Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Anarchy and Witchcraft

I tend to think that radicalism and witchcraft are a match made in heaven. Take, for instance, the structure of the coven. A closely bonded group of traditionally 13, surrounded by a less closely bonded grove. This structure mirrors that of the affinity group, the basic unit of most revolutionary movements. And this is a logical parallel, since Aradia seems to hint that the Craft was originally a technology intended to help the oppressed withstand their oppressors. More importantly, in this age where the dominant culture destroys the Earth, a being we literally believe to be our divine Mother, witches everywhere ought to be up in arms preventing that murder. Sadly, I don't see that going on in our community. One reason might be an unhealthy amount of horizontal conflict, as we split hairs on community labeling instead of organizing to transform our culture for the better. Sometimes transformation looks an awful lot like dismantling. We as magic workers has enormously valuable spiritual contributions to offer to the movement against industrialization, misogyny, and fear-mongering that is civilization. In fact, I view the Pagan community as a vital puzzle piece in this resistance movement as a source of spiritual nourishment much needed by the activist/anarchist community. My gods certainly exhort me to resist and prevent the further rape of our planet, and I presume most others would do the same. So...perhaps the time has come for us to cease our weekend witchcraft and start being contributing members of the anti-civ movement. It may be controversial, but I don't think you can endorse industrial civilization and simultaneously have values consistent with a Pagan religion. Chew on that for a bit.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Building my Own World

I have the job of my dreams. I essentially have creative control of a local, organic and sustainable urban farm while working under a great boss and being supplied with practically limitless amounts of delicious food and great company. I wish more people could say the same. I wish we lived in a culture that didn't require most of us to work demeaning, demanding jobs while degrading that very same fact. But in some way, I'm doing what I can to change that...slowly. You see, at my job, we strive wherever possible to create authentic community. That means my boss respects my gender expression choices and my spirituality. How many other gay Pagans get the privilege of saying that? I'm not trying just to brag here (though maybe that's part of it), I'm trying to remind everybody out there that you don't have to stick to what our culture has told you is possible as a career! There are places out there that will affirm your love of the Earth as a goddess and as our partner in living. There are jobs that will recognize your sexuality and gender expression is a beautiful part of the continuum of human experience. You might have to give up your fabulous apartment, or your feeling of financial security, or your meat-heavy diet, but in return, your life can become an incubator for self-actualization instead of a suppressor. And that's a great part of magick...as we transform ourselves, we can turn that energy outward and change the world. So if your job or your career insults your magickal soul, if it prevents your from creating a better world, or if it actively discourages you from being yourself...perhaps it's time to rethink where things are headed.

Monday, October 10, 2011

I work on a farm you know...

I work on a farm, in case you weren't aware. If you've never worked on a farm, let me tell you, it is radically different from gardening. Even the most ambitious of gardeners won't have to contend with the madness of running a small organic farm in this day and age of industrialized crop subsidies. Most days it seems like a never stop working. I even dream about the vegetables, which can be a bit...unnerving. Every so often I sit back after a  week of harvesting as fast as my fingers will let me and wonder how it all gets done. But don't let me make you think that sustainable agriculture is ruining my life, in fact it's the opposite. However punishing it can be, it's infinitely more rewarding. As a Pagan, I am literally acting out the Great Rite on a daily basis as a fill the earth with seed. My hands, eyes and mind are constantly discovering new things about the body of the Goddess. I wish everyone could have the opportunities that I've had as a farmer to commune directly with Gaia. She has a way a taking over your life, bit by bit, until it's difficult to find where she ends and you begin. Isn't that the goal anyway?

Monday, September 5, 2011

Why do we blog?

Why do we blog? When I say we, I mean both we as Pagans and we as human beings. I've been doing some pathworking with my Ancestor's lately and some of the things they've told me have caused me to truly question the basic motivation to blog. A blog is, literally, a web-log. So, if we take the metaphor a bit farther, a blog is a narrative tapestry, an illustrated spider web meant to record our own personal histories. That sounds just lovely, but anyone worth their salt can tell you that we don't blog just for our own record-keeping. A few of us might say that our blogs are just places to have reflective time, but when it comes down to it, we all want other people to pay attention to them.

Do we blog in hope of acquiring fame? It's important to remember here that fame comes in many different varieties. Blogging offers our narcissistic sides a little paradise of self-absorption. However, when we follow this path, we find out that fame is not a reliable foundation for something that can be as demanding as a blog. We obviously don't blog to make money, though perhaps someday that might be a viable option.

The only way I can really start to answer this question is by telling you why, in my better hours, I write this blog: I blog because living as a Pagan in the Texas is a lonely, isolated lifestyle. I blog because I really want to talk to other Witches, Shamans, gardeners, Magicians and spiritual seekers. I've got a need to find out what we're all thinking, to try and work together on the things that puzzle all of us. I blog, because I want to communicate. So if you're out there, let's talk.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


I work with two notable trickster gods, Loki and Hermes. These two are a part of a pretty decent majority of my spiritual work, so it's important for me to talk about them here. Looking around at the seemingly chaotic events of your life and of the world at large, you might wonder why anyone would want to work with deities known specifically for their disorderly conduct. After all, one of the tools our Pagan spirituality gives us is a natural system for organizing and ordering our understanding of the world. But if you haven't dipped your toes into the water of trickster work, you're really missing out.

To me, these divinely “amoral” beings represent two very important and empowering concepts. First of all, their ethics are totally self-generated. Loki and Hermes both engage in acts of theft that almost none of the more traditional pantheonic gods would stoop to do and yet these very same non-traditional acts benefit their holy brothers and sisters in very real ways. Loki delivers Thor his hammer, Odin his arm-brace and his steed. Hermes seems to be forever stealing herds of cattle for his father, Zeus. The message here is: if it works, do it. Our ethics as witches and Pagans should come out of experimentation, keeping the principles which are useful, which help you and your community to move forward, and discarding those that are useless.

The second concept they can offer us is that of liminal existence. Frequently we describe ourselves as being “between the worlds”, a position that these deities occupy exclusively. Their myths allow us to see that by blurring lines of gender, sexuality and personality, we evolve as beings. By accepting that the boundary between yourself and whatever you consider to be “other” is truly arbitrary, you gain that much more self-understanding. So next time you take a shamanic journey or meditate, seek out a trickster, a thief or a fool. Let yourself be led down the rabbit hole for a while. I guarantee you'll discover something worthwhile in the process.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Reaching Out

I walked out into a stretch of woods near my house. The temperature was a balmy 104 degrees and while the rangy mesquite trees could survive in the drought, the groups of elm and fan ash were dying of in greater numbers every day. As I hiked in far enough to escape the sounds of cars nearby, I picked up some trash most likely left by neighborhood residents. In my bag was a yellow rose and an unshelled pecan, both sacred to the goddess Tejas, who I had come here to meet. Once I'd found a shady stump to sit on, I laid my meager offerings out and started to commune the the Burning Lady, Tejas, divine spirit of the land that sustains me.

We all very much need to develop a relationship with our local land gods and goddesses. When you and your community blaze both a magickal and mundane path into geographically based practice, you're working with a spirit ally whose incarnation you already live within. So, start doing some research. What herbs, flowers, trees and fungi are native to your area? What are their uses? When you learn these things not only are you opening your eyes to a vast wealth of resources which exist totally independent from factory culture, but you explore the personalities and values of your local goddesses and gods. Get outside, start to work with native plant spirits. I've found this method personally far more effective than any listing of traditional plant in a generalized book. Texans who might read this: please, let me know how you work with the spirit of our land!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Listen Up!

How do you communicate with a tree? How do you talk to a stone, or an herb, or a spirit, or, for that matter, another person? The art of listening seems to have been lost. If it isn't lost, at least significantly narrowed in definition. We equate it with hearing, with passively experiencing information. I've been noticing just how much more active engagement real listening requires. In fact, truly communicating with someone requires a great shift in viewpoint on our part.

To talk to a tree, you need to become like a tree. Stand (or sit) still, breathe deeply, sink your roots into the earth, feel your branches sway and dance. Think you don't have roots or branches? Try to move away from those strict dictates of ordinary consciousness. Once you get comfortable and in contact with the ground, given a little effort, you'll find you have all the parts of a tree. Perhaps you just haven't been paying attention to them recently. Hinduism teaches us that we are all microcosms of the universe. That tree you want to ask for a branch, that spirit you've been trying to channel: you've got all the essential gear already within your own being. Moving through day to day life without spiritual focus, we've trained ourselves to identify things based on their disparities, but that's only a small portion of the perspective we can acquire by analyzing their similarities. Start by trying to talk to the tree inside you, and you'll find your way to the tree in front of you.

It's usually convenient to imagine that we are all discrete entities, solitaries who interact with other solitary beings. This, however, is a singularly narrow-minded worldview. Think about your own body. Are you your skin? Though this is our largest organ and perhaps the most apparent, I think we would all agree it is not what makes us who we are. Contemplate the long process of cell death and regeneration that governs your skin. At what point does a skin cell cease to be part of you? The lines that divide and define us are much fuzzier than we think. This same blurring of boundaries extends throughout our world. Think about those wonderful vegetables you eat. Eventually, that carrot you're munching on ceases to be a carrot and becomes part of your body. Where is that place of transformation, of everyday alchemy? It's liberating to realize that we don't necessarily have to function as lone islands, but instead can thrive as richly diverse and powerful network: an archipelago.

How badly we need to embrace this process today. How would our political theater look differently if the people running the show tried to step into each others' shoes and the shoes of their constituency? Would we even have the vast, inefficient, top-heavy government that's in place now? I doubt it. Because in the past we've been all too willing to put on blinders and ignore our sense of connectedness, we've manifested an inherently divisive and unfair society. But that doesn't have to be the case. Let's go outside, talk to our tree and our neighbors. To do so, we're all going to have to grow a lot closer.