Friday, February 24, 2012

Danger is My Middle Name

I got my first deck of tarot cards when I was about sixteen.  I still have them, although I rarely use them for readings anymore.  They are the Rider-Waite deck, nothing fancy, a classic really....but I digress.

When I first got the cards I did readings all the time.  I did readings at school, during classes, at my job at Subway.  I did readings for my little sister and for myself.  But the first time my mom saw the cards she wasn't happy about it.  She said that she didn't like me messing around with 'that stuff'.  Those words planted a seed in my mind that what I was messing about with could actually be (cue dramatic music) dangerous.....

There have been times along the path where books, teachers, and friends have talked about some part of the Craft being dangerous.  (And yes, I have seen someone have a psychotic break, not pretty.)  But did that really come from dabbling in magick or was it something that was going to happen to them anyway?

I have seen and experienced things that have blown my mind, shifted my beliefs, changed the way I look at the world, left me shocked and amazing, left me without logical explanation, and given me the heebie-jeebies, but never have I, ever, felt like I was in danger.

This has led me to thinking about the dangers of the Craft.  Are there really any?

If I am totally honest it kinda excites me.  I mean, if there wasn't something spooky and potentially dangerous out there, maybe I wouldn't be as into all of this as much as I am.

That afternoon, when my mom told me not to mess with things I didn't understand, she didn't scare me away.  Instead her words filled me with a desire to understand more.  It encouraged me to want to learn as much as I could and continue to dive into the things that scared me, both out there in the world and hiding in my own inner shadows.

Overall I suppose that is a good thing.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Wedding at Pantheacon

Since I have nothing to add to the gender debate that hasn't already been said, I am going to talk about something else that happened at Pantheacon.  In fact, this is probably something that most people don't even know about.

You see....Saturday night while I was busy shaking my buns at the drum circle, there was a wedding reception happening downstairs at Club Max.  The (very young) happy couple were having fun and getting extremely intoxicated; as were their wedding party.  There were several young men randomly wondering around the Pantheacon scheduled events.

One of these men was waiting in line right behind me at the 9 o'clock time slot.  He was asking other P-con goers how he could "get into this party".  He was going down the line soliciting hugs and stumbling around from room to room.  An hour later he was upstairs and eventually he was escorted out by hotel security.  (Not quick enough in my mind...but whatever.)

I figured this would be my only encounter with the strangest wedding party ever, but noooooo, I was treated to much more.

As my group of friends and I were leaving the drum circle the inebriated Bride and Groom (plus several members of their bridal party) were leaving Club Max.  The Groom stopped us in the lobby.  He was very concerned for our well-being, almost to the point of anger.

He wanted to let us know that Jesus loved us.  He started to get insistent, as if it was his mission in life to convert us heathens and show us the path to God.  I am not a fan of confrontation, so I kept on walking, but the Groom started to corner the people in my group and he started to get a little 'handsy'.  As his insistence increased, his beautiful new wife started to loudly ask us drunken questions like, "are you all fags?"  (Nothing prettier than a beautiful young woman in a gorgeous white dress yelling "fag" across the lobby of a hotel.)

I was nervous and more than a little worried that these messy drunks might escalate things to an ugly place.  I wanted to keep moving and get away from them, but they weren't making that easy.  Finally my partner said, "I know Jesus loves me and I love Jesus too".

The energy shifted.  The Groom was relieved and wanted to hug us.  Suddenly we were part of his brotherhood again.  We were acceptable and everything he thought about us a few minutes earlier was out the window.

Sometimes I forget that other people aren't as lucky as I am with being out of the broom closet.  I live in a place where people are mostly accepting and open minded.  I never expected to run into something like that at Pantheacon of all places.  It was so late at night that I felt vulnerable.  My group of five friends were up against an inebriated group of six or seven.  It easily could have been ugly.  And yet, the power of Jesus shifted everything.

Even thinking about this now, several days later, I am struck by how sad, scared, and angry the whole situation made me.  I was really mad when we got back to our hotel room.  I almost wished that I had picked a fight.  They were so ready to come at us with anger and righteousness when we were the "wrong ones", but when they learned we were on the same side, suddenly it was all okay?  Uh, no, I don't think so.

Now that I think about it, there are actually a lot of parallels between this situation and the gender debates.

Lucky for me I had a chance, later in the weekend, to let go of what they said and my anger towards them.  I wish the couple all the best in their new marriage.  I hope they have a long and happy life together and that they truly use the teaching of Jesus as their guide.

Friday, February 17, 2012


This has been quite the year so far when it comes to loss.  I'm not sure how much this blog is going to relate to Paganism in general, but it is what it up for me so there you go and that's what you get...

There have been several deaths in my life so far this year and just yesterday brought the loss of my sweet cat Molly.

Molly didn't start out as my cat in this life, but she became my cat.  It's actually a long story on how she came to live with me, but it isn't worth going into all the details.  I'll just say that when my partner and I moved in together, she came along shortly after.  Molly was born on my partner's lap five or six years earlier.

It became clear to me, rather quickly, that Molly was a special cat.  She was a healer.  Anytime someone was sick she would go and lay with them.  My daughter was sick a lot when she was little and anytime she was under the weather, Molly would find a way to be with her, lay next to her, and help her to feel better.

This was a behavior she repeated over and over again.

She was also a kitten.  I mean, when she became a part of my life she was five or six, but she always seemed like a kitten.  Not that she was a small cat.  She wasn't.  She was huge, fluffy, and black.  But there was something young and spry about her energy.

Sitting with her at the vet's office yesterday as she struggled to breathe was difficult.  Her energy was diminished and she seemed like a different cat.  After she was gone I didn't want to leave her body there.  I was worried that she would be lonely.  Even though intellectually I knew that she really wasn't there anymore.

Pagans hold death so differently than most other people.  There is an acknowledgment of sadness and the loss and yet, there is also an understanding that this is what happens.  I get that although her body is no longer alive, her energy has gone somewhere.

I feel like I should be okay with death, but I'm not really sure what that means.  I've lost pets, family members, friends, and community member in the past two months.  It's been hard, and yet, until Molly, none of the losses felt real.  I have yet to experience the loss of a human that is close to me.  I wonder how different it will feel and how I will handle it.

Okay, this post is starting to feel a little rant-y and lost....I don't think I even know how to say what I want to say.  I'm just looking at life very differently this morning.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Costumes The Magickal Art of Dress Up

**Disclaimer:  There are many DORKY pictures of me attached to this post. XO

I am a big fan of dressing up for ritual.  There is something totally amazing about what a little dramatic clothing and make-up can do to shut down the incessant chatter of the monkey mind.  Plus, I love the drama and the excitement of dressing up and changing my outward appearance to shift my inner self.

I know that many magickal traditions don't use any tools, and work skyclad, as a way to be totally unencumbered to the natural flow of energy.  Logically, I get this.  It totally makes sense; and yet it doesn't work for me.

Maybe my inner 12 year old is more active than other people's (or maybe I am too influenced by societal "norms"), but I am often distracted during skyclad rituals.  The human body is an amazing and beautiful structure.  During skyclad rituals I am frequently preoccupied because I am taking an interest in, finding an attraction to, and sometimes even experiencing a surprise by, all of the various shapes and forms that the human body can inhabit.

With costuming and make-up, you have the ability to transform your outer self into whatever you want your energy to come into alignment with. I find this especially helpful when working with Deity.  If I want to work with aspecting (often called possession or Invocation in other traditions), making my physical form look as much as that Deity as possible, helps to shift my mindset.

Plus, certain costuming items can start to hold specific energies after using them enough times, (just like any other magickal tool).  Slipping into my black cloak automatically shifts my energy into a focused magickal space.

For me, it is a way to trick my Thinking Self and engage with my Younger Self.

Plus, it's just plain fun.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Change - Can Your Relationships Survive?

I've recently been through a break up of sorts.  My longest held non-familial relationship is going through a serious rough patch.  What I mean is that my BFF (let's call her the Queen of Hearts or QoH for short) broke up with me.

Me and QoH have a long, silly, interesting, smart, creative, and often challenging relationship.  We became friends my sophomore year of high school.  We became friends in French class, after I got dumped by my first love.  QoH didn't really like me at first, but somehow we got past all of that.

In the 18 (holy cow!) years that we have been friends there have been times when we see each other every weekend and there have been times when we hardly talk for a year.  We've grown apart more than once, but somehow we've always managed to come back together. I could go into detail here, but really what is important is many times life took us in different directions. 

So, what's the point?  And, more importantly, what does this have to do with Paganism?  Hang on, I'm getting there.

I attended my first public ritual in 1995 with QoH.  In my beginning years of witchcraft we played at magick together.  We read rituals out of books and did little spells in her parent's living room.  We read tarot and dreamed of magick being more like the movies (well, maybe that was just me).  Over time my interest in Paganism deepened, while her's fizzled.

No biggie.

But in the last couple of years it has become a biggie.  Our lives have taken us in completely different directions again.  Although I feel that we still have a lot in common and we have a long history of love, there are a lot of differences too.

Part of this most recent growing away from each other has been related to me getting deeply involved in my spiritual community.  Because of the connections that I am making, some of my more mundane relationships have suffered.  In my search for spiritual community, I lost some of my personal community; the people who love me as Dani and don't know Phoenix.

I love my spiritual community and I am happy with the commitments that I have made to it.  Changes are going to happen and there is nothing that we can do to stop that, but life is all about balance.  I am okay with the two of us coming together and playing catch up because we are living different lives.  That actually feels really good to me, like coming home.  But it wasn't good for her.  She still needed the relationship that we used to have, the me that I used to be.

QoH isn't the same QoH that she used to be either, just like Phoenix isn't Dani anymore.  I get it in my head, but it doesn't change how yucky it feels in my heart.  I don't really know what the answer is on this one.

But I do know that going forward I will use all the lessons that we learned together on how to be friends.  I hope that we grow towards each other again, but I understand that might not happen.  And I know that the foundation we built together will continue to support the new relationships that will come into my life.