The Salish Sea and Me

It’s a beautiful day on the Salish Sea, and I am sitting alone in my Paramour’s empty future home, looking out over the water at the roof of my house and marveling at the strange twists and turns our lives take. The other night we had a house full of people, all of them people I consider my family. We stayed up late, talking about childhood toys and random acts of heroism and villainy we have indulged in over the years. I am so blessed to have these people in my life. I am blessed to have my Paramour returned to me after all these years. I am blessed to have a wonderful husband who is my hero and protector. I am blessed to have friends who make me laugh endlessly and challenge me mentally.

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The view from my Paramour’s living room. You can literally see the roof of my house across the water.

To celebrate Maitag, I had to make room in my nightmare of a schedule for a my first solitary ritual. In the whirlwind of redecorating my Paramour’s house, school, planning for my trip to France in 3 weeks, and multiple health problems, I hadn’t realized that TODAY was May 1st. I picked up some items from the grocery store and headed over to the Paramour’s new house between classes to do some work. While I was there, I sat out in the backyard on a bench overlooking the water, set up my gear, and did a combined Maitag ritual and house blessing. Since I didn’t have any sort of oracle to consult, I had to improvise. I thought to myself, what is an oracle? Divination is the selection of a randomly generated symbol and the interpretation of that symbol in the context of the question your are asking. Regardless of whether you consider an oracle to be a message from the divine or just random chance, you are still taking a meaningful symbol and applying it to a query for guidance. Before I left German class today, I pulled WMFH aside and asked him to write the first German word that came into his head on a piece of paper and give it to me. He obliged, and I used that as my oracle. The word he wrote? Zuverlässig: trustworthy, steadfast, everlasting. Have I mentioned lately how awesome WMFH is? Seriously, the guy is totally magical and doesn’t seem to know it.

My first solitary ritual went ok, it wasn’t completely ADF compliant, but I am ok with that. I managed to do a basic skeleton of the core ritual from memory, and the addition of the Freya’s Gold beer from the Odin Brewing Company as my offering to the god’s was another sweet slice of serendipity. During the ritual, a goldfinch landed on the bough of an blossoming apple tree and sang a few notes before moving on. It seems that during most of our rituals we are visited by a bird or 2 with a purpose.

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Another view.

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.

Yule 2012- Post Game Recap

Yule was lovely, an amazing time. The table was beautiful, we served leek and potato vichyssoise, spinach salad with tamari pumpkin seeds and goat cheese, duck confit, smoked pork ribs, butternut squash gratin, honeyed brussel sprouts in a sherry sauce, and mashed potatoes. For dessert we had a home made Yule log and I made hazelnut gelato. For my toast, I did a dramatic recitation of “Der Erlkönig” in German. Everyone seemed to enjoy it. My ex (who’s mother was German) was in attendance and said my pronunciation was spot on, and a friend of ours who lived in German for 3 years said I sounded very natural.  So, yay Team German! Everyone had a blast, the food was incredible, and I ended up getting very drunk. The last of our house guests just left after a solid 2 days of drinking, eating, and revelry, and I am beat to hell. Here are some photos:

Yule 2012: Pre-Game Show

Today is the big ritual! We set up the table yesterday, which was an all-day undertaking. Ryan did an AMAZING job, everybody pitched in and created something that is going to be so magical tonight!

They Cracked This 250 Year-Old Code, And Found a Secret Society Inside

For more than 200 years, this book concealed the arcane rituals of an ancient order. But cracking the code only deepened the mystery.

Interesting article about a real secret society, cryptography, and ritual.

The master wears an amulet with a blue eye in the center. Before him, a candidate kneels in the candlelit room, surrounded by microscopes and surgical implements. The year is roughly 1746. The initiation has begun.

The master places a piece of paper in front of the candidate and orders him to put on a pair of eyeglasses. “Read,” the master commands. The candidate squints, but it’s an impossible task. The page is blank.

The candidate is told not to panic; there is hope for his vision to improve. The master wipes the candidate’s eyes with a cloth and orders preparation for the surgery to commence. He selects a pair of tweezers from the table. The other members in attendance raise their candles.

The master starts plucking hairs from the candidate’s eyebrow. This is a ritualistic procedure; no flesh is cut. But these are “symbolic actions out of which none are without meaning,” the master assures the candidate. The candidate places his hand on the master’s amulet. Try reading again, the master says, replacing the first page with another. This page is filled with handwritten text. Congratulations, brother, the members say. Now you can see.

“Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m a Priestess!”

I love BBQ.

I married a Southern Gentleman from coastal North Carolina, and I am not entirely sure if it was him or the BBQ that won me over. I happen to be a fan of Stubb’s BBQ sauce. I am telling you, that moppin’ sauce of his is A-MAZ-ING. One of the more charming aspects of Stubb’s is the catch phrase written right on the bottle, “Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m a cook!” I’ve always found the self-determination of that statement almost elegant in its simplicity. Stubb’s wanted to be a cook, so he was a cook. The exuberance of the exclamation point is almost poignant. You can almost feel the joy of a realized dream, of a life lived to its fullest, of a person so certain of their identity that one sentence was all it took to become that thing.

The first thing you learn when you learn a second language are the “be” verbs. “I am” is quite possibly the most magickal phrase in the human tongue. It is defining, it is definitive, it is self-fulfilling. So frequently we focus on the things we are not, the things we wish to be, the things we could be if the circumstances were different. Personally, I try as often as I can to take a page from Mr. Stubbs. I am exactly what I tell the world I am. (More on language and magickal thinking in future posts…)

When my “co-priest” first brought up the idea of joining the ADF and pursuing the clergy path, I think he was shocked at my enthusiasm in joining him, which may have seemed to outsiders completely out of the blue. While friends knew I was some kind of Germanic-y, Heathen-y Pagan, it was not a topic I discussed freely. When we first started to perform rituals, I was terrified. I felt like a phony playing at being a priestess, undeserving of the title. My co-priest was so much more knowledgeable and comfortable with the liturgy, where as I just wanted to say as few words possible and get off the stage. On top of everything else, I have this fear of being taken seriously. I have this sarcastic, “Mae West one-liner” persona that has been my defense since childhood, and the thought of shedding that armor, having to stand before others and be not only sincere but devout was like staring into the abyss. The first ritual we performed was a Hellenist Orphic Autumnal Equinox rite (my co-priest is a Hellenist, and our congregation is mixed so we try to trade off different traditions). The ritual was beautiful, and I think I did rather well, even if I was shaking throughout. (Some people may quibble with the fact that neither my co-priest and I are officially ADF clergy yet, however our group actually formed long before we decided to go the ADF route, and he actually performed my wedding ceremony a few years ago.)

The second ritual, a Proto-Indo-European inspired Samhain and the first to completely conform the ADF core order of ritual, was a steaming hot mess.

We started with very lofty ambitions, created animal masks to represent our totem animals to protect us, bonfires, torches, and a goat sacrifice (calm down, the goat was made out of straw). At the last minute, everything started to slide sideways, my co-priest had foot surgery, I had a German midterm the following week, one of our congregants broke her wrist and couldn’t come, 2 others had a month of hellacious traveling and were too worn out to make it, and so on. Half our group would be missing and those that would be there were sick or crippled. We persevered, I made a fantastic bear mask, my co-priest was an owl. We did a couple walk-throughs, rehearsed our liturgy, checked out props and timing, we thought we had considered all possibilities… ah the best laid plans…


The Lemur, the Crow, the Bear (me), the Peacock, and the Owl (my co-priest). My husband, the Bull is taking the photo.

As the ritual began, we turned off the lights, as it was to be conducted by firelight. I tried to read my script… only to discover that in the dark my bear mask made it impossible to see anything with my 42 year old eyes. I stammered and stumbled, whacked one of the attendants in the face with my corn husk censer during the purification, was unable to light the bonfire, and generally fell apart like Mary Tyler Moore throwing a dinner party (if you are under the age of 35, you will not get that reference.) I was frustrated, embarrassed and generally not feeling the ritual vibe.

Then came the reading of the names of the dead. Every member of our grove had written the names of the loved ones they had lost over the years, and I read them out loud as each member placed a clove into an apple for each person they wished to honor. I could actually read these, as the print was larger, and as I did so, the feeling came over me; a reminder of why I was there, of who I was serving, and the reason for the ritual. A ritual is a party you throw for the gods, ancestors, and spirits you want to honor. Sometimes, even the most disastrous party can be memorable and endearing. In the end, I think everyone felt a sense of catharsis, and the ritual ended much better than when it started. This made me realize, performing a perfect ritual doesn’t make you a priestess, having an official clergy license doesn’t make you a priestess.

I am a priestess because I am willing to take that chance of making a fool of myself so that the gods and ancestors can reach out to us.
I am a priestess because I am willing to spend my time educating myself about the gods and the ways of our ancestors.
I am a priestess because I am willing to pass on that knowledge to those who want to learn it.
I am a priestess because I am willing to spend 2 months of my life preparing for a ritual regardless of how many people show up. We don’t do these things for the “audience”, we do them for the gods, spirits, and ancestors.
I am a Priestess because I am willing to change the things about myself that I see as an impediment to my relationship with the gods. I am prepared to mold myself into a more appropriate vessel, a more loving and forgiving person, a more disciplined and dedicated scholar, and a manifestation of both their will and my own.
I am a priestess because I have chosen to be a priestess. Because I was called to be a priestess.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I AM a Priestess!

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