Apr 032011

I’m painfully aware of the fact that I’ve been lucky. I’ve always worked in places where my religion hasn’t been an issue. I’ve had coworkers and supervisors who’ve known nothing about Paganism ask me about it out of curiosity. Once, I had a teen-aged part-timer who worked for me tell me I couldn’t be a Witch because “there’s no such thing.” (It took me a couple of weeks to convince her that, no, I really wasn’t pulling her leg.) But I’ve never had anyone suddenly become hostile or, gods forbid, fearful of me after finding out where my spiritual center happens to lie.

Like I said, I’ve been lucky. Maybe because my professional life has been spent in and around Boston, which is, after all, only a stone’s throw from Salem.

Lots of other folks who belong to earth-based religions, though, aren’t so blessed. Jason Pitzl-Waters of The Wild Hunt wrote a piece for the Washington Post last week on the subject which may be an eye-opener for some folks. Progress is a lot slower in some places than you might think it is.

May 012007

The sun is out, and I have the day off. I may poke around AW and get some writing done. I may take the dog for a walk round the cemetery down the street, which has a lovely little pond in the middle. At some point around midday, I will cast my bitty circle and drink wine and eat bread and set some things on fire — you know, because it’s a fire festival — and have a nice chat with my Gods.

Nov 112006

It’s been ages since I did a Witches Weekly.

When did you first realize that the pagan path was for you?

I started questing at a pretty young age. My parents raised me Catholic, but were very encouraging of my curiosity about other religions. Maybe that’s because Mom was raised Methodist, but her mother was originally Lutheran and her father Catholic. Or maybe it was that Dad was non-practising himself, though he took my brother and me to Mass when Mom couldn’t.

I’d read the entire Man, Myth & Magic encyclopedia by the time I was 12. I was especially fascinated by the articles on European magical traditions, from folk magic to the Golden Dawn. And growing up in Salem, Massachusetts, attending the same junior high school as Laurie Cabot’s daughter Penny, I was exposed early on to Wicca. Or at least to the existence of Wicca. From what I’d read in MM&M, though, it seemed to me that Witches did an awful lot of naked dancing, and I wasn’t so interested in that.

So I leaned toward Golden Dawn-style ceremonial magick first. I guess its Qabalistic roots and Judeo-Christian overtones made it a good intermediate stage for me. I didn’t have to let go of my early monotheism but I could explore the magickal nature of the universe. I read Eliphas Levi, Israel Regardie, and Dion Fortune. I devoured the poetry of W.B. Yeats. I even attempted to slog through Aleister Crowley’s Magick in Theory and Practice in high school. I learned the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram.

Eventually, though, the lack of a real feminine divine in all of this wore me down. Somewhere deep down inside, I knew that God was not exclusively male nor sexless nor manifest in only one form. And I was rapidly coming to the conclusion that the physical aspects of the world were not necessarily an impediment to spirituality, something to divest oneself of in the quest to “ascend” to enlightenment; that the dualities that monotheistic symbolism was rife with didn’t always line up for me the way they were supposed to. So I thought maybe I just wasn’t spiritually cut out for a magickal path.

And then I happened to pick up a copy of Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon. And I discovered that there was a lot more to Wicca than I’d previously thought. And that there were more flavors of modern Paganism out there than I had ever dreamed. Which got me exploring again and eventually put my feet on my current eclectic path.

Gay Animal Porn!

 Posted by at 6:24 am  Religion, Science  No Responses »
Oct 242006

Does anyone besides me think that denying the fact that quite a few animal species engage in homosexual behavior is the theological equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying “La, la, la, I can’t hear you”? Or that it’s completely and totally laughable to call an exhibition on the sexual behavior of nonhuman species “pornography”?

It’s happening in Norway.

Sep 282006

That the US House of Representatives could even think that it might be a good idea to prevent civil rights groups like the ACLU from recovering expenses when they win a First Amendment case is completely mindboggling to me. Protecting the separation of church and state shouldn’t be a bankrupting enterprise, when the plaintiff is found to be in the right. Can you say “chilling effect,” boys and girls?

No, it’s not really expected to get past the Senate, but still. Ghastly.

Here’s the story in yesterday’s Washington Post. Link via Religious Right Watch.

May 212006

Wicca may have made it into the Army Chaplains’ Handbook ages ago, but the VA is still dragging its feet in recognizing that Wiccans deserve to be honored with a symbol of their own.

Currently the National Cemetery Administration has 38 permitted religious symbols for headstones and plaques, but none for pagans or Wiccans.

How the hell can anyone — anyone — justify this disrespect for someone who has lost his or her life in this country’s military service? How can they rationalize putting families through this crap? It’s been EIGHT MONTHS since Roberta Stewart lost her husband, Patrick, in Afghanistan, and his memorial is still blank!

I’ve just used the VA’s contact form to complain about this. I hope everyone else will, too.

Via Non Fluffy Wicca.

May 032006

Several traditions believe in honoring ancestors and those that have passed before us. Do you honor your ancestors and if so, what types of things do you do to honor them?

From Witches Weekly.

Life is a gift that we have been given by our ancestors. The DNA that shapes our bodies is what remains of their bodies. Biochemically speaking, they really do live on in us. But they also live in our hearts and minds. Their beliefs and values and ideals, whether we adopt them or reject them, have helped to shape who we are. Would I be who I am now, if my father hadn’t been a teacher and a union official, or if his father hadn’t been a cop and a hunter/fisherman, or if his father hadn’t been a fireman and a temperance leaguer? If my mother’s Lutheran mother and Catholic father hadn’t decided that it was the values in the religion that mattered rather than its surface trappings and sent their kids to the geographically-closer Methodist church? If my maternal grandmother hadn’t been a liberal Irish-American Massachusetts Democrat with an bone-deep hatred of Tip O’Neil? If her mother hadn’t had the strength to raise all those kids alone after losing her husband to tuberculosis?

I don’t always have a lot of time to devote to it, but I am the keeper of the family history in my extended clan. I keep copies of Census records and hoard old photos and keep my ears open at gatherings for interesting stories. I learn a little something every year about who the people were that came before me: their names and jobs, the property they owned, the hardships they endured, the children they lost.

Learning where we come from is, IMHO, probably the biggest honor we can do our ancestors.

Beltane Blessings

 Posted by at 6:34 pm  Religion  No Responses »
May 012006

Today is a people’s celebration. In many countries, it’s a workers’ holiday. In my faith, it’s a celebration of the fullness of spring and the promise of summer to come. Light a fire. Give the animals that share your life a protective blessing. Plant your garden. Be creative and playful and passionate. This is a festival of life renewed, growing, blossoming. Let yourself open. Be warm. Be well. Be blessed. And be a blessing to others.