Thursday, April 28, 2016

Side Project!

I have been toying with the notion of running a blog just for the items I like to take pictures of... and decided to hell with it, I'll just do it! Introducing my side project: The Wandering Photographic Mystic! Give it a peek:

http://wanderingphotographicmystic.tumblr.com/

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Exploring Lost - Ideal Images

So as I sit here musing about the fact that I am still really lost when it comes to my faith and what path I am supposed to be on, or want to be on… I don’t know. I’m stuck with one resounding question; How the hell did I get this lost in the first place? I’d like to think I’m a smart person, I have two college degrees, work in a job that requires intelligence, have always done well in anything I have set my mind to (well ok, maybe not math, but I did pass so that counts). And I set my mind to being a good witch.

I read, a lot! I have read Cunningham and Buckland, Starhawk and Z. Budapest, I read Dugan and Ravenwolf, I read the Farrars and Gavin Bone, I read the first modern witch, Gerald Gardner and books by his High Priestess, Doreen Valiente. I read books by witches, druids and heathens. I have read Christian writers, Jewish writers and Muslim writers. I have even looked at atheist writers and grappled with the question of atheism myself. All of these bright cookies who have been passionate to write about faith and here I am in a mess of them, resonating with a piece here and a piece there.

Ten years ago I was so eager to be the best witch I could be. I devoted myself to readings, to gathering tools and practicing the rites. I planned and created some beautiful rituals and altar spaces. I even have a room in my home devoted to magical workings, although lately it’s turning into a crazy catch all for random stuff I find around the house. I have a black cat that seems to love cards and stones and watches every working I do with intent interest and focus. She’s been very affectionate of late, lots of cuddles and purring, as if she knows how lost I am.

I keep thinking to the image I have of the perfect witch in my mind, and how short I fall from it. I mean I fall really short. And that sucks, because I have built this image of the perfect witch in my mind for years and I am very attached to this image. This witch is beautiful. It’s a female witch, I’m not saying the perfect witch cannot be male, I just identify more with female because I am female. I don’t have a clear idea of where her house is, but it is a house with some yard.

Her yard is amazing (think like, practical magic yard and garden), with lots of flowering plants in perfect health, with a beautiful garden full of rich soil and blooming herbs and vegetables, ready for her to add to her magic. She has little altars set up with offerings for the fairy folk and the nature Gods. She works in her gardens daily, always in a flowing skirt and never seeming to get dirty. Always cheerful, happy with a peaceful and generous heart. She has a cat or two or three, all perfectly groomed and never stray far from her side.

The inside of her house is absolutely magical. She has little charms and magical concoctions tucked into every room. Her house hums with magic as she has perfect altars honoring the Gods and the ancestors everywhere. It is a clean and tidy space, with her herbs, parchments and candles well organized in cute little cupboards and bookshelves. Her furniture has a Victorian feel to it and every one of her items is a unique piece of art. She makes all her own skin care and health products by hand, using very little manufactured products. Her clothes are all flowing beautiful dresses and skirts and she has dainty magical jewelry for every occasion.

Her Book of Shadows is a beautiful and well organized volume, well written in a graceful elegant script by hand, from a fin nib feather pen of course. She is well loved and respected in the community and everybody loves to get little goodies and treats from her. She sits in meditation and yoga on a daily basis and has beautiful rituals that connect her to the Gods and help direct her. She can read any deck of cards she wants and even can read tea leaves and palms. She gives wonderful advice and has the allure of magic in every step.

She has done her fair share of ritual works and teachings. She has taught little kids the basics of herb and stone magic and has helped usher teenage girls into adulthood. She has done baby blessings on newborns and requiem rites for the dearly departed. She has stood in a circle of witches, her hands thrown high on a full moon light as the power of the Gods descend into her body, giving out wisdom and encouragement. She has initiated hundreds into the old ways and has helped start many on the path to magic.

It’s a beautiful image isn’t it? I wonder how many of us have this image in our minds of witches? How many of us has built up this image of the perfect witch in our minds, and have been disappointed when we didn’t find her (or him). Even worse, how many of us have compared ourselves to her and berated ourselves for falling short. We cannot seem to help it; it is human nature. We have to have an ideal, something to put on a pedestal. The problem is that image.

I have built that image, day after day, in my head. I put that image up as the ideal, the end goal and you know what. I am nowhere close to it. My yard is gorgeous, don’t get me wrong, but my gardening is really hit or miss. I have a busy life so it often gets a little… well… weedy. Plus, my climate means that some things just will not grow. My house is more of a crash pad some days so there is stuff everywhere. I’m not always the best housekeeper and there is probably dust on my altar and shrines as we speak. I have several half-finished Books of Shadows and other books scattered everywhere, some I have not touched in years.

I am nowhere close to being an elegant woman. I tend to wear lots of jeans, swear too much and t-shirts and my writing is atrocious. I’m not overly physically attractive as I am short and a bit overweight. I can’t wear dainty anything or I will break it and when I garden I usually come back in covered in dirt. My writing is atrocious and my furniture is an odd mix of hand me downs from family and new items here and there that my dogs have caused some form of damage to.  While I would love to make all my own products I don’t seem to have the time to devote to it so I end up with a lot of Supermarket specials for cleaning and hygiene products.

I am not initiated into any traditions and cannot honestly say if I have ever talked to the divine or if it’s all in my head. I can barely meditate and fall down a lot when I try to do yoga and there is nothing in my house that is organic, free range, or whatever. I have talked to a few people here and there as new pagans, and don’t mind sharing my experiences, my likes and my dislikes but I am nowhere close to being able to teach. And on my one public ritual I got so nervous I cast the circle the wrong way and used the word “incest” instead of “incense” not even two minutes into the ritual.

I love my image of the perfect witch, absolutely love her. But I’m beginning to think she is not healthy for me. Actually I'm not sure this is even a realistic ideal for any person to try and become. Maybe I need to re-evaluate this image...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Let’s Talk About Being Lost


So you may recall my last blog post was a bit of a confession in that when it comes to faith I am utterly lost. I really don’t have a fucking clue where the hell I am. It really upset me for a while. I mean I was actually losing sleep over this! And I have to be honest, I think it is a rather natural reaction. I mean think about it, you have no idea what you believe, what you feel, you’re so damn stressed out you cannot even think about listening to your heart and everything that you turned to for comfort feels kind of empty. This is not a comfortable place to be in, and it’s even harder to talk about.

On the one side I have great friends who are Pagan, they don’t seem to be in this odd funk I have fallen into. They are hard at work, casting their spells and honoring the Gods, they have their shit figured out. On the other hand we have the bright eyed new Pagans, eager to learn everything they can, filled with wonderment and delight at this new world. I’m jealous of both of them. I feel like that cranky old jaded lady in the corner of the party who sits there grumbling to herself until they put her in the home.

I’ve kept these feelings to myself for a while, trying to push forwards, appear confident, cool and collected.  I try to pretend my ducks are all in a row when really the fuckers are flying all over the place (and some might have even left the country). I mean I never have been good at religion. Growing up my Grandparents were Catholic so I tried to be a good Catholic. I fell a little short on some issues and while much of the religion is still beautiful and nourishing to me there were some doctrine points that I whole heartedly disagreed with so I stepped away.

Around the same time I walked away from Catholicism a cute boy and I caught each other’s eyes and soon we were seeing each other. He was from a religious family and so I often went to church with him and tried to be a good Christian. The youth group we attended was fun with lots of very good and kind people. The services were upbeat and lively and while I had fun, I still felt empty inside. Eventually I began to find that they had some doctrine points that seemed to go against my very nature and so I drifted away from the religion, and eventually the young lad and myself ended our relationship. I explored a lot of other religions because of the youth group and then the great set of boobs brought me to paganism.

Initially I was full of wonder and awe. I explored and after a few years launched myself into a full fledged year and a day. Eventually I would join a group, then leave the group and carry on solo. I grooved on, meeting more new people, pissing others off. I started a blog, went to some coffee chats and to all appearances I was doing great. But little by little things have been falling away, and yet I found it hard to talk about. It somehow… I don’t know, it somehow feels like I’m betraying something. For the last 10+ years I have been an enthusiastic pagan and now I don’t even know if that’s where I fit anymore. I’m not looking for sympathy here, or fishing for compliments.  I just want to talk about it.

Where do we go when we feel like we are lost? I mean paganism is one hell of a huge umbrella! A priestess from say a Hellenistic tradition is going to give me a different answer from a devotee to Bast. And most of our clergy are not trained to be counselors. There are more and more Pagan Seminaries popping up around the world, but the vast majority of Pagan clergy will not attend these schools and Pagan Seminaries are not accredited educational institutions and there is little to no uniformity in teaching and curriculum. So even going to clergy from a seminary will give you a far different answer.

Without any clergy in my area that I can go to I turned to my books, but those were little help. Each other has been grooving along confidently that most of their books are how to manuals. I mean I love them, and have learned a lot from them, but they aren’t at the same level I am at. There is no chapters called “What to do When You are Fucking Lost” or “How to Find Your Way Out of ‘How the Hell Did I Get Here”. Everywhere I turn people seem to be experts and very good at this and I can’t seem to muddle my way through. I feel like I really should have my shit together after ten years.

I have so many questions within myself about what my path is or what it should be, where should I go for help, How do I pray when I don’t know who to pray to? What do you do when you suck at following directions? How do you practice when nothing stirs you and your heart is full of doubt? Where do you start when you want to disentangle yourself from this mess you have gotten yourself in? Am I alone in this or are there other poor buggers like me who are totally tangled up and lost, but absolutely terrified to talk about it? Hello? Anybody there? Alright, gonna keep staggering on.