Sunday, May 13, 2012

Facebook is *Such* a Time Suck And Life Stuff

Day 5 of the Not-Going-To-Check-FB Project and I can tell that I am so super bored. Playing the Xbox instead has gotten boring as well. So, in the meantime, I think I will look for another job. Why you ask? Because the one I have at present hasn't given me any shifts for two weeks. I think it is about time to find something else if things don't pick up soon.

Speaking of life, I have lagged so hard on my gym stuff and "weight loss" (more in this post on that). The Spring Semester ended last week, but I haven't really seen the inside of my gym since my fitness test. (BTW, I am the healthiest fat person I know. Ha! In your face, bully arseholes!) Here shortly, things will change or I will kick my own butt in gear.

Speaking of lagging hard, I have also been neglecting my worships. Since I have so much free time now, that will be changing shortly as well. I here there is a local Pagan temple in Fort Worth. Maybe I will go check it out.

Also, Celtic Woman is super amazing. Heart.

That is it for now, I will be posting again shortly.

Friday, May 4, 2012

"Coming Home" to my Faith

What I remember of my childhood religion, Roman Catholicism, doesn’t stand out in my life. I vaguely remember sitting in pews of oak with knee protectors on the back so you could kneel comfortably during prayer time. I mostly remember not paying attention (I was 7 or 8 years old at this time) and looking at the stained glass windows, the organ, the Bibles, paying attention to anything other than the sermon and wanting to be home already. I had other things going on then that my mind was on, like the abuse from my peers and from the teachers at school that I received. At the time, I had been diagnosed with severe clinical depression and debilitating migraines (again, I was only 7 or 8 years old). I was prescribed medication for the depression (though not long because I had a “bad reaction” to it) and pain killers for the migraines. The last thing I worried about was Hellfire and God’s wrath. Nevertheless, I was put into Sunday school. I had my first communion ritual, where I was able to received the wine and crackers, and
My old altar; a cauldron, sage bundle, and athame
began confession.


I didn’t have any sort of relationship to God, and women and girls were taught to be silent and obedient. I confessed to the priest to make my mother happy, but didn’t like being at church or praying to a God who seems to refuse to help me or my family, who seemed to abandon me when I was in those groups of children whom were particularly vicious when the adults turned their backs. I began to believe that He was out of reach and I was broken and impure and not worthy of anything other than death. No one knew that I was thinking about ending my life.

A year or so passed and my mother and I stopped going to church. My father wasn’t Catholic to begin with, so didn’t go anyway.  My mother started becoming more agnostic, not liking how the Catholic church was handling things, and in my teen years she became more of an atheist. When I was 12, I found out that my grandmother on my mother’s side was Wiccan. I became interested and a lot of the beliefs that are central to Wicca clicked with me, but soon my life became swamped with suicidal thoughts and unhappy things, and I didn’t look into it too seriously. Family issues arose, and my mother and I left Georgia for Texas halfway through my 6th grade year. My mental state stabilized for a short while before slowly rolling back downhill from lack of friends in the new place.
It took until the 8th grade to find someone who was willing to be my friend. She was interested in the supernatural and her friends, who quickly became my friends, would tell ghost stories and talk about fiction books (we were a group of nerds) with magic and wizards and such.

At the apartment’s we lived in, I spoke to some older friends about “Them”. At the time, I didn’t know who They were but They talked to me like the Catholic priest and devote Catholics said God talked to them. I followed what They told me and I became happier and developed more friends and eventually I learned how to smile again. I grew less shy and quiet and my true personality started showing. I remember telling one guy friend while on my way home that I was a witch, and the way it felt in my mouth and in my soul was sublime. I was surprised to find that I truly felt like I was a witch.  That night, and for two years thereafter, I began heavy and intense research on Paganism and witchcraft. I delved into that world, reading all I could and devouring all the knowledge. I joined forums and talked to experienced practitioners of the faith. I did not practice anything, instead I made absolute sure that this is what I wanted.

Two years passed and I turned 14. I stopped being able to control my depression, since I had had no form of medication. All my friends split to two different high schools and I only knew one person where I went. I eventually met a girl at the bus stop, but it didn’t do much for my mental state. And to top things off, I had stopped listening to Them and my research lapsed. The dark world of severe depression devoured my feelings and my insides again. One day, I was following my friend off the bus to go inside school, plotting how I was going to end my life that night, when I saw a guy. In that instant, my entire world exploded violently. Upon seeing this man, everything I felt and thought was consumed immediately, my mind was akin to a red hot piece of metal, and my body was unable to respond at all. It was like I was pinned under the claws of a massive dragon who was burning me alive. This feeling was not intense fear, nor was it intense joy, nor any other simple emotion. It was the feeling of being scared, of being surprised, of getting a breath of fresh mountain air after being under water and drowning, of your blood searing underneath your skin while your insides are frozen cold, all at once. My soul felt like it had been brittle glass that had been shattered  then put back into the furnace and added to iron ore.

This man had been walking towards me and looking into my eyes the whole entire time. Two seconds before he got to me, he turned to my friend and talked to her while he walked her up to the school. My body was on automatic and I still couldn’t feel anything other than this new sensation. Before we got to the school doors, he bid both of us farewell and left. I found out later that he was a witch, and soon I became him student. He taught me how to be a witch without depending on magick, how to stand up for myself, how to fight, how to be strong on the inside and out. He taught me the Gods and how to reach Them. He taught me that the Gods were not distant, but were reachable and I was able to form a deep, personal relationship with Them. Finally, I had a name for Them and I understood and was amazed that They had found me and had blessed me and had rocked my world so intensely. They made Their presence known, both the God and Goddess, and They showed me that They had always been there, and had been waiting for me this whole time.
My beautiful fox-head staff

I did my first spell two years later, for my grandmother, who was dying. I understood the mechanics of how to do it, I was well versed in energy raising, and I had that connection with my Gods. I understood the rules and limits, and I knew that I could not cure her. My father was back with us by then, and we found out that my father’s mother, my grandmother, was dying of pancreatic cancer. My father’s side of the family didn’t think she was going to last very long. The spell I did was not a healing spell, but a time spell. I worked my magick, invoked my Gods, and I gave her more time. It was two months before we could get the money to go out to Georgia to see her, two months that no one thought she had. We arrived, and spent the rest of the day with her. I had just caught a chicken of my grandmothers and had brought it to the house when they took her out of the house to drive her to the hospice. The next day, she requested that my father and I find a disowned daughter of her’s before she passed away. We did not find her, and were on our way back when my father and I felt her pass away. We found out when we got there that we were ten minutes too late. That time, those precious last minutes, were my punishment for breaking one of the most important rules of spellwork; always ask the person before you cast a spell on them, no exceptions.

It has been seven long years that I have been a witch, and I have learned much in that short, short time. I am close with my Gods, I have found my spiritual guides, I have joined a coven, and I have cast many spells. I now view myself as a witch, which is different from a Wiccan. I have rules I have to follow, but they are fewer than that of the Wiccan faith. For instance, I do not follow the Rede, which states “An it harm none, do as thou wilt”. Instead, I follow my conscious, and I choose what I do. I trust myself to know the right thing, and to learn what is wrong on the way. Unlike Wiccans, I do not include my Gods into my spellwork every time. I love my Gods, and I know They love me, but They have better things to do than to always pay attention to me, much like a parent has things to do other than pay full attention to their child every second of the day. I ask Them for favors only when I desperately need them, and only when I cannot get them myself through mundane (non-magickal) means. It means that They know when I come to Them for a favor, it is important. I am a hard polytheist, and believe in all Gods and Goddesses, and believe that They are all different except for the few whom share different names, like Venus and Aphrodite.

I owe my life to my Gods, and to my friend who taught me my ways. No two pagans are the same; no two pagan’s experiences are the same or are viewed the same. This path is intensely personal, and has changed my life radically. Nothing about it was easy, and it will not get easier as I go forth. I look forward to that with relish.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Lessons From the Younger Generation

Just recently, the Pagan community lost a great leader, Katrina "Foxglove" Kessler. From The Wild Hunt:

"On April 21st, Katrina Kessler, known by many in the Pagan community as Foxglove, passed away after a car accident in San Diego, California. An up-and-coming figure in our community, Kessler worked at the World of Witches Museum in Salem, starred in, and helped produce, “The Young Witches of Salem,” did reporting and production work with MagickTV, and hosted the video series “Foxglove’s Lost and Found.” Shortly before her death she was working with a community service organization called The Circle in California."
I encourage you to read Jason's post. It is always heart breaking to lose anyone from our community, especially someone as talented and well loved as Foxglove was. May she rest well in the arms of her gods and know that she will be well missed.

In my family tradition, it is customary to not morn the passing of a loved one, but to celebrate her/his life and her/his contributions. For Katrina, it would behoove us younger pagans to take up where she left off, continue her work and walk on the same path as she did. Our elders were once young like us when they contributed to our community. It is our time to make our contributions as well, to help be part of our growing community instead of a following majority.

No matter where you are, you can do something positive, whether it is directly pagan related or not. Volunteering is a great way to help and can help with a positive image. Help out at your local animal shelter, start a club or group at your high school or college, or adopt a highway/pick up litter in your neighborhood. Be open and honest about your spirituality and your religion, be open and honest about your feelings and be the person you want to be. One open pagan is better than one thousand silent pagans.

The best thing you can do is participate. Whatever it is, do something. I promise you that you will feel great doing it too. If you don't know what you can do, you can go to The Witches' Voice and look for shops or community centers that may need volunteers to keep running. If you aren't out yet and feel like you would be harassed if you were open, try volunteering at local facilities (the ASPCA is always needing volunteers and donations). If you have an idea to do something, DO IT! Hesitate long enough to gather your forces and then go for it. Even if you don't think you have a force yet, do it anyway. A great many movements started out with just a handful of people and grew from there. You may be surprised what comes out of your courage.

Pentacles and College Mix Well in Texas

About a month ago, I bought a cute little pentacle choker necklace at the Scarborough Faire down here in Waco, TX.

Now, I have been out with my family and friends for a great many years and I used to own a beautiful pentacle when I was younger. I have been out with them for about 6 years now. However, I let go of my old necklace and have been without one for the past 4 years.
My pentacle necklace I bought at Scarborough Faire
So, I was kind of worried about the reception at school and work about my new pentacle and stressed about it over the weekend. I even started thinking about what I would say to someone if they asked me. Should I tell them about what the pentacle means itself, or about my religion as a whole, or maybe this, maybe that, maybe maybe maybe? I saw online that someone had said their pentacle had been mistake for a Star of David and their response was, "Well, it used to be a Star of David but I ate bacon and a point fell off." (I am totally going to use this if I ever get the chance.)

But come Monday, no one said a negative word about it. In fact, I even got two compliments! I was surprised, and after a week of nothing but weird looks my fears abated. Even my co-workers and boss didn't mind about my new outness. My boss even gave me a magazine of the Pyramid Collection (http://www.pyramidcollection.com/default.asp) and told me that she had gone to the Renaissance Fairs when they had just started up.

I am young -only 20 years old- and going to a community college for an AAS in Interpreting. In the community that I will be interpreting for the majority of people are Christians and very involved with their churches. My professor is even a pastor's wife. Despite the overt influence of Christianity, my reception pretty much went the same way, but there was absolutely no talk of my necklace. The "worst" that had happened was two different discussions of religions, both unrelated to the pentacle I am wearing. For these people, I am sure they kept their opinions to themselves, not because they are Christian but because they are typically very vocal about other religion issues, even in class. For instance, in class we had to explain why the removal of religion in schools had caused the young in the community to have no manners.

Maybe the reason I haven't gotten a bad reaction may well be because I am in a community college.  I am not too sure about that simply because when I was out in High School, I still didn't have any bad reactions. There were people who would come up to me and ask questions or ask for a tarot reading (I would sometimes bring my cards to school) or ask for me to teach them what I knew (which I admitted wasn't much). Most of the time, people just didn't care so much.

The non-reactions may well be because the two things you don't discuss are Religion and Politics. Perhaps the people I am surrounded by really don't care one way or another who or what I worship. Perhaps I have made such an impact on those around me that they don't think poorly of me. Perhaps my "normal" dressing style also has an impact because I am not the stereotypical Goth. Possibly, all of these are true. Whatever it is, I haven't experienced any ill will in this conservative state of Texas and that is a surprise in and of itself.

Perhaps the day that all the Pagan Elders have dreamed of has finally come, a day in which being a pagan has no influence on how people view or treat you, a day which your personality is the key and not your religion. Perhaps we are more accepted than we previously thought. Or perhaps people are so tired of arguing that they keep their mouths shut and just go about their business. Either way, it turns out as a good day for us.