Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Becoming Animal

As we humans are spending more and more time entranced by our artefacts, caught up in the dazzle of the digital screen, it enables us not to notice, not to feel what’s really going on in the body’s world.

If we were to really turn our gaze toward the real and its wonder, open our senses back up, it would be too painful. So we hang out in those more virtual spaces and really lock the doors, and close ourselves in ever more thoroughly into that circuit of exchange with these mirrors of our own invention.

Becoming Animal

the North American premiere

Time of Vulture

In Central Texas Vulture arrives on the North Wind.  We felt the first fluttering a week ago. In the Tejas Faery Working Group vulture is associated with the ancestors, the Llano uplift, bone, and is a stellar person of power.239px-Vega_in_lyra.svg.png

Circles & Cycles; Guardian & Gateway

Esoteric associations with vulture go back into human prehistory.  The celestial pole figured as an early conception of the divine, at least in the northern hemisphere.  In fact, many of our Elder Gods were stellar. Around 12,000 BCE the northern pole star was Vega, the falling vulture.

Watcher & Transformer; Earth & Sky

vulture_stone.jpg

Vulture stone from Gobekli Tepe ~10,000 BCE

In Egypt the predynastic (6000-3150 BCE) vulture goddess Nekhbet is one of the oldest deities and is connected to the dead, as well as birth.  In fact, her city was one of the earliest necropoli.  Vulture, soaring high overhead, was among the first raptor type birds to be associated with the “eye of god.”   In Egypt, the goddess Nuit swallowed the sun each evening, it traveled through her body, and was reborn from her vulva each morning. The dead also became stars along the body of Nuit, the Milky Way, as she nourished them..

Beak & Talons; Sun & Wings

Many cultures have a history of defleshing the dead so their bones can be used for sacred purpose.  This was often accomplished via what we call sky-burial. The bones could then be transported by family members, placed in the floor of a dwelling, or worn by a person as an amulet. It has been argued that metempsychosis was accomplished during, or at least aided by, the defleshing process, specifically as the bird of prey consumed the flesh, taking the dead into their own body then flying into the sky – the vault of heaven.

IMG_5635

Crux, an important vulva constellation, disappeared below the horizon in the northern hemisphere ~2,000 BCE;  Nuit arched

Above & Below

fig-1-boiiRoman writers associated vulture with the bird of prey that devoured dead bodies on continental Celtic battlefields.  Even Dhumavati, the Hindu goddess, is considered to be a vulture goddess, known as the Smokey One.  She is the remnants left over from the destruction of the universe. These remnants are themselves (or Hir self) the sub-basis of the elements that create the next universe.

 

 until we buried them, Vulture ate all our ancestors

Vulva and Vulture

Egtved-Girl-burial-reconstruction-Edit.png

Egtved Girl

In  ancient Japan the goddess of dawn, Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto, jumped up on an overturned tub near the cave where the sun goddess was hiding and danced on it lifting her dress to reveal her vulva.  The gathered gods found this very funny and the laughter brought the sun goddess from her hiding place. In ancient Greek stories, the fertility goddess Demeter was in mourning following the loss of her child. Nobody could cheer her, so Baubo lifted her skirt showing her vulva to Demeter,  helping the goddess to laugh again. In ancient Ireland, after the Dagda escaped the Fomoire by eating a lot of food, he drug his large penis along the ground, had to empty his swollen belly into a pit, and then had sex with the daughter of Indech, who had been taunting him this whole time, after she jumped on his back and her pubic hair tickled him.

The Egtved girl, a young woman buried in Denmark in 1370 BCE, was found wearing a revealing fringe skirt with a solar disk over her belly.

There is a beautiful connection between the star constellations association with vulva imagery such as Vega and  Crux, vulture, the dead, the Milky Way, and rebirth — the Starry Vulva which the ancestors enter to travel through the otherworld to be reborn.

 

References

http://www.rigelatin.net/vulture/

https://www.ancientegyptonline.co.uk/nekhbet.html

https://balkancelts.wordpress.com/2013/12/10/catubodua-queen-of-death/

http://www.tsubakishrine.org/history/ame-no-uzume-no-mikoto.html

http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/cmt/cmteng.htm

 

Naturalizing

I’ve written elsewhere about bringing our practice home, and with the help of my current working group (D, C, D, K, H, J), building on the work of the New Moon group (S, B, C, D) I’ve been doing just that.

Welcome to the beginnings of the Central Texas Wheel of the Year:

In central Texas our year is divided into two halves: the Long-Hot (May – September) and the not-as-Hot (November – March).  Moisture flows during the two liminal periods of May and October – the time between,  the dance of the twins.

The Long-Hot brings southeasterly winds and rare gift-of-life thunderstorms.  The not-as-Hot is normally dry.  But this story, like so many others, depends….

It depends on Little Sister and Little Brother. When Little Brother (el niño) comes to visit the not-as-Hot turns cold, as well as wet. Some say this is because the Hag of the North swoops down to steal him away from his sister, and as he is carried away his tears fall frozen.  But when Little Sister (la niña) raises her fiery head searching for her brother we are dry as a bone and our throats are parched by her anger.  Little Sister often brings with her The Wild Mother whose winds push all things down and whose wetness drowns cities.

Life here begins in the dark, with the stirring of the winds; The North Wind.

Blood; blackland prairie
Bone; llano uplift
Ash; edwards plateau

The Guardian of Bone arrives on the North Wind.  Vulture, wings spread soaring high.  The eye of god.  The Starry Gate of transformation and rebirth. Guardian and Gateway, we enter the womb of the Milky Way through the starry vulva. You know, until we buried our dead Vulture ate all our Ancestors.

The point of balance between the hottest and the coldest temperatures of the year  (October 31/November 1) is the Autumn Equitherm.  Our first harvest begins now…all things in pairs.  Pecans fall and we remember those who have fallen. We remember what has been sown and harvested. What is remembered lives …along the starry path.

The longest night, Winter Solstice (Dec 20-23), we dream; dream the Guardian of Ash who emerges from the Starry Mother, God Hirself.

At the Winter Thermistice ( January 6), the peak climatic temperature for the colder time of the year, we begin to smell change, the rising of life, the stirring of loins, and the arrival of the Guardian of Ash.

Some years that may be Gray Fox (January 6 through May 1), with their full body environmental awareness, their relaxed effervescence and curiosity, some years it may be someone else.

At the Spring Equinox (March 20) we cross the celestial equator, no longer stirring we now roar full force into our first Time of Planting. Bluebonnets, Mountain Laurel, Mexican Plum run riot.

The balance of the temperatures at the Spring Equitherm (May 1) whispers the approach of the Long-Hot.  Dread, even as rain soaks us, stirs in our heart.  Second harvest begins; peaches, blackberries and tomatoes are ripening.

With the dread of the Long-Hot on our minds, the Guardian of Blood – Snake – arrives. It’s time to digest, absorb and integrate. The egg with the Golden Yolk inside.

Summer Solstice (June 20-22) – the Sun is ready, eat it. Open wide. Become whole and complete unto yourself.

And as we burn, as we digest, as we integrate under the sweltering malefic sun, the peak of the climatic temperature, the pinnacle of the Long-Hot, approaches.

Summer Thermistice (August 6), the Dying Time.  All fields are withered and bare, the grass is brown, leaves crisp, the land is ripe for wildfire. We propitiate the fire, call the water and digest the sun into night along the cosmic path to the Starry Gate. But….what if it’s too much? Did we bite off more than we can swallow?

The time of The Knife’s Edge (mid-August to mid-September) is the “danger” time.  We have ingested the Sun but are still integrating, absorbing.  It could go either way.  Tricky, Dangerous.  Wildfires or Hurricane.  We balance and wait….

Then hope arrives, the sun slants, it crosses the celestial equator again and Autumn Equinox arrives (September 22) bringing the second Time of Planting.  We sow our seeds. It is the turning time, the liminal gateway, and rains come.

As we await the beginning of all things, which rides on the North Wind…..

Enchanted Rock

Trauma and Witchcraft

During a recent conversation I said that the Anderson Faery/Feri lineage of witchcraft is helpful for trauma survivors  because it is an embodied lineage with a focus on ecstatic experience – all things that steer us out of over intellectualizing and into body awareness – but only insofar as we work to heal our trauma, else it will retraumatize us.  I’ve been pondering that statement ever since, because while I feel it to be true I have never upacked it.  I’m going to try and do that a bit here.

What is trauma, and what does it mean to be retraumatized?  We often think of trauma as tied to emotional, physical or sexual abuse, war, or natural disasters, but there are a whole range of life experiences that can be traumatizing, like surgery, the loss of a loved one, etc.  Trauma happens when our nervous system is overwhelmed and our coping strategies don’t work.  If the trauma is not processed or if we aren’t able to fight, flee, or in some way manage what is “attacking” us, then we freeze in a way that the unprocessed fear gets locked into our body.

A way some of us deal with the trauma locked in our body is by dissociating –  we try to get away from our body, and thus the traumatic situation — but other expressions of trauma are anxiety, depression, sleeplessness, avoidant behaviors, and addiction.  These expressions of trauma are almost always enveloped by  a sense of shame.  Something happens, we get traumatized and we cope the best we can, then hate ourselves for it because it doesn’t look or feel good.  It’s the shame that binds the entire process together.

Effects of early trauma are a laundry list:  a disrupted sense of self in relation to others, emotional instability, social dysfunction, difficulty recovering from stress, disorganized thinking, a limited window of tolerance, a limited capacity for relationships, poor impulse control, low self-worth, core shame, inability to recognize one’s own needs, a sense of isolation…. Oh, so much!  And oh so many of the very reasons we seek out spirituality, even witchcraft; we are searching for healing.

If that search leads a person to the Anderson Faery/Feri lineage of witchcraft before therapeutic work with a qualified therapist has been done to address past trauma the very tools of the tradition could be dangerously retraumatizing.  In this lineage we are asked to be present in our bodies, to be fully present for Sex, Self, Passion, Pride and Power.  Meditators are now realizing that mindfulness meditation is retraumatizing for the same reason; in mindfulness practice we are asked to be present with the feelings and sensations of the body.  If we have unprocessed trauma fear locked in our body, our own breath and body awareness can be jarring, flooding us and popping us right out of the body.  We feel the trauma all over again and dissociate.  In fact, we will happily watch our body sit and breathe on the cushion – we are well used to dissociating –  thinking we are engaged with the practice, when in actuality we are not experiencing embodiment at all.

Retraumatization is a conscious or unconscious reminder of past trauma that results in re-experiencing of the initial trauma itself.   It can be triggered by a situation, an attitude or expression, or by certain environments that replicate the dynamics (loss of power/control/safety) of the original trauma. – by Patricia Shelly, MSW, Shelley Hitzel, MSW, and Karen Zgoda, MSW, LCSW, Preventing Retraumatization: A Macro Social Work Approach to Trauma-Informed Practices & Policies

For those of us who dissociate, clearing the mind and entering stillness is a familiar state of numbness.  It can be a blissful state, and hard to distinguish from altered states of consciousness.  Yet, it is not the mindfulness taught in yoga, and it is not the embodiment required to engage Faery witchcraft safely.  Embodiment is the beginning and foundation for more advanced practices in Faery.

Dissociation vs presence?
Table
Meditation instructors and health care professionals who work with trauma survivors are taught to use trauma informed practices which focus on a sense of safety and stabilization (it is not in most of our scope of practice to offer trauma-specific work that focuses on processing trauma).  One thing Faery witchcraft is not is safe, and its tools are notoriously destabilizing.  Some do survive the crash course of a Faery induced healing crisis, others do not.  With so many qualified therapists who specialize in integrating trauma, and so many excellent protocols, like EMDR, there is no reason to risk a student, or risk ourselves.

If you are drawn to Faery, but come from a trauma background, seek out a skilled EMDR therapist first.  Give yourself a year of calming the central nervous system and finding safety within your body.  You will be grateful you did.

*I am not a professional therapist.  My insights come from my own experience and what I have found effective. 

incantation

Incantation; Francisco Goya

Can I be your student?

Can I be your student?This video resembles me, and my views regarding passing Faery.

This Tiresome Place

[originally published A Sense of Place, 12/04/14]

The ‘news’ of late is grim–here in Amerikay.
Societal values expressed by those in power seem far from the ones I desire. I know that acts of beauty and kindness occur daily in this sprawling nation of states, but word of them won’t generate click-throughs or ad revenue. This constant drone of fake voices and fleeting fame, of hyped reality and oligarchy, of the dehumanized market Place of rot and superficiality, was such a relief to flee
to escape from
when I lived across the sea.
America…you tire me.

Yet – we have the power and privilege to change the story
which is why so many
work so hard
to distract us
with the shiny, the new, convincing us we are
despondent
helpless
addicted

Yes, they seek to distract, and for unnatural cause. Yet we also tell ourselves the story of the hidden day-to-day, hand-to-hand sweetness of life here in these … 50 united states. We tell ourselves that people are still people, and friendships are true, and that community is possible, while we also scroll facebook, clicking through to sensational articles written only to capture our attention and heighten our anxiety. We tell ourselves and each other these beautiful stories over text and skype and email, while our day-to-day, hand-to-hand lives are too busy to sit in the company of each other without entertainment or the promise of excitement. We tell ourselves that people are still people, and friendships are true, as we hide in our protected spaces after the pummeling we have the privilege to receive in exchange for a dollar, or two.

Yet there ARE places, just not these 50, where parents are supported, where news is just that….the news of a community, bright and dark, shared by a human that looks and sounds like me, not one trained to numb and sedate with intonations that drone on about hate and violence in a never ending loop. There are places where the first word uttered when meeting someone new is NOT “what do you do?” but “what’s the craic? what’s the news with you.” There are places where humans still stop to chat, without looking at a watch or worrying that they might be late to something … somewhere … because the person standing in front of them is the now. There are places where nectar and marrow are still sucked by everyone, not just a wealthy few.

There are places that don’t make me so tired, that don’t require me to fight, always fight, just to live my life.

America, I’m tired … of you.

Do The Gods Care About Money?

[originally published A Sense of Place, 02/27/14]

This week Niki, at A Witch’s Ashram, wrote about money and privilege.  It’s a great article, and one I hope she expounds on, but the first thing I wondered when reading it, and the thought I couldn’t get away from,  was whether gods even care about money.  I have had this conversation before with pagan friends, wondering whether the notion that a god (any god) who is interested in the minute details of so many people’s lives is just unexamined Christian magical thinking (in the anthropological sense–and not that any one religion has a corner on magical thinking, or that’s it’s necessarily bad).  The argument that comes back is one of relationship: practitioners of pagan religions are in relationship with their deity, just as human-persons can be with each other, and this relationality explains the care and concern deity show toward the human-person they are in relationship with.  Occasionally I hear the contractual explanation: deity, whatever that means, is limited in the material realm and needs human helpers, as much as humans need god helpers, thus they are willing to go out of their way to ‘help’.  Both of these make sense, depending on your worldview, but they don’t quite work for me, as an animist.

I don’t view the world as full of gods–in a potentially polytheist way (this label being a hot topic right now)–rather, I see every part of creation as divine, whatever that means to me, and possessing consciousness. In that sense, I might (and do) view a lot of persons (my current preferred term for almost all of the cosmos) as divine, i.e., gods, I just don’t worship or adore them. Instead, I form relationship with them, and, by “them”, I mean the persons occupying the very physical, material world I can see, hear, touch and taste.  I don’t perceive there to be disembodied entities existing in my cosmos.  I perceive that there are innumerable persons who reside in my cosmos, and most of them are other-than-human.  Each of these persons, whether that be Moon, Sun, Oak Tree, or Parakeet, have consciousness—even if very different from my own—and thus potentially capable of relationality.

I also perceive a type of Mind that is so much more than our current understanding of consciousness—which we don’t actually understand yet— and I view this Mind (or consciousness) as encompassing the material body it observes or works through.  Because of this, and the work of many fine social scientists who have attempted to document and discuss the changes to human sensation and perception that were brought on by literacy and modernity, I imagine Mind as capable of modes of communication many human-persons have forgotten or lost the ability to use. Thus it may seem that a disembodied voice is speaking to me, when it may actually be Barton Springs.

Since the cosmos, as I perceive it, is full of conscious, other-than-human persons, with their own world views and autonomy, I don’t immediately assume or imagine they have any interest in me, other than perhaps an implicit desire that I, and Others, stay out of their way and don’t impact them.  I also don’t imagine they are even aware of me, unless they somehow indicate that they are.  I’ve had many eldrich persons indicate an awareness of me, and they routinely freak me out when they do, but rarely have they displayed any human-like emotion or behavior, other than in a handy  “candy-water-fruit” way.

A great example of this was my encounter with Barton Springs.  I was naked, like one would be in a public space, as part of my initiation ritual.  Because this was an ecstatic rite, my full range of sensual input was engaged.  I was centered, open–wide open–and immersed in the cool, limestone filtered waters of the Spring.  As I sent part of my awareness down into the cleansing depths, to where the waters would wash and heal me, I literally bumped into a shining Flash.  At first startled (perhaps perturbed), then curious (at least willing to engage), the shape began to change.  In the blink of an eye, the consciousness I accidentally stumbled upon in my altered state shifted the outward presentation of itself.  There was not much I would describe as “human-like” looking back at me, but I had a distinct sensation of consciousness searching for an understandable medium, or “skin”.  We were like two Wild Creatures, alien from one another’s experience, yet posturing to be seen in the shape of our choosing.  That was the beginning of my long, slow (time being a relative concept) relationship courting of an important Other-than-human person specific to Austin.

My experience, or perception of encounters like this, has led me to believe that other-than-human persons have no inherent interest in my life, i.e., whether I have money, health or fertility.  My witchcraft, on the other hand, offers me tools and skills for tapping into Powers so that I can acquire abilities or energies to use in shaping or solving issues I deem important to myself.  A