud or silently,
Spirit of the earth
we call to you
It is time. You can rise now,
break through the mind-numbing
rise up, wake up,
bring your joy and power up
to the surface of Gaia
and into the company of the earth’s other children—
we humans and other beings who live here.
No longer can brick and board and cement
laid heavily against your urges
Let this prayer give you the power
to be free again.
Let this prayer give you the power
to be free again.
Let this prayer give you the power
to be free again.
And help us, who live here, have
the power to live free ourselves,
the power to honor your needs,
the power to take care of you,
so that you and we live
in a cycle of keeping each other whole and happy,
back and forth, ‘round and ‘round, again and again.
We sing to you.
We sing to you
So be it, So be it, So be it. So be it.
Step 3. Leave two offerings: one of joy and pleasure, the other of food and drink. In other words, the first offering should be fun or beautiful—a handful of dried rose petals strewn on the ground, or a few flowers placed there. Or a sprig of sweet-smelling herbs, a pretty feather, rock, or bead, or whatever else is uplifting. We hung a strand of beads on a tree.
As for food and drink, leave at least one tablespoon of each, any edible and beverage that you feel is appropriate. If you can’t think of anything that seems right, choose randomly so that you at least leave something. This offering can be placed directly on the ground, or in a cup or other container.
Step 4. (Optional) Do something to wake up your own spirit. The first three steps should accomplish this on their own, but you may want to add more. It needn’t be large. Spritz yourself with perfume. Or hug someone. Even a cup of tea can kindle warmth in your soul. It’s wonderful to do big things, but if that’s not possible, better something than nothing.
You needn’t do this ceremony in winter, but instead just when you want to give yourself and the earth a renewal of the spirit. Please try the rite out. It might change you, your town, our world. Many acts are needed to free the human race of its terrible dilemmas and to save Gaia. Let’s use every means possible to be awake and to wake the earth, so that we can dance together and with Her, in celebration of our collective wild, honorable beauty.
By the way, just the act of creating the rite really helped my mood. Then actually doing the ritual with my friends made me feel even better. And we had a ball on our outing.
My ancestors are spiritually important to me. So I’m combining science and spirit in a deeply personal way: I ordered an AncestryDNA test kit.
A mystic, I travel through the blood in my veins, back through time, to discover the ancient ways my family once practiced. Today, the logical rational side of me does the same by spitting into a vial. This test tube becomes a chalice that arrived by mail, enclosed in plastic. Two supposedly disparate halves of me come together to feed my spirit.
I mailed my saliva, part of my sacred body, to scientists, who will analyze it to reveal my ethnic background. They’ll go back through many generations, the same way my meditations have. Their work will expand my otherworldly travels.
The lab analysis will determine where my ancestors hail from, based on a science my layperson’s mind can’t understand, no matter how much experts explain it.
Many scientists would be equally puzzled by my ability to uncover historical information by meditating on my blood. I have my expertise, they have theirs. I get to draw on both.
A relationship with my ancestors, in ritual and daily life, is pivotal to me. They lovingly support me. And I tend them. Trance journeys give me a strong intuitive sense of my ancestors. The DNA results can help me know whether my intuitions are correct.
It would be fine to trust my intuition without the DNA results. (Check out my blog about that: Mysticism and Non-Academic Scholarship.) But corroboration is useful.
Science can support my spirituality in other ways, too.
For one, I come from a European shamanic family tradition. Some of my family history has been lost. I’m hoping DNA will fill in gaps.
For example, I might see how major societal events impacted my family’s past generations to shape the family’s spirituality. That familial story could provide context to better understand my own path.
Luck allowed me to gather a staggering amount of anecdotal evidence about my ancestors. Information from relatives, and from strangers I don’t know but who have my last name, and from other sources, provided enormously convincing material, when looked at as a whole. I believe anecdotal evidence is part of folk culture and one source of the old wise ways. This fecund anecdotal evidence can be augmented with DNA science.
For example, the DNA test might help me gather more anecdotal evidence, if it leads to relatives I hadn’t learned about previously. They might know family history I don’t.
DNA results could also be a jumping off point for more ancestral rituals. I love the wisdom of ancient cultures, and appreciate reenactment whether based in textbooks’ history or intuited history. I revere native and ancestral spiritual practices. These leanings feed my desire for DNA info about my ancestral roots.
I can best explain another reason for wanting a test by telling you a personal story.
A friend of mine was part of a DNA study. Before continuing the story, let me be clear: I’m not part of any study. My test kit is from AncestryDNA. They’re not experimenting on me, and their tests results do not show an ancestral timeline such as you’ll read about in my friend’s tale. I checked out some companies, and AncestryDNA seems to give the most comprehensive results. If you’re interested, their kit is also easy to use.
Back to my story:
My friend phoned me one day, and exclaimed rapturously, “I got the DNA results. My family originated in Egypt!”
Then she added, “My later ancestors migrated to Greece. Guess where else my ancestors migrated to?”
I responded, “Mongolia?”
There was a long pause. Then she said, in a stunned voice, “That’s right! How did you know?”
“It was obvious. Your immense love for Egyptian religions motivated you to become an Egyptian scholar, devoted to reviving ancient Egyptian spiritual practices, which became part of your personal devotions. Later, you seriously worked with Greek Gods. Then, you channeled material that had no geographical basis, as far you knew, but later found out that the material resonated with documented Mongolian traditions.”
I continued, “Your family only told you about your Caucasian Irish lineage. But your earlier ancestors influenced your mystical life. Your spiritual quest this lifetime follows the migration of your ancestors, step by step!”
The point of my story: I want to know if my DNA matches my various spiritual leanings.
There can be valid reasons we’re drawn spiritually to cultures we were not raised in. Our DNA might be one of those reasons. I don’t hold with the idea that you should only use the spiritual tools of your obvious ancestors.
Mind you, I am not okaying co-option. I’m saying legitimate cross cultural shamanism exists.
That legitimacy is hard to come by. It would take a whole book to explain how to pull it off ethically and otherwise, so I won’t get into it here, except to say:
By “cross-cultural shamanism,” I don’t mean “core shamanism,” AKA the idea that shamanism is primarily the same in all cultures. I disagree with the modern standardization of shamanism.
My experience is that shamans individualize according to cultural differences, and way past that, individualizing family by family and person by person.
My personal definition of legitimate cross-cultural shamanism is an ethical, thoughtful blend of earth based mysticism as it manifests in various cultures.
I am a little worried. With adventure, comes fear of the unknown: am I going to like the DNA test results?
But mostly I’m excited about the DNA adventure I am embarking on.
And I feel gratitude for science and magic.
When the DNA results arrive, I’ll post them here, and share how it impacts my mystical journey.
Note: I first posted this blog May 2015 at http://witchesandpagans.com/sagewoman-blogs/a-faerie-haven.html and post it again here for those of you who tend to read me here.
Part two in a series on supporting newcomers (and oldtimers) in your spiritual community. May, 2013. Part one is on my other site, at http://www.outlawbunny.com/2011/06/14/welcoming-newbies/
A woman phoned me to inquire about my classes. That’s not unusual; I teach oral tradition style, so feel I should be available by phone if someone wants to ask about my work.
She immediately said that very few pagans are hard-working in their spiritual efforts. This is not unusual, either; I hear that sentiment plenty.
After addressing her community critique, I tried to move the conversation past it, but she kept returning to the issue. She is not someone for whom I’d be a good teacher.
It is only human to bond with someone new by denigrating others. But it is a tendency I try to avoid: While it feeds the ego of the two people bonding (they get to feel superior to everyone else in the world), it keeps them from getting any actual work done. I mean the sort of work that happens in my classes: for example, self-examination, self-care, nurturing of ability to serve community, and building shamanic skills. No, I am not the teacher for her.When first working as a spiritual counselor in an occult shop, I received a pretty big shock. I’d been guiding folks in a private practice, mostly by referral. Suddenly I was thrown onto the front lines. Someone would come to the shop to consult with me because their daughter had just died. Or their 14-year-old son had gotten somebody pregnant. Or their husband beat them.
I went home and threw out my lofty new age abstractions. I threw out my Celtic cross spread, at least for most of the shop appointments. (For those of you who don’t know the spread, it makes for a complex lengthy session.) A lot of these shop sessions were only ten minutes long. After that my boss pressed the buzzer: Time’s up!
I sat in my home and started coming up with very fast spreads that would tune me into the heart of the client’s issue(s) and the essence of the advice they needed. I compiled a list of community resources: contact information for women’s shelters, teen crisis counseling, etc. I honed my inner skills more than ever so that I’d sense a client’s needs stat.
I was a working minister.
Decades later now. As then, not all my work is with trauma survivors. Often, I help people with more “everyday” concerns,” as well as train folks in shamanism, other esoteric skills, creativity, and marketing. But I’m definitely always on the frontlines: in community, with a busy schedule of counseling and teaching.
I mention being a shop employee and my ensuing work because: I’ve rarely gotten involved in pagan debates; I am too busy! Mind you, I discuss my work with other front-line ministers who can help me polish my shamanic skills, not burn out, and otherwise address my work. But I do not want to be criticized because of theoretical issues that have little basis and are thrown on the table by angry people with no understanding of what I am really up against on the ministerial front lines.
When we’re busy looking at our own faults, polishing our own skills, taking care of ourselves, and serving community, we don’t have time to unnecessarily criticize people.
Criticism is appropriate sometimes. Each of us needs to be held accountable by community. And healthy debate is joyfully welcomed in my classes because fresh perspectives rise.
The sort of criticism that I’d like to see less of is the endless picayune bickering that seems to produce little. Hmm, well, it produces swollen egos, draws the limelight, hurts sincere seekers whether newbie or oldtimer, and silences timid souls. Important sidebar: It hurts the newbies not only because they feel rejected but also because it encourages them to behave in kind.
Even as an oldtimer, I can feel hurt and invalidated, when people get so riled up and so angry and bitter; and behind their words is the statement, “I am better than you, I am better than you, I am better than you.” And behind that statement is their primary one: “Go climb in a hole so that your sincere efforts don’t shame me any longer.” This can be devastating to newbies who are ardent seekers with hearts wide open!
Those kind of arguments and the comments of that person who phoned me are also tantamount to saying about the person being criticized, “You are the ‘other.’ You are ‘one of them,’ so you are not as worthy of love and respect. I do not have to treat you with caring and decency because you do not have the same vulnerabilities as me.”
Now, if this post ends now, my mental meandering amounts to me just being another superior jerk. But I am going somewhere productive (I hope):
It felt important to paint a recognizable picture of high-handed community strife and its outcome for three reasons:
1) If you avoid insane community debate, you still might be uber-critical of other pagans (or someone else) within the confines of your own mind. When I find myself doing that, it’s time for a good look at myself. Internal criticism (perhaps a running commentary on the superiority of others, lol) has the same impact on me as it would were I voicing it online. Same impact, dude! I might be avoiding looking at my own errors or avoiding responsibility, to either community or self.
Feeling superior is more comfortable than looking at my own faults. And superiority can, oddly enough, make me feel safer than self-care. And superiority is safer than getting out into the world to try to make a difference. You avoid the endless, high-handed criticism of I-know-better-than-everyone-else idlers who are likely to pursue you once you try to make a diff in the world.
2) Angry superiority is what many newcomers first see. Or we might meet newbies with a subtle version of the same thing. I want to make a practice of examining myself for this. For example, is my ego playing out in a more subtle manner? Goddess, when someone inquires about my work, keep me humble, welcoming, self-aware, and focused on love and service. Goddess, at all times, keep me humble, welcoming, self-aware, and focused on love and service.
3) If you are afraid of getting into the pagan community because of what you see, now you know i see it too. You are not alone. Please realize there are people who do not bicker. We aren’t as vocal because we’re busy living. If you ask the Universe to guide and inspire you, you will find us.
And, with us, you can work and dance and celebrate the Gods. Because we are pagan to the bone. Heathens, celebrating the stars, the earth, the seasons, ourselves, and each other.
You will find us. We are here. I am like you.
People trying to decide if I’m the right guide for them often say, “I’m eclectic, so I don’t know if I’ll fit into what you teach.”
Oh dear! It is terrible that the prevalence of bad teachers requires that issue to even come up.
Most of my students are eclectic. I am, too. Those who look for the core of reality, the heart of magic, and the essence of mysticism do not want to be boxed in by labels (Wicca, hedge witch, Druid, Taoist, Christian), and are not looking for ego-feeding titles. They are drawn to teachers who, whatever their path, support students to find their own idea—and experience—of the core of reality, heart of magic, and essence of mysticism. I hope I’m one such teacher.
During our lessons, we transcend labels and titles, to focus on finding our individual beliefs, personal myths, and shamanic gifts. If folks already have them, I help them polish their personal approach, even if they’re already master level.
Magic, Spirit, and life cannot be standardized.
I do tend to call my classes “Wicca” or “Faerie.” I’m of the generation in which “Wicca” and “Faerie” referred to (among other things) individualized earth-spirituality. Unfortunately, nowadays, those terms are often used rigidly, to denote a set liturgy and belief system, which invalidates many beautiful Gaia lovers.
You’re not alone if you’ve faced invalidation. When first teaching (eek, that was in the eighties!), I thought I knew the one true way. Then I realized my students were my peers and fellow travelers. Guess what? After explaining I wld no longer support a hierarchy, I lost many of my students, they migrated to a fundie tradition of fey magic. I was devastated, stunned that people I loved—many of these were my beloved initiates—could not make that move with me, that attempt at being egoless. It was, and still is, painful to see ego takes precedence over ethics, effective magic, fey sensibilities, and beauty. But I mention my experience because it might be validating for folks who went through something similar. Ok, enough negative stuff. To quote “Buffy, “not for me the furrowed brow.”
Onto the rest of my beautiful day—my Gods’ embrace, a flow of joy, magic, and right livelihood, a flow carrying me toward even more joy, magic, and right livelihood. I hope this post is validating and/or, if you’re considering me as a guide, informative.
Want shamanic counseling? I can guide by phone. Book an appointment online. http://www.outlawbunny.com/pastoral-counseling/
This altarcloth is raucously pagan. For ecstatic worship, Solstice and other sun ceremonies, Beltane, sex Magic, or to add exuberance to any rite.
Click pics to see em full size and un-blurred.
You can skip process to get to Product and Purchase Info.Three layers of dyeing: First I dyed white silk yellow with low-immersion dying. The color is absolutely radiant! The snowfall means no place outside to get pics in good light. The background color is not the honey that’s in some photos. It is a bright, unrepentant, primary yellow! Not for someone afraid of color. Celebration!
“Imperfections” from low-immersion dyeing are part of its charm. Heh, charm, that’s a pun.
Second layer is the basic design. This is actual hand painting.
More hand painting made the third layer: I went over some lines with Lumiere to make them pop. You can’t tell from the photos that, for example, many of the fire symbol’s orangey-red lines were done twice, once with the first paint, the second time with Lumiere, which would “talk” more on the yellow. Then came the Lumiere that has a lovely sort of glimmer, which the photos may not be showing. I also used Lumiere paint for detailing.
I applied four Lumiere paints. The red and purple Lumiere have a subtle sheen. “Bright gold” and “super sparkle” are more overt but still tasteful, not garish: Faerie glimmers.
Product and Purchase Info:$145, plus $4 S & H. 100% silk, 66 X 13.” I am 99% sure it is 12 mm Crepe de Chine. (It is new cloth, but I accidentally discarded its label.) OOAK, original design, painted freehand, initialed and dated by artist. Hand washable. If this item calls you, grab it. I’m almost constitutionally incapable of repeating my designs.I can only ship within the U.S.
I’ve been asked to paint a spiderweb on a few altar cloths. (She suggested it as a focal point, but I just had to tuck one into the star, lol.) Her request was lovely synchronicity because, unbeknownst to her, I’ve been creating intense spiderweb spells in recent months again, for my own use and various students. I’d even made spiderweb charms for myself and students. I’ve been wearing my charm everyday for months, dangling from the gold hoop in my right ear.
Do you want an altarcloth with the four elements and a Faerie Star?