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Tarot & Tea, Lemons & Books, Love & Whips, Oh My!

Posted by sirensays on February 8, 2011

Dearest loyal readers:

My apologies for not posting sooner. I had a great response to last Autumn’s posts – thank you, everyone. Autumn is so inspiring, it’s easy to find interesting people to profile. It is certainly the same during the holidays, but as I was focusing on other writing projects, I failed to entertain you with a Solstice/Christmas post and I offer my sincerest apologies. We also have a long-term guest at the house, one who is quite demanding of our time and attention and, unlike your blog host, never apologizes.

Stella Lounging About

She’s a pint-sized package of smarts, moxie and affection, so if you are interested in meeting this foster girl, please drop me a line!

Stella the Foster Dog

Here it is already February of the new year, so I decided to mention some things that you may find of interest.

Book Recommendations

As an avid reader who sometimes gets restless, I find myself looking for old childhood favorites as well as new literature, mysteries and non-fiction. I shop at Amazon, local booksellers Kepler’s and M is for Mystery (a total gem of a place in downtown San Mateo), used bookstores and of course, I keep my library card handy. Here are some you might enjoy:

-If Walls Could Talk, by Juliet Blackwell (yes, she of the author interview last autumn https://sirensays.wordpress.com/2010/10/26/juliet-blackwell-author-interivew-season-of-the-witch/).

This is the first of a new series called The Haunted Home Renovation series, set in San Francisco and Oakland. This is a paranormal mystery of the same genre as her witchcraft mystery series. But this features a non-witch, a woman named Mel who is running the family construction (or rather, reconstruction) company, specializing in renovating historic homes. It’s in this story that her ability to see and interact with ghosts manifests, resulting in her involvement in a recent murder, some old history, make new history, possibly rekindle a romance, remain surrounded by believable men, and still be passionate about her trade.

Cover for Juliet Blackwell's "If Walls Could Talk"

I was surprised at how easy it was to learn construction and remodeling lingo, and how exciting Blackwell makes it all. I really like this protagonist because she’s realistically quirky (as opposed to the trend in fake, bitchy & brittle heroines), imperfect but warm, intelligent, knowledgeable and a solid alpha female (it takes one to run a construction crew – I know this because I had a female friend who did so).

With an eccentric sense of style but a thoroughly pragmatic view on construction, Mel takes us not just through this mystery of the murdered man, but also on a tour of Bay Area renovation/used/antiquey/junk shops that I found both enthralling and believable. Do yourself a favor and get this book!

– Up a Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt This book is a classic, especially for girls. Written in the 1960s, it’s a timeless portrait of growing up, coming to understand the world around us and the people who inhabit our lives, including adults.

Young Julie is sent to live with a maiden aunt after her mother dies. Her Aunt Cordelia, a school teacher, lives out in the country. Her effect on young Julie’s life is profound albeit at times quite subtle, as we come to see in the following ten years of Julie’s life. It was this book that got me hooked on the beautiful poetry of Edna St. Vincent Millay and Sara Teasdale, a love I have to this day and was able to share with my sister and girlfriends as a child. I’ve also come to understand that this book, while among many others, was predominant in its influence in how I viewed learning, independent women and the mysteries of autonomous women, a love for the arts and culture, the importance of siblings and family and life in a bygone era that is still relevant today.

If you have a daughter, a niece or any other young girls in your life, please consider this book for them – and don’t forget to consider it for yourself.

-No Flying in the House by Betty Brock A delightful childrens’ story about Annabel, a fairy child and her tiny dog/guardian, Gloria, who mysteriously appears on the terrace of Mrs. Vancourt. Who is this girl, and what’s up with that dog? A book that lent much magic to my childhood, it’s still available from Amazon if you can’t get it from your local library. Another one for the kids in your life, including you.

-Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader by Tanya Lester This is a quirky, fun read, a bit uneven because the author, by profession, is a gifted tea leaf reader, not a writer. But she brings to vivid life some of her sessions, clients and their stories, told against the backdrop of her personal story. Her intuitive abilities, genuine care for her clients and her adventures with this unusual but ancient practice make this book interesting and fun. For those interested in the metaphysical, I recommend it.

-Under Wraps, by Hannah Jayne is the first of a new series called The Underworld Detection Agency, set in San Francisco. The author, a friend of mine, has a wicked sense of humor, a great imagination and the ability to blend fantasy and reality in a manner that if not channeled into a novel, might grant her a stay on the whacko ward. But luckily, these are modern times, when a gal with Hannah’s talents can land a book contract, work her tush off and have a great new series to show for it. This book drops March 1, but I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy. It’s a fun, sassy, wry and witty read that combines mystery, lust and murder in a world where other beings exist but the majority of humans can’t see these beings in their true form. See that little person other there? Well, it may really be a troll.

The main character is a young, smart lady named Sophie Lawson and she is immune to magic, which is why she can see these beings in their true, and sometimes disgusting, unattractive, alluring or wicked form. She works at the Underworld Detectin Agency in San Francisco, a bureaucracy that can help everyone from banshee to zombie transition into normal, everyday San Francisco life. Sophie seems to know all there is to know about the these otherworldly creatures, be they bloodsuckers, the undead, the magical or the merely strange looking. Or does she? When there are gruesome murders, Sophie finds herself working with the handsome detective Parker Hayes. When Sophie discovers things – including some of these beings – aren’t what they seem, life and death get worse. So then what will a modern, monster-seeing girl do? I know what this non-monster-seeing girl will do – recommend this book! It’s a fun, witty and freaky trip through a San Francisco you haven’t yet experienced.

Okay, so that’s all for the current book recommendations. At the risk of sounding middle-aged, so far this year, I’ve enjoyed relaxing at a tea parlour with friends twice, gone to the local annual orchid show, searching for a local source of organic chicken eggs and become addicted to Downton Abbey (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/downtonabbey/index.html). Thankfully, there will be a second season, otherwise I don’t know how I’d get by. At least there are some newish episodes of Poirot to keep me occupied. Must keep using those “leetle grey cells!” http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0094525/

As impressed as I am by his grey cells and fussy habits, I love Poirot’s secretary, Miss Lemon. I adore her clothes, her demeanor and of course, her name. In fact, I am very focused on lemons right now.

I unconsciously zero in on a few different plants a year, incorporating them into uses both magical and mundane. Last year, it was fennel and borage, the year before that it was lavender, mugwort and mint.

While my current crush is on lemons, I have always loved lemons and other lemon-scented herbs – lemongrass, lemon balm – the aroma, the magical uses, the oils. I love the color of lemons, the waxy green leaves and the bright flavor the fruit imparts, from sparkling water to vinaigrette. We use it frequently on pasta, in salads, teas and other beverages. My Mister and I even made a big batch of limoncello http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/notes/food/dh_limoncello.htm. The cheerful, flexible lemon, using it as a physical and spiritual cleanser at home, in the bath and as an extra zing in my tea, is a food that I, the native Californian, no longer take for granted.

Now, we all know that Poirot loves his tea and accompanying delicacies, indicative of tradition in his rapidly changing times. Perhaps that is why so many of us in the 21st century are enamored of it and its requisite rituals, be they oriental or occidental. But what do tea and this blog have in common, besides me of course? Well, when one mentions tea parlor, my mind lights upon the delicacies of the sweets and savories, then focuses in on the idea of tarot and tasseomancy (tea leaf reading). No offense to Poirot, but these seem to be more the pursuit of ladies, blending (pun intended) the comforting culture of tea and snacks with the mysteries of intuition and the unknown. While not strictly the province of women, of course, in a land that doesn’t have high tea, a tea parlour teems with ladies relaxing, laughing and exclaiming over the pot of their choice. Oh, how I wish there was a local place which offered tarot, tasseomancy and tea!

A Man Manfully Enjoying His Tea

At least San Francisco locals hankering to learn about tarot can attend Second Saturday Tarot Workshops offered by the warm and knowledgeable Anastasia Haysler (http://tarotmediacompany.com/), who lucky for us, makes them affordable.

For those in the Oakland/Berkeley area, Leila Jo Crawford, proprietor of Crafting the Sacred, has a tarot class as well as does reading and creates lovely little magical crafts and other goodies: http://www.craftingthesacred.com/ Her deep intuitive sense is combined with a loving focus on your well-being; I highly recommend her.

The clairvoyant Dawn Swanson is also incredibly gifted. She is accurate, gentle, has a marvelous sense of humor and is the real deal. She doesn’t teach tarot, but uses cards in her readings, which are either in person or by phone. Dawn will often assist in healing what ails ya, and she has honed her craft into a practice which will enhance your life. She also teaches at Aesclepion in Marin County. Her website: http://www.readingsbydawn.com/

Well, on to other things, this being Valentine’s season.

The restaurants will offer specials, which is their justification for jacking up their prices, often prohibitively in these lean times. However, I was lucky enough to receive a coupon for Valentine’s dinner at Happi House fast Japanese food; two dinners for $10.99. How wonderfully unromantic! Perhaps Bucca di Beppo, where the insane noise level will drum any thought of romance out of your head?

Like so many, I both love and intensely dislike (how unseemly it would be to use the word “hate” when speaking of love!) Valentine’s Day. I do enjoy its more ancient roots, which involve nudity and whipping – always a winning combination for some. In ancient Rome, there was a festival called Lupercalia which featured young men using skin ships to slap the backside of young ladies to ensure their fertility. Ahhh, so good to know that the more things change, the more they remain the same. I hope that however you choose to celebrate – or not celebrate – Valentine’s Day – whip or whipless, that it’s pleasurable for you.

Please note these future blogposts and events:

-An interview with the lovely Elka Vera, Reiki practitioner, spiritual coach, artist and hypnotherapist. You can check her out here: http://elkavera.com/

-A Mystery Tea this spring, featuring authors mentioned above – Juliet Blackwell and Hannah Jayne, http://www.julietblackwell.net/ and http://crimespace.ning.com/profile/HannahJayne respectively. Details TBD.

-A review of some natural essences products, all a delight to the senses. Some of these products are for magical uses: powders, baths and oils, all high quality, made with attention and power; the same can be said for the natural perfumes, hand-crafted by a local perfumer. I am looking forward to doing this!

-PantheaCon is just around the corner and in Silicon Valley’s backyard at The Doubletree Hotel in San Jose: https://www.pantheacon.com/ Come for the magicalware shopping, stay for the workshops, parties and presentations. See you there!

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Posted in Cooking, Dogs, Juliet Blackwell, Magic, Pop Culture, Reading, Tarot, Tasseography, Valentine's Day | 2 Comments »

When Life Takes You Into Further Spiritual Transformation

Posted by sirensays on October 2, 2010

This interview is with a lovely woman I know, whose life has taken her in an interesting direction. It’s one thing when we make the big leap from the faith we grew up in to another one, perhaps nature-based, non-Christian or somewhat unconventional. That is often the norm for young people who are making their way in the word. But what happens when life takes you to a whole different place, when your spiritual practice no longer is right for you? When that happens, it doesn’t serve you, so how can you authentically keep your commitments or be in service? The answer: you can’t.

This is exactly what happened to the wonderful Lady-hearted Mojo, a smart, educated, thoughtful and insightful woman living in Texas. She left her Wiccan tradition behind recently, and not just due to theological reasons. After working very hard with a cohesive system, she has seen it implode, with chaotic, ridiculous results, such as a lack of accountability, make-it-up-as-you-go beliefs, constant cultural appropriation and teenagers who claim High Priest/ess status. Now studying Traditional English Witchcraft, she finds herself interested in Hoodoo as well. Please enjoy this interview where she shares her thoughtful, informed opinions based on experience and her strong desire to respectfully learn and grow.

1. Lady-hearted Mojo, what brings you joy in the world? What are your interests, what
feeds your soul & what do you value?

I value my relationships with others the most which brings me the greatest
amount of joy and sense of well-being. I’m a people-person so I feel
happiest when I’m interacting with others and helping them out even if it’s
just to lend them an ear. I think as we’ve progressed technologically we’ve
also become more isolated from each other on a scale that is, historically,
unprecedented so I make a point to physically spend time with family and
friends.

2. Can you please describe your spiritual practices as an adult and what led
you to them?

I was raised Lutheran, although, my father is Catholic so I have a
familiarity with that denomination as well. By the time I was out of high
school religion played almost no role in my life and this continued into my
late 20’s. At 32 I discovered Wicca and studied it on my own for several
years before finding the tradition I was initiated into; however, around
2008 I felt a growing dissatisfaction with it that I couldn’t reconcile and
in late 2009 I left the religion as well as my tradition.

I still maintain friendships with my former coveners, which is very nice. Since mid-2009 I’ve been studying Traditional English Witchcraft, which is not the same thing as Wicca, but I can’t say at this point that I am 100% a Traditional Crafter. I believe, wholeheartedly, in the Divine and often have “conversations” and seek guidance from above, but I can’t say that I have a specific religious path that I follow.

3. I was very intrigued when I learned from you that you had left
your Wiccan circle because Wicca no longer best reflected your beliefs and
perspective on life (let me know if I have this description wrong). Can you
talk about how this change in your developed and what your process was for
deciding to leave?

It’s hard to describe and my leaving wasn’t solely because my beliefs were
changing. When I first started to study Wicca back in 1996 the solitary “how
to” books were certainly out, but Wicca was still strongly coven-based in my
area so there was accountability and structured training and education,
which is so important even though the authors trying to sell these books
will tell the reader that covens aren’t necessary.

Since 1998, I’ve watched
Wicca go from a cohesive system with a core set of beliefs, theology, and
practices to a free-for-all, make-it-up-as-you-go-system with next-to-no
accountability that often doesn’t reflect Gardner’s original creation. When
something can become whatever a person wants it to be it ceases to be
anything at all as far as I’m concerned. I think this is why we see all
kinds of nonsense being described as Wicca, the mangling of concepts such as
the Wiccan Rede and the Three-fold Law beyond recognition, 15-yr-olds
calling themselves High Priestesses or High Priests, which is just
disturbing when you consider the responsibility a member of the clergy
carries, and depth of training that coven-trained clergy have to go through
to attain those titles. I left Wicca and my tradition as a High Priestess,
which took me nearly 8 years to attain and included training in lay
counseling, so I can speak from experience about the significance of this
role, and can tell you that no teenager or person trained only through
books is qualified to perform it.

Goya’s Caprichos #70 ” ‘Will you swear to obey and respect your masters and superiors, to   sweep the garrets, to spin tow, to ring bells, to howl, to yell, to fly, to cook, to grease, to suck, to bake, to fry, everything and whatever time you are ordered to?’ “I swear.’ ‘Well then, my girl, you are now a witch.’

I also grew tired of the anti-Christian rhetoric that still abounds amongst
Wiccans, the sloppily researched and written books, the pseudo-history that
still gets passed off as fact, the disrespectful and insensitive cultural
appropriation that is standard practice amongst many Wiccans, and the almost
constant whining about the impending return of the “Burning Times” or some
perceived persecution. I’m not saying that there hasn’t been a single Wiccan
who hasn’t experienced persecution based upon their religion, but when
you consider that the average Wiccan is a white, educated, middle-class
suburbanite, screaming persecution at every turn becomes laughable in more
cases than not.

Despite all of this, it was the fact that my spiritual beliefs were
changing. I’m simply no longer drawn to Goddess-worship and tend to view
deity as male. I also place more emphasis on having a strong relationship
with my ancestors, spirits of the land, and Otherworld spirits because they
are both figuratively, and literally, closer to me than Deity.

As I mentioned above, since mid-2009 I’ve been studying Traditional English
Witchcraft. When talking about English Withcraft as that term is understood
today, we are talking about the practices that existed originally amongst
the Anglo-Saxons. For these people Witchcraft was not a religion; it was a
set of practices, some of which could be described as spiritual in nature,
and most often consisted of “crossing the hedge” into the Otherworld and
interacting and learning from the spirits found there. The old Witchcraft
folklore of traveling astrally to the Venusburg or the Brocken and
interacting/learning from the Divine are reflected in these very old tales as
is the concept of the Wild Hunt. Crossing the hedge is an ecstatic practice
much like the techniques used by the indigeous shaman and medicine men to go
into the Spirit World to receive guidance or a cure for an illness. It is
not meditation or pathworking, and can be dangerous as not everything that
dwells in the Otherworld has our best interests at heart and will actively
seek to harm us so it’s not a practice to enter into lightly. It’s best if the
student has a teacher to learn it from so the hazards and pitfalls can be
avoided.

Goya’s Caprichos #68, “The broom is one of the most necessary implements for witches; for besides being great sweepers, as the stories tell, they may be able to change the broom into a fast mule and go with it where the Devil cannot reach them.”

After the Anglo-Saxon period ended with the Norman Invasion in 1066, both the magical practices as well as the healing practices seemed to have been picked up by the Cunningfolk and became part of the old Cunningcraft.
Originally, the Cunningfolk were Christians, although outsiders would refer
to them as “white witches” to distinguish them from the witches that were
thought to harm people. The Cunningcraft thrived from about the 12th century
to the early 20th century and died out because the services provided by the
Cunningmen were less-and-less required. There seems to be a resurgence in
Cunningcraft practice, but more often the practitioners are now Neo-Pagan.
At some point between the 17th century and the mid-18th century, religion
seems to have become attached to some forms of English Traditional
Witchcraft, although, for many it is still only a practice. However, unlike
Wicca, Traditional English Witchcraft doesn’t have the hang up with
Christianity and there are several traditions today that embrace elements
found in Gnostic Christianity, including the presence of the Gnostic Lucifer
as a form of the God as the Divine Light-bearer. These traditions are
generally described as Sabbatic Craft Traditions, the most famous being the
Cultus Sabbati. This is the form of ETW that I’m most interested in, but
it’s hard to find anything written about them.

4. How long has it now been since you left Wicca? How do you feel about your decision?

I formally resigned from my coven/tradition in January 2010 and I haven’t
regretted it; it was the right thing to do.

5. What practices, research, or organization are you currently engaged in that are a better representation of your beliefs?

Aside from being in the early stages of the practice of English Traditional
Witchcraft; I’m also a Hedge-rider having been trained by a fellow
hedge-rider, and I’m also practitioner of Hoodoo. I’ve been practicing
Hoodoo since 2006 and find it to be a very rewarding practice. There really
is no comparison between practicing an old tradition of American folk magic
and practicing the generic magic that can be found in so many books these days.

6. Do you have spiritual role models – authors, magical workers, friends or
family?

Yes, my spiritual role models have been His Holiness the Dalai Lama because
the wisdom he speaks transcends religion. I also admire English Traditional
authors such as Michael Howard, Nigel Pennick, Nigel Ashcroft-Jackson, RJ
Stewart, and Peter Paddon. Comparatively speaking, there are far fewer books
on TEW than there are Wiccan books, but they are much better researched and
written. My very first Hoodoo teacher was Catherine Yronwode, although, I’ve
have been blessed to have learn things from other teachers, some of whom
have come from families that have practiced Hoodoo for generations. I don’t
really learn Hoodoo from books, but some of my favorite authors are Cat.
Yronwode (her Hoodoo reference text is an outstanding one of a kind book),
Draja Mickaharic, Henri Gamache, Jim Haskins, Carolyn Morrow Long, Dr.
Jeffery Anderson, and Yvonne Chireau.

7. What do you see in the manifested realm of magic (such as books,
supplies, stores, groups) that bothers you?

Oh, that’s an easy one. The crap that is being published by so-called
Rootworkers who have watered down Rootwork so much that is barely resembles
the traditional Hoodoo I was trained in. My only guess is that since many of
these authors have already established a Pagan readership they want to
change things so that Rootwork feels more like Witchcraft and, therefore,
more comfy for these types of people and they sell more books, but they are
doing the tradition a huge disservice. In the end, despite the nonsense they
publish or how vehemently they may defend it, real Rootworkers are never
going to be fooled. We know what Hoodoo is and what it isn’t; what is used
and what isn’t, and how it can be used and how it can’t.
In some of these books I’ve seen some really bizarre things getting called
Rootworker/Hoodoo ie: godess symbols, Runes, circle-casting, calling in
elements/elementals, enough Blessed Be’s to choke a horse, dire-warnings of
karma, and hard-line ethics that are not a part of Hoodoo or have ever been.
These authors are trying to do to Hoodoo what has already been done to
Wicca. They want to remove the very things that give Hoodoo its identity and
turn it into a free-for-all in which anything goes, which is what Hoodoo is
definitely not.

As far as supplies, there have always been poorly made curios or curios sold
as something they aren’t so when it comes to this aspect of the tradition
one really has to practice the old “buyer beware”.  I always recommend that
people ask around about the reputation of a supplier or a given line of
products and/or only buy supplies that are made by other Rootworkers who are
known for their quality and authenticity. This doesn’t guarantee that a
person won’t get a badly made product, but it does reduce the chances. For
the record, stay away from Anna Riva, Indio/Wisdom, Dr. Pryor, and The Seven
Sisters of New Orleans. Anna Riva and Indio/Wisdom used to be very well
made, but the original owners sold off their business and the new owners
became more interested in profit than making an authentic product.

8. What have been the most successful workings you have done?

I do well with money drawing when it involves earned wages. I once did a
spell that resulted in an $8,000 project for my husband, who was
self-employed at the time. I call that spell my “$8,000 Money Spell”.
I’m also good at sweetening spells and protection.

I’ve done a successful mirror box spell when a young lady was severely harassing  my daughter to the extent that she was damaging her new car. It was harsh work, but it was necessary and justified and I don’t regret it. I didn’t hurt the young lady, but I did make her stop what she was doing.

9. Do you practice any forms of divination?

I practice some Geomancy and Numerology, but overall, I’m not good at
divination. I’ve tried learning Tarot and Runes, but I just don’t see
anything. I will usually have a friend, who is a fantastic Rune-reader, read
for me when I needed divination done.

10. What are you best at magically? What are you worst at?

I have absolutely no success with gambling work. As mentioned above, I do well with
money-drawing from earned wages as well as sweetening spells. Although, I’m
not proud of the fact I also do well when it comes to control, domination,
and revenge work. I think I have success in all these areas because I have
both my sun and moon in Capricorn, which is ruled by Saturn and Saturn rules
many of the areas I have the most success with, but who knows.

11. Given that you left your spiritual practice after many years and also
lost your job, do you think that there is deep work going on internally with
you, aside from the realities of the economy? In other words, is this an
opportunity to become more fully who you really are?

(I know that in  the U.S. we are big on reinvention, but I am not using that word on purpose,
choosing instead to call it “becoming more fully who we really are.” This is
because to me the word reinvention conjures up images of a quick change
life, something simplistic and not reflective of most of us.)

I’ve done some deep meditation on this and have also talked with spirits on
the Otherside about it as well. I think I’m coming to the end of a cycle. I
lost my spiritual path, last December we lost our beloved 12-yr-old German
Shepherd to cancer, I lost a relationship with a member of my family, I lost
my job, and my daughter will be moving out of state to attend nursing school
and live with her fiance, so my husband and I are going to be empty-nesters
soon…that’s a lot of loss in a little over a year and a half. I don’t think
this cycle has anything to do with those we find in New Age belief, ie
Saturn returns and what not, but it’s been indicated to me that this is
what’s happening. I’m a firm believer in things happening for a reason and
as hard as all these losses have been I know in my heart they are happening
for a reason.

12. Do you have an idea of how you want your life to be that’s in your grasp
& that you are working towards? If so, who are you partnered with to make
this happen – family and/or friends?

Right now my focus is on finding new employment. I’ve been earning my own
money since I was 13 so I’m used to working. Staying at home, waiting for
the phone to ring is not my idea of a good time, but I’m trying to make the
most of the free time I have. I’m reading a book called “Walking the
Twilight Path” by Michelle Belanger. Belanger is most closely associated
with the vampire-subculture and for writing The Vampire Codex, but this book
discusses death in both the literal form and in the form of the changes we
experience in life. She had two near-death experiences in childhood due to a
birth defect that was finally repaired with surgery, but she says that the
experiences have helped her understand death as a literal event and as a
series of deep changes we undergo in our lives. So far I like her
writing-style; she’s well-grounded, balanced and no fluffy bs, but I’m only
a chapter or two into it so I’m going to withhold judgment for the
time-being.

Throughout all these changes and losses my husband has been a rock, and I
don’t know what I would do without him. When I’m feeling depressed, anxious
or I’m “in my head” and dwelling on the negative too much he reminds me that
all of this is temporary and will pass. He is really a god-send.

13. Lady-hearted Mojo, do you have any wise words for other spiritual practitioners?

If you are learning primarily though books, question everything you read,
don’t accept it as factual or truthful just because it appears in a book.

I did this with Wicca and then had to relearn almost everything I thought I knew. If you are a member of a spiritual tradition group in Yahoogroups or the like, ask   those people who seem to know what they are talking about who the best authors are to read and whom should be avoided.

When it comes to Hoodoo, if anything you are reading feels like Paganism or
New Age, it’s not Hoodoo; simple as that. The only books published recently
in this genre that are worth anything have been studies by people like Dr.
Jeffrey Anderson. For the most part, there are only a few decent “how to”
books that have been published lately, but authors like Stephanie Rose Bird,
Denise Alvarado, and Dorothy Morrison’s Utterly Wicked should be avoided
like the plague.

Goya's Carprichos 73 "It is Better to be Lazy"

Siren’s note: Leady-hearted Mojo has found a new job and is busy working!


Posted in Autumn, Growing up, Hoodoo/Conjure, Magic, Reading | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Happy 4,360th Birthday, Enheduanna!

Posted by sirensays on April 17, 2010

Ancient temple of Ur, where Enheduanna was priestess

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted here. How wonderful to get back to writing this spring! How perfect that I had an inspired evening this gorgeous night with a newly waxing moon, the scent of jasmine outside and the cool, kind April air. I headed out to an event that I knew would be filled with fascinating, loving people and the opportunity I haven’t had before: to wish happy birthday to a long dead woman I admire, who lived approximately 4,360 years ago.

The world’s oldest known author whose works were written in cuneiform in Ur – ancient Sumer, Enheduanna was princess, poet and priestess of the beloved goddess Inanna. Her works most often exalted Inanna, expressing her love and devotion to this great deity.

Entering the party, I saw that the room was replete with a gorgeous altar, candlelight and a good-sized crowd. There was live music by Jennifer Berezan and Polly Wood and readings of original works by various women in a newly published book called “Talking to Goddess”, edited by D’vorah Grenn. It’s  a lovely compilation of writings by women from different spiritual traditions. The writers include the editor, D’vorah Grenn, well known leaders of women’s spirituality such as Luisah Teish and Vicki Noble, to lesser known but no less excellent writers such as Elka Eastly Vera, whose poem to Kali was incredibly powerful, and Xochipala Maes Valdes, a Yoruba priestess whose longer poem to the orisha Oshun was also powerful and thought-provoking. The insightful, lusty work by super smart sex worker Cosi Fabian was marvelous to listen to, as was the translated work by D’vora K’lilah. I enjoyed all the readings, finding them all moving, intelligent and well written. It was a marvelous way to honor Enheduanna, whose legacy of writing and priestessing seemed to have inspired all of us in attendance.

We eventually got around to singing Happy Birthday to Enheduanna, blew out her candles and enjoyed the delicious, richly decorated chocolate-on-chocolate cake. I was hugged by near strangers, who I joyfully hugged back. I was able to spend time with the beautiful, clever Elka, writer, painter, and creative force of nature. I learned a bit more about Enheduanna, whose work I have read and treasured. One of her scholars, Betty De Shong Meador, couldn’t there tonight, but her story was told and her books were introduced.

When it was time to head home, we walked outside to the spring breeze and the new crescent moon in the sky. It was a wonderful evening, a balm to the digital soul of Silicon Valley.

Inanna

Posted in Magic, Moon phase, Reading | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Speaking of Charm School…Witch Girl Bunny That Is!

Posted by sirensays on August 20, 2009

One of my guiltless pleasures has been indulging in the marvelous series Charm School by Elizabeth Watasin, featuring feminine, lovely, good witch heroine Bunny, her girlfriend, the vampire biker Dean, and a dark faerie named Fairer Than, who has the hots for Bunny. It’s a little bit like a queer Grease meets the Munsters.

Yes, I did type that Bunny has a girlfriend named Dean. Dean’s butchy, tough, smart and fast to react. Fairer Than is clever, deep and sexy, a butt-kicker of vampires –  and disturbingly alluring. Bunny, who’s good, blonde, lovely, sweet and not at all dumb, has some super cool advisers and aunties. In fact, these more minor characters are among my favorites: Pippita, demon-witch friend; The Aunties who guard Bunny’s virtue and good name –  Agoosta, Weirdette and Hauntette; and the not-to-be-forgotten Blanchette, the Voodoo Priestess/Princess and witch friend.

I love the story arcs, the art, the ideas, the unapologetic gayness and year round Halloweenness of it all. I didn’t realize that buying these might have made a statement about my lifestyle and sexual preference til one night I was in the comic book store with another straight friend, a woman. I had rushed over with her to get the latest issue and show her more Bunny and crew. While she was somewhat enamored, she was too embarrassed to purchase, “in case they” thought she was gay. When I asked her who “they” were, she gestured around the store, and sotto voce said, “You know, anyone here.” I guess she was referring to the adolescents perusing comics and graphic novels and the store clerk who couldn’t have cared less who we were or what our sexual preference was. I just rolled my eyes and bought my Bunny.

I realize now that I didn’t even realize way back when I bought my first Bunny book that she was gay. It just didn’t matter. It still doesn’t. But I’m writing about this because aside from the cool art, fun characters and intriguing twist on an age-old main plot which all means I recommend the Charm School series,  it shows how we can be stopped by our fear of what “they” might think. Not even of what “they” are thinking or have thought, but what “they” may think. May think. May not. In that moment. Or forever. Or not.

While I understand and even sympathize a bit with my friend, I am so glad to have Bunny and her cohorts in my life, warts and all (pun intended)! I relate a little bit to all the characters, as readers are meant to do, which tells me that Elizabeth has done a good job. I think the Charm School series is a great way for people who are witchily-faeriely-or-vampirely inclined to get more comfy with BGLT issues if they aren’t already. Or for BGLT folks to get more comfy with the more witchy/fey/vampirish amongst us. Or for the families and loved ones of all the above!

Speaking of getting comfy with BGLT issues, there are some folks out there besides activists and comic book writers who are doing their part to educate the rest of us on the relevancy of not just tolerating, but actually accepting and welcoming the BGLT community. Some of these folks are even church members who took a long, hard look at themselves and decided that their own values weren’t up to snuff. The folks to whom I am referring are Unitarian Universalists. They count among their many prominent past members John Quincy Adams, Charles Dickens, Clara Barton, Clarence Darrow, Kurt Vonnegut and one of my all time favorites, Beatrix Potter.

The Unitarians (my church of choice) this year celebrate 20 years of formally including the BGLT community with a program called Welcoming Congregation.  This volunteer program is a certification from the OBGLTC (Office of Bisexual Gay Lesbian and Transgender Concerns, a Unitarian Universalist Identity-Based Ministry) that many Unitarian congregations work towards acquiring.

welcoming

The Welcoming Congregation vision is also looking beyond BGLT issues into the other oppressive isms that reduce us and make us feel unwanted, undervalued, marginalized and plain old other. If you are lucky enough to have a Unitarian Universalist Church in your area, check out their free religious education programs that might include Welcoming Congregation offerings.

If you don’t mind what “they might think,” check out the Charm School series. It’s a creative, fun way for us to remember that we all feel like freaks, geeks and ghouls at times – that we are all other as well as not.

Tacky Witch Girl

So go out and get yourself some Charm School, Unitarian Universalism or both and let me know what you think.

Posted in Activism, BGLT, Reading, Welcoming Congregation | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »