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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Women’s Grief, Women’s Victory: a Three-Week Healing and Empowerment

My sister, we need not be maidens drowning picturesquely in pools of our own tears, fulfilling the delicate, helpless portraits men have painted of us.

My sister, if your heart has long held quiet sorrow, raging sorrow, or other sadness, it is not your inevitable home, though the patriarchy would trap you there. Instead, in this event, we will rise up from pervasive sadness and helpless anger, leave the past behind, and claim our power as wild women and Goddesses.

Women, as a class, suffer grief that is specific to them.

Grief visits every human. Life includes loss. Women’s experiences of loss and grief can be quite specific. Anyone might lose a job, a child, a love, and opportunities. However, women’s losses occur in the context of a systematic oppression of women. That changes the nature of—and the number of—their losses dramatically.

A woman might mourn endless opportunities lost to sexism. The lost opportunities’ wide range is tragic. Some examples: glass ceilings; living in poverty because someone co-opted ideas, products, or services she developed; stolen micro-chances accruing day by day, year after year, effectively stopping a woman from pursuing financial independence, financial security, personal fulfillment, and other well-being. Loss after loss, macro and micro, on and on.

Other examples of losses: a woman’s more likely to experience a child turning away from her forever because society teaches us the mother causes every problem a person has. A woman is more likely to grieve for the abuse her mother suffered. She might even mourn lack of visibility, as both her sufferings and her strengths are overlooked.

A woman’s many deprivations can cause great sadness that is perhaps repressed, painfully deep in the belly, just so she can get through the day.

Great sadness affects physical health, spiritual vigor, self-confidence, emotional well-being, and effectiveness.

We’re going to change that!

I developed ceremonies to help women move through grief and rise from it as powerful Goddesses.

Join with Goddess sisters in a three-week journey to healing, power, and peace.

Until we face our sadness and grieve over the tragedies and losses we’ve suffered, we remain stuck in the past.

We will leave the past behind, move on, live life.

This grieving process can open our spirits in big ways, so we no longer block the prosperity, love, and other blessings the Universe sends us.

This grief work also helps unlock our magic, joy, creativity, confidence, and warrior spirit.

You will learn material you can use whenever you need it. Life includes loss. Now you’ll have new ways to move past it. I’ve even used this material to recover from tragedies my ancestors suffered.

Rise up, rise up.

To rise up, rise up, we must grieve.

Enroll here: https://outlawbunny.com/special-events-registration/

I wrote lyric to express the theme of this three-week journey:

The above poem doesn’t point to something abstract and ungrounded from our actual lives.

It is my call to you, sister, to the upcoming ceremony, to honor your woman’s power.

It is also a description of what will occur during that ceremony.

Are you wondering how you could possibly manage to ever mourn so much loss? Or wondering how you could heal from so much grief? Mine is a down-to-earth shamanism that addresses real life issues. This three-week process can make a substantial improvement in your well-being and circumstances.

This three-week journey has four powerful aspects:

1) Three ceremonies, one per week, for three consecutive weeks. These rites are via group phone calls. To participate, just dial your phone. These will be major healing ceremonies.

We will work in old-style oral tradition, which allows immense headway quickly. Enrollment is limited to 12 people, so we can perform ceremonies that can only happen in a small group, and so each participant can receive individualized attention if they want that support.

The rituals facilitate major transformation: energy will continue to shift in us after each rite, and probably snowball long after the three weeks end. If you need support for this big work, you can have plenty.

2) Throughout your process, you receive emails that provide nurturance, inspiration, and ideas. This support arrives in your mailbox five days a week. Each message is brief, so you can read quickly and then continue to go about your day, in an improved state of mind.

3) Direct spiritual transmissions for three weeks. These transmissions bring more healing and serenity into your process, make it powerful and safe, further your personal growth, and boost your power as a woman and Goddess.

You receive a transmission five days a week for three weeks! One of each week’s transmissions will be during the group meetings.

I can’t say what “direct spiritual transmission” means for other practitioners, but in my case: I was born a good luck charm who automatically generates a beneficial field of energy. I don’t do anything to you; I don’t inject you with energy, rearrange your energy, or even dust off your aura, LOL. I simply give off a blessing energy during a transmission, the same way burning incense gives off specific magical energies in a room.

My transmissions’ energy adapts to your needs. Whether you need healing of gender-oppression wounds, physical healing, safety, serenity, something else, or several things, my transmissions address it.

They also add a boost to any effort you make. Our efforts combine.

4) In addition to individualized attention during class, I’m available for one-on-one support by phone, should you need to privately discuss anything, or if something comes up for you that would take too long to discuss during a group ceremony.

No experience needed. But even advanced practitioners should find this journey well worth their time.

We’ll meet Sundays, 3:00 to 4:00 pm EST, for three consecutive weeks, starting February 2. Reserve Sunday February 23, same time, for a makeup meeting, in case I’m unexpectedly unavailable for one of the planned sessions. If an unexpected problem makes me unable to send one or more of the support emails, I’ll send it the week after the event ends.

Full cost is $250—for three ceremonies, three weeks of direct spiritual transmissions, three weeks of email boosts, and one-on-one support. If you have previously made this journey with me, your enrollment cost is half: $125. Your carrier might charge you for the phone calls into the ceremonies. Pay securely with PayPal: https://outlawbunny.com/special-events-registration/

Upon payment, your place is reserved. You receive course details—e.g., the phone number to dial to participate in the meetings—by email. No refunds. To discuss a payment plan, trade, scholarship, or semi-scholarship, or if you have other concerns about the event, call me.

I’m committed to this event not being overwhelming. There’s enough that overwhelms women nowadays, without a healing and empowerment process also doing that. This will be a gentle, loving event.

Our journey will be only three-weeks long because that helps create gentleness.

A shyster would promise that a three-week ritual will heal a lifetime’s worth of grief. An inept facilitator would attempt that much work in three weeks. Trying to do too much transformational work, all at once, can buffet the psyche, doing more harm than good.

Our journey will cause a remarkable, life-changing difference for you. Many individuals who have done short journeys like this with me called the results miraculous. The gentleness of the journey will help create the remarkable results, rather than diluting or otherwise weakening the process. Plus, I have an exceptional shamanic skill set, which allows me to facilitate major change in a short period of time. Gentle magic has enormous power to create huge positive changes *stat.*

After the three weeks ends, should you ever want to continue grief work on your own, this journey will have transformed your being in ways that help you do so. Also, should you want to do additional grief work with me later, I’m happy to discuss options.

Our culture’s systematic denial of women’s wounds causes many women to internalize that denial. They don’t see some of the injuries their psyches have suffered, and some of the healing they need. The best of us can internalize oppression.

So, please don’t gloss over this event. Give a moment’s thought to whether you can afford to pass it up.

A woman’s many sorrows can overwhelm her. Some women suppress immense grief, in order to get through the day. Living in a state of sorrow, conscious or subconscious, suppresses our power.

My sister, do not miss this ceremony, do not miss this, do not miss this. I don’t know if I will offer this event again.

And I turn 70 next year so, if you need this, now’s the time. Yay!

Enroll here: https://outlawbunny.com/special-events-registration/

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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How an Empath Can Protect Themselves from Group Discord

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Empath Protection Liturgy

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

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

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

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

So mote it be!

An aside, which is a theory of mine: one reason a patriarchal culture deprives women of control over their own bodies is it’s an effective way to make women view themselves as mere receptacles for other people to use/fill however they want. Once that idea is instilled, it affects all parts of a woman’s life; she is supposedly an emptiness someone else has the right to fill for childbearing, sex, negative shadow projections, and more. Even when a woman knows better, such a belief can operate powerfully in her on a subconscious level, causing major problems. The feminine void is the original power, but oppressors, not wanting women to know that, try to reduce a woman’s emptiness to a commodity that she has no right to, but that greedy people have the right to use/control. End of aside.
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The Figa

The Figa
Reclaiming Women’s Power and an Italian Amulet

FigaPic2Sm

A figa is an amulet in the shape of a closed hand. Often, the tip of the thumb peeks out between the middle and index finger. The figa represents a woman’s genitals and is a charm for protection and good luck. It is also a talisman for fertility.

Even as a youth, I was drawn to the figa, not only as a talisman but as an archetype. It held tantalizing mysteries, and its antiquity and exotic roots were a delicious contrast to the American 50s bland norm.

I acquired a new figa recently, and shot the above photo, so you could see it. Isn’t it beautiful? I absolutely love it!

I purchased my new amulet here; the shop has more, each one different: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ErikasCollectibles

I’d already had a figa for … hm, I don’t know how long. It could be 30 or 40 years, or far less. I don’t remember how I acquired it. I was raised in an Italian, shamanic family-tradition. Otherworldly sensibilities were so typically present in our home, a part of daily life. A figa could slip into my life seamlessly back then, the entry not as noteworthy as it could be for people who aren’t constantly surrounded by that sort of thing.

Yet, despite my familiarity with Italian folk culture and my intense draw to this charm, I rarely saw one that I thought beautiful. I was never fond of my old figa, had wanted a new one forever, but couldn’t find one that pleased me till now.

My finally liking one is significant to me as a woman. Read on to learn why.

Seeing my new figa, which is very feminine, sweet, and elegant, I realized by comparison why I’d rarely liked a figa in the past. For one thing, they’re usually quite macho. An object that is supposed to embody female sexuality should … embody female sexuality.

Plus, figa figures are often crude. The crudeness repelled me, though on a subconscious level until I saw my new sweet, elegant figa. The crudeness—again, I experienced this subconsciously—was like being slapped in the face, shamed for being female.

Instead, I adore my new charm. Its sweet, feminine elegance is powerful magic and significant healing.

I was blown away by the shop’s photograph of this piece. And I did my best when I took the photos for this post, but it’s even better to see it in person; its exquisite artistry almost took my breath away. The careful sculpting of an elegant, feminine hand, enhanced by the marbling of its resin, makes it a true treasure.

It triggered a train of thought. The charm must not only be an Italian folk symbol for female sexuality per se, but also imply lot more. The figa must have originally symbolized everything—everything—a woman can be if she is unbound; her full being realized and expressed. The amulet must have once represented this totalness of being and potency in all parts of life. Otherwise, I do not believe the charm would have become so incredibly popular. It is worn not only by Pagans but by many Italians, including Christians.
FigaPic1SmBe clear, when I write, “Everything a woman can be,” I’m implying everything a human can be. I am positioning a woman’s sexuality as potency, the same way a man’s sexuality is often viewed as potency in his business and all other parts of his life.

I love folk art, folk magic, and the place where the two intersect. I also believe one might better understand a piece of folk art if one knows the cultural norms prevalent when the piece was made. That includes pop culture. Enter Kenneth Lane. The figa I bought is a vintage Kenneth Lane.

What was occurring around jewelry designer Kenneth Lane when he had the urge to create a figa that would be neither vulgar nor shaming? What in the political climate impelled him? Or did something solely personal to him serve as motivation? (The political always impacts us personally, but you know what I mean.) Whatever it was, we owe him a debt.

I mean, “figa” is Italian for the demeaning term “pussy.” The styling of most figa figures reinforces that nastiness. I do not object to a figa shaped roughly in a spirit of exuberance, or if a limited skill set did not allow finely honed lines. What I oppose is the consistent vulgar representation and the overall gestalt it feeds, a deeply hurtful cultural norm.

By the way, I see nothing wrong with a masculine figa per se, but there’s something wrong with a feminine symbol generally being masculine.

In any case, Kenneth’s jewelry was popular with Hollywood stars. Although many Pagans wear a figa, the pendant is also popular with non-Pagans. So people can knock pop-culture all they want, but I bet Kenneth’s pendants made women of all kinds proud of being women.

Kenneth’s styling was powerful. It wasn’t until I saw it that I could understand by contrast how demeaning most figas are and reclaim another part of my power. His rendering of the figa was able to heal me from a cultural norm so deeply ingrained and horrible that it still hurt my soul despite my fierce pride in my female nature and witchy wildness. I have a new piece of my magic as a woman and a new piece of my womanly pride.

What had been a sacred image in ancient Rome lowered in value until it became used as a rude gesture. A symbol that once must have honored women came to denigrate them. I believe Kenneth helped change that. I hope my thoughts here help a bit, too.

The profound power that exists in every human is diminished when we reduce anyone’s power through shaming depictions.

But when we shine a light on the wonderfulness of those around us, our own powers shine.

… Now the only problem I have is how to stop myself from buying all the figas in the shop. There’s a gorgeous variety, each piece quite different. I’ve already bought a second one. Here it is on my altar:
FigaPic3SmI will treasure these figas always. Here’s where to acquire an outstanding charm: https://www.etsy.com/shop/ErikasCollectibles