Sometime between January 31st and February 2nd, the feast of Imbolc is celebrated; I go with the earlier date personally, as I recognize February 2nd as Candlemas of the Christian liturgical calendar.  Imbolc, one of the old cross-quarter days and a greater sabbat for witches, is also celebrated as the feast day of Brighid, goddess of smiths and poets and harpers still honored today as St. Brigid among the descendants of her pagan worshippers in Ireland, Scotland and Wales. 

It’s a holiday best celebrated at one’s own hearth, whether that be an actual fireplace, the kitchen stove, the space heater, or a candle on the coffee table.  The lengthening hours of sunlight are the reminder of better times to come, and depending on where you live, the snowmelt might be nourishing little crocuses and snowdrops, their soft green shoots just coming visible within the next few weeks.  Imbolc is winter’s last gasp, and while there can still be harsh weather ahead, it usually does mark a turning point.  If you’ve made it this far, you can make it just a bit longer, awaiting the promise of spring.



Mysteries of Osiris, Day 2

First Sunday of Advent


I’m sure that seems an odd combination at first glance: Kemetic and Christian, mourning a death and awaiting a birth.  Yet upon reflection, I think they go together rather well.  During the week of the Osirian mysteries, we examine the heart of the story of the King who is slain and come to see ourselves in those who mourn, as we all will eventually mourn a loss in our lives.  We walk through the cycle of his death, his burial, and his eventual restoration, as he is transformed from Osiris Slain into the Foremost of the Westerners, transformed from an inert corpse to new life through the power of love.  The Mysteries continue for several more days, and I recommend you read through The Mystery of the Awakening of Osiris to get a feel for the flavor of this festival.  The Osiris and Isis myth is a compelling and enduring one, worthy of examination and reflection.

So we come out of that festival renewed, gladdened by the knowledge that Osiris is not lost, but transformed–reborn.  That leads rather nicely into the season leading up to the sun’s “rebirth” at the Winter Solstice.  Christians, primarily of the liturgical sects, celebrate this season as Advent, a word which means “to come” or “to begin.”  In recent years, more pagans and syncretists have adopted the customs of Advent; see Waverly Fitzgerald’s article on celebrating a pagan Advent , for example.  For years I’ve celebrated the rebirth of the sun as the sun god Horus; sometimes I’ve gone so far as to set up a nativity scene featuring Isis, Osiris and the infant Horus (it amuses me to make offerings to them while midnight Mass at the local cathedral plays on the TV in the background; and I wonder why my husband worries about my sanity).  As a Kemetic, at the solstice we also celebrate the shift from darkness to light as the Return of the Distant Goddess, followed by the Establishment of the Celestial Cow; and I’ll discuss these myths as we get closer to the actual days of the festivals.  Lighting candles for Advent on the SUNdays leading up to the solstice pleases me; Advent calendars with little doors to open each day please me as well.  If they please you too, here are links to some online Advent calendars:

From a Catholic perspective

A more interfaith approach, from BustedHalo.com

Decemberlady’s annual X-Files-themed calendar

Another X-Files-themed calendar

31 Days of Halloween

It’s October again. And you know what that means…


Tempus Fugit

So, since I last posted here, I’ve become the new co-organizer for a local meetup and resumed my FOI studies with the Crossroads Lyceum.  The summer has passed and hints of fall’s arrival are visible all around, in the little touches of color appearing on certain trees as if a careless hand had splashed bits of paint in random patterns.  It’s a touch cooler overall, though this summer was surprisingly not as wretched as most of them have been over the past few years.  And now it’s September and we’re in the homestretch toward Pagan Pride Day (for which I am again ritual co-leader and the day’s announcer/DJ) and the autumnal holidays of Mabon (autumn equinox) and Samhain (Halloween).  I’ve even seen the first pumpkins sitting on people’s porches.  It’s my favorite time of year coming up: the season of harvest, the season of the witch, and I’ve loved it best of all for as long as I can remember.  Even as the year winds down, some things are looking up.  It’s a good time.

God Hates You!

I think the message on the local Southern Baptist Church’s marquee this morning was the most outrageous (in every sense of that word) one yet:

“To God…My Best Is Like Rotting Garbage.”

I can’t even snark something that twisted.  Seriously; that is so many kinds of wrong that it deserves a moment of silent contemplation.

I’m not sure who is sicker: the person who in all good conscience preaches such bile, or the seeker who in all good faith believes it.

(ETA: I’m seriously contemplating emailing the church and reminding them of the old adage that one catches more flies with honey than with vinegar.)

We were driving through Maryland last month when I happened to spot a construction site alongside the highway.  It took me a moment to realize that I was in fact looking at this–a “reconstruction” in progress of Noah’s ark.  I squealed with delight, and only wish I’d had the time (or the powers of persuasion to convince my husband) to stop.  I was similarly enchanted by spying Ohio’s Touchdown Jesus last summer. 

I’m completely infatuated with folk expressions of religion, the kitschier the better, and if they’re just hanging out there on the side of the road for me to admire, then I’m as happy as can be.  I adore roadside shrines, country churches, little chapels.  I squee at sightings of places like Sheffield’s Catfish House (Where Jesus Is Lord) or the God Cafe, both in Florida, or Georgia’s Family Values Inn.  If there’s a Virgin Mary in a half-sunk bathtub, I want to see it.  Vehicles covered with inflammatory, insane religious rantings make me feel like an entomologist scrutinizing a new and potentially hazardous insect species.  And if there are pamphlets available, don’t get in my way; I’m absolutely besotted with printed matter.

What all this says about me, I don’t know, but chances are there’s a diagnostic criteria for it somewhere.  It entertains me and irks my spouse, whatever the DSM-IV might say.  I’m determined to start getting more photographs of these things, which are second only to abandoned buildings in my list of favorite things to shoot.  Perhaps it’s because all of these things are just that–things, thus allowing me to remain in observer consciousness and not have to fully engage with them (and with the oftentimes odious things which they represent and/or perpetuate).  There is danger in art, of course, as there is danger in symbol; but I can distance myself from those dangers by reducing the things that carry them to mere roadside attractions, innocuous and easily forgotten as a Stuckey’s billboard.


I was reading at The Shepton Witch and found a link to something called the Typealyzer, which apparently analyzes blog or web site content according to the Myers-Briggs personality testing criteria.  The results:

INTP – The Thinkers

The logical and analytical type. They are especially attuned to difficult creative and intellectual challenges and always look for something more complex to dig into. They are great at finding subtle connections between things and imagine far-reaching implications.

They enjoy working with complex things using a lot of concepts and imaginative models of reality. Since they are not very good at seeing and understanding the needs of other people, they might come across as arrogant, impatient and insensitive to people that need some time to understand what they are talking about.

And I’d say that’s fairly accurate!

The Rites of Spring

They are celebrated differently, by the different traditions that I hold, but in all cases the turn of the season is a cause for celebration.  It’s the time of warming and greening; and whoever coined the phrase “hope springs eternal” must surely have spoken it around this time of year.  It was a long, dreary, difficult and damaging winter.  I hope, and pray, that we have turned a corner in truth.

Oddly, one of the first visible signs of spring’s return around here is when the cross appears in a certain farmer’s field along the main road into my small town.  They planted daffodils in the shape of a large cross, and that greenery is one of the first noticeable signs of the season.  I’ve gotten used to looking for it, and always feel a sense of relief and anticipation when I finally see it emerge.  (The irony of pagan me being so happy to see a Christian symbol is certainly not lost on me!)

Window On Another World

The light-up marquee sign out in front of the local Southern Baptist Church provides me with endless topics of contemplation, though I’d wager that my train of thought is not heading for the station they’d planned.  Exhibits A and B, from yesterday and today respectively:

If Jesus isn’t my Savior and Lord, then I’m an enemy of God.


Even when I pray and talk to others, God hears and listens.

The first one, while not surprising, is still distressing to me.  The idea that there can be no neutrality, no indifference, that you truly are either/or, for/against, with no middle ground and no possibility of a third road.  I honestly believe that some people’s minds are simply wired very differently from others’; how else to explain the existence of a worldview that is, to my way of being, almost entirely alien?

Yes, I know, there is a Bible verse that denounces what I would call indifference or neutrality.  In addressing the Laodiceans, Jesus says:

I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.

 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.

(Revelation 3:15-16)

Now, I’ll admit that I’m not exactly neutral or indifferent on the subject of the peculiarly punitive God that so many seem to worship; I’ve obviously got plenty to say on the subject!  But in point of fact, I am not a Christian, and I am not a worshipper of the Christian God, and so I should in fact be entirely indifferent to his desires, just as I would be indifferent to the demands that someone else’s boss places upon them if he is not my boss.  Jesus is not my savior and lord because I have not chosen to make him so; but that hardly makes me an “enemy of God.”  My saying no thanks to their proferred gift may make me at best ungrateful, but hardly an adversary. 

Of course, when it comes to those Christians who wish to legislate their beliefs and foist them off onto the rest of us, I then become distinctly adversarial; but I’d offer that I am in those cases an enemy not of their God but of His followers.  Ahem.

As far as today’s statement goes, that seems odd too.  Does it mean that their God is an eavesdropper, who sits around listening in on conversations people are having with other gods?  That’s…creepy.  Like if I’m addressing, say, Anubis, there’s Bible!God lurking round in the alley in a trenchcoat, like some X-Files villain, bugging my house and taking his little notes?  To what end?  The sort of things I would take to Anubis would be very different than the things one might take to the Christian God, I’d think.  For one thing, Anubis has a sense of humor. 

The God some people put forth for worship seems like nothing so much as a severely dysfunctional father or abusive husband–demanding, jealous, hypercritical, paranoid, capable of homocidal rages.  Where’s the love?  (Maybe those Phelps people aren’t so far off the mark after all, even if they are utterly batshit crazy and evil.)

From Witchcraft Today:

It is believed by witches that by acting a part you really take on the nature of the thing you imitate. This is really the basis of the cave-man’s magic. By making the clay image of the animal you wish to kill, and by knowing its name, you establish a link between them, so that when he stuck spears into it it gave power to kill it when he hunted it.  

That these beliefs may seem rather like children’s games to some does not alter the fact that primitive men do behave like this, and so do witches. By acting the part of the goddess the priestess is thought to be in communion with her; so the priest, acting as the god, becomes at one with him in his aspect of Death, the Consoler, the Comforter, the bringer of happy after-life and regeneration. The initiate in undergoing the god’s experiences becomes a witch. 

Witches quite realize that this communion does not occur every time one assumes the goddess position, but they very soon realize that by doing so they begin to receive thrills which are apt to grow more and more intense when the trance comes on. They KNOW! It is no use saying: “This is only suggestion, or the subconscious mind.” They reply: “We quite agree; suggestion or the subconscious mind are simply some of the tools which we use to help open the Door.”           

And once you have known the goddess, does anything else really matter? To attain this state there are many roads, and dancing is perhaps the easiest; the calls and the chants help, the attitude of the other members is of the greatest assistance–but the true secret is within oneself, and also to some extent in one’s partner or assistant in the art, and it is not a thing that can be forced. A quiet knowledge that you will do it, and a steady and regular performance of the rites, are all that is really necessary, although other things help. Short cuts are useful, but you must use them carefully as they are apt to lead you astray and to involve more work in the end.

You must first believe it is possible; then, use the method, or preferably a combination of the various methods that may be used together. When you have once attained the ecstasy you know that it exists and may be attained again. You must banish all feelings of can’t, fix in your mind: “I can and will.”

There are a number of spiritual powers which many people do not recognize as such, e.g. the various forms of inspiration, music and poetry, clairvoyance and magical awareness; but the greatest of all these is love. All these aids should be employed under instruction, as there are difficulties and dangers in their undiscriminating use.

Emphasis mine.  Now, let’s discuss.

I’ve been very outspoken in my criticism of what I consider to be the rampant misuse of invocative trance, and the dangers of invocation as spectator sport; and those criticisms stand, because I still think they are valid.  However, I think I’ve not been clear in presenting my own perceptions, at least as they exist at this point in time.  For the record, here they are:

I do believe in the experience of communion with the divine.  I also believe that experience is extremely subjective and individualized.  I believe there are people who absolutely believe themselves thoroughly possessed by their gods; I also believe there are people who are 100 percent bald-faced liars.  I believe I have met both!  I believe I have experienced such communion, and will do so again.  In the course of conducting such rites, I have at times felt very much different, changed, altered, somehow connected to something beyond myself.  Still fully present, and fully me, but also more than just me.  If that makes any sense; and unless you’ve experienced it yourself, it probably won’t.

All right?  All right.  Now let’s look at what Gardner said, because once I dug the quote back up and read through it, I thought “Oh, duh.  That’s how I see it, too!”  He puts it quite simply and thoroughly, I think; there’s a nice plain logic to it that doesn’t require extreme suspension of disbelief or outright abdication of higher brain function.  By acting like a thing, you take on some of its characteristics.  It doesn’t work every time, and it’s not an automatic flick-of-a-switch thing.  Sometimes you feel it and sometimes you don’t.  You don’t utterly become something else; you don’t cease to be yourself.  And it’s not a thing reserved only for the most pure and worthy vessel–anyone feeding you that line should be instantly dismissed as the bullshitter they most certainly are–that gnosis is open to anyone, and is attainable by the methods GBG indicates.  It’s not rocket science, and it’s not a bunch of incomprehensible woo.  Just another technique, whereby one can come to a more intimate knowledge and understanding of the divine.  I still twitch about doing it as performance art, and so I endeavor to make it very clear to others just what it is I’m doing or not doing, what my perceptions are, all the while–I hope!–also making it clear that there is room for their own personal interpretations of what’s happening, and that they may not necessarily jibe completely with my own.  That’s the beauty and the frustration of working in the realm of the subjective: you never know exactly what part of the elephant another person has a grip on.  Acknowledging the elephant as being many-faceted is important; but the most important thing is that everyone be able to acknowledge the elephant itself.