The Rowdy Goddess

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

Archive for the category “Wicca”

Blessed Be My Plan B

Business plan - woman drawingPlanning is important and I’m a good planner.  I also like to be flexible so that if an opportunity presents itself, I can take advantage of that spontaneously.

A good example of that in ritual was a big deal ritual my coven did for our tradition-wide gathering.  At the time, we were a brand new coven and while I was not new to group gatherings and leadership, this was a venue where I wanted us to excel and shine.  We would be doing the ritual for the gathering of our entire tradition including our elders and founders.   It was daunting, but I knew we could do it and do it fabulously well.

So we rehearsed and rehearsed and rehearsed.  Our group was still learning how to be a coven together and how to do ritual so a big one was intimidating.  As part of the learning and rehearsal, we also practiced how to work through mistakes — keep on going and act like it was meant to be that way.    We where rehearsing right up to the last minute.  It was a little tense and we were all a little bit nervous.  Or maybe a lot.

And the ritual went really, really well!  There were a couple of misspeaks and the priestess went through it like it was meant to be that way.  When we finished the spiral dance and raised a lot of energy, an inspiration came to me.  And I said (for the benefit of the well-rehearsed covener), “I’m going a little off script,” and launched into the unofficial chant of our tradition which raised some incredible magic and energy.  And that is an example of good planning and the ability to be open to spontaneous inspiritation.

Another aspect of planning is being able to pick up the pieces when things go wrong.  “I always have a Plan B” is a Gailism.  It’s part of my professional training, a side effect of working with technology.  What if you plan a ritual and a key person doesn’t show up?  Plan B.  What if you forget to put water in the chalice:  Plan B is to pretend it’s there.  What if you knock over the chalice full of water?  What if you forget which vial contains water, which contains wine, and which contains oil?  Smell it or pretend [Plan B].  What if it rains on your outdoor ritual.  Plan B.

Sometimes you need a Plan C, D, or E.  Just being willing to be aware that things may change is an important part of planning.  It might not be necessary to have a full alternate plan, but rather to have the ability to draw on the well of experience, creativity, and spontaneous growth.  The new inspiriation is always there.  One time I went to a ritual and the priestess didn’t show up.  It turned out she was ill and unable to get out of bed.  So a group of us, some of whom had driven two or more hours, were ready to go about our business.  Wait!  I had a key to the building, so we decided to do the ritual.

We all went to our cars and pulled out blankets and pieces of this and that and pulled together an altar.  I had a Tarot deck and a traveling altar.  One woman had some pretty nifty Pagan stuff in her trunk.  We put together a really good ritual and the performance by a group of people who didn’t know each other was a very enriching experience.

So be ready with Plan A, B, C, and more.  All we need to do is learn our ABCs and draw on our creative power and good intentful heart.  Blessed Be the Plan B!

Getting to Carnegie Hall

Carnegie Hall is the pinnacle venue for a performing artists:  to play at Carnegie Hall is to know that you have “arrived.”   The first time I heard that joke was probably from my father who said it in Brooklyn accents, a man asks a taxi driver how to get to carnegie hallCarnegie Hall?  And the taxi driver said, “Practice, practice, practice.”  My father liked to exaggerate when he told a joke, he was a good storyteller and joker.

How many of us took an instrument or learned a skill and found out that to get really good at it, you had to do it over and over again.  Practice.  It could be piano, drawing, violin, or even mowing the lawn.  To get it right and to get so whatever it is expresses what you want, you have to practice the basics again and again.  To reach the pinnacle of achievement (to arrive, so to speak), you have many hours, months, and years of practice and learning.

A few years ago at work, a group of us met with some architects to discuss building design.  Each group of architects talked about their practice of architecture and what it meant for their business and their creativity.  And that is the other part of practice, it’s the underpinning of your creative expression; this expression of who you are.  I can talk to you about the practice of my profession, librarianship, in lofty terms, and how it fulfills the ideals of a democratic society and how it is about getting to the heart of a question.  It is a practice.

That practice is a myriad of skills, basic and advanced, along with knowledge that spans both breadth and depth.  How I got here was to practice those skills and apply that knowledge every minute of each day I was working.  And a lot of time outside of my job too.  I am a librarian in my heart as well as something I do to earn my paycheck.

It is also true of spiritual practices, the real point of this post.  The only difference is, I think that the pinnacle (“to arrive) is not the point.  It’s all about the practice.  It is in the practice that we find our inner wisdom and our gnosis, our knowing.   At a recent work retreat, we had a philosophy professor come and talk to us about stress and stress reduction.  He explained to us that philosophy asks the questions:  How shall we live?  Why is there something and not nothing?  Why is there beauty?  And philosophy asks ethical questions as well:  How shall we live?  How do we make meaning?  what is a good life?

He spoke of well-being not in terms of health but in the tersm so fthe Greek idea of a balanced life.  To be well in our Be-ing.  To seek the middle way.  It sounds a lot like a Pagan spirituality, doesn’t it.  I suspect that underneath the layers of misunderstanding, most religions seek that kind of balance as well.

He went on to speak of practice; that by following a daily practice every day you find that well being.  He defined the daily practice as a set of mundane habits that you follow every day.  He spoke of conscious belly breathing and Qi Gong as the way to follow a practice.  I would add mindfulness to the daily habits.  For instance, each morning as I go about my morning wake up and shower, I stand before my altar located outside the bathroom and say a short devotion.  And then I take my vitamins.  The vitamins are part of the devotion and are in a basket on my altar which is devoted to self-care and well Be-ing.  Short, simple, and incorporated, mindfully, into my routine habits.

On my needlework blog I talked today about Tom Cowan’s statement in his book, Shamanism as a Spiritual Practice for Daily Life, that a daily spiritual practice of shamanism gives rise to an art practice.  I think mindful practice births other practices, allowing us to expresss ourselves and our wisdom in myriad ways.  I have a professional practice, a spiritual practice, and a creative one (or two, or more).  What is creative to me might be drudgery to you, and the reverse will be true as well.  So together, our practices create diversity and shows us the infinite ways the Universe expresses life, beauty, and wisdom.

May you find the heart of your daily practice and the well BE-ing of your soul.

Using My Powers For Good….and not for Evil!

As I’ve mentioned before, I have some expressions that my Source of image: http://annetaintor.com/ friends have dubbed Gailisms.  For the most part, most of these expressions have a story behind it or it is really an expression used by my family.  I love stories.  I love to tell them and I love to hear them.  A good portion of my family are storyteller — telling stories about each other and on each other.  To me, geneology is boring a sort of family organizational chart.  What I love are the pictures and stories.  In my family, when we show each other a photo or a drawing made by one of us, we know a story is going to be told.  This habit and method of communication extends to my family of choice as well.  In this way, we create community or tribe.

Many years ago, my youngest brother was telling me about three incidents that involved his thinking bad thoughts and having them come true.  I don’t remember the incidents exactly anymore but it involved things like, “you’re going to get hurt doing that,” and then the other person gets hurt.  He was talking to me on the phone about these situations and I quipped, “You should use your powers for good and not for evil.”  From that point on, if he was nervous about something, he’d email me or say, “Use your powers,” or “I’m using my powers.”  Then my sister picked it up and it became a family expression.

The use of this expression has extended to my work.  We are holding a raffle fundraiser for our social committee in celebration of Valentine’s day.  The prize is a basket of wine and chocoloate.  When a young coworker came in to buy his tickets, he said he’d better win.

I said, “Too late, I’m using my powers.”

And he said, “Are you using your powers against me?”

“No I’m using my powers for MY good.”

Obviously the application of this statement has infinite variety and opportunity for cleverness (at least in my mind).

This was around the time I went from a solitary to a Pagan active in a community and this quip took on new power.  As Wiccans and Pagans, we believe we do have the ability to create change by bending our thoughts and will to the change we want or need.  We also try to use our abilities (powers) in harmony with the Universe.  When our actions follow the trail of our mind and the Universe, we create magical change.  Then, for me, the quip, “using my powers for good and not for evil,” took on a more textured meaning.  It acknowledges that we, as humans, do have the power to effect our lives and the world around us, and that we need to act responsibly and  with gratitude and compassion.

I’ve also quipped that you can tell when it’s going to be a bad movie if the characters over-pronounce certain words:  Goddess becomes gawDESS and evil becomes eeeeeeevvvvvvilllllllllle (long, very long e).

So when using your powers, know that it is prounounced EEEEEEVILLLLLLLLE.

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 Horned God, a Teacher for Winter

The Horned God is the evocative name a 20th century melding of several ancient images of gods such as Cernunos, Herne the Hunter, Pan, Dionysus, Janus, and Green Man.  Not much exists in writing and the oral tradition has been lost, so modern pagans worship the male energy force of winter as the Horned God.  He is the Great Father, the Lord of Winter with sovereignty of the male aspect of creation and fertility.  He has the power of creation and destruction.  He harvests the land of dead animals and cares for the land in the cold dark of winter.While the Horned God may be a modern derivation of ancient images, the ancient and powerful life (and death) force her represents remains present in our world and in our lives.

The Charge of the Horned God

Hear now the charge of the Horned God,

I who am called Lord of the Wild Hunt, Herne, Cernunnos, Pan, Janus and many other names.

Know that I am here and present in the winter of your lives,

Guiding, harvesting, and knowing you soul.

Be strong of heart and body in the cold and dark

And you will be stronger still in the light and warmth.

Be in tune with the turning of the Wheel

And live each season according to its turning.

Tune your life to the rhythms of the world

And you will know my creation, my destruction

And my love.

My touch may be cold, but it will warm you soul

With connection, power, and strength.

Be compassionate with those who are weaker

And be understanding of those you do not comprehend.

Know the mystery of contradiction

And live in the rhythm and melding of opposing forces.

Live the short days and rest peaceful in the long nights.

Be one with me and know peace.

Blessed be


 

Neo-Shamanism and Wicca: Can We Be Friends?

A friend of mine has moved to a new area and is tentatively seeking out new friends and new spiritual community. She was telling me that she had met someone who was a Reiki Master and a shamanic practitioner. When my friend mentioned Wicca, the shamanic practitioner had a mild reaction like an indrawn breath. She told my friend that she’d met some Wiccans and they seemed to be of the behavior and mindset, “I hate my religion of birth and so I became Wiccan. Can I tell you how much I hate my religion of birth!”

I drew my breath in too. If I were still a fundamental Christian, I’d be saying, “Bad witness, man, bad witness.” That means as the embodiment of our religion, others witness their understanding of that religion or spiritual path by the things you do or say. Quite a responsibility.

On the other hand, it is a phase that most pagans including Wiccans go through. We have left the religion of our birth and need to process the reasons for it and what that means for us. At some point, though, most of us cross a threshold where we our message for others to witness is “I am Goddess, I am God.” And that speaks volumes about where we are, but not particularly about where we’ve been.

A wise high priestess once told me that in her coven the behavior that we call “Christian bashing,” can go on for a short while, but then if it continues, she goes to the person and says it must stop. All the bashing and complaining serves to do is to demean the new witch, and does not create change. Without change, there is no magic.

Wiccans and pagans can be friends with any religion since tolerance and acceptance are one of the outcomes of our ethics. Sometimes within our own community, our behavior creates misunderstanding. Yes, we can be friends with each other as well as the outer community.

My personal practice for many years has been weaving the threads of seemingly separate practices to create a pattern of wholeness. To me, shamanism and Wicca meld and dance together. We are all walkers between the worlds. We dance, play, grieve, and celebrate our divine aspects in both paths. For me it is the whole cloth. And there’s a great book that demonstrates just how that can be done. I am pleased to announce that my new book The Shamanic Witch is now available from RedWheel/Weiser or from many other booksellers including Amazon.com

 

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