Odin’s Ordeal – Part 2

It’s now 14+ months after I fell on my head in a Norse ritual dedicated  to the Norns and received a rune and a head injury.
In this time, in addition to mostly healing my head, I birthed a lesbian country band that has recorded and is performing professionally, a novel  that had been gestating for 10 years, am making real progress in learning piano and have written three new songs. I also claimed myself as a ‘real’ musician, which had begun at that ritual so long ago.

One complication that came from my head injury was a worsening in a condition of low blood pressure I hadn’t taken note of before. About a year ago, three months into my recovery, I ended up in the emergency with sudden and persistent dizziness and elevated heart rate, something that could have been a life threatening heart condition. I am so grateful to live in Canada where the system took charge and did all the tests at no cost to me. At length, and after much fear and worry, they determined I had a low blood pressure condition (low blood pressure isn’t always a good thing). I was diagnosed by about March, and by December of last year, I had mostly figured out how to manage it successfully.

In the Six of Cups, a young boy leans down and passes a cup filled with flowers to a younger girl. The girl looks up to the boy with love and respect as he offers the flowers to her. Love, harmony and co-operation – all key elements of the Six of Cups – shine through this gentle act. The young children also represent childhood memories In the background, an older man walks away in the distance, as if to say you no longer need to worry about adult issues; just enjoy the moment of being young, innocent and free again. The children also appear to be standing in the courtyard of a large home, symbolising comfort, safety and security. In the foreground stand four more cups filled with flowers, and a fifth cup sits on a pedestal behind the boy.

It looks like one main thing I learned from my ordeal was that many things in my life I had thought of as character defects – my exhaustion after intense experiences, sleepiness after eating, mental confusion. spaciness, and forgetfullness – were actually symptoms of the serious head injury I’d had at 13, and the lifelong low blood pressure I’ve had. Now that I’m managing both things, I can really see how the things I do (or don’t do) have affects on all of those. Alcohol,  never a big deal for me, is now off the table, and sadly large servings of high carb foods are as well if I want to have any energy or mental clarity.

My band is the great joy of my life. I’ve never been so creatively satisfied.

I’m still always looking for signs I’ve lost some brain capacity – so far it seems like I’m good –  and make sure that I look after my most precious organ. I’m a bit nervous about money too, as I haven’t had much extra energy until now to work on getting more clients, while taking good care of my existing ones (I’m self employed as a web designer / project manager/ technical writer 20 years of experience if these are services you need) .

Although it’s clear Odin has claimed me in his way,  and I acknowledge that, I’ve been wary of Him. I don’t want to be that girl in the book or movie who meets the guy when he is mistreating her, and then falls for him ( no pun intended), discovering he’s really a great guy, just rough around the edges. That romantic line is just about conditioning women to put up with things we shouldn’t.  So I’ve been talking to him, and to my other matron and patron gods about it.

Most recently, what I’ve come to is that I have already survived my initiatory ordeal many years ago, and the most recent ordeal has integrated and recognized those learnings into a whole.  The powers I earned have been recognized in ceremony to help me claim them is all. A sacrifice of myself to myself to rejuvinate me, to a new understanding of who I am and what I am worth. Like the initial rune reading said, I have already done a great thing, worthy of honour, and the gods protect me.  I am not obligated to accept a continuous stream of ordeals.

What are these new powers?

I made a headdress at a women’s retreat recently. The direction was to make a crown celebrating an achievement. I decided that I didn’t want my worth to be tied to achievement any more, that I am worthy regardless of whether I am smart, successful or have a partner. I created a Crown of Worthiness.

The Empress - Rider Waite
The Empress is representative of the productivity of the subconscious, seeded by ideas. She is meant to be the embodiment of the growth of the natural world, fertility, and what one knows or believes from the heart.

 

It hit me today, as I read what I’d written in my first part of this story, that worthiness was one of the things I had set my intention for at that ritual so long ago. Embracing that worthiness, independently of achievements, is a great power. And I still do achieve – but in the things I want to, as a consequence of doing them for love.

Speaking of love, I did a spell. As a priestess of Aphrodite, I have done a lot of love spells for others, but not often one for myself. I cast for secure, embodied love. And the tests and learning that come when you cast that kind of spell have begun come to me, letting me know that it is working, has worked.  I continue to do what I am called to do. I will write of this too.

Odin’s Ordeal

The Hanged Man tarot card, drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith
The Hanged Man tarot card, drawn by Pamela Coleman Smith

Odin is one of the Norse Gods, a warrior king who becomes a magician through ordeal and personal sacrifice. I didn’t know very much about him before last October, when I attended Hecate’s Sickle pagan festival in the U.S..

Odin is the Allfather, not the Somefather

Except, I knew enough to spout off on facebook that he would smite Soldiers of Odin, a white supremacist group using Norse imagery, who had started chapters in Vancouver, where I live. I said things like Odin is the Allfather not the Somefather, and that as a Norse person (I have Norwegian heritage) and a lifelong Pagan, I oppose and resent the usage of my mythology and gods to promote hatred.

Someone was listening. And it probably wasn’t the white supremacists. Continue reading “Odin’s Ordeal”

Safety for Women and Children in Pagan Settings

A few months ago, my local larger Pagan/Wiccan community had a #MeToo incident. A woman who I had seen and spoken to at events disclosed that she had been both abused and sexually harassed at events as a girl and young woman, by multiple men, over several years. She had grown up as a child in this particular community, and also participated as a young woman. I knew her as a gifted artisan and herbalist.

I believe her. I believe her not only because I know that women seldom lie about these things, but because I know the men in question. As an formidable adult gay woman, few of the men involved would mess with me, but I’d observed enough in their words and deeds to know that they were the kind who would harass an attractive young woman in this way. One elderly man, a fixture of a mixed party pagan festival I attended, openly bragged to me about tucking money into the bra of a young teenage girl, and on my first visit to this festival, cornered me and harangued me for almost an hour on the evils of feminist traditions of witchcraft. I only tolerated this because of, let’s face it, the female conditioning he was exploiting, and also because I was new and he appeared to be an organizer, something I later learned he was not.

Another of the men was outed to me as an abuser, years earlier, when I was told by multiple women that as the high priest of a coven, he would recruit young inexperienced women and and promote them to high priestess of the coven (which should be a role based in experience and skill) with an ‘initiation’ that required them to have sex with him. This man was later outed and ousted from the community for sexual misconduct worse than these practices.

As a gay non-drinker and non-drug user, I had little interest in the typcially heterocentric Pagan environments I characterize as “Party Pagan” – all costumes, mead, hallucinogens and wild dancing around the fire. Now don’t get me wrong – I love a good wild dance around the fire, but that’s not all I need. It is in one of these spaces where my aquaintance, a valued member of the community, who had drifted away for reasons that have recently become clear, came as a child into her neo-Pagan practice. It is here where she was repeatedly harassed and attacked by men who took the honouring of sacred sexuality and sacred ritual nudity as license to harass and hurt women.

It doesn’t have to be that way – Safe Pagan Spaces

My own Wiccan practice began as a young woman of 19. Like many maidens do in a tradition honouring women and sacred sexuality, I also received a lot of admiring attention. However, unlike my acquaintance, the Wiccan environments I came out in were built by and for women. I felt empowered to be at home in my body, to express my sexuality and power fully, to speak my mind, and to step forward into priestess roles.

Most of the events I attended had a small number of men, but they were generally partners of women who were also attending, or so outnumbered that they were both popular with the hetero ladies and on their best behaviour.  The theology at that time in these groups acknowledged male deities, but centred the Goddess in all things, and this kept the environment centred on women as well. The women were big, powerful and badass.

Men who embraced this theology were good humans and I met my male best friend that way.  I was used to Neo-Pagan men being solid, good-egg, helpful pro-feminst guys, and believed that Wiccan and Neo-Pagan men were mostly like that. I truly believed that no-one would dare insult the gods and risk their wrath by violating someone within sacred space. I experienced no unwanted or intrusive sexual attention from men or women. I remember attending only one sex-balanced Wiccan event during this time, and was amazed at all the men there. To their credit, many were the good eggs I’d expected. 

It was only in recent years that I’ve explored the broader Pagan community, and have come across spaces like the one my acquaintance was abused in. Coming from a good grounding in safe Pagan spaces, it took me awhile to realize that not all Wiccan and neo-Pagan spaces were as safe.

How to choose safer Neo-Pagan and Wiccan spaces

I’ve come to realize that neo-Pagan men are as likely to offend against women and children as men anywhere else, and so the standard need for self-protection and vigilance in protecting sacred spaces and communities from rape culture is needed. While not all Pagan men are predators, and many are pro-feminist allies, enough are toxic that women are as at risk in Neo-pagan environments as they would be in any other co-ed space.

If visiting Pagan environments as a young woman or in the care of children, I’d recommend choosing festivals and camps that are low substance or substance free (such as Reclaiming Tradition ones), or which are specifically focussed on either families with children or women’s mysteries or are women and Goddess centred with a smaller proportion of men. There are also gay male oriented festivals, some of which welcome all genders, that might also be a good fit. 

 

Prosperity Magic – Part One – Cleansing

I’m known among my friends to be ‘good with money’ and also to have ‘freakishly good luck’ with money and work. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do have a strong intuiton for what works in prosperity magic.

One of the best ways I know to review and deepen what I know about a topic is to teach it to others. In the process of preparing to teach a class on prosperity magic in May, I’m reviewing what I know, adding practices and themes from others, and trying them out.

Types of Prosperity Magic

Most types of prosperity magic fall into a few main categories: cleansing, clearing, blessing, envisioning and creating focussing objects. They operate on the general magical principles of making oneself worthy to recieve good things, clearing out the unwanted to make space for the good to flow in, blessing what is already good so it will increase and inviting or summoning good things in. The following is the first in a series of posts about prosperity magic, beginning today with cleansing magic. Continue reading “Prosperity Magic – Part One – Cleansing”

Better Paganism Through Composting and Tree Planting

Is environmentalism part of Paganism? Part of Wicca?

Many Pagans believe strongly that environmental conservation is a necessary part of their devotion to the Goddess. However, if you go to Pagan festivals where there are many traditions represented you’ll find that others do not.

I was going to write this all not-judgy, and neutral, analysing the difference based on whether people believe in the Gods as literal beings or abstract concepts, or whether you are a religious Pagan who integrates your spirituality into your everyday life, a ceremonial magician interested primarily in energy workings and magick or a celebratory or ‘mead and cape’ Pagan. This is true, but in my opinion, not very interesting. Continue reading “Better Paganism Through Composting and Tree Planting”

Spring Mysteries Festival Review

Spring Mysteries Festival Poster 2018
Spring Mysteries Festival Poster 2018

Note: see end of post for recent update to this review.

I have attended the Spring Mysteries Festival, hosted by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, many times. It’s really refreshing to be at a large complex multi-day ritual, that is so devotedly and competently done.

Some festivals are the land of the Party Pagan, whose main interest in festivals are in costumes and mead (1). While there are definitely attendees who fit this mold, this is a festival that isn’t shaped for that purpose, something that is a relief to me. Sometimes it feels like the more religious Pagans are few and hard to find. Based in this experience, the sincere dedication to ritual that deeply engages the gods and the participant, clearly and well executed in this festival is a joy. Continue reading “Spring Mysteries Festival Review”

Creating a Beltaine Ritual for Lovers

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7d/Beltane_Bonfire_on_Calton_Hill.JPGBeltane is a Pagan/Wiccan festival of sexuality and fertility, usually celebrated on the evening of April 30th or May 1st.  When celebrated in a group, the sexuality is usually symbolic, represented by dancing around the May pole – which yes, is representing just what you might think that is meant to represent, and the ribbons encasing it, also, exactly what you’d think. Similarly a chalice and blade may form the central imagery in other rituals. While the traditional imagery is heterosexual, this imagery can be adapted to any configuration of humans you enjoy, again, *all* acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals.  When celebrated privately, with just you and your lover, spouse or partner, the symbolism can be more direct, and can be customized to the bodies involved. Continue reading “Creating a Beltaine Ritual for Lovers”

Inadvertently Pagan pop song #1 – Love Can Move Mountains

Mount Aetna, site of the workshop of the God Hēphaistos By BenAveling - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3350813
Mount Aetna, site of the workshop of the God Hēphaistos
By BenAveling – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3350813

One of the nice things about being Pagan is that the forces of life – earth, air, fire, water are held sacred by many people, which means that we can relate spiritually to much of popular culture, particularly music.

As a devotee of the Goddess of Love, many love songs have a double meaning to me. Songs that might seem over the top when sung to or about an actual person, make perfect sense when framed as coming to or from the Goddess of love.

Forge of Vulcan by Antoine Wiertz, 19th century. Public domain.
Forge of Vulcan by Antoine Wiertz, 19th century. Public domain.

I was dancing with some women last night and a song came on called ‘Love can move mountains”. It occurred to me that it works perfectly as a hymn to the power of Aprhodite. The power of love is such that it can transform anything. Aphrodite’s association with her husband Hephaistos, who lives under mount Vesuvious, adds another layer of meaning to the song. While we may at times lose faith in a particular love or experience of love, we cannot lost faith in Love herself.

Here’s the   text of the lyrics, written by Diane Warren and first recorded by Canadian vocalist Celine Dion in 1992

You can listen to her version here.  For a version that is, well, a little less Celine Dion, you can listen to this version sung by the young Sara Niemietz (or click on the album at right to see, stream or buy the album)

Lyrics to Love Can Move Mountains by Diane Warren

Faith
Trust
Love (love)
(Love can)
Love can move mountains
There ain’t a dream
That don’t have the chance to come true now
It just takes a little faith, baby
Anything that we want to do we can do now
There ain’t nothing in our way, baby
Nothing our love couldn’t rise above
We can get through the night
We can get through the light
Long as we got our love to light the way
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
With a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in love
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, love can
Love can move mountains
Oh yeah, baby
Oceans deep and mountains high
They can’t stop us
Because love is on our side, baby
We can reach the heavens and touch the sky
Just believe it, believe in you and i, baby
If we got love that is strong enough
We can do anything, we’d get through anything
‘Cause through it all, love will always find a way
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah
Just a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in love
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, baby, love can
Love can move mountains
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
(You need love)
You got to feel it, baby (trust love, love can move mountains)
Oh yeah
You believe in me
I believe in you
If we believe in each other
Nothing we can’t do
If we got love that is strong enough
Then we’ll find a way
Just a little faith
Just a little trust
If you believe in
Love can move mountains
Believe in your heart
And feel, feel it in your soul
And love, love can
Love can move mountains
Trust love, love can, love can move mountains (you need love baby)
Trust love, love can, love can move mountains (you got to feel it baby)
Love can, love can move mountains
Love (trust love, love can move mountains)
If you believe in me and I believe in you (trust love, love can move mountains)
We can believe in love, baby
Love will find a way (trust love, love can move mountains)
Love will find a way, baby
We’ll believe in each other (trust love, love can move mountains)
Oh, baby
Believe in love (trust love, love can move mountains)
Love can move mountains
Believe if you’re feeling love
Love
You got to believe it baby
You gotta, you gotta, you gotta
You gotta, you gotta, you gotta baby