Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Friday, September 26, 2014

New revision published.

The newest revision of Rose Petals has gone to press. This version has more prayers for the janyati (angelic beings) and the three faces of Dea. It also has instruction on how to set up your shrine and maintain it. There is also now a forward that introduces the reader to Dea and the janyati.

For the print edition, follow this link. For the electronic version, follow this link.

It is my hope to continue to refine my little book and make it useful to my readers. Please, share any comments or concerns that you have with me at my e-mail address.

Currently, I am working on a companion book. It is going to be a day-book of meditations and prayers to take one through the sacred calendar of the Filianic/Déanic faith. The tentative release date for this is the Spring Equinox of 2015. I will be posting more details as it gets closer to the release date.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Spiritual Cleansing: Places

From Here
In previous posts, I discussed how to spiritually cleanse oneself and items. The same principles applied for these purposes are used in how to spiritually cleanse a place. There are, however, some differences in the techniques used.

Different spiritual traditions have different methods for how to cleanse a location. The examples that I will give in this article come from my own background. They are easily adaptable to other spiritual traditions. The basic format of these rituals have much in common with the rituals of other faiths. One element that these rituals have in common is the use of blessed elements (holy water, incense, and candles). They also incorporate basic spell craft (prayers being considered a form of spell craft) whereby the ritual participants impose their will upon the situation or invoke a spiritual being to take action on their behalf.

The most basic form of spiritual cleansing is to focus your will upon cleansing a location of unwanted influences as you physically clean there. In Wicca, there is a tradition of using a besom (ritual broom) to sweep the circle area before establishing sacred space. The circle area is swept in a counter clockwise spiral that starts in the center and moves outward. This is because the counter clockwise direction (known as widdershins by many pagans) is considered to be a direction of banishment. Some incorporate a chant that they use to the rhythm of their sweeping gestures. A quick google search find many chants that you could incorporate into your cleaning.

You can incorporate other elements into your cleansing to make it easier to align your will to the task. Prayers and visualization are helpful for this task. Calling upon one's preferred deity to bless and sanctify a location works to cleanse the location upon a spiritual level. This, however, must be maintained with some effort by the person calling upon the deity. Failure to do so runs the risk of irritating the deity. It would be like you calling upon a friend to clean up a messy room. If you do not put any effort into keeping the room clean afterwards and continually call on them to do it, they will become upset with you for not doing your part.

Walking the boundary of the location to be spiritually cleansed with incense and waft it into the location while envisioning the incense chasing away undesired entities and spiritual energies is a common technique used in the pagan community. It is also done with holy water. The Catholic Christian belief system has several beautiful rituals to consecrate and cleanse locations. These rituals combine the elements of prayer, incense, and holy water. If I recall correctly, there is one that incorporates candles as well.

Which ever method of spiritual cleansing you choose, it is always useful to revisit them on a regular basis when maintaining a location as a permanent sacred space. The act of spiritual maintenance of permanent sacred space helps make ritual work that happens there more effective because the location is prepared for it already. It is also a gesture honoring the spirits of the location and the spiritual beings that were involved in the establishment of sacred space.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Devotional Polytheist Meme Question # 3

How have the gods helped you in times of violent upheaval and adversity?

In many ways, this question is an expansion upon what I have previously written. I wish I could say that the adversity that I describe in that post was the extent of what I could relate as to how the gods have helped me but my life is not blessed in that fashion. As I look back over the years, I find myself at something of a loss for where to start the list of incidents that the gods have helped me. I think it is better to give the common themes of how their help has manifested in my life.

During times of psychological illness, the gods have been the constant source of hope and encouragement. Loki has been especially helpful to me over the last five years. He arranges happy accidents where I have just the right thing land in my lap, even in the darkest of times. Flamehair has also been very active in my dreams and via psychic activity, giving me advice and encouragement when I am at my best or worst. When things are especially bad, he has gone so far as to giving me direct messages by way of chance encounters, which looking back I realize they weren't as 'chance' as I thought they were.

A good example of this was during one of my recent depressive episodes. In the grips of powerful despair, I found myself seriously considering giving up my dream of making a living as an author. I even found myself considering giving up on my blogs and journal writing. Not three days after I was considering this, I was out washing laundry. I stopped in the store next door to purchase a beverage when I very nearly ran into a man wearing a shirt that struck me like a blow to the gut. The text on his black shirt was in white and a very large font, something that I could not possibly miss. It read "Are you really thinking about giving up on your dreams?" It was a powerful reminder that the depressive episode was temporary and that letting it drive me away from my life long dreams and passion for writing was a terrible decision to make.

During times of physical illness, the gods have mitigated the extent of my illness and in one instance, I honestly believe prevented me from dying. I was pregnant with my eldest son and I had been having what I thought was problems with bad gas pains from shortly before the pregnancy test came back positive. Assuming that these 'gas pains' were just a symptom of pregnancy like the nausea of morning sickness, I didn't pay it any mind. Then, one day before I went into work I was in terrible pain to the point where I couldn't stand upright. We rushed to the doctor who then sent me on to the hospital. It was determined that I had appendicitis. Things happened in such a fashion that I had surgery to take my appendix out. It was highly inflamed and signs indicated that I had been dealing with appendicitis for months before it reached a crisis point.

When my husband and I faced difficulties that threatened the integrity of our family, the gods helped to mitigate the impact of the events. I also firmly believe that it was by way of the gods that the positive things that came out of that period of time came in to our lives. While much can be said for the support systems we had in place from our extended family, a good deal of the situation was in the hands of others who could have just as easily made decisions that would have devastated my household. It is my belief that the gods swayed those people to make decisions in our favor.

In all three varieties of adversity, the gods have provided us with opportunities to make good of the situation, endure the difficulties, and aid to lessen the severity of the troubles we face. I think that they prevent a good deal of trouble from coming to our doorstep as well. From narrowly escaping disastrous car accidents to having just the emergency funds arrive when we need them, I believe that the gods take an active part in helping us avoid just as much trouble as they help us endure it. 

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Frosts, Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Accounting.

I have held my piece with regards to the issues surrounding Marion Zimmer Bradley because I felt that others who were far more knowledgeable and eloquent had addressed them better then I could have. Then, just today, I learned something about the Frosts that made me feel chagrined to have considered their work useful and daring to recommend it to students I had in the past.

It has come to my attention that the Frosts had written an initiation ritual intended for family covens that involved sexual activity for pubescent children in their highly influential work The Witch's Bible. Their supporters insist that the ritual is misprinted and that the Frosts did not intend for the ritual to include children. In all kindess, I cry bullshit on that argument. This is a book that has been reprinted many, many times. Not once of those reprints had been amended to correct the supposed mistake. The Frosts have had ample time to see and correct this 'error' and have not done so.

Indeed, their failure to correct the 'error' and their arguments that said work should be allowed to persist in its original form and be considered within the merits of 'tradition' lends one to believe that ritualized sexual abuse is condoned by the Frosts and that they believe such should be perpetuated within the Wiccan community.

This is absolutely not ok. Sexual abuse is one of the most heinous and insidious of crimes perpetrated against children. Abusers force children to participate in sex acts by ways of creating situations where the child sees no other choice. The children are not free agents in this activity but doing so under duress. Additionally, abusers who choose sex crimes as their method of abuse have the great impetuous of the social stigma that is attached to sexual abuse to force their victims to be quiet. This is in addition to what ever threats might be made or what mind games are played to coerce the victim to keep silent.

The use of initiatory rituals to force sexual activity of any sort upon another person is a direct violation of one of the most central tenants of Wicca, perfect love and perfect trust. The initiate trusts the initiator with their welfare as they prepare to undergo the rite. They trust the coven they are joining with their safety as well. Forcing them into sexual activity is repulsive and a violation of that trust. It also makes a mockery of that claimed 'perfect love' that the coven would say they extend towards the initiate.

Some people will claim that I am a 'lapsed' witch and that my positions on this 'traditional' initiation are a reflection of how far I have 'fallen' from the craft. I name those people fools and supporters of this kind of abusive behavior. It is possible to initiate someone into the craft with out forcing any form of sexual behavior upon them. If we look into the history of modern Wicca, we find that old Gerald Gardner was initiated by having a basin of water poured over him.

We have a responsibility to the younger generations of witches who are being raised within the Wiccan tradition (and all other pagan faiths) to secure their safety and create an environment that promotes their well being. The intersection of that which is holy, magical, and mundane should be a place of safety from the beginning. Only when the initiate has reached the age of consent and agreed to it, should sexual activity become part of magical or religious ritual.

If this position makes people declare me some sort of apostate or otherwise have forgotten my faith, then I wish them the luck of it. I will continue to maintain a position that the safety of children is more important then the pretty rituals you would devise. I don't care what your arguments are in favor of this. I reject them all and declare them to be anathema.

Originally Published on One Witch's Theological Musings

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Devotional Polytheist Meme Question: 2

How does your tradition increase the power and flow of blessings?

Prayers and petitions to the Divine for the increase of blessings is a frequent part of practices in my faith. Votive offerings are made to the gods with the request of their aid in matters. Prayers and offerings, however, should not be given only in times of need. This would be like calling on someone who you are associated with only when you wanted something from them. Eventually, the person will get sick of this treatment and stop responding to you. The same holds true with the gods, in my experience.

As such, I make prayer and devotional activities a daily thing. With two small children, I can not do anything too lavish most of the time. I keep a prayer journal wherein I talk with the gods about the things going on in my life and that which I appreciate. Gratitude and a conscious expression of it is a big way to increase the blessings one has in their life. I try to make sure that every note in my prayer journal is including at least one thing that I am thankful for.

I also work to appreciate the 'mundane' blessings that I have in my life. The ability to see the good in what we have around us right now makes it easier to see the good that comes to us unexpectedly. I work to maintain an optimistic and hopeful approach to life, which is very difficult to do when in the grips of depressive episodes or highly stressful life events. This optimism and hopefulness is a powerful way to draw positive things to you. By reorienting your mental state to one that is focused on the blessings you have, you draw greater blessings to you.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Spiritual Cleansing: Items

From Here
In my previous post, I discussed how to spiritually cleanse oneself. Many of the techniques that I discussed in that post can be applied to the spiritual cleansing of items. There are minor differences in how one engages in spiritual cleansing of items on the basis of size. A small ring will require different methods of cleansing compared to a moderately large book or a small car. The basic elements of spiritual cleansing are much the same regardless of the item that is to be cleansed.

Small items can be cleaned by immersing them into water that has been dedicated and blessed for this purpose. (Provided they can go into water.) They can also be wiped down with appropriately blessed water. When I am wiping an item down with blessed water, I like to keep a small container of plain water. My method is to dip my clean cloth into the blessed water and then wipe a section of the item. Then, I rinse the cloth in the plain water before dipping it into the blessed water. Much like cleaning with old fashioned soapy water, the plain water holds the spiritual 'dirt' and dramatically cuts down on how much of it muddies the blessed water.

When the item can not go into water or have water applied to it, it is possible to place it within a container of salt for a period of time. The salt will draw out the spiritual pollution. When I can, I place the item upon a bed of salt and then cover it with another layer of salt, thereby allowing the spiritual pollution to be removed from all surfaces of the item at the same time. From what I have been able to tell, this works faster then just having the item partially covered in salt.

I also have buried items in the ground for a period of time to 'earth' the spiritual energies associated with the item. This serves to 'reset' the item to a spiritually neutral state, provided that the miasmic build up is not to a very severe extent. In the event of an item having a high concentration of miasma, I use this as my final step in cleansing the item, when it is appropriate. The time to bury an item in the earth or in salt is one that is subject to some debate.

Some practitioners of magic have found that the length of time should be one lunar cycle. Others have found success in three days. It is good for the person who is doing the cleansing to pick a time frame that is meaningful to them. The cleansing action is partly done by the materials used and partly done by the practitioner's intention.

Moving the item to be cleansed through it or wafting the smoke towards the item can be used to 'smudge' said object. I have found that smudging is a helpful practice when used in conjunction with other spiritual cleansing practices. Others have found that smudging is effective on its own. In this, like determining the time frame that the object must be buried, one must listen to their inner senses and monitor the progression of the object's cleansing.

For larger items, it is impractical to bury them in salt or soil. It is often the case that one has a larger item, such as an heirloom dresser, that has spiritual grime attached to it. This item can be cleansed by asperging it with blessed water and driving out the spiritual essences of the 'grime' with prayers. It is also possible to use incense in the smudging fashion with prayers. The prayers (or incantations, if you wish to call them that, either is accurate in my opinion) are a projection of the practitioner's intent to remove the miasma. With sufficient focus and strong enough intent, it is possible to remove a significant amount of spiritual pollution by way of just prayer alone.

Many magic practitioners like to cleanse their ritual tools prior to first use. This is a helpful thing that allows one to set their ritual tool to a 'default' neutral magical state. As one uses their ritual tools, they acquire residual spiritual energy. Regular cleansing of ritual tools helps to make them more effective. Initial and maintenance cleansing have subtle differences. Initial cleansing, the practitioner focuses upon removing all acquired spiritual resonance signatures. It is a very through cleansing. Maintenance cleansing removes the spiritual resonances that are not desired. This allows one to tailor the spiritual energy signature of an item to the purposes they desire to use the item for.

Incidents of mild to moderate spiritual pollution upon one's ritual tools generally merits a maintenance cleansing. One method used is frequently sufficient to cleanse the item of undesired spiritual energy. In cases of severe to extreme spiritual pollution, multiple methods of cleansing bring about greater success. For an item that is heavily tainted with miasma, it may be necessary to spiritually cleanse it multiple times before it is restored to that 'neutral' state.

It may also happen that an item is so heavily tainted with spiritual pollution that one person's efforts simply are not enough to resolve the problem. This is where one invokes the assistance of deities and their spiritual community. Prayer, when married to practical action, can be powerful enough to lift or at least ameliorate severe spiritual pollution. One must recognize, however, that there may be cases where the spiritual pollution is simply so severe that it will linger for an extended period of time, despite one's best efforts.

If one must handle or work with an object that is so spiritually tainted that cleansing efforts only has a minimal effect, it must be treated with care. Personal cleansing after handling or interacting with said item is a must. Cleansing items that come into contact with the tainted item is also very important. This helps to control how much the spiritual pollution will spread.