Thursday, February 15, 2018

Religious Tourism

My child has been going with me on field trips to other religions' houses of worship lately, because I teach "Neighboring Faiths" at the local UU to middle schoolers. Last week, we went to a Catholic mass.

I personally was admiring how everyone was on the same page with the hymns, call and response, and how beautiful the sanctuary art was. Mass ritual can be so soothing, you know?

Meanwhile, Rowan was confused and upset. We had some talk while we were there that had to be tabled for a larger discussion at home because I did not want to be a bad guest to our hosts.

Things my little witchlet did not understand or like:

1. "Why do they have dead Jesus everywhere? Doesn't that hurt their feelings? Doesn't that celebrate his death instead of his life?"

I had to explain that Jesus was the Christian version of the divine kings who were king for a year, and sacrificed in the summer to create good crops for the people. It was his role to die. God made Jesus so that he could be sacrificed for the people. Except in the Christian version, it's not about fertility and abundance, it's about this idea of "sin" and "forgiveness". (For the record, he doesn't like the pagan version of the divine king story either.)

2. Which led to more conversations about sin and forgiveness. I told Rowan that Christians believe that you have to say that Jesus is your savior to be forgiven for bad things that you do. That everyone does bad things, but you have to make that statement before you die to go to heaven. Otherwise, you will go to hell. I explained the Christian ideas of heaven and hell to him and he thought their God was mighty unfair. "Their God can forgive people at any time, but he makes them do that or he punishes them?"

I told him yes, their god had a lot of rules including not working with any other Gods besides him. So if he were a Christian, he would have to say everyone else's Gods were fake and wrong and only work with God and Jesus. He thought that was prejudiced. He also was confused how Christians become good people if all they do is follow rules and not think for themselves.

I explained that value was not placed on that idea- we, as Witches place value on that idea. But many Christians was Christians to be sheep and follow their leader. That we are more like goats than sheep.

I also explained that god sent lots of punishments to non-believers and tests to his followers, not just when they die- it's a lifelong thing. I explained plagues and the story of Isaac. He was very upset and thinks that the Christian God is a jerk now. He is mad that kids at school who are Christian spout some of the things that they do (going to hell comments), especially now that he understand the context better. He thinks those kids are now "God's bullies".

3. I explained that Mary (the church was named after Mary) was Jesus' mom. He did not know that, and had questions. "So Mary was married to their God?". My response: "No, Mary was married to a man named Joseph." Rowan: "But Mary had a baby with God instead of Joseph?" I laughed and told him he knows many people that have had babies without being married or while being partnered with more than one person. (We know many poly people or people unmarried with kids.) Me: "Well, she did not plan it, God put baby Jesus inside her." Rowan: "She didn't know? HOW IS THAT NOT RAPE?" (At this point, we had to table the conversation to after church, as to not be offensive and disruptive guests.

I mean, the kid has a point of course. I have thought all of these things and rejected Christianity because of them as well. But the kid has to live in a majority Christian world and be OK with others having these ideas.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Todays' reading: Worker Owned Coop

One of the goals that I have for this year is to turn my apothecary into a worker owned coop. We have our first meeting this evening (Monday the 6th), with eight interested people meeting with me about how to proceed. Today, I did a reading to see our prospects:

The overall reading.
The center, the now, the heart of the matter. We see the Hare in the Moon, Santisima Muerte, A Franc with the words "Fraternité, Liberté, Egalité showing, a buckeye, A success Norse sigil, and a crystal. I interpret this as change, transformation to a more egalitarian structure successfully.

Some cluster in the recent past: the alligator paw is holding mandrake, the wishbone cradles a nutmeg and a coin, which is resting on dog tooth calcite, the baby doll leg and key crowns all. This I interpret as movement without knowing how it will turn out, towards a grounded fortune.

The near future has two items: my Buddha nut and High John the Conqueror. I interpret this as work towards enlightenment with success.

I always advise folks to practice, of course- but take readings for themselves with a grain of salt. (Ego often gets in the way when you divine for yourself.) I always align my souls and do a little sitting before a divination for myself.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Nature Walks with my Son

Augury is one thing I am teaching him.
I am proud to say Rowan loves being outdoors among plants and animals (I think he'll do wonderfully when we finally have our farm). Today, it was unseasonably warm for early March- so we went for a nature walk.

He and I like to collect things from our walks and look for signs and portents in nature to divine future events.


Rowan is now 7 and has lots of interesting ideas about the world and how it works. My job is to teach him many ways of thinking- magic, science, and that oddity of all oddities, human behavior.

Honey Locust Thorns.
When we are on walks, we collect things. Nuts, pinecones, rocks. If we collect something living, as we did these thorns, we always ask first and make an offering to "pay the coin" after. We offered spit for a thorn today- Rowan is going to use his to write on candles. I am adding mine to my bone set.

I explained to Rowan how thorns, all thorn trees, are sacred to the fey. And how they can be used to work or travel to their realm, as well as to blast and curse.

To the river!
Look! A whirlpool!

I explain that the river has currents that can be dangerous. But it also gives life by keeping the water from being stagnant for the creatures that live there. I talk about possibilities of what a "whirlpool" (or a circle of current) could be in the river that he spots. I tell him science first, then what it could mean in terms of sympathetic magic.

We pass many interesting places and things on our walks. Homes for land spirits. Buds that are out too soon (damn climate change!). 

Rowan finds "forts" and cool things everywhere. While he is still learning to be quiet and still so we can birdwatch, he does have an appeal as a hike partner. Being with him is seeing with beginner eyes all over again. Being with my son is an adventure.

A fort!
Cool burr!

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Dedicating my Bone Set

It starts with smoke.

As promised, I am resurrecting this blog. Hopefully, after such a long hiatus, we still have some readership! Today's post is the first in a series all about one way I divine. 

Divination can be done by reading the clouds, listening to animals (I tend to watch crows) or other nature spirits, Tarot cards, Runes, pendulums, or other miscellaneous items (often called "bone casting" or "reading the bones", as many of these systems contain animal parts). I do all these things, as oracular work, divination, and spirit communication are my jam. So I have tried them all and do many on a frequent basis. 

Smoking my casting basket.

What is divination? Many people have a mistaken idea what it is and isn't/ When you do it correctly, spirits speak through you. You are a conduit of information and the tool that you use is not the message- it is the tool to garner the message. For example, when I first learned to use a pendulum, my teacher told us to talk to our particular tool and say "show me your yes, no, and maybe". Many students took that to mean that the pendulum was somehow speaking to them and a different pendulum may have a different way of stating yes, no, or maybe. NOPE.

Soaking in salt water.
Bone reading is done worldwide by many cultures including in Africa (and by African descendants in the Americas), in Siberia, in Eurasia, and Pacific Islands. It seems to be one of the earliest forms of getting messages from spirits/gods besides actual trance/possession/channeling (whatever you may call it). The awesome thing about this system is it is ever-evolving and highly personal.

Today's post is about my bone reading set: assembling, cleansing, & dedicating it so that it works well with me, the Witch. Since this system requires myriad items collected from animals, the earth, the sea, and the like- getting them to work together for you is a project. As an animist, I know that all these items have a spirit and a message. It's not always the same message each time (for example, a coin always means money). I have to learn to listen as much as they need to learn how to speak to me. They also have attached memories sometimes- and that memory of how I acquired them often goes into how I read that item.

Some of my set.
I also know that perhaps how this item came to me was not awesome for that item. Crystals being ripped out of the earth are often cursed by earth spirits (and why should they not be?). Animals who were killed for sport and not respected in their death often have issues to reconcile. I need to pay the coin, make amends, and gain the ear of these items so that they work with me. I, the Witch, offer them a purpose after their trauma and they see me through my traumas. We become allies.

Smoking to cleanse.
I am working on my own reading cloth, for example- which reflects my worldview as a traditional witch. It will be different than a Sangoma surface (which is often a circle and cross pattern drawn in the dirt or painted on an animal hide), different than commercially available cloths. Some of the items in my set are like items in others' Sangoma sets, as that symbolism resonates with me- but other items have been removed) yet my set is unique as a whole and no one on earth has a set that contains all my items.

Some examples: I have a wishbone from a turkey consumed by me and my Witch Kin at a Yule feast. Wishbones traditionally imply luck, chance, etc. But this one also has the celebration, kinship, and tribal feelings attached to it. My skull means the ancestors as well, but the skull in my set has dozens of friends scattered all over the world. I bought a whole set and gave them to initiates and apprentices in my tradition over the last year. The humble pockmarked quartz stone in my set is from the front yard of my oath mother. It means family, oaths, and loyalty.

Stay tuned for more posts about divination and this ever-evolving set!

For those that are interested, the smoke I used for this purpose was not made by me! While I often create incense blends for ritual purposes, there are others that make awesome blends too. The large round jar is a Lilith blend made by the Sword and the Rose in San Francisco. They create amazing self lighting blends. The formulary is well researched and finished while in trance with the spirit that they are creating for. I have several of their blends. I also used "Summoning Spirits" and "Divination" by Rosarium Blends of Washington State.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Hello there.

As you can probably tell, this blog is very inactive. It may be resurrected as a regular project again one day- but most of my time and energy is going into Boline Apothecary and its blog, shop, webstore, and needs.

Feel free to browse the archives here- there are lots of articles that I am mighty proud of on parenting, Witchery, philosophy, and more.