Thursday, April 28, 2011

Walpurgisnacht & Beltaine

Also not attendees of WC's Beltaine, for privacy reasons.
The Kunnings are making their annual pilgrimage up to Wolf Creek Sanctuary for Beltaine and Walpurgisnacht with the Radical Faeries! We have gone the last several years, and the place has special meaning for us- Rowan was conceived there at Beltaine- so the land and this holiday in particular are near and dear to our hearts.

We will be taking a mini-van with 3 other adults up to the sanctuary and will be there from Friday morning through Monday afternoon. Bonus- a couple long-time Faeries are getting married on Friday! Huzzah!That means we get a wedding, Walpurgisnacht, and Beltaine- all in one jam-packed weekend!

Zumwalt BonfireImage by Ben Amstutz via Flickr
Not a pic of folks at WC- that is private.
On Walpurgis night, it is the tradition of this gathering to have an all-night party and burn the maypole from last year's festival in the central firepit. We cannot start a new maypole dance on Beltaine until the old one is cold ash.

Beltaine festivities start in the afternoon in a meadow especially reserved for this event each year, aptly named "Maypole Meadow". A tree is selected before this weekend and felled. All reverence and thanks are given to this tree. During the weekend, volunteers strip it of its branches and bark, except for the very top, which will be visible above the fray of ribbons.

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria)
Special sacraments are passed, intentions are set, and then we are off to the races! I remember the first year we went, a friend we brought fretted that it was goingt o take "forever" to dance the maypole, as it was so tall and there were hundreds of ribbons (for all the attendees). She need not have worried. Chaos magick reigns in this place, and it took no time at all for the spider-web mess of a maypole to get done. No prim and proper "in and out" here- it was "do what thou wilt"!

After the Maypole, there are myriad festivities happening all over the land. You are free to take part in any mischief you can find. That evening in the barn (the biggest common building, where the communal kitchen is) is a dance like you have never seen. Joyous, ecstatic, writhing bodies of all kinds together. THIS is a proper Beltaine.

How do you celebrate this time of year?

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter's Pagan Roots

Hanácké kraslice, a traditional way of decorat...
In the Ukraine, they make gorgeous eggs
as part of their pagan heritage.
Many of my readers know that Easter, as it is celebrated here in the US by most of the population, has pagan roots. All the familiar trappings of feasts, baby chicks and bunnies, and eggs as the theme have their home in European pagan/polytheist traditions.
A full moon image.
Behold the hare in the moon!

Even the name, "Easter" is not Christian- it comes from the name of a goddess, Eostre (also called Ostara- which is the name of a spring witches' sabbat), whose name also is the root of the word "estrus" and "estrogen" as well as Easter. She is (you guessed it!) a fertility goddess of spring whose symbols include (oh so fertile!) rabbits and fertile eggs. Rabbits are also tied in here because they are the moon (most peoples see a hare, not a man, in the moon) and this goddess is a lunar goddess.

Recently, while discussing this holiday, I was told by a friend (who was raised Christian) that she was told as a child that Easter had dyed Easter eggs as part of the celebration because they remind us of "the rock that blocked the cave that Jesus was resurrected in". She was told people have egg rolling games on the lawn to remember rolling the rock from out of in front of the opening, unsealing it. I laughed, because which description sounds more plausible to you? Pretty far-fetched idea- but I suppose there has to be some non-pagan reasoning for Christians to enjoy a good egg hunt, games, and feast!
"Like all the church's 'moveable feasts', Easter shows its pagan origin in a dating systems based on the old lunar calendar. It is fixed as the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox, formerly the 'pregnant' phase of Eostre passing into the fertile season...." - The Women's Encyclopedia of Myths and Secrets
One curious 16th century Easter custom was known as "creeping to the cross with eggs and apples"- a significant use of birth and death imagery (eggs being the beginning and apples being the end- the fruition of life)- that reflects not Christian theology, but pagan ones- the opening and closing of cycles. The kings of England at this time demanded carpets be laid in the church for this ritual, because their knees were getting scuffed! I find it interesting that kings were required to do this, in the guise of something remotely Christian. These kings were only ceremonial and very much like the sacred kings of old, except that they got to live as king for more than a year!

peter rabbitImage by futurowoman via Flickr
I will advise Rowan to eat the ears first.
In Sweden, Easter is also quite pagan.

What do you do, if anything, for this holiday? This year, Rowan is taking part in a child dedication rite at our UU church.

As he gets older, we will be having a traditional feast of Eostre, with roast pig. We will dye and hide eggs, make seasonal crafts and altars, and eat chocolate rabbits.

Friday, April 22, 2011


Because I hope to instill a deep love of reading and literature in Rowan, I have started acquiring books for him already- even ones that are way above his age level for now. He has a bookshelf in his play area that is almost full already (three whole shelves)! Some of the books I had before he was born, as I have a deep love of children's books and when I see a good one, I get it if I can. I am especially a sucker for a story with a message. Books in this category include Sadako, The Sissy Duckling, The Sneetches, and Stone Soup.

I also kept several of my favorite books from my own childhood. These include a gorgeously illustrated Aesop's Fables (that my grandma, who worked at a Rand McNally book binding factory, got for me), a version of The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen, and a science textbook that had experiments that I loved as a kid.

To this end, I want to be sure he has books on a variety of subjects and books at different reading levels to keep him challenged. I want chapter books to read to him at night or on my lap at special times and books he can read himself at all ages. This is where my new project comes in: I made Rowan a LibraryThing. Check it out!

This website is awesome- it will help me keep track of his library and what he has (and still needs). As I see his developing preferences, I will rate the books (not according to my likes and dislikes, but his). This will help me use the recommendations that LibraryThing has as a feature more accurately.

As I uncover more titles with the recommendations feature, I will add them to Rowan's wishlist. This will help friends, fans, and family get Rowan things he can actually use (rather than yet another thing mama will ultimately repurpose or donate- please, no more battery-powered plastic things, please!).

To the left are images of books on Rowan's wishlist. I have high hopes for him- loving reading and going on adventures in his mind.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Things Look Different Now

Rowan enjoying the disco ball (he loves sparkles)
at one of our frequent cafés. He loves to
point out lots of items and ask their names.
Many of you may remember I blogged once before about how Rowan opened my eyes in the supermarket and made me more present. He started flapping excitedly and pointing all over the supermarket at things that I was oblivious to (as I was in pre-holiday shop tunnel-vision). His enthusiasm for mylar balloons opened me up to see see the shiny happy reality of where I was that day, instead of narrowly focusing on my list and the next item to cross off.

Since becoming a mom, I have changed. How I see and experience the world has changed. I know this is a cliché thing to say, but that does not make it any less true. I have always been a "do-er" and I like focusing on the next task, getting stuff done. Rowan has made me more present and mindful. My son has opened me up to experience the world anew- again with wonder and joy. And for that I am indebted and grateful to him.

Common everyday experiences  have new meanings now. I live in a larger city where the neighbors are always trying to get cars to slow down on residential streets. So they lobby to install speed bumps on many of them. I always found them a nuisance. I don't drive super fast, but unless you slow down to 10 MPH or so, the contents of your trunk go flying. Now I intentionally drive down streets like this- why?

My son's giggle and his adorable enthusiasm for the word "BUMP!" Is there anything more heartwarming and hilarious than seeing two parents saying, "Okay, here it comes Rowan- BUMP!" (and then their toddler giggling and saying, "Heh Heh! BUMP!"). He has made us appreciate small things and love them.

How has being a parent changed you for the better?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Things Worth Reading

A list of what I have been reading lately that has captured my imagination, and why:

Drawing by Sarah Lawless,
The Witch of Forest Grove

1. The Witch of Forest Grove leaves a tithe to the forest that puts my offerings to shame. Gorgeous. Sarah's blog is always an interesting read. Her botanica is offline for a couple months while she gears up for festival season, but check out her wares when she is back!

2. My friend Niki turned me onto this blog and book and I am so grateful. Radical Homemakers is a book that I swear must have been written by someone eavesdropping on my dreams and ambitions. I have a stack of permaculture books and handwritten plans myself. I hope in my next move to get to a place where a semi-urban homestead is possible.

3. Grist is a great site that talks about ecology, sustainability, and more. This article talks about why our country needs more mid-sized farms.

More smaller farms!
4. New comprehensive study on the link between vaccines and autism. This issue is evidentally not over, regardless of one guy's falsified study. This issue isn't going to go away until we get some real studies, comparing rates of autism in the vaccinated population versus the unvaccinated one. As one blogger I read wrote, "show us the epidemic of unvaccinated kids with autism".

5. Urban Homesteader (and local to my community) Novella Carpenter is being harassed by our city government for raising food and selling some of the surplus. Growing food is not a crime!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Women's Circle!

Getting together with the ladies is FUN!
Today, I attended a women's clothing swap hosted by another Witchy friend of mine. I brought a bag of things I was not interested in wearing anymore, and came away with a bag of things that I am interested in wearing! What a deal! But I came away with something even more special: a sense that I can find other women to circle with who believe in the same ideals I do and that are theologically and politically compatible.

Lots of adjectives for the word "crayon"
You see, I did my stint in Dianic women's circles. Been there, done that, had the tee shirt. Got some amazing experiences out of circling with all women, too. But I will not go back to that again, mainly because of their bigoted stance on trans women. See, I believe that trans women are women ("trans" being an adjective like "Asian" or "middle aged" or "chain mail clad"), and therefore perfectly acceptable in women's circles. Dianics believe that they can define for others what a woman is or is not, and they deem trans women unacceptable. Not OK in my book- theologically or ethically.

Step one: Gather!
Step Two: ??
So after the women's clothing swap, when we were all sitting around chatting over wine, we started talking about our Witchy experiences and desires. And one of the women there (also a priestess of Lilith!) pined for her women's circle days as well. But she also made it really clear that her Dianic days were over (for many of the same reasons). Being who I am, I suggested we start a group ourselves. "Lets just see what happens!", I said. I offered use of the Casa Vesperus temple, and found one of the dads present to babysit while we meet! (I'm kicking my partner out for the night, too. Done deal!

I am excited to say that this full moon, Casa Vesperus will host a women's circle for the first time.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Witch Mom Posting About... Christianity?!

As a seminarian, I have had my ideas about people of other religions tweaked and squicked and the waters troubled around my own prejudices. I have amazing dialogues like the one below with real people, and it made me understand that all religions, if you are doing them right, are enlightening. My Path is meant for me, other paths are for other people.

Thought provoking video from a Christian about Christianity.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy

Welcome to the April Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy
This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama. This month our participants have shared how they advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.

I was asked to write to this topic:
As parents who believe in many “natural parenting” practices, we sometimes find ourselves educating (and inspiring!) others about those practices. How do you advocate for healthy, gentle parenting choices compassionately? Remember: you don’t have to be “outspoken” to be an advocate, you can be a natural parenting role model/advocate simply by living.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where "attachment parenting" ideas are understood, even if they are not always the norm in certain circles. So I find that most of the time, I am not acting as an advocate in an environment hostile to my parenting choices like many other mama bloggers I read (my heart goes out to you!). But there are some things that I am choosing to do that get me some derisive or puzzled comments, even here. And when I traveled to the Midwest to visit relatives, Rowan's grandparents (on both sides!) were puzzled by some of our attachment parenting actions.

Here, I profile the things that we do that seem to cause the most upset in others, in order of priority:

1. Gender Fluid Choices
Purple funfur vest and
sparkly legwarmers. Fabulous!
By far, this is the thing that trips up the most people, including "progressive" people here in my liberal neck of the woods. It positively squicks all relatives in the Midwest, but even lefty Unitarian Universalists at my church have made comments to me. Granted, the UU's were admitting out loud to others that Rowan wearing barrettes and pink clothes with flowers jars them a bit. They talked to me about how they were struggling with those feelings, because they understood that they were kind of messed up. Those kind of conversations show how truly ingrained this gender conditioning is, and how we are lobbied from an early age to conform to them.

Rowan wears all kinds of cute clothes, regardless of whom they were designed for. How does a garment, a color, or a design element "have" gender, anyway? Can anyone explain to me why flowers are girly, given that they have male and female parts? And that dinosaurs are for boys, even though dinosaurs were both male and female? It makes no sense to me- and I will not censor my son or myself to appease ignorant masses.

I am raising Rowan with a "gender-free agenda" for as long as possible, as I feel that our culture places too much emphasis on the difference between men and women/boys and girls and in fact creates most of those differences to begin with. (Did you know we are more than 99% the same on a genetic level?)

When I hold up things for Rowan to see if he likes them, guess what? He likes sparkles, pinks and purples, funfur, lively patterns, and texture. So he gets them. And he looks good.

Often, we just get the "wrong" pronoun. Sometimes, we hear it over and over from the same person, even when I use the "correct" one in response to their comments and questions. Sometimes I do not bother correcting folks, sometimes I do. In the Bay Area, most people apologize for their "mistake". In other parts of the country, my fitness as a parent is challenged. Even Rowan's grandparents did so, albeit gently. "You've got to raise him normal!" was a common refrain we heard.

2. Co-Sleeping
While the grandparents weren't hostile per se, they were puzzled and concerned and did not like the idea of co-sleeping one bit. Rowan is past the "Oh my gawd, you will kill that baby by sleeping next to him!" phase, so instead we get comments like, "You are going to regret that." and "I got you a playpen to let him sleep in" (even though we told them explicitly we didn't need anything for bedtime).

I do get some puzzled looks from other moms about co-sleeping as well. It is as if anything different from what parents have done/are doing challenges the validity of their own choices. I am content to allow each family to make the choices that are best for their child and them as a unit. But I am sure we have all met the folks that foist their choices onto everyone else with missionary zeal. Ugh.

3. Baby Led Weaning
Showing Rowan eating a rock at the
beach on a post about BLW tickles me.
Every single time I went to feed Rowan at my parents house, my mom would exclaim and gasp. She wondered what kept him from choking to death. "Can he eat that?" Yes, mom- he can have chunks of food, be they veggies, fruit, bread, crackers, pasta, cheese- whatever. I explained to her the difference between gagging and choking and how gagging teaches him not to choke. I think she would have been much happy whipping out a blender.

She seemed happy to be vindicated (somehow) when Rowan got lemon juice in his eye and cried at a restaurant (Rowan loves to suck on lemons and this is the very first time he ever had a mishap). "I told you that was a bad idea."

She would wonder what we should feed the baby (I think she wanted to get "baby food"), even though I kept repeating that he will eat what we were eating (and that necessitated healthy choices for us all). In the end, she cautiously allowed us to feed Rowan as we wished, but remained a peanut gallery.

4. Allowing Rowan to be a Sexual Person
About to hump the pillow
during nakkie time.
Babies and children are sexual beings- albeit in a different way than an adult. Rowan humps things he likes for pleasure and given the chance to be naked, immediately starts playing with his penis and foreskin. I let him, usually without comment (or if I comment, I say something like, "That's your penis.")

I know so many people who try and squash this impulse in kids, probably because they are trying to protect them from predatory adults. But shaming people about their bodies and the pleasure that they bring does nothing to protect kids- in fact, it does the opposite. If there is shame attached to certain body parts or children cannot talk to us about them for fear of reprisal, they are less safe.

I was shocked (I mean literally shocked!) when Rowan's grandmother saw him grab his penis while I was changing him and told him not to do that. I didn't get upset (after all, Rowan is too young to understand what she was saying or to feel shame), but I did say something like, "It's his penis, he can touch it if he wants."

Rowan already has A Kid's First Book About Sex. It waits for him on his bookshelf. (Can I just say that I was astonished when I linked to the book on Amazon and found out it now costs at least $500? I got my copy when I worked for Good Vibrations (the author is the founder) in the late nineties and the cover price was less than $10! It is the only book of its kind that I can tell- and likely out of print- which is probably why it is so valuable.)

5. Vaccinations
This one should probably be #1 or #2, but because it is a invisible issue it comes up less often. But when it does, opinions are so strong on all sides that it is hard to have a reasoned conversation about the issue.

We have yet to give Rowan any vaccinations. We have very legitimate concerns (which are less about autism than other things), but none of that seems to matter to the militant pro-vaccine camp. Which to pro-vaccine folks makes us negligent at best or amazingly stupid and dangerous at worst. My family doctor lobbies very hard to give Rowan shots and gives me literature at each visit, after I politely decline.

On the opposite side, the anti-vaccine folks are as militant, and it is hard for me to find a reasoned resource talking about the risks and reasons to possibly vaccinate, albeit selectively.

What parenting choices have you made that get you stares and comments?


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Code Name: Mama and Hobo Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

  • Natural Parenting Advocacy by Example — Jenn at Monkey Butt Junction uses her blog, Twitter and Facebook as her natural parenting soapbox.
  • You Catch More Flies With Honey — When it comes to natural parenting advice, Kate of The Guavalicious Life believes you catch more flies with honey.
  • From the Heart — Patti at Jazzy Mama searches her heart for an appropriate response when she learns that someone she respects wants his baby to cry-it-out.
  • I Offer the Truth — Amy at Innate Wholeness shares the hard truths to inspire parents in making changes and fully appreciating the parenting experience.
  • Advocating or Just Opinionated?Momma Jorje discusses how to draw the line between advocating compassionately and being just plain opinionated. It can be quite a fine line.
  • Compassionate Advocacy — Mamapoekie of Authentic Parenting writes about how to discuss topics you are passionate about with people who don't share your views.
  • Heiny Helpers: Sharing Cloth Love — Heiny Helpers is guest posting on Natural Parents Network to share how they are providing cloth diapers and cloth diapering support to low income families.
  • Struggling with Advocacy — April of McApril still struggles to determine how strongly she should advocate for her causes, but still loves to show her love for her parenting choices to those who would like to listen.
  • Compassionate Advocacy Through Blogging (AKA –Why I Blog) — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama shares how both blogging and day-to-day life give her opportunities to compassionately advocate for natural parenting practices.
  • A Letter to *Those* Parents — Zoie at TouchstoneZ shares how to write an informed yet respectful reply to those parents — you know, the ones who don't parent the way you do.
  • Why I Am Not A Homebirth Advocate — Olivia at Write About Birth is coming out: she is a homebirth mom, but not a homebirth advocate. One size does not fit all – but choice is something we can all advocate for!
  • Why I Open My Big Mouth — Wolfmother from Fabulous Mama Chronicles reflects on why she is passionate about sharing parenting resources.
  • Watching and Wearing — Laura at Our Messy Messy Life advocates the joys of babywearing simply by living life in a small college town.
  • Compassionate Advocacy . . . That's The Way I Do It — Amyables at Toddler in Tow describes how she's learned to forsake judgment and channel her social energy to spread the "good news" of natural parenting through interaction and shared experiences.
  • Compelling without repelling — Lauren at Hobo Mama cringes when she thinks of the obnoxious way she used to berate people into seeing her point of view.
  • I Am the Change — Amanda at Let's Take the Metro describes a recent awakening where she realized exactly how to advocate for natural parenting.
  • Public Displays of CompassionThe Accidental Natural Mama recounts an emotional trip to the grocery store and the importance of staying calm and compassionate in the storm of toddler emotions.
  • I will not hide behind my persona — Suzi Leigh at Attached at the Boob discusses the benefits of being honest and compassionate on the internet.
  • Choosing My Words — Jenny at Chronicles of a Nursing Mom shares why she started her blog and why she continues to blog despite an increasingly hectic schedule.
  • Honour the Child :: Compassionate Advocacy in the Classroom — Lori at Beneath the Rowan Tree shares her experience of being a gentle and compassionate parent — with other people's children — as a classroom volunteer in her daughter's senior kindergarten room.
  • Inspired by the Great Divide (and Hoping to Inspire) — Rosemary at Rosmarinus Officinalis shares her thoughts on navigating the "great divide" through gently teaching and being teachable.
  • Introverted Advocacy — CatholicMommy at Working to be Worthy shares how she advocates for gentle parenting, even though she is about as introverted as one can be.
  • The Three R's of Effective and Gentle Advocacy — Ana at Pandamoly explains how "The Three R's" can yield consistent results and endless inspiration to those in need of some change.
  • Passionate and Compassionate: How do We do It? — Kelly at Becoming Crunchy shares the importance of understanding your motivation for advocacy.
  • Sharing the love — Isil at Smiling Like Sunshine talks about how she shares the love and spreads the word.
  • What Frank Said — Nada at miniMOMist has a good friend named Frank. She uses his famous saying to demonstrate how much natural parenting has benefited her and her family.
  • Baby Sling Carriers Make Great Compassionate Advocacy Tools — Chante at My Natural Motherhood Journey shared her babywearing knowledge — and her sling — with a new mom.
  • Everyday Superheroes — Who needs Superman when we have a community of compassionate advocates?! Dionna at Code Name: Mama believes that our community of gentle bloggers are the true superheroes.
  • Words of advice: compassionately advocating for my parenting choices — MrsH at Fleeting Moments waits to give advice until she's been asked, resulting in fewer advocacy moments but very high responsiveness from parents all over the spectrum of parenting approaches.
  • Peaceful Parenting — Peaceful parenting shows at Living Peacefully with Children with an atypical comment from a stranger.
  • Speaking for birth — Lucy at Dreaming Aloud soul-searches about how she can advocate for natural birth without causing offense.
  • Gentle is as Gentle Does — Laura at A Pug in the Kitchen shares how she is gently advocating her parenting style.
  • Walking on Air — Rachael at The Variegated Life wants you to know that she has no idea what she's doing — and it's a gift.
  • Parenting with my head, my heart, and my gut — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama shares her thoughts on being a compassionate advocate of natural parenting as a blogger.
  • At Peace With the World — Megan at Ichigo Means Strawberry talks about being an advocate for peaceful parenting at 10,000 feet.
  • Putting a public face on "holistic" — Being public about her convictions is a must for Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama, but it takes some delicacy.
  • Just Be; Just Do. — Amy at Anktangle believes strongly about her parenting methods, and also that the way to get people to take notice is to simply live her life and parent the best she knows how.
  • One Parent at a Time... — Kat at Loving {Almost} Every Moment believes that advocating for Natural Parenting is best accomplished by walking the walk.
  • Self-compassion — We're great at caring for and supporting others —from our kiddos to other mamas — but Lisa at Gems of Delight shares a post about treating ourselves with that same sense of compassion.
  • Using Montessori Principles to Advocate Natural Parenting — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells how she uses Montessori principles to be a compassionate advocate for natural parenting.
  • Advocacy? Me? — Seonaid at The Practical Dilettante discovers that by "just doing her thing," she may be advocating for natural parenting.
  • Feeding by Example — Mama Mo at Attached at the Nip shares her experience of being the first one of her generation to parent.
  • Compassionate Consumerism — Erica at ChildOrganics encourages her children to be compassionate consumers and discusses the benefits of buying local and fair trade products.
  • The Importance of Advocating Compassionately — Kristen at Adventures in Mommyhood acts as a compassionate advocate by sharing information with many in the hopes of reaching a few.
  • Some Thoughts on Gentle Discipline — Darcel at The Mahogany Way shares her thoughts and some tips on Gentle Discipline.
  • Compassionate Advocacy: Sharing Resources, Spreading the Love — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle shares how her passion for making natural choices in pregnancy, birth, and parenting have supported others in Dominica and beyond.
  • A journey to compassion and connection — Jessica at Instead of Institutions shares her journey from know-it-all to authentic advocacy.
  • Advocacy Through Openness, Respect, and Understanding — Melissa at The New Mommy Files describes her view on belief, and how it has shaped the way she advocates for gentle parenting choices.
  • Why I'm not an advocate for Natural Parenting — Mrs Green at Little Green Blog delivers the shocking news that, after 10 years of being a mum, she is NOT an advocate for natural parenting!
  • Natural Love Creates Natural Happiness — A picture is worth a thousand words, but how about a smile, or a giggle, or a gaze? Jessica at Cloth Diapering Mama’s kids are extremely social and their natural happiness is very obvious.
  • Carnival of Natural Parenting: Compassionate Advocacy — Even in the progressive SF Bay Area, Lily at Witch Mom finds she must defend some of her parenting choices.
  • A Tale of Four Milky Mamas — In this post The ArtsyMama shares how she has found ways to repay her childhood friend for the gift of milk.
  • don't tell me what to do — Pecky at benny and bex demonstrates compassionate advocacy through leading by example.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sex Education

This hilarious video shows just how educating your kids on sex throws even the most progressive of parents off guard. Awesome!

I only hope when the time comes it will be this funny!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Using Energetics as a Parent

I live by animist principles (every thing is alive in its own way, has a purpose, and a specific energy pattern that can help or hinder the things around it (depending on context and setting)). As a Witch,  I also work on moving and controlling those energy patterns for my own purposes in many ways: herbalism, conjure, reiki, other forms of energy healing, astral projection, and divine possession. All of these things to me are energy work on some level.

How does this benefit me as a parent? How do I use this knowledge and understanding to benefit me and my family, in particular my son?

Herbalism and Diet:
Thyme is one of my favorite herbs.
If all plants and animals have their own energetic resonances, we can use them to tweak our when we are out of whack or maintain a state of health. From chamomile tea (medicinal grade, not the bags from the grocery!) to tinctures for gas, colic, teething, and colds or flu, to herbal baths, my son has benefited from me learning the skills of a green Witch. He gets gentle, effective remedies that help his own body heal itself. His immune system is robust not just from breastfeeding at an early age but also because now that he eats solids I strengthen it with probiotics every morning in his kefir.

When I was in herb school, we learned many ways of working with and relating to the plants. While learning the medicinal properties and making medicines were important, so was communing with the plant (rooted through nature walks and wildcrafting and also harvested), learning what it does in myriad bodies (including our own), and listening to that plant. We were given tinctures each week and told to dose ourselves in ever-increasing frequencies to learn the effects in our bodies first hand. Sometimes effects would increase along similar lines, sometimes completely reverse themselves with increasing doses, and sometimes completely new sensations would arise as I increased the dosage. We were taught that lower doses work on a more energetic level, while larger ones work on a physical level. So the same remedy can do myriad things, depending on the dosage.

Scrappy Manzanita
We were taught traditional medicine as well as how to listen to plant spirits (and unless you work on this gift, it is a hard one to maintain and use!). I remember well the lesson of Manzanita, as I sat under a large bramble of it on Mount Diablo: "I was the first", was what She told me. Then She showed me pictures of a vast red clay and rock desert with little to no life. Manzanita and Madrone were busy moving throughout it, populating it, taking root in hard rock and breaking it down into soil for the plants to follow them. I did research after that experience and found that what She told me was true. Pretty awesome!

My theory is that the first Witches and Shamans (who were the first healers) had the ability to listen to plants and learned about what plants do to our bodies and spirits from the plants themselves. They had the ability to shift their energy patterns down to listen to plants.* I continue to listen to plant spirits for both medicinal and spell work to benefit my family.

Conjure and Spellwork:
Witch bottles
From his conception, to my complicated pregnancy, to his everyday life- he has been impacted and shaped by my making my Will manifest in this world. I carried a specific talisman around with me while trying to conceive. It called to the child who visited me in my dreams and also worked to make my uterus ready to be a home to that child.

When I conceived, I also had several spells going during the pregnancy- as I had a complete placenta previa that was keeping me from delivering naturally. Me and my whole magical community prayed and worked to move move move that placenta- and it did. Rowan was born vaginally.

I regularly do small bits of conjure to benefit my family and friends- if it is done right- with a theological context, conjure (also known as rootwork) acknowledges the spirit in each of the ingredients in your spell: be it an oil, bath, bag, or bottle. Each plant, rock, coin, or curio adds to the mix its own energetic essence that helps to create the outcome you are seeking.

Reiki and Energy Work:
I am a level three Reiki practitioner, and use it when needed. It helps soothe upset tummies, reduces too high a fever, takes away pain, and generally feels good. I recently read this study about the healing effects of touch, specifically kissing an injury on a child and its long lasting effects.while it doesn't surprise me, I am delighted to see the research is finally being done on energy healing, the laying on of hands and other therapeutic touch.

I also work to keep Rowan safe from harm with types of energy work and manipulation. I have protection surrounding my home all the time. When he has bad dreams, I cast circle and call in protectors for him. He is sometimes put to sleep using gentle energy work (when he gets overtired and has trouble getting to sleep himself).

There are so many ways I manipulate energy! What are some of yours in the context of your family?

*For those unfamiliar, I think of humans operating at a fairly rapid energy frequency. To communicate with non-human animals, you shift down a notch or two, depending on the animal (mammals and birds are higher than reptiles and amphibians, in my experience). For plants, you must shift down more, to become even slower.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Pagans in South Africa Need Our Help

There are honest-to-goodness witch hunts going on in South Africa, Malawi, Mozambique, and other African countries and many end in death. What can we do? Plenty.

From this website:
Witch‐hunts have become epidemic throughout Africa. Although witch‐hunts have historically been viewed as gender specific, with a large percentage of victims still identified as elderly and solitary women, recent reports show that victims of witch‐hunts include both women and men of all ages.
Witch‐hunts on the African continent are largely motivated through localized forms of religious extremism by practitioners of traditional African religions who believe that witchcraft is the cause of misfortune, traditional healers (including diviners, herbalists, 'witch‐doctors') who use various forms of divination to point out suspected witches, and charismatic revivalist Christian religious leaders (pastors and prophets) who use their prejudicial notions of witchcraft as a manifest form of satanic evil to encourage their followers to find (accuse) and convert suspected witches.
The words witch and witchcraft are used predominantly as an accusation throughout Africa, either to describe a number of clearly defined traditional religious practices that do not self‐define as witchcraft, as well as a number of variable urban legends perpetuated by religious leaders and traditional healers to identify women, children and men who are not actual Witches.
In rare instances where alleged confessions of being a witch or practicing witchcraft are made by the accused, reported testimony is either irrational or coerced through torture or threat. The 'witchcraft' most often referred to as accusation, allegation and harmful superstition, exists only in the minds of those who believe that witchcraft is the embodiment of evil and that witches are responsible for misfortune, disease, accident, natural disaster and death. Witch‐hunts occur in almost every country in Africa and they are increasing in occurrence and brutality.
In January 2009 the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released a working report on human rights abuses committed as a result of witchcraft accusations.

So far, 34 people in 2010 have been victims of these witch hunts. They have been burned, hacked to death, had their homes and property stolen and destroyed, shot, imprisoned, and more. These are traditional healers under siege from fundamentalist Christians, most of whom are fueled by missionaries from the United States. Take action by signing the letter at the site above today. Lives depend on it.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Interesting Video!

This is a great video of a Lakota woman talking about the Fey. If you have 9 minutes to spare, check it out!

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fools' Day

While no one is absolutely sure, most people speculate that our modern version of April Fool's Day has pagan origins. Almost every culture in the world has some kind of festival in the first months of the year to celebrate the end of winter and the return of spring. (Who wouldn't want to celebrate that?) Anthropologists call these “renewal festivals.” Often they involve ritualized forms of mayhem and misrule.

"Misrule!" is actually an exclamation used in the revels of the ancient cult of Misrule in the UK, a cult that worships the horned god, the black man of the sabbat. During such festivals, wearing disguises is common, and people play pranks on friends and strangers. The social order is temporarily inverted. Servants might get to order around their employers. Children get to challenge the authority of parents and teachers. However, the disorder is always finite, and tensions are defused with laughter and comedy. The social order is symbolically challenged, but then restored (reaffirming the stability of the society), just as the cold months of winter temporarily challenge biological life, and yet the cycle of life continues, returning with the spring. All this nonsense, in other words, have theological justifications.

Our secular April Fool’s Day has all the characteristics of one of these renewal festivals. For one day, behaviors that are normally not allowed (lying, deception, playing pranks) become acceptable, and yet by the end of the day, it is over. Social hierarchies and their tensions are exposed, but the hostility this time is defused with laughter. Society, structured as we know it, lives another day.