Calling the Maiden: Day 19 from Wicca, A Year and a Day

In the book right now, we are going through the Maiden, Mother, Crone aspects of The Goddess. Today, we are asked to pick fresh flowers, close our eyes, intone the name of a maiden goddess, then wait for her to come. When she comes, so says the book, she will hand us a number of flowers, each one representing an aspect of the maiden which we are meant to develop personally. 
The maiden goddess upon whom I called was, of course, Kore—Persephone pre-underworld. I did not cut flowers for her because A) I do not have ready access to flowers, and B) I thought about cutting a bit of branch from the pomegranate tree I planted for her and Demeter and dedicated to them, but then that would be damaging the tree unnecessarily. Why would I make Kore a dead offering of something that was living in her name?

I did the visualization differently as well. I think it’s pretty cheeky for the author of this book to assume he knows what the maiden goddess will do when she shows up. “Hey there, Kore. Shut up and hand me flowers.” 

I don’t think so.

Maiden or not, goddess is goddess, and goddess is powerful. If I call to her and she deigns to show up, she can and will do anything she damn well pleases. I can communicate to her the purpose of the visualization, but whether she chooses to follow the script is entirely up to her.

In my visualization, I called to Kore and she came. Her skin and hair were shining white. She wore a long ice blue dress with a thin white coat over it, open. She wore diamonds set like icicles around her neck and a crown of similar diamonds in her hair. She stood next to the tree that belongs to she and her mother. She gestured to it and said, “Take care of my tree.” She let a branch slide between her fingers. Her fingernails were a medium-length, pointed, and painted a Spring pink.

I said, “Do you want me to take care of myself too? Is that your message? Is the tree a metaphor for me?” In retrospect, I see how childish that was.

She looked directly at me and said, firmly, “Take care of my tree.” She said it in a way that meant I was not to ask any further questions. She left my garden and I opened my eyes.

Let me explain about this tree:

I planted it in April of 2015. I took care of it really well for a while, then went through a big depression in the summer and kind of let it go. In the autumn, all its leaves fell off, either because of the cold or because I neglected to water it, but then in the spring of this year, it came back in great glory.

This year, through the winter and spring, I took care of it pretty well, but then toward the end of school in May and almost all the way through summer, I went through another horrid depression and hardly watered it or any of my other plants at all. About a third of my plants died altogether. The pomegranate tree’s leaves turned all brown and mostly fell off. I felt so guilty about it that, when it was almost barren, I ran out and gave it a big drink. There were tiny dried pomegranates all over the ground. I almost cried. Here I had been thirsting the tree near to death and still she tried to give fruit. 

Green began to appear again on the branches. Another depression, more neglect, more brown leaves. This time I was sure it was dead. I watered it again though consistently for two weeks, (it only requires water once a week which makes my neglect even more egregious), and the completely barren tree has come back green all over. It is a survivor. It is surely blessed by Demeter and Kore.

All of this to say that when Kore told me to take care of her tree, she meant exactly what she said. I must care for that tree and not passively try to kill it over and over again. I know there is a deeper lesson there. There always is with gardening. For now though, the directive is simply to take care of the tree, and that I will do.

-M.

PS The tree’s name is Beauty. 

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Polarity of the Sun and Moon: Day 16 from Wicca, A Year and a Day

Let me say right off the bat that I had to laugh at today’s reading. It talks about how there wouldn’t be any life without the sun because nothing would grow and so on and so forth life science. But then it says the purpose of the moon is to punctuate the days and “caress the earth” with its light, thus giving us rest, and this is why it is necessary for life. It’s another example I’ve found so far in this book of a slight tinge of unintentional sexism. Without the moon, dear author, the waves wouldn’t churn, and if the waves had never churned, life would never have been born out of the primordial soup in the first place. You must stir the cauldron for the magic to happen. This is the purpose of the moon. The moon was one of the original creative forces. The sun is the sustaining force. 
That got under my skin a bit, if you couldn’t tell. It was like saying the sun is the be all, end all of life and the moon is there for decoration.

The rest of the exercise for the day was another list of supposedly solar/lunar, masculine/feminine words with which we are supposed to identify our thought patterns, our bodies, our emotions, and something else I forgot. 

We really don’t need to go through all that again, do we?

The conclusion I reached yesterday is still true: Each part carries energies from both poles and the vast continuum between. We are neither one nor the other. Our parts are not more or less aligned. We are a mixture, a tincture, a varied but cohesive thing. We are bread not salad. 

-M.

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Divine Polarity: Day 15 from Wicca, A Year and a Day

Hey guys. Guess what. I’m not going to talk about the election. Feel free to throw the ticker tape at any time.
In today’s exercise, I am to list the god and goddess qualities I express in my daily life and figure out with which one I am more aligned. My guess is I’ll be more aligned with god energies, but we shall see. I’m getting to be kind of a softie as I grow up.

My god qualities:

-Sun -Light -Thinking -Linear -Conscious Mind -Square. -Speaking

(Although I do take umbrage with the fact that “thinking” is not listed as a goddess trait too.)

My goddess qualities:

-Female -Moon  -Dark -Internal -Unconscious Mind -Dreaming -Soft -Cool -Night -Listening -Being

It looks like I proved myself wrong. The goddess-isms have it. As I said though, some of these are a little hard to assign firmly to one or the other. Each does all of those things, but perhaps in different ways. Perhaps in the same way. It is not as hard and fast as the list makes it seem.

-M.

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Re-Thinking God: Day 14 from Wicca, A Year and a Day

I haven’t been around for quite some time. Honestly, I’m not sure what happened. Life and all I suppose. I went through another nasty depression. The good news is I’m feeling much better and back at it. So let’s go:
Today I am asked to answer the following questions:

1. What images of god did you hold as a child?

Growing up Mormon, my image of Christ was shaped by the images used in that religion. They are pretty standard as far as white Jesuses go, though some paintings were meticulous about portraying him with semitic features and short hair as would be proper for his day. As a child though, in my prayers, it was white Jesus with the doe eyes that I saw.

2. How have these childhood images influenced your understanding of the divine today?

Rather than seeing the gods as Caucasian and doe-eyed, I see them as having the features of their native lands. Working mostly with the gods of Greece, I see those gods with Mediterranean features and perfect proportions, the way they are sculpted and the way they are described in myth. My images don’t tend to deviate from the esthetic of the cultures from which certain gods came. 

3. Are the images of god that you know actually representative of god’s fundamental nature?

I truly cannot speak to other pantheons as I do not know them well. It would be insulting for me to do so. With the gods of Greece however, I do believe their images, which are the perfection of form, proportion, and beauty, speak to their nature in that those are the values they represent. Those are the deep philosophical values of the culture over which they rule and/or of which they were born. Other cultures may find it important for their gods to be physically flawed or even ugly to represent, say, that the divine has little to do with beauty or that beauty is also in ugliness. The Greek esthetic is different. It’s all about beauty, beauty, beauty. Even Hephaestos, although lame, was beautiful. I often tease that no gods are better than the Greek gods at vanity. I suppose we would all luxuriate in our own vanity if we were as perfectly beautiful as they are.

4. Are images of god important? Why?

If you believe, as I do, that the images of deity are integral to their characters, then yes, the images are important.

 5. What is the purpose of believing in deity?

I want to shrug my shoulders here. I dunno. Who cares? Believing in deity blows my skirt up. It gives me comfort. It makes sense to me. It makes me see beauty in the dark. There is no hard and fast reason, and all reasons among all people are different. 

6. Do we cheat ourselves at any level by characterizing god through image? Why? Why not?

Nah. I don’t think so. I believe having an image of the gods helps us grasp them closer to our hearts. On this plane, our minds are limited and every little help we can get to wrap our brains around a concept that is too big for our britches is A-OK with me.

7. Does it bother you to see the word “god” not capitalized in this book? Why?

I have been “not” capitalizing god for a long, long time. I consider God to be a name for the Abrahamic god, like Hermes is a name for a Greek god. Using the lower case “g” is describing a species. Hermes was born a god, but is not God. Then there’s G.O.D. which I use as a descriptor for when a god is making use of her/his full terrifying glory. You have breakfast with a god, you approach the throne of Hermes while he is in G.O.D. mode. 

There is also this terribly irreverent joke between Hermes and I that what G.O.D. really stands for in his case is, “Gloriously Omnipotent Douchebag.” Ain’t it the truth though!

8. What automatic, conditioned responses do you have in relation to words, letters, and grammatical formalities?

I’m not gonna lie: I heart grammatical formalities big time. I’m the grammar man, or at least I put on my blanket cape sometimes and pretend to be. I am having trouble though understanding exactly what this question has to do with anything. If it is digging deeper in the “G” god question, I think I got it.

Thanks so much for everyone’s concern about my hiatus. I so look forward to reading all your posts and getting back on the beam again.

-M.

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Day 8: Meditation Temperaments, (from Wicca, A Year and a Day)

We are asked to consider Eastern meditative practices as those that include stilling the mind and passively observing our thoughts. We are asked to consider Western meditative practices as those that involve action, guided imagery, and linear thinking. In this light, we are to answer the following questions to discover whether our temperaments lie more in one direction or another:

Do you like your life to be perfectly organized or do you not mind a bit of chaos?

I love to be organized. I love organizing. No amount of organizing, however, can eliminate chaos completely. I’m OK with that. As a friend of mine once said, “Invite Coyote into your circle because he will come anyway.”

Do you respond to most queries with action or with contemplation?

I contemplate before I act.

Are you active and mobile, or are you laid back and sedate?

Both. I am active and mobile until I run out of gas and need to be laid back and sedate. I need about a 2 to 1 ration of those two things.

Do you believe that every question has a definite, logical answer, or do you think that questions can sometimes beget more questions?

I don’t get why these two things are supposed to be in opposition. Every question has a logical answer whether it leads to more questions or not. All those new questions also have logical answers. Truth is true. Existence exists. A is A.

Are you naturally internally focused or externally focused?

I’m not sure on this one. I do like to talk about my hair an awful lot, so I suppose that’s an external focus. But then I talk to myself all the time about my own, inner goings on, so that’s internal. I think my focus is split. I experience things externally, then process them internally. Both of these are important.

BTW: I’m kinda kidding about the hair thing.

Are you naturally patient or not?

Again, it depends. I am patient when it comes to loved ones, I am impatient with people who are rude and/or discourteous. I am patient waiting in lines. I am impatient with bad drivers who get in my way. Aren’t we all naturally both?

Are you strong willed, decisive, and direct? Or are you easy going and more indirect in your approach to people and tasks?

I am strong willed and decisive with an apparent easy-going and indirect approach to people. I try to be the iron fist in the velvet glove. Regarding tasks, I am definitely the former.

I knew before I started this that I am definitely more of a Western temperament when it comes to mediation. I have tried both styles in the past, and I have never been able to still my monkey mind without guided imagery, and even then it’s a tug-o-war.

-M.

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Leaving the Skull Be

baron-samediLast night at the grocery store, I saw a shelf of resin skulls ostensibly for Halloween decoration. They had two kinds of pirate skulls, two kinds of Day of the Dead skulls, and then there was Baron Samedi. If you can believe it, among all the kitschy skulls, an honest-to-gods Baron Samedi complete with top hat, playing card, and cigar. I picked him up and showed him to my friend. It was so odd. I suppose some people do “voodoo” style decorating for Halloween, but I have never seen that around here.

“The thing is,” I told my friend, “this is really getting into something. This is a for real religious object.”

The resin Samedi definitely had an animus. I was strongly drawn to buy it and I couldn’t explain why. I have always tried to steer clear of Vodou Lwa and symbols out of respect for a culture and religion that definitely do not belong to me. Because of this, despite the draw, I put him back on the shelf, said a few words of respect in my mind, and walked away. He may have been there for someone else. I didn’t want to get in the way.

I have actually had a few dreams of Baron Samedi in the past. All were unbidden. Last night, after touching the resin Samedi, I had another one.

I dreamed I was helping a friend bury her ancestors. The graves in the graveyard were all on an extremely steep slope so that one had to drag themselves up the slope by grabbing onto the foot of an open grave, then a headstone, then another grave rim, and so on. My friend’s ancestors were being buried at the top. There were two of them and they both shared a single grave. Each one was in a small rosewood box. Their whole bodies were contained within, not just ashes.

The gravedigger was a scraggly woman in her fifties. She had blond-gray hair matted into a single mass. Her face was leather from decades of smoking. Her hands were gnarled like the limbs of a dead tree. What teeth she had were bright yellow. She wore a gray, ratty robe with a faded yellow marabou collar. She wore red pants and black men’s shoes. She asked my friend if she wanted lead weights in the grave with her ancestors, something about holding the boxes down. There was an extra cost, of course. My friend declined politely, telling the woman that such weights were unnecessary. The woman snorted and began to tell my friend a tale of how the dead would be deeply offended if she didn’t pay the extra cost and how, because they were not weighted, they would easily pass through the grave dirt and wreak vengeance on her and her family. As the woman told this story, her face turned from human to a huge skull that flickered with white, blue, and green in succession. When the story ended, her face turned back to normal. My friend stood solidly with her arms crossed. “We don’t need it,” she said, “and I don’t appreciate your cheap scare tactics trying to get us to spend more money.” The woman shrugged and filled the grave.

When my friend and I made it to the bottom of the hill by scooting on our backsides down the slope, I realized I hadn’t asked permission to enter the graveyard in the first place. I hadn’t left an offering by the gate. Nine pennies, to be exact. I hadn’t asked the Lord of the Graveyard permission and paid my toll with the nine pennies. I was panicked. I had no pennies on me and had no idea where to get them. I searched in the gutter that ran along the low border of the cemetery. There I found four, but they were filthy and unfit, I thought, for an offering.

In my mind, I said, “Baron Samedi, please forgive me that I made no proper offering coming in. I would like to make the offering now, but I can’t find any suitable pennies.” I closed my fist and closed my eyes. When I opened my fist again, it was overflowing with the shiniest pennies you have ever seen. I walked to the graveyard gate and was going to offer them all when I felt a strong impression that I was only to leave nine and keep care for the rest should I need to enter the graveyard again.

After I left the pennies, I stepped back from the hill and noticed this was no ancient graveyard as the gravedigger had said. This graveyard was built on the hill behind my dear departed great aunt and uncle’s house. The house was built in the 70’s and the land was not organized that way until then. I looked closer at the weathered headstones. They looked as if they were hundreds of years old, but the actual dates on the headstones were from people who had passed no earlier than 1981. While still an active graveyard where real persons were buried, it was a graveyard beset by fraud.

To add insult to injury, I looked behind me and saw my great aunt and uncle’s house lit up with the gravedigger and her scraggly husband cackling at the kitchen table and counting their ill-gotten gains. They were defiling the house of my own ancestors. I spent the lion’s share of my childhood there and they were filling it with filth and deceit.

My soul flamed with anger. I felt my silver-tipped staff in my hand, (a staple in my dreams when I am angry), and I barged into the house. The deceivers looked up. I came at them like a bolt of lightening and knocked both of their heads back, snapping their necks. I realized then the house was also full of dirty, disrespectful, deceitful spirits. They let out a singular gasp when I murdered the gravedigger and her husband. “Leave, all of you, disgraceful trash that you are. This house belongs to me. Leave or I will burn you up.”

There was a mad, spiritual rush out of the house. Some remained, obstinate. I “lit the house” without hesitation. In waking life I do this also when I feel something with ill-intentions has gotten into my house. I see in my mind’s eye a white hot flash lighting up the house and property, reaching into every corner, every dark place, every hiding spot. I pulse this bright flash until I feel anything harmful has disintegrated in the nuclear heat. The obstinate spirits were eliminated immediately and the bodies of the gravedigger and her husband were nothing but ash.

I looked around the kitchen and into the living room. The place was filthy and in deep disrepair. I had a lot of cleaning up to do. I let go of my staff and it disappeared as swiftly as it had come to my hand. I started with a broom, sweeping the ashes of the dead out of the house.

I woke up.

I feel without a doubt that “dream” was influenced by my contact with that Baron Samedi skull. Not that I deserve a prize for doing the decent, human thing, but if perhaps the shining pennies and drawing my attention to the desecration of my ancestors’ house were small favors in return for being respectful enough to leave the skull be, I am very grateful.

-M.

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Libra Art Deco

Isn’t she gorgeous? I found her today looking for a pic to share with a friend on her birthday. I am also a Libra and I adore Art Deco, so she’s a perfect match for me as well. I wish I had her on a pin or a plate or, better yet, embroidered on the back of a jacket.

-M.

libra-art-deco

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