Friday, November 25, 2016

Physical and Mental Illness in the Pagan Community

Lupa Greenwolf recently wrote an amazing article inspired by an image I've seen floating around the community. The original image showed a forest and labeled it as an 'anti-depressant,' then blow that an image of anti-depressant pilled labeled 'shit.'

I have had a very hard time trying to put into words why this sort of stuff is so frustrating, and so thankfully, someone has done a wonderful job doing something I haven't been able to!

I will say, though, as someone who spends a boat load of time in the deep woods, in grain fields, at rivers, in meadows, etc. - I still need my anti-depressant medication because that's not really how depression works for a lot of people. Thanks.

And I always want to stop and say, hey, if someone had a physical chronic illness you wouldn't tell them not to take their medication, would you? That hugging a tree would cure them? But... yeah, a lot of people would. I know, because having a chronic physical condition as well, I've heard it plenty of times.

And hearing, well, just cure yourself! But that's not how it works... Or even worse, hearing people say that anyone with any sort of mental or even physical illness shouldn't be a witch, or even a pagan. (As if any sort of ill person should be banned from religion?) What in the world? Look, I've been a witch and a pagan for well over a decade, and the idea I shouldn't be doing this because someone else, who doesn't have any idea what it's like to deal with one of these illnesses, thinks they can make that call for me? Fuck off with what nonsense.

Not all mental illnesses are the same. Not all people dealing with even the same mental illness face the same situations. If you've never been in that situation, and you're trying to make that call for someone else, maybe you need to step back and actually listen to the people who are actually living with it - and there are plenty of us in the community doing just that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


Thanksgiving is in two days here in the US, and I think this is the first Thanksgiving in a few years where I am basically free from kitchen duties! Usually Thanksgiving is at my grandparents, and I help them cook. This year my partner and I are in Denver with her family, and she's the one who gets to help with most of the cooking. My contribution is a bag of frozen meatballs dumped into a crock pot with some whole berry cranberry sauce, and some cocktail sauce. Might sound strange but it tastes good. Thank the Gods for crock pots, let me tell you. Even my grandmother gets a year off, since she is going to my Dad's where he will have done the work. (He bought a new house earlier this year which actually fits guests!) It's not that I don't like cooking, but who doesn't want a break now and then? I'm sure after a million years Mama feels the same.

Since I'll have more free time this year, I've decided to take the time to properly honor Hestia, and make the offerings for a safe winter, since I did not do this during Samhain as I normally would (and it's finally getting cooler out). Since it's Thanksgiving, it seems like an appropriate time to, you know, actually give thanks and all that.

Speaking of Hestia, my hymn was accepted for the devotional to her that will eventfully be coming out, so that's quite exciting for me!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Moon Phase Wall Calendars

I have a product to plug for today's post - nothing I'm selling or anything like that, just something someone recently told me about, and I think it'll be amazingly useful for me, so I'm passing the info along.

I'm sure these are old news for some people, but they're new to me, wall calendars that have the moon phase pictured on every day. The one that was originally shown to me was this one Lunar 2017 Wall Calendar: A Glow-in-the-Dark Calendar for the Lunar Year. Each month has a photograph of the moon as it's image, and each day has the moon phase drawn out, rather than just a percent listed. Also, it apparently glows in the dark, which is always a bonus in my book.

Another I found was Lunaria 2017 Lunar Astrology Wall Calendar. This one has various classical paintings, with poems, myths, folklore, and so on. This calendar also has the moon phases clearly drawn on each day, but it also includes more astrological information on each day. This one is also actually laid out in lunar months, meaning it begins with the new moon (0% illuminated), rather than following calendar months - although each standard calendar month/day is listed as well.

I like the simplistic approach of the first, since I don't really need all the extra astrological information, but the art and such of the second appeals to me more. (As well as actually being laid out by lunar months!)

I know there are various apps and the like out there, but for me it's nice to have something paper that I can flip through to plan out festivals and such, since most of them are calculated by the lunar date. Should be a helpful item to have.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Hekate's Night?

So, apparently yesterday was the festival of Hekate's night. I've read about this a bit before, but it's something I chose not to incorporate into my practice. Since my personal practice has a mix of modern and ancient holidays, I thought I'd write a little about how I do choose to bring in festivals, using this as an example.

First, I like to look at the details and history of the festival (be it ancient history, or more modern). In this case, Hekate's night does not seem to be an ancient festival, either Greek or Roman. Perhaps it comes from some other culture, but I have found no evidence for that.

I have sometimes seen this festival called Hecatesia, with an alternate date of August 13th or 16th, but again, there doesn't seem to be any real information on this festival. Sometimes the August 13th festival is presented as something different. Since I have seen Artemis mentioned with this one, I wonder if it stems from the Kourotrophos festival? There are also possible Roman origins there, but again, in those cases it would be something other than what is presented on November 16th.

All of this kind of hits on a personal pet peeve of mine, which is modern 'made-up' information being passed of as something with legitimate history behind it... but of course, the history is rarely really there.

So, looking to the modern practices, information is kind of scarce there, as well! Hekate is described as wandering that night with her hounds and other spirits, and suppers are left out for her, which sounds no different from the Deipnon - which is a monthly festival I already celebrate. (Actually, a theory I have seen is that the date comes from a misunderstanding. Someone wrote about celebrating the Deipnon on that night, but did not note that it was a moveable lunar festival, and copy and paste, copy and paste... and so Hekate's night was born.) The only additional tidbit I can find is it's apparently a night that witches are initiated into her cult, but again, there never seem to be sources to dig into this deeper. Also, this wouldn't fit in with my particular practice anyway.

Another aspect to celebrating holidays in general is fellowship, knowing you're celebrating something other devotees are, but... well, again, I get that with Hekate's Deipnon each month. Aside from that, I feel more called to the modern Rite of Her Sacred Fires when dealing with that aspect - that's the real fellowship night of the year for me, since a large part of the festival often involves sharing your altar and experiences with others. I did consider that a celebration in November might be an interesting counterpoint to Sacred Fires, which is held in May, but that's basically what Samhain is acting as these days.

One last thing to consider is that the more parties, the better, right? Well... my personal calendar isn't exactly empty, you know? (I should blog the whole list, some day...) That's why I consider which festivals to celebrate a bit more carefully. If it's not adding something different or particular for me, there are other things I could be putting my energy towards. That's how I feel in this case. There's nothing particularly special about this night, it is too similar to other aspects of my practice, and I don't feel I'd get much from it. It doesn't mean that no one should celebrate it, of course, but for me it's a no go.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Full Moon Ritual for Selene

This is a simple little ritual that I try to do each month when the moon is full. I prefer to do this ritual outside if at all possible, even on cloudy nights, or inside at a window from which the moon is visible if outside isn't an option.

I begin the ritual by lighting some incense. I often just use sticks or cones of jasmine, gardenia, or other white flowers. For those who prefer lose incense, the Orphic hymns recommend burning aromatic herbs such as bay, lavender, basil, rosemary, thyme, mint, lemon balm, and chamomile.

I take a few moments to focus myself, and then I recite the Orphic hymn to Selene (hymn number 9):
Hear me, O Divine Queen,
O light-bringing and splendid Selene,
O bull-horned Moon,
crossing the air as you race with night.
Nocturnal, torch-bearing,
Maiden of the beautiful stars,
O Moon, waxing and waning,
feminine and masculine,
luminous, lover of horses,
mother of time, bearer of fruit,
amber-colored, moody,
shining in the night,
all-seeing and vigilant,
surrounded by beautiful stars,
you delight in the quiet and in the richness of the night,
you grant fulfillment and favor as, like a jewel, you shine in the night.
Long-cloaked marshal of the stars,
wise maiden whose motion is circular,
come, O blessed and gentle Lady,
lady of the stars,
through your own light shine and save, O maiden, your *initiates.
(Original line is new initiates. I also sometimes replace initiates with devotee/devotees.)

After reciting the hymn a small libation is poured out for Selene. I often just use cool water. While pouring I say something along the lines of, O Selene, may you be well pleased with this offering.

I follow the libation either with my own personal prayers, or more often, silent meditation. After I thank Selene for her presence, and leave the ritual space.

Sunday, November 13, 2016


Tonight I went to an interfaith meeting at the reform Jewish temple my partner's family sometimes attends. It was specifically an event for the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities in the area (the Jewish and Christian groups actually share the temple/church together), but you know, secret agent pagan? In truth I've attended a lot of events there and never felt unwelcome, and the same goes for tonight.

The meeting was a support group of sorts? It was a night for the three communities to come together, share some prayers and songs, and speak a little on what the future would bring, and so on. There were potions where we spoke to those around us about our fears and hopes for the coming few years. There are, understandably, a lot of worries. And there is, thankfully, hope to be found, and communities coming together to lift each other up.

This is the beginning of something bigger for this group. Unfortunately, not living in the area, it's not something I'll really be able to participate - but it does make me think about seeking out these sorts of things at home. Now is a good time for it.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Oh, America...

I don't usually get into politics here, but you know what... I just feel so disappointed in my country right now.

I'm queer. My partner is trans. We, along with many others in the community are quite worried about what Trump/Pence will be bringing. This morning my own mother tried to tell my sister (not her daughter), who is a lesbian, and myself that Hillary would have been worse for us. What? Worse than a guy who outright says he wants to roll back marriage equity, who wants to do away with protections that are in place... And, you know, a guy who, from all the people he could have picked, picked Pence. The guy who wanted to defund HIV programs and use that money for conversion therapy. (And that's just one of many nasty things on his record.)

This morning I had a little moment of panic, maybe we should get married right now! But then I remembered, if it goes back to the states to decide, we don't live in a shit state (at least in that sense). My heart goes out to all the people that do, however.

NH isn't doing great in other ways, however, and I am likely to lose my healthcare. I am thankful that I got the surgery I needed before it became an emergency that would put me deep into debt. I don't know what I will do about the medicines I need.

If I can go back to my mother for a moment, I saw her earlier saying strong women don't get sexually assaulted - this was to excuse some of the things Trump has said, and did. For obvious reasons, she does not know about the fact that I have been sexually assaulted.

And of course it's not just these things. There are many, many communities out there right now who are very nervous about what the future will bring. I can't blame them at all. Everyone says it will be fine, he won't really do X or Y, but as of right now we have no idea what he will or won't do. Maybe he will be an amazing President, wouldn't that be something? But we can't know right now, we can only know what he has said he wants to do. If you're reading this, and you care at all, please stand up for these communities, fight for them. Fight for yourself. Don't let these things happen without a fight.

Everything that is going on right now is making me sick to my stomach. I'm going to spend a long, long time outside looking at the moon and praying to Selene tonight, because I really need her peace right now.

(And I'm pretty sure this whole thing just caused my relationship with my mom to crash and burn. She wouldn't let up on Facebook, so bye. We were never super close, she didn't raise me, and we've lived in different states for the past decade. I'm not as torn up about it as I imagine I should be. I mean I love my mom, because she's my mom, but I'm an adult with my own boundaries, and she's crossed them over and over today. I do not need that in my life.)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

A New Book

So I decided to treat myself to an 'early' Yule present (but not that early, because it won't be here until mid-December anyway) - a new book of shadows to write in.

For many, many years I just used a three ring binder and regular notebook paper. It wasn't elegant, but it was practical and it worked very well. Eventually I began using a hardcover sketchbook, then another, and things started getting broken up into different books. Using sketchbooks definitely let me add a lot of personal artistic touches, which was great, but the 'journal' style format, using different books for different subjects (due to size, or trying to keep some organization going), it just doesn't work as well for me.

So I decided to take the leap and buy a nicely made book from an online crafter. It's got a beautiful design on the outside, and while the overall size isn't huge (like so many books seem to be!) it's got tons of paper in it... and the best thing? It's a post bound book, meaning I can add additional paper if necessary, move pages around as much as I like, I can take the pages out and print on them if necessary, and so on.

I've seen various post bound books floating around before, but I was never sure if that's what I really wanted, since I don't always like how they look - and, well, a lot of the nicer ones tend to be expensive. I think it will be worth it in the end, though. After having tried all these different things, I do think this is what's going to work best for me. And it will be nice to actually have everything back together in the same place again.

So it won't be here for a while still, but I'm really looking forward to creating something a bit more lasting than my previous attempts.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Colder weather?

Today is the day I traditionally make a special offering to Hestia, keep her fire burning all day, in the hopes that she will keep my family and our homes safe and warm during the winter months. Fuel is expensive, things go wrong and break, power outages... All bad when it's below freezing out.

The thing is, I'm just not feeling it right now. It's been high 70s, even up into the 80s, the past few weeks in Denver. Meanwhile, it's in the high 40s back home. I've kept a candle lit today for Hestia, I'm trying to think of back home, but this weather has me all in the wrong mind.

I know a lot of people would be saying, hey, don't complain, it's too cold! But, truth is, I've just always liked colder weather. (After living in Western Washington five years, the one thing I missed the most was the snow.) Temperatures in the 50s? Great day for me.

One of my favorite memories from when I was little, was when it would snow in the late evening. It would be dark out, and my grandfather would turn on the porch and garage lights, and plow the driveway so it wouldn't be as bad in the morning. Playing out in the front yard in the dark, under all the giant pine trees, snow still coming down. There's just something magical about it. Even now, when the snow starts coming down in the night, I'll still go out and roam around in it, enjoying it.