Bees and Reclaiming Pittsburgh

Honey bees, the ones who have doing community correctly down pat. They all have their jobs, they all do their jobs, and in so doing they support each other and the community. They care for and feed their queen. The queen is the center of the community and with care and food this center supports, maintains, and allows the hive to expand. This system also produces more queens! Whatever is at the center of community is fed and cared for so it will remain viable and useful. What would you like to be the center of Reclaiming Pittsburgh? How can we feed our community so it grows and thrives?

Join us for “Back to the Hive: Reclaiming Pittsburgh Community Meeting” on Saturday, October 21st, 2017, 1 PM – 5 PM, at 2011 Noble St, Pittsburgh, PA, 15218-2100.

Back to the Hive: Reclaiming Pittsburgh’s Annual Ritual Community Meeting
What do we mean by ritual community meeting? We will be doing the sacred work of planning and decision making for the November 1, 2017 – October 31, 2018 cycle. We will be casting, calling in the elements, doing trance, raising energy, etc. while making consensus decisions for the future of the Reclaiming Pittsburgh community.
Do you have a proposal for the Reclaiming Pittsburgh Community for the November 1, 2017 – October 31, 2018 cycle? Is there a process, type of work, or discussion that you would like to see manifested? Please send your proposals or discussion topics to Amoret BriarRose at amoret@amoretbriarrose.com by October 7, 2017.
Witchy/magical attire encouraged!
**Parking at the location. If you’re approaching 2011 Noble St and the building is on your left, continue 1/2 block to Center St. and turn right. Go another 1/2 block and a parking lot is on your left.
If the location is on your right as you proceed on Noble St, then you will turn left on Center St. 1/2 block prior to reaching the building.
The lot is metered, but never checked according to our event hostess.

Paganism: resists infallible leader syndrome, eats them when they fail

“….I’m always hesitant about stepping into leadership in my community. I feel called to share my gifts, and resist the glare of the spotlight. Scrutiny is a difficult thing, but my religious community prides itself on being fully human in all the places of our lives. We encourage and embrace each other as we flail and fall, dust off our knees, and rise to the task again and again. We neither coddle nor punish weakness. Sometimes punish strength. We walk the edges – try not to fall into codependence, hold our boundaries, and push through our discomfort…..”

 

First published on paganbloggers at Musings from the Bone.

Manifesting to Fullness

At times I forget how much the Universe enjoys assisting in the process of manifestation. Speak your desires, take actions to support them, and notice when the Web of All That Is shakes the strings a bit to facilitate what manifests. For maximum manifestation of desires to be achieved I believe we work hand-in-hand with Creation, each needing the other for fullness.

I’ve been clearing my spiritual plate of all the items that were too shiny to pass on in the moment, but don’t serve the direction I’m heading in. I desire to make room for what is most fulfilling, what brings me the most joy, and what sends useful energy out into the world – the three of those together are the criteria for a thing being an emphasis in my life.

Discernment can be quite difficult when you are attracted to all the glittering bits and I was being easily distracted, so I wiped the plate. *boom* Empty. The decision of what to add back, what new things to plop on it, felt very intimidating at first, so I rode that scary part like the experienced rider I know that I am. I created my criteria to facilitate success from my end while trusting the Universe when something unanticipated is removed from my plate without direct action from me.

It’s an interesting time. Some things I feel will again be in my life in a few months, others I’m releasing indefinitely. In the meanwhile, I can feel the return of space in my breathing, that small pause between inhale and exhale where anything feels possible. What a delight!

My Ancestor Altar

I was inspired to take photos of my ancestor altar by a post by Amoret. Apparently the ancestors wanted things to stay a bit in your imagination because the photos are blurry. Aren’t They a hoot?

By my best calculations I started this altar 15 years ago. I may be off a year, but because of where I had it set up at the other house I believe it was 2001. Eh, close enough, yes? It was my first ever altar (later were deity ones), and since it was put up it has remained up, from the last house to this house. It contents have grown over the years.

The first photo is the whole corner. The piece of furniture is a vanity from IIRC the 1930’s that I acquired along with some other pieces still in use in this house from my boss’ estate. He was the owner/boss at my first job that wasn’t babysitting.

ancestor-altar-2016


This second photo is dad and grandad casket flags, and underneath it is a framed saying about family. To the left is a mask my mum purchased in Mexico when she was in her early 20’s I think, so early 1950’s. To the right is a green ceramic cone that has sand in it and is used to burn incense.

On the wall to the left is a picture frame with some of mum’s ancestors and the Baron’s hat hung on a candle holder.

upclose1


The top of the vanity has a folded white tablecloth from my parents’ wedding gifts. This cloth is a recent addition, about a year ago. Candles, a chalice of water, cornmeal, photos in frames (with an always empty slot – for future me), anointing oil, my blessings oil blend for the candles, and the brass container housing graveyard dirt (thanks Mum!) are some of the items. There are various other mementos spread about on top and in the drawers underneath. I periodically change out some of the mementos on top.

upclose2


On the stool underneath are 2 casket crosses (mum’s and dad’s), 2 photo albums, and a genealogy book.

upclose3

Prayers, self-anointing, requests, water + candle blessings, thanks and reverence all occur here at various times. Do you have a place, altar, or practice for your ancestors? I’d love to hear about it!

What to do, what to do

I tend to side-eye myself (I use a mirror?) when coincidences pop up and I think, “aha! Connection! Intelligent Universe!” I seem to give more grace to other folks’ coincidences than to my own. Now, I do believe some things are only coincidence, and other things not, and the latter is more common as a rule.

I don’t jump to Reason It’s Written in Destiny™ straight off. I wait to see if anything else shows up. At times I feel a push to do a thing, with no known reason for the pushing to be as hard and urgent as it feels. Take for instance collecting the moon water at the ocean last week. I mean sure – witchywoohoo why not? But it felt like a mandate more than a desire. I’ve learned not to question so much and just do in those situations, and allow myself to wonder later when I’ll know why.


Yesterday I was told stories by a woman of her visit to Standing Rock to deliver supplies to the water protectors there. I’m not going to tell her stories here, they are hers to tell in her own blog. She talked of elders reskilling tribal members in the old ways of their traditions: herbs, and medicines, and blessings – especially the water blessings with wonderful details. There was a story of moondancers and a water blessing that reminded me much of the Waters of the World spell in my own tradition and we talked about this.

My friend had just stopped for the night, a pitstop on her way back home. As she thanked me for the couch of hospitality she reached into her car and pulled out a bit of sage from Standing Rock. She handed it to me as a thank you. I was touched. As I held that sage I thought of the moondancers and their water blessing. I thought of the moonwater I’d collected on a whim. I didn’t even side-eye myself, I just smiled.

These 3 things need to be put together as a working for the waters and the protectors. They have a purpose beyond the obvious. Mystery – how it arrives, what it holds, and what is released as it manifests is a big part of the draw to my path. What to do with these 3 things remains to be discovered, but once done I will again feel Mystery’s Touch. May I never tire of it.

“Breaths” – Sweet Honey in The Rock

 

Poem by Birago Diop; Music by Ysaye Maria Barnwell © 1980

listen more often to things than to beings
listen more often to things than to beings

tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water

those who have died have never, never left
the Dead are not under the earth

they are in the rustling trees, they are in the groaning woods
they are in the crying grass, they are in the moaning rocks

the Dead are not under the earth

so listen more often to things than to beings
listen more often to things than to beings

tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water

those who have died have never, never left
the Dead have a pact with the living

they are in the woman’s breast
they are in the wailing child

they are with us in the home
they are with us in the crowd

the Dead have a pact with the living

so listen more often to things than to beings
listen more often to things than to beings

tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water

listen more often to things than to beings
listen more often to things than to beings

tis the ancestors breath when the fire’s voice is heard
tis the ancestors breath in the voice of the water

I need to note this – extra active Spirits

I’ve been meaning to “note this somewhere” and here is as good as any place, yes? Starting about mid-August I’ve noticed unusually active spirits, sprites, Beloved Dead, and various other flitting-about Energies. Generally these are always around, seen when looking, and more easily visible as the veil thins towards Samhain. But this year, this year,  they are early and active, like whoa.

It has been a distraction especially while driving. They are not fluttery wisps, they are dense and quick. So much so I’ve been reacting as if pedestrians are about to rush in front of my car. It is quite unnerving when I’m behind the wheel. I cannot fathom what it’s going to be like once we’re at Samhain, but I’m rather excited to find out. Hail our (often) Unseen!

The Gods and Releasing Expectations

It can be easy for me to fall into a rut with what Work I expect from which God. This is based on past experiences, trance with them, and their standard associations. I put Them in a box. They like boxes as much as we do, which is not at all, as boxes tend to suffocate, no matter how delightful.

Yemaya has Her box in my head. It’s a lovely one with salted waters flowing through the bottom, brilliant beige sands on the left, and plush greens on the right. Stars whirl and flash hot across the top and the walls are bright colours with art made of discarded seashells. The soundscape is a hearty mix of ocean waves, lapping brooks, birdsong, and music that carries the rhythm of my blood pulsing to my heart. The smellscape is sweet tangy flowers, brine, and the sensuous odour of Love. All of creation she holds in her hands, her heart, her womb. Her feet leave seeds of renewal with every step of the dance. I love her box. She does, too, but, it is still a box.

Yemaya wants to come to Medusa camp in July. I’ve had other Goddesses and Gods surprise me with which events they wish to attend with me, eschewing their boxes. I guess at Who wants to travel for a gathering and then They tell me yes or no, while Others jump in demanding to be taken. Hel wants to come to Medusa camp this year. Of course She does! No surprise! Death is a big piece of this story. And …. so is life. Hel is always reminding me of her left side, the living flesh side. It’s amusing, because I know, I know, and yet She whispers in my ear, “Life feeds on death the same as death feeds on life.”

I should have suspected something big was coming with Yemaya when she insisted a few months ago that her shrine be moved to a more prominent place and she wanted more attention. Both have occurred.

I have a long time online friend who has started looming ask if I wanted a rainbow cloth/altar scarf for my Work concerning the Orlando massacre in a gay club on June 11th during Latinx night. My energies and spellwork are for the Beloved Dead and for healing and justice for the LGBTQA++ going forward. My friend asked what Powers and Gods with their associated energies did I want to pull in. Yemaya lithely jumped to Her delicious feet, stopped her dance of the heavens, turned full face to me, and said with somber eyes plus a firm tone, “ME”. (Others desired to lend power to this project, but Yemaya was first.)

My friend weaves magic into her work with the loom. To be quite honest, she weaves magic into everything. For her newest Art of looming she has a lovely process of calling and weaving which you can read about here. My cloth is near done. As my friend was weaving Yemaya stepped in, speaking Her expectations of me for this Work. These messages have been passed on to me. She is coming to camp, and to other events in the future, for this Work, for this Magic. Beautiful as it is, a box is constricting, and the Gods will not be limited. Nor should They be. They expect us not to limit ourselves, either. Ashé.

Witches, remember your skills, use them to pull the strings of the Web

I have “reasons” for the colour candle I light for the newly dead, but the most significant one is “because I was told to” by whatever name you call the Universal Is. So it is orange candles for the newly Beloved Dead created by a bigot in Orlando, FL, in the wee hours of yesterday morning. Orange is for the transition, for the time immediately after physical death leading into the next phase. It is for the soul, not the body. It is for their essence, not their loved ones. There are many rites for those left behind, my work is for the ones departed.

I will be reading the names of these Beloved Dead, every day, until all are laid to rest by their loved ones. Then I will read them a final time for this working. And candles – lots of candles, as I do this part of my Job.

Hel wants in on this work, is full of deep sadness, but only can watch from the sidelines knowing those folks died in battle, and therefore aren’t Hers. Hel gets a candle for holding Her compassion.

There is other work, too. Odin wants in on this Work. He is requiring only a single jar candle, and a listening heart for what comes next.

Magic is being organized locally for a public call to justice and change.

We’re witches, damnit, let’s wield our tools for change!

Forgotten Lessons/Recurring Blindspots

Sometimes we learn a thing, internalize it even, then before we’ve done it for enough time to become expert at it, life happens and we return to old habits without notice. It can be hard to notice a thing that slithers up your leg and find its way into your soul when it used to be an intimate and integral part of you. It knows where the secret entrances are to reclaim their residence within.This isn’t a revelation to most folks, who can recall the times this has been true. Periodically I go back and read my old blog posts to remind myself of those hard fought lessons. Often this proves to be a really useful action at just the right time. This happened again today.

This is from a response to a post I’d written that is only tangentially related to the discussion that occurred in the comments. As part of her reply, my friend Cyn said: “Time and time again, I am valued and loved only commensurate to how Super Woman I can be. ” Her comment prompted a dialogue about vulnerability and Shadow Work I had done surrounding it.

My reply: [My Work was] allowing myself to be seen in my vulnerability and more importantly, allowing myself to be loved in it. Sure, there are some out there who WILL reject people with exposed fragility in them. Just not everyone, nor even most. I was operating under the erroneous belief that most of the people who loved me would stop “if they knew”. And that no-one new would love me if I allowed those parts of me to be visible. I was wrong.

There were people who auto-rejected me because I showed no vulnerability at all. About the same percentage as those who may reject me for my fragile parts. The difference now is not in them. They remain the same. The difference is in me – if I am to move forward with any bit of grace and become who I wish to be fully I had to not only accept my fragile bits, but to handle them with love. This requires a level of exposure I hadn’t had since before the sexual abuse and the coping mechanisms adopted by virtue of living with an alcoholic parent.

So, that’s been my learning and my progress thus far. And yes, “Time and time again, I am valued and loved only commensurate to how Super Woman I can be, “ that was me. But I stopped. I chose to no longer gauge my lovability quotient based on other people’e expectations of who I should be. This was/is part of the same work. I have lost things because of it. And I’ve lost some people because it. Those losses hurt like hell. They do not hurt more than the manner I was hurting myself when I was living for them instead of me, though.

So while I don’t want a t-shirt screaming, “I am vulnerable! Take your best shot!” because I’m not completely unsound, I neither want one that screams “Vulnerability sucks!” If I had to have one I think it would say, “Vulnerability just is. Deal with it.”


I had forgotten my commitment to vulnerability while interacting in some spaces. I had forgotten my commitment to not act based on other folks’ expectations. I had forgotten my commitment to my lovability quotient being determined by me alone. Now that I’ve been reminded, I can see how those commitments were slipping away in my life. Until the reminder, I was ignoring the slithering, leg-climbing, blindspot from my past. Beautifully useful hindsight, I can tell you the occurrences that I believe started the slippage two years ago. I won’t use that hindsight to flog the me that lives in the now. I do hope to use it to keep this habit strong until I am expert at it so it doesn’t slip away again when I’m not being vigilant. That’s part of the point of holding a new thing until one is well practiced at it, once that is achieved, vigilance can be released to make room for other things you are tending into permanence.

To banish this most recently returned blindspot, I am renewing my commitments:

I will not act based on other folks’ expectations.
I will gauge my lovability quotient based solely on my own desires.
I will allow my vulnerability to be seen.
Ashé.