Harvest Moon 2017 and Altars

Standard

Sorry for the poor quality. I took this with my iPod Touch. It’s a corner of a large (fills the top of a chest of drawers) nature altar.

2017 oct harv moon altar

I just added the pumpkin. I picked up the leaf from my yard. The object on top of the leaf is a miniature besom. My athame from Scotland is in the foreground. The little figures are miniature fairies, and you can see two miniature mushrooms with spirals painted on them.

The Goddess figurine, I bought on Ebay. She’s green and she has yellow accents from nature, like dragonflies and flowers, and a crescent moon on her left breast. She’s supposed to hold a tealight candle, and I’ve done that a couple of times, but She tips over too easily. At first I put stones in her bowl. Now I’m gathering seed heads from my garden and putting them in the bowl so that She can hold them over the winter.

I’m interested in fairy witchcraft, hence the miniature fairies, and I bought this book. I also like my big working altar with the green Goddess, the fairies, and the mushrooms just because it will remind me of the green time of the year during winter. Living by the 13 moons and the Wheel of the Year is healthier, I believe, than wishing it was spring, or summer, or fall. Almost no one wishes for winter. They associate it with bad weather and/or hectic holidays. The more that you understand each month’s moon, the easier it is to live by real time and feel connected to your ancestors. Changing the altar decor every month (adding miniature pumpkins or real gourds, pine cones, mini animals, real plants, leaves) makes your altar a living thing.

Many people don’t like a lot of things on their altar, but if you want an altar that’s a little world inside your house, you can find miniature fairies and animals on Etsy and goddess figurines on Etsy and Ebay.

 

Advertisements

Pain

Standard

When I was sixteen, a drunk driver slammed our car into a tree. I was in the passenger seat. The massive old tree caved in my door. The fire department cut us out of the car with the Jaws of Life. The tree saved our small car from going over a ravine.

The next 24 hours were pain and confusion. The doctor in the hospital said that I had no injuries and sent me home. I woke up peeing blood and unable to move my right leg. My mother was already on the phone with the hospital. A radiologist checking the X-rays from the night before saw that the last three vertebra in my back were fractured, called my mother, and told her that they were sending an ambulance for me.

I lay in a hospital bed for a week with no treatment, just under observation, and was released still unable to walk without crutches because my right leg didn’t work. I could feel it, but I couldn’t make it move. No one ever said why.

I went home again, for a month. I couldn’t go to school because I could barely get to the bathroom. Over the course of the the next month, I regained the use of my right leg and went back to school. I still wasn’t able to climb stairs. I sat in the library/study hall when I had a class in an upstairs classroom. I think it took about another month before I regained full mobility.

The orthopedic doctor told me that, due to arthritis, I would be in a wheelchair by the time I was 35. 35 came and went. I was on my feet and felt pretty good except for some pain in my right hip and knee. My right knee went out on me occasionally when I was rising from a sitting position. I thought that I had beat the orthopod’s prediction. I thought I would have some pain but be okay.

I turned 40 and everything hit me like the car slamming into the tree again. My knee is unreliable. My hip is starting to hurt in a way that frightens me.

And, my back.

The spinal vertebrae have wing-like projections on each side. In my back, each of those projections, six in all, broke off from the vertebrae at the moment of impact. Nothing was done at the hospital to aid my healing; perhaps nothing could be done. Nothing was done for my bruised kidney or spleen. They just left me in a bed for a week.

Over the months that I spent in bed waiting for my leg to work again, my spleen and kidney repaired themselves, and the wings of my vertebrae knitted themselves back to my spine. They served me well until four years ago.

The pain in my lower back now, every day, is like someone slammed three steak knives into my lower back on either side. It takes my breath away. Sometimes, I make my way from room to room holding onto furniture. Because I am the sole caretaker of my mother, I must do some heavy lifting. Sometimes, the pain is so much that it exhausts me and I have to sleep. That may be an early bedtime, or a five hour “nap” in the afternoon.

I take medication so that I don’t end up in that wheelchair that the orthopod promised. I take medication so that I can walk and drive and do laundry and shower. I’m not going to apologize for taking pain medication because I have to live in this breaking-down body. No one else has to live in it but me, and I’ve tried yoga, and I won’t try it again, and save the rest of your suggestions.

I’m starting to have difficulty walking on occasion. I reckon that I’ll be using a cane like my mother’s very soon. If it takes the edge off the pain, I’m fine with it. I can’t take enough medicine to completely kill the pain, but I will take what I am allowed, and I do not care what anyone thinks about it. Because it’s my pain alone, no one helps me, and I have to keep living.

Why Wicca?

Standard

I am Irish, Scottish, English, Dutch, German, French, Comanche, and Choctaw.

I have a deep and rich culture. My Native American blood is in my father’s family. He died two years ago. I hadn’t seen him since I was ten, and his family didn’t keep in touch with us after he left my mother. It feels strange, being descended from the invaded and the invaders.

I identify most with Appalachian culture: the Scots-Irish. My grandfather was a son of the Appalachians. A Protestant. After my father left, my grandfather put me in a Catholic school. It was the first of many gifts that he gave me. I learned that women figure in religion just as much as men. Oh, Mary and Mary Magdalene were denigrated, not goddesses, but I got that they should have been equal to Jesus, equal to God.

That set me out on the search that led to Wicca. I learned about the Celtic gods and goddesses. I learned that I had an indigenous European culture. I realized that my grandmother, Christian though she was, was a wise woman, and so was her mother. And my grandmother passed down some of my great-grandmother’s knowledge . . . cooking, healing, sewing . . . to me.

My white Christian grandmother said that my Comanche grandmother was a witch. She didn’t like my father. She had no knowledge of Native American culture. She gave me a box of photos, some over a century old now, and told me that I was the only one that she trusted to care for them. My father put a stone spear head into my hands. He found it in the Ozarks when he was a teen.

In one hand, I hold sewing needles and photographs, and in my mind I hold recipes and herbal medicine. In the other, I hold this piece of stone formed by the hands of someone who might have been my ancestor.

I realized that the earth itself was the connecting factor in my bloodlines. The moon and the feminine are essential parts of any religion to me. A religion that does not elevate the feminine isn’t real to me. Wicca combines all of the things that, to me, are holy. I study, endlessly, goddesses of Ireland, England, and Wales.

I read on Twitter that I can’t pick up a feather and a stone and make magic out of them unless they were handed to me. They were, physically, a stone was put into my hand, and I was given heirlooms and oral tradition.

Please don’t tell me what I can’t have or think or love. It’s taken me a long time to get over hating my father for abandoning us, but I claim all my cultures, regardless of which one calls to me in the most insistent voice.

Around My Block

Standard

2017 sept moonflower open2017 sept moonflower open 22017 sept moonflower open 3

This moonflower opened in less than two minutes. Unfortunately I didn’t record it because I didn’t realize it would open so fast. I went around to the back of the flowerbed to take a picture of the squash and when I came back, it was open.

2017 sept squash

All three squash plants are putting out a second round of flowers. They are also struggling with a gray fungus on the leaves. I’ve sprayed the plant with dish soap and water two days in a row and the fungus seems to be going away. As we have no bees, if these flowers open, I’ll have to hand-pollinate them.

If not for this . . .

2017 sept web 2

. . . I would have walked into this.

2017 sept web2017 sept red wildflowers2017 sept red wildflowerssept 2017 wildflowers

Gorgeous wildflowers. I didn’t pick any.

2017 sept fairy ring

An honest-to-goodness fairy ring that goes all the way around the cedar tree.

sept 2017 mushroom flash

With and without flash

sept 2017 mushroom no flash

Something took a big bite out of this one

2017 sept mushrooms

The house next door is empty, and the back yard has gone wild and witchy, and I hope it stays that way.

Your Favorite Pagan Books

Standard

Many of us got started on our path by happening across a book. My book was The Spiral Dance, but the original, not this 20th anniversary edition. I was 12 or 13 and I read The Mists of Avalon, and The Spiral Dance was listed in the concordance as a reference. Miracle of miracles, the local library had the book. It was hardback and had a red cover. I read it over and over. I photocopied long sections because I was so young and yet old enough to know that I would never be allowed to buy the book, at least for a very long time, until I became an adult. Now I do have a copy, but not the original.

My other favorite pagan book is Celtic Magic. As I mentioned in this post, it is a great book for people new to The Craft. You can find history, mythology, goddesses and gods, and ingredients for all types of spellwork in this little book.

Please feel free to add your favorite books to this discussion with a comment.

Hey Pagans, Some Discussion Would Be Nice

Standard

Or even a “thank you.”

The Twitter pagan/Wiccan community is not, shall we say, up to speed on some basic social niceties. Like being nice. Half-a-dozen times, I’ve responded positively to a post, or raised an issue of concern to me, or DMd a popular Wiccan or pagan account and got . . . nuttin’.

And these were not situations where the person or persons running the accounts were inundated with responses to their tweets linking to their blog posts. Maybe I was supposed to go to their blog to comment? Well, I just don’t f’ing feel like jumping through all the hoops to comment on everyone’s blog, and NO, I am not signing in with Facebook. Ever.

If someone links to their new blog post, and I respond, “Great post, really made me think about Topic X” is it so damn hard to respond and say, “Thank you!” Or, “For more discussion, visit my blog.” Or even, “F*ck you!”

If you keep running into the Pagan Wall of Silence, it’s not just you. I can’t give you an explanation for the bad behavior, but it’s not just you.

Someone presenting her or himself as an authority on paganism ought to answer a question. Or at least say, “Hey, can you ask that over here on my blog?” I personally am not going to anyone’s Facebook page because I use FB as little as possible.

It is tempting to unfollow people who have no manners, but oftentimes they write the most insightful articles. I think–I hope–that their Twitter accounts are automated and that explains the lack of manners, but that’s still not okay. Protip: Everyone hates automated accounts. Everyone. Stop it. I don’t care if you’re the High Priest of Cthulu. You’re still acting dickish.

Sometimes, the articles you comment on and don’t get a response  address noob concerns or basic, important topics. And then there will be a post about not doing the thing the person wrote about but ignored questions. So what the hell are you supposed to do?

Well, just because someone doesn’t reply to comments doesn’t mean everything they have to say is wrong. If the post resonates with you, study it for answers to unanswered questions. If you find it confusing or upsetting, go on your own search for answers.

A tip for people new to pagan belief systems:

Wicca and paganism are NOT about renaming yourself “Sister RavynnMorgyn” and posting digital art of voluptuous witches morning and evening and greeting all your friends with “Blessed Be, Sister GoldenDragonWing!” That’s a bunch of crap. That’s not real. The vast majority are struggling along just like you, struggling to learn, struggling to resolve conflicts between Wicca and our birth religion. And the people who put themselves out there as sources of knowledge should BE sources of knowledge instead of ignoring questioners. Wicca is all about questioning. You don’t have dogma. If you do have dogma, you shouldn’t.

Books. Libraries. Used and new book stores. Acquaint yourself with them, and accept that Wicca is like a university course that goes on until the day you die and then after.

Don’t let bad-mannered Wiccans turn you off.