Poem: Spring Beckons

The world is in contradiction
Snow flies in the air, yet the birds sing
Water cackles in its power
Now is time of change
The melody of your voice reaches my ears

The sound attracts my attention
It’s time for more change, Time for movement
Time to break free, to venture out
I must leave my entombment
Crawl into the unknown landscape of devotion

I have grown too strong here
Too strong for that which I am housed
Shall I stay anyway and scream from the pain
To keep old self together
For the rest of my days?

Yet, if I go, will I be quenched of thirst?
Will the well be properly filled so I may I grow?
Or is it my lot in life to shrivel?
To ache in pain and despair of yet another ordeal?
My cries satisfying needs of those unknown?

My choice is not mine as I reach to you
Pain is mine as I force myself open
Yet knowing ecstasy and joy of life
Allowing the tryst to begin

You see my torment and relish in it
Smiling you reach deep within
Rare is it that one opens before you
Coming so far and daring to go further
As far as one can go in a lifetime

You are not surprised at my action
As the dance begins
The answer of the heart rings true
As do the oaths
The only surprise left Is where the exquisite rapture takes us next.

 

 

Photo from Deviant Art

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Poem: Reality Received

Blindfolded and reaching I find,
The start of that which was bound
Undeterred, I pressed on
Not knowing anything wrong

The smell of blood caught me
The liquid to my touch, thick and sticky
“No, my dear” He said quietly
“Do not step back, press on directly.”

The wounds I felt were deep
Her moans from pain I reaped
Understanding nothing, I continued
As his reassurances were issued

Finally, feeling the pain I knew
What was not within my view
He took my blindfold to confirm
That which I could now discern

I looked at the reflection where I reached
The blood and sores I beeseeched
I had not known what I asked
Yet now, my die was cast

The Trickster laughed and smiled at me
Yet ever his eyes wept tears for me
“You locked yourself in this trap” said he
“It’s spikes and thorns still tight in thee”

“Fear of failure, fear of anger
Your personal jailers clamor
Their protection ended long ago
And now they keep pieces unknown”

“Learning is healing, yet pain exists
You called it to you, and did insist
Now take the shards back from the abyss
Accept the pieces in as they fit”

I stared in disbelief,
How could I, in my grief
Ask for such a thing of hurt?
Yet I did – my soul, I tore apart

Now the healing has begun
The pain comes as I awaken
But now the true work is being done
As I slowly integrate into one.

Photo from Deviant Art

Take A Rest…

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If you have been following, you will have noticed that I’ve been doing a significant amount of shadow work lately.  It’s all things that I have been working on for a long time, and it seemed like all at once everything started fitting in place, helping me realize what I need to deal with.

So each day, on top of pushing through my daily mundane duties, I’ve given a lot of time to that shadow work, that self reflection and that necessary journeying and spell work.

And it’s been exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not complaining.  This is stuff I’ve been trying to work through for a heck of a long time.  And seeing it finally moving is something I am quite happy about.  But now I feel like the Gods are giving me another order that I’m having an even harder time trying to obey.

It’s time to rest.

Wait…What?

I’m not done yet!  There is still a lot of ground to cover!  I’ve only figured out a small fraction of what I want to figure out!  There is a lot more for me to learn yet!  I don’t think I have things in a position to allow me to rest yet!  I’m afraid I’ll forget something, or pick that habit back up!  I haven’t made enough progress!

What is funny about all of this is that I get a lot of my pagan friends that laugh when they hear I’m working with Odin, The Medicine Pipe and Loki, and joke about all of the work and things that they are going to make me face.  And the thing is, I don’t understand the joke sometimes.  I want to face these things.  I want to go into the place that that I fear, because I know I will be a better person on the other side.  I want to fight those demons lurking in the darkness, because I will gain strength for doing so.

It’s the resting that I’m not so good at.

So for me, the joke is perhaps the opposite.

This weekend is my birthday weekend, and although it’s not a rounded number (that was last year)  I am going to do my best to get some rest in.  there will be 8 hours in the car, but there will also be an extra day off work.

Something tells me I’m not the only one to do this.  Something tells me someone else out there needs to rest more often than they do now.  So if I can do this, I expect those needing some rest to do it as well.

And I think I can do this.  Maybe.

 

Asking for Forgiveness

I reconnected with an old boyfriend on Facebook a couple weeks ago.  This is a guy I dated about 20 years ago.  Normally, I wouldn’t do that, but for this particular relationship, it meant something for me to reconnect to him.

Anyways, 20 years pass, and he goes his own way,  different than I expected him to take.  But it was his way, and that is all that matters.  Now, although he has had significant struggles, he’s much wiser, much stronger and more sure of himself than I have ever seen him to be.

He messaged me today to thank me for introducing him to paganism.  I said he was welcome, and then I apologized to him.

I apologized to him because I recognized that even though I was established in my local pagan community at the time, I was still very much a child and didn’t know what I was really doing on an emotional level.

I apologized to him because of things that I now know are hurts I was dealt as a child were things that were significantly clouding my judgement.

I apologized to him for any hurt that I caused him while we were together, because of my childish nature, and because I just didn’t know any better.

I am thankful for his response.  It was, “Forgiven, forgotten, friendship extends it’s hand once again.  We both had to grow a bit more.”

One down.  Maybe a significant number of people more to go.

I didn’t  recognize until about 14 years ago that my actions and reactions had anything to do with the fact that I had suffered abuses as a child, that I had not been fully safe and allowed to grow up, or that my view of the world was significantly skewed.  And I also didn’t recognize that the skewed views I had affected me from a spiritual perspective.

Don’t get me wrong, I learned a lot about Wicca and was (and still am) pretty proud of what I had accomplished.  I still formed and ran my own coven for awhile, until I recognized that it was time for me to let it fly on its own.  I still helped to develop a pagan study group at a local college. And I still published a pagan article  here and there.  And I am proud of the work that I accomplished despite my emotional shortcomings.

I however, know there was collateral damage along the way.  I damaged friendships, I acted in ways that I didn’t fully understand.  And even though there was no malice, it caused hard feelings.

Looking back, I can’t even begin to start figuring out each and every individual action.  I can’t begin to understand who it was that I hurt, when I hurt them, how many people I hurt, or how many times.  But it is important for me to acknowledge what has been done.

I don’t believe that the actions and reactions from that time fully under my control, so while I did the action, much of it was not purposeful.  I was pretty damaged, and I fully admit that.  And today, I still have some more of that damage to heal from.  But as situations come up, like with my ex, I will do my best to understand, accept, apologize, heal and move on.

The Peeling of the Onion

onion_by_scheinbar.jpgAnyone who has ever cooked in their life has (most likely) peeled and cut an onion.  And if they are like me and don’t cook that much, they’ve peeled some pretty old onions.  You know the type I’m talking about.  It’s the, ‘It’s-my-time-to-make-dinner-and-oh-crap-the-only-onion-we-have-is growing’ type.  You don’t want to go run out to the store and buy new onions.  So you make due, and cut into it, and recognize very quickly that it is an onion..

a very STRONG SMELLING onion.  And there are lots of nasty bits in the onion.  But you peel back the layers anyway, eyes watering, feeling like you are going to sneeze any moment, and get out of it what you can.

This week, my spiritual work has been a lot like that onion.  It isn’t because I neglected it.  Nor did I forget about it.  But instead, being on the hot seat was key for me to find the damn onion in the first place.  And even then all it did was provide the road map to where the onion was at; it didn’t even present me the onion to start my work.

But once you have found it, I think the harder work begins.  What are the layers?  Are they had habits that you are recognizing are causing more harm than good?  Are they things you have to heal from?  Or in my case, are they realizations about your life that you have been trying to deal with for years, and are just now able to acknowledge with words?

Each issue is a layer of that onion.  For me, the layers sort of look like this –
– I was never allowed to have any opinions of my own growing up (Peel it back)
– I was forced to conform to the way my family thought and felt (peel…)
– I had roles I had to conform to – Mary’s daughter, Margaret’s granddaughter, A member of THE Christian extended family known well in the area I lived, the sisters who sing so well together…(peel, peel and more peeling…)
– I never felt safe having my own opinion (peel…)
– Because I never felt safe, I never learned to voice those opinions (peel…)
– At forty years old I’m finally learning what it feels like to put words together to say how I really feel (peel)..

Every one of those realizations pull more off of your own identity and who you think you really are.  Your fears are realized to the point where they can start falling away on their own.  Your roles are identified and cataloged in order to determine whether or not they are still needed.  You realize your shortcomings, and your strengths.

By the end, there is nothing left but you.  And you feel more naked than you have ever felt in your life.  You have no shields, nothing to protect you, and that thought is liberating and downright scary all at the same time.

I feel like in some ways I have nothing left.  I am broken down, only to be built back up.  That building back up process cannot come fast enough for me, but I know it is not going to be very fast at all.  I need to understand these layers.  I need to understand why they are there, to grieve and heal, to get angry and to fully let go of what it is I don’t need anymore.  But then comes the biggest fear – the fear of failing, not learning what you need and having to do this all over again.

I supposed in a way it’s my very own spring cleaning.   But where I would usually work like heck to get it over with, this time I am going at the speed of my Gods.

I’d say let the examination begin, but it already has.  I’d say hopefully I won’t cry at this onion this time, but that already happened as well.  And it was all meant to be that way.

Don’t ever let anyone tell you that when you reach for your Gods and want their attention that it is an easy process.  They will accept your service, and they will pull you apart, layer by layer, in order to make you into a truer image of yourself.

If you chose this, I pray your onion doesn’t stink as much as mine.

Photo from deviant art

Another View of the Current Arguments

“And then, one Thursday, nearly two thousand years after one man had been nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change…”
Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

 

I tried not to write this.  I really did try.  I didn’t want to get involved.  But instead, when I tried to type my next post about energy work during a chronic illness flare up, this came out instead.

If you haven’t already heard, there’s been a lot going on back and forth.  The website Gods and Radicals started it.  John Beckett, Galena Krasskova and a myriad of others responded.  Rhyd Wildermuth, who penned the original post on Gods and Radicals responded, and John Beckett responded to that once again.

In the meantime, the myriad of others also added their input, and while most of it was pretty interesting, the usual amount of mud went with it.

I’m late to the game, but I’m not here to keep the mud slinging going nor am I here to say who is right and who is wrong.  Because I think everyone involved has the same basic perception and is saying the same thing (Ok, well, basically the same thing.  Very basically…)

Let me get to that later in this post.  First, I want to speak to how I feel about the entire thing.

This past weekend I haunted my local pagan store, and this topic came up.  And I lamented a bit about how hard it is for everyone to get along, how we can’t even decide who does and who doesn’t belong under the ‘pagan umbrella’, and how frustrated I am by the whole thing.

The shop owner challenged me about this.  “Boy, for a Lokean, you are really into unifying everyone!”

“No,” I replied.  “I just want people to agree to disagree.”

In many of my posts I have talked about the differences in the Pagan community.  I have talked about how our  differences make us uncomfortable.    I have talked about how people are using different terms and how people seem to be posting for shock value more than anything.  I have posted my feelings about the deeper issues going in the Pagan Community .  Finally, I talked about how labels can sometimes cause more problems than they are worth.  That’s a lot of airspace already.  And I believe this current issue is just the same things happening again, only this time political and right wing/left wing labels seem to be thrown into the mix.

All of it boils down to this – if people have issues toward someone else’s beliefs, it’s their issues, not the person who has the beliefs in the first place.  If someone wants to get loud and obnoxious about something, they have the right to post what they want on their own site.  And I have the right to not read it.  If someone wants to attempt to classify me as something I know I’m not, does it really matter as long as I know what it is I am?  Don’t my words and deeds tell people who I am?  And if someone really wants to get to know me in the electronic pagan community, wouldn’t they post comments, like my stuff and follow me first?  Then they would make up their own mind, which people are perfectly capable of doing?

It seemed to me the original post basically just drew battle lines and was a bunch of opinions about what they felt was right.  The response piece did change my mind some, I’ll admit.  But although it was a respected person in a pagan community that wrote the first post it’s still only their opinion, and not one that is very widely agreed upon.

So my response is this.  I disagree with the original post.  I do think some of the intent was to make people think, but instead things were very easily taken out of context.   Further, I wonder how much of it was to really ruffle feathers.  And while it has generated some nice responses afterward, I will agree to disagree with the assumptions that were made.

That being said, here is where I think everyone does and CAN agree –

Racism in all of its forms, albeit cultural, tribal, national, ethnic, right wing, left wing, whatever the hell you call it – is WRONG.

’nuff said.

As a native without papers proving blood quantum, I have seen some segregation myself. I have also seen these issues come up in my own mixed racial family.  Because of these things, I have formed my own opinion, and I think it’s a good one.

I firmly believe that if people feel called to do a certain thing or feel a certain way, they are within their full right to do or believe what they want, so long as they are not pushing this opinion onto others.  However, if you are going to generalize an entire culture, an entire race or belief system because of the faults of a few, you have some serious issues.

Frankly I don’t give a shit if you think your God says only certain people can be in a certain religion.  If you truly feel that way, then I don’t want to frequent your hall, your ceremonies, nor be a part of your group, and like I said above, you have issues.

Feel free to disagree with me!  But overall, it just seems like in all of these posts, particularly in the first one, everyone is concerned with the main point of racism and how it is showing it’s ugly head in the world.  Everyone is also trying to come up with ways to combat it.  These are good things to be doing. However in the end, all that seems to be happening is we end up arguing over the labels, the generalizations, and the specific language instead.

Perhaps we should agree to disagree on these damn labels and just call out the damn racist action when we see it happening.

There, rant done.  Returning to your regularly scheduled posts hopefully later this week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finding Pagan Music

One of the things that I have noticed over the years is that Pagan music seems to be hard to find.  However, there are many artists out there whose music has pagan overtones, and with ITunes, Amazon’s music service and many other music services out there, new and old music is finding its way back into rituals, prayer work, and just to listen to when you need some extra energy.

Here is a list of artists you might not have heard of, or perhaps had never thought about  in a pagan light before.

 

Serpentine (Serpentine Arborvitae) – Rock the Goddess

I found this album in the late 90’s.  The song “Rock the Goddess” was I think her best work.  I have also found many of the other songs on the album to be compelling, although they have a significantly different feel to them.  Her music is what I put on when I want to feel inspired and powerful.  .

I was happy to find out that this was only one of the many albums produced by Serpentine.  Many more songs are available on ITunes.  I’m still finding new gems for my collection as I go through them.

 

Gypsy – Enchantress

This album is much older.  I remember listening to it in 1992-3.  I had it on cassette back then, but in 2001 it was put onto ITunes.  I think this album has a solid place in pagan music, just for the fact that it was groundbreaking – no one had published anything like it before.  Gypsy’s music is soothing, but I find I can only listen to it so long.  Then it goes away in my collection to be pulled out another time.

 

Emerald Rose

This is a traditional Celtic group that has written a lot of pagan themed music.  One of my favorites is ‘Never Underestimate (A woman with the Goddess in her Eyes)’.  I love their music around this time of the year – it feels like their music just screams springtime and growth.

 

Inkubus Sukkubus

While I love Emerald Rose in the spring, I ADORE listening to Inkubus Sukkubus in the fall.  Their songs scream Pagan, Magick, Power and all things Gothic.  This is the type of music that I use when I’m having just too much mundanity in a day.  There have been many times that I would get in my Jeep and just blast this music for a bit of a ‘change in the scenery’ so to speak.  They have many albums with many different and hauntingly beautiful songs on them, and I think there is something for everyone here.

 

Todd Alan

This is another singer that I think has a significant place in Pagan music.  I still on occasion listen to some of his music, and every time I do, I feel the power in his words.  That is one thing that Todd is very good at doing – his songs engage you in a way that fills your spirit with song.

 

Type O Negative – October Rust

This was my favorite album from this band, and the one that started getting them some big attention in the rock music scene.  It’s actually a lot softer than their other albums, and contains two songs with significant pagan influence – ‘Be my Druidess’, which is about the Great Rite in Wiccan Tradition, and ‘Green Man’.  Unfortunately this is a band that burned out pretty quickly for many reasons, the biggest of which being Peter Steele, the Band’s lead singer and bass player, died of a heart attack six years ago.

 

Halestorm – Into the Wild Life

I just started getting into this group.  The first song I heard of theirs was ‘I am the Fire’ off their new album ‘Into the Wild Life’.  As I was already working with Loki significantly when I heard it, it’s no wonder this song grabbed me.  Since then I’ve explored more of their new album and found songs full of empowerment.  These are what I listen to when I’m on a run and don’t think I can give anymore – I let the energy of the music just flow into me and it always helps to carry me over the finish line.  I also find that one of Halestorm’s songs pop up when I’m just feeling down, depressed about something, or are just getting too fixated on a mundane issue in my life.  It’s sorta like Loki is poking at me saying ‘hey, there is more to life than this’, and I sincerely appreciate the poke.

 

Disturbed – Immortalized

This is another recent album.  And while the band doesn’t have directly pagan undertones in their music (well, they might on older albums, I just became aware of this band recently), I have found Songs like ‘The Light’ and ‘The Vengeful One’ and ‘The Brave and the Bold’ off of their album Immortalized fit a pagan tone quite nicely.  Again, these are songs I listen to for empowerment, something I don’t think we get enough of in this day and age.

Another note about this album, the song ‘Who Taught You How to Hate’ seems to fit in with the current US Presidential race very well.

 

For Ritual music, I am a fan of R. Carlos Nakai’s gorgeous flute music.  I also have songs by artists Gandalf, Deuter, George Winston and David Lanz in my ritual playlist.  These I find work well for meditation too.

Finally, I highly recommend an album called “The Prayer Cycle” by Jonathan Elias.  This is a nine part choral symphony in 12 languages.  Each movement in itself is a prayer that is powerful, strong and yet beautifully delicate in its composition.  There have been many times the album has moved me to tears with its beauty and intricacy.  If ever you feel you have lost hope, this gorgeous symphony might help to bring that back to you.

So that’s what I’m listening to right now.  I’m certain there is much more out there.  I’d love to hear what other music people are listening to as well.