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This weekend I was honored to Priestess a young man’s transition from childhood into adolescence. M. turned 13 in late July, and we’ve known we were going to do a ritual to mark the transition for several years now. (I priestessed his two brothers’ “Baby Blessings” and M. had asked for a ritual just for him. We talked about it and decided that since he was already 10, we’d wait until adolescence. He liked the idea a lot.) M. is a very bright, well-spoken young man who feels like an old soul. His parents are non-religious, but the family has a variety of ritual practices that integrate a nature-based spirituality. They bring me in for the ‘big stuff'<g>.

M’s core desires were to recognize a group of people as mentors — M. defined this as people who he felt he could call on for guidance through his adolescence — in some fashion, mark the transition itself, and be provided with a formal introduction to ‘something larger’ than himself (the Deity). Previous to his articulating this, I’d reached out to the Pagan community for advice and ideas, and I was given a lot of them. Core to most was the idea that M needed to spend time by himself, many spoke of the Native American traditions of three days in the wilderness, fasting and vision quests. Another core theme was the idea of sacrifice — giving up something precious that represents Ms childhood, or doing a giveaway of his childhood possessions.

(As a side note, there was a pretty vocal group of people who were adamantly opposed to a woman participating in the ceremony at all. I respect their opinion, but fundamentally disagree. I can see that there are some rituals that are men only (or women only) but this ritual was not supposed to be like that. Besides, I was asked to priestess and they have no male to perform that function for them. Telling me I can’t do if because of my gender is pretty self-defeating, and rings of fundamentalism.)

With one thing and another, we agreed that the structure of the ritual was going to be pretty informal. I, of course, hate this but took a deep breath and asked only that M and I be given time to talk it through after i arrive. Oh, did I mention that this took place in Sacramento and I live in Seattle?

Only the time for a talk didn’t manifest. (Hail Mercury!) We spent a lot of time together, as a family. And I found it impossible to bring up matters of the occult with a 3 and 5 year old competing for adult attention. So as people began to arrive on Saturday afternoon, I was flummoxed. I didn’t even have a chance to pull M’s dad (B) aside to tell him it just wasn’t going to happen. I sort of just gave it up to the Universe and waited to see what would come about.

Around 4pm Bill saw me slipping out for a walk (I’m an introvert, and 19 people ranging from late 70s to 2 yrs old, most of whom I do not know was draining all of my energy away). B saw me and joined me.

B: So, what are we going to do?

Me: (pause) Um. I don’t see how we can do anything. I really needed the time to talk with you and M and that just hasn’t happened. No blame here! No guilt! I promise. But it just doesn’t feel like this is going to come together.

B: Oh. (pause) Well, we’ve got a bit of a problem. You see, I told everyone when I invited them that we were going to do something and that they were asked especially because they are M’s mentors and we want to honor that.

M: Oh dear. You managed to give too much information and not enough all at the same time. (laughs.)

* * * we think for awhile. (remember it’s 95 degrees and we’re just strolling around the block.) * * *

M: How about this? (plan proposed)

B: That’s great! See, I knew you could come up with something.

Meanwhile I’m thinking “Great. None of the usual ‘tools’ — no creating sacred space, no script, just a vague outline . . . with a group that’s 90+% non pagan. Lord and Lady? I need a hand here.”

So we gathered in the living room and B. welcomed them and mentioned that we were not going to do anything formal, partly because of the 3 and 5 yr olds (just then the 5 yr old had a meltdown because he wasn’t the center of attention) “and you can see the wisdom of that decision.” (laughter). Then I took over.

“Some of you were here for the baby blessings. You remember that I asked you to give them a wish for something — laughter, creativity, intelligence — and we’ve already seen the flowering of those gifts.” (Smiles all around.) “Today we are here for M. who stands on the threshold of a time of great transition. I want us all to think back to when we were teenagers. Remember the joys, the fun. Remember with troubles, the hardships.” (pause. watch the faces change.) “Now, think of what it is you wish someone had told you back then. What is the one piece of advice you wish someone had given you — even if you would’ve blown it off at the time. I want you to give that advice to M. now.”

It was amazing. (Magick always is, but in such unexpected ways.) Without prompting from me, the men went first, starting with his father (“Don’t be afraid to take action.”) except for grandpa. Then M’s friends — Bt (who is just about 14) got a good laugh with his “Well, from my 10 and a half months experience . . .” (his advice, however, was wise well beyond his years). And his other friend Mt spoke up and said “I’m only 11, I got nothing.” (I told him to take notes.)  Then the women went (“It’s OK to be yourself” “Look for an adult you trust to talk to that isn’t your parents.”). Then grandpa spoke (“You are unique, your task is to develop that uniqueness and figure out how to do your best in the world.”) Then the oldest woman (“Enjoy yourself. High school is a lot of fun.”) And then I offered my advice (“No matter how bad it seems, it isn’t. It may feel like the end of the world, but — I promise you — it isn’t.”)

All throughout, M. turned to face each speaker. He listened respectfully, not even joking with his friend. The order of mentors was entirely natural — no prompting from me at all. The energy was there, despite the lack of ‘tools’ it was there because it was the time, and the place, and the people were right, and we got lucky. Yes, lucky. Energy doesn’t usually come when you don’t invite it, and we started cold. Luck. (Thank you Lord and Lady!!!!)

When I was finished I asked M if he had anything to say to us. He thought for a moment then said “Thank you.” and that was it. <g>. I looked around the circle and added my own thanks to everyone for their wisdom, and then opened my hands up as if releasing a balloon and dissipated the energy that had built up. (Sort of ‘popped’ the balloon.)

Later that evening, I gave M. a copy of Christopher Penczak’s “Sons of the Goddess” which technocowboy had gotten autographed (Thank you Christopher!!!!) I told him “this is not necessarily the be-all end-all for you, but its a start. Read it. Do the exercises. Use it as the starting point for your dialog with your parents.” I also gave him a hand-carved Zuni fetish of a mountain lion for his totem. M. was really touched by the gifts.

I’m looking forward to answering Ms questions over the coming years.

EDIT: I wrote the ‘perfect’ ritual — that is, the one that in a perfect fantasy we would have done. You are welcome to take a look at: http://cybercoven.org/writings/priestessing/marking the transition

Your true political self:

You are a
Social Liberal
(76% permissive)

and an…
Economic Liberal
(20% permissive)

You are best described as a: Socialist
You exhibit a very well-developed sense of Right and Wrong and believe in economic fairness.

Explanation Of Results

We wanted to get beyond the two catch-alls of American politics, the Democratic and Republican parties, and see where people actually stand. Parties can bring together people with marginally differing values and make collective action easier. But party platforms can misrepresent their constituents, and blind loyalty to a party can convince individuals to harbor inconsistent views.

The goal of this test was to exactly classify your personal politics, without the traditional labels. We avoided the edgy party issues and focused on fundamental values. Your score is a measure of what you believe in, economically and socially.

Higher permissiveness, on either axis, indicates a “live and let live” philosophy. Of course, we’re almost conditioned in America, “Land of the Free”, to think positively of such a philosophy. But practically speaking, permissiviness (or its opposite, regulation) can create any number of outcomes:

For example, on the economic axis, a highly permissive system, like the American system of the early 1900s, might mean things like low taxes and increased scientific innovation. It might also result, as it did back then, in unrestricted child labor and millions of poor people with black lung.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, a highly regulated system might conserve the environment, establish national health care, and eliminate poverty. But as we’ve learned from the Soviet system, extreme regulation can also lead to stagnation, sameness, and unhappiness.

(thanks to The Wordsmith’s Forge for posting this)

On Sept. 5th, PBS published an opinion poll, simply asking “Do you think that Sarah Palin is qualified to serve as Vice President of the United States?” From Sept 5 to 22 users could vote multiple times by refreshing the page. That is no longer the case. Before they implemented a ‘cookie’ implementation policy, the poll was running close to a tie, 50% said yes, 48% said no. An impressive indication of the power of the right and left to mobilize opinion, as well as the deep division Palin brings to the political process.

John Siceloff, Executive Producer, NOW on PBS, says “The poll has become something of a Rorschach test, a tiny political marker in a tightly contested race. [1]”

A fascinating column from PBS’ Michael Getler on September 19 reveals, to my mind, the lengths some people are willing to go to allow reasonable discussion about the political candidates. An unscripted joke about how Michelle Phillips of the Mamas and the Papas “could be in line for the Presidency!” (because she doesn’t “know anything about economics or foreign policy”) led to a ton of letters from viewers complaining about the “rude and vicious comment regarding Gov. Sarah Palin.” Another letter stated “When he [Mike Ferrell] apologizes about the comment geared toward Gov. Palin, I will donate.”

My reaction: taking it a bit personally are we? Feeling a tad vulnerable? A little unsure? Perhaps because maybe Gov. Palin isn’t the best quality material for the VP role? Common sense says that if you are going to nominate a candidate with little experience, don’t make a big deal about what s/he doesn’t have. I don’t think its smart — and smart IS what I care about the most right now — to choose a candidate because of gender, and I really can’t believe anyone in the RNC chose Palin just for that. Tell me why you did, and we’ll have a nice talk. I may not agree with you in the end, but at least you aren’t treating me like I have some sort of switch that gets flipped when I have the chance to vote for a woman . . . no matter what else is attached to her. I mean, come on, I know there’s a greater than 50% chance that McCain will die in office — my McCain vote is truly a Palin vote.

The complainers about the poll, btw, are clearly attached to the ‘any questions raised about my candidate are attacks’ method of so-called debate. (I’ll have to ask my Ph.D. in Rhetoric mom, but I don’t think this qualifies as a debate.) One person says “The poll regarding the qualifications of Sarah Palin would only be put out by a biased, liberal attack apparatus” (and goes on to say that new Gov. Palin is more qualified than this former constitutional lawyer turned Senator [2]) Another says “I am absolutely disgusted that you, once again, show your blatant liberal bias and ask if Governor Palin is qualified to be Vice President, ignoring the fact that she has more executive experience than all three other nominees.” I find that really interesting, and wonder how McCain would feel if he knew?

I have to go with Getler on this: “In this case, it seems to me to be a reasonable question to ask. Gov. Palin clearly was largely unknown to the vast majority of Americans at the time of the Republican National Convention. [3]”

The poll is at: http://www.pbs.org/now/polls/poll-435.html

[1] http://www.pbs.org/now/palin-poll.html

[2] from barackobama.com

[3] http://www.pbs.org/ombudsman/2008/09/ombudsmans_mailbag_26.html

I can *too* laugh at myself.

Jeremy (aka technocowboy) posted the following on his LJ:

Me: So did you hear today’s big DUH moment?
Her: No, what happened?
Me: Clay Aiken came out.
Her: Clay Aiken…. The country singer?? WOW!!
Me: No, that’s Clay Walker.
Her: OH!! The football star?!
Me: No, that’s Troy Aikman. Clay Aiken is from American Idol.
Her: Oh….. You bitches are laughing at me.
Me: Yup. Three homos, laughing at you. 🙂

I’m the ‘Her’. Here’s the topper. When I first moved to Seattle, my friend Damien (gay) took me out dancing with him and some friends. As we’re driving through a certain part of the Capital Hill area they start talking about ‘that looks like a good place to go. no there!’ I innocently ask ‘how do you know they are gay bars? is there a secret sign or something.’ D. giggles and says ‘well, there’s the rainbow.’ Me: The rainbow? Is that a bar? D: (Pulling the car over because he’s laughing so hard) The rainbow flag.

Yes, I spent my high school lunchbreaks in the Castro, hanging out with gay men. I knew about the pink triangle. I did NOT know about the Rainbow flag.

Yes, I laugh at myself all the time. Keeps me sane.

(my boss sent me this today)

“Japanese vs. American management style

Two teams of American and Japanese corporations have a boat race. On the big day the Japanese win by a mile.
The discouraged Americans hire a consulting firm to investigate the problem. The findings are that the Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering while the American team had one rower and eight people steering. Based on these results, the American team is completely reorganized to include four steering managers, four steering area managers and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.

The following year the Japanese win again, so the Americans lay off the rower for poor performance and give the manager a bonus for discovering the problem.”

 

The ACLU is trying to collect deliver 300,000 pledges to send McCain and Obama’s offices by October 15.  You can sign the pledge here: http://www.aclu.org/constitutionvoter/. By signing the pledge, you get a free bumper sticker and make the statement that you want the next President to not pledge to uphold the Consitution while doing his best to dismantle it.

I Am a Constitution Voter

  • I believe that no one — including the President — is above the law.
  • I oppose all forms of torture, and I support both closing the Guantánamo Bay prison and ending indefinite detention.
  • I oppose warrantless spying.
  • I believe that government officials, no matter how high-ranking, should be held accountable for breaking the law and violating the Constitution.
  • I believe that the Constitution protects every person’s rights equally — no matter what they believe, how they live, where or if they worship, and whom they love.
  • I reject the notion that we have to tolerate violations of our most fundamental rights in the name of fighting terrorism.
  • I am deeply committed to the Constitution and expect our country’s leaders to share and act on that commitment — every day, without fail.

They also have an online advertising campaign: if you send in a photo of yourself with their ‘Constitution Voter’ logo or a copy of the Constitution, they’ll use it in their campaign. This is a good cause, and a big issue. Pledge your support.

September 17th is Constitution Day — 221 years ago today, the 39 delegates to the  U.S. Constitutional Convention signed one of the world’s most important, powerful, thought-provoking and PRACTICAL documents.

So many things we Americans take for granted are perserved and protected within this document. More specifically, in the first ten amendments, the Bill of Rights. Think back to the dim years of civics class in high school. . .

1. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Starting off with a bang, we get right into it, don’t we? This says that there is no law against my religion — no matter how bizarre or offensive others find it. It also allows me to write what I want, say what I want, no matter how offensive others find it. It gives me access to a press that is allowed to write about the truth, even when it is critical of the government. It allows me to gather with other people, in public or private as long as we are peaceful in out behavior. It even allows me to bring my case to the government, if I feel I have been wronged.

It also requires me to defend their right to a religious viewpoint different from my own, and to lettign others say things I find offensive. As so many writers have said, in various ways, “I defend your right to say the things I find most offensive.”

As a witch, I find this necesary. I can’t imagine living in a, I want to say ‘monastic’ but I don’t think thats right — whats the oppostie of pluralistic? — society where we all must believe in the same deity. That rigidity of thinking is what has historically led humans into ethical and moral disasters. Any time we start making divisions between ‘us’ and ‘them’ we run into trouble. And its hard not to do that now. Its hard not to say ‘Republicans’ like there are some kind of single-celled organism, all in agreement and all hating the non-wealthy, non-white, non-christian people (because except for a few tokens, Republicans are all wealthy, white christians.) It’s hard to say ‘conservatives’ and not have it be a kind of shorthand for ‘religious fundamentalist.’

 But I believe that negative energy rebounds on those who send it out. I believe that the energy forming, swirling, and gathering from now until November 4th will be transformatve.

You Are A: True Neutral Human Druid (5th Level)

Ability Scores:
Strength- 11
Dexterity- 12
Constitution- 15
Intelligence- 18
Wisdom- 13
Charisma- 12
Alignment:
True Neutral- A true neutral character does what seems to be a good idea. He doesn’t feel strongly one way or the other when it comes to good vs. evil or law vs. chaos. Most true neutral characters exhibit a lack of conviction or bias rather than a commitment to neutrality. Such a character thinks of good as better than evil after all, he would rather have good neighbors and rulers than evil ones. Still, he’s not personally committed to upholding good in any abstract or universal way. Some true neutral characters, on the other hand, commit themselves philosophically to neutrality. They see good, evil, law, and chaos as prejudices and dangerous extremes. They advocate the middle way of neutrality as the best, most balanced road in the long run. True neutral is the best alignment you can be because it means you act naturally, without prejudice or compulsion. However, true neutral can be a dangerous alignment because it represents apathy, indifference, and a lack of conviction.

Race:
Humans are the most adaptable of the common races. Short generations and a penchant for migration and conquest have made them physically diverse as well. Humans are often unorthodox in their dress, sporting unusual hairstyles, fanciful clothes, tattoos, and the like.

Class:
Druids- Druids gain power not by ruling nature but by being at one with it. They hate the unnatural, including aberrations or undead, and destroy them where possible. Druids receive divine spells from nature, not the gods, and can gain an array of powers as they gain experience, including the ability to take the shapes of animals. The weapons and armor of a druid are restricted by their traditional oaths, not simply training. A druid’s Wisdom score should be high, as this determines the maximum spell level that they can cast.

Amusingly, I’ve never played a true neutral or druid character.

From: http://www.easydamus.com/character.html

Spellcraft magazine is ‘the ultimate guide to magick in the southern hemisphere’ and the Spring 2008 issue (#10) features an entire section on cyber witch. I’ve got an article in there about Pagan Schooling Online (page 20). I’ve always liked this magazine (this is my third article/working with them in as many years) amd feel its one of the best pagan magazines available — even if everything is ‘backwards’! 🙂

Go check it out: http://www.spellcraft.com.au/

With the moon’s soft radiance illuminating this sign’s energy, it looks like we’ve opened the ‘basement’ of the Universe to let the light in. This is a time for erratic emotions, intense emotions, and sudden flashes of understanding of karmic ties. Taking place in practical, service-oriented Virgo, it means that the positive directing of this energy is towards our relationships to others. We’re in the midst of the harvest (less than a week until Mabon), working hard to get the fruits and vegetables preserved and stored so we won’t starve during the winter. We don’t have time for worrying about anything other than our community.

This is a configuration of doubled polarity – sun/moon and Pisces [water]/ Virgo [earth]. There is a strong tension here between self-sufficiency and self-sacrifice as well as between the practical physical and unreasonable emotions. So I see a likelihood of challenges or changes on the emotional level in response to dependencies, fears, restlessness, indecision, or disillusionment.

I know what kind of ritual I would do if it were just the coven, but with the class participating, I have to go in a whole new direction, a safer one. Because the energy of this FMR is that of healing emotions, past transgressions, and old wounds and that is too intense for a new class (give it six months, though, and they’ll be happy to dive right in).

So we’ll be holding a releasing negativity ritual. Its one two of my coven mates wrote a number of years ago, and its quite simple. We create sacred space, relax and clear our minds, then ask to ‘see’ what we no longer need, what is holding us back, what it is time to release. Then we dump it into the bowl of water and out of us. (The water later goes down the drain, releasing the bad vibes harmlessly.)

(In case you were wondering, the coven would do either a ritual connecting us, heart to heart – Pisces loves that – or one where we do a fairly intensive review of our inner landscapes, looking for negative ties and dealing with them. The class is made up of wonderful people, but we don’t know each other well enough, yet, for me to take them on a dark journey.)

In general, it’s a good time to let go of mundane issues, work, and relax the mind. I intend to do some extra creative things during the three days of the full moon (the 14th, 15th, and 16th), and am mulling over how to work in some heart chakra exercises. The chakra work will likely focus on the ‘upper’ half of the heart-throat-third eye-crown energy points, connecting me more directly with others and revealing positive ways I can be of service to the larger community.

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