Hanging out in Malkuth and other Witchy Things

Hello again.

I know it’s been awhile, but settling in here in Chicago has taken some time. I’ve also been doing a lot of discernment and thinking about where my ministry is going, which is, as those of us who are clergy know, an ongoing process.

Lately I’ve been working on an initiation series based on the magickal Kabblah, and recently wrote the first of the initiations, which is based in Malkuth.

And apparently, I’m also there until I start writing the next one. (This is where all the witches say “duh!”)

What’s been interesting about this, though, is that being in this sphere has made me really look at this plane of existence and just how much we really do live here. Or, at least, how much I can really live in the here and now.

How do I explain this?

There are times where I can see and feel everything: all the sorrows, all the joys, all the fear, anger, happiness. The present, past, future. It’s as if it’s all laid out in front of me in a long line, or like a film reel. Sometimes it’s all of the possibilities, too. All of the futures, all of the pasts. So my spiritual practice allows me to be here, in the present. In my present.

Then, sometimes, I become too “stuck” in the here and now, especially is something emotionally bad is happening, and can’t see beyond where I am.

I know that clinically, this is my anxiety and depression, but there is a magickal component to this, too. Being stuck magickally generates a lot of the same symptoms.

So, being stuck in Malkuth isn’t a great thing for me, even being the Earth Girl that I am. Working on it, though…

***

The other night I was talking with the wife about the latest pagan blogosphere things. The first being that paganism is dying (not really true), theist pagans telling atheist pagans that they can’t be pagan (totally not true), and people getting it in their heads that all paganism has to be Earth Centered Spiritually (not always true).

Here’s the big point: “Paganism” is an umbrella term that is a really really REALLY big umbrella. It’s not really dying, it’s just changing, especially away from excessive dogmatic paganism, or any paganism that is exclusionary in its practice. I know I’m pretty tired of the witchcraft/paganism that is of the “I’m a real witch/wiccan/pagan and you’re not!” variety.

Seriously, it’s 2017. It’s time folks got over themselves about that kind of crap. Yes, an atheist can be a pagan. Yes, someone who’s Christian can also have a magickal practice. Yes, someone can be pagan without being Earth Centered.

If someone says they’re pagan, then they’re pagan, whether they have a lineage, or a teacher, or are just reading from books. This is true for any religion, regardless of what I, you, or other practitioners, think.

Some folks don’t consider me a “proper” or “real” pagan because I practice both Wicca and Christianity. So what? These days, the wife and I think of ourselves as sorcerers more than “Earth Based Spirituality” because we focus a lot more on magick and magickal systems. It’s not that we don’t care about the Earth, or honor the Earth’s turning, etc., it’s just not our primary focus. And if it is someone else’s primary focus? That’s all good. We need witches and pagans who have that as their focus. Again, so what?

Seriously, people need to stop expecting that all paganism should look and practice like theirs. That way lies the very thing many pagans say they are running from when they talk about Fundamentalist/Evangelical Christianity (or other oppressive religious traditions). Just like those traditions, specific pagan traditions don’t corner the market on truth and enlightenment.

(And IMNSHO, if your social justice demands that I have to do my spirituality a particular way, then your social justice isn’t very inclusive, is it?)

Lent Poetry: Changing the Game

I spy
with my little eye
a change
in the air
where people give up
on others
telling them
what they should be doing
or giving up on those
telling them
they’re doing it wrong

I spy
with my little eye
inclusion with compassion
instead of
inclusion with
conditions

Updates: Moving, Lenten Working, and PaganBloggers.com

With Pantheacon now over, the move is becoming much more real. If I didn’t get to see you at Pcon, I apologize, as my back was being super cranky, which made staying in the suite most of the time less stressful. It was, however, an awesome time, as usual, and I’m really glad to have been able to talk with all sorts of folks, use my possessory skills, and even do an initiation!

After resting for a couple of days, we had cleaners come and give a good clean to our kitchen and bathrooms so that the landlord can give tours. We gave notice this weekend, and there will be open houses both days this coming weekend. I do need to do some tidying and some extra packing this week, but the house is clean enough. The gardeners come tomorrow, which will sort out the yard.

Right before Pantheacon, Patheos changed their contract and people found out (or had confirmed) that the company that now runs the site supports right-wing (read: anti-pagan, anti-queer, etc) groups. While I’ve had my own reasons over the years to be disgusted with Patheos, it seems that my spidey sense has been justified.

In response, right before Pcon, my friend Jamie decided to start a pagan blogger’s website: PaganBloggers.com. I’m proud to say that I’ve been accepted as a blogger on the site, and I plan to write about radical inclusion, body positivity, and multi-faith practice. The site has an Indigogo campaign, and while it’s met the initial goal, any additional support will be most welcome! The site plans on opening March 21.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to do for a Lenten working this year. Last year’s working was rather epic, and while I’d love to do something similar again at some point, with the move I just can’t. The other problem is that pretty much all of my altar stuff is packed already. The one thing that came up the other day, though, was to write a poem a day during Lent, and since that’s pretty much sticking in my brain, I’ve decided to do it. Some will probably be posted here, but not all. The best thing is that this is portable, only requires a notebook and pen, and is low-stress. I’m kind of thinking of going to an Ash Wednesday service, I just don’t know where yet.

The wife and I are also thinking about new rituals, since we’ll be spinning up a new coven in Chicago once we’re settled. We have some really great ideas, and it’s given me a project to work on in addition to my Lenten working. Projects are good. Projects occupy the brain.

Still don’t have a place in Chicago yet, but we’ve decided to rent instead of buy for now. Wish us luck!

If you want to visit with me and/or Sarah before we leave, you need to contact me ASAP so we can make arrangements. Otherwise, we’ll have to start doing Google Hangouts!

Staring at a blank page, banging my head against the wall

When I write about
not being abusive
to allies,
I get told that I’m oppressing the marginalized
and that allies should just sit down
and shut up.

And I wonder:
when did verbal abuse in social justice
become ok?

When I write about
not shaming those who can’t
march,
or call,
or who can’t speak out
because doing these things are not possible,
or could put them in danger,
I get told that my/their silence is assent.

And I wonder:
when did shaming and ableism in social justice
become ok?

When I write about the elephants
in the social justice room:
anti-semitism,
elitism,
holier-than-thou attitudes,
racism,
homophobia,
transphobia,
I don’t get told anything-
because
people who think they are doing all the right things
don’t want to be told that they might be doing
something wrong.

And I wonder:
when did social justice lose it’s
compassion?

It’s hard not to despair
when I want to write about these things
since all I see is that
we, collectively, are doing the work of
our oppressors

But,
I suppose
when you think about it,
when you
really, really
think about it:

Oppression is all we know how to do.

I’m published! (Well, my essay is!)

I’m super excited to announce that I have an essay published in the anthology called “Arcane Perfection” edited by Pat Mostly. You can get the Amazon version here, and the paperback version here via Lulu. My essay is called “Please, Ask Me About My Wife” which was written in a sort of response to the TERFs who publishing their own anthology a few months back.

I think a lot of cis lovers, friends, and spouses of transgender people will really resonate with this essay.

Thank you Pat for including me in this project! 🙂

Moving and Moving Forward

Most of you know by now that the wife and I are moving to the Chicago area in March. There’s a lot of feelings around this move for me: excitement, fear, stress, wonder, and grief. It’ll be sad to leave the Bay Area as we’ve both lived here for over 10 years, built a witchcraft tradition, and made many many wonderful friends. That is definitely the hardest part about this move.

But we’ve also both realized that it’s time for change. We’ve both been a bit stuck creatively, and this will give us a chance to start some things over and try new things: creatively, spiritually, and overall. We’ll be meeting new people, trying new things, and dealing with seasons again. We’ll be closer to the east coast, which will allow us to reconnect with my family and friends from that side of the continent.

It will be different, and we’re both pretty ok with that.

For me, I’ll be figuring out new directions for my ministry and my creative endeavors. The biggest realization I’ve had over the last 6 months is that it’s time to let go of This Week In Heresy. I had originally stopped because I was burnt out. I felt like I was having a lot of the same conversations, just with different people. Finding new interviews had become a chore, not fun or interesting. But as the “hiatus” lengthened into November and December, I realized that TWIH wasn’t going to come back. I have some ideas for other media ventures, and maybe some new podcast-like things, but TWIH is not one of them. The website will stay up as an archive of the interviews I’ve done as they are still a great resource and are still awesome. I don’t regret doing the podcast at all, and it was really cool while I was still into it, but if I’m honest with myself, it’s time to move on to something new.

I’ll still be writing on this blog (and my Dreamwidth blog) and since I’m not doing the podcast anymore, you’ll probably see me write here more. I’m also working on another writing project that I’m not sure when it will be done, but it’s interesting and I like it a lot. I’m also really busy coordinating all the moving stuff on the California side, while the wife is sorting out stuff on the Chicago side.

It’s funny how you know it’s time to move on to something new, and while it will be sad to leave here, I know (and the wife knows) that it’s time.

On Grief

There’s been a lot of discussion about grief since the election: what is “proper” grief, when to get over grief, and people denying the grief of others. Two months ago, this post would have probably just been a rant about not telling people how to grieve, but then my friend Bubby Jerimyah D’Luv died suddenly.

And the grief over the election fell into grief over Jerimyah. I lit my candle for him, and wore my rainbow socks to his memorial. I was his friend, but I didn’t get to spend as much time as I would have liked with him. But I have my memories of the times we did spend together. Going to Hobbee’s. Doing the body acceptance workshop. The look of happiness on his face when I went to visit him in the hospital and we talked about going swimming together sometime.

“What is remembered lives,” I said at the memorial.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, one of the Mothers of Refuge, Emerald O’Leary, passed. So, grief again. She was a sassy Irish lady, who was an amazing artist. One year at Easter she, with the other artists at Refuge, made Easter hats. She came up to me right before service and handed me this glorious hat saying I should wear it for service. So I did (the picture is on my Facebook page, so there’s proof!). There was a lot I didn’t know about her, but what I do know, I cherish.

I lit my candles for her, too, and remembered that she, too, will live because we remember her.

And then, this week, my friend Cynan passed away. He was always a gentleman and a big bear of a man. He was mostly a friend, but we also some adult fun with each other a bit in the first few years I was in the Bay Area. I remember hanging out with him and his wife in their apartment a long time ago, with Cynan in his big chair and Kim in hers. I don’t even remember why I had gone over that day, but it sticks in my memory. I remember him singing in the hallways at Pantheacon, and smiling as I heard his voice down the hall. He also gave amazing hugs, and you knew you were hugged. We hadn’t talked as much in the last few years, except at cons and parties if he was there, but he was always present when he was in the room, which I can’t really explain much better than that.

I’ve been lighting candles for him, too.

Which also brings me to the fact that we’re moving to Chicago at the end of February. Today I realized, that there’s grief there, too. We’ll be leaving friends and the coven to start something new in a new place. It’s exciting in the fact that things will be new (and I’m looking forward to seasons and summer thunderstorms again), but it’s also sad to be leaving what we have here.

And when we’re in Chicago, I know I’ll be lighting my candles for that grief when I get my altar set up.

I’ve studied a lot about grief, since working with those who are dying is part of my vocation. In fact, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ work is something that I’ve studied in depth. But I think that there’s a lot of people who really misunderstood her work on the stages of grief, and if you read her books, you’ll see that she explicitly states many times that the stages of grief are not a straight line. Denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance are non-linear. Sometimes a person may not even go through one of the stages, or experience more than one at a time. It’s a huge misunderstanding to expect someone to just go through the stages and be done with their grieving in a set period of time.

What Kübler-Ross tries to explain in her work, and what I’ve experienced myself in working with those who are grieving the loss of a loved one and in my own grief, is that you need to respect the grieving process. It doesn’t matter what the person is grieving over, either. Whether it’s a loved one, a pet, the election, a celebrity, or even a sportsball loss. No matter the source, the grief is real.

We’ve been taught, in American society at least, that our grief should be something that we hide, or if we don’t “get over it” quickly we’re somehow mentally ill, or being stupid. It’s worse if someone is grieving over a pet, or a celebrity, or something others deem not worthy of any extended period of grief.

I think that what we’ve been taught is wrong.

I think that not showing our grief, wailing, crying, singing laments, or being denied the ability to publicly express our grief is wrong.

So I give all of you who are grieving, no matter what you are grieving, the permission to cry out loud, to shout, to rage, to sing, to wail, to write, to do anything you need to express that grief. I give you permission to grieve whether someone else thinks it silly or not. I give you permission to not talk about your grief, to hermit, to be alone in your grief. I give you permission to grieve for as long as you need to. I give you permission to grieve publicly, in community, and if I am there to witness your grief, I will make sure you are allowed that space without someone bothering you or telling you that your grief is invalid.

And I will give myself this same permission, because I am grieving, too.