Friday, April 26, 2013

Breastfeeding, Weaning, Introducing Solids

 I reckon you could call me a lactivist--it's an actual term, I didn't coin it.  However, that's not to say I don't recognize that there are many difficulties for a mother who wants to breastfeed her child and that this can lead to a short duration of breastfeeding or it not happening at all. At least we have formula now, my great Aunt was apparently fed a little cream and coffee in her bottle when her Mother's milk dried up.  Formula is double-edged, good when a baby can't be breastfeed, can be very bad otherwise (it can hasten the drying up of the mother's milk when her baby is fed too much formula).
  I also recognize that there can be mental and cultural baggage that keeps a woman from breastfeeding, and that can be valid too.  Those mental hiccups need to be recognized though and battled, not just for the purposes of breastfeeding, but for healthy body image and sexuality.  The extremely stressful and sleep-deprived period after birth, may not  be the ideal time to battle emotional/mental hang-ups, and some of these hang-ups will take a life-time to unravel.  I just want you to understand where I am coming from.
  It is okay to be human.
Everyone has hang-ups and baggage.
We should all try to keep growing, learning and fixing ourselves.
It's okay to fail at fixing ourselves.

Okay, that's my little addendum, that being out of the way, I'd like to get on to breastfeeding stuff.
I'm sure that this stuff is plastered all over the internet in other Mom-blogs.  I'm just going to give you my version and hope there's something original and useful in there.

  Breastfeeding is really good for your baby.  It's good for the mother (in some ways), breastfeeding assists in losing baby weight (remember all that fat you put on? It was put on so that you'd have reserves to feed the baby with, and it'll get used up first if you breastfeed), lays down new and stronger bones after you stop and has been shown to be protective against breast cancer (presumably because those mammary glands actually get some use and get cleaned out). It's even good for your toddler.
Here is the American Academy of Pediatrics statement on breastfeeding:

AAP basically says you should breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, followed by semi-solids and breastmilk up to a year, then continued breastmilk and food till whenever you decide it's more beneficial to quit.  Some people exclusively breastfeed for up to a year, especially if there are food allergy concerns.  I didn't need to do that, and I was having a hard time getting enough protein etc. to keep up with my six month old.  To this day, if he hits a growth spurt or nurses more than normal, getting enough of the right foods to eat is difficult for me, to keep me healthy and happy.  I have to eat very regularly, lots of protein and fat, plenty of water, and I still have low blood pressure episodes and hypoglycemic symptoms.
  It made sense to me though, that I should breastfeed exclusively until about the time the first tooth came in.  There is apparently some evidence for this, that certain enzymes develop for solid food digestion around the time of the new tooth--I cannot cite any study, but heard this from a health professional and is interesting to note at least the possibility.

  Still on the topic of breastfeeding, but from the weaning side, is a really interesting article by Kathryn Dettwyler (PhD) that states:
 "The minimum predicted age for a natural age of weaning in humans is 2.5 years, with a maximum of 7.0 years."
( )

Check out with whole article, it is quite fascinating.  Anyhow, a woman may need to stop breastfeeding much earlier than this for all sorts of reasons, and she should not be judged in any way, but she should be made all accommodations possible. Many jobs, especially state and government jobs in the U.S. require that accommodations for breastfeeding mothers be made including lactation rooms, breaks to pump on and sometimes even a breastpump.
  I've come across articles that poo-poo the science behind breastfeeding. They simply cast doubt on just how much better breastmilk is vs. formula.  Honestly, I can understand wanting to wean, especially if those other Moms have felt as crummy as I have.  I have had an extremely understanding and supportive family and job,which helped immensely.  There I times I wanted to wean earlier, but something always stopped me, those hormones/instincts told me to keep going, and honestly, I've been helpless against that. 
 However, this is my son, aside from those instincts to continue, I figured, if there was any chance that those antibodies were helping him through this last, aweful, flu season, I should continue.  We know breastmilk has antibodies that help your sick kiddo,  it doesn't really matter to me how much they help him, but that they do.  By next flu season, he will be on his own.
  Make no mistake that breastfeeding causes a woman to be "more tied down" to her child and that she will be getting up more at night. 
  It seems to be the consensus among breastfeeding mothers that their children seem to get up more at night than formula fed babies.  Who really knows if this is true? Formula doesn't break down as fast as breast milk, it is possible that formula fed babies don't feel hungry for longer.  However, something I and some friends noticed is that if you pump before bed, and bottle feed the baby expressed breast milk, they seem to sleep longer too.
  Perhaps the baby gets too cozy and falls asleep before they are full when they are latched onto the breast, or perhaps it is simply easier to get the milk from a bottle and they drink more at a time (and thus sleep longer).
  Something important to note.  If you're having huge sleeping troubles, try the expressed breastmilk bottle before bed.  Just note, if you just bottle feed expressed breastmilk and never put the babe to breast, you will probably dry up your milk supply eventually.  Every woman is different, but this seems to be most common outcome.
  Bottle feeding expressed breastmilk is part of what I mean by accommodations for the Mother.  You might as well try and see if it helps.  On the other hand, if you are a single parent and you have to be at work the next morning and you find out your baby sleeps when they get formula, really, who can blame you?  Mom has to be able to function, and while I had the luxury of stumbling out of bed and being able to fumble around the house during the day, some people are expected to think and function at a higher level, and bring in income. But before you call it quits, if you have the opportunity, why not give it a shot?
  Enough for today, I could probably spend all day writing on the topic.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Weaning A Toddler

I've been thinking about weaning for some time now, but I admit to not being fully on board until very recently.  I just wasn't ready.  I don't think my son will be ready for a long time.
  I do really believe he would wean himself in another year or so, most kids do.  Really though, the point is that I am done with it.  I'm done with the constant drain on my nutritional resources, the sudden feeling that I might pass out if I don't eat something that very instant.  I cannot seem to stuff enough food into my gullet on a regular basis to make up for all that extra energy expenditure.  Others seem to do fine, but my constitution has never been that great.  There are all sorts of theories as to why by different practitioners,  poor liver function, leaky gut, sub clinical hashimoto's.  I've never been able to handle the exercise-load that I should, and I don't build muscle for crap, exercise seems to just break me down rather than build me up, especially the past few years. Which sucks, because I actually enjoy moving my body quite a lot.  It seems to me, my body isn't really functioning well on it's own when I'm not breastfeeding, and putting the extra load on it just makes it that much weaker.
  I would have weaned a long time ago if not for the extreme instinctual urge to continue.  It's actually weird to me now that I want to quit, I was starting to wonder if it would ever happen.  Then it did, like switching off a light...which leads me to assume my hormones are really at work here (and why wouldn't they be?)!
  I remember spending just a couple of nights away from my baby after a year or so, and I would get this intense urge to be around him, a type of anxiety tied to his hunger and well-being that happened about the same time he would normally breast-feed and my breasts were starting to get full.  Hormones are weird things...
  So I've read up on the subject of weaning.  Weaning a toddler is different than weaning a baby though.  The baby can't vocalize the way a toddler can, the intensity of his emotion regarding this very tender subject.
  I'm not particularly happy with the things I've read, so I'm just doing things the way I personally think is best, and am hoping for it to work out.
   I decided to cut out 1 feeding at a time, seperated by several weeks, with the length of time between depending on his reaction. He has had three for a long time now: just before bed, just before nap and just apon waking in the morning. Just cutting out one feeding was really tough on my Little Guy.

  The first night I told him he was too old to nurse for his bed-time nursing he cried like never before.  It wasn't a fake cry to get what he wanted, it was a real emotional loss, like losing a loved-one.  Then he wet the bed that night.
  This is clearly very stressful stuff and needs to be handled carefully.
I've thought before about doing it cold-turkey.  But I don't think that's going to be good for him or me quite frankly.  After cutting out the bed-time nurse I had mild, but sharp pains in my breasts (a few times a day) for about three days, as my body adjusted to suddenly making less milk.
  A few weeks later he's come to terms with no bed-time nursing, and has adjusted by cuddling the breast like a stuffed animal, or prides himself on covering it with his blankie to "keep it warm" ("keeping it warm" came about as I tried to think of a good reason why women have to cover their breasts in our culture--he's ask me about it, and I say their boobs get cold....more advanced explanations to follow...). Cuddling the breast or taking care of it by covering it has been a huge coping mechanism for him.  Each night he asks if I can "take the nipple out" so he can "cuddle it", I find this to be satisfactory and moving in the right direction.  Eventually, when all nursing has ceased, the "cuddling" will go too, but that can wait longer.  In the mean time,  there are two more feedings to cut out, and I am contemplating which one to cut next, I believe it will have to be the morning.  By next week I will decree nursing only after breakfast/ in the afternoon before nap.  If I do that, my milk will slowly dry up, as he doesn't always even take a nap or get the idea to nurse in the afternoon.
  In our culture, breastfeeding is a lost art.  My mother's generation and the one before, they were told by their (undoubtedly male) physicians that their babies woke in the night because "their milk wasn't satisfying" and were given formula.  Breastfeeding began to fall out of favor, and so did all the "tricks of the trade".

  I've been successful because I did my research, had a state job early on which allowed me time and a place to pump my milk, and plenty of support from my immediate family and friends.  I know many moms already who wanted to continue, but gave up before they even started, usually citing latch-on difficulties, followed by pumping and bottle feeding only.  I'm not really sure why or how this happens, I've tried referring them to La Leche League ( ), with no luck. The help is free, and the organization will send out a volunteer to help you if you are having trouble breastfeeding. 
  So many girls are assuming if they just pump and never put the baby to breast, they will keep making milk.  They do, for a couple months.  I'm sure there are some that will keep making milk regardless, but I haven't met one yet.  I can only imagine that they don't want to keep their milk. They may not have the luxury of a job with a lactation room, or breaks to pump on, or their parents may be entirely against it (because it's "dirty" or whatever).  For those that have dried up while they were on strong antibiotics or other meds, I have suggested trying re-lactation, but usually the moms aren't interested.  It remains, however, a viable option.  I've never done it, but I know it's possible.  As far as I know, you just keep putting your baby back on the breast and letting them try to nurse each day until the milk just comes back.  It may not for some people, but if you want to continue it's worth a shot.  Again, La Leche Legue would probably be a good contact for info. about this.  For those interested, here is an article in Kellymom ( ).
  It is difficult for me to understand how anyone could think that breastfeeding is dirty.  That's what boobs are quite arguably for! The sad part, is women often need the help of their mothers or others after birth, and that generation was often taught that breasts were shameful, dirty and are not to be touched by an infant because it is "sexual".  This can make it difficult, and even impossible for a woman to breastfeed in that crucial time after birth.
Even in the pagan community, I've had comments of surprise and shock about breastfeeding during a circle.
There's a post in the works about body image in our culture and how we need to get over our problems with our bodies.  The shame we associate with the nude body is a hold-over from our Christian ancestors, and has nothing to do with the modern Pagan, or the ancient ones. Do I sound preachy yet? I am, and I feel very strongly about this.
  I need to get caffeine and get my kid out of the house on this beautiful day.  My apologies for writing before coffee, things may be a bit dis-jointed, but hopefully the rambling makes some sense.
love and light,

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Wicca Con and Contra Dancing

Spent a lovely weekend with good friends, coven-mates and wonderful dancers.  Something I have really needed after this crummy winter filled with death, too many moves and unfortunate surprises.
  The UU church sponsored the event in Des Moines, Iowa.  UU churches are awesome.  The UU Church in Des Moines has just started a CUUPS group there.(  About CUUPS)  I really like CUUPS groups.  Until I had my son, I was just too damned busy with coven events to go.  After having my son, I really needed the ability to get out and about.  Coven outings for the first year or so were not really possible with my son (for some people they probably don't find it that difficult, but it entirely depends on the kid and the parents).  We found a UU church about 35 min. away that had a CUUPS group and started going.  Goddess bless her, the founder always brought her older kids so that we would have childcare available.  We would not have been able to attend any spiritual events without this crucial element.  If you are pagan, and there are no groups in your area, I would suggest you check your local UU church (if you are lucky enough to have one!).
  Not all UU churches are completely open to pagans.  We have been held at arms-length before at one UU church for this reason, until the old reverend left, and a new, more open and loving one took over.  I am happy to say that that particular parish now has a CUUPS group as well =).  We were never told not to come there, but members of our pagan community noted that the parish was "cliquish" and our community members did not feel welcome (and did not go back).  Later I found out why we felt we got the cold shoulder.  Really, as far as "bad" experiences with a church goes, I'd pick that any day.
  The concept of the UU church is really great, it seems to me, to be the future of religion.  If any religion survives, it will be something like that.  All-encompassing, loving, accepting, with an emphasis on helping and supporting eachother and not on forcing specific concepts or assuming any "one way".  Atheists are welcome as well, and many parishes have a high percentage of them.
  Wicca Con happens every year in Des Moines so check it out next year.  We had lovely music, childcare, workshops, great meals and wonderful new and old friends to talk to.
  Afterwards I got the privilege of dancing at Contraindications .
Contra dancing is kind of like square dancing, but don't let that put you off (if indeed, it does).  It is important for pagans to learn to dance these types of social dances.  If you want to learn something ancient that pagans did, community dances like these are the way to go.  Remind me to write on folk dances another time.  For now, just know you should check it out.  Many cities have contra dances if you can find the local calendar, and if you are willing to travel, sometimes you can go to one a week.  It is a great workout and amazing fun.
Gotta run,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wildcrafting Bloopers...

It's another dreary, unusually cold, rainy, April day here.  Perhaps we should have put a little more oomph, into that Ostara celebration!
  Perhaps thinking of warmer days will help on this seemingly extended winter...

Wildcrafting is the practice of sustainably harvesting plants from their natural habitat for food or medicine.  It's just another nifty little label that gets some of us weirdos/enthusiasts on the same page.

  It was warm in 2009 in the fall when my friend and I wildcrafted ginko nuts.  Somewhere on a distant hard drive are pictures of that day (does anyone else have extreme difficulty keeping things safely in digital format?? We always lose them...).
  Ginko trees are fascinating.  They call them "living fossils".  Ginkos have pretty much outlived any diseases or insects that would have preyed on them, they are "recognizably similar to fossils dating back 270 million years"(  I cannot remember now where I read it, but male trees have been known to suddenly change into female ones.  This is unfortunate for some, since they planted the males to keep from having the ginko (or "stinko" fruit as my husband calls them) fruit all over their yard and/or sidewalks.  According to that same article on Wiki, the trees are so hardy, a few trees were still standing and continued to survive after the blast at Hiroshima, when the other trees and plants had all been destroyed.  Some of the lore I read said that you should not eat more than a few nuts at a time (I think the article said 8), but some articles are saying children should not eat more than 5.  Honestly, I don't like them well enough to bother again, but I am probably a bit jaded on the subject.

  We knocked on a neighbors door, asked if they minded if we picked the fruit off the ground (of course not! why would they want anything to do with those nasty fruits!) We picked a ton...mistake number one.
  Took them home, and we did have the wherewithal to get latex gloves to get the fruit off.  I did not anticipate, however, just how much of a reaction you can get from the substance in the fruit related to urushiols (just like the sap in poison ivy).  We washed off the fruit around the nut in warm water (probably allowing my skin to absorb even more of the irritating substances) and it splashed over the the gloves and onto my wrists.  We processed a lot of the fruit, a whole afternoons endeavor, not knowing yet, that you can only eat a few at a time.
  Within a couple days I had what I can only refer to as the worst poison ivy rash all over my wrists that I've ever had,and it started at a direct line of where the gloves had stopped protecting my hands/wrists.
  I had my wedding a few weeks later, and I counted myself lucky to be wearing long gloves...
Before all that itchy, oozy suffering, when I ate the nuts I felt a little "off".  I honestly can't tell you what it felt like.  I just got the intuition I shouldn't eat too many of them at once.  When I looked it up online, I found the lore saying you should only eat a few at a time, and I concluded they were mildly poisonous in some way.  One would expect that from the way the pulp is so toxic.
  The nut itself isn't bad, and reminded me a bit of edemame. I concluded however, with my extreme loathing of poison ivy, and the extreme similarity of the ginko fruit rash to poison ivy rashes, that it was only worth it if I was starving.
Perhaps if I covered myself in a body suit of latex while processing the fruit know the nut wasn't delicious enough for any of that...

  My friend's blooper was no less ridiculous. 
 I reckon everyone that enjoys wildcrafting has a blooper to tell, but I don't know enough of them to get a clear picture of that.
  One of the people I know enjoys hunting for morels and other edible mushrooms.  He also just enjoys identifying them (it's like finding a rare animal or flower, if you can imagine enjoying that sort of thing).
  One day he came across  a destroying Angel mushroom.  It's tall, slender, pristinely white, it looks like some sort of enlightened little being.  I have certainly never seen one in person and neither had he.  It was beautiful. A picture of the same type...

Destroying Angel picture

 Overcome by it's beauty, in child-like admiration and play, he dryly, kissed the top of it.  The Destroying Angel mushroom is very toxic, but I don't think he could imagine how toxic until a few hours later when his stomach was rolling.  I do not now remember if he actually began vomiting or not.

The sad thing is it's not like either of us were unknowledgeable, but both underestimated the potency of the plants/fungus we were dealing with.  Is there a lesson to be learned here? ;)

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Another Way--Herbal Nervines As Smoke

Just to clear things up from the start: by smoke,I don't mean marijuana or tobacco.
People have sometimes assumed from my pipe or tobacco papers that I was a "smoker" of either of these substances.  My mom actually burnt a very lovely hand carved wooden pipe I used for catnip; yes, you read correctly, catnip
  One of the down-sides to tobacco substitutes or herbal smoke, is that others will assume I am smoking something illegal.  This is something I always keep in mind.  It is prudent to keep all herbs well labeled and I understand that if I get pulled over in my car with mullein cigarettes, I could end up in jail until it gets sorted out.  I've personally never had this happen, but it could, and it is good to keep in mind.
   I actually smoke herbs because I like smoking, find it relaxing, but don't want the problems of being addicted to tobacco.  I've tried many a time to get friends off of cigarettes and onto mullein or something more soothing to their lungs, but often times once someone is truly addicted to cigarettes, they are not helped by the substitute, it just makes them crave tobacco worse--or at least that's what I'm told.
  I am one of those strange individuals who occasionally use tobacco, but have never become addicted.  One of the reasons I am not addicted is because I don't smoke it very much.  I usually buy about one pack a year (and no I don't bum cigs from others either).  It is impossible for most people to believe.  Often times when I want to smoke something it is in the car, and I will roll up some mullein and take it with me.  It helps keep me occupied on long trips.  Sitting by a fire, or just in your home to smoke and think, has been a part of pretty much everyone's culture for generations.  If you like to smoke, it is a shame to have to quit, just because you don't want the problems associated with tobacco.  There are so many alternatives!
  Some of my favorites:
Mother's Wort leaves (kinda taste like tobacco but relaxing)
Mullein, lavender and rose petal
mullein, lavender, rose petal and mint
blue vervain, lavender and mullein (Note:Vervain may cause one to be sleepy)

 If I am going to try any herb, I do this in my own home, where I can safely gauge the affects before I venture out.  Herbs are usually pretty mild in the way they act, but every person, and every herb, is different.
  It has been many years since I tried mother's wort, so I cannot say anymore if it would make me sleepy, my guess is that it would, depending on the amount, it should be relaxing, based off the herbs other uses.
  I don't personally notice much of anything with catnip, it has a pleasant, slightly minty (it is a part of the mint family) taste, and sometimes I notice that my mood seems elevated and I am slightly relaxed.  Some people have noted that their tongue feels a bit numb after smoking it, I don't personally notice anything.
Mullein is good to mix with lots of stuff, it has a pleasant taste, is easy to gather and identify in the wild, and is easy on the lungs.  Supposedly used by Native Americans for lung infections, it is about as soothing a smoke as one can get while still inhaling smoke.
  Blue vervain is harsh on the lungs and has to be mixed with something as a result, but I find it to be quite relaxing, I find it difficult to get up afterwards and want to be very active.  The herb is a muscle relaxant, and I find that to be true of smoking it as well.  However, I find the taste of this herb abhorrent in tea (I suppose the small amount you'd take in a tincture would be fine) and I'd rather just smoke it to get many of those affects.   (Blue vervain used to be used as an herb for the plague according to lore, I used the tea this year after a particularly nasty adeno-virus and immediately noticed my lungs functioning better--it was quite a relief.  Smoking it may help for this virus as well, but my lung function was already compromised, so I did not want to smoke anything for weeks) The store-bought herb is usually mixed with a lot of stems, and this may be the problem with how harsh the smoke is, purchasing all leaves, or collecting it myself would be ideal.  The others I always gather or grow myself, I honestly can't imagine smoking most of the catnip I see available in the store, it also has tons of stems that would probably be very unpleasant to smoke--fine for you cat though =).
  Gathering herbs ones-self has a modern term "wildcrafting".  I certainly enjoy it, but I also carefully do my research, and when possible, take along someone who knows the herb I'm looking for and can positively identify it.
 Anyhow, I cannot suggest to anyone that they smoke or take herbs for all sorts of reasons.  To each their own, and to each their own responsibility.
love and light,

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Actually Practicing Magick

By the title I mean both "practice" as in using magick, and "practice" as in doing it at all.
  I know lots and lots of folks in the pagan community that are forever reading and absorbing and never doing anything.  The most important thing is to actually practice.  All the reading is supplementary and should be secondary to your own experience and input.  If you practice, when you encounter others' practices, you will know what works for you, and can compare.
  I remember a time when I was young and I didn't yet have any label for what I was (or, more correctly, what I most closely identify with).  My best friend and I made potions, experimented with Ouija boards, went to cemeteries and old houses, or just out in nature.
   Because of my life experiences and old (and haunted) house that I lived in, I was more naturally drawn to experimentation with the dead than nature spirits (I wish I had known about nature spirits back then!!).  I've said it before and I will say it again, to the normal American, talking with spirits sounds crazy and grisly, but I can't tell you how comforting it is to occasionally catch a laugh from my grandmother after she passed, to know she is okay and happy... The most interesting thing about my childhood experiences to me though, is that we did all of these things before we knew what Wiccans were, or had any label for what we were doing.  We were under the age of 9, and already compiling a book of recipes for various potions. Our ingredients consisted entirely of things we intuited.  We did not drink them, but applied externally (although there was no particular reason we never drank them, many consisted of spices from the cupboard).
  Back then, even spices from the cupboard were magickal.  They really still are, but by the time you are an adult, things have lost some of their mystique.  It is important to note that just because we know some of how certain things work, does not negate their magick.  Many acts of magick are merely acts of changing our own perception so that we can actually see more of our options, that's okay, it's still magick, and it's not silly to believe it works...
But back on topic:

  When I look back on it, I do not feel that I had a choice in my path.  I was born a witch. When I was little, things came easy to me.  My play was a witch's play.  Talking with dead folks, making potions, and imagining other planes of existence, making runes for fun etc. 

  As time to myself became limited and mundane concerns mounted, intuition began to shut down and I have had to work hard to keep myself magickally active.  I have watched others I knew on the Path, leave it, either forgetting what they experienced and caving to peer pressure, or left, disillusioned, as they never experienced enough proof to keep them going.  Those that never experienced, did not reach for it as I know it.
  Magickal experiences don't just pop out at everyone.  You can't expect them to knock you over the head.  You have to strive for them, and put yourself in the places where they can manifest.
  How can you experience speaking to or seeing a spirit if you are parked in front of the TV or video game, or your i-phone? "Unplugging" and sitting without distraction will be one of the hardest things to teach our youth, let alone ourselves...

  Being a part of a coven, circle, or magickal working group of some sort, can be part of that striving to stay magickally active.  It can help one stay on track to work with others who are also striving.  As I worked with covens, I was sometimes given assignments.  Many were reading-related, but my experiences have taught me that practice was more important for working magick.  Much of what we read for Paganism or Wicca, helps us to understand how to create and perpetuate the norms in our traditions. Those norms help us to work together more efficiently and are certainly important.  I'm not telling you if your High Priestess/Circle Elder says "do this homework" you should ignore them or tell them you'd rather go meditate.  I'm just asking you to remember that much of your homework may consist of things like what to say during a circle, and less about how to feel the energies around you.  If no one is telling you to learn how to feel those energies, take it upon yourself to practice--it is extremely important.
  However, while I still feel that the under-lying energies of magick in Wicca are ancient, I do not believe (nor does anyone else I know) our ancient ancestors would understand or recognize pretty much anything that we do.  What we have been handed down has been cobbled together and was largely put together after many of our ancestors were long underground, and our truly ancient traditions forgotten. I like many of our current traditions, don't get me wrong, but I think what is left to us to do, is to rediscover and add them back carefully.
  I encourage you to explore your own intuition first. Play with stones or whatever you fancy, and do magick, and then go back and see what the books and covens and traditions have to say.  By then, you will know what it is that works for you and you can compare. No one has the time to explore the thousands of options for stones (or trees, or colors etc.) that are out there, which is why it is so beneficial to work with others! Books are sort of the last resort, and it is okay to go there when you have to.
  While I hate giving homework, here is an exercise just so you can get an idea of what I am talking about.  This is basic shit folks, so don't get bored with it, make your own exercise exciting to you.
  I know I can't say this any better than Stuart Davis!

As (Buddhist) musician/artist Stuart Davis says in his song "Deity Freak":

"party like a pop star make a lot of love
detonate the deity keep it feeling freaky
party like a pop star make a lot of love
detonate the deity keep it feeling freaky
deity is freaky
keep it feeling freaky
deity is freaky"

 Music video of "Deity Freak"

Stuart pleases me so much!! So witty, so sarcastic, so good at being enlightening, funny and right-on-spot at the same time!
Anyhow here's the exercise...

Practicing intuition with stones:

--Sit down with a variety of stones and close your eyes, pick up each stone one by one, and try to "feel" the energy within it.  Is the energy hot or cold? Does it come with a color or an emotion?  Carry a the stone in your pocket and pay attention to your energies and those around you that day.  Does it seem to attract certain energies for you? Write down any intuitions about it, then try looking the stone up in a magickal correspondence book and see what the book says, is it the same or wildly different? Why might that be?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Why Be Wiccan If You Don't Experience Magick?

  It's been years now, but I went to a Wiccan Festival with an older coven-mate of mine.  While we were there he was astounded because he finally found a technique that produced a different mental state for him.  Perhaps true trance state, or just relaxation or elation, I don't know.  In any case he said it was the first time he had ever felt anything remotely magickal.  He has since passed into Summerland.
  I was astounded myself.
I came to Wicca because I had had these experiences I couldn't explain, things I knew were proof of a different plane of existence.  Experiences I could not deny.  I realized that people come to this path for different reasons.  I guess this is a "well-duh" moment, but I had never considered it before.  I couldn't imagine staying in a religion for any other reason than reaching for the experience of the Gods themselves.
  People come to Wicca to be accepted because of different sexual orientation, or because the Divine Feminine is actually honored and they believe this is important.  They come to socialize with people that hold similar values (lay-Wiccans).  Sometimes I think a large portion of pagans come to paganism/Wicca simply because they are not Christian and need and/or want somewhere to be.  I think some come for a positive image of the body and sexuality, where no one needs to feel ashamed for being who they are or what body type.  I'm sure there a million different reasons each unique and beautiful person comes to Wicca.
  What I want to underscore here though is this; we are a magickal tradition.  This can get lost for different reasons I won't go into here.  This magick stems from the same space that Christians reserve for miracles, chanting and prayer (since many of us originally come from Christian backgrounds, you'll see me use many comparisons this way).  It's not evil or wrong or unnatural to work appropriate magick, and it is our responsibility to seek that "liminal" space anthropologists speak of-- "The Inbetween".
  When we are Inbetween we can experience the God*dess and our prayers will be more likely to be heard.  Imagine trying to call someone on the phone but not having the right number.  You simply won't reach them.
  Different mental states are extremely important, and increasingly difficult to attain.  For me, the older I've gotten, the harder it is.  Imagine trying to achieve a meditative state with a toddler screaming at you.  Or even a sleeping baby in the next room that may need tending to at any moment?  How about working 3 jobs and/or being a single parent?
  I don't think this is a good reason to give up altogether during certain phases of our lives.  It means we have to strive and adapt in new ways to attain our goals.  In the end, it should mean a better witch.
  It's important to have a good foundation in attaining and maintaining trance states.  It is so important, for all the reasons I just stated.  Why be a part of a magickal tradition if you can't experience magick?  And how can you experience magick if you don't have the tools to do so?  I encourage everyone, myself included, to take a step back, and re-train on trance states, it can only make us better!
  Some words to digest...

Wednesday, April 3, 2013


We now live in tiny little family units.  Lucky to grow up with two parents together if we have them (sometimes unlucky even then if the fighting is too bad!).
  At no other time in known history have we been so alone, and felt so divided from each other.  While I fully advocate helping all people regardless of race, creed, religion, sexual orientation etc. there comes a certain point where we need to form communities of like-minded individuals to help pass on our values to our children and to help re-enforce our beliefs.  Our community has much need of extra help.
  People go back from being Wiccan all the time.
They get tired of being persecuted and having their children persecuted and isolated.  They fall back to the family Christian religion so that they can have contact with (now extended) family, community and acceptance.
  We witches have to stick together.  While it is fine to me that others are Christian, it is not for me or my family.  My values are entirely different.

 I don't believe the Earth is here to use and abuse as has been interpreted by some from the Bible.
I don't believe that there is only one god.
I don't believe that anyone else could or should make choices for me on my religion or how I worship.
I don't believe people should judge others for sexual orientation, dress, self-expression--pretty much anything that doesn't hurt others.
I don't believe in the concept of "mercy" because I don't believe in the concept of "sin".
 I believe in personal responsibility.
I have been told before that God is Merciful and will forgive the "gays" their sins, or even my cold little witch heart of my evil sins.
I do not believe I need forgiveness.
I think it contradictory that a God who is Merciful would allow someone un-baptized or ignorant of Jesus to go to hell.
I don't believe that sex or our bodies is in any way dirty, wrong or shameful.
I believe that we should question everything--we are not sheep, we could be,  but why would you want to be?  Question everything.
I believe in the Horned God, who is the personification of nature and sex and love (and that nature, sex and love is not wrong or dirty). I also understand that this half-human, half-animal image is merely my own projection to help wrap my mind around something so vast, and I am okay with that too.
  I understand that the Horned God looks surprisingly similar to images of Satan--especially the God Pan.  I believe that of the many things Christians co-opted to force conversion, was that of the our own ancient Gods, to slander their name and image and kill until no one remembered any different.  I also understand that the people who did this are long dead, and I hold no malice towards Christians in general, but ask to be left alone, not judged and not proselytized to.
  I know from a class at the University of Iowa and a lovely professor named Holstein, that the term (notice I said "term" not "name") Satan is a term meaning "adversary".
 I know from this same professor that the early translations of the book of Genesis go something like this "In the Beginning, Within the Principle, The God (feminine-plural form), created The Gods"
  Meaning that The Multiple Goddess who created the world as we know it worked within certain laws and was not all powerful, was female and created other gods.  

There are so many, many more things that I could put down here. So many reasons that we need to have community.  Yes, we are ostracized and it would be easier to just go back to sleep and follow as has been taught.  Questioning is exhausting, depressing, and leads to isolation from a society that discourages it.  By giving that up our values and beliefs we give up our very spirit, and the spirit of our children.
  If the Christians say that the Horned God is their Satan, then I say that perhaps they have something right.  My God*ess' and beliefs often stand at complete opposite to theirs.  Witches need to draw that line in the sand and stand tall, gather together.  Our future in so many ways depends on it.