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Accept this sacrifice…

THIS POST IS NOT I REPEAT NOT IN RESPONSE TO CURRENT ONLINE DEBATE ABOUT ANIMAL SACRIFICE. (Really it’s just fascinating timing because we slaughter stock in late fall to early winter- Samhain, anyone?- and there happens to be a debate going on right about now)

ALSO: THIS POST INCLUDES THE DESCRIPTION OF ANIMAL SLAUGHTER

Last weekend was an historic first on the mini farm. The first young whether raised on the farm (whether: castrated male goat) was slaughtered for meat. It’s not the first animal killed on the farm. I have no idea how many generations you would have to retrace to find that information. He was the first goat that we raised and killed for food.

So how and why might I call his slaughter a sacrifice? Why is this even a big deal for me?

I started this venture just over a year ago after my former life was brought crashing down around me partly through my own actions and partly through some serious divine interference. When Ares says “jump” you freaking jump. If you fail to jump then the world will fall out from under you. Trust me. If you don’t trust me, trust the wonderful and understanding professional therapist who put me back together. It was this vaguely referenced series of events that led to me finally cutting all ties with my old life and starting over as a business owner and (eventually sustainable, off grid) small stock raiser and gardener. When I took that final leap into the new life, it was Ares who said “Trust Me.”

So I did. I have my reasons for doing so and they have taken years to develop. But I did.

Money is and will probably always be tight, but it’s there. Work is and will probably always be kind of spotty but it’s enough. Barely. I’d feel better if there was more interest in the business but Father assures me that will come in time. Food is plentiful. Shelter is an interesting story but suffices until better is built. And family… with few exceptions… is healing. Friends, magic and just plain FUN have never been better. Life isn’t easy but it’s GOOD.

All of this- and there’s more that I just can’t put into words- is the reason that I consider the slaughter of this goat to be a sacrifice. He represented in a living breathing way the fruits of the trust I placed in Ares as my abundant Father. (Why, no, I don’t just honor him as a war god) This goat was sacred, and in dying he fulfilled his sacred purpose.

I cared for the animal as best as I know how, and can honestly state that he gave every indication, both physically and per his behavior, of being a happy, healthy animal. I think sometimes that we forget that prayers can be prayers of praise instead of petition, so I did voice my praise and my gratitude for my good life as well as for the healthy animal and the promise of healthy animals in the future. I made sure the goat was calm before I opened a major artery with a single stroke of a very sharp blade. He died calmly and quickly, blood soaking into the earth to feed next year’s garden. Only when every last twitch was long done did my brother and I skin and gut the carcass, and begin the process of removing edible tissue for packaging and preservation.

Killing an animal is an act that I find to be simultaneously sacred and profane. Slaughter is the culmination of months or even years of effort to keep and raise healthy animals. It is not an easy task and destroying that effort may feel strange. I take a life to feed my own life, knowing full well that when I die my matter and energy alike will feed other lives- even if those lives are single celled decomposers. I experience the resistance of flesh to blade, the heat of blood, the last gasp of air in a physical, primal way. I don’t enjoy the act, but I sense the accomplishment. While I know perfectly well that this way of living is not for everyone, I can’t imagine a better way for me, myself, to BE pagan.

I realize this post is not well timed, given the debate currently staggering about drunkenly on other larger sites that people actually read. I realize that this post may be uncomfortable and even disturbing to some readers. Sad to say, but I don’t think either statement really affects me. I consider slaughtering animals that you have raised (or hunted, I will insist on including) to be a sacred act. It is an act that I will perform whenever circumstances are right, regardless of what others are saying, and with thankfulness in my heart for the animal, the earth, and the gods.

New York Metal Weekend

Man it’s been quiet around here. Excuse me while I brush the cobwebs out of the corners. I promise I’ll leave any webs that still have spiders in them. So what has the Imbrium been up to? About six foot, more or less. No really. Well there was an epic concert in NYC and I rearranged the altar again and this evening I will be slaughtering the first goat on the farm. Busy few weeks.

Let me ramble about that concert because holy damn it was awesome. Mein Bruder und ich went to NYC by way of Irvington, NJ. If you ever have the opportunity to spend a few nights in a sketchy hotel that smells like bad weed and spiders crawl up on your pillow to kiss you good morning… don’t. After spending almost $40 in tolls just to get there I was really hoping for something better than a bad horror movie setting. Ah well. New Jersey scares me. A lot. And I’ve lived in Baltimore. New York city was pretty cool though. I wouldn’t want to live there, the noise and the crowds and the constant underlying smells of vehicle exhaust and sewage would bother me too much. Still, the nice well lit touristy parts of the city are worth visiting. I got a couple of decent photos which I will try to upload. Overall we walked a lot of concrete and paid way too damn much for food and learned that traffic laws in the city are more like suggestions because if five cars will fit then it is a five lane road and red lights are like half whispered pleas for cooperation. Suddenly bus. So we parked and walked.

Once in the concert hall on Friday (after wading through shoulder to shoulder masses of humans in Times Square to edit in a line that wrapped around the block) it was all worth it. Sabaton and Amon Amarth put on a spectacular show. They all have so much fun on stage that it’s probably illegal in some states. Worth every ungodly toll, wrong turn, sketchy moment and set of sore feet. How was YOUR weekend?

Let us find a better way (or: “we are not the monsters under your bed, I promise”)

ladyimbrium:

Worth reading no matter where you stand on the discussion, or if you care at all.

Originally posted on Thracian Exodus:

The subject of sacrifice is always a heated one. When it comes up, it is natural and right to have emotions around it, whether you find yourself in favor of it, or against it. Feelings are natural. Sometimes those feelings override our sense of how to use word-things to communicate our thought-forms, or cause us to lose sight of the global world that we live in, which exists outside of our own experiences or preferences. I recently had the pleasure of discussing these issues with a Pagan who expressed views online which I found to be offensive and dangerous and hurtfully malign. We were able, in private dialog, to come together as two humans, and address the mutually agreed upon need for education, training, and outreach around these issues in every direction. But the way that this dialog is addressed in general is one perpetually riddled by problematic obstacles.

The problems are many…

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In Praise of Pagan Men

ladyimbrium:

Well this is just awesome!

Originally posted on Witches Of The Craft:

In Praise of Pagan Men
Author: Sia@FullCircle

Speaking as a feminist and as a Pagan woman, I would like to say this: I like men. I like to flirt with them, I like to be around them, I like to knowing them as friends, I like working with them, and I like hearing their take on things. So it seems to me that Beltane — a holiday that celebrates the Green Man – is a perfect time to celebrate the many great men in the Earthwise community.

It’s been said that “Nine tenths of the Laws of Chivalry is the desire on the part of men to keep all the fun to themselves”. While that may have been true in the past, our Pagan men have found a way to merge old world courtesy with modern equality. Anyone who’s been to a Pagan event will know whereof I speak, and…

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Earthweaver’s Fall Festival 2014

I have returned from Earthweaver’s Fall Festival with a tale to tell. This is the public version of the tale and names have been avoided to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. [It should be noted that, after conversation with individuals, some names have Actually been added back in per their specific request.]

I look forward to this festival every year. It is the one that sees most of my tribe together and is the one at which the majority of us first bonded. In many ways it is Terra Coven’s annual reunion festival. We even had a sign this year courtesy of Sir Hex Nottingham, our Druid Drummer Dude and one of my favorite people on this planet. Sadly, Terra Coven was down a few tents this year, some folks have moved away and others couldn’t make it. You were greatly missed. I brought along a few new tents to round things out though, as the Coven of the Laughing Spider made its public appearance. We are a diverse group walking a variety of life paths. We get along brilliantly and we all have one entity in common: Loki, the Laughing Spider Himself. (And yes I know there is absolutely no scholarly support for that moniker, but it suits Him so very well… I am also aware that the group name is a little bit ridiculous. That would be the point.)

We got in late in Thursday and set up camp and altar in the dark. We passed the sacramental vodka-because that’s how we roll-and welcomed our favorite God to the party. And what a party it was. Somewhere amid the hugs, hails, and ritual passing of magiced Celtic Honey (a Terra Coven tradition in its own right) we found ourselves… home.

Food, fire, drumming, drinking, partial nudity, outrageous ribald humor kept the night alive until false dawn. Best homecoming ever.

After everyone made their way back to our campfire we started Friday morning with our traditional breakfast of Imbrium’s camp cakes (like pancakes only more epic) and Hex’s eggs and haggis all washed down with copious amounts of coffee. You wish you were there. We do a big breakfast because most of us are staff or presenters and don’t have time for lunch. Friday passed quickly with visits to friends and security obligations. When the stars came out that night, so did the magic.

Specifics would be lost on anyone who wasn’t there, and would be inappropriate to reveal anyway. Friday night’s endurance galdr session was unlike any prior experience of mine with the runes in any context. It was very intense and I have a much better understanding of the kinds of energy that are resonating with me right now. At least for now. One did surprise me but in retrospect I should have seen it coming.

Friday night into Saturday morning something happened that had never happened before. I did not go dance at the fire circle. Shock. Dismay. Divinely inspired. If I had danced, I would never have survived Saturday night. Saturday started with another big traditional breakfast- again, you wish you were there- and a funny story about coyotes in the campground. While I am quite sure that the story grew as it traveled I do believe the person who says he heard and saw them himself. Coyotes. Let that sink in for a moment.

Again, the day passed too quickly with great friends and beautiful weather. As the sun began to sink, magic began to rise. The main festival ritual was a beautiful call to the powers of the elements and the community present, designed to weave friendship between us. I’m very glad that I attended.

Then it all got weird.

Mind you, this is ME calling it weird.

There is a detailed version of the story in my private records because this is the kind of thing you want to keep records about. I will not be sharing that version except privately. We passed the sacramental vodka and had ourselves a good meal. Then one person, whose own primary deity surely knew what would happen, handed me a plate with a pool of cow’s blood on it. PSA: CONSUMING RAW OR INCOMPLETELY COOKED ANIMAL PARTS IS UNSAFE. Now, I love rare red meat and I’ve tasted blood many times before. Due to a rare alignment of specific circumstances, this time was very different. I do admit that I knew it would happen. I took the risk. As the blood drained down, Loki’s power rose and He came right in.

The rest of the night is marked by gaps, usually only a minute or two at a time, and the sense that what I do recall I am seeing as though through a fog. Some things I do remember, like the laugh that I know full well wasn’t mine. Or the strange and oddly submissive gesture to another person in a ritual I know I attended. It wasn’t my… our?… His?… show and it wasn’t until She accepted that momentary yield (with its implied promise not to steal the stage) that we were really let in to the ritual. It was worth the gesture to see what I saw, feel what I felt, and learn what I learned.

Unfortunately- or perhaps just as well- an incident occurred which required me to function as festival staff for a while and knocked me right out of the trance state I was in. If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing the frightened and confused looks of emergency room staff at four in the morning when a couple people in festival garb show up with another injured festival goer… you’re missing out.

And that, after all of the other mind blowing things that happened, was the key. I found myself… needed. Because I was in the right place at the right time. Because I had been willing to look a little foolish and take a risk. Because I chose to trust the Gods I love. Read that progression again, because it’s big.

And now I’m back home but I feel like I left home behind. Yet I am thankful. Thanks for friends, family, and tribe. Thanks for Gods. Thanks for magic. Thanks for alcohol. Thanks for Loki, Whose power flows and stirs up the muck in our lives so we can pan for gold.

Obligatory Patriot Day Post

Because apparently we have to have a really cool sounding name for yet another tragic event in our recent history. Anyone else make the connection that we only ever have tragic events? We think they’re terrible because we generally live in comfort, making the contrast so much more extreme. We forget that many in the world and even in our own inner cities, rural backwaters, and places between live in tragedy and have comfortable events- if they’re lucky.

There’s no way to say all that without sounding like I’m minimizing tragedy that has occurred here. I’m not even going to try, since the people who know me know better.

Think, rather, on this.

The night after everything changed I was watching a news broadcast like most of the country. I saw a man who was waiting in an airport after his flights was rerouted and grounded. I don’t recall most of what was said but I clearly recall the stunned look on his face as he said- as though he was himself just realizing the words- “It’s not the same world it was 24 hours ago.”

I have often wondered if he knew then just how right he was.

The P Word

I’m about to unleash some profanity on my site. Imbrium is going to be talking about… politics.

Well, not really. But… really. It will make sense in a moment.

You see, I am totally fed up and frustrated with just about every political movement and party that I have encountered in my country- including those parties and movements which claim to be fed up with all parties and movements.

Why? Because they are all the same.

“You’re bad because this thing that you support gives me cold prickly feelings!”

“Well you’re bad because this thing that I support makes me warm and fuzzy feeling!”

(Thanks to John Michael Greer, Grand Archdruid of the AODA, for the phrasing.)

Cold pricklies! Warm fuzzies! You’re bad! No YOU’RE bad!

Holy sweet dancing stars, people. We are not five and this is not a playground.

It’s election season in the US. It’s a mid-term election, so not everyone cares this time, but it’s still election season. Not that elections make much difference. The same names wind up in the same offices over and over and we never really bother to ask why. Seriously, why? I hear complaint after complaint about the corrupt people in office… and then those same people get elected again. I don’t understand. If you’re unhappy with the folks in office, why would you re elect them? Or- more sinisterly- are they actually being re elected? The ramifications of that suggestion are quite frightening but not at all impossible given how hopelessly apathetic most of the American population has become.

Why have we gotten so apathetic? When did we stop giving a damn? I heard somewhere that more people voted on “Dancing with the Stars” than voted for their governors, senators or even president. I couldn’t find the proof for the claim but to be perfectly pessimistically honest I could believe it to be true. If anyone finds the proof for (or against- I would really like to be wrong on this one) that claim please share it with me.

What really raises my blood pressure is the way that specific opinions get lumped together into party lines. I really just want gay married couples to be able to defend their marijuana plants with their own guns while welfare recipients get drug tested using green and sustainable tech. It’s not that complicated. Can we focus on the fact that growth is not limitless, that goods and services have tangible value, that infrastructure is the lifeblood of a country this size, that without quality education we will lose any claim on our own future, that not everyone will have the same results even when given an equal opportunity, that if we don’t take care of our natural resources then none of the rest of it will matter? To talk to most of the people in my groups of friends and acquaintances, this is what an American political party would look like, but the opinions are split among several groups, forcing us to choose between ideas and beliefs that mean more to us.

Parties don’t work. This is my opinion. I don’t know a way around it, honestly, since we seem inclined to form cooperative groups. Perhaps it is our strangely American need to classify, collate, quantify and label every little thing? We don’t seem to deal well with ambiguity so that might be part of the reason we wind up in parties that seem to contradict themselves.

I don’t have an answer. I don’t. I have heard some ideas that might help, but none that will fix the underlying problems. It’s not just one problem. It’s not even a list of problems. It’s a tangled up interwoven mess of let downs, failures, bad judgement, historical horrors, human stupidity, human generosity and natural disasters.

There are some things that might help. Term limits on Congress might help. A drastic culling of the bureaucracy might help. Placing educational decisions back into the hands of educators might help. Redirecting funding to things like highways and grid upgrades might help. Breaking up a few of the larger corporations in the world might help. Is it even possible to launch a national campaign against the “bread and circuses” mentality that currently holds the population enthralled? That might help a lot.

We’re not going to agree with each other. That’s not even the goal. We’re not always going to get along. That’s not the goal either. I think all I really want is a return to intelligent debate instead of soundbyte wars, and a long hard look at the political machinery in the country- from the teeming masses of lobbyists all the way to the top- to see what needs to be ripped out and rebuilt. The American population could best be served by tearing their entranced gazes away from their mirrors, televisions and bank accounts. There are people, not out there in the world but right next door, who are hungry, hurting, illiterate, ill, wise, skilled, dangerous, helpful, well educated, widely educated, practical, idealistic and a whole slew of other things. Our politicians are lawyers and business men.

I don’t know about you but I don’t feel well represented.

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This rant has been brought to you by an increasing sense of futility and frustration and is not intended to do much of anything. We’re American after all. Big words is about all we’re good for anymore.

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