Saturday, July 26, 2014

A Conversation with a Goddess

Well look at this... I'm actually posting again! So I am not going to lie, things have been a bit on the rough side. I've spent the past few weeks telling my closest friends my long list of sob stories so I won't bore the rest of the free world with them, other than to say the past few months have been a shrieking Hell on earth.The hardest part was that it was not just one event, but multiple events, each of them shook the foundations of my life (and my husband's life) to the point that I felt as though the ground was collapsing under my feet. The events of the past few months also brought out almost every old hurt and insecurity that I have held onto for the past 30 years of my life. Fortunately things finally calmed down enough over the past few weeks that we have been able to start getting our bearings.

I wish I could say that I handled the past few months well, but I really didn't. I cried a lot, and I don't mean sweet, pretty crying you see on TV, I mean full out snotty bawling like a baby crying. I screamed a few times, I was mopy and cranky for days on end and spent many days just plain down in the dumps.I still owe a million thanks to my family and friends who stood by me during the past few months, I know I have not been easy to live with. Between the professional and personal issues I also ran into a huge crisis of faith where nothing made sense anymore. I tried to read books, cast spells and do some rituals but everything felt hollow and empty and made me feel more lost than when I had started.

While emotionally I was going through the wringer I have to admit that I went through the rest of my life on autopilot. I got up in the morning, painted a smile on my face, went to work, came home, broke down a little, went to bed and then started all over again the next day. None of my usual coping methods (journaling, stones, meditation, gardening, music) were working. I felt completely out of touch with myself. Naturally many things in my life fell by the wayside; this blog, my garden, keeping the house in shape and everything to do with my spirituality.

Fortunately our vacation came in time to save my bacon. Two days of driving to the coast and then five days staying on the beach, lounging and spending time with my family, followed by a two day drive home, really helped me to get the cobwebs shook loose. I began engaging in daily life again and started pulling myself out of my funk... but something was missing. I really didn't want to sink back into the hole I had just pulled myself out of so I knew I had to do something. Things at work were rather slow so I spent a bit of time pondering what to do. An then I had an idea. I mulled it over for a few minutes and then decided to try this novel idea as soon as I got home. My husband was working the late shift at his job.

When I got home I pulled out one of our collapsible tables and set it up next to my favorite chair in the living room. I placed a nice cloth over the table and placed the statue of my favorite Goddess on the table. I poured myself a glass of wine and poured a second glass for Her. I then put on a music DVD (Cher's Farewell Tour, seemed appropriate). I then focused on that Goddess for a few minutes and then lit a candle. I held Her glass of wine in front of the statue for a moment and asked her to join me for a glass of wine and to talk.

I sat there for a few minutes sipping my wine and looking at the statue, feeling kind of foolish and wondering if this madcap idea was really a good one. So I began to sing along with the DVD (and make the poor dog cringe). After a few minutes I started to talk a little... then I began to talk a lot. I talked about everything, about things from my childhood that had hurt me, about things I was so angry about (including how short I am, I mean I need a stool to get my mixing bowls down!). I talked about the last few months and how much they had hurt me. I talked about what I wanted to fix in my life, what I no longer wanted. In between I sang along with some of my favorite shows, let the dog out to escape my singing, made sarcastic comments and drank wine.

When it was almost time for my husband to come home I thanked the Goddess for her time, poured the wine out onto a tree in my yard and put everything in order. As I placed the statue back onto it's spot on our shrine I asked her if we could do this again sometime and went to make a quick supper. That night I went to bed and for the first time in months fell asleep right away. After not doing any rituals or anything remotely spiritual in months I had finally found a way to sooth my spirit.

It was the strangest ritual I have ever done. There were no real tools, no circle cast, no call to the  directions or the elements. It followed no format and was completely unplanned, and yet it reached me deep down in my soul. Over the past few days I have been pondering about this and made some important realizations.

First and foremost was that I had stopped listening to myself. I was so focused on the outwards aspects of my life that I had not stopped to take the time to sooth my soul. When I did notice that I was out of sorts I tried following the rituals laid out by others, which failed miserably. I realized that I had focused way to much on the outward form, trying to do an "appropriate ritual" that I had lost the whole point of rituals... getting in touch with the divine. My focus was so much on what the right candles to use were that I forgot how to connect to the divine. I was working so hard on being religious that I had forgotten how to be spiritual. And finally it reminded me that the everyday things in our lives can be magical tools of transformation.

I'm sure somebody reading this will cringe that I would dare to approach a Goddess in such a manner, and to save them the trouble of sending me the scathing email I will tell you my answer now: BITE ME! I finally have been able to get back in touch with my soul and with the Goddess I follow, so far she hasn't yelled at me, in fact I feel like I am closer to her than I have been in years. I will still write and create more formal rituals, but every once in a while I think I will invite the Goddess over to watch some Cher and have a glass of wine with me!

Yours Humbly

The Redneck Pagan

Saturday, March 1, 2014

To Eowyn Cara

I recently got an email from a Lady named Eowyn, her email address that Witches' Voice provided is not working. In hope that she may get this I will post here:

Hi Eowyn

Thank you very much for your kind email. I'm afraid I cannot take very much credit for that article. The lady who came to speak to us spoke so well, so movingly, with such gentle strength her words seem to have imprinted into my very soul. The article was far more her voice than mine. I am, however, more than happy to be able to share her story, and have it's power touch as many as possible!
I'm not on too much social media, I have a twitter account (that I often forget I have), a facebook page: and my regular blog (much of which is on Witche's Voice)

Thank you again for taking the time to write! I always am happy to hear that my words are appreciated! I hope wherever you are in the world you are staying safe and warm (here in Central Alberta we are having a nasty cold snap).
Yours Humbly
The Redneck Pagan

Sunday, January 19, 2014

When the Spell and/or Ritual Flops

Picture this, a quite, beautiful full moon night in September. The air is warm and the leaves are changing and you can hear them rattle against each other as you step outside into the night. You have your list in hand, your supplies have been gathered and you have learned the ritual inside and out. You go to a spot in the yard, and set up your altar and prepare yourself. You cast your circle, you follow the script to perfection, not omitting a single word. You then close your circle, leave your libation and pick up your tools. As you walk back to the bright lights of the house you frown because you have a nagging little thought in the back of your head "Did the dang thing work?"

Sound familiar yet? It probably does, but do not feel bad if this reads like a ritual you have done because it has happened to me as well! In all honesty I would wager that this has happened to everybody at least once in their witchy career’s, and probably more than once! And if someone says that it has never happened to them then I call BS because we are all human. Being human means we are going to make mistakes, have off days and sometimes our rituals will flop and we will feel nothing! This also goes for our spells

So why do our rituals flop? Well there can be a lot of reasons; I have yet to go through them all myself. Let’s start with the scenario I gave, the full moon solo ritual. There are a lot of reasons that ritual or spell could have failed. A major one is mental state. Did your day at work suck and all you can think about is the crappy day? Do you have a huge project to do that is looming over you? Did you just have a fight with a loved one? Did you just loose someone you love? Are bills piling up and have you worried out of your skull? Are the kids being brats today? Do you have a high stakes meeting the next day at work? In my humble experience fatigue and mental stress are the biggest ways to tank your ritual.

In a ritual or a spell it is our intention that determines the outcome, and if you are worrying about something then you are not focusing your intent, you are gnawing at the problem like a dog with a bone. I can personally think of a handful of rituals and spells I did that failed because I was too distracted to perform them! This doesn't mean there is anything wrong with you, it just means you need to either sort the problem out in your head before a ritual or find a way to set it aside before the ritual. If I have a problem that is going to last a while I take a piece of paper, write it down and put it somewhere outside of my ritual space. I tell myself that I am putting this down and will pick it up after the ritual. I then find I can shift my focus to the ritual.

The next thing you want to look at is your medical health. Did you have a headache before the ritual? Were you really hungry? Did you get enough sleep this week? Are you getting over a cold or a flu? Did you eat something that made you feel off? Are you taking any prescription medication? Did you take an over the counter medication? Are you feeling healthy and well or run down and blah? Working a ritual does take up our energy, and if you are sick then your body is pulling that energy to heal itself and might not be able to spare any for a ritual. I once tried to do a Samhain ritual right after having the flu, it was a terrible idea. I spent the whole ritual feeling too hot, too cold, my head was pounding and I felt queasy. Half way through the ritual I apologized to the gods and shut the circle down. I lit a candle, said a prayer to the dead, I left an offering outside and went to bed.

Any kind of medication is going to play havoc with your system and can even play with your mind. When I take cough syrup I often will feel dizzy and sleepy, and cold tabs make me feel rather stoned. I am not functioning at 100% on those medications and will avoid rituals when I am taking them (and as I take them when I am sick I know from experience working when sick is not always wise). Prescription medications are a touchy subject, and one I do not have enough expertise to fully address. I would advise that if it is a short term medication, such as an antibiotic wait until you are finished the medication. You are taking it to get well again and you want to conserve your energies for that purpose. Long term medications are a different story, you might be on them for weeks, months or even years and I am not a medical expert. I would advise that you seek out an elder or a very long time practitioner for their expertise and assistance. They would be able to help you learn your own boundaries with how your body and mind interact with the medications and ritual workings. I would also advise you use good judgement. If a ritual is making you feel terrible and out of whack while you are on medications stop the ritual and ground yourself immediately.

Ok, so your mental health and intentions were set, but the ritual still flopped. Is it possible you missed something? Maybe you forgot a part in the ritual, or didn't have your correspondences fine tuned, maybe you mixed up something. It could be that the time of the day was wrong for the intention of the ritual, or perhaps you selected a Deity that didn't quite match up with what you were doing. There are a lot of ways that we can make a mistake in our ritual planning and execution. Maybe it was a ritual you read in a book that looked cool, but didn't mean much to you so you weren't able to get the right frame of mind. There are lots of things that can throw a ritual off or throw a monkey wrench into a spell.

So what do we do? Well step one is going to have to be not to panic! The first time I felt nothing in one of my rituals I freaked out and tried to redo it three or four times. Guess what, that didn’t work. I felt less and less power each time and more and more fear and panic. Finally I got bright and wrote down what happened and walked away from it. A few weeks later I was able to look back and figure out what went wrong. In that case I was getting over a bad flu and my body was not really ready for the ritual.

Once you have talked yourself out of the panic of "Oh my Goddess, it didn’t work, I’m going to lose my broom! I’m not a witch because it didn’t work". Take a moment, sit down and write out everything you can. Write what you ate that day, what the weather is like, moon phase, what did you do over the last day or two, what your health is like and for women where in your cycle you are. Then walk away from it for a few days. No really, walk away from it for a few days, forget it ever happened. A few days gives you a clearer perspective and can let you see if there were any mistakes made, if your health was off or if your mind wasn't in the right place. It also gives you some time to watch your life unfold and perhaps see your ritual or spell working. Maybe you cast a spell for abundance and a few days later you got a raise at work, or a friend gave you an old table she didn't need, or you got an unexpected cheque in the mail. These are results that take some time and you won't see them right after the ritual/spell.

Or to your amazement, it might have worked! When I was a very new witch I would perform a ritual and then sit back and wonder if it did work or not! I was a solitary for years and had nobody to ask if it worked or not. I eventually came across a book that a friend lent me (and I wish I could remember who wrote it so I could credit the author!) and in the book the author spoke about rituals and spells. The author explained that there is no Hollywood effects, no lightening in the sky, no booming voices, or sudden wind storms. The author explained that it would be far more subtle. You might feel calmer, more relaxed after ritual. Other people might feel pumped up, full of energy and happy. Others might get chills and tingles across the body while another person might feel a sense of accomplishment at the end.

So your ritual might not have flopped at all, but you just haven't learned how your body and mind reacts to the ritual. After I read that I made a note of it on a sticky note and left it on the front of my notebook I was using as a book of shadows. The next full moon I went along and performed my ritual. I recorded everything as I have recommended above, and included how I was feeling. I did this for a few months, rituals and spells alike. I discovered that after a successful ritual I often feel really relaxed, peaceful and a bit tingly inside. After a spell however, I feel pumped up, like I could run to the nearest town (25kms away) and a sense of accomplishment. After I learned this about myself I was able to gauge when a spell or ritual worked or failed.

So when your ritual or spell goes flop do not panic, treat it as a great chance to learn something new and to grow. You might discover that you need a certain type of ritual to set the mood right, or that you are just no good at working a spell when your workload is stressing you out. You might discover that certain Deities don't work out well for you, or that a certain format makes your works tank every time. Either way it will only lead you to self discovery and better understanding of the path you are walking on!


Yours Humbly

The Redneck Pagan