Supreme Court rules against organized workers’ right to sue

 

Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled against the right of employees to file class action suits if they signed arbitration agreements conditional to employment. The decision now limits the pursuit of legal remedy, in these cases, to  single worker arbitration. This brings a course change that sets the pendulum back toward the employer advantage in cases of workplace violations. This reflects the new shift in philosophy towards a more conservative approach to labor issues.

 

Associate Justice Neil M. Gorsuch; photograph by Franz Jantzen, 2017.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote:

 

The respective merits of class actions and private arbitration as means of enforcing the law are questions constitutionally entrusted not to the courts to decide but to the policy-
makers in the political branches where those questions remain hotly contested. pp. 28, https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-285_q8l1.pdf
The weighting is usually against the employee in arbitration procedures, as firm officiating the procedure is usually paid by the employer. Suppressive tactics, and unfair advantage, loom in the minds of when wages and workplace safety are heard. The collective bargaining resources of union and class action suits do not apply as a result of this decision. The reasoning behind it comes from the NRLA of 1925 section 7, and goes on from there to citing case law.  The written opinion of the court is that arbitration its own area, negating arguments regarding collective rights for wage and other labor issues covered by other acts.
Section 7 give the right for workers to enter into collective bargaining. This is the pillar for labor union leaders so be able to enter into agreements and talks with employers.  Later, the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 further fleshed out practices by eliminating the “closed shop” era of union only shops.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
 Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dissented, calling the court’s majority decision of 5-4 “egregiously wrong”. Her opinion stated
The inevitable result of today’s decision will be the underenforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well-being of vulnerable workers.

The protections afforded by class action representation change. The increase in right to work legislation‘s march through the last decade will see workplace disputes handled differently under this decision. While Taft-Hartley addresses the collective bargaining as a whole, it does not address arbitration, so arbitration was not addressed.

How does this affect Pagan workers?  Religiously intolerant workplaces gain an additional layer of protection against concerns as individual hearings and increased financial burden for recourse.  Since hearing are private in arbitration, you lose the resource available from open hearings. In conservative workplaces, this bodes a tougher fight for the livelihood of many.

 

Celebrating Beltane Dragon Hills Style

 

When you spend a long time among the various businesses within the Pagan community as I have, you tend to get asked quite often whether or not you know of any events at which the business owners could vend. I am often approached by various members within the Pagan community who are simply looking for events to attend where they can congregate with peoples of like-mind. Within the North Georgia community, we used to have quite a few of these events without having to travel very far; these days we’re far more hard-pressed to find any local Pagan or Pagan-friendly events that are less than an hour’s drive away from the Metro Atlanta area.

As much hassle as it can be to load and unload, transport and fuel up when carting around your wares, there are some things many brick-and-mortar and small business owners look for in an event to make sure it will be worth their while when they’re looking to travel the vendor circuit.

  • Is it local? — How far am I willing to travel?
  • Is the venue indoor or outdoor? — Some people can’t stand to be in direct sunlight or heat/cold too long! Health reasons.
  • Is there electricity? — Some vendors need light and WiFi to show their wares and take credit cards!
  • Will I need to book a hotel, can I do primitive camping, or does the venue have lodgings within my price range? — Everyone has their own comfort level needs.
  • Vendor fees! — Some events charge just a vending fee by booth space, some charge only admission, some only require a donation for raffles, some a mixture of all of the above. Each venue is different!
  • Is the venue staff friendly and responsive? — If you don’t click with the staff, chances are you won’t like the overall feel of the event. You need to know the staff running the joint is reliable and available when you need them.
  • Is it a single or multiple day event? — For some people, traveling more than an hour with a lot of precious cargo is not worth only vending for a few hours. They want to be able to set up for a full 2-4 days! Is it worth it?
  • Is it family-friendly? — Several people have a hard time finding events that welcome children within the Pagan community!

 

If you live within the North Georgia area, look no further than our very own Dragon Hills Retreat in Bowdon, Georgia. Two years ago I attended the three day retreat for Beltane in 2016. I had heard some not-so-good things about the venue when it was under different ownership in previous years, and as I did not know the new owners, I didn’t quite know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the staff was not only welcoming, but also very pragmatic. Suffice it to say that when I left, I knew most assuredly that I would be returning again.

 

Dragon Hills Retreat had everything from accessible WiFi, a large indoor, shaded barn for indoor vending, plenty of open space over a few acres of land for outdoor vending and recreation to camping, and if going primitive isn’t your cup of tea, they also have cozy 1-2 bed cabins with electricity and air conditioning!

Click for Event Facilities

 

Wide open spaces!

 

Flash forward two years later, as I had not been able to return for Beltane the year prior, I received the invitation as I do every year to celebrate Beltane at Dragon Hills Retreat for 2018. With a little spare time on my hands, I decided…why not? I enjoyed it thoroughly in 2016. I chipped in with one of my students to get a cabin and two booth spaces. After getting mixed reviews about the weather conditions, we were told it would be clear all weekend the day-of.

 

We showed up, registered, unpacked, and immediately jumped into the fray, excited to meet and greet old friends and eager to make new ones. The weekend promised multiple vendors, a few lovely workshops from making your own wands and staves to an open discussion lecture on empathy and the various types that are out there. Additionally I was stoked for the rituals and the late-night fireside drum circles!

 

Building up the fire for the drum circle!

 

Totally unexpectedly, I had a run-in with one of the vendors who just so happened to be an old friend and fellow member of the Pagan Business Network, Aislin Morrhiaghan of Transcendence Artes. She set up shop inside the barn where she had plenty of shade and was close to the other vendors and workshops. We got to talking and I asked her what she enjoyed most that weekend about Beltane at Dragon Hills…

Click for Transcendence Arts Facebook

“The thing I enjoy most about celebrating Beltane at Dragon Hills is meeting all of the new people! It’s really exciting, nice to get out, a beautiful scenery, but all of the different people and personalities I get to talk to have made this a most enjoyable weekend.” – Aislin Morrhiaghan

Indeed even though several faces were familiar to me from 2016, I did see several new (to me) faces and I was curious to get to know them. Another such new face was a traveling crystal and mineral vendor, Mary Scheidell of Eclectic Treasurez. Dragon Hills had seen crystal and gemstone vendors before but the collection that Mary provided from Eclectic Treasurez was only a fraction of her total inventory which was spread out across multiple events that weekend. I was even more pleasantly surprised to find that Mary had already heard of the Pagan Business Network and PBN News from a friend of hers who had a membership. She was already carrying our brochures and business cards!

Click for Eclectic Treasurez Facebook.

 

Mary travels to various events across the country, selling and collecting crystals and minerals. Her selection was an absolute cornucopia of variety. When asked what she enjoys most about her job, she said,

Mary Scheidell

“…more than the traveling and buying and selling for business, it’s the fact that I help people. People come to me looking to buy something but they always end up needing something in their lives, if nothing other than an ear to listen. I’m happiest when I’ve been able to help someone.” – Mary Scheidell

With a whole weekend ahead of hiking, summer sun, workshops, vendors, rituals and nightly drum circles — and let’s not forget about the potluck dinner and raffle prizes! — it was an absolute blessing to find two particular vendors there who could help you unwind, relax, and destress from your earlier week to prepare you for a weekend of summer fun.

 

Licensed Massage Therapist

How could you go wrong with an affordable licensed massage therapist on-site providing anywhere from a half-hour to hour-and-a-half massages with hot packs and hot stones?! Nothing says de-stress like some relaxing massage available all weekend long.

 

Adding onto the spa-like treatment available that weekend was Usui Reiki Master/Teacher Mason Lightbourne of White Light Practices, a student of the Bellehaven Family Tradition of Witchcraft, and a Thumbtack Professional since 2016, with his own booth providing hour-long Usui Reiki healing sessions and intuitive tarot readings, all for love offerings. So you had the ability to get a relaxing massage and then drop by to have your chakras realigned and energy blocks removed all within the span of two hours!

 

Click for White Light Practices Facebook.

 

Reiki and Tarot

 

Rev. Bellehaven’s booth – PBN, PBN News

 

 

With all of the vendors, the opening ritual near the Faerie Garden, the beautiful scenery, nightly drum circles, and the crafting and Empathy workshops, how could this weekend get any better?! The stunning Ritual Hill awaited as all of the women participating in the main ritual tied ribbons onto the May Wreath which would eventually adorne the top of the Maypole –which the menfolk were out in the forest selecting at the same time.

 

Goddess Artemis – Gatekeeper of Ritual Hill

 

May Wreath
Maypole erected on Ritual Hill

 

After some trial and error regarding the length of the maypole, we finally got it erected and the ribbons secured to prevent tangling in the wind. We went downhill to partake in the Saturday evening potluck and announce the raffle prize winners. Once the sun finally began to fall and set the sky ablaze in hues of pinks and yellows, we began our ritual. The altar was beautifully adorned, and for cakes and ale we had homemade cheesecake with shredded coconut garnish, and wine (sparkling cider for those who could not consume alcohol as this was a family-friendly event.)

Beltane altar.

 

Once all was said and done, we finally began our dance around the maypole. I have to say, the view atop Ritual Hill was absolutely breathtaking and set the whole mood for the ritual. It was all coordinated by a Druidess, the Dragon Hills Ritual Coordinator in charge of a majority of their major rituals.

May fertility dance.

 

At the very end of the fertility dance they announced the May King and Queen! Two volunteer staff members who had shown up to several work weekends at Dragon Hills to help set up for Beltane as well as Hawkfest only a week or so earlier, working on the property, getting things in tip-top shape for attendees. They worked very hard and had no idea that a vote had been taken to name them the 2018 Beltane May King and May Queen. Together they offered their blessings as the embodiment of the God and Goddess, giving each ritual attendee vials of solar water charged with rose quartz just before leaping over the Baelfire.

May King and May Queen of 2018

 

That night we held a large and very lengthy celebration by the drum circle that involved much chanting and drumming, even some acoustic guitar. Spirits were high and the night concluded on a blissful note. The following morning a few of us awoke early to go to the opposite end of Ritual Hill for some early morning Tea and Meditation. In the picture below you’ll find Druidess Jamie (Dragon Hills ritual coordinator), Rev. Jonathon Bellehaven; M.Th. (PBN, PBN News, Bellehaven Family Tradition) and Mason Lightbourne (Usui Reiki Master/Teacher, White Light Practices, Bellehaven Family Tradition) atop ritual hill for tea and meditation.As the morning wore on, we decided to move the event back downhill for some Tea and Tarot before everyone began packing up.

 

Tea and meditation!

 

All in all the weekend was absolutely astounding. Even the little bit of rain we did end up receiving did absolutely nothing to dampen the spirits of every Beltane celebrant in attendance. Dragon Hills Retreat will be hosting Hawkfest in September, and a Samhain event in October, and I know I certainly intend to be present for both! Upcoming in October as well is a Women’s Retreat where the massage therapist Ryan and Usui Reiki Master/Teacher Mason Lightbourne will be present offering a spa treatment package for an all-ladie’s weekend themed to the movie of “Practical Magic.” Check out their official website and find them on Facebook for dates and further upcoming information!

PBN Blues Series: ” Vampire Women” by Spark Plug Smith

Welcome back to another installment of our PBN Blues Series. Today we examine the dilemma of the husband enslaved by a wife’s greed, and the wife disappointed in her husband. As a worker, you will find situations that come to your door that are very startling. Detachment is vital, and so are your ethics. You may find that you are the only worker in the area, and thus could face a similar situation. Here is an interesting case.

All that glitters

Doretha P. and Horace. P are loyal customers at your small botanica. Not a month goes by without products for their home being replenished from your shelves. Blessing products, cleansers, and prosperity candles are on continuous renewal orders. All seems right with the world.

Of special note is the glowing face of Doretha P. . Married life suits her. She is immaculately attired at all times, nails manicured, and make-up perfectly applied. Her car is never over two years old, and she drips in diamonds. Yes, life is very sweet for her.

CCOO

Horace. P. is fairly well off. He works seven days a week at their business. On Sundays, he works alone so that his wife can attend church and volunteer. He is a modest man, very shy, and always fatigued. He picks up the monthly order of products like clockwork. Never does he forget to tip.

However, for the past few months, the orders have been picked up with smaller totals, and this time he did not tip. His eyes appear red and haggard. One look at his shoes tells the story of excessive wear and hard work.

His wife appears happier than ever. She is radiant and adds to the order, despite his objection, by using his second credit card. You smile and complete the transaction.

Later that week, Doretha P. comes in to order a selection of dominance products. Added to this are candles and Essence of Bend Over oil.  She smiles wryly, and tells you she has now secured a sugar daddy on the side. While her husband is working his way into bankruptcy, she is setting up a new relationship to which she can escape. Her intention is to drain Horace P. dry, divorce him, and move away.

You have known Horace P. longer than her. He conducts himself honorably, and absolutely adores his wife. He is the classic example of a fool for love.

But, twenty dollars is twenty dollars. You add the spell set to her total, and watch her leave. Your cash register closes with a snap, much like the trap she is setting.

 

An ethical question

Doretha P. and Horace. P are loyal customers at your small botanica. Not a month goes by without products for their home being replenished from your shelves. Blessing products, cleansers, and prosperity candles are on continuous renewal orders. All seems right with the world.

Of special note is the glowing face of Doretha P. . Married life suits her. She is immaculately attired at all times, nails manicured, and make-up perfectly applied. Her car is never over two years old, and she drips in diamonds. Yes, life is very sweet for her.

Horace. P. is fairly well off. He works seven days a week at their business. On Sundays, he works alone so that his wife can attend church and volunteer. He is a modest man, very shy, and always fatigued. He picks up the monthly order of products like clockwork. Never does he forget to tip.

However, for the past few months, the orders have been picked up with smaller totals, and this time he did not tip. His eyes appear red and haggard. One look at his shoes tells the story of excessive wear and hard work.

His wife appears happier than ever. She is radiant and adds to the order, despite his objection, by using his second credit card. You smile and complete the transaction.

Later that week, Doretha P. comes in to order a selection of dominance products. Added to this are candles and Essence of Bend Over oil.  She smiles wryly, and tells you she has now secured a sugar daddy on the side. While her husband is working his way into bankruptcy, she is setting up a new relationship to which she can escape. Her intention is to drain Horace P. dry, divorce him, and move away.

Your ethics can come into play in this. There are multiple paths before you. What do you do?

 

Money is not everything

You choose to inform Doretha P.  that because of the relationship you have with them as a married couple, you cannot be a party to this. She is offended and reminds you that you are just a business person, and to mind your own. You ask her to leave.  She states she will find a worker elsewhere.

You wish her success in her future endeavors and close the door after her. Because you are morally outraged, you do some work to banish her. You also make sure to do some protection work for your business, just in case she tries to bad mouth you.

CC00

Meddling

You choose to inform Doretha P.  that because of the relationship you have with them as a married couple, you cannot be a party to this. She is offended and reminds you that you are just a business person, and to mind your own. You ask her to leave.  She states she will find a worker elsewhere.

You wish her success in her future endeavors and close the door after her. Because you are morally outraged, you do some work to expose her to her husband. The next time her Horace P. comes into your shop, he picks up his last order and questions why you offended his wife. He then imparts a web of lies that she has told him about you insulting her out of jealousy.

You attempt to clear it up, but he is furious. He tells you how disappointed he is and walks out with his purchases. You shake your head and remind yourself that this is why you are not supposed to get involved with clients.

A year later, he returns to your shop. He is divorced and seeking to apologize to you. His wife’s lies have been exposed and he feels like a fool.

What would you do?

Ultimately, the question of ethics is personal. It is that which makes us individuals withing the societal whole when it comes to our actions. This case is only one of many, with different outcomes not discussed here.

Scorpions Get A Bad Rap – Time For a Makeover: A Brief Look Into the Scorpion Medicine Totem

A little after Beltane Bash hosted by North Georgia Solitaries in May of 2012, I wrote the following article and submitted it to The Pagan Household for which I was a writer. The article was inspired by a scorpion which had stowed away in my clothing after the camping weekend at Beltane Bash, and came home with me only to sting me at night as I slept.

It has been several years since The Pagan Household was dissolved, and with it all of the submitted articles. With the loss of my computer from back then, I had thought I’d lost my earlier published articles for good. Luckily for me, I happened to find them posted to an old social media account, stored way, way in the back of the archives.

The image of a scorpion is generally enough to strike fear, awe, and a very healthy dose of respect into the heart of anyone who meets one, however scorpions tend to get an undeservedly bad rapport, at the very least in terms of how lethal they can be to humans. Presently, out of 1,500 known species of scorpions world-wide, only approximately twenty-five of them are able to deliver fatal stings to humans. Even among those twenty-five, they can’t typically kill healthy adults, although their venom (neurotoxins) can cause symptoms such as convulsions and shortness of breath. The ones most at risk of dying due to a sting from a scorpion are infants and the elderly, and even then that only applies to stings by the deadliest species. There are only a few species of scorpion, such as the Death Stalker (Leiurus quinquestriatus) of North and Southwest Africa, which are potent enough to fell even the most physically fit humans—this is entirely dependent upon the victim’s innate tolerance for the venom.

There are approximately eighty species of scorpion in the United States, and of them only one—the inadequately named Arizona Bark Scorpion—is considered lethal. The name is a slight misnomer due to the species being found also in the deserts of California and Utah. However even for this deadly critter, there is an antivenin available for the treatment of scorpion stings.

As Brendan Koerner of Slate suggests, scorpions need not always be an anathema to mankind.

Recently an Alabama-based biotech company called TransMolecular, Inc. found a way to work on a tumor-killing drug made from scorpion venom. This drug is meant to treat a variety of brain tumors called gliomas, which affect about 16,500 Americans per year.

For the Pagan Community, however, the scorpion isn’t just a future means of cancer treatment; it is a very old and powerful teacher. Fierce and potentially lethal, they have been known to live for as long as twenty-five years (significantly longer than most any other arachnid). They are masters of patience as they do not hunt their prey, but rather wait until something suitable comes their way. Scorpion totem medicine is definitely not for the faint of heart, it isn’t called the Lion of the Desert for nothing. If Lions are the kings of the jungle, then Scorpions would be the kings of the Desert.

Traditionally associated with Shamanism for healing, the scorpion confers the powers of charisma (masterful presence), rejuvenation, transformation, death and rebirth, mystery, sales, self-protection, magnetic personality, the power of passion, intensity, determination, boldness, willpower, forcefulness, tranquility, dignity, and healing on a cellular level. They also teach us endurance and tenacity, as they can survive up to a year without food or water making them one of the most enduring creatures on the planet. Oftentimes the appearance of a scorpion in your life (whether it is someone whose totem or zodiac sign is a scorpion, or if it is the actual animal itself) denotes a powerful change and sometimes even a complete metamorphosis about to occur within your life soon.

Much of this I was not aware of until recently when I was stung again for the second time in my life, this time by a Southern Devil. Since this was not the first time I was stung, I thought that it was worth looking into. When I was first stung I was about ten years old and the scorpion was not native to my state. It was medium-sized and solid black. It crawled into my bed and stung me on the bend of my right arm—my whole arm was swollen for almost a month! Back then I didn’t think too much about it, I chalked it up to bad luck even though I had been walking the Pagan Path for nearly two and a half years at that time. Just a few days ago another little critter, the Southern Devil, crawled into my bed with me yet again, and stung me about six times in two different places on my right leg. Not being one to believe in coincidences and having had several very strong shamanic callings in my life (which I only recently began to answer), I decided to do some research.

Comparison of the size of the average adult Southern Devil scorpion.

It turns out that the scorpion was indeed another shamanic calling, and a very powerful one at that. This occurrence just so happened to have arrived at a most auspicious time in my life when I was beginning to step into the mantle of Shaman for my local community, and I had been working on my personal growth at a rather impressive rate since December of 2012. Around that Ostara I had held a community ritual, which focused around the theme of “spring cleaning” within oneself. The idea was to remove the emotional, mental, and spiritual clutter within, in order to make room for personal growth. As it so happens, one of the greatest powers that the scorpion medicine totem possesses is the ability to remove and effectively cut out those things that act as a hindrance to your personal growth. In one respect, you can think of it as the scorpion tail stinging and removing things that are causing dead weight, obstruction, pain or illness in your life. In this way, the scorpion medicine can be used to clear, heal, and remove obstacles to promote a positive, healthy well-being for yourself or for others.

Ever since then, my random fevers and ear aches by which I’d been plagued at sporadic times since childhood had ceased, some of the old pains from my knee injuries during my years in martial arts has subsided, and I have felt more strongly than ever that I am and have been on the correct path for me—though due to being stung, with all of the irritating itch and burn action that went on with my right leg, I got the distinct feeling that there was more I could—or should—be doing.

The scorpion animal totem is a strong spirit indeed and its magickal properties are one of the most influential of all the animal totems. Strength in leadership, long-lasting endurance, the wisdom to wait, higher self-esteem, and so much more can be integrated into the spirit of one who has this beautiful creature as their totem.

I figured I would share my scorpion story with the readers of PBN News to give you an introduction on what it is exactly that I do. As a community leader, I promote the ideal of a community without walls, so, in addition to occasional business tips, I often tend to tackle some very controversial and difficult situations—such as successfully providing neutral grounds for people of various traditions, beliefs, practices, and ways of life to come together and share their experiences and beliefs so that we may learn from one another without fear of judgment.

One of the most influential public speakers I have ever known once said, “When there is an elephant in the room, introduce it.”

The scorpion was my elephant, and though it did physically happen to me, the spiritual significance of the representation of the scorpion as the spirit of the world in both positive and negative aspects is also something to ponder upon deeply.

In life we are faced with much adversity; but if we do not balk in the face of something that seems so terrifying, especially in this case a scorpion to someone terrified of arachnids, we will often find that as Kimberly Kirberger, ‘Chicken Soup for the Teenage Girls Soul,’ says, “The fear is always greater than the reality.”

My scorpion ordeal has reaffirmed this belief for me.

Pollen Woe

Oh Pollen, how I hate thee!
Let me count the ways…

Gazillion spores clogging my nostrils.
Countless hours of waiting room misery.

Oh Pollen, how I loathe thee!

Swimming in medical bills,
Blindfolded, dart wielding,
determining order of payment.

Reigning monarchs,
Hail to the tissue kings and queens!

Oh Pollen, how I despise thee!

Blanketing cars and infiltrating homes.
Medicine cabinets brimming with pills, sprays,
and lozenges.

Oh Pollen, with a sniff and a sneeze,
a cough and a wheeze,
I banish you and command you to cease!

Katherine O’Boyle-Sheffield

Metro Detroit Pagan Community Statement of Concern 2018 – G.L.W.C of Michigan

The G.L.W.C. of Michigan just issued this press release. Full disclosure, I am on that council board.

 

Metro Detroit Pagan Community Statement of Concern

2018

 

METRO DETROIT, APRIL 12, 2018 — Actions and circumstances have necessitated, in the view of this body, an official statement regarding our position on several matters. Over the last year, the rise of “witch hunts”, “witch wars”, and what appears on its face to be a power imbalance are of concern to us.

 

Multiple organizations in the region are in internal and external crisis. Leadership positions are no longer based on community visions. The previous culture of service, vision, and upliftment is now one infected with backroom negotiations and breaches of promise. Rumors and hearsay are used to destroy character, without chance for rebuttal, in the public eye. The torches are lit and we see missteps, mistakes, and ignorant actions no longer being times for education, but times for total annihilation by social media attackers and mercenary courtiers.

 

Michigan moved from presumption of innocence, and subsequent actions against those who commit physical harm. Now the community punishes, with great zeal and relish, any perceived infraction no matter the relevance to the person’s position. Personal slights are magnified into full on reputation assassinations. The drive to foment conflict and cause factioning is in full swing, and we fear it has not yet reached its amplitude.

 

Of primary concern are the following:

 

  • The hyperbolic reactions and consolidation of personal and organizational harassment against persons during a crisis without a community sit down meeting.
  • The penchant for the total destruction of leadership without thought to restorative measures considered to the community.
  • The removal of persons from positions of leadership based on non-public and personal relationships and affairs.
  • The insidious climate of a McCarthy type marginalization of people based on differing ideas, tenets of spiritual practice, and political views.
  • The fostering of conflict in what seems to be a premeditated path to an underground purge of said persons.

 

We urge our peers to step back a moment and consider their actions very carefully. How you proceed in the next year will set the stage for an incoming generation. Now is the time for open and honest public conversation and transparent airings of accusations and grievances.

 

For at least three in our community, they are hamstrung by this shift. Their character and actions were cast aside to rot, good works be damned. That is the risk of public service, though. However, usually the public is not swayed by private agendas so easily. How many stakes will be needed to feed your witch hunt fires? If this continues, when will you take your place in one next?

 

“A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows public opinion.” – Grantland Rice

 

The G.L.W.C. of Michigan was founded in 2012 to To Facilitate Workshops, Events, Classes, Community Outreach, and a Forum for the Magickal and Magickally Interested Communities.

Media Contact:

Kenya Coviak

rzrrvn@yahoo.com

G.L.W.C. of Michigan/Great Lakes Witchs Council

PBN Blues Series: “The Ballad of Stagger Lee” by Mississippi John Hurt

It is time for another installment in our PBN Blues Series. I hope you are having as much fun reading it as I am writing it. It is also my hope that you are enjoying the music that accompanies each piece. So without further delay, let us get down to it.

There are big dogs, and small dogs, and dogs in between these sizes. But everyone accepts that at any given time, there is always going to be a dog that all the other dogs know that it is a bad move to engage or start any “mess”. It is a sort of survival instinct.

The same sort of survival instinct exists among humans, as well. However, we tend to not listen to our intuition as much as we should. Those of us who are in the magical and spiritual business world are notorious for ignoring that neck chilling instinct that says “time to go on home and sit back down”. The over inflated ego can buy so much trouble that an entire bank could not cash you out of debt.

A lot of bark for a small bite

Opal T. walks into your shop in a furious fit of anger. She paces back and forth in front of your candle shelves. A cloud of vape smoke is filling your small space, but you do not wish to agitate her further by being loudly vocal about it right now. She is an established client and peer, so you decide to wait until she is composed enough to speak to you in a coherent fashion.

CC0 Creative Commons

Opal T. steps to your counter and taps her impeccably manicured fingers on your glass display case top. Her braids are moving around like they have a life of their own, as she animatedly relates the details of her latest witch war with another spiritual worker in town. The woman in her tale is a well known, and respected, community member. She is also not one to be trifled with in any fashion. However, Opal T. decides that she needs to take her to task for publicly questioning her skills.

Now, this dust up is actually not that large of an issue. Besides that, the other woman was actually correct that Opal T. is not qualified to speak on the topic of the disagreement, as she is not an initiate of the tradition in question. In this case, it would be better that it be forgotten. You tell this to your client.

She is not having it, at all. She demands to make an example of the other woman by casting a hex at her. She asks for a consult regarding the most powerful spell component packages you carry. She wants to prove a point, very messily and publicly, that she can hold her own against this woman. She calls her a washed up old hag, and you laugh with her as you bag up her purchases.

She is unsure how to actually cast the working, however. She picks out a few books so that she can construct something at home. Her purchases seem very swayed by the publisher logos on the books, and not content. It does not matter to you. Money is money.

Opal T.  leaves with a haughty gait and a twinkle in her eyes. You count your day’s cash and get ready to close. For just a moment, you get the feeling that you just made a mistake. You brush it off, and flip the closed sign. It will be the last time for many months that you go home with peace of mind.

 

Get back on the porch

Opal T. walks into your shop in a furious fit of anger. She paces back and forth in front of your candle shelves. A cloud of vape smoke is filling your small space, but you do not wish to agitate her further by being loudly vocal about it right now. She is an established client and peer, so you decide to wait until she is composed enough to speak to you in a coherent fashion.

Opal T. steps to your counter and taps her impeccably manicured fingers on your glass display case top. Her braids are moving around like they have a life of their own, as she animatedly relates the details of her latest witch war with another spiritual worker in town. The woman in her tale is a well-known, and respected, community member. She is also not one to be trifled with in any fashion. However, Opal T. decides that she needs to take her to task for publicly questioning her skills.

CC0 Creative Commons

Now, this dust up is actually not that large of an issue. Besides that, the other woman was actually correct that Opal T. is not qualified to speak on the topic of the disagreement, as she is not an initiate of the tradition in question. In this case, it would be better that it be forgotten. You tell this to your client.

She is not having it, at all. She demands to make an example of the other woman by casting a hex at her. She asks for a consult regarding the most powerful spell component packages you carry. She wants to prove a point, very messily and publicly, that she can hold her own against this woman. She calls her a washed up old hag, and you shake your head.

You attempt to reason with her. After all, a disagreement is no more reason to do offensive work of a destructive nature than a laugh at a social faux pas. You also caution her that because she is inexperience in this sort of thing, it is not advisable.

She gives you an angry glare and storms through the book section. She is unsure how to actually cast the working, however. She picks out a few titles so that she can construct something at home. Her purchases seem very swayed by the publisher logos on the books, and not content.

Once again, when she returns to the counter, you caution her about making sure this is the route she wishes to travel.  She asks you to help her construct a cursing spell. As her peer, you do not wish her to undertake anything that would distract her from her usual practices. You also do not wish to become involved in a witch war. Lastly, through your knowledge of the parties involved, you have a strong feeling that she is about to get magically “mollywhopped” with extreme prejudice when she goes up against that other practitioner.

CC0 Creative Commons

You refuse to do the spell design for her. However you do sell the books to her. You are in business, after all. Your conscience is clear.

More importantly, you have successfully avoided involvement in a conflict that can cost you business. Never take sides in a public conflict. You are not a judge or jury. You are in the business of business.

You wait for the inevitable news of another witch war gone wrong. Shaking your head, you do a clearing of your shop and get rid of her energy. Some people should not be tried by the weak and ego-driven.

The woman she is attacking does not get involved in trifles, partly because all her enemies know better than to try her. She is the sort that should be left alone. She is merciless, as are most experienced elders with little patience. You anticipate that Opal T. is about to learn this the very hard way.

The Alchemy of Shadow Work and What Spring and Autumn Can Teach Us About This Important Work

Bet that title has you scratching your head, wondering what can Spring and Autumn teach us about shadow work. Maybe you have scoffed at the regurgitated old analogies of what shadow work is about. Maybe you’re just beginning your learning. Whatever your thoughts, questions and such, I hope you have some curiosity as to what Nature through any of its seasons can teach us about the important work of Shadow Alchemy.

I’ve been a student of Nature, life, us humans since I was a child. I’ve been an initiated person of spiritual wisdom, healing and such also since I was a child. I watch, listen, ask questions, always curious and understanding that there is more and more to learn and understand.

I’ve also come to understand that we humans are not allowing ourselves to evolve, change, heal or grow. We are hindering ourselves by not allowing our stories, myths, analogies, metaphors and other things to change or grow. We’ve also turned important truths upside down and firmly believe our lies.

Which brings us to shadow work and the alchemical process that it is !

We’ve turned shadow into a scapegoat for all the messed up things we are capable of. We believe that shadow only contains the messed up things. We keep being fooled into believing that we don’t need a different approach to our relationship with shadow work.

Yet we can find that nature has a lesson about the truth of shadows and really it’s lessons!

I willingly admit that what I’m sharing isn’t the end all and be all of answers. For even I am a student and I understand I can only know but a portion of any given thing. I also know that each person has their own unique journey of learning to accomplish. Yet my life’s journey thus far because of how I’m always wanting to reach understanding of things, has taught me some things.

Nature, life, our world, each human, animal, element  and all the cycles, seasons, processes  and such are always patiently teaching us important truths. Really life, nature, our world is one big classroom! What I mean by that is, our world, ourselves and life are the micro versions of truths about the much larger or macro of The All That Is and it’s truths!

So what does Nature and it’s many cycles have to teach us    about shadows and our own shadow work?

We have to start with a couple basic things about shadow. Yes, I realize you may know these basic things about how shadow needs light and usually a solid object or person, such as you! But what do these basic things about shadow have to teach us about our shadow work.

Well with this first basic fact about formation of shadow needing light and then a solid something in order for shadow to be able to happen, we then see if this correlates to how our minds and our senses work.

We take a look at our minds and how the information of various things are all first processed in our minds. Then we speak, act and such from those thoughts and we formulate ideas, judgments and beliefs about the outer world we live in. Our minds are an interesting mixture of solid and yet subtle things and our senses we use to carry out different tasks can be seen as as the light and strangely as the shadow also.

So the true point of shadow for us happens between a thought or feeling moving towards an action and or reaction with the outside world!

Shadow lies between each thought, belief, self talk, action and reactions and so much more. Shadow lies in us making our minds conscious and aware of what it’s thinking and believing. Even when we aren’t actively being aware of how we are reacting and interacting with life,  shadow is still there between the mind and outside world.

Another intersting basic fact about shadows is that they change according to the direction of light upon a thing or person!

This basic fact about nature’s ways with shadows can be an amazing teacher in showing us that change is a very natural thing within life and ourselves. Which is a really big truth that we humans struggle to accept especially about our minds and lives.

Yet nature is showing us that change is a very real and natural thing that goes on from moment to moment, day by day, season to season, year by year and so on!

Which brings us to what Spring and Autumn can teach us about shadow work!

When we look at the placement of these two seasons within the seasonal cycles, we see Spring and Autumn at mid way points towards days getting longer or shorter, and same for the night time.

Spring time’s shadow play is one where the shadows look to be getting shorter. For the sunlight during the day is at a point more directly over our home, trees and such. So it’s almost as if shadow is receding.

Another thing about Spring is we start getting excited and making plans for outdoors type of things we want or need to do. So we are engaging the outside world more and more during Spring moving towards Summertime.

This time of year can encourage us to take a good look at how we are engaging and connecting with the outside world, including our interactions and beliefs and such with ourselves and one another.

Another lesson Spring has for our shadow work is all about planting and cultivating growth of things! Spring  can be a big help in guiding us towards the things we desire and long to heal and change. Because we have positive, negative and things in between those two points. Shadow and darkness are actually neutral ground so to speak.

So all facets of beliefs and such reside there! Shadow is very much capable of holding seemingly opposing things! So when we bring this understanding into our shadow work we then can have fuller and easier access to the whole of ourselves!

So during the Spring and going into Summer we can do the work of planting and cultivating the change and healing we long to have happen. And if we understand that shadow and darkness of our minds contain all that we need or can guide us to the things we still need for growth and healing, Spring will help us in big ways to heal and change our interactions with the outside world.

Another point I want to make about shadow is it can be a gentler and safer terrain to travel versus the darkness, because we do have light along the way to help guide us better, versus what can happen with darkness! 

Which brings us interestingly to what can Autumn teach us about shadow work! I’m bringing up Autumn along with Spring in this writing because while the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing life awakening, the Southern Hemisphere is experiencing life heading towards certain levels of restfulness, of becoming dormant for a time!

With Autumn the shadows lengthen because the sunlight is at more of an angle. So we have more to shadows during the Autumn. Also in Autumn we have the nights start to get longer and we ourselves with the cooling down of the temperatures, start to stay indoors more. Autumn is the season that gets us ready for the cold and freeze of Winter.

So as we are seeing with Autumn we have a season that we have of preparation for the freezing time of Winter. This means getting the harvesting done, getting seeds planted for early spring, making sure our windows and such don’t leak and getting our Winter clothing out and many other sorts of preparations are done during the Autumn in time for the Winter freeze. Autumn then is a time of pulling inward and making preparations for the dark time we call Winter.

So Autumn as a teacher and guide helps point towards us having opportunities to do the work of understanding the inner world of our minds! 

Shadow work during the Autumn is all about navigating the inner terrain of our minds and getting to the things that limit us, shackle us, or may be toxic and poisonous that need healing. It can also though help us train up the positive aspects so that we can accelerate our growth and healing.

Another reason I am writing about both Spring and Autumn is because shadow work needs to happen in both directions of outer and inner worlds. Especially if we are doing all we can to grow and heal. We need to pay attention to how we are reacting and interacting with the outside world. While also on a regular basis doing the work of checking into what’s going on within the innner world of our minds!

For us to truly become whole and healed we must do conscious working with both the inner world of mind and the outer world of living! Hence why both Spring and Autumn are much needed teachers and guides. Because together they help us have a more holistic approach to ourselves, minds and lives!

Blessings to you all this Spring! Let it be a time of growth and healing in your life that it can be! And let Autumn guide you as you work with your inner world of mind and gain fuller access to your power!

 

 

Working with the Land

This morning I  sat my desk and looked out side to see it snowing on the second day of spring.  As the snow falls I see at least 6″ of snow all over the ground from a blizzard that occurred last week.  This is how it is every year where I live.  Lots and lots of snow that never seems to go away.

Yet when you walk into a retail store you will see seeds for sale and signs of spring every where.  people longing for the time where the days are warm and gentle and that they can be outside with out harsh heat and those pesky bugs (we have a lot of bugs in my area).  Spring time in Maine can be a wonderful time of year when it finally gets here.

Its hard to be thinking about planting your gardens when its still covered in snow and the temps outside can still reach below freezing.  There were times when during this past year I thought about getting started on my prep work outside, but once that thought hit me another draft of snow appeared to come our way.

It may be weeks before we actually notice spring here in Maine.  As a pagan and as a witch I work with the spirits of the land and the current of the land energy.  Hug a tree to talk to the spirit now and they are often annoyed that they got woken up.  They are not yet fully awake and the land is still very much asleep.  Some trees like Birch and Maple have started to have small leafbuds.  Looking outside at the trees in the back and I largely have an image of this:

Maine Winter 2018
Photo courtesy Jeannine Kari Martell-Morris

The grips of winter largely still hold over this land.  Yet we see the squirrels and chipmunks darting to and fro finding food and the birds looking for any seeds or food they can find out in the snow.  Life still moves in Maine spring, just moves quite slowly.    Once the spring rains get here then I can say that the season has begun and that Spring has come to Maine.

This is why for myself I really dont celebrate and honor either Imbolc or Ostara.  To me neither one really represent spring.  Its not spring here.  To me honoring the birth of the sun at Imbolc makes no sense, its still very dark here during that time.  Then the Spring Equinox often has snow storms and ice going on, which to me is not very spring.  Its not really the season of spring, at least in feel or look.  Its still in the grips of old man winter.

The land does not have flowers blooming and baby animals all around.  Its still quiet, cold and mostly slumbering.  The lakes will start to crack and the ice will start to melt, and some flowers will start to peek through the snow in a few weeks.  When that happens I will gladly honor and welcome to start of spring, but for now its very much winter still here.

It took me a while to get comfortable with not having those two sabbats in my practice, but then I realized if I was really going to honor and work with the spirits of the land I should honor the seasons when they actually come to the region.  When they come to Maine, and Winter by far is our longest season.   I’ll acknowledge the light and increase in day when we see that happen and I’ll welcome spring when I see the first flowers popping up in gardens.  Till then I’ll simply continue to ask Old Man winter to be gentle with me and hope the ice and snow spirits accept my prayers of protection and my offerings when I give them.

I look forward to connecting to the spirit of the land when they wake, but for now I will let the land sleep.  I have some plants I can work and grow in my office to try and feel as if Spring is here, but until the land wakes and the mud is here its still a land of snow with ice and cold and fires are needed to keep warm.

Be mindful of your land and the climate.  Don’t force yourself to work in rituals or holidays that dont fit what you see and experience as your land.  The land spirits will guide you and direct you and may even help you find new ways to look at everything you have been doing.

Plant spirits our allies and teachers

As a witch I work with many different spirits and have many different spirit allies.  Some of these spirit allies have been with me longer than others, and many times they have lessons to teach me.   For a long time I wondered what exactly it was my spirit allies had taught me, and where their lessons came from.  There was a time when I actually believed that I had never learned anything from spirits, but I was wrong.

For years one main lesson from all of my spirit allies was to simply trust my intuition and trust my knowledge.  I knew and know more than I often give myself credit for in both theoretical practice and actual practice.  To put it blunt I was afraid of my skill with energy manipulation and with psychic work, so I didn’t let myself access my actual knowledge and understanding.  I didn’t let myself practice.

This was until I encountered my first plant spirit guide.  I had been buying “healing” incenses from stores and “Astral Travel” or “Psychic” development incenses from stores to use in my meditations, spells, rituals, and works.  These worked for a while, but I began to wonder how I could make my own and if that would be any different.   So The next time I went to the local metaphysical store I bought a few herbs to use for healing work and psychic work.  I bought Peppermint, Myrrh, Calendula, and Mugwort to start with.   I also had white sage, Dragons Blood, and Frankincense.  This base provided me lots of different things to work with, spirituality, psychic work, meditation, and healing.  It was a perfect selection to start my journey into magical herbalism.

Before I made my own I started by adding a little of these herbs to the powdered incenses I had been buying.  Just to get myself use to the concept of working with herbs in this fashion.  After a while I decided it was time to start working with the herbs and make my own blends.   I had no idea what I was doing at first, no real connection to any of the herbs, then as I sat down and looked at them I started to have an understanding of which herbs I was supposed to use for the general healing incense I was creating at that moment.

I didn’t think about where the decisions and choice came from at that point in time, but looking back its pretty clear that it was the plants that were helping.  One plant in particular seems to help me more than any other.  That plant is Marigold/Calendula.  To this day it has been the plant marigold that has led me to trust in the plants energy and the plants spirits guiding me in working with them and getting the incense blends just right.

Marigold
Photo found at: https://pixabay.com/en/flower-blossom-bloom-yellow-orange-2469091/

Today when I do spell work or rituals I get out the herbs and ask them who is best to do this work with me, or who wants to be used in this work.  One time when I was doing this for a money spell Calendula spoke up and wanted to be used in the mix.  Which to me was strange.  Our relationship had been with healing and psychic work.  But after some time I relented and added some of the flower to the mix and the ritual worked quite well.  A few days later I did some research and found out that money work was one of the attributes of the herb, yet the plant itself decided to teach me this lesson over books.

A lot of people ask me where the recipes I make come from.  The answer is quite simple.  The plants tell me.  Its that simple.  I may get out a bunch of plants with a similar set of associations (lets say astral travel and psychic work).  I will then set them out and say what I am doing for work.  The herbs themselves will guide me in their use and the specific work.  Some herbs speak louder than others.  Some take getting used to understanding how they speak, and others may never work or speak to you, each plant spirit is different and each one will have different lessons for you as you work with them.

It can be easy to forget the importance that these spirits have in our lives and in our practice.  When we do they can give us needed wakeup calls.  Sometimes these calls are as simple as quick image flash reminders of what we need to do and are doing and other times they can be more to the point causing issues in areas of our life until we address what they have to teach us.

I almost forgot how and why I got to where I am today.  Its thanks to working with the marigold spirit and the spirit of the Pine tree.  These two plant spirits more than any others have helped me develop an understanding of the green world and are one of the reasons I consider myself a magical herbalist.  There are other plant spirits that have been influential in my life, as a witch I have a relationship with mugwort, but its not as strong as any other spirit, but the two who have been my main teachers and guides in spirit work with plants are Marigold and Pine.

Today I got that reminder from one of the spirits.  Writing this article has been one of the ways I am apologizing to that spirit and trying to show the world what it has done for me.  The other way is I reworked my workshop a little bit to include herb samples and a secondary incense to awaken psychic and spiritual powers and connect to plant spirits.  One of the herb samples that the people attending my workshop will get is marigold, helping other people connect to the energy of that spirit is another way I will be making up for forgetting their lessons.

Let the plant spirits guide you and you will find a lot of allies who will aid you in contact with other spirits and your own spirit.  Let the plants guide you and they will teach you their mysteries, their magic, and their spirit uses.  They can be great friends and allies in magic if we just open up to them and listen to what they have to say.