Why is Detroit having its first conjure and folk magic festival?

Detroit is not like any other city in the world, and its magical residents can surely attest to this. We do things differently here. We do not keep our practices insulated and encapsulated like so many jars on an apothecary’s shelf.

Our energies and beliefs blur and move and merge in a dance that is both wonderful and terrible in its beauty. When we go to a shop, we are like a bohemian style magical band of hippies, taking what is needed, ignoring the rest, always willing to try something by chance and direction. So now we are trying something new.

Detroit is going to have a conjure and folk magic festival.

Detroit has its own spirits, its own legends, its own conjure and folk magic. We sit as an international port on the seas of fresh water. Our city of the strait is the gateway to foreign lands and immigrants have brought with them their traditions, their magics and their customs to merge with those of we who are here. The indigenous Peoples who ARE STILL HERE couple their narratives and spirits into the land with the folks who walk the centuries-old trails that are now covered in asphalt and bricks.

We practice Hoodoo here. We practice Vodou here. We practice Wicca here. We practice Ceremonial Magick here. We practice Ifa here. We practice Brujeria here. We practice Santeria here. We practice Lucumi here. We practice Candomble here. We practice Obeah here. We practice Espiritismo here. We practice Juju here. We practice Angel Magick here. We practice Necromancy here. We practice Spiritism here. We practice Hexencraft here (yes, we really do). We practice all types of renegade, wilding out Hedgewitchery here. We practice Demonolatry based magicks here.We practice Kemetic Mysteries here. We practice Palo here. We practice Lodge Teachings here. We practice Psalmistry here. We practice the teachings of the Aetherius Society here. We practice more than I can ever hope to name, and we do it all here in Detroit. We do it all in Michigan.

And we mix it together in ways that should not work, according to “authorities”. Our special brand of Detroit magick, conjure, and lore is our own. We have elements of the French, German, Greek, Polish, People of the Three Fires, and those who migrated here from all over the world cooked up in our own form of “City Chicken” style goodness. That is to say, we practice our own form of taking things and forming them into what we wish them to be for us, despite how they appear.

(City Chicken is made of pork, see what I mean?)

It was not uncommon for me to accompany my friends to a “candle shop” and get a stew of different magical traditions in one trip. In one case, my companion sought to increase her income for her exotic dance career. She purchased Honey of Love for her perfume and lotion, to add in. She picked up some love drops oil to add to her Pink Oil in her make up bag. She picked up some orris root powder to add to her baby powder.

Next, she bought a Money Candle and had it “dressed” with powder and glitter. Yep, I know. Glitter. Deal with it. This was added to the candle with an invocation, as the counter person carved a sigil into the wax. For an extra dollar, she lit it at the shop and left it to burn there in their “workings” room.

She then picked up a new tarot deck and some crystals. A candle to Oshun and some blessed oil was added to her purchase. She had a psalm paper blessed, bought a new Devil’s Trap seal, and a brass ring with runes inscribed along the inside. To finish her purchase, she grabbed some crushed shells and some Devil’s Shoestring “because of the scheming chicks” who were after her top spot.

This was normal. This was not a thing. This same girl gathered every full moon to worship Diana and to give an offering of cool water and wine to Aradia. She also petitioned Persephone that evening for a personal favor. And not a single damn was given. Not a single eye was rolled.

Because in Detroit, we do what we want. We embrace it all and tolerate whatever floats you boat, as long as it does not bump ours. What we do not do, however, is have any problem with recognizing that what we are doing is indeed a blended sort of thing, and is not “proper”. We just roll with it.

After so many generation of this mingling, it is bound to happen that folks forget where the dotted lines and boundaries on the magickal maps were located in our landscapes. We forgot how to not merge in some cases. Purists be damned, we got this. Innovation is what we are known for here.

However, this led to things being lost and pushed aside. Practices altered and then faded. Wording changed and sometimes completely disappeared. Our tradition mixing would soon give birth to new ones and so on.

Innovation and adaptation our forte. While this is all classically Detroit in its nature, it has its pitfalls. One of the main ones is that special nuanced flavor of each tradition and belief path being unique. Much is special about each “way” and religion and belief system. While we hold each as our baseline, many times they are so intermingled here that it is almost impossible to find strings in that tapestry.

This is why I decided to create the Detroit Conjure and Folk Magic Festival event this year. It happens on August 12, 2017. This will be held in Green Acres Park, in Hazel Park, Michigan. In years past, I was honored and blessed to be able to help run the Pagan Pride Detroit’s celebration of Pagan Pride Day Detroit there, so the place is familiar to many in the state.

The reason for this event is personal. I did not do it to make tons of money. I do like money, but that is not the primary goal of this event.

This festival was born in order to feature practitioners who are really part of the culture and “family” of the traditions and magics they are teaching. It is my sincere hope that by bringing forward folks who are bringing their unique flavor to this event, we will start dialogues about what is special about our bleedings, and what is special about appreciating what is different.

Image: Kenya Coviak

Appropriation as a habit is an ugly truth to post 70’s magic here in the United States. We take things, make them our own, and blend them into our practices without a thought as to why it is key to acknowledge the places form which we glean. We burn sage in shells at events in Pagan festivals with no thought as to why this is problematic, or why we should be talking about it.

That is not to say you cannot do this, but under what vibe? If you are doing it as part of your personal practice, yeah. But why that shell, why that plant? This is the kind of thing that I want to encourage folks to explore. We Sing the songs of others, yet silence their voices. Why?

In Detroit, I have been fortunate to see the resurgence and preservation of respect for the need to be mindful. I see folks who use the magicks, without regard for any of this, and make their lives better. They do not know, nor care, from where it came. That, too is acceptable. But when we speak of teaching and presenting, that is when we need to really make sure we are letting each path shine so that folks can ask questions of folks who KNOW for sure what is part, what is pilfered, and what is parrotted. To see the grace in which we have held another’s path in order to glimpse their walk in our own.

I have three goals for this event. They are my guiding principles. So I shall share them here.

  1. To present a spirit/magick based event for the region based on Detroit led interests. This includes people, paths, and practices from all over, not just in Michigan.
  2. To host, and hold space, for cultural topics that offer insights into the cultures that are the proving grounds and catalysts of the magicks that are part of our world today in an open zone.
  3. To provide a family friendly experience where attendees can learn; share ideas; and meet others of like and unfamiliar traditions and views, while having a good time in a safe environment.

 

We can have magic
But where did it vibe from
We can have culture
But what is it without magic
We can have family and friends
But what are they without spirituality and culture
All go together
At least in my f*cked up little vision
– Kenya Coviak
I invite you to come out to our city in the Fresh Water Seas this August 12, 2017 to experience some Detroit hospitality. The music and performances are free, as is general admission.We support Jit Culture as well, a special place in my heart beats for this hometown dance form. In featuring Jit Street, we hope to help spread the culture, and preserve it.
Rituals and classes for the public, young and old, will delight and intrigue those who make the choice to learn something new. Some may even reinforce what you know. A few will probably shock you by how much you thought you knew.
For those with a deeper need for practical applications and more in-depth knowledge, the Conjure College will provide opportunities to master new skills and concepts. This part is by paid admission only. Ticket holders get to get their hands and minds into a practitioner’s “kitchen” so to speak. Training by experts on what works is key.
Speakers from four states share their knowledge and expertise with our little city with the big roots. In picking Green Acres Park, I made a commitment to continue a tradition of magical festivals there. That is where I “cut my teeth” in holding them, so it is my home. It is a green space with beautiful trees made for sitting under, thinking, and celebrating. I could think of no better place to host this event when so many from around the Great Lakes area will set their feet here upon grounds that have been home to many years of magick …. and love.
I hope to see you there. I hope to see you, with your folding chairs, and your notebooks. I hope to see you in your floppy hats with your children in tow. I hope to hear from you if you cannot make it there.
But most of all, I hope. I hope to present to you why our city is like no place else. I hope to show you, in this little town just outside its border, why it is a shining beacon on the strait.
We do it our own way. I am Detroit born and bred, right off 7 Mile Road. 7, kind of a foreshadowing hunh (what’s up, numerology students)? I love folks on both sides of 8 Mile, there is magick everywhere. On this day, we are going to give you a piece of what makes us different.
Oh, and one more thing. Expect the unexpected. This is the Detroit, after all. We do things differently here, since 1701.
At the end of the day, I have to say that ultimately I give love, honor, and thanks to everyone who made my life the rich ride that it is.
I love all of you. No matter if you take your magick as a purist, blend it up, or shaken not stirred. It is all about respect.
What up, doe?

You have something there, just above your chin, did you know? A year without Michael Wiggins

It has almost been a year, close to a turn of the Wheel, since Michael Wiggins transitioned from this life and into the Lands of Summer. The loss of his smile, his snark, his joy of life, leaves a tangible absence in our psychic space here in Michigan’s Pagan world. The poignancy of that lack rung like a chime through our hearts as he was honored at the opening of ConVocation 2017 by his wife, family, and friends.
Last year, I wrote that
I did not know how true those words would play out in the future.
The Phoenix Cafe continues to  honor his legacy by hosting Toys for Yule, and being a welcome and safe space for all. The spirit of creativity and artistic freedom there is an ongoing testimony to his mark. With every event, concert, showing, or gathering, the legacy continues to enrich us.

I remember one of the first time I spoke with him outside of the busy madness of events. It was after a Great Lakes Witchs Council event (Yes, I know it is not spelled properly. That is on purpose. I will tell that story another time.). I had just scarfed down several confections and he pointed out the smudge of frosting and sugar on my mouth. It was a little thing, I know, but it opened up a conversation that gave me a whole new perspective on what it must have been like to grow up at his time of youth in Detroit.

It was candid and unexpected conversations that are missed the most, now. Although the showman that he was would fill up the space of any room, it was the quiet introspection – with wry commentary – that made him a figure in my personal landscape of ideas. And I miss that, deeply, as do others who held space in that ballroom this February.
So, it has been a year – almost, and I have to wonder. If he were here, what would he make of us, this Pagan Michigan system of families? Would he look at us and smile? Or would he do his classic Michael Wiggins Judgement Shade-Turn? I guess we’ll find out on the other side. He won’t be hard to find. Just look for the gentleman holding court, dressed in steampunk, accompanied by a suspicious squirrel, larger than death, and doing it all with style.
Still giving honor where it is due. Gentleman, husband, father, entertainer, and more. And most strikingly, the only man who was able to fill a room with Pagans and get them to sing “Hallelujah”.
We miss you, Michael Wiggins. Hail the Mighty and Beloved Dead.

PBN Blues Series: “Holiday” Madonna

We return with our series to a happy song with a not so happy scenario. Some ideas and holidays naturally lend themselves to be inspiration behind product lines. It has always been this way. People are attracted naturally to ideas that are grand and sweeping. This is a fertile method of catching the eye of a consumer and assuring recognition. Unfortunately, this is also a fertile ground for competition to become such that it leads to accusations of duplication. There may come a time when one of your professional clients comes to you regarding such an instance.

Deja Vu for two

Ariel S. started a product line of ankle chains and charms that she has named after Ukrainian Pagan festivals. They are entirely lovely and charming (no pun intended). She got the idea from a workshop when the last folk festival took place. With determination and care, she developed unique and beautiful creations that each had a tiny flower clasp made of porcelain that corresponded with the season. She enchanted each one and passed it through incense smoke to give a distinct blessing to each.

Ariel S. lived in a very busy area, with local shop keeps vying for new ways to draw business into their stores all the time. This time, she had her own winner. Business was booming and her sales were fantastic. Then she noticed that she began to receive word that another shop on another block has started making bracelets based on the Ukrainian observances as well. She was livid.

Image: pixabay

 

Ariel S. decided to confront the owner. In a whirl of skirts and fury, she swept into the shop and demanded an explanation. The owner, Libby T. met her with a fury of her own. After all, there was no reason that she could not take the same information that the workshop had provided and use it for her own creations. Competition was what makes the lifeblood of small business, after all. She pointed out to Ariel S. that her bracelets were her creation, and that no one had the right to prevent another person from using a common holiday name.

Image: pixabay

Slash and spurn

Ariel S. storms out and heads straight to your botanica. She walks up to you and very clearly demands a court case candle in crisp tones. She is going to sue Libby T. to make her give up any right to name her bracelets the same way she names her anklets. She asks your advice on how best to crush and disgrace her competition. In her eyes, they are copying her idea.

You provide her with a kit to utterly destroy the other store’s reputation. You also arrange for the local cultural club to have you come do a talk about the Ukrainian holidays and market your creation. You include essence of Bend Over mixed with Domination and Follow Me Boy in order to assure her an easier path to swaying the club against Libby T. Their newsletter is known to very well read, and you know this is the best way to achieve her goal.

She finishes her purchases and glides away reassured. You return to your reading of your novel.

Baba would not approve

Ariel S. started a product line of ankle chains and charms that she has named after Ukrainian Pagan festivals. They are entirely lovely and charming (no pun intended). She got the idea from a workshop when the last folk festival took place. With determination and care, she developed unique and beautiful creations that each had a tiny flower charm that corresponded with the season. She enchanted each one and passed it through incense smoke to give a distinct blessing to each.

Ariel S. lived in a very busy area, with local shop keeps vying for new ways to draw business into their stores all the time. This time, she had her own winner. Business was booming and her sales were fantastic. Then she noticed that she began to receive word that another shop on another block has started making bracelets based on the Ukrainian observances as well. She was livid.

Ariel S. decided to confront the owner. In a whirl of skirts and fury, she swept into the shop and demanded an explanation. The owner, Libby T. met her with a fury of her own. After all, there was no reason that she could not take the same information that the workshop had provided and use it for her own creations. Competition was what makes the lifeblood of small business, after all. She pointed out to Ariel S. that her bracelets were her creation, and that no one had the right to prevent another person from using a common holiday name.

Ariel S. storms out and heads straight to your botanica. She walks up to you and very clearly demands a court case candle in crisp tones. She is going to sue Libby T. to make her give up any right to name her bracelets the same way she names her anklets. She asks your advice on how best to crush and disgrace her competition. In her eyes, they are copying her idea.

You stand there for a moment, with your mouth hanging open in sheer confusion. You know both these ladies and cannot understand where this passion is coming from in this matter. You also know that flowers are a common theme in the culture’s jewelry.

Image: pixabay

You ask Ariel S. how she thinks that will fly with the ladies at the cultural center. They have spent several years in their mission of spreading knowledge of the joy of the culture and its preservation, and you fear she will make unnecessary enemies. You understand her anger, but caution her. The same anger she feels could be unfortunately turned against her if folks feel she is unfair. Many local shops use those names in the neighborhood for their other products.

 

Ariel S. reminds you that she did not ask your advice. You fill her order, and include a special gift of a flourite, rose quartz, and green kyanite necklace. She leaves satisfied. You say a prayer for both shop owners.

The lesson

Sometimes our clients are not in a mood to hear our opinions. It is important to know when to step back and simply provide the services requested. It is also important to advise the client of possible repercussions on a magickal and spiritual level when doing business in the realm of the spiritual. It is important to not take sides or become overly involved in disputes, but just as important to give wise counsel to your client.

 

 

 

Talking the foundations at ConVocation 2017

As some of the people who read my works here and in other places know, I present at ConVocation. It is neither guaranteed that my classes will be approved, nor that they will be well received, but so far I have had a pretty good run over the last few years. Though this year was bittersweet, with the loss of Michael Wiggins, it was an excellent time despite the grief.

This year, though I taught one adult class named Amplifying Your Power with Oils and Blends , it was the reception of the teen classes that made the most impact on me. I have long been a very vocal advocate of restoring the old and “low” magicks and practices to their rightful place in magickal education. This is not a dig against “high” magick or ritual in any way. However it is my belief that it is important that we not relegate the time-honored practices that are true and tested into the sidelines of colloquial magick and spirituality.

My two teen classes, Connect the knots: using cordage to manifest our visualizations and Keeping Magickal Records: An Introduction. Both of these classes were “crashed” by adult attendees. They were most welcome. For me, it felt like the sound of a bell resonating in me. It felt like a validation that yes, people still do want these subjects covered.

Image: pexels

Craft using cordage and the keeping of magickal records do not seem like rock star kind of attractions. If anything, they might seem to be the building blocks that everyone uses before they construct their paths. But in actuality, I am finding that some of the less dazzling subjects are being neglected in many ways. In my belief, it is the little things that allow the larger ones to be held up and sustained in our studies.

Knot magick is not seen as smexy. Indeed, it has the unfortunate distinction of slowly falling into the group of practices that are assumed to have only baneful applications (much like image magick – see poppets). This might be attributed to the sensationalist nature of films and popular media and their usage of these tools in horror genres. In actuality, it is primarily simply a tool that can be used by anyone with basic understanding of its mechanics.

Magickal record keeping has also seemed to become minimized. The ever popular image of the Book of Shadows, and its peer, the Grimoire, have taken over the center ring. The local consensus in many circles online seem to enshrine the BoS as the ultimate repository of ALL a practitioner’s magickal knowledge. To this, I say, “horse-pucky”.

There are reasons we keep more than one record. There are reasons empirical data is not kept with the spiritual reflections in our libraries ( I am speaking in general. I have no idea what will be happening at the end of the next 4 years). The need for distinction of purpose, and the separation of records, is a strong part of a well rounded practitioner’s evolution. Whether they seek to keep track of their development or not, to ignore that it is a part of the tool box is to do a disservice to teaching.

Image: Daria-Yakovleva Pixabay

I urge teachers to seek out subjects that seem to be falling out of popularity and restore them to the forefront. Our collective lexicons suffer when terms, practices, and modalities are forgotten. It may be old fashioned, but I long for the restoration of the idea that a magickian can accomplish wonders with a line of string, a pinch of salt, a handful of herbs, and the writings in a notebook.

So, I propose we circle back to the beginning, spiral back to the center, and dust off the foundations. Perhaps it has become time again to examine the pillars that we hang our rock star subjects on and make sure that we all can stand straight and true with strong supports. It is okay to be simple. It is okay to be a rock star. It is okay to be both and more. After all, it is magick.

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.

A Free Form Sort of Way

I started teaching and facilitating workshops in 2013. Of course I didn’t know where to begin in the big ocean of all that my life had taught me and continues to teach me. All I knew, was I need to share what I’ve learned. It took me a few teaching experiences to know really where I needed t0 start. For I came to understand that there were some needed tools that could help with the life changing things I have to share. It was also in some ways that I knew that these tools were the things that really helped with my healing and transformations that have been going on for the last 11 years. I had at first called my class that had these tools Unscript It! and Unscript Yourself!. Yes I did have a rough time knowing how to name my classes. Then when the decision to do my tools class I settled on A Free Form Sort of Way! In fact I will be teaching this class at this year’s ConVocation. But now I know you are curious as to what this is all about.

My first painting I did using ArtRage app January 2017

A Sunlit Evening by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

It is all about active, expressive meditation styles that are free-form in nature. These meditation styles teach us to make use of our voice and bodies in a free-form sort of way. Another way of seeing free form use of voice and bodies is things like ecstatic dancing and singing or sacred dance and singing.  I also share how we can use creative arts in free-form sort of ways, so that we can freely express ourselves. It may seem odd to hear that free-form dance or singing and art can do so much to help us. For I know that most of what we have available, while very helpful and such, they require that we do things a certain way. In fact much of our lives are set up to follow certain ways to seeing things, doing things and so much more. I know I myself was struggling still to find my path and find myself within all the should do this and that this way and believe this and that. I had been doing meditation, chanting, prayer and ritual and so much more. Yet I was still somehow stuck in certain patterns and was feeling guilty when I couldn’t do ritual in the suggested ways. Often I found myself doing spontaneous things that really helped shift things for me and empower me. Yet I felt guilty for these spontaneous things I was doing during ritual and such.

That all started to change though when somehow Gabrielle Roth’s work showed up in my life!

Gabrielle’s books Maps To Ecstasy & Sweat Your Prayers, became a part of my life about 11 years ago.

A Book By Gabrielle Roth

 

Another great book by Gabrielle Roth

With these books I started another part of my healing journey. There has been other peoples work that has added to her work and my understanding of free-form expression of our voices and bodies. Two such people are Bradford Keeney PhD his book: The Bushman Way of Tracking God and a local person in the Detroit Metro area Michael Patrick through his: Dance Meditation Technique.

A book by Bradford Keeney

These three people in different ways guide us in the benefits of free form body movement and expression of our voice. In different ways they show us how this path to meditation can help us get to know ourselves and how our mind and bodies respond to things in our lives. In different ways they show us how movement and use of voice help us to heal the disconnect we have between body, mind, feeling and emotions. They also show us how we can use these styles to make our connection with the divine in a more authentic way. These meditations styles also help us to in a conscious and active way to navigate our tougher challenges that are a part of our healing journeys. And as we are getting to know how our bodies and mind interact and react to things around us, we find means to move through stressful and tough things, because we are aware of things and we also are aware of how we can diffuse things. Why this works is because we are learning to face things and to express those things and this is a part of what can help us heal. For we are listening and paying attention to ourselves and we are giving voice, expression to things. Often just that act of acknowledging something , we start a process of diffusing things and calming things down.

The other thing that started to happen with my practice of free form expression of voice and body, was my spiritual practice deepened. I in more consistent ways experienced  connection with the whole of life and it’s energies. I found myself wanting to commune with the wind, trees and animals, to where I’d dance with the trees and sing with the birds and insects. I often find myself being a bit more playful and filled with joy from the simplest of happenings and things. There is a certain freedom I gained in expressing myself through body and voice. I could feel the energies building easier and better for me when I do ritual or pray and chant freely and well, as raw as possible. Now mind you I still have the times I follow prescribed procedures when doing ritual, meditating and such. Yet so much for me has come from adding free form expression of my voice and body, as a part of regular practice also.

Another thing I’ve experienced with my free form meditation practice is that I can separate and know what emotions, energies and such belong to me and set myself free of others emotions and such. This is an important thing if you are an empath, energy worker, counselor or healer. It is also a helpful thing if you are Autistic. But even if you don’t identify with any of those things, it is good to be able to know what is your emotions and energies, what belongs to you versus what may belong to another person. Reason is we all take information in of varying types and in a variety of ways. We can get lost in all that information that we take in and it can leave us wondering why we are feeling a certain way, when it feels like we shouldn’t have a reason to feel say angry or depressed. So being able to move other peoples energies and emotions out of our system can be a big help in taking some of the edge off of being overwhelmed or buried under so much. Chances are if we feel this way we’ve been taking on to much of other people’s things. So it’s good to have means to let that excess energies and emotions out in a safe way.

This is just some of how free form expression of our bodies and voices can help us.

Now I want to share a few routines that can help:

First pick a favorite album or play list; Then ask yourself and your body ” How am I feeling? How is my body feeling?”;With the music playing start moving your body in how ever way it is feeling!

examples; can be you are feeling sluggish. So you droop down, move slow. Another is you are stressed filled with tension, go ahead and tighten as much of your body as possible. You are feeling happy, do a happy dance then”

The point is move your body according to how it is feeling! As the music plays work through the way your are feeling. Let yourself feel and express what you and your body are feeling as much as you feel comfortable with.

” It is alright if you can only do this for say 5 minutes or a couple of songs” even that short bit of time can do wonders in diffusing the tough stuff and giving you more energy with the upbeat stuff! As you do this practice at least once or twice a week you will get better at helping your body and mind navigate how you are feeling both emotionally and physically.

You can also use this method to do energy work and to set intentions and work with affirmations! You also can spend time with The Divine and express your love and gratitude!

So allow yourself to work with and express your body and emotions through free form movement and see how it can help you.

Next is your voice!

This is a bit trickier if you don’t have any just instrumental type music you like. Yet your usual music can be alright for this also.

As for body movement, you now pick a playlist or album that you have found yourself humming or singing along with. Now you ask” What needs to be expressed?” and you express it through singing, humming or even just making sounds. We don’t always need words! The objective is to put as much feeling as you can into your voice as possible. It’s alright if words fail you! Just use your voice!

Once again it is alright if you can only do this for 5 minutes or a couple songs! All that matters is you consciously express what you are feeling through the music and your voice!

Again this can be used for a multitude of reasons!

Then comes the part that you combine your voice and body movement! And yes things can really take off when you combine the two! This is what you are working toward!

This is just a snap shot into how you can use free form expressions of your body and voice. Don’t be afraid to explore and discover these things for yourself!

I had mentioned free form expression through creative art styles in the earlier part of this article.

So let me share this particular style of free form expression with you.

I love art and I always hoped I could be an artist, even if it was just for myself. Yet sadly I didn’t have acceptable natural talent or ability when it came to art classes and such. I couldn’t draw like my sister could. Yet I did love to create cards for holidays and birthdays. Yet it never was something I thought I could do. So I never pursued anything with art.

Then I became a mother and one of my tough choices I made was to home school our child. It took me a few years to put together something that worked for myself and our child and fulfilled the state requirements also. It was during those early years that the Waldorf Education style arrived in my life. Fortunately I was able to find home school resources for this path of education. It helped us out a lot. It was also where I found that art was one of their core aspects. For the children are encouraged to do their own lesson books, in which they were encouraged to illustrate their lessons and write about their lessons in their own words. Working with our child through this style, opened some doorways for me to see what artistic things I could do.

A Zentangle

The Many Paths To Learning To Love by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

That was when some drawing styles came into my life. The first was: Touch Drawing, created by Deborah Koff-Chapin. Then came: Zentangle: created by Rick Roberts & Maria Thomas. Also two other books caught and grabbed my attention and those are: The Art of Silliness by Carla Sonheim and the other: Doodling with Jim Henson.

So what all did these styles teach me and still are teaching me? Well they first gave me the means that did not require me to know how to do this shape or this form and making sure that I got them proportioned right and the lines are right and well you know get it right! So they freed me up by giving some guidelines, yet gave me plenty of room to just draw! Some interesting things started to come to my notice. I’m a very creative person and learning this about myself seemed to free me up to take that creativity and use it to change my past history’s stories and programming. I also had some repeated “Aha!” moments as I saw that even though I couldn’t keep forms, shapes, lines and proportions right, I still got to see neat things come forth. It showed me that my life choices that I had made that weren’t right or healthy or did more harm than good, could be things that were still a part of who I was, yet could be turned around to help in my growth and understanding of things. That mistakes and such aren’t necessarily the terrible monsters we can make them out to be. That mistakes really are lessons. We weren’t meant to be perfect and have all the answers. Life is about exploring, learning, growing and healing. That the messiness of life can still be useful and it’s okay that we don’t get it right all the time. Learning this started helping me to feel alright around other people and helped me to not be so scared that I’m going to mess things up. Sure I do bumble and fumble, but guess what we all have our awkward moments with each other. I started to understand that we all are students in this thing called life.

A Zentangle Session

A Turtle That Showed Up by Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

I could share so much more! But that is for a book project that needs to start happening! What I hope you take away from all this, is learning to know ourselves and love ourselves is the biggest job we have. I found that making free form expression a part of my routines has done so much to help me learn about myself and love myself. It has taught me and continues to teach me things about life and how to navigate it. It has helped me in being able to better to know what is my stuff and what belongs to other. It helps me by giving me an outlet to express and release things that have overloaded me. It has taught me that there can be good lessons in my mistakes and it has giving me so much in healing my connections with the layers of myself and also the greater wholeness of life and my fellow human brother and sisters. And it keeps giving so much more!

So please accept this invitation to explore these teachers I’ve shared with you and give these meditation styles a try and see what they do for you!!!

Aurora Shirina Lee-Laine

 

 

 

 

An Editorial on Betsy DeVos

The results are in and Betsy DeVos is the new Secretary of Education. The time for Pagans to step up and advocate for parity and representation in their schools is long past and is now in our faces. Those who are educators, new days are coming, and they do not look good for those who find their calling in the championing of the public schools system.

Public Domain, Screen grab C-Span

“Democrats mounted an all-night speaking marathon railing against her nomination in the run-up to the vote, questioning her experience and ties to charter schools though their opposition combined with lobbying efforts by teachers unions were not enough to block her.” – Fox News

It is generally considered bad form to begin a piece with an immediate quotation. However, this is an editorial and I am the editor. I am from Detroit, Michigan. You  know, the place with the motors, the music, and the moxy. We also carry the reputation as the place with the failing schools system. An infamous standing that has been the direct result of the wicked designs of the ilk of Betsy DeVos and her hell-bent-for-leather conservative wrecking crew is responsible for in full truth.
Decade after decade, the school educational funds destined for the city have been deferred, and outright stolen for other sweetheart deals and projects. When materials were not embezzled by corrupt staff, (a less common occurrence than people would like to promote), then they were undercut and slashed by the free wheeling corporate whores of millionaires sitting comfortably atop the political food-chain here in Michigan.
For myself, these abstract ideas and policy bludgeons against public education are in my face. Too many children have gone without not only books, and safe schools, but also basic supplies such as bathroom tissue or pencils. Despite popular belief, the budget is not supposed to be so raped of resources that they cannot provide these items for the students in the system’s care. However no mercy, not unto the tiniest tile on the meanest floor in the smallest elementary school could escape the rapine needs of the relentless attack of the conservative agenda in Michigan when it came to eviscerating the Detroit Public School System, and by thinnest of veils, empowering the less hidden systemic bigotry involved in targeting the residents and their children who reside there.
Since the district has been under control of state-appointed emergency managers since 2009, the deficit has ballooned to more than $300 million, despite numerous school closures and other painful budget cuts. – Motor City Muckraker

As a Pagan student, I completed my education throughout the 80’s under the shadow of the rising conservative juggernaut that saw the rise of the Reagan machine, a machine that has turned into almost a religion of the conservative faithful. Programs that were in place to empower and educate were continually and progressively gutted again and again. Fortunate enough to be counted as gifted, I escaped much of the brunt of cuts in quality. This was directly due to dedicated teachers who came out of their own pockets for supplies and out of their homes to support the union in protecting not just their own, but the interests of the families they served.

The onslaught in this state against education being education and not a pipeline to a career in math or science based service jobs to feed into the corporate machines at the cost sports, music, art, and trades produced a disaffected and poorly cheated series of generations. Everyone is not right brained. Everyone is not going to college. Everyone is not going to a factory. Everyone is not going to go into being a CNA. But to speak this to the powers that be is like blowing dust into the wind in a hailstorm.

Emergency managers added to the issue and the charter school wild wild west environment consumed all. Every school building that was closed was stolen from the community like the Sabine women (Yeah, I went there. I read all faiths’ stories.). Torn from the hands and control of the communities that continued to pay their taxes into their existence, the schools were delivered to charter groups, or in many cases, closed and sold outright. Others were left to rot and decay like carrion of the hopes of generations.

Let us be clear. I have a stake in this on many levels. This is why I am writing this piece.

My elementary school was the place where I learned that I was a different kind of spirituality from others. Many did not accept this, but some of the best teachers did. They did not stifle me, but encouraged me to find my own truth. There, at Elizabeth Courville Elementary school, I learned Art, Social Studies, Music, and found my world filled with wonderful books and scientific inquiries in class with a greenhouse garden. That school is now closed.

At Cleveland Middle School, I was bussed from the North End to the edge of Hamtramck. There, I encountered my first Catholic teacher, a formidable woman named Mrs. Cayce, the only African American Catholic woman I would meet until college. In her honors classroom, I learned about Literature, continued my Music education with Mr. Hagen, started forensics, and studied about the world. I also made my best childhood friend, Sheila Habel. This girl was half Jewish, half German, Catholic/Jewish/Agnostic, and all sparkly hair, Aquanette, and spiked collars. We exchanged cultural and social realities and our worlds were expanded with all the programs that Detroit Public Schools could offer. I even took my SATs there in the 7th grade. That school is now closed.

At General John J. Pershing High School, I became a Marching Doughgirl, stayed in the Honors track, and participated in the Rainbow Program under Dr. Emerald Crosby. This program sought to promote a higher standard of scholarship and opportunity. I was afforded the honor of performing a quartet, learning how to transpose, with the Michigan Opera Theater for “El Capatin“, ushered for an auditorium full of greats as we hosted the Count Basie Orchestra, and saw many of my peers earn scholarships to colleges all over the United States of America for Music, Sports, and Academics. My interactions with the student body flowed from the Young Socialists to the Young Republicans for Reagan. All manner of views and all systems of belief were on the table to be discussed and explored.

I lettered in Forensics, and read great books under the tutelage of a meditating, dedicated hippie named Mr. Kidney (as he would say, “just like the damn bean”). A few of us went to learn how to do cable television production under the Community High School program at that time at Barden Cable through an agreement with the schools. I learned Arabic and got to know my Chaldean neighbors holding conversations with the lessons from my teacher Mr. Jameel and the legendary Sister Theresa. On a bad year, I did not pass a class due to illness and had to attend Osborn High School for summer classes.

Both these High Schools are now on the chopping block.

After this, I continued my education by attending Highland Park Community College. There, I was enrolled in the W.E.B. DuBois Honors Program and met international students from all over the world and every economic status. As Literary Editor, and the founder of the charitable school organization L.E.A.F.. I met athiests, pagans, and every sort of faith, including magickians. It was here I found my tribes, and learned to distinguish kith from kind. It was here that I learned that being Pagan was more than the small slices glimpsed before then.

And it was here that instructors encouraged me to develop my full self and pursue not only liberal arts in general, but the humanities and how they related to paganism in my reality.

I engaged the community and met my first college fraternal organizations and learned how important they were to the city and the children. Their work with charities and educational programs amazed me and inspired me. I almost went to do work in Africa fighting female genital mutilation afterward, but was derailed by home responsibilities. But I can proudly state I saw many of my peers go on to distinguished universities.

While there, I tutored in the college’s Center for Instructional Support, and saw first-hand the damage that the destructive monetary and educational policies were having on incoming students. Basic Education was required in some instances just to enter the vocational programs. The dumbing down had begun in earnest. A stellar nursing program noted for the rigor in which it trained its students was our shining star.

This college is now closed due to the decision of Gov. Engler. It’s closure set the framework for the later decimation of Highland Park’s schools. Then of course, the charters, that DeVos loves, moved in like jackals. No care was given to the fact that public schools are part of the American promise to our children.

“I heard they want to bring in charters. It will benefit the private companies but not the students of people in the community. People can’t just pick up and leave. If you move schools out of the neighborhood you are basically telling people to move out of the neighborhood. So what are they saying—you have to move? – World Socialist Website

So, let’s review. My elementary, middle, and junior college are all closed. My high school, and summer school high school are on the block to be closed. The only colleges left that I attended that remain open are the American Institute of Banking and Spring Arbor University. A business and an evangelical college are all that remain of my educational journeys, in theory, that have real space in this physical world. What a telling irony, considering the current virtual coup taking place in the national power positions today. The rhetoric is as strong as police station coffee on the East Side of Detroit at 3:00 am.

Conservatives believe that a voucher system would be the most effective and efficient way to deliver school choice to millions of children. Not only would vouchers empower families to find the best fit for their children, but it saves taxpayers money as well. Currently, the per-pupil cost of public education is close to $11,000 across the nation. (And how many parents would say they believe their child gets an $11,000 per year education?) A voucher system would let parents use some of that money and apply it to a private or charter school of their choosing. Not only does the student get to attend a school that is a good educational fit, but charter and private schools are typically far less expensive, thus saving the taxpayers thousands of dollars every time a student leaves the status quo educational system in favor of a parent-chosen school. – Marcus Hawkins, AboutNews

My question is, what choice is there when the public schools referred to in this view are being destroyed, razed, and the powers that be are stopping just short of practically salting their grounds? The monies that are already allocated to the public schools could easily take care of the needs of the public schools systems if they were not diverted and pilfered. This fictive narrative of this shining land of parents having the luxury and leisure and disposable income and means of transportation to be so selective in where they send their children to be educated is not only dangerous, it is laughably absurd. A more detailed view of this can be found by visiting DeVos’ Michigan schools experiment gets poor grades.

Despite two decades of charter-school growth, the state’s overall academic progress has failed to keep pace with other states.

All of this was to illustrate the good things that a much maligned system, the Detroit Public Schools and their teaching staff, have accomplished despite disgusting slander, union busting legislation, and corporate sabotage. This all despite the fact that the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) continually uses Michigan’s School Aid Fund monies destined for Detroit Public Schools as their personal piggy bank.

The refusal of Betsy DeVos to abdjure the position of being pro public school destruction is obscene. The numbers are in and they are damning. I implore anyone who is reading this and wishes to have their voice heard regarding the measures that will be taken by Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her views to contact congress, and keep contacting them. Do not let another generation see its hopes mortgaged for politics. You can watch the live hearings via PBS here.

As administrator of the Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund, it is my duty to speak out as well. It is too late to wait until the young are out of school to play catch up. The time is when they are in their formative years to guard their dreams most. What tools they are given there will make all the difference to their futures, and ours.

Signed,

Kenya Coviak

Michigan Pagan Scholarship Fund | Detroit Public Schools Alumna

Natural Stone: Discovering New Forms of Art

Five words or less

(NewsUSA) – Art can take on many different shapes and sizes in a variety of media. From watercolor paintings and bronze sculptures to still-life photographs and wood carvings, art can become the focal point of any interior living space. But, what if art could become part of a home’s architecture in unexpected ways? The answer is yes, it can, and it comes in the form of natural stone.
Perhaps it’s the allure of the exotic location from which it originated, or an unusual texture or uncommon color — representing that single event in time illustrating when and how the stone was created. Whether it’s a rare stone that is one in a million or one that was uncovered from the depths of the earth, natural stone can truly make a beautiful and exotic piece of art.
“Mother nature definitely has defined and shared her art with us through her supply of natural stone,” says Tom Harty, director of procurement at Stone Source, a company that specializes in curating natural stone and a member of MIA + BSI: The Natural Stone Institute. “The beautiful and creative veining found in natural stone is like a painting on a canvas.”
Whether natural stone is used to draw attention to a fireplace design, or is carefully selected as a standout countertop in a bathroom, the ways in which it can be used are endless. Some homeowners even enjoy mounting stone slabs on interior walls as pieces of art.
Chris Schulte, president of Las Vegas Rock, Inc., a quarry that concentrates on extracting metaquartzite stone and also a member of MIA + BSI, explains that the company’s “rainbow gardens” offer a multitude of natural stone colors ranging from purples and reds to yellows and browns. Some of these stones are so beautiful, they can stand alone as art. “We have many customers who have purchased slabs as wall art,” he says. “In fact, in the cities of Henderson, Nevada and Las Vegas, government buildings have slabs of metaquartzite displayed on the walls.”
Onyx is another type of exotic natural stone that can be used in artful ways. “The translucent character of many onyxes lends them to be backlit and incorporated as decorative pieces,” says Harty. In fact, popular uses of onyx include bar backsplashes, built-in wall cabinets, bathroom countertops, staircases, and fireplaces.
Those who find beauty in nature might see natural stone as more than just another building material; they see it as a unique piece of fine art. For more information about natural stone, visit www.usenaturalstone.com.

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?

December 29, 2016, has the U.S. learned nothing?

It is December 29, 2016, the year social media became collectively conscious of the ubiquitous presence of Death’s hand and the reality that the powers that be tell convenient lies they call talking points. At Standing Rock, the water protectors stand on frozen grounds facing the overpowering forces of greed and corporate expansionism at any cost while standing strong in a movement founded in prayer. They, and their allies, stand strong. They endure on a day when the Lakota Sioux remember the massacre at Wounded Knee in another time and place called Pine Ridge.

By Trager & Kuhn, Chadron, Nebr. (Library of Congress[1]) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

They make their place in the ongoing legacy of living history that some of them, their parents, and maybe grandparents may have witnessed when the bloody tensions that sparked a civil defiance occupation by the AIM movement that led to two Native persons losing their lives, and a U.S. Marshall being seriously wounded in February of 1973. Yet, still, the U.S. government seems to have learned nothing of the endurance of their heritage against oppression and the “manifest destiny” “kill em all” doctrine.

John C. H. Grabill [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Image by Conor Handley

The formula just keeps repeating. Isolation, vilification, blockading, attacking, and color of law tactics paired with military weapon support. This time, the Lakota have no weapons of war, yet the formula still persists. The maximum extermination of their voice, their agency, continues.

https://i1.wp.com/www.unicornriot.ninja/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Snow.png?resize=618%2C350
Source: Unicorn Riot

The prejudice, bigotry, and racism still continues. Common human decency was brought into peril when it came to the systematic breakdown of compassion in this fight. As seen here, when the local Ace Hardware decided not to sell to the water protectors or their allies:

https://twitter.com/RuthHHopkins/status/804119814318985220/photo/1

Will we see a repeat of what happened in 1890? Will bodies lie frozen in the snow when the armed forces that serve DAPL finally snap now that the media is blinking and looking toward celebrity deaths? The water protectors are still fighting the good fight, do not forget that they still stand in prayer and in the face of repeated offerings of violence.

Original image source: Bykst

But some of us show that promise of progressive spiritual and honorable change. Veterans, outraged by the dishonorable and disgraceful abuse of power and disregard for the rights of the water protectors mustered to form a shield against the spear of political and profiteer abuses under the color of law. They joined the lines and were a symbol of hope and growth.

We must never forget the short step into the dark that this nation is on the verge of taking again. That foot is always poised against the valiant in the face of tyranny, despite the vision of the founders of this nation. Let us hope the tree of liberty need not be nourished with blood again, as the man said.