Dec 112011
 

Well, it has been quite some time since my last rant and although it is the holiday season of many religions, I do have to get something off my chest – so to speak.

Why the heck do I keep getting greetings from Pagans/Witches which say Merry Christmas???

Gee, when those religious righters put up signs saying “Keep the Christ in Christmas” they have a point. Although Christmas has roots in Paganism, as does every other religion, when a Pagan says to me “Merry Christmas” I really don’t know how to react. It’s one thing to hear it in the stores, from co-workers and Christian family members, and from folks who just assume that everyone is Christian, but when I get a message or am greeted by Pagans who say this to me, I am pretty astounded at the lack of thought that goes with uttering what has become a common catch phrase.

Bah, Humbug!

It’s not that I don’t appreciate the sentiment. Certainly, when confronted with such a greeting from well-meaning folks, I usually respond with a “Happy Holidays to you too” – although there are times when I will sneak in a “Happy Solstice” – and receive puzzled stares in return. What to do, though, about Pagan Merry Christmas’s I haven’t quite decided – although my first reaction of wanting to smack them upside the head has been firmly suppressed on many an occasion.

I think my favorite greeting this season came from a novice witch who wanted guidance. She sent us an electronic greeting card complete with the title “Merry Christmas” with a Christian picture AND a Christian song attached. I think she really needs to do a lot more basic work before she can make a decision about this path. But it’s not just newbies who do this, but seasoned veterans as well. Have we become so conditioned by the dominant culture, that we unthinkingly mouth these phrases by rote? What does it say about our being witches – connected and observing of our path? If witches/Wiccans/Pagans greet each other with “Merry Christmas” with this little thought, then the religious righters might have cause to be worried about the submergence of their holiday into the consumeristic mecca that it has become. And although I don’t believe that “Jesus is the reason for the season” (they need to take a simple astronomy course here), I do believe that this can become a time when ALL religions can come together to celebrate peace and joy and giving and hope.

So let’s think about the meaning of this season. We celebrate the returning sun, the growing light, rebirth and reflection. Greet the dawn with thanks for the returning warmth. And try greeting your Pagan friends with something more in line with your beliefs. Believe me, changing this takes thought and effort.

Wow – a little Yule magick in the making.

 

This essay was lovingly crafted on December 24, 2001.

 Posted by at 2:14 pm
Apr 072011
 

It seemed back in mid-March we were well on our way to spring – beautiful sunshine, warm weather and the return of thunderstorms, some of which were quite violent. I can’t recall a single spring where we had three instances of hail in a ten day time period.

And then the inevitable setback – cold and snow. Yuck. Now don’t get me wrong, I LIKE cold and snow – in the winter. But this has been a pretty snowy and cold winter, and while I love the quiet stillness, I am ready for spring and growth and action.

Joyfully, the last couple of days have turned back to spring and I’m hoping this time the season will stick with us a bit longer – at least until summer!

While the understory plants have slowly been greening (way too much multiflora rose), not much has been happening with the larger trees – until three days ago. On Monday we had a really warm day as a result of an advancing cold front. Here in Ohio, we get these strong  wind currents that bring up moisture and warmer weather from the south. These are the winds that bring the returning migratory birds. Also, they are often the precursors to some terrifically violent thunderstorms with a temperature drop immediately following. Anyway,  it must have been something in the wind – the warmth – that triggered some of the first large tree leaf breaks –  apart from the very early willows. I love seeing the trees aglow with that yellow-green aura that can only be termed “spring green”.

In town along the Hocking River, the cherry trees are in blossom. It’s a beautiful sight. Also, the other town trees have been flowering – a number of magnolias are just starting the show. Out here in the rural areas, the trees seem ready to flower, but haven’t done so yet. Given the warmer weather forecast through the next week, we’re bound to see some blooming soon. The forsythias are nearly past their peak. And I’m wondering how much longer we’ll have the daffodils and jonquils.

My perennial herbs and flowers are coming back strongly, although some of my thyme might have to be replaced this year. It looks as though this might be the weekend to divide and replant hostas.

Last weekend, in addition to doing some much needed landscape maintenance, we took a trip around the place to clean out and spruce up the multitude of bird nesting boxes that we’ve installed over the years. We can hardly wait for the returning purple martins and tree swallows. The bluebirds should be looking to build nests too, and in the old nest boxes we found remnants of wren and chickadee nests in addition to the others. The local permanent population of Canadian geese have broken up their winter flocks and are pairing up and building nests. Mornings are filled with the sound of the wild turkeys gobbling and drumming – staking out their territories. I have also noticed a considerable uptick in the territorial “drumming” of the various woodpeckers species.

The warmer evenings are also encouraging our local amphibians in singing their songs of love: spring peepers, pickerel frogs and Eastern American toads all fill the void of silence so predominant in winter.

Observing nature in all her beauty, wonder, fierceness and power is an intimate part of being a witch. It’s part of the connectedness thing. For me, spirituality is rooted in connectedness and a big part of that is about paying attention. I’m truly grateful to live in a fairly rural area with such an abundance of plants and critters.

Oh, and before I forget, we also  found our first tick.

Yep, it’s Spring!

Mar 242011
 

Even as I write the title, I cringe a bit. Who am I to be calling myself a priestess, let along a high priestess? It sounds so pretentious that I think of going back and renaming this post. But it does fit. The path that I have chosen to walk for the last 20+ years has been one of the high priestess. If I were of a Christian denomination, I guess I would say that I had a “calling” to become a minister – to serve a faith community in whatever manner was appropriate. But we Pagans, witches, and Wiccans generally shun the Christian lingo in favor of our own. High priestess. Just what does that mean to me?

I never started out thinking that I wanted to be a high priestess. My first calling was that of the witch. I was fascinated with the subjects of magick and witchcraft. These interests started early in my life. In fact, most people that I know who are called to this path can go back to third or fourth grade and start pinpointing when they first discovered mythology and magic. It was the same for me. I really didn’t get the religion part of it though. That came much later. But as a kid, I did spells and divination. It was something that I took pretty seriously. Why wouldn’t I? It worked after all!

It wasn’t until I was a young adult that I started finding out more information about “the Craft.” I ran across Spiral Dance by Starhawk in 1986 and was immediate entranced with its connections to Goddess worship. Instantly, I found the missing pieces of my earlier practice and found a loving, joyous and worshipful religious practice that I could follow.

Since most of us start as solitaires, I am guessing that most of you can relate to the struggle of the next three years. Spiral Dance, while containing great exercises, primarily centers around group practice. My steps were tentative and uncertain as a lone witch. It was Scott Cunningham’s new book, Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner that really gave me the courage to start practicing Wicca as a specific religious tradition. (Luckily, there was a New Age/Pagan bookstore close to my in-laws hometown. My original, but sadly battered, doggie-gnawed copy was actually signed by Cunningham when he did the promotional tour for it.) I did a self-dedication rite and from there, it seemed as though the Goddess and God truly had heard my need for a greater community of people with which to share my experiences. Through a series of increasingly bizarre coincidences (?), I found myself connected to the local Pagan community. In early 1990, it was a fairly small group of folks – small when compared to the number of Pagans around Athens today. The local Pagan Sabbat circle was pretty much by invitation only.

It was in the autumn of 1990 that the unofficial organizer of the local Pagan circle along with my husband and myself started the study group that would eventually (and with many trials) become the Coven of Celestial Tides. Pretty much from the beginning I acted as the group’s high priestess. I cringe now to think of all of the mistakes that I made. It was not just a trial by fire, but of water, earth and air too. And spirit. Let’s not forget spirit. I had much to learn.

For me, every witch is truly their own priest or priestess. No one needs another to mediate between one and one’s deity. Still, when people get together, there is a need for someone to play ritual “traffic cop.” In the beginning, that was pretty much the role that I played. I enjoy crafting and running rituals. But over time, more was required. The call became deeper and more meaningful. It became about helping people grow spiritually. It became about creating community. It became about sharing concerns and joys and laughter and tears. Presiding over a handfasting ceremony or a baby blessing (Wiccaning) was a joy. And it is a great honor to be asked to share in people’s lives in this way. When my best friend’s son died in a tragic car crash, I underwent a personal rite of passage in aiding the family in coping with his death. It was a terrifying privilege to minister to the family and community – being there through the calling hours and running the memorial service.

As I continued to grow in my role as a priestess/minister, I found a personal connection to the goddess Hekate.  I spent a night in vigil to honor Her and to dedicate myself as a priestess to Her. And now as the winter nights turn to springtime’s dawn, I see Her in the shadow of the moon and hear Her voice in my heart.

There still isn’t an end to this story – but that is just the point. The path of the high priestess – nay, of any priest or priestess – is about the journey. Mine has brought me to this place and time – and I hope that I am worthy to be called in service to this community. My education continues as I share in a teacher/student/mentor/learner relationship with this glorious planet, the Goddesses and Gods, our animal kin, the bounteous plant life and the many beautiful people of our community.

May you find such beauty on the path you walk.