The Rowdy Goddess

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

Finding Warmth in the Cold Times

Tiptoe through the snowflakes

We are closing in on the end of February, and we can look forward to the month that “comes in like a lion.”  It’s still cold in Central New York and there’s snow on the ground.  The forecast predicts unpleasant weather for the weekend.  That is unless you are a snow bunny, snow sports person or some similar aficionado.  Last night, a whole bunch of snowmobilers came through our area around midnight disturbing my cold-driven sleep.  It was cranky-making after a day of sneezing and muzzy headedness.

For some of us, winter makes us cranky, depressed, and out of sorts.  Normally, I ‘make do’ and find things to do–quilting with bright colors, reading lighthearted books, and watching British murder mysteries on DVD or television.  Because I’ve had the first cold in years, I’m a little more cantankerous.

I do believe there is a release in giving voice to your cranky side.  Just as I believe that in difficult times, it is important to give voice and respect your anger, grief, sorrow, and despair.  It’s also important not to dwell there.  Living in a pool of rage is exhausting and more than a little icky.  The ick clings to you and repels others who might comfort you; and will also make you dismiss the kindness of friends and strangers.  It’s difficult find gratitude in these times.  I advocate giving yourself enough mileage so you can have some hindsight.  In hindsight, you may be grateful for the losses, the setbacks, and the tribulations because it has made you stronger and better.  In the middle of it, you just need to muddle through, work it out, and find new purchase as you climb this new cliff.

It’s a balancing act between honesty and healing, I believe.  You can’t heal dishonestly.  It just doesn’t work.  Mostly dishonest healing is about stuffing the emotions down without working through them.  That stuffing compacts upon itself and somehow continues to expand and intrude in your life.  It will come out in weird ways and eventually, you will need to clean up the mess.

There’s a health issue in my family now.  I am not grateful for this situation.  I am grateful for the past, the strength, the joy and the beauty.  I am working through sorrow, regret, guilt, anxiety, and depression.  I must live through this situation and already I can see many points of beauty and gratitude.  It’s just not the time to feel it.  There’s joy and delight in other situations and that’s my comfort and I’m very grateful for that.

I didn’t intend to talk about this even if it is somewhat vague so the picture doesn’t quite fit.  Except that I think it’s funny and delightful.  What happy women, dancing and playing in the snow.

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.

Pagan Fundamentalism

Pagan Fundamentalism

I have a cold and my brain functions not.  Luckily for all of us, there are wise and wonderful people out there posting thoughtful essays on the Pagan world.  This dovetails with what I talk about in light of the Pagan community’s sometimes fundamentalist view of sacred feminism:  maiden, mother, crone.  Only she says is way smarter.

 

From the Wild Hunt:  Pagan Fundamentalism by Sabina Magliocco.

 

The Wheel Turns and We Begin to Awaken

The Wheel turned to Imbolc this first week in February.  It is frigid, snowy, and still where I live in the Finger Lakes region of New York.  As I’ve been leaving for work, it is dark and still, so much so that even the outside lights don’t light up my path.  Yesterday, both Mouse and I noticed that in the east we could see the pinks and lavender of the dawn.  It was very heartening.  It is one thing to know, because the weatherman tells us, that we are gaining more light each day, it is another things to witness and experience it.

At Imbolc, Mother Earth begins to stir and awaken.  Still snuggled warm in her earthy bed, her dreams turn to spring and growth rather than the deep sleep of wisdom and meditation.  There is a deep quickening beneath the soil.  Seeds and bulbs feel the change and begin to stir inside their skins and shells.  The Earth hasn’t yawned and stretched and gotten fully awake, but we know it’s soon.

As humans, we begin to stir and awaken, moving from our hibernating state to awakening.  We feel our creativity comes back and ideas, fresh and new, begin to excite us.  We start by preparing ourselves and our spaces.  One of the customs for this time of year, in honor of Brigid, is to clean our hearth.  We can look at our hearth as our home, our workspace, our hearts, our souls or whatever is full of cobwebs and dust.  Go widdershins around your  spaces and sweep out the stale and outdated so you can welcome in the fresh new life.

Over the years, our circle has done different rituals to celebrate Imbolc.  One of my favorite is to light different colored candles for our wishes and then raise energy for the success of the wishes.  The glow of the candles remind us of the sunlight’s return and the warmth of the fire melts the cold surrounding our hearts.  Another favorite ritual is to tie different colored ribbons to a tree branch, raising energy for their success.  I keep the branch indoors in a sunlit window until Ostara when Mouse and I plant it outside in our garden.  There the weather and the birds take the ribbons as gifts.  At Lammas, the Sabbat opposite Imbolc, we burn the branch and the ribbons, raising energy in thanksgiving for the harvest of our souls.

And on a light-hearted aside, I’m kind of a musical comedy Witch so the holidays often bring to mind a song from a musical.  My favorite for Imbolc is “Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here,” from On a Clear Day.  Since everything is on the internet, you can find a video from the movie sung by Barbra Streisand ; and the lyrics are below because you can’t help but sing along.

May your awakening be exuberant, rowdy, happy, and creative.

 Hurry, It’s Lovely Up Here :

Hey buds below … up is where to grow
Up with which below can’t compare with.
Hurry – it’s lovely up here …
Life down a hole takes an awful toll,
What with not a soul there to share with
Hurry – it’s lovely up here!
Wake up, bestir yourself,
it’s time that you disinter yourself
You’ve got a spot to fill – a pot to fill
And what a gift package of showers, sun and love
You’ll be met above everywhere with,
Fondled and sniffed by millions who drift by,
Life here is rosy – if you’re a posy
Hurry it’s lovely here!
Climb up geranium, it can’t be fun subterran-ium
On the exterior, it’s cheerier
RSVP peonies, pollinate the breeze,
Make the queen of bees hot as brandy
Come give at least a preview of Easter
Come up and see the good we’re giving
Come up and see the grounds for living
Come poke your head out,
Open up and spread out,
Hurry it’s lovely here!

Fire of the Hearth, Fire of the Forge, Fire in the Head

This is the time of Brigid, the Celtic Goddess of many aspects.  She is the guardian of the hearth, smiths, warriors, and poets.  Brigit was born at sunrise, just before dawn, and a tower of fire burst from her crown and leapt to the heavens, making the house look like it was on fire.   She is the daughter of the Dagda and one of the Tuatha De’ Danaan.  Variations of her worship was found throughout the ancient Celtic lands and she had many names.  She was deeply revered.  When the Romans invaded the Celtic world, they called her Minerva and when Catholicism spread, they made her into St. Brigit.  Thus is the extent of her power and influence.

Her name has many meanings including “power,” “fiery arrow” and “she who exalts herself.”  She has responsibility and power over much of life.  She is the patroness of poetry and inspiration, patroness of hearth and home, patroness of the forge.  Through that triple responsibility, she rules  fertility, healing, creativity, the crafts, spinning and weaving, goldsmith and smithcraft, poetry, and bardic lore.  Her power was imbued in the countryside, so that the highlands,  hills, wells, streams and rivers were her body.  Her symbols speak of her power:  fire, wells, cauldrons, the forge. mistletoe, and the Rowan tree.  She is associated with animals emblematic of the bounty of the world, the ewe, boar, and cow.  Snakes are also sacred to her as a symbol of transformation and change.  She invented whistling so she could bring friends to her side in time of need; and she invented keening to express sorrow too great to be held inside.

Her magic is born of mystery.  She is a triple goddess, but not in the Maiden-Mother-Crone aspect revered by modern pagans.  Her triplicity is expressed in her most potent symbol, fire.  She is the Muse, the Fire of Inspiration, of poetry and lore.  She is the Fire of the Hearth, the patroness of childbirth, fertility, home-crafts, and of healing.  She is the Fire of the Forge, patroness of smithcraft and the art of war.  She is protection, creativity, procreation of all sorts, healing, transformation and renewal.  Her triplicity has been expressed as “Fire of the Hearth, Fire of the Forge, Fire in the Head,” with the fire in the head denoting the fiery power of poetry and eloquence.  And so we get fired up by her and her inspiration.

 The Charge of the Goddess Brigit

I call to you my children, my sisters and brothers to hear my charge

I, who am Brigit, Brid, Brigantia, Braga, Branganca, Fraid and many other names,

Do charge you to find the fires of life within your soul

And forge yourself to be strong, sharp and powerful.

Pull the elements of the earth into your being;

Breathe the inspiration of poetry, song, and art into your soul;

Be heated by the flames of the fire and ember;

Be tempered and soothed by the cool waters from my sacred well;

And be shaped and fused into magic at my hearth

 

Come to my wells for healing and wishes

Be nourished and soothed by the waters

Tie your wishes to the branches of my trees

And know that wishes spoken

Become the magic of the world

Become your wishes, the magic at my well.

Sing the inspiration of the mystery with your voice

Inspire yourself with joy and love

Delight in the blessings of creation

Become the Art you were meant to be.

 

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.

 

Blessings, bright and Dark

Bright Blessings is a signature, greeting, and sign-off frequently used by pagans and Wiccans.  It’s a lovely way to send good wishes and blessings to readers, listeners, friends, and strangers.  Several years ago, I started signing my posts with “Blessings, bright and Dark,” in acknowledgement that the bright/light and the dark are all part of the one, each providing definition and understanding to the other.  In my way of thinking, the light reveals while the dark illuminates.  The light relentlessly demands our understanding of the facts and information while the dark asks that we reflect and deepen our understdark and light heronanding.  Realizing wisdom from the light is, perhaps, easier; while in the dark, you have to delve into the realm of the hidden.

In the dark, we have to soften our focus, lose our reliance on our sense of sight and learn to trust other senses outside the five.  Our intuition, perception and ability to guess (intuit) are senses we need to use.  In both the light and the dark we need to be strong and courageous in seeking wisdom and magic.  To me, the dark and the dark moon are paths to explore and it takes awhile to understand the nuance and texture of the dark.  It is not something to fear, even though we are taught that the dark is evil.

One of the High Priestesses of my acquaintance talked about the dark blessings.  Through difficult times, we become better, stronger, more sure of ourselves and more divine.  Lately, a number of us in my circle have been confronted with issues of aging, chronic pain, death, and disability.  For myself, I’ve learned not to fear words like stroke, surgery, cancer, and pain.  At this point, it was family member(s) and not me and I found the suffering of a bystander and loving person to have its own unique pain.  In addition to learning courage, I found humor, more love, and unexpected gifts and new stories to be told.  These blessings are not like winning the lottery to be greeted with unalloyed joy and exuberance, these dark blessings are ones that make our wounds and pains to be a thing of beauty and survival.  It’s a “gee thanks, I think,” kind of blessing.  Actually, it’s deeper and more profound than that.

Years ago, a former lover died suddenly and unexpectedly.  It was a tumultuous and difficult relationship so the grief was tempered with guilt, and anger.  The cantor who gave the eulogy said some beautiful things that touched me to my very soul.  I cannot remember all the words exactly but it went something like this:  It is not fair to lose someone from your life like this.  You will be different now.  You will be harder, and you will be softer; you will be uncertain and you will be more certain; you will be more negative and you will be more positive.  I made those words up from the well of wordless comfort she gave me.  What is says is that this touches you in such a way that you cannot help but be changed.  It will make you have a different texture.  Your understanding of yourself and life will be changed.  Such it is when the dark touches you and invites you into its realm.

To me, that is the call of the Dark Moon path.  To go into that realm of illumination and to be changed, to emerge different.  To face the darkness, the shadows and the hidden is to go courageously into that which frightens us, freaks us out and makes us more whole.

The dark and the light is a continuum not an opposition.  As Kallan Kennedy writes on The Secret Life of the American Working Witch, this misinterpretation of darkness and light has caused a sort of one-dimensional thinking.

Go bravely wherever you go

Into the dark or into the light

Learn from the bright blessed day

And the dark sacred night.

And everyday and in every way

You change, transform and make your mark

To you, blessings, bright and Dark.

Welcome to the Never Live It Down Club

Welcome to the Never Live it Down Clubhouse
Source of the photo: http://www.greendump.net/

Families remember a lot about you. Sometimes even when you change, they remember and remind you of how you used to be. Like so many things, it’s a blessing and a curse. Depending on the emotions behind it, you land in the realms of forever guilty or in a land of warmth, laughter, and remembrance. It’s a fine line to walk, reliving these memories. Longtime friends can also be also create this living legacy of memories, joking nudges, and memories.   This whole thing can be fun and funny or sometimes just plain annoying.

Since I’m the oldest sister, I am the custodian of a lot of sibling and family memories.  Well, I’ve also been a memory-maker to the point where I believe I’m in the Never Live It Down Club Hall of Fame.  When I was nine or ten, I was in my grandmother’s front room (a place where children were not allowed to go without an adult) and I picked up a jar to look at, a forbidden activity.  The lid fell off and broke a little blue glass basket.  I felt really bad.  I don’t remember being punished but probably my remorse is punishment enough, memorywise.

When my grandmother returned, she fussed as only she can fuss.  Apparently the thing I picked up was cheap and what I broke was a collectible.  Luckily (not) she had two of them.   Later, in my thirties, I was at my grandmother’s visiting and an interesting incident occurred.  My grandmother was confined to her chair because of an injury and she was directing my aunt in rearranging something when my aunt knocked something over.  My grandmother fussed at her and we were all relieved it wasn’t broken.  “Don’t worry,” I said, “I broke a valuable collectible when I was 10.  You can’t top that.”  My aunt, still only recently married into the family, said, “I know.”

That’s when I knew that I was in the Never Live It Down Club.  The funny thing is that when my grandmother died and her stuff was divided up, my mother, her daughter, made sure that duplicate of the broken item came to me.  It is a treasured trophy of my club.

Of course as an older sister, I have stories.  Recently, I was visiting my mother and sharing some of the stories.  My mother’s memory isn’t as strong as it once was.  I was relating one story about my sister and she said, “I hope you’re writing all these down; some of them I haven’t heard.”  Perhaps I will.  I just like reminding people.  It’s my duty as the President and Hall of Famer of the Never Live It Down Club.

I am relating stories with love and affection and perhaps a little bit of “gotcha.”  I realize many memories that don’t get forgotten cause pain, sorrow, and guilt.  I can only hope that time and love will help assuage them.  In my world, the Never Live It Down Club is only for happy memories.  The other ones are ones we need to let go and transform into something better.

 

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


 

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