Beltane Blessings

So, I don’t perform rituals much anymore – I’m always in the wrong spot at the wrong time, etc.  I do have small ceremonies, often without tools like chalices or even food offerings for the gods.  Sometimes I just take some time to sit in silence and think, and pray, and maybe even sing a little.

Those were my activities on Beltane night.  I sat on a bench, feeling the cool breeze and the wet air, the promise of summer still far away.  I thought about my life and where it has come from and where it’s going, and also about my partner’s life.  My partner has been having some issues lately – the economy hit him hard and for a while, he was jobless.  We live quite a distance away from each other, and I can’t be there for him when I need to.

In any case, I ended up just praying that he would find happiness again, and not three days later, he made an opportunity for himself and he now has a job.  It was a surprising career choice, but you take what you can get, and I’m definitely not complaining.

In the end, that’s all I want.  For those I love to be happy and safe and well cared for.  I hope that this Beltane – or soon after – has found you all the same blessings.

That’s the thing about prayer.  You walk around in a fog for a long time before you sit down to pray – you complain, you think its unfair or too tough or none of it is your fault, etc.  You get angry at the world.  Depressed, sad, maybe you cry.  And when you’re done throwing your temper tantrum, what you do next is most important: Sit down.  Think.  Sing.  Pray.  Decide what you want and how you’re going to get it.  And then do it.

You have support when you’re at your lowest point.  Granted, our gods don’t carry you through.  They pick you up, dust you off, and remind you that you have two feet and a world of opportunity.  But isn’t that all we ever need?

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Sacrifice, Blood, and Everything In Between

Using WordPress’s amazing stats features, I’ve been noticing that a lot of people have been coming to my site with search terms like “blood” and “sacrifice” along with some derivative of paganism.  I’ve decided to address the issue, perhaps to generate a little traffic, but also to explore the topic.  I realize that I spoke of the topic before.
If you’re not Wiccan, and perhaps are thinking about heading along the path, and you see this post and get kind of scared, you can put that fear to rest.  In one of our three pieces of classic literature, the Charge of the Goddess, our good lady tells us,

Nor do I demand sacrifice, for behold: I am the Mother of All Living, and My Love is poured out upon the Earth.

Yes, that’s right.  She is the Mother.  She doesn’t need anything from us except our existence.  She asks for nothing, and gives all in return.

Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t work like that.

With any decision, any action, there is always a sacrifice.  The way I was taught with tarot was a 10 card spread.  And the four cards outside of the six card cross were: Overview of the situation, Action required, Sacrifice required, New Outcome.

As a woman, my monthly blood flow is a sacrifice representative of our lady – if we just bleed for seven days, experience bloating and cramping…for maybe 10 or 12 measely children in the future – imagine what our Lady must go through!

Continuing on, with any spell or ritual where you set out specifically to accomplish something, there is a sacrifice.  No, it is not, most of the time, as romantic as a blood sacrifice – sometimes its time, or energy, or creating something, or destroying something.

But, sacrificing your own blood is a serious endeavor, and although not necessary by any means, is often a heavily symbolic gesture loaded with perhaps, enough power, to achieve your goal.  I’m assuming that, when blood is used, it is most often used as a way of binding yourself to something.  To another, to a concept, to an oath or promise, to an organization.  The theory behind blood oaths is that, we don’t break them.  Its sympathetic magic, representative of the idea that if we break this oath, this binding, we will die, or bleed, or something bad will happen.  Our life force is inherently tied into this act, this decision, this magic.

Now the question is  – should I, as a member of the ‘softer gender’, a woman, ever feel the need to take a blood oath?  After all, I can Draw Down The Moon.  Why should I, as an incarnate of our good lady, representative of the Goddess and life-giver in ritual, one who can speak with the power of the lady on a full moon or in my cycles – use my own blood as a binding?  I provide a blood sacrifice once a month.  A sacrifice to the existence of man, be what it may.  I, and my mother before I, and her mother before her, all providing for the sanctity of life.

I am not being sexist or even feminist by any means.  I am merely recognizing the roles that we must play in the cycles of life.  There are those who fall out of these roles – and that is fine, has happened for centuries, no problems – those who serve as go-betweens between the sexes – but in the end, in our religion, the woman is the embodiment of life, and man, her consort, not lesser or greater, but equal, and different.

Of course, other sacrifices can be just as symbolic.  In the end, it is not necessarily the sacrifice you make that is the catalyst – it is the preparation.  It is the action that you take after the sacrifice – your endeavors to accomplish your goal, complete your spell, follow through with your rituals – that will determine how successful you are.   The sacrifices, it seems, are for us to remind ourselves that something is important to us.  Always a good thing.
So, I’ve touched on blood oaths and sacrifice, and hope that will satisfy my Google browsers.   For the rest of you, I hope you keep coming back – I’ll probably be hitting some interesting topics with animals and exercise, as those seem to be the two things I’m focusing on at present.

Blessed Be!

The Care of Others

In my family, as I’m sure in many of yours, there is more than one person who needs help to survive.  One of my family members lives alone, but has aides and PTs and nurses always coming in and out.  My other family member lives with us, but is more independent and able to get around than the other.  The first is female, the second male.

I’m not going to get into healthcare or any of those big, annoying, boring issues.  As (of course) my focus here is on paganism, let us bring another issue to the table: the care of others.

Is it my responsibility as a human being to take care of those people who have need in m life?  Absolutely.  BUT, let us refer to the rede; “An it harm none, do what ye will”.  In the case of one of my family members, she is able to walk.  The only thing missing is her toes on one side.  She just fell apart when they were removed (probably 10 years ago” and transformed from a loving, caring nurse, to a co-dependent, handicapped older woman.

We are always trying to get her back into life.  We encourage her to walk, to get out of the house, but she doesn’t have a lot of opportunity for the second, and the first is difficult.  Its much easier for her to use a walker or be wheelchair bound, like she is most of the time.  So, she lives fifteen minutes away, and she calls, and we pick up medicine for her.  We take her once a week grocery shopping.  Sometimes, we eat with her.  But, my parents work7-3 jobs, and I always have things I need to do – I have an internship, freelance web design jobs, or I’m away at college.

I am not saying that we should stop doing these things with her – the bottom line is that she is not able to transport herself to the store.  But, to what extent should our care be going?  Is our help to her really aiding her spiritually?  It seems to us like she’s not trying to improve her own situation.

My second relative, who lives with us, has congenital heart failure, and just had a pacemaker put in.  He is, unfortunately, well past obese, diabetic, Parkinson’s, the works.  He is trying to improve his living conditions.  Thankfully, he is also a veteran – so they foot his bills.  He just asked me to buy him a cheeseburger….

Do you buy someone on a no-salt diet a cheeseburger?

There are certain responsibilities in life which we all have to have.  Caring for our elders, and for our children, are the ones which are almost guaranteed to come up.  But, as a pagan in a non-pagan household, family, world; how can I explain to those I care for that change needs to happen?  We are bound to help others advance spiritually.  If I allow for the stagnant to continue, how can I cause the change?

And these…these are the questions that makes one a witch.   Whenever a question arises, we must return to the documents that bind us.  In this case, the appropriate one is my oath from my initiation… (excerpt)

Where possible, I will work to ease pain and promote growth. In all things I will strive to do no harm lest it be in the defense of the helpless, the innocent, myself, my coven or my family. To these ends, I will put aside fear for courage, death for life, and life for death when it is right and necessary to do so, from now until the end.

Pretty strong words, huh?

I hope my discussion of the issue – if it is one you have, have had, or will have – has caused questions, thoughts and ideas.  It seems my answer was right there, all along…”Ease pain.  Promote growth.”

Merry part and happy new year!

Rhyming Responsibilities

Without even bothering to apologize for my lack of posting, which has been extreme this month, I turn my attention to a continuation of the discussion of rhymes.

Looking at the previous post, we can see that rhyming is a way to set the world right, to declare our intentions, and to craft our way through the world.

When we declare our intentions, its kind of like leaving a written note to someone. You sign your name on it. In the same way, when you create a rhyme, it has your personal perceptions, your personal signature on it.

If you share that rhyme that is part of a spell with someone, you are releasing them from personal responsibility. Its like giving a five year old a beer that has your fingerprints all over it. “Sure, drink away. I’ll take full responsibility for your actions”

Just like the Nobel prize’s story – Nobel invented dynamite – the knowledge we release to the world will come back to haunt us. If you post your own personal spells online, to millions of people – then what they do with those spells, or derivations of those spells, is your fault, your karma.

That is why I speak of concept, and practical practice – and not actually words that are my own. And if they are my own – then I try to make sure that the words I use are ones with either a very specific intent, or with no intent at all – simply ideas that have no practical use.

Sorry for the short post, but I must run! Til next time.

Blood, Energy, and Sacrifice

What is the spiritual significance of blood?  What is the practical significance of it?  Why does blood matter in paganism?  In Wicca?  There isn’t a cool way to introduce the topic without making some corny joke about vampires, or some romantic reference to the life-like qualities of blood.  So, I’ll skip that, and instead jump straight into the discussion.

Blood is composed of red blood cells, white blood cells, and plasma.  The important thing when you give blood is the red cells – they contain hemoglobin, which contains iron.  As I just gave blood yesterday to Donate Life, I feel its appropriate for me to touch on the subject.  Furthermore, I am in the midst of writing a novel with vampires in it…so needless to say, I am inundated in issues and information regarding blood, blood loss…etc.

I believe that the Gods hold our blood to be a sacred thing, which should only be given(on purpose) when necessary, and never on the sacred days.  There is a specific reason I believe this to be so, and it revolves around May of last year.  I (furthermore) believe that there is always a price for us to pay to give blood willingly.  This belief will also be based on personal experience as well as a bit of spiritual logic.

1.  Blood is a sacred thing, which should only be given when necessary, and never on the sacred days

This belief of mine is related to Beltane of last year.  I was unsure of donating, but nevertheless, had signed up, and so, at my appointed time, I visited the red cross, who were booming with business, so to speak.  I sat behind the screen, answered the questions.  My iron, blood pressure and temperature were all fine.  I was led to one of the table/bed/cots, I laid down, and they set me up to give.  It was at this point when, in the words of my boyfriend, “Shit went horribly wrong.”

They couldn’t find my vein.  After wiggling it around for a few minutes(weird feeling!) they finally got it in.  They set up the electronic blood-o-meter (I’m not sure what it was called, but it measured the rate of my blood into the bag) and left me for a few minutes to set up the next person.  When they came back, they watched as the blood-o-meter(as I’m now calling it) fluctuated between its minimum, medium, and maximum values (1-5, I believe).  After watching this, they did re-adjust the needle, get it to a steady 3-value, but a few minutes later it was again changing every second from 2 to 4 and 1 to 5.  Eventually, we agreed to just stop – it had slowed to practically nothing.  They bandaged me up, I got a cookie, and went on my way to contemplate what had happened.

I have two theories on the cause of this.  Either the one in bold above, or as follows.  If it is a sacred day, the gods are closest to us.  The energies of divinity surround us, envelop us, and  watch over us.  This energy of divinity promotes healing – which may explain why, all of a sudden, my arm stopped working (in terms of bleeding – I could feel it, move it, etc) for the Red Cross.  In any case, I decided never to give again on a holiday.  There was no point.

2.  There is always a price to pay for us to give blood willingly

Be it a blood oath or donating blood, there is always a direct, tangible result from us giving blood.  It is physical, in nature – while giving, we may feel faint, get intense pain, feel hot, or cold.  I’ll leave the description of my experience yesterday for a later time, but let’s assume that most feel some effect either during or after giving blood.  We may pass out later, or feel faint later, or have trouble staying awake.  If you feel nothing else, the feeling of the needle going into your arm is price enough.

Now that we have that established, let’s substitute the word “energy” where we put “blood”.  When you go out on a limb to help someone, or devote your energy to healing, or listening to someone, there is always an effect to your well-being.  This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t, or that you should try everything you can to conserve your energy as yours – that is selfish.  Rather, simply recognize when you are sacrificing something created by you, made OF you, to help another.  Is the price for you something you’re willing to pay?  Is the price for them something they’re willing to pay (accepting responsibility, giving in to pride, ready to heal)…?

I want to take a nap before class, and so, I’ll leave it at this for now.  I hope I’ve stimulated your thoughts a bit – enjoy your days!

The Pull of Dancing and Memory Within Culture

Almost everyone I know has had the exact same argument with me: Why don’t I dance? Its fun, its amusing…etc. Well, I can tell you why: up until last night, I never felt the pull to dance. But last night, our RA and about 14 of us here at our apartment building went to Club Infinity, where we watched a lot of line dancing.

For me, my boyfriend bounces at bars 3 nights a week, in the middle of rural south Florida. According to him, and I believe him, that’s as redneck as you can get. Walking into a bar blasting country music and seeing people with cowboy hats reminded me so much of him, that every three seconds my eyes would catch a cowboy hat and I would turn around to see if it was him.

Needless to say, it put me in a I-want-my-boyfriend! type of mood, and as we stood there watching all the happy couples, for the first time in my life, I actually had a small desire to do it! I was comfortable – I knew half the songs, which is more than I’ve ever known at any other dance related social function I’ve been to. The people were all having a great time, and by the end of the night, it was packed.

When I say that every three seconds, I was turning to see if my boyfriend was there, I wasn’t joking. I knew it was entirely possible, but being on the phone with him while he was working, and hearing stories, made me recognize this place as somewhere he would be. Don’t get me wrong – he doesn’t drink – but with the security jobs, he ends up spending a lot of time in dark, crowded areas. Add in the cowboy hats, and we were finding it hard to believe we were in Buffalo, NY!

I discovered last night just how much I associate my boyfriend with the ‘cowboy’ culture of the United States. To be completely honest, I had the full on adrenaline rush that I get when I’m about to meet him. I could almost feel his presence, right there. Astral travel aside, every cowboy hat I saw, if I blurred my eyesight a little bit, and the guy was about the right height and weight, I could see my boyfriend. Never before have I been that affected by my environment based on recounts of his experiences and my own assumptions about the sub culture.

I hadn’t heard from him, at that point in the night, for going on four weeks, so I both loved and hated the experience. I wanted to bask in it, watching all of the happy couples, but I desperately wanted my other half.

To turn this into a magical discussion; instead of one of those ‘heartwarming’ experiences…let’s take a look at the energies that were overwhelming me. Primarily, there was nervousness on my part, because I hadn’t heard from my boyfriend in a few weeks, and I wasn’t quite sure that he would be okay with me going to a bar, even if I wasn’t drinking. Another primary energy was the anticipation and excitement of the other students that went with me – none of us knew what to expect. Upon arriving, there was our surprise and slight discomfort as we realized that we didn’t know what the hell we were doing. In addition, there was the usual happy-bar energies – the ones that turn men into monsters and women into sluts. Then, there was both the energy and our reaction to the energy of the couples and singles dancing on the floor. Synchronized, their energy was practically emanating out and over the entire room. The music was loud. And, for my own personal addition, I had constant reminders of my boyfriend, who, at that point, was missing in action. Can you see why I was overwhelmed?

Its not always bad to recognize the force of the energies around you. Unlike what would have happened several years ago, I was not pulled into any specific action by the energies surrounding me at the time of entrance into the club – we had an agreement (all 18 of us) that we would each dance at least once. We did. I remained an observer within a large group situation.

As a witch, this is recognized as a good thing. We are the caretakers of the world – we were here long before organized religion and politics, and we will be the last ones to leave. It is our duty as witches to observe; it is unfair of us to act within the ‘normal’ context, because we are aware, and therefore, more responsible for our actions. It’s kind of like a three year old calling someone a whore because they heard it from an adult; versus being the adult, calling someone a whore. Bad analogy, but the point stands.

Its not to say we can’t have fun. We just have a doctrine of intelligence – we’re not supposed to act excessively, dumb. For example, getting drunk and getting into a fight is probably a bad idea because of the karma associated with it. We walk our own paths, and we shouldn’t have to tell people what we are: they should know. We should be silent and steady role models.

Granted, this is my own opinion, and I might not know a damn thing. But, I have always held close an expression used by my High Priest and his teacher before him: We take a step, and the world takes a step with us. We stumble, and the world falls before our feet.