Mabon Playlist – Two Hours of Music for the Autumn Equinox

Winter is coming, as they say. Before the snow flies, however, there are some very important Sabbats to experience. Of course there’s Samhain, or Halloween, which is probably one of the most important holidays for Witches. We can’t neglect the minor Sabbat of Mabon, though. This quintessential autumn celebration gives us a moment to look around us and realize that summer is ending. Yet, we can appreciate that there is a lot to enjoy about the autumn, too. Even now as most of us aren’t directly connected to the harvesting and gathering of our food (at least not to the degree that we used to be), we can still enjoy the harvest through autumn activities, like apple picking, raking leaves, sipping cider…all the good things. Maybe you even like the occasional pumpkin spice latte.

I can’t lie, though. Making a playlist to get into the Mabon mindset was not an easy task. I only started creating Sabbat playlists back in April, when I started my Beltane playlist. I used a lot of music that didn’t even necessarily mention Beltane, but just seemed really enjoyable and Celtic-sounding, or by Pagan musicians. When I made a Litha playlist, I got some inspiration from Ozark Pagan Mamma, but had some of my own input. The same thing happened with the Lammas/Lughnasadh playlist, although I was able to add a lot of my own tracks, mostly because there’s just something really mysterious and somewhat sad about Lammas.

With Mabon, though, I’ve been pretty stuck. Ozark Pagan Mamma came through for me again with some inspiration, and I got the few tracks that literally had “Mabon” in the name from the old favorites (Damh the Bard, Lisa Thiel, et cetera). Unfortunately, it’s a little hard to pinpoint what feeling Mabon should have. To me, Mabon isn’t quite as melancholy as Lammas. At Mabon, the leaves are starting to change color, and the season is becoming that warm sweater weather that so many people enjoy. Lammas is just kind of hot and tired and feels like a sun-baked wheat field about to die. If you saw the BBC show “The Living and the Dead,” think of that sort of aesthetic.

Anyway, here’s my best shot at a good Mabon playlist. You may not enjoy every song, and I certainly don’t think this one works as cohesively as the Lammas playlist did, but at least you may get some inspiration for what you want to listen to as we cozy up to autumn.

Firstly, the list, secondly, the reasons why I chose each song.

  1. English Country Dances: Irish Lamentation (Musica Pacifica)
  2. Mabon (Lisa Thiel)
  3. The Mabon (Damh the Bard)
  4. Persephone’s Descent (Autumn) (Marie Bruce, Llewellyn, Chris Conway, Juliana)
  5. The Mortal Boy King (The Paper Kites)
  6. Mabon (Threefold)
  7. Dance of the Darkness (Blackmore’s Night)
  8. Harvest Song (Beltane)
  9. Sabbat (Damh the Bard)
  10. Woodland (The Paper Kiss)
  11. The First Leaves of Autumn (The Fureys)
  12. Hope (Eluveitie)
  13. Meadowlarks (Fleet Foxes)
  14. Coinleach Glas An Fhomhair (Clannad)
  15. Harvest Chant (Reclaiming)
  16. Penelope’s Song (Loreena McKennitt)
  17. Tis Autumn – From “Beverly Kenny Sings for Johnny Smith” (Beverly Kenny)
  18. Health to the Company (Blackmore’s Night)
  19. Loreena McKennitt Trilogy: La Serenissima (Silverwood Quartet)
  20. Harvest (Jenna Greene)
  21. Autumn Time (Libana)
  22. Hunting Song (Pentangle)
  23. The Old Favourite (The Gloaming)
  24. Marigold/Harvest Home (Ariel)
  1. English Country Dances – So I chose this song first, and that may be because I absolutely love putting instrumental music at the beginning of a playlist. It can just really help get me into the mood of listening to music. This particular piece is a simple string number that sounds like a song the band would play at a harvest, as a farewell to summer.
  2. Mabon – I couldn’t leave out Lisa Thiel’s take on the autumn equinox. Again, this piece isn’t my favorite of her work, but she’s going to be on every one of my playlists, as she did a song for each Sabbat.
  3. The Mabon – On second thought, these song titles could get confusing. Damh the Bard croons his ode to the spirit of the autumn, especially to the Horned God (notable in his reference to wearing “the antlered crown”). I particularly enjoy the first person perspective of this song.
  4. Persephone’s Descent – If you are unfamiliar with Greek mythology, it’s time to brush up on it. This ode to Persephone as she makes her way to the Underworld for the winter is quietly calm and inevitable. At the same time, there is a hint of hope as Persephone sees the light of the Earth above her, which she yearns for even as she has the power of Death.
  5. The Mortal Boy King – I saw another song by this group on the Ozark Pagan Mamma playlist, and listened to a few more pieces by The Paper Kites. I was drawn in by the title of this song, since in celebrating the Wheel of the Year, many Witches recognize the death of the Oak King on the summer solstice and the death of the Holly King on the winter solstice. The indie vibe of this song rings through as The Paper Kites sing about the inevitability of night falling and yet holding on to hope.
  6. Mabon – Another song entitled “Mabon,” but this one is a lot more abstract than the others. Threefold is actually a very interesting group, which makes instrumental/vocal tracks that still sound entirely instrumental in nature. As the voices sing about “day and night,” it’s easy to feel pulled in by the constantly descending melody and recall the balance between the light and dark that is quickly shifting towards night.
  7. Dance of the Darkness – I thought about saving this bold piece for the Samhain playlist, and I can’t promise that it won’t show up there, too. Something about the hectic nature of this song just drew me in. The chaos of it seems to speak to the way that we head into the winter, hurrying to tie up loose ends as fast as we can.
  8. Harvest Song – This sweet piece cherishes the gift of the harvest given by the Sun, or by Lugh, as they mention in the lyrics. Everything comes from the Sun, and we wouldn’t have the harvest without the power of the warmth.
  9. Sabbat – This one didn’t need to go here in the Wheel of the Year, to be honest. I could have put Damh’s classic anywhere, since it talks about all the Sabbat. However, some of the lyrics suggest this piece could fit right in at Mabon. In any case, I think of Witches dancing around in the fallen leaves when I hear this song.
  10. Woodland – I saw this song on Ozark Pagan Mamma’s Mabon playlist, and while I like the aesthetic, I’m not sure that I like it here at Mabon. That being said, I’m not sure where else in the Wheel I would put it. So, here it remains. The lyrics do mention autumn, and running until you reach the sun, which feels cute and kitschy and like a high school movie. Hey, school is starting, in any case.
  11. The First Leaves of Autumn – I have to admit that I’m somewhat in love with this creaky voice. The Fureys sing about losing a love in the autumn, but it could just as easily be a metaphor for the loss of summertime.
  12. Hope – This is a song that I found on my older Renaissance/Pagan playlist that I came up with about six months ago on Spotify. As I was going through, I gave this one another listen and felt like it sounded both upbeat and ominous in the way that only autumn can.
  13. Meadowlarks – I love how this song goes between major and minor throughout. It feels like the tenuous balance between light and dark that Mabon represents. As the year continues to go on, darkness will continue to fall until Yule.
  14. Coinleach Glas An Fhomhair – If you like Enya, you’ll definitely enjoy this gorgeous voice layered over the jangly guitar. I found two translations for the title, either “Fierce Winter’s Eve” or “Green Stubble Autumn.” Either way, this song’s melody and (either) title are all about heading into the darker months.
  15. Harvest Chant – This album contains music written by Starhawk, one of the main people behind the Reclaiming tradition. In particular, this chant is an upbeat piece about working toward a better world and Earth, and partaking in that better world.
  16. Penelope’s Song – Loreena McKennitt, as you’ve probably figured out, is definitely one of my favorite singers at the moment. And this song is just as good as the rest of her music. A reverent piece about keeping memories and love for a particular person in her heart, this song brings to mind holding onto hope for the future summer to come.
  17. Tis Autumn – I’m not sure why, but whenever I hear an old-timey song like this, I always think of Christmas (maybe because of Bing Crosby or something). But this is a cute piece about all the great things that come with fall, and it’ll definitely get you in the mood for some pumpkin spice.
  18. Health to the Company – Unlike the other song by Blackmore’s Night, this song isn’t merely instrumental. It talks about celebrating the last good night before parting ways. While it’s a little on the melancholy side (it says “we may never meet here again”), it’s still a reminder to take advantage of the end of the summer before winter rolls in.
  19. Loreena McKennitt Trilogy: La Serenissima – A relatively short instrumental piece (string quartet) which brings to mind a medieval court and a stately feast. Definitely a lovely piece to play while you take an autumn soak or sit by the window with a cup of tea, watching the leaves fall.
  20. Harvest – So many songs with either “harvest” or “Mabon” in the title! Well, that’s what comes up when you search for good pieces for a Mabon playlist. Jenna Greene has a lovely voice and is one of the songs that certainly brings the magick element into her lyrics. She talks about the turning of the Wheel and the dark part of the year coming.
  21. Autumn Time – A quiet, short choral piece that brings to mind the cacophony of input we can get at autumn, yet the beauty that can emerge when it all comes together.
  22. Hunting Song – Now this is a long one. However, it’s a beautiful piece, with a sprightly female and male singing duo, and some quality percussion. You may not catch all the lyrics in this fast-paced piece, but the haunting melody will get you into the mood to enjoy the oncoming Sabbat.
  23. The Old Favourite – It’s no wonder that this is the name of this gorgeous instrumental piece. I could honestly just put this fiddle melody on repeat all day. But I think that The Old Favourite deserves a spot on this playlist because while it doesn’t really line up with any Sabbat, the melody brings me to late summer fields and dancing in the leaves.
  24. Marigold/Harvest Home – Just a really beautiful song about the changing of the season, and how that affects our lives and our homes. In the midst of autumn, we warm our hearts and homes. And this song ends with the beautiful “Harvest Home” chant that I had in my Lammas/Lughnasadh playlist. I thought this was a great way to end this playlist, with such a stripped chant about the end of the year. Perhaps, in my struggle to find a good Mabon aesthetic, this chant is just about as good as it gets.
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Year and a Day Journal #42: August 11th, 2016

*Because I couldn’t figure out how to gracefully work in this question later on in the post, I’ll start off with the spoiler: What is your concept of the afterlife?  How does it work on your path? 

When I got off work today in the evening, a big storm was just rolling in.  I looked out the windows of my job and realized it looked much, much too dark for 7:15, but I decided to dilly-dally anyway.  By the time I finally headed out to my car, a massive, ominous, tidal-wave-looking cloud had shrouded the whole sky, leaving only a thin strip of whitish sky that was quickly being overpowered by the front moving in.  Thankfully I managed to make it home just as the drops were starting, and within two minutes of getting inside, it started to rain in earnest.  There was lightning, thunder…a real dark and stormy night.

I currently have four adult housemates (all right, one is my mom and one is my brother, and the other two are a couple from my foreign country), and the foreign woman suggested that we watch a horror movie, since the weather was very fitting.  We ended up scrolling through Netflix for ages (it has a surprisingly good selection) and finally settled on The Awakening, a 2011 British film about a woman who is an avid non-believer in ghosts, until she is hired to investigate one at a boys’ boarding school.

The movie was pretty good, very touching, and although somewhat predictable in hindsight, I was certainly captivated by it in the moment.  The main character was a woman named Florence, a university-educated woman in 1921 England.  She didn’t believe in ghosts, she didn’t believe in the afterlife, and she didn’t believe in God.

Quite honestly, although I knew that Florence would eventually meet a ghost that couldn’t be scientifically explained, I was rooting for her in the beginning.  We all know I’m not a huge fan of the Christian God, and I don’t like to believe in Heaven or Hell.  (It seems awfully boring in Heaven, to be honest–I don’t particularly want to worship at God’s feet outside a gleaming Jerusalem for all eternity.)  The ideas of a perfect Heaven or a absolutely abhorrent Hell are difficult to imagine, certainly, especially in a logical sense.  After all, what is happiness without sadness, and what is torment without relief?

Because of my desire to refuse the Christian afterlife, I similarly have trouble recognizing or wanting to believe in any other kind of afterlife.  I know that a lot of Wiccans believe in reincarnation, something that I understand from Scott Cunningham’s books.  But obviously not every Pagan or Neo-Pagan or Witch believes the same thing.  For example, reincarnation seems a horrible thing to me right now, where I am in life.  Let me explain.

In college, when I was really in the throes of philosophical quandaries about my religion, and about God, and about the afterlife, I was also a terribly tired individual.  I wouldn’t sleep until projects were done; I did a lot of extracurricular activities and I worked a campus job on the side.  Sometimes I wanted to fall into bed and sleep for the rest of my life.  Severe exhaustion does weird things to a person’s mind, and it may have been around that time that I decided that “living” forever, no matter how perfect eternal life might be, would suck.  I was so tired that honestly, the idea of just dying and sleeping in the ground forever sounded pretty damn good.

While I’m not so depressingly bleak these days, I still think that, after living a good long life (which I hope I do), being faced with reincarnation would be the last thing I would want.  I’m still thinking that it would not be a bad thing to just die and be done with it.  My body would go into the earth.  Maybe a tree would grow where I was buried.  Maybe I’d have a legacy or maybe I’d be forgotten almost right away.  In any case, I lived while I lived, and I don’t need anything more than that.

Of course, I know that there is a huge possibility that things might not be that simple.  I’ve never personally seen a ghost, but I can imagine that they could exist.  It’s more plausible to me than Heaven is, at least.  And I know that as my path takes shape, I might change my mind about what I believe.  But for now, there isn’t necessarily a need for me to have an afterlife.  I think people, over thousands of years, created these religious afterlives to deal with facing death.  And while it always sucks when someone close to you dies (especially if you don’t believe in an afterlife), I’m not sure I’m afraid of dying if I live a long life and do the things I want to do (again, fingers crossed here).  I’m afraid of dying now, certainly–I haven’t done everything I want to do.  But an afterlife isn’t going to help me do those things either.  I’m not going to write a YA novel or get married or have children or travel the world while I’m sitting in Heaven or Hell.

I suppose that was the long answer to a very full question.  I’d be interested in hearing what some of your ideas are.  I’m always open to new ideas.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #39: August 3rd, 2016

I’m going to give a heads-up right now that this journal doesn’t have a question in it, per se, just some interesting news….

Things have been pretty intense since I got back from my foreign country.  If you regularly read my blog, you know about my dear boyfriend, who waited for a very long time for me while I was off in foreign places.  When I came back, he took me on a special trip and PROPOSED, which I did not see coming.  We have been together for a long time, so it’s not outlandish that we’d be engaged now, but it still seems weird (probably since we’ve been together for so long as boyfriend/girlfriend).  Also, somebody give this kid props because he picked out a gorgeous ring.  And he went for some pretty deep symbolism in it, and when he explained it, I realized again how much my significant other is the kind of ideal in many ways that a lot of women spend a long time searching for.  So I feel very lucky.

The interesting part about getting engaged was that, in the car on this trip, I was telling him about the full moon ritual I’d done (in a somewhat uncertain way, since honestly, I think he’s still getting used to this path I’m going on, and he doesn’t exactly know what to make of it), and yet, despite how strange it probably all sounded, he asked me to marry him later that day.

The high of the moment doesn’t last forever, though, and when we got home from our short trip, and we finished celebrating with my family, reality sort of crashed in.  Now I have to plan a wedding–a wedding that my mom, the Catholic who doesn’t know anything about my spirituality, will be overseeing and contributing to and helping finance.  I realized that now I have a finite amount of time either to tell her about my path or to just suck it up and keep it intensely secret.  My fiance thinks that there’s no reason to tell my mom if I don’t want to, but…I mean, guys, she wants me to have a Catholic wedding in a Catholic church with a Catholic priest.  And definitely–at the absolute least, like if I have an outdoor wedding–she wants a member of the clergy to officiate.  I think my family might combust if I don’t have the clergy involved.  (My aunt literally said to me, “But the clergy is going to be involved in some way, right?”)  And my fiance’s mom is even MORE staunchly Christian.

I’m not sure what I should do.  On one hand, I want to have a really classic wedding, with beautiful flower sprays and a gorgeous dress and everything.  It’s been my dream since I was a kid.  But now that it’s real, and I want to think about how my spirituality is involved in such a huge event, maybe I want some tradition that plays more into my path.  Maybe a handfasting, or something.

Or perhaps I should separate the two.  I’ve heard of people doing handfastings a year and a day before their scheduled wedding, as a sort of extra engagement.  Maybe I could have a very small, adorable little Pagan handfasting, and then my wedding will be for the people, Biblical rhetoric and all.  I mean, I still don’t think I could manage having it in a Catholic church (my fiance isn’t Catholic, either), but I understand compromising with my mom on this one.

If any of you guys have had a handfasting or been to a Pagan wedding, let me know what it was like or if you have any suggestions.

By the way, this week the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube is doing a video inspired by my blog (THANKS GUYS!).  Head on over to their channel to check them out.

 

I hope you’re all having a beautiful summer (and Lammas/Lughnasadh if you celebrate it!).

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

Lonely Moon

I guess I’m what I, and others, would consider a solitary practitioner.  Having discovered Witchcraft in the way that I did–in an ashamed, secretive way–and bringing in the sort of religious background I have, which is one in which community is absolutely necessary, I suppose I approached Witchcraft thinking that my whole life I could just be a mysterious woman who maybe did spells in her spare time but never shared them with anybody.

As I’ve continued walking down this path, however, I find myself sometimes wishing that it didn’t have to be a secret, and that I didn’t have to do everything alone.

Last summer, I suppose about a year and a month ago, I celebrated my first Esbat.  I went outside with my Tarot cards and some water to bless and I felt the power of the Mother shining through me.  I even managed an impromptu poetic verse invoking the power of the moon.  For my first time, it was an influential experience in my path.  It was also a wholly solitary experience, and sort of squirreled away in secret.

The next month I did my Esbat with Ibis, which I posted about a long time ago in one of my first Year and a Day Journal entries.

In that case, I don’t know if I did my Esbat with Ibis because she happened to be at my house, or if I already felt like I needed someone else to share my spirituality with, but regardless, I shared it outright.  I’ve always been a very open person, and with Ibis I could even share my new path, which was just barely becoming visible.

Now, a year later, I went outside and stared up at the Buck Moon and bathed my Tarot cards, my journal, some other special items, and some water in the crisp white light.  The warm summer breeze was gorgeous and the sky crystal clear–I’ve always been in love with summertime, if that’s not obvious–and even though I’ve been on this path for well over a year, I still felt a shiver as I wondered if anyone could see me from their house or window.

It looked very much like my first, shy Esbat.  And I wish it didn’t have to be like that.

I want to go outside and dance in the moonlight.  I want hold hands in a circle and light candles and watch them flicker in the wind.  I want to talk with people who wholeheartedly understand my ideas and have new ones to add.  I may think of myself as a solitary Witch, but it gets lonely being a secret Witch.

About ten minutes after I came inside from my short midnight moon session outside, I turned off the light in my bedroom and saw the silhouette of a person outside on our driveway.  I could easily see from his shape that it was my brother.  He and I both froze–perhaps he saw the light go off in my window–and waited, feeling, for a moment, we were both being watched.  Then, slowly, he put his hands in his pockets and turned to look at the moon.

I watched him for a moment, then I, too, took a step toward my window and peered at the silver circle between the black leaves of the maple outside.  And, for one quiet minute, we together looked at the moon in all her glory.

My brother is a self-proclaimed atheist.  He believes too solidly in the chemical workings of the brain to be able to accept the concept of souls.  But he can appreciate things of wonder and beauty, and in the end, that’s all I’m doing, and maybe I’m not as alone as I think.

I suppose the difference is that when he turned around a minute later, and I heard the front door open and close, I knew that he was going back to his computer desk and I was going to my makeshift altar.  But even these things are maybe not so different in the end.

If only I had the courage to open the broom closet so we could all go out and dance.

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #38: July 19th, 2016

This entry is based on Day 3 of Wicca: A Year and a Day by Timothy Roderick.

I think, as Witches (or whatever you call yourself), we have a nice, looming obstacle in the way of peaceful practice.  When I considered myself to be a Catholic Christian, my faith was out in the open (not everybody agreed with Catholicism, but still, it wasn’t a secret that I was Catholic).  When I got baptized, it was a big event.  When I had my first communion–another big event.  When I got confirmed, my whole family came and watched and I got a big pink cake with a cross on it and like a half-dozen family heirloom rosaries.

If you strip away the common factor that makes these things acceptable to our society–Jesus–then suddenly you have a bunch of rituals, and, to be quite honest, rituals that could easily be mistaken for Pagan rituals.  Baptism is water symbolizing birth and being washed clean, and a candle is lit to symbolize spirituality.  Communion is partaking in the fruit of the vine and the work of our hands to worship (although, Catholics believe in transubstantiation, wherein the wine is really the blood of Christ and the bread is really the body of Christ, so that’s a little bit more involved).  And at confirmation, I was anointed with oil and even given a different, spiritual name.

And yet.  Those rituals are acceptable to society, and Pagan stuff is apparently terrifying.

Of course, it’d be nice to think that we have just the one obstacle–society–and nothing else stands in our way.  That’s rarely true.  In fact, I think that one of the biggest obstacles that blocks my way is, unfortunately, myself.  Half the time, I don’t feel comfortable with what my path is, and with using terminology.  Reclaiming and all that aside, it’s not an easy task to call yourself a Witch in front of friends and family, or to say that you do magick or spells.  I know as well as they know what exactly comes to mind when you tell someone you’re a Witch.  They start thinking you’re delusional, is what starts happening.

I mean, truly, it’s not all that different than believing in a Christian God who will answer your prayers (and yet somehow it’s a hundred times more appealing than relying on God).  Either way, there’s some unseen force that exists in the Universe and you must appeal to it, whether that’s by sticking your own hand in and guiding it (magick) or praying (a whole host of religions, including Pagan ones), or calling on the saints for intercessions.  But Witchcraft just sounds dirty to the untrained ear.  And my ear is sometimes very untrained.

I liked Day 3 of the Wicca book I’m reading because it asked me, the practitioner, to Consider some essential words: Wicca, Witchcraft, Power, Ritual, Magic, Occult, Pagan, Spell, and Earth-Religion.  Answer the questions for each: a) What is my comfort level using each word? b) How do I understand each word? c) How do I imagine each word impacts other people who are not involved with Wicca?

I don’t want to go into immense detail about what I decided for each word, because it’s pretty personal, I suppose.  But I wrote a lot about skepticism, misunderstanding, and fear from both sides (myself and others).  In the end, I narrowed it down to one word–confusion.  I think that summarizes the negative emotions that both I and others feel about many of the key words that the book asked me to consider.

The book then asked me to write this one summarizing word on the side of a taper candle, to be burned away and the remaining wax buried far from my home.  But in the meantime, it wanted me to think of where this emotion comes from.  A scary cartoon about witches? the book suggested, or….

Well, I think I can understand where much of my confusion comes from.  I was raised Catholic, after all, and while Witchcraft-removal isn’t the main thing on the docket these days for the Catholic Church, certainly drilling into my head that there is One True God and only those that believe in and worship Him can have eternal life isn’t exactly Witchcraft-friendly.  Likewise, learning the history of Witches as only those Puritans who were tried and hanged in 1692-1693 and not as any real practitioners doesn’t do anything to help suggest Witches could be real people.  And the way that some parents react to children’s books with magic themes (Harry Potter topping the challenged book list, anyone?) definitely paints a picture of a society where hostility towards Witchcraft is alive and well.

And yet, as I was lying on my back thinking of where all the negative stuff came from, I also thought about how I was drawn to Witchcraft–how it felt like the right thing, how my fascination with magic had been something real and strong my whole life, how even when I wrote fantasy stories, magic wasn’t something that you could just snap your fingers and get, but something real, something simultaneously tangible and intangible and physical and something that required your effort.  I thought about how I fell in love with Renaissance festivals and the world of magic and whimsy there, and how every Halloween I was a witch or a sorceress.  How Harry Potter didn’t make me want to be a Witch, but how wanting to be a Witch made me devour Harry Potter. 

I know that this is all far from easy.  I watched my mom absolutely mock my brother this weekend for considering himself an atheist, and I could only sit there and think how much she would be appalled if she knew of my Tarot cards and essential oils.  I can hope that someday it’s not all so terrifying and confusing.  I’m trying to melt away some of that confusion now.

Well the candle burns down.  And only time will tell.

 

Blessed be!

)O(

(And a happy full moon to you all!)

 

 

A Little TV Magic

In which I detail why Merlin has been the best show possible to watch while navigating this strange path I’m on.

So yeah, I’ll get to it.

If anybody reads my blog pretty regularly, they might recall a couple months ago when I did a post for Witch crushes, based on the Pagan Perspective video at the time.  If you don’t recall, it was my Year and a Day Journal #30.

In this post, I mentioned my Witch crushes of the moment.  The list included three fictional characters: Hermione from Harry Potter, Alice from Alice and Greta, and Merlin from, well, Merlin (I think it’s actually supposed to be The Adventures of Merlin but who ever calls it that?).  Well, I wrote that post back when I was in maybe season two of the show, and now I’m just two episodes from the end.  Truthfully, I could have gotten here sooner but I’ve been dragging it out spectacularly just to get it to last as long as possible.

If you haven’t seen Merlin, I can say that it’s basically a retelling of the King Arthur legends, but instead of Merlin being an old wizard, he’s been re-imagined as young guy (the show supposedly starts when he’s a teenager and ends when he’s in his late twenties, I would guess) whose magic is a secret.  It really ties in the BBC go-to bromance (think Sherlock and John), especially since you have the two major hotties in Colin Morgan (Merlin) and Bradley James (Arthur) appealing to the masses of women who then turn to writing fantasy-fueled slash fanfiction.

I tried to watch Merlin several years ago, probably a little after it first aired.  My first boyfriend was really into some pretty geeky stuff, and he sometimes appealed to me with various video games and things, so Merlin was one of the many television series he tried to introduce me to.  I distinctly remember watching the first episode, and maybe even the second, and thinking, “Well this is stupid.”  I mean, first of all, Merlin as a young guy?  Special effects that looked like a college kid had done them on his laptop?  Cheeky humor that seemed a bit forced?  I basically told my boyfriend I wasn’t interested.  (Later I also turned down Firefly, Dr. Who, and a whole slew of shows that most geeks usually fawn over.  Don’t worry…as with Merlin, I’ve come around to a lot of them….)

Recently though, I’ve been living in my foreign country, and Netflix was just introduced in January.  I already have a Netflix in the states, which I share with my current boyfriend, so once I found out it was now available here, I logged in and started looking through which shows were available.

Sadly, perhaps because it’s a foreign country, Netflix started off with a woefully dismal selection.  Scrubs, The Office… none of my favorite shows were featured.  For a few weeks, I didn’t even try finding anything interesting to watch.

Then one day I decided to check in and I saw Merlin come up in my queue.  I remembered my first boyfriend’s unsuccessful attempt to get me to watch it, and recalling that he later got me into Sherlock and I became obsessed, I decided to give Merlin another try.

A few months later and I’m thinking that I had no idea what I was getting into.

The show itself is fine, it’s great.  The special effects still sometimes leave something to be desired, and I love how the show pushed its headliner as John Hurt although he really only voices the CGI dragon.  However, the rest of the cast–including Anthony Head and Richard Wilson–is phenomenal.  And although I started off not really liking the character of Merlin, he quickly–like, way too quickly–grew on me.  Colin Morgan had the look and even some of the mannerisms of a decade-younger Benedict Cumberbatch (another British actor I’m obsessed with) and as the show went on, he made Merlin as a character iconic again.

And therein, I must say, lies so much of the appeal of the show.  Of course Colin is fantastic, and I’m now lining up all of his roles on my bucket list, but the character he brings to life is a character like I’ve never seen before on television (I mean, I don’t watch a lot of television, but still).  He’s a hero with a destiny, which is nothing new, but his destiny is as old and real to the viewers as the history of Great Britain.  For centuries there were real wars fought between England and Wales that were driven with a sort of sacred mission and a belief in the legend of Arthur, so much so that Wales fought under his flag with his crest.  No one in the western world hasn’t at least heard of King Arthur, and whole legions of liberal arts students have read the Arthurian legends and Le Morte d’Arthur.  I can imagine that it was a tall order for the BBC to bring back this legend in a well-executed way.

The greatest thing about Merlin, however, and the reason why I’m writing about it on this blog, is because the show isn’t just about swords and battles, it’s about magic.  And not just Harry Potter style magic with flashes and bangs but real, old religion magic and beauty and nature.  And the persecution of those who revere and practice such things.

Merlin himself shows up in Camelot unwilling and afraid to understand or enter into this world.  In the beginning, the “old religion” is a dirty term, referencing dangerous sorcerers and people wanting to do harm to the city.  But as the show goes on, Merlin (and the tone of the show, by extension) accept that magic is not an evil, and that it is woven within the fabric the world, of nature, and that many people who practice it use it for good.  Eventually Uther, who rejects anything with magic, is replaced by Arthur, who does not kill people on the sole grounds that they have magic.  As the final season of the show (season five) comes into play, and Merlin’s power becomes greater, he understands more and more his connection to the intrinsic magic of the Earth, and the part that the old religion plays.  At one point, Merlin and Arthur are near a sacred place in the forest, and Arthur asks Merlin how he knew the place was sacred.  Merlin responds by saying, “Everything here…so full of life.  Every tree.  Every leaf.  Every insect.  It’s as if the world is vibrating.  As if everything is much more than itself.”  Arthur then says, “You feel all that?” and Merlin simply says, “Don’t you?”

In that moment, I knew that it wasn’t an accident that I started watching Merlin now.

For all the shows that treat magic as dark and evil, or as something flashy and unreal, Merlin makes it physical, makes it tangible, makes it rooted in something we all know and need.  With the main character a flawed and yet admirable young man with a lot of difficult decisions to make, the audience gets to see how important a reverence for the world is, how important tolerance is, how respect for misunderstood things gets you much further than hatred.  We see how the majority of people who practice magic are good, and while it can be used for evil, it is not evil in itself.  In 5×09, Merlin in disguise tells Arthur, “There is no evil in magic.  Only in the hearts of men.”

I know that in the next episode I’m about to watch–the panultimate episode–Merlin will temporarily lose his magic at the hands of Morgana (the Morgan La Fey character).  Because the show aired years ago already, I’ve been exposed to enough spoilers to know that he will be saved by an understanding that he is a child of the Earth, which is magic, meaning the he himself is magic.  And he cannot lose what he is.

This is the show that all people starting on this path need.  At a time when I’ve questioned everything about myself and about the world and about magick, Merlin–a mainstream television show broadcasted across the planet–has taught me so much.  I feel in my heart that this series has impacted my life in a way that I can’t explain.  It said that it’s okay to be different.  To believe in the magic of the world.  To be a Merlin.

We’ll just say getting to watch hot actors is a plus.

Anyway, I don’t need to explain that I highly recommend this show to anyone, if you haven’t already watched it.  If you did watch it and you have a different opinion on it, please feel free to leave a comment.

I hope you all have wonderful days filled with nature (and possibly a little Netflix).

 

Blessed be!

)O(

[Update:  Apparently this is my 50th post on this blog, and I have to say I couldn’t be happier about the topic.  Thanks everyone for sticking with me for so long.] 

 

 

Bloom Closet Opened: Entertaining My Family, and the Beltane that Wasn’t

Before anyone has a mind to congratulate me on coming out of the broom closet, let me start by saying that it’s not what you think.  This post is going to mostly be about my mother and brother visiting me from the United States.  I’ll talk a bit about Beltane.  And there is a closet (well, a cupboard) involved.

Basically I’ve been MIA because about two weeks ago my mom and brother flew into this country from the US and I’ve been playing the tour guide for the majority of that time.  We’ve literally been eating, talking, spending time, and even sleeping together, so me sneaking away to write posts onto a Witchcraft blog would probably not be well-received.  I don’t think I need to remind anyone that I was raised Catholic, and apart from recognizing that I entertain my doubts, I think my mom still considers me to be Catholic.  While she has certainly let her church attendance drop recently (due to many complicated reasons, most of them not pertaining to the Church itself), she was raised Catholic and presumably her family has been Catholic for many generations, and she’ll probably be Catholic until the day she dies.  My brother, on the other hand, has had just as strange a journey as I have, and he’s a bit more understanding.  He had a time in late high school where he was basically agnostic as I understood it, then in college he had a mild fanatical moment where he was taken into a Biblical group and he felt he had a spiritual re-awakening, then that sort of died down and he settled into what I would again consider to be pretty stagnant agnosticism.  I don’t know if he’s actively pursuing any spiritual ideas but I think his philosophy is pretty much that it’s not worth it.

In any case, I knew before they came that evidence of my path would have to be squirreled away.  I had literally several dozen burned down tealights scattered around my room and tons of other candles, which I use for various reasons.  I had my makeshift altar things on an altar-y table out on the balcony.  There’s a white cupboard just over the table where I usually store things for my rituals, so I decided to shove everything in there and kind of make it look like a mess and hide all the symbols, just in case somebody peeked in there, although I didn’t think anybody would.
Of course, therein lies the evidence that I’ve been away from my mother for too long, because I’d almost forgotten how extremely curious(/nosy?) my mom can be.

So my mom and brother arrived in the capital of the country–which is NOT where I live–and we spent a few days there, which was stressful as hell because I don’t know the capital so well and absolutely nothing is written in English, whereas in this city it’s a bit more friendly to tourists.  So my mom and brother were entirely relying on me, because they don’t read this language at all, let alone speak it, and my mom, who is one of the nicest people you will ever meet but certainly has her faults, spent a lot of time questioning where I was going and alternating between assuming I have a better mastery of the language than I do and insinuating that I have no idea what I’m doing.  Of course, she was probably just equally stressed at being in a different country where not a lot of people speak English, and she had to add to that being led around by her 22-year-old daughter.  And I don’t deny that I can be an awful tour guide sometimes.

On May 1st we celebrated several holidays in this country, one of them being a very late Easter (which is celebrated later here than in Western countries), and of course, I wanted very badly to celebrate Beltane in some way.  I guess the only thing I can say about the night leading up to the first was that we certainly partied from dusk til dawn (and after), and it was certainly a night of debauchery.  But being in a busy capital meant that I didn’t get to go out into the woods or a meadow and hang pretty ribbon spells from a tree or make flower crowns or anything that I kind of romanticize about Beltane.

Tell me if I’m wrong, but one of the great things about Beltane seems to be that it is the only genuinely carefree festival of the Wheel of the Year.  Hear me out: We’ve got Samhain first, which I think most people would agree is a pretty dark and sometimes solemn sabbat.  Then we’ve got Yule, which is nice and hopeful but you’ve still got the rest of winter coming and it’s also dark and cold as anything.  Imbolc is next which is nice and also hopeful, but by this time of the year you’re kind of feeling the weight of several months of cold and if you live in the north, the end really still isn’t in sight.  Ostara is great and exciting but spring still isn’t quite here yet and it’s still cold.  Beltane is finally the time when the leaves might be coming out, the weather is becoming fine, people are happy and lusty and dance-y, and you’re like, “Bring on summer.”  Then we’ve got Litha, which is obviously awesome and bright BUT it’s the death of the Oak King, which means that it’s getting darker again and the idea of winter is looming ahead.  Lammas is the hard work of harvest and preparing for winter, Mabon is kind of the same but more in earnest, and…well, then winter’s set in again.

Moral of the last paragraph: BELTANE IS AWESOME, and I have never gotten the chance to freaking celebrate it yet!

I’m still hoping that even though I’m almost two weeks late, I can still get out and do some ritual in nature.  Is that a thing?  Do people celebrate sabbats late?

Alright, alright, now I know this is getting a bit long already and I still haven’t exactly gotten to the broom closet (although I did some foreshadowing back there).  Basically, after spending a few days in the capital, we traveled to the city where I live–more specifically, I live in the suburb of a big city, though not the capital–and I got much more confident and comfortable taking my mom and brother sightseeing and whatnot.  I know this place, man.  I’ve been here for a long time.

Yet bringing your mom and brother to live in your living space can be so risky, too, especially if you’re in the broom closet.  The first couple days, we were way too busy for my mom to worry about my apartment much, although she did rearrange the kitchen because we had it “poorly organized” before.  The real trouble started in the last couple days when we had some downtime, and my beautiful mother started wanting to straighten up everything in sight.

“Let me fix the cupboard in the kitchen.”

“It’s not necessary, we don’t use it.”

“I want to sweep the floor.”

“Don’t worry about it, I’ll do it later.”

“I know you don’t like them, but you need to buy some chemical cleaners.  Vinegar and lemon juice aren’t going to get the grease off the stove.”

“Mom, I’m pretty sure that grease has been here since the 1970’s and I don’t think we’re going to be the ones who get it off.”

(Okay, now that I’m writing these things down they don’t seem so annoying or invasive, but I was PMSing a bit and I just wanted my mom to leave everything alone.  Of course, then she started on my room.)

“You should throw out those old flowers on that table.  Are you keeping them for some reason?”

“No, Mom, I just like the aesthetic.  It’s my room.”

“Well, the table is messy.  Let me clean it off.”

“Mom, leave it.”

Anyway, on one of our last evenings together, my brother and I left my mom to go with my friends to the city and of course, in my absence, she did everything she could.  She swept everywhere.  She threw out old potted plants and good dirt.  She tried to take out the garbage, got lost, and thankfully met my roommate outside.  And dang it, she went on the balcony and tried to tidy up my freaking altar table.  And she LOOKED IN MY CUPBOARD.

I knew it immediately when I arrived home.  I saw some of the plastic plant containers sitting on my altar table, and I knew she had been out there.  I hoped that she hadn’t looked in my cupboard, but when I went into the kitchen and saw her cleaning dishes, she held up a sponge and said, “You know, you have another one of these in that cupboard out on your balcony.”

I swallowed.  “You mean you put one in there?”  Please, do not let her have been rifling through that cupboard. 

“No, there was one.  And there are a ton of candles out there, and there’s a melted candle on that table on the balcony.”

My heart was absolutely pounding in my chest.  “Yeah, there are a lot of candles.”  And then I went in my room and felt absolutely exposed.

I should be thankful that my mom didn’t realize what was in that cupboard, although all it would have taken was a bit more digging, or picking up one of the candles and seeing the image of the Goddess that I carved on it with a knife.

Later that day she walked into my room, opened the balcony door, and went to the cupboard in front of me.  I had been talking with my brother over something on the computer but suddenly my mouth was dry and I couldn’t hear a word that he was saying.  She picked up the sponge out of the cupboard and held it up for me to see that there, indeed, was a sponge out there.  Then she reached toward the back–where I had hidden some of the more incriminating things–and I felt panic grab me.

“Mom,” I said suddenly, “bring me that melted candle from the table!”  Anything to get her out of there. 

She pulled out a glass container from the back of the cupboard.  “Look at all these little containers back here!”

“Yeah, yeah, they’re cool.  Can you bring me that candle, please?”

She pointed out the herb packets that I kept out there, and the bowl of salt.  “Ugh, don’t use this stuff for cooking, it’s been exposed to moisture out here.  You should throw it out.”

“Sure, I’ll do that.”  I snapped my fingers like an impatient kid.  “The candle, please!”

She unstuck the melted wax from the table, closed the cupboard, stepped back into my room, and handed it to me.  “Why do you want to see the candle so bad?”

To get you out of my stuff.  “I want to see of it’s salvageable.”  I knew it wasn’t–half of the candle was flat, and it was broken.  But at that moment, it wasn’t just fear that wanted my mom to get out of my cupboard.  It was a sense of sanctity.  It was my mom unknowingly violating things that I held spiritually sacred.

After I brought my mom and brother to the airport, I looked around my apartment.  It looked bigger and cleaner in the absence of their belongings, and certainly my mom had done me a huge service in straightening up the kitchen and things like that, even if I hadn’t wanted her to at the time.  But my besom had been used for mundane cleaning, sitting bristles-down on the floor; there were dirty flower pots sitting on my altar, and my mom had even thrown pizza coupons there–treating it like a normal table.  None of these things were that big of a deal, certainly, and my altar only has the value that I give to it, but…damn.  I felt like I had been roughly laundered and hung out in a damp room.  These were silly little trifling things, and of course my mom had no way of knowing that these objects where important to me, or even mine (there are a lot of things in our apartment that do not belong to us).  But yet, it was like a needle stuck in me.  Sitting here now, I can’t even imagine what it has been like throughout history to have your religion misunderstood or disrespected, or have the things you hold sacred be desecrated.  Whole peoples, including Pagans, have been subjected to that and worse.

Someday I’ll tell my mom about my path, but certainly this vacation wasn’t the time for that.  It was a time of being tourists and entertaining my family and hopefully they enjoyed it.  I enjoyed it too.  These little events don’t negate the whole goodness of it.  But I saw that I was simultaneously strong and weak when my broom closet was opened and yet not revealed.  I saw that I could keep secrets in plain sight, but I hope that in the future it won’t be a secret anymore.

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

 

Am I Appropriating Culture?

Alright, everyone, here is the big post that I’ve been saying I’m going to do.  It’s a lot of questioning, so if you have any answers, please let me know.

It’s no secret that cultural appropriation has been a hot topic in the last several years.  Things that flew under the radar for a very long time, such as dressing up as a Native American for Halloween, white people wearing dreadlocks, people getting tattoos that they don’t fully understand, Americans claiming to have achieved Eastern spiritualism when really they just do yoga a couple times a week…these are all being shoved out into the limelight as cultural insensitivity and appropriation.  I, as a white, middle-class, Midwestern, European-descended American, probably could never understand the full meaning behind the phrase “Namaste,” let alone take on the heavy history of southern gospel music, or a Native American pow-wow, or…you know, basically anything except when I was born and raised with: a Midwest American lifestyle with a nod to my Norwegian heritage thrown in at Christmas in the form of lutefisk and lefse.

Now, just because we’re born in one position doesn’t mean we can’t see something better or even equally interesting and want to learn about that or strive for it.  I don’t have any heritage from the country that I’m in right now, but I was interested in it, and I studied it, and I came here to teach English.  I met little resistance on the ethics front because I’m white and this country is mostly white, so nobody was questioning if I was taking on the “white man’s burden” of going to Africa or India or something and teaching English.  (I personally don’t find anything wrong in going to Africa and volunteering or teaching English, but I recognize the tones of colonialism behind it and why it can be such a controversial thing.)  Anyway, I’ve been immersed in this culture for over half a year now, and I’d studied it long before I came, so if I go home and cook the food from this country and speak the language of this country and teach my children the traditions of this country, I won’t really feel like it’s cultural appropriation, because I like to think I understand it pretty well.

Also, one has to consider that in America, we are like a melting pot (though I prefer the term “tossed salad”–many different parts that offer their own unique flavor and bring something different to the table but work very well all together), and therefore every American is introduced to a whole slew of cultures.  I’m guessing that if you account for the whole United States, you could probably find first-generation immigrants from basically every country in the world.  So, of course, even if my heritage is Scandinavian, I can be introduced to–and even fall in love with–another culture.  Take Mexican culture, for example.  Near where I live, there are a lot of Mexican immigrants.  It’s not hard to find Mexican shops or restaurants in my area.  I even volunteered for a few weeks in a school where the student body was nearly 70% Latino.  I studied Spanish in high school and have used it on more than one occasion to order food, to help limited-English customers at the store where I worked, or to help Latino students at various schools.  I used it in Mexico when my family and I went there for vacation.  Mexican culture is something that I find very interesting and I consider myself to know at least a bit about.  I was, after all, one of the officers of the Spanish Club at my school and I did win some awards at Festival Quijote (a traveling one-day event for high schools celebrating Spanish and Mexican culture).  That being said, I would never consider myself to have a full understanding of what Mexicans have gone through.  I don’t think it’s appropriate for me to celebrate their holidays in the same way that I like celebrating the holidays of the country I’m in now.  Does it have something to do with race, with perceived differences in us based on the color of our skin?  Maybe.  Perhaps it’s because I haven’t spent more than seven days in Mexico, and that was all at a resort in Cancun drinking pina coladas.  But I know a woman, a white, probably Scandinavian-descended woman who lives in my region, who loves Mexican culture so much that she takes a group of women there every year for a retreat, she decorated her house with a lot of Mexican-inspired elements, she changed her name to sound more Latina (her name ended with a consonant and she added an “a” to the end), and she even adopted Mexican children (no, I’m not kidding).  As much as I’m inspired by and admire this woman for a ton of reasons (she’s a lifelong vegetarian, a local-business supporter, a fitness instructor at age 65, and she grows an urban garden), I can’t help but feel like her adopting Mexican culture (and Mexican children) seems a little out-of-place.  Maybe even inappropriate.  After all, cultural appropriation is a symptom of privilege.  Many Mexican immigrants have to come here, learn English, and “act white” just to survive, but this woman can take on Mexican culture as a kind of intense hobby or lifestyle choice.

I think that, by now, many of you can probably understand where I’m going with this.  As I’ve said a few times, my heritage is half-Scandinavian, and I celebrate that with my family.  (The other half is mainland European but we don’t celebrate it as much.)  For most of my life, I was pretty content on living with the traditions that my family had always had, including going to Catholic church, celebrating Christian holidays, and being a pretty patriotic American.  Then I started branching into studying the culture and language of the country I’m in now, as a matter of interest (and I’ve been doing that for the last five years).

But you all know that I’m on a journey, and this path, at least the one I’m trying to walk on, seems to simultaneously come from a pretty specific tradition and sort of borrow from a ton of different traditions all at once.

Most Witches that I know do at least something with the Wheel of the Year, which includes these old Celtic holidays of Samhain, Yule, Imbolc, Ostara, Beltane, Litha, Lammas/Lughnasadh, and Mabon.  They maybe draw inspiration from the gods and goddesses of several traditions, including ancient Greek, Roman, Celtic, Norse, Slavic, Germanic, and others.  It’s a pretty open path, so you can kind of choose anything you want and roll with it.  It’s a beautiful thing, for the most part.

But here I am, kind of preparing myself for Beltane, scrolling through Pinterest and finding cool ideas, reading about the origins of this holiday, and realizing something pretty important.  This is not my heritage.  As absolutely fascinating as the Pagan history of the British Isles is, I’m not British, I’m not Irish.  I’m drawn to this tradition, and yet it feels like it must be far removed from me.

I know that you don’t have to have a heritage of Witchcraft to start on the path (at least, that seems to be the general consensus among a lot of practitioners although there is some contention).  In fact, thinking that one must fit into a certain box in order to be a Witch is pretty damaging.  But for the last few years of my life, I’ve been actively trying to educate myself on how to be a better human being, and part of that has been becoming conscious of things like cultural appropriation and sensitivity.  How can I sit down one day and decide that I’m going to follow a calendar that I’ve never followed in my life?  How can I wrap my mouth around these old words and act out these old traditions when I don’t have the context of them?  Even if I studied them for years the way that I studied Spanish, can I just adopt them, as I see fit, as a luxury?  After all, the same privilege is at work here–Pagans have been killed throughout the ages for not assimilating to Christianity, but here I am with the privilege to say, “Well, now I’m Pagan (or Neo-Pagan)!”  Doesn’t it have the same bad taste as if somebody decided they were going to align themselves with Native American traditions and spirituality when they haven’t been invited and haven’t had to experience the pain of the past?  Or (and this is the question I’m asking)…maybe it really is okay?

And as much as I know that there are Witches out there who fight against this notion, I must ask myself a question–even in the midst of the Reclaiming tradition, should I, someone whose family has been Christian as far back as I can fathom, really seek to consider myself a Witch?

Should I forget being politically correct for a moment and just do what I want, as long as I harm none?

These are all questions with which I have been grappling.

I’m eager to receive any comments or ideas from anyone.  If you have an interesting thought on this, or if you have also questioned this, please leave a comment and I’ll answer you as quickly as I can.

Thank you for your help and support.

Blessed be.

)O(

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #30: March 27th, 2016

I’m just sitting here typing in the dark because the circuitry in these old apartments is kind of messed up, and my roommate and I have had to replace just about every light bulb in our apartment.  When mine went out sometime last week, I just kind of decided to embrace the darkness for awhile.  Soon we’ll be getting into the summer pattern of light anyway, with the sun setting later and later, so it won’t be too much of an issue anyhow.

This journal is going to be inspired by the Pagan Perspective, which is a talented collaboration of Pagan/Neo-pagan individuals on YouTube.  One of their recent topics was “Who is your Witch crush?” which was supposed to be discussing those people, fictional or real, who have inspired us (or who we want to be like) in our journey.  So, without further ado–Who is your Witch crush?

I would say that since I haven’t been looking into this path for a very long time, my Witch crushes are going to be pretty simple, and many of them fictional, of course.  I shall construct a list to facilitate the organization of my choices.  They are, however, in no particular order.

  1. Hermione Granger – yes, they can be witches in the lowercase “w” sense.  Hermione is an obvious choice because she is a badass witch who really taught readers of Harry Potter that they could be brainy girls and save the day.  She’s no damsel in distress but she also really understands the laws of magic and how to use her magic for important reasons.  She’s an advocate for those with less power and she’s a strong character with a lot of ambition, and yet, she is a consistently empathetic character with a humble heart.  She is my idol, really.
  2. Alice (from Alice and Greta) – this is a pink, frilly witch who is the opposite to the acid green, spikey witch Greta.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with green, but pink was my favorite color as a kid anyway.  Alice and Greta taught me that “Whatever you chant, whatever you brew, sooner or later comes back to you,” which, as a kid, meant that you should do nice things instead of get into mischief.  Now that I read it with a new Witchy context, however, I realize that this book actually talks a lot about karma or even possibly the Rule of Three, which is kind of a cool thing to get in a children’s book.  I also loved the illustrations in this book, and the pink-loving Alice was like #fashiongoals.
  3. Merlin (from BBC’s Merlin) – of course, Merlin as a character and legend goes far beyond the series done by the BBC, but I really enjoy the portrayal done by Colin Morgan in the television series, and he really is a Witch crush, despite never being called a witch in the series (always a warlock or a sorcerer).  Merlin is a Witch crush for me not only because he is adorable (he’s like Benedict Cumberbatch but ten years younger), but because he really has strong loyalty, humility, and a sense of morality.  Gaius teaches him only to use magic for important, good reasons, and Merlin, while being a flawed character, is constantly standing up for good use of magic versus evil use of magic.  I also love how Merlin is connected with the “old religion/old ways,” which is a pathway tied intrinsically with the earth.  The fact that magic and the earth are so tied together is something that I think is not lost on this series, and that’s a refreshing thing.
  4. Cara Mia (cutewitch772) – getting into the real people now!  Cara is probably sick of me mentioning her on this blog, but she knows that she was the one who ultimately inspired me to look more into this path when I came across her YouTube channel, so I really do owe her a lot.  Since I started watching her videos, I’ve realized that we have very similar ideas, which is something valuable that shouldn’t be dismissed.  Moreover, she’s always willing to help people out and give her input or advice.  If you don’t watch her stuff on YouTube, head on over to her channel or watch the Pagan Perspective.
  5. My pagan friends/acquaintances – although I don’t have many, I do know a few people who have also chosen this path.  I have to say that even if I don’t agree with all of them or want to follow their exact paths, it is a brave and noble endeavor to openly follow what they do.  I hope that someday I can also be open with this path.

I’m sure that as I get more literature under my belt and get to know more people in the pagan community, I’ll be able to expand on this list.  For now it’s just the little thing that I thought I’d take some time to answer.  Thanks to the Pagan Perspective for publicizing this question.

Blessed be!

 

)O(

 

Year and a Day Journal #29: March 22nd, 2016

Today is a landmark–I’m finishing the Goal of the Witch series!  If you’re looking for a novice’s take on the 13 Goals of the Witch, take a look back at my Year and a Day Journal post archives and see what you think.

Certainly even in the time that I’ve been working on this series, I’ve been growing as a person and experiencing such a huge variety of events and emotions.  Just last Thursday I broke down and cried after a particularly difficult class (featuring three problem teenagers), and the next day I almost cried from happiness when one of my students brought in his entire set of Harry Potter books to give to me.  Of course, I already have the series, but I’ve been contemplating for a long time buying the series in the language of the country I’m in, and on Friday, as if he knew, my student just brought in the books, all tied up with twine.  He said he’d already read them and thought I could use them to practice my language skills.  It was seriously just what I needed after a particularly stressful day just before.

Of course now my students are all chatting while they’re taking a test (cheating is not frowned upon in this country, and despite my best efforts to give dagger stares over my laptop, they will never break the habit of looking at each other’s papers and cracking jokes), but then again I’m typing on my Witchcraft blog and getting paid teaching time for it.  So I really can’t judge.

Anyway, on to the main event!  Discuss Goal of the Witch #13: Honor the Goddess and God. 

I’m going to refer you all to a recent week’s series from the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube, during which they discussed the term “soft polytheism.”  Cutewitch772’s video in this series struck a particularly strong chord for me, because we have pretty similar views.  Basically, soft polytheism is not really the hard belief in any gods per se (hence the “soft” rather than “hard”), but a belief that all of the many different gods (or gods from any certain pantheon) are sort of figurative aspects of the Universe, or they are symbolic of different forces of nature or facets of human nature.  I don’t really believe in a physical God or Goddess, or a real Thor or real Brigid or real Athena or who have you.  Believing in the Christian God was one of the biggest obstacles for me in staying Catholic, and so it wouldn’t make any sense to start believing in a whole slew of gods if I couldn’t even believe in one.  However, I do like studying them and I believe that they are all representations of different aspects of the Universe, and they can certainly teach us about those aspects of the Universe (or aspects of the Divine) and give us perspective on them.

For example (and I’ve used this example before), perhaps I want to make the most of a Tuesday and meditate on the god Ares (or Mars).  Perhaps I know that I need additional strength (and who doesn’t need strength in the middle of the work week?) and so I’ll call on the energy of Ares to help me or I’ll meditate on what it means to be a strong person like Ares.  I can envision Ares however I would like to–as an old-fashioned warrior from ancient Greece, or maybe as a contemporary soldier in desert camouflage–and use that as inspiration.  As for me, I definitely envision Ares as a contemporary soldier, because my boyfriend is a soldier.  I just picture maybe a fictional battle buddy for my boyfriend, and because I know what my boyfriend has been through, I can look upon those aspects of a warrior to help guide me.  Or maybe I’d really send this idea of a warrior to my boyfriend if I know he needed additional strength.  That being said, because many of the gods or goddesses from ancient times are also flawed, we can see the consequences of the extremity of these traits.  Too much strength and warrior-ness can lead to aggression or violence.  I think that working with the gods and goddesses can teach us balance.

Of course, I’m in an infant stage here.  I don’t work with any gods or goddesses right now, but I do picture the female and male aspects of the Universe when I go out into nature.  I also can see that there is the Divine within me and those around me.  When I return to my boyfriend in the summer, I’m sure that I’ll see the masculine aspects of the Divine within him (and I’m sure some feminine also, just as I’m sure I have some masculine aspects within me).

While I don’t think I’ll ever have a hard dual-theist outlook on life the way that the Goal of the Witch seems to lay it out, I’m excited to keep finding out more about the gods and goddesses and potentially the God (as the masculine energy of the Universe) and the Goddess (as the feminine).  Even if I don’t literally think there is a Horned God wandering around in the forest or wherever, I can see that there is a kind of Divinity in the Universe.

My favorite saying used to be the Latin phrase: Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.  It means “Where charity and love are, God is there.”  I even had this quote under my photo in my senior yearbook.

I think that, just because I no longer strongly identify with this idea of God, I can still find something in this phrase if I think of God as the Divine.  Where charity and love are, there is the Divine.  Perhaps, the Divine is everywhere.

 

Blessed be!

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