Are You Of The People?

Catching up on blog posts always gets me thinking which always gets me writing. Basically, without others this blog would not exist.

One such blog post is one of Ruadhan’s from a little over a month back (I told y’all I fell behind.) particularly one of her bullet points surrounding tribalism.

The sync of this post is excellent when it comes to this discussion as I’ve been wrangling how to write on this subject (from a pro-tribal stance) and he managed to touch on the subject with the kind of nuance I probably would not have been able to achieve with an entire blog post written on my own.

In the past, I did only associate tribalism with neofascist contingencies, believing it to be the purview of white nationalists, Black Hebrew Israelites, and the Nation of Islam; the latter two I’ve had brief encounters with due to my ethnicity and the fact that, apparently, I look like ripe recruitment fodder. I’m blaming the Afro.

But now, I tend to think tribalism may actually have a positive, and necessary, place. When one looks at most tribes they are usually not completely closed off but there generally IS a period of initiation. wodaabewoman

How does the newcomer handle the cultural practices? What are their reactions to the food and language(s)?  How do they contribute to the community as it stands? Do they follow the rules? Does the tribe actually want that particular newcomer? All of these criteria may not need to be met, but at least ONE of them will need to be and once they are, one can gain some form of acceptance into said tribe, even becoming a “full member” with time. The assimilation into the tribe can mark one as a member depending on the tribe in question.

Could paganism use more tribalism? I’d say yes. I mentioned years ago that the pagan community tends to just accept who ever comes in regardless of whether they can actually contribute anything to said community. We take the refuse and I stated that this seemed like an attempt to be “More Christian than the Christians” so we could say “Ha! Look at how much more Christlike we are!”

But if we are to be viable tribes as pagans, polytheists, bad hair cut worshipers(I’m looking at you Samurai topknot for no damn reason) than there NEEDS to be some kind of initiation. There needs to be standards of inclusion and there needs to be people we say “No” to.

samuraitopknot

No. Just no.

Tribes do this to survive. Tribes do this to preserve their cultures which form the basis of who they are.

It’s why I stopped calling myself a Hellenist as my practice drifted away from pure Hellenism.

I actually caught some flack in a pagans of color discussion for saying that yes, folkish Heathens have every right to say who they DON’T want in their tribe. Z Budapest had a right to say who she didn’t want in her tribe. Those who are focused on piety and polytheism have a right to say who they don’t want in their tribe.

I know not to take my Cinnamon-skinned well moisturized trans-loving radically indifferent ass into their villages.

Just like how they know not to come into my village.

And the good thing about a tribe is that because of that dash of exclusivity the tribe is willing, and able, to provide the physical/emotional/psychological/spiritual support those in the tribe actually need. I see nothing wrong with that.

This is a gross oversimplification of tribal dynamics. You’ll have scapegoats, charlatans, and power hungry usurpers but you’ll also have people capable of ostracizing because they know who their people are and how to deal with them.

I’ve been a member of a few tribes. Some I’m still a member of; some I’m not. Some I’ve left because “fuck that noise” and some I’ve been booted from because “fuck that bitch (the bitch being me)” and rightfully so on all counts.

So all in all?

Yes to kith and kin.

Yes to tribes.

If you’re in; you’re in.

If you aren’t? Get in where you fit in. There are hundreds upon thousands of tribes and billions of people to form tribes with. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool or delusional.

 

Some Things are Unstoppable

One of the ways I like to expand my practice is by reading material that have absolutely nothing to do with my practice. I tend to think gods and spirits can speak to us through a variety of mediums; music, literature, movies, and the completely random. In some ways, these aspects of my religious life mean more to me than all of the devotional texts in the world.

I just finished one such book titled “Nuns Behaving Badly” by Craig A Monson.

One of the chapters that most struck me were the stories detailing the scandalous behavior of a group of nuns during the festival of Carnival. Despite the rules they lived under, the allure of the Dionysian presented itself to these ladies much to the chagrin of the male clergy tasked with keeping them in line,

[…] the Council of Trent , righteous reformers repeatedly complained that whole convents would forget about God for the two months of Carnival. The women danced, sang songs, presented plays and pageants, even played cards and threw dice.

Oh the horror! Not singing songs and throwing dice! What could possibly be worse?

Some nuns went so far as to trade in their habits for lay clothing-and not just female clothing, either!

To the church,this gender bending, rule breaking, borderline ecstatic behavior was not only an affront to God but to the very social order and well-being of humanity. In 1704 the Pope attempted to ban the celebration of Carnival out of a desire to procure deliverance from a series of earthquakes that had struck Rome during the previous year.

carnivalVSlent

That looks like a whole lot of unsanctioned singing/dancing Sirs and Madams.

But these women were touched by a god; just not the god the church fathers considered worthy of worship. If anything, the Dionysian influence of maskers, singers, debauchery, and levity represented the Devil’s influence made manifest. A presence sent to wreak havoc on a pious Catholic populace. But as King Pentheus of Thebes discovered, some things are unstoppable even with golden chains made of rules and tradition. The two months of Carnival provided an outlet for the creative and rebellious spirits of women locked into roles that ignored their desire for passion, artistic license, and expression.

Perhaps the chasing of the bull, a regular practice during the Carnival season, impacted them more than they knew.

In the end, women will go into the mountains whether polite society offers consent or not. And while I won’t say that the War against Carnival™ led to devastating consequences, one has to wonder just how caged a group of women have to feel to attempt burning down their convent so they can go home.

Through these kinds of stories I am reminded of my own ventures into civilized society to spin and weave. An imbalance occurred where I felt chained to duty with no outlet and when it finally became time for me to go out to the mountains again; the breath of freedom, the rapture of song, and the return to the balance I needed through divine madness and contemplation far outstripped whatever consequences came through my actions.

It was these actions that led me to a new chapter of life that fulfills some of my dreams while keeping me rooted in the traditions of ancestor veneration, worship, and sorcery that have come to represent the pillars of my faith and practice.

Women behaving badly are women who are unpredictable and embrace the inner chaos of the human experience. There is a little Dionysos in all of us. Some things are unstoppable.

Tyche and Hephaestus in Motion

Sync is randomly drawing The Lover’s Card on Valentines Day.

Sync is reading personal finance blog blurb about signing up for the “opt out option” for credit card offers and seeing  the same information (on the same day) on the television while grabbing a chick pea panini from a cafe. An aside, I abhor credit and all it stands for. Americans are encouraged and required to be in debt hence financial responsibility  credit scores and their insidious way of affecting your ability to acquire housing, transportation, and even employment.

Sync is getting a job for an international IT firm that creates the potential to move to a country of choice. It was like a lucid dream sequence scenario bulldozing its way into reality.

So life, for the past couple of months, has been very busy. The new job is actually an old position (Problem Analyst) at a new place.The sad fact is, had I not encountered my prior manager, I may have stayed stagnant in that previous company, attempting to bypass the politics of baby-boomers clutching to their corporate relevancy through Game of Thrones-esque machinations (but with none of the pomp or awesome wardrobes).

A six month battle to get my passport had me working closely with St. Expedite, primarily because I believed he would understand my plight. The funny thing is the sense of my prayers gaining a short laugh;

romansoldier

My shenanigans? He has time for none of them.

“I was a Roman soldier. I know bureaucracy. This is the best you’re going to get.” And that “best” was managing to get a hold of a fourth grade yearbook picture (the document the passport agency deemed absolutely necessary) with a 2 minute phone call with my elementary schools’ librarian. Pound cake and flowers ensued. The amount of altar space in my house is starting to shrink to the point that all I have left are the walls.

As I’ve said elsewhere , trained responses can often be the death of initiative and magic. It’s difficult to break the chains of learned behavior especially when you come from a young life of deprivation and fear. The issues with my passport sent me into a tiny spiral of panic and ridiculous what-if scenarios. Only this time I turned to my deities, saints, and ancestors for guidance instead of crying uncontrollably in my bed for 6 hours straight (Okay there was one night like this but I felt better after).

If young me had a mere glimpse of her future self, she would not have believed it. Yet here I am with a combination of luck, diligence, and the gods.

This is one of the reasons why I abhor the rampant self-pitying defeatism that’s taken over so much of the “liberal” sphere. This idea that any bad circumstance relegates you to a life of hardship and uncertainty when happiness, true happiness through whatever form, can be achieved by striving for something better. There’s nothing wrong with being the crab who wants to escape the barrel.

My life is not over yet. I probably have another good 50 years of growth, pitfalls, and potential triumphs ahead. There is more work and magic to be done.

But I have an anvil to pound.Hephaestus

I have a wheel to weather.

 

 

 

The Glitch of Fame

The death of David Bowie has been done to death (pun unintended) but the period leading up to his passing into the next realm was filled with so much word of him in my sphere of influence I couldn’t help but pause in remembrance and a strange sense of awe surrounding the universes’ ability to send out signals long before an event.

It began with watching American Horror Story: Freak Show and Bowie flying back into my life due to Ilsa’s…charming…rendition of “Life on Mars”, which I began listening to often because her version was so god-awful I needed to wash it from my brain.

During the past week and a half, I had begun listening to the radio again during my long commutes and on Friday, the day of his last album’s release, there was a brief interview with a music critic who reviewed Bowie’s “Black Star.” That night, laying in bed with The Hungry Dutchman, I read articles on the release found randomly during my normal web browsing.

That night I dreamt of Bowie, though I can’t tell you what occurred in the dream, only that I woke up perplexed as shit since I had never dreamt of him before. The next morning, news broke of his passing and I felt the great loss this was to the world, even if my only real knowledge of him was linked to some of his older hits like “Fame” and “Let’s Dance” and his role as Jareth in The Labyrinth (a role I’m considering dissecting for its imagery when I get the chance).

The days before his death, I ruminated on how much he seemed like such a Dionysian figure; breathtakingly androgynous, a being who came to earth to dance and sing among men in his role as Ziggy Stardust, his outspoken advocacy for those on the fringes of society; including black American artists when they were considered unfit for television. He was steps ahead of his time, perhaps because he was so timeless. I do not feel as if he is “gone” merely “home” where he belonged all along. Causing ripples in our history while playing make believe with us here on the ground.

This weekend, when I make my offerings, I’ll pour out some wine for him on the altar of Dionysos. Like Maynard James Keenan (of Tool) his voice will be in the chorus of sung hymns.

David Bowie is not gone and never forgotten. He’s at the same masquerade he’s been at for years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trimming the Fucks Garden: The Pagan Edition

I think it’s time for a revamp of this blog; specifically trashing a lot of old posts and starting anew. Many of the subjects that caught my attention in the past just don’t do much for me anymore. In essence, I’m trimming back my fucks garden. Don’t know about a fucks garden? Let me share with you a very apt illustration created by the Love of My Current Reality (I’ve realized saying love of my life is NEVER a good idea. Life has a way of saying “Fuck yo’ plans “) The Hungry Dutchman.

fucksgarden

Lang is my best friend and queen of “Giving No Fucks.” Jurjen is often on his “Last Fuck.” But see that overgrown shit show in the back? That’s me and my previous entire rainforest of overgrown fucks. Sorry if the profanity in this post is a bit off putting, but the message just isn’t clear without it.

As I’ve continued reading blogs, even as I’ve gone kind of quiet on my own, I’ve discovered a veritable cacophony of things some pagans give fucks about that I no longer do (or never did). Things like;

  1. Godspouses.
  2. Who’s “pious” and who “isn’t.”
  3. The greater pagan community in general.
  4. Social justice blah blah  (THD coined this phrase)
  5. What’s “problematic.”
  6. Pagan politics (or more like how religion is made political and how weird it seems that so many people’s gods happen to share the same political beliefs they do. I’m not judging, I’m just judging.)

As our economy continues to not deliver its promises regardless of race or education level, as our American politicians continue to swindle their way into office, and the foundations of our great republic prove themselves to be nothing more than bricks of slightly moistened sand; I cannot be arsed nor bothered to put on a cape for the cause du jour.

And when it comes the pagan community; there’s ALWAYS a cause du jour and the solutions to these problems often stretch far further than sharing Tumblr posts and scathing knee-jerk e-bitchfests and dog piles.

This isn’t to say that I haven’t had my share of fucks garden induced compost on this blog. The gods know that I have. But these days? I tend to like a more solution oriented approach. I don’t like racists? I don’t go into their spaces and demand they do anything for me.

I find some Godspouses annoying in the same way I find a girlfriend who spends all of her time talking about her man annoying.

Um, call me when this isn't your only topic k?

Um, call me when this isn’t your only topic k?

I’m not going to do page length blog posts on how they need to do x,y,z to be taken seriously by other people(including myself) who don’t really matter to them in the long run. So I just un-follow and check back every once in awhile to see if they’ve stopped Facebooking their relationship yet.

 

My feminism is not your feminism so I’m going to skip those posts and keep it moving.

As I’ve also said in another post; I don’t go into spaces that aren’t about me and mine if I go into spaces AT ALL. Not only because I think many fora are  arenas which invariably lead to the bubble syndrome endemic to social media but also because I don’t have the time or energy to go caping or watch my words with borderline paranoia less I trigger someone.

And it seems like a good 85% of the vocal online pagan community is triggered by SOMETHING. Like damn, I had an exceedingly rough life and even I’M not triggered as much as some of these people

TL;DR version; the pagan community requires way more emotional and mental investment than it’s ever provided and judging from other bloggers going silent  and/or jumping ship, I tend to think I’m not the only one noticing this.

I grabbed this gif for you, me, and everyone else doing  hair-flip right about now.

I grabbed this GIF for you, me, and everyone else doing a hair-flip right about now.

So what will this blog cover from now on? I don’t know. Syncretism, synchromysticism, my piss poor excuses for ritual, tarot observations/astrology, non-pagan related link shares that still apply to my faith through some form or another, pagan/polytheist link shares that follow the same scheme, the observations of a radically indifferent black polytheist woman, jokes, side-eye, Tea, hymns, art, and music. Maybe a few pictures of food (my cooking game is pretty damn good).

Dionysos seems to be itching for some of my Misr Wot, Kik Alicha, and Gomen Wot; maybe it’s that time spent in Ethiopia…or so some say. Though the fact that Ethiopian food has become my latest obsession could be a post on its own.

So, if you haven’t been offended/bored yet, I look forward to reading more of you while you read more of me. Link me to your blog or dialogue with me here. It’s all gravy.

If I HAVE offended/bored you? Well you know where the unsubscribe button is. Better click to it.

 

Dionysos of the Ethiops

My spirits and ancestors have been whispering in my ear sweet murmurings and taunting secrets. While my silence online has been fairly constant, my spiritual life has exploded into a combination of Dionysian-Eastern African synchronicity.

For some strange reason this song dug into my soul and wrapped me in a throat- clutching embrace; stirring up memories, feelings I’ve experienced in the past, life experiences I tucked away in the recesses of my mind as dark things to repress or drug away with the help of a psychiatrist and solid health insurance.

But Dionysos may have been nursed in Ethiopia, on Mount Nysa amongst beautiful nymphs singing sweetly in Amharic.

I don’t know where I am. I don’t know these words that speak to me in tangled reverie. But I know this song and I know his voice and for now that’s enough.

Gods help me.

The Many-Faced God

It’s been requested that I split the sacred space I’ve created in my home. The larger altar I once had was moved into a smaller space following my divorce and the current one, while still holding the statue I purchased as a representation of Lucifer, is undoubtedly Dionysian. Covered in images of the vine, serpents, phallus, and jewelry I’ve offered as gifts, it’s a constant reminder of the god who’s led me through the mountains, into civilization, and back out again. Many-faced-God

For these reasons, things have to change. Lucifer will need to have his own space and, at this point, I’m unsure how I will provide it to him. When we initially began this…thing (I can’t call it worship as it’s never been that kind of relationship) it was always with the distinct understanding that my all belongs to Dionysus. While I can always travel and meet new people, new beings, and experience alternate “realities”, in the end, I will always come back home. This wasn’t so much a commandment from Dionysus himself but a sense, an inner promise, I made and while I sometimes fail…I generally attempt to pay my debts.

I am glad to be getting the feeling that it’s time for me to reenter the fold again so to speak. But on the other hand, I feel a strangeness in all of it. It’s not that Lucifer will no longer have a place…I just don’t know where that place will be.

I’m blessed to not be as god-bothered as some. The insights and instructions provided to me tend to come from dreams, flash-in-the-pan insights that come out of nowhere, or syncs. My inner life is quiet so I may listen and sometimes quiet so I can hear nothing at all and be blissful in the silence.

For the past couple of weeks, part of that silence has been nudging me toward ending blogging in the spiritual/religious sense and, instead, focusing on my passion for Gastronomy, food-history, and home-brewing. If there’s one thing my life has shown me, it’s that many of my talents/interests are directly connected to the deities and spirits I’ve built relationships with.

I’ve thought to ask Dionysus why this “silence” is necessary but why question something that has led to so much freedom and blissful liberation?

Dionysus is more than just a god of revelry and wine.

He is a god of many faces? Is he not?

 

 

Always Pay Your Debts

moneylenThe ancestors and local spirits with whom I have a working relationship aren’t picky per se. They like beef and lamb but scoff at chicken or fish. They prefer Orange Water, or rum, with their meals and two candles, if you please, during offerings. I go to them when I require aid and, in return, they get their meal or sacrifice and everyone goes about their business happy.

Except when someone doesn’t uphold their end of the bargain.

In this case, the one who failed to do so was me. It had been weeks since we had struck the initial deal and one thing or another always came up, or I’d simply forget, and their altar remained unadorned with what they had been promised. The spirits won’t sue, but they’ll sure as hell get what’s theirs.

Following my cleansing work things seemed to be going well, but when you unblock a roadway there’s bound to be some debris and considering the Mercury Retrograde that kicked off the week before Memorial Day weekend — that debris came in the form of paying off some debts.

Cue me finding out that my apartment was set to be demolished on June 1st. They said they had tried to call me and had sent a notice. Funny that I received neither of those. My partner and I had one week to find a new place for BOTH of us as he was set to move into my place the very day we stopped by the rental office to put him on the lease.

The search was frantic and fraught with one mishap after another, a tough and unfulfilling week at work, having to face the consequences of putting an apartment in my name for my mother years ago (she was evicted and never told me THAT little detail while attempting and failing to reconcile with me following our falling out) and falling behind in some very important endeavors.

In other words…I got my ass handed to me this week. HARD. Without lube or remorse.

Then I remembered. I owed a debt and there was no way I could even go to those who live with me without acknowledging this fact. Dinner that night was lamb shawarma, one of my favorite dishes, but some of it was not for me.

Lighting the two candles, I poured a glass of orange water and dished out their meal before my own; taking time to thank them for the assistance they had offered before. I apologized for being neglectful and forgetting to give them their due and left the candles burning for a few hours while I watched Hercules: Legendary Journeys with my partner and fretted over an impending move that wasn’t set in stone yet.

No requests. They had done their part and I had slipped.

The next day, things started falling into place. Our application for the new place was approved after a 3 day wait and constant hassle. The movers were scheduled with ease and were accommodating toward our circumstances (signing the lease and moving in the same day requires a bit of time-finagling). Tomorrow we physically move house and end, what has probably been, one of the most stressful periods we’ve weathered as a couple.

I was kind of wondering what that 5 of pentacles was referring to when I did a personal draw earlier in the week.

Not all debts are physical, but even non-physical debts can have repercussions.

I won’t go all out and say that my bout of bad-luck came wholly from forgetting to uphold my end of a bargain.

But I can’t deny the high-strangeness of it all.

It appears even the high-strange doesn’t want you writing checks you can’t cash.

Light Fire with Water

faucet1I took off from work on Friday for two reasons. 1) I really needed to not deal with my coworkers for an extra day. I love them but damn. (They ended up calling me anyway. Twice. More on that after the jump.) 2) I had a lunch date with my father.

Following the lunch I decided to find a local botanica as I had a sense of needing…something. I haven’t been to one in ages and their prices are generally much better than the local new age/pagan stores. Everything is about demographic. Stores will price what the market can bear.

After a harrowing couple of U-Turns because my GPS is kind of bad at its job, I spent another 15-20 minutes simply walking around the shop and feeling, admittedly, overwhelmed. I know my way around a pagan shop like a boss but this place was new to me so I did the best thing and asked for help.

30 minutes, 2 conversations, and about $75 later I walked out with two bags and a mission. Most of that $75 came from the bottle of cleansing wash specifically created by the proprietor of the shop.

3 days. 3 washings. 1 candle. Then you can proceed with your other work.

The last cleansing is today. Since the beginning of this process I’ve had:

* An old acquaintance reach out to me out nowhere. It was a good thing I missed the call. The guy is a magnet for dysfunction and drama and talking to him would have roped me back into conversations that mean nothing and do nothing for me in the long run.

*Odd dreams surrounding my move to the Netherlands or where I’m encountering scenarios or people who seem out of place in my dream world. I can remember these people and places vividly.

*Decreasing anxiety about the political atmosphere at work. Whereas before I might have been anxious about missing two phone calls on my day off, I simply sent a text stating that my laptop was at the office. I didn’t have access to work materials. They would need to figure out things for themselves.

In the words of my partner “The world will still turn even if you don’t do everything.”

Once the cleansing ritual is done, the road-opening work can begin. The fact that the assistant at the shop mentioned this and I didn’t even tell him road-opening was where I was headed magically gave me a hint that I was going in the right direction.

If you read Silence is Golden Part Deuces, than you know all of this is part of a series of goals I have that involve leaving the country, strengthening my coding chops with projects, and furthering my quest for prosperity and self-sufficiency. This meant leaving social media, focusing on my magic, focusing on my technical skills and avoiding social justice platforms, blogs, and conversations which is difficult to do when that’s what tends to clutter your feeds. The latter of which achieve ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TANGIBLE for me.

If you’re another black woman reading this blog, then you know most of us are socially conditioned to put the issues of others before ourselves or join in fights that provide us no benefit. Tangibility means there is an outcome that enhances your health, wealth, or happiness PERSONALLY AND IN THE NOW. Not down the road. Not after “the struggle”, or another panel discussion or “think piece”. Like with your magic, if you’re not getting results from what you’re doing then you aren’t doing much of anything.

The benefits of this cleansing have already shown themselves as have the benefits of the social media cut off. My fire is lit and now it just needs to be fed by action and discernment when it comes to what I’m exposing my life energy to and where I’m channeling said energy.

As another piece of sync for this last day of cleansing, today at 5:00pm EST  Gina McCauley of What About Our Daughters will be hosting a free Webinar titled The First Rule of Beyonce Mode;

We’ll cover the rules of Beyonce’ Mode, a state of being where you get things done while everyone else is posting selfies and status updates. A fun-filled hour studying the strategic genius of Beyonce Knowles-Carter.

There’s still time to sign up for the webinar and, once again, it’s free.

Find what lights your fire and use it.

What I’m Reading:

Over at Fools that Men Adore, Heretic sits some truth surrounding how Writing Isn’t Everything in Magick. As a bibliophile, I can relate to wanting to cop the newest title but failing to do the work involved in testing the theory for myself. I’ve also witnessed the tendency to see publishing a book as the marker of how serious one is in their occult/religious practice.

Gordon’s released another post for his Archonology series that further shows why Tumblring, wringing hands, and writing think pieces isn’t going to help you in the long run.

A few weeks ago Sannion discussed life purpose at The House of Vines, specifically the concept of living with True Will.

And finally, Ribbon Farm’s post on Technopaganism and the Newer Age is an amazing essay on the effects technology has had on the New Age, Californian culture in relation to Burning Man and Silicon Valley, the concept of “Technopaganism”, and the shift from New Age to Newer Age. I probably didn’t do the piece justice with my synopsis but just take my word for it and give it a skim.

Janelle Monae is my Muse

Because the pagan/occult sphere is overwhelmingly white (Not saying this in an accusatory way. It’s an observation. The occult/pagan world is really no different from the world outside of it.) most of the imagery coming from it tends to follow the same trend. During a recent research paper I was completing on the roles of women within the Dionysian mysteries and how these mysteries often offered them modes of expression forbidden to them by mainstream society; my musical tastes shifted non-too-subtly and I found myself listening to songs with themes celebrating feminine liberation.

Specifically BLACK feminine liberation.

It was as if I needed to be reminded of my own “self” for a moment and that version of “self” came through in the songs of Janelle Monae, a talented artist and phenomenally amazing (redundant?) woman whose tunes seem to spark the Dionysian flame within me. She’s sensual, rebellious, dangerous in her authenticity, straight forward in her words, a shapeshifter, and mime. She is visceral, autonomous, black womanhood in a society that denies it exists (or demands it conform to soothe it) and she is absolutely divine in her essence and totality.

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