Posts tagged “path

On Ritual

Week 36 (R): on ritual, and why I’m a lazy witch

I don’t “do” ritual. This simplistic statement sets me apart from quite a few of the other Pagans I’ve met. To them, it’s important to have a separate space whenever possible dedicated to Magick. That space is filled with esoteric gestures made only in circle, a “solemn ceremony consisting of a series of actions performed according to a prescribed order” (thanks for that perfect definition Google!). This conception of ritual bores me to tears.

how I feel about ritual

On the other hand, that kind of ritual makes me think of Monty Python, which is pretty awesome

This is not my kind of witchcraft. There’s little space for solemnity, and the idea of having a set routine makes my lip curl. That sounds deathly boring. I just couldn’t do it. Routine is comforting in other aspects of my life, but in witchy things I want variety. I want flexibility and change and discovery in my faith.

Practice is a word that better suits me; practice is application of belief. My rituals are typically spontaneous, and the best ones have often been crafted in the space of a few minutes, when I’m out in the woods for a walk on a beautiful day. Then I bring only a stick of incense, perhaps a candle, and myself to ritual. There’s beauty in simplicity.


Chopping Wood and Carrying Water

Week 25 (M): on mindfulness, or how to chop wood and carry water

How do you go about your work? While reading this, I started thinking about how mindfulness and work go hand in hand. One of my favorite quotes (and perhaps you’re familiar with it) is this:

chopwoodcarrywater

“Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” (I took this photo in Maui, Hawaii shortly before a tropical storm hit.)

I don’t remember where I first found it, but I do remember reading it and having something click in my brain. I understand this as an entreaty to always pay attention to the task at hand (regardless of how “enlightened” you are). It stresses the importance of being mindful, how you ought to focus only on your current actions. Be present, which sounds like excellent advice.

When I’m dancing, I lose track of what’s happening around me, and sink into the feeling of being wholly in my body. When I’m knitting, the looping of the yarn and the swooping of my hands make for a meditative rhythm that keeps my focus on the task at hand. When I bake, the recipe becomes all that matters: the perfect leveled scoop of sugar, the milk poured so the meniscus is perfectly on the line.

All of these things are things I try to do with my whole being. This sort of presence and awareness is something I strive for, in everyday life as well as in magical practice.


Glitter and Bunnies and Light, Oh My!

Week 12 (F): fluffy bunnies

Silence, fluffbunny! But wait…what does that mean?

fools

When I call someone a fluffy bunny, I mean that they have a storybook understanding of what it means to be pagan, and that I really can’t stand to be around them for more than five minutes. This is a term that’s considered offensive, but I think it has its practical uses. Here’s what the term “fluffy bunny” means to me:

  1. Someone who is nothing but “love and light”. Optimism is one thing, but to deny all negativity or scariness or intensity is totally unrealistic. That’s just not the way the world works.
  2. Someone who insists on calling themselves a Wiccan, but does not belong to a coven-based hierarchical initiatory tradition. (There’s no shame in being a neo-Wiccan. Really.)
  3. A teenager who claims to be a High Priestess or High Priest. Covens are a major undertaking, and to found one is a huge responsibility that I really don’t think is appropriate for a teenager (or for anyone who’s had less than 10-20 years of working with covens).*
  4. You’ve only read one book. Seriously. Libraries. The internet. No excuse. Even read stuff you don’t agree with: it’s best to critique something when you’ve actually read it, so you don’t come off as an ignorant ass.
  5. Someone who’s in it for the drama. If the only reason you call yourself a witch is to scare people, gtfo. This is a faith, not a fad.
fluffbunny1

but look at me! I am so cute & fluffy!

Sometimes this term is slung around as purely derogatory, with no meaning behind it. That’s the point at which the term becomes useless. What a fluffy bunny is not:

  1. A n00b. We were all new once. We were/are all students. It’s the people who refuse to learn that are fluffy bunnies. Someone who is willing to listen and incorporate new information, but may not know very much yet, is not a fluffbunny.
  2. Someone who follows a different path than you. There is no One True Way, no one size fits all; I think that’s one of the main appeals of paganism. Be tolerant.
  3. Someone who admits to not understanding something. None of us know everything. By admitting you don’t understand something, you’re being realistic. The first step to learning is admitting that you don’t understand something. I often tell my students that I’m more interested in seeing the mistakes they make along the way, because it shows they’re learning.
  4. Someone who has experienced persecution and refuses to be quiet about it. Religious persecution is a reality for many of us, and bigotry still exists. People who think persecution of pagans doesn’t exist probably also think we live in a post-racial post-feminist society. *insert gigantic eye roll here*

I was new once, and even then I thought the term “fluffy bunny” was apt for some people. Unpopular opinion: I think it’s useful to have a term to differentiate yourself from others who claim the same label that you may not necessarily respect. I don’t want to be lumped with people I can’t respect just because we claim the same label. I believe in solidarity, but maybe not unconditional solidarity.

And yet. And yet. I’m still conflicted about using term, because I don’t like rigid labels. I believe in the importance of choice, of people being able to claim their own labels. But…maybe labels shouldn’t be claimed uncritically or without thought. This is another one of those posts without a tidy ending and is a subject I’ll probably muse about a bit later.

Tl;dr version: while I absolutely do not believe there is One True Way of being pagan, I do think that some people don’t quite make the cut for people I would be proud to call my fellow pagans. But many do, and those are the ones I want to make connections with, hopefully through the Pagan Blog Project.

* Says the solitary

Further Reading

An Observation About Fluffy Bunnies (Chris K. Underwood)

FluffBunny (RationalWiki)

Fluffy Bunnies (Wicca for the Rest of Us)

Fluffy Bunnies: A Critique of the Term (most of the links on this one are dead, but I think the author makes some valid points, particularly about darkness being a problematic term)

Thoughts on Bashing Fluffy Bunnies (Ben Gruagach)


Treading a Dianic Path

Week 7 (D): Dianic witchcraft

(You know a blog post is going to be good when it starts with a disclaimer.)

I recognize that some readers may disagree. This, like all posts in this blog, are based upon my own experiences and opinions. If this does not describe your understanding of Dianic witchcraft, by all means, let’s have a conversation. Consider my openness to engage in productive dialogue as a blanket invitation for all of my blog posts. That said…

James Jordan

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Patriarchy is something I learned about early, when my mother insisted that the majority of my books contain strong women characters. She overlooked Disney movies in deference to my enthusiasm for those technicolor cartoons so rife with problems, but the books I read were by and large about women. My mother wanted me to grow up to be a strong woman who does not tolerate gender inequality. I think she got her wish.

Z. Budapest’s book The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries was an important discovery. Along with Starhawk, I had previously read authors who were mostly Gardnerian or Alexandrian, but the idea of Goddess worship was far more appealing to me than the heteronormative male-centric stuff the other authors touted. I didn’t want to find God, I wanted to find the Goddess. I read Budapest and discovered feminist witches. She talks about the importance of women-only spaces, which is something I highly value. Reading most of her book felt like coming home.

I think I especially liked Budapest’s penchant for hexing rapists. According to her, “if you can’t hex, you can’t heal”. While the logic may be somewhat counterintuitive, I think it falls in line well with Inga Muscio calling for public shaming of rapists. (Muscio wrote another of the books that changed my life – see the Further Reading section at the bottom.) But, like almost any book, there are some problems. I’d like to illuminate what my brand of Dianic witchcraft entails, as it differs from Budapest’s version in at least one very significant way.

just trying to keep the peace amongst all these diverse chicks (ok, that was a terrible pun)

just trying to keep the peace amongst all these diverse chicks (ok, that was a terrible pun. forgive me?)

Dianic witchcraft is: women-only spaces. This world is dominated by men. Social structures, institutions, politics: all created and maintained for and largely by men. Women-only spaces should be kept sacred and available to any women who seek them. Which brings me to my next point…

Dianic witchcraft is not: transmisogyny. Transwomen should be fully welcomed into women-only spaces. Woman-centric and female-centric are not the same thing. I vehemently do not identify or support radical feminists in their “womyn born womyn” nonsense. Women are women. Female is a separate category entirely*.

I know this is a response to Christians drafting laws restricting women's bodily rights, but I think it works well here too

I know this graphic was meant to be a response to Christians drafting laws restricting women’s bodily rights, but I think it works rather well in this context too

While Goddess worship is important to my beliefs, this does mean that I am a raging, man-hating, underarm-hair-growing, lesbian, ugly feminist. Not to malign folks with a propensity for lush underarm hair, only that it’s not a choice that suits me. I am a lesbian, but it is not as a result of my interest in the Goddess (the latter predates the former). I am a feminist, but that is because I believe that patriarchy must fall in favor of a more equality-based society. I rage because I see too much inequality in the world and because I refuse to keep quiet about it. I will not support the status quo. Goddess worship blends nicely with most of these things.

The idea that a Goddess, any Goddess, would exclude someone based on their determined sex at birth is abhorrent. I do not want to worship a Goddess who is as bigoted as some humans. To me, the Goddess is an ideal to which I aspire. And that ideal is to welcome all women with open arms.

Josephine Wall

Josephine Wall

* For those who are confused at this point, here’s a quick explanation. Sex refers to someone’s genitalia and chromosomal makeup, while gender refers to the socially prescribed and accepted appearances & roles that are typically expected to correspond with one’s sex. That is, as a woman, one is expected to have been born with a vagina. This is a problematic view as it leaves transgender folks completely out of the picture. While I am a cisgender woman, I aspire to be a trans ally. If you are mad about the term “cisgender”, please click here.

Further Reading

Budapest, Zsuzsanna Emese. 2003. The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries

Dianic Wicca (Z. Budapest’s Women’s Spiritual Community)

The Dianic Wiccan Tradition (while this is another link that supports transmisogyny, please note that I do not condone or agree with those opinions, but that I do think this link is a valuable resource in understanding Dianic witchcraft)

Feminist Disney

In Response to the “Lilith Rite” at PantheaCon (more on Z. Budapest and her transmisogyny)

Muscio, Inga. 2002. Cunt: A Declaration of Independence

Sociological (my pinboard on all things sociological – good to sift through if you still have questions about gender, inequality, & patriarchy)