20 June 2006

Hello? Can You Hear Me Now?

Dandelion was a while back, but life took over from blogging for a while. Hence my lateness.

But I did indeed go to Dandelion, and I behaved myself very well, which I'm happy to report. I'd hate to have to tell you I was bad.

No, no, I was good. I did bitch about the mud, which was legion, but I didn't bitch about the activities, on account of being careful not to go to anything I didn't want to do.

This would be the advantage of having gotten older. I don't do what I don't want to do. (No point to it, really; I won't do it well, anyway. May as well stay home.)

I was chuffed to get to be one of the four founders of Reclaiming there -- that was fun -- and I loved seeing old friends, and catching up on YEARS of gossip, and I did love sharing a cabin with my former roommates and coveners Star and Rosie -- it's lovely, the way one falls right back into old patterns of behavior. Well, the nice patterns of behavior; the joking and the bossing each other around. Yep. Loved that.

Also I was proud to be the 3Rivers Reclaiming representative. My report: There are about three of us. We don't need fixed. We need connected. (Cheers at this.)

But my favorite day was the day in which, in consensus process, the Reclaiming tradition got restructured; it's decentralized, and it's inclusive.

I'm not the leader of ANYTHING, but I did sign up for two committees, the cyberspace committee (duh), and the connecting small groups committee (duh).

And the only other thing I have to report is that if you're in the Berkshires, and it's raining, and your cell phone provider is T-Mobile, you spend a lot of your goddamn free time standing in a field looking like a Verizon commercial.

12 April 2006

More Nuala

Here's what I promised last time: Michael Harnett's translation of "Geasa," which I like better than McGuckian's:


If I put my hand on holy ground
if I built a river bridge
all built by day by craftsmen
is felled on me by morning.

Up the river a nocturnal boat:
a woman stands in it,
candles alight in her eyes, her hands.
She has two oars.

She takes out a pack of cards.
She asks: "Will you play forfeits?"
We play. She wins each game
and sets me this problem, this forfeit, this load:

never to eat two meals in one house
never to stay two nights under one roof
never to sleep twice in one bed --
until I have found her again. I asked her where she'd be.

"If it's east I am, it's west, if it's west I am, it's east."
Off with her in lightning flashes
and I am left on the bank.
The two candles still light by my side.
She left me the two oars.

(Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Selected Poems / Rogha Dánta)

(A couple of other bilingual editions of her poetry are The Water Horse and Pharoah's Daughter.)

11 April 2006

A Gift (for those of you who haven't met Nuala)

It's spring, and it's nearly the full moon, and I'm reminded tonight of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill. I'll give you "Geasa" later -- I don't like McGuckian's translation, found on the link above -- but that site does give Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin's excellent translation of "Madame":

Lady under the lake
Your bright rooms
Where they are killing bullocks
And sheep are turning on spits,

Your whitewashed courts
On islands near the coast
Or touching the horizon
Have been seducing me

Ever since I was a child.
Your dwelling is no
Tree-house, woven shelter
But a hall to feast in.

The door is twenty
Feet wide, the roof
Made of birds’ feathers
Red and blue

No need here to shut
Windows or doors —
It makes no odds, the water
Enters everywhere.

And I am guiding
My mother towards you
Across a bridge of glass,
With careful steps

A tentative foot forward,
But we are arriving.
In the doorway of your sunny chamber
A cold sweat comes over me

On the doorstep,
At the revolving door
Turning widdershins,

For the one that mounts
Your stone staircase
Will never be
Seen again.

Ní Dhomhnaill's worth learning Irish for. Yay, the priestess poets.

27 March 2006

Helpful Advice from Pandora

I had a lovely time at the 3Rivers spring ritual, and I was proud to have been awarded a job in it, which was to lead the trance. (I had another job, too, which was to hold one end of time; I do believe that's going to have major impact on my little daily life. I don't think you can go around holding one end of time without being affected by it. I'm waiting to see how this manifests.) So right before I left for the ritual, I went back to the email which had told me what the ritual was about, which I hadn't paid attention to before, so that I could think up the bones of a trance.

I wasn't worried about putting a trance together -- I work quick -- but I saw that I was going to have to work REAL quick, because the agreed upon focus for the trance, as reported to me in my email, was that we would be breaking the chains that bind us so that we could plant the seeds of passion and growth and health.

So I mulled this over, and when I got to the ritual, I said, please explain. What was this about? Cause I'm trying to put a trance together here, and the best I can come up with is, we're all farmers, and we find ourselves in the barn, and criminals have come and tied us up with chains, and so we can't get to our seed bags to plant our crops. So please explain. Cause I don't think I can do this.

Well, it turned out that mostly it was the feel of the energy that was important, and not the specifics, though we DID need the chain imagery cause we were going to actually break paper chains. Ok.

So I had us be seeds in the earth, the cold earth, and we ended up needing to break the heretofore safe and helpful seed cases which surrounded us, on account of they'd gotten too BINDING, and indeed, had become just like CHAINS, and there we were, and we broke them and grew and what not and it all turned out all right.

So that was ok.

But my advice is, when putting trances together, you should watch out for the mixed metaphors. I'm just saying.

But a side note -- torn up colorful paper chains? Excellent. Just like confetti.

15 March 2006

Approach With Caution

I had a treat yesterday, when an old friend came through town and stopped by my workplace to say hello. We had only 20 minutes to catch up; what do you focus on if you haven't seen each other in years and you have 20 minutes?

Well, state of the children, sure. Brief reminisces about the past, sure. State of partnerships, sure.

And what was most pressing, given the circumstances -- teaching the craft, passing on our tradition, making decisions about how to use our energy.

When I first got out here to where I am now, I tried very hard to put a community together. I was on my own; I taught a couple of Elements courses; I worked with some friends for a while; nothing held, nothing worked, nothing stayed. It became clear to me that I was to focus elsewhere, and work, essentially, as a solitary, and that's what I've been doing, till recently.

What I learned the most from, though, was a situation wherein I'd been asked by an existing circle to come and teach them the Elements course. So I met with them over the course of weeks, and handed stuff on over. I'd asked at the beginning -- does everyone agree to this? Is this what the whole circle wants?

And the answer had been, yes it was. They'd been meeting regularly for a few years at that point, having full moon rituals, and they wanted to learn some structure for making their work deeper.

The group held together for the whole time I worked with them -- but they shattered soon after. This was because they all wanted to work more deeply, but what "deeper" looked like, what that word meant, was different for them all, as of course it would be.

So that they shattered I now understand to have been inevitable, though I thought at the time it was something I'd done wrong.

No. (Or, at least, though I may have done things wrong, teaching them my tradition wasn't wrong in and of itself.) What I was handing them was very intense -- "intense" being a crucial part of "deep," for me; but hey, that's what you get if you mess around with the Feris. So, no matter how well the classes went -- and they had gone well -- not everybody wanted to work the same way. Some of the women in the group wanted to work in an ecstasy tradition. Others wanted the gentler feasting they'd been doing for years.

Both were fine -- but they weren't something that could coexist. So the group was headed for splitting before they met me; I was simply the mirror they used to figure out who they were, which was a group that some people needed to no longer work in.

This would be why I'm staying out of the daily work and decisions and ritual planning done by my new cohorts, goddess love 'em. If they're going deeper (read "intense"), not everybody who was there at the beginning will be there for the next stage. Now that I know that's how things work, I'd like to let them work this out for themselves.

My old friend agreed. Yep, it's happened to him, too. But we're all the time getting into trouble. People get attracted by what we're doing, they want to get closer to it, they invite us to rituals, we go, we feel the energy and move with it, the whole thing gets intense, and then we hear later "We weren't ready for that." "You pushed us."

We need to walk around with a bunch of Caution Disclaimers, I suppose.

Approach With Caution: Contents Under Pressure.

06 March 2006

Group Trance

So, I had more advice for my new cohorts, and the more advice was, "group trance."

Cause there's nothing that'll either explode a group or cause it to cohere than group trance.

Hell, even just setting it up the first time gets a LOT of work done. Somebody won't want to do it, and nobody really thinks it'll work, and somebody else has trouble with trances in general, and several people will mostly want to drink coffee and TALK about group trance, but not really DO it, cause, hell, if it works, it's too scary, and if it doesn't work, it's too scary.

But oh, I do miss it. That's what I miss the most, not having a coven in the flesh these days (I've got several old friends I work with on the astral, or occasionally in three-dimensional space, but no coven where I live). I loved the way the group place shifted whether or not we were there; I loved the way my coveners were recognizable in trance, but not quite the same as they were "topside" -- one of them regularly knit in our group place, for instance, but wouldn't touch the stuff in real life.

I loved the way trances worked if there were just two or three of us, and how they worked if there were fifteen of us, and how they worked if we knew each other well, and how they worked if we didn't.

Sometimes we would have visitors and friends from other covens, for group trances at high holidays -- the living room would be littered with semi-comatose bodies of people and dogs. Once, in the long ago, a phone went off when many of us were in the middle of a Samhain trance. All the house phones were off; this was one that a visitor had brought in a coat pocket.

It was the first cell phone I'd ever seen -- when I did see it; it took us a while, naturally, to find it. About fifteen people, trying to discover a tiny ringing phone, all the while acting like they were on acid.

Woah, dude. A phone.

When we did finally locate the phone, the caller had given up. This was just as well.

And then we all lay down on the floor again and went back into trance.

Yep. Miss those days, sometimes.

Anyway. Yet another group of people is now loose on the world, having discovered that you can invent, and be invented by, trance work, several of you all together. Look out.

25 February 2006


As part of the giant wave which is transporting me back into all community, all the time, I'm going to Dandelion, an event I missed last year. But this year I'm going, as 3Rivers Reclaiming representative. I'm chuffed.

So I emailed my covener Rosie, who'd also said she was going, and I said, hey, ya wanna do a workshop? Got any ideas? And she said, hey, yeah, how about a deep trance workshop? And I said, cool, that sounds great.

And that's how you organize, if you're me.

So THAT'S how far things have gone in just a few weeks. I was sitting in my little ritual room on the night of the Winter Solstice, spinning straw into gold. And now I've got a little community, and a lot of email, and I'm going to an event called Dandelion.

Dandelion got invented after I'd gone solitary for a while, so that would be the reason I understand not the name. The name sounds fluffy. But I know that surely fluff is not involved.

If there is any damn fluff, though, I'm going to start singing "It's a Small World." It's a useful song that way.

13 February 2006

Things We Know

I've been watching a young group move its way through decisions, and it's brought back to me my early years in Reclaiming.

The first major issue my young coven came up against was: Are we obligated to work with anybody who wants to work with us?

From where I stand now, the answer to this is so obvious ("no," for those of you who feel a bit confused by the question), that I'm grateful that I once did not, truly, no kidding, know the answer, cause that makes me much more useful to cohorts who are addressing the issue now.

Part of my confusion was due to my deep conviction that everything that came my way was part of a big ol' plan that would ultimately act towards my spiritual good, if I only just trusted it.

Well, yes, I guess, but I gather that even if that's true, sometimes people are sent my way not so that I can learn to work with them no matter how gawdawful they are, but so that I can learn to say, "get out of my living room."

It's good to know how to say things like that, and mean them, in case they become necessary.

I remember our first problem came in the form of a young woman who'd been through the whole series of Reclaiming classes with us, and wanted to be in our newly formed circle, and showed up at one of our (non-public) rituals, drunk, with a couple of guys she'd picked up on the beach, and dragged over so they could see "how real witches work."

I'm sorry to say we actually allowed them, and she herself, into the circle, and had the ritual. We were young, I will say that.

But we talked it through later, and added that incident to a host of others, and decided we did not want to work with her. It was horrible, telling her that, and she cried, and we did it anyway.

And it was then that we started moving towards being a coven, and not just a circle. We wanted to work strong, and we wanted to work deep, and though we understood that people go through changes, and energy shifts, we didn't want to work with deadwood.

We were serious.

So it made me very happy when the group I've become acquainted with drew some boundaries like that. I take it that they're serious.


07 February 2006

There Was That Dark Moon Back There

Now that we've all recovered, more or less, from the VAST amount of poetry that Reya called in (beware the power of the knitting bloggers; that's all I have to say), I can return to the dark moon report I mentioned earlier.

I'll turn 52 in May. And I'm convinced that it's crucial that I uncover as much of my hidden reality as I can, NOW -- something's coming (maybe no more than the Saturn return due in a few years; maybe something else), and I need to have all my resources available.

Hence all this dark moon hoohah.

Last time, I had LOTS of information about exactly how much damage I'd done to myself in a relationship long ago. Good. I can use that.

And now the full moon's coming.

This is the pattern these days: dark moon, discover stuff. Full moon, celebrate. On, off. On, off. On, off.

And in between, I try to focus on the body. Exercise. Good food. Sleep. Get work done.

On, off. On, off. On, off.

Straw into gold; straw as gold.

On, off.

That's all. It's fairly simple.

02 February 2006

Silent Poetry Reading

In accordance with Reya's call for poetry for Brigid -- we're to read this all silently, though I might be noisy just for the hell of it -- we will now have poetry.

First, a chant to call Brigid as Goddess of Poetry, which I wrote in the long ago when I was still in San Francisco and which never, never got picked up on. It's just too damn hard to sing, alas, so it never went into the Reclaiming repertoire. But I still sing it, cause I like it:

Song shifter, story changer,
Shape, take our song.
Dream through the pulse.
Sing through the bone.

And second, an actual poem:


She keeps her clothes on at the gate:
she's that sort of girl.
Double-torched, though, two-fisted
light, walking the dark.
All that furniture looming
around, cornered, broken:
good to have a couple of lights.
More would be better, but
she's got two hands, and
they're full. The moon's not, though --
dark as toads -- and now she's

Gone. You're too slow.
Hurry, following past the
lovers, the rosaries, that lost
baby; the light flits off
the walls, the room darkens.
You're groping through the rubbish alone.

Always so. She'll open the door,
she'll lead you in, but she's
not there for the cleanup.
She's down at the corner,
eating all the honey cakes.
You're stuck with the boxes,
waiting for the van.

---Anne Brannen
September 05

01 February 2006

Poetry Call

Tomorrow's the day for Reya's Silent Poetry Reading:

WHAT: A Bloggers (Silent) Poetry Reading
WHEN: Anytime February 2, 2006
WHERE: Your blog
WHY: To celebrate the Feast of Bridgid, aka Groundhog Day
HOW: Select a poem you like - by a favorite poet or one of your own - to post February 2. I don't imagine zillions of bloggers will partake of this online celebration of midwinter, but I am curious to see who is called to join this project, and especially curious to read the poetry that gets published.
RSVP: If you plan to publish, will you either leave your blog address as a comment on this post, or send me an email? I'd like to collect the poems.

If you do participate, her email is reyasdottir AT verizon DOT net -- perform the usual magic with the AT and the DOT and there you are.

See you tomorrow, poetry in hand!

30 January 2006

It's a Small World After All

Oh, WHAT an intense weekend it's been, and how I love to discover forgotten things about myself so that I can work on them and become a more full and useful person. What a damn treat.

I'll discuss that more, later, when I figure out how to say it; for now, I want to say that magic really is the art of changing consciousness at will. And it can work.

At the 3Rivers Reclaiming Brigid ritual, there was some discussion beforehand about the wisdom of using "It's a Small World After All" as the goodbye song.

Now, understand me here: if there had been no discussion, I would never had mentioned my deep hatred of that song. I would have just let the energy flow through me without screwing it up for everybody else. But since there WAS a discussion, I chimed in and added my piece. Which, I believe, included some sarcasm. I don't remember this specifically, but I've met me, and I've heard myself discuss the song "It's a Small World After All," so I'd be willing to bet that there was sarcasm involved.

One of the other participants said that he'd had a really bad experience at Disneyland, whilst on that ride at the age of 5 or so, and that the doll automatons terrified him and the song now causes him grief. And I said I'd had that experience, too, only I was 28.

Anyway. We discussed this a while, and the young woman who had suggested the song spoke quite eloquently in favor of it, talking about its lightheartedness and the way in which it speaks of our connection to the big world we're in, giving us juice so that we can act politically, and I thought, you know, it's a song. I am not at Disneyland. There are no terrifying idiot dolls. I could sing the damn song.

So I changed my mind and spoke in favor of the song, and what with one thing and another we did indeed sing the song, and since I didn't know the verses, I just sang the chorus, which I did carefully and with compassion rather than with attitude, and it was a LOVELY song, and very meaningful.

Here it is, in case you yourself should wish to use it in your next ritual:

It's a world of laughter, a world or tears
Its a world of hopes, its a world of fear
There's so much that we share
That its time we're aware
Its a small world after all

CHORUS: Its a small world after all
Its a small world after all
Its a small world after all
Its a small, small world

There is just one moon and one golden sun
And a smile means friendship to everyone.
Though the mountains divide
And the oceans are wide
It's a small small world.

There you go. Consciousness, messed around with willfully.

25 January 2006

Saturn Square Saturn

One of the things going on lately (see earlier posts concerning Dark Moon Drama and Full Moon Drama and oh, probably Middle of the Week for No Reason Drama; I can't remember the details at the moment) concerns my little personal transit through a Saturn square Saturn time (Saturn originally in Scorpio).

I'm due for my second Saturn return in just a few years, and my first Saturn return involved Getting Sober. I'm glad about it, I'm grateful every day for it, it's the most useful thing that ever happened to me, BUT I wouldn't characterize it as A Treat.

No, it was hard.

And in general, I experience Saturn energy as pretty damn intense.

So my thinking these days is maybe, instead of getting horribly surprised by my inner reality in a few years, I can siphon off some of that energy now by working through as much stuff as I possibly can. This makes sense, doesn't it? I wasn't entirely bonkers when I thought this up. Nah.

Hence the year of dark moon work; hence the glitter bombs and new adoration of Freyja; hence daily and constant spiritual practices involving cleaning up my stuff and getting clear.

So it is, of course, with a bit of trepidation that I approach the weekend, which includes a Brigid ritual on Saturday (and I'm pledged to her) and the dark moon on Sunday.

O, frabjous day! Caloo! Calay!

Tomorrow morning on the way to work I think I'll go buy some Godiva chocolate, and some flowers, all for me. In honor of Freyja.

And because chocolate seems like a pretty damn good idea.

18 January 2006

Back From the Full Moon

As could be expected, it wasn't a RESTFUL full moon, nah, not really.

I suppose all that glitter has something to do with it. I gave one of the glitter bars I use to a friend last summer, and it sort of flipped her out; there was glitter! everywhere! it was out of control!

Well, yes....that was the point, really....

But I can see if one favored Kind and Gentle change one might not want to use a Lush glitter massage bar in the bath. The glitter is around the house for days. Weeks, really.

I like it, though. Very explosive. Gets a lot done quickly.

This month I teamed the glitter bar (or glitter bomb, as my friend calls it) with glitter bath foam (given to me by the same friend, now that I think of it) and glitter lotion. And there was some other actual magic, to boot.

All of which put me in an altered state for three days -- good timing, that, the long weekend -- and then I had a Down Day bouncing back.

I'm fine now. And I'm happy with the work. I hit some deep information and I got some deep work done.

And the glitter's slowly disappearing. On to the dark moon!

10 January 2006

New Stone Circle! Be Prepared!

Witchvox points to an article out of Coventry concerning a new stone circle planned near Rugby. It's going to not only be "celestial," the article says -- though exactly in what way I can't tell -- it's going to have lights. Lots of lights. Little reflectors, for one thing, and laser displays, for another. Also, carving all over the stones, concerning local events and inhabitants and what not.

Now, if you're anything like me, your first thought is, "tacky. Just plain old tacky."

But wait! Before you compare the proposed Rugby Circle mentally with the ponderous and magnificent Stonehenge (though the effect is slightly spoiled these days by all that plastic footpath hoohah and the guide ropes), or the charming and domestic Avebury, and discover that the newly proposed circle is going to be lacking in subtlety, remember that all those icy white Greek statues and temples, and even the much later icy and grey Gothic cathedrals, were originally Really Colorful. Really. Extremely.

And then you can revise, in your mind, Stonehenge, so that it's not only intact, but also covered in little reflective mirrors and highly painted. Ha ha!

Tacky beyond measure. If the ancients had been able to construct laser light shows, believe me, they'd have been using them.

I may have to stop off in Rugby the next time I'm trying to get from Northampton to Lincoln -- there's some bizarre train change now required; you can't get there from here, anywhere in England, nowadays -- just to see the damn thing.

Or not.

06 January 2006

Things You'll Never Hear Me Say

Thanks to Owls' Court for the link to Things You'll Never Hear a Pagan Say, organized by path, including my favorites:

"Y'know, I think I've got too many Tarot decks."


"Everybody here on time? Yes? Good."

and to which I must now add

"Freyja is not my ideal woman."

04 January 2006

Beware the Goddesses of Light!

Nothing blew up during or after my dark moon power work, I'm happy to report, but I didn't get off easy, no, no.

During my dark moon year I've been working with Hecate (hence the honey cakes at the crossroads) -- well, that makes sense, no surprises there. I'm enriching my view of her, true -- the older versions, the Maiden versions, have been interesting and useful. But in order to work with the source of my power, I find to my -- well, surprise, I guess -- that she sends me elsewhere.


Pleasure? Joy? What the hell.

What I say is, there's nobody so dark as the goddesses of light. It's one of the mysteries.