The Rowdy Goddess

An Ecstatic Vision of the Goddess, dancing in harmony with the Universe.

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Not for Sissies

Growing old I love this picture.  It’s from a photography book published in the eighties or people of the older generation.  I have this as a poster in my downstairs bathroom and the caption reads, Growing Old is Not for Sissies.”  It’s in the bathroom because the room is decorated with all kinds of mermaids.  She is one.  Old, fit, pensive, and dripping wet.  I love to swim.  She is a mermaid in all her aged mystery, energy, and power.

“Growing old is not for sissies is a quote from the inimitable actress Bette Davis.  If you are not familiar with her work, she played strong women with great flair.  I’ve learned as I grow older, that I have to explain my allusions and references.  When I was younger, I could assume that almost anyone would know who Bette Davis was.  Now, I’m not so sure.  It was a weird and lonely realization that I am talking to generations who do not share my past, my cultural references, or what I used to think was common knowledge.  No matter, I’m not afraid to explain.  One of the other realizations I’ve had is that I’ve become like those oldsters when I was a kid,  telling long, boring stories with no particular point.  I’m not afraid to bore you with them because I’m enjoying my own stories.  Apparently talking to me and being my friend or acquaintance is not for sissies, either.

There are a lot of things in life not for sissies.  We need courage to be our authentic selves and to engage in life.  Wicca is not for sissies.  You probably judge me as wrong because Wicca has an underserved reputation as all love and light, being dubbed “fluffy-bunny.”  To be sure, there are people determined, in the name of Wicca, to turn a blind eye to the dark and negative, people who are afraid to confront their own stuff.  However, there are many more who are bravely engaged in the magic of change.

Many people believe Wicca is unrealistic and fluffy because of the ethical statement, As it harm none, do what you will.  On the surface it may seem to be an unrealistic “law.”  It’s not possible to harm none.  I think of the Rede as a guideline or a standard, but more than that, it is a call to be responsible for our actions, decisions, and indecision.  The gods that call us to their service demand much of us.  We must be courageous to walk this path of “making your own religion” because we have no set of commandments to tell us what to do.  We endure the consequences of our bad decisions and reap the bounty of our good ones.  It’s all part of the flow of universal life energy.

Think about all the things you pursue that you don’t want to or you think it’s too hard.  Either you have to or you want to with a passion, so you put on your big girl/boy clothes and get on with it.  You have moved out of your comfort zone and into the realm of accomplishment, bravery, and wisdom.  You are in a sissie-free zone.

My favorite Bette Davis movie is All About Eve where she says, “Fasten your Seatbelt, it’s going to be a bumpy night!”  She’s a Rowdy Goddess for sure.


The Enlightenment of Lists

This delightful picture is two pages from a children’s book, Frog and Toad Together, one of a series of Frog and Toad books by Arnold Loebel. One of my coworkers, back when I worked as a librarian at a community college, had a photocopy of these two pages posted on the column above her typewriter. It was waaaay back in the day before the ubiquity of desktop computing, if you can imagine or remember such a time.

When I read it for the first time, I laughed. It was one of those crystallizing moments for me as a young adult. I realized my compulsion to make lists was not unique and I was not alone! And it was okay to make lists!

I make lists. People who don’t make lists find it perplexing and odd; and sometimes people find it tyrannical or micromanaging. For me, though, it helps organize my thoughts and my plans. A list gives me a clear trajectory for a period of time. I have found that lists can be magical, a spell to aid me in my day, my work, or just my thoughts.

In the past I have been a great worrier. I’d fret and worry about things that eventually never came to pass. Worry was robbing me of my present as I continually fretted over the future. Lists are one technique to dispel worry, at least for me. If I put it down on a list, it becomes concrete and I can handle it at a specified time…sometimes ‘when I get around to it.’ Somehow writing it down on a list makes it something I can handle and put out of my present mind. It’s amazing how creative you can become when you are not preoccupied with worry.

A lot of times, I don’t look at the list because I think I remember everything. And then I will discover an old list and I’ve done most of it anyway…or I haven’t and it didn’t matter. Then I can cross it off my list.

Crossing things off the list is a great act of magic, empowerment, and accomplishment. Even some minutiae is ‘list worthy’ just so you can cross it off. That’s part of the reason I have found the picture above so funny. I understand so completely the feeling of accomplishment in crossing off the routine, the small, and the large milestones in our lives. It is a tiny commemoration of a moment.

May your day be free from worry and full of commemorations and accomplishments, large and small!


Are You Blogging About Me?

I’ve been busy. Last September I got married in a wonderful ceremony attended by friends and family. Even those who could not attend marked the occasion in special ways. It was wonderful. Mouse and I have been together for eight years now and formalizing our commitment has marked stronger relationship.

In January, Mouse had a mild stroke. Mostly it’s been okay but for about two months, life was focused and intent on surgeries and long term recovery. He’s doing fine with very few limitations and renewed interest in paying attention to diet and exercise. It’s all good. It’s actually a relief that both of us can say this out loud without feeling awful about it. It is what it is.

I’ll write about our new dogs later.

At one point when he was feeling low and I guess I was spending time on the computer/Facebook, he asked me “Are you blogging about me?” It was in a melancholy voice that said in subtext, I’m causing you so much trouble… are you writing about it. I told him that I never write about anything that is private between us. First and foremost, I handle the issues between us as between us. I don’t tell the world first. So as Mouse and I journey together through these changes, I’ll be talking to him rather than blog-verse.

Both of us are private people even if I am a writer and have become much more gregarious as I gotten older. Some issues stay private. The discernment between sharing lessons learned and honoring privacy is an ongoing lesson as well as a commitment made to others. It is a process of growth in understanding as well.

As a witch and priestess, I took vows not to reveal the names and addresses of those in my group, circle, or coven. This hearkens back to the custom of the old ways where it was very dangerous to be known as a witch. Even in this day and age, depending on where you work, live, and play it could be dangerous. Not just physically but also emotionally and economically. Each individual should be able to make the individual choice to reveal their spiritual practices to others.

Speaking as one whose spiritual path has been revealed by others a number of times, it can have an effect on professional effectiveness and even how the neighbors treat you and your kids. It pays to be smart.

I’ve learned about this spirit of anonymity from my life as a priestess, but the most compelling lessons are from my friends in 12 step programs such as A.A. and N.A. Anonymity is extremely important in these programs because each person’s journey with sobriety is individual and by daily/hourly choice. The immerse themselves in like minded community for solace, encouragement, and sometimes an anchor or lifeline. For those not in that community, we can’t know their journey at all. To have be revealed means exposure and judgment in some edgy, private, and tenuous situations.

It’s funny sometimes because I’ll realize that I am in the middle of these overlapping communities. Sometimes it’s not possible for my friends to explain how they know each other without revealing either AA affiliations or pagan affiliations. So we just forgo the question to honor the anonymity.

I have found that ask of keeping the question to myself to be profoundly transforming. For a curious person, that’s an act of power and honoring. For myself and the vows I’ve taken, and for the other person and where they are in their journeys. There are other times when questions must be asked to honor their journey. This is not one of them.

Giving Voice to Our Souls

Sing through my Voice

Play through my Hands

Let the way be Open.

                                                     —- Abbi Springer McBride

It began with banter and repartee between two student working in the cafe in my building at work. “Nobody likes the sound of your voice,” she said, “so you should just not use it.” We laughed uproariously as the young man responded and the two of them continued their playfully hostile banter.
I posted this in my status on Facebook as “overheard in the library.” It shows why context is so important. A couple of people reacted to the hostility and not the humor of the remark. O one person said that when she was a child that her singing was an offense to God and she should stop singing aloud, and she carried that remark and prohibition forward to adulthood. My jaw dropped and my angry fingers typed.
From my Baptist background, my reaction was a very sarcastic “nice witness,” and currently would have added a well placed expletive as well.  It reminded me that I have my own journey with that kind of silencing. When I was younger, I sang all the time and was in the school choir. My voice was relatively untrained but I still sang all the time and sang along with the radio, albums, and the television. I sang myself to sleep, I sang in the shower, I sang in the car…everyplace was a good place for song. Some where in the midst of a couple of difficult relationships, I silenced myself.
When I moved to rural New York, I got sick a lot. It was part allergies and part stress related colds and flu. I coughed a lot, sometimes for months on end. All of this roughened my voice and made it crack. Still I sang–coughed and sang. One evening, I was sitting at a table of amateur singers who said they’d like to form a choir of singers to sing pagan chants and songs at our gatherings. “I’d like to be a part of that,” I said. The deafening silence as all the women looked at each other told me all I needed to know: they don’t think I’m good or good enough. I shut up about that.
At the same time, I was in a relationship with a man who didn’t like a lot of distractions including noise. He’d turn down the television or the stereo. He didn’t even like the sound of the refrigerator, washing machine, or dryer running. He didn’t like hair dryers. My life became quieter. And then too, the radio in my car stopped working so I couldn’t play music and sing along. I couldn’t afford to get it fixed for a long time and then when I did, it stopped working immediately.
The good news was that I became very comfortable with silence and didn’t need extraneous sounds and noises to distract me or entertain me. The bad news was that I forgot how to sing and learned that I was a bad singer. I became embarrassed by my singing voice. I forgot the words to songs and I forgot to sing.
As time moved on, so did the friends and relationships; what remained was the silence and the silencing. My practice as a witch and shamanic practitioner deepened and I became a High Priestess and leader in my community. I was reading a well respected teacher on an email list who said that shamans and shamanic practitioners “gave voice” to their magic. With their voices, raised in song, they led their communities and themselves to greater healing and soul discovery.
That challenged me to confront the silencing. I re-retrieved my power song and began to sing again. Over the past few years, I’ve actively practiced ‘giving voice’ to the songs within. Our group sings alot and we have some wonderful Enchantresses in our midst. They help me to have the courage to remember and to give voice. My voice has gotten stronger and my memory has gotten better. It’s all in process and it’s all beautiful.
One person who responded to the Facebook thread says she makes a joyful noise using the voice the Creator gave her. And as another one said, if they don’t want to hear it, they don’t have to listen!
One of the things I’ve learned from this silencing and self-censorship, is that you don’t have to stay silent. We are resonant beings and can give voice to our power and our songs. Music fills our souls and its energy wants to go out into the world. Our histories and our culture often tries to inhibit that energy, so it takes courage to give voice. Once you do give voice to your soul and your heart, you find out how much freedom you have. The gods wish us to sing every note so may you find your voice and give it to the world, loud and proud!

In Praise of Ordinary Things

I was just re-reading Elizabeth Alexander’s Praise Song for the Day, the poem read at the inauguration of Barak Obama as President of the United States. In this lovely poem, she celebrates the ordinary. Those things we do in order to live our lives. Things that are almost beneath our notice but are essential to keeping us going, keeping us whole, and keeping us full of wonder of the Universe. In other words, the mundane. The meaning of mundane is “of the world.” With Alexander’s words, I was reminded that our world of the mundane is truly wondrous and magical.

Too often, people use the word mundane to signify things that are not only beneath our notice, but things that are somehow worthy of our contempt, or at least separate and different enough to be “not us.” We need the mundane in our lives. We need to sew on buttons, wash our clothes, pay our taxes, and go through each step of each moment of our lives. If we spend our time wishing for it to be more magical, we lose the delight of the moment.

We can always find something we love no matter what horrors or boredom our lives contain. Delight in a favorite color, a bird chirping, the rocks or whatever. When we focus our love on something of this world, it becomes sacred, magical, and full of the power of love.

Pagans often use the term mundane to indicate that it’s separate from us…not magical. The mundane is of the world, and is not our world, Gaia, part of the Sacred Source? I think it’s time for us to reclaim the word mundane as a reminder that the world is sacred and our every bit of our lives is an expression of our holiness.

May you find the wonder of the bright blessed day and the dark sacred night, today and everyday.

Herding Cats and Other Strange Creatures

We all hear the expression “it’s like herding cats” to get a certain type of people to do anything together. In every area of my life, that is true. I work at a college library….working with faculty is like herding cats; working with librarians is like herding cats; and students, well, students have their own herd and they definitely don’t want to join ours. Not that I blame them!
One year, I was a marshall at commencement at our college. My job was to make sure that the faculty got lined up for the procession into the arena. So I stood behind them and made shooing motions and said, “meow, meow, meow.” Some people were amused but others were definitely not laughing. There is something in us that wants to be unique and separate from the crowd or herd.
Then you add the brave new world of witches, goddesses, tarot readers, and similar new age folk. It’s like herding cats. And yet, “I’m living a dream,” as you see in this herding cats video on YouTube. I just love this video.
I do think we need another analogy though. It’s getting tired and over used. Maybe herding buzzards. My brother had a poster that had two vultures sitting on a tree and one of them says, “patience, hell, I’m going to kill something.” Or maybe herding polar bears.
As frustrating as it is sometimes, witches, Tarot readers, goddessy types and even librarians are part of a life of love. So I choose the herd I’m in and I love it. Even if I don’t always go with the crowd!!!
May you always be in the herd you love.

Random Thoughts on Commencements, Initiations, and Regalia

Random Thoughts on Commencements and Initiations and Regalia

This past Saturday was our college’s undergraduate commencement. I alway piss and moan because I have to get into hot regalia and attend the ceremonies and in the end I’m always glad I attend. When I was growing up, graduations were alway important. Education, especially higher education was highly prized and viewed as an honor and a priviledge. Truthfully, I went to one of my graduate commencements so my grandmother could go, rather than from any sense of it being a special occasion for myself. She was cool. She went to a Normal School and taught in a one room school house. She got her BS from the University of Maryland in 1959, my uncle driving her three hours to attend classes in the summers.
So I have this history about graduations and commencements. I always felt they were akin to an initiation where the graduate is standing on the threshold of a new life, participating in a ceremony that links them to the scholars of that college and to the world in general. Most people don’t act and think that way. Nowadays, there’s almost a sporting event atmosphere about them with parents cheering, beach balls being tossed around and so forth. A loss of sacredness.
This year’s graduation was way long. One of the librarians I work with got a major statewide award. Very exciting. People seemed more respectful and well-behaved. Maybe because the University Police are now armed? [ironic and testy comment!]
When you sit in the faculty seats, you are close to the stage and you see a lot of footwear. Sometimes you worry about the young girls who totter around in very high heels. I’m actually glad that flip flops are in fashion. It’s easier on their knees and less of a falling hazard. The young woman who sang the National Anthem and the Alma Mater had her formal flip flops on–they were black. So you have the basic black little dress and the basic black flip flops.
One young man had his robe’s zipper pulled down so it was obvious he wasn’t wearing a shirt and he was wearing only birkenstocks. Most of us imagined [shame on us!] he wasn’t wearing anything underneath. I’m just glad he didn’t moon the audience. It could happen.
It’s nice to see the families so excited about their kids’ accomplishments.
On Monday morning as I was going back to work, Mouse saw my gown and hood in the backseat of the car. I don’t wear the mortarboard hat anymore since five years ago when the hat slid off my head and hung down around my neck as I processed through the crowd of moms, dads and grammas. Mouse’s comment was–
“there’s not much difference between being a witch High Priestess and an academic. The clothes are really alike!”
Glad I stopped wearing the damned hat!
We had a wonderful and outrageous wedding in our backyard the week before. I wore a pale blue robe with a textured velvet shawl. The bride wore black and purple. Only in a pagan wedding does the clergy wear white and the bride wear black. All that matters is that everyone was happy.

May you find happiness and comfortable footwear!

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