I belong to Cauldron Cill, a flamekeeping group (no, not that kind of Flamekeeping) dedicated to the Gaelic goddess Brighid. Known by many names – the Scottish Bride, the Continental Brigantia, the Catholic St. Brigit – Brighid is a fiery triple goddess of healing, smithcraft, and poetry, the flames of inspiration as well as the fires that burn brightly in every home’s hearth. In a flamekeeping group, members take rotating shifts over a 20-day period to keep Brighid’s flame – lighting candles, saying prayers, perhaps wearing special jewelry – with the Lady Herself taking the shift on the 20th day. Last night my shift began, and a few hours ago it ended. And wouldn’t you know, I have some experiences and musings I’d like to share with you.
24 Nov 2012 1 Comment
Call it what you will – the soul, the essence, the ego, the Middle Self – but I am a big fan of me. And not only am I a fan of me, but I’m also a fan of the concept of me. There is a Me. There is a self in this body. There is something utterly precious in this limited, mortal sliver of existence bookended by this body’s birth and this body’s death. I don’t know if I or any part of myself is immortal, and frankly I don’t care. What I care about, practically and magically, is this life, this being peeking out of these eyes, using these hands to affect change in this lifetime.
I did magic tonight in the spirit of doing magic on a regular basis, just like my Lady told me to. Half the spell tonight I wrote out beforehand, with the main ritual actions yanked directly from The Goodly Spellbook. (I’ll let you know later if I recommend this volume or not.) I’ll leave the details of tonight’s working to your imagination, partly because I don’t feel like sharing something so personal and partly because I want to keep the energies of the spell focused. Basically I performed a severing spell with the intention of separating the energies of myself and someone else who really needs to be gone, in totality, from my life. This mix of Me and Not Me energies have needed pruning for a good, long while. Though I feel like the Morrígan is neither finished with myself or with this working, what I want to specifically talk about is the impromptu segment of tonight’s activities that started after I’d sat down before my altar, but before I read aloud my prepared spell.
23 Nov 2012 4 Comments
“Do magic every day.”
It’s a fairly simple, straightforward command, don’t you think? Four words etched out in the imperative. DO – there’s my verb. (Curious how other languages I’ve studied often compress “to do” and “to make” into a single verb. To be a do-er is to be a make-er, one who creates and effects change.) DO (CREATE/MAKE/CHANGE) what? MAGIC. Magic, the art, science, and sheer dumb luck of making things happen. “DO MAGIC.” “CREATE CHANGE.” “MAKE YOUR OWN DAMN LUCK.”
A sentence finds completion with a subject (implied to be me) and a verb. Our direct object is intrinsically understood to be tied, irrevocably, to this verb. “Magic” might as well be the noun version of the verb “to do.” But that isn’t the end of this command. DO. MAGIC. How? When? In what manner?
EVERY. Cyclical, steady, reliable, untiring, unceasing. There are no breaks. There are no exceptions. There only is – only can be – the Work. And the Work must be done EVERY – every what?
DAY. Sunup. Sundown. Moonrise. Moonset. Morning to evening, straight on through the night until dawn and back again.
05 Sep 2012 Leave a Comment
I had other plans for a post today but between feeling a bit crummy and out of sorts and getting ready for a job interview tomorrow (finally!) I’ve run out of writerly steam. Expect book reviews and more Dedicant Path stuff later! Instead of anything requiring too much thought and planning, today I’ll post my ongoing Meditation Log for ADF’s Dedicant Path. I need 5 months of recorded meditative practice to meet the DP requirements. Here are my notes since keeping my log since August 11.
03 Sep 2012 5 Comments
I’ve been thinking more about my last post and my burgeoning desire to bring the Mighty Dead more fully into my life. I’ll come clean and honestly admit that I don’t much honor my genetic Ancestors. I give them due respect of course, but thus far I haven’t found any connection with them. I’m grateful for the blood the courses in my veins, but when I think of what my immediate Christian ancestors would have thought about me, a Pagan, genderqueer lesbian who’s voting for Obama twice… well, let’s just say that family reunion is likely to be an awkward one.
So instead I turn to ancestors of mind and hearth, those who once worshipped as I did or who experienced life in a similar way to mine. And you know what? There were a lot of people who were like me. Who fell in love with people sharing their genitalia. Who experienced life both as a man and a woman, and some days didn’t know which was which. Who were the victims of oppression, homo- and trans*phobia, and religiously-motivated persecution. Who had to live their lives in the closet or face dire, often life-threatening, consequences.
The experience of us LGBT folks has been erased, invalidated, and denied throughout history. Quite literally, there is not a place for us right now in history books. Queer people just don’t exist. We’re a modern fabrication by an immoral, godless political left, confused, sick, and doomed to rot in Hell. (How we manage to be both nonexistent and a threat to modern society, godless and caught up in another faith’s eschatology, is beyond me. I guess we’re just that good.)
I think it’s high time I started helping to reclaim our history.
I started by looking through this month’s LGBT birthdays listed on Wikipedia. There’s a skew toward cis white males – when isn’t there? – but I started combing through this list for those who have passed away and become our community’s collective Ancestors. Some of the names won’t seem surprising at all. (For example, the fact that Freddie Mercury (September 5, 1946 – November 24, 1991) of Queen was bisexual probably isn’t news to anyone but me.) These individuals were writers, poets, politicians, scientists; sons, daughters, lovers, and oftentimes parents. Queer people existed all over the world, at all points in history, in all strata of society, from Philippe I, Duke of Orléans (September 21, 1640 – June 9, 1701) to silent film star Greta Garbo (September 18, 1905 – April 15, 1990).
Some of these stories end in tragedy, whether through the murder of Harvey Milk (May 22, 1930 – November 27, 1978) and Matthew Shepard (December 1, 1976 – October 12, 1998), or the suicide of Alan Turing (23 June 1912 – 7 June 1954) and Tyler Clementi (December 19, 1991 – September 22, 2010). Our queer Ancestors faced shame, humiliation, violence, and oftentimes death just for who they were – because the world wasn’t ready to trade in hate for compassion.
How can we best remember our Ancestors?
We can not forget them. We can remember their names, their stories, their faces. We can make them part of our own history, even if they don’t show up in the history books. We queer folks, we can come out of the closet and be our own advocates, when we aren’t faced with violence or threats to our person. You straight folks, you can be allies and help us fight homo- and trans*phobia wherever it breeds and help us build safe spaces for people of all orientations and identities. We can best honor our Ancestors by finishing the work they started and trying to fix a world that gave them so much hatred and violence.
31 Aug 2012 8 Comments
In ADF Druidry, we strive to live in right relationship with each of the Three Kindreds: our gods and goddesses, the Shining Ones; the nature spirits, the Noble Ones; and our Ancestors, the Mighty Ones. Out of these three equally important groups, I have the hardest time connecting to my Ancestors, whether they be my two late grandfathers on either side of the family, or the first trueborn member of the species H. sapiens. Perhaps some of it is a holdover from my Baptist days which taught me to balk at the idea of ever elevating a human to the status of God. There was a clear dichotomy between the sacred and the profane, the divine and the human, and the only one who was really allowed to bridge that gap was Jesus. (Really though, Jesus’ humanity always seemed a technicality more than a reality in the church I grew up in – but I digress.) I just got the hang of believing in and worshiping gods again, and now I have to talk to a bunch of dead guys in ritual?
I believe the Three Kindreds operate as equals and peers, each of them necessary to the maintenance of a healthy spiritual ecosystem. There’s no hierarchy of groups, no demand to sacrifice more of one’s time or energies to one Kindred than the other. Ultimately, one would hope, you’re spending your time equally with all Three. I also believe that if we imagine the Kindreds forming a triplicate Venn Diagram of sorts – which hey, ends up forming a triquetra in the middle, isn’t that cool! – humans are planted squarely in the middle. We are animals and of the earth, and therefore we are among the nature spirits; we all return to the earth one day, and therefore will be among our Ancestors; and I don’t actually have anything for how we’re like the Shining Ones yet, except possibly being made in Their image, but give it time.
30 Aug 2012 Leave a Comment
Tomorrow night our only natural satellite turns full a second time in one month, making it a blue moon. The Farmers’ Almanac has some information on why we call it a blue moon to begin with. Did you know the last blue moon was New Years Eve 2009, and the next blue moon won’t be until July 2015?
The next full moon – a regular full moon, not a blue one – is on September 30. Given its proximity to the Autumnal Equinox, it will be this year’s Harvest Moon, so-called because the light of the full moon allowed farmers to work long into the night, finishing up that season’s harvests. Or something like that.
For magic(k)al practitioners, this is a rare astronomical event that you should consider taking advantage of. One thought that comes to mind is to buy several of those white 7-day candles (I can find them at my local Wal-Mart), bless and consecrate them tomorrow night, and light one overnight during every full moon for the next three years. When one candle has almost burned to the end, use it to light another candle and so keep the flame of one blue moon alive until the next one. You can do the same thing by blessing and consecrating holy moon water (adding salt, quartz, moonstone, jasmine, or any other ingredients that remind you of the moon), storing it in an airtight container, and using a few drops to boost any future lunar spells.
Even if you don’t practice magic, get out there and enjoy this rare astronomical event!