Posts Tagged ‘Paganism’

If you haven’t read Sara Ann Lawless’ latest, revealing post, you really must.  It’s called “So Long, and Thanks for All the Abuse: A History of Sexual Trauma in the Pagan Community.”   It’s long, raw, and has the potential to trigger.  If you are up to reading it, I highly recommend it out of necessity.


The experiences she described should never have happened.  I look back on my own history of finding and growing in Paganism with amazement.  I somehow got to where I am without facing the extremes she and others endured.  My worst experiences have been uncomfortable conversations, lingering stares, and, recently, realizing that the founder of my tradition behaved in a way that was not honorable toward women. (I also had experiences outside the Pagan sphere, of course…)  Somehow, I have been pretty lucky in life.  I say that not to brag, but with a sense of astonishment given what so many friends and family have experienced.  I thank my watchful parents for some of that, but also my husband.  I started to date him when I began visiting covens, circles, and groves.  He tirelessly accompanied me, always supportive and protective.  As grateful as I am for that, I recognize how sad it is that I felt I needed to rely on him.  Truly, I would not have gone to Muin Mound Grove had he not agreed to join me.  Going to a home with a bunch of strangers for a ritual?  I would have never done that without my 6’6″ partner by my side just in case.

It sucks that it has to be that way.  What if I had been single?  What if I hadn’t had any friends interested in exploring with me?  Thankfully, the first Pagan circle I joined was run by a woman more concerned with fellowship and communal learning than power.  Thankfully, Muin Mound was, and is, a family-friendly, safe group.  Decisions are made by the members, not one person.  I flourished in both places.  What if they had been  toxic environments?  Who would I be today?  Thinking of some other groups and individuals I met who gave me red flags, I shudder …

The news is filled with stories like Sarah’s, but on a more global scale.  Women (cis, trans, etc), are voicing our pain, our worries, our stories.  Watching my daughter grow, I worry for her.  I can only keep her safe for so long. A large reason I work to create a safe, family-friendly grove is for her and the other children of my Pagan friends.

It is hard, very mundane work.  Some of the most important protective magic you do will be that way.  When I started down the Druidic path, I didn’t envision myself writing and reviewing bylaws.  I didn’t consider the importance of introducing myself with a pronoun.  I thought we’d get together and meditate, but we also come together to chat about the importance of safety, inclusion, etc.  It can be grueling and challenging, but it’s necessary.  Each time, the protective sphere around the grove strengthens.  Sometimes cracks form, and everyone needs to buckle down and repair, or else everything will shatter.


I’ve found myself drawn to Macha lately.  A little over a year ago, she came to me during a trance.  She reappears from time to time, but her voice is getting louder.  With everything going on in the political realm of America, the Me Too movement… it’s no wonder.  This sovereignty goddess cursed the men of Ulster, cursed the patriarchy that wronged her.  She’s a warrior who perseveres, and I’m curious about others who hear her call.

I’m particularly drawn to her  because, as my grandfather’s genealogy research found, I have an ancestor from Armagh Co, which was named after Macha (Ard Mhacha).

Today, as the Senate prepares to vote, I felt compelled to make offerings to Macha.  I prayed to her and asked for omens.  My daughter joined me and made an offering to Brighid, which was also very appropriate.  My little one doesn’t know what’s happening, so she was perplexed by my words.  I pray that Brighid wraps her protective mantle around the young ones.  I pray that Macha lends me her strength and, in time, lends that to my child when it’s needed.

For more inspiration on how to protect your groves, covens, and circles, I suggest reading Rev. Melissa Hill’s “Ways to Protect Your Community from Sexual Predation.”  If you don’t already have bylaws in your group, begin to work on them collectively.  Actively promote inclusion and begin to explore the concept of, and work to promote, a culture of consent.

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on that myself.  How many times have I said or done something that I probably shouldn’t have?  There wasn’t any intent other than to have a chuckle with my friends, but people may see it differently.  There are times I know I made someone uncomfortable with a joke.  Even as a woman, I have to think of my own behaviors towards others.  I want to be a better example for my child, for my grove, and community.  May that work spiral outward.

Macha, I hear you.

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Just a quick share today. I’m super busy with appointments and breastfeeding!

My friend RavynStar shared this link on her FB last night. I found myself nodding in agreement and feeling frustrated with the status quo. Who knows what religion, if any, my daughter will embrace, but it’s annoying to think that she may have to deal with the same issues that I do as an adult. I’m not keen on “bashing Christianity,” but there’s a difference between that and constructive criticism about the culture surrounding most forms of Christianity in America. People who practice this religion are privileged. Just raising the question of who is and isn’t privileged can be a huge provocation to some people, but I’ve always found it a fascinating, if complex and often dangerous, topic. To make any progress in this area, we of minority beliefs need to reflect on the ways we are not as privileged. I didn’t even think of some until reading the list!

First take a look:

30+ Examples of Christian Privilege — Everyday Feminism.

Now, rather than sit around and complain about Christianity, how can we in the Pagan and/or Polytheistic communities react in a way that is productive and positive? How have other minority beliefs made strides in the right direction?

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It’s late morning.  After doing my best to offer hospitality to our guest, I’m finally sitting down for some warm cereal and tea.  Ahhh…  me time!  The tea is made with roughly chopped fresh ginger, local honey, and half a lemon – its juice and rind.  Trying to keep my body healthy and ward off illness, of course.  As I sip the tea and slurp the cereal, I’m reminded of Brighid’s warmth and healing waters.

Although it’s only January, we’ve been experiencing a bit of a heat wave.  The snow we were so delightedly hoarding since the Winter Solstice is all but gone.  On and off again rain quickens the process.  It almost feels like spring, and with Imbolc being the traditional beginning of spring, I find myself seeking signs.

Of course, we will be getting more snow this week (supposedly).  It’s a good thing, and I want more snow.  Our ecosystem needs it, our farmers need it, and Upstate NY generally has snow right up until mid march.  Recent years, the patterns has changed a bit…  Which is worrisome.

It seems a lot of us are waiting for Imbolc.  Those who don’t observe the Celtic high days, or the modern NeoPagan calendar, still seem to be thirsting for spring and it’s many festivals.  People want a rebirth within and without.  I’ve noticed a lot of friends who write are suddenly lamenting the difficulties of being a published author.  They’re turning within to mull it over and seek an answer.  Pregnant friends in the end stages of their third trimester struggle with pain, the medical status quo, and anticipation.  People have started the process of cleaning their homes, myself included.  Fellow gardeners are excitedly perusing the seed catalogs arriving in the mail, day dreaming of sprouting seeds and new, verdant life all around!

This past week, I’ve watched with a mostly passive interest as the NeoPagan community grappled with its identity online.  Oh yes, dear readers – the great Pagan/Polytheistic debate of 2013.  Even I’m going to mention it in a blog post.  I had been writing a longer response with all of my thoughts, many of which are mixed, and then I trashed it.  Self-identity is important.  Group identity is important.  Labels and names have power – they really do.  Everyone has a right to express themselves, to feel they belong to something bigger, and to nitpick linguistics and semantics.  Yet in the end, I’m not sure another blog post on the pile would do any good.  As for myself: I’m a proud polytheist who worships her Gods, walks the Druidic path, and yet finds a home within the NeoPagan community.  Maybe that will change one day, but for now, I am who I am.  You are who you are.  Let’s be friends.

My mind is filled with more personal concerns  – my growing baby, keeping my home clean, whether or not the North Country Druidic Study Group’s application for protogrove status will be approved, exercising, eating right, keeping up with my own spiritual practices.  Think of me what you will!

So I sit here drinking my healing tea and praying that Brighid will bless each of us with the healing we need and that spring will bring new, positive things to us all.  Until then, we must prepare and wait.


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Given to me by  The Witch of Howling Creek

Although some may think of this as just another blogging meme, I am delighted to receive this Versatile Blogger Award from the Witch of Howling Creek.  It’s always nice to know someone enjoys reading my blog.

Here are the associated rules:

  • Thank the award-giver and link back to them in your post
  • Share 7 things about yourself
  • Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs you enjoy reading (I’m only going to do 3 because, like others have said, 15 seems like rather much.  3 is so much more Druidic, no?)
  • Contact your chosen bloggers to let them know about the award

Seven Things About Me:

1. When I was 7 or 8, I told my mother I wanted to be a witch when I grew up.  I then turned my dresser into the typical Hollywood witch’s altar complete with plastic cauldron, rubber spiders, and vials of colored water.  I really freaked my dad out that week…  And I remember setting it all up then not really knowing what to do next…

2. I used to be Catholic.  Went through the whole confirmation and everything…  Shortly after that, I began to rebel.

3. My mother taught me how to sew when I was 5 or 6.  My first creation was a pillow which I felt looked like the Earth.  I was convinced it should go in a museum.  Oh, how confident I was…  lol

4.  I met my husband at a Halloween party.  I was dressed as a medieval maiden and he was a Rastafarian.  We really didn’t talk to each other until a couple months later when he enrolled at my college.

5. We actually had our first date on Valentine’s Day.  A couple years later, we would decide the holiday just wasn’t for us and we haven’t celebrated since.

6.  I love to travel but don’t get to as often as I’d like.  I’ve been to a few states on the East Coast.  I live in Upstate NY but have never been to NYC (crazy, I know…).  As far as foreign countries, I’ve been to a couple Canadian provinces, parts of England, Paris, and parts of Ireland.

7. I used to want to get away from my family – now I adore them and wish they would move closer to me.

Three Awesome Blogs I Recently Started to Follow:

  1. The Red Lass – A fellow seeker but also an herbalist!  I’m interested in her natural beauty products and just ordered some makeup remover.
  2. Tairis Tales – This excellent blog, written by a Celtic Reconstructionist, shares lore from Celtic nations.  There has been something new and informative every day!
  3. Stitch Witch Cottage – A fellow Pagan and artisan here!  I adore her creations.  Very inspiring!


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"A Dangerous Method" movie poster from buzz.blastmagazine.com

Ever since I heard there was going to be a film featuring Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung, I have excitedly anticipated “A Dangerous Method.”   I first became aware of Jung’s work in psychology when I applied some of his ideas to a paper on Frankenstein in 12th grade. I was dabbling with Wicca at the time, and his ideas about archetypes, the universal unconscious, the dark self, anima, and animus were just too delicious.  Delving into academic papers about his beliefs and discoveries at such a tender age was probably my first look into a more “academic approach” to spirituality.  It relied on comparative mythology and his psychological understandings at the time.  Truly, it gave me a real boost in understanding what many of the “Wicca 101 books” glossed over, and really made me start to consider such concepts rather than accept them blindly.  To this day, I still wonder about the universal unconscious; various duotheistic approaches to Paganism rely on archetypes; Witchcraft delves into the concept of the shadow self; and most of us, regardless of path, seek a balance between our masculine and feminine energies.  Jung’s ideas, while seldom  utilized by most contemporary psychologists,  have remained very influential in literary circles as well as our own religious community.  With that interest, I waited for the film’s release!

A few weeks ago, I learned that a small group of individuals had petitions our local theater to show “A Dangerous Method.”   You see, Mortensen graduated from Watertown’s high school and attended St. Lawrence University in the Canton-Potsdam area.  Despite that, many of his films aren’t shown here!  I was delighted that “A Dangerous Method” made it to our theater, albeit on a very limited release.  I fear it was not advertised very well outside of the above article and one movie poster near the theater entrance.  Weretoad and I were the only people in the theater at the latest showing!  I do hope it attracts larger crowds.

Unfortunately, when competing with an action film like “The Grey,” “Method” will prove uneventful to the average audience.     Directed by  David Cronenberg and written by Christopher Hampton and John Kerr, this film depicts the tumultuous relationship between Jung (Michael Fassbender) and Freud (Viggo Mortensen), as well as Jung and his patient Sabina Spielrein (Keira Knightley).  It is very dialog-driven.  I found myself wondering if I would appreciate it as much if I hadn’t taken a couple psychology classes in college and read so much about Jung.  It almost feels like a niche movie – a story for true and wannabe intellectuals (I’m probably more of the latter). There are some interesting exchanges between the characters.  The tension between Freud and Jung, as the protege shows an interest in the mystical (telepathy for example), is rather intriguing.  Sabina occasionally discusses occult topics – the directions her “angel” has given her, for example.  There are regular exchanges of dreams and attempts to interpret them.  Jung comes to disagree with Freud’s insistence that everything is sexually-driven.  He seeks more spiritual explanations and believes religion cannot be fully divorced from science when healing patients.  To paraphrase, Freud says he doesn’t care if a patient worships one God, or others like Aphrodite – but he wants to leave that out of his clinical work.  An interesting thing to say when his office is littered with Pagan statues.  50 points if you spot the Venus of Willendorf!

Vincent Cassel, who plays Otto Gross, truly stole the show in my opinion.  His exchanges with Jung were the most fascinating, particularly because of his character’s quirks and how he interacted with objects on the set.  I’ve never seen Cassel do poorly in a film and I was delighted and surprised to see him in this story.

I can see “A Dangerous Method”  doing well in theaters that cater to such audiences – Munson Williams Proctor Arts Institute in my old hometown will likely show it to a large crowd in it’s usual two showings.  No doubt it will do well in denser, more urban cities.  All the same, I’m so glad it reached Northern NY and that I could see it.  It is a depressing but intellectually satisfying story.  It is worth seeing if you are interested in Jung, psychology, or just enjoy a good costume drama.

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Despite family and college-related stress, I’ve finally managed to take part in the ball!  I had grand schemes but, because of everything going on, I will just share what I did today.

After a long morning and afternoon of class and meetings, I spent a majority of my evening prepping for the Winter Solstice celebrations.  The meeting, especially, stressed me out so I started by taking a walk in the forest.  I made offerings to the local spirits and collected fallen evergreen boughs (with permission, of course).  There was an energetic buzz in the forest…  In the distance, a hunter’s gun went off every so often.  It was as if the forest were on edge.  The drips from melting snow made me uneasy.  Was that a drip or a footstep?  At times, the forest seemed to go out of focus.  I thought I saw someone walk right out in front of me, but he or she vanished back into thin air…  Despite the oddness, it was good to clear my head and gather evergreens.  On my way out of the forest, I sung a wassailing tune to thank the trees and comfort myself.

Once inside, it was back to work!  I’ve been very busy crafting gifts and decor.

A felt sun ornament.  Since we celebrate the returning strength of the sun, it seemed fitting to have
a representation on the tree – so voila!  It was very easy to make – just two tones of felt, stuffing, and yarn!
My “Yule log.”  Breaking from tradition, this guy doesn’t go in a fireplace.  Part of the reason
is that we just don’t have one.  I also place a lot of sentimental value on this log.  It’s from
the forest outside my parents’ home, thus the forest I grew up with.  It’s followed me from Utica
to the North Country!  It’s a favorite decoration.
This evergreen decoration was made with gathered balsam branches, birch twigs, and
a red ribbon.  It’s very easy to make and, together, symbolizes eternal life as well as new life.
I looked for mistletoe as some lucky Pagans have been sighting it recently.  No such luck
for me.  In the past I’ve made faux mistletoe using felt.  That works really well, especially in a
home with cats.  This year I decided to take a chance with some more poisonous greenery and
made  a kissing ball.  It’s hard to see the ball shape in this photo, but trust me, it’s there.  I used
rafia-wrapped florist wire, green florist wire, gathered balsam branches, a few pine cones, red ribbon,
and a few twigs of holy which I gathered from my garden.  The kissing ball is hung up high and I’m hoping everything
is secure enough to keep it  away from the cats.  This was made with magical intent: it’s a charm for peace and love within
the house.
I hung our stockings up and wrapped some prezzies!  All of these
gifts were wrapped in handmade fabric bags or  the paper and
bags my family used last year.
I ended my day baking cookies.  I know it’s a bit early, but I felt like it.  After a stressful
day, I deserved them!  One cookie is a snowflake to represent the beauty and hardships
of the season.  The other is, of course, the sun.  I used a basic sugar cookie recipe along with
an equally basic frosting recipe for these.
I’m going to eat some now…

I’ve truly enjoyed seeing what other Pagans are doing to celebrate the Winter Solstice. It’s been fun – I hope to join you next year!

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There are a lot of pagans out there who are very open and feel comfortable using their legal name in connection to their every move, including grove/coven web pages, Facebook profiles, blogs, etc.  If you are one of those people, that is awesome.  We need more Pagans to come out of the broom closet and proudly be themselves in every way!  Unfortunately, there are many of us, such as myself, who feel unable to do that.  At least right now.  My online persona is also my (main) magical name.  I know some traditions advocate telling nobody your magical name, but this post is not about that subject.

There are more and more social networking sites available every day.  People want to connect with me – Pagans and non-Pagans alike.  Some of the latter group are peers in college classes, fellow educators, etc.  I’m getting to make friends and acquaintances in the North Country who are wonderful people.  I’ve not developed deep relationships with all of them, so I don’t know their perceptions of religion.  Would I be rejected?  Would they be accepting but accidentally tell someone else about my religion?  Would that lead to discrimination at work?  I’m untenured, but even if I had that bit of security it wouldn’t necessarily save me.  It could completely transform my work environment and relationships.  If someone wanted to get rid of me, they could nitpick and find other reasons.  It’s happened to other people before.  There is the chance that people wouldn’t care.  Or maybe someone would realize, “Oh wow.  She’s actually a really nice, intelligent, productive member of society.  Maybe people like that aren’t all so bad…”  Maybe people would educate themselves about it, or realize they have an interest in it themselves…

At the moment, I use Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.  Due to Facebook’s recent changes, I’m using Google+ more and more, but there are still plenty of established groups I want to keep track of on Facebook.  I have a few friends on Twitter but they’re all pretty distant or also members of other networks.  The nice thing about Twitter is that all my little “micro blog tweets” show up here on The Ditzy Druid.  I kind of dig that…  I might not want to write a post about something little I did that relates to my practice, but a little tweet on the right side of my blog might be of interest to a reader.  Maybe I would expand on it if asked.

I used to have two Facebook accounts – one attached to my legal name and the other my Pagan name.  There were times when I felt I had multiple personality disorder.  Friends who really know me would see two different versions of me sharing.  It felt strange and, in the end, I favored my Pagan account because it was more true to myself.  Hell, as much as I like my legal name, I also really like and identify with my Pagan name.  It makes me happy when others call me Grey.  I wish more people would, sometimes.

When I originally set up my Google+ account, I used my legal name.  Then I decided to switch to Grey Catsidhe.  Now I’m contemplating going back to my legal name just so I can have a place to befriend anyone without fear of religious discrimination…  Then Twitter would become my primary Pagan “social network” leaving FB kind of a …  leftover which would remain Pagan but largely ignored except for group updates.  Of course, this would create a new online sense of multiple personality “disorder” in my life.  It might not be so bad…  Google+ makes it easier to share with certain people, so if I want to say “Happy Samhain” there, I just make sure to choose the right audience!

I know I’m not alone in trying to figure out how social networking fits into my life.  There are so many options and some people care about staying in touch with friends more than others.  I wish I didn’t feel so fearful about job security.  Do any of my readers feel that they have multiple personalities online due to family, work, or social concerns?  I’d like to know what you think.

(FYI, I understand what multiple personality disorder actually is and how serious it can be.  I’m using it more as a metaphor.  I don’t actually suffer from it and I don’t intend to diminish the challenges people who have it face every day.)

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