Friday, July 29, 2011


   As the New Apostolic Reformation angles to target each of the states individually in their spiritual campaign, it occurs to me that we can learn something important from them. Each of those states, after all, is a fairly distinct landmass, with individual topography, features and mythology. Which, to us as Pagans, should indicate it has its own spirit. Usually thinking of your home state in spiritual terms is avoided, because the concept of statehood ties in with the overculture so much, however, the necessaries for a build your own worship kit are right there in your state's individual nature.
  Conveniently, I live in a state with a long standing attitude of individuality and quasi-fanatic culture already. Texas, while possessing many distinct geographical regions, is a territory that could never be confused with any other. The land is harsh and unforgiving at times, but beautiful for that very reason.  What might the spiritual connection with Texas look like?
  Well, to start with, moving away from the modern pronunciation, we find Tejas, one of the area's original names. Tejas is an appellation that diverse group of indigenous peoples here, composed mostly of Caddo, used to refer to themselves, which became the Old Spanish name for the territory. Not so coincidentally, Tejas is the Sanskrit term for fire and brightness, the dominion of the Hindu god Agni. So we can see that a strong characteristic of the goddess Tejas would be fire, heat and fierceness.
  Anyone who has walked outside in a Texan August will tell you that this much is obvious. Strings of days in the triple digits are common, along with frequent drought. Most of the state turns a pale, golden brown as the vegetation dies off and the sun reigns supreme for a solid five months.
  What else could we find in our Texan culture to associate with Goddess worship? Most obviously, our flag features a great white five-pointed star, our state being known as "The Lone Star State". A Pentacle in disguise perhaps? It's interesting, as you look as these things, how clear it becomes that mysticism hasn't really left the culture at all, but is hiding in plain sight.  Another example is the sacred flower of Tejas, the yellow rose. This particular blossom is praised in an infamous song, "The Yellow Rose of Texas", and could very well be considered another name for the goddess of our particular plot of earth. So from those to pieces of folklore, we can extrapolate that Tejas would almost certainly be a solitary warrior goddess, while simultaneously being a patroness of beauty and potentially harmonizing with our Solar Plexus chakra, one of the most fiery charkras. You can see, she shares qualities from many different traditional goddesses, such as Venus, Diana and Brigid.
  Why is it important to connect with the deified spirit of the land you live on? Well, first and foremost, it makes deity far more accessible. While I dearly love the Greco-Roman pantheon, their qualities and correspondences are difficult to envision as I walk around the hill country of central Texas. Second, it allows you to take part in the creation of your own worship. Last but not least, in these times when we are all struggling so desperately for identity, it offers us a personalized approach to working with the Otherworld, and it creates a resilient solidarity between yourself and the persona of the place where you live. So go out, meditate, commune with your land and figure out how it wants to be respected. You'll both be glad you did.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Interfaith in the Wake of DC40

  How do we respond to such a flagrant act of religious aggression as the New Apostolic Reformation leader's DC40 campaign? The group targets all non-evangelical Christian faiths and specifically focuses on Pagans as the cause of this country's downhill slide. In fact, the entire operation is a grandiose act of hexing, which, although ironic, doesn't make it any less terrifying. Something as public as this cannot just be laughed off as right-wing extremism. After all, it is intimately connected with presidential hopeful Rick Perry's start-up campaign.
  Living in Texas, in Governor Goodhair's own city, I've watched this sort of abhorrent state-church power brokering occur time after time. Part of the reason that even more liberal areas of Texas are able to remain under  Republican control is a concentrated effort toward disenchanting potential Democratic voters and a persistent strategy of gerrymandering on an increasingly flagrant scale. What can we do?
  Interfaith work is a vital part of stopping the progression of exclusionary 3-faith America. When an Interfaith group forms, bonds are forged across the lines of theology and practice, creating an active network that can work toward a shared goal of pluralism. Challenge yourself to investigate what ideas you might have about the other faith communities in your city. After all, most public rituals here in Austin are held in dedicated Interfaith chapels at Christian churches.
  Another important quality of Interfaith work is that it widens your base of support. Most obviously, when you're working together, you all gain the power of numbers at the voting booth. Fragmented social justice and political campaigns can become paragons of solidarity within diversity. To unpack that some more, you also gain intellectual community. A broad spectrum of individuals from different walks of life tend to bring so many more ideas to light, so much more perspective and constructive, objective criticism.
  On an even more basic level, I suggest intrafaith work. Try to connect with other Pagan or Pagan-friendly groups in your area. They're out there and they probably have similar concerns. Regardless of differences in our practice, we owe it to each other to work toward a more pluralist nation.
  Something you and your local Interfaith organization can do is work toward creating a vibrant spiritual identity, both locally and statewide. A lot of wind could be taken out of DC40's sails by reversing their tactic. Let each state in turn celebrate it's cultural and religious multiplicity. As a Pagan, try working with the spirits of your land, your state or your neighborhood specifically. See what they have to say to you, get to know them. I'll bet they don't like this aggressive attempt at monoculture any more that you do.

  In the spirit of this, my next post will be about Tejas as a spirit and a form of the's gonna be fun!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Beyond the Seasons

  In the same vein as yesterdays post, I've been pondering the evolution of the Craft. When I first started to study modern witchcraft, an extremely heavy emphasis was placed on seasonal celebration. The purpose behind these solar and lunar holy days was to reconnect the practitioner with the cycles of the Earth. The need for such a reconnection becomes more and more obvious every day. However, I think to be a fulfilling spiritual path, Paganism needs more than ritual celebrations.
  To address the deeper hunger for meaning within this apparently chaotic universe, back-to-the-land era practices have to be expanded and deepened. The self-exploratory work that begins in meditation has to become something more. In honoring the cosmos outside of ourselves, we should be reminded to give equal honor to the limitless cosmos within our own consciousness.
  Believe me, I like the rites of Beltane just as much as the next witch. Becoming aware of the way Gaia changes throughout the Wheel of the Year has been instrumental to my building a stronger connection with her. But this can't be the only goal of our faith. Activism, self-actualization, and the realization of our own deity    are just as important.
  Those same cycles occur in each of us. After all, as above so below, as within so without. The next time you check the moon phase, or plan a ritual for Lugh, think about how those same changes manifest in your life. How does your body alter? Your emotions? How is the connection between yourself and the divine shifting? The Wheel of the Year mimics the revolutions of the Wheels of our Souls. Or perhaps it's the other way around. Who knows?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Nature: What is it?

What is nature? For most pagans, witches, druids etc... it seems to be a fairly subjective term. I haven't quite come across a definition that totally suits me. It comes distantly from the Latin nasci meaning "to be born." So does nature include everything that is, has been or will be born? Many would disagree. They contend that nature is a term applicable only to things not created by man, or altered by him, thus excluding cities, towns and the technologies in them.
What principle is it that distinguishes these thing supposedly birthed unnaturally from the things we hallow as natural? It's no idle question, since we are, after all, a nature religion. Are we as children of the God and Goddess to be considered co-creators of nature, or somehow an entirely separate entity?
It seems somewhat hypocritical to say that all things have a spirit and that we should respect other forms of consciousness, and then deny the idea of consciousness to the very things we as a species have made. Certainly this question hasn't been resolved to my own satisfaction and I believe a cross-sectarian dialogue needs to develop further on the subject. So that's my drop in the bucket, a snapshot of my personal confusion about what's holy and what's mundane.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Just Breathing

  Most of us, when muddling through our Wicca 101 phases, are constantly searching out spells. Now, I've been as guilty of this as anyone, but unless you're already an accomplished ceremonial magician, complex ritual spells are most likely going to fall flat for you. So, what magical working can we begin with? Grounding and breath.
  These two practices are the foundation to any magic, no matter how advanced. The easiest way to begin building your magical mind is to start a daily breath practice. Whenever I have free time throughout my day, or whenever I feel the need to rejuvenate and connect to good 'ol Gaia, I sit down and breath. Focus on the processes of inhaling and exhaling, taking in the energies of life around you, sending out a connecting thread to everything else that is.
  Envision a thread of energy, coming up from the earth, running through your spine and out into the limitless heavens. This cord is always there, just waiting for you to notice it. As you breathe in, pull in energy from above and below. As you breathe out, allow that energy to fill your body, relaxing your muscles, revitalizing your mind and strengthening your breath.
  Building the right mindset for practicing the Craft is a never-ending process. Once you really begin to dedicate your will to it, you might realize that you never want it to end. Every step you take toward expanded and connected consciousness is a step toward realizing your inherent divinity.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Dao of Manual Labor

I'm a landscaper. At least, that's what I do to pay my rent and feed myself. So today, like most other days, I was outside, digging holes and planting trees. Now you may not know this, but the temperature here in sunny Austin, TX has been firmly in the triple digits for a few weeks now. All this is to say: physically, my day was miserable. So, why do I continue to put myself through these kinds of days?
To be fair, I think it's partially an inherent masochism that all Texans are born with, living where we do. But it's also because manual labor has become part of my spiritual practice. In fact, I've found that by applying my attention, or energy, to anything can make it into a magical experience. So by tuning in to my Will while I labor in weather most sensible people refuse to even go out in, it can become a crucible for the development of my connection with God Herself.
So, having learned that, it follows that the same principle can be migrated to other areas of life. Typing this blog post is magical practice, as is drinking my coffee, as is feeding my cat. For me, what truly makes any experience a bridge to divinity is the presence of my own divine mind. By drinking coffee and feeding my cat with intention, I shift those actions out of the realm of the supposedly mundane, and into the realm of mystery. And isn't life so much more interesting that way?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

What is a DIY Witch?

In a sense we are all DIY witches. A DIY witch is someone who is constantly pushing the borders of their practice, whatever it's origins. A DIY witch is intimately connected and invested in the development of their spiritual work. A DIY witch is anyone who questions their own beliefs, and evolves based on the answers. The term isn't meant to be exclusionary. I think a growing number of pagan practitioners are approaching their disparate paths this way.
The DIY idea isn't just about eclectic or solitary practice, coveners exemplify it as well. A coven is the natural outgrowth of a group of DIY-ers who share ideas and inspirations. I call myself a DIY witch, because I believe so firmly in the ongoing dialogue between the deity and humanity, between the seen and the unseen, which can lead to the development of deeper, more personal and more effective communion with God Herself. 

Experimenting With Yoga and Aphex Twin

Having just recently finished Christopher Penczak's first book, City Magic, which is all about practicing nature-based spirituality in an urban and technocentric setting, I decided it was time to give electronica a chance as music for my practice. I put Aphex Twin's entire discography into a playlist, pressed play, and put my feet to the mat for some (hopefully) enlightening yoga. 
I've always been one who used more "earthy" music for working, drums, folk music, etc...but since music is most certainly energy, I felt I owed it to myself to try working with some unfamiliar kinds. The results were a mixed bag. The heavy beats, repetitive style and wordless songs were very conducive to a state of focus and meditative awareness. I think, however, my subconscious had been trained to revolt against this. After all, I've trained that part of my mind to start working whenever I put on aforementioned "earthy" tunes. So, perhaps someday it will learn to adapt to ambient electronic jams. I hope so. For now, shamanic drumming with have to do.