“Too” In Tune

I was informed that it was too early to think about autonomy yesterday 😉  So, we’ll go for a lighter subject today.

Well guys, here comes a story that is bound to make you smile.  Wiccan, pagan, or just spiritual alike, we all have those days where we begin to work with the Universe’s energy to create change.  We call it magic.  But sometimes, the magic is unintentional.  Because I went on the same cycling trip last year – From Buffalo to Albany – I sort of knew what each day was involving.  Granted, they did change some of the routes – more trail was added – but overall the ride was very similar, up to the very weather that we had.

So, we’re pulling out of Syracuse, and I remember that this day’s trail follows along the REALLY old canal (there are three canals – the Erie, the Enlarged Erie, and the Barge.  The Barge canal is the one that is still open and used by tourists today.) – the one that is 40 feet wide and 4 feet deep.  Because it isn’t used, it’s overgrown, the water is stagnant or with a very slow current, and as a result it is teeming with wildlife.  Green algae blankets the top, but in the spots where it is clear, you can see two foot long fish chilling at the surface, turtles, water birds, and the like.  Along the path, you can see any of your ground animals – bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, deer, foxes, raccoons, opossums, etc.  I saw the first three of those.

Anyway.  I decided before I left that when I went through that type of environment, I wanted to see a turtle.  They’re pretty hard to spot when you’re going fifteen miles an hour.  Well, I was doing ten on that trail – damn was it bumpy!  But anyway, that was my will.  And somehow, a fleeting thought like, “I want to see a turtle!”  caught the Universe’s ear.

Three miles out of Syracuse I had my first flat.  It was about 7:15 AM.  Three wonderful people – only remember one name: Mike – stopped to help me fix it.  Twenty minutes later, I’m back on the road.  I get to our first rest stop an hour or two later, and my tire is still just a little soft from our patch.  It wasn’t leaking, we just hadn’t pumped it enough.

So, I decided to borrow someone’s pump and give it a few pumps of air.  It gets just up to the right psi, and we try to take the pump off.  The valve came with it – big, big popping noise.

As we change my tire, comprehension begins to set in.  I had been craning my neck allllll day to see a turtle, but it was still morning.  Turtles will only come out to bask on rocks when the sun is shining and its warm.  I have now spent two hours of the morning off of my bike, begging a tube off of someone to fix mine.

By the time I get back on the road again, it’s 11:30.  I don’t normally stop to eat, but since I figured it was that or another flat(gotta love the gods!)  I opted to stop into Canastota’s Sunrise Cafe for some lunch.  By the time I hop back on my bike, the sun is shining down hard (although it’s still a beautiful day!) and right before the afternoon rest stop?  I see a turtle.  Sunning itself.  On a rock.

turtle along the erie canal

turtle along the erie canal

Just to sum up and bring us back to the title of the post, is there a point where you are “too” in tune with the universe?  Because I think that’s the point where your thoughts become dangerous(Ooh!  I want to see a turtle!) and meditation(keeping your louder thoughts, quiet) may be the only route to your own safety/comfort.

Remember the number one of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time?

Never Underestimate the Gods’ Sense of Humor.

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Number One of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time

Well guys, today will be the last biking day: From Scotia, NY to Albany. Hopefully, I’ve biked the entire mileage and will come home proud and sore. Without further delay,

Number 1: Don’t Underestimate The Gods’ Sense Of Humor

That’s right. It’s called irony, and its god the will of the gods written all over it. You wonder why your friend prays to Odin, and suddenly, as you’re walking home, you swear you see someone hanging from a tree(You’re actually just blind during the night and see a guy standing on a swing that’s in a tree). You think about the fact that you haven’t had a physical in a few years, and suddenly you break your leg. You perform a spell to bring you a good night’s sleep, and suddenly you get knocked out by the baseball at your son’s baseball game.

It’s happened to us all. The first one – Odin and thinking someone has hung himself – happened to me not a month ago, in Florida one late night as I was returning to my dorm.

But to be honest, even being scared like that, or in the many other instances I’ve been privy to the gods’ amusement, I do enjoy their sense of humor, as it so closely matches my own. It is recognition of that quality of the divine that enables me to laugh even through the worst migraine, because I know that a few days, or weeks, or months from that point, I will look back and remember what spawned it, or why it made me stronger, or what irony there was in the event.

It gives me comfort. their sick and twisted (though usually not in bad taste) ways of working the worlds around us really does give me the hope that everything that happens has some lesson to be learned. And occasionally they do grant us the grace to allow things to work out in the way we intended. But, I always imagine exerting our will on the world as a dangerous thing, like dropping a ball through a vertical maze and hoping to get it to the right hole at the bottom. It may get there, but the path to that may be the oddest possible combination of events.

“Where attention goes, energy flows” is a useful adage in understanding this quirk of the world, as is the simple mechanics fact that an object will follow the path of least resistance. We put our thought, our will out into the world, and it is a projectile, trying to find its way through with using the least amount of energy. Sometimes, the easiest way to find a better job is to get fired from an old one. It may not be the easiest for you to deal with emotionally, but it is definitely the Universe’s way to show you how to appreciate your job (both the former and the new one!).

I hope you’ve enjoyed my top ten. It’s the first time I’ve done something like this, and maybe I’ll do something like it again soon.

Blessed Be!

Number One of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Two of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Three of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Four of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Five of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Six of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Seven of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Eight of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Number Nine of the Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Top Ten Things A Witch Learns Over Time « Pagan Pages.

Intentional Removal of Life

I’ve hesitated to write over the past few days, mulling something over in my mind which is not necessarily the cleanest or happiest of subjects for any religion, much less my own, with our ever-present, “An’ it harm none, do what ye will.”  Yet, for the first time in my life, I have been present for and partially responsible for the death of an organism with a closed circulatory system.

I am a biology major in college, and biologists often find it necessary to work with organisms which are not breathing.  Some studies – studies of nerves, the brain – require freshly dead organisms.  And so it was with our class on Thursday, as we were told we were going to profuse a pin fish, to preserve it and study its parts.

My stomach didn’t flip then.  I hadn’t really given too much thought to the process.  The fish was maybe the length of my wrist to my elbow, anxious in the bucket of water it had been placed in.  The standard procedure for profusion of fish, then, is to apply a powder anesthetic to the water, and wait until the fish is only breathing, and is not responsive to outer stimuli.

The fish is then removed from the water, flipped onto its back, and sliced open – the equivalent of cutting open our chest – breaking ribs as necessary.  The heart is found – observed – and then a cut is made into the conus of the heart A “ringer” solution – of the basic saline content of the fish at hand – is injected directly in, effectively bleeding the fish out.  With the heart still pumping – hopefully – a formalin / formaldehyde solution is pumped into the heart.  The heart does most of the work, getting the formaldehyde into all of veins and capillary beds, into the muscles, to preserve the fish.

I’ve always been a bit of an empathic person, and the class of eight students and three or four adult faculty seemed oblivious to my plight.   As the fish bled, so I felt the blood draining from my body.  And as the formaldehyde was just beginning to be pushed into the heart, I left the room – I could no longer see or hear very well, overwhelmed with a deep pain that began in my shoulder blades and worked its way through my entire body, complete with intensive sweating and hot flashes.

When the fish died, I began to feel better, and reentered the room without a word to anyone other than a faculty member – who had noticed, and offered some water and a place to sit in the adjoining lab.  And so, without any accident or moment of repose, I had been witness to an act of murder – a willing, deliberate, planned taking of life.

And the other students stood around our small sister of the earth with great interest.  The professor, explaining what he was doing, as he removed the top portion of the head to get to the brain.   I too, joined in the observance – because I genuinely am interested in the anatomy of a fish – and survived the class with my normal amount of enthusiasm for the practice of biology.  The fish had two ovaries near bursting with eggs – which apparently we will have to count later.

I know that the school of fish in the aquarium from which the fish originated is needing to be thinned out, and they are going to continue to thin the population – the fish almost had it out for her, from the beginning.  I also know that observing the profusion is a good experience to rely on in my future professional career.  Yet, a part of me wonders – how many organisms have died for “the study of life”?  And what is my role – as a witch – in the world of biology?

In one sense – we are witches in the sense that we must ever be observers of our fellow humans.  In some fashions, like parents, we are made to watch and do nothing – that the greatest lessons may come from this for those in question.  It is not my place to attempt to change the entire foundation of science when often the dissection of animals is necessary.  Dissecting twenty dead fish may aid you in saving the lives of hundreds as a marine biologist.  The same goes for those interested in veterinary medicine, or even human plights of some sort.

Humans were perhaps the most blessed – or the most cursed – by the gods.  We cannot run the fastest, we cannot swim the swiftest – we are not heavily armored or exceptionally good at digesting things that can’t fight back.  The only thing we were given is our mind – and with it, morality and responsibility.

Yet, that fish – my first observance of intentional death – will remain in my memory forever.  The pain I felt as she passed, can perhaps sort of compensate for her death.  True, she was going to die whether or not I was present, but I felt that at least, in being present, I took some of the pain.  “Be at peace,” I remember thinking to her, before the powder was going into the water to numb her senses, “You will be home soon.”

After all, I’ve always been taught that we(witches, shamans, etc) were here first, and we are the observers, and the caretakers, and when the world is ending, we will be those final lights – we will lead the others home.  I just got an early start :-/ .

Issues of Faith

Hey guys –

I made that post title (now that I think about it) sound much worse than it actually is.  I’ve merely come to a realization over the past week or so about the issues and concepts of faith in both myself, and I believe humanity in general.  For centuries, those worshippers of any religion who consider themselves leaders – priests – have the same message.  “Go back to God!”

For Christians, you are made to feel guilty if you have not attended church or prayed lately, or didn’t go to the brunch held to raise money for a sick kid(you probably should feel guilty for that one).  For every priest or priestess, the main issue, the main goal, is participation.

I’ve found through self observation that whenever I am “off” – I am upset, or not as happy as I normally am, or I am angry, or frustrated, or sick – I become more…pious.  I know this sounds completely selfish and down right wrong to admit, but its true.  When I am content and satisfied, I do not necessarily feel the need to do a full out ritual to celebrate something or perform a spell to better myself.  I’m guessing that you feel the same.

We look to religion for comfort.  We look to it for strength when we have none, patience when we are tired of waiting, and freedom when we feel chained.  This is not something new or unusual, but rather a state of being.

It could be argued that the less we “need” active acts or rites of participation along a path, the more we have reached god(s).  It is also argued that you drift from the god(s) in question without those active rites of participation.   The answer?  Self-Evaluation.

When I am happy, I do still speak to the gods.  It is informally, as a child to its mother, or it is even just a silent moment of contemplation and feeling ‘home’ within.  When I am pushed off of my center, I speak to the gods more loudly, more clearly.  I do those things to state, “I am still here, I am still your child.”  I do those things to reaffirm my relationship to myself.  To remind me where I stand.

I check my own behaviors – what am I doing on a daily basis to put me in this mood?  What sort of energies are in my life that I should work on altering?  What cycles are repeating in my life that I no longer want?

I check my own faith – am I happy?  Am I content?  Do I still have that at-home, die-hard, happy-go-lucky, belief that it’ll all work out?

We all walk our paths in separate ways.  The gods may liken us to pebbles in a river at flash-flood – drifting along with no control, hitting random ideas and concepts along the way – at some points in our lives, leaving us dazed at best.  But there are those times – the good times – when we are standing along the shore with them, content and happy and not necessarily needing outward displays of affection.  Don’t mistake that for a loss of faith or a lack of religious piety.  You’re not alone 🙂

Simple Gifts

Tomorrow I shall post about that special holiday, but for now, let us speak once more of gifts and sacrifices and our relationship to the gods.  This idea has been sitting in my “unwritten” folder for a few days, and its just dying to come out.

Let’s say you leave a bundle of flowers somewhere for the Gods, and walk away, offering it as a gift.  How soon – if you visit that spot frequently – should you go back?

For me, at least, I feel that my gift has been accepted if the present that I leave – be it a carving, food, flowers, or some other gift – is gone.  I realize that in a practical sense, as magic creates opportunities, it is easiest to believe and understand that some other physical entity takes the gift from the spot – be it an animal or a human.

It’s kind of like leaving cookies for Santa, in my psyche – whether or not it should be is up for discussion.  A sacrifice is something you are giving away.  A true sacrifice then, would be something which you offer completely.  If you go back to ‘check on it’ – are you not claiming ownership, especially if its still there?  A true sacrifice should be something that occurs just like a spell – it happens, and you leave it be.

Yet, things happen in due time, and someday, perhaps you or others will find something inline with my current experience –  that the sacrifice that you leave that is even non-edible, is gone in an hour.  Maybe 2.  Definitely by the next morning.  And I begin to ask myself:  Are the gods that close to us?  And I realize, its not my place to question, in this instance and this instance alone.

Sometimes, trust and faith are the gifts left to us, and we must take what we will from them.

Where does magic come from?

Magic.  That thing which is inherent to witchcraft.  And other religions.  I suppose I should already rephrase my question, because magic is the process.  Energy is the materials.  Where does energy come from, then?

Well, to delve briefly into physics…

Forces are exerted to change the acceleration, a, of an object, m.  Work, then, is when forces move an object, m, through a distance, d.  Work is also the change in kinetic energy.  Change in kinetic energy can be measured by the relationship between mass and velocity.

So, in conclusion, if you’ve never taken physics, the physics definition of energy is something that moves an object through a distance.  Spiritually, and I am taking a leap here, we can assume that energy is something that causes something to move, or change.  Even if you don’t agree with me, don’t worry.  I’m not using this definition for anything controversial….yet.

Magic is the process by which change occurs.  Energy is the substance that causes that change.  So, theoretically, if you could remove the process by which energy is used, you could eliminate magic.

I suppose I should pause again for a moment.  I am writing this post because a not-so-close friend to me came to me with a problem concerning that he was being targeted and bound by witch hunters and dark magic user.  I asked what a witch hunter was, since witchcraft is legal in the United States of America, and he told me that a witch hunter was someone who aimed to separate the soul from the body and destroy either to get the energy.  He said that if your soul got taken, you’d feel empty and wouldn’t be able to use magic.

For those experienced crafters, I’m sure you’ve had many experiences of this sort (mine, not his).  I am not writing off the possibility that there was someone intending him harm, simply assuming that it is primarily a him-focused thing, and not a situation where people were actually pursuing him.  In any case, I found it extremely disturbing that he told me that there were people who could stop me from using magic, and therefore, stop connecting with the gods.

…No one can take away my relationship with the divine.

After all, to be someone who manipulates energy to achieve results, you have to at least understand a little bit of what you’re doing.  If you’re using magic, then you’ve accepted that you are in control of your own destiny.  You’ve also accepted that changes will happen.  And doubtless, you’ve accepted the idea that, although not everyone may be conscious of the fact that they can use this ability, they do have it.

So do people who don’t know they have this ability get it taken away too?  What if they suddenly discover magic and want to play?  They can’t because someone took it in their sleep fifteen years ago?  Why don’t these witch hunters prey on babies?

You can use magic without a concept of religion.  But, personally, I believe that everything in this universe is an aspect of the Divine.  The personified Gods I speak to and work with are faces of that Divine force.  I, too, am Divine.

How can something take away what is inherently a part of me?

It amazes me how easily someone will call themselves a Wiccan, and in the process, forget that the Gods they worship are present?  Do you think a divine being would ever let its devout worshiper be removed from their place of comfort and power?

Magic is the process by which to create change.  It follows then, that what I do when I, as a woman and a priestess, draw down the moon or take some other aspect of the Goddess into me, is magic.  I am creating personal change.  It may be, for the most skeptic, a slight emotional change or a slide into self-willed euphoria, but it is still a change.

No one human being can take away my ability to stand with my two feet upon the earth, the sun shining down onto my smiling face, the wind softly whispering through my long hair, my arms raised in worship, connected to the Lady Earth and her partner, Father Sky.  That warmth, that feeling of home, that *right*ness that ensues…

I am not saying that someone/thing who wished you malicious intent could not cloud your ability to be centered and focused and therefore, by proxy, inhibit your ability to feel that divine presence, or mute your confidence.  But no one can downright eliminate your ability to connect with the divine.  If anything, it is your willpower, your magic which will overcome those hardships.

*End Rant*

Blessed Be!

Communication

Just a friendly reminder since we’re still in the ‘just after Samhain’ period.  Samhain is all about communication.  (Future) Yule is about immortality and the cycles of life.  In my tradition.

So, in terms of practicality, I find certain things popping up –

  • I walked outside this morning, and for the first two minutes of walking, I heard and saw no wildlife.  How odd.  The first animal I saw was a crow, perched on top of a tall tree on campus.  Alone.
  • Yesterday, when my roommate and I were walking a few miles, we saw probably over a hundred crows, cawing and flocking together.

If you’re looking for ways to be practical about your beliefs, and apply them daily instead of eight times a year at the sabbats and thirteen times a year at the esbats, watching the world around you is a great way to do it.

The silence this morning, I think, represented my state of mind – weary, and tired.  The first wildlife I was able to pick out seemed to be taunting…as if poking at an injured bear.  Crows are known for their intelligence and cunning, and also for their relationship to Hecate, who at best has a weird sense of humor.  “Stand up.”  I find myself saying, “Stand up and be strong.  You are a priestess.”  And so I begin my day.

The crows yesterday was also a weird parody on what should have been geese.  But the geese are gone, and the crows (I believe) stay over winter.  It was like they were having a convention.  They were very noisy too – it reminded me of being on campus after a game ends or something.  I got the same dark-humor vibe I got today – and I mostly just smile – its a sign that Hecate, and the other gods – they care.

Communication shouldn’t just span between you and your gods, or you and nature.  How are your relationships with your pets?  How about with your parents?  Your significant other?  Your children?

I have a great relationship with my parents and my living-mates.  I love where I am in life right now, and who I spend my time with.  I am also not that influenced by them – I do not drink, I do not smoke, but I can accept their decisions and still have fun.  That tolerance is also a lesson to be learned from Samhain.

Turning ahead towards Yule, I find myself looking at the cycles of life with awe, and wonder, and a little bit of fear.  I am old – it seems, although I am only 19.  I am expected in the next few years to leave college and enter the workforce!  Start a family, perhaps.  What lies ahead of me?  And what lies behind me?  What are those universal truths that have been present throughout my life, regardless of age or mood or ideology?  Those truths will be there for a long time to come – and the immortality of the gods and the cycles of life remain, ever changing.

Have a great day!

(To Sum Up)

Samhain Exercises – Communication, Omens

  • Recognize the wildlife you see throughout the day – what are they doing?  What are they trying to tell you?
  • Try to have a real conversation with someone close to you
  • Try to have a real conversation with someone not so close to you.

Yule Exercises – Immortality, Family

  • What are the universal themes in your life?  Are they present throughout?
  • What is the significance of your physical family?  Your spiritual family?  (If they are different)
  • What does meditation on the significance of an evergreen reveal to you?
  • How is the darkest day and longest night relevant to your life?  What aspects of your life should you be paying attention to right now?