The Rowdy Goddess

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

Archive for the tag “writing”

Landscape and HeartScapes

Assateague Island Pony

Assateague Island Pony

“Where are you from?” is a common enough question.  For me, it is not a simple question.  I always feel the question implies a lot more:  where were you born?; where did you grow up?; where did you last live?; and more.  It speaks to your life before the moment the question is asked.  It often includes an assumption that perhaps you spent the majority of your life or time in one place. I was born in Baltimore but we moved away when I was 18 months old.  We moved, on average every two years, living in several places:  Sioux City Iowa, various parts of the D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side, Indianapolis, New Orleans, Camillus, NY.  It was a nomadic childhood until I was twelve, when we moved to the D.C. suburbs.  We moved once after that to another suburb and I went to two different high schools as a result.  It did leave me feeling unconnected to place for a long time.  From the time I was twelve, we did live in the Maryland suburbs of D.C. and I then went to the University of Maryland also adjacent to D.C.  One of the constants of our lives was our grandparents’ farm on Delmarva Peninsula just outside of Salisbury, MD.  We visited there often.  We stayed on the farm, followed our grandparents around and went to the beach.  It has become our nirvana, our home, our solace, and our destination for life’s journeys.  The beach, particularly at Assateague National Seashore, is part of my bones and blood.  The beach is a metaphor, dream, and destination for a lot of people.  When I was in graduate school, we were reading Sir Philip Sidney’s Arcadia, an English Renaissance poem praising about beautiful utopic place and our professor says, “Our modern-day Arcadia is the beach.”  It is true if you live in that mid-Atlantic region.  I’ve learned it’s not true if you live elsewhere.  People in different areas have different ideas of paradise and utopia. To get to the beaches of the eastern shore from Baltimore and D.C., people need to cross the Chesapeake Bay, another threshold.  The Chesapeake Bay bridge is a modern engineering wonder, built in 1952, the year I was born.  [I don’t care, you can do the math!]  Now there are two, but in the old days and today still, the wait at “The Bridge” can be long.   It’s very long expansion bridge that terrifies people.  The bridge also serves as a threshold of crossing from one world to another.   There are many differences between the life on the western shore and the eastern shore.  “The Bridge” lives in the psyches of people as a challenge, a crossing, a pathway to enchantment and more.Chesapeake Bay BridgeWhen I took a creative writing class at a local writing center, the assignment was to write a scene or part of the story where a monument, piece of landscape or significant landscape object was featured as a character or influence.  The teacher commented after reading the stories that nearly everyone in the small class of ten had chosen the Bay Bridge as their significator.  It was then that I realized that landscape and parts of the landscape have powerful influence on how we perceive the world.

In 1992, I moved to Alfred, NY to take a new job.  Alfred is a very small village in the southern tier of Western NY in the foothills of the Allegany Mountains.  It’s a valley with three colleges populating the hills/mountains on either side of Main Street.  Coming from the relatively flat lands of central and eastern Maryland, this was a big change.  I didn’t really realize it until I started living there.  I got an apartment just off Main Street, in the valley.  It was a big adjustment of life for a suburban girl to rural living.  No easy access to things I assumed were part of life.  Shopping had to be planned because the bigger grocery stores were out-of-town.  It was mostly the landscape, though.  Don’t get me wrong, it is beautiful there.  Rocky hills, rugged terrain, and wintry landscape.  I always though the spring was not about graceful growth as it is in Maryland, but rather a triumphant and valorous struggle to be born.  At the end of my third year there, I rented a house just inside the village, but further up the hill.  I felt better there.  I hadn’t realized that I felt like the mountains were closing in on me!On 1996, I got a job in Central New York and live halfway between Ithaca and Cortland.  I have the best of both worlds.  I can shop in the city where I work and drive less than 20 miles to a home in the rural countryside.  I feel better here, like there’s more room.  It’s still not home but I’m content in the beauty and grace of it.  Well, except for the fact that it’s April and there’s still snow on the ground.   Still don’t like that after all this time. Without knowing it, the landscapes of our surrounding shape our perceptions of ourselves, the world, and how the world works for us.  Landscape brings us to paradise, our Arcadia.  For each of us, it will be different.  For me, it’s the stark beauty of Assateauge and the sandy soil of the farm.  For others, it’s the rocky soil and rocks of the mountains, and for still others, it is the desert.  We build our landscapes in our minds and hearts and when we do so, we create them as sacred and special.  It is that ability to create the sacred from our hearts and souls that is part of our divine natures.  For when we create sacred places and actions on this plane, we create them in the other worlds.  We make real the Hermetic phrase, “As above, so below.” May the landscapes of your heart bring you joy, solace, and pleasure today and all days.

A Lifetime in Quotations

If you have read other blogs, you read something on journaling. I discover that my good intentions don’t make me a dedicated journaling goddess. I used to feel guilty about it until I read some things about journals and grimoires in Patricia Monaghan’s book The Wild Girls. She describes different kinds of journals:
    • The  common-place book: copying passages from other sources including books, poetry, movies etc.

The Book of Shadows

  • The sketch diary
  • The daily Diary
  • The Thought Diary or pensées in which you limit yourself to one sentence that distills all your spiritual knowledge of that day.
  • The Poetry Diary in which you write one poem that summarizes your experience of the day
  • Vision Diary: a record of your meditations, trances and dreams
  • Nature Diary: a record of weather, sketches of plants, birds and other beings that help establish your connection to the environment and the natural world.

I find that I keep a variation of most of them. One of the longest journals I’ve kept is a quotations journal. I bought it in 1972 when I was in college. You can see from the picture that is oh so 70s in style and color. Too embarrased to write down my thoughts, I kept track of the quotes that captured my attention. A common place book, it’s called!

I haven’t been faithful but I have filled it. I’ve filled it with quotations that have captivated me, I’ve pasted in fortunes from fortune cookies, I’ve added the little cards you get with jewelry and other objects. It is a compendium of what I’m thinking about. As I look through it, I can see my growth, both intellectually and spiritually.

The first quote is from a book called The Rising of the Lark by Ann Moray a book, now out of print, I adored in high school.

What is longing made from?

What cloth is put into it

That it does not wear out with use?

Gold wears out, and silver wears out.

Velvet wears out, and silk wears out.

Yet longing does not wear out.

The moon rises, and the sun rises.

The sea rises in vast waves.

But longing never rises from the heart.

It’s an 17th century Welsh poem that I’ve never been able to locate anywhere else. The last quote was added at the end of 2008. “your luck has been completely changed today.”

I started a new quote book today!

May your day and your life be far from common-place!

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


Journaling Our Lives and Our Souls

The last ten days of March were incredible. I made several different kind of journeys that I will talk about in many posts. First I went to Akasha Con in Poughkeepsie, NY. I roomed with my sister-friend, Phae, and went to many workshops that rocked my world.

Then I spent a few days with my family in Parsonsburg, MD on the beautiful Delmarva peninsula. And then my sister, also a librarian, and I went to Baltimore for the Association of College and Research Libraries Annual Conference. It was fun on several levels.

I was really impressed by my sister’s sustained journal activities. She carries it around with her and draws and doodles in it as part of the process. She writes in it daily and during the day. She carries a pack of colored pens to enhance her journal. Even though she’s not a particularly religious or organized religion type spiritual person, this is a practice that enhances her creativity and gives her comfort, solace, and a place for private reflection.

I’ve kept various journals over the year, but never as a practice. One of the lessons in my tradition is to keep a journal for a period of time and I did that in a similar way as described above. It was fun and very comforting on a soul level. For the past four years or so, I’ve been very “religious” in keeping a journal of my shamanic journeys, coven activities, and meditations. But not a journal of my life.

Since we were right in downtown, we walked over to Barnes and Noble in Harborplace and got a journal. The next day at the keynote, I took some notes and doodled in my journal. I pulled out a highlighter [essential purse content] and started decorating. Suddenly, my sister reached over and put out her hand. She wanted to use it too! Sisterly bonding through doodling.

I must say, my sister and I haven’t shared a room since I was in Junior High and she was in elementary school. She’s a much better room-mate nowadays.

I’ve carried this journal with me. I’ve brought out pens, colored pencils, rubber stamps and other cool things to decorate. I picked up a couple of pictures at ACRL and I cut them out and pasted them in. It’s been helpful, fun and full of joy. And some grrrrrrrs. What is up with snow in April!!!

Last summer there was a workshop at Womongathering that taught this very skill. I didn’t take it but Rauncie and some others of the Rowdy Goddesses did and showed me their results. I was impressed. It was very cool and it stuck in my mind. And then I saw someone doing it as a sustainable and do-able practice.

I have to try very hard not to judge my entries harshly. it’s a curious process to be an audience and witness to your own thoughts and life. When you put your thoughts down and then know you are the only person reading it; it’s a very curious feeling. I can’t quite describe it so I will live with it for awhile. Probably like a pool of water, when the ripples still, I will be able to see my reflections more clearly.

May the pool of your life bring reflections of beauty and joy.

More on Manifesting Your Dreams: It Works

More on Manifesting Your Dreams: It Works!

On Saturday, I got back a self-addressed envelope in the mail from We’Moon. Mouse asked me what it was while I was ripping it open. I mumbled that it was probably a rejection letter since I submitted something. Out fluttered a check. As I read the letter, I was stunned. They had accepted my ‘charge of the goddess Athena’ poem. For the datebook and the wall calendar in 2007. Whoo hooo. Thank you Universe.
Mouse said, “You have a bad attitude. The Goddess is saying to you, ‘I bless you even though you have a bad attitude.’ Get a good attitude and she’ll bless you even more.’

Like I was saying.
And not doing.

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