Saturday, November 30, 2013


I've had a few issues on my mind for a while now, big picture kind of issues. One was not an issue that I needed to fix, only to figure out where I felt I belonged. The others will require changes well beyond the power of a solitary or small group. I happened upon an analogy that fits all three of the biggest issues. I've been a HUGE Star Trek fans for many years. A friend and I decided to revisit some of our preferred episodes over the week, culminating in a marathon on Thanksgiving and Black Friday; the best of the Borg.

The "resistance is futile" attitude of the Borg is where the analogy comes in to play. Okay, first issue. There has been lots of talk online about Teo Bishop and his choice to return to Christianity. Both sides raise very excellent points. I would never begrudge someone finding the spiritual path to which they feel called. I also know how a spiritual journey can take turns we never expect. But I also understand why some are worried. I love the idea of people being able to have spirituality as they see fit, but the very nature of humanity makes that difficult. We're competitive, argumentative, and inquisitive. Add in the "our way is the only right way" attitude of many organized religions and you have a virtual impossibility. Don't get me wrong. Religious separatism is not something I am endorsing or even happy about.

Hence the following ugly comparison, one that I know does NOT represent the whole group; Christianity (or at least the most visible and vocal) seems to operate exactly like a Borg collective. It moves from region to region, from person to person, learning all it can in order to assimilate new cultures. It doesn't wish to peacefully coexist. A feeling of superiority gives free reign to convert people to their "perfect" religion, one that professes peace and love while using any means necessary to show the world how wrong their beliefs are. They spew messages of hate and anger, all while claiming to be persecuted by anyone with a voice that would present an opposing idea. And this isn't a new way of doing things. For centuries, they either bend others to their will or systematically destroy them. It is this attitude that has some Pagans worried, not because Bishop felt called back to Christianity, but because such a public display of this decision has been made. It is more fuel to the fire of evangelism. If someone so visible in the Pagan community can be brought back into the fold, surely they can "save" others. And if they cannot be saved, they could possibly use his knowledge and experience as ammunition against his former community. How easy would it be to twist the meanings of spells or rituals to show a parent unfit, an employee as a danger, to discredit someone? So much of the government and legal system already have a Christian bias. No, I'm not saying that will happen or that Bishop specifically would offer up information. I'm simply suggesting that the fears that it could happen are completely understandable. Past evidence bears that out.

Okay, onto Borg analogy 2. This one was brought home only too clearly this week, one that is already happening. We as a nation of consumers are creating our own collective, one that disregards the needs of others. We are so focused on what we want that we can't see the bigger picture or the damage we may be causing. Our constant need to own things and get them very cheap, shows exactly what we've become as a species. For years, retailers have been opening earlier and earlier on Black Friday. Now they've taken over Thanksgiving, ruined a day that is supposed to be about giving thanks and spending time with loved ones. All to sell us crap we don't need and spend money we don't have all in the name of Christmas. And we don't care who we have to step on to get our way. We become savage brutes willing to pull a gun on someone who cut in line or stole a parking spot. At least this year no one was trampled to death. No one should have to die for others to own cheap electronics. The worst part in all this is what we are really doing is helping those retailers clear out old inventory they couldn't sell the rest of the year and making a few VERY rich.  What gets me is the stores that decided to open extra early. At this point we expect it from places like Walmart, Target, and Best Buy as electronics are usually top of the list of gift lists. Grocery stores carry necessities so that is no surprise either. But what could be so necessary that Michaels felt the need to open early? There's no such thing as a crafting emergency, so WTF? And Staples? "Hon, we're out pens and paper clips" and Thanksgiving will be ruined without them? There were many people who went to retailers' Facebook pages and Twitter accounts to express their disgust and disappointment but the only voice the stores will hear is the cha-ching of the registers raking in sales. Until we stop acting like consumer drones, we continue to contribute to loss of the human side of our economy.

The last worry on my mind is the most frightening. It is the one that parked itself a couple of blocks from my apartment about two weeks ago. It will require the most attention and innovation to overcome total annihilation, calling for revolution and healing on a global level. Fracking is the ultimate assimilation and the kick in the ass is that we are allowing it to happen. Whether through inaction, ignorance, or despondence we are watching our way of life fall apart, watching the human race damage all that Witches hold sacred. The gas companies are scooping out large chunks of our nature, punching holes in the earth, and releasing poisons Goddess put underground for a reason. Nature works in a specific way and to presume we know better is to invite disaster. These blights poison, the air, the land, and the water. People are getting sick. Animals are dying. And the gas companies deny any wrongdoing.

They release tons of methane into the air, further speeding up the human created climate problems. They pump hundreds of unknown chemicals into the ground to release the gas, swearing that they are not contaminating the water supply no matter how much evidence is gathered to prove otherwise. Gaia is screaming out to us and we turn a deaf ear. I say we because until very recently I knew there were issues with fracking but I had no idea just how bad it was. I didn't know many fracking towers were out there pulling up what is supposedly a natural, clean alternative to other fossil fuels. Then I was introduced to Gasland and Gasland 2, eye-opening documentaries about what fracking is doing to our country (more like our world) and how much control the gas companies have over our government. Thanks to a loophole in the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act added in 2005 by the Bush Administration, they are not required to report the fracking chemical mix. Not even the EPA is able to stop them. The fight against fracking will be a LONG, uphill battle against a government bought and paid for by major corporations. And I fear that the only way to do that is a revolution. Until we're truly willing to fight for what is right, we'll continue to live under the thumb of a corrupt political body.

In the meantime, the best hope for the earth must be Pagans, the true stewards of our most precious resources; earth, air, and water. We need to use our power to heal the wounds and try to minimize the spread of the poison. Magick must be the band-aid until more comprehensive healing can take place after the damage is stopped for good. Also, there needs to be a push to prioritize solar and wind energy as truly clean alternatives. As a quote I saw on Facebook said, "When we have a solar energy spill it is called a beautiful day." The same cannot be said for any fossil fuel spills.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Passion without Power

For many years I've read the books, blogs, and other websites in search of the many ways of practicing magick; the right way, the wrong way, and how to determine my own personal way. I've learned quite a bit about practicing the craft and know I will always have room in my brain for more. What I look for more and more is how to make it an integral part of my daily life, not simply something I pull out for emergencies and special occasions. I am also looking for a way to find something I am desperately missing. Power. The ability to feel the energies around and within us.

This is NOT a crisis of faith. I don't doubt my beliefs. It is quite the contrary. Since the day I walked away from the Baptist church, before I even learned the truth about Witchcraft, I knew there was something already out there that fit with my beliefs about deity and spirituality. I just had to find it. And it was in those many books, blogs, and websites that I found Paganism. Well, first I found Wicca and felt it to be too rigid for my liking. But the basic ideas are still there. I was always bothered by many of the Christian ideals. Women are far too important to the scheme of life to simply be an extension of, or property for, men. The thought that someone died so long ago to forgive sins we haven't even committed yet seemed weird. It felt like a free pass to be as bad as we wanted because it was expected and the slate already wiped clean; no real consequences in this life for our actions. I embrace the idea that we are supposed to harm none, we are not supposed to actively put negativity out into the world. It will come back. And all the positive we release has a positive outcome as well. I prefer the concept that if we do something wrong, we pay for it here, where the wrong was committed. I am certain that there is energy all around, in everything, that we can call upon to help us when our own energy isn't enough to achieve a goal. I'm sure that there are times when energies are stronger and times when they wane.

My problem is that, though I know in my heart they are there, I can't feel them. I can close my eyes and visualize what it would look like, but there is no hum, no vibrations, nothing different. I can't sit on the ground and pull up energy from the earth. Can't feel it flow and push the negative back out. I stand on a beach, tide flowing in and out, and I feel nothing more than the water on my feet, pulling back out to the ocean. I know that to do even the most simple of spells you need to focus energies. I can see in my mind's eye what I wish to accomplish, imagine the end result. I can feel hope that it will come to pass. But it always seems like I'm going through the motions without contributing, like I've set the tea kettle on the stove without turning it on. You can't get tea if the water doesn't boil. And I can't make a spell work if I can't put energy into it. And isn't something I've been able to learn from all of my reading. Either you can feel the energy or you can't. I end up feeling like a fake.

I've read so many stories about what it feels like to work with energies outside ourselves, known people who can feel the extra energies on days of power. And I feel so sad and a bit jealous
, like I'm missing out on something wonderful. Am I subconsciously blocking myself? Or am I not supposed to feel it? Is it fear or something that will always be beyond my reach?
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Saturday, June 29, 2013

M is for Music...Again

I realized in retrospect and had it pointed out to me that my last post had absolutely no truly Pagan music. While it is nice to have mainstream music that can be moving and inspirational, I am doing myself no favors by neglecting music created with and for magick and spellwork. I'm not sure what my hesitation has been up this point. I don't know if it's denial or fear of some sort. Or just stubbornness. I think I've told myself that I don't know who the good artists are, who will fit in with my music tastes. But I know that is an excuse. I never had problems finding stuff I like in mainstream genres. Just turn on a radio, check out other people's playlists. Hell, just ask a fellow Pagan. I wonder if it was a way to hold myself back. Music is integral to my daily life and I am avoiding what could be my most powerful magickal tool. I don't even know why.

So I did what I should have done years ago. I asked my closest Pagan friend what she likes. She sent me links to her favorites and things she thought I would like. What follows are my three first baby steps in discovering music that could increase my magick exponentially.

The above videos (for those who can't see them on devices that don't allow them) are by S. J. Tucker, Emerald Rose, and Damh the Bard. I also am trying Wendy Rule, Gwydion, and the album Return of the Goddess. I look forward to adding playlists to my devices and trying out new spell work with my newly acquired knowledge. This is but the beginning of my learning. As far as I'm concerned, I can never have too much new music. I welcome any and all suggestions of your favorite magickal music.

Monday, June 24, 2013

M is for Music

I was pondering while checking e-mail, at a loss for a post for this week. None of the suggested prompts really called to me. When the idea finally did come, it smacked me upside the head Gibbs-style via my very eclectic playlist playing in the background. Music has always been important to me. I entered talent shows in elementary school. I made hours of mixed tapes when buying music wasn't in the family budget, which was pretty much always. Back when MTV actually played music videos, we made a contest of who could guess the next song the quickest. Which is also one of the last times I remember my sister and I getting along well, before boys were the primary focus.

Though I didn't realize it until much later, I believe it was music that drew me to go to church, to join the choir. It gave me a sense of belonging and a feeling of accomplishment. Eventually music wasn't enough of a reason to stay in a place that didn't reflect my true beliefs. The songs rang hollow. And the music I enjoyed wasn't acceptable as a reflection of what I was supposed to believe according to the church. Secular music was a big no no. So, instead of my faith deciding my music, I let my music express my "faith" without the church.

Once I let go of expectations and just went with my heart, the pure joy of song returned. Music not only can reflect my mood but also affect it as well. The right song can kill any bad mood. It can make me feel joy and sorrow, can bring peace or a need to fight for something in which I believe. It can recall special memories, like smells that remind us of home and family. Every time I hear "Imagine" by John Lennon, I think of my grandmother, can hear her funny way of singing it. When I hear "Paperback Writer" I always think of a good friend who is a writer (and a HUGE Beatles fan). Pretty much every classic rock song is a reminder of growing up in the 70's. Alternately, when I hear "Gone Too Soon" by Daughtry, I am immediately reminded of my niece, killed by a drunk driver, taken away too soon. This post was inspired by "If Everyone Cared" by Nickelback.

 If everyone cared and nobody cried
If everyone loved and nobody lied
If everyone shared and swallowed their pride
Then we'd see the day, when nobody died

The idea is so simple. And yet it is something we will probably never experience. Since ignoring whether a song is "spiritual" or not, I find a bit of magic in every song I add to my playlists; songs that make me smile, songs that make me feel empowered, songs that teach me about other cultures. Sometimes the singing is more important than the song itself. The ability to make music with my own voice is empowering in itself. And no matter how bad my day is the positive energy of my music can make it a bit better. The song that is playing as I end this post? "Gangnam Style" by PSY. It's fun and silly. And makes me laugh every time I hear it (and dance along).

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: The Fort

The Fort
by Aric Davis
2013 Thomas and Mercer
Received an eGalley from the publisher

This story of three boys and their tree fort, is also about that quintessential summer of childhood, the one that we will always remember. But for these boys it will be one that changes them forever, one where they learn too quickly that true evil exists. And that evil lives too close to home.

The story moves quickly, letting the reader see several perspectives, including the killer. Much of the suspense comes from the unfolding of the killer's thoughts about why he kills and just how deep his psychosis runs. The detective on the case is not allowed to follow his instincts frustrating both the character and the readers with the typical politics of expediency over accuracy. But heart of the story is the boys, the ones who witness the first real break in a long unsolved case and try to do the right thing by reporting it to the police. When no one will believe them and even accuse them of making up facts for attention, they investigate on their own.

The best part of this story was the friendship between Tim, Scott, and Luke. Their families are all very different (a typical well-to-do family, one with divorced parents, and one with an alcoholic mother and no father) but they are still at an age where money and class don't matter yet. Their reactions to what they go through, the surprise, fear, hurt and anger, are well expressed. Very believable. My only problem with the story was at the end. Not with the resolution of the main plot. That was solidly done. But after all is finished. A large part of the story is from the point of view of the kids. But once one of them tells the detective who the killer is we never go back to them. The detective tells the rest of the story. Something major happens at the end and I REALLY wanted to hear from at least one of the kids, wanted to experience the emotions of the event from the kids' perspective. Otherwise, the story was just about perfect.

I still very much recommend this story and can't wait to read more of Davis' work.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Confusion: Pt 2 - Gay Rights

Image borrowed from PCMag
In honor of Gay Pride Month, I've chosen gay rights as the next topic in the "Confusion" series. I think this particular issue is the one that confuses me the most. The most baffling part is the simple thought that, "Why is this even an issue? Why do so many people feel the need to tell others how they are allowed to live their lives?"

I know that many Christians believe that homosexuality is a sin, expressly forbidden as stated in the Bible. Okay, that is their prerogative to believe according to their faith. But LGBT people are not asking the Christians to become gay. They are not trying to break up Christian relationships. They are simply trying to live their lives in the way they see fit, being with the one they love and asking for the same respect given to heterosexual relationships. Acceptance over judgment is supposed to be a very "Christian" attitude. They won't even give tolerance. Homosexuality is not an infectious disease or mental disorder. It's not a choice someone makes one day and can just change their mind about. It is the natural instinct of personal attraction. The choice comes when trying to decide to whom it is safe to share their feelings.

I know that not all Christians feel that way. It is vocal ones, the ones with money and power that make this such an issue. It is why I'll never EVER give a dime of my money to Chick-fil-A again. Fundamentalists who believe that their faith is the only true faith will fight against anything that goes against what they believe is right. They will incite anger, hatred, and violence for their cause because they are certain their God wants such ugliness. No God I ever learned about in my years at churches would ever condone such senseless hate. The Jesus I read about would not tolerate such ignorance. It is this new idea of what God and Jesus are to the Fundamentalists that would allow it, that supposedly demand it. And the idea stated by many "important" Christian voices that school shootings and major disasters are God's way of punishing the world for the sin of homosexuality (among others) is disgusting and despicable.

What really gets me is the constant right wing demand for smaller and smaller government, saying there is already too much federal control, only to demand one of the most intimate and personal invasions by that same government. Big brother doesn't get much bigger than to tell a person who they can make a commitment to, who they can love. "No, you can't have my guns, but it's totally okay to go into that man's bedroom and take away his love." WTF is that!?! It is ridiculous that a spouse cannot receive the same benefits as a hetero couple simply because they won't conform to what is "normal." They don't ask others to change their choice of life partners. They would dare to say my love is just as valid as yours. Check out this video and tell me they don't love each other as much as you love your significant other. The true Christian God would not want to take away that love simply because it is not a man and a woman. Oh, and there is also this article answering someone's question of why there is not a Straight Pride Month. And this video that asks people when they chose to be straight. The responses are interesting.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


Me hiding behind my cat, Willow
I've read several blogs recently that talk about letting go of negative things in order to make room for the positive. I realized my problem isn't so much getting rid of problems. It is allowing myself the positive. So for this blog post, L is for Letting, as in:
  • Letting myself make mistakes. I am so hard on myself. If a drawing or a story doesn't start out perfect, if I can't get it right the first time, I assume no one wants to see it. Technically this is getting rid of self-doubt, but it feels different in allowing myself to try, no matter the outcome.
  • Letting others in. I have such a huge fear of rejection that I rarely let anyone know the real me. I always keep important parts of myself hidden. All this gets me is a feeling of extreme loneliness.
  • Letting me just be me. I generally feel like I don't measure up to what I should be like, how I should look. Naturally the constant media push for all women to look like a plastic doll with the perfect, unattainable proportions doesn't help. Nor does the long line of thin, attractive family members. I need to learn that my size and lack of fashionable wardrobe is okay for me.
  • Letting magick be my way of life. I work the occasional spell on holidays or moon phases, but I haven't explored all the possibilities, found the Pagan way that just makes magick natural, something that simply is without having to over think things. I haven't allowed this as yet for fear; of doing it "wrong," of making issues worse instead of better, of admitting that I feel like a huge fake.
Fear, in some shape or form, is a big factor in pretty much everything I do. So it seems that I really must allow the fears and learn how to get past them, how to be brave enough to acknowledge them as part of the process of growth.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Kitchen Island

While I've never been very proficient in the kitchen, it has come to be the heart of my home. It took living on a farm with a couple of friends to open my eyes. They had an open kitchen with the sink and stove along one side and the fridge and pantry on the other, all surrounding an island, a simple counter with storage underneath. Pretty much everything we did started in the kitchen at that island.

Gathering up feed and treats for the outdoor crew (chickens, ducks, guinea, a turkey, and rabbits), doling out food to the indoor animals (cats, dogs, and one guinea), and coffee and toast for the humans happened at sun up. Okay, so I wasn't part of the sun up crew. My day began at about 10 am. I am so NOT a morning person. But the toast was there along with a cup of tea. I also am not a coffee person. We'd all go about the rest of the day either going to work or staying home to work, but were always back at the island for meals and conversation, no matter how late the day ended. And it was through those nights of tea, toast, and talk that I learned more about living a life with nature, seeing the beauty in the simple things. I planted my first (and only) batch of strawberries and watched them grow. Of course, the chickens ate them, along with the blackberries. Before, I was admired nature from afar, through the photos and experiences of others.

I've always lived in a city, so that much nature was quite an experience, an in your face lesson about the seasons and cycles of life. I found out the chickens really don't like to be picked up, but tolerate it when it's cold outside and I can share my warmth. They are very soft. And strong! Oh, and roosters can be mean bastards who bite and claw.

I got to experience the birth of new farm animals. Baby ducks are adorable following their mom around everywhere. I also learned the hard way not to get too attached to the critters that lived outside. They sometimes didn't survive past a few days. One particular incident involved a duckling who'd gotten into the wading pool with no way of getting out on its own. When we found it, it was still alive. I held it for a while, trying to warm it up enough to be okay under a heat lamp. But when I got home from work, it had passed away. Other times they lived long enough to be a snack for the coyotes and owls, who lost their homes to the "progress" of fracking and new construction.

My roomies gave me a greater appreciation for power of nature. They also taught me that power can be borrowed. Since we live in a state prone to tornadoes and severe storms, the property was protected by placing knives at the corners. We could watch the radar and see the more serious storms split around the area. Every time. It was done well enough that we'd still get the rain, but danger passed us by. It was amazing and awe inspiring to see a spell so simple work that well.

So, even though my new place doesn't have that island, the kitchen is still where the magick comes together, through food and friends. It is the heart of my home.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Death at Crooked Creek

A Death at Crooked Creek
The Case of the Cowboy, the Cigarmaker, and the Love Letter
by Marrianne Wesson
2013 NYU Press
Received an E-galley from the publisher

Part true crime and part courtroom drama, Death at Crooked Creek explores the mystery of who was actually buried in Lawrence, Kansas in the grave of John Hillmon. Wesson, through the use of court transcripts and news articles of the time, creates a fascinating story around what was thought to be a simple case of insurance fraud, a case that became so much more historically significant. It was this set of trials that introduced a new exception to the rule of hearsay as evidence, an exception whose ramifications are still felt today. She does a great job of distilling six different trials worth of testimony into a compelling story. I was equally as fascinated by Wesson's own troubles in researching the case and hopes of forensically identifying the dead man as I was the case itself. It was my love of genealogy that drew me to the story and though the conclusion is not quite what I'd hoped for, her theory for how it could have played out is much more plausible than any put forth by either side during the trials.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Confused: The Series - Pt 1 Gun Control

I think the theme of confusion will be a series of posts on current issues that confuse me greatly. I'll start it all off with gun control. I know where I stand on this issue and I know I'm not saying anything new. I'm just talking it out to get it out of my head. What I don't get is why this issue should be so hard for intelligent, moral people to grasp. And the first person to give me the bullshit line of "guns don't kill people, people kill people," SHUT THE HELL UP. That may be true, but it does make it hell of a lot easier to kill someone from afar with one. I'm only going to talk about two points, the ones that should be obvious but apparently aren't. Oh, and for the record, I am NOT against the right to bear arms. Having a weapon in the home for protection is a great idea as long as it doesn't end up in the hands of a child. Having weapons to hunt (which I couldn't do, but wouldn't take the right from others) is fine as long as the guns are handled properly.

Background checks

These are done for more than just gun purchases. Employers need to run them for potential employees. Apartments run them to make sure the prospective tenant is safe to include in the community. You want to make sure the new person a few buildings down is not a convicted sex offender. We allow these checks without batting an eye.

So, what is wrong with making sure that the person attempting to buy a gun at a gun show or online was not convicted of a violent crime? Or has a history of mental problems? How many lives would be saved if a person with a restraining order couldn't acquire a weapon in which to harm the individual they were ordered to leave alone? How many deaths could be avoided by not allowing a mentally unstable person access to a gun? Yes, I know that criminals will always find a way to get guns. Background checks are not an absolute guarantee of safety. No rule or law can prevent everything. But, if even one life could be saved by catching that one person who would have no avenue otherwise, isn't a mild inconvenience (waiting a couple of minutes) a small price to pay. Since when do laws have to be all or nothing to be necessary?

The paranoid idea that wanting to keep innocent people safe is tantamount to taking away ALL guns is just crazy. Background checks do NOT equal wholesale confiscation of weapons. It does NOT mean a complete reversal of the 2nd Amendment. It doesn't even mean required registration. It means weapons would only be LEGALLY sold to law abiding citizens. The illegal weapons (like illegal drugs) are a completely different matter, handled by a different set of laws.

High capacity magazines

These don't even make sense in the hands of people outside the military. Why does an individual need the ability to shoot more than ten rounds? If you know how to handle your weapon, are trained to be a decent shot, then ten rounds should be enough to defend yourself. They make even less sense for hunters. Since food is so easily acquired without the need to hunt, it is generally thought of as a sport. The hunters I know do eat what they kill and, I'm told, help keep the deer population under control. To take a semi-automatic with the capacity for 100 rounds or more out to hunt would take the "sport" out of the sport. Wouldn't the ability to manage with only one shot be much more impressive than getting lucky with a large spray of bullets? The only use for a high capacity magazine is to inflict maximum damage on as many targets as possible. It is meant for killing enemies, not dinner.

Who wins and who loses

I think the real problem (like most of this country's problems) comes down to money. The people in charge of the NRA and the gun lobbyist's want people to spend lots of their hard earned money on their products, plain and simple. They know which fears to play on to get just that. When a tragedy happens and there is a fresh cry for gun control, they immediately accuse those in favor of gun control of trying to take away their 2nd Amendment rights (and their guns). They claim that current laws aren't working, so why introduce new ones. They fail to mention that the laws now in place have been neutered by other regulations making them useless. They fail to admit that the group put in place to enforce said laws is woefully shorthanded(a mere 2000 ATF for the entire nation with no boss to run it all) and also very limited in what they are allowed to do to enforce current laws. Any subterfuge to scare people into spending more money. In the meantime, people who couldn't pass a background check are getting guns with the express purpose to kill another human being. People not sane enough to be granted a weapon are getting through the loopholes we aren't allowed to close. We lose, whether it be our lives or our sense of security. They rake in the profits hand over fist, knowing that as long as they can  make us afraid, we will keep handing them more.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

J is for junk drawers and Japanese animation

A typical junk drawer. Image borrowed from the interwebs.
I know they don't seem related, but for me they are. Unpacking reminded me of the many opportunities for magick hiding in my junk drawers. Yes, plural as in three. Just one won't do. I have one in the end table in the living room that tends to hold earphones and cases for my cell phones along with the remote controls. It will also occasionally contain stray items found on the living room floor while vacuuming. The second lives in the kitchen. This one will have scissors, tools, and take-out menus along with more stray bits. After all, they wouldn't be called junk drawers without the stray, random items we don't know where to put but don't want to throw away. And they all have at least three or four pennies. The third one I'll get to in a minute. That's kind of where the Japanese animation (a.k.a. anime) comes into play.

The beauty of the junk drawer is that it unknowingly contains wonderful things that can be used in spells. I recently wanted to refresh my wish jar by taking out the wishes that came true or were no longer things for which I wished. I like to include something small for each element and to represent my most important wish or goal. This time around I pulled from my supplies a shell I collected in Florida, a chunk of dragon's blood, and a feather I've saved from my time living on the farm in Joshua. From the living room junk drawer I used a penny and stones I "collected" on one of my walks along the river. Truthfully, my shoes did the collecting. I pulled them from the tread in my walking shoes. :) The rest were found in the desk containing the third, and largest, junk drawer. My wish is for courage to write. For that, I have a copy of the One Ring (yes, that one) that fell off a bookmark, alphabet glitter, and dried petals from a rose from my grandmother's funeral. That should give me the strength of Frodo to accomplish such a big task, the right words, and my grandmother watching over me. Without my random bits from the junk drawers, it might not be so "me."

Okay, to the third drawer itself. That one contains LOTS more potential for magick. This is also where the Japanese animation relates. The third drawer, in the desk in my room, is a wide range of personal and nerd junk. I have old watches that need new batteries, lots of bookmarks, pages taken from old Llewellyn page-a-day spell calenders, greeting cards, trading cards, sci-fi convention memorabilia, and action figures. Lots and lots of little action figures. There is Legolas, Mulder and Scully, a Mars rover, and Lt. Carey from Star Trek: Voyager (still mint on card). I had to keep that last one. The character survived all seven seasons just to be killed in the finale before they all made it home. That pissed me off and I kept it for his sake. I know, silly but that's how my brain works. All the others are from my obsession with anime.

The human InuYasha
Pretty much all the shows I watch have some sort of magick to them. My very first love, Ranma 1/2, is the story of a boy cursed to change into a girl when splashed with cold water. Hot water changes him back. It's weird but I love it still. Later, came InuYasha: A Feudal Fairy Tale (a magick well that transports a girl to the past and a half demon to her future), Fullmetal Alchemist (alchemy, enough said), Naruto, Bleach, and many others. The beauty of this is that I can use my action figures in spells. Ranma works for the spells to Goddess and God, male and female. InuYasha is a half demon (with adorable dog ears) who loses his demon powers on the night of the new moon so lunar workings are great with his different forms as the focus, which form will depend on the current cycle. As an alchemist, my figure of Edward Elric is a focus for more energy. Naruto's demon fox chakra (or energy) burns red like fire instead of the characters' usual blue. He's great for fire spells or for bringing out hidden abilities (like the demon fox placed inside him). And Ichigo Kurasaki in Bleach is a Soul Reaper, helping good souls pass on and cleansing hollows (or tainted souls) so they too can pass. He's great for spirit work. So, while I may eventually find the lock for the mystery key, where the screws came from, or collect up the pennies to spend, my junk drawers will always contain something magickal.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Book reviews

coming soon! I recently signed up for digital Galleys (advance reading copies) from the site NetGalley and plan to post many of my reviews here. I'm excited to expand my horizons and try books from categories I wouldn't necessarily be able to afford otherwise. My first title wasn't quite what I'd expected (see review here), but the next two books look very interesting. First up is a thriller by author Aric Davis called The Fort. After that, is A Death at Crooked Creek, an old mystery now being investigated by modern forensics. I've got some science, some politics, some writing reference, and some science fiction coming as well, including a book of the best short stories of Connie Willis.

Friday, May 10, 2013


I considered writing about the expected definition of this word. It would be simple enough. I'm so used to being judged (by others, but mostly myself) for so many of my life decisions that it would be easy to add to the list. I instead decided to go with an option much more constructive. My Robin Wood deck and "Tarot Plain and Simple" by Anthony Louis.

The Judgement Card from the Robin Wood Tarot
The card speaks to something much more helpful. It is a card of rebirth, dying to one life and being reborn to something new. The advice in Louis' guide says it is the end of a cycle, a time of renewal and awakening, and a time to reap the rewards of past actions. The time has come to wipe your slate clean and prepare for a positive new beginning.

The timing of judgement as my word for the week is uncannily perfect. Many of my old modes of thinking and feeling are dying, personal and professional. By moving my physical residence, packing up all of my belongings and purging the unnecessary as I unpack, I am seeing things in a new light, deciding what matters and what is a waste of my precious energies. I am learning that I don't have to limit my hopes and dreams. I only need to have realistic expectations. I can only complete one task at a time, can only do so many tasks in a day.

In my "professional" life, I am setting different goals as well. The day job, the one that currently pays the bills and the cat food, has to be less important than my heart's desire. I want to write stories. I want to write blogs and book reviews for the Pagan community. I want to create Pagan greeting cards. I can't do that if I let my retail job be so important, if I let my hard work, passion, and energy go to a job I don't absolutely love. So, it is time to embrace and manifest the message of the Judgement card in my everyday life. It's time to be reborn!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

H is for Home

An offhand comment from a friend made me wonder about my idea of "home" and how my spirituality affects that idea. The comment (which in retrospect hurt my feelings a bit) was that where I live isn't important to me, that my home was just a place for my stuff. The intimation was that I make enough money to afford a nicer place, so I shouldn't settle for something cheap. At first I thought, "Well, yeah. My apartment is a place that holds my stuff." But it is so much more than that and I'm not so shallow as to put material things first.

First and foremost, my apartment is where my babies, my seven fabulous felines, live. They are my top priority, why I stick with a crappy retail job until something better comes along. My previous apartment was tiny. It was on a busy street. It had very little to enhance the lives of my cats, my familiars. While the new place isn't much bigger, it has a floor plan that gives room to run and play. More important, it has a screened-in patio. The kitties can now feel the breeze and smell the fresh air and new scents instead of watching it behind panes of glass. Since I still live in a city near lots of traffic, they must be indoor only. But the new patio gives them some of the outdoors without risking their lives. They love it!

For me, it has separate rooms; individual places I can set up for quiet time, ritual time (including a fireplace), and creative time. My old place was two open areas with very little privacy. Moving also helped me to purge many unnecessary belongings and feelings. Big, dark pieces of furniture that made the rooms oppressive were exchanged for modular, white organizers. My "skinny" clothes, those clothes we hold on to in case we become thin again, were depressing reminders of a time I couldn't get back, a time I needed to leave in the past. They went to people who need them. My writing area has moved from a corner of the living room to its own space. I am free to work on the fresh start I so desperately need.

The best part of the new abode is that it really feels like Home. The energies are warm and peaceful. As a Taurus, I love a fairly sedentary lifestyle. And I'm an introvert, so being a solitary allows me to properly charge my batteries, physically and spiritually. When I'm exhausted after a long day in retail, surrounded by energy draining people, I can come back to a place that relaxes me by simply being here. I'm also very close to a park and the river. Nature is now a five minute walk away, ready for magick.

Home is not about living in the most expensive place. It's not about a place for my material stuff. It is about place for my life.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Vanishing beauty

This used to be what summer looked like in the beautiful field behind my apartments. Now it is monoliths of freeway supports, large machinery, and lots of dirt. I miss my Texas wildflowers!

Monday, March 11, 2013

E is for Earth

As I watch the beauty of my element disappear around me through constant construction (new freeways and shopping centers) and destruction (the evils of fracking), I get the urge to embrace what little I have left. Or escape the pain of "progress" and find nature again. Living with a government that values the dollar over the air we breath, the water we drink, and the earth that feeds us frightens me. The scariest part is the absolute refusal of major groups of Americans to even admit there is a problem, much less take responsibility. To deny our climate is in turmoil is to turn a blind eye to the truth, to choose ignorance because it disagrees with dogma (or the corporations with profits at stake).

Part of me feels helpless to do anything to change. But a larger part knows that as an urban dweller, I contribute to the problem as much as the people who believe the Earth was put here just for them to use and abuse as they see fit. In my search for a way to help make a difference, however small, I found a book of essays called Pagan Visions for a Sustainable Future. The description on the book says that "Once, Pagan spirituality was about nature and survival...It still is." Essays from authors such as Ly de Angeles and Starhawk cover a wide range of topics from several perspectives. I will review the book in more depth once I've had a chance to read all of the essays. For anyone who wishes to discuss it with me, you can find it at Llewellyn Worldwide or on Amazon.

I was also introduced to the writings of Rachel Carson while taking an environmental science class. We read a biography about her lifelong fight to preserve nature from the use of dangerous pesticides, chemicals that killed not only the insects damaging crops but the flora, fauna and anything that fed on them. Crop dusting wasn't exactly done with pinpoint accuracy. She fought hard to get the government to consider more than the lost revenue from farmers and the profits of the pesticide companies. Her book Silent Spring presents the facts behind the dangers of DDT and is generally considered what launched the environmental movement when it was published in 1962. And it helped in the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. It is a book that even now, over 50 years later, comes under fire and picked apart as poor science. Carson was called an alarmist that made grand exaggerations to make people fear pesticides while ignoring their supposed benefits. They say the claims she made about the dying bird populations are obviously not true, as the populations did not crash. I wonder how they ignore the possibility that maybe the populations did not crash because she fought pesticides so adamantly. Also, much has happened in the world of science since 1962, so yeah we know more now than we did then. The EPA has an entire section on their website that covers pesticides, including a page on human health issues. She is still an important figure because of what she began and what she stood for, through her love of nature and its delicate balance. Her other titles include The Sea Around Us, Under the Sea-Wind, and The Edge of the Sea. The wonderful biography about her writings is The Gentle Subversive.

Saturday, March 9, 2013


Here's the newest member of the family. I know, a little late. She'll be a year old next month. She's adorable and very smart, like her big brother, Finley.

Sunday, February 3, 2013


I know the topic of community has been discussed a lot lately. And not just in Pagan circles. It has made me really think about just what community means to me. After the presidential election, I felt like part of a group that truly wants great things for our country. Some were willing to set aside party affiliation to see the other side did not have the average American's interest at heart. When a natural disaster strikes, it makes me proud to see those same average Americans chipping in what they can to help people, no matter where they're from. The tsunamis in Japan and India. The hurricane on the east coast. Tornadoes in Oklahoma, Missouri, and all over tornado alley. The victims were human and deserve the same consideration. And when some Christians try create lies and half-truths about the Pagan faiths, we try to band together in support.

So, at first, it surprised me to find people who didn't want any part of a Pagan community. Until I really read what they were saying. Because being Pagan means as many different things as the idea of community, it makes sense that trying to be one great "Pagan Community" is a lot like trying to lump the major monotheistic groups into one community. And for the many of us that choose a solitary path, that further muddies the water. I've tried doing the group thing, even on a small scale (2 or 3 other people). It is nice to have like-minded people to share with and learn from. But I still end up feeling like my more intimate, solitary work feels the most...for lack of a better term, right. I can be as casual or formal as what feels proper to me without worry.

But I do still feel that as a larger whole, when dealing with people who don't understand Paganism, Wicca, nature-based faiths, and every faith or spiritual belief the big religions attack out of fear, we need some sort of support system, no matter how loosely organized. Even if the support system is simply to help explain the many and varying beliefs that currently fall under that "umbrella" of Paganism, how they are all unique, wonderful, and nothing to be feared. It is always easier to overcome prejudice when you have the support of others who understand, can sympathize.

The inspiration for this post came from a class I am currently taking, Introduction to Ethics. The discussion this week is on responsibility and the difference between duty and charity. We read about the famine in Somalia in 2011. Between an unstable government and extreme drought, thousands upon thousands of people died from starvation. The UN said February of last year that the famine is over, but the situation is still very precarious. The question posed to the class was about whose responsibility it was to fix the problem. Do we worry about starving people across the globe when we still have a hunger problem here in the US? I was (and still am) boggled by how many classmates said to just ignore the problem elsewhere until all of our problems are fixed. In an age where we can span the globe with the click of a mouse or tap on a portable device, the community feels much more global. It is harder for me to say "it's not my problem" and go about my business. Granted, I can't make a huge difference on my own, but when people band together as a group, one small drop in the bucket becomes a lake. My tiny donation, when combined with hundreds of other tiny donations can make the difference between a mother having to bury her child or getting the chance to watch that child grow and prosper.

The individual goal for any given circumstance will bring together whichever kind (and size) of community is necessary to overcome difficulties, prejudices, and fears. We can be a community without losing our individual needs.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I've been trying for some time to put together a spreadsheet of magick tools by intention. It's easy enough to go and find information on a particular tool. Most sites have a page devoted to the various scents of incense and what types of spells for which they work best. Then you have to find a completely different page for which color candle, which day, or which stones to use. I want to compile all of those tools into one place. We usually know exactly what the spell is intended to do and having all the possibilities in one list can save time and several searches.

This post is to poll my readers, find out which types of spells you do the most often. Which intentions would you like to see on the list? My current list contains about sixty different intentions. I want to make the list as inclusive as possible without filling it with spells that no one ever needs. Also, which tools do you use the most often? At the moment, the spreadsheet has color (whether it be candle or cloth), days of the week, element, stones, oils, herbs, and deities. Should I add others? Let me know what you think. I hope to have the list done and added to the site by the end of February. Thanks!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Affordable Magick - B is for Budget

I was at a loss for a good topic starting with the letter B that wasn't already covered. Enter crisis of cashflow and perfect topic! In fact, it should have been so obvious. My plan several years ago for Luna's Gathering was about magick on a budget. I wanted to share ways of practicing the Craft without emptying the bank account. "Spells, supplies, and more for the Practical Witch," or so the website claims, even now. I still have grand plans for making this happen. First, I must learn it for myself.

My great epiphany, use what you have, came about when I found I'd have to move. Again. Well, that and a few overdraft fees (insert crisis of cashflow here). Changing homes was nowhere in my itinerary for many years. I looked around at lots of stuff and realized I had no desire to pack most of it up and haul it to my next home. I have three shelves of books on magick, many of which have the same information. There is also a cabinet full of candles in many colors, originally purchased for the website. I already gave away the hundreds of sticks of incense to others before they got too stale. Did you know that if you store several scents in the same box, even if they're in their own bags, the scents begin to blend? I found that out the hard way.  :-)

There are plenty of wonderful ways to do magick; spells that require little to no tools. For those spells that need a little more focus, there are alternatives. A simple kitchen knife can be just as effective as an athame. Tea lights from the dollar store burn just as bright, and are perfect when time is also tight. Simple notebook paper works as well as parchment. A lot of the information needed can be found on the internet. The only thing that can't be substituted is intention. As long as the thoughts and energy are right, so too will the spell. My favorite tool for doing magick? My computer. I can share my feelings, send positive thoughts and energy to far off friends, and connect to communities in a way that's not so easy in the middle of the Bible belt.

Don't get me wrong. I love stepping into a shop and feeling the positive energy all around. I make mental shopping lists of things I want, knowing that when I can afford them, I'm giving back to the community. The nicer tools have their time and place when the budget will allow. Until then, I don't have to put off what needs to be done because I can't balance a checkbook, Gus (my car) decides he needs a little attention, or rent is going up $120 a month. Using ordinary items in a spell also means we recognize the magick in everything.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Brave: The Movie

Pixar Makes Magick

Though I know the movie has come and gone from theaters, I felt it deserved mention here. And it was one of my Christmas presents. :) I read many reviews that absolutely hated this film. I couldn't understand the ugliness and anger. They ranged from things like "The whole movie reeks of feminist fantasy" to "weird politically correct preaching, overdone action scenes, and generally random and weird plot." They called Merida whiny, petulant, and selfish. It really made me wonder what was behind all the vitriol.

The movie I saw was a beautifully animated, well told story that stands with the best of Pixar as an equal. The mother-daughter relationship, which is rare in a Disney film that usually opts for single fathers, was wonderful and complex, like real life. It was a bit more serious than most Pixar or Disney and lacked musical numbers to lighten the mood, but that doesn't make a lesser story. What some saw as petulance was a typical teenage girl rebelling against parents who had her whole life planned; an arranged marriage and being a "proper lady" like her mother. The major difference with Brave's heroine was that her act of rebellion had dangerous consequences for which she had to take full responsibility. I also loved that the witch who supplies the potion that creates the main conflict of the story isn't evil or playing with dark magick for her own purposes. She warns Merida of the abuse of magick, that it doesn't always work how you want. Personal responsibility is an important message.

With all the magick in the story (and not of the evil variety), I wonder if some of the negative reviews weren't fueled by fear. Certain organizations don't take kindly to telling girls that they don't necessarily need to find a husband and settle down to have a great life. They have the power within themselves to be great.

The added bonus to this fabulous movie was the enchanting short film "La Luna." It was a simple little story of a boy going with his father and grandfather to learn the family trade; cleaning up all the loose stars on the surface of the moon. It was one of the most Pagan things I'd ever seen from Disney (until I saw the Tinkerbell movie). That six minutes alone was worth the ticket price to see in 3D.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Need to Connect - Ancestors

I recently came across a wonderful group of bloggers participating in something called the "Pagan Blog Project." The idea is that they send out prompt suggestions for each letter of the alphabet and ask bloggers to write about something in their magickal life that starts with the corresponding letter (each letter is used two weeks in a row; 26 letters, 52 weeks) and share that blog with the group. It seems the perfect way to motivate me to focus more on my spirituality and post regularly. It is also my hope this will push me to step outside my safe little comfort zone and take a few risks. Okay, explanations over. On to my first post. :)

My mom (right) with her older sister and younger brother.
Though I don't have children of my own, family has always been important. But it never occurred to me while growing up to ask questions about the people who came before. I knew I was part English and part Italian on my mother's side, which I thought explained the love of Italian food and my preference for tea (with cream) over coffee. I never even though to ask my Gram's maiden name. It wasn't until I found an old photo album that thoughts of great grandparents ever entered my mind. My mom told me the pictures were of her grandparents and their relatives. I suddenly felt this connection, this need to know all I could find about these people; my family. Starting out, I made a list of all the names and began to grill my mother for information. Then I asked Gram as well. Though it would take me years to figure out the right questions to ask. I will always regret that my maternal grandfather passed away before I could talk to him too. So many of our old photos are of the Terni-Diekmann line, his Italian-German roots, and many of them don't have names. The most prominent figure in his family was his mother, a strong person despite many losses, including her husband and younger sister.
My new obsession began in earnest in 2001 when I posted my first tree on Ancestry, pitiful though it was. I would spend the next 12 years digging through death records, census records, and marriage licenses to track from Texas, back to Missouri, Louisiana, then England, Germany, France and Austria, going back 5 generations so far. Suddenly I was no longer just a Texan. It was no longer just my immediate family. I have a history. I am a part of history. And a recent DNA test showed that future generations will lead me back to two main regions; Southern Europe (specifically Spain and Italy) and Scandinavia (specifically Norway and Sweden). The more I search, the more I want to know. Do I have an affinity for the Greek pantheon from my Southern European roots? Is my long line of strong female figures from my Scandinavian roots? What in my blood pushes me to love nature, to seek it as my spiritual choice? Do I have any wise women in my past? My Samhain rituals are so much richer for all the family I can now celebrate as mine.