Sunday, May 22, 2011

What's new with you?

The last couple of weeks have been CRAZY, what with being sick enough to miss two weeks of work, plus moving a couple of days back. I can't tell you how good it feels to be out of those apartments and into a house with a yard. No more listening to upstairs neighbor guy pee and blow his nose! We both feel profoundly blessed to be here, making a home together, working side by side. One of the best parts is that I get my own office/witch room. It's box city right now, but it'll be a fabulous retreat within a few days.

We are surrounded by pasture land. It's strange to hear cows and horses whilst sitting out on the verandah at night. We have the most wonderful view of the moon, though. It's wonderful beyond wonderful to sit out in the quiet and breeze at night, the moon and I smiling back at each other. The WTBf loves her, too, and we have been taking companionable breaks of silent admiration. He's a space freak, which makes him an ideal partner in crime for working with big lunar events and energies, even if he IS a Pastafarian.

The previous tenants didn't take care of the yard or the house all that well, so there's some work to be done around here before I can say we're truly settled. I've been prepping the flower beds in the cool of the evening so that I can work on improving the soil over the summer and plant in the fall. Here in Central Texas, it's already too hot to plant. Yuck. But I can make sure that the pests and weeds and sandy clay get taken care of to make way for some useful herbs. Great big rosemary bushes are my fondest hope. For now, there's sage and cinquefoil and mint growing in them.

I'm working up a home cleansing and blessing ritual that feels right for this place, for us, and for completing all the work I did to bring this new home for us into a concrete reality. I most definitely owe some spirits some presents...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Lately, I feel stuck waiting, like a girl at a dance without a date. Too many directions and projects and paths to explore, but the time isn't right to march down a different path, let alone go exploring off in the woods. That's a blessing, actually. After the pummeling the last few years handed out, having time and space to recover, regroup, and get strong is something I really need. I need to pay attention and take advantage of it. It would be nice to just live instead of strive and scramble all the time.

I asked the Universe to teach me patience a while back, on that ill-conceived Imbolc, and situations are cropping up long after that where it is made clear that I am still being taught. Acceptance and wise use of the time and situations come more easily now, but too often I bend my knee and bow my head to it with hackles raised and eyes flashing. I understand that I am being shown where things are headed, then being made ready in the meantime. I still worry about things not working out right instead of accepting that I can't control the future and that I will be provided for.

Time to know myself and be sure of my decision is a wonderful blessing, but it's really difficult not to have milestones in view, or to feel like I'm progressing at all. All cooped up. There's this Gemma Hays song that says, "Today I ran for miles, just to see what I was made of. Today I ran for all that was mine." I tried that, but it was more like I ran for yards, found out I was made of lethargy, and now feel more held back than ever. When I look down the long-term road, things are extra uncertain. Pretty much the only certain things are that the WTBf and I love each other very much and work well together, and that it's practically impossible that he'll be able to work here, where we're from and where our families and friends are. While he works through his Doctorate, a lot of things are put on hold for me. No long-term career plans or grad school. Just kind of a holding pattern until we see what the Universe has in store for us.

It's not all about the uncertain future. Keeping me flustered and stuck in the short term, is our move in the next couple of weeks. My things have to be put away, then taken back out. Given new homes in our new home. I've been sick, so packing is running about ten days behind schedule. Everything must be properly boxed, labeled, and dealt with.

The disturbance of order and suspension of normal life make me anxious, put me in a funky headspace, even though moving is excellent and well worth the trouble. (A house with a yard, rather than a noisy apartment! More room!) My focus is crap because of the moving and things being out of place, in boxes. It's so pervasive that when I went down to meet my helper last night during meditation, she was waiting for me in my new kitchen, idly inspecting the way I was arranging things. Instead of running through the forests, I spend my sleeping hours organizing shining appliances, dishes, and glasses on a baker's rack or over-engineering the constructing of simple tables and bed frames. Ugh. I'll be glad when it's all said and done, the old apartment cleaned out and given back, everything put in its place in the new house, and us settled into a quieter, slightly more genteel life.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Why Do People Shy Away from Self-Defense in Magic?

I have had, to put it in the ladylike way I so often put things, a bug up my ass for a while about personal defense in magic and general attitudes toward it. An awful lot of people seem to not draw clear boundaries and guard them because, well, it's not nice. That's absurd. It operates on the assumption that every universal force is going to play by your conventions and ethos. When was the last time some criminal stopped just short of violating a victim because the victim wasn't the kind of person who would rob or rape or murder? We lock the doors of our houses at night, install alarm systems, have neighborhood watch groups. Why would magic be any different, and why on earth would it be a place to suddenly turn into a milquetoast? You have to be proactive. That's a lesson I learned the hard way, and it changed my understanding of magical ethics and my path permanently.

Bad things don't just go away or become nice. This isn't a sitcom. They get worse and wear you down until the wheels are falling off on every front. Taking care of yourself, your home, your people, and your life isn't bad, even if it requires aggression and ferocity. You've got to fix it and be practical about it. Think of it like roaches or mice or some other household vermin. It has GOT to go. So you clean house, then take preventative and protective steps to make sure the things don't come back in. We all know to call the exterminator or buy roach traps if the problem is pests. An awful lot of people don't know what to do when the problem is with energies and entities you can't fix with a trip to the grocery store.

There seem to be two extremes and not a lot of practical information in between them. You have very strong, complex protection magic in folk traditions like Santeria and Voudou, where these layers of protection are a matter of fact thing. I've heard people say that it's because of the acceptability and prevalence of hexing or working against people. There are some excellent, very easy ideas in root work, like Hoodoo, that are great to use, no matter how uncomfortable you are with the idea of being more aggressive in your protection.

Then you have the fluffy people who write books telling you to exorcise ghosts from your house permanently using only sage and an open window. Oh, and if that doesn't work, you must be drawing them to you with a bad attitude. The latter type often focuses on "psychic self-defense". I hate the term "psychic self-defense" because it's such a narrow, silly-sounding term for what should be a broad and very personal plan. I get why people use it. The problem is that there are so few resources out there on personal protection magic. To write some bit of fluff is a disservice to the community and dangerous to less experienced witches who may be scrambling for help because they've gotten in over their heads.

In the world of softer, gentler, upper-middle-class witchery, protection doesn't seem like something people take very seriously. Are they not very sensitive? Very aware? Do they not make connections between the thought "hey, that guy sitting next to me at the bar is kinda creepy" and the idea that maybe they should shield themselves in some way? I don't know about the general public. Maybe they don't like the idea of there being big, bad stuff out there or that there could be consequences to some fun, impulsive dabbling. When it comes to physical home security or online security, people seem to largely be willfully ignorant, as though not taking preventative steps will save them. It won't.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Maybe I'll finish my reading list in this lifetime... Maybe.

I come from a Very Christian Family. Growing up, I could never understand how my mom would easily spend as many as four or five hours a day reading religious books or being engaged in her own private practice of her faith. She must have hundreds of books on a vast array of topics related to it. Naturally, I swore I would never be weird like that, then have slowly begun doing the same thing.

I read quickly, and usually have four or five books going at once. But when it comes to something like magic, where taking time to process, internalize, and sort out how it fits with what I already believe is of paramount importance, it's hard to plow through things. It's also difficult to decide where to focus my attention. There's my trance work, which has been absolutely clamoring for attention recently. There's whatever sabbat is next, plus whatever normal stuff I'm working on in my life. I've really enjoyed getting into hoodoo and rootwork in the last year. Its practicality clicks for me. Lately, my practice and focus has gotten more primal and bloody than I would have guessed it would have as little as a year ago. I have super highly recommended books in both areas arriving this week.

But there are other things that important to me to read. I think I should go deep to understand and know the sources modern authors are often drawing from. There are at least a couple thousand pages in PDF ebooks that I have to give me a very basic, more accurate foundation in the old occult books, the Solomonic stuff, and systems that aren't my own (like Gardnerian and Alexandrian Wicca). I don't trust some modern book whose cites nothing telling me to draw some stuff and call on the power it represents. I want to know where to look it up, how to cross-reference it.

I want to know how other people manage this load, how they decide which area to spend time on at any given time. Especially when it comes to reading the more classical texts that are harder to understand, harder to apply, and much longer-winded than modern books. At no time do I ever sit down and think that it's a great time to pick up 800 pages of forgotten book and snuggle in. Maybe I'll find some sort of glorious discipline. I wonder if it's even really necessary to have that foundation, or if that's just academic conditioning rearing its head. Honestly, I'd rather spend those hours outside wandering, or in trance, or making stuff.