Thursday, July 30, 2009

Kangaroo Magic

At long last I have become somebody! I wrote my first article for Witchvox several years ago. It was probably the first thing I ever wrote, l guess it was ok but looking back I would've written it a lot differently.

Every Saturday night they update the articles, but we are usually entertaining guests and/or recovering from ritual by then so I look forward to reading the new articles Sunday mornings over a cup of coffee.

I must admit it does feel good to be "published", even online by a site as well known as Witchvox, of which I am a proud sponsor. If you have a profile, advertisement or group listing you should be a sponsor too.

Witchvox provides a valuable service for free, well free to you. Much like public television, it survives on donations from people like you and me. So just freakin' pay the measly freakin' couple of bucks your just gonna blow on Starbucks anyways!!!

Oh yeah, and click on the Kangaroo Crossing sign to read my article on Kangaroo Magic at Witchvox. It's got a nice twist in it, I hope you like it.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tools of the Trade

I stole this title from Jason Miller, he posted Tools of the Trade a few days ago on his Blog Strategic Sorcery. But I felt it was such a good title, it could be used more than once, so here goes...

My wife placed an order a few days before Fathers Day, but it didn't come in time. A few days later she called to see what was taking so long and found out the gift was not shipped immediately after being ordered for a very simple and profound reason. It did not exist.

She had placed an order with Capricorns Lair, an online metaphysics supply store. A Great metaphysics supply store by the way! Every time we have ever ordered from them we have received great products in a timely manner.

So we were quite surprised when my Fathers day gift, a Silver Blade Bronze Handled Boline never arrived. But when we called to find out why, we were pleasantly surprised. They had not shipped it because it had not been made yet. The description says "made in the USA, not China" but it should say HAND MADE in the USA, when you order it.

When we called to find out about the delay the phone was answered by a very friendly voice, and when we asked about it he said he was actually still in the process of making it when we called. As it turns out he was the Silver Smith who forged the blade.

I fell in love with the idea that it did not come out of a box of a hundred or so assembly line products from China or anywhere else. I have a nice collection of various ritual tools, but they are not a trophy case collection. They are used regularly, and I have accumulated them slowly over time. Each one is unique and meaningful to me, and many like this one has a story.

In my tradition we have a Rubric definition for many things including tools;

"...The Boline is a ritual tool used by traditional Witches to prune and harvest medicinal plants for use in their craftwork, but we as Veritas Wiccans are also taught to use it in a more spiritual manner by harvesting inner fruits and promoting personal growth..."

I really love this tool, the very high quality of its hand made construction and the deep symbolism it holds for me and my craft. My wife thought it was a fitting gift as I've been writing a lot lately about the Fruits of my Labors, which I think is or should be one of the most important purposes for the practice of Witchcraft. The Great Work of Self Improvement.

In other Tool News...

I bought a fishing spear at the beginning of the summer, and finally put it to use. I got it at the Sports Chalet, it's about six foot long fiberglass, and was only about twenty bucks. It kinda reminds me of a CB antenna with a bungee cord on the one end. My close friend and Coven mate is a Scuba Instructor, he called it an Hawaiian Sling and gave me a few pointers on tension and grip.

My tradition teaches every tool has an operative and a speculative use and meaning, like the Boline. Physically used to cut plants and herbs on the outside, while applied spiritually to cut out the dead wood and harvest from our inner garden.

As I lay on the river bank after a long day of swimming and hunting trout with my kids, I thought about the operative and speculative symbolism of my fishing spear. I think it's funny that I always hated fishing with my Dad. I always loved my Dad, I just hated sitting there waiting for a fish to come along and bite down, it always seemed so boring and way to passive for me.

I hit my first fish on my first try, but he didn't stay on, my aim was off. I learned real quickly that you gatta lead them a bit.

I chased this one, it's strange to me that they don't take straight off. They dart only a few feet and back around, he made the mistake of giving me a second chance, and then a third.

It's amazing how much you can learn while your holding your breath...

When I came bursting out of the water with this nice big guy on the end of my spear, fighting and flopping it spooked a small family, the women were not happy to see fish that big where they were swimming with their kids.

I cleaned him right then and there on the bank, I thanked the fish for being my first and for teaching me so much before he gave himself to me. Then with a few sacred words I ate his little, still beating heart.

I scooped out the rest of his goodies and with a few more special words gave them to Yvn-Wi Gv-Na-Hi-Ta, the long man, the spirit of the river. Thanking him for having me and my children as his guests, before we took the trail back to civilization, back to the matrix.

My wife and I are strangely old fashioned when it comes to certain things, it's seems funny to think of us with the tattoos, piercings and Witchcraft as being traditional, but we are. I was proud and manly to come home and slap a fish down, spear in hand. My wife was happy too, just the idea of the hunter-gathering man bringing meat home to Mama.

The trout was good, really good. Almost as good as the pigeons I ate in Iraq, but not quite.

But I was starving back then, and there was a war going on in the background.

But it was good, and so was the lovin' that night.

So I'm going back tomorrow. Grin.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

When Doesn't Belief Means Battle?

So maybe it's the Army, but I like to be prepared and informed, so I do my homework when it comes to important things like working with the State Prison system. So I subscribe to the CDCR STAR, it's the media engine for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.

<---- Click on the Picture, it's a Link. Anyways, I get postings from Facebook too, which is cool. Last week I read a few clippings from an article linked to the author Scott Smith's Blog and found his An Appeal to the Divine, very appealing.

Last Sunday he posted "When Belief Means Battle" (hence the rhetorical title) a piece on Minority Faiths, and included an interview with a Druid inmate and a few choice words from fellow Wiccan Chaplain and colleague Patrick McCollum. I have to say I was very happy with the segment, it is not often that we get good press from a non-Pagan.

But it wasn't long before the smear squad started posting comments on the News Forum, no doubt from deep in the heart of some back woods bible belt BBQ, bar and barbershop drive thru. At first I wasn't going to jump in the frying pan but it began to haunt me, so I posted comment #14 which states:

The “R” in CDCR stands for Rehabilitation, and it has sadly been forgotten. A very large portion of the inmates referred to on this discussion board will be released very soon to a neighborhood near you.

Part of rehabilitation is arming them with the proper tools to function and survive within a society full of people whom, based on the comments so far, will be more than a little challenging.

Minority Faiths such as Druidry and Wicca promote self control, self reliance and most importantly responsibility for one’s own actions. Most inmates have begun their new path in prison and has been a crucial part of their mental, spiritual and emotional growth and rehabilitation.

These earth based beliefs and practices encourage one to establish a peaceful balance and a harmony with the rest of the world, and instills a core belief in the sanctity of all life, even yours.

I for one hope they are allowed and encouraged to follow these paths, I for one hope they take them very, very seriously, and I for one hope that you can let them.

Because we will be meeting them very soon and the quality of that meeting is a matter of faith.

It has taken a lot to refrain from jumping back in head first, but I promised I wouldn't. I said what I had to say, I made my point, knowing they were not going to get. Sigh.

But I'll be riding my Harley out to a Prison tomorrow, somehow that makes me feel better...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What Would Sequoyah Do?

Just like every other white person in America, I'm Cherokee. My family is from Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Well actually Scraper which is where the allotments were and Chewy where the Stomp Dance goes down.

We were in the civil war, the Cherokee Mounted Volunteer Cavalry. My ancestors fought under the direct command of General Stand Watie.

When I was growing up, anytime I did anything good, Mom said it was because I was Cherokee. "It's in the blood" but my Dad claimed it was German blood that produced so many positive traits, but I think now it was both.

I studied our language, history and culture. But I loved our magic. The Cherokee Ah-Da-We-Hi has some of the coolest magical technology I have ever seen. And the written language doubles as a nice looking magical alphabet too.

Sequoyah has always been a personal hero of mine. He was an amazing man, who single-handedly changed history or rather Saved the history of an entire culture. Literally. He invented the Cherokee Syllabary, the Cherokee writing system. This is Amazing for a few reasons. First, he didn't read or write any language at all, he simply saw what the whites were doing and understood the concept.

Second, he is the only human to accomplish this task within his own lifetime. All other writing systems have been the product of literary evolution, and developed over hundreds of years. He did it in Twelve. But to me the most amazing thing about it all is the obstacles he overcame.

Namely, his own people. Sequoyah was repeatedly accosted by his own friends and neighbors, his own people, his own tribe. They burned down his home several times, with him in it. Destroying his work, he just started over, every time.

They threatened to kill him and tried a few times, he had to relocate for his own safety. But he finally did it, and it worked. He taught it to his daughter and they went to the Tribal counsel.
They wanted to burn him for Witchcraft (hahahahaha) but with the assistance of his daughter and a few others they were able to demonstrate the system publicly.

Someone, whispered into his ear, he scribbled on a piece of paper (talking leaves) and it was carried to his daughter some ways away, who recited the whispered words. Within a few years the entire tribe was reading and writing in their own language. As a result they were able to record and save their own cultural history.

So yesterday I posted a comment on Facebook about receiving a letter the the CDCR requesting my assistance. I have been requested by another prison, they enclosed all the paperwork required to get started. And naturally this got some attention, mostly from close friends who were happy and proud of me.

But as I have written about in the past, there are many of my own own people, my own tribe, who are not happy about my success. I have received a few massages from a few people who keep nay saying. I was told I am not qualified to do what I am doing. But they don't know what my qualifications are or are not, and they don't know what I am doing or not doing.

So what are they really talking about?

The ones who can't do what I do, accuse me of being either a sell out or a mindless puppet of the evil conspiracy to screw them out of a job they couldn't do anyway.

So it times like this, I have to ask myself...

What Would Sequoyah Do?

Blessed Be.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Other Time Has Come

In the forward of my book I wrote this:

I served on active duty in the U.S. Army for almost ten years, and I am a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. But it seems like just yesterday when I was ushered through the assembly line of basic training, where we're systematically stripped of our individual identities, re-made and re-labeled.

The bottom line on your Dog Tags is used to indicate your religious faith. Mine was stamped with a word that would change my life forever. "Other"

Other, because there was a very small selection of official faiths to choose from on the paper taped to the wall next to the machine, some if which had been "crossed out" . Yeah that's a pun.

It was in the military that I first began functioning as a lay leader, a religious volunteer who functions as clergy when official priests are not available. There are not Atheists in foxholes, so I was always needed most during overseas deployments.

The religious discrimination witnessed and suffered by my brothers and sisters, and myself as Pagans while serving our country in combat has served as the catalyst for what has become my personal campaign for religious purism and tolerance.

Since then, I have become the first state recognized Minority Faith Chaplain for the California Department of Correction and Rehabilitation. As a volunteer, I provide and facilitate various religious services to those "Other" inmates, and I will continue to do so until such time when those religious need are met by the state institutions themselves.

My daughter started attending military school her freshman year of high school. It is so much different than regular schools, no cell phones, Ipod, Nintendo pocket gadgets. No fancy name brand clothes, jewelry, makeup, no hair do fad peer pressure teen age teeny bopper crap to deal with.

They take that all away, hair in a bun, no makeup, no jewelry, everyone's in the same uniform, and it gives away no hint of form, which my girl has developed an excess of lately. In the old school she was judged by what she looked like; she's Black, she dresses VERY GOTH, and doesn't wear anything that isn't bought at Hot Topic. And likes skinny white boys, like her Mom. Which places her in a very very very very small peer group.

At the Military School she met her boyfriend, he looked her in the eyes when he spoke to her. He listened to her and liked her for who she was inside. He never saw anything else. This had a profound effect on her and they have been dating ever since. She has brought him to rituals, of which his aunt and cousin have been long time attendees.

Since that time he has begun his own Wiccan path. We held a blessing for him before he left for basic training last month, we sent him off with a few items enchanted by an old vet (grin) and a Cunningham book. I had so much to tell him. I was jealous.

She's been ok so far. We were worried she would get depressed or an attitude or both. But her spirits have been unusually high and shes been unusually helpful which has made me unusually suspicious. She's been positive and when she's not, she curls up with me or Mom. I take her for rides on the Harley, for things we don't really need and we just cruise.

Today she got her first letter from him and even I was excited. Tears ran down her face as she read it. She told me, his dog tags say "Wiccan", and tears run down my face as I write it.

Now I know why the hanged man smiles.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

More Strength

Strength is a funny thing.

We men are conditioned to be strong and tough. Don't be a puss, don't cry. While the women are supposed to be weak and emotional damsels in distress.

It was almost a year ago when I first wrote about the Strength card. I was pretty proud of that one, and still am. Mostly because I have come so far, I have made progress, I have gained strength.

But not Arnold strong, or John Wayne strong. The weird kind that's difficult to describe. The peaceful strong. I have been "battling" Post Traumatic Stress Disorder since the day I got home.

Its a hard and scary thing to fight against, just like Iraq. We're were not fighting a uniformed army across the battlefield. We were fighting one single civilian with a grenade, within a crowd of hundreds. You never knew who. You never knew when. But you knew it was coming. You could never drop your guard.

That's how PTSD works. You never know whats going to set it off. You never know whats going to set you off. Not having any control over something like that is terrifying when your trained to react with force. You can never drop your guard.

So I learn and remember what to watch out for, keeping my finger off the trigger.

I have used Witchcraft to heal myself, I have made my own magic, developed my own craftwork. Not just for me, because sadly, I am not alone. But what I am doing is working, on me and those who use it. And she is with me, and she works her magic too.

We live next to the city baseball park. She keeps the schedule on the bulletin board and highlights the nights they're going to set off fireworks. She keeps a close watch on me and the clock and always finds new and creative ways to occupy my attention. She talks about how good popcorn would taste and how bad she would love to have some straight out of the microwave all hot and steamy. Can you hear it?

I don't hear AK-47's anymore, I hear a bag of Orville Redenbacher's kettle corn.

Tonight, the first time in five years, I celebrated the 4th of July.

For the first time in five years, I wasn't hiding, I was outside watching.

I did good, I had fun. She held my hand, and I was strong.

Yeah, strength is a funny thing.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Knight of Wands

I've come so far. I motto is "I've done so much, with so little, for so long, now I can do anything, with nothing"

There was a time when I was the Page of Wands, young and passionate, full of ideas, aspirations and lots hot air. But to me the wands are just that, the passionate communication of thoughts and messages. Speculative mechanics.

But I am an air sign several times over, so it all fits together quite nicely. In the Native path I am "Ah-Ga-Lv-Ga" the whirlwind, it is the equivalent to a zodiac sign. Blessed with the spirit of air, this is very amusing to those who know me, because I never shut up. Blessed with the spirit of hot air.

But that's what I do well. I talk. Just talk. But talking can be a powerful thing when your speaking magic words. As a knight of Wands I have waged war against religious discrimination. I have rode into battle alone, armed with a message. We are not what you think.
My crusade has been to change their minds, to show them, and so far I have won.

Today at the Prison I started my fifth program. They were all very new, and I felt like His Gal when she said she was jealous. I enjoyed seeing the newness of it all in someones eyes again.
The passionate reunion with a lost birth rite, homecoming. It renews my own faith every time I see it.

On the way home I made a stop at a State Hospital. They are in need of some assistance with their Wiccans and though some networking made contact with me. I received a very warm welcome and enjoyed a great talk with staff there. While in that talk a man joined the conversation and turned out to be the husband of a friend and chaplain at my prison. We all hit it off quite well and may be expanding my ministry.

I am the Knight of wands, and this is my new steed.

I love my wife, so much. She knew how much I missed riding.

She pushes me, she encourages me and she enables me to do what I do.

Without her I would not be who I am today.

And I wouldn't be doing it on my new Harley. "The Nimbus 2007" HD.

Thanks Mama, Blessed Be.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Infamous Mr. Anonymous

It all started so slowly, so unnoticeable, insignificant. The way a pebble is the humble beginnings of a snowball, that starts an avalanche.

My Coven mates began encouraging me to write out an explained version of our Book of shadows, stereo instructions for the uninitiated. I admit that it did shine my ego to be told by a large group to write it all out, in case I was lost.

Then conversations with friendly publishers at Pantheacon, asking for a book no one else can or will write. Another cup to intoxicate the ego.

Several months ago I was given "blue prints". I built the Gates to specifications and began opening them. Within the first one I learned the necessity of a Virtuous Purpose. Its funny how you can experience something yet not be conscious of it, and visa versa. Then I opened the second door and got lost...

I went thought several phases, while working on my book. The first was what should be included and what should be withheld. Didn't want to give away any of the good stuff.

Then I started questioning my writings. Not the grammar, sentence structure or syntax, but content. Maybe they wont want to publish a book that tells them to stop buying magic books, maybe I should leave that out, and that, and that. I replace it with the good stuff.

Yeah that will sell. <-------- (red flag)

One of my friends said getting published with certain houses was, selling out. And I thought well that's easy to say when you've never been published, I bet he'd change him tune if they made him an offer. But now I am seeing what he meant. Getting published isn't selling out, but changing your message, and twisting it into something more marketable, is.

But its ok, I had a virtuous purpose so its different, its ok. Right? I wanted to write a certain book, but they said they wouldn't publish it because they wouldn't make enough money with it, the market for it is not big enough. So I thought I would write what they wanted and use the money to self-publish what I wanted.

Yeah that will sell. <-------- (red flag)

Then an amazing thing, well several synchronized amazing things happened. I read a book that changed my life, again. It was written by a guy like me, who wrote it for the same reasons as me and for the same people as me. He showed me everything I needed to know, thanks Bo.

You get lost when you are not were you think your supposed to be. I was lost because I thought I was within the second gate when I never made it out of the first one. I had to experience the loss of a virtuous purpose in order the experience and appreciate the gain of one.

I had to loose my balance, in order to gain a better sense of balance. Wisdom is the proper application of knowledge. "Proper" only comes from experience of falling on your ass a few times.

I realized I got sucked in, I wanted to "be" someone. Apparently it can only be achieved through getting published. This promotes one to a higher station, or at least ones ego. And it has been my experience that such a station is usually beyond the authors merits.

May my virtuous purpose assist in the dissolution of my ego.

So I will write two books. One which will be self published, and free for the precious few who ask for it. The second, I will write but never finish, I will leave half blank, for my kids, Grand kids, and so on. I will live and die a husband, a father and a Wiccan.


Mr Nobody.