Wild Men

Yesterday was the end of class for this quarter. Finals have been taken, papers have been written, everything has been handed in. Today I drive to my Paramour’s island and we will go to the symphony for Beethoven’s 5th (extra credit for the music class). WMFH will be there as well, so it should be an interesting evening. I am going to take the weekend off to catch my breath, but I plan of returning to blogging next week. In the meantime, enjoy this link:

Europe’s Wild Men: They become bears, stags, and devils. They evoke death but bestow fertile life. They live in the modern era, but they summon old traditions.

Anthesteria

We held our Anthesteria Bacchanalia at the wine shop here on the island. We had a great turn out of about 20 people (considering how small the space is and how small our island community is, it was fairly impressive). People brought lots of food and flowers, including one elderly man who wore flowers in his beard. We had funk music playing and the vibe was great. My co-priest and his husband made me a thyrsus, and co-priest’s mom made everyone in the grove flower wreaths for their hair. Had a lovely weekend with the Paramour in the cabin he rented, very romantic and inspiring. I could write sonnets about that man’s beauty. Here are a few photos of the festivities.

The Perils of Pagan Burn-Out

Hello, my name is Sigrun, and I am experiencing Pagan Burn-Out.

We’ve all been there. You wake up one morning and you just don’t feel like leaving an offering at your altar. Or maybe you just can’t finish that umpteenth book about the confluence of Celtic and Germanic Paganism in the ancient world. Or maybe you just can’t get that worked up about the next ritual. My enthusiasm peaked around Yule, but since then I am been so busy and overwhelmed that I have been neglecting aspects of my practice and studies I really shouldn’t. I know it will come back, this isn’t a crisis of faith or questioning my path. I just feel extremely “meh” about my level of engagement right now.

Happy Things

German/Music Appreciation teacher/WMFH not only read Hildegard von Bingen’s description of the female orgasm in MA class today (pertinently, I might add), he described the Pagan ambiguities in her music with great knowledge, passion, and fervor. Two words: MY HERO.

It’s so refreshing to have a teacher who gets it. Dude may not be a Pagan, but he sure as hell thinks like one.

Between that, and the lovely conversation I just had with my Paramour, it just makes me feel like crawling all over someone like a baby panda.

Imbolc

Yesterday was Imbolc, and due to poor health and a hectic schedule, my participation was minimal. A simple lamb dinner with my “family”, some good wine and good conversation and home by midnight.

imbolc

Next up is Anthesteria, which is proving to be a daunting undertaking. We only have 3 weeks to throw together a decadent semi-public Bacchinalia, and I am slammed with school and ADF studies and men and my housewife-erly duties.

I am most excited about planning our Midsummer celebration. We are planning a Shakespearean / Brothers Grimm style woodland picnic in the afternoon, followed by a beach bonfire that night. As soon as the weather gets better I need to start scouting locations for that. We are planning a Slavic Ostara and Walpurgisnacht in the mountains. We haven’t discussed Lughnasadh yet, but once we hit the Autumnal Equinox I will have fulfilled my first full wheel of the year for the dedicant program. Then it’s essay city…

Pagan Blog Project Week 5: Craft Name, or H is for Harlot

Craft names. I don’t use one. Generally, I think they tend to be a bit silly and pompous (naming yourself “Lady Circe Stonehenge-Faery” seems a little self-aggrandizing), the absolute hypocrisy of that being that I legally changed my name years ago to conceal my identity, and my legal name is about as ridiculous and attention-getting as they come. It wasn’t intentional. I compiled a list of first names and a list of last names and gave one to each of my best friends and asked them to pick. I then took my my niece’s middle name (which is also an old family name), and with this Mad Lib moniker I walked down to the county courthouse with the man who is now my Paramour in tow. In this way, my rebirth had new “parents”. Male Friend acted a symbolic father, Female Friend acted as a symbolic mother, and my Paramour was my midwife, guiding me into my new identity. I chose this method deliberately, as the naming of a thing is a sacred act and calls for a certain amount of care. The fact that the end results sounds like an Alan Moore superheroine was not important, it was the act of renaming that mattered to me.

My reasons for changing my name were primarily to disassociate myself from my past. Having been a former adult entertainer in the age of the internet means your past is never more than a few clicks away (granted, when I went into the business, the internet was new and more a novelty that the ubiquitous presence it is now). Simply googling your name will turn up a wealth of things you do not want an employer finding once you try to go legit. Due to what I can only assume was a “clerical error”, much of my work was released under my real name. I have had male coworkers approach me for sexual favors in exchange for “keeping my secret”. I have had female coworkers cattily state thinly veiled allusions to what they had discovered about me in front of the entire staff. I have even had people bring in copies of magazines I was in and ask me for my autograph at work. Eventually, I had to change my name if I ever wanted to be able to function in society without the stigma of being the town whore. This angered me, since I did not and still do not see anything wrong with what I have done. However, I was never particularly attached to my name, having always felt it didn’t suit me.

Of course, this has made my life awkward in many ways. In the Pagan community, people often mistake my name for a craft name. In public life I frequently get comments on the strange nature of my name, which of course means I have to pretend it is my name by birth or risk the myriad of questions that will follow. There is a weird embarrassment to confessing you have legally changed your name, like I need to justify my decision. Half my family forgets to call me by my new name, the other half refuses and will announce this in front of people who don’t know that I changed my name. My friends have all adapted, but new friends will eventually have to be told if they become more than acquaintances.

In some ways, my original name is my magical name; it is the secret name known only to me and a few close relations. I have had so many different names over the years, I can literally get confused in a crowd if I hear someone calling out anything phonetically close to any one of them. I have 2 different names from the various S&M clubs I used to work at, the names that I modeled under, names I used for film work, nicknames I have had, online monikers. These are all names that I have responded to, identities I have had that sit on top of my original self like layers of experience. My name now seems to bring them all together so I feel a little less like Sybil Green, but I still have this weird sense of the different chapters in my life having happened to someone else.

Pagan Politics aka “Leave Britney Alone!”

Since everyone is talking about this subject, I guess it’s my turn to weigh in:

I could not give 2 1/2 fucks what Star Foster chooses calls herself.

Not to single Ms. Foster out. I don’t know her, I don’t read her blog. I just find it completely baffling that the entire community actually feels that this one woman’s decision to stop calling herself Pagan matters in the slightest. How exactly does this effect you? Does this actually change your own self-perception? Are we all lemmings charging off the cliff now? Why are people fighting about this? Why does it mean everyone suddenly has to pick a side? And why are people heaping insane amounts of hate on this poor girl for what is ultimately a very personal decision? Even more disturbing is the fact that people are posting the most hateful personal commentary on other people’s blogs. Whatever happened to “if you can’t say something nice”?

I am aware that Ms. Foster is a rather controversial figure in the community, and when I checked her blog while researching this topic, I can’t say that I found her… completely sympathetic. However, saying that because someone comes across as a bit of a bitch on their blog means it’s ok to be abusive towards them is like saying “She was wearing a red dress! She was asking to be raped!”. YOU are the one in charge of YOUR behavior, act like a grown up and walk away from people who don’t improve your world. Just because I found her style abrasive does not invalidate what she has to say, nor is it my place to “correct” her. It means I won’t be reading her blog, and I doubt she gives 2 1/2 fucks what I choose to do either.

I have had either the great fortune or disadvantage of coming at Paganism from a uniquely isolated angle. I came of age before the advent of the internet. I have spent most of my Pagan “career” either in blissful solitude or with a close knit group of like-minded Pagans. My mother and her husband are Pagan, my sister was Wiccan, so family ostracization was never an issue. I never went through a Wiccan phase, I went straight from the confused quasi-Catholicism of my early teen years to Ceremonial and Chaos magick in my late teens and 20s to Reconstructionsim in my 30s. Even then, I managed to avoid groups and online communities, having been blessed with a circle of friends that were also of the same general faith. Even here on the island, our grove consists of around 10+ people who seem to share a similar spiritual comfort zone. Once I became active in the online Pagan community, I was appalled to learn that Pagans don’t really like each other. Even Pagans within the same “denomination” argue and bicker over the most banal points of dogma like dogs growling over a bone. Even more disappointing is the condescending “Comic Book Guy” know-it-all tone people adopt. Seriously, read just about any comment on a Pagan blog in the Comic Book Guy’s voice and you will see what I mean.

Perhaps it’s time that we all focus more on the choices we are making. The internet has made us all into cheerleaders or trolls, and very few of us are actually in the game playing. It has given Pagans a false sense of community. These people are not your friends, they are not your kindred. You may have had the good fortune to have met some decent or interesting people online, but to assume that even a small percentage of us are going to have the same world view or be able to get along based on the fact that we share an extremely tenuous umbrella faith is laughable. Star Foster’s decision to abandon the title of Pagan has no more bearing on my world than reading the latest patriarchal decree from that Hitlerjungend Sith lord sitting on his golden throne in the Vatican. It’s like apples and oranges, if the oranges had an unreasonable hatred of vag and a penchant for really silly hats. Likewise, I do not expect anyone who reads this blog to even remotely ascribe any weight to my opinions. They are my opinions, my world view. I write them down so I can work them through, I share them because this is the age of the internet and we are all attention whores in this grand electronic bordello.

Some of you might care about who calls themselves what, some of you may have even been involved in the conversation. That’s fine, I doubt any of you are the sort to go on another person’s blog and call them a fat, ignorant, whore because you disagree with them. Seriously, one of the few places in the Pagan realm I am finding reasoned discourse is at fellow ADF dedicant Teo Bishop’s blog. I find him a delight to read, a gentle and compassionate soul who seems to draw people with a positive outlook toward him. I envy his ability to wield such patience. I come from a more “HULK SMASH” space. Meh, sometimes you need whisk broom, sometimes you need a sledgehammer. I am getting better at determining when to use which.

Oh, and speaking of which, this blog is not a free-speech zone. Trolls will be deleted. I don’t feel the need to be diplomatic in my own house. I would no more tolerate someone being rude or abusive on my blog than I would allow them to come into my home and spread their own filth on my walls. To quote my all-time favorite scene from “Mommie Dearest”:

Revisionism and Counter-Revisionism in Pagan History

Here is a great article about revisionism in Pagan history from The International Journal of Pagan Studies. I definitely subscribe to the belief that Paganism is something we have recreated, not something that has been secretly brewing behind the scenes for hundreds of years. I hold no illusions that what I do is part of an unbroken tradition. I like Hutton’s comparison of the authenticity of modern Paganism to Protestantism:

In this, it was certainly based on older images and ideas, gathered from the ancient, medieval and early modern worlds, but evolved in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to suit modern needs and ideals; which it did very well, thereby explaining most of its appeal and viability. As such, it was no less genuine than any other faith which had undergone a process of renewal and revival, such as Protestant Christianity’s rejection of more than a millennium of developing Catholic theology and ritual to return to what its exponents regarded as ancient truths.

If you are accustom to peer-review journal academic style writing, it isn’t to bad a read. If you aren’t or find reading that crap like pulling teeth (as I tend to*) it can be a bit convoluted, but the information is fantastic.

*The preferred academic style of writing is so focused on making the writer sound knowledgeable that it tends to obscure the information it contains IMHO. I always imagine David Attenborough** narrating, “Here we see the Academic in his natural setting, preening his feathers in an attempt to woo his fellow academics into providing him career advancement, talk show spots, and tenure. Watch as he dances frantically, the very survival and perpetuation of his species resting on his every move…”

** OMG I was so hot for David Attenborough when I was young.

Pagan Blog Project Week 3: Blood

**NOTE: This was in my queue as a work in progress, but somehow ended up posting. It is unedited, rambling, and off-topic, but I decided to let stand since people have already seen it and commented. I apologize for the premature and “raw” nature of the post.**

Blood. What an odd choice to write about, eh? I’mma gonna warn you right here an now, if you squick easily, especially about chick things, skip this post. I’m not going to go into graphic detail, but I know the very subject disturbs some people. I’m also going to talk about my experiences with childhood bullying and sexual assault, so trigger alert as well. While these topics aren’t specifically Pagan, I am currently contemplating the concept of Fertility for my ADF essays, so it actually helps to write some of this out. Bear with me.

Let’s talk about menstruating, shall we? I don’t anymore, not since that nasty tumor pulled a Jack Ruby on my uterus 8 years ago. On the one hand, this was a blessing: the tumor caused me excruciating pain and made me bleed like a damn flume ride, but on the other hand… you would be surprised to learn that you can actually miss having a period. I forget that women menstruate sometimes. I still ovulate and have a regular cycle (I can tell I am doing so right now, as my breasts feel like sauna rocks and I have an insatiable desire for sex, salt, and chocolate. WMFH had best watch out, his earlobes were looking mighty nibble-able the other day) but since I don’t bleed anymore I have this sense of being on the outside of womanhood. I don’t regret my inability to have children, I never wanted them. However, as I have gotten older my great regret is the fact that I never wanted kids. People seem to like them. I don’t know why I don’t. I look at a baby and I feel about as much emotion as I feel looking at a sack of potatoes. The presence of children fills me with distaste and annoyance. Once they hit puberty, the age when most people start to lose interest in them, THEN I start finding them tolerable. As my husband likes to put it in his Old South Foghorn Leghorn drawl, “I don’ like ’em until they unnerstand the concept a’ death.” (note: don’t let the accent fool you, my husband is actually a very educated man)

I think part of my issue with children is the obscene amount of bullying I was subjected to as a child. This was back in an age before people cared about such things and developed PSAs, support groups, hotlines, and Very Special Episodes dedicated to it, and the level of abuse I experienced was truly horrific. It ranged from verbal taunting to beatings to outright sexual assault. I was overweight, I was smart (but a poor student), I was weird, and I was raised in a home where no one paid attention to whether or not I did my homework, bathed, brushed my teeth, slept, ate, or had clean clothes for school. I developed enormous breasts by the time I was in 4th grade and my mother didn’t see a reason to buy me a bra. I dreaded recess every day, because I knew at best I would be able to hide by myself in the secluded forest behind the field, but at worst… at worst, the girls would tease me, tell me I was fat and ugly, throw rocks at me, and the boys would gather in a circle around me to take turns punching and jabbing my breasts in sadistic curiosity. And it didn’t end there. I can recall specific days in vivid detail where I was convinced I would be murdered or gang raped before recess was through, and the adults turned a blind eye to it all. We were just being kids, kids tease each other, it builds character. And it was constant. Every day, on the way to school, between classes, on the playground, after school, and around the neighborhood. It took me several years of this treatment before I finally had had enough and wailed the tar out of one girl in what could only be described as a berserker rage. After that, I realized I was not just fat, I was BIG, the tallest kid in school at that point. And strong. And over the preceding years of constant physical torment I had developed a very high tolerance for pain. Once word got out I was not only not playing the game anymore I was, in fact, a juggernaut of irrational violence when pushed too far, the kids found someone else to torment. Junior high and high school were far more kind to me socially. So, when I see children, I do not see the innocent little angels others see, I see the leering, hateful tormentors and cruel mob mentality of a soulless legion that did everything it could to deny me my humanity, dignity, and self-respect.

People have often said “you’ll feel different when it’s your own”. To them I say, “and what if I don’t?? Do you really want to gamble with the future of a CHILD that way??” Cuz let me tell you right now, brother, I have come *this close* to punching a child in the face on numerous occasions, and these were kids I could walk away from. Why would I roll the dice that I might not hate my own child? That, to me, illustrates the problem with the way our society looks at women. There is something so “unnatural” about a woman who does want children that we are willing to pressure her into breeding NO MATTER THE CONSEQUENCES TO HER OR THE CHILD. I chose not to have children because I did not want a child growing up in a house without all the love and support possible.

But I do miss having my period sometimes. I feel sometimes like I have given up part of my femininity, forced myself into a sort of early “cronehood”. There is something so incredibly potent and mysterious in that blood we both exalt and revile. Men tend to react strangely when you tell them you aren’t fertile, like you are a eunuch. Guess what, just because the kitchen is closed doesn’t mean there isn’t still a party at the bar. Everything that counts works just fine, even better thanks for asking. As I have approached my 40s, my already prodigious sex drive has kicked on the turbo boost in a major way, only there is still this strange sense of something missing, of being not quite right.

Pagan Prayer Beads Part II

Since I still had a large amount of beads, I made another prayer bead set. I think the smaller one is better suited for keeping in a pocket when I am on the go, but the larger one is rather pretty. I like the beads with the eyes on them.

20130113-081024.jpg
prayer beads close up
If anyone cares to know, I ordered my beads from Shipwreck Beads in Olympia. They ship nationwide, but their brick-and-mortar is a sight to see.

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