Thursday, July 20, 2017

Orlog, Judgment and Discrimination

I like to say that I am non-judgmental, but that isn't exactly true. I was recently told that it feels like I am judging every word that people say. And that is accurate, but misleading.

I am an air sign, very solidly so. As such, one of the things I do is analyze everything. So, yes, every word people say, every action that they do... all of it goes through my metrics, my algorithm of behavior.

And, yes, I very much judge people on that, but perhaps not the way you'd think. Good/bad judgments are reserved for extremes and overall assessments, if at all, and those are pretty liberal in nature. I will determine things like the person's self-identity, sexual orientation, gender identity, hobbies, likes and dislikes, etc.

Each one of those things puts that person into a category based on that. Not categories for how much I value them as a person, but categories to determine if they would like certain topics of discussion, potential hot-button issues, and how I should address them (particularly important in the case of self- and gender identities).

But while those things change how I interact with that person, none of them change how I value that person AS a person.

There are some topics that either directly or indirectly do change my valuation of the person. Sex (not identity or orientation) is one. A person likes sex - good for them. A person cheats on their partner - red flags. A person has lots or little money - no good/bad assessment at all. A person steals money or things, or cheats on their taxes, etc. - evaluation time. A person doesn't want kids - valid choice. A person has kids and refuses to take emotional, physical or financial responsibility for them - mayor of schmuck-ville.

In case you didn't see the pattern, here it is in a nutshell. People can make their own choices about their lives and how they live it. It may not be the choice I have made/would make, but it is theirs to make. It may change the way I talk to them about certain topics, but that's more situational awareness then judgment.

However, if the person ACTS in a way that can or could hurt or harm others, judgment is made. Plain and simple. And the judgment itself is simple, too. This person will hurt others. If they will hurt others, they have lost value or respect in my eyes. They are not as good of a person now.

Ok, so what does this have to do with Orlog?

Well, Orlog is a person's reputation. It comes from their own behavior and, to a lesser extent, their words. It can come from what people say about them, though that has less impact than direct experience. It can also come from the actions of their friends and family. A person you know nothing else about can, and will, be judged by "that's Robert's boy" or "he hangs with Joe the Stoner". You can overcome the Orlog of friends and family pretty easily, but it is still there.

So every time someone interacts with me, their Orlog is subtly adjusting, moving along one or more axis as the information comes in.

Do I judge people? Of course, I do. I can tell you which of my friends I will lend money to, and which have lost that privilege. I can tell you who in my blood family will get more than a bare acknowledgment, and who is only family because of the blood ties to myself and others. We all judge people. It's how we know who we can trust and with what.

That is your Orlog and your Honor. Don't taint it.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Big Reveal: How I Became a Hoarder and Didn't Know It

This is a re-creation of our back room.
I moved this last month. That means we literally emptied our entire house of its stuff, from every nook and cranny.

And it was horrible.

We apparently believed that we will starve to death. Also, I was convinced I am a secret seamstress, and hubby thought carpentry and woodwork are his life's path. We also believed at one point we were really gardeners.

Hint: We are not.

Let's back up a bit, and give a little history on my hubby and I. Both of us grew up in households that were doing okay financially. Not great, but okay. When we left said houses, both of us had several experiences, to varying degrees, of financial distress.

In fact, we both are currently learning to adjust to a financial life that is not paycheck to paycheck. It isn't easy. Being poor, or even just above the poverty line, lends itself to certain lifestyle choices and habits that are extremely hard to break. (You can see some of this here, here, here, and here.)

One of the more insidious habits is that you become a hoarder, whether you want to be or not. It's not an accident. It's not even a compulsion, like in the TV shows. It's a mindset, and a choice, though it isn't always clear that you are choosing to hoard, per se.

When you have just enough extra, you stash it for when you won't have it, and for those living on the edge of poverty, that can be just around the corner. BTW, the best way to stash food is to take up prepping. Yeah, I mean doomsday survivalist stuff, like canning, buy
ing in bulk, etc. You want to know how to get enough food for who knows what and who knows how long, join a prepper chat group.

When you have to check the bank account to go get a fuse that blew in your home because the wiring is messed up, then you realize you can get the two-pack for only 50 cents more, that's what you do. Cuz you will need that other fuse when it blows again. So you stash the extra fuse. If you are lucky, the fuse doesn't blow for a few months, and by that time, you've forgotten where (or that) you stashed the extra fuse and you go buy another two-pack.

Light bulbs, tooth paste, mouthwash, the list goes on. I just dumped a triple handful of packets of glasses wipes that had dried out two years ago, which was at least a year after my mom gave them to us for free. But we didn't get rid of them cuz they had a use, a purpose.

And, worse, because they were in our possession, if we didn't use them, they would be nothing more than trash in the dump - a violation of our core, Pagan-y beliefs. At least if we used them, they would be somehow justified. We were too poor to turn our noses up at free stuff, but we literally couldn't use or store all the stuff we got, and throwing them away was practically against our religion.

"They keep bringing more stuff!! Make it stop!"
We dumped off probably 50 large trash bags full of stuff, plus some "loose" furniture, at the local thrift store. We filled a city dumpster to capacity THREE TIMES. We still have a box set aside for "goodwill", as well as a bit too much stuff altogether. Sadly, not necessarily the stuff we need, just stuff we can't justify getting rid of.

I repeat, the stuff we can't justify getting rid of.

And even when we get rid of it in a way that isn't contributing to the disposable cycle of capitalism or snubbing our noses at the ultra-fiscal conservation that helped us survive and get out of the poverty cusp, there are other considerations.

I dropped off two boxes and three bags of knitting needles, yarn and such. In doing so, I had to give up on the idea that I was, to any degree - despite not knitting in YEARS - a knitter. I had to release that from my own self-identity. I am not a knitter. I know how to knit, but I don't spend any real time on it.

I am also not a pasta maker. I can bake bread, make soft pretzels in lye, and can and ferment all manner of produce. But I had to let most of that go from my identity. I can do these things, but they are not who I am. They are not things that I have to do to save money or make money (I sold baked goods at the farmer's market), and they are not things that I want to spend significant amounts of time doing.

I can do these things, but I have to let them go lest they fill up my home with stuff, and my time with work, when I can and should be focused on the things that are part of my path. I can still make pretzels, but I am not a pretzel-maker.

I am a writer of Pagan-ish fantasy and Pagan non-fiction. I am an author, speaker, presenter, and teacher. And that means I don't need all the stuff. What it DOES mean is that I actually did spell-work to help break those bonds and reassert my self-identity. Yeah, it was that strong.

So we have a new motto: Never again the Hoarding Times!

And, in case you think that my problem is only my own, my parents, who live alone in a good sized 2-BR and have a garage, just rented a 5x10 storage unit for their stuff. My grandmother washed and reused bits of foil. There is a ton of stuff written on poverty and hoarding, and generational poverty, so I'm certain I'm not alone in this struggle.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Lammas: the Peak of the Sun

This post is also available here.

Each Sabbat brings with it a special meaning as part of the wheel of the year. The journey through the seasons is not just a physical one, but also mental and spiritual.

As we approach each Sabbat, we can grow with the seasons when we know the lessons each one brings us. This series explores the Sabbats' spiritual meaning in the context of modern Pagans.

Lammas is the mid-point of the solar year. As Samhain begins the year, and Yule marks the point of greatest darkness, Lammas is the point of greatest light.

During this time of year, the earth is the most fruitful, growing plants that produce fruits, grains and roots for us to eat, or to feed the animals that we consume later. We are not just carefree because school is out and it's vacation season, we also see the bounty around us, and a primal part of us knows we will not starve to death... this day.

My favorite way to honor Lammas is by celebrating the bounty of the earth, and the fertility of the ground and of our own actions. We make plans in the spring. We make actions in the summer, when the weather is least likely to interfere with our plans for greatness!

How do YOU celebrate Lammas?

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Tokens & Crumbs: That's Systemic Sexism, Right There

There are so many emotions that come up when I see this meme (or the 3.7 million ones that are effectively the same).

First, I think: well duh. We didn't forget that characters like Buffy, Xena, and Ripley (from the Alien franchise) existed. And the effects of those characters are still there, and valid.

Second, I think: but it's not the same.
Ripley was a bad-ass, but she was future sci-fi woman struggling with aliens and restricted by being a normal human.
Cat, child, helpless prisoners...
Ripley's motives had a
distinct slant to them.
Buffy was great, but she was a teen in modern society and many of the best episodes were about her normal, if exaggerated, teen emotional struggles. Oh, and she was on-screen for half an episode before there was Sexual Tension (tm), so like it or not, her story was still framed with female sexuality - a valid topic, to be sure.
Xena was a bad-ass, but she still lived in a world where her sexuality was a thing, and she used it several times. Her relationship with her god-nemesis Aries (same nemesis as Wonder Woman, BTW) was one of him trying to bone her. Plus, Xena faced the world knowing how people viewed her, both as a woman and as a reformed villain. She had things she dealt with on those fronts.
Bad-ass female,
but still in a
toxic relationship

So bad-asses in their own right, but not the same thing.

Third, I think: it's more complicated than that and this meme isn't fair to that, or us.

Wonder Woman, the movie, makes women cry. Literal tears falling down our faces. A lot of the men I know cried too. We weren't sad. We weren't angry or frustrated. Most of us weren't even under some illusion that this movie was Epic Beyond All Measure (tm). In fact, most of us have struggled to figure out WHY we were crying.

That's right. We don't know. We FEEL the why, but the words are not springing to mind to explain to ourselves or others WHY it touched us so much.

So when people blog or post about it, they use the words they have, struggling through the muddle of language and understanding. We say things that are mostly right, but may not be nail-on-the-head right. And as we blurt out these mostly-truths, trying to figure out the right way to express this unprecedented feeling...

We are told that we are wrong. That our facts are incorrect. That we didn't get all our shits together enough.

Women are a disenfranchised group, along with POCs, LGBTQ+, and many others. We live in a world designed for someone else, not us. We live in a world where our entertainment has been, to some degree, formed around someone else. We live in a world where "real" characters like us have certain ways of viewing the world, or baggage, or something.

We got to see something different in Wonder Woman. It is literally so different from the norm that many of us don't know how to describe it. And because we struggle with the words and phrases that we must create or redefine or recombine to do this, we and our experiences are dismissed with a reminder that there have been other characters kinda the same.

And the fourth thing that comes to mind is this:
...
Were we supposed to be satisfied with those previous bad-asses and not be SO thrilled when we get someone who (once again) steps up the female-character game? Sure, those previous nibbles were nice (great, even, for their time), but I'm in search of the woman-character feast.

See, we aren't stupid. We know we had great female characters. But we also know that some wall was broken through with this one. We can't explain it, yet, but we know it. We will not be forced to be grateful for tokens and crumbs

Monday, May 22, 2017

Hidden Trauma: Dealing with Crap You Didn't Even Know Bothered You

It started with a post about someone having to sit next to a wriggly, rambunctious child at the movies. Before I knew it, I was on the attack and when it was over, I started crying... for an hour.

WTF?!?

I ended up talking with my husband, and I realized that I was especially sensitive about the idea that parents shouldn't take their kids out in public unless XYZ (usually to do with the behavior of said kids).

Now, to be clear, I get as annoyed as anyone when some little jerk-monster is being a pain. But I also remember feeling completely abandoned by all friends and most family for almost FOUR YEARS.

When I got pregnant, I stopped going to the bars with friends. Seems obvious, right? Well, none of them ever came to visit me or call to check up. I'd already established myself as someone who really doesn't like to "bug people", so I'm very unlikely to call someone just cuz I'm lonely.

Then I moved to eliminate the hour-long commute to work. On several occasions after my son was born, it hit me that if I was somehow incapacitated by
illness or injury, not a single person would notice for days at a time, except my coworkers, and I'd just get fired as a no-show.

My son is ASD (autism spectrum), and he was a fussy, fussy baby. I couldn't go out in the evenings, because he cried for around 2 hours every single night. No reason. Just cried. I couldn't do any of the evening activities that might have gotten me out of the house and around other people.

He also cried in the checkout lane. He'd be perfectly happy shopping, but no matter the time or how long we'd been at the store, he'd cry in the checkout lane. Three times I was told to abandon my month's worth of groceries if I couldn't keep my infant from fussing. As a single working mom, that wasn't even an option, but it didn't keep people from telling me I didn't belong in a public place with a baby.

When my parents came to town, they often took me out to eat. As a single parent breastfeeding, I spent my evenings eating take-out (usually cold after taking care of baby1), so I happily passed my son over to my mother and ate decent hot food that I didn't have to try to cook with an infant. Twice, my own mother asked why I didn't just leave my food and leave the restaurant when my son got a bit (trust me, that was only a bit, people) fussy. I may have gotten a look on my face similar to a starving predator facing down something that wanted the gazelle for itself.

At that point, I didn't have internet, except at work. So I spent my days working and my nights feeding the baby while I watched cable TV. Alone. For months at a time.

When I moved to my current small town, I went out ONE time with coworkers. We went to the bar for my birthday. It was my 30th birthday. One of my coworkers called my mother because she thought I was getting "too drunk".

I can't even explain how being collected by my mother at 30 years old because people don't TRUST me to be able to take care of myself... how that completely shut down any further attempts I might have made to have any kind of social life. After all, it was a small town. Everyone knew my mother.

So after 4 years of no social interactions outside of work and a few minor events, I started a business, met my now-husband, and got pregnant again. For several reasons, which have since been resolved, I started my daughter's life as a single mother still. My mom took us to see Juno. I got to watch 30 minutes before baby2 started to fuss.

I had no car - I was there with my mom who was still watching the movie with my son. So I spent the entire movie pacing the hall with a fussy baby. For some reason, I wasn't really eager to try that again any time soon.

So, that's all ancient history, and it sucked but it was what it was and now I'm okay. Except, apparently, I'm not okay.

Even now, just thinking about all of this (not something I usually do), I am fighting back tears. It was hard to think that after all the people telling me I'm a good mom, and I did so well when solo, etc., etc... I was traumatized.

Even now, the thought of being a single parent again is so painful that I just want to curl up into a ball. I am literally gun-shy of it. It closes my emotions off except for this bitter, clogging pain. It shuts my mind down except for these memories going through my head over and over.

And I never even knew that it had affected me so deeply. Despite the fact that I do Shadow Work ALL THE TIME, I never knew. I dig for things like this, regularly, but I had no idea it was there.

So the lesson here is this: Shadow Work is never done. There is always more to work on. And just because trauma is hidden, doesn't mean you are not traumatized. And just because you are traumatized, doesn't make you broken... just a little chipped.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Traditions vs Paths: Walking Your Right Way

Paganism is full of it.

Different paths, different traditions, different ways of doing this or that. Paganism is just plain full of choices.

I believe that there is a right way and a wrong way to do your spiritual thing. I believe this firmly. I just don't know what it is for you. And I certainly don't think that what works for me is right for you, or vice versa.

See, I'm an all-paths kinda witch. Each of us is different, with different backgrounds, experiences, preferences, and, yes, even goals. How can anyone possibly believe that there is a One True Way (tm) to do something so personal when people are so very different?

There are many traditions in Paganism, such as Alexandrian Wicca, Faery Wicca, ADF, etc., and many of them are very much worth a look-see. Maybe even a bit of learning. Maybe one of them is right for you and your family. But maybe not.

There are also more general paths, such as Druidism, Wicca, Left-hand Path, etc. They tend to be more of a guide than traditions, which are more scholastic and ritualized (in most cases). Perhaps one of these paths is right for you, even if none of the traditions on the path works.

So many choices, and Paganism is full of it.

Isn't it great?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

The Nine Noble Virtues: a Modern Take - Hospitality

The Nine Noble Virtues are a modern invention, so it seems my title is redundant. However, little seems to have been done to bring the concepts themselves from the past into the present.

I do not consider the NNV to be a historical reference. I do consider them to be a modern way of understanding cultural and even subconscious values that were stressed, if not perfectly, by those peoples lumped together as Norsemen.

This series will explore my thoughts on these values and, hopefully, start conversations about them in a modern context.

I'm starting with Hospitality because it is my favorite. When I first learned about it, a chord was struck within me and I began to work out my thoughts and feelings on the idea, immediately. The first thing I noticed was that hospitality takes the place of charity.

From a historical context, there are some texts that talk about situations in which hospitality was used or abused, which gives us a strong basis for believing it was important. The "why" is a little trickier. There are just some things that people don't think to write down because, within the culture, it is so obvious that explaining it would be redundant.

We can extrapolate ideas from the way hospitality is talked about. Many of the texts focus on providing food and shelter and, when looking at the weather conditions of that time, that makes sense.
Skadi, Goddess of snow
and blizzards, with Ullr

To me, hospitality is a social exchange. You extend the generosity of your home and resources to save lives. Yes, that's a bit hyperbolic, but when you think about how people would get caught in snowstorms, or lost without food after travelling for weeks, it's not too big of a stretch.

And the sharing of resources means that there is an exchange of obligations. The host is obliged to actually take care of the needs of their guest to the best of their ability. The guest is not only obliged to respect the host's offerings, but to eventually pay that generosity forward.

In this way, a family might host travelers on and off for several generations. Then, the son may go travelling, himself. If he finds himself in a bind, he doesn't have to feel bad about asking for hospitality - his family has paid that obligation off many times over.

Think about what that means. By fostering generosity and hospitality, you are not obligated to feel SHAME if you require hospitality in return.

Imagine how different it is to see the giving and taking of charity and other forms of aide as both sides of a social obligation. Those accepting charity would be just as respected in their role for PROVIDING THE HOST WITH THE OPPORTUNITY TO MEET THEIR SOCIAL OBLIGATION.

On the other hand, serving a guest, because of the importance of the obligation, becomes an HONOR instead of a menial action. The host and server does not give food and drink with head down and a meek expression. She (for it was usually the matron of the household) holds her head high and gives her guests the offerings of her generosity.

By changing the way we look at hospitality, we take something that was often shameful or belittling and transform it into something bigger and better. In many ways, it is a sacred act to contribute to this exchange of obligations.

Odin the Wanderer
Let us not forget the number of gods who walked the world, visiting humans and taking of their hospitality, as well. Each guest could be Odin or Zeus in mortal garb.

Extending the hospitality of your home and resources can and should be a spiritual/holy/sacred act.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Darkside of Taurus

Astrology is an interesting study. Not only does each person have their own natal chart (the signs at your birth) with 10 planets, two lunar nodes, ascendent/rising signs, and several asteroids, but then there are progressions (how zodiac influences have developed into the current aspects).

On top of that, the current placement of the stars and planets can have an overall effect on the world at large. This is seen more prominently in the outer, slower-changing planets (while the inner, faster-changing planets are more influential on individuals).

Each zodiac sign has it's own personality. Most zodiac descriptions focus on the positive of each sign, but each sign also has a dark side - the negative aspect of that sign.

This series explores the negative, world-effect aspects of each sign. For simplicity, I am assuming we are talking about the Sun in each sign, though most of these analyses would apply to other planetary placements, as well.

Taurus is a fixed earth sign, with its opposite/duality in Scorpio. Taurus is the sign of artistic work and sensory comforts. The bull also has tendencies towards stubbornness.

When the sun is in Taurus, we will likely see more actions around the home: decorating, cooking and cleaning. It's the perfect time for spring cleaning!

However, we should be on the lookout for certain extremes. These can include pickiness in eating and items surrounding comfort, such as fabrics or clothing.

It isn't uncommon to find yourself comfort hording, such as holding on to things from childhood even though it might be better to clear out space in your home. When combined with the hard-headedness of the bull, it's easy to find ourselves simply rearranging our nostalgia rather than moving on.

With Taurus' artistic nature, this can expand to crafting projects. We may keep around the yarns or paints that we may never actually use, because we will get around to it someday. It will be important to establish rules to follow for keeping things in our space.

Taurus loves comfort, and this may translate into focusing on present feelings. While not a bad thing, the bull can do this to the exclusion of future plans or simply keeping up on chores that are more drudgery than fun.

Put simply, the sun in Taurus can make us feel as though the treats we give ourselves today are worth the sacrifices we would make in our plans for tomorrow. Keep your eye on your goals without completely denying yourself, and you can ride out Taurus without going broke splurging on bling or Chunky Monkey.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

The Darkside of Aries

Astrology is an interesting study. Not only does each person have their own natal chart (the signs at your birth) with 10 planets, two lunar nodes, ascendent/rising signs, and several asteroids, but then there are progressions (how zodiac influences have developed into the current aspects).

On top of that, the current placement of the stars and planets can have an overall effect on the world at large. This is seen more prominently in the outer, slower-changing planets (while the inner, faster-changing planets are more influential on individuals).

Each zodiac sign has it's own personality. Most zodiac descriptions focus on the positive of each sign, but each sign also has a dark side - the negative aspect of that sign.

This series explores the negative, world-effect aspects of each sign. For simplicity, I am assuming we are talking about the Sun in each sign, though most of these analyses would apply to other planetary placements, as well.

Aries is a cardinal fire sign, with its opposite/duality in Libra. Aries is the sign of impulsive action and a quick temper. 

Aries is the get 'er done sign, as they are really big on finishing what they've started. This can become a negative when what they've started isn't worth the effort. Like the ram head-butting a brick wall, Aries needs to learn when to give it up.

With a hefty dose of spontaneity, Aries takes off, ready to do the thing or to make their mark. While over-thinking is a very real issue for many people, Aries doesn't suffer much from it. They take what they've got and head out. In doing so, they might get the urge to go camping and forget to pack the sleeping bag. Or trail mix.

Aries can have a laser-fine focus on their goals, making them a force to be reckoned with. They are less likely to accept any information that doesn't forward that goal, however. This is up to and including information that would let them know when to stop or change direction or tactics.

With the sun in Aries, we are more inclined to hold on to what we were sure we knew. These beliefs and life goals may have been perfectly fine and logical, but we need to remember to stop once in a while and figure out if we are actually getting somewhere, or if we have missed something important that may change the situation.

We can also find ourselves poorly prepared for something that we began because of a strong emotional impulse. Emotional impulses are great for getting motivated, but we need to remember that not every situation is so simple that we can just jump into it without a little thought and planning first. Taking a moment to reassess will be a valuable characteristic during the time of the Sun in Aries.

Plus, if you plan ahead, you might have some pain-killers for that headache after head-butting a wall.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Witches In Action, Witches Inaction

Recently, several groups of witches performed a collective hex or curse on President Donald Trump and his administration. This caused a lot of discussion about the threefold law, aka the Wiccan Rede.

Specifically, the Rede says (with many wording variations): Do No Harm. A hex or a curse is meant to do, at least most of the time, SOME harm, usually harm triggered by or stemming from certain behaviors of the recipient.

So why would it be okay to do this?

Now, I don't personally follow the Rede. I'm not Wiccan, and I have no beliefs regarding that. However, let's pretend we all do follow the Rede, for the sake of this discussion. What could make a hex or curse acceptable under the Rede?

What if it is our only alternative to sitting back and doing nothing?


The argument is that the Trump administration is a clear and present threat to several demographics, specifically virtually all minorities - women, people of color, LGBTQ, immigrants, Muslims and Jews (and, by extrapolation, any other non-Christian religious group), or even people PERCEIVED to be any one of these.

People aren't necessarily asking if the Hispanic is a real illegal immigrant before harassing him, or if the woman is an actual Muslim before ripping the scarf off of her head, or if the teen boy is really LGBTQ or just more feminine in his behavior than they like.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the go-to organization for determining hate groups, has reported a significant spike in hate crimes since the election. Trump's executive orders have resulted in a dangerous and/or extremely discriminatory set of policies towards minorities. His administration, via support for the GOP-heavy congress, has resulted in a slew of proposed laws that also discriminate against minorities.

Make no mistake, love him or hate him, Trump has had an effect on discrimination and bias in the US.

So, in the simplest form, the choice is to harm Trump and his administration via a hex or curse, or to sit back and allow the harm of thousands of innocent people by the rippling effects of Trump being in power.

Oh, but Karma will take care of Trump and all the others.

Really? And how does Karma do that? Earthquakes? Heart attacks? Other "random" things that just happen?

Rule #1 of spell casting is that spells do not manifest in a void. You want to do a spell to find work? Fine, but you still need to apply for jobs. You want to do a spell to find love? Great, but you still need to be a lovable person, and get out and meet people.

Karma often works the same way. It isn't just people getting what they deserve through great cosmic effects. It's also people getting what they deserve by reaping the reactions of what they sow. If we suppress our reactions because KARMA, we are inhibiting the way the world creates consequences.

We need to stop being afraid of our power. Spells and energy work are our strength, and that includes the darker magics of hexes and curses. We are like a bodybuilder walking past a man attempting to rape a woman. We can "control ourselves" and keep our power on a leash while we call the police, and hope they get here on time. Or we can use our power to hurt the man and punch him in the face.

I'm not ashamed to admit, I punch people in the face. #Resist

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Dark Side of Pisces

Astrology is an interesting study. Not only does each person have their own natal chart (the signs at your birth) with 10 planets, two lunar nodes, ascendent/rising signs, and several asteroids, but then there are progressions (how zodiac influences have developed into the current aspects).

On top of that, the current placement of the stars and planets can have an overall effect on the world at large. This is seen more prominently in the outer, slower-changing planets (while the inner, faster-changing planets are more influential on individuals).

Each zodiac sign has it's own personality. Most zodiac descriptions focus on the positive of each sign, but each sign also has a dark side - the negative aspect of that sign.

This series explores the negative, world-effect aspects of each sign. For simplicity, I am assuming we are talking about the Sun in each sign, though most of these analyses would apply to other planetary placements, as well.

Pisces is a mutable water sign, with its opposite/duality in Virgo. Pisces is the sign of intuition and empathy, with a strong leaning towards the betterment of the world and the detachment from the world spoken of by many religions throughout history.

When Pisces shows it's dark side, it can take those characteristics to the extreme. Pisces can turn into the one who drinks too much (escapism) while watching the world burn, commenting on how it's all a lesson that needs to be learned.

To a less extreme, Pisces can be the one who throws out platitudes and even criticisms in the face of an individual's pain. "God works in mysterious ways." "There's a reason for everything." "You had a lesson to learn from this." There are many kinds of privilege that can magnify the effects of this.

This can be painful for an individual facing trauma or real problems, but it is important to note that Pisces truly believes that there is a greater purpose behind these things. These fish are swimming in larger waters than most of us realize.

The Pisces needs to balance their belief in the larger growth of humanity with sympathy for individual pain. This is difficult for the water sign specifically because they may have such strong empathy that they build walls to protect themselves from being overpowered by others' feelings. And, sometimes those walls come in the form of altering substances, such as alcohol, drugs, gambling, or other addictions.

As we enter into Pisces in this particularly interesting time, we need to watch for a tendency to embody the dark Piscean characteristics. With the larger perspective that Pisces works in, political turmoil, in particular, may bring these out.

The lesson of Pisces is to prioritize empathy for individuals, even as the greater good and world view may dismiss such things as insignificant.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Gen Hex: Pagans of the In-Between Generation

Caught between the huge populations of the Boomers and Millennials, and caught between their back-and-forth blaming and insults, sits my generation.

Gen X.

While every generation gets pelted by insults from generations before, Gen X is the first generation that endured major media around that conversation. The insults to us were immortalized on VHS, then DVD, then Blu-Ray, and so on.

The technological advances grew hugely during our younger years, and we grew with it, making us the first generation to focus, not on a specialty technological knowledge, but specializing in a sort of fluid understanding of how to learn technology (individual results may vary). The Millennials got that, too.

Gen X had the most under-parented childhoods in history, due to divorce, parents working outside the home and latchkey lives. This allowed abuses to happen in unsupervised lives. Now, Gen Xers over-parent and over-protect, as a whole.

Gen X music and art hugely reflects our mindset: Depeche Mode, U2, grunge and hip hop. Our expressions reflected our cynicism. But that cynicism wasn't pessimism.  It was more of a critical look at how things had been done, how things were presented to us, how things were organized.

We were criticized as a generation, but I've seen Gen Xers jump to defend other generations from that same criticism. We don't accept "that generation" attitudes; instead, we know WHY Millennials hustle, and we will explain it to others.

We are the first to criticize how things are run, from companies to economies to governments. We don't "respect" our bosses just because they are our bosses. You have to earn our respect, the hard way. And our criticisms often have real solutions. We aren't just complaining; we can see the better way to do things.


What does this mean as Pagans?

Because of our lack of numbers, Gen X Pagans have been wedged in between. We are watching as the elders get older, but still lead. And we watch as the Millennial Pagans come in talking about getting ready to "take the reins".

But we've been here longer. Some of us were born to Paganism, in greater numbers than Boomer Pagans. Many of us have decades of experience and learning, which isn't often true for Millennial Pagans.

We walked the Path and many of us broke off and forged our own, embracing the solitary Pagan ways. True to form, we dismissed Traditions as being unnecessary - unless that's what spoke to you.

Gen X Pagans brought in the slow but steady voice of acceptance and tolerance for non-WASPs (white anglo straight pagans). We lead charges of calling people out for bad behavior and we picked up the narrative of triggers and consent within the community.

We are Gen Hex

As Pagans, Gen Xers are more willing to do the dirty work than Boomers and we have more "elder authority" than Millennials. Our over-protectiveness leads us to swoop in and try to save everyone. We point the spotlight and refuse to let hate or abuse crawl back under a rock.http://danschawbel.com/blog/44-of-the-most-interesting-facts-about-generation-x/

We are too young to be entrenched in Traditions, but too old to be concerned about our place in the Pagan world. We are hedge witches, kitchen witches, solitary witches. We start new covens and traditions when the old ones aren't available or just plain don't work for us.

And, when push comes to shove, we will use our powers for... not good, but the Greater Good.

***Notes***

  1. Yeah, these are generalizations. Obviously. Talking about generations is talking about generalizations.
  2. Of course there are exceptions to everything I've said here. Those would be individuals that do not fit the overall trend. I love exceptions. They make things interesting.
  3. I would love to have numbers backing up what I've said, but Pagans are notoriously hard to get statistics on. These statements are based on my years of watching the Pagan community.
  4. I'm sure many of you have had experiences contrary to what I've said here. That's great, and we could spend weeks debating whether my experiences or your experiences are the norm or the outlier, and we would still never know who was correct. I'm busy, you're busy, let's just skip that whole thing and acknowledge that this is just my experience and opinion. 

Interesting articles on Gen X

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Kali the Destroyer: Death vs Rot

Kali is the dark mother goddess of Hindu mythology. She is death and time, both, blue-black as deep space and blood-thirsty. She was created as an aspect of Durga, a warrior goddess, to drink the blood of demons so they could not regenerate, and to destroy those demons. Her blood-lust shook the world so hard, it nearly came apart.

But Kali is a mother goddess. She does what she does for her children - all of humankind. She is a protector, though we don't always see what she does as protecting.

When Kali realized she was destroying the world, she stuck out her tongue. This is a symbol of shame. She was not trying to lick more blood, as some interpretations say. The Hindu symbology on this is very clear. She regretted her loss of control.

Kali is the goddess of disease, specifically plagues. She doesn't cause the plagues, though. Hindus pray to Kali to save them from plagues.

Kali is the goddess of time, which, at its core, kills us all. In many ways, she is the goddess of inevitability. (I just thought that in the voice of Agent Smith of the Matrix... lol.)

So what does this all mean? What place does Kali have in our lives?

Kali is the vaccine that gives you disease to prevent disease. She is the vomiting and fever that kills the virus in your body. She is the sad determination of pulling the plug on a loved one when all that is left for them is pain.

Kali is the impassive march of the days and years that wears us down eventually. She is the death and decay that makes room for new life. She is the mama bear that tears apart those creatures who would threaten her children. She is the rage and violence we feel in defense of our friends and loved ones.

Kali is also the bullet that takes out a war buddy who is too injured to move out of the line of the enemy. She is the knife that cuts off a breast riddled with cancer. She is the poison of chemotherapy that takes care of the rest of that disease. She is the old member of a pack who disappears one day so as not to be a burden to the others.

Kali is the hard, painful choices. She is the actions that we don't take unless they are absolutely necessary. She is the tears we weep when we have to do the hard things. She is the good-byes that cannot be avoided or taken back. She is the pain we feel when we realize our mistakes, but she is also the actions we take to admit those mistakes.

In many ways, Kali represents the harshness of life and the darkness within us all. She accepts the realities and moves on, but not without emotion - often anger, or blood-lust, or even shame.

Though she is often seen only as a goddess of death, she is a very real manifestation of our own human nature - that determination to survive as a species, to protect our own, to live with the pain and passion of our own fleeting nature.

"You were only killing time and it can kill you right back" - Out of the Frying Pan (And Into the Fire) by Meatloaf