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?

No.

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.

Winning.


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