Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Age of Aquarius

I don't pretend to be knowledgeable in the subtle nuances of astrology, as I've always preferred astronomy. But as I understand it we are entering into the "Age of Aquarius," and I find that synchronicity quite fitting, on many levels.

I have neglected this space for some time now due to my primary obligations. I finally finished school, for the moment anyway. I've completed the requirements for my associates in religion from a baptist seminary and should receive my diploma in a week or so. And I will consider that a birthday present to myself, I'm an Aquarius, so begins my Age.

For those who don't know, I have Post 9/11 GI Bill benefits and wanted a degree in religion to apply towards my prison ministry work. The VA requirements, mixed with my lifestyle settings limited my options a bit and I took advantage of what was available. Hence the Baptist seminary

As insane as it was at times, I still managed to learn quite a bit. There were even portions that I actually truly Loved, and over all I did benefit from the experience. That being said, I don't know if I'd do it again, ha.

I spent the whole time there wondering where I was going to obtain my bachelors, as the school I wanted to attend only offered graduate work, but I have other plans for that one too. Luckily the Institute for Transpersonal Psychology has become Sophia University and I will be in their first bachelors program next fall, fingers crossed.

I felt blessed by the synchronicity that they have made changes to their institution and curriculum, which not only suits my academic needs, but the timing could not be any more perfect. I actually need the spring and summer off from scholastic endeavors to focus on the huge changes in my career and employment.

For those that don't know, I moved back here to California almost eight years after getting out of the Army. I came back to take my turn serving the family business, we run care homes. I'm the fourth generation of care providers in my family. It's not a bad living, especially after almost ten years in the Army, and Iraq. It's a nice big house in a good neighborhood, and as opposed to being deployed all the time, I'm literally home all the time for my family. But that's the rub, I'm ALWAYS home. After a few weeks, months and years, ones stamina tends to dwindle.

For the first few years my friends in the Pagan community used to joke about "Joe's imaginary wife," because they never saw her, because she was always watching the house so I could go socialize. It was always one or the other, but never both of us together. Until a few years later when we finally found someone we trusted to work, so we could go out together. So many people were shocked that she was real.

So, after slaving away to my family for the past eight years we're finally moving up, we just bought the facility we've been working in all these years. My name was put on the license last month but tomorrow will be my last paycheck, and on Tuesday, January 1st, I change my business cards from "Administrator" to "Owner," and that's a pretty cool way to begin my Age. This first month will be all about getting my "owners balance," but being an Aquarius, I'm a system builder and already have it all in my head. I just need to a few weeks to work out the variables.

Work and School aside, I still have a lot going on. I'm presenting my work on Introspective Divination at the Conference on Current Pagan Studies this year. And will be presenting at Pantheacon this year for the first time. I co-founded the National Pagan Correctional Chaplains Association and this will be our first annual meeting. Our own Mill Creek Seminary will begin teaching introductory classes and our Advenio (a year & a day) prerequisite course sometime in the spring, probably Beltane. And our correspondence courses and Community Portal Website are already under construction.

 Exciting times!

So with all of that, and the fact that I'm supposed to be writing for Witches & Pagans online, I'm not going to be doing much at all here. A few years ago I took a break from this blogging thing to write a book and commit my time to developing my craftwork. It took a little longer than expected, but met those goals and then some. I love this blog, and the whole experience, it's how I really got started in the community and how I got recruited to write for W&Ps. I've missed it lately, and I will continue to miss it, but its time for me to move on. This will probably be my last post on the RattleBone. I say probably, because never say never, but don't hold your breath haha.

I plan to post a few press releases here, but for the most part if you're interested in reading my writing you can check me out over at Witches & Pagans paganSquare or friend me of Facebook, or Like our Mill Creek Seminary Page! Keep in touch, remember to tip your waitress, so long and thanks for all the fish.

Thank you Lord and Lady for the Age of Aquarius, Blessed Be.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

reCircling the Wagons

Every time I finish a blog post there is a certain sense of satisfaction. Sometimes that satisfaction comes too soon, and I later look back to see the horrible mistakes in grammar and spelling I have made. But last night I walked away from the keyboard with the same troubling feeling I had sat down with.

I ended my evening adoration with a humble request for introspective clarity and self understanding. And I awoke this morning with my prayers answered. What bothered me about Teo's post was his shame. His feelings and his perspective, as enlighten as they are, are his, not mine. And with that came the realization that I disagreed with someone whom I admire and respect. And that was what troubled me.

We can look at the context and circumstances of the situation and easily find fault with some aspect of the event, however the core issue seems to be about the circle creating an Inclusive/Exclusive boundary between those within the circle and those without. Last night I wrote that really wasn't the purpose of casting circles, but a byproduct, a result. But I also said that the sad truth is that the us and them already existed, and despite the best intentions they always will, with or without a circle being cast.

When I say "we" in the following statements I mean specifically those of our particular Tradition. We, are one of the most inclusive faith communities in the world. We openly invite and accept anyone and everyone to join us in our celebrations. We don't do this to recruit, proselytize or save anyone. We do it because at the core of our fundamental theology is the precept of Tela, interconnectedness.

You don't even have to be a Wiccan, Druid or even Pagan at all to be, and made to feel, welcome in our circles. Therefore I do not feel shame before those who choose not to do so. I had never even occurred to me until I read Teo's post. I feel that despite the grand dream unity in diversity, there are us's and them's. Those line exist in all social circles and no amount of accommodation will ever change that.

And most surprising of all my feelings is that we should not have to try and accommodate everyone. It's a virtuous dream, but an impossible task. Moreover, perhaps an impracticable one. We can be over accommodating to a fault. My Coven and our Traditions has an established liturgy, for our rituals, holidays, and rites of passage (that's why we call it a tradition). But if we would have made changes every time someone showed up and wanted to tweak things to meet their own personal, individual needs at that particular time, we would not remotely resemble our original form. We cannot make everyone happy within our Pagan community, let alone the onlookers, and I don't feel it's our responsibility to try.

We are sorry if our spiritual or liturgical practices are not to your liking, but we aren't changing our Tradition to suit your needs.We have a right to our boundaries.Without them we loose our ways, our Traditions and ourselves. As I mentioned in the previous post, my circles have a special meaning to them, there is a sense of comfort and security within my ritual space, like my Grandmother's arms, yes, it is my church. And I will never be ashamed of that, and I will never water it down in an attempt to appease the masses. I have my boundaries and some boundaries are healthy.

I think in the end, not casting a circle would change things for us, but not for them.

Wow, that felt good. I feel so much better now, thanks for reading my rant. But in closing I would like to reaffirm my closing statement form last nights post, I still believe Teo's post shoved a big mirror in the face of Pagan liturgy today and called into question one of our fundamental religious practices. I still think that requires some bravery, and I still applaud him for doing so.  He has caused us to reevaluate our most basic beliefs and practices, and we should consider that a public service.

After reevaluating my beliefs and practices, analyzing my feelings and expressing them, I leave my keyboard with that sense of satisfaction I was looking for. Thanks for giving me something worth thinking about Teo.

Thank you Lord & Lady for the Safe Circles, Blessed Be.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

R is for the Voice of Russia

Any time a member of the Pagan community is contacted by the Media there is a potential for problematic public relations issues, because by default, like it or not, when you speak as a Pagan you end up speaking for all of us.

Not by design, but by result.

Because of that fact, many of us are more than a bit suspicious and hesitant to speak to the media. Jason has written on the topic numerous times in the past and recently wrote an excellent article about how we [Pagan organizations] should best respond to good or bad news.

We have seen and read some real hatchet jobs by media doing an expose on the local Witches a week before Halloween, but having been in the local papers more than a few times, I have never been misused or misrepresented. This does not however, ease my suspicions when someone new comes along wanting to do an interview.

Needless to say I was a bit surprised when I received an email from a reporter for the Voice of Russia, who was interested in writing a piece including Witch-Doctor-Me. We had a great telephone conversation, I started out asking what the purpose, interest and intention of the article was and in listening to her talk I quickly got the feeling she was coming from a place of good intentions.

Her article was published online today, you can read it here.

Thank you Lord & Lady for all the Positive Press, Blessed Be.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Q is for Querent

For as long as we have occupied this planet with cognitive thought we have looked up at the sky and asked why. Why are we here? Where did we come from? And where are we going after this?

And those are great questions, but unfortunately the answers are oath-bound secrets. *Wink-wink*

That's what The Fool card always reminds me of, the way he tilts back his head, casting his gaze upwards without concern for what lies at his feet. That's why I keep a framed Fool on the wall in my home, to remind me that I am, we all are, Fools...

One of my favorite books, The Way of the Peaceful Warrior, taught me to embrace The Fool in myself at a very young age. In the book, the Teacher questions the student and the conversation goes loosely, something like this...

Q: Where are you?
A: Here.
Q: Where is here?
A: Berkley.
Q:Where is Berkley?
A: In California.
Q: Where is California?
A: In the United States.
Q: Where are the United States?
A: On a continent in the western hemisphere of earth.
Q: And where is earth?
A: In our solar system.
Q: And where is our solar system?
A: In our galaxy.
Q: And where is our galaxy? 
A: Umm... I don't know...
Q: Then you don't actually know where you are do you? Admit it, you're lost. Just a fool.

I have always believed that all religions are just the most popular "Best Guesses," and that these best guesses are mostly about confidence and control. But the brutal trust is we just don't know for sure. Well I do, but most people don't believe me. *Wink-wink*

Being the Querent is a good thing, asking questions is always good, but asking the right questions is fundamental, and there is a difference. I submit that it's not so much about why, where and what's next, as it is about the here and now. Don't waste too much of your precious time here, looking up and asking the great unknowable about the great unknowables. Just be a The Fool and enjoy yourself as much as you can while your here.

Thank you Lord & Lady for getting me lost.

Blessed Be.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

P is for Pamela Coleman Smith

As I have mentioned several times in the past, this blog was originally a divination project for my second degree work. When I originally became seriously interested in studying the Tarot I took my time, researched and shopped for different decks before settling on the Rider deck, or rather the Rider-Watie-Smith deck.

As a Freemason I have long been a fan of A.E. Waite's writings on The Rosy Cross, Golden Dawn, and his Encyclopedia of Freemasonry was one of the first books I ever owned on the subject. Perhaps what I loved most was his use of Roman liturgical elements in his ritual work, something else we have in common. 

 I have long been a collector of Masonic Tracing Boards, and I suppose that was the origin of my interest in the Tarot. Since Waite was a Mason I assumed there would be an element of the old Tracing Boards to be found in his Tarot designs. But that wasn't the only reason I chose the Rider deck, I simply, instantly and totally fell in love with the artwork.

This last Father's day I made out like a bandit, I always do. Among the gifts my wife had bought me the Pamela Colman Smith Commemorative Box Set, and it's pretty awesome. It includes a Centennial Edition of the Deck, a copy of Waite's Pictorial Key to the Tarot, three frameable prints by Pamela that are not used in the Tarot but really look like they should have been, and a copy of The Life & Time of Pamela Colman Smith by Stuart R. Kaplan. I is a happy daddy.

Long time readers know I don't go by the book when it comes to the Tarot, or much else for the matter. When I first started this project, I threw out the traditional meanings and scryed the cards for my own interpretations. In doing so, I obviously depended totally on the visual elements, the images, the artwork itself. I have long wondered if the cards were all the sole product of Waite's design or if Pamela was given any leeway in the creative process.

In reading the biographic text of the set I came to learn that she was. In fact it seems as though Waite's soul concern was the design of the Major Arcana, leaving the Minor Pip cards to Pamela. As someone who has been successfully utilizing the Tarot and therefore her artwork, in an Introspective Divination Process, to treat Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, this is really a pretty big deal when you stop and think about it.

And as a side note; on several of the cards in the deck such as the 2 of Pentacle, Swords and Cups, there is a horizontal line which divides the foreground from the background. I have always associated this with the Stage and the backdrop, and in reading the biographical text, I was correct. Pamela had a life long love of acting and of the stage, an element she deliberately employed in her artwork. It's nice to get confirmation after all these years.

I specifically choose Pamela for this P post because I have always felt Pamela and her artwork has always been a bit unappreciated and unrecognized. But have benefited so much from it personally, I felt it was high time we started acknowledging her significant contribution to probably the most popular deck in the most popular form of divination ever.

Thank you Lord & Lady, for the courage to throw away the book, and figure myself out.

Blessed Be.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

P is for Prima Nupta

You know that "Love at First Sight" thing? Yeah it's real. I met her the day I drove into town and we have been together ever since. My mother made me promise not to marry until I had spent a year and a day with her, she said that we always put our best foot forward and hide our faults, issues and differences for as long as we can, sometimes this is weeks, months and sometimes more. She said hiding your personality is like holding your breath and we can't do that for too long. So give it time, spend all four seasons with a her and you will know all four sides of her. And I did.

We didn't want too wait, not one day more than we needed to. But a promise is a promise, and a promise to your mom is a million times more. She respected that so much, and that was another green light to me. So we were Handfasted on the anniversary of the day we met, almost on the hour.

We had been practicing together, alone, for some time and had our own way of doing things. We had written it ourselves, every word. I seemed to mean so much more to us that way. I began working on some additional pieces and elements to add to our usual ritual. We opened our home and invited the whole community to our Handfasting. It was the first time we had ever performed our ritual publicly, not only it was a ritual expression of our beliefs but also of our love. And it was beautiful.

Afterward people remarked on how much they had enjoyed the ritual and asked where we had learned it. They seemed so surprised when we told them it was our own. They suggested that we "do it again," and we explained that that's how we always do it, except without the Handfasting in the middle. They said that we should do a full moon ritual that way, and again we said, "We do." The response changed everything...

"Can we come?"

From that first Handfasting ritual a Coven grew. From that Coven, a Tradition. And from that Tradition, a church, a prison ministry and now a Seminary. Prima Nupta means the "First Marriage," and is in reference to our Handfasting ritual, the first ritual, the marriage that gave birth to the Witches of Mill Creek. This past July 19th we celebrated the 6th year anniversary of our Marriage and much, much more.

Thank you Lord & Lady for our own divine union, BB.

Monday, July 30, 2012

O is for Obrussa

In the last few years there has been a very large shift from the Coven model to the Congregational model. I think there are many reasons for that, in my humble opinion the two biggest reasons are:

1. There is a lack of adequately trained, experienced or effective Coven leaders. Please note that I'm not saying there is a lack of Coven leaders, I'm saying there is a lack of adequately trained, experienced or effective Coven leaders. For this reason the Congregational model is the most logical and efficient means for a diverse Pagan community to function.

2. People are lazy. They don't want to make a commitment, they just want to show up when they feel like being spiritual and participate in a ritual. Most want to be spoon fed  their monthly dose of magic the way they were in mainstream churches. Sorry for the rant, but sadly, its true.

Please note there are LOTS of other reasons! Like the minefield of social dynamics or all the damn Trolls. But to me, these are the top two.

Our Tradition is only six years new, it is completely original and unique. Yet there is an abundance of actual substance. We are not so much interested in the Mystique of the Craft as we are in the substance, effectiveness and benefits.That requires time, effort and a commitment some people are not interested in or willing to make. Not to us, but to themselves. And if they are not willing to make a commitment to themselves, should we be expected to make a commitment to them?


When someone initiates into our Tradition we invest ourselves 100% into the performance of that initiation ceremony. We are rehearsed and well practiced. We don't read from a script, we known our rituals verbatim. We make a gesture of good faith and welcome the person with open arms of love and trust, and then we hand them their first Obrussa. It's "homework," I can probably best describe as Catechism, but not so much the Catholic kind. It's more akin to the Catch-e-cisms of Freemasonry and other esoteric orders.

Here is the a great example I found  in "Building Hiram" by Dr. John S. Nagy in 2009. His series should be required reading for Blue Lodge Masons.

I: What is “Catechism?”

R: A word whose first recorded use was in 1502, rooted in French by way of Latin and originating in Late Greek with the following meaning: to teach by word of mouth.

I: What is its use?

R: It is primarily oral instruction.

I: What else?

R: It is a book or manual of basic instruction giving a brief summary of the basic principles of a subject, usually by means of rote, formulaic statement or repetition in question and answer form.

I: What’s more?

R: A close questioning or examination, as of a political figure, student or a person wishing to show their proficiency of a topic or subject.

I: What’s further?

R: A body of work expressing fundamental principles or beliefs, especially when accepted uncritically.

I: How may it be so presented?

R: As a series of searching Inquiries and Responses on any targeted subject of interest.

I: What is its purpose?

R: To share Light with those so interested.

So after a first degree initiation the new initiate is given part one, of thirteen, and is explained in great detail the meaning and purposes the the Obrussa. We explain that they are to work at their own pace, they we will not pressure or pursue the matter any further and to let us know when they are ready to proceed.

And then we wait.

The Obrussa challenges different people in different ways. Some people have difficulty speaking to a group, or in a group. Some people are nervous about an oral examination, from memory. And some people just want to "drive through" instant gratification without any sort of effort. You may be surprised by how many people are not suitable for the work, simply because it requires them to study learn and remember something that there is no app for.

The Obrussa is an obstacle course, either you find a way to navigate through the things you find difficult or, you do not. Either way, you learn something about yourself, and that's just step one.

Thank you Lord & Lady for all those who made it to the other side, Blessed Be.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

O is for Occupy Funerals

A few months ago I saw a Facebook meme that quoted the Dalai Lama, it said "My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness." That always resonated with me, simple yet fundamental. I saved the picture.

A few days ago I saw this meme pictured on Facebook, and posted a comment about serving in the military, being Wiccan and having (loving) my gay children should get me pretty high on the list. I saved the picture.

Soon after someone linked me a Westboro Baptist Church Press Release, announcing their plans to picket the funeral of PFC. Alejandro J. Pardo. I saved the picture.

Bright and early this morning my wife and I headed out to Porterville (30 miles south). Like everyone else on the planet we've been hearing about these people for years now, and have heard stories about communities assembling to obstruct their "Freedom of Speech." It's a frustrating irony that Soldiers like PFC Pardo enlisted and died "to support and defend the constitution of the United States, from all enemies, foreign and domestic..." only to have people like this abuse it. I spoke today about how it was a Perversion of his Sacrifice, and feel the deep rumble stirring within me as I write these words.

But we were not alone. People came from everywhere. Veterans groups like the Patriot Guard Riders came from Bakersfield, Lancaster and further. As soon as we got there I met up with friends from one of my old Veteran Motorcycle Clubs and got an idea of how many Bikers were coming. Not just bikers, but people from all walks of life showed up to show their support. The Veterans occupied the parking lot while the crowd of civilian supporters grew larger every time I looked back.

My grandmother forwarded an email while we were there waiting, she always send the best jokes. It was a list of the things she has learned in her long life. #8 was that no matter how good you are or no matter what you do, some people are just assholes anyways. Above all, I have the least tolerance for "mean people" who know they're being mean and do for the spite of meanness. And these people are the epitome of meanness.

But I realized, in a Silver Lining kind of way, those Westboro Baptist Douchebags serve a purpose, despite themselves.  I've written in the past about our traditions own unique system of divination, Auspex. Many cultures have an Insolenter (Latin: contrary to custom) in some way shape of form. I personally am most familiar with them in the Native traditions as Sacred Clowns, like the Heyoka, of the Booger Dancers and according to a little Red Bird the Kutani were pretty big on the Contrary Customs.

The Insolentor corrupts and violates what we hold most sacred, they do this to Incite a Riot within our value system, to remind us of what is important to us and inspire the true emotions of  "when you pry it from my cold dead hands." And for that, and that alone, I thank them. Especially on days like today, when they were able to provide such a community service without even showing up. Grin.

Thank you Lord & Lady for all the Civilians Waving Flags, I saved the picture.

 Blessed Be.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Modern Witch Magazine

In the November of 2010 I released my self published book Carcer Via: An Inmates' Guide to the Craft. And although I was "self-published" I received a generous forward from Raymond Buckland, which more than counteracted the stigma associated with self-publishing.

Then I last month I mentioned the new Realm of Opportunities that had presented themselves. But didn't name any names. The reason being that as a rule of thumb I don't write about what I'm going to do, I write about what I've done. So Now that it's done I am happy to announce mt first (non-self) published article in the latest edition of Modern Witch Magazine!

Its the Second edition of this new cool awesome magazine! It's not your usual publication either, the layout, imagery and graphics are simply amazing. In short, its a collectors item! This second edition is focused on Rites of Passage and contains some really great article on the topic of initiation, and self-dedication in modern Witchcraft. There has always been this connotation that older is better, but when it comes to the Modern Witch, that is not the case!

Thank you Lord, Lady & Devin Hunter for the opportunity. Blessed Be.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

N is for NPCCA

 I'm not re-writing the whole thing out again, so just click the picture linked to the article at Witches & Pagans. When you're done reading me, I invite you to browse around PaganSquare, there are some really great articles in over there! Thank you Lord & Lady for Links, Blessed Be. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

N is for No More Tears

For as long as I have known her my wife has had the most extraordinary fortune. In recent years she has won tickets to see Linkin Park, then separately won the backstage meet and greet with the band, tickets to System of the Down, Tickets to Incubus with another meet and greet, ticket to Van's Warp Tour and a meet and greet with Rise Against.

Now these are just the more notable, or Fortuna Major events. It is also unusually common for her to win more Fortuna Minor events like at least one raffle prize at every Two Wheel Tuesday event we attend (motorcycle party).

Last week a friend of ours told us about how his Temple is running a fireworks booth to raise money, so come spend money there, and being good friends we did. Then he called a few days later to let us know my wife had also won the booth raffle (which he had no influence over) and that he would bring the prize by the house himself. Pictured above, my wife holds the small package she bought, the huge box she won and a smile that gives me inspiration and purpose.

For anyone who doesn't already know, I am a combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. I originally started this blog as a journal for my Introspective Divination project. In the beginning the vast majority of posts were about what I saw in the cards, which was always about Iraq. If you click the Pagan Veteran tab you can read some of my posts.

 In this post about the Strength card I wrote about my PTSD issues with the 4th of July. I wrote that back in 2009, but what I didn't mention back then, was when I first saw and heard fireworks on my first 4th of July after returning home from Iraq, I pissed myself.

It has taken a lot of work, especially by my wife, to get to where I am today. In 2009 I was able to be outside, seeing and watching fireworks. But last night I led the local celebration. We set up chairs, dropped the tailgate and set up our pyrotechnic arsenal. I laid out a few ground rules regarding safely and strategy, and started out with the small stuff.  After the first Roman Candle the neighbors began to set up there chairs, I started handing our sparklers to the neighborhood kids, and next thing you know, we had a "Neighborhood Watch."

At one point my neighbor across the way crossed over with a box of fireworks and asked if I was the "guy in charge," but I corrected him by loudly saying "No, I'm just the idiot with the lighter." Everyone enjoyed that one.

Just as we were prepping the fuses for our little grand finally, the city fireworks started up and there was a nice transition from our stuff in the street to the lights in the sky. My daughter discreetly told me that she was proud of me and later that night she posted on her Facebook status about how it was her Families First Real 4th of July, and how much she loved it.


Thank you Lord & Lady for last night. Blessed Be.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

M is for Merlinian Geomancy

Yeah, not sure about the name yet. People always seem to roll their eyes at the Merlin thing. Which I actually think is kinda funny because no one seems to bat an eye at Raven-Moon-River-Hawk-Summer-Rain-Wolf-Feather, who's family has passed down the sacred-secret-squirrel-scrolls from general to general for over five-hundred-years. So why does it seem that these ridiculous pseudo-spiritual-native-knockoffs are more socially acceptable?

While I on the other hand, was born but a simple second generation country dweller, and Merlin is actually my real given middle name. I'm proudly named after my a great man, my Grandfather, Elvie Merlin Maples (26 Saturday). But I get so much crap for it. People have issues. Sigh. This concludes my test the emergency rant system.

So, I'm calling it Merlinian Geomancy for now. And it's not your Grandpas Renaissance Geomancy, It's like the Love Boat, exciting and neeewwwwww.... come aboarrrrd....we're expecting youuuuuuuu.... sorry. Anyways a few weeks ago I wrote this article about my Geomancy and the Ghost Hand technique, Mano Caligo. I love this technique for many reasons, but mostly because it fits well into my Cosmology, and more importantly, I actually get very good results.  But a funny thing happened a few months ago. While channeling the Ghost hand I plotted out two extra lines *by accident* then it happened again, and again.

The first time or two I dismissed it, but then after it reoccurred I tried to figure out what symbol it could be, and that's when I realized it was actually three in one. So when I went back to look at the first ones, they turned out to be applicable and accurate. Sooooooo I started playing with it and am really coming up with some cool shit. *I'd like to note for the record that I don't actually use profanity, like "shit" very often, on my blog, so that should be an indication of how jazzed I am. But wait there's more...if you order now, I'll include...sorry.

The three figures are deeply interconnected thus mathematically limiting the possible binary patterns which I am calling Ternions. The one pictured above is composed of Fortuna Major (greater fortune) on the top, Foruna Minor (lesser fortune) on the bottom, and they are unified by Conjuctio (conjunction, union) in the center. The three columns are obviously the primary modalities of Anima Mundi, and the three layered/interconnected figures are the Higher, Middle and Lower selves.

Chew on that for a while, then come back later and look at the *shadow* of the figures, meaning the balancing binary contrast (look at the figures the white dots make).

 I'm using this Ternion I call "Fortuna Magna" as a financial talisman, and speaking of financials, you have got to buy a copy of Jason Miller's latest book Financial Sorcery! He's a Gentleman, a scholar, and on hell of a talented Sorcerer!

That's all I got for now peeps, I'll be here all week, you've been a great audience, remember to tip your waitress, goodnite!

*the Witch Doctor has left the building*

Thank you Lord & Lady for the Magic Morse Code, Blessed Be!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

M is for Mid-Summer Melon

I first heard the term "Traditional Observance" was in the Masonic community. It referred to a revival of very old and under emphasized elements of Freemasonry, of which I am a more than ardent supporter.

The same topic has repeatedly come up in conversation and discussion over the last few years within my Coven and community.The main difference in being historical context, to which I refer to the 11th Principle of Wiccan Belief.

11. As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present , and our future.

There are two primary elements concerning our Veritas Wiccan Version of Traditional Observance, time and place. Nowadays we tend to meet on the weekends to celebrate Esbats and Sabbats. We all have jobs and responsibilities that take an understandable priority over the work week. This past Mid-Summer took place on a Wednesday, so most Pagans gathered to celebrate on the weekend before or weekend after. This timing has become normal and commonplace. But what did you do ON the Sabbat? Did you just wait for the community or group observance? Did you do anything on your own on the actual Solstice?

When you did celebrate the observance, where were you? Inside or out? Another evolution taking place seems to be that the majority of events are happening inside. a few weeks ago on Facebook there was a question posted, asking what people had planed for Mid-Summer. And everyone who answered was doing something indoors. I can understand the need for privacy, and in certain areas heating or air conditioning. But Paganism is general is widely thought of as a Nature-Based spiritual practice. So what's happening to all the nature? My aim is not to challenge your beliefs, but your practices. Unplug, go outside, take off your shoes n' socks, suffer in the heat or cold for a few moments and get your feet dirty!

This past weekend we managed to accomplish one of the two traditional observances. Members of our Mill Creek Community met up at Slick Rock Recreation Area on Lake Kaweah for a nice afternoon of sunshine, food and fun. We each took a turn giving thanks for the moment, blessing the Mid Summer Melon and passing it on around the circle. The picture above, taken by my daughter, is the actual Mid-Summer Melon Eclipse.

I had a great day, we got wet, we got muddy and we got watermelon everywhere, and that's how church should be.

Thank you Lord & Lady for all the Towels, Blessed Be!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

L is for Locavore

Otherwise titled "The Locavore, another card from the Joe Tarot." A Locavore is someone who eats from locally produced food sources. I have always been a locavore by nature, and by nurture. I have written quite often about the Genius Loci, and written before about this spear and this river. They are connected by my world view and my spirituality.

I firmly believe that's the way it's suppose to be. The old Pagans practiced an agriculturally based spirituality. Whereas nowadays its considered an earth based spirituality. I don't mean to be spitting hairs, but there is a difference.

The fact that someone had to make up the word "Locavore" to specifically identify people who eat food grown in their own communities shows how much things have changed. And with that, so has our magic. But fear not! I'm bringing sexy back, and you can read more about Locavore magic here in my latest post for Witches & Pagans Magazine.

Thank you Lord & Lady for all the community spirits! Blessed Be

Friday, June 8, 2012

L is for Scala

Sorry; but I can never resist the temptation of using a Non Sequitur type title because the type of people who enjoy my style of writing cannot resist the temptation of finding out why I used one. L is actually for Ladder, as in "Witch's Ladder." But as always in our tradition, we like to (a) be unique (b) do our own original work and (c) be able to tie it all into a nice bow in the end, so here goes.

"Scala" is Latin (of course) for ladder, and we use the word to identify a Mill Creek Witches Ladder. For those who may not know much about the subject you can always count on Wikipedia to give you the gist of it here, which includes a cool picture. I have stolen the rope from that picture and modified it in order to clearly illustrate my own Scala because I'm not really comfortable posting pictures of it on the Internet. But I will tell you all about it!

First, it measures from my head to my heel. It's actually a bit longer than that, but there are knots to indicate the limits of my length. The excess at top end was braided into a hanging loop. The rope is three-strand braid of old manila rope, which seems to work the best, as well as being aesthetically pleasing. The rope is emblematic of a telluric current, each of the three strands represent the three vertical columns or modalities of geomantic figures.

Their are six antique keys affixed along the Scala, each one corresponds to a particular step on the Cosmology Ladder of our God Map. And the five main feathers mark the Five Labors of our Tradition. These two elements align very nicely to display a clear model of theology. For example, the observation feather falls between A. Mundi and G. Loci, which is where I center nearly all of my observances. Again, the feather of divination falls between G. Loci and L. Domestici which is where the majority of my divination is focused.

The space between these feathers and keys is filled with all manner of spellcraft fetishes, prayer ties, amulets, medicine bundles and more. I have even braided in bristles from the Besom my Mom bought me in Salem. Just beneath the observation feather I attached my old Pace Count Beads, I used them to pass the land navigation course when I was is PDLC (primary leadership development course aka sergeant school). Now I use the them to keep track of the days as we go through the moon phases, i.e. observation.

Thank you Lord & Lady for the Inclination. Blessed Be

Monday, June 4, 2012

Another Feather in My Cap

I fell hopelessly in love with Geomancy the moment I saw her across a crowded Sushi Bar with Ceremonial Magicians. I have rarely written about her or utilized the symbol set very much here at the RattleBone for a variety of reasons. So I thought I would throw myself completely out the window of my comfort zone and commit My First Blog Post for Witches and Pagans Magazine to the topic and my love for Mano Caligo. Check me out over there and leave me some love in the comments.

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Realm of Opportunity

An old friend once accused me of performing magic and changing the weather. When he brought up the topic I explained that my craftwork was not an attempt to change the weather, rather I had submitted a request that the weather be changed. While I really don't think I could possibly put a dent in the weather, I strongly believe that my messages are received. After all the clouds did break, and the Sun did bless our Pagan Pride Day for the rest of the day.

That wasn't the first time I've submitted a request that was received and approved. And it hasn't been the last. I've been tinkering with my second book on and off for a while now. I realize it's going to be more than a year or two before its going to be even close to ready. And it would really help to have a bit more on my writers resume before I start looking at big time publisher. So I started looking for other writing projects to get my name out, and I cast a request for opportunity. 

Not long after that I received a message from a friend asking if I was interested in submitting a small piece on a certain topic to be included in that friends next book (coming soon). Next I was offered an opportunity to do a book review for Witches & Pagans Magazine (coming soon), and have submitted another piece to another Magazine with hope and confidence that it will get picked up (coming soon?). And then this week I was invited to join the contributors list at Witches and Pagans Magazine, and today it was official. I am now a Blogger for W&P new website!

I am planning to continue my participation in the Pagan Blog Project and make my weekly alphabetical posts. I suspect that may have contributed  to my being picked up in the first place. I will be posting over at W&P on regular weekly basis. The New Website is really nice, so come check me out and stick around, there are a lot of really great writers over there, so I'm definitely gonna need to step up my game.

Thank you Lord & Lady for listening to me. Blessed Be.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

K is for Keeping Silent

My last post was about an achievement in our prison ministry, and I received a good n' provocative question regarding my experiences serving as a Minority Faith Prison Chaplain.
Anonymous Anonymous said...
"The link to corcoran prison lists some infamous inmates. Have you ever worked with any of the more noteworthy inmates or celebrities?"

This is a really good question because it gives me the means and opportunity to jump up on my soapbox and shout at the top of my lungs "NO COMMENT!" Why? Because as a professional (volunteer) chaplain I consider it an ethics violation to say yes (if I had) and /or identify anyone, famous or not.

It's funny, just the other day I read somewhere online about some self proclaimed spiritual guidance counselor to the stars, who's made some public claims and dropped some big names. I about chewed my own neck off. I'm normally not one for personal attacks, especially public ones, but what a hack!

To publicly advertize that you're a personal spiritual counselor for [insert insanely famous celebrity name here] for self promotion and validation is pathetic. I suspect serious embellishment, and smell something else.Okay, there, I feel better. Had to vent, and in my defense, I don't do that often if ever. My point being that there are some important legalities such as privileged communication and confidentiality. But moreover there is something else called respect; respect for your client, respect for your craft and the essential self-respect.

I do not in any way mean to exaggerate my role, but prison chaplaincy is not for the faint of heart, and Corcoran State Prison is a high security correctional facility with a significant reputation, so there's not really much room for exaggeration, but this is the big leagues and we take it pretty seriously. I would argue that all those who would shoulder the title and responsibility of Pagan clergy respect their clientele, preserve their privacy, their anonymity and their trust. Because one of  the most powerful and profound things we can do for some people is not talk about them.

Thank you Lord & Lady for my Trap-Jaw. Blessed Be!

PS and for those who were interested in hearing the rest of the Fijian Kava story, I was reminded that I wrote about it back in 2008, you can check it out here.BB

Monday, May 28, 2012

A Good Dry Run & Proof It Can Be Done

I first began this Blog over four years ago as some sort of Journal for my Joe Tarot project. But I spent a lot of time writing about my experiences as a volunteer chaplain for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR).

Over the years I have written about Carcer Via Prison Ministry, My Four Swords, another Four Swords, Milestones and Making Milestones and the Many Fruits of My Labors.

But I am both happy and proud to announce the this weekend we finally made our first trip to Corcoran State Prison. We were first contacted late last year and received our Brown Cards this past January. Since then we have been waiting for the administration to approve the our required documentation. And it only took them six months

When I say "our required documentation" I mean the documentation that we as volunteer chaplains require them as a correctional institution to sign. Primarily our Faith Kit Memorandum, which itemizes our required liturgical artifacts. We as clergy have the same rights and benefits as clergy of any other faith. They are allowed to bring in their required religious objects for their services and so are we. But we're not unrealistic about it, its not like we're trying to take an Athame, Boline or other bladed objects inside. Our list of items is minimal and has been approved by other institutions.

During the past six months we have been discussing the possible reasons for the delay. Chaplains from the prison would call every few weeks to set up and schedule our services, we would remind them that we were still waiting on the approval of our Memo, and they would say they would look into it and get right back to us. We must have had that same conversation at least six or seven times and we can only speculate why.

But Temperance and Fortitude have finally paid off. They finally approved our Memo and this past Saturday we provided Pagan interfaith services on two separate yards. The day went off without a hitch. We arrived an hour early in anticipation of the usual complications that usually come with the first visit to a new prison. We have come to call the first one "The Dry Run" because we never expect a dry run to flow fluidly. But flow it did, the paperwork was done and waiting for us when we arrived, our security clarance and brown cards were processed and filed, right when and where they were supposed to be.

On the yard custody staff was friendly and professional. We had absolutely no problems  getting inmates released for service and when the service ran slightly over the scheduled time the correctional staff were patient and respectful. Since it was the first visit, allowances were made. But it wasn't just our first visit, it was the first time Wiccan services have ever been performed by Wiccan clergy at Corcoran State prison. This is a bitter sweet fact as it is frustratingly sad that it took this long for it to happen, much like it took six months to sign our paper. But it did finally happen, it's another small step forward in the fight for religious equality and pluralism, and for that we are both very honored and proud to say once again that we are Proof that it can be done.

Thank you Lord & Lady for Not-So-Dry-Runs. Blessed Be.

Friday, May 25, 2012

K is for Kava

K is for Kava, or rather KK is for Kava Kava. The drink so nice you need to say it twice. Egypt is not normally the country that would come to mind when hearing Kava mentioned, but it is a place of fine memories for me. My first real world deployment while serving with the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) was to the Sinai Peninsula. We were part of the Multinational Force & Observers. The MFO is a joined task force composed of twelve military units from twelve different countries.

We were there for the Millennium, and the Big Memo! It's all old news nowadays, but it was a pretty big deal at the time. I worked in the TOC (Tactical Operations Center) which is kinda like in the movies when the Generals are in that big control room with all the computers, maps and communications equipment, except in reality it's not actually anything like that at all. It was a very small room only big enough to fit about four at a time, there was a Microwave radio, an antique short wave (that only I knew how to use because of a non related hobby) and a few old rotary phones, one of which was red, and only received incoming calls from [this designation has been intentionally left blank]. What really sucked was having to put up and take down all twelve of those damn flags Not shown in the picture!

We were stationed in South Camp which is nestled between Sharm el-Sheikh and Naama Bay. Which is not really a bad place to be as both of those are primarily tourist traps for divers. South Sinai has a cool coastal reef, which makes for very cool diving. I spent every free moment of time snorkeling along that reef and saw some amazing fish, a few reef sharks, came face to face with a Lion fish which I didn't know could have killed or seriously injured me, saw a HUGE Moray eel, and had a close encounter with a Barracuda, and I'm not ashamed to say I peed a little when it made eye contact with me.

But I wasn't alone. After the Barracuda made me realize how small, slow and tasty I was, I headed to shore to smoke a cigar (Cuban!) and I was followed out of the water by about half the the Fijian Army contingent, who also need to calm there nerves. We sat and smoked, talked about the big fish with the big teeth, then the conversation moved in to tattoos which was inevitable as we all had about twenty different tats each. One thing led to another, and the next thing I knew I got invited to their party. That's when I had my first drink of Kava.

I had to admit that the obviously big cheesy grins on those really big huge guys made me a little nervous, but I didn't pee, I swear. The roots were mashed in a giant mortar and pestle that was made in a welding shop. The first drink is always the worst, but it kinda numbs your mouth, tongue and throat a bit, which really makes communication fun and entertaining for everyone! The guys were pounding them out (literally) and I was knockin'em back. I still don't know how many I had after the first five or six glasses, or how I got back to my hooch that night. But I do remember them teaching me this really cool tribal dance where we sit on the ground in a line and play the drums on the back of the guy in front of you. Which is really fun, after a few cups of Kava.

It was a really cool/weird kind of euphoric body drunk, but my mind was still crystal clear. I remember having so much trouble trying to turn on a light switch. It was like holding a 2x4 between your neck and shoulder like the original hands free phone pose, try to turn on a light switch that sometime! Whats most remarkable was the clarity of what I DO remember. Those deep, profound, spiritual and philosophical talks that we all have when we're drunk, yeah not only did they actually make sense, I still remember them to this day. Perhaps that's what my second K post will be, a Part Two, and I pull a Paul Harvey, and tell..............the rest of the story.

Thank you Lord & Lady for Diplomatic Relations. Blessed Be.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

J is for Junxit

J is for Junxit, which is Latin for Unity. If you Google it, it will come up in numerous hits regarding Latin mottos, most notably: virtus junxit mors non separabit (whom virtue unites, death shall not separate). 

But as I've said before, we commit blasphemous acts in our Tradition such as giving new meaning to old words. But to be fair, these terms with their new assigned correspondences are only used within the Tradition. And in truth the terms keep their original generalized meaning, we have just attached a very specific context which is relative to our Tradition. 

While junxit continues to mean unity, we use it to infer a very specific kind of unity. The Judgement card is an excellent allegorical illustration of that unity: There are those who have heard the great trumpet sound and have been resurrected or awakened from a state of spiritual death or unconsciousness. They have risen from the caskets of dogmatic theology and they rejoice in their new ecstatic state.

Thank you Lord & Lady for the wake up call. Blessed Be.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

J is for Jousting

Recently I realized that I have lived an extraordinary life, so far,  in a relatively short time. A few days ago there was a discussion on Facebook about Lilith, and in one of my responses I shared the fact that I have actually been to the ruins of Babylon, climbed to the top of Mount Sinai, Swam in the Red sea and been to the Great Pyramids.

My parents said they have never been surprised by any of the things I have done as an adult because of what I did as a boy. Climbing to the absolute top of every tree I could find, cliff diving and the like, all of which my Mother strongly asserts were designed to gray her hair. But in my defense, I grew up in the back woods of California, with 500 acres of hills and forest for a backyard, what was I suppose to do?

One of the cool things back wood boys did for fun in those days was Jousting. We would steal acquire long white thin plastic tubing used for irrigation and such, and head up to the "Lane," which was a straight and wide open length of trail up in the back wood.

Most of us had dirt bikes, and we all left the yard wearing our helmets, but usually ditched them once we hit the trails. Jousting was the one time we always wore them. Of all the Full Contact Sports, Jousting is the most brazen. There is no where to hide. There is no way to avoid contact, accept not to play. There are factors of strategy, but in the end it simply boils down to two factors: How hard of a hit you can Give & How hard of a hit you can Take. It is a test of both mental and physical endurance, and I learned a lot about myself in those woods.

I still find myself Jousting now and then, but when I do it's not on a horse or my Harley.  No, nowadays I tend to go Tilting at Windmills. Not of purpose of course. Its not in my nature to be mean for the sake of meanness, but if provoked I can get pretty aggressive pretty quick. A lot of that is PTSD, I have been working on it for years now and I have made great improvements. The Tarot had a big hand in that, and so did this blog. I haven't benefited from reading nearly as much as I have benefited from writing.

But every once in a while I find a rare jewel of profound words. Recently I came upon a small treasure trove of wisdom. For several months now I have been following Buddhist Boot Camp on Facebook. Timber's daily posts have always been inspiring and have had a noticeable influence on my attitude and perspective. So I was happy to hear that he published an eBook which I strongly recommend here! I  found the chapter on Anger to be particularly insightful and has shed some light on my Windmills.

Thank you Lord & Lady for the Helmet. Blessed Be.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

I in for Inclusion

It never fails to amazing me when I shuffle through my Rider deck I always find a card to illustrate the topic of my post. Over the years I have appropriately use a single card for a variety of topics. As they say Context is King. Given that the general topic of this post is LGBT, I had no problem selecting the Ten of Cups based on the prominent rainbow and the happy traditional family, but on a whim I decided to make a slight alteration to the scene. I like to think of it as an advocacy poster for the LGBT Magical Community. 

A few weeks back I received an email inviting me to a gathering of community religious leaders to hear Dr. Caitlin Ryan speak on The Critical Role of Families in Reducing Risk & Promoting Well-Being for LGBT Children & Youth. Dr. Caitlin founded the Family Acceptance Project. The event was held at the Congregation B'Nai David (Jewish Temple). I was honestly surprised to be included on the list of invited religious leaders and don't exactly know how I got on the list at all.

When members of our Tradition act, perform or appear publicly as representatives of our Tradition, we have a dress code. So I attended in uniform. It is common to be mistaken for a Catholic priest, but while socializing around the refreshment counter someone asked if I was from the Armenian church. I said no, that I was from "Mill Creek" And the nice lady whom I have never met said, "oh you must be Chaplain Nichter, right?" Someone else said, "oh aren't you the Wiccan priest who does the prison ministry?" Shaking hands, I confirmed this, and another person told me that he thought it was really good that I was there. I still don't know any of these people, or how they know me, but I was happy to be known, and very happy to be included.

The talk Dr. Ryan gave was both academically impressive and emotionally persuasive. She spoke about (homo)sexuality and sexual identity in children. Not about when they came out as an adult, but about how they began to realize they were different both before puberty and when they first started having those special feelings. This usually takes place before the age of ten. She spoke categorically about how the families reacted, and then statistically about the relationship between family reactions and suicide rates. She spoke about the critical difference between acceptance and support. She spoke to conservative religious leaders about how to support without condoning or condemning. This was a big issue and a great discussion. It was a great speech from a great speaker and I was honored to be included.  Two of our four children are gay, and it was sad to hear that my wife and I fell into the smallest category of responses: complete acceptance and celebration.

I have always admired our Pagan community for being so inclusive to LGBT, it has always been such a normal presence at all our events and I am very proud of that. But seeing and hearing how adversarial so many people are, I realized how awesome we are as parents and how awesome we are as a Pagan community.

Thank you Lord & Lady for including so much diversity. Blessed Be.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I is for Infusion

The major portion of our second degree craftwork is called the Fuscina, which means trident or tri-tip, what we refer to as the "Third Fold."  It consists of thirteen grades, each grade in composed of a task (homework) and a project (more homework). One of those grades deals with infusions, and that's what we're working on today kids!

During the aforementioned Medicinal Plant Hike with the Good Doctor, I eagerly asked him where I could locate some Plantago Major. I have been on the lookout for Plantain ever since the day I moved here eight years ago this July. The reason being that I learned a valuable lesson about plantain back in my Army days. After considerable Conservative Evangelical Red Tape I was able to take my Pre-scheduled and Pre-approved leave in order to attend the annual Sun Dance. I hitched a ride with the Pipe Carrier I was squiring for at the time and lived out of my ruck sack and military issued field gear the whole time I was there.

It was during that amazing spiritual pilgrimage that I received the blessings of time, attention and wisdom from one of my greatest teachers. It was then that among other things, I was taught the medicines of the local plants, plantain being one of them. We were talking about my impending return to the Army and how my unit and lots of creepy crawly critters would be out in a month long Field Training Exercise waiting for me. It was then that I learned about the Magic of Plantain. It keeps the critters off. I mean, no chiggers, no ticks, no mosquitoes, and even the flies alter the trajectory to avoid you. I was the ONLY man in my unit to never suffer a single insect bite throughout the entire training exercise.

So needless to say I have made a habit of keeping my self well versed and well vested with my good friend Mr. P. Major whenever I relocate. But have yet to find it around here. Its like an Urban Legend every time the subject comes up, someone knows where some is, but can't seem to actually find any. So when I was face to face with the Good Doctor he turned me on to a local park where "it really thrives."

Thrives my ass. We spent half the day there and to no avail. But the trip was not a total loss, We found a large deposit of Wormwood, Jimson Weed (am I the only one who thinks the lilies in the Rider deck really look like Jimson Weed?) and Bitter Dock. Bitter Dock is said to be the next best thing, and we shall see. We left the Wormwood till the Mid-summer and harvested a nice large bushel of Bitter Dock (in perfect season). Brought it home, and Mama processed and jarred it. Tomorrow we'll get a nice bottle of 80% proof and My Wife will start her first Tincture! It takes six weeks so it should be ready in time for a summer test. I get to be the Guinea Pig.

Thank you Lord & Lady for Natures Little Pharmacies. Blessed Be.

H is for Herbalism

A while back I read an article online about Ten Things To Do to Get Ready to Join a Coven. Along those lines there are lots of subjects one could (should) study in order to improve the quality of their Craftwork. Subjects that don't actually have anything to do with Witchcraft.

Herbalism is one the the top five on my list. We all have or have read books on Witchcraft that tell you to use Lavender for love or Ginger for money, but what works for common acne? (witch-hazel) I first mentioned medical herbal Craftwork in this post back in 2008, and again in Carcer Via where I share the Magical and Medicinal relationship of Bitter Dock and Stinging Nettle.

I learned that lesson while living in Portland, OR. and serving in Americorps, which is a domestic peace corps. Our particular division was EnviroCorps, and we focused in wetlands conservation and restoration. It was some of the hardest physical labor I've ever done, and I was in the Army almost ten years. But it was some of the most rewarding. I produced a planting plan, implementation plan, and management plan for the Blue Lake wetland which is still there today. That's Magic.

But learned the local plants. I learned them by Genus and Species, as well as their legend and Lore. I learned how the local indigenous used them. For example,  I learned how to make cordage out of nettle that has a tensile strength of over a hundred pounds. That's Craftwork! But a lot of that knowledge does little good so far south. But luckily I Forrest Gumped my way into a Medical Plant Hike at our very own Kaweah Oaks Preserve here is Visalia. I'm quite familiar with the preserve and visit frequently. But this time I was in good company, a local Dean of Sciences, who specializes in Botany and  the Local Indigenous.

I filled a notebook with enough information to fuel my medicinal Craftwork for at least a year and possibly more. My plans are to field test medicinals myself in order to best develop an accompanying SpellCraft. The results will be included in my next book, which should be ready and looking for a publisher in late 2013. (Fingers Crossed)

Thank you Lord & Lady for introducing me to the local WitchDoctor (Ph.D)

Blessed Be.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Godless Chant

On several occasions I have written on the topic of music in Paganism. This has always been something near and dear to my heart because of my background in Native Traditions, where singing is a very powerful core. While it exists in Paganism, it seems to lack emphasis in comparison.

Last Tuesday during my morning Facebook and coffee ritual I came across this post by Z. Budapest regarding her Goddess Chant. I attempted to withhold my vitriol that day, accept to say its wrong on so many levels, particularly:

"You put men into the song, like God,a hex will be activated."

While I agree to disagree with Z. on a great many things, I cannot agree to disagree with this. I will skip the long, drawn-out and boring yet intelligent argument I have prepared and just get to the good part. I decided to put Z's hex to the test. My Father was scheduled for back surgery Wednesday morning in up north in Santa Rosa. So I left town Tuesday afternoon and I sang the Chant the whole way to Santa Rosa. For those who don't know, I live in Central California (Visalia) and its about a five hour drive, through the bay area and into the Northern Wine Country. 

I figured I would put her Hex to the test. Moreover, I would be driving through the Bay Area during rush hour traffic, giving her Hex the optimal probability advantage of time, place, route and population density. So I started singing my version of the song (We All Come From The Lord and Lady...), slow, choppy and awkward at first. It felt odd and I realized I was feeling very self-conscious. This was a very unusual for me because I have over fifteen years experience singing traditional ceremonial songs in public/group rituals. 

 But a few miles down the road I started to get a bit of a groove going, not long after that old cadence started to come out and I rolled down all the widows because I was starting to get loud. One of the secrets to ceremonial songs is that Singing is an emotional release. I had forgotten that, but by the time I had reached Oakland the energy had erupted from a very deep place and I began to cry. For those who don't know, I had locked horns with family members and we hadn't spoken since Yule. This was the Very First Time this had happen between us, it was very difficult experience for me and all four months worth of anger, hurt, pain and frustration came pouring out. Wave after wave, gush after gush of tears, I sang my way through it, and traffic.

As I drove west across the bridge into San Rafael the Sun was seated upon the ridge, draped by the cloud-cover it painted generously from a luminous pallet. My skin tingled, the hairs on my arm stood up as the energy became ecstatic and I was overwhelmed by the joyful spirit of communion. Tears of happiness streaming down my face, I sang on. There was a significant shift and I arrived in Santa Rosa late that evening a different person, a healed, person. I slept well.

Bright and early the next morning I beat my Dad to the Hospital and was there waiting for him when he arrived, escorted by family. Not a word was spoken but the family feud ended then and there. Over the last few days we have taken time to heal and bond, my Dad wasn't the only one who was injured, his trip to the hospital healed us all, he comes home tomorrow.

I can't let it go, the feeling, the powerful love, the Chant.

I looked for "Wiccan Chant Music" on my iPhone and found Shawna Carol's Goddess Chant CD, and downloaded it on iTunes. Maybe its the moment, the shift or the emotion but it was perfect timing. I love this CD, its literally like Wiccan Gospel Music. You can roll your eyes all you want, but I'm a believer. I always was, but I was in a bad way. We all experience a momentary lapse of reason, some of us recover and reconcile, and some of us don't or won't. I don't know what happened to Z. but I wish her Love and Healing, I pray that the Goddess holds her heart closely and that someday soon she is able to feel what I am feeling.

Thank you Lord & Lady for Z. Budapest and her Chant.

Bles-seeed Beeeeeee!

Monday, April 16, 2012

H is for Sexual Abuse

Yes, that's right "H" is for Sexual Abuse, in fact, every letter in the alphabet should be.

Just like most other Wiccans, I face a lot of false assumptions about our religious beliefs and practices. Most of those assumptions are related to Satanism or Charmed-ism. Given the choice I would prefer those false assumptions over the ones of an inappropriate sexual nature. And thankfully, they are few and far between.
It's no secret that the origins of Wicca are steeped in nudity, sexuality and fertility, nor is it or has it ever been a concern of mine personally. Wicca has grown, changed and evolved significantly in a very short time. Our Tradition openly declares itself as an American Tradition with an Independent Lineage. While we honor our Magical predecessors and acknowledge the validity of their work, we do things a bit differently. But regardless of tradition, lineage or lack thereof, there are certain behaviors that are unacceptable under any circumstances.

While there are many other mainstream monotheistic religions which have a long record of sexual abuse, cover up and scandal, I firmly believe that we should strive to stay on point, and not defer or deter our issues with the "but look at them" digression.

The simple fact is that there appears to be a slow but steady increase in Wicca related sexual abuse / misconduct allegations. Someone told me there are hundreds if not thousands of these allegations all the time, which are not Wiccan related, and I agree, but I'm not talking about those, I'd like to acknowledge the ones that are Wicca related, because as a Wiccan, they bother me.

One of my favorite Pagan Authors is Brendan Myers. While there are many Pagan Scholars (scholars of Paganism), I favor the Scholars who are Pagans, like Brendan. (and by the way A Pagan Testament is a must read!) It was about two years ago this Beltane that Brendan drafted The Pagan Community Statement on Sexual Abuse. I think that we as a [Pagan] community need to acknowledge and address these type of issues and take proactive preventative measures to spread awareness. One way to do this is to simply post the Statement on your or you group website.

Our organization has had an active public web presence for over seven years now, and in that time we have been contacted by some interesting people and have received some interesting emails. Most of these emails pertained in some way shape or form to the topic and interest of whether or not we do rituals Skyclad. Since we have posted the Community statement, we have not received a single communication on the subject. While I do not mean to associate Skyclad rituals with sexual abuse or misconduct, it appears (sadly) that a not so surprisingly large amount a people do associate Skyclad rituals with Sex.

The Pagan Community Statement sends a simple and clear message. One that needs to be repeated over and over again, ad infinitum

Thank you Lord & Lady for my Ritual Robes. Blessed Be.

Friday, April 6, 2012

G is for God Map, Part Two

So as promised I'm back to extrapolate on the God Map and our own traditions Z axis. But I'd like to start with a caveat of disclaimer: First, I rarely speak in absolutes, so take everything I say with a big dose of salt. Second: In part One, Anonymous commented on my placement of Christianity on the map, beginning with: "many of us Christians..."

That's great, then obviously you don't go there although you're Christian. Noted. But for the purposes of my post I will continue to make some generalized assertions that you may or may not feel subject too. Not only that, but I will appropriate old words from a dead language and assign new meanings to them. I know, I know, blasphemy you say. Well that's not all, I've also created a whole new set of glyphs for each location on the Z axis! But I'm saving that for another book, so I substituted them for cute little color coded chakra spheres, which by no coincidence align nicely with their location. I invite you to go back to the color thing later.

But for now, lets start at the bottom, which is closest to home (pun intended). In case you didn't get the joke Di Panates is traditionally known to the Romans as the guardian spirits of the cupboards, but we also use the term here in our system to acknowledge the most immediate and manifested aspect of spirit to us personally. Second are Lares Domestici, these are still immediate and imminent manifestations, but are shared with family, friends, a home or a particular place or group. Egregores would be acknowledged here.

Genius Loci is the spirit of the land, or a certain geographical area. We do not quantify these areas by any standards of measurement, as to say they are only so large or small. In my experience it seems to vary greatly from place to place, or spirit to spirit. I am in the process of mapping out the G. Loci in my area as I understand them, and am assigning them their own glyphs for future use.

Amina Mundi is the whole earth itself, sort of a spiritual "inter-connected-network," like the internet but there's no paid service plan and you don't need a computer. There is WiFi (ambient) and land line (telluric current), that was another pun by the way. Next is Natura Minor, there's no link because I made this one myself and haven't Wiki-ed it yet.

N. Minor acknowledges spirit at a solar system level, for example planetary aspects, attributes, influences and pantheons (Jupiter = Zeus). Natura Major (also mine) would be the next obvious step up or out, and represents our galaxy. I like the way that things become more transcended and abstract on the map as we twist the zoom knob on the telescope.

The last one is Natura Naturata, which essentially is everything known and unknown. John Micheal Greer wrote something to the effect of N. Naturata is the "Book of Nature" which we lovely call the Gospel of Nature. But Natura Naturans (not on map) is the "Author" of that book or Gospel of Nature. Something we Masons call the The Great Architect of the Universe. There is more, I'm working on a three dimensional image of all this that strangely enough looks like a Cone of Power..... gasp.

Insert conspiracy theory here while I laugh ominous and maniacally in the background...

I'm currently reading (re-reading) Casting Sacred Spaces by Ivo Dominguez Jr. for a book review, for a magazine. For starters, I really like this book, but I love what he had to say on the subject of Immanence & Transcendence, which I will not tell you, go buy the book! But I will say that I love his approach to the topic, he does not view them as conflicting, or regard them as dichotomy, but instead as polarity. And "Well-utilized, polarity is a powerful source of energy."

Thank you Lord, Lady and Ivo Dominguez Jr. for giving me so much cool stuff to think about.

Blessed Be.