It’s been a couple of years…

…and I think I’m ready to take up writing again.

A Very Important Update!!!!!   I finally came out of the broom closet to my significant other.  He did not fall over from shock.  The world did not come to an end.  There are others still in the queue…but those will come when the time is right.  Or when they ask me.  Or when the Deities tell me “do it already!”.  Or not.

And my closet has spilled out into my office and wow, what a great decorating job I’m doing!

Back soon…

 

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Freedom’s Just Another Word For Nothing Left To Lose…

…as sung by the lovely and talented Janis Joplin.

So this is what happens when your very own Curious Cat goes to a Pagan conference…

There are times where this closet gets REALLY confining. I’m enjoying the decorating bit and enjoying growing in the Craft while no one’s getting into my case about “what are you doing and why? ” However, having seen many opportunities for growth and direction over this past weekend, it occurs to me that staying here is also preventing me from growing in other ways and that is a problem – in part because I’m not getting any younger and where I believe the Goddess is calling me is not something which can be done rapidly…

My vision of *when* I could freely come out of the broom closet has involved certain people no longer being a part of my life…not because I wanted them gone (I definitely do not!) but because I was concerned about the potential repercussions if they still were associated with me in some capacity. And to an extent, that’s still true. But it occurs to me that coming out of the broom closet does NOT require me to say to every person I meet “oh by the way, I’m a Wiccan” any more than being a Christian back in the day required me to have the equivalent dialog with everyone in my path.

So I think I’ll start out with some kitten steps.   One paw out the door.

If anyone asks, I’ll answer truthfully. If certain people ask (and if they are asking, they likely already suspect the answer), I’ll ask them if they are sure that they want the validation of an answer since after I reply they can’t go back to saying they didn’t know – if so, then I’ll answer truthfully.

It doesn’t require me to be in anyone’s face about what I do. And it does allow me to be a bit closer to my authentic self within my chosen faith.

And for now, that will have to do.

Moving the Elements Aound the Circle

There’s the *traditional* elements association when calling the quarters…and there’s also probably as many variations on this as there are Gods and Goddesses in all of our collective pantheons combined.

Well, recently it had been impressed upon me that it was time for ME to effect a change in ritual for my individual practice, specifically in regards to the calling of the Quarters.  The elements were not right.  For ME.  I’ve never felt they were in the right place.  For ME.  I can’t emphasize that part enough – and I don’t wish to see people calling me a heretic for deviating from the traditional Air = East, etc.  I still call Air in the East when I work with other people, since that’s what the folks around here do.  But we’re talking about my private workings space now, not being in circle with my peers.

What brought this about was, quite simply, where I live.  I live on the East coast of the US, in one of the Middle Atlantic states.  There is a very large body of water to my East.  There is an entire continent, complete with two major mountain ranges, to my West.   The Sun (by it’s association with the Equator), is to my South and as we all know, the Sun is a very fiery ball of incandescent gases.  And if you were here today (as we’re feeling the effects of yet another Polar Vortex event) there’s no question about where the air often comes from – the North.   Hence, those are the changes I made to my ritual and my workings seem to be more in focus.

Wicca is an experiential religious practice – my experience with it will by necessity be different from yours.  And this what is now working (and working quite well) for me.  If the traditional Air = East, etc. works well for you I wouldn’t encourage to look at changing things up but if something doesn’t feel quite in balance for you, perhaps this is a change you might want to consider – just make it work best for you and/or where you are.

Have a magickal day, everyone!

Oooh, there’s a Sabbat coming up – let’s decorate!

I like to decorate.

This has nothing to do with interior design (though I enjoy that too); it has to do with holidays and celebrations.  Not just the Big Three of our culture (Halloween, Christmas and Easter) but just about any holiday you can think of.  I decorate for Groundhog’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s, Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July, Bastille Day, the start of football season, Dia de los Muertos, Thanksgiving, etc. etc. etc.  I came to my Pagan path with a lot of decorations already in place which, with not a lot of difficulty, made the transition to becoming altar decorations.

I freely concede that not everyone’s as decoration-obsessed as I am but if you are (or need that reason to explain the altar decorations while remaining in the broom closet – *hi neighbor!*) here’s some transitional ideas for you:

Imbolc – a combination of Groundhog’s Day and Valentine’s Day decorations (a groundhog – and a candle to help him see his shadow – and roses for the coming Spring, anyone?).

Ostara – can be bridged to Mardi Gras, St Patrick’s (all that green) or even Easter when the liturgical calendar cooperates.

Beltane – Easter (if it’s running late), though Cinco de Mayo decorations work better with the riotousness of celebrating Beltane.

Litha – Flag Day, transitioning into Fourth of July.  With additional decorations to amplify the theme of summer, like seashells.  It works – trust me!

Lammas – since it’s the first of the three Fall festivals (and coincidentally falls right at the beginning of preseason), that particular shade of football brown works very well, accented with some lovely red apples as a counterpoint.

Mabon – same theme (it’s still football season and if you have family members in school, Homecoming’s probably just around the corner), perhaps with more Autumn leaves as accents.  It really helps to like football if you’re going this way, however.

Samhain – Halloween.  Need I say more?

Yule – Christmas decorations, just minus the blatantly Christian motifs.

So I hope this gives someone out there some ideas on altar decorating – enjoy!  Ostara’s just a couple of weeks away.

The Categories Game

How do we process people inside our minds, in the absence of sufficient information? Often, we categorize them by using words describing an attribute or membership of theirs – and along with this sometimes comes certain assumptions about who or what else they are.

Let’s look at some of the things which may accompany categories like…Pagan. Or Wiccan. Or even Witch.

Some folks assume that those labels come with certain “givens” – this person will be politically liberal, or this person has to wear certain items of jewelry at all times, or this person must always wear robes – or even nothing at all – when participating in ritual,  And when one or more of these things are absent, their Pagan/Wiccan/Witch Membership Card must be revoked since they can’t possibly be a “real” one.

I’ve been accused of being “not real” for all of the above reasons at one time or other.  Politically, I’m an independent – liberal on some issues, conservative on others – the Goddess called me just as I am.  Some folks might not care for all that this entails, but I do believe that is their issue – not mine.   In any event, I’m not losing any sleep over it…

I have jewelry which I wear only during ritual – it’s hard to live in stately Broom Closet Manor with a daily wear pentacle around your neck, after all.  And if truth be told, back in my professing Christian days, I didn’t wear a cross all the time either.

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I dress in street clothes for ritual too; robes would certainly be questionable since I have no other plausible reason – SCA membership comes to mind, for example – to have them in my (clothing) closet.   And as a woman of a certain age with a gym membership that often is ignored, vanity would render me feeling much too conspicuous for skyclad to increase my connection to my deities.  I’d be wondering if they weren’t laughing at me instead!

For me, categories have also created a unique issue – this particular category is that of Crone, and why I still haven’t undergone a Croning ceremony yet.

Folks tend to think of Crones from two standpoints – experience level and biological – and in a lot of people’s minds these two are merged together since with age comes wisdom – at least one hopes it does!  But what happens when the Goddess calls the already post-menopausal woman?

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I’ve found that I get to explain this a lot when attending Pagan-friendly events for the simple reason that, since no one’s mistaking me for a 20 year old these days I get approached to be a participant in Croning rituals (as a member of the chorus of Crones, if you will), and the conversation on my end runs somewhat along these lines:  “No, I can’t participate in your ritual as one of the Crones since I’ve never undergone one myself.   Why yes, of course I’m old enough to have undergone a Croning ritual.  So why haven’t I done so yet?  Because to me the term implies a level of expertise that I’m not ready to claim quite yet.”

Even though I don’t recall seeing anywhere that doing this is a “requirement” I will probably undergo a Croning ritual sometime later this year when an opportunity arises, since my personal experience level is now more consistent with the title in my view.  And that will take care of that.

However, it’s an election year here in the US, I’m still an independent and I’m sure someone will want to pull my membership cards again…

Puttin’ on my big girl (magickal) panties

It would not have been my first choice…

But there are those times when dealing with other people where you find that they did not pay as close attention to the details as perhaps was called for, and an incorrect conclusion was made and someone became upset.  In likelihood we’ve  all been there at least once.  However, this was between two magickal people, myself being one of them…and let’s just say that certain threats were made towards me.

I’m a very peaceful person – and a peacemaker  – by nature and thus I don’t tend to draw controversy to myself so finding myself in this situation was a bit of a surprise.  I had basically two options:

1.  Apologize for something I didn’t do, or

2.  Get ready to defend myself as necessary.

Have I mentioned yet that I don’t offer insincere apologies?

Now, had I been left to my own devices, learning Dark Moon magick would not have been high on my list of skills to acquire.  It may sound a bit fluffy bunny-ish (it does to me, anyway) but at that point in time I would have been quite content to have kept my practice at the level of making oils and incenses, working with crystals to make talismans, sending healing energies out, etc.   I guess the Lord and Lady had different ideas in mind for me and of course we learn from the experiences presented to us.

You know how sometimes you’ll do something by intuition because you know you’re supposed to do it, even if you have no idea why you’re doing it at the time?  That was me with Dark Moon rituals…I had no particular reason to do them but when I began practicing I discovered there were a lot of rituals which could be done.  There are the Sabbats and the Esbats,  there are additional rituals for New Sun (often concurring with Full Moon these days)…and then there are Dark Moon rituals.  I enjoy ritual in and of itself, regardless of why, so I designed and performed my Dark Moon rituals every month – though at that time it really only served the purpose of introducing me to the feel of the different energies available during that time of the lunar cycle.

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Concurrent with the time of ‘the incident’ I started reading about Dark Moon and about types of defensive magick that lent themselves well to the energies received from the Dark Moon.   And, with great care, research and being quite careful to craft the workings to ensure harming none, I was able to achieve the protection I needed and the situation ultimately was resolved in an amicable manner, about which I am quite pleased.

However, in retrospect I believe there was a reason for all of this.  It was a decision point for me – would I use the tools and gifts I have received in defense of wrong?  Also, the experience served to strengthen my belief in my abilities – when what you are doing has little impact, it is easy to question ‘is the magick real?’

It is, you know.

Life as a semi-professional alchemist

Just took a quick look at the calendar and realized that the best-laid plans of mice and men (and me) to blog on-time and with regularity have, shall we say as Robert Burns did, gang aft agley. Well, still time to recover from this so here we go!

First, an update on me, your very own  Curious Cat:  Yes, I’m still a resident in good standing at stately Broom Closet Manor. I’ve made a few more Pagan friends and made a few surprising discoveries among existing friends (of the “oh, you too!!!” variety) but overall, things haven’t changed much. Have a lot more practical knowledge under my witch’s hat, and the interior decorating inside the closet is coming along nicely…even found some cool wallpaper that I’m considering for the sitting room.

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What do you all think of it?  Cthulhu would be pleased, I’m sure.

Back to alchemy – I have discovered that one of the practical applications of the Craft which I enjoy most is “making stuff” – charms, potions, incenses, oils, etc.   In essence, chemistry toward a metaphysical end.

This is probably as good a time as any to supply a definition of sorts so, borrowing a quote from those fine folks at Wikipedia:  Alchemy differs significantly from modern science in its inclusion of Hermetic principles and practices related to mythology, magic, religion, and spirituality. It is recognized as a protoscience that contributed to the development of modern chemistry and medicine.   Alchemists developed a structure of basic laboratory techniques, theory, terminology, and experimental method, some of which are still in use today.

Ah, our forefathers!  More on them shortly; don’t know about any of the rest of you, but this sounds suspiciously like spellcraft to me.

Considering a few things about my earlier life, my being drawn to these tools of the Craft in particular isn’t all that surprising – many girls of my age cohort asked for dolls for Christmas; I asked for scientific instruments and lab equipment.  Yes, perhaps I was an odd kid.  Oh well; what’s important to note here is that I asked for (and received) a chemistry set.  I made lots of stuff that created smoke, smells and some seriously impressive booms – my poor grandmother was often freaked out by what went on in my bedroom!

So of course I went on to minor in Chemistry in college and even joined the national professional fraternity for chemists.  However, even though I trained as a scientist, I ultimately did not join the workforce as one.    But those skills did not go completely fallow; I’ve always had an interest in natural/folk remedies and if I say so myself, I’m one hell of a cook!

And then one day came the call of the Goddess…

I like history, in the sense that I like to know how people lived their lives – not in the “in 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue” sense.  (And yes, he did sail the Atlantic in 1492 – he just wasn’t the first one to stumble upon the Americas.) And, as a pledge in the aforementioned fraternity, we had to memorize a lot of stuff – such as the entire periodic table of the elements (in order) and the history of the chemists who went before us…which ultimately took us back to the alchemists.  And I certainly learned about quite a number of them; in addition to being alchemists, some of them were very interesting characters in their own right and prone to getting into hot water with the local authorities. I imagine that some of them (like yours truly, your blogger) gained some degree of practical experience with doing their workings in plain sight from inside the broom closet.

In closing, one often hears debate on whether the Craft is a modern construct, germinated from the imagination of one Mr. Gerald Gardner.   I submit to you for your consideration the following items, records of from some of our Craft forefathers…:

Alchemy_of_Happiness

Image from The Alchemy of Happiness, a text on Islamic philosophy and spiritual alchemy by Al-Ghazālī (1058–1111).

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The Emerald Tablet, a key text of Western Alchemy, in a 17th-century edition

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Page from alchemic treatise of Ramon Llull, 16th century