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Catch me this Saturday in Baltimore!

So, I’m going to this thing.

http://www.missiontix.com/events/product/25022/paganfest-2014

The missiontix site is the easiest one to share.

Paganfest 2014 in Baltimore! If it’s your kind of music and you’ve got the time and cash to spare, come find me and we shall rock. My hair has grown out quite a bit since the last picture I posted but it’s still me, I promise!

To hold with Fire

I have said before that I believe humanity to be a fire-aspected species. Sometimes it seems that everything we touch we change. We constantly seek to grow, expand, change. We consume.

Are there individual exceptions? Well of course there are. There are individual exceptions to most things.

Fire fascinates us, and out collective mythologies suggest that fire is one of our oldest fascinations. In some places fire is one of the primordial substances out of which the cosmos was formed. In others we find ancient tales of how fire came to humankind from the gods- usually it was stolen. We have gods of fire and gods who are fire and many for whom that distinction is very blurry. We dance with fire, build with it, cook with it, kill with it, and heal with it. It is the alchemical element we most often associate with our own spirits. Fire is on of our oldest companions.

For all of that, you’d think we would have it better figured out by now. But no. Fire still reminds us periodically that for all of our pretensions we have never tamed it. Sometimes it still gets the better of us.

I worked a fatal house fire last week. No details are available as the fire is still under investigation. I was posted to Medical Eval. so I was close enough to feel and hear and smell but not close enough to touch. Just as well- I had more time to think that way. (For the record, I’m an EMT- not a Firefighter. A lot of people are both, some are just one or the other. My job on a working fire is keeping an eye on the Firefighters’ vital stats and dealing with any patients they bring out of the blaze.)

It felt like it took an age to get the flames under some semblance of control, even though the public report says it was only 30 minutes. There wasn’t much left. Just a burned body and a single photograph in a heat-warped, soot-blackened metal frame that one of the Firefighters had grabbed on his way out. It was his relative’s home.

We speak so often about fire’s ability to cleanse, purify, and transform. We forget that this is rarely a gentle or beautiful process. It is a brutal purge of all things not essential to our foundation- everything but the concrete. Sometimes even the block is so heat-damaged that it has to be ripped up. We sometimes have the chance to salvage a piece or two from our old lives but it will be forever tainted by smoke and soot. Yes, fire transforms. A pillar of flame roaring into the blue sky even has its own kind of awful beauty. In those moments it is easy to see that our quiet little campfire is a pale reflection of the raging, hungry god that fire can be.

It makes me wonder how we could ever have allowed ourselves to fall into the trap of pretty, poetic thinking to the point that we forget the real power of fire. Of course, it could simply be fear. A hearth fire can burn you but a wildfire will destroy you and everything else in its path with total indifference to any suffering it causes.

It is my belief that fire unites even as it destroys, and that destruction is not always bad. We are all so much ash and dust in the wake of the blaze. We who crouch in the ash and mud and grimace in the heat and stink rolling off a structure fire find a deep camaraderie. Fire destroys, but it also forges.

Fire has constructive and defensive uses as well, and make no mistake. Anyone who has ever used or even been near a ceramics kiln or a smith’s forge or a glassworks has seen the inferno put to work. I’ve cooked many a meal over an open fire and been burned a few times. I have used fire to sterilize a scalpel and needles. A heated blade can also cauterize wounds if you’re desperate.

With all of these there is pain or the potential for pain. Fire gives nothing for free. It’s no real wonder that so many Trickster deities are in some way associated with fire. Fire has been our most powerful ally and our most dangerous enemy both at the same time. It is like a sword that is grasped by the blade- a weapon that wounds the wielder.

All of this is primarily mundane description, however. Fire carries all of this power and potential for pain into its magic as well. The magic of fire is often indifferent. It unites us even as it destroys us. It burns in our spirits and in the stars themselves. Fire is power and transformation, but its methods are often harsh and ll too easily get out of hand.

Most of my eclectic pantheon have fire aspects. They have torn and are tearing my life apart- much of what I had is gone yet I am indescribably bolstered by what has remained. I can see now what solid strength is at my own core; my skills, my talents, my human and other connections are mostly unchanged. It has been the application of those foundation blocks that has been burned away. They are forging me into something better. It is painful, being forged, but I trust them.

 

A Spring in my step

Please forgive me the terrible, terrible pun of a title. I’m not really sorry, even though I recognize that I should be.

I’ve had less to say on this forum lately, but that’s not for lack of things going on. I’m once again in my more extroverted time of the year where most of my energy gets directed to the garden and stock and festivals and other outside-of-me places. This is the time of year when my daily practice begins to look totally lazy and uninspired compared to a lot of what gets posted about online.

And that’s a perfectly OK thing. Stifle your squawks of horror.

This is the time of year when I get out and see my gods and spirits in the garden and fields and rivers and stars and sun and moon. This is the time of year when I greet dawn and blow a kiss to the moon and whisper encouragement to the seedlings and give thanks in song and libation for the healthy goat-kids. This is the time of year when my paganism becomes a get-up-and-go-live kind of paganism, instead of a rituals and inside altar focused paganism. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either method. I embrace both (and there are probably many more ways these are just the two that I flow between) because my lifestyle undergoes such a drastic seasonal shift.

I walk in accordance with the seasons and speak to my gods and spirits each in their own place and season.

Fortunately for me, I live in a temperate climate that is pretty close to the overarching structure of holy days imposed by some of the more vocal units of the pagan confederacy. Yes, confederacy- it’s really not a community if we’re being honest with ourselves. But that’s a different conversation.

So what changes? A lot, actually.

Instead of the morning workout I spend more time outside working on one project or another around the farm. I’ve gotten the small shed cleaned out and all of the garden lots worked up once- some of them planted with early crops already. Finishing mom’s frog pond is the next big one, followed by building a hay crib and another large shed. Once summer really starts cooking I’ll have to grub out one of the springs again. It’s enough labor to nullify any wintertime need for the gym, especially since I prefer to work with hand tools whenever feasible. The use of hand rather than power tools becomes an act of meditation not only for the repetitive nature of some of the work but because I get to be totally aware of the physical body in which I am currently incarnate and how that body is tied to, affected by, and can affect the world around it. Sweat and sunburn are sacred things in my world-view.

I sing more. I’m less sure of why this changes other than as a symptom of the overall extroversion of energy during the lighter half of the year. The goats love to be sung to, and there are some songbirds and a few of the crows (technically also songbirds but… crows) that will stop by and listen. My voice has always held my strongest connection to magic and part of this season is that outward-facing magic.

It’s festival season! Due to the cost of fuel and my own current financial situation (for the record, you can in fact live a pretty ok life below poverty level IF you’re willing to accept some lifestyle changes) I haven’t seen much of my Virginia or Baltimore pagan friends. This time of year is what I’ve been saving up for, however, so we can party and be awesome together. I can’t wait!

Unfortunately not all of the changes are good and I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that fact. My ability to make my inner dialogue shut up and focus has a tendency to go flying out the window. I tend to compose much less poetry this time of year. Farmer’s tan.

Overall you might say that I become more paganus and less witch/mystic/woo. It’s a seasonal shift and it happens every year, although I have not always been good at recognizing it.

So why am I even bothering to post all of this? Partly as an explanation for what surely appears to be slacking off, but also because I think the confederacy could use the reminder that there are many and widely varied ways to go about doing whatever this delightfully chaotic thing is that we do. Not that I really expect anyone to read this- I’m in kind of a tiny dark corner of the internet, after all. Whatever it is that you do- go do it. Go do it with joy and, pardon the repeat of the terrible, terrible pun, a spring in your step.

The gods give and the gods take away

*deep breaths*

This is going to be long and rambly and full of happiness and sadness and life and death. Go get a drink first. I’ll sip mine while I wait…

Back? OK.

The big news is the goats. The other big news is the goats. Good news first. Both of my does kidded successfully and without incident. There are now two more goats on the farm; one absolutely beautiful little doeling and one rangy going-to-be-enormous buckling. Hail and Thank You to the Lady Aphrodite, who turned her attention even to my little backyard farm and my backyard goats to encourage their healthy fertility even though goats aren’t really her typical focus. Pics because adorable. Take in the adorable. Appreciate it.

And now that we’re all well fortified with adorable, it’s time for the bad news.

The bad news is that my big buck died this morning. Or possibly very late last night. He was stiff and cold when I found him at feeding time around 0630 this morning. He had managed to get his head caught up in the hay bag and hung himself. I’m still trying to figure out the physics involved, since he shouldn’t have been able to reach the bag at all, and there’s just no reason why that bag didn’t break under his weight. Those bags just aren’t that tough. Either way, Kalam is dead and I’m minus one remarkably sweet natured (if admittedly mediocre) grade buck. My brother and I took the carcass out for buzzard food since by the time I found him it was way to late to think about saving any of the meat.

Still, I was comforted by the knocking of a woodpecker just above the pen where the buck died. It was kind of unusual (though not unheard of) for the woodpecker to be out that early and that close to the house, but there it was. The woodpecker- as Pete Helms has discussed on his much more scholarly blog- can be considered a positive omen from Ares, who assures me that he is watching over me still. The rapid tapping seemed to remind me that all will be well. I remember the trial I endured to demonstrate Ares as the Abundant and I know that it will all work out. This is a setback, not a disaster.

It does, after all, solve the problem of having an admittedly mediocre buck with an odd growth on his scrotum that was going to require veterinary attention to biopsy. It may well have been one of those freak accidents that life is infamous for throwing at us, especially when we are feeling cocky and complacent. I feel bad for the buck, it can’t have been an easy death. I also know it’s not the end of the farm’s world.

So that’s the big news gotten over with. Everything else will seem minor in comparison, but here’s a run-down.

I’ve had a generally pretty awesome few weeks away from the blog. I got to see Tyr in concert along with Death Angel and Children of Bodom a couple weeks ago. \m/ My life needs more mosh pits. Life is just better with mosh pits.

I’ve been asked by the (problem) middle school in the county to be in the building every day whether I have a specific job there or not. Apparently they are just that impressed with my work and are willing to pay me every day. I’m good with this since business at the other business still kinda sucks. I’m self-promoting like a cheap whore but it’s just not enough in this economy, apparently. Once I get the check from the last class I did I might actually break down and pay for advertising. I’d like to avoid it, but I might not be able to. Here’s hoping that the cards I managed to get to the local scout troop bear some fruit. Give and take.

Just as I was really starting to worry about money the state came through with the letter about the money I paid into their retirement system. I’d like to be able to invest it somehow but I might need it more in my hands. It’s a risk but… so is life. At least I know that I have it, now. Give and take.

And as if all those little give and takes weren’t enough, I’m really starting to reconnect with some of my cousins who were my best friends growing up. Which is awesome. What’s not awesome is that we’ve gotten back in touch after attending more funerals together in the last six months than in the last six years combined. Yes, there was another one last week. I just don’t even. Talk about give and take.

All of this after a just plain epic meditation session one evening (because yes I’ve actually been managing it once in a while lately) where I got a first hand look at the relationship between magic energy and the life-death process. Words fail. “Mystery” gets used for a reason. Trust me when I say that it’s definitely a give and take.

Oh and as a last little bit of oddness, want to know the really weird part? My mom and brother and I have all seen a huge black corvid around the farm that we suspect is a very, very lost raven. They usually stick to the westernmost part of the state in the mountains. It’s bigger even than the overfed witch-crows that hover around mom’s garden all the time and like to act like miniature vultures with more brainpower. It has a slightly curved bill and instead of being glossy black like the crows it’s kind of matte looking. I’ve only seen the one- or at least only one at a time. Unknown for sure it it’s the only one. We’re all kind of confused. We’re  pretty sure that it’s confused.

Ares in Chains

ladyimbrium:

This. This, this, this.

Originally posted on Aspis of Ares:

One of the things that I think is important to discuss in the onus of the recent sexual abuse allegations within the pagan community is the theological importance we levy to our gods. Sannion touched on this briefly , but I wanted to expound on the myth of Ares’ trial for the retributive murder of  Hallirhothios  and the story’s theological and instructive value to both the polytheist community and pagans who assert archetypal philosophies.

Ares Kills Poseidon's Son

The myth is summed up as follows: Hallirhothios, a son of Poseidon, rapes (and this time in the myth, rape definitely means “sexually assaults”) Ares’ daughter Alkippe. Upon learning of the assault, Ares kills Hallirhothios. Poseidon, of course, is pissed, and so brings Ares to trial. Assembled before the rest of the gods, Ares and Poseidon give their cases, and the gods acquit Ares of wrongdoing; the place of the trial is renamed the Areopagus and becomes a…

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A busy start to spring

I promise that I have not forgotten the blog or the folks who read it.

My peas and potatoes (well, some of my potatoes, given that the weather is doing its level best to turn my garden plots into soup) are in the ground. Yay!

We lost a chicken recently. We’re not entirely sure what got her since no one saw a thing. I just hope that whatever is was wasn’t the same thing that left those enormous canine tracks that I showed to some folks a little while back. Mystery Paw Prints of Unusual Size… or something. But yes, minus a chicken.

We’re on the verge of gaining some new goats. My two BoKi does are both hugely pregnant and beginning to show signs of hunting for safe places to hole up for a while. Right now I have them penned in the sheds… because Mystery Paw Prints of Unusual Size.

I intend to write about the intense and extremely validating tranced out conversation I had with the Reaper during the night of the Dark Moon- but it might have to wait a bit while I sort out the immediate physical concerns of baby goats and wonder what in the flying frak is eating chickens and leaving behind prints that make the folks who live in other parts of the country ask me if there are wolves here.

And the worst part is? I’m still hurting for classes. Seriously, I could use a little help in the advertising department right about now.

15 Reasons Why Maryland is Amazing

ladyimbrium:

All excellent reasons!

Originally posted on BS in Bmore:

I may not have chosen to grow up in Maryland, but I did decide to continue to live here (and trust me, I have thought about moving away, California always sounds nice). There is just something about Maryland that keeps me here and keeps me happy. On this day, 380 years ago, the first European settlers landed on what is now known as the great state of Maryland. In honor of Maryland day, I bring you 15 reasons why Maryland is amazing:

1. We have all 4 seasons. Yes, while snow at the end of March is not ideal, it is going to be in the 60s later this week. Maryland, you crazy. I like you, but you’re crazy.

seasons

2. Getting crabs in Maryland is not a bad thing. Blue crabs that is.

marylandcrab

3. We have it all. Beaches, mountains, cities, farmland. You can hike, bike, swim or boat, whatever…

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