The Barge Beckons

Since I was a young teenager, I’ve been fascinated by Arthurian legend and the mythical Isle of Avalon. For awhile, it was an obsession of mine. I read all of Marion Zimmer-Bradley’s fiction on Avalon, including her posthumous works, and I held a deep longing in my heart for Avalon to actually be a real place. I never actually believed it could be real until I had a conversation with an old friend of mine years ago that changed my perspective on what “Avalon” might actually be and where I could find it.

I remember my friend telling me about a mountain that she lived near where new species of plants and insects were being discovered all the time. She said that it seemed and felt as though there was a magical quality to this place and that time seemed to slow down when you were there. She spoke of it so dreamily, almost like it was an Otherworld. Nearing the end of her narrative, she told me that she was convinced that she had found an Avalon. I stopped her there; “AN Avalon?” I asked. She smiled and said that she has this theory that Avalon isn’t a place subject to our concept of time and space and that a person will stumble upon it when they need it most. This conversation nevertheless sent me into a somewhat obsessive search for an Avalon and, needless to say, I never found the physical location that I was looking for. She wouldn’t ever tell me which mountain it was that she experienced her Avalon because, she said, “It isn’t a place that needs too much attention from humans.” She was afraid it would be spoiled. I don’t blame her.

Years later, while in college, I was doing some research on pagans who believe in Avalon. I Googled everything from “pagans and Avalon” to “do pagans believe in Avalon” to “please tell me I’m not the only pagan who believes Avalon exists”. Eventually I Googled “Wicca and Avalon” and boom — links for websites that talk about Celtic Wicca began popping up. This eventually led me to links on Celtic Neo-Druidry which then led me to links on Avalonian Traditions. One of the first sites I visited was the Sisterhood of Avalon, a religious organization for women who desire to experience the Mysteries via the Avalonian landscape. I then found the Daughters of the Sacred Grail – another site for women who wished to experience the Mysteries steeped in Avalonian lore.

From there, I bought several books recommended by those sites, including Avalon Within by Jhena Telyndru. I attribute much of my personal spiritual practice with great thanks to this book. Its roots are in depth psychology, as well as some neo-shamanic journeywork, and it so beautifully paints a picture of what Avalon could be for each individual. Each imramm (journey through visual meditation) encourages the student to dive deep into her psyche. These imramms are performed in a cyclical manner, often corresponding with the lunar cycle. At the end of each cycle, the student should have gained a better understanding of herself and also tools for reclaiming a part of herself that may have been lost to painful experiences (heartbreak, disappointment, guilt, anger, etc). The idea is that we should no longer be a victim to our experiences but an active participant who seeks to change how those experiences are perceived and then use them to better ourselves.

I completed two or three full cycles before putting the book down. I found an interest in shamanic witchcraft and wanted to explore that for awhile. That “awhile” became 3 years and here I find myself now being drawn back to the shores of my own personal Avalon locked away in my Mind’s Eye. Just last night I told my High Priestess that I feel another transitory time beginning. I can’t put my finger on any one thing, but I do feel the tides beginning to change once more. Another cycle is getting ready to begin and I wish to be an active participant this time. I’ve been hesitant to engage in change in the past and it always resulted in that change being forced upon me regardless of my feelings toward it.

We are in the Waxing Phase of the Moon at this time, so it would be the perfect time to begin another cycle of imramms. While my Gardnerian practice works with both male and female deity, this Avalonian Tradition focuses mainly on the Divine Feminine. Obviously I will keep my practices separate, but it will be interesting to see how each tradition influences the other. Anyway, wish me luck. Talk to you soon!

 

Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire

A couple of my posts have a very specific theme: Fire. Before and after my initiation, I experienced a deep, burning desire from within that consumed me. It craved knowledge and experience of the Mysteries of the Arte Magickal. A month following my initiation, I lost my job and that fire went out. I felt cold, lost, and incredibly frustrated all of the time, fearful of what my future would (or wouldn’t) bring. So I did a very simple candle spell, as suggested by my dear friend Cierva, to bring money my way (I just went ahead and asked for a job so that I could kill two birds with one stone). Three days later, I had an interview lined up. Then a second interview lined up for the day after that. The day of the second interview, I was offered a job…at a bank. See where I’m going with this?

Now what I’m feeling is something beyond regular excitation. For the first time in my life I’ve been offered a career. Not just a job, but a career. I’m excited about having a career that offers me challenges, compensates me for overcoming them, and then offers me a multi-branched path to creating a good, secure career. I’ve craved security and asked for it. Now I have a real chance to create it for myself. I’ve been given a wonderful opportunity and I am eternally grateful.

Not to mention the fact that this serves as a reminder to feel grateful that, as witches, we have been imbued with the power to practice magick. I’ve encountered so many pagans and people who call themselves Wiccans or witches that hardly ever, if at all, practice magick. Practicing the Arte is not selfish, especially if you apply ethics to your spellcasting. Casting a spell for a job, money, love, healing, protection, etc. is not selfish – it’s call self-preservation and it’s a gods-given way to help us help ourselves. Think of it as a sip of Divine Juice. You have been given this beautiful gift and they call it a “practice” for a reason. You don’t have to make it perfect — just actually do it from time to time. Heh. I said “do it.”

I think a lot of hesitancy to practice magick stems from a place of fear which, actually, stems from a place of inexperience. Through experience we gain knowledge…and the number one way to defeat our fears is by knowing all about those things that make us afraid. Are you afraid that by using magick you’ll lose control of yourself? Of what energy you created? Are you afraid of the outcome because it may not be *exactly* like you imagined it? Or are you afraid that you will get exactly what you asked for? If you are unprepared to actually receive what you ask for then don’t ask for it and certainly don’t do a spell for it. Be specific, envision your outcome, and then be prepared to receive it. There is no shame in that.
Fire is that inner desire…courage…passion…creator…destroyer…nurturer. It’s either present or not present, but the good news is that even if it’s not present then it can always be created. Think about why fire was first used by Man. There was a basic need to be fulfilled: survival. Man needed to be warm and feel safe from predators. Then Fire evolved to cooking what we needed to feed our bodies. Fire exists to keep us ALIVE. It gives us the courage to defeat predators (that adrenaline that flows through your veins? Ever wonder why it burns? Because it’s FIRE.) and the passion to never give up (rage, love, honor). It drives us to find mates to continue the existence of our species (love, biological desire). Additionally, Fire drives us to get what we want and need. Spellcasting is Fire; spellcasting destroys those things that get in the way of your needs and desires and then, in turn, creates the experience so that you may receive what you need. It imbues you with the power to reclaim your personal experiences through magick — it gives you a measure of control over your destiny that may be outside of your physical actions.
Never turn your back on Fire.

Ashes

Two months ago I was told that the school that I work for, and where I attended for my undergraduate degree, would be closing. By June 30th I will be out of a job, I’ll need to be fully moved out of my apartment and into my boyfriend’s, and I’ll need to have secured employment that can cover my living costs until I can find something more permanent. These past couple of months have fucked with me hardcore, and I’d like to say that I’m doing well but, frankly, I’m not.

My stomach is in knots most days, eating has been a chore, my emotions are high one day and low the next, and the idea of being without financial security has me losing sleep nearly every night. I feel sick. I feel tired. I feel like my adrenaline reserves have been drained threefold. But, for whatever reason that will always be unknown to me, I cannot fucking give up. I’ve been through worse in life…much, much worse. I told my boyfriend once that, more than anything, I just wanted it all to just…stop. Just for a moment. I’m so tired.

A good friend of mine has said many times that she truly believes that the Universe has cashed in all of its shit tokens on me and that I cannot possibly be lined up for any more. I wish I could agree with her, but I know that I’ve only existed in this life for 26 years. I’ve had enough shit come my way for a lifetime, but that’s not how Time works. Time never stops. But my body will one day stop and the cycle will begin again. I’ve feared that my stress levels will kill me where I stand, but my hope says that my body and mind are stronger than a hormone.

My practice has fallen to the wayside, but only just a little. I’ve remained active in my coven (as it’s required), I attended an amazing Gardnerian Beltane festival nearly two weeks ago, and am convinced that all of this trial and tribulation bullshit has been at the hands of Kali, my patron deity. Kali Ma, the Goddess of Time, Death, Madness, Fury, Mothers, and the Defender of Women. She will move fucking mountains when a situation calls for it and her lessons will always be tough ones to learn and endure. Her rewards, though, will be great because she is, after all, a loving Mother.

I remember just before I lost my job I prayed to Her to bring me a career change. I expected something a little less dramatic and scary but that is not Kali Ma’s way. She gave me what I asked for, and immediately. Now it’s my turn to act on it in a positive manner since that will repay Her kindness. Kali Ma only asks that we join Her wild dance and enter into Her madness. Use your/Her fury to move your mountains but then let it be done. Let your fury just burn down to embers, ready to be stoked at a moment’s notice when the need calls for it.

Kali is like fire; she is the Goddess of Destruction, after all. She burns all that’s in her path in a wild rage and will either burn out when there’s nothing left to consume (like when she slaughtered Derga’s demons but continued on her warpath anyway) or will be quelled at the hands of water (when Shiva turned himself into a newborn and quelled her anger; water is emotion; Shiva drew tenderness from her).

I feel like Kali has, time and time again, left my life in a pile of ashes. But, like the phoenix, I am always reborn and there is new growth through those ruins. I’m in the “just getting ready to sprout some green grass through dem ashes” stage, and the growing pains are rough. I feel stagnant, overly emotional, and somewhat fearful. I have too much Water and need more Fire in my life. From a witchy standpoint, that means I’ll be burning more candles and incense, wearing more “fire” colors, eating more “fire” foods (spicy foods, foods that are orange, red, and yellow), and trying to work up a sweat via physical exercise. The key here is to create energy (via consumption of food) and then burn it through physical exertion, like fire. Additionally, red, orange, and yellow foods are thought to be good for your heart…and which element is the heart often associated with? Yep. Fire.

I need passion but I haven’t had the energy to create it. Now will be a time for ritual and dance, and for engaging in Kali’s ever-maddening Dance through Time.

Around and around we go,
Where we stop nobody knows.

Blessed Imbolc!

I want to wish you all a very blessed and belated Imbolc! The spark in the Goddess’ belly has been lit…and I was initiated into the Gardnerian tradition. I’ve spent the past week unpacking my feelings around initiation, and all that I can say is that I feel more grounded and humbled. At first I was in a sort of daze but felt so solidly connected to my body and the earth. Then, a few days later, I felt exhausted and spacey. I’ve fluctuated between extreme elation to utter exhaustion in just minutes’ time. But overall I am very, very happy with my decision. It was right and it was time.
In some ways, I’m still “recovering” and in others I’m feeling like I need to move past the exhaustion and prepare for action. I feel like I need to act on something, to move, to be heard, to make something happen, to create. I’m thankful we had a full moon last night so that I could “act” on my religious obligations, but there’s something else driving me to continue like I’m not doing enough at the moment. What is that?
When I first heard that I was going to be initiated, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I spent most of my time thinking about what it would be like and doing light research on the Internet to “prepare.” All that I can say is that there is no amount of research, either through reading or verbal communication with others, that can properly prepare you for an initiation simply because experiences like initiations are ineffable; they are hard to put into words because everyone experiences them differently.

So, two weeks before my initiation, I stopped thinking about it. Really, I did. It left my mind. The nerves were gone and all expectations went out the window. I knew that it was going to occur and who was going to be there and that’s all I needed to know. In fact, that’s all that I wanted to know. And I feel better for it because I stopped putting mental expectations on my covenmates and on my initiator, and I especially stopped putting expectations on what I thought an initiation should be like. At the end of the day, I knew that I trusted my HPS and HP and that was enough. It really gives a whole new meaning to “perfect love” and “perfect trust” when you actually make the decision to practice both without doubt. I trust these people with my life and now my heart, just as they trust me with the same.

I imagine I’ll be unpacking my feelings around this experience for a long time to come, as it seems to be one of those experiences that has yet to make itself fully known and never will in just one punch. I expect change from myself, just as I saw change in myself before the actual event. The fact that I was able to put a completely uncharted experience out of my mind two weeks before the actual event is amazing because I can be quite the Nervous Nelly when it comes to new experiences. It felt nice to not be nervous, as I put my faith in Fate for once.

Anyway, from here on out I expect things to be different. I already feel different, and in some ways I think others can tell that I’m different. I’m curious to see what pans out in the coming weeks and months following my initiation, but for now I’ll try to keep most of my focus on the present. That’s another thing that I love about Gardnerian ritual: it keeps you in the present and you can’t help but feel in the present.
Ah, well, Happy Imbolc! May your planted seeds bear good fruit!

The Fire Within Me

The fire within me burns hot, almost consuming me from the inside, as I realize that something within me has changed…is transforming. I’m different in a way that I want to be, and there’s this feeling of urgency building inside that has similar qualities to the peaking of ecstasy except that it’s coming from my heart.

That call that I’ve referenced in older, previous posts is making itself more clear as I’ve treated along the path to finding exactly what it is that I’m supposed to be answering. About a month ago I dedicated myself to the Gardnerian coven that I’ve been working with. As of last night, initiation was offered to me, which I graciously accepted, and will experience this coming Imbolc. It’s seven weeks away.

It’s seven weeks away and the flame in my heart is growing, slowly transforming all that’s being touched by it…and my feeling is that the result of this transformation will be made apparent the night of my initiation. I do not think that Imbolc was chosen as a coincidence, as I remember that originally I had made plans to meet with the coven on Imbolc of last year but decided that I was not yet ready for that type of commitment. And now, it will be exactly a year later that I commit myself and am bound by oath. After all, there are no such things as coincidences in witchcraft.

In the coming weeks I will be preparing myself to be ready for a new, uncharted experience; one that I wholeheartedly believe will open the doors to me experiencing a truth and then many others.

The fire inside me creates my desire.
The earth that shapes me makes me act.
The air that inspires me guides my intellect.
The water that flows in my veins will be my oath.

(this is double-posted on my the other blog that I help co-write: Paganista)

I’m back

Edit 5/5/16: I decided to remove a comment I once made about enjoying Christian Day’s podcasts. Due to recent and not-so-recent transgressions he’s made against the pagan community and its members, I’ve decided to completely recant my support.

I’m back! I had originally began this blog with wanting to post about my explorations in ADF Druidry but, honestly, I could never get into it; it never felt…natural for me. Instead I’ve gone back to my roots and have begun a more dedicated practice of the witchcraft that I’ve practiced for years. I’m re-dedicating this blog to my experience of the witchcraft that I practice. For months I’ve been studying and re-reading old methods in magic that I studied but never digested years ago. And for those who care, here’s my shameless plug for Christopher Penczak’s Temple of Witchcraft series. For real. Even if you’re not a newb, check it out. It’s changing my practice for the better because it never occurred to me that my practice had so many damn holes in it. I’ve bought every book in the series except for two and I am unashamedly a fan girl. His books have brought me visible, undeniable results in my practice. Period.

I’ve also been exploring a local Gardnerian coven in my area. My impressions of it are good so far and I’ll be meeting more of the coven members on Mabon. I don’t know if traditional Wicca is what I’m looking for, but I am definitely missing the pagan community and often reminisce about the days when I was in college and practicing with my pagan buddies. I do enjoy my solitary practice, however…it’s uninhibited and somewhat less structured than what I would do in a group setting but there is still much to be said about group practice. We’ll see where it goes.

An Ode to my Mother

My dearest Earth Mother, I’ve missed you! I counted the days until your return from solitude, from your rest and recuperation. I’m so happy to see that you’re beginning to awaken, slowly but surely, and how so many birds are already heralding your sleepy but newly vigilant presence. Your trees are blossoming and will soon bear the weight of your fruit and of your body. Your rolling curves are beginning to green and shake off that dusty brown exterior that you’ve accrued over the course of your slumber and I will be happy when my bare toes can feel the silky cool grass between them. I can already smell the change that you bring on the southwestern wind and the ever-growing warmth of the Sun, your consort, who has also noticed your newly aroused state and is responding in kind.

Mother, I am glad that you have returned and may we all rejoice in your beauty.

Hoof and Horn

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