Circle of Joy and Sorrow

Everything that exists is in a manner the seed of that which will be. -Marcus Aurelius

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Coup D'oeil

Now these two fancy little French words mean “power of the glance” and tell you the heart of casting spells- with bumper stickers. “Free Tibet” I’ve blogged about, and there’s also one on my car for my favorite brewery, DogFish Head. “Think globally, drink locally; support your local brewery,” makes for good advice all around.

Then there’s my sister’s (sarcasm) favorite. “Draft SUV Drivers First.” You guessed it-she drives an SUV.

That sticker expounds one unreserved little opinion. Which probably compels one of my co-workers to keep spitting on my driver’s side window. So whose energy work do you think is more effective? Who has control over the actions of the other?

Bringing us to one of those more trickier moral quandaries of spell work. Almost no need or intent comes without the requirement to induce behavior or not in others. Even if you cast a spell to be glamorous, that requires people be induced to see you as more glamorous than perhaps they would have decided.

Once upon a time, I read that healing is really the only moral magic a witch could do, and I still believe that’s not true. Forcing people to look at the horrible results of their desires and actions, how is that immoral? Just so, blessed bumper stickers are like highway hierophants, revealing to people the divide between the sacred and the profane.

My spell affects no one who has not an honest heart about the war in Iraq and what it has cost us as a people. Those who are stirred to restlessness and spitting on liberals, or their cars out of cowardice, are those whose peace of mind may be stolen away by a 3 x 12 sheet of plastic. The contempt with which conservatives feel free to treat liberals and progressives deserves its wages.

Great Goddess, Goddess Cybele, Goddess Lady of Dindymus,
May all your fury be far from my house.
Incite the others, go. Drive other men mad.

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Friday, April 28, 2006

Red Stone Altars

Now this is about one hidden Maryland gem, for anyone looking for a place for outdoor ritual circles. State Parks are great, but only open for camping on the weekend, and if you’re on the market for a campsite in the middle of the week, I’ve got one for you, and it’s a real witch’s delight. You do need to be over 21 and you will need plastic, but their phone number’s 410-923-2771. Curious about the title? All through the campsite portion of Capital KOA are these protruding natural red stone altars. Astounding enough that I cringe not having a digital camera to share them with all of you dear readers. I really need to progress out of the stone age.

As for amenities, for the morning to mid afternoon, there’s actually a swimming pool and an outdoor billiards table, and they sell firewood until 3 pm for $5 an armful. You can gather kindling and tinder at will, and the mosquitoes weren’t an issue. There’s also a playground, and cabins of various sizes, and a meadow and some nature trails. The camping portions a bit rooty, but the tree canopy’s nice and the underbrush has been cleared from the actual sites. They also left in some lovely holy and dogwoods, and they’ve got a lighted path to the public restrooms. Which are far from porter potties. Definite possibilities if you don’t have the hundreds to shell out for some of the larger and farther away pagan gatherings.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Divine Bunny Hunter God

Now I used to have a lot of friends who were bunnies. Granted that was a while ago, and granted none of them grew up to be Wiccans, or even remotely of the species Paganus. But I want to go on the record that I used to love them, and not just with pineapple sage.

I almost killed a bunny of the furry variety last night, and while I don’t believe in signs (only the missed of the warning variety), I got to thinking out there on the dark highway about what I could possibly add to the astounding series of articles on “bunnyhunting” just posted on “The Juggler.” See:

Olive’s a fairly active political pagan. To call yourself “active” you need to attend at least one political meeting a week, and volunteer regularly on at least one campaign. Attending an occasional demonstration or signing a petition or reading the Sunday paper are good, but not enough.

On the Cauldron boards recently, I was informed by an erstwhile bunny that I actually was completely wrong about the political reality in this country. And to even voice a political opinion is to accuse all bunnies present of not being informed about politics, which golly they are, because I don’t know, the faeries tell them.

Yes, Virginia, the CNP exists. They’re not the monster under the bed; they’re a non-elected body setting national policy on the Middle East. And I am just sick to death of bunnies basing their understanding of the world and human nature on a couple of nice Christian neighbors. We all have neighbors.
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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Urban Pagan Harvest

Now I hear a lot about how pagans of the urbane must be cut off from nature. Concrete and divided highways we may have, but we also have something else. An expanding crop of ragweed.

I snagged the May issue of National Geographic to read about the Gospel of Judas, and found myself skimming through the allergies article. In the caption for a swagger of ragweed on the side of a highway near Washington D.C., I learn this:

Higher temperatures and rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide make ragweed grow faster, flower earlier, and produce stronger pollen. According to USDA plant psychologist Lewis H. Ziska, pollen production could double by the end of the century.

Some crazy farmers even grow ragweed as a crop to sell to the pharmas to be made into allergy vaccines. So there's a real urbane crop we drive by every day, that we can harvest and make into our own burning men or a slain god of the harvest. Although a scattering of pagans might not make a difference, does stopping by Giant for a few ears of corn connect us better?

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Sunday, April 23, 2006

Epona Gets Her Shop On

Now we need some serious chatter in the pagan community over our occult shoppies. You can get plaster women with naked breasts. You can get ten dollar love candles. You can get another pentacle necklace. You can shell out for some lip balm you never use because it’s just a pain in the tail to apply. You can pay twice the commercial rate for stick incense.

Community bulletin boards? Good. Public rest rooms? Good. Little dram bottles? Good. Bumperstickers to amuse Epona? Good. 90% knickknacks? Not as much.

Show me the ritual tools. And I don’t mean a hideous Egyptian athame. I mean an iron cauldron you can do more with than stick a tea light in the bottom. I mean a respectable chalice or a nice selection of drums. (Read: more than I have fingers for.) Rattles? Tambourines without cheesy wolf pictures? Ritual broom of the actual size of a broom?

So let’s go down the roll call: Spark of Spirit, Turning Wheel, Crystal Fox. Show me the cauldron. And not a tinsy insy weeny little itty bitty iron bowl. And yea, how about pagan shirts that aren’t billboards for a fantasy convention? And I’m tired of buying ten dollar candles as a form of pagan charity. When they don’t even show me the men!! ;)

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Pagan Night Out

Now I am the devotee of Epona who gets lost in every city. Five times it took me to find my way over the Key Bridge into Dundalk when I began to go to the esbats of Briar Rose back in 1999, using instead two tunnels, around and straight through the heart of Baltimore. I get lost with homemade maps or Map Quest. I get lost following other people. And my luck hasn’t changed with my move to Glen Burnie. I attempted two weeks ago to go to a local drum circle in Odenton, never to find the place.

Friday night last proved only slightly better, when I decided in some stroke of brilliance to drive to the D.C. Pagan Night Out in Arlington. Little did I know that I could have taken the train and the Metro, which would have let me off right across the street from the restaurant. Oh no, I drove. And I thought I was making pretty good time when I crossed the bridge just a few minutes after seven. Perhaps I would have been a mere fifteen minutes late, had I not then spent two hours lost in Virginia.

The first hour was my complete fault because when I got the Map Quest, I didn’t zoom out enough to realize there are two Arlingtons. So merry little me, I turned west on 66 and went out to the other Arlington, where there is actually another intersection of Lee Highway with that same route. When none of the streets were named as they should have been, I began to get a sinking feeling. So I called 411 and got connected to the Queen Bee. Turn around, they said, you idiot pagan.

Tail between my tires, I went bombing back into the city only to get off at the right exit. I could not believe my luck. No really, I couldn’t, so I turned around and tried to retrace my route just to check. And got lost again. I ended up at a gas station, only to find that no one my age apparently eats around Arlington, or they live on air. But for once, the gas station attendant knew what the hell I was talking about. Go back, he said, you idiot pagan.

So after nine, and after parking without getting a ticket in some underground garage (thank the gods for employee breaks), I finally stumbled into the D.C. Pagan Night Out. Pretty good people, and I also meet Killina for the first time, and an awesome blonde Liz and Bert. And the resident wack who stirred forth to quiz me on my misplaced devotion to “spirits.” Epona got down to business with the sugar packets, and I ended up vowing never to cheat on Ramen noodles with Vietnamese soup again. When all was said and done, Epona and I turned around (31 minutes later) to hoof it back to GB. I’m sure she’s out there in the parking lot right now reading my warranty, to see how many more screw-ups this witch gets before she can trade me in as a lemon, or I suppose, a pumpkin.
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Friday, April 21, 2006

Free Tibet

Now about my brother. I have several liberal bumper stickers smashed over the rear of my car, and one of them reads “Free Tibet.” At the first sight of this, my brother’s great proclamation was “You don’t even know where Tibet is.” Ever since he went away to join the Seals (and didn’t make it), my brother has been considering himself an authority on all things concerning world politics. If he were President of the United States we would now be occupying Syria and Lebanon.

He sure knows how to yank my chain. I told him about joining Drinking Liberally in D.C. and his reaction was a story about how someone made a cute, blonde Republican girl wearing a pro-Iraq war shirt in his store cry. He was suddenly animate about how he wanted to beat that person to a pulp, his face swelling up red and the veins beginning to distend on his neck. I was just shocked. Since we were at my father’s house I had to bite back a retort about how he’d feel if she’d been old and ugly.

My brother took me out to lunch for my birthday and bought me some clothes from the yuppie sporting goods store he manages in Georgetown- Patagonia. Which I loved. I mentioned that DL had gone out to see the movie “Thank You for Smoking,” which he was shocked to learn we all enjoyed. Strange thing, that I could actually mention my being Wiccan with him freely but it’s being liberal that’s so unspeakable.

I thought of him when I picked up a book last week called “The Last True Story I’ll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier’s Account of the War In Iraq;” John Crawford’s little collection of Faulknerish short stories about being with the Florida National Guard in Baghdad. I was left torn between two feelings when I was done: wishing he’d done time in Iraq that would have left him with a more healthy view of war, and the relief that he was forced to stay home.
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Saturday, April 15, 2006

Drum Envy

Now I just attended the best drum circle of my life. I speak of the Westminster Drum Circle at the Westminster Unitarian Universalist Church west of Baltimore, which is run by this most amazing woman whose name I did not catch. I’ve been to many drum circles over the past decade, and even to the famed one at Free Spirit Gathering (which was actually a nightmare of these two dueling drum groups, but that’s another story). Yet tonight I actually met a woman who could organize one and she did a stellar job at conduction.

Applause done, it’s time to put on the pointy hat. I went with my seashell rattle and sat down next to a guy with three drums, all very beautiful. And it wasn’t very long before I found my jaw was sore from being clenched and my back was stiff. Here I was falling off tune, all because I couldn’t get over that this guy had three drums and didn’t have the manners to offer on to me. Not a lot like the Elder I keep getting told to rise up and be. I had to get up and flee the scene of my crocodile tears.

I weave back into this sordid tale that wonderful woman, who announced a request that we spend a round concentrating on the non-drum instruments, and came around with a basket of various goodies. I chose a wooden cricket, who came with a little mallet that you dragged up and down his wings to make him chirp. Three-drums man chose a fish. Other people chose triangles and rattles made of seed-pods and we began another round.

Rising wind brought in the night air that finally had begun to stay warm after the sun had gone down. I noticed the refreshing lack of extravagance in this small Christian church. I noticed the contributions of the guy with the awesome box drum that sounded like a snare, and the man who played the flute. I noticed the eye-candy across the way. And I found a way to let go how I felt being too poor to afford a drum of my own.

I mean to speak of more than a way to be good in the eyes of the gods; I mean to speak of an easy way to be happy. You don’t hear a lot of talk among pagans of something so ordinary as envy, at least when pagans are talking about their own faults. I suppose the Dalai Lama does not feel envy, but they searched the world for him. I admit that I struggle with envy flipping through magazines of beautiful clothes or watching someone else show off their camera phone. Envy’s proven a hard habit from which to be free.

Still, there is that line from the Charge of the Goddess that reminds us that all acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals. And I find it works for me as it worked tonight, this promise that my happiness is worth as much as Three-Drums happiness, and so there’s nothing to be gained in shying away from whatever pleasures may be found. For there are crickets. And perfectly good rattles.
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Friday, April 14, 2006

Weed by the Moon

Now I believe that every coven should have some lore, so at least Joy and Sorrow won’t be lite on that account.

We planned to hold our first full moon ritual at the observatory at the local Airport, which is supposed to allow night time access. Alas, we got moved out by a cop as we were arriving who chased everyone with a spot light.

So Mystry and I ended up under the pines outside of my apartment complex which worked out swell. Even if the focaccia bread I baked only rose most of the way. (I feel compelled to confess it came premixed and all I did was add the water and set a kitchen timer.) For once I have baked something edible!

I wrote a weed ritual for this full moon. The purpose of its magic lay in that when we pour positive energies into our lives we often end up fertilizing things inadvertently that we don’t want, like chickweed in the lawn. So as some harvest or plant by the moon, we were weeding by the moon. While the usual route would be to burn away negativity using fire, there’s a fire ban in Maryland, so instead we drowned our weeds in a green bowl, after stating what we intended to do to continue weeding out this accidental problem in our lives.

Then we shared the focaccia and some white IPA beer from my favorite brewery which is DogFish Head. I was one very blissy Wiccan, which meant I did some rambling and gushing which is very unlike my usual serious self. We sat around enjoying the night and trading hilarious ritual stories, which I really enjoyed. Even the moon put in an occasional show from behind the clouds!

Hope everyone’s full moon proved wicked fun! Cheers!
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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Crazy Moon Wicca

Now I want to talk a bit about the moon. Melanie Jayne Eleanor Grace Brook dropped me a line about my Witchvox article and asked, “How can the moon not return your love?” If you turn over many of the representations of nature in Wicca, I swear you’ll find a Hallmark seal of approval.

Once upon a time I actually got to run my hands over a moon rock down at Cape Canaveral in Florida, and it was much like touching hard ash. Yet when I go outside for my ritual circle tonight (glee! looks like the weather will hold!), my heart will leap with awe and wonder. Yet should I say this is love?

Simple to say that we immerse ourselves in nature because we honor the reflection of the divine through creation, just as when we turn our faces up to the moon, the reflection of the light of the sun falls on our skin. Our awe is not for a lesser form of the gods, only part of their immensity that we experience. The moon has a complicated relationship with the sun and with the earth, yet the power the moon exerts on our lives is not an emotion. The power of the moon infuses the chasing storm and the rising tide, and none of it gets delivered like maternal greeting cards into our email inbox.

How can it get there when the moon is a barren rock? Did the Goddess put the moon in the heavens millions of years ago so that tonight it could shine down on little special you?

If you are looking for the spiritual by the light of the moon, instead of imagining the moon like a button just out of reach over head, instead reach for the immensity of the distance between yourself and the moon. Push the moon and the horizon away to the limits of what you believe you can perceive, and seek to feel the expanse of the sky with the moon shinning down over the whole dark side of the earth. You may find some peace in this immensity, that even the dim light of the moon awashes over you and swallows your own existence. I find it easiest to remind myself then that I’m not likely to be able to cause the world to come to a horrible end, and it helps me get perspective on my own sorrows.

Still, you will not find love within the light of the moon. You will not be able to dance with the moon. If you want that, you have to open up your heart and your circle to other pagans, and ask them to share some of their love with you.

Have a wicked full moon! ;)

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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Allow Me To Confess...

Now I did actually strip once, at FSG Beltane in 2004 as the "Token Virgin." I wore this little white dress when everyone else was sporting black leather, and I had this little jewel red kiss temp tatoo for my ass. With several beers tucked away. And I won a free vibrator. So anyway, I picked up this little quiz from who emailed me this wonderful comment about my Witchvox article. "Olive, Merry meet! I have to say that your blog and your article here on WitchVox are justa breath of fresh air! I would have posted this comment via blog spot but it didn'twant to let me. :pIt was a pleasure to read your work! Keep writing! :) Cydira"
Your Stripper Song Is
Super Freak by Rick James
"That girl is pretty wild nowThe girl's a super freakThe kind of girl you read aboutIn new-wave magazine"
Freaky? Yes. But you're also pretty darn funny.
What Song Should You Strip To?

Left Hand of God

Now I just got done reading the longest singles ad ever. I refer to the much-lauded “Left Hand of God” by Michael Lerner, who’s the editor of Tikkun magazine. A magazine in which I will now never get published, but oh well!

Here’s not where I’m going to go on and on about how dispiriting I found the polemic, or that Lerner’s spent a bit too much time drinking Kool-Aid at Republican parties. Or the aerobics involved in avoiding talking about atheists, or how he equates them with secular, and excludes anyone religious from taking an existential view of governance. Or that he misrepresents central tenets of the feminist and environmental movements, and thinks that the drive towards conservative religious groups in America has been largely because these people had too much bad sex. In his defense, Lerner’s really too old to go undercover to Intervarsity and Young Life meetings where he would have discovered that either everyone’s just having sex anyway, or they’re afraid to have sex and are pretending everyone’s a virgin. Talk about group dynamics.

Back to that part about Lerner’s search for romance. I admit I had to drag myself through the chapter that’s actually supposed to be about sex, and yet my eyebrows entered orbit on page 309, when he’s supposed to be talking about health care. Lerner decries our cultural failure to “combat the pervasive ageism with its willingness to… stigmatize the sexuality of the elderly (“dirty old man” or “dried up old woman,” as though cross-generational sex among adults were dishonorable because old people should not have sexual energy or the emotional and intellectual wealth to offer younger people in a sexual relationship)..” Now I’m not going to go off the deep end here and equate this with the condoning of sexual predation of teenagers by middle age men. But I do have more than two cents to say as a 27-year-old.

Look, you’re just not attractive. It’s not about “emotional wealth” that all those hot chicks in short skirts won’t give you the time of day. And it’s a perfectly healthy response for me to not see you as an attractive mate. I want to spend the prime of my life changing the diapers of babies, not those of a grown old man. And yes I am sick to death of having to mute my own sexuality or face the pawings of dirty old men who try to use my progressive values as an argument about why they should get to have sex with me. I don’t miss the fact that you aren’t talking about sex among the elderly, you’re insisting that younger women aren’t spiritually progressive if they aren’t willing to have sex with dirty old men.

And how see through can you get? When you invite people to pay to be members (if you like how they present themselves and they don’t disagree with you, of course) of your Network of Spiritual Progressives, and you can’t pay attention to everyone who responds, and then you say (p.366) “If you would, send me your photo so I can have the pleasure of seeing how God manifests through your physical being!” And in which room of your house will you be having this pleasure? Oh really now!
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Friday, April 07, 2006

Always on My Mind

.... now this is blatantly stolen from another MD blog at

Star Around My Neck

Now I just bought another star to wear around my neck. Third in a short line of such stars; the first being one made of leaves which I wore when I belonged to Greenwood, the second a small and simple line for Blue Heron, and this third is rough and twists like a vine. This new one didn’t cost nearly as much as its 18 inch chain. I took off the old one and lost it when I started apartment shopping last summer, and the one of leaves didn’t speak to me when I started wearing that one again. So I took myself off to the Turning Wheel in Glen Burnie and got myself this one new.

I found myself unexpectedly out of practice wearing one around. I decided to break it in by going to Quiznos and Starbucks, two establishments which I could replace with versions the next town over. In all my six months here in GB, I’ve yet to run into a clearly marked pagan in public, so I wasn’t expected the complete absence of glances. Nothing. So often we tell ourselves that we are content to be pagan in secret, and then we go about in jewelry that proclaims our faith. Or we tell ourselves we are over that phase in our lives. Of course, then when we get snubbed we find out different. Now, I don’t need to go back to my teenage years when someone tried to light off my hair with a cigarette lighter. But I’m a wallflower enough as it is these days.

On the other hand, I also bought a hematite keyring and a tape of Starhawk talking about paganism in the 21st century. The tapes out in my car, or I’d give you the title. So you can see how memorable the recording was for me. I was captivated though about finally hearing the voice behind the first books of my early pagan years. Strange that she sounded a lot like I had actually thought she sounded. Hesitant, amused, a bit like Boston although she lives in California. It’s been a long time since I first became disappointed with her, and a long time in understanding why.

Starhawk’s never written another Witchy book. Pagan books, and books on being part of the global justice movement, books I’ve loved all on their own. Yet, nothing for the actual Craft, nothing Wiccan. So she was so easily displaced by later contenders, Mama Silver to name just one, and wasn’t an elder in the Craft when I needed elders so much myself. P.C. started off so well, and then we got Love Spell. I’m left to wonder if it’s something people ever fear when they sit down to write for the first time.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Hebe Brews the Coffee

Now this is the first news for my little non-read blog and here I am a whole almost two months out of the loop. Just to not be a hypocrite I may have to soon have a little boycott Starbucks graphic for my boycott China. The just of it is that a Wiccan goes and has the near to join the unionizing movement for baristas and her boss pays her back with a little good old religious discrimination. She’d been wearing her pentagram for three years without comment, and suddenly she’s being bounced from work if she dares wear a symbol of her religion. Her other Christian co-workers can wear whatever they please. Although there was a touching incident where one of her Jewish co-workers put on her pentagram in solidarity and got bounced from work for the day as well.

People always surprise me when I get timid about how I think we should make sure the world’s a better place. And what better way than where Hebe’s worship is so strong, than the place where the cup of enlightenment is poured forth for gods and grads alike? So just to stretch out the whole 15 minutes of this thing, here’s the info needed to raise a ruckus. Call Starbucks District Manager Kim Vetrano NOW and demand that Suley be allowed to freely observe her religion while at work and that she be compensated for the work hours she missed:
Phone: (646) 256-9929E-Mail: kvetrano@starbucks.comFax: (917)591-8599 Stay Connected at