Thursday, December 29, 2011

Tree Soul Connection

I've spent some much needed time wandering the paths through the redwoods at Armstrong Grove.  I've done this barefoot as much as possible, so as to stay connected to Earth and Gaia.  The energy I can feel flowing in my veins is electrifying, and I feel it often.  I sat near one old redwood for some time, with my baby niece wrapped to my chest.  I wanted to reach out and touch the hollowed out inside, but the energy was so strong, so incredible, that I closed my eyes and just let it surround me as I breathed it in.  The breath of the ancient tree filled my lungs with the solid strength that I can sense whenever I slow down enough to contact the essence of a tree.  Majestic strength and wisdom emanate from the redwoods.  My very cells have been affected, building blocks of a chlorophyll spirit spreading through my muscles, bone, and sinew.  My singing blood carries a new charge, and I walk around constantly on the verge of tears of joy. 

 I dread the return to the desert with its bleak and harsh landscape of rocks and dirt, or forced landscapes fed by sprinklers.  I dread the loss of this constant influx of energy.  However, wisdom dictates the opposition of life.  I have glutted myself on divine feminine energy, association with others who love Goddess, mementos and charmed things lovingly crafted by true artisans, and the swirling energy of the trees with which I have been surrounded for two weeks.  It has been a beautiful time, filled with healing and love.  Tree and Sprout have had a wonderful and (mostly) relaxing time here as well.  It is time to return to reality, armed with new strength and determination.

Thank you, ancient ones.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Reclaiming Yule

I am in Northern California, soaking up the tree magic as fast as I possibly can.  I'm lounging at Milk and Honey, contemplating spending too much money on fairy dust or books or jewelry.  I'm shopping at stores that sell rotisserie chicken that was pastured and happy.  I get to spend time IN REAL LIFE with a dear coven member.  And I got to go to a reclaiming ritual for Yule.  (All of which I am doing barefoot, btw.)

Let me start by saying that I feel sorry for celebrities.  The ones that sit patiently while their fans swarm around them, fawning over them, trying to convey a life story in a few words before the next eager follower pushes into their personal bubble.  I met Starhawk, and she looked so exhausted.  I wanted to share my feelings as well, but I settled for a quick thank-you and a book signing.  I hope she got to go home after that and get some deep sleep.  She has done so much for the Pagans of the world, and her eco-feminism is a model of the activism in which I hope to become more involved.

The evening began with dancing and mingling.  When we walked up to the giant hall, the sounds of drumming and laughing spilled out from the door, and a cloud of warmth and happy magic embraced us as we walked in.  Sprout immediately started dancing, stomping his feet with the drumming and shrieking in delight.  He was one of only two toddlers that I could see in the room, the other being a small girl who was also delighted with everything but who fit much more nicely and quietly in a baby carrier.  There was a table as we walked in with books and cds written by Starhawk for sale.  Some of the proceeds for the sales went to programs and classes that Starhawk started up.  The ceiling was criss-crossed with strings of lights, and there was a mirror ball that got turned on during the spiral dance (cue Sprout shrieking about bubbles and trying to chase bits of light).  The altar (at one end of the hall) was a bunch of long tables put together, with a huge jumble of eclectic decorations to represent Air, Fire, Earth, Water, and Center.  There were colors and lights and evergreen everywhere.  
The lights were dimmed, and a woman began to tell the story of Yule to two fairies who were skipping around (Sprout was totally enthralled and talking and pointing).  We were taught a couple songs and then the ritual started.  There was grounding and meditation that I mostly missed because I was trying to keep Sprout quiet, but it involved the tree visualization.  Then everyone walked in a large circle, slowly, while chanting.  More songs and stories were told, and the four elements invoked by people specially dressed as the elements--red for fire, white with feathers for air, earth colors for earth, and blues for water.  Then the man we call Pan jumped in to invoke the center of all things.  He was playful and dancing and running about through most of the ritual, and paid special attention to Sprout whenever he could.  Towards the end of the ritual, the drumming was started up again and we did a spiral dance, long lines of people circling each other and spinning into the middle of the great spiral and then back out again to face those coming the opposite direction.  We sang this song:

We are the rising sun
We are the change
We are the ones we are waiting for
and we are, dawning...
We are the rising sun..

It was beautiful, and inspirational.  I attended a large coven gathering for a sabbat once before, where the theme seemed to be Pagan Pride FOREVER, but this reclaiming was about loving the earth, welcoming back the sun, honoring the spirits of nature and learning to live with them in harmony.  It was about being a force for change, and love.  I actually felt the power and energy raised by the circle of smiling people.  
The circle was opened with a sweet farewell to the elements, and then more drumming! Sprout loved it, and danced until he was quite exhausted.  Pan danced with him, and then we all had a merry chase trying to keep him off the stage that was behind the altar.  And then we had to keep him from tearing the altar apart to play with it.
I stood in line after buying a couple books, including the beautiful The Last Wild Witch, and Starhawk exhaustedly signed my books for me.  I am eager to look up the reclaiming chapter in Phoenix and try to find that same spirit.  It is still my intention to find a deeper spiritual connection with the desert, and accept all of my mother Earth, whatever climate she hosts.

(this is also now posted on my new blog: Pagan in the Desert)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sacramental Gratitude


I am changing some words to the sacrament prayer in my head while it is being spoken aloud by the young men dressed in their crisp white shirts and colorful ties.  They mostly look bored, sitting up there.  I wonder if it would be any different if the young women were allowed to bless the sacrament.  Most likely they'd be hard-pressed not to giggle and flirt.  But as impressed as I am by some of the serious faces of those young men--the ones who take their priesthood responsibilities seriously, and feel the weight of the mantle they have been given--I am still an outsider, listening to a prayer said to a male god, about a male god, by males.  And so I change the words.  Just a little bit.  And the overlapping sound of the spoken prayer and my own words make it simply perfect for me.  Oh Goddess, the Eternal Mother, I thank you also, for the gift of your Son.  I know You were a part of that great plan, a wise and glorious designer, a loving mother, an Eternal Guide.  I acknowledge You as the Mother of my Savior and Redeemer, my Comforter, my Brother, my Friend.

Oh Goddess, the Eternal Mother Oh God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee, in the name of thy son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread, to the souls of all those who partake of it, that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son oh Goddess, the Eternal Mother Oh God, the Eternal Father…

I take the bread reverently, feeling a small atom of what it must be like to sacrifice a son, and I clutch mine tightly for a moment as I hope I am never asked to watch him sacrifice himself--whether that be physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually… Thank you, Mother.  Help me to be more like you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Blessed Yule

Triple Moon in tree Pictures, Images and Photos

As we near Yule, and the turning of the season from old to new, dark to light, and cycle into a new year full of possibility and opportunity, I want to reflect on this past year.  It has been full of so much heartache and fear, worry and guilt, and stress that never seems to go away.  But it has also been full of magic.  I have searched for and  am starting to find my Mother, my Goddess, the other half of my Creator.  I have formed new friendships and forged strong bonds with those who  think and feel so much like I do.  I've made local connections with wonderful people in this desert land that I never thought I could love.  I have embraced my own power, and I have largely cast off the fear of my blended path.  I am making it work, and I am feeling guidance in unexpected places that lead me nearer to Christ.  An empty spot in me has started to fill with warm and wonderful things.
My new perspectives on the gospel have led me through some doubt-ridden and twisty paths, but I am finally starting to heal my testimony, to grow a fantastic new one that has room for all the joy and none of the guilt.  I am eager to serve my brothers and sisters, and I am finding the patience to deal with flaws I find in the structure of the church.  My perspective on repentance has changed from one of fear of disappointing my Parents to one of pragmatic progression.  I know my Parents love me and accept me the way I am, and they already know my every weakness.  If I walk too close to the edge and fall, They will catch me and guide me to a better way as They look on in love and encouragement.  My search for passion and authenticity is no longer a forbidden road that causes anxiety.
I am using my magic without shame, and finding scientific explanations and wild speculation in the realm of quantum physics to see the magic and possibility in everything.  There is so much for which we can hope and dream. The beautiful women in my area that I have started to consider family have held my hands as I have ventured from my safe and warm cocoon of checklists and fear-inspired close-mindedness.  I have moved from a place where I cried in desperation to feel any kind of real spiritual connection, to a place where I have found that connection in fire and water and wind, in the voices of the trees around me, in the touch of the gentle hands of an energy worker who has nothing but love in her heart. 
The Sunday school lesson on the pure love of Christ sinks into my newly opened and joyful heart, and I run to share it with my dear friends who were not there to hear the wonderful news of an empathetic and loving Savior who wants to carry us and heal us so we in turn can heal those around us as we become sources of His light in this world.    
Many of the hardships of this year will not be going away any time soon, and there are more to come.  As the moon wanes into the end of the year, I will be purifying my heart, and inviting Christ to reside there more permanently as I symbolically cleanse the anger and resentment from the past year from my soul.  The new moon on Christmas Eve will be a time of new beginning, of self-love, of power, and courage.

Blessed be, and Happy Yule!    

Monday, December 5, 2011

If John were Johanna...

I had a great Sunday--the first positive church visit in a while.  I adore my Sunday School teacher, and she has said several things that lead me to believe she travels on paths not always recognized by the correlated church.  More on her later.
For now, I'm going to put down some scriptures that were absolutely exquisite once I re-gendered them.  This is not to say they weren't exquisite before, I just love the way they look now.  Without further adieu...


1 Behold, what manner of love the Mother hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the daughters of Goddess: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew her not.

2 Beloved, now are we the daughters of Goddess, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when she shall appear, we shall be like her; for we shall see her as she is.

3 And every woman that hath this hope in her purifieth herself, even as she is pure.

7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of Goddess; and every one that loveth is born of Goddess, and knoweth Goddess.

 8 She that loveth not knoweth not Goddess; for Goddess is love.

 9 In this was manifested the love of Goddess toward us, because that Goddess sent her only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

 10 Herein is love, not that we loved Goddess, but that she loved us, and sent her Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

 11 Beloved, if Goddess so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

 12 No woman hath seen Goddess at any time except them who believe. If we love one another, Goddess dwelleth in us, and her love is perfected in us.