The Great Rite

I’m told that Victor Andersen said something like this:

Clouds are the result of the elements of air and water making love.

In truth the Laws of Polarity and Attraction are at play in the creation of all things. The Big Bang? Yeah, that was the orgasm to end all orgasms (or begin?).

Sex is the joining of two concrete, separate entities that results in the creation of a third and separate entity that is greater than the sum of its parts. Air plus water, bow-chica-bow-wow, and voila! Clouds. Quantum physics is slowly figuring out that manifest creation is just one big porno, tastefully directed by and starring the Lord and the Lady.

We are alive because of Sex. Sex is a sacred act. Sex is Creation. The Lady’s desire to know Herself created the Lord. Her pursuit of the Lord, lying with Him, created EVERYTHING

Keep in mind that the Lord and the Lady are metaphors for yin and yang – you don’t have to believe in gods or God to get this part of the program. 

Sex is sacred and beautiful. Sex is a sharing, a balancing, and a creation of diversity. A child is different from her parents. Clouds are different from air and water.

Dogma, (we all know who’s dogma is to blame here, right? Not that I’m trying to point fingers, but I sure didn’t lay that turd right there in the middle of the living room) has divorced us from our connection to the sensual world. We have been taught that Sex is Evil and shameful. How can something that gives humans such pleasure be anything less than a divine gift? How can an act that creates new life be viewed as anything less than a miracle?

Sex is an exchange. It is a sacrifice and a devotion. When approached this way, with worship, a magical person mindfully chooses partners who will acknowledge the gift. She will acknowledge the man’s sacrifice of energy as he brings her pleasure. He will acknowledge the woman’s sacrifice of her boundaries as she brings him pleasure. In this way, he cannot see the woman as merely flesh. She cannot see the man as less than divine. These ideas fall away in an atmosphere of sacrifice and devotion.

The same principle applies to same-sex partners, who may have more flexibility over who gets to play Yin or Yang. The approach is the same between consenting, adult partners, and I’m not assuming that only two are allowed to play at a time.

The Symbolic Great Rite, the sensual joining of Yin and Yang through ritual, and within and through the bodies of the participants (though actual sex isn’t being performed), is a magical person’s way of honoring the source of all creation. The positive, projecting energy of Chokmah (Yang) is blended with the negative, receptive energy of Binah (Yin). Force ensouls Form.

The Great Rite can be done literally too, but not everyone has a partner at the moment, so this is the happy compromise and can be done with good friends without getting too awkward.

Another way of looking at the Great Rite is through Alchemy. The tarot card Temperance represents the processes of Alchemy, the goal of which is to purify the alchemist and make her as “the world brand new.” The overall purpose of the Great Rite is to burn away impurities, dissolve boundaries, separate that which serves from that which serves not, conjoin that which is in apparent opposition, ferment the joined so that they blend completely, distill that further into its purest essence,  and coagulate the resultant shining body of the celebrant.

This process can, but doesn’t as a general rule, happen all at once. Just know that every ritual activity is aimed at raising the magical person’s consciousness. The process could also be viewed as what Tantra calls “awakening the serpent” of the Kundalini, a potent, sensual energy that “sleeps” at the base of the spine. When the Kundalini rises, the result is known as “Enlightenment.” How about that? Sex, when performed in an attitude of worship, enlightens. That’s nothing to be ashamed of.

A few resources for the genuine Seeker:

Dismore, Joseph D. “The 7 Steps of Alchemical Transformation.” http://ordosacerdotalvstempli.net/seven.html, accessed August 1, 2013.

Moonshadow, Lady Raven. “By Chalice and Blade: The GreatRite.” http://sacredmistsblog.com/by-chalice-and-blade-the-great-rite-part-1, accessed August 1, 2013.

“Nadis.” http://www.tantra-kundalini.com/nadis.htm, accessed August 1, 2013.

Racism: Like breathing air

Racism is like trying to see air. That’s what is so frightening about this illness of heart and mind. It exists, just like air, and we breathe it but we can’t see it. Sometimes we can hear it like a rattling against the windows or we can see its effects as it disturbs leaves or rips apart homes, but we can’t apprehend racism directly. We experience it and if you are on the “white” side of it, it is harder to acknowledge the inequity of it because it doesn’t reduce your comfort. The tornado or hurricane, as it were, has touched down in someone else’s neighborhood.

I have experienced sexism and understand the obstacles to understanding on both sides of a polarizing issue. I have experienced racism once and my heart goes out to anyone who has been subject to the following description:

As Black Irish, I have been told I look Puerto Rican. When I was in San Antonio, it was if I did not exist. Caucasians looked past me because I wasn’t blond and blue-eyed. Latinos looked past me because I had white skin. I had never felt anything so disturbing in my life. It shook me to my very center. My physical attributes, unchangeable genetic coding, were the basis of their judgment. My character, my heart, my mind, and my actions played no part in the opinion they formed of me. What frightened me more was how UNCONSCIOUS their behavior was.

Racism is too complex, with its centuries of inculcation, to dismantle in a few short decades. MLK and Rosa Parks, symbols for the struggles of many unsung activists, started the process but it’s not over. This recovery idea has applicable wisdom: It takes half the time of the duration of a relationship to truly get over the breakup, sort of like the half-life of plutonium or uranium to give you a more scientific parallel. So we have a ways to go in fixing this and it’s one plodding step at a time, one day at a time, and you have to stay on top of the issue.

Bottom line: Racism exists and as long as it does, NO ONE is free.

Regret & Recovery

Io,

…Now if I could just get over some of the deeper regrets…. Do you have regrets? How deeply do they cut your soul? Does something within you shudder if you even approach the memories sideways? Post your response. I think it might be helpful for others. Peace.

—’Cu’

This question forced me to wrestle with angels all week.  When I was a girl, I had the bedroom that shared a wall with the bathroom. My mother takes baths and I don’t remember a time when she ever took a shower, so on many an occasion, I was in my room when she took her baths.

Baths are relaxing, womb-like experiences for those of you who have forgotten this simple pleasure. For my mother, it was as if the restraint she kept on her thoughts and feelings dissolved in the water of the bath. She would talk aloud as her thoughts drifted into her past; for some reason, she never spoke of happy things. She didn’t reminisce about the most joyful moments of her life.

“I hate you,” she would say or “you bastard.” These outbursts— always spoken in the musing voice of one who is very relaxed—would put me on edge. “What kind of experience,” I would ask myself, “Could make my mother, a paragon of self-control, say such awful things?” I couldn’t get my head around it; even when I was in my twenties and early thirties, I just had no context in which to place her remembrances.

Then one of the most frightening and awful experiences of my life occurred; something perhaps that I could have avoided if I had understood the signs along the road. During a ritual in which I held a significant role, I had let down my guard to such a degree that I had a psychotic break. It was something akin to possession. I was trapped within a body that was not under my control. I witnessed the reactions of the others around me: fear, revulsion, anger.  It was one of the most crushing experiences of my life and until this day, I felt responsible for the unknown, untold damage I may have caused others within my sphere of influence. I regretted—with a passion that I had once reserved for the joys of my life.

There is no way I can ask for forgiveness from the people who were traumatized by my temporary psychosis. I don’t even know if anyone there remembers or even cares about what happened. For me, that moment in time has irrevocably changed me. It was not my intention to allow my inner demons free reign, but some part of me knows that I was working up to that singular event.

I consoled myself with efforts to repair the damage and prevent a repeat. I sought therapy. I removed myself from the pagan community for five years as atonement since I could not make amends. I ritually scarified my body after extensive research and soul-searching. I even studied exorcism.

After considering this question about regret to a depth and degree I had not previously granted, I realized that forgiveness only truly comes from within. It was when I chose to stop beating myself up over what could not be revoked or changed that I realized that I was transformed. I am no longer the woman who stood in that ritual helplessly ridden by an aspect of the Morrigan. That woman is a part of me, but she no longer defines or rules me. I am stronger, more soulful, and more compassionate than that woman knew how to be. She was the seed of who I am now.

Today, I choose to move forward and recognize that if I worked to recover and learn from such a ground-zero experience, then those who witnessed that event are responsible for how they have recovered and learned. They did not help me in my climb back to the light, and they did not require my help to bring them to where they are now. I wish them Bright Blessings.

As for my regrets, they have gone in peace. Merry part.

Mercury Retrograde Rx

One of the best things I ever learned, something so liberating I wept with relief when I was told, is that if you know what Mercury Retrograde (MRx) is about, you can weather the storm with optimism and even—gasp!— gratitude. MRx is a time to Re-visit, Re-do, Re-think, even Re-member.

If you have no clue what Mercury Retrograde is, please have a gander at this article:

http://astrology.about.com/od/advancedastrology/p/MercuryRetro.htm

Since an MRx happens approximately 3 times a year and lasts up to 3 weeks each time, the influence is perhaps one of the most frustrating (as opposed to difficult or painful, though it can be both) astrological events we experience. Below, I am going to give you a few steps to follow so that you can do your own research on how an MRx will influence you (or any other astrological Rx or Return or—you name it).

Step One

Find out which planet is the key player(s). Do your research on what the planet governs and influences.

In this instance, we have Mercury the Messenger. Mercury governs communications and all other types of transactions between two or more entities (i.e. the bank and you OR your lower Self with your higher Self). This includes law, commerce, and emotional interactions. Mercury also influences the mental processes—how we think. Don’t just limit this influence to logic though. Mercury touches on our visualizations and our fantasies as well.

There may be another planet involved in your astrological event so be sure to repeat the process.

Step Two

Find out which zodiac sign the planet(s) occupies during the astrological event. This  zodiac sign has its own attributes that impose another layer of influences on the event.

The MRx is exclusively occurring in Cancer, the Crab (sometimes an MRx will back into the previous sign). Cancer is a sign of the mother and the home. This sign’s energetic/elemental signature is cardinal water. Cardinal energy is thrusting, like a seed pushing a plant through the ground. The element of water governs the emotions and is fluid in nature.

Make sure you address the zodiac signs of the other planets in your astrological event, if any.

Step Three

Determine the house governed by the zodiac sign in general and in your natal chart.

In general, the fourth house is ruled by Cancer, and again we find the theme of home life and the mother. However, in your chart, Cancer may have a different governance. In my natal chart, Cancer governs the 2nd house of Finances (I like to consider this Portable Prosperity).

Repeat for any other zodiac signs in your astrological event.

Step Four

Determine which planets are in close configurations or aspects with the MRx.

The Sun is always in close configuration with Mercury but the big Kahuana is the conjunction and it happens on July 9, 2013, which is the midway point of the MRx. Conjunctions are where the influences between two planets (or luminaries) can be most harmonious but it can also be like shoving the same polarity ends of two magnets together. The Moon conjuncts the MRx the day before on July 9th and squares the MRx on July 1st. Since the Moon rules Cancer, this is a significant interaction.

Resources

You can create your natal chart by using this link:

http://www.cafeastrology.com/articles/howtoobtainchart.html

You can look up where the planets are at this moment and how they’re interacting here:

http://www.cafeastrology.com/monthlycalendar.html

The calendar starts with May 2013 but scroll down and you’ll see not only a Key to the symbols but July through November of 2013. The day before the 1st of the month or after the last day of the month gives a low down on when planets go into new zodiac signs. You may have to look at the month before (i.e. Mercury went into Cancer at the end of May) to find out where a planet is.

Application

The MRx is in Cancer, ruler of the 4th house of home and the mother, and happens to be moving through the second house of Portable Prosperity in my natal chart. I’m also going to consider that my natal Moon in Cancer will be influenced by this MRx because it resides in the second house and is in its sign of rulership.

Hmmm, this would explain my intense irritability lately, especially with my children and their constant demands on my resources as their Mother, the state of my financial affairs, and my pervasive sense of not feeling satisfied with what I have. I will need to revisit my feelings and relationship with my Portable Prosperity, first and foremost, and I will need to reassess my feelings about how my children make demands on my liquid assets. The idea is to re-concile the mental and emotional tensions around prosperity.

On July 1, 2013, when the Moon squares the MRx, I better watch what comes out of my mouth because I will probably have a hair trigger. On July 5th, the MRx is sesquiquadrate to Neptune. Though the aspect is minor, confusion is bound to interfere with the reconciliation process. The conjunction with the Moon and then the Sun one day after the other (June 8th and 9th) is probably going to be tense, though in a good way. This may be where the frustration has mounted to an intolerable level and I’ll have a breakthrough!

Sharing Traditions: Dance of the Standing Stones

Our Clan’s ritual book is a Llewellyn tome, so I include the title here:

Kynes, Sandra. “Litha.” A Year of Ritual: Sabbats and Esbats for Solitaries & Covens, pp. 49-55.

Though Ms. Kynes is a practicing Hedge Druid, the Sabbat rituals have a distinctly Feri flavor to them. I only say this because I was secondly taught by a Feri coven and the rituals of both book and coven, though not similar in content, have a looser, more shamanic structure than more traditional Sabbat rituals that I have seen.

One of the practices from Kynes’ Litha ritual is the Dance of the Standing Stones. The stones are seven in number and set up in two rows to allow celebrants the freedom to dance about them, which is a powerful way to raise energy. This arrangement is meant to recreate the standing stones found on the European continent. A number of scholars have put forth the idea that the stone circles, like Stone Henge, are astronomical observatories marking the winter and summer solstices.

Our clan has seven large, garden stones, roughly rectangular, that we set up to create an avenue. We took the idea a step or two further by marking each stone with the symbol of one of the 7 planets/luminaries: Sun, Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. When we dance, the implications are cosmic and the energy raised comes from a higher source because the astronomical observatory has become our own solar system of possibility. The Microcosm becomes the Macrocosm.

A table of influences is provided below:

The Sun rules the Ego, the conscious mind, and personal expression. It influences creativity and willpower (Tifareth).

The Moon rules the subconscious mind, emotions, and memory. It influences moods, receptivity, and imagination (Yesod).

Mercury rules communication, technology, and commerce. It influences analysis, diplomacy, and secrets (Hod).

Venus rules money, love, and desire. It influences cooperation, finances, and pleasure (Netzach).

Mars rules leadership, the Id, and ambition. It influences passions, drives, and sexuality (Geburah).

Jupiter rules justice, morality, governance, and ideals. It influences generosity, expansiveness, and optimism (Chesed).

Saturn rules ambition, motivation, and restrictions. It influences duty, responsibility, and discipline (Binah).

Helpful Links:

http://www.cafeastrology.com/articles/planetsinastrology.html

http://www.astrology.com.au/astrology/planets/index.php

Face of God: The Big Sun

The solar equinoxes and solstices are a time when Clan Bradan celebrates the Lord, the masculine aspect of the Divine.  At the summer solstice the First Lord is in his prime. He is known by many names: Lugh, Apollo, Baldur, Christ, and Ra to name a few. Clan Bradan adopted the aspect of Lugh, the Sun god of skill and bravery.

Lugh’s myths portray the archetype of the Warrior King, who brings knowledge and justice to his subjects while protecting them with his strong sword arm. He is a learned man, compassionate with his subjects yet fierce against his enemies. His word is his bond and his keen mind and zest for life gives him the ability to illuminate what troubles the mind and heart.

This archetype is also the Sacrificial King. As the Oak King, he dies for our continued survival at the hand of the Holly King, who begins his reign at the Summer Solstice. The Oak King’s blood and flesh are symbolically represented in the fruit and grain harvests of agricultural societies and his energies are invoked in Cakes & Wine. He is also reborn at the following Winter Solstice when his return defeats the inevitability of death represented by the Holly King.

So ask yourself, which facet of the Lord is your Warrior King? Who comes to your defense from the Inner Realms when you are under attack? Who illuminates your troubles and leads you to the skills that will overcome your obstacles? What kind of relationship do you have with this archetype? Litha is the perfect time to explore this face of god.

Resources:

Jones, Mary. “Lugh Lamhfada.” Jones’ Celtic Encyclopedia. http://www.maryjones.us/jce/lugh.html, accessed June 18, 2013.

Lyrica. “About Sun Gods and Sun Symbols in Mythology and Your Psyche.” http://www.lyricalworks.com/stories/amaterasu/sunsymbols.htm, accessed June 18, 2013.

Wigington, Patty. “Lugh, Master of Skills.” About.com Paganism/Wicca. http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/godsandgoddesses/p/Lugh.htm, accessed June 18, 2013.

Ibid. “The Legend of the Holly and the Oak King.” About. com Paganism/Wicca. http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yulethelongestnight/p/Holly_KIng_Yule.htm, accessed June 18, 2013.

Litha: A Time of Reconciliation

I’ve seen plenty of articles that emphasize the sensual nature of Litha, and I don’t wish to diminish the potency of the masculine or the appeal of sex because I happen to like both. Very. Much. My intention is to shift the focus to include the spiritual, since humans were given the blessing to experience both the sexual and the spiritual at the same time. So let’s go over the basics.

Litha, an Anglo-Saxon word meaning “midsummer,” is the third festival of the Lord celebrated circa June 21st in the first degree of Cancer. Also known as Summer Solstice, this is the time of the longest day and the shortest night when the sun shines upon the northern hemisphere in all its potency. Fire and the energy of the sun are celebrated at this time.

Cancer, the zodiac sign that rules the period of June 21st through July 20th, is a cardinal mode of the element of water. It is a cool, moist, and thrusting energy juxtaposed to the hot, dry, forceful energy of a midsummer sun. These two energies seem opposite, but it is the challenge of reconciling these two energies that shapes the purpose of Litha.

We are seventy percent water, yet what moves us is the fire of metabolism and the thrusting energy of our hearts. When working in concert, these physiological processes create health and vitality; when at odds and uncorrected, they create dis-ease within our bodies. Conversely, the fire of our wills and the water of our emotions, when at odds and uncorrected, create dis-ease within our spirits. Inevitably, the physical body follows the lead of the spirit: As Within, So Without.

Magickal people use the energy of Litha to reconcile and maintain the health of the elemental energies of fire and water within their spirits. The element of fire is used to burn away excess energies and dis-ease. The element of water is used to cleanse and to restore. A reconciliation of the masculine and feminine energies with you is but one application of this operation.

So when June 21, 2013 arrives (or June 22, because that is a Magickal Sandwich Day with Summer Solstice on one end and a Full Moon on the other), take time to commune with your significant other by immersing your awareness in the contrasts between you. If you are single or are inclined to get your hands dirty with inner work, take time to commune with the contrasting elements of your internal collective. You may either be faced with a reconciliation of illusory opposing forces, a battle of Holly and Oak, or something deliciously in between (think makeup sex).

IMHO: Feminism & Paganism

As a feminist, I am still turned off by the more militant of my kind. Patriarchal Christianity is the root of all evil in their minds. Though I’m not pleased with the political aspects of Christianity, I think the root of all evil is intolerance and that can be found in any ideology.

My understanding of feminism is that it places an emphasis on the welfare of women and children. What feminism opposes is not men, but a particular mindset put into place by a powerful political minority that happens to be white and male. Not all white males are part of this elite club, but many of them fall prey to the propaganda.

I’ve been told by books and well-meaning pagans that paganism focuses on the feminine to bring the world into balance after the scourge of centuries of Patriarchal Monotheism. Priestesses serve by providing strong feminine role models to young women and men . What I’m discovering, and one of the reasons that I withdrew from the community at large, is that the masculine is diminished, even at times degraded, by the mindset of paganism. This is not a strong, feminine role model in action.

Men and women are the flip sides of the same coin, opposites assuredly, but also complements in the evolution of the Universe. As pagans, we must remember the Law of Polarity and honor the feminine in balance with the masculine. We must recognize that everything without is a reflection of that which is within.

To be whole individuals, we must reconcile ourselves to all the components in our makeup, no matter how badly we have been harmed by one part or another in our outer realities. If we are in conflict with the men in our lives, if we diminish the masculine, then we are not at peace with the Divine Lord within. If we are not at peace with one side of the polarity coin, then truly are we at peace with the other?

What to Expect When Engaged in Ritual Activity

Ritual Defined

As a practicing Wiccan, the word ritual for me may have a different connotation from say, the understanding of a hopeful agnostic or a “red-letter” Christian (“red-letter” alluding to the words actually spoken by the Christ). So, I ‘m going to level the playing field with the dearly held assumption that my readership is made up of magickal people of all faiths and creeds who are similarly filled with wonder about our trip on this blue-green globe we call home.

Ritual is any collection of activities that memorializes or catalyzes a rite of passage. This rite of passage could be the turn of a season, a remembered event, or a new phase of life. Ritual, at its core, takes our consciousness from one mode of awareness to another (hopefully) more enlightened and/or reflective  mode of awareness. This definition could describe a birthday, Thanksgiving dinner, a fraternity induction, a presidential election, a wedding, and a host of other events that we take for granted because they’ve always been a part of our lives.

Ritual in Magickal Living

Magickal living is about cultivating awareness. Whatever happens, you choose to participate with the totality of who you are. Even observing, or witnessing, is an act of intention if done with full awareness.

Magickal people perform ritual with focused intention. They are sensitive to the fluctuations of energy all around them: the emotions of other participants, the weather, and even the ebb and flow of the moon’s tides to name a few. An act of blowing out birthday candles becomes a transformative affirmation that influences decisions made over the next year to bring the wish into being.

This focused intention cultivates deep feelings and awe-inspiring synchronicity. The world responds with a sentience that many would attribute to a Divine Intelligence. Whether this is the actuality or a perception is something you will have to determine for yourself.

How To Know When Ritual Is HAPPENING

Even if you’ve decided that the Divine Intelligence angle is only perception, the feelings evoked by ritual are sensory actualities. Goose-flesh, the raising of the fine hairs along the skin, and other tingling sensations, especially along the nape of the neck, are often indications that something powerful is happening (in the absence of a cold draught of course). If this occurs in a ritual event then you know that energy is moving. You may also experience various degrees of euphoria as well as cathartic emotions expressed in tears (joy as well as sadness).

Conversely, the presence of overwhelming amounts of energy, or power surges, can cause the following symptoms: nausea, hot flashes, sweating, dizziness, headaches and even a sense of displacement. Grounding, a form of drawing your awareness into the center of your body and affirming the “here and now” will dissipate the excess energy. The only time this would be a cause for concern is if you are ill or if you are experiencing unpleasant emotions like anger, dread or fear. Trust your gut.

It is unlikely that you will experience power surges during a birthday party or a wedding. Power surges indicate the opening of new paths (perhaps neural?) and since the aforementioned rituals are part of a collective societal experience, very few people will feel disoriented during these kinds of events.

Often I find that I experience a power surge during a ritual of worship (i.e. Candlemas) when my subconscious is “online.” This means that everything in the ritual has aligned so perfectly that I have opened up an infrequently- or un- used channel that permits energy to flow unhindered through me. These surges cause sudden nausea, sweating, and mild disorientation but only briefly as the body adjusts to the load.

What To Do If You Don’t Feel Anything In Ritual

Don’t sweat it. Literally.

Unless you are a cloned version of someone else, you are a completely unique individual “wired” like no other, even an “identical” twin. This means that in the same ritual, different individuals will experience different sensations. Also, there may be common reactions but they may occur at different intervals or in response to disparate inputs. Participant A may experience tingling during the calling of the Divine while Participant B experiences heat. Conversely, Participant A may experience  euphoria during the raising of energy while Participant B experiences euphoria during the Great Rite.

Some individuals feel nothing at all.

In fact, many first-time ritual participants are horrified to discover that they experienced nothing out of the ordinary. After all the hype you’ve heard from the seasoned participants, you are faced with a null. You’re left to wonder if you’re broken or inadequate in some way.

Relax. You’re fine.

The Mechanics

I want you to read the next two statements over and over until you feel comfortable with them.

Ritual invokes emotion.

Emotion is energy.

Emotion is created through the meanings assigned by each of the participants. Meaning is built through repetition and exposure not only to the ritual but to the individual participants. These meanings, or connections, create the engine through which energy flows. If you aren’t part of the engine, you won’t feel the flow. All it takes is a bit of patience and persistence; since everyone is “wired” differently, the rate of absorption into the ritual engine will vary from person to person.

Consider how you feel when you attend a birthday party for yourself as opposed to how you feel when you attend the birthday party of another family member. Even weddings are different though they celebrate the same rite of passage. You may cry at each one, but the timbre of your joy is unique for each union because your relationship to the participants is unique in each instance.

If you’d like to look into the mechanics yourself, just swap my term “engine” with the psychological term of “group mind.” That should make for some fun reading and even more interesting comments.

If you have a ritual experience or horror story you would like to share or a question you’d like to ask, please comment below.

The Winter Solstice

At the urging of my students, Clan Bradan will attend a public Winter Solstice ritual in Hampden tomorrow. My students are curious to see how other pagans celebrate Yule, also known as the Winter Solstice. I’m apprehensive and excited at the same time. I’ve been to a number of outside pagan events before and have withdrawn because like any community, there are egos and agendas to negotiate.

ImageThis is my lovely Yule tree (before the cats destroyed it).

I’m older and a little wiser (I think) but as a Mentor to this small group of wide-eyed witches, I am fretting over what they will get out of the ritual. Though they are experienced with moving energy, we’ve never worked on this scale. Others, or even my students, may realize that I have sheltered them to some degree (and for a good reason). I will be introduced to their new friends as their “High Priestess” (gah!). That idea is troublesome.

When I was younger, I wanted so much to be a “High Priestess.” I thought it was the be-all-end-all of my spiritual journey. Now that I’ve been through a number of evolutions (and devolutions) on my path, I couldn’t care less what title I’m given. I could be “Queen of Quite A Lot” or “Lil’ Miss Princess of Paganism” for all the good it would do me. Now I just see myself as responsible for the people I’ve taught. I’m hoping that what I’ve taught shines true within each of them.

I see them as my children in some ways. I have encouraged them to look at other view points, to form their own opinions (backed up with painstaking research of course), and to spread their wings. They have taught me in ways that only students can. I can’t walk with them every step of the way and that is probably a good thing. Walking with them tomorrow is going to test me.

Will I be found lacking? Yep, the whole insecurity thing. I know it isn’t about me, but that doesn’t make the apprehension go away. I’ve been tested and have failed or have been found wanting on several occasions  and when I had least expected it. Will I stick my foot in my mouth and embarrass myself or my students? They aren’t just students, but friends, so that would be a huge disappointment for all involved.

Example: I took my son to his friend’s funeral a couple of years ago. His friend had died in a car accident on the way home from a party.  The young man hadn’t drank or used drugs. The tragedy was caused by inexperience. His mother had asked me if I had allowed my son to attend the party. I had said “No, I think I’m too overprotective.”

Okay. Grieving mom blames herself for her son’s unfortunate death. Think about how she’d take that comment. Yeah, you’ve got it about right. She was hysterical and in the words of Harry Dresden, “My gast was truly flabbbered.” I had spoken of my own short-coming in the matter (I had thought if my son had been with her son, this wouldn’t have happened) and she had taken it as a judgment against her. That, my friends, is Foot-In-Mouth-Syndrome and I have an epic case of it.

So I’m a bit nervous, but I must go out and investigate! I promised Sarah to write a post about how ritual might feel to people at different levels of experience so I’m going to go forth and ask lots of questions. Hopefully, I won’t be tasting any shoe leather tomorrow night. And if I do, it’s not like it’s the End of the World, right?