Wednesday, March 30, 2011


Carbomancy - the art of divining the future from baked goods.

This little known art had its humble origins in the telling of the future in the rising of bread or the shapes cookies take when baking.

It's mysteries soon expanded to ginger bread men poppets, baguette wands and pie mandalas. It had some missteps (the raising of zombie muffins is an evil that ought never be tried again), but it has distinguished itself as a new and powerful contribution to the Art.

(Why yes, I am taking a workshop on baking bread this evening, why do you ask?)

Monday, March 21, 2011

How nice for you

Ms. Manners suggests that the polite response to someone sharing inappropriately is "how nice for you" or "how awful for you" depending.

A few weeks ago, I went to a large pagan gathering. At a certain point, I was regaled with tales from a young woman regarding how "powerful" she is. As proof, she let me know that crystals are too dangerous because things blow up around her. And that she sometimes gets so lost in trance she doesn't see things in ordinary reality. How awful for her.

I'm sure we've all met folks like this one time or another. Besides lamenting that Paganism has sad cultural norm that it is somehow rude to address personality disorder and delusion as such, I just want to make a few analogies:

I'm such a powerful driver, I always go 120 miles an hour and can only turn left.

I'm such a powerful cook, I always burn my food to a crisp.

I'm such a powerful knitter that I stab myself the needles and so I never actually knit.

I ask you, dear reader, do any of those statements make a lick of sense? They don't to me either. That's not power. If such a statement were true, it is raging incompetence, not power, that leads to such outcomes. And that's just as true for any dubious claims of magical power.

What is most sad about these claims is that they:

1) Get attention - Magical people like to talk about magic and otherworldly things when we get together. Often it is why we got together in the first place. So these claims give you something to talk about. Empty dull conversation that lacks any depth, but conversation nonetheless.

2) Establish cred without actually having to prove oneself. If electronics explode every time you touch a crystal, then I would admit there is something special going on there. At the same time, often dangers of the "abilities" prevents the person from showing others or directing their "power" in some kind of helpful fashion.

Because of both of these factors, these kinds of claims are not just harmless. I actually think this dynamic is actively harmful. The least accomplished and most delusional get the most attention and, worst of all, any sense of accountability is lost. Any real conversation that may deepen spirituality or explore how magic works in the really-real world is lost in all the noise.

Even sadder, humoring these people is often considered a virtue of sorts. I believe in the mysterious and the numinous and that we humans can touch it via magic and religion. Yet, we seem to view faith as a toggle switch. Either I belive magic isn't real or I believe all claims of magic are valid. Just as an FYI to the world, I can believe in magic and not believe *you*.

One of my sincere wishes for paganism is that we, collectively, acquire a process of discernment between spirituality and delusion. I wonder if part of starting this process involves moving way from humoring folks and starting to take them seriously.

So one of the things that I'm sitting with and reflecting on is how to go from "how nice for you" to something that is kind, but honest. Something that isn't just me bitching at people, but also doesn't require me to implicitly endorse fantasy. If true, many of these claims are revel a dangerous incompetence and we should treat it as such. If not true, does it really serve others and our faith to let people lie to themselves and others?

I don't have any answers really, but I'm not sure "how nice for you" really covers this issue like I once thought.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

On Christian Day...

I wasn't going to comment on the Christian Day and Charlie Sheen weirdness as so many have done so already. I figure you can call yourself what you damn well please really.

(Since I practice witchcraft rather than act out warcraft, I think I will stick with witch over warlock. Or a magician depending on my mood.)

Still, after viewing the video of his Charlie Sheen binding ritual on youtube (Really Christian? Really?), my only comment is that I have a personal rule on ritual planning: A ritual should take longer to execute than it took to get dressed for it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

I heart Ann Hill

This made me laugh. "Dairy" has some got some cool stuff going on, but I left it (as a student) for a variety of reasons, not the least of which were related to the issues mentioned in this article.

On grounding...

Folks tend use the term grounding in a lot of ways. Since we use it to cover a lot of territory, sometimes the term obscures more than it clarifies. I have recently been hit from a few sources on how pagans often conflate grounding as an energetic exercise with grounding as the state of being fully out of a trance.

Most readers of this blog are familiar with the basic Tree of Life grounding. In my tradition this exercise is there to help folks connect to the earth spiritually and help folks draw on the earth instead of themselves when working magic. If I call someone grounded, in this case, I mean that they have strong energetic tie to the Earth.

Another way pagans often use the term grounded is to refer to someone who is make from a trance state. This can a guided meditation, astral projection or heavy spirit work (like aspecting). Grounded in this context means that a person is fully present in their body and is no longer in the trance or altered state of consciousness that opened them up to experience the meditation or spirit work. It is about their command of their faculties and ability to operate well with the physical details of day to day life. If I call someone grounded, in this case, I mean that they are awake and engaged in the physical world around them.

The reason I'm trying to make this distinction clear is that one can have a strong energetic tie to the earth and still be half-astral. Being able to ground to the earth is a beginner skill (foundational really), but being able to change consciousness and return skillfully is more of an intermediate skill.

The problem with assuming these things are the same is that focusing on that energetic cord and running energy does not help you return from a trance state. If you're having trouble getting fully back, engage with your body: stretch, eat something, do a little self-massage, have sex. Our bodies are us and are our ties to the everyday physical reality of day to day life. So the next time you feel a little spacey, don't just move energy. Engage your body and do your best to be fully present in here and the now. More meditation and energy work will not help you if you are still tranced-out.