Thoughts on Midsummer Eve

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I’m watching The Wicker Man again because it’s the only pagan-themed movie that I have access to right now. I’m also trying to get back in the mood to work on my Wicker Man sequel. If ever a movie was deserving of a proper sequel, it’s this one, and I’d love to be part of introducing the late Edward Woodward to a new generation of fans via a sequel featuring a relative arriving on Summerisle in search of a missing person: Neil Howie.

Recently, I purchased a set of prayer beads from an Etsy seller who makes beautiful full and pocket “rosaries” devoted to pagan deities, the moon, sun, and all aspects of the earth. The prayer beads that I bought almost jumped off the screen at me. The beads are green and fashioned in the style of a pocket rosary. Instead of a cross, they feature a rectangular pendant with a tree. I was attracted to those beads because I love trees, especially private groves of trees. After I received the beads, I searched my books for a Celtic tree goddess and found her. Nemetona, the goddess of sacred groves and sacred spaces, had made her way into my life.

Sacred space and private space outdoors and inside the house are important to me because I didn’t have my own secure space until I was in my late thirties. My siblings regularly rifled through my room. My former husband considered privacy in a marriage a violation of trust. I’ve never lived in a place where I could find a private outdoor space. I’m only beginning to know Nemetona, but when I hold those faceted green beads, I see a woman slender as a sapling, with long, pale green hair, disappearing behind a tree in a grove.

The majority of images of Nemetona are the typical digital fantasy art portraits of interchangeable sex goddesses in ridiculous clingy rags. Too many artists portray every goddess and fairy the same way. There’s nothing to distinguish them but their names and perhaps a certain animal associated with that goddess. I wish that I had the artistic talent to get my vision of Nemetona, and the Morrigan, down on paper.

This Midsummer Eve, I did a small ritual for happiness, peace, prosperity, and abundance for my household.

2018 green candle holder

We’ve had an awful year so far . . . actually, it started in December. Every night for the last week, I’ve been burning a candle and asking Rhiannon (whose newborn son was stolen and returned after two years) to aid the mothers whose children were kidnapped by our government. Disgust does not begin to describe my feelings towards every single member of the ruling regime.

I have four goddesses in my life that I revere. The Morrigan I consider my patron goddess. Almost everywhere I go, I hear or see crows and ravens, and I’m not in the farming area of the county.

Rhiannon was the first goddess in my personal pantheon. She introduced herself to me via goddess oracle cards. I was drawn to the Morrigan because I felt in need of a protector. After reading about Her, I realized that She could help me grow stronger and help me learn to control my OCD and panic disorder. Cerridwen came next. I fell in love with a little gray statue of Her sitting cross-legged, stirring her cauldron. I’ve felt her inspiration while I was writing. And now, Nemetona, the only one traditionally associated with a male deity, but not always considered part of a couple. I have no representation of a male deity on my altar or in any of my shrines except for a small china boy who I’ve designated Rhiannon’s son. All my goddesses are sovereign goddesses. I’m weary of being forced to venerate/obey/look up to men in religion and in my personal life. The abusive conservative/entitled male culture that permeates society is exhausting. I have to be able to escape it.

To me, the summer solstice marks the maturity of the Goddess.

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She’s fully grown as a woman, fertile like my garden, like the earth. Now she will age day by day as the daylight hours shorten until she becomes the Crone. I’m forty-five and a half. I’m exactly middle-aged by 21st century standards and beginning my journey to become the Crone.

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And it’s a relief. I know myself, my values, and I’ve become my mother’s caregiver.

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My goals in life are established: to hone my books as much as I can alone and eventually see them published, to continue studying my religion, to read as much as possible, and to stand up for the people most in need in my country. Today, tomorrow, the next day, those people are parents and children separated by greed and pure evil. Part of my task as I grow older is to pass on knowledge and the absolute imperative of civic responsibility. Quite simply, care for the children, the sick, the poor, the abused by claiming my right to be a part of the governance of this country. Claiming my sovereignty.

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To All the People Who Are Not Suicidal

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(If you are suicidal or “just” in crisis, please call 1-800-273-8255, text “START” to 741-741, call the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text the word “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200. International suicide hotlines are listed here. You can also walk into an ER or call 911.)

Now, to everyone sharing the suicide hotline numbers but not actually doing anything to help:

GET OFF YOUR ASSES AND DO SOMETHING TO HELP.

  1. Actually CALL your friends. Ask if they’re okay. If they say “not really” or “I’m getting by” or “kinda depressed,” ask them what’s wrong. If you can help, DO IT.
  2. Do you regularly see someone who seems depressed or worried? Ask if they’re okay. They may not want to talk. They may be elated that someone finally asked. They may be suffering from depression and need some motivation to seek help, like you offering to help them find a therapist. They may need help getting to a therapist, their doctor, or the hospital. And that leads to my next point . . .
  3. Many times, chronic depression is aggravated by things like physical health problems, abuse, and poverty. If you find out that someone is depressed and being abused, you can do the work of finding a way to get them out of that situation. You can take them to the police station. You can (if the situation is safe at the moment) help them move.
  4.  Poverty. Many times, as little as $25 to tide someone over until payday can help someone with depression. I have given money to friends with no expectation of repayment when I really couldn’t afford it but I could live without it and they couldn’t. Other things that you can do to help someone who is broke if you can’t give them a few bucks are: mow their lawn, clean their gutters, make small household repairs, help them paint, or just lift something that’s too heavy for them to lift alone. When your house is crappy, it doesn’t help your depression.
  5. Feed a friend. Make a meal for them. Take them out to eat. Give them a (paper) bag of groceries that will last several days.
  6. Pets. Being poor doesn’t make someone a bad pet owner. People get pets when their lives are going okay (or take in strays when they really can’t afford them.) Regardless, eating peanut butter and Ramen and not being able to afford cat litter or dog food does not help depression. It makes you feel worthless (I swear to God if anyone says “take the animal to the pound” I will block your ass in a nanosecond.) Drop off a bag of cat food and some friggin’ Spam.
  7. People who are disabled and/or elderly and living alone often suffer from depression. That house across the street where the old man with the oxygen tank lives alone? MOW HIS YARD.
  8. And sometimes it’s just loneliness. Social media does not make up for human companionship. Ask someone if they want to go to a movie, or stay in and watch a movie, or come to dinner, or go to the library, or a museum, or yard sales, or thrift stores, or whatever. (You don’t always have to pay. Sometimes people can pay their own way, they just don’t want to go alone. Sometimes people can pay for yard work too, they’re just embarrassed to ask for help.)

And that’s the whole point of the post. Ask, “How are you doing?” and see where it goes. You could save a life.

“Don’t you have a grain of–“

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No.

No, I do not.

Someone (not a family member, someone close to a family member, never a friend,) died yesterday. I’m expected to care.

I don’t. I feel nothing.

This person disliked me because of politics. Left multiple obscene messages on my answering machine. Called the police and accused me of abusing and imprisoning my mother. A police officer came to my house to check on my mother’s welfare.

This person was a violent drunk, regularly drove drunk, beat my relative, and abused the relative’s child physically and verbally.

I’m not even glad that they’re dead. I just don’t care. For what it’s worth, my relative had finally seen the light and left them . . . but now there’s the “I wish I could talk to them one more time.” Why. You left because they beat you and wouldn’t stop drinking and wouldn’t go to rehab.

Why do we canonize the dead? How is telling the truth about them “speaking evil?”

I’m having none of it.

If you’re moved to say a prayer, say it for the mother who watched her child and grandchild suffer at the hands of this person.

I Still Plan to Suck Your Blood

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I have not abandoned my vampires or my Empire State Vampires series. I got overloaded from all the revising because I can’t afford a line editor. I also have to update some details in the books because I set them in specific places in New York, places I visited when I lived there. Riverhead in particular has changed, businesses are gone, and maybe this is a good example of why you should not set your story in a real place. I believe I can preserve the New York atmosphere. It’s just a lot of work.

So I took a break. I’ve been wanting to writing a story involving witchcraft for years. Since I’ve been studying it so intensively for almost two years (and off and on before that starting when I was 15), I decided to give it another try. I think the story has good bones this time.

I’m also playing around with Wicker Man fanfic (the original Wicker Man.) That and the positive feedback I received really helped me break through the writer’s block.

The vampires are coming. Is that the sound of fingertips running over your window screen in the night?

Looking For the Best Pagan Books?

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Check out Moon Books. That links to their Twitter. Their bio gives you all the info you need to find their books. They’re in the UK, but you can still order straight from them, or buy their books on Amazon or from Barnes and Noble. They don’t sell “fluffy bunny” witchcraft books or just books of spells. They do have some books of spells, like Candle Magic by Lucya Starza and Every Day Magic, also by Lucya Starza (who is also on Twitter and quite a nice person.) They have a book about depression, Facing the Darkness by Cat Treadwell, a book about Rhiannon (who was she? Fairy queen, goddess, both?) and a book about The Morrigan. And these are just a few. I believe their site lists their full catalogue.

The also having books like Naming the Goddess, Aspecting the Goddess, and Kissing the Hag. I received the last yesterday. These books delve into more than Wicca, witchcraft, and paganism. You’ll find things relevant to your daily life. You’ll find things about life as an older woman, paganism from a queer perspective, who the Dark Goddess really is, and the origins of familiar fairy tales.

There are also books about gods . . . I saw a tweet the other day about a new release, a book about Odin. I believe that they have a book about the Green Man. They have something for everyone. And not all the books are just about Celtic deities and Celtic paganism. I have so many that I haven’t read them all yet. From the back cover of Journey to the Dark Goddess by Jane Meredith: “Weaving stories of Inanna, Persephone, and Psyche with self-enquiry and sacred ritual Journey to the Dark Goddess invites you to venture within.”

Sound intriguing? Just be aware . . . these books are so fascinating that they’re addictive, and you’ll find yourself pre-ordering and buying at least one a month. And, they also have some fiction titles. If you’re serious about paganism and you’ve been looking for pagan books that deal with self-improvement, follow Moon Books on Twitter or visit their site.

Disclaimer: I do not write for Moon Books (unfortunately, I’m not nearly as knowledgeable as their authors.) I’m just a big fan of their books.

 

Bi God Done

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I’ve had it.

I’m a bi GRRL.

I realize now the problems that this poses for me in society, but in reality, I like women and men.

If ever I get my books published, you’d figure it out anyway.

That’s a weight off my shoulders – RoBIn

 

Candles: Altar Advice for Pagans

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I was going to title this post “Candles: Altar Advice for New Pagans,” but I realized that a lot of us who have been at this for a long time get set in our ways and sometimes need a tip during difficult times.

I have spent a lot of money on altar figurines and statues, and a real mini cast-iron cauldron, because as a teen I had to keep my altar on the down-low, not recognizable as an altar to family members (even though it was in my bedroom where they did not belong.) I used angel figurines from the dollar store as goddesses and a china swan to represent the element of Air. I didn’t have an athame or a wand. I still don’t have a wand. I could buy one, but I’d rather make one. All the trees in my yard are maple, dogwood, cedar, and crepe myrtle. I need to go to the park and find a different type of tree. I received my beautiful athame, handmade in Scotland, as a gift. I’ve always collected crystals and pebbles and feathers. I built a big, beautiful altar, and two separate shrines, and the things that are proving to be the constant expense are candles.

I use candles daily in my practice. I have asthma and really can’t tolerate incense, and I have enough Catholicism in my background to feel that I should light a candle every day just to honor the Goddess, not to mention using them for other purposes. Having OCD and two cats, I only feel safe using jar candles. And they’re relatively expensive when you use so many as I do.

Where I live, you will not find a black candle in a store, even at Halloween. They have to be ordered. One dollar store has a great range of smallish (about five inches tall) jar candles in every color and nice scents, but again, expensive on a daily basis. So I’ve turned to tealight candles for daily use, some holy day use, and marking moon phases.

2018 green candle holder

This is my absolutely fabulous (found on Ebay) Goddess/tealight holder that I use to mark the South on my altar. Now, you could build your entire altar around just this piece. That’s something to consider if you’re building an altar for the first time. (FYI, my altar cloth is a family heirloom, a dresser cloth made by my great-grandmother. Yours doesn’t have to be a certain color with symbols that scream ALTAR CLOTH.)

I’ve had the great good luck to track down three Sheila Wolk statues based on her paintings. And I included a thrift store find that really fits in well and looks like a child version of her Spring Bliss.

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(Wolk’s Frost Bearer isn’t visible in this shot.) I added this goblet-shaped candle holder because all I had on hand to mark the full moon were tealights and none of the small holders satisfied me. This frosted glass holder is another dollar store find, and safe for tealights. The candle has already burned down and out.

So I’ve decided to reserve colorful, scented candles for extra special occasions and use tealight candles the rest of the time. I can buy a bag of decent, vanilla scented tealights for less than $3 at Family Dollar. If you can find votive candle holders in a variety of colors (thrift stores) then you can use white tealights for pretty much everything. Just google how to safely remove candles from glass holders. Hint: butter knife is not the answer.

Happy witching – Robin