Vouchsafing

“Love all, trust a few …” (W.S. All’s Well that Ends Well. 1.1.61.)

Article Photo for SAFE

While I realize that most Pagans in America practice in solitary, there are still a good number of folks that practice in groups: covens, kindred, tribes, groves, councils, etc. When we do this, we make ourselves vulnerable in a lot of ways. For this reason, many groups employ a policy of “vouchsafing.” (I’ll likely address the etymology of it at The Big Bad Words Blog.) This means that someone within the group meets newcomers to assure everyone’s welfare.[1] It helps everyone within the group feel comfortable with the newcomer and it guarantees that the newcomer is familiar with at least one person at the gathering—likely an unfamiliar experience.

This is on my mind because the last few weeks have included several opportunities to vouchsafe new attendees, an energy-packed ritual and gathering—which is our primary motivation for vouchsafing, and a notable increase in “Catfishing”—that which we vouchsafe to prevent.[2]

Firstly, the “Catfishing.” It’s odd how, periodically, we get upsurges of requests from clearly fabricated Facebook profiles. They tend to be brand-spankin’-new profiles with an obviously fictitious name, a photo that reeks of being stolen from some teenager’s Instagram attention-mongering or deviantArt mythical creature over-identification, no friends, no photos, and no other activities. Given the history we’ve experienced with cyber-stalkers and harassment, we are guarded. I like to think that these are truly well-meaning folks who are trying to establish a Pagan profile for networking; but I realize that at least a fraction of these are just silliness. They arrive daily for about two weeks and then cease for a few months, rinse, repeat. No harm is done, I just find it curious how they come in waves.

It was during one of these waves that we received a request to join us physically for Imbolc. It was the next week before we could meet someone who turned out to be what seems to be an absolutely perfect match for our group: academic and looking for solidly founded theology and practice, compassionate, and properly nerdy. It was the best case scenario.

safeThere have been situations where we have met with people requesting invitations to our events and have had to decline. A few times we have invited people and had to discontinue future invitations based on their behavior. Some people are simply unthewful (unethical), frithless (unfriendly), or simply unwilling to contribute to the group welfare in a meaningful way. But mostly, it is those people who act in such a way that makes the existing membership “creeped-out” that causes us to cease invitations. When we gather for “family dinner,” we let our hair down, let our defenses down, and hold nothing back from each other. When we do ritual-work together, we get ourselves into a spiritually vulnerable state; there’s no room for “the willies.” Not to mention nosey-bodies and lookie-loos. That’s never good.

seidrFor example, let me tell you about Imbolc in very general terms (to protect anonymity and all). We had three new attendees, two “significant-other” guests, and a non-member-repeat-attendee (that is to say he’s not new but he’s not a formal member—we call these “Friends of The Tribe”), as well as most of our regular members. The three new attendees as well as the significant others were vouchsafed by existing members of the tribe. We took responsibility for their guidance through protocols and ritual. But, the night took several weird turns. Almost right at the onset, we were called upon to do an emergency protection rite for one of our members. Watching a horde of Heathens hammer and hallow away in unison can be skeery to an outsider under any circumstances—when you add the fact that we are a seið-working group? If we had not vouchsafed these individuals and prepared them for what was happening, we could have done some psycho-spiritual damage to them on accident.

Add to that, our resident oracle did her thing and—of course—focused in on a newcomer. (Who had just been completely “opened up” by one of our Reiki Masters—all things work together even if we don’t know we are doing them, no?) Not on purpose, of course—we don’t get to pick and choose what messages come through, right? It was intense, far more intense and specific than usual. A bit of an initiation, you might say. Two other newcomers, a couple, sat in on the drum circle and had the opportunity to feel the energy we raise. Had they not known what they were getting into, this could have been, um, awkward. And, there is, yet another reason to make sure there is a contained and secure environment—you never know when a novice is going to tap into the ambient energy and spontaneously exhibit latent witchy abilities. I won’t go into that part of the evening except to say, I’m still finding glass.

I often felt apprehensive that we might be encouraging insularity or exclusivity with our policy of vouchsafing. But this recent experience has proven to me that all of the reasons for which we put the policy in place are valid.

And I’ve learned a subsidiary lesson. There is a limit to unknown variables that can be prudently merged into an existing spiritual-ecosystem before it becomes destabilized.[3] So—that means that not being able to vouchsafe the “absolutely perfect match for our group” until after Imbolc turned out to be the best case scenario—again.

As ever, I’ll let you know how Ostara goes.spindle2

 

[1] In our kindred bylaws, we state that, “If a potential attendee has never celebrated with us before, we insist on meeting with him/her in person before including him/her in a ritual event. If that isn’t feasible he/she will need to be vouchsafed (referred by a third party, someone known by the Kindred) before we will extend an invitation to attend a ritual event…. However, once a guest is welcomed they should be offered food and drink as well as all the comforts typically afforded a visitor.”

[2] Our Facebook page even has an Anti-“Catfishing” policy—here are the basics:

“Given the number of fabricated profiles that appear on social media and given the vulnerability we face on Pagan-related Facebook groups …. in order to keep a peaceful and nurturing atmosphere, free of unnecessary spectacle, we must vouchsafe those who would like to be part of our Facebook presence…. Anyone asking to be added … on Facebook must be a ‘known-person.’ This is to say that we must verify that there is an actual person of good intent behind the profile with which they request membership. While everyone is welcome in our kindred group, anyone who has an unknown or anonymous profile will need to be vouchsafed (referred by a known third party).”

[3] My estimate is somewhere around 10% of the total attendance. No kidding.

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Of Mice and Meh: A Heathen’s Reversal of Fortune

It’s been a weird month or so. And a really fecking hard week.

Of course, as you know, I lost my teaching position at the university. My take on it is that this was done in retaliation for my having reported a coworker (who was thus terminated by higher-up in the food chain) for religious-based harassment. This has meant more lawyers. And other banal yet demoralizing experiences.

We’ve had an odd mouse thing in the chicken coop and in the house—and ew. Every day the mouse adventures get weirder and weirder.[1] The end result is that we removed the drop-ceiling in our basement so the vermin have no way to run from room to room.

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We had two rooms flood from different sources (thus the contents of those rooms are all precariously arranged in inappropriate places).

 

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Basements are fun.

imageAnd I have a child experiencing a crisis which has caused our medical bills to explode. Also—it’s made me have to cancel all of my summer plans so that I can supervise her care. Her safety is well worth it—trust me, this is a no brainer.

Meh.

Don’t think I haven’t already considered how this fits into the Wyrd I have weaved, how my Luck is functioning in relation to my god-gefrain, and how my faith is being tested. I have thought it out. I think it out every dang day these days.

The truth is that I’ve been entirely at my wits end. In the end, I had no choice but to, if I my paraphrase, “Let go and let my gods.”

It was a moment of, “Now, I don’t mean to get up in your face, but I kinda ran out of steam a while back. I’ve been going on pure inertia here. I might could use a push or some sort of gravity-related assistance.”

My gods like locomotive metaphors. Well, any metaphors really—as long as they hold together.

Two nights ago I didn’t sleep.

I stayed up until midnight-thirty washing dishes and whatnot and was awoken at 3:30 in such a way that left me unable to go back to sleep. As a result, I overslept a bit this morning. If you consider waking up at 7:30 instead of 6:15 sleeping in, I “slept in.” One hour makes a huge difference in morning chores, however. And the domino effect of that hour was amazing.

Before I get going—I have to remind you about the floods and preemptively answer: “No. I can’t use an irrigation timer. I have a really nice one—but cannot use it this year. I. Just. No.”

Let me start from the beginning. Normally, I stumble outside at 6:20 or so—in my PJs, set the sprinkler going on the part of the garden that gets the earliest sun (before said sun hits past the shadows of the high pines), then head back in for coffee and cat/dog feeding. This is followed by changing the irrigation system to the back yard where I do my chicken and bee rounds before heading in for a second cup of coffee and presentable clothes. It’s usually 8:30 or 9:00 when everything has been watered, everyone has been fed (including the humans), and I’m ready to hit my office where I work out various publication issues, toodle on The Faces Book, answer emails, read the day’s whatnots, etc. That is—if it’s an office day. Sometimes it’s an “appointments” day or an “errands” day or a “clean the refrigerators” (yes, plural) day. You know—you have an abode—it takes some doing to keep a joint hopping. And this joint is damned big and aging and it takes a lot of doing to keep it on its feet, let alone hopping.

But today, I slept in. A reversal of (fortune) sleep patterns.

I staggered out of my room around 7:45 and looked at the sun shining brightly on the first half of the garden and said, “Feck it. I have to water by hand anyway, I’m making coffee first.” The cats were pleased at this situation because it meant that they got food first. Caffeinated, I decided that I needed “real” clothes before watering the garden.

This was the best call of the day.

I got the water going at about 8:30, watering just the soil so the leaves of the plants wouldn’t burn in the Southern sun. I didn’t quite make it to the second third of the garden before my First Neighbor came by walking her dog. She’s a preacher’s wife who homeschools—we don’t have a lot in common but I really adore her conversation. She’s level-headed and as thoughtful as she can be. (I also just learned that her oldest son, a National Guardsman, is now in Afghanistan; so let’s remember them when we light our candles this week. Will you do that with me?) We don’t talk much since she does her thing and I do mine and—apparently—they intersect geographically about an hour and a half apart.

While in conversation with First Neighbor, Second Neighbor drove past while taking her son to Summer Sport Activity. On her way back, she parked and came up my walk where I had moved on to cleaning paintbrushes (let’s just say that earlier this week there were canvases, there was paint, there were teenagers, all this resulted in art-therapy and turpentine).

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Second Neighbor is an old friend. Her daughter and my youngest were besties once upon a time—she and I are/were coworkers. (I never know how to phrase this—I mean, I still have a summer gig. I kinda still have the job. Kinda.) We had a lot to catch up on since we hadn’t talked more than just in passing at work or at our kids’ school events for a few months.
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I gave her the house tour called: “This Leak is Why There Are 312 Books in My Foyer; This Leak is Why All of the Guest Bedding is in My Office; and This is Our Solution to the Great Mouse Invasion of 2014 (and Why I Had to Clean Mouse Brains Out of My Keyboard).” This was accompanied by the “Chicken, Huckleberry, and Bee Tour”—which is, by nature, much more fun. We got to spend a solid hour catching up.

Just as she left, I returned a day-old call from An Important Support System. That conversation was—I—just—wow. If you’ve ever had one of those experiences where you thought no one on earth could understand the full implications of your situation and then you talk to someone—someone TOTALLY SANE—who not only understands your issue from A-Z and all the letters in between, but also makes the most apropos jokes and then offers to get your back, then you know exactly what happened to me sitting on my wee (cluttered) porch this morning.

Then I breathed.

For the first time in about five weeks. I didn’t even have to ask and help was already on its way.
imageAs I was exhaling, my Charming Lady Neighbor came by with egg cartons and a bouquet of fresh lavender tied with the sweetest pink bow I’ve ever seen. (The effect it had on my psyche rivaled the unexpected and humongous bouquet of oregano my dear girlfriends brought me from their bourgeoning garden this past weekend.) She didn’t even want eggs. She still had a few from the dozen I gave her on Friday; Charming Little Lady Neighbor had collected the cartons from her other Charming Lady Friends and brought them to me.

I literally give away about $20-$30 worth of eggs a month,[2] I barter with the rest. Hardly anyone remembers to return the cartons.[3] This one was a big deal to me.

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I guess this post is my way of saying thanks to my gods in an openly visible sort of way—I think I just got my push, my reversal of fortune.

And that’s how I see it all relating to the Wyrd I have weaved and how my Luck ifunctions in relation to my gefrain. Yes, my faith is being tested. And I am letting go.

After all, I already have a potential teaching job in the Fall that will allow me to teach Pagans about Pagan things.

I’ve also already been offered a really great opportunity that I would never be able to accept if I was working full time. As ever, I’ll let you know how that goes.

I have a kick-arse garden this year, so ain’t nobody gonna starve.

Because of the mice and the flooding, I already have a new floor (and a new window is on the way). And I have been forced to purge a storage room that just never would have happened. It just wouldn’t have. And I really wanted to use that room for living space—now I can.

The Kid is doing fine. The doctors are good and we are optimistic. And Second Friend? That visit may prove to rekindle our daughters’ friendship, which is always nice.

The Kid has lots of friends, but this experience is helping her weed out the supportive ones from the toxic ones. A skill I didn’t learn until I was an adult. As a matter of fact, I had to stop proofreading this post twice. Once to play a card game with The Kid and Her Friends[4]; once to drive The Kid and Other Friend to a temporarily—but necessarily—relinquished activity. It’s good to be getting back to normal.

I still don’t know where I’m going to get the money for theatre camp—a favorite and highly therapeutic activity that I simply cannot make her forego[5]. But, it will happen. *Somehow.* I’m just gonna let it go. And breathe.

And today. Today has been a relief.

I’ve had the chance to see some neighbors that I’ve missed by being outside only in the early-morning.

And I find that I have some quality pro bono legal assistance. All I need is a couple more weeks and I’ll have the filing fee, and away we’ll go.[6]

My life is nowhere near serene at the moment. Everyday finds a new reversal of fortune. But if you, like me, have run out of steam—and then run out of inertia—know that help is generally right there. All I had to do was “let go and let the gods.” Maybe you could try it too?

And, hell—letting go is one of the hardest things to do.

That may be why it grants the greatest compensations.

I wish you well and hope you weather whatever storm you are currently negotiating. And if you are having smooth sailing? I hope you continue to find your Luck.

Wæs þu hæl!

 

[1] I know that there is a problem with killing mice. We tried more humane removal. But you have to understand, this is a dangerous infestation that has caused respiratory illnesses and has become downright gross. The mice have got to go. We are down to “bearable” but--do you know how many fertility charms have backfired over here!?

[2] Don’t get on me about this. There are a few families in my neck of the woods that have fallen on hard times. The measly $2 I charge for a dozen eggs means less to me than knowing the little ones have food on their tables at breakfast.

[3] It seems that every once in a while I get a carton windfall. If you have ever been one of my polystyrene benefactors, know that this is always a big deal to me.

[4] I’m always weirded out when The Teens want to play with The Mom.

[5] Especially since Theater Lady is moving and this is her last year in our town.

[6] It’s too bad we couldn’t have reached a more civil-like arrangement when I tried. Now everything will be public record—and the ugly has exploded. Though I’m clearly in the legal (ethical, spiritual) right, this adventure won’t be fun for anyone, so keep me in your thoughts on this count too.

Meh. The gods work things out the way they will have it, not the way we will have it.

And Now For Something Completely Different

This post is complicated and difficult to write. So, I’m going to keep it short and sweet. I may be able to open up and share more later, but right now my emotions are too raw. As this story unfolds, I hope to be able to tell you all the ins and outs of what happened here. It’s a TV miniseries if anything ever was.

If you know anything about me, you know that I am a college American Lit teacher. Well, I was.

After this summer, I will be moving on to another career. I can’t tell you all the details just yet, but this summer will be my last semester in the secular classroom.

This is not good news, but it’s not all bad news either. You see, blessings come in the oddest packaging. My husband and community have thrown their backs into helping me achieve a long time dream that has been thwarted for far too long. You might look back to The Road Not Taken and see what happened to me a few years back.

You see, a few years back we decided to open a witchy shop in town and someone took the Witch Hunt approach to stopping me. Something quite similar has happened yet again.

I find myself with the option of feeling victimized or of taking the opportunity to make myself victorious. I have chosen the latter.

Today, I know that I’m back on the right road having learned a whole lot about myself and the world around me. After all, I believe in my community. I believe in Pagan support. I believe in my gods. And I believe in justice. Don’t you?

Here’s the plan. My husband and I hope to take The Wyrd Sister, our Online artisan shop, and add to it a CosPlay shop. Our goal is to run some local Conferences. The ultimate goal is to have a lucrative mainstream business so that we can continue the ministry we do here in town without having to place an undue financial burden on any one sector. I have always loved CosPlay and I love the folks who do CosPlay in this town, especially the students. I love sewing costumes and I love building mechanisms for costumes. Oh! and the Ren Faires and The Society for Creative Anachronism stuff and the LARPing. I am going to be in nerd-nirvana.

So don’t worry about me. Support me, but don’t worry about me. I have talented lawyers (yes, lawyers), an awesome husband, a really groovy kindred, cool kids, and good gefrain with my gods. So I’m not worried—you shouldn’t be either.

Here’s the thing–without a paycheck and with several hefty household repairs that need to take priority (and all those lawyer bills), I need a little help. Not much, just a little. And every little bit helps. Even if it’s nominal, knowing that y’all give a damn helps a ton. Please lend your support by visiting my Fundrazr page and making a small (or, you know, large) donation. You can also:

  • Post a link to our campaign on your Facebook wall and TALK IT UP
  • Share our Facebook page
  • Mention this fundraiser to friends in person
  • Mention or post a link to this fundraiser on other social media
  • Write a blog post about this campaign
  • Buy something from The Wyrd Sister (I will be unable to do custom work this summer, sorry)
  • Spread the word that a new cosplay conference and shop is coming to Auburn, AL

While I’m on the subject of crowdfunding, let me add that I have been part of three crowdfunding campaigns and have looked at a lot of crowdfunding platforms. I don’t know about you, but I really like what the folks at Fundrazr do.

And while I’m plugging–let me make mention of a summer course being offered by Cherry Hill Seminary. My colleague, Holli Emore is offering a course, “Beyond Bake Sales to Real Fundraising.” The course description is:

Pagans in today’s society are hard at work building the resources that will make their traditions sustainable for years to come, and that takes funding. Beyond Bake Sales to Real Fundraising is designed to open up a topic that is mysterious and frightening to many, and for others, fulfilling or even fun. All fundraising comes back to some basic concepts about relationships. Learn to understand one of the greatest taboos in western society and in so doing lose your fear of fundraising. Students will have the opportunity to design and get feedback on their own project. The instructor has many years of experience as a nonprofit consultant and former CFRE (Certified Fund Raising Executive).

Get excited with me!? This is a very tangible opportunity for us to watch our gods take the reigns of a situation and guide it to their inevitable use.

Waes thu hael!

Charming of the Plough

  • Disting—A Norse celebration of the Disr (female ancestors) and Freyja, who is most manifest in her erotic attributes at this time.
  • Grundsaudaag (Groundhog Day)—A Dietsche celebration of the great American prognosticator.
  • Imbolc or Oimelc (ewe’s milk)—A Celtic celebration; festival of the goddess Brigid.
  • Landsegen (land-blessing), or “Charming of the plow”—A Germanic Heathen rite where farming tools (or other “work” tools) are blessed. The land is honored and cofgoda (household spirits) are venerated.
  • Solmonath (Sun Month)—An Anglo-Saxon time to celebrate renewal.
  • Vali’s blot—A mid-February celebration for Vali, the god of vengeance and rebirth.

Halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox is a cross-quarter day which many Pagans will be celebrating tomorrow as Imbolc. Here at our hof, we will be celebrating creation—the act as well as its manifestation.

Imbolc is particularly important to our Kindred. It was two years ago that we celebrated our first ritual on our land: The Charming of the Plough. Last February, for Imbolc we had another first. We joined with a group of Druids who welcomed us with the warmth and spiritual devotion we just knew was out there. Seven of us trekked out to another grove and saw a fresh possibility for our own Pagan community. And we found a wonderful sister along the way.

This year we are celebrating with yet another group of Pagans on their land. It was not a planned coincidence, but it seems to be a happy one.

But before we head out to the woods, we are meeting on our own land to “activate” our landwarden, honor the land, venerate our cofgoda, and reflect on creation.

In the Germanic creation myth, the realms of fire and ice melded together in a place called Ginnungagap—that yawning primordial sacred void—where our worlds (all nine of them) took form. When we talk about Ginnungagap in our tradition we envision the “womb of the world”—or of all nine worlds—the sacred space of creation. Therefore, the image of Ginnungagap becomes very apropos to all of the celebrations related to Imbolc.

In the Disting, where Freyja is venerated in her most voluptuous form, the deference for the fecundity of all things—creation and procreation—is apparent.

All hail Freyja the sexy!

Persephone’s Womb by James Ward

The Celtic Imbolc and the veneration of fiery Brigid is not far removed from the Germanic Disting and Freyjablot. The hearth—the womb of the home, if you will—is traditionally tended at Imbolc, as are all things that hold fire: candlesticks, incense burners, etc. are proper to maintain at Imbolc.

In observing Grundsaudaag, our Deitsche kindred to the north not only give credence to the natural cycle of the seasons and the observation of animal-life, but there are also many spiritual elements imbedded in the image of the Groundhog. Like Ratatask, the groundhog is seen as an inter-worldly traveler and messenger. At Imbolc, the veil is almost as thin as it is at Winternights or Samhain. (The spirits that fly out with the Wild Hunt are flying back to the land at this time.) This makes it an excellent time for oracles and communication with the other-side. The groundhog tells us more than the weather.

Plus, just one look at a groundhog burrow and you can see both the connection between the openings of the burrow and the paths on Yggdrasil as well as the womb-like formation of the subterranean abode. This relates back to Freyja, creation, and reproduction. A perfect image of the new life that is gestating just below the crust of the earth.

Groundhog Burrow by VintageRetroAntique

This is why we include a Landsege or land-blessing: “The Charming of the Plow.” We set aside a moment to honor the land that sustains us and the cofgoda that protect and live among us. And since my particular household, where our hof is located, is aligned with Gefjon —plows are kinda a big deal.

As the main element of our Landsege, we activate our landwarden—what our Deitscherei neighbors call a Butzemann.[1] It is at this time of year that the spirits of the Wild Hunt are returning to the land. We want to welcome them with a place to inhabit. In exchange, they become part of the family and give us their protection.

We believe in a life-death-rebirth cycle as so many of our agricultural ancestors did. So the landwarden is made of last year’s crops and “planted” in this year’s earth which he will make fertile and where his “children” will grow. Think about that image. I see the posting of a landwarden as a form of hiros gamos. A sacred marriage between the people and the land.

There’s so much to talk about in each of these points, I could go on for a season. Nonetheless, we can’t have a nekid landwarden tomorrow, so I’m off to sew him some clothes!

Whatever you are doing tomorrow, however you mark the day, I wish you well.

Wæs þu hæl!

To my dear Kindred, we have just celebrated two years of togetherness. We have acted as agents of creation, we have planted new seeds, we have nurtured the environment so that we can see growth. In our third year, I hope our roots will grow stronger and our branches more supportive.

I love each one of you individually, but as a whole? You rock my world.


[1] Basically, a scarecrow—only not. When I was a kid, I thought these were called Puts Men. I thought this was because it was a “man” you “put” among  your crops. When I found out it was a derivation of another word? *facepalm*

Isn’t That Already Over?

This happens to me at Eastertime too.

CC_1969-Halloween-Store-Displays-5I get momentarily confused when our kindred has held their major festival for one of the major holidays and then I enter a retail center or grocery store and find it crammed with analogous secular celebratory goods. For just a second, I always think, “Isn’t that already over?”

I reckon I get so saturated with preparations for our celebration and ritual that I forget that the rest of the nation still lives by a Christian calendar. As I wrote for [a newsletter that I cannot recall at the moment], there are some differences between neoPagan and Heathen calendars: “Harvestfest, Winternights. . . is celebrated on the days surrounding the last day of summer and the first days of winter. According to . . . the Gudbrandsdal runic calendar, this falls on the 13th of October. However, today, given the pervasiveness of other traditions, Winternights is regularly celebrated on October 31st in America.”

Last weekend may have been a main feast day, but we totally dressed in costume. Hazey revived my Wonder Woman suit from 2002, a significant year for me (i.e. I moved to Alabama). Kiddo, you are merciless!

Kiddo, you are merciless!

This difference works well to our benefit. When many in our community adopt the 31st as their celebration date while we celebrate earlier in the month, there are fewer scheduling conflicts.

Personally, this means I get to both throw a great celebration *and* attend some bang-up Halloween parties. Win / win! (On account of I lurve a great Halloween party and kinda don’t see the point of a boring one.) And while last weekend may have been a main feast day for us, we totally dressed in costume.

Hazey even revived my Wonder Woman suit from 2002, a significant year for me (i.e. I moved to Alabama). I saw it as a bit of an homage–then again, she might have just worn it because WW is a bitchin’ costume.

I dressed as Astarte–the stone frieze version. As the night wore on, as often happens with complicated costumes, the stone wings and “chicken feet” became too much and I chucked them. This left me looking strangely naked (and cold). Some of the kin joked that I was dressed as being “skyclad.”

The Hubby embraced a recent compliment and dressed as an old-school gangster. Tommygun and everything!

It wasn’t just a party, though. We had a great ritual to honor our ancestors–the real reason for the season, as they say; we burned our land guardian, lest he be inhabited by a baneful spirit after his essence has flown-off with the Valkyrie on the Wild Hunt, and we safely disposed of the year’s ritual detritus–I’ll give you a post about the ritual itself later; and we initiated three promising newstudents–an auspicious beginning to the “New Year,” wouldn’t you agree?

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All that–and there’s more yet to be had! I am still roasting pumpkin seeds from my carvings and looking forward to a weekend partying pretty solidly for four straight days with various segments of my extended Pagan community.

I hope you are all blessed and safe and secure as you celebrate whatever lies in your path: be it Samhain, Halloween, Winternights, Allelieweziel, Dia de los Muertos, or Old Year’s Night.

Waes thu hael,

~E

Citizenship Rituals–and Football!

Almost the view from my office window. From up there I can see *into* the stadium.

This weekend officially begins football season in my neck of the woods.

In The South, we tease that sports are like religion.

But its not a joke.

According to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the elements that keep a community together are ritualistic activities that take place in a public venue. He said that, while everyone should be free to observe their personal beliefs in private, citizens should be required to observe a public religion or a set of common beliefs represented by rituals, doxologies, and regalia. Such activities encourage good citizenship.

This reminds me a lot of football season.

There are plenty of rituals that surround a football season, especially homecoming. (Here in my college town we used to have a ritual of “rolling” a set of historic trees. However, a couple years ago some douchebag decided to poison them. He’s done his time, but the trees are dead nonetheless.) There are also all sorts of doxologies that accompany football. In my town we scream “War Eagle” at the top of our lungs and a fun little rah-rah-sis-boom-bah chant. The regalia is of course orange and blue everything and tiger-bedecked polos and khakis.

downloadAnd with Pagan Pride Days rolling around in the next month or so across the nation, I also think about the kinds of rituals we will hold when pagans gather in communal space together. While we all walk different paths and follow different traditions, there’s at least this one time of year when we can gather together and celebrate our differences. We get together in some public place and enjoy (at least) one ritual that, hopefully, brings us closer together as a pagan community.

This is the sort of activity Rousseau says strengthens our community by proving our dedication to being a good citizen of that community. When each member of the community agrees to set aside their differences for one moment for the benefit of the broader community, it makes the whole community stronger.

Just like when my father, a Bama fan, visits Auburn on a game day. He wears orange just like he ought to.

Though I reckon he could be ugly about it like that arse who poisoned our trees. Just like someone could get ugly during a public celebration of pagan diversity. But then, that wouldn’t be good sportsmanship–or good citizenship.

Let’s all enjoy football. Here’s hoping your team comes out on top of this year. I’m pretty sure mine won’t; it’s been a rough road the last few years–but I support them anyway. Here’s hoping no one is hurt and that none of us lose too much bettin’-money. Here’s to chants and team colors and tailgaiting!

And here’s hoping your Pagan Pride Day, wherever you are, is successful and brings you closer to those in your community. 

Waes thu Hael and War Damn Eagle,

E

Lammas Preparations

Lammas blessings to everyone.

Tomorrow is the end of our first membership drive and our in-gathering. We are all coming together not only to celebrate as a clan, but to share our fruits with the broader community by way of the local humane society.[1]

This year our Hoietfescht, wheat fest, will commemorate more than a harvest of the garden, but the harvest of a community. We are rounding out a year of toxin-free growth and have gone from being a handful of folks mulling about with an idea, some hope, and a drum and trying to recover from a terrific misstep involving some very nasty neighbors to a tight tribe of two-dozen folks[2] (and growing) with a hof and vé to call our own.

One of the traditions we will be starting involves bringing in part of the year’s harvest as an offering. This is nothing new. But I’m developing a way of bringing in some material remnants of that old bad-faith relationship, those old toxicities, and incorporating them as a representation of “days past”—those old things which don’t serve to sustain us or nourish us in any way, so that we can make way for new growth, new vitality. Of course, this is done in a positive way, not a malicious attack on the past (on account o’—what good would that do ‘cept to turn and bite me in my own behind). Much like the Bracher, Spirit Walker, Witch Doctor, Shaman, etc. clears the bad juju from a place or patient so that healing can take root. As ever, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Another tradition is grain-free bread. Amaranth bread doesn’t rise, but it tastes good. Among our tribe and guests of tribe members are those with celiac disease and otherwise gluten-frees and grain-frees. Imagine the “loaf-fest” jokes that we will/have/ circulate/d? I’ll fill you in on that too.

I’ve more work to do before tomorrow, but I wanted to stop in and wish you all a happy holiday weekend, whether you celebrate Lammas, Hoietfescht, or Lughnasadh. And to share with you some of the new additions to our hof altar—especially for tomorrow’s Freyfaxi. There are other goodies in the works, but this is what I have images of which to show you.

Wæs Hæl!

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[1] Which has been trying for the past few years to become no-kill, but in a college town that’s an uphill battle. The students take in an animal and find they can’t keep it so set it loose or just turn animals out at the end of term. It’s disgusting. As a result, our shelter charges a premium for adoption making it harder for honest-folks to adopt. Plus, there’s a lot—I mean a LOT—of dog-fighting in nearby areas.

[2] We have little-ones, grown ones, teen ones, all kinds of kind.