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

Thursday, December 25, 2014

A Blessed Nativity!

I wish you all a blessed Nativity. While your day may be filled with joyful chaos or it may be a more solemn observance, I sincerely hope that Nativity brings to you much healing, joy, and peace as is needed in our increasingly troubled world.

Just as the wee angel to the right comes bearing light, so too are we called to bear light into the darkness of the world. This light is the light of love. Love that is pure and unconditional is the first step to healing the wounds of this world. Just as the Daughter is born to heal the rift of khear that separates all that is from the Mother, love that is boundless must be born in our hearts to heal the rifts that separate us from the world

From Here
We must take hope in the birth of the Daughter. She comes to us as living light to cast out the darkness within all things. The Daughter is perhaps the greatest miracle and greatest gift that our Mother has given us after our own entrance into existence.

While the world would have us focus on spending and giving expensive baubles, we should take time to focus upon the truly valuable things we have in our lives. Love, compassion, and fellowship with others are a bountiful blessing that many in this world do not have access to. Faith in ourselves and that which is greater then ourselves are a blessing that sustain us in ways we may have a hard time describing. This faith is hard won and should be held close to the breast as a precious jewel.

May the Mother and her Daughter bless you abundantly this season.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Devotional Polytheist Meme Question No. 18

What does fertility mean to you?

 The term fertility is defined as:
1.the state or quality of being fertile.
2.Biology. the ability to produce offspring; power of reproduction:
the amazing fertility of rabbits.
3.the birthrate of a population.
4.(of soil) the capacity to supply nutrients in proper amounts for plant growth when other factors are favorable.  (From
It colloquially has come to be associated with a state of increase or the ability to produce something (fertile imagination is the first example that comes to mind). Fertility has a lot of emotions tied to it and a lot of spiritual energy attached to it. Deities that are involved with fertility are commonly considered to be benevolent towards man, but I find that to be a case of observer bias. Fertility, as I understand it, extends from the traditional dictates of the definition to the creation of wealth and beyond. Fertility is, in my understanding, creation.

People frequently think of fertility as a positive thing and something that is desirable in their lives. People who are seeking to have children are usually the first ones that we think of when we touch upon the idea of fertility. But this potent spiritual force of generation is equally important to farmers who provide us with food, to anyone who produces goods, and bankers who keep our economic systems functional. When you seek to create something, fertility is what you are attempting to invoke.

Fertility, however, is not strictly a good thing. It can lead to overproduction. Situations where there is an overpopulation of deer, for example, lead to devastating ecological effects on a region and eventually starvation in the deer population. All of this came about because, among other factors, fertility. It is the same force that leads to the proliferation of dangerous technologies by way of fertile minds, fertile hands, and fertile economic conditions. Sometimes, it is better to seek to limit fertility or to seek to render something infertile.

It is my opinion that infertility falls under the same purview as fertility. While modern pagans romanticize fertility and view infertility as a tragedy to be remedied, I think that our ancestors understood the necessity for it. I'm somewhat new to being an active follower of a fertility deity (and I'm not entirely sure that follower is the best term but it's what I can come up with right now) but I don't think that my intuition is wrong on this front. I've seen the effects of excessive fertility in one area are on an ecosystem. And those effects are not pretty, they're actually fairly horrific to be honest.

I've felt the pain of struggling with fertility. As someone who had difficulty conceiving and carrying children, I have known the anguish of the prospect that I could not bear my own child. (And the agony of losing children due to miscarriage.) I try to take a pragmatic approach to fertility, which doesn't always work well with emotions. The qualities of generation that are embodied in fertility must be balanced by the rest of the system or it results in the destruction of the system as a whole. Somewhere, that balance comes from the inability to produce. While I understand the necessity of this, it doesn't make it easier.

Fertility, however, is not a 'feel good' thing. A lot of people want to paint it as such and that is really doing a disservice to this force of nature. People don't generally say that a stone being hard is good or bad with out context, but you find many who do that with fertility. So, I guess my position on fertility is that it is a double edged sword. It is something that one should invoke with caution and care because it is a force that has a mind of its own. Once you set something in motion, it will keep moving in what ever direction it is naturally inclined to move.

Fertility is like pushing a boulder. It may move in the direction you want it to, but it is going to have an impact on the entire area. If you're lucky, your impact is relatively controlled and localized, so that you don't disrupt the entire system. If you're really lucky, then your push of that proverbial boulder is something that encourages the welfare of the entire system. But, if you're not lucky, then you're going to create a problem somewhere down the line with your action, quite likely one you never would have anticipated.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

An untitled poem.

Glory of Heaven shine above
Reflections of the face of the Mother
Illuminate the world
Reveal to us the blessings
Found in the cold night.

I apologize that this is posting so late. I have been ill and this has made timely updates difficult. I apologize for this. I ask for your patience as I muddle through the holiday season. As always, thank you for reading and may the gods bless you all.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Devotional Polytheist Meme Question No. 17

What qualities should a leader in your tradition possess?

1. Honor & Integrity

A leader in my faith tradition should be a person who holds to a high standard of behavior. They should be a person who is honorable in their actions. As an honorable person, they should respect and uphold the freedoms and rights of all life. They should keep their word when it is given and strive to do their best in all dealings.

2. Discernment

The ability to tell the difference between what is from the gods and what is created within the hearts and minds of humanity is very important. The ability to determine what is just versus what is considered to be proper by the prevailing social mores of where they are located is equally vital.

3. Wisdom

With discernment, deep intelligence and comprehension is necessary. This may manifest as a great deal of scholarly knowledge or it may manifest as a keen understanding of how things work on a more practical level. In either case, the wisdom to know when to act and when not to act is very important. There are times where one must keep their own counsel and others when they should reach out to the community around them.

4. Willingness to Learn

Along with wisdom, a leader in my faith tradition should have a willingness to learn. It is my firm belief that a living faith adapts and grows with its adherents. This requires the leaders of that faith to learn, grow, and change so that they may continue to lead adequately. Failure to do so serves only to limit the faith to a specific set of circumstances of a given time. As life progresses away from those circumstances and that point in time, the faith that does not grow and change becomes irrelevant.

5. Compassion & Mercy

Compassion and mercy are two things that we are called to by Dea. I think it something that is also encouraged by the other gods that I follow. Building relationships with the rest of the world, we find that compassion brings us to greater understanding. This is something that creates a harmonious world and one that is beneficial to people who practice the same faith that I do. In Filianism or Déanism, this state of harmony is called thamë. It is my understanding that thamë is the same as building frith between people and the world. Frith is preferable to conflict and unwholesome strife. (There is strife that is healthful and encourages us to grow.)

Mercy is the extension of compassion to those who are in need. It is something that should be given with out strings or conditions. It is a gift and a blessing. I think that the extension of mercy to those who are in need is perhaps one of the higher callings of humanity. That is, however, my personal opinion.

6. Clear sense of justice

Justice is that which brings the world back into a thamelic state. It is my understanding that we are called to address the evils of the world that humanity continues to perpetrate by all gods. While the path to justice is different for each case, I think that the gods want to see it done. A leader in my faith tradition should have a clear understanding of what is just so that they might guide others in their actions. This may include some form of social activism. It may be ancestor work and spiritual efforts to correct the harm that has been done by our predecessors. In either case, justice must be kept at the forefront of practice because it is a major part of being compassionate towards the world.

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Feast of Conception.

Today is the feast of Conception. I have been busy preparing my house for putting up Yule decorations. I looked at where we usually have a tree and felt a bit of sorrow that we couldn't afford to purchase a tree for this year. I knew that we had a small artificial tree with an assortment of ornaments on it. I was not happy with it but I acknowledged that this was what we had.

Then, my sister-in-law came over with a tree for us. It was an unexpected delight that made me feel a bit cheered for the season. While others may declare that this is purely an instance of human action, I take it as a sign of Dea's generosity. She heard my wish for an actual tree and sent it to me by way of my sister-in-law. It is a small miracle, but in the world of men, small miracles are just as wonderful as major ones.

It is Dea's abundance of love and her desire to see to it that we are well taken care of that she births her daughter. It is Dea's love that gives us the holy Child and our guide back to her arms. So, it is with joy that I await the holy Child and celebrate this season.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

In Memoriam

It has taken me a little while to process something that happened. I'm still trying to make my peace with it, though I know it was the necessary and merciful thing to do. About two weeks ago, I had to euthanize my ailing betta fish named Swimmers. The kids had an easier time adjusting to this then I have. This seems a little perverse, to be honest.

Swimmers was the third betta we owned (the second to be named so). The first two succumbed fairly quickly to their respective ailments. Swimmers 1.0 was fine one day and then the next he was lifeless at the bottom of the bowl. Stu, our second betta, seemed healthy when we got him from the store but a few weeks later stopped eating and then died a few days later. Swimmers 2.0 developed constipation and he suffered for weeks.

I made the decision to euthanize him after agonizing over it for about two weeks. During that time, Swimmers just got worse and worse. Having made the painful decision to do it, I took a few days to research the most humane method to end his little life. I found myself on the verge of tears several times in the course of this research. When the time came, Swimmers resisted death with a last burst of strength that made me feel horrible about putting him down.

This is not the first time I have had to mercy kill an animal. Like the first time (almost two years ago a baby bird fell out of a nest and broke its wing), I did my best to make sure that the creature suffered as little as possible. In Swimmer's case, it was a fatal dose of a fishy anesthetic (clove oil, if you ever need to use it). In the birds, it was breaking its little neck. In both cases, I felt horrible about doing it.

I passionately love life. Even when I am suicidally depressed, I still have a deep love of life. The act of ending another life grieves me. I have had times where I seriously considered going vegan because of how much it bothers me that other lives must end so that I may live. But, unlike the case of life feeding on life to survive, the act of extinguishing the life of another creature with no benefit to myself feels dirty.

Galina Krasskrova spoke of miasma a little while back. She mentioned something about how dead bodies are sources of that contagion. I can whole heartedly agree with this proposition and I can state, first hand, that the instant life leaves the body miasma is present. Lingering illness has its own miasmic qualities. In the case of Swimmers 2.0, the miasma of his illness and death had me feeling deeply disturbed and filthy.

Spiritually cleansing helped some with that, as did utterly scouring and cleansing the tank. Still, it took me a little over a week to right myself after that. Swimmers was a typical betta fish. Some people would say that I'm too soft hearted for being as disturbed by the fact that I had to kill him as I was. I am fairly certain that feisty little fish has progressed onto another life. If the way he met his death is any indication of how his next life is going to be, Swimmers in his next incarnation will be a force to be reckoned with.

For my part, I'm going to do my best to honor his memory by making sure that his replacement (a white betta named Ghost) lives a long life. Aside from that, I think it is going to take a while for me to again have warm fuzzy feelings towards the scent of cloves.

Devotional Polytheist Meme Question No. 16

What devotional goals have you set for yourself?

My devotional goals intersect heavily with my life goals, to be honest. First among them is to obtain a greater degree of health in body and mind. This may seem like an odd devotional goal but among the things that Freyr and Loki agree on is that I need to take charge of my health and well being. As such, I am working hard to manage my disability and my general health more effectively. It has its ups and downs, but for the most part I think I can say that it is probably the hardest of all my devotional goals.

Secondly, I aim to make daily prayer and devotional activities a priority. This can get a bit tricky between the challenges of being a stay at home mom and my efforts to start a career in writing. Fortunately, the gods are willing to let me develop this at my own pace. The challenge of balancing daily devotional acts (burning candles and incense, for example) with household maintenance when I am struggling due to my disability is rather difficult. Some days, I can hit all the targets on my list and do a little bit more. Most days, something falls by the wayside. The trick is prioritizing what I do and getting it done in that order. Because if I don't do that, important things (like paying the power bill) get forgotten.

The holidays make this extra difficult because I have the additional stress of managing out family social calendar, the acquisition and distribution of gifts, and compensating for the effects of the holiday excitement on my children's behavior. Again, prioritizing is a hugely important thing. Loki keeps poking me with proverbial sticks to remember to utilize the FLYLady techniques of household management. Sometimes, I have a period of time where I can manage things fairly well with out additional assistance. Then I become unwell or I get overburdened by what is going on and I find myself scrambling to keep my head above proverbial water. I found FLYLady to be a huge help, as long as I remember to keep it up.

My third devotional goal is to get back into the habit of making things for the gods. Last year, I made several shawls for the gods. I want to do this again and make a few more things. I have no idea what I am going to do with these things. I was going to sell them on Etsy but nothing took root there. I realized that Etsy wasn't going to be a viable option for me so I've got a small pile of shawls that are sitting in my project room waiting for homes.

My fourth devotional goal is to engage in more domestic arts that tie me to my foremothers. If I can manage it next year, I am going to learn how to do some canning. My Mother-in-law is talking about setting up a small garden for our household. While some flowers are definitely going to be planted, I am hoping to possibly grow some tomatoes and a few other vegetables. In doing the gardening (which I'm also going to attempt with some containers at home too), I will be connecting with my forefathers as well. (I come from a long line of farmers one the paternal side of the line.)

My fifth and final devotional goal is to continue my devotional writing. There are two books that I'm slowly accumulating material for and hopefully will get at least one of them done by next spring. There is this blog, which I hope to be making a bit more lively after the holidays have passed. It seems like much of my planning for this blog keeps getting eaten by off-line activities. This frustrates me mightily.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Devotional Polytheist Meme Question No. 15

What methods does your tradition employ for protection and warding off malign influences?

My big occult subjects of study are divination, necromancy, and protection magic. Honestly, I have no idea where to begin my answer to this question. There are so many different ways to approach this question. I suppose I should start with the simplest of the methods. That is prayer to the gods and angels for protection. (The angel/janya Vikhë is the one to whom I would pray if I were addressing angels.) In addition to praying to the gods and angelic beings for protection, I call upon my spiritual companions for their aid.

I suppose if you were being technical, you could say that when I call to my spiritual companions for aid, it is prayer. It feels different for me from addressing deities or angels. The best way to describe it is the spiritual companions are closer to me then most of the deities or the angels. Generally, I tend to save prayer as a final resort. That, however, is because I tend to be somewhat... thick headed and contrary when I encounter difficulties and try to bulldoze my way through it. I've been told it is one of my more endearing qualities, though I'm pretty sure that the gods have regularly facepalmed over it.

If I have reason to believe that someone or something has cast some sort of malign spell towards myself or my family, my first solution is to perform what I call a hex breaking. This is where I take three dried thorns and burn them. Sometimes I grind them into a powder so that they burn more rapidly. The choice as to if I will grind them into powder or not depends on how quickly I want my counterspell to manifest. Usually, I find that my existing defensive measures are enough of a buffer between myself and the malevolent spell that I don't need to go with a fast response. If I didn't have access to dried thorns, I would use three sharp slivers of wood. I'll talk in more detail about the hex breaking spell at another time.

I also would use a spell that reflects the malevolent spell back to the sender. I like mirror spells but sometimes they are difficult to do with small children around. I can't exactly have small glass baubles laying about where my kids can pick them up and run around the house with them. The mirror spell that I use most of the time requires one mirror and I can use it for a brief time before putting it away (obviously after cleansing and grounding the mirror). I do have one that I use which involves multiple mirrors. This one serves not only to redirect the spell but confuse the initial target of the spell, thus making the counter spell work to direct the main thrust of the harmful spell aside from me and then back to the sender. It packs a bit less 'punch' then the other mirror spell I use. It is, however, a very effective spell and works to make the chances of a second sending of a curse less likely.

I have a lot of other counter spells that I use but those two are the ones that I apply most of the time.That, however is not where the basis of my protection from malevolent spells and influences lie. The best defense is preparation for a possible harmful or malevolent incident. About my home, I have several protection spells that I refer to as 'wards' that take the spiritual energy that is cast at them and sinks it into the earth, dissipates it into the sky, reflects it back to the caster, or absorbs it and becomes stronger. In addition to the wards, I have magical energy sinks located at various points around my home that will ground any energy that is directed at them. Those energy sinks lie along the path of entrances into my home. I also have barriers placed across the entrances. Some are physical (like the row of cacti and houseplants on my window sills) and others are spiritual (iron across the threshold).

I have spiritual protection spells woven about my person and amulets that I wear that are enchanted for the purposes of protection (and preventing anxiety attacks). Obviously, wearing a holy symbol of one's faith can be a protective amulet if one's faith is sufficiently strong. It is one's faith that makes amulets and spells most effective. If you believe that the spell will work, then it will work better then if you don't believe it will. My protection spells, which I refer to as 'shields' are much like my wards. They have more layers to them then my wards and between them is something that I call the 'minefield'. Just as one can receive psychic input, one can transmit it.

My 'minefield' is woven with spiritual ties to my traumatic memories. When my spiritual attacker trips one of my 'mines' the traumatic memory is projected at them. I feel the sensation like a bit of energy leaving me in the direction of my spiritual attacker. I have yet to have someone progress past the first layer of my shields and minefield combination. This leads me to believe that it is an effective use of some very bad experiences in my life. Someone who has different experiences can lay different 'mines' about themselves. It could be crippling sensations of fear or a vivid experience of pain. Some negative emotion or experience can be used to dissuade someone from pushing further against your shields.

Now, obviously, there are elements to my spiritual defenses that I am not sharing for the reason that I do not want some wit to decide to test them. When sharing things like magical defenses with others, it is wise to keep some element up your sleeve with all but those whom you trust the most. Don't bandy about that you have built something like the spectral version of Fort Knox around yourself. Don't go looking for a 'witch war' to prove yourself in. It's like knowing a martial art. You don't advertise that you know it to prevent people from attacking you because they can or out of curiosity.

Also, like knowing a martial art, it is good to practice and regularly hone your skills. It means doing regular spiritual maintenance on your wards and shields. It means renewing the spells you cast to deflect malevolence and keeping in regular contact with your spiritual allies. Aside from keeping a healthy relationship with them, it makes it easier for you to call upon them in a crisis.