Friday, September 23, 2016

Things I hate about Modern Paganism

Being a bitch Crone, I have a lot of beefs with what I see going on in modern paganism.  I have faithfully attended Paganicon, the big midwest pagan conference every March for about 3 years now. Each year I become more disenchanted with my fellow pagans who are festival attendees.
There are the cults, following the flavor of the month pagan "leaders". More often than not, to me these seem like pagan celebrities. Charismatic folk who dress the part (usually Renaissance Faire garb), who've published a couple mainstream books and who often have giant size egos to accompany their entourages.
I always wonder about the Renaissance garb...instead of a serious conference, this is more a light hearted, polyamorous romp thru the weekend with plenty of mead and Cheetos. And when Saturday night rolls around, we have the costume ball, complete with proudly obese Venus of Williandorf belly dancers, wizards holding their staffs, one guy always in the goofy antlers and, sigh, always the Celtic sounding music. Paganism, with all its factions, is not just Celtic. I cannot stand the generic Celtic music and bands that play these venues. From a Crone, it all sounds the same...pan pipes, didgeridoos, drums and some woman crooning and wailing songs with ridiculous lyrics "Kiss the night, oh, kiss the night".  You see the sad transexuals, with their clownish makeup and bows, in the corners sucking down double Scotches. The women in attendance are strikingly, overwhelmingly obese with long hair to their waists. Its all gotten so formula.

Covens and circles. I have done a lot of research into modern covens (now we call them circles) and also have lead 2 of my own. They run the gamut from those big groups who meet for show, hand out scripts to their members to read during staged performances within the group, to a husband and wife hoping for an attractive third, female, to join their circle for "magickal practice".  I despise "open rituals" and steadfastly refuse invitations to attend. My witchcraft is not to be shared with curious bystanders. Everything I know and have learned personally does not allow for this kind of random energy to enter the working arena. My witchcraft is not inclusive. Its exclusive, meant only for selected members of a trusted group. Is my brand of witchcraft, which has evolved from Wicca, into a blend of eclectic practices, chosen for their ability to "deliver the goods", somehow preferable to "Witchcraft for Dummies"?  For me it is, because its a profoundly personally spiritual issue to me, to others, probably not. Probably gets me another hater star. Some of the circles do a damn good job of forcing the members to do their homework, read prominent books on witchcraft, make group presentations, etc. But 90 per cent of them do not do any ritual work, do not practice magick. How can this be, witches who do not practice magick? Oh sure, they have the sabbath celebrations, someone wears the May queen crown at Beltane, but grind up herbs, get out the stones and do real magick? huh?
In my 40 plus years of active study, I have learned about the vibrations held in each herb and stone. I know what days are better for which magick. I know intent is all the magick one really needs, but adding the vibrations of other entities of this planet helps synergistically. I know there ARE other entities, I know the god/desses are real forces. I have little use for those who say "you didn't draw a circle in the air containing a tetrahedron within a blue square drawn on the floor".  People well versed in obscure workings that need a physicist and mathematician to explain are boring. They are missing the point.  I don't care about pagan history. Its interesting but of little practical use. I judge witches by the magick they produce. They don't have to drive BMWs, thats also missing the point, although undeniably a nice perk, but they do have to have meaningful and relatively happy, spiritual lives. I wouldn't follow a high priestess/priest who lives in a leaky trailer and is constantly working three jobs. Their magick is weak.

There are things that bother me immensely within the pagan community that are too hot to even mention in a personal blog.  I cannot even articulate these issues without wrongly being labelled a hater so I will let you just guess on those.

I don't go for the "I'm a Christian witch" folks. No, you're not. Period.

I know at least one person who proudly has declared themselves a witch for years, yet never does any magick. What exactly does being a witch mean to them? Attending a festival/conference once a year?

There's a book that came out recently "Witches in America", its been soundly cursed by the pagan community, no pun intended. I thought it was a great book. It was written by an outsider journalist,her viewpoints on attending circles, meeting with some of these pagan luminaries and being initiated into some of their groups. I found it outstanding journalism. It threatened and embarrassed the hell outta a number of prominent pagans, so much so that one pagan magazine had a review saying do not at any cost, read this book!  Perversely, that made me buy it the same day. I loved hearing the thoughts of someone not brainwashed by the screaming pagan celebrities of the day. Wicca is a new religion and modern paganism is still, well, pretty modern..When one thinks of the big pagan voices of today, maybe 20 people at most come to mind immediately. And these big voices got big because they are big fish in a still relatively tiny pond. There are NO experts yet, but reading their views and hearing them lecture would lead one to believe otherwise. Being humble is not a popular virtue in the world of modern paganism.

Witch wars, wherein we have warring factions within our midst, are here. War away, my colleagues. Prove your magick. I'm only interested in what works. If wearing a poofy sleeved blouse and lace up slippers while dancing arm in arm with your bisexual on the weekend girlfriend, while working magick by writing little wishes on paper and burning them is your thing, then go for it. If it works of you, thats great! But me? I'm getting sick of reading and hearing the "experts" take on everything. Philosophy can be tedious. Present your information in a humble but confident manner. Show me by your life that your magick works. That will get my attention. And take off the damn medieval tiaras and scabbards!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Looking for Ostara

March can be a treacherous month in Minnesota. We can be below zero and buried in snow. We can have highs in the 70s. Today is a moderate Minnesota day, high predicted to get to about 50, I am guessing its 45 right now, mid afternoon on a Thursday, the day before Ostara.
For Ostara , the coming of life and Spring, I've always felt one must celebrate outdoors. Being as I live smack dab in the middle of a suburban neighborhood, I must head for one of the local parks when its time for outdoor ritual or nature communing. 20 minutes west of here is one of my favorite parks, Carver Park Nature Reserve. Its a dreary, grayish day, the Air element is aroused and cracking its whip. I park my car and set off down one of the familiar trails. I pass a clean up crew sitting in their van eating sandwiches, one of their member is alone at a picnic table near the portapotty, sullenly eating what looks like a McDonald's hamburger, the hood of his sweatshirt half covering his face. Out on the trail, I am happy to see I am the only one walking it today. The wind lashes me time after time, I fear I am not properly dressed for the weather. I think of turning back but there's work to do. I find a favorite cedar tree along the trail and pour out a small amount of coffee as an offering, inviting the native land to partake of its energy. I walk on and decide to seek shelter where I can meditate out of the relentless wind. I turn off the trail and follow a deer trail that leads up a gentle slope to a stand of small cedar trees. I am aware I am not supposed to venture off the paved trail so there is that added adrenaline of doing something "not allowed". I rationalize, its not a fragile ecosystem, its a prairie field bordering a woods in mid March. Nothing will grow for another couple weeks yet. I find my way into the stand of trees and sit on the ground beneath them. Maybe a hundred yards away, there is a small lake that must be crowded with geese and ducks. I can hear their calls, loud, anxious sounding.  Have they spotted me although I cannot see them? I go into meditation and ask for an animal totem to make itself known. Immediately, almost before my thought is done, I hear a lone goose call. I have known the Canadian goose was my totem for some time, the same as I know reindeer are. With that acknowledgement, I continue my meditation. Instantly a turkey flashes in my mind's eye. Expecting to see a wild turkey, I open my eyes, nothing. Gently waving brown prairie grasses and naked tree branches on the horizon. The turkey vision seems quite vivid and repeats itself. I listen carefully for the purr of a turkey nearby but hear nothing except the geese on the lake and the wind. I honor the ground beneath me and try to connect to the spirit of place. I imagine myself rooted to the earth beneath me, going down into the damp,ripening soil. I am part of the landscape, I give of myself to it.A tiny chickadee bravely settles on a branch just a couple feet away, curious of me. I must seem very out of context sitting beneath these trees in the dead grass. I notice green cedar tips interspersed in the dry grass around me and briefly think of collecting it, taking it home and drying it to use in an incense blend. I decide against it. Today it isn't right to take of the land. Maybe it will be later this spring.
After a time of contemplation, I get up and head back to the paved trail. No one has interrupted my wild haunt today.
A huge tree looms in front of me, to the east side of the trail. Its a giant boxelder. When I was at Paganicon this past weekend, I took a workshop from a magician who told me even tree spirits have names. I remember this and immediately the name (?) Druseth comes to mind. "Druseth you are", I proclaim and carefully make my way through the growth to touch the tree trunks, two of them split low from the ground, giving the appearance of Siamese twins. Sensing the fork in the trunk as a powerful portal, I put a foot to it, and later lean my head into the space between. I feel the slow rising movement of the sap in the tree. I thank the tree for its magnificence and for its anchoring of the powers of place. Later on I see two similar trees that stand out for their extreme commanding presence. One of them is next to a boat landing and it occurs to me a spirit of the lake is residing in the tree. I am given names for both trees.
Driving home, I reflect on Ostara and the return of life to the once frigid brown landscape. I decide to enjoy nature awhile longer and turn off onto a byroad to continue home. A mile down the road, I see a flock of wild turkeys scratching in a field. I feel confirmed, turkey spirit was, indeed, speaking to me. A bit further down the road, I see a robin, a personal symbol of Spring to me. Its the first one I've seen this year. Nature keeps her own calendar and the robins always show up within a couple days of Ostara. I feel an inward smile. The cycle begins again.

Monday, November 3, 2014

When is Diversity too Diverse?

Just had another inquiry from a young lady looking for a coven to join. Since moving back to Minnesota, I've been a solitary practitioner. I briefly tried looking to start a Circle last fall but the only queries were from two mentally ill women. Witchcraft draws out the crazies...its true. This recent querent seemed "normal" enough upon her first message but after a few back and forths on Facebook, it came out that she doesn't have a driver's license, would have to get her mom to drive her to her interview, and that she is suffering from sort of anxiety and depression. This was after I had mentioned the gals I interviewed last year were turned down due to mental health issues.  I told this woman I myself have anxiety and I understand mental health issues very well. She then opens up and tells me she actually has some sort "psychosis-I'm not sure what it is". Uh,okay....I had to chuckle. This is exactly why I bring up very early on in these conversations the issue of mental health. Obviously, I told her that her state of mind must be stable and confident before starting any sort of magickal practice and that when she feels she has it under control and has a driver's license (how on earth was she planning on attending Circles? just that simple fact she didn't consider is evidence enough of an unorganized mind) she should get back to me. In the meantime, she can be Facebook friends with me and I will be happy to answer any questions she has. That makes 3 for 3 for mentally ill women contacting me and wanting to join a coven.
I feel disheartened and a little sad.
Witchcraft is my spiritual practice. I hold it Sacred and dear. I am saddened that it draws out so many "crazies"- mentally unstable people seeking empowerment. Please don't go off with the politically incorrect stuff. I have spent years devoting my life to the service of the mentally ill, its my bread and butter money. I have sympathy and empathy for those who feel lost, dis-enchanted.  When we think of the word "witchcraft" most people think POWER. The ability to work spells and change their circumstances. Its what drew me as a teenager to it. Though most won't admit it, its why most people come to it in the beginning. Its one thing to be a teenager searching for their way in the world, or someone who needs a map to feel a spiritual connection and forge a better life. Its another to be a soul  lost in a tangled spiderweb brain believing in hocus pocus, a sprinkle of faery dust to gain a movie star lover. Those truly suffering psychosis are walking between worlds, walking on tightropes without nets. They need medication, therapy and spiritual support, all three together. If one is not stable mentally, one cannot feel the deity connection or understand the elements of magick. It would be easy to become even more trapped in a dark and scary place. There is no shame in mental illness. But there is a responsibility to seek treatment or for those in contact with the person, to help them find resources for treatment.
When I go to Paganicon (a midwest Pagan festival) or see witches/pagans portrayed in the media, its always striking how many are seemingly "weird".  A preponderance of those with green streaks dyed in their hair, faces full of piercings, theatrical personalities. The gay and lesbian people always seem so strikingly obvious. I know there are gay and lesbian Lutherans, why aren't they so obvious in church? Am I doing something wrong in my own witchcraft/paganism? Do I have to color my hair magenta? Carry a staff? Wear a crescent shaped tiara? Part of me longs to go to a public Pagan gathering/festival/demonstration and just wear an old flannel shirt and bring a casserole. I am sad I feel out of place by just being me. I have no desire to call attention to my private spiritual practice. I am not ashamed, just uninterested in having anyone know by my dress what religion I am. Where are the vanilla people? Just plain ol' "normal" witches and pagans? I don't always want to know immediately upon seeing you for the first time that you are a witch, that you are lesbian. Why do we always need to make statements? Or am I just feeling sorry for myself because I have no statement to make? I don't know. With age comes wisdom? 25 years ago maybe I would be one of those people with a pentagram Tshirt in glowing fuchsia. Now I almost feel ostracized because I don't have one.
Its understandable that those without power, feeling the need to be different, to be NOTICED flock to witchcraft. But can we ever be accepted by the rest of society if we always present, as a whole, in a semi bizarre manner? Or do we even need to be accepted?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Anatomy of a Curse

Curse, hex.... The words themselves conjure up dark images of crones and cauldrons, dark and rain, ravens and snakes...Modern witches may not even know the meanings of the words. To today's pagans, cursing is a lost art. Something awful, relegated to the dusty cobwebs in the corner, the book at the bottom of the pile. "Black magick".

Today's witch does not curse. It’s simply not politically correct. After all, isn't there the 'law of threefold', wherein any energy sent out into the Universe is returned back to the sender, three times magnified? And let’s not forget the Wiccan Rede that states we may do as we please, as long it harms none.

But who exactly made these rules and regulations? Those celebrating the new "Wicca" religion perhaps sixty years ago? Someone, still looking nervously over their shoulder lest one of those pesky, righteous Christians be standing too close?

Surely it wasn't the wise woman in the glade from centuries past...stirring her carefully gathered herbs into a dusky brew. A brew that could either kill or cure. I'm doubtful whether it was the woman at her side, crying brokenheartedly for her murdered child, long before the advent of the magic box and "America's Most Wanted".

It’s also hard to imagine it was the woman banished from her village as an adulteress, carrying the child of a rapist. What recourse did women have back in the olden times? There were no police departments, as we know them now. Women were chattel, possessions worth as little as dogs. When wronged, where was their justice? Not all women were willing to turn the other cheek.

Thus was born the curse.

If we were to find the earliest examples of curses, we would have to go back to the beginning of Time itself. Ancient peoples could only bemoan the scarcity of game in the winter, the broken bones from a fall, when the fire went out...nothing they had consciously brought upon themselves, acts of nature. Nature and the Goddess. Surely the Mother was angry when these things happened. Surely they had somehow courted Her wrath.

They'd been cursed.

Ah, you say. All that is centuries we have scientific knowledge, police, court systems, justice, even the Moral Majority. There's no need for such vicious thought casting anymore. Or is there?

What sort of situations would merit a curse? Surely not something as petty as the neighbor's cat snatching a cardinal from our birdfeeder. We can forgive the errant teenager down the block who snuck our case of Mountain Dew off the back porch. It’s pretty easy to overlook the crotchety guy at the gas station who routinely overcharges us on the candy bars, too. Hmm, it would have to be something of real consequence. Such as a broken heart.

And therein, is the anatomy of a curse.

Get yourself a cup of tea, or better yet, a steaming hot latte. Settle yourself in the rocker and hear my story on what lead a reasonable and compassionate woman to curse.

Being still under ten years young in the Craft, I, too, used to have the rigid boundaries I'd learned about right and wrong, starting with my Midwestern Lutheran upbringing to always take the high road and 'turn the other cheek'. In my early Wiccan days, I faithfully followed the Wiccan Rede and Law of Threefold. Wasn't it what every good, modern Wiccan did? I never even questioned it.

It was if I were a new cook. The recipe said to use whipping cream, not milk and that’s how it is. It is 'common knowledge' and one does not question it or vary from the recipe. A poor analogy perhaps but the best I can do while trying to impress upon you how we are all spoon-fed our beliefs, at least to some degree, as we shall see.

I'm no spring chicken. I am approaching cronehood (although I much prefer Lunaea Weatherstone's 'Queen' term) . I've been around the block, several times. I work in a helping profession and have been a soft touch for everyone and everything from orphaned kittens to psychotic schizophrenics. But nothing could have prepared me for The Dark One. That’s as fitting a name as I can conjure up for my lover. It fit him emotionally and physically. He had Greek god dark good looks including a mane of brunette rock star curls and chiseled muscles. Emotionally, he was deep and tender, and deep and dark. Never had I encountered such raw animal magnetism.

His soul and mine met head on, entwined like cobras on a hot August night before tumbling head first into Hades.

Early on, I knew he had a powerful addiction problem. What flavor his particular addiction was doesn't matter. It was soul shattering and with my support, he entered treatment. At first all seemed well. His recovery, though tenuous and new, brought out a strength and solidarity in him that had been hidden before.

Our love grew and prospered. I was heady as a maiden drunk on mead. No one on this earth felt as much like 'home' as he did to me. But then things went bad...The addiction returned. My lover's demons returned. In desperation I fought for his life and his soul. There was nothing I wouldn't do to save him from himself. If they gave awards for being a co-dependent martyr, I would have solid gold trophies on my mantel place. To make a pathetic, harrowing story short, I poured my life's blood into this man. In return, he lied to me. Used me for my hard earned money. Accepted my tender trust and unconditional love and twisted it into something ugly and broken.

And then he threw me away.

It culminated on a cold January night when he told me he had moved a new lover into his home. Into his bed. A woman he'd met earlier in the week. A scant three days before. Three days after we'd made love. Three days after he held me in his arms and whispered "I love you".

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

At first I hated myself. I could see my co-dependency in stark detail. My friends had warned. My family had shaken their heads. I hadn't listened. Love is not only blind, but also deaf and dumb. Almost two years of my precious life, wasted, gone...all for nothing. I no longer had good memories. He wasn't a changed and better man. Just a bored one, who'd used me up and tossed me aside like a Kleenex.

Now, a good witch would have me do a self-esteem spell, visit a psychologist and move on with life. All of which I did with good result. Eventually. But at the time, not only did I get mad, but also I got even.

By the time I started researching curses, I wasn't concerned about what would come back to me, threefold. Nor did I spend even two minutes pondering how it would interfere with his free will and harm him. Simply put, at that time, my own emotional needs were paramount.

My own personal Goddess has always been Hecate, the Witches' Goddess, protector of women and children, meter out of Justice. How terribly convenient. I had learned in my studies of Hecate, that when one invokes Her and asks assistance, you'd best have your own ducks in a row, first.

Hecate will grant her Justice but with absolute fairness. Everyone involved deserving of punishment will receive it. Not necessarily just the intended, if you follow my drift.

On the night of the dark moon, at the appointed hour, I cast my circle, lit the black candles and implored the Dark Goddess for her divine intervention. It isn't pertinent the exact dimensions of the spell. It will suffice to say there was a nauseating wormwood incense (please don't forget to open the windows when using!) , a photograph of him and some nails. Lets not forget a whole heckuva lot of angst, tears and anger. All in all, my carefully crafted curse took about ten minutes.

Did it work?

Within a couple weeks of casting the spell, the man and his new woman broke up, most unpleasantly, I might add. Then I'd heard his ailing mother had died. Shortly on the heels of her death, he lost his job. His addiction was back in full swing. Last I heard, he'd gone on a date with a new gal and broke his leg in a horseback riding incident. To be honest, I don't know where he is today. Possibly in jail, or prison. I no longer care.

Did my curse work? It could be argued that with his addiction, the events, excepting the death of his mother, could have been predicted. Maybe; maybe not. In my eyes, as the spellcaster, it was a rousing success.

Before I feel the arrows in my back, I hasten to add I liked his mother and in no way would have ever wished her death. I think her passing was incidental, but hearing of it added to my projections whenever my mind revisited the cursing. The purpose of my curse was to regain some of the personal power I had squandered on this man. That included forcibly attempting to bring about his karma, now, by asking Hecate to speed it up.

Was it all worth it to me? Do I feel better now?


Would I recommend cursing to someone who's feeling wronged?

I don't know, possibly.

To my own thought system, it all depends on badly one feels wronged. Its one thing for someone to maliciously throw a brick through your window, its another to maliciously and with intent, break your heart.

With the warnings about how Hecate hands out justice, did I get evil returned to me threefold? Nope. Quite the contrary. I am now in the healthiest, happiest relationship of my life.

I hate to let down all the alarmists, but I feel none the worse for the wear. I found the curse to be very healing for myself, enabling me to let go of the situation and move forward. I could even argue that being as I've had nothing bad happen to me, my curse was justified.

I know this hexing business is highly provocative and controversial and many reading of it will be both shocked and offended. To them I apologize.

And to you others, hmm, its just food for thought.

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

    Aftermath of Mars

    Tonight's altar to Mars is simple. The same sharp knife, but this time it is accompanied by my selenite wand. Selenite has deep striations which move energy very fast, it seems a good match. I stand  my blood red amaryllis blooms in the south of the altar, next to the red candle, pomegranate scented to honor spring but anointed with black pepper to summon Mars. I have two red roses, now starting to die, darkening at the edge of the petals, in a vase along with a single white lily. How appropriate, I think, these funeral altar flowers, symbolizing fallen enemies and the life Immortal.
    The firestorm of the last weeks , the discord within the coven , has subsided. The troubling co worker at my job has had her last day. "I have vanquished Mine enemies" rings in my head as I gaze into the lily. I am reminded of Discordia, Mars' sidekick, bringing upset and chaos with him while rambling with the God of War.  I feel a sense of power and accomplishment. New age thought says I should feel guilty. I have imposed my will on others. I have wished for others to be silenced and bound. They have been. Mars is a god of vindication. Try as I might, I cannot summon the emotion of anything but a bittersweet sort of gloating.
    I go further into meditation and receive mental images of Roman soldiers, wearing the crested helmets. I realize these images are derived from paintings I have seen, both in museums and on the Internet. I keep my thoughts focused on Mars, I stroke the selenite and whisper "Mars Vigila!" (Mars Awaken!) I start seeing images of black bulls, bulls looking more prehistoric than the overbred, tortured beasts of today. Looking more similar to water buffalo, smaller , more primitive but with a more powerful and dangerous feel to  them. I see torches burning and what looks to be sheaves of millet laid across a marble altar. I see Roman soldiers drinking something out of cups. I expect to see wine, but instead see some sort of grayish brew...mead is what to comes to mind although I have never heard of a mead of this color, or, indeed, any sort of alcohol like this stormy looking brew. I see golden coins and have a flash of insight where I am told to take a gold coin, wrap it within foil and leave it in the sun. The foil will intensify the sun's rays, transmuting Sun energy into the coin which I may then carry as a Mars talisman. I make a mental note to carry this out on Tuesday, the day of Mars.
    The energy is nowhere near as intense as it was the day of my walk with Mars. Its as though it is waning. The full moon will be tomorrow night. Full moons are a time of completion. Part of me hopes that this savage and potent energy has scoured me and is moving on, but the other half of me prays it has only paused....

    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    Accessing the God Energy

    For Imbolc this year, I decided on a new mission, something to incubate. The God energy, working with the masculine as opposed to the Sacred Feminine. Due to current astrological influences and the fact that I also assigned His worship to others, I chose Mars. Most of the coveners are assigned Goddesses to research, specifically Inanna and Persephone. The two men, or 'witchboys' as I like to call them, were  assigned Mars. If I am High Priestess, leading a group, I would think its best to know something about working with the Gods. In recollection, what masculine energies have I ever called upon in Circle, save Jack in the Green, Pan?  Being always aware of the saying "those who can't, teach", I am acutely aware of the need to gain knowledge and insight in this area.
    I set my altar. It is on some blood red tissue, saved from perhaps some recent birthday gift packaging. On it goes a red candle which I anoint with pepper. I place a "Sword of Mars' as I term it, an elaborate and very sharp knife sent by a fellow witch as part of a gift sometime last year. I place crimson amaryllis blooms on the altar. A bay leaf also gets its place. I would have preferred bay laurel, as is correspondenced with Mars. Hmm, I tell myself, is bay laurel the same as culinary bay? Make a note to investigate.
    I light the candle, call the Circle and invoke Mars. I am expectant, hopeful, anxious to see who or what appears. I feel a tingling in the spine, a straightening. I think of the classic Mars influences, aggession, vigor, fertility and feel a slight change in my emotional temperature. I listen carefully for whisperings in my mind...words and phrases that will appear out of nowhere. Nothing yet, the inner space is silent.
    Within a day or so of invoking Mars, all hell breaks loose in my coven. One of the brand new members, a woman who attended one 'beginner's' session is angry over my reminding the coven 'homework' is due. I have tried for months to get the coveners to do the work I assign them each Circle. It is usually quite basic, knowing what certain herbs or stones are used for magickally. They are usually lackadaisical about their assignments. Some do them enthusiastically and others don't do them, period.  I feel at times resentful as if my generosity and time is being exploited. I ask them repeatedly if they are engaging in a spiritual practice at home. I wonder if some of them don't use witchcraft as a 'put away' religion. They put it away after Circle and pull it out on the Sunday afternoons we meet. I have seen them in their cars before circle, going over notes and reading. A couple younger coveners used to laugh and joke that they did their homework on the way to Circle. I suppose I was harsh in one of the emails I sent as a stern reminder that the work is due. This particular woman feels put upon and takes offense and lashes out. I am angry over her response. Anger begets Anger. Mars rises. I forward her email to the group for comment and further warning that I am sick of their 'manana' attitudes and demand they do their homework in the generous time allowed or face the consequences of possibly being dismissed from the Circle. Another of the women, one I have come to care for, writes an upset email saying don't I remember what it was like to have a child at home, the business of daily life,etc? I feel my blood boiling as I read her litany of complaints. She is one who has been wishy washy about attending events, and spends a great deal of time voicing how physically ill she is with diabetes and fibromyalgia. How depressed she is. Once again, these seem tiresome complaints from a woman who didn't want to do her homework. The situation escalates, ending with a couple coveners, including a man new to us, having never attended a Circle but one that I admitted into the online communications and had graciously invited to join coveners at a wine cafe and then hosted a dinner for in my home, posting an email publicly for all to see, lambasting me online. One calls me 'drunk with power' and 'tyrannical'. The man, we will call him Dasher, has introduced himself as a mighty witch, an Oracle of unheralded power. He tells my group that I have demanded to know his allegiance with the whining woman. He says he offers experience, not necessarily wisdom. His whole tone is authoritative as if he is speaking to a misbehaving child (me).  He is trying to rat me out. He chastens me for daring to invoke Mars, and says the group is too inexperienced to be working with Mars. Amazing what the Oracle comes up considering he's only met a few of the members and never attended a Circle.
    Let me digress. Dasher contacted me via, that online Pagan meet up where I have a personal and group profile listed. I initially tell him I cannot meet him, our group is not accepting new applicants, I don't feel energetic enough to do another pre-Circle interview. He emails back he feels hurt by my response. Feeling guilty, I clear my schedule and make an appointment to meet. He is new to Bend,having come from Portland from some other place and some other place before that. We meet at a dark bar downtown. He is twitchy, refuses to look me in the eye, uncomfortably, awkwardly fidgeting. We order lunch. I find I have to keep the conversation going, I ask about his past work with witchcraft. He spins a long tale of lusting after the comely daughter of the local metaphysical bookshop in the town he grew up in. She was his entrance into witchcraft and the occult. He has been in several Circles and says he is considered a High Priest , and even at the age of 43, an elder. He tells a fantastical tale of being such a revered Oracle, the last group he was in physically carried him into Circle, he was so sacred his feet weren't allowed to touch the ground. He is fascinating but troubling. I have spents years working the mentally ill and little chiming bells are sounding. He never asks me anything but rather rambles a monologue. Towards the end of the first hour, he appears to have loosened up and is able to glance in my eyes for the most fleeting of moments. I tell him we are having a get together, myself and some of the coveners at a wine cafe that evening and he is welcome to join us. He shows up at the winecafe and I introduce him to about 5 members who are still there, some having left already. He seems much more at ease than he was earlier in the day. I have warned the coveners I found him odd, possibly mentally ill and would be very curious for their take on him. He seems lucid and pleasant enough and I get  the 'he seems okay to me" from them. Still, something troubles me about him. There is a darkness, a little itchy something that doesn't feel right. I invite him to a dinner in his honor in my home a week later. In the interim, our Circle celebrates Imbolc. The day of our Circle, he texts me wondering if, by chance, I would like him to attend, he is free for the day. I tell him thanks but no, that he will no doubt be at Ostara and remind him that I am hosting a party for him in a couple days,
    The night of the dinner arrives. I have invited 3 witches from my group, one is the whining woman (she hadn't started whining yet as homework was yet to be assigned), the other was one I have wanted to get  to know a bit more and the other was, well, probably a bad choice as she was a beginner witch and maybe the night's activities would overwhelm her.  Dasher arrives and seems comfortable enough. Dinner goes without a hitch, the conversation flows. After dinner, we cast Circle and Dasher goes into trance. He has offered to divine for us. He envelopes himself in a cloak which he tells us he wears to Renaissance Festivals. This sounds another chime in my head, very soft. He invokes Mercury, his patron God. He emerges from the cloak shortly, his eyes squinty. I pose a question to him. He hesitates a few moments and then speaks softly. So soft I can barely make out what he is saying. He comes  up with some psycho babble "the answer is within" sort of crap that I have come to expect from fake psychics. I thank him for his answer and ask if anyone else wants to ask a question. The one woman cannot think of anything, the other is giggling nervously and the whining woman looks frightened, almost teary. Eventually some others ask questions and he gives them the same wishy washy replies. I feel the crown chakra, the top of my head, spinning and a commanding presence flows into my body. I find myself jumping up from the floor and clapping my hands loudly. Hecate has filled my body and is demanding I speak. I go to each woman, and Dasher and give brief predictions. I remember the words "Hecate doesn't mince words" coming from my mouth. I immediately feel embarrassed, who am I to jump into Dasher's game? Am I being rude?, intruding so suddenly. After awhile we close the circle and retire to the dining room table where Dasher  is now going to read tarot cards for us. Oddly enough, all his tarot readings are now echoing the predictions Hecate has just made. A bell is sounding. I notice the whining woman at the end of the table. Her eyes are wild, staring at the table as though a horror is unfolding in front of her. Her hands hover above the table as with a will of their own. Does anyone else notice this grand display happening at the end of the table? I don't want to encourage dramatics, so I continue chatting with Dasher and the other two women. I notice Dasher looking at her out of the corner of his eyes. She is becoming more agitated. She is starting to look like something out of a grade B horror flick , like the buxom blonde who is forced to watch the hooded man gut her boyfriend. I am afraid she is going have some sort of psychotic break. I excuse myself from the table and ask her to accompany me into another room. I ask her what the hell is wrong with her, whats going on? She breaks into tears, says Dasher's energy is bowling her over. I ask if she feels its negative. She says no, just so powerful. I ask her to shield herself, she doesn't know how. She seems in a confessional mood, she tells me the group she belonged to in Arizona merely handed her a script to read during Sabbats and never really taught her anything. They never socialized outside the Circle and this was all 'new to her'. I quickly teach her a few shielding techniques. She tells me she had a vision of Dasher and a woman we'll call Amber. She said she knows, by sheer psychism, that Amber recently had Dasher's cat in her home while Dasher was in the process of moving, she describes Amber physically. Its all a vision, she explains, the kind of visions she's been having since childhood. I tell her she needs to validate herself and asks if she feels comfortable asking Dasher about the accuracy of her vision. She agrees, we return to the dining room and she does so. After awhile, the group leaves and goes home, save Dasher. I can't get rid of him. He seems so lonely. He sits for another hour, telling another rambling monologue of his early life, etc. We both puzzle over whining woman's 'vision' which Dasher tells me is correct, save the hair color of Amber. I tell him I think she actually knows something concrete, that perhaps she saw this Amber on Facebook or something and its just buried in the recesses of her mind, emerging as a mysterious 'vision'.  Dasher tells me whining woman is texting him daily since meeting at the winecafe. Nothing sexual, chit chat. Dasher thinks the woman has a crush on him. I finally stand up and Dasher takes the cue its time to leave.
    He emails the next morning saying 'mystery solved' regarding the vision. He has ascertained that whining woman has overheard or has been privy to a conversation between him and a mutual friend in which Amber was discussed. He tells me this Amber is a very troubled woman and he is glad his association with her is done. He is concerned because whining woman apparently had this very Amber living in her home for awhile and he feels this could indicate that whining woman herself is disturbed. I ask him to please keep firm boundaries, whining woman is supposably living with the man of her dreams and I would hate for her to become too distracted from her primary relationship. He agrees. I email whining woman and ask her point blank, does she know Amber? was it a vision? She doesn't answer the was it a vision? part but spins some increasingly weird story about a transexual, it becomes too disjointed for me to follow.Shortly after, whining woman takes up the hue and cry of the other woman who didn't want to do homework and goes so far as to make a pitch publicly for others to join her brand new coven when I move from Bend (or I guess NOW if they want).  She says she is an experienced witch and ready to lead a circle. I cannot believe, on the email addresses I supplied, she is trying to steal my coven! She says harsh things about me. The first woman had angrily sent me texts after I told her I agreed with her , she was probably too busy to be in our group, thanks and goodbye. I recall whining woman had befriended the new woman at the beginners meeting and they had spent a lot of time discussing whining woman's daughter, they thought she was a medium which the new woman also claimed to be. They had exchanged phone numbers and email addresses and I am sure had been in communication as whining woman echoed in her complaint what the first woman had said. The  situation continues to spiral. In a moment of stupidity, I send an email to the group defending my homework rules and telling everyone I think one of the member's did a lousy job on her altar to Inanna. Not in those words, just that I wasn't 'feeling it'. This provokes an outburst from that member who spews venom. My first reaction is to react, I want to send the people this woman says I arbitrarily dismissed from the group, an email telling them how this woman told me in detail of her dislike for them. I don't. I dismiss the first woman as a hysteric. Whining woman I settle for a lesser punishment.  I email the group the story of what happened at the dinner. I realize I am defending myself. Is Mars to blame for this? Dasher insists it was stupid of me to invoke Mars, that I was above my head in invoking Him. I feel a sane witch would tell me, for God's sake,undo your altar to Mars and be done with Him. I have always lived on the limb, played with fire. The addictive part of my self is feeding on the adrenaline, I can't seem to stop myself from pushing the envelope. I want to know MORE.
    Today I sit before my altar, I invoke Mars to go on a walk with me. I feel His now familiar presence take hold of me as I stride outside. I feel invigorated , like I could walk for miles. I ask Him send me a sign of your presence. Almost immediately, I look down. On the concrete sidewalk is a length of red yarn, long enough to wrap around my wrist. Aha! I think , a sure sign, RED string. Red , His color. I continue on my walk, noticing the pines all around me, pine being one of His correspondences. I start to notice broken glass littered along the walkway. Sharp, dangerous, like Mars Himself. I see a beer bottle, laying cold and solitary, the words 'drunk with power' come back to haunt me. What does it mean? Anything? or is just a beer bottle laying in the dirt? I continue on and see a small, shining tassle of golden foil laying marooned against a bush. Mars and His shining Sword, gold being another color of His. I am seeing Mars all around me, He is speaking clearly and loudly today. Is it just my interpretation of commonplace things? Is interpretation a part of magick?  I ask for one more sign and a few paces later, look down to find a pine cone squarely in my path.
    Mars is with me. I am His servant for the coming month, maybe longer, who knows how long He will draw me to Him? I feel giddy as if I am beginning a love affair. I keep hearing the words, "Mother, Father, Holy Ghost". Will I have to surrender and sacrifice all others due to His aggressive power? At this moment in time, my own desire to know more is willing. Strategy, I hear Him whisper, make your strategy. It is strategy to NOT react sometimes. Learn to Master your emotions or you are a servant to them. Not reacting is sometimes the best reaction.  I drop an offering into a brick I see laying on its side, 3 holes gaping up to the sun. Mars, I think to myself, I am yours.