Laura Perry Announces 2nd Edition of Ancient SpellCraft

Ancient Spellcraft
Does 16 years of experience make you better at casting spells? Author Laura Perry thinks so!
She has just released a newly revised and updated second edition of her popular book Ancient Spellcraft: From the Hymns of the Hittites to the Carvings of the Celts. The first edition was the first book she ever published, way back in 2001. Perry says she has learned a few things in the intervening years, and those tidbits make the second edition of Ancient Spellcraft even better than the first.
Cover of the book, Ancient Spellcraft, which has the title and author's name in red, and an old looking image of a woman in green and yellow robes in the center of the cover.
According to Perry, since 2001 we’ve discovered a good deal more about the ancient cultures the book focuses on: the Babylonians, Canaanites, Celts, Egyptians, Etruscans, Greeks, Hittites, Minoans, Phoenicians, and Sumerians. She has incorporated this new information into the book for your reading pleasure.
But more than that, Perry says she has learned a lot more about magic, from both successes and mistakes, in the years since the first edition of Ancient Spellcraft was released. So she has revised many of the spells and then tested them, or had trusted friends test them, to make sure they work well for you. The spells include the all-important subjects of protection, prosperity, romance, fertility, healing, and divination.

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Ancient Oak Scouts Donate Crayons

Ancient Oaks

This year, our family joined Ancient Oak Scouts, a new-ish Pagan youth program that started here in the Detroit area.  We’re our own little group – doing any youth group or scouting program with two children with multiple special needs is a challenge, so we’re keeping it small and simple so we can work at our own pace.

One of our first projects was a community service project – we collected crayons at the end of the school year from the kids’ teachers to donate to an organization called The Crayon Initiative – they take broken or otherwise used crayons, re-melt them into new crayons, and donate the new crayons to children’s hospitals around the United States.

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New Column: Ask a Pagan Parent

One question that seems to come up over and over again is, “How young is too young to teach my child my beliefs?”

My answer is always that there is no “too young.”

First, no one in any other religion asks this question. They may not teach everything; there may be mysteries reserved for adults or for specific rites of passage. But no other group of people avoids telling their children about religion starting from a very early age.

Keep in mind, this is not school we’re talking about here. This is telling stories, talking to the moon, hugging trees, playing with energy. It’s lighting candles and saying prayers. It’s absorbing all the things you’re already doing.

And lest you worry about “indoctrinating” them…it’s likely that your faith does not believe your deity is the one and only way to a happy life after death. Pagan faiths are generally pretty open about there being other gods and other ways of belief – and if your child finds one of those other options more fitting as they grow up, there’s nothing stopping them from following that path.

Hey, do you have a question about being a Pagan Parent that you’d like some input on? I’ve got answers – 20 years as a Pagan, and almost a decade as a parent. Post your question in a comment below and I’ll answer it on a future post!

How to Eat Well At Festivals Without Breaking the Bank

Ah, festival season. A time of making new friends, spending time with old friends, and hitting a few workshops for entertainment, enlightenment, and education on the side.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that my body is not always happy with the old standby of no sleep, with extra caffeine and sugar on the side during these sorts of events – eating well and sleeping have become important factors in getting the most out of events.

The trouble with this, of course, is that “eating well” in the hospitality suite of most indoor events is not likely to happen, and most outdoor events don’t even have a hospitality suite. And if you’re in a hotel, the hotel restaurant is always an option….but that gets expensive. So do food vendors at outdoor events.

So, what’s a Pagan who is looking to eat real food to do?

First, you have to plan ahead. Will your residence for the next few days have a refrigerator? Microwave? Electricity? How many meals will you need? (Does that include meals on the road, which are more likely to be fast food because you’re traveling?) How much space is in your luggage?

Let’s start with breakfast. We’ve successfully taken frozen breakfast sandwiches in a cooler, and let them thaw over the course of a couple of days, which is great if you have a microwave. For those times without a microwave, I usually stick with muffins or oatmeal – coffee pots can make water hot enough for instant oats, and campfires boil water pretty quickly as well.  On more ambitious outdoor weeks, we often do eggs and biscuits (using a “Bakepacker” or similar steam cooking device).

Much of my daily lunch and dinner suggestions for these sorts of things are based on dried foods and lightweight backpacking experiences, because the last thing you want to do is spend hours cooking when you could be having fun. Besides, not only do dried foods store well and cook quickly with just boiling water, but they’re a good thing to have on hand in emergencies where you can’t get to the store.

 

A package of
The ubiquitous Mountain House freeze dried meal – usually edible, but high on sodium

While there are commercially available freeze dried meals, and the ubiquitous military surplus MRE, you’ll likely eat better making your own meals – and at a better cost too.  Interestingly, the Mormons and their penchant for keeping a year’s worth of food on hand are a great source for this sort of thing, including portioning them out into canning jars for use over the next few months. Backpacking websites are good for this sort of thing too, usually planning single-serve meals (which is not a bad thing – have a whole box of them, and let people grab their own, on their own time!)

Package of Thrive Life's Snackies - freeze dried peach slices
“Snackies” from Thrive Life are snackable dried foods, but Thrive Life has a ton of different foods, and make good pantry supplies that make a good dinner any night, even if you’re not on the road

We have a list at home, from the days when my children were often in the hospital. When someone would ask what they could do, we’d send them grocery shopping for a specific list of sandwich fixings and healthy (portable) snacks – and we’d eat that way for days in the hospital. If you’re careful not to squish your bread, you can do this for festivals too.  Pick 1-2 condiments, 1-2 lunch meats, 1-2 cheeses, and bread. Apples, oranges, and grapes don’t need a lot of handling. Pre-washed salads, single serve snacks, and cans or bottles of beverages may need a fridge or cooler, but don’t require fancy prep work.

And, as always, remember to consider bringing plates, silverware, and glasses that you’re going to wash, rather than disposables, because it’s generally better for the environment!

Why We Should Support Our Own Resources and Community

Have you heard the dust-up at Patheos, over whether or not writers should write for (and be paid a bit by) the  evangelical company that now owns Patheos?

Or what about last year’s mass closing of Etsy shops that deal in the metaphysical, because you can’t prove any of it works?

Have you ever read about someone being turned away from a food pantry because they belong to the wrong church, or being told they can only be served by a soup kitchen if they listen to a sermon by the church running it?

If you haven’t realized it by now, all of these things go hand in hand. When we are dependent on the wider community, we end up playing by their rules.

generic Main Street image

If we were better at supporting our own community resources, we wouldn’t be so bound by the rules of others.

In business, while there are benefits to using a site like Etsy or Amazon and the traffic they drive….those customers are their customers, not ours. They have the power in the relationship, and we sell our goods at their pleasure. When someone realizes that we’re not really their cup of tea, or when an anti-Pagan group gets the ear of someone in management, we can lose all the following we’ve built, with no recourse and no warning.

The same holds true for writing. Why are Pagan books hard to find in mainstream book stores? Because the community that finds our existence distasteful is a bigger part of their income, and keeping our books off their shelves is better for business.  Better to publish ourselves, or through Pagan owned publishers, and to sell through our own sites, or through Pagan stores and websites, who will actually carry a wider range of Pagan options.

And, by the way, when we’re buying from those places, we’re supporting our own community. While I am not a fan of the “poor Pagan” stereotype….even poor communities (especially poor communities) benefit when their money is spent in their community, supporting others who support them, rather than being spent in the wider community, where it’s harder for that money to come back to us.  Money is just another form of energy, and energy goes where we direct it, so let’s direct wisely.

red, yellow, green, and blue arrows making a circle

When we take care of our own community, we have more resources to do more interesting things – more festivals, more temples, more food pantries and help for those in need, more jobs for those in our community, which allows them to also route money back into our communities.  This is how communities grow, and how businesses within communities survive and thrive.

On Mass Shootings and Massacres

Earlier this year, when the Pulse nightclub was attacked, people were going on about how it was the largest mass shooting…and others were going, “no, Wounded Knee was!”

For those not in the loop, the Wounded Knee they’re talking about is the little incident on December 29, 1890, in South Dakota.  Another incident occurred in 1973, when a store near the site of the first incident was taken over and occupied by members of AIM, who were then besieged by the US government.

To be fair, they’re sort of right. In the Pulse nightclub shooting, 49 were killed and 53 injured. At least 150 natives  (possibly as many as 300) were killed at Wounded Knee, with 51 wounded (some of whom later died of their injuries). The survivors were taken to a nearby church, which acted as hospital (and then morgue), still decked out in Christmas decorations.

But, here’s the thing you have to understand: according to the US government, Wounded Knee was not a mass shooting, and not a terror attack, and not a massacre. It was a battle in an ongoing war with the indigenous peoples of this continent – a battle in a war meant to take land that had already been “granted” to those tribes by treaty (as if they needed the US government to say, yeah, you’ve lived here generations, but this land isn’t yours, it’s ours, but hey, we’re nice guys, we’ll let you stay if you give up your livelihoods and your religion and your entire way of life).

It was a battle where 20 people received the Medal of Honor.

Using someone else’s data (http://www.homeofheroes.com/…/histo…/history_statistics.html) it would appear that as of 2014, there had been 3510 MoH awarded in US history. There were 426 given during the Indian Wars….and only 472 given during WWII. 27 of those were given for actions at Iwo Jima, making Wounded knee the second largest number of MoH given for a single action.

You’d think, then, that there was some honor in this battle, some level of heroics.

Women and children were chased across the countryside and shot. Children were lured out of hiding, told they’d be safe, and then shot when they came out. Women and children trying to reach white flags of surrender were shot. Guns were fired indiscriminately, killing horses, dogs, and anything else that moved – in fact, the suspicion is that most of the US soldiers who died were shot by friendly fire, because most of the guns had already been confiscated from the camp.

Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia. org
Big Foot’s camp three weeks after Wounded Knee Massacre; with bodies of four Lakota Sioux wrapped in blankets in the foreground; U.S. soldiers amid scattered debris of camp

That doesn’t sound honorable to me.

Their bodies were left to freeze – a blizzard hit (which is a pretty common thing in the Dakotas this time of year) and when civilians went to bury the bodies 3 days later (because the army decided they weren’t doing it), they found bodies frozen in the shapes they fell in, and babies still alive, having been protected from the elements by their mothers’ dead bodies. The bodies that were found were buried in a mass grave, bodies stacked however they could be, seeing as how they were frozen solid. That grave is on the same hill that Hotchkiss guns fired on them from.

The colonel in charge of the troops was relieved of command at that time, but exonerated during an inquiry and returned to duty.

So there you go. That’s not a terrorist act or a mass shooting. It’s an *honorable* battle, fought by good soldiers who were just following orders.

“Just following orders” is always the excuse, isn’t it?

Quiet Genocide

Reading through Facebook memories from a year or two ago, I noticed that a friend had said something along the lines of, “Native Americans aren’t currently subject to genocide.”

I couldn’t put a good response together then, but I think I can now. It starts with me calling BULLSHIT.

Note that most links here are about South Dakota reservations, and Pine Ridge in particular, because that’s the reservation my family is from and so it’s the situation I’m most familiar with….but these problems are problems across the board for Native Americans and reservations.

Raphael Lemkin, who coined the word genocide, wrote in his book, “Axis Rule in Occupied Europe,” as follows:

Generally speaking, genocide does not necessarily mean the immediate destruction of a nation, except when accomplished by mass killings of all members of a nation. It is intended rather to signify a coordinated plan of different actions aiming at the destruction of essential foundations of the life of national groups, with the aim of annihilating the groups themselves. The objectives of such a plan would be the disintegration of the political and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity, and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups. (thanks Wikipedia)

My tribe? Yeah…the government wanted them to be farmers, and then gave them land so bad, that I can remember years that my grandparents (who were ranchers until a few years before my grandfather died; my grandmother still rents out her pastures to other ranchers for their livestock) sold the cows, and the horses for wrangling them, because they couldn’t grow enough alfalfa to feed them through the winter. Thousands of acres of ground, and not enough grass for cows, but we’re supposed to farm? Even in a good year…the “rule of thumb” I learned growing up in Missouri was 1.5-2 acres of land per animal would feed them for a year, but the basis for most leased ranch land at Pine Ridge assumes you need at least 10 acres per animal.

The health care system promised by treaty is a disaster. Many reservations in the Dakotas had hospitals shut down in the last year because they weren’t safe. Everyone I know who uses the system can tell you of people who’ve been misdiagnosed in ways that have hurt their long term health. And health care is an issue because poverty and living in a food desert makes chronic illness a big problem.

There are reservations without clean water…..there are homes without running water. Poverty is the norm on most reservations (and where it’s not, it’s largely because of the loopholes that allow gaming on federal land against state regulations).

Various systems over the years have taken Native children from their families – boarding schools destroyed language and culture, and “neglect” (i.e., being poor) calls mean that most of the kids in SD foster care are Native, even though we’re a very small percentage of the state population.

There have been “secret” programs to sterilize Native women.

Poverty and a lack of hope for improvement make suicide a problem. And alcoholism. And domestic violence.

But no….that’s not genocide. Not in the “just kill them all” sense of the word. It’s the sneaky wasichu sense of the word….

In Line When the Polls Opened

This morning I was up early. Our schedule on Tuesdays is complicated, and more complicated today by a doctor’s appointment for one of my children, an hour and a half from home.  So….I went and got in line before the polls opened, and my husband took one child to school and the other to therapy, planning to switch with me when I got done, so I could handle the doctor appointment.

I guessed I was about 50 people back in line (I turned out to be voter 43), and I was a little stunned to see police standing by….but it turned out that they were voting too.

Our election team was trying to be efficient, but the system they’re using isn’t that efficient….and when the man in front of me ended up with 2 ballots stuck together, the whole line shut down while they re-checked the numbers on the ballots of everyone then voting. Once they’d figured out the problem, we went on with little issue.

Our city is pretty diverse, but that diversity is not reflected in the poll workers (most are over 60, and overwhelmingly white), nor was it reflected in the hundreds of people in line when I was there – 3 precincts vote at our community center, so it wasn’t just our line I was looking at.  I suspect that is, in large part, because many of the diverse families that live near us are here on work visas or green cards, not as citizens…and that makes me wonder how their interests are really represented.

Mostly, it was a quiet, orderly voting day here in the suburbs. Busier than most (I’ve walked in after work and been voter #182, with no line), but calm even when systems shut down or errors needed to be fixed.

Michigan Pagan Businesses Come Together

Earlier this year, discussion started among several Detroit area business owners on how they might work together more effectively. There are a number of vending events through the year in the area, and a number of shops, but most of us interact with each other only rarely, usually when we’re sitting next to each other at an event.

Someone suggested that we needed a Chamber of Commerce to help boost businesses. Chambers of Commerce are known for providing networking, offering discounts, helping businesses be better at doing business, and working to eliminate regulatory hurdles that may affect their constituents.

What was interesting about that idea was that more than a decade ago, I tried to start a similar organization using the then-popular yahoo groups – but the idea of working together and spending money to market our businesses was so new that it never made much progress.

Now it seemed, though, that the time might be right to try again – more of us are more open about our spirituality, and more interested in figuring out how to work together.

While most Chambers of Commerce focus on a specific area or a specific group, they are open to any business that wants to reach that clientele. And with such a diverse population of businesses and events here in Michigan, it seemed the ideal place to start.

The Chamber’s new website is at https://michiganpaganchamber.wordpress.com/ and the Chamber is open for business – there are still a few items to put into place (social media accounts and non-profit paperwork, for starters), but together we can build a stronger community and stronger businesses.

Breaking News: Dakota Access Pipeline

It appears that armed officers in riot gear are arresting demonstrators in North Dakota at a DAPL build site. 

There are also reports of checkpoints on roads in the area, where Natives are being stopped and whites let through without question.

Unicorn Riot, a media collective who has members on site, reports that their Livestreams on Facebook are being censored. 

We will post more updates as they are available.