Into the dark

We’re very near the longest night of the year, and I’ve always found this to be the time best used for big change reflections.  I think that’s why people work for New Year’s Resolutions– it’s a *thing* because it’s a convenient date that follows this bit of deep introspection.

I know many would disagree- the whole winter is for introspection, Beth!  (I hear people chime knowingly).  And I don’t disagree.  But these few weeks before Solstice are a special time of clarity for me.  I find that answers come now– not through tarot, not through scrying, … just by working it through.

As it happens, I work things through in my head.  I’m not really a gut/heart/soles-of-the-feet kind of person… Intuition comes to me as a voice in my head, in this sort of weird someone-else-is-acting-in-my-head way.  It’s the unprocessed thinking that works for me … as if someone pops open a file cabinet in my head and grabs out a script that has all the right words magically ready to go.

I think that we get this bit of extra-deep intuitive time to give us those introspective months to get habits going.  Most people seem to think about change about now– change for the next Year… and pagans tend to be in an odd place around this, since so many of us consider the Years to change at other times (Wiccans and most neo-pagans who follow Celtic paganism consider November 1st to be the first day of the new year, for example).  There’s still something particularly fascinating about having the ‘fresh start’ of a new calendar year (as an aside, I have no idea how it works for those in the Southern Hemisphere, since calendar years don’t match up with their winter-introspective time, but I consider it an added perk for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere).  There’s been a lot of research on habit formation, about how you need at least 30 days to form a daily habit (or break a bad one!).  There are a few things that I’ve been thinking about that I’d like to develop into new habits, and one of them only became clear to me today.

As a words-in-my-head person, you’d think I’d know exactly how powerful words can be.  Three years ago I refused to call one of the rooms in our house the “Junk Room” anymore– I renamed it the “Prosperity Room” (based on a little amateur feng shui modelling of my house), and thus it became difficult to just throw our stuff in their willy-nilly.  Don’t get me wrong- it didn’t get magically better overnight (oh, shoemaker’s elves, where are you when I need you?).  But it helped.

This year I’ve been struggling with how to keep my house.  In a previous post I shared my favourite blog post from a fellow pagan blogger, who urged everyone to consider the role of each room of the house.

I guess I just needed to let that percolate for a little while, because today, while developing a series of routines for myself, specifically designed to fit in time for ritual and meditation and energy work daily, I finally figured out that my big issue with getting housework done was that I’ve always called it ‘doing chores’.

My schedule literally had “Chores for Monday:  floors & stairs; laundry: wash dishcloths and tea towels”.  And all of my many, many lists have had that label.  Chores.

My mom called them Chores, extended family had farms and called everything they did around the farm and house Chores, and I just continued that.  But “doing chores” sounds awful.  Chores are a terrible, painful, time-killing activity that Adults Do (or Make their Kids Do) and it always sucks.

Finally, today I figured out what I should be calling this time.  I don’t do chores.  I don’t do housework.  I do housecare.

I know, it sounds ridiculous.  But it finally clicked for me, and this works.  I *want* to care for my house, to return the love and gift my house gives me and my family.  And keeping my house clean is caring for it- just like keeping my dog and family members clean and well fed… that’s care.

So here’s to a little bit of that fabulous extra deep introspection over the next few days.  And here’s to having those bright moments of intuition that help us find new ways to think/feel/be!*


*More on the thinking vs. feeling vs. being thing later.  🙂




Words Have Power

Do you remember the first time you read that phrase?  “Words have power”, said Blanche Barton, and I was riveted.

As it happens, I’m not a satanist, but the introductory letter Blanche Barton wrote remains to this day one of the best pieces of writing I’ve ever read.  She knew exactly what she was doing with her audience- and she chose those words so carefully.  Artfully.  Although most pagans that I know would smack me for saying it, LaVeyian satanists have their PR act together.  We could probably take notes.

All Hallows Eve, Hallowe’en, or Samhain, as you prefer, seems to polarize the average pagan into one of two camps: run-for-the-broom-closet, or scream-your-devotion-from-the-mountains.  Of course, there are additionally articles galore by the various media machines about Hallowe’en, and rituals, and witches-but-not-the-neo-pagan-kind, and witches-that-are-the-neo-pagan-kind, and broomsticks and black cats and dressing your offspring up as Sexy <whatevs>.

There are declarative statements about having all of us pagans band together and come out and show the world that we’re real, we’re here, and we’re– wait, I think that’s the wrong cause.

There are lots of times in my life that I feel just a touch out of step with the world, but Samhain, and the entire month of November, just seem to amp that discord up a touch.  In my not-overly-humble opinion, if we want to come out of the broom closet with a bang, we should do it when everyone, and I do mean everyone, is excited, happy, and READY FOR SUMMER, BITCHES.  Many of us call that Beltane.

I’ve never been able to figure out why the festival that heralds the beginning of the turn-inward, quiet-down, and reflect on life and death and yourself season makes people think about sharing their witchiness with everyone and sundry.

Sometimes I think that those of us who focus on a nature-based practice should remember that as humans, words have power- so true.  But as beings on this Earth, seasons have power.  So much power.  And we should honour those seasons and that call in ourselves and in others, regardless of their spirituality/faith/whatevs.

Maybe you’re feeling super compelled to out your pagan-y weirdness to your family, your loved ones, your boss, and the grocery store clerk right now… and if you are, feel free.  But as we come up on this beautiful full moon, so close behind our sorrowful remembrance of our ancestors, take a moment some night.

Look up at the moon.

Look down at the reflection- in a puddle, a lake, the sea, or a bowl…

and remember that the driving need you feel to connect with something deep… so many, many beings feel that call to the bones this season.  It’s in our blood, in our spirit.

This isn’t the season to ask people who can’t articulate that driving need to pull away from their inner reflections and focus with an open heart and open mind on the crazy-shiny-new-excitingness that is your heart full of pagan joy.

This is the season to smile quietly, hand them a cup of tea, and commune with them the old fashioned way- through stories and memories and the bittersweet wonder of watching the world come to a close.

Then go outside, smile up at the moon, and make a note of that tree near your place.  It will let you know, with a joyful push of grass-green buds, when it’s time to ask your non-pagan loved ones to open their hearts to your path.

That’s what we witches do.  We dance with all of the seasons.

So the weather starts to turn…

It’s that time of year.  Right now, when the wind is calling, the rain is pouring, and the fog lifts off the ground and curls around your ankles, inviting you to start the journey within.  I love the fall. This is the time that the self-respecting forums stop accepting new members, if only to prevent the rash of work it takes to admin and moderate a whole entire host of newbies with insta-witch fantasies crowding their brains.  If you’re one of those newbies, welcome.  I was one of you, once, and the biggest mistake we pagans make is to refuse to offer a true welcome to people called to the something-deeper in the midst of the magical season dedicated to preparing you to actually sit down and think about things. If you’re not here for love spells and eye of newt, welcome as well.  I’m a medium-hard polytheistic panentheist with core shamanism leanings and a comfortable dash of Irish-mythology based generic ‘wicca’-esque technique.  I offer that oddly typical, transient ‘eclectic pagan’ perspective.  I’ve been practicing\journeying\learning for 17 years, which is also pretty typical, and am happy to share here what works for me. My friends fall from completely different perspectives, from a-typical Catholic to Hellenic Recon to Hoodoo, and the one thing I’ve seen ring true for all of us as we navigate the slightly-taboo and utterly mystifying world of spirituality is this: it’s gotta work for you. It doesn’t really matter what your mom thinks, what your roommate knows, what your brother believes, or even what your dearest spiritual teacher says.  If it doesn’t resonate, click, or otherwise make you do magic fairy-dust kicking mosh-pit dancing flips deep in your belly, Congratulations. You are still journeying.  Those moments are few and far between and worth every wonky step you stumble to get there.  This little blog exists so that I may document bits of my journey, plateaus and all.  I sincerely hope you, dear reader, get something out of it too.  The joy of the internet is all those amazing resources, and after so many years of taking them in, it’s time I throw something into that ecosystem. So welcome, welcome, welcome.  The moon is nearly full and the wind is moving through the trees.  Take a big breath in.  Touch the fog with your fingertips, and come with me.