Belief

Nov. 6th, 2009 11:02 am
zoethe: (Goddess Tree)
We went out and walked in that wind last night. It is in nights like that, and in gazing up at the moon, and in the surge of storms, that I feel that sense of magic. Holding out my arms, eyes closed, that rush of wind feels like it runs through me and I am part of it.

And that, to me, is the wellspring of much of my belief. I believe that magic is our attuning with the world. My beliefs are as much related to quantum mechanics as they are to faith, because we keep learning, through science, things like observation changing the result of experimentation.

I believe that the forces of the universe that are beyond both macrocosmic and microcosmic can be accessed, and the way the human mind does so is by a sense of deity. Essentially, I think humans create godhood and, like the changes through observation, belief becomes a focus for the universal forces. I think of the forces in general as goddess/creator because it's an effective way for me to relate to them. I think the sheer power of belief can swirl some of that force into something more manifest, but it's like standing in Lake Erie and swirling your arm around to create a tiny whirlpool: you've affected the water right in front of you and made it do what you want, but the rest of the lake is too large for that effect to impact. And as soon as you stop concentrating that energy on the water before you it slips quickly back into common form of lake.

Some people go through life completely ignoring the force of the universe. Some people think of it as Capital G God and react to it passively in the form of praying to that force. It can impact the energy just like observation can impact an experiment, but the attitude is generally that the force is external.

Witches reach into the water and swirl those whirlpools up. Shaping deity from the force of the universe is creating a vortex in that water. Doing magic is reaching into that power.

Sometimes I can't focus the energy to manipulate it. But when I do, there is a moment when I can hear the pulse of the universe.

Sometimes, like last night, I don't have to manipulate it. I can just let it wash over me. That is blessing.
zoethe: (leafy pent)
I went to the store this morning to get candles specifically for the healing spell I intend to do for myself. (Or to be more accurate, I commandeered [livejournal.com profile] neorxnawang and made him drive me to the no-frills witchy shop to get the candles--thanks, sweetie!) The one thing I knew I was going to have to go out and get on my own was pine needles. Our neighbors have a tree, though, so it wasn't worrying me. Still, I felt very blessed by the Goddess when I returned home to find a small twig of beautiful green needles lying against my door.

It's important to notice and acknowledge the small ways the Goddess works in our lives. Awareness means we are more open to the spiritual aspect of our lives - and the more you are aware of it, the more of it you notice. When we write these things off as mere "coincidence," we close ourselves away from awareness, and from receiving more gifts of the Goddess.

Santa!

Dec. 20th, 2002 11:28 am
zoethe: (leafy pent)
Santa came into our office this morning. He ws ho-ho-hoing his way through the building, after spending rush hour standing on the corner outside of Severance Hall and brightening everyone's commute with a jolly wave.

He didn't bring prezzies. He didn't even bring candy canes.

And yet he filled with joy the hearts of three women who are all much too grown-up for such things. Really.

Christine, the KNOCK-OUT lawyer, actually hopped up and down and clapped her hands in glee. In her perfect make-up, short-skirted power suit, and elegantly coifed hair.

I look upon those who would steal such pleasures from the world with sadness and impatience.

Poor Santa is under attack from all sides. To the fundamentalist Christians, he is a reminder of the pagan roots of their usurped holiday, and they would just as soon he went away. To the fundamentalist non-Christians, he is a pervasive symbol of a holiday that is deplorably central to our culture--because no matter how much we try to call it winter holiday, it's still Christmas time.

Most of America, typically, is still confused as to why there is so much fuss about a happy guy in a red suit. He makes us feel good, just by his presence--even without presents. He laughs in the face of stress and sadness, he enfolds us in the warmth of his arms. He reminds us that this season is about magic and miracles, whether you celebrate the birth of a savior, the return of the sun, the blessing of a light that held true long past when it should. We are coming through the darkness, and looking to the future. That in the midst of darkness a jolly voice can burst forth in a deep and resonant laugh, that is perhaps the greatest miracle of all.
zoethe: (witch)
Today is the day of remembrance, when we look to those who have gone before us.

My friend, Annie, died of cancer a few years ago, leaving 4 small children and a husband who loved her more than I've ever seen anyone else love a wife. I remember a late winter peroid when we thought we would lose her. Her liver had stopped functioning, she had slipped into a coma, she was jaundiced and not expected to last more than a day or two. Her mother and father had both come to town to say their goodbyes, and it was very chaotic, since her parents had not seen each other for over a decade, after a bitter divorce. Annie's husband, Mike, was trying to keep the peace, deal with four frightened children (ages 2-12), and deal with the hospital. I went to the hospital early in the evening and told him to go home, put his kids to bed, and get some sleep, that I would stay with Annie while he was gone. He was grateful for the break, and I sat with Annie for the entire evening, listening to the Jewel album she loved over and over and over (the song "Hands" to me is a remembrance of Annie). The nurses came in and administered morphine. And then came in later with more. And I got uneasy. They were drugging her to death, gently. And even though she couldn't speak, I got a sense that she wasn't ready to go, that this was wrong. Eventually the midnight shift came and went, and I dozed on the foldout couch where Mike lived these days.

At 2am even a hospital gets really quiet. When Mike came back in I got up and told him what I had sensed. His eyes went wide with amazement, He had picked up the same thing, too, but the doctors had convinced him that it was only wishful thinking on his part. When the nurse came in to give her the 2am shot, he told her no. She was shocked and amazed and wanted to know what made him think he knew best, and I don't think that without my backup he would have been able to go through with it, but he demanded that they arrange for him to take her home in the morning. She might die, but it wouldn't be in the hospital.

When the nurse finally left, having grudgingly promised to talk to the doctor in the morning, Mike wrapped his arms around me in gratitude. He clung to me, and I felt that slight but unmistakable shift from gratitude to vulnerability. We made eye contact and in that quiet moment, in the dark stillness on the threshold of death, I made the choice not to let him kiss me. There was nothing of attraction in it. This was a man whose life had been about nothing but death and dying for months. Is there anything that confirms that life goes on more than the touch of flesh, the act that creates life itself? In my mind and memory, the moment is sacred, holy, frozen in silent reverence of the woman who was dying and the fact that life must go on without her.

I did not let it happen. I broke away from the moment. Because I did not believe that Mike could go forward from such an encounter with the understanding of why it had happened. I felt that he would beat himself up for his "disloyalty" to his dying wife. I did not believe that he could separate what the act meant to him symbolically from the act itself. And the moment of renewal would instead become a cancer to his soul. It was a bond better broken than begun. But a confirmation of the connection between living and dying that I will cherish forever.


(Despite the dire predictions of the doctors that she wouldn't even survive the ambulance ride home, Annie recovered consciousness and mobility, and was able to make a final trip to Colorado to see family and friends there before she died, but that tale is best saved for another time...)
zoethe: (angel)
Went down to Public Square with Jeff yesterday afternoon at about 5pm--activities were supposed to start at 4, the ritual at 7:30, so we were trying to strike a decent compromise. Not much was happ'nin' at that point. Wandered in the mall for a little while and got something to eat. Jeff asked if I was sure we had the right day, then someone in a cape swirled by us, wafting patchouli in his wake.

Yeah, we're in the right place.

Wandered back out about 6pm and met up with Grimm, someone I know from the Internet and from our now-defunct Thursday night coffee klatches. Introduced Jeff to...Jeff (Grimmy's real name), and talked for a few before Grimm mentioned that the evening was scheduled to go on until 10pm. Jeff blanched. He was already getting the heebiegeebies from some of the more...rustically dressed participants. 10pm was going to be too much. He drove me home and I drove myself back, arriving in time for the fete. The ritual was pretty much what you'd expect, chanting and circling, calling the quarters, a spiral dance (that was fun--first time I'd gotten to do that), the "slaying" of the Stag King, the mourning for the Stag King, lighting incense for our beloved dead, cakes and ale (okay, cookies and water), opening the circle. There was a small fire in the center of the ritual, cunningly set in a washtub filled with water, the fire itself in a large coffee can so no chance of a booboo. On the whole, well-organized and efficiently done. Also, over by 8:30. Why they thought we needed to be there at 4, and how they thought it was going to continue until 10, I have no clue. Perhaps those were the hours for which they had reserved the park and they just sent them out as the hours of the celebration.

Next came the post-ritual party at the home of one of the participants. Grimm rode with me both to guide me there and because he was without transportation. Good thing, too. I never would have found it otherwise. From the outside, it looked like an abandoned building on Detroit Road.

From the inside, it looked like an abandoned building along Detroit Road.

Sheryl, our hostess, just recently purchased the building. It's one of those old-fashioned 3-story brick storefront buildings with apartments above. It was built about 100 years ago, before the advent of indoor lights. All the electrical work has beeen installed in conduit along the wall, rendering it very handy to reach for the purposes of pullig it all out and reinstalling it. At this point, they are the only people living in the building, they are in the process of converting two apartments into a single, large unit for their own use, and renovating the other four to rent out. When that is done they will address the boarded-up storefront downstairs.

This all sounds really great, and the space is terrific, but they are not wealthy people, and the work is going slowly. So while they are living with a very pleasant dream, their day-to-day reality is dumps-ville. Nevertheless, they had the capacity to throw four apartments open for a party, which is a rather impressive feat. For sheer square footage, I've seen very few private-home parties that could beat them.

For sheer number of beds, they kinda had the market cornered, too.

I didn't think much about it as we toured the loft room, which contained three or four single beds (she has kids, but they are at their dad's for the weekend). Then there was the "guest room" in one of the apartments. Then in the apartment without electricity (their current project), we lit a lot of cndles in a room that contained only a single bed. This struck me as a wee bit hinky.

When she opened the door to "the playroom," my growing suspicions were confirmed. Two queen-sized beds, pushed up against each other, and a cat o' nine tails that she gleefully announced had "seen a lot of action in here" the night before. Many candles were lit in this room as well.

When all was said and done, the party was actually quite mellow. A group of people sat in the livingroom listening to music and talking. A group of people were in a livingroom-like space in another of the apartments playing aroun with energy and talking and laughing. Some alcohol was consumed, but no one was getting seriously drunk. No illegals were allowed on the premises. People kind of came and went, then a big chunk of them left at about 1am.

I suddenly realized that I was pretty much left with the core group of people who, from their comments, were the ones who engaged in their little reindeer games.

"Gosh, look at the time--gotta go."

I will say, there was no flirtation, no hint that anything was going to happen, and I had a good time talking and listening to their stories. But it's a world in which I'm definitely an outsider looking in, and I think it's gonna stay that way. It felt like the hippy leftovers from when I was in college--nothing is ever quite clean, no one is ever quite together. The energy was just too chaotic for me to ever want to be bosom buddies with these people. I think I can enjoy their company on occasion, but on the whole, I'm much happier with the middle class pagan friends I have in Joan and Kat and Jeff. It may sound really snobby, but I do not fit in with this blue-collar paganism. There were a couple people who I also expect are professionals in real life and keep neat homes and don't alarm the neighbors (who also left early), but many of these people were quite "out there." I am adaptable enough to enjoy their company, and I genuinely like some of them, but it's not my world.

And everything I was wearing reeks of cigarette smoke. Heavy, heavy smokers. Must shower and wash all my clothes. Ick.
zoethe: (leafy pent)
Jeff and I are going to the Samhain ritual at Public Square tonight--asuming the weather doesn't turn really nasty. We didn't go last year because doing ritual in driving rain just didn't seem like a lot of fun.

Looking back over the past year, it's interesting to reflect on where I have come spiritually. A year ago I not only missed the samhain ritual, I really didn't do anything special for myself. A year ago I didn't have a sacred space, I couldn't articulate what I believe, and I wasn't sure where I was going, spiritually. Now I am in a circle, confident in my beliefs, and when we don't gather for a Sabbat or Esbat, I am confident in my abilities to perform ritual alone.

Making friends with women who share my beliefs is a definite factor in my comfort and growing confidence. I no longer feel like I am alone or only in the company of nutcases (because there are any number of nutcases in the Pagan community, I will freely admit). I'm finding, however, that most people are pretty normal. They raise their kids, go to their jobs, have a sense of humor and a sense of perspective.

Samhain is the ne year celebration, ridding ourselves of bad habits and making new. This year I am making my New Year's Resolution to be more content, to want what I have.
zoethe: (Default)
I feel like I need a jumpstart, like I've given everything I had to the job that didn't work out and now I'm just not able to get myself motivated to make another effort. I know it's only been a couple days, but it's left me feeling very unsynchronious and generally out of sorts.

On the plus side, it gave me a chance to bring Erin home for a long weekend and work with her on her magick, something she has ben wanting. Good mother-daughter bonding.

Wow, I just did it again--finding the silver lining, no matter how dark the clouds may seem. This used to actualy drive my ex crazy, that in the most gloomy parts of our lives I would look for something to be cheerful about. When he was in the depths of sorrow and depression, he didn't want anything "trivial" lightening it. Wallowing was the only solution. I am about as down as I have been in years--I have occasional sad days but I generally bounce back quickly. This time I've been having vague thoughts about death--nothing alaming, nothing proactive, just catching myself thinking dark thoughts and pushing them away. Yet, even when I am totally down like this, I'm looking for those positive things.

Okay. I'm gonna get through. It's interesting that putting words on the screen, thinking with the keyboard, so to speak, can clarify these things.

Now I just need to get myself motivated....
zoethe: (Default)
Just have no time in life for journaling. Except I should make time for it. I need to chronical my Journey Through Law School and my Journey Deeper Into Witchcraft. Suffice to say that Thng One is looming this week, while Thing Two is progressing nicely. I have a circle now, I'm learning to determine what is important to me (meditation, education) and what can be pared away (many email lists that, while interesting, don't give enough "bang for the buck"). I have a circle to practice with, and they are "grownups," not Goths or kids trying to freak out their parents.

we'll see if I can make it all (work, law school, magick, marriage) fit together.

Stay tuned...
zoethe: (Default)
The face of the earth and I have not been close companions lately, to judge by the amount of time that has passed since last I scribbled here. Life has been very busy, mostly in a positive way, but busy nonetheless. I am finally finding friends and have enough social activities to have what feels like a full and happy life--and law school starts in two weeks, which means four years of cramming my life into a shoebox of time. I will still be working 50 hours a week, in addition to classes. But I know other people who have managed, so I am trying to keep my spirits up.

Tomorrow night I participate in my first group wiccan ritual. I have found two other women who are vastly more experienced than I but who were both suffering from the "There are no groups in Cleveland!!!" syndrome, and I have managed to put the three of us together. I'm very excited about it. We had dinner together Thursday night to hammer on the details. Even though I ended up staying up WAY too late, Friday was the first day I have felt refreshed i a long time.

We went to Connecticut while Amy was here for a family wedding and I got to go into NYC for the very first time. We took Amy to the Cloisters Museum, where the unicorn tapestries hang. I thought, "oh this will be cool." When I saw them, my skin tingled. Being in the presence of the tapestries was much closer to a religious experience than beig in the presence of the assorted statuary and relics there--that was nice, and the architctural spaces were wonderful, but the tapestries...

Of course, I had the joy of having a 10-year-old's perspective on them as well: "Why are they killing the unicorn? That's sick! I hate it in here, Mom, let's go somewhere else." Trying to explain the medeival point-of-view was pointless.
zoethe: (Default)
I have recently made friends
with a woman who has been a practicing witch for a
number of years, She is incredibly intelligent, knows
a staggering amount of mythology and craft, and has an
aura of graciousness and generousity. She was with the
group of friends with whom we went to the
scifi/fantasy conference. We wre walking around in
the dealer's hall and I was looking at a chalice there
that I liked but that wasn't speaking to me enough for
me to drag out my wallet and cough up $55.00. I told
her that at this point I am using a plastic goblet
that until I find something that speaks to me.

Yesterday evening she and her fiance came over. She
reached into her bag and handed me a small chalice.
She explained that it was the chalice that she had
used initially and replaced just a couple years ago
when she had found her the chalice that spoke to her,
and that she wanted me to have it until I found one
that spoke to me. Since we have only known each other
for a few weeks, I was incredibly touched. I am still
smiling.
zoethe: (Default)
So, I was at a little comic shop Saturday with Ferrett (okay, I was trying to finish off my collection of Buffy The Vampire Slayer Action Figures), and I notice that they have a set of H.R. Giger Tarot Cards.

"Coool," sez I and buys 'em up.

Today I went through them. They are gorgeous, but so creepy that I don't want to cast with them. Seriously, they weirded me out!

So, here they'll sit, because they're too great to get rid of. I just can't imagine using them.
zoethe: (Default)
This is something I wrote in one of my Pagan groups. I liked it so I'm hauling it over here. We were dicussing whether science and religion are mutually exclusive.

Quantum physics is where science and religion do begin to mesh. When they discovered that the mere act of observing something can change the outcome of that thing, science stopped being completely concrete and the human factor became part of the equation. After all, what is the power of a prayer or a spell but the human mind attempting to bend the will of the universe and the known laws of physics to a specific need? The fact that science has now demonstrated that such bendings are quantifiable, recordable, and repeatable just verifies what we knew all along.

Does this take the gods out of the equation? I think not. Just because science can demonstrate something doesn't mean its not still miraculous and divine. I can believe that the gods created evolution and have grown along with us. Even if everything is eventually explained as a power that we have within ourselves, there is still space for ritual and worship. We may be the gods incarnate, in the end, but even then there are disciplines to learn.

I think the greatest lesson of the goddess is that the divine and the mundane truly do exist side by side. There is nothing so powerful and creative as the act of birthing, but it comes with all kinds of mess that someone has to clean up. The miracles are there, they just aren't free.

We're messy, petty, stingy little beings, yet we are capable of sublime accomplishment. Fearing that once science explains everything the world will be reduced to nothing more than black and white is the same as refusing to examine the detailed brushwork on a masterpiece painting; once you step back the beauty is still there, and isn't it amazing to comprehend the teeny individual elements that somehow came together as this great whole? Looking closely doesn't destroy that.
zoethe: (Default)
I spent the day with my sister, whose marriage may be coming to an end. Things got off to an odd start when she began with a fervent monologue about her newfound relationship with God and how she is turning everything over to him and how much better she feels about it.

I had to tell her at that point that I am a practicing pagan and, while respectful of her beliefs, thought that she was using faith as an excuse for not making up her mind.

It led to a few awkward moments. But by the end of the day she could see that the place we're coming from isn't all that different. The strange thing is how much she casually acknowledges the natural power that we all have -- Mom has been a natural witch for as long as any of us can remember, we've all had visions, etc. That's fine, but as soon as you acknowledge that power as a nonChristian thing people freak.


So now my family will undoubtedly hear within the week. It's only my brother, the hyperXtian, whose reaction will undoubtedly be...noisy.

And it was great to have her ask how Ferrett and I were doing and to be able to genuinely say, "great." It's nice being back in a good place in our relationship. We held on through not loving each other very much because we like each other so well. It made what came back around even better. It's a happy place.

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