Living ghosts, the unconscionable art of irresponsibility

You are having a great time at the festival and are catching a bite at a lovely restaurant that serves the best angel hair pasta with herbs in the city. You share the wine and weave flowers into each others hair. Energy passes between you, and the magic moves throughout the room. Your eyes reflect the wonder and spark that comes the beginning of a new relationship sparking up into those first wisps of foundation as you gaze at your partner. You go to the restroom and return to your table.

Photo credit: Pexels

But you have made a mistake, somehow. You have found your way to the wrong table. You know this, as your date is no longer there. Clearly, this is the wrong space.

Your plate and half consumed cider give a different testimony. Right there, to the left, you can still see your napkin as you left it. The semi circles you traced in the salt by your butter bear your marks plain as day. The feeling that is pouring over you feels like cold pearls of sand in your aura.

You have just experienced ghosting.

Your face feels hot, and you feel that shocky temperature shift that accompanies cognitive dissonance. Every eye seems to be on you right now, though you know that cannot be true. You return to your seat, and look around, hoping it is a mistake.

The server comes over and has a sympathetic look on their face, yet tactfully does not address your situation. They leave to secure your bill for the evening. You search your wallet and hope you have enough left on you to cover the bill. Thankfully, you do. But it will hurt your budget.  What was supposed to be a split treat becomes a burden that spells ramen for lunch for the next week.

Awkwardness ensues. You feel uncomfortable in your skin, and all your motions to finish your meal and leave the tip feels forced and theatrical. Stiltedly, you walk out of the place with a plastic smile. The pantomime of normalcy completed, you return to your home and try to make sense of what makes no sense.

Feelings of self-doubt consume you for the next few days. You try to contact them via social media, only to find yourself blocked. The number rings thru to their phone, but no connection ever happens. Messages are unanswered, and at last you surrender. No longer entertaining the hope of some miraculous explanation that would make it all reasonable, you move on with your life….a little more wary, a little more jaded.

This is what ghosting does. This is how toying with someone’s emotions may play out in their lives. There are as many scenarios as there are people, of course. But the essence is the same. A person has refused their responsibility as a mature adult to end an association in a healthy and clear way.

Regardless of the ghoster’s intent, ghosting is a passive-aggressive interpersonal tactic that can leave psychological bruises and scars. –Jennice Vilhauer Ph.D.

This practice is not only childish, it denotes a lack of courage. It takes a measure of cowardly self centered world view to do this to another person. Unfortunately, it is on the rise and climbing to social acceptability … and it is ultimately an act of emotional violence.

This must stop. Unkindness is not what we need more of in our society. We must do better.

No one deserves to be treated this way. It is unhealthy and damaging. As thinking feeling emanations of spirit, we can do better.

Another tragedy, a new set of stripes

Again, the Neo Pagan American experience feels the shock of tragic revelations regarding sexual abuse and depravity. The suffering and victimization of Moira Greyland comes forward to the national conversations once more. Years ago, we read part of this horror show in an article in The Wild Hunt. The fact that it is a chilling look into the ways that entire empires of Personality Cults can protect perpetrators of heinous criminality never ceases to astonish this writer.

The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon by [Greyland, Moira]
The predatory nature of the narcissist, put into spiritual positions of authority, becomes writ large in our communities. The fact that our communities are fringe to the overculture only amplifies our inability and unwillingness to discuss the wolves in our midst as a body. In our race to escape the trappings of a society that seeks to oppress that which is different, we seem to lose our sense of accountability to our chosen “villages”. We throw the word leadership around ourselves like priestly mantles, yet often do none of the housekeeping inherent in the roles of stewardship.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

As Ms. Greyland bleeds out for us across the pages of “The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon”, those of us in leadership would do well to look down at the tips of our shoes. We may find the blood of our own peoples have soiled our soles, as we stepped through their silenced pains and anguish in our rush to the next festival, the next gathering, the next…whatever we find interesting and aggrandizing at the moment.

Years of abuse by one human child. Contemplate this. Years of emotional and physical destruction and violence on a person, yet not one person in our communities saw this and made a call? We keep hearing these stories, stories of familial and proximity based crimes. And yet, no universal codes or guidelines have come forth? Surely, it is time to come together and make this happen.

I will not speak to the publisher of her book’s problematic associations because that is two shades away from sideways victim slashing. A lot of that is happening right now in the high school hallway environment of social media. Talking heads, yes we have them even in the Pagan worlds, are already undermining the survivor by slamming her choice of publisher. Yet the question is, what Pagan publishing house would have printed it?

We must do better, family. We must do better, even my enemies. We must do better, those who I do not know. I claim no false kinship in this cause, but claim common humanity.

Listen, act, and redeem.

No place for stones – an editorial for the American Witch in 2017

The world of the American Witch citizen is in a state of informed chaos in these times. So much is going on at once that one only need pick up local, or national, news sources for it.  The ragged screams of disorder and imbalance blaze our ears and eyes.  The divisions that pollute the psyche of the peoples threaten the flow and weave of our tribes and kinships.

The topics of political and social hot buttons make conversations a dance for only the bravest. We talk at each other, not with each other, in gatherings. Conversation has become Opportunistic Conversion as each faction seeks to overtalk and overwhelm the others.

Credit: Josie Stephens |Pexels

When did the children of the Divine become pundits and judgemental avatars for the social elite and the ambulance chasing social justice cloaked con persons. The people are marred by the shadows of those who feed upon the hatred and dissonance. Entire careers are made and broken in the Pagan worlds based on vampiric exploitation of the suffering of others.

Witches are an independent bunch. This is not the place where I will address the nuances of Wiccans and Witches. I speak to all who take up that backpack. Thus, it is most shocking to see them cluster together to speed toward the same sort of divisive lemming like behavior that seeks to silence the dissidents among us.

When did craft become about profiteering and politics? When did spiritual service fester into a blot on the landscape, seen as a means to gaining cult of personality style control of others … the kind of control that leads to sickness and wickedness. When did the rites of the priest and priestess, the covener and the neophyte, get tainted with personal agendas?

I have no answers to the crises that face our citizens as a nation. I speak out, and urge all to do so as well. I expect, no, desire and wish, that people work their paths and live their lives in honor and truthfulness. But this, only this, is all. The need to control and thought patrol other witches, people, humanity in general, from the altar is a thing I will not do.

In this time, when religion and power are wielded from common hands that interweave so much, this is the time to hold the sacred to be untouchable. This is the time to take civil actions as we must, but the Mysteries are sacrosanct and must remain so.

So, in good will, please leave the stones at the edge of the circles you enter. Use them not to build walls between you. Use them not to stone your foes. But use them to build cisterns of love from which the world may draw what it needs to build a better place for all of us.

Just my two cents.

Othal is the New Black

Over the years I have had both the pleasure and amusement of watching symbols from many paths become mainstream, even fashion accessories and when followed with knowledge it’s a good thing. In a society filled with cultural appropriation this is nothing new for Pagans and Heathens. While it sometimes can prove to be just more of the same old, it’s a gradual sign of society becoming more tolerant despite outward appearances. I would love to see these trends come with information, but baby steps.

I have to constantly remind myself that our Nation is, comparatively speaking, very young. It still has some growing and maturing to do and that process is always accompanied by growing pains. Somewhere between the trendy New Age flavors in fashion today, someone got it very wrong. I, like millions of others in our country, was absolutely horrified to see symbols I hold very dear to my heart being waved as a symbol of hate and dissension. As Neo-Nazis and other like-minded groups marched through Charlottesville I couldn’t help but have a cold dread pour into my blood. A chill of foreboding perhaps, or just the utter horror of the situation on my screen and what this could mean for our family. Our baby steps sometimes cause us to stumble, fall, and get stuck in a bad, dirty place.

One of the more prominent symbols was the Elder Futhark Rune, Othal (Othala), a rune generally referring to lineage, ancestry, or something being inherited. The rune itself is a beautiful symbol of pride in one’s family, but it is also pride in the ties between our ancestors and the very land we walk on.

Othal (Othel, Othala) belong to the Aett of Tyr and is one of the runes found in the Elder Futhark, but not in the Younger Futhark. Its appearance also connects with another symbol used very often by another religious group, the Icthys. Both symbols resemble the fish and both reflect abundance but that is generally where the connections end.

Othal is derived from an Old Norse word odal connecting it to family and specifically genetic family with the natural connections between people of the same tribe. It may be first applied to ancestry or lineage and secondly to the land of the tribe. Germanic tribes and Anglo-Saxon tribes had two very different perspectives of tribal laws regarding land. In Celtic and similar tribe perspective tribes owned the land collectively and shared responsibility for the land. In Germanic perspective the individual owned the land and was singularly responsible for the upkeep and prosperity of the land. The Goths also adapted this symbol as a symbol of sovereignty connecting to divinity, specifically divine sovereignty.

Othal is a connection to each other, to the land, to our ancestry. It is the rune of abundance and of honoring our ancestors and lineage. It is not a rune of hatred and dissension. Even merkstave (if you choose to use reversals), the rune can be read as a lack of generosity, empathy, or appreciation for the land or family. It rather denotes a Scrooge character in which selfishness, greed, and lack of understanding eventually results in loneliness and loss of humanity.

In this perspective, Othal is exactly what needs to be invoked right now. Our society, our world, could use a little more nature, a little more kinship, and a lot connection to the land. Perhaps this was just the sneakiness of Loki tricking people into searching for exactly what they need hidden and disguised as chaos. Of all the symbols to become trendy, Othal is one of the best and brightest to use on the world’s runway.

It is time to Stand Against Hate!

Anyone that knows me will not expect many comments from me on political or social issues.  It isn’t that I do not care or that I do not keep up with what is going on.  I am just usually busy marketing community projects and my own business and keep my political views to myself.  This week I do not feel that I have the option to keep going with business as usual.  This week has shown us something more horrible than anything I could ever imagine happening in the United States.   This week something has happened that requires every American, every Human to stand up and say “NO!” to.

Last weekend, people calling themselves the Alt-Right, White Nationalists, Ku Klux Klan, White Supremacists, Aryan Nation, etc. gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia under the guise of protesting the removal of a Confederate statue with their hate-filled chants, violence and horror.  One of those people decided to drive their car into a crowd of people with the intention of hurting as many as possible.  One young woman was killed and many more were injured.

You would think that would be the worst of it.  You would think that all our leaders would put aside  their differences and come together to assure the country that this is not acceptable.  Our leaders would stand together and assure us that the evil that showed up that day was not welcome here and all that is possible would be done to protect the country from this evil.  Assure the world that this is not representative of what is in America at its heart.   For the most part, that did happen.  Until we got to the President of the United States.

Our President, the leader of the free world, the Commander in Chief of the United States Armed Forces, stood in front of the cameras and told us that there was violence on both sides.  He told us that the counter-protesters brought clubs to the protest and implied that “they started it”.  He even went so far as to say that there were some “very fine” people on both sides.  ………..  Let that sink in for a moment.  Very fine people marching under swastikas and confederate flags.  Very fine people carrying torches and chanting hateful rhetoric.  Very fine?????!!

So here I am.  What can one person do? Many would say nothing.  I’ve been told by some that there isn’t anything you can do about it so just ignore it.  I just can’t.  Not this.

So here I am standing up and saying “NO!  THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!”

America was founded by immigrants.  America went through a long and bloody history to learn that equality has no color.

Perhaps the good people of America have become complacent.  Perhaps we have looked the other way too often when confronted with the ugliness of racism and hate.  We cannot do that anymore.

Stand Against Hate!  Do so in your own way but step outside the comfort zone and stand up.  I pledge to Stand Against Hate when I see it.  I pledge to show everyone that I will not participate or ignore hateful rhetoric.   Do not allow the hate to become comfortable.  Do not fight hate with hate.  But do not allow people to get away with posting or saying or doing hateful racist things.  Force them back into the shadows.

Click here to add Stand Against Hate to your profile picture on Twitter or Facebook.

There are many other ways to stand up against hate.  Consider donating to organizations that protect our liberties such as ACLU or organizations that work to identify hate groups such as Southern Poverty Law Center.  If you cannot afford to donate show your support on your social media.  Speak out when you see hate.  Contact your representatives in government and make it clear that you will only vote for people that stand firmly against hate.  Tell them you will not vote for people that do not call out those in power that support hate.

For quick reference here is a link to the directory of the House of Representatives with their phone numbers.   https://www.house.gov/representatives/

Here is a link to the directory of the Senate with phone numbers.  https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/

Burgers and bigotry

This morning, as I was contemplating how to best core and store my apples for the freezer, I scrolled through my social media and was appalled. My cousin-in-law posted that she and her sisters were assaulted at McDonald’s last evening in the parking lot by racist neighbors. As is perfunctory with this ilk, they made sure to call them the pernicious word “N*****r”. One of the young women was only 17, an early age to begin to taste the sourness of life.

My family, on both sides, contain numerous living proofs of the power of love existing across color and creeds. The shades are as varied in any meadow garden planted by Gaia. So when I hear some reprehensible nugget of soiled humanity has taken to inciting his fellows into attacking anyone, especially family, I get heated.

I seem to stay heated, lately. It must be something in the weather that is agitating me, such as the putrid smell of hatred mixed with tiki torch oil. The kind carried by small people with large egos and strident voices. That smell is the kef that rises like steam from the killing fields during strangulation of spiritual truth. The hounds of chaos are calling.

 

Image: Kevin-Finneran public domain

But underneath, the call of Spirit calls louder.

 

If you deflesh humans, there is a distinct layer of red reality underneath. That red is blood. Blood is life. That blood is connected to the life forces that run through every living thing. It does not change when it is placed in a vessel with brown skin. It does not change when it courses through veins in alabaster skin. It does not alchemize to something else when it resides in yellow, tan, red, or ebony skin. Because it is deep within the living host.

Humanity is a living host of spirit and life. We must look deeper to get beyond the wrappers in which we live. Culture and classism, race, religion, or any other division is only an accident of placement … genetic or regional. As a society, this charnal pit of conflict is the last gasp of an unevolved era of backward reactionary fear based wickedness.

All the altars in the world cannot light the flames of righteousness in one person’s heart if they are not lit in compassion and with the hand of those who will not be cowed. For every screaming chant of the wicked, an equal chord of good and power must counter and overpower it. We are the hidden children in plain sight, you and I. Those who keep the vigils, the chants, the sacred secret ways and places that do not change with the cults of men. It is time to be hidden no longer.

The Divine is calling its firebrands. The human soul burns brighter than any torch of human making. Let us heed the call to witness the truth.

Strange times and the riots’ new legacy of musical magic in Detroit

The magick is changing in Detroit. Some of it is good, and some of it is not very good at all.  The music of the times is changing and the melodies of protest new generations of practitioners making it are emerging in an era that sees the division of the different spiritual groups self segregating again. Their music may change some of that. The anniversary of the riots has only served to add body to the growing school of thought that the tone of the spiritual landscape is cycling back to a possibly dark place.

The tensions and divisions continue into every aspect of life, and the magickal landscape of practitioners is not different in many ways. The 8 Mile boundary, made famous by Eminem’s movie, is still a very real phenomenon. The reality of “White Flight” affected the families of many.

Pagans active  here today are mostly in outlying areas. The fellowships of the “Pagan” communities in Metro Detroit are often dotted around the city like random sprinkles on a donut. The poverty left in the wake of the rebellion, the loss of businesses and the homes of spiritual workers, a school system struggling (today, due to the constant redirection of funds by the powers that lobby for development instead of education), the vile myth of the unemployable nature of the population of minorities who are stake-holders in the community, all mixed together to create the playing field of a city that saw a rebellion five decades ago.

Those circumstances are repeating themselves today.

But so are the good things. The sound of music and melody made paths out of obscurity and manifested the dreams of hardworking groups from Motown and other independent companies. Artisans, barbers, beauticians, tailors, seamstresses, and other industries that supported our musicians rode this wave. The big factory workers let their hair down and lit their candles to the songs that told of life how it could be, despite constant harassment. Candle shops and readers in Eastern Market, off Grand Blvd, and on the West Side of McNichol’s served all races and creeds and the music tied them all together in the auric energy of the bardic craft.

Image: Kenya Coviak, all rights reserved

But even the music of a generation could not stop reality from being right outside that door. Segregated places still existed. The legacy of Dr. Sweet, even now, is still in the minds of Detroit’s children. The families that were engaged in that battle never left the city, and their children’s children lived to see the rebellion as a city was on fire while the music played.

Many stayed, but many more left.

A great migration from the city took with it the young. It took away the chances for them to learn the names of the stores and the streets where spells were spoken and offerings left. Many never bought their first dream/number policy book, but had seen them in their parent’s dresser drawer. Some even may have seen some Anna Riva books, but not understood why those books were not on the shelves at the corporate bookstores …. and why that was the case. An entire cultural oral history stolen from a new generation due to systematic racism, class warfare, and the resulting explosive reaction left a disconnect from the historicity of the magick in the Motor City.

Every section of the city has some aspect of magickal community. No area is untouched and unaffected by the ripping apart of neighborhoods, societies, and businesses that lie embedded in the dust beneath the Trees of Paradise that mark their resting places on the landscape. Known as the City of Churches, Detroit also is known as a City of the Unseen, both in powers and peoples. The first spellcraft so many of us learned was how to sing a song to spark a spell. Those songs are part of who we are and they were passed along in oral tradition.

Right now, the biggest ambassador of popular media regarding the culture of mixed magicks here that is of the common person and not a BNP (Big Name Pagan) is our music. Again. Because music can reach beyond the visions of flesh that divide us by skin color. So we have again found the magick in the music.  From 7 Mile Road, we have anthems for our street practitioners of a new generation from the mic of BIG HOODOO,  an artist signed with iconic ICP’s Psychopathic Records.

WARNING EXPLICIT LYRICS

The spiritual spectrums are myriad. We have a new generation of artist magickians who are looking for ways to express themselves that can reach beyond the street names and the color lines. Day Oshee Maatin is one younger magickian who has ventured past the enclaves. She visited ConVocation, performed at the Ancient Faiths Alliance Harvest Festival, and will grace the stage at the Detroit Conjure and Folk Magic Festival. She saw a long time ago that these divisions are beneficial to no one.

WARNING EXPLICIT LYRICS

In the music, there is hope that a new generation will come forward to heal the divides in the groups. In the New Detroit, there is just enough of the GENUINE OLD DETROIT that can be resurrected for its magickal communities to once again transcend the burdens and biases that divide us. But to the new generation of gentrifiers, I have one thing to caution you about as you strive to change the city into your new BOHO.

Detroit is not Brooklyn. Detroit is not New York. Detroit is not Harlem.

Detroit is Detroit.

If you don’t learn that soon, you may need to deal with a certain Red Dwarf that will teach you the hard way. Your Blues are not like ours, and we have a lot more songs to sing that are not. Do not seek to bring back those bad times of division in magick and society here, the land has a memory. The spirits here have memories. And sometimes, they smell like saltpeter and sulfur.

 

 

 

Pop Culture Paganism: Part 1 Loona’s Story

There seems to be a theme of people who have issues with the idea and the concepts of Pop Culture Paganism.  Many of these people have issues claiming that it makes pagans look bad, is full of fakes, and playgans.  Often those who cry out against pop culture paganism claim that those who would use Pop culture symbols in their worship and practice are lazy, have a lack of knowledge of the ancient traditions, and they often claim that there is an inability to tell the difference between fiction and reality.

For people like me this is often highly insulting.  Many of us are educated in our paths and practices.  We simply like to use the modern images from pop culture to connect to the Gods and spirits of our path.  These modern images are powerful tools for reaching the various spiritual forces out there.  These modern images can be useful in relating to beings that many people may never have heard of without the use of pop culture.

I do not identify as a Pop culture pagan.  However I have used popular culture in my path and my practice.  I see the dangers and I see the benefits of working with Pop Culture images.  This is the first in a series of posts talking about the subject.  I figured before I got into the meat of the issues around pop culture paganism it would be a good idea to start with my own experience with the use of Pop culture symbolism.

I started my path with Pop culture Paganism. It was a combination of the Disney Hercules series and Sailor Moon combined with reading the Greek and Roman Myths and books on Wicca. Now keep in mind that I was about 9-10 when this started but I still feel that this is an important thing to share.

As a child and teen these images resonated with me and helped me relate to an connect to the various Gods and spirits in the world. These images to me were gateways to the power within the Gods. Before starting what i thought was Wicca I often spoke to the Muses of Greek Myth. Originally I thought of them as angels to God, but that changed when I read the myths and realized that people believed them to be Gods originally. (I saw the movie Hercules first, then I saw the cartoon Hercules series and then the live action Xena and Hercules series). Still those images provided me a tool to connect to the power of the Gods.

I didn;’t quite understand Polytheism at the time. So for me they were “Gods” but under the main God who was the father of Jesus. You could say I was exploring my understandings within the religious framework I had been exposed to. Still to talk to an communicate with those Gods I was drawing on the image found within the Disney Movie Hercules and the Hercules Cartoon series I watched every Saturday Morning. When I spoke to Zeus or Hera or even Hades I used the images of those Gods from the source I most recognized.

When I started to explore Wicca and Paganism I understood they were not servants of one Larger God but were Gods in their own right. So I dropped the frame of Christianity and continued to speak to those Gods and work with them. I still used the images from Disney. I was now 14 and questioning religion and spirituality.

At the same time I was starting to watch the anime Sailor Moon. As the story progressed and I looked at the Sailor Senshi I saw the properties of the Roman Gods within the Senshi and I was able to find a way to focus and connect with a Moon Goddess. I knew that the image wasn’t the Goddess but it was a tool to help me focus and connect.

I used the images of Queen Serenity from Sailor Moon to connect to the moon Goddess Selene. I knew that the image I was using to connect to Selene wasn’t actually Selene, but it helped me connect to and focus on that divine presence. I had no other image or idea to connect with, so the image of Queen Serenity helped me relate to her.

17 years later and I still can find images in pop culture useful in connecting to Gods and spirits.Today when I call on Thor I occasionally use the image from the Marvel movies to connect to that energy. Again I know it is not Thor but it helps me focus and reach the actual Thor. The same goes for Loki and Odin. I use my knowledge of the lore to connect to the Gods I am trying to connect to. The image I use just happens to come from Modern Popular culture. I still use Norse Rituals to honor those Gods. I simply have a modern image of the Gods I use to connect with.

Today when working with the Moon Goddess Diana I still occasionally use the image of Queen Serenity. Most often I use that as the gateway to get to the other images I have of a Moon Goddess. These images are tools to help connect to the divine forces and nothing more or less.  They are just like the tools used in various spells or rituals.  They are props to help get into the right mind frame and connect with the energy you are working with.

In essence there is nothing wrong with using the images from popular culture in your work. If they help you connect with spirit and the universe than they are a tool for you. The danger comes when you start to claim that these pop culture figures and images are the same as the ancient Gods. Anyone who truly respects Gods as individuals would never say that. They would however more than likely admit that the images can be powerful tool to connect to the Gods they represent.

Odyne and Apollo: A Parable

I’d like to preface this piece with a little background and a warning. I am a worshipper of neither of these deities. I was asked by a friend to write a story about the gods and it was these two who came through. The parable below may trigger some because it contains unwilling restraint as well as torture. (I’ll not call it ‘light torture’ because that’s an oxymoron.)  

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

As I sit here, kneeling at the altar of my gods, I am doing my best to keep my composure.  I have been waiting, literally, for hours and they haven’t shown up.  Trying to focus on my meditation and chants, my mind wanders to ‘what if they have abandoned me?’ and ‘what if they are simply hallucinations I have to make myself feel better?’  My thoughts wander to wilder places and farther reaches as time stretches on.  As I have yet to tame them completely, my emotions begin to run through the spectrum.  I can’t seem to get myself focused.  My resignation turns to pity and then pity to anger.

I take a deep breath and close my eyes.  This is ridiculous. I keep shifting and trying to get comfortable.  Everything below my waist is numb.  Taking another deep breath, I shift again.  I’m getting angry.  Really.  Angry.

“Interesting,” says a male voice, “that you would assume that summoning us meant that we would drop everything and come running.  We are, after all, gods.”

I’m startled from my anger to see none other than Apollo.  Dumbly I say, “But I didn’t call you tonight.”

He laughs.  “No, but you got me,” he replies.  “You mortals are like small, spoiled children.”

I am taken aback at his words.  “Why are you here?  We aren’t like small children!”

The young Olympian laughs at me, again.  Our conversation is then interrupted by the appearance of the goddess.  Apollo smiles and bows to the Lady.  I am confused.  She is not who I called, either.  Before I can say anything, she says, “No, you didn’t call upon me with your words.  You called upon me with your anger and pain.”

I stammer, still very confused.  “I…”

“Stop,” she commands.  “The time for speaking is well past.  Now, it is time for you to listen.  You beg the gods for this and you rail at us when things do not go your way.  You expect we are here for simply your pleasure, yet we are not.  We have been here since before your kind stood up straight and we will be here to pick up the pieces when your kind is gone.  Your anger feeds some of us, just like your joy feeds others.  You openly desire that which feels good, but you secretly revel in that which gives you pain.  I am that pain.”

Suddenly, I am bound and blindfolded, unable to move.  My breath stops for a moment.  This is not what I expected.  “I am Odyne,” she declares as she touches my left shoulder.

I scream as every nerve ending in my back comes alive with white-hot fury.  My anger is forgotten in the midst of the torture.  When she pulls her hand away, my misery almost stops.  Almost.  She begins to speak and her words fall on my ears like minuscule droplets of lava spewing from a volcano.  “You humans all have expectations.  You expect each other to do and say certain things, even when it is not in your nature.  Then, you hurt.  You expect your gods to do for you things that you will not do for yourselves.  Then, you hurt.  It would be more productive and less painful if you simply boiled yourself in a steaming vat of some liquid or another or leaped from a ledge.”

Again, she touches me, this time at the base of my skull.  The pain is dull and throbbing and it spreads down my neck, to my arms and upper back.  I can feel all of my muscles spasm at once.  My mouth opens but no sound emerges.  “You expect the gods to give you good crops.  You expect them to feed your herds and families.  You expect your families to conform to your expectations and for the seasons to bend to your will.  What happens when they don’t?  Anguish.”

When she releases me this time, I topple over.  Unable to catch myself, my face hits the cool tile floor.  Undoubtedly I will have a bruised cheek, but oh is the tile soothing!  My breath comes out in ragged gasps.  Apollo sits me back up and steadies me.  He removes my blindfold, tucks my hair behind my ears and wipes the tear tracks from my face.  “Odyne, I believe that she understands now.  You have struck her dumb with pain,” he whispers.

The goddess looks me up and down.  “We shall see,” she responds.

Suddenly, Odyne is gone and with her my bonds.  Apollo leans me against the altar and sits near me.  “Odyne is a harsh mistress,” he says, “but in meting out pain she removes obstacles.”

My voice refuses to work.  I open my mouth, close it, and open it again.  Apollo shakes his head.  “Shh.  You need only listen for now is my time to bestow the blessings I have brought.”

He takes my still numb hand and begins to rub it, coaxing the feeling back.  “The Lady brought you this pain.  Harsh she may be, but it is her blessing to bestow.  I bring you clarity through the torture.  Observe the behavior of others.  See them with clear eyes.  Hear them with clear ears.  Have no expectations.  If you do not expect that they will behave in a certain way, then you can not be disappointed.  When you see and hear them as they are, you will know their words and actions before they do.  In doing this, you will avoid much of the pain you now experience.”

I look at Apollo and half-smile.  “Thank you,” I say.  “Thank you for making me wait.  Thank you for not being whom I called upon.  Thank you for caring enough to stay with me and for blessing me.  I will carry this lesson with me through this life.  I will bless others with your words.”

Apollo kisses my hand, smiles a youthful smile, and leaves me.  I find my strength and close my ritual.  It is always the unexpected that touches me and leaves me with life-long lessons.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

This piece was originally posted here on Oct. 11, 2015.

River Mourningstar

 

Remember, the most compassionate person is often the most dangerous person in the room

The name of this piece may seem provocative, even outrageous. The wisdom behind it is hard won and with merit. In political and power circles, this piece of information has been invaluable.

Merriam Webster defines compassion as “ sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it“.

How can a person experiencing this be dangerous? Many would believe that if a person is compassionate, it would stay their hand from harming another person. They might also extend that belief to encompass the idea that this person would seek to be protective.

This, while commonly held as conventional thought, is not always the case. I submit that it is very likely not the case most of the time in circles of power. The compassionate person holds greater powers than acknowledged.

Original Image: elti-meshau (public domain)

Those of us, who stood in the company of ruthless men and women, stand acquainted with the raw potential of violence and oppression that is possible at any given moment. I have observed such brutality executed with such swiftness that it did not seem real. Being unable to act, a crippling rage at my own powerlessness to assist the victims ground itself into my psyche.

In my life, it moved me toward deeper studies of religion, philosophy, culture, and martial thinking. The allure to being able to ease suffering tread arm-in-arm with my want to hone my particular skills as magickian, counselor, and courtier (still working on that). This was not in pursuit of protection, but defense.

To turn a heart that is cold-blooded away from its intended wickedness of action by a simple collection of ideas being implanted at the opportune times is beyond valuable. Understanding the motivations of the power decision makers allows a way to move them away from positions that bring harm to the oppressed. Researching laws and protocols allows a person to not only find where the bodies are buried, but make sure the new ones are not made in the political back alleys of societal and cultural games.

But what of physical violence in this cause? When you push a good man or woman too far, even a coward can destroy a force. When that person is moved by a sense of compassion coupled with wisdom, the body count can shift to a higher tally on the side of the bad guys. That person had a plan the moment they entered the room that covered how to protect the victim and themselves to the extent they can. They execute this mercilessly, due to the righteousness of their goal.

To spend hours in contemplation upon the goodness of man, the idea of peace, and the filmy concepts of justice and mercy, give fire to the blood. Some may never be called to place their body in front of a bullet, which takes the power from the gun-woman in deciding who will be shot. Many will never and sit whisper an embarrassing revelation to a legislator in the hallway at the water fountain right before a draconian vote against the poor. Few would ever get the opportunity to destroy a career bent on destroying an ecosystem. But all these actions, and more, are done not in malice. They are acts in compassion.

To dream of a perfect world is an act of revolution. To do magic, actions, and prayer to make it so, overriding the wishes and hopes of those who would spread harm – power. To hold compassion for all parties in this – love and darkness strangely mixed.

And sometimes, that is the most dangerous power of all.