Imbolc Playlist: Music for the First Hints of Spring

 

 

Here we are at another Sabbat; and I must confess that this one is just as difficult for me to place as Mabon was. As someone who was not raised Pagan (in fact, I was raised Catholic), I have all the experience in the world with the common secular holidays and religious ones. I can tell you all about Ash Wednesday and what you should and shouldn’t do during Lent (the roughly 40 days leading up to Easter). Groundhog’s Day is an underwhelming, yet present, part of February for Americans. Then there’s the saccharine Valentine’s Day, which I actually have a great fondness for (I love pink and hearts). As for Imbolc, however – this holiday has no obvious equivalent in modern Christian or secular culture. At least with Yule, Ostara, and Samhain, I have some kind of basis for the traditions and how to celebrate. Imbolc is a bit of an enigma.

Therefore, I’ve tried to make it my duty to look up ways to celebrate this Sabbat, especially since it is, actually, one of the four greater Sabbats. That includes the playlist I’ve taken it upon myself to build for each Sabbat – with lots of input from other Pagans (I’ve been heavily inspired by Ozark Pagan Mamma). I started back at Beltane, and so far, I’ve created playlist for each holiday. Now we’re at Imbolc, and then there’s just Ostara left to do.

So, whether you enjoy this playlist or not, I think that it speaks to the feeling of the season. Some hopefulness, some dreariness, a lot of Brighid, and light-filled themes. As usual, I’ll put the full list, and then below, the list plus reasons why I chose each piece.

I hope you enjoy. Again, these are no particular order (other that what I find pleasing), and they are all currently available on Spotify.

  1. Dante’s Prayer (Loreena McKennitt)
  2. The Wild Song (Anuna)
  3. Shepherd Moons (Enya)
  4. Candlemas Song (Lisa Thiel)
  5. Return to The Mother (Reclaiming)
  6. Banish Misfortune (Erutan)
  7. The Quickening (Spiral Dance)
  8. Song to Brighid (Lisa Thiel)
  9. Born of Water (Lila)
  10. Eiri na Greine/Sunrise ( Eamonn Cagney)
  11. Imbolc (Lisa Thiel)
  12. The Dove’s Return (Aine Minogue)
  13. Deeper Well (The Wailin’ Jennys)
  14. Brighid’s Kiss (La Lugh)
  15. No One But You (Erutan)
  16. Brighid (Damh the Bard)
  17. Maiden, Mother, Crone (Kellianna)
  18. Siochain Shuthain (Lukasz Kapuscinski, Adrian Von Ziegler)
  19. Hearth Blessings (Lisa Thiel)
  20. Imbolc (Threefold)
  21. Have you seen but a white lily grow? (Evelyn Tubb, Michael Fields, David Hatcher)
  22. Brighid (Kellianna)
  23. Triple Goddess Blessings (Lisa Thiel)
  24. Tiny Geometries (Ray Lynch)

Here’s the breakdown why I included each song:

  1. Dante’s Prayer – This song is a really great opener for any playlist. I’ve talked about how much I love putting instrumental music at the beginning of a playlist, and while this isn’t instrumental all the way through, it starts with some really great choral singing, as if from a deep, quiet cathedral, or maybe slowly stealing through the still, wintry woods. Loreena is gorgeous here, as always. This song is about finding the light, sometimes in other people, when everything seems lost in the darkness.
  2. The Wild Song – An equally complex and simple song, this number brings to mind the first few sounds of springtime after the winter starts to thaw. The lyrics of this piece will bring you to beautiful places, and the vocalizations are quite something.
  3. Shepherd Moons – When I was a kid, my dad and I used to listen to Enya in the car. So, when I saw that this song was on Ozark Pagan Mamma’s list, I couldn’t NOT put it on mine. The quiet hesitations of the melodic piano line are so in-tune with the way that spring slowly winds into being, awakening from under the snow.
  4. Candlemas Song – Always the thoughtful lyricist, Lisa Thiel reaches out with a simple chant/song to Birgita, an aspect of Brighid. She asks Birgita to awaken the flame within each of us, to relight and rekindle that which has been lost in the darkness of the winter.
  5. Return to the Mother – The great thing about this song is that another song by this group, Sun King, was on my Lammas playlist. The solid beat underneath this song matches up perfectly with either song. It’s a great mirror between the death of the father sun and the reawakening and returning to the moon mother. Almost as though it’s all a circle, isn’t it?
  6. Banish Misfortune – Although I absolutely love Erutan, hers is not the old rendition of this popular, dance-y strings number. I just love the idea behind even the name “Banish Misfortune,” since it calls to mind dancing through the brutally cold winter and still dancing as the springtime peaks out and the first birds start singing.
  7. The Quickening – Spiral Dance has quite a few interesting pieces on their various albums. This one starts out as a fast-paced dance number, then the vibrant vocals come in, celebrating Brighid and the spring being born from the winter Crone.
  8. Song to Brighid – I realized that I put an awful lot of Lisa Thiel on this playlist, and that tells me that she might have a special thing for Brighid. In this piece, Lisa calls Brighid a “blessed woman” and asks her to guide her. It’s such an authentic invocation of the goddess, and you can almost hear the pleading in her voice. I’m pretty much a soft polytheist, but I’m not immune to the devotion some of these musicians have to their spirituality.
  9. Born of Water – There is no way that you won’t sing along to this song. It starts off with some simple birds chirping, a rain stick, a flute…and the chant comes in, simple and memorable, empowering women and anyone who associates with the element of water. “Born of water, cleansing, powerful, healing, changing, I am.”
  10. Eiri na Greine/Sunrise – Just some lovely instrumental music. I looked up the first part of the name before realizing that it was already translated: “Sunrise,” in Irish. This is the time of the year that we celebrate the sun coming up earlier and earlier, and bringing back its warmth with it.
  11. Imbolc – More Lisa Thiel! This song was part of her Circle of the Seasons album, in which she did a song for each Sabbat. However, this piece is again, a dedication to Brighid, as the keeper of the home.
  12. The Dove’s Return – I think this is meant to be a Christmas song, to be honest, considering the album that it falls under on Spotify is “Celtic Christmas II,” but the ethereal sounds of the harp and the vocals bring this bright melody right into the first touches of springtime.
  13. Deeper Well – I am a big fan of The Wailin’ Jennys. They’re actually Canadian, which you can tell on this song due to the lack of a British accent. This isn’t my favorite song of theirs, but I can appreciate the message of looking for something more – instead of “drinking” shallowly in life, you need to “drink” from a deeper well.
  14. Brighid’s Kiss – It’s not too often that I have something from a Celtic Woman album on here. But, there can’t be any doubt that their voices blend so well that they deserve a spot on any playlist. This song isn’t entirely in English, but the parts that are talk about nourishing the people with the sunrise and the epiphany.
  15. No One But You – Here’s another piece by Erutan. Fun fact about this musician – she has recorded in her closet before, using the coats as acoustic dampeners. Anyway, her clear voice is oddly haunting, and I feel like in this playlist it gives us a reminder of the sweetness of springtime, but the iciness that can still overtake the land at this part of the year. Where I’m from, spring is still dragging its feet as Ostara and sometimes even Beltane. So, Imbolc is only the tip of the iceberg.
  16. Brighid – This playlist reminds me of all the songs that were called “Mabon” around that Sabbat. Brighid is everywhere on this playlist! Damh, of course, treats us to some guitar and introduces us to Brighid as the Triple Goddess of fire, healing, and spring.
  17. Maiden, Mother, Crone – I hadn’t previously had Kellianna on one of my lists, but looking back, I have heard about her. In this gorgeous song, lined by some simple piano, she sings about the Triple Goddess in her three aspects. Her voice also gets fuller as the song progresses, going from the Maiden onward.
  18. Siochain Shuthain – I think this song is about a lot of ducks floating on the water (as far as I could tell by the translation…or it’s about peace? Help me out, Google translate). Anyway, it’s a gorgeous instrumental piece using Celtic guitar.
  19. Hearth Blessings – Even more Lisa! Brighid is the goddess of the hearth, and while Lisa doesn’t mention Brighid in this piece, she does talk about the blessings of the house and the home. Since Imbolc is a time of spring cleaning and purifying our space, this blessing for the home seems like a perfect addition to this list.
  20. Imbolc – Threefold is a really curiously awesome group that has very instrumental pieces that incorporate vocals as though they’re chanting instruments, kind of in the background. This song is quite lovely but has almost rock-genre beats to it. It will definitely get you in the mood for spring.
  21. Have you seen but a white lily grow? – The interesting background to my choice of this piece is that I sang it back when I was in voice lessons as a kid. Sometimes I still sing it in the car when I don’t put any music in. Somehow, this song seemed perfect for Imbolc, hinting at the purity of the flower, its comparison to snow before anyone has walked on it. There’s something about the white softness, the sweetness of the imagery, that made it a shoe-in for the Imbolc playlist.
  22. Brighid – Yet another piece of Brighid! This one is by Kellianna again. In this song, Kellianna almost likens the Triple Goddess to an actual flame herself, leading the people out of darkness and into Love and Light.
  23. Triple Goddess Blessings – Here’s the last Lisa Thiel piece for this playlist. In the past I’ve had some hit-or-miss moments with Lisa, so I was pleased that her soft vocals made it onto this list so much. Again, with this piece, you can tell Lisa’s dedication to the Triple Goddess and the ebb and flow of the circular progression, going from Maiden, to Mother, to Crone, and back again.
  24. Tiny Geometries – Just like my father and I listened to a lot of Enya in my youth, we also listened to Ray Lynch. This is the first time I’ve included Ray on a playlist, but I can’t believe it’s taken me so long. The beautiful thing about Tiny Geometries is that you can imagine anything with the pulsing, tender, electric-sounding energy that this music creates. It could be a sunrise. It could be ice crystals melting. Perhaps it’s the birth of a lamb. Anything is possible at this wondrous time.

Thank you, and Blessed Imbolc to you.

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.

Year and a Day Journal #40: August 4th, 2016

Forty and fine!  I have a feeling that this Year and a Day is going to last a lot longer than a year and a day….

First of all, I’d like to give another shout out to the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube, and especially to cutewitch772, because they’re doing a topic inspired by my blog this week, and it’s brought a lot of traffic to my blog (relative to what I normally get–I mean, we’re talking like ten views compared to one or two), so thank you again.

Today’s topic comes from Wicca: A Year and a Day by Timothy Roderick.  On Day 6 he asks the reader to consider the following: Describe your own “calling” to the Witch’s path.  We all have characteristics of both the shaman and the madman.  In what ways are you a shaman?  In what ways are you a madman or madwoman?

The Day 6 section was about shamanism in Wicca, or rather how Wicca is a shamanistic religion.  Now, I don’t necessarily label myself as Wiccan, but I understand that it is the sort of more-widely-heard-of branch of magickal spirituality.  I also don’t know much about shamanism, like, at all.  It seems to me that considering myself to be shaman-like is a big stretch, because I’m, you know, just Chloe lying on my stomach on my bed right now, writing this thing, and maybe I’ll eat some spaghetti later.  “Shaman” is one of those titles that makes me sort of go, “Oh God, okay, this is getting serious.”

That being said, let me start with the first question.

My “calling” to this path is sort of a lifelong fascination with magic and the sort of magical time in history.  I love Renaissance festivals, for example, and literally every summer since I was a child, my parents have asked me, “Okay, this year–the State Fair, or the Renaissance Festival?” and I’ve been like, “Is that even a question…?”  Of course they’re not historically accurate or anything, but this sort of world where magic is real and wizards and fairies and mystical forests with bands of jugglers exist…it has always drawn me in.  By some extension of that, I love fantasy novels.

I suppose therein lies my “shaman” aspect.  I love reading and writing fantasy–the sort of ability to get lost in and control a non-physical world, something just inside my head where anything is probably possible.  When I write fantasy, I’m creating something no one else has ever experienced yet (unless I’m over-inspired and end up plagiarizing a bit and it just sits in my computer forever).  And of course my venture onto this path is an attempt to understand and interact with the non-physical world.

The “madwoman” aspect comes into play, according to Roderick, when you get completely lost in this otherworld and you can’t function in society.  While I obviously don’t want to consider myself a madwoman, I think that my desire to write fantasy for a living could indicate a desire to completely get lost in this fantasy world.  Or perhaps coming onto this path, instead of just cosplaying at festivals, is an attempt to consume my life with the fantastic.  But I think I balance it well (after spaghetti today I’m going to my part-time job tomorrow).

In any case, it was an intriguing question to think about this lovely August day.  Sometimes I don’t take the time to include my path in my every day life, but I’m trying to get better at it.  Thanks for coming along for the ride.

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!)

 

 

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!

)O(

 

 

 

 

 

Never Stop Learning: Metaphysical Bookshops

I have no idea why I suddenly decided to write this post.  I’m currently in a country where I think the idea of a metaphysical bookshop would throw people off entirely.  It’s not that the people aren’t superstitious or don’t believe in the unexplained, because I think they do.  But despite some of the pagan-esque beliefs in place here, they are all weighed down by the tradition of Christianity, and I think that a metaphysical bookshop would go over like a lead balloon.

Anyway, I was just inspired to think about the metaphysical today, having seen it in an article I was reading, and consequentially this post sort of formulated itself.

I’m from a state in the US that actually has a somewhat impressive Pagan community.  I’m not saying that Pagans make up a significant portion of the population or anything, but there are some Pagans and they have managed to congregate in a way that has justified festivals, groups, and even a brewery run by Pagans.  Bookshops are absolutely no exception to this.  Of course we have chains like Half-Price Books, which often have a “philosophy/metaphysical” section, facilitating a whole generation to quickly shift their eyes to Kant or Aquinas if somebody intrudes upon their hurried search for interesting books on Witchcraft.  These types of bookstores certainly have their place, and, as I said, have perhaps made it easier for teenagers to disguise their study if they’re not quite ready to come out of the broom closet.  And by teenagers, I mean me.  All the time.

However, if you’re looking for a slightly more positive environment, there are two great metaphysical bookshops that I know about in the city center.  Both of them create an amazing community where you’re in a safe haven when you’re inside the shop.  Nobody is going to judge you, nobody is going to question when you purchase an athame or a book on Witchy gardening or a tarot deck.  In fact, the hardest thing you’ll have to do is duck in and out of the shop, if you’re in that stage where you’re worried about what the people on the street will think when they see you coming out of a place named after an Egyptian god.

I think my favorite thing about these places is that, in a lot of cases, they are a one-stop shop for a whole slew of different belief systems.  In one metaphysical bookshop, you can find things for Druids, for Wiccans, for Satanists, and, yes, even for Christians, if you can get past the other stuff.  The people who work there are almost always understanding; they’re in your shoes, or at least they’ve been there.  They know that there are people out there who are just beginning, and they’ll help you, if they can.

Stepping into a metaphysical bookshop is often like going beyond the looking glass.  You step off the smoggy street into a basement shop that smells like a hundred different kinds of incense.  Beautiful tools hang low from the ceiling or are arrayed under glass.  You can buy charms to wear or resins for ink.  You can find books on just about anything spiritual or magickal.  And for once, you don’t have to pretend you are just really interested in Augustine or Locke.  You can look how you want, ask what you want, buy what you want.  Everybody is here to learn and grow.

If you are desperate to find the Pagan community in your area, Google metaphysical bookshops and start there.  You’ll be surprised how much it already feels like home.

 

Blessed be!

)O(

 

 

 

Yule Blessings

Today is my first Yule!  I know that sounds strange, because really, I’m twenty-two years old, but at least this is the first Yule I’ve had where I celebrated the Solstice, and not just Christmas (having been raised Catholic).

Of course, I’m still going to celebrate Christmas.  One cannot go twenty some years celebrating a certain holiday and building up traditions and then decide “eh, not anymore” and go with something completely new.  Some Pagans might argue that Yule is close enough to Christmas to just kind of switch them out and keep lots of the same traditions, but for me, there really is something in honoring Christmas, and saying, “Yeah, this was the day that Jesus of Nazareth was born, and he was a pretty cool guy.”  Plus, I am deeply in love with most Christmas music, and honestly, I’d really just be mincing words if I said that I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas anymore, because by celebrating Yule, I’m celebrating everything about Christmas, just not the word “Christmas,” per se.  So I might as well just call it like it is, and celebrate Yule, and celebrate Christmas.  I mean, who ever said no to two holidays?

Even more interestingly, in the country that I’m working in right now, they actually celebrate New Years like Christmas (it’s a bigger holiday), and “Christmas” (again, just mincing words in my opinion, but it’s cool) is celebrated in January.  So I get to celebrate Yule, then Western Christmas (Dec. 25th), then New Years (as New Years and as a big, Christmas-type event), then Eastern Christmas (which is basically just a religious day).  So FOUR HOLIDAYS FOR ME.  Of course, I’m not taking them all off work, but I get about a week or so coming up with no work, so I’m satisfied.

Anyway, I really wanted to do something special to celebrate the Solstice.  I’ve been slowly working my way up to bigger and bigger celebrations of each of the Sabbats, because I’ve become a little more confident in what I’m doing.  For Litha last year, I made some sun water and worked outside.  For Lammas, my family had a picnic and a campfire (remember, I’m in the broom closet, so there was nothing special about the fire for them, but I was pretty stoked).  For Mabon, my roommate and I made pizza and got our first paycheck (which is awesome because Mabon is for prosperity), and I got treats for everyone at work.  For Samhain, I got a little more gutsy and I actually decorated my apartment a bit, and then on November 1st I had a silent dinner to honor my grandpa, my grandma, my other grandma, my neighbor, and my dog–all of whom had died in the past two years.

So for Yule, I wanted to get pretty geared up and have a nice ritual.  So, despite not getting much sleep, I knew that I wanted to get up early and celebrate the moment of the Solstice, which was, for me, at about 7:48 am on December 22nd.  So, even though it’s really early for me to get up before 11:00 am (I work very late at night), I planned my ritual last night, got some stuff together for it, and got up at 7:20 this morning to get it all together.

I recorded a lot of what I was planning to do in my journal and used it kind of like a Book of Shadows, in the absence of an actual BoS.  For my ritual, I started by cleansing my room with water and salt, and then cleansing the closed balcony where I was going to have my ritual.  Then I decorated the altar with some pine boughs (very small ones) that I cut last night (no other option, unfortunately…the streets around here are kept notoriously clean of any natural debris, so I couldn’t find anything already on the ground), and got all my candles situated.  I made sure everything was on the balcony, then I cast my circle (which I’m not very good at, but hopefully I’ll continue to get better at that).  Then I sat down on the floor in front of my altar and started.  It was a little strange to sit on the floor of a balcony, because you can do like, no grounding there, but I think the ritual was very fiery and ethereal, so maybe grounding wasn’t entirely necessary.

So I’ll confess that I took a lot of the ritual from About.com and its spirituality section, but there are some pretty awesome rituals on there (who knew?).  Of course, I tweaked the ending a bit and put my own spin on everything.  The key idea was starting in complete darkness and contemplating what the meaning of the Solstice was for our ancestors, who knew that they were going to go months without being able to get more food and adored the Sun as the bringer of life.  Then one candle is lit on the altar, and some words are spoken about the meaning of the Solstice.  The second candle is lit, and the winter goddess is invoked.  Then the rest of the candles (and there can be many, and even electric holiday lights) are lit, and the reborn god is invoked.  It was such an amazing thing to go from sitting in complete darkness, squinting to read my journal notes, to having the balcony be flooded by candlelight, which was shining out of the windows to all of the town and the few people on the street below heading to work.

Once all the candles are lit, an offering of incense is given (the recommendation was frankincense, myrrh, or cinnamon on a charcoal disk, but mine was frankincense and pine in one of those water-based oil heaters).  Additionally, you can offer food, so I offered dried buckwheat and a cup of hot wassail.  One thing that’s tricky for me is that I don’t really know what to do with food offerings.  I guess that if I were outside, I would just leave them for animals or nature to eventually absorb.  But I can’t just leave them on my altar inside and let them get old.  So I drank the wassail, because I figure that having that energy go into me and then out into the world is a better way to offer it, and the buckwheat will maybe sit there for a few days, and then I’ll toss it out the window to the Earth (I could toss the wassail, but I’m three floors up and you never know if somebody’s going to be sticking their head out the window below).

Once the offerings are given, you can pinch out the candles and finish the ritual, but first I contemplated all the new things I want to bring to fruition in my life for the rebirth of the light.  I wrote them in my journal next to my ritual notes, and they filled a page.  I would love to check in at Imbolc and see how things are going.

Then I gave an additional offering of music.  I wore red/silver/green jingle bell earrings, so that the sound of the bells could be an offering, and then I sang a song that is near and dear to me, As the Dark Awaits the Dawn.  Not only have I sung this before in choir, but we sang an arrangement by one of my favorite people in the world (my choir director).  It also can be for Christmas (my choir director is Christian), but the words are very universal and have more about light than about religion.  So I sat on the floor of my balcony and sang this song.

As the dark awaits the dawn, so we await your light.

O Star of promise, scatter night, loving bright, loving bright,

Til shades of fear are gone.

 

As the blue expectant hour before the silvering skies,

We long to see your day arise, whole and wise, whole and wise,

O lucent Morning Star.

 

As the moon reflects the sun until the night’s decrease,

May we your healing light release, living peace, living peace,

Until your holy dawn.

 

Shine your future on this place, enlighten every guest,

That through us stream your holiness, bright and blest, bright and blest;

Come dawn, O Sun of Grace.

 

And the ending really is “Sun,” not “Son,” so really, this was a great song to sing for the Solstice, and I imagine I’ll sing it again and again every year.

The sun actually still is yet to rise.  Around here it doesn’t come up until 10:00 am in the dead of winter (and likewise, we have white nights in the summer), so I still have a half-hour, but now we are in the “blue expectant hour,” so the sky is lightening.  As the end of my ritual (it’s still kind of ongoing), I’m going to make a buckwheat breakfast.  I don’t think buckwheat is really traditional for the Solstice, but I’m working with the few resources I have.

So anyway, that’s most of what I did for my Yule ritual, but I fully expect to keep honoring the Yuletide season for the next couple of weeks, until the Eastern Christmas is over, definitely.  I kicked it off with a great ritual and filling up our Christmas stockings for my roommate and me.  He’s going home to his own country for Christmas, so I will be alone for the next week at least.  It’s okay though, because I made the stockings part of my Yule ritual, rather than for Christmas.

Anyway, I have to go and make the buckwheat to finish before the sun rises, so then I can greet the dawn.

Blessed Yule to everyone.  I am sending out love to you, wherever you are in the world.

)O(

By the way, if this blog post was kind of strangely written, keep in mind that I’m writing this way before I usually get up in the morning.

Year and a Day Journal #11: November 11, 2015

Almost a month behind, but you know.

Today’s question: How would you describe your connection to the divine?  How would you like your connection to progress?

That is not necessarily an easy question for me to answer!  I guess the problem is that I was raised Roman Catholic, and while I think if I were Christian, or believed in God, I would still be Roman Catholic, the problem is that I, well, don’t believe in God.  I think I went through at least one too many philosophy classes and had to think about logic and watched Christians who were being really unChristian, and really, while I used to be quite religious, I feel like that’s something I can’t reconcile with my life.

I touched on this already with the #9 post, but really, ethically, I couldn’t back the Christian God.  One of these reasons was that, for me, it didn’t make sense that an all-knowing, omniscient God–who would, theoretically, know who was going to Heaven or Hell in the end–would bring souls into existence whom He knew would be going to Hell.  It’s like, why would a merciful God bring people into life knowing they will suffer in life, and knowing full well that they will suffer for all of eternity?  Why would He do that?  That is some messed-up stuff right there.  That is cruel, and sick, and even though people have said, “Well, that’s something that people have debated over, but you just have to trust that God wouldn’t do that.”  I’m like, “What?  No.  No, you cannot just give God a pass.  He’s GOD.  You have to hold Him responsible for some stuff!”  I mean, seriously.  If our theology is going to state that God is omniscient, you have to sacrifice that he’s merciful.  If he’s merciful, you have to sacrifice that he’s omniscient.  Somehow, they just don’t work together.

One of my favorite professors from college, whom I learned later on is Catholic also, wrote a paper about this very issue.  While I haven’t actually read it yet (now I feel bad), and theoretically it could change my mind on this matter, even then I’m not sure if I would want to go back to God.  Let me put it this way: when Christians talk about God, when they talk about praying, when they talk about deity and all that, I get this strange disgusted feeling, like the horrible sensation you get when you want to spite someone, or you see some awful injustice happening.  That is not how I want to feel toward my religion, and that is not respecting deity as I know it.  If my Christian friends knew how I felt about God when He’s mentioned, they’d probably be like, “Alright, yeah, man, we don’t want you anyways.  We don’t want someone who is going to despise God in their heart.”  After all, if God knows everything, He knows how I feel about Him.  Nobody wants a follower who hates him.

So, therein lies my strange relationship with deity.  To be honest, I don’t even know what I want from deity, or what kind of relationship I’d like to have with deity.  When I think about the Goddess and the God, generally supplied by Wicca, I think that’s my main reason for not wanting to be Wiccan (but rather, just be a Witch).  How can I possibly reconcile my opinions on the single deity I had to two more deities?  Even though the Goddess and God of Wicca are very distant from the Christian God in many ways, there is still the logic and philosophy that rules my mind somewhere deep down, and wants to say That just doesn’t make sense.  I mean, how much of a cop-out would that be if I just said, “Alright I don’t like Christianity for these reasons,” but in my next breath I turned to another religion and accepted their gods, which have many of the same flaws as the Christian God?

All of this being said, I have been studying Wiccan ideas.  I have read a lot of Ellen Dugan’s books, I’m making my way through Scott Cunninham’s Wicca, and in general I see a lot of Pagan resources that are directed toward Wiccans online.  I think if I want to be a Witch, I have to research what the mainstream Witches believe in.  (Can there be such a thing as a mainstream Witch?  I guess I mean the religion with which many Witches identify/are associated.)  But one of my Witch friends told me something when I was beginning to research paths, which was that even though she identifies as Wiccan, the Goddess and God for her are like representations of forces of Nature, of the Universe.  The Goddess represents the female aspects of Nature, and the God the male aspects, but they don’t have to be actual beings, seated on some heavenly throne, the way that the Christian God seems to be.  When a Witch pays homage to the Goddess, she is reverencing and trying to understand the female aspects of Nature.  And the same way with the God.  But perhaps the Witch is not necessarily praying to a real holy being in the sky or in some realm that is, you know, physically making love to the other deity on Beltane and stuff like that.  Like, these are stories and ideas of beings that are created to personify and attempt to understand the craziness of the Universe that is around us.  These are ways to reverence and organize the seasons, the forces of Nature that were once a real blessing and threat to human life (and still can be).  I don’t want to insult anybody by saying these things–you know it can be pretty harsh when you say, “Your gods don’t exist!”–but I’m just saying that, for me, I can’t deny the Christian God and accept other gods.  For me, they are all ideas of humans to understand the Universe.

BUT THAT’S OKAY.

The great thing about being a Witch is that I can believe this, and still be a spiritual person!  I don’t have to feel so guilty about not concretely believing in the Goddess and God (or, you know, the slew of other gods and goddesses available to Pagans), because my beliefs are acceptable to this flexible way of life.  If I were to identify as Catholic, but go up to another Catholic and say, “Well, I don’t believe in God per se, but I do recognize Him as a human-made construction coming out of an attempt by humanity to understand various aspects of life, such as purpose and death,” I would probably get any reaction varying from shock to disgust to confusion, but I doubt I’d get any sort of support.  And you know, I probably wouldn’t go up to a Pagan and say that, either, because it’s pretty harsh (and who am I to tell someone their god doesn’t exist just because I don’t believe in him?), but if a Pagan were to ask me about my concept of deity, I wouldn’t be afraid to tell them that I think of deity as an aspect of the Universe and not so much as a real being.  I think they would probably understand me, and share their opinion also.

The other great freedom about recognizing the pantheons of gods and goddesses as ideas but not necessarily true beings is that I don’t have to be pissed off about the flaws and shortcomings of various deities.  If I want to have a Tuesday ritual honoring Mars, I don’t have to worry about the fact that I’m paying homage to a god who has violent mood swings, and wonder Man, is this ethically okay?  Because what I’m really doing is paying homage to the very human aspect of courage and strength, and recognizing and respecting that sometimes violence does come out of that, and I must be aware of that fact.  I think we get trouble by brushing over these ideas, and trying to make everything seem so good all the time.  If I were ever to go back to the Christian God, I’d probably just accept the fact that sometimes God’s behavior is kind of cruel, and that’s an aspect of life.  But other Christians are going to fight you over that idea (ironically), because they want to believe God is peaceful and perfect, because they’ve built Him up as a real being who seriously rules the Universe and they can’t handle worshiping someone with flaws.  Lots of pressure on the big guy.

Anyway, I think I did actually somehow manage to tackle this topic pretty well.  I’m really glad that I have this blog to look back on in the future, and see how this journey is going and how my ideas change over time.  I hope they make sense, to anyone who decides to read this.

 

I’m wishing everyone a blessed Saturday/Sunday (Sunday for me, Saturday still in the States), and I hope that you cherish the divine aspect of the day.

)O(

 

Year and a Day Journal #9: November 9th, 2015

Still knocking these out, one by one.

Today’s journal prompt: What would you consider your “code of ethics” for your path?

Well, as I have said before, I’m an avid Pinterester, and fairly early on I came across the (seemingly standard) 13 Goals of a Witch, which are

  1. Know yourself
  2. Know your Craft
  3. Learn and grow
  4. Apply knowledge with wisdom
  5. Achieve balance
  6. Keep your words in good order
  7. Keep your thoughts in good order
  8. Celebrate life
  9. Attune with the cycles of Earth
  10. Breathe and eat correctly
  11. Exercise the body
  12. Meditate
  13. Honor the Goddess and God

Now, these aren’t exactly a code of ethics in the traditional way; I mean, there are some ethics in here, like treating yourself well.  But on the whole, there are no rules–only goals.  If I wanted to look at a code of ethics, I suppose I could reach over to the Wiccan Rede, but I don’t really identify as Wiccan, so that would be a bit beyond what I subscribe to.

So, to be honest, I kind of just use the moral code of, well, myself.  Maybe that doesn’t suit some people (which is probably why we have organized religion), but even back when I was a staunch Catholic, part of me wondered why I didn’t just do what my heart said.  Part of me thought, “I know this is right, but God says it’s wrong.”  This strong sense of morality that I find within myself has been the basis for much of my religious searchings (and really, the rejection of religion).  This, as well as the inability to believe in God, has really shaped my path.

This is one of the reasons that I’m hesitant to say, “I’m a Wiccan,” because, for me, saying that I subscribe to Wicca would be like foregoing the two fundamental reasons for my giving up of Catholicism, just to join another religion (even if they are totally different).  While I can’t deny that Wicca is undoubtedly more fitting in my mind than Christianity, I also don’t want to look at the Rede and say, “Yes, these are rules that apply to me, just like the Ten Commandments.”  Similarly, I don’t want to look at the idea of the Goddess and God and say, “I believe in these deities the way that Christians believe in God and the Son of Man.”  Because, really, I can’t shy away from one idea of God and then turn to a different one, because the idea of a god in general was what I couldn’t get behind.  I can see that the universe might hold some great cosmic power that I don’t understand, but I don’t believe that there is a God out there who is in charge of it all.

Similarly, I believe that my own ethics provide a sufficient source of morality for my actions.  Now, perhaps I’ve been taught this by society, because my views tend to be on the liberal side, but man, if Republicans these days are getting their morals from the Bible, that is not the book that I want to follow (although I’ve read the Bible, probably far more than many Republicans–or my conservative friends–and I have to say that, on the whole, it’s not that much better or worse than any religious text).  I just wish that we could be decent human beings.  Why do we need religion to tell us right from wrong?  Of course, we can be pretty selfish, irrational, and emotional in life–nobody’s perfect–but I do kind of think karma is a factor (you know, the Rule of Three), and honestly, if you are awful to people, people will probably be awful to you.

One of my other friends also said I’m a “relativist,” meaning that I believe everything is relative to who you are and the society you were brought up in.  This friend is a fundamental Catholic who seriously posts some of the worst stuff on the Internet.  We’ve had hours-long conversations about life, religion, and pretty much every topic, but after knowing her about a year, I finally told her, “Do you know what is the hardest thing about being your friend?  I know that no matter what I say, you will never believe me.  You will always look at me and think you know more than I do.  It’s not a give and take.”  I’m still in that friendship, though I don’t know why.

Anyway, if she wants to call me a relativist, she can, but I believe that’s just the way things are.  You can never have one big “Truth” with a capital T, because different things are true for different people.  It’s the same way that one religion will not work for all–and, as it seems, will not work for me.

So I guess I’m trying to figure out what my ethics are, exactly, but so far my own internal code has not led me too far astray.  The 13 Goals of the Witch are kind of right in the sweet spot–they remind me of what I should be doing, without saying, “Do it or you’ll go to Hell.”  So maybe that’s why I want to be just a Witch, and not necessarily a Wiccan.  Part of me feels like I’ve had enough religion for a lifetime.

 

 

 

 

 

Year and a Day Journal #4: November 4th, 2015

I’m slowly making my way through these journal prompts.  Even if I’m tremendously behind, I’m feeling pretty good about having done several written things this month, when sometimes I could go weeks without touching my blogs at all.

So the prompt for this day: What is the history of the craft of your region?

The prompt suggested, for example, if you live in the United States, you could talk about the Salem witch trials.

And, oh MAN could I talk about the Salem witch trials.  I love the Salem witch trials.  I mean, not the part where people died, of course, but as a historically fascinating time in our nation’s history, I’m crazy about this event.  It has spawned so much interest in the supernatural in this country, and even though several men and women had to give their lives, the trials have created an ongoing conversation, even over 300 years after their conclusion.  That is some pretty powerful history.  We probably don’t talk about Titanic as much as we talk about the Salem witch trials.

I’ve actually done some really interesting research (well, I think it’s interesting) into the trials based on Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.  Now, I’ve heard that a lot of Witches have a sore spot for this play, and I can completely understand why.  The women are basically demonized, the cheating husband uplifted, and a strange, effed-up love story is added to smudge female sexuality.  It’s not great in that way.

However, like I said, this play has ensured that conversations are still being had about this event, and the crazy persecution that awaited them at the hands of the church.  Even if the conversation is not perfect, it will get people talking about some of the basic injustices of the event.  And even the most basic English teacher will know that the events of the trials are stretched a little for authorial creativity, and hopefully they’ll tell their students this so teenagers don’t go their whole lives thinking that Abigail Williams was really banging John Proctor (heads up, in real life she was something like eleven, and he was in his sixties).

My research (which was conducted for a term paper) was actually about Tituba, and it was inspired by the idea that Tituba might really have been a precursor to what we consider a Witch.  At the time that I wrote this paper, I was truly becoming fascinated with the idea of Witchcraft, and so I wanted to sneak that into the paper (it pretty much became my hypothesis).  I wish I could find the paper now, but after college things seem to kind of get lost on your computer hard drive, of course.

Anyway, the Salem witch trials were certainly an incredibly interesting part of American history, even if they were part of the horribly tragic persecution of witches across Europe and the Americas.  Thankfully, as an American, I’ve grown up hearing about this fascinating moment in our history and I have been able to help continue the conversation about witchcraft persecution in the United States.

Well, that’s all I’ve got on that one….

 

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