Saturday, June 16, 2018

Fern and Spawn Go To A Funeral

Blessings Darlings!

At this point of time I'm actively grieving the death of a friend.  Her funeral was this morning, my son and I (we both worked with her) were able to attend the funeral but not last nights viewing.

We don't go to many funerals.  Part of it is our ages (relatively few of the folks we're close to die very often), partly because for family deaths we are more likely to visit the family during the week of observing shiva ("the week-long mourning period in Judaism for first-degree relatives"), but mostly because we have a policy of being with folks for celebrations while they are alive.  When you move and leave family 600 miles away - I think that's a sound policy.  YMMV.

This was the Spawn's first time at a Christian funeral.  All the funerals he's been to before have been Jewish.  Judaism, being orthopraxic, has funerals based on respect for the body, remembering the person who died, and performing the appropriate prayers for the dead and for comfort to the mourning (specifics of those can be Googled but a good synopsis is available here).  

This funeral was not like that.  I don't know if it was a regional difference, this being West Virginia/Western Panhandle Maryland/flyover country and not some Big City Suburbs (the last Christian funeral I was at was in the DC suburbs) or if it was the brand of Christianity.  I didn't ask.  I expected hymns, Psalms of comfort, and, yes, I did expect an altar call despite none of the other Christian funerals I'd been at having altar calls. 

The altar call was there, calling on folks to come to Jesus and alter their lives.  The Spawn was surprised by that.  I'm going to have to have a chat with him that monotheism stuff again, and why some monotheists see their way as the only way.  


The secular country and pop music in place of hymns was a surprise.  Two of them I found jarring. Dudes - Leonard Cohen's song "Hallelujah" is about sex, not a religious song. I'm guessing that's regional?  The minister seemed, for quite a while, to be MCing the funeral rather than leading it.  Even when the one recorded Christian hymn was played ... no one sang along.  It was a performance to be heard by an audience, even the minister didn't sing.  Then, the only things he said about our friend herself (other than what a blessing it would be for her funeral to lead folks to Jesus) was to literally read her obituary.  That was it.  Again - jarring.

Yes, I'm used to both Jewish and Pagan funerals/memorial services.  The living people at those services are PART of the service.  That's what a Jewish minyan is all about - a quorum of folks working together.  Working together.  THAT'S what was missing the most.  The only thing that you could do to 'work together' was to show up and be a passive audience.  Jarring.

I'm still processing the death.  I'm still processing the funeral.  I'm pondering regional differences.

I'm still

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, June 14, 2018

The Wiccan Rede

Blessings Darlings!

It's time.  I can't put off looking at "An it harm none, do as ye will".

Let's start with this:  it's 8 words.  EIGHT  E*I*G*H*T .  Shortening it IN ANY WAY changes it completely.  It's meaning is not 'harm none' any more than it is 'Harm' or 'an it harm, do as ye will".  It has to be taken as a whole, or at the VERY least leave the clauses intact and see how the clauses interact.  You know that - you're a magic user, right?  You know that the number of the words matters.  8 is the number of magic.  And eight is the goal of the initiate, having gone through the seven stages.  Numbers matter as much as words do.

Let's move on to -  it's Wiccan.  It's not 'universal' in any way.  
Let's move on to - its "Rede".  Rede does not mean "law".  It means advice. 

Now then, let's get to the meat of the matter, and look at the first part of the saying, "An it harm none".  First, and most important, is that it only addresses acts that harm no one.  It doesn't say anything about acts that DO do any harm. Just like when we discussed that 'my worship is in the heart that rejoices' is just addressing ONE thing, ONE place that Her worship is but does not rule out other place - "An it harm none" is only addressing ONE category of results.  It's not pretending to talk about acts with other results.  And, clearly, the second part of the phrase is permissive "do as ye will".  So in the case of acts that don't harm folks - if you wanna, then it's ADVICE is that you can go right ahead if you choose to.  It is permissive.

But what about acts that DO cause harm?  Again - THE WICCAN REDE DOES NOT ADDRESS THEM AT ALL.  It has no 'blanket advice' for you about acts that harm.  You are going to have to look at the individual situation and decide what you are going to do/not do.  And you're going to have to take responsibility for the action/inaction.  You're not going to be able to blame/credit your choice to advice coming from outside of yourself.  


I supposed that I should say a few words on 'harm'.  Okay.   "While actual harm is not limited to the physical, being fucking butthurt is not harm."

Let me assure you that I did want to write a whole lot more about that.  But ain't no one wants to hear me whine about other people being butthurt.  Let's just pass them the lube and tell them to ... well, maybe SIT DOWN and shut up might be rude ...

Frondly, Fern




Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Personal Responsibility

Blessings Darlings!

Today's installment in my series on 'oft bandied about Wiccan/Neopagan sayings' is "Wicca/witchcraft/paganism is a path of personal responsibility."  Oh, you'll find that all sorts of folks mention that it's part of the path, investing one line or two - maybe even one paragraph! - to the concept, but then you look at what happens in almost every online esoteric group ... and you see them violate it.  And calling them out on it can easily make you a pariah in online groups and gets you booted and banned. I touched on this a LITTLE in an earlier post about how most online Pagan groups are dysfunctional.

Short definition of personal responsibility is that you are responsible for your actions and inactions.  That you do the best you can with what you have to grow and mature.  That when you fuck up (and you will) you admit you did and try to remedy the situation.  Most folks try to do that ... to some extent.  But we all have serious blind spots here (and in most areas of our lives.  And, yes, I do too.)

The biggest blind spot about personal responsibility that I see in others (because seeing things in others is WAY easier than seeing them in myself, sort of by definition) is that people take a lot of actions to DISable other folks' personal responsibility.

When a person asks a question in a group instead of taking the responsibility of Googling it - you do them no favor by NOT pointing that out.  By not pointing that out, you are enabling their lack of responsibility and initiative.  To put it Kabalistically - you are pushing them into the Vice of Malkuth.  Telling them to Google and read, and then when they see that sources disagree on something to come back and ask about the disagreement ... that is promoting responsibility.

When a person in a group complains about a situation (assuming it's a support group and that them posting that is appropriate there), you validate their experience and then help them go on to find solutions THEY can do.  And hold them responsible for taking those actions.  BY THE WAY - I've run real support groups.  The point of the groups is support in changing their situation, not in keeping them in that situation but letting them vent about it. 

Yeah.  Me.  I ran support groups.  Stop giggling.

Ain't nobody out there has infinite time to do anything, and most of us don't have unlimited money to buy supplies/get medical care/afford the best foods/whatever.  This is the reason that you should ask that folks stop saying that 'all books have at least one thing that is useful in them'.  Respect yourself enough to insist that folks respect your time/money/etc, by allowing folks to challenge the books/authors they recommend.  Because that info help you have responsibility for your choices.

And respect yourself enough to present yourself as ... a functional adult.  I don't mean LIE about your life.  I mean, be a functional adult.  You want to know about, say, 'how to cast a circle'?  GOOGLE IT BEFORE ASKING IN A GROUP.  Google it, read about it, think about it, TRY one of the ways - and then ask fucking INFORMED questions in a group.  We all feel isolated/alone at times.  We all ask for attention at time.  Try to not ask for attention by presenting yourself as someone too lazy to do any work on your own.  The only supportive attention that you will get from such an approach is by folks who will enable your laziness.  Is that what you want?  (BTW, if that's what you want, then why haven't you figured out that this blog is NOT a good place for that?)

You're not going to get replies to PMs or tagging most Pagan authors on Facebook ... because they take personal responsibility for their use of their time.  If they are participating in an online group on a topic, and your question is on that topic, they are likely to chime in ... because they have chosen to participate AND because it reaches more than one person.  Respect that in yourself as well.  Set clear and enforced boundaries.

You're going to find some group leaders want to hoard information, only giving out what they agree with.  They are trying to keep you a spiritual/magical child.  They are taking away discussion of their recommendations and limit your access to discussion of other sources.

There are lots of folks out there trying to limit your control and responsibility for your life and choices.  Be aware.  Be very aware.

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, June 9, 2018

This 'n' that.

Blessings Darlings!

Maybe I should blog on some of these, maybe not.  So I'm just giving short work on these topics right now:

1 - I hate pretty much all Pagan/witch memes/pics with 'what witches are/what pagans are not/etc'.  They are either too simplistic to be true, or they don't actually apply to all of every group.  In other words - they are stupid.  And when shared in pagan groups, if you try to discuss them and your issues with them, you  - okay *I* - get called 'negative' and that I should leave.  If I don't leave I get booted. 

2 - or they will tell you to lighten up, they are just jokes/funny/inspiring.  You just fucking 'othered' me, but I should lighten up? Your meme left no room for me as a witch/pagan/whatever.  Maybe it's you that needs to be more inclusive and less insulting.

3 - What started this was that damn meme "We don't kneel before our Gods ....".  There have ABSOLUTELY been times I've become too weak at the knees to stand before some Gods/Goddesses.  Therer have been times when I feel lucky I've not shat my pants.  Maybe everyone else is meeting Quan Yin ... but I'm sure not.

4 - I wish someone would do a study on those who see the Morrigan as "The Phantom Queen pushing us to be her bitchslapping hands on Earth" vs "Sweet Mother Morrigan".  I really would.  Someone needs to do their PhD thesis on this.

5 - Having a flashlight as part of my EDC (every day carry) is only useful if the batteries don't die at a critical moment.  Luckily I was able to get more at a convenience store minutes before the store closed.  Lesson: add spare batteries to EDC. 

6 - during the episode where we needed the flashlight, I made my son do the lecture on why he needs to get some stuff together so HE has an EDC supply.  Because that's how I roll ... I don't lecture a lot, so he doesn't tune me out.

Well, that's enough randomness for now.  Next scheduled blog post - in the 'oft bandied phrases' series, is scheduled for Tuesday.  Carry on!

Frondly, Fern

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Perfect Love and Perfect Trust.

Blessings Darlings!

The oft-bandied about Wiccan phrase we're looking at today is "Perfect Love and Perfect Trust". 

Can imperfect people do anything perfectly?  And ... love and trust in who or what?

Let's start with an easier part of this.  WHERE and WHEN do you need to have perfect love and perfect trust?  Well, the only time that the phrase is used (and I'm talking about in the 'general Pagan community - I'm not talking about what is oathbound and/or in hand-copied lineaged BOS's) is when entering a circle.  Even then the only time I've seen that challenge given (that I recall) is to an initiate/member when they are undergoing initiation/membership ritual.  Again - that is MY experience.  Other than at that time, I've not seen a knife at anyone's chest.  Your mileage may vary. 

I've certainly not seen it at open rituals anywhere.  Have you?  The logistics of challenging everyone in at ritual with 150 people boggles the mind.  [Okay, I just ended up distracted by figuring out the logistics.  Many folks handling the challenge, but you'd still need either a HUGE opening in a pre-cast circle (making the work of the folks casting and holding the circle in place EXTREMELY difficult if not impossible, or you'd cast the circle after folks entered, making the challenge not actually about entering the circle making it just odd.  But I digress.]

That said, in any group work, you  need some serious trust.  First, do you trust the work about to be done?  Is it in line with your view of what should be done?  Is it being done in a way that does not clash badly with your approach?  If it's not well aligned with your approach, can you suspend your approach for the time?  Do you trust the people who have organized the working, so you can work with their system when it is different than yours?  If it's large public ritual - do you feel that they can control the energy of 150+ sources and knit it into a coherent whole?    Heck, with 150 + people, what are you going to do about your personal shields?  Not all those folks in an open ritual are going to have focused energy.  Some of them might be energetic predators.  Again - what's your real trust level of the folks running the show?  

Next let's look at perfect love and perfect trust in terms of a coven or other small working group of magic users.  Say from 3 up to 25 people that you know well.  Because for ME perfect love and perfect trust has to be based on actually knowing the people involved, or at least knowing the people who vouch for anyone you don't know.

I'm going to digress here a bit.  Loving humanity in general is easy.  Loving individuals is more problematic.  If you know folks well, you're going to know their weaknesses.  Their faults.  Their capacity to focus.  Their capacity to do magic.  Some of these things are going to matter when in a circle.  Some of these things won't matter in a circle.

Most of all - you should be aware of your own weaknesses, faults, capacity to focus, capacity to do magic, etc.  Can you put aside your self-doubt in any areas during your pre-ritual purification to do the work ahead?  If you do your preps, and still find yourself too whatever to do the work - can you trust yourself to keep yourself out of the ritual?  I've been at rituals where folks have done that.  They stayed outside the circle because they could still be supportive even if they felt they couldn't actively contribute to the working.  Sometimes they could go so far as to help with drumming from outside the circle.  But they understood that their energy would not mesh with the purpose so stayed out of the circle themselves.

Do you trust and love the purpose of the ritual?  Can you at least put aside your doubts about it working for the time of the ritual?  I've been involved in World Peace rituals that I felt were considerably too ambitious, but I did a fine job of putting that aside and giving it my all. 

Do you trust the Gods involved, or whatever Spirits you might be working with?  In some rituals coughGoetiacough you might not trust the spirits, but you could have full trust in the system that allows you to work with them safely. 

And now, finally - do you love and trust the members of the group?  Love them as they are.  Trust that they will be who and what they are.  And can you handle that?  At the very least, you have to trust and love them to do the work you are entering.  You  might now trust them enough to do a business deal with them out in the mundane world.  What matters here is that you trust that they will be in the right mindset and put their energy to the working you're going to do.  Are they taking the drugs they should be - I'm almost certainly addicted to the SSRI I take, and it would be totally reasonable for any magical group I'm in to make continued taking it a condition of my working with them.  Are they not taking 'inappropriate' drugs prior to the working?  Or will they show up stoned or high?  If they are -  what does your perfect love and perfect trust ask you to do about that?  If one of the members has 'trouble handing energy' and falls out during EVERY SINGLE INTENSE WORKING - do you stop having them at such workings?  You trust them to be themselves, and you love them.  What's the intersection of things like not handling energy or addiction or whatever and perfect love and perfect trust when what you trust is that they will break down at a crucial point of ritual?

There have been times when my purifications leave me able to focus on the ritual and do my part fully, but the best I can do on 'perfect love and perfect trust' is suspension of non-love.  Since I trust folks to be themselves, and 'themselves' are no more perfect than I am, perfecting that type of trust is something I can do pretty easily.   Love may not be harder to feel - but figuring out the proper loving action sometimes is a challenge.

Even more of a challenge than a knife at my chest.

Frondly, Fern

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Mind The Three Fold Laws Ye Should.

Blessings Darlings!

Alternative title:  Have you paid your debts?

Today I'm looking at another phrase commonly quoted at folks in the NeoPagan community.  "The Three Fold Law."  Which folks tend to think of as a bean counter computer in the sky that automatically returns to you what you send back, three times over.  In fact, tho', that's NOT what the 'three fold law' is in Wicca.  And, yes, as always, by 'Wicca' I mean lineaged Wicca with all the bells and whistles and oral teachings and initiation and the original Egregore. 

"Mind the Three-fold Laws ye should three times bad and three times good." I copied that from  http://rialian.com/wiccrede.htm  and it was written by Lady Gwen Thompson.  As you can see, in Lady Gwynne's poem it doesn't get into what the law is - it's just a reference to something outside of her poem.  So ... what is the three fold law in Wicca?
 

Some say that it has to do with the scourging that is done during one level of Wiccan initiation.  That the scourged initiatee gets to scourge the initiator three times as much/hard as the initiatee was scourged.  And that may or may not be true (I'm not going to confirm or deny that, it's not my place to do so.)

Whether it occurs in that setting or not - it would be a reflection of the larger application of the concept of three fold return.  Which is that it's something that the individual Wiccan is supposed to ACTIVELY do, not wait for the westernized Kalifornia Karma (props to Catherine for the term) or to some bean counter in the sky to do for them.  

It . Is . Not . A . Passive . Thing.

If you are being affected by someone else's spell - a spell for good or not for good (and let's not get into how spells someone thinks are for you own good can really be controlling and/or not in fact for your good) - YOU are to take action and return magical working on them three times over.    "Good" spells done for you create a debt for you to pay.  SO DO 'BAD' SPELLS.  A debt - for YOU to actively pay back.  As always in magic - ain't no one going to do your work for you.


Yes, I blogged a bit about this before, over at http://fernsfronds.blogspot.com/2012/03/threefold-bitchslap.html.  

What do you think about THEM apples?

Frondly, Fern

Saturday, June 2, 2018

The Vices of Malkuth - Inertia and Greed

Blessings Darlings! 


Since I am dreading and thus putting off blogging about the Wiccan Rede ... this seems like a great time to talk about the Vice of Malkuth "Inertia", since I'm experiencing it.  But as long as I'm here, I'll look at the other vice of Malkuth as well.

You might not know what Malkuth is, if you're new around these parts.  It's the last Sphere of the Kabala, the beginning of the trip up the Heavenly Tree towards ... let's say enlightenment, given Ayn Sof.  At any rate, it's the start of any path - it's Earth and the mundane.  And you have to be functional in this Sphere before you can really get to the other spheres.  Taking the first NEW step can be hard to take. 

Malkuth is sphere most bound by Newtonian physics, and one of the laws of Newtonian physics is that a 'body at rest stays at rest/a body in motion stays in motion' unless some other force acts on it.  In magical terms, your Will is not a part of your body, so it can get your Malkuth-bound ass in motion. 

The problem is often that at that point ... the other vice of Malkuth takes over.  Greed.  And since we're talking Malkuth - materialism.  Folks tend to get this idea that you need All The Things to be able to move on the Path before you.  Pentacles! Books! Athame! Wand! Offering plate! Pentacles! Cauldron! Chalice! Pentacles!  Robes! Incense! Oils! Herbs!  Books! More Pentacles! More everything!  

People mistake "buying things" for 'doing the spiritual work'.   And often they don't know if what they are buying is actually useful or not.  Because without having done any of the work, they haven't developed the VIRTUE of Malkuth - Discrimination. 

So folks who are still at this point of barely tapping their big toe on Path start 'advising' others that 'buy all the books!  Every book has at least something useful in it" as if folks have unlimited money to Buy All The Things and unlimited time to Read All The Things - and they COMPLETELY ignore Working Any Of The Things.  Because all the tools and shit that you can buy is USELESS if you don't do the work.  If you fill your time with Buying All The Things and Reading All the Things (even if they are virtually worthless) you are NOT NOT NOT going to have time to do ANY of the things.

Do . The . Things. 

Yes, I'll write that blog today.  It won't be going up until June 14, the way I've got the 'oft quoted phrases' posts scheduled.  While it's on today's 'TO DO' list ... that doesn't mean it has to be the first thing done.  Using my Discrimination - doing THIS topic was inspired 'do this thing' to add to the list, not to crowd anything out.

So there.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Frondly, Fern