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.

Thoughts thru the Maze – who is the monster at the center of the labyrinth?

Is it me? Is it you? My thoughts run frantically after each other, twisting in confusion. I search for the path to the center. Was there a minotaur, or simply a mirror? When does a hospice worker get to say, “nope, not you”? Do you get to say bugger off to your calling? When seeking advice from the Ancestors, why do they snort-laugh and shrug?

Answers in order: Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Whenever. Sure. Because they can.

If I can find a way to decipher my feelings around the situation it will all become clear, yes? Does a soul-cleanser get to say, “Not my job. I’m not the only Worker here”? Are there guns involved, and if so, what caliber? Will regret be involved? Does that change anything?

Answers: Same as the first set, choose as appropriate.

Decisions that shift hourly are exhausting. Life is exhausting. Death is exhausting. Sleep will be a temporary relief.

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.

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.

A funny thing happened on the way to my grave….

(originally posted on this day three years ago, it was a good reminder today)

I am reminded again of how easily I can hold two seemingly conflicting ideas inside of me and be at peace with that. This is not true for everyone. Some people need everything to line up logically and make sense or they must discard what doesn’t. It is how they order their world. Their sense of personal safety and security depends on it. Logical structure, schedules, and outlines hold the edges of their life and such things make them happy.
My sense of How Things Work depends on the idea that not everything is logical, nor should it be.  Everything does not fit together in a Tab A/Slot B way. First draft outlines, dynamic schedules and loose structure hold the soft edges of my life and make me happy. Hard lines constrict me, do not make sense within my world view, and cause me to feel suffocated. It is an interesting endeavor when these two views meet in conversation. I always walk away from those encounters with reinforced certainty of: my POV is as it should be, everyone gets to be exactly who they are, and I am easily okay with that.

Oh, Julian*, you were so right.

*Julian of Norwich – “All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”

The Acute Divide of Me

I remember a time when my online persona was such a good match for my offline persona it was a bit disturbing. Somewhere along the years of Facebook I have lost that. I don’t know if it’s the medium, the horrors of menopause, or I’m just more careless and quick to answer with my words, or all of these, but it is something.

I started shifting this in January, smoothing some of my edges, but not stopping my desire to spotlight issues of social injustice. It worked for awhile. Then it didn’t, then it did. I’ve all the right reasons in my head, but then it slips and I don’t even notice at first. In person I notice quickly. (I’ll give ya sometimes I’m clueless, but that is unusual, not typical.)

I was being quiet more, with spurts of RAWR, but I didn’t shift enough internally. I was choosing where to post what, hidden from much of friends list, with the occasional two day outbursts on my timeline. Basically I changed where without changing how. Which is duh, but there ya go, I was being duh. I wasn’t feeling this shift in my body and for me that is an important piece to permanence.

Today after visiting a hospice patient I felt it in my body. Like huge I felt it. Not the shift, but the gulf between the state of grace I am in when I am in service to the dying and the state if non-grace I am in a place like Facebook. How I am face-to-face in my community where my hands fly around, my eyes are bright, and my face lights up with passion when discussing things. When I discuss all things, from SJ to how the squirrel wiggled itself up a tree. It was core blowing how acutely I felt the divide between the two places I am “seen”. And it was unnerving. And humbling.

My wish is that I hold this state of grace more purposefully going forward, in all my places. That I try to do better. That I will do better.

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!

One True Way™ leaks in everywhere

One of the reasons many people turn to walk a different spiritual path than Christianity is because they balk at the way its tenets can be presented as the One True Way™, leaving no room for personal conversations with God about how to be of service to Them.

Unfortunately, the mindset that allows One True Way™ thinking doesn’t always get left behind with the religion. At first, and for awhile, it is pushed to the edges of the mind, but then time rolls on and the freedom to embrace Many Ways tarnishes a bit. More than one right way means that my voice cannot be always right, and in fact, sometimes my voice is wrong when applied to others. It is at this time that I turn and embrace more tightly the belief that there is more than one right way to do things, to approach things, and to hear the Gods.

It feels like bright and obvious hubris on my part to suddenly turn around and insist that all messages I receive from Them are applicable to all the humans. It’s  one reason I chose the path I am on, to allow for variance, and differing thoughts, and loving supportive discourse interspersed with spirited dissent.

One True Way™ thinking is gaining voice in Pagan places. It is disconcerting and disappointing, but overall, I guess it is to be expected. In the past number of years it has become more popular to proclaim how to be a proper polytheist, why there is or is not any hard or soft polytheism, why and how to be a heathen, why and how to be Feri, who does Reclaiming better — the stench is all around and the only thing it can accomplish is to divide and divide some more. To pretend at “my beliefs are valid for me, not necessarily for you” instead of living it and to not take to heart “We are all our own spiritual authority” is the height of self-important arrogance and one of the reasons many left their childhood religion behind. It is one of the reasons I left mine behind.

That last one, the spiritual authority belongs to you one? You either live it or you don’t. There isn’t an in-between for when I want to Be Right and then move back into it when the subject matter isn’t really important to me. In my path we all get to converse with the Gods. Their messages to us are our own. While they may be applicable across the board, usually they are applicable to a much smaller group than everyone on earth.

Gods are multi-issue beings, same as humans are. They have many thoughts and a range of issues they wish the humans would pay attention to and address. Who They tell what varies greatly, and one message isn’t more important or more correct than the others. Kudos to you (and me) for speaking with Deity, but un-kudos to you (or me) for thinking we have the one true connection. That is anti-freedom of religious process and wholly opposite the idea of folks being their own spiritual authority.

If Moses wasn’t a necessary piece for the Christian God to have his message of ten delivered to the whole world, but rather one messenger to reach a particular group of people, then I’m pretty certain none of my Gods need a Moses to speak to all humans. Be a Moses to your small group, but accept there are other Moses’ and other messages being delivered to others.

One doesn’t get to allow others their own spiritual authority only when they agree, and insist on one true way compliance when they disagree. Well, one does get to do that, free will and all, but others get to have thoughts about you and me because of it.

Sitting Vigil and Sacred Presence

I signed up for a sacred presence e-course in November of last year. It centered around sitting with the dying. There was no new information for me in it as I had hoped there might be, but really, what “new” could there be? Once you learn sacred presence it is always there for you. However, good came from taking this course. The knowledge that it is being taught, that the information is out there and available in a coherent easy to digest way is a very good thing. The number of students engaging authentically and with love in the forums was also a very good thing to witness.

Our country has a sizable older population, and the baby boomers will be dying in large groups, so to speak. It is past time to become more comfortable with death. It is past time to treat it as a natural event, a sacred event, that we all will share. Many folks want to be present for their dying loved ones, but we don’t teach them how to be. For those like me, who walk the edge and assist the dying, it becomes a comfortable place because of the pure sacredness of being present (physically and spiritually) while somebody transitions from this life.

It is an experience of honour that is ineffable. It is an act done without thoughts of “what’s in it for me?” because always always always it is about the person doing the dying, not the folks doing the living around them. Those not dying get much time to process their grief later, after the dying have completed their process. Maintaining focus on the dying is the point, sacred presence allows that. It is a gift for the dying. It turns out is is a gift for the ones who vigil, also. Sacred presence must come from within, and holding it benefits all who are present around this sacred, beautiful transition.

Hail our Beloved Dead. Hail.