Tuesday, December 9, 2014

We Interrupt This Regularly Scheduled Program…

The call for white allies to speak up in support of our black and brown neighbors, friends, families, —and all people of color— has been sounding for a long time. It was Sharon Knight's eloquent and moving Statement of Solidarity that really kicked my comfortable, privileged butt into gear, coming hot on the heels of CAYA Coven's public statement against police militarization, brutality and racism. Both of these, of course, are a part of the ever-spreading protests and other actions in response to the recent Grand Jury decisions concerning the murders of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, including Columbia Law School's decision to postpone exams due to the "deeply shaken faith" and trauma suffered by many of the students.

I am committed to recognizing, honoring, and respecting all people of color and all that they hold dear. My intention is to speak up whenever I witness racism expressed by anyone— regardless of the racial makeup of the company in which it is expressed. I will not wait until later to approach someone privately and say, "That was awful, I'm sorry that happened." I will speak loud and clear in front of everyone, "That statement sounds disparaging. Racist behavior will not be tolerated in my presence." If the statements or actions are not amended, after a reasonable attempt at resolution, I intend to withdraw my support from that individual, business or community, no matter how deeply involved I may have been up to that point. My intention is to continue to educate myself, not expecting People of Color to do my educating for me.

Though I extend this respect to every person I encounter, and I could say "ALL lives matter," I recognize that racial inequality, inequity, and injustice deserves to be addressed directly. This matters to me.

Black lives matter.
Brown lives matter.

May the highest good be served,
Blessed be.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Now Serving: Pagan Pancakes

A spider's web glittering with mist in the island's cemetery.
 A hastily scribbled flyer posted on the community board and a few phone calls and face-to-face invites—that was the extent of my promotion for the launching of Pagan Pancakes.

I had been wondering how to serve this tiny island community as a public Pagan priest/ess, had spoken to many individuals about what might sound enticing, and what emerged was a vision of creating an occasional space in time for all sorts of folks to come together and share their stories, skills and perhaps make new and inspiring connections that could lead to collaborative rituals, spells and other magickal possibilities.  A group of Lopezian Pagans have been hosting two enormous Solstice events for decades. Many of the solitaires, families and hidden little affinity groups come together for these extravaganzas. But what is everyone doing for all the other Sabbats, the Esbats througout the Wheel of the Year? Let's get together and celebrate! This sentiment I heard echoed from friends all around the island.

After the touristy summer season is over, the Village shutters up its windows and the inhabitants of The Rock have time to spend with each other once more, so I decided to begin the meetings in October. But "meeting" sounds so ordinary and lackluster. As a Kitchen Witch, it seemed inevitable that food would be involved. The islanders love potlucks. After tumbling a few possible event names around my noggin, Pagan Pancakes popped out as the winner! It is nearly impossible to get hibernating Lopezians out of their homes in the long, long evenings of the darker seasons (and there are some extremely popular dinner potlucks with which I didn't wish to compete, because potlucks are a competition sport around here!), so a brunchtime gathering seemed it would be more successful, anyway.

 This past Sunday, about a dozen curious, friendly, hungry folks all gathered around in a casual circle in my living room. We all had plates loaded with many kinds of pancakes. Yoram made some with his tangy sourdough starter, one person flipped gluten free cakes as an option, and someone else brought potato pancakes, "fried in delicious butter!" (By the way, we used coconut oil to fry the sourdough cakes, and that was soooo gooood!) We had maple syrup and honey, and magickal rowan berry syrup made this summer from an old, revered tree at the home of some friends on the South End.

Straining the rowan berry juice
After the feeding frenzy, an eager participant asked, "So, everyone here is Pagan?" It was at that moment I realized that I was not very prepared to moderate the conversation. Big oops. I had kinda sorta thought I would welcome everyone and collaboratively establish an intention, however the conversation was rapidly and impressively taken over by another individual who seemed quite accomplished in that practice. This person talked off-topic, told other people what to think, didn't share the space with others, didn't answer direct questions, didn't stop talking, and then suddenly wrangled everyone into joining them in a personal practice without carefully obtaining proper consent.

What's worse is I never stopped them.

Huge learning experience for this green witch. I later contacted all the other participants to apologize, also sharing with them the plans I had for making the next one sweeter and much more functional. I sent an email to the person who had taught me so much. Excerpts from that message highlight some of my lessons:

None of us can safely presume that our practices are appropriate for others.

Many of those present were less experienced than others in discussing spiritual matters in a group context, an environment which can be very intimidating to people accustomed to practicing in solitude. Such cautious people would be best served by those of us who are more comfortable in our ways, by encouraging them to share without judgment.

The benefit of this experience is that I will proceed with much more caution in future gatherings. I plan to establish and communicate clear guidelines before any discussion takes place, and perhaps use a talking stone so that everyone may feel invited to share equally.


Lest I leave the reader with the impression that the event was a disaster, I will report that the other participants with which I talked said that despite the annoying person, they all had a swell time, they think Pagan Pancakes is a great idea, and intend to come to the next one. Because a few other people actually did get to share. One person is into permaculture and the teachings of Tom Brown, which folks were eager to know more about. Perhaps we might plan a group trek out into the woods sometime. Another person said that their personal practice centers around "turning poison into medicine," especially in healing around family issues. More enthused interest. I discussed the potential of doing a group practice where we each had a candle charged with the same intention, so each time we lit it, we would be connecting with each other and supporting the intention. A few folks said they'd like to try such a thing. Celebrating the Equinox together was suggested, which was met with support. I heard from several people who couldn't make it that they and some of their friends were looking forward to the next gathering.

And so am I! I am grateful for this opportunity to learn and to serve with so many delightful people. Gluten-free or gluten-full— we are all pancake appreciators.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The CONSENT Song

I just leap'd out of bed, composed this song and recorded it. Good morning!



 

This One Goes Out to All the Sexual Predators Out There, and to the People Who Love Them, and to Everyone Else as Well


CGCGFG
Consent is not the absence of a NO it’s the presence of a YES
CGCGAD
Preying on the weak and the vulnerable is a coward’s favorite quest
CGCGFG
If we’re afraid to talk about it we sink deeper in the mess
CGCG_C
Consent is not the absence of a NO it’s the presence of a YES

Sunday, June 1, 2014

My Patchwork Practice

Some supplemental images of my Priest/ess activites on Lopez Island this spring…

Collaborating on an Exquisite (Corpse) Tarot deck under the guidance of my strange hoodoo maverick magician artist friend/mentor, Dr. Crowmeat. He also has been teaching me some unorthodox Tibetan practices as we pray for our friend's soul passing through the bardo.
"This needs more stickers."


CAYA Coven has been producing a series of educational video panel discussions on the subject of sexual predation in the Pagan communities which will probably be released this summer. I have been honored to be invited to participate in this project.


Here is my computer, set up for the recording, with a book I thought might be helpful for the first topic; "Preventing Sexual Predation." In my experience with groups, healthy and effective communication practices are the foundation of cultivating safety and trust.
I am so proud of my coven's good service!



This final image is of the altar I prepared for the Dark Moon practice honoring Hermes and Hekate. I performed the rites simultaneously with the main group meeting in Oakland at The Sacred Well.

Offerings of a special incense and fine wine for Hekate, copal and wheat beer for Hermes. I had misplaced the Fig Newtons, so I frantically searched the cupboards and found a snack bar made out of figs! What luck! And what would I use to represent Hekate? I found a large key-shaped object near the door. What blessings! I opened all of the windows and doors in the little cabin so the wind could whip through the dimly-lit rooms. I think Hekate was pleased by that.

For the Tarot reading, I pulled the Ace of Swords from The New Golden Dawn Ritual Tarot. The interpretation that resonated with me was, "Upholding Divine Authority." At the end of the ritual, I carried all of the offerings outside to a special Fir tree and gave the food and drink to the Earth. Sitting in the darkening forest with my two cats prowling around, I let the whirling energies steep deeply into my being. It felt wonderful.

Io Herm! Hail Hekate!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Spreading the Magick

The experiment: how well can I serve my Bay Area coven from a small island in the PNW?

CAYA Coven's Wildflower Priest/ess training is really a three-year process. The first Aspirants year is a general education that anyone can take if they wish to learn more about the coven tenents and procedures. At the end of that year, one may say thank you and move on, or be recognized as a Dedicant of the coven. Dedicants may decide to go further down the Priest/ess path by becoming Initiates. At the end of that year, one may ordain or not. If so, one enters the Ordination Service Year. And that's what I'm a couple of months into.

The requirements of OSY seems to have changed over the years, but no matter what they entail, not only is it a fair trade for all of the training for which CAYA asks no fee, it is also necessary to complete them before one may move onward to Advanced Wildflower training. AWT leads to Ordination as a Wildflower High Priestess, and that is one of the required achievements in order to be considered for a seat on the High Council. I am describing this whole process because I had no clue about it when I entered this training, and it may be helpful (or at least interesting) to others. Perhaps I am mapping out my future?

So, how about NOW?

Encouraged by CAYA Coven's recent explorations of various internet options to support our endeavors— as well as insightful conversations with my beloved Wildflower Big Sib, Wishbringer Molly Blue Dawn— spending a few months back in my Heartland home seemed possible. The Distance Aspirants meet monthly, just as the locals do, however their meetings are held online. In fact, more of the CAYA service planning meetings are held online, including those of the High Council. We also have a private G+ clergy group that is very active, and who would even know if I were commenting from SF, the PNW or Timbuktu? And for this service year I am on the new Education and Information track, which mainly generates and disseminates materials that, well, educate and inform! My main commitments to this track are those of stewarding the CAYA Pinterest, CAYA Instagram, and CAYA reddit profiles.

In addition to the various deity cults that I belong to (for my dedications to Ganesha, Hermes and Kuan Yin), I also participate in what is currently a fledgling study group, Beyond the Binary, which may or may not one day become a spiritual affinity group similar to CAYA's two groups, the GreenMen Tribe and the Blood Root Honey Priestess Tribe, which currently offer services to honor men's mysteries and women's mysteries, respectively. For BtB, I steward a monthly events list announcing whatever seems to belong under the banner of Trans*/Pagan, in my very humble opinion. I also post to our blog about events I attend and books I've read, although I'm way overdue on that particular task.

 It seems that, via internet, I am able to serve plenty. Pretty fancy, eh?

So reluctantly I made the decision to hook up my forest cabin to the interwebs. For many years I have appreciated the absence of technology in this rustic place of personal retreat. No TV, no cell phone reception, no internet. Just a hand-cranked Victrola and a very very old turntable with a stack of records from the Take-It-Or-Leave-It.  And I rarely use those, as the sounds of the birds and the seals and the wind and the rain— as well as the mesmerizing silences— are music to my ears. It has been blissful disconnecting from the electronic world in this place, and I made the decision with some bit of mourning for the sanctuary I felt. Yet my gratitude is greater, for this small, mild sacrifice is what has made it possible for me to be here and to be there NOW. More accurately, it has expanded my experience of HERE.

Other practices that keep my energies in tune with my Bay Area kin are chanting with Yeshe Rabbit's online sangha and synchronizing my Dark Moon practice with that of Sam Webster's monthly Hermes and Hekate services in Oakland.

I have several trips planned in July, August, and September to attend events and rituals in person. Hooray for convenient travel options!

Meanwhile, I am seeking opportunities to serve my island community. I have been perusing the community boards and speaking with anyone remotely witchy. And Lopez Island has quite a spectrum of heathens lurking, frolicking and sometimes parading about.

I found my first gig at the beach bonfire supper hosted by my friends, Molly and John, of the fine and fancy Celtic Swan Forge. They had prepared a fresh rabbit picadillo and cornbread made with a well-seasoned sourdough starter. As they have been two of the most avid supporters of my journey to Priest/esshood, I offered a Bunny Blessing to the meal, shaking both my medicine rattle made from a rabbit skin and my stuffed poppet rabbit, Pat. John has graciously permitted me to post his photo of the occasion, with which I will close this post:






Monday, April 14, 2014

Extraordinary Ordination

Things got really bzzzy and exciting in my world as my long-anticipated ordination with CAYA Coven approached, happened, and then there was the strange and marvelous decompression phase that followed. Here I am, a month later, trickling back into my blog to make sure everything is in its place. A challenge I've worked on throughout my life is completing things. Anything. The fact that I successfully completed my Initiation Year is a landmark in my personal story. Beyond the significance of committing myself to a community in this way, it is also a rare occurence of matriculation to graduation for me. Can I even count the number of times I've entered a school, program, or any course of study and dropped out just as I approached completion? Many times, this was the correct action for me, however I felt ready to try a new practice: achieving a goal. A major factor in this instance has been that I sincerely love the community of CAYA Coven, and have found that our common purposes of inclusiveness and service are compatible in practice and in the oft underestimated aesthetics. In short, I lucked out by falling in with the right crowd.

And so I may now humbly introduce myself to the world…

Jaina Bee, Priest/ess of the Eternal Now in CAYA Coven's Wildflower Tradition, dedicated to Kuan Yin, Ganesh, and Hermes

When the new CAYA website is up, my complete bio will be posted, with more background on this choice of title, and also my personal code of ethics. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, I've had a book sitting on my desk for weeks, waiting to be reviewed so that I may honestly complete my list of requirements for this honor of ordination.

For my final book in the required reading series, I chose yet another shamanic-flavored one. Animal Speak: The Spiritual & Magical Powers of Creatures Great & Small by Ted Andrews was on more than one Priest/ess's recommended list. The most apparently helpful feature of this book is the extensive dictionaries of animal totems for birds, insects, reptiles and mammals. This informative reference alone is worth having within reach, however there is much more to appreciate about Ted's book. Sections on fetishes, reading omens, meditations and rites offer a great starting point for exploring one's connection with the magickal opportunities offered by our animal friends. The tones of respect, reverence, and delight fill this book with glowing inspiration.

Some bits I marked for further considerations and explorations:
"You must develop your own dictionary.… you must learn the dialect that is best for you."
Shapeshifting Exercise
"Many have difficulty reconciling predation with anything other than cruelty…" (there's much more to this quote, and I recommend looking this up!)
"For any relationship to work, there must be three elements: silence, respect, and sharing."
"By asking a favor, you are honoring that person and giving respect for what he or she can do."
The four common kinds of wing structures
Feather and Fetish Pot exercise
"[Pigeons] are the only bird that can drink by sucking up water into their beaks. This reflects that ability to draw on the energies of home, no matter how distant."

Presenting the Ordains of Hive 14 (photo by Val)


Friday, March 28, 2014

More Trans*/Pagan news and events!

April events announcements presented by CAYA Coven's Beyond the Binary:
http://cayacovenbeyondthebinary.blogspot.com/2014/03/transpagan-events-for-april-2014.html

Also, I've started a TransPagan subreddit:
http://www.reddit.com/r/TransPagan/

Enjoy!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

What on earth is there for a Trans*/Pagan to do?

Beyond the Binary Trans*Pagan Events Listing March 2014

Sprung into the world on this day of Kate Bornstein's 66th birthday, and spreading like maple syrup over the pancakes of your choice.

If you hear of something not listed here, please share it with me via my gmail address jainabeeme.

Blessed Bee

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Journey Begins…

Some of the most vivid memories of my mostly-forgotten childhood are of lying in the backseat of the car while my family returned from an evening out. Exhausted, comfortable and tranquil (not always concurrent qualities, eh?) my open mind drifted on the drone of the car's engine into open seas of semi-consciousness. This is when I first had communications with what I called "The Lights." The Lights were rippling circles of colors, usually purple and green, that seemed to move toward me or away from me. Like floating through a tunnel. The Lights felt gentle and loving, and I knew They were communicating with me, though it was in no language I recognized in the outer world. I considered them my friends in a time I had no human friends. I told no one about them. It never even occurred to me to try, partly because there was no way I could translate into English what I had experienced. The Lights have subsided and reemerged again and again throughout my life, but it is only in recent years, as I learn more about shamanism, that I recognize The Lights as an entrance into a shamanic journey.

A photo I took of a full moon rising over Joshua Tree National Park. This doesn't look at all like The Lights, but it's pretty!

In Michael Harner's book, The Way of the Shaman, the author observes that such a rippling tunnel image is experienced by shamanic practictioners in every corner of the world. The concentric circles or squares have been carved into masks or painted into mandalas by people in cultures that have had no contact with one another, cultures with widely varied environments and otherwise dissimilar aesthetics and traditions. Harner posits that shamanic knowlege is so consistent simply because "it works." A need arises in a community, perhaps resources and technology are limited, and so the Shaman travels to the spirit world to do some maintenance, some repair, some healing work.

I've heard about this book for years—that it was a classic on modern shamanism and a fundamental publication on the subject— and decided to include it amongst my required reading for my Initiate year with CAYA Coven. In fact, this book seemed so familiar that I was sure I had a copy lying around. After looking on every shelf of my home, I went out and bought a used copy (that had already been scribbled in. Turned out to be the Harner's autograph.) Certain passages were very familiar, too, and I must have read excerpts in other places. Then there was the layer of familiarity of the rippling tunnel and other aspects of shamanism that I have experienced without having any idea what was going on. No one had ever used the word shaman around me, but apparently the Hamatsa demonstrations I'd witnessed throughout my youth were a direct introduction to shamanism. My brother's flights into the wilderness were unmentored shamanistic rites that might have turned him into a great Medicine Man if it hadn't have killed him. The more I see my life and my society within a context of shamanistic knowledge, the more I realize that we truly, desperately need its healing powers.

I found the reading of this book to be very easy and rather a light introduction, however I did gather quite a few choice observations and suggestions that made it quite worthwhile. Here are a few bits I marked in my copy:

Tobacco Traps (to remove harmful intrusions)
"The nonordinary nature of the plant may be an insect form…"
"…part of the practice of the bone game is to use your animal aspect consciously"
Hunting a Power Song
"Big dreams are to be taken as literal messages, not to be analysed for hidden symbolism." [I have certainly found this to be true]
Rock-seeing (a sort of divination technique)
"the intervention of one human being (the shaman) on behalf of another often seems to evoke sympathy in the hidden universe…"
"the shaman is an empirist….'the practice of emphasizing experience, especially of the senses.'"
"The master shaman will try to integrate even the most unusual experiences into his total cosmology, a cosmology based primarily on his own journeys."

And that is my takeaway—to do less reading about shamanism and to go on more shamanistic journeys. A beautiful rattle recently came into my life, and with the frame drum from Uzbekistan gifted to me by a mentor of mine, I may have a fair start in traveling tools. The Lights have recently begun to congeal into little images of places and creatures moving in the distance. I feel the longing to go further, and to discover what may be revealed.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Three Worlds, Three Souls, Three Books

Into the CAYA Clergy reading list* I dive! Wheee! I get to select three books to read as part of my Initiate year commitments. Though there are dozens of fascinating books on the list, I was eager to start with Riding Windhorses: A Journey into the Heart of Mongolian Shamanism by Sarangerel. We'd read her other book earlier in the year, which lustily whetted my appetite for learning more about the subject.

Technically, I've read these books in the reverse order in which they were written and published. My teacher explained that Riding Windhorses was the first book on the Mongolian Shamanism published in English and written by a practitioner of this tradition. Following its release, there was some demand for a more introductory book, which is the one on our assigned reading list.

 After a brief yet detailed preface and introduction placing her subject in a historical and cultural context, Sarangerel offers a tour of Mongolian Cosmology— the directions, the placement of ritual objects within the sacred circle, and basic descriptions of the three worlds through which Shamans travel and do their work. As before, much of this resonates with what I've experienced of Witchcraft in the Modern Pagan tradition, and it also brings to mind elements of Northcoast Native traditions which I've learned about through the work of Bill Holm and his family at Camp Nor'wester. In some ways, I feel as cozy as a great-great-great-granddaughter hearing family stories. In other ways, I am clearly entering new realms of discovery.

My favorite section is all about the heavenly bodies as they are understood in the Mongolian tradition. Long before I knew the names and movements of planets and constellations, I had relationships with the beings of the sky, and every variation of their stories add to their glorious splendor. I was fascinated to learn that the Big Dipper is known as Doloon Obgon (The Seven Old Men) and the shape is the origin of their swastika symbol, has temdeg, showing the directions the constellation points in each of the four seasons.

And of course, more divination techniques, with basic interpretations. Sarangerel describes a rather elaborate card spread that one can do with a regular deck of playing cards which I will have to try soon. It involves eliminating cards in certain orders, and reminds me of Solitaire games I made up as a child, which I just now realized was my way of entering a meditative state.

The things one discovers when one writes them down.

A few quotes I marked in the book:

"The safest action for a shaman dealing with a hostile spirit is to master it, adding it to his group of spiritual allies if his other helper spirits agree." p.106

"…[T]he loon above all other birds is believed to communicate with the souls in the water." p.31

"What is the lesson that is too often ignored? It is that nature is in a state of balance already." p.164

"It is good to keep some small change, tobacco, or bud, strips of cloth, handy for offering at shamanistic sacred sites." p. 153

I have not yet tried any of the rituals outlined in this book, however, one is calling to me strongly. We will be planting a tree in front of our home this weekend, and I intend to dedicate it as a Prayer Tree using the instructions at the end of this book. I foresee that this is only the beginning of my journey.

*Yes, wouldn't it be delightful to have a public CAYA Clergy recommended reading list? Perhaps it will happen soon!

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Connection to Higher Self

At the tail end of my Aspirant year (a year ago), my fellow students and I co-created a ritual for each of us to perform on our own at every waxing quarter moon. Our teachers gave us the theme "Connecting with Higher Self" and helped us quickly cobble together the full outline, from a palm nut to serve as ward to invocations to a ritual activity and devoking and opening the circle. Most of the outline was sketched out during class and some finishing touches were added on a document later. It seemed to come together relatively quickly, and I wondered if it would stand the test of time. Through practicing it monthly since February 17, I have found it to be quietly and gently illuminating. On January 7, I performed the final ritual of the cycle, and now would like to share some of the details of this practice and see if I can tease out some helpful observations.

One of my personal contributions to the script was the invocation/devokation of the South:

Spirits of the South and of Fire
Please bring your enthusiasm into this sacred space
I ask for the blessings of Fire 
To spark my deepest desire
Into a passionate blaze growing higher
To connect with my Higher Self
Hail and welcome South!

Spirits of the South and of Fire I thank you for your delightful contributions to this sacred space
Go if you must, stay if you will, Hail and farewell!

My original version mutated slightly in the collaborative process, and that was a useful experience for learning to do magick in community. Though I have vast experience in collaborative artistic projects, most of my previous experience with rituals had been doing those that had been created by another/others or those that had been created by myself only. The most notable difference I noticed was that the compromises made in the context of co-creating magick feel more consequential, as I was aware of how they might affect other people, and I sought greater effectiveness through harmony and compatibility. I looked for love to guide what I offered to the ritual and looked for trust to accept what others offered. And this is something I just realized while composing this post!
Altar honoring Skadi (scissors, snowflakes and The Snow Queen)
and Kuan Yin (pigeon feather, garlic, and sandlewood fan)

Within the standard framework, there were several places where we each were to make personal choices—specifically deity, nature ally and an activity to perform within the heart of the ritual.

The class on Deity had led me to work with Skadi, and I wanted to explore that relationship. Skadi's mighty strength and passion for justice felt like qualities that might help connect me to my Higher Self. As I prepared to create the altar, Kuan Yin made it clear she wanted to be included. She wanted to work with Skadi. And Skadi said bring it on. To tell the truth, I felt a little safer working with bold Skadi when Kuan Yin was there to reassure me. Skadi feels confrontational and challenging, and to tell the truth, I've always felt very lonely and trapped on snowy mountains. Kuan Yin feels like the rolling sea to me, an environment that feels like home. And when I realized that the names Skadi and Yin both can be translated as "shadow" I wondered what could that imply in the context if my Higher Self, especially since both Goddesses are usually portrayed as pure white. I've always appreciated a fine paradox, and this combination offered plenty of juicy conundrums and apparent oxymorons, which I recognized and honored by crafting the altar in tones of black and white. Through this practice, I have come to witness sweet Skadi's gentle beauty and have gasped in awe at Kuan Yin's awesome powers. This has certainly supported my explorations of how to be a both/and trans* Public Priestess.


Garden Spider strung between lemon tree and rose bush
I've been working with Spider as my ally since the class on Magickal Allies. I've felt a deep affection for arachnids since childhood, and feel blessed when they make their homes near mine—even in my bedroom. Spiders feel protective and represent awareness and watchfulness to me, as their webs look like very fancy eyes. And if a big one is around, I'm certainly spiked with awareness! They sit so patiently in their meditations and they can be wonderfully agile as they create their web, spinning silken string from their own bodies. What if all I needed to make a home and to gather a meal was already inside of me? Hey! A Spider insight! After accidentally drowning a spider in my bathtub, a song came to me, and I sing it as I prepare for my bath, to alert any hidden spiders to seek safe ground:

See with all of your eyes!
Walk with all of your feet!
Use everything you've got!

 I also sing this to invoke my ally during the ritual. On the altar I placed a photo of a garden spider that had strung its web across my path, but after one of my Fairy Goddess-Children gave me a little plastic spider ring, I put that on my altar. Later, I found a dessicated spider in a crystal bowl, which I've carefully transferred to a tiny glass jar. It's very witchy.
 <insert cackle here>

At the center of the ritual, I performed divinations. To honor Skadi's Norse tradition, I used a set of Runes. Actually, I have used three different sets throughout the year. I adapted a set of Dominoes for the first month, which made me feel quite clever. Then a Hivemate loaned me a wooden set that had been made by someone he knew, since he was using a set he'd made with pennies. A few months ago, we swapped, and it is delightful to reach onto the pouch and feel the little coins jingling. Whichever set I've used, I have found to be true what others have said— one just seems to "stick" to my fingers. Having very limited understanding of this form of divination, I referred to Diana Paxon's Taking up the Runes to gain insight. After twelve sessions with this tool, I can only say I am fascinated enough to continue the explorations, and certainly have much to learn. I would like to find a good Runes reference that isn't quite as advanced as Paxon's. Any suggestions?

To honor Kuan Yin in Her Chinese form, I used three interpretations of the I Ching and a set of 50 yarrow sticks I had gathered on Lopez Island. In the '80s, MIT physicist Kerson Huang and his wife Rosemary, published a version of which I have consulted occasionally. It was the most equanimous version I could find at the time, amongst a slew of annoyingly patriarchal variations. To further explore a feminist counterbalance, I consulted two Goddess-focused interpretations— Barbara G Walker's I Ching of the Goddess and Kuan Yin Book of Changes by Diane Stein. These both had some unusual insights, but I still can't say I've found the book that I would recommend to others. This oracle remains difficult for me to understand. I do find the meditative quality of sorting through the yarrow sticks preferable to tossing three coins. It takes about twenty minutes to complete the process of casting a hexagram (and longer if a cat is sitting in my lap).

This quiet contemplation is probably the most valuable piece of my Connection to Higher Self ritual. It was in this timespace that my thoughts flowed gently, not necessarily seeking a connection to Higher Self, but finding it without fanfare. Divination in general has been my way of connecting to myself for most of my life. There are three components that seem to encourage this:

a break from outgoing activities
a somewhat effortless task to focus my attention (shuffling cards, sorting sticks)
surrendering my will to that of the Divine

Though drawing three Tarot cards has been a part of my daily practice for over a decade, it sometimes becomes a bit rote or rushed in its familiarity. Working with unfamiliar tools helped bring attention to the practice, and what came to my attention is that I love sitting in quiet contemplation. I may resist and distract myself desperately, but when I am able to get to that moment I am tuned into the Eternal Now. And this has become the very center of my practice and my intention, aligning all of my dreams and endeavors in one graceful moment of awareness.

So it seems clear that this ritual practice has been greatly rewarding for me.

I still have the altar to deconstruct, including the candles that have only burned part way. I plan to complete my work with Skadi for the time being and to continue to explore my relationship with Kuan Yin. I think Kuan Yin was the one I was to do this particular work with from the beginning, though Skadi was the one who opened the door. Skadi showed me the way to deeper work with my Ancestors, including my intention to explore a relationship with Freyja. Overall, this ritual cycle showed me how to connect with deity in practice, over time, and my receptivity to the gifts of the gods continues to open. Altars are sprouting up all around my home, every action can be an act of devotion, any moment can be a moment of connection through prayer and meditation.

Blessed be.
Kuan Yin listening to the world.



Wednesday, January 8, 2014

CAYA Daily Practice 2014



Sharing this here, where I can find it easily. This one brings on a lively dance!

 

Composed by Mama Ladybug, Athena Nike, Melissa ra Karit and Yeshe Rabbit.