Author Archives: syncreticmystic

I have been sick for four years

It started in 2011, after I finished my coursework for my master’s degree. I was out sick from my job for two days after, because I was so exhausted. I thought taking it easy for a little while would help. But days turned into weeks, into months… a year.

Two.

Three.

Four in a few weeks.

I have been sick for four years. And officially I have no diagnosis. When I started going to doctors in 2013, because things had been going on for a year and a half by that point, I got nothing. I asked for thyroid tests, since my symptoms were in line with hypothyroidism. The first doctor, a GP through my employer’s health center I had seen once before for a few minutes he summer before, gave me a prescription for blood work and told me that my BMI declared me obese. (Just for the record, BMI is junk science.) I couldn’t even respond because I was so exhausted that day, plus I was shocked to hear a medical professional still spouting this nonsense. The test showed me barely in the range of hypothyroid territory and the doctor offered two options: medication or a referral to an endocrinologist. I opted for the latter. Long story short there, my thyroid levels went into “normal” range by that visit and I got no help. Just had my weight cited as the cause of my problems, even though I kept telling them that the weight gain did not start until 6 months after the exhaustion set in.

(My real suspicion is that the issue is more about my adrenal glands but that is not a readily accepted diagnosis in the U.S. This isn’t an invitation for anyone to comment and discuss whether or not I have any health problems. You’re not living my life in my body.)

When you have chronic illness, even when “mild” like mine, it takes over your life. I measure my days in terms of how much energy I have to do my paying job and whatever is left over after that. Because I have no diagnosis, I am ineligible for FMLA. So despite the fact that most days I have some level of ongoing fatigue and get sick easier, my missing days for illness means I get notifications from the human resources department.

Being sick like this can turn you into an activist, even if only for the cause of your own health. Many chronic health problems aren’t as understood as they could be, or assumed only to fit into a narrow field and anything outside of that box is unrelated or inconsequential.

I have been sick for four years, and the only official help I have been receiving is from a nutritionist. As I was trying to get a formal diagnosis I spoke to the person who is now my nutritionist, who before was “only” a friend and fellow polytheist. Working with her, cutting out gluten (I do not test positive for Celiac disease, and I know the school of thought saying that anything other than this diagnosis is not a gluten problem, but the reality is that when I eat wheat I get stomach pain, bad headaches, and moderate to serious cognitive impairment), taking supplements and herbs daily to support my body, and focusing on real, nourishing food, is the reason why I’ve been able to see any sort of improvement in the last two years.

It’s also expensive, and I fully acknowledge a high level of privilege that I can afford everything. I can afford to buy a pound of, say, ground maca root which comes out to be cheaper per “dose” but means a periodic higher layout of money. It’s not just a matter of good budgeting to be able to afford them. Yet somehow we live in a culture where it is too easy for people to go without essential health care and medications because somehow being well and whole is only meant for the elite.

I have been sick for four years. In the past year I have finally acknowledged to myself just how much of a toll the years have taken, and have had a year of surrender.

To explain, my primary tradition is Kemetic Orthodoxy. For us. the new year starts in early August. A tradition of the temple is to receive an oracle from the Goddess Aset for the upcoming year. Normally, She would declare one or more deities to be over the year and having an influence over happenings. This past year, however, has been Her’s. In preparing for the coming year, some of us in the temple have been talking about what our years have been like. True to Aset’s nature, it has been a shapeshifting year, being years that were needed on some level. I surrendered, admitted I have pushed myself too hard even in this bad health. That taking care of my mom through the cancer that took her life was a strain. That I have had to put much of my spiritual and magical practices to the side just so I can handle the day to day of my life without digging the hole deeper. It has not been simple but it is showing results. It’s also not just about me.

As a culture we do not give much to rest, relaxation, not-doing,. We’re expected to produce, be active, give much of ourselves to paying jobs despite the continued lip service given to strong families. We’re not robots and we’re not all going to respond in the same way to everything life throws at us. If we can’t “hack it” we are failures on an individual level and punished for it.

I have been sick for four years.

And no one is more tired of hearing about it than I am.

Dear feminists, welcome to the world you’ve made

Even if you aren’t a fan of reality shows, it’s nearly impossible to miss that Caitlyn Jenner has been a hot topic of conversation. I’m old enough to remember her as the male presenting decathlete on the Wheaties box in the early 1980s. The fact that she can now live as her true gender and receive a generally positive reecption says so much for how far our culture has come. Conversations with and about MOGAI people, Caitlyn on the cover of Vanity Fair, Laverne Cox on Time, Transparent winning the Golden Globe at the start of the year, we have come a long way since the Stonewall riots.

Continue reading

Surrounded by allies

or, I love where I work.

The killing of Black women and men by police, and the treatment of protestors around the country, continues to make me heartsick. So many words and emotions come to the surface when I even think about what has been happening, what comes to light, and what may still be hidden from the public’s view. The words remain stuck behind lips for many reasons, mostly due to being sick and my desire to be a good ally by not getting in the way of Black and Brown voices.

In the meantime I want to share some images from my workplace. As many of you know, I’m a librarian, and I work in a graduate school library. While the students tend not to share in my being a pagan and polytheist, they do tend to be fairly progressive and even radical. They’re also predominantly White, and versed in awareness of privilege and issues around oppression. Most of these images have been taken in the last week but they have been happening all year. I feel it’s another reminder of the need to work together and not just sequester off with a small group of people exactly like us.

The Black Lives Matter car

(Car with a “Black Lives Matter” banner across the back windshield.)

Spotted in January.

EWSPlaque

(Plaque spray-painted with the words “End White Supremacy”)

I walked into one of the main rooms at the school one day in March to see this over the fireplace. It seemed to have gone up anonymously.

the following are from the past week:

BaltimoreRebellion

(“I Support the Baltimore Rebellion” flyer)

NYCRally

(Flyer for rally in New York City in support of Freddie Gray)

Townes quote

(Quote from theologian Emilie Townes: “Sacrifice is a dangerous notion. It is dangerous because we often ask those who are the most vulnerable to give the most.”)

Malcolm X quote

(Quote from Malcolm X: “We declare our right on this earth… to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.”)

Cotes quote

(Quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates: “When nonviolence is preached as an attempt to evade the repercussions of political brutality, it betrays itself. When nonviolence begins halfway through the war with the aggressor calling time out, it exposes itself as a ruse. When nonviolence is preached by the representatives of the state, while the state doles out heaps of violence to its citizens, it reveals itself to be a con.

Anarchism pamphlet

(Surprise anarchist pamphlet appears on a corkboard in the library!)

Your small actions won’t save the planet

I’m sure you know the drill as well as anyone. We’re told that if we do our part for the environment, if we recycle, eat more plants, maybe bring our own shopping bags to the store, buy a hybrid car and drive a little less, or even some more extreme actions, we can save the earth.

But what’s the point of a few people making small changes, when at the same time we’re hearing about the drought in California. How there’s one year of water left when the state grows a good amount of the produce consumed in the country but bottled water still reigns supreme and Nestle continues to bottle water in the state. What’s the point, when clothing manufacturers can continue to go to the poorest countries on Earth to make cheap clothes and dump chemicals in the water supply? (And cause the local spirits to rise up and speak through the women?) What’s the point when corporate entities have the power to influence legislation so they can continue to exploit people and land which isn’t in the CEO’s back yard?

When did consumerism come to trump citizenship? Instead of actually putting laws in place to halt and try to reverse the damage, now it’s buy more products which are Green (or “green”) so you can sleep easier at night. Easier to spend money (and possibly sneer at people who don’t) than fighting for bigger change.

Art by Shauna Aura Knight, used with permission

It’s easy to become depressed and apathetic when seeing this kind of information. It’s also tempting to don some kind of hair shirt or take up flagellation. And not everyone is able to take time off for rallies or actively work to lobby politicians. So what is there to do?

Go outside. Take the radical step of connecting with your local ecosystem. No matter what type of pagan (polytheist, etc.) you are, you do need the land around you. Even if you’re in a concrete jungle, there are still animals and plants and minerals around. Even if you’re a technopagan, your electronics would be useless without the metals inside, which come out of the earth. (and I’ll avoid discussion of the issues around rare earth mining today.) “Saving the earth” can seem remote if you have no idea of the land around you. Pick up some trash, identify the plants around you (and even find some you can use in your practice if you’re lucky), connect with the other primates living nearby even if they have forgotten or would deny any sort of connection with the ecosystem. Help them out if you can. Even a wave of acknowledgment can turn around their day.

Instead of trying to spend your way to a better planet, save a little money and work on making it a little better nearby. In this culture, it has become revolutionary.

With thanks to Alley Valkyrie for planting the seed and providing resources.

Additional resources
Sustainability is destroying the earth (though I have problems with some of Deep Green Resistance, like their gender essentialism and anti-trans* stance.)
The myths of sustainable consumption
Myths that support sustainability
The climate is changing

Shark fin syndrome

Today’s post was inspired by a panel at Pantheacon two weeks ago, Gods and Radicals. I recommend reading the ‘zine after you finish with this post. During the discussion (in a tiny room meant for 25 and upwards of 75 were trying to take part), I found myself thinking of ideas to expand on for this blog. Eventually I decided to write out a pet theory I’ve had for several years.

If you are not familiar with the food, shark fin soup is a delicacy thought to have originated in China over 1,000 years ago. It was a delicacy found at special events such as weddings. Now it has become a more common dish, often found at business lunches as a sign of prosperity. In order to sate the demand for shark fins there is now a booming business of finning: cutting off the dorsal fins of sharks and throwing them overboard. Without this fin, sharks are unable to move, sink to the ocean floor, and die.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mO7hvOtYnck&w=560&h=315]

When I was younger my dream was to be a marine biologist. Sharks were one of my favorite aquatic life forms. Now they are a commodity. This is problematic on multiple levels. First, as apex predators, sharks serve a vital role in their ecosystems. (I’m not going to be going into details of that here but if you’re interested in learning more I highly recommend the book Where the Wild Things Were.) Second, and what led to my naming of shark fin syndrome, is the waste. The fin is not the only part of the animal which has been considered edible. I imagine that at least part of the reason why the fin was originally made into soup was to minimize the amount of leftover shark after it has been consumed. Instead of respecting the animal, and the hunt, now it’s simply another commodity. And who’s to care about dead sharks or decimating the cycle of life in the oceans? Sharks may not be the prettiest animal in the ocean and have the man-eater reputation thanks to Jaws. But that does not make them unnecessary, or only valuable by what prestige they can bring to humans.

I see this kind of thinking rampant in our cultures. With foods, it’s the wanting of specific cuts of meat, or latching on to a “super food” billed as a panacea when other, more common fare can have the same benefit but does not have a good PR department behind it. While my syndrome applies to things where we want a small amount of something while ignoring the totality, I think it applies well to other aspects of our society. Our overculture teaches us that if we want it and can put out the money for it, we should just be able to have it without consequence. If we want cheap goods, we have a right to them, along with overseas slave labor to make it and people receiving below-poverty level wages to sell them to us. Cheap food? Sure! Complete with migrant workers to pick it, monoculture grains (corn, wheat, and soy primarily) genetically engineered to withstand synthetic fertilizers and pesticides hosed over them and made stronger every year because the bugs feeding on them quickly become resistant, and causing the food which does come to our plate depleted of nutrients. Diamond jewelry or rare earth metals? War in African countries. A full wardrobe? Sweatshops in Bangladesh collapsing and killing workers.

How do we combat this waste? I wish I knew. Despite its marketing, making individual choices isn’t going to do much when the people in power are able to sell personality responsibility over making major ideological changes to the world at large. The back of the Gods and Radicals zine reads “An Other World Is Possible.” We need to actively work toward this world.

Resources

Shark Truth
Shark fin soup and the conservation challenge

I’m not an activist but I want to do something!

It’s still close enough to January 1 that people are thinking about, and trying to act on, goals and resolutions for the coming year. This post is for everyone who has hit their tipping point and wants to do something more. Maybe it’s the #blacklivesmatter movement, maybe it’s the shootings at the offices of Charlie Hebdo two weeks ago. Maybe it’s the Keystone XL pipeline or genetically engineered food or pitbull rescue. Whatever it is, you want to do something more. But where to start, especially if you don’t have a lot of extra time, energy, or other resources. Or maybe you just aren’t sure where to start.

Wisdom from Teddy Roosevelt

Wisdom from Teddy Roosevelt

Find your focus
There’s a slew of causes you might care about and you want to do something for ALL of them. But you only have so many hours in the day and so much energy to spare. Concentrating your efforts translates into being able to give more. Outside of issues tied to my day job as a librarian, primarily censorship and access to information, my major causes are advocating for real food (which includes environmental activism, anti-GMO work, and support for smaller farmers against the agriculture-industrial complex) and support for people with chronic health issues.
Whatever you do should also fuel your spirit. If you care for a cause but active work toward it seems to drain you, that will not help anyone.

Educate, educate, educate (with a nod to Weston Price)
Read, learn, talk to people. Find out what resides below the surface. Also take some time to look at writing on a different side. For some issues it’s a big help to know what people are saying and will give you information for potential debates.

Don’t go overboard
Maybe it’s my age talking along with my own health issues. Pace yourself. The last thing you want is burnout.

Go local if you can
Before my mother passed away in 2013, she including in her arrangements a wish that people eschew sending flowers and donate money to a local charity with which she was involved for many years. The organization provides daytime services and advocacy for people with severe mental illness. The organization received so many donations on her behalf that the director started up a fund in her name. The fund provides money for some of the members to attend a week-long overnight camp during the summer. I made my own donation to the fund recently, and before I did had a meeting with the director of the center along with the head of another group in the area which coordinates fundraising and grants for local charities. During our meeting, the latter woman told me that donations to local charities can have a bigger impact because these organizations often run on smaller budgets and struggle.
This isn’t true just for their financials. Aside from around the holidays, it’s not uncommon for local charities and non-profits to need support. Working for a local group also serves as a reminder of your community and continues to demonstrate that pagans, polytheists, and animists aren’t fringe weirdos. Thorn Coyle has been active with #BlackLivesMatter in California and has worked in a soup kitchen for many years. Lupa has mentioned a portion of river she sponsors in Oregon, and as part of her caretaking cleans up trash in the area and takes readings.

We all have a starting point. Where is yours?

On the care and feeding of pagan activists

First, my thoughts and love are with the people of Ferguson, Missouri today. I pray that Ma’at finds a way to prevail.

Second, this past weekend was Pantheon Foundation’s first Pagan Activism conference. My fellow Pagan Activist blogger Shauna was asked to present based on her work with consent culture and sexual ethics. I was surprised and thrilled when my name was offered as a potential presenter, and found myself on the Care and Feeding of Pagan Activists panel. Some of the panel focused on self care, which I have discussed here before. The majority of the panel concentrated on pagans, both activist and not, with various disabilities and how to manage that in community.

Caring for our community in their health problems seems to be a topic still in its infancy. Accessibility to events is still limited, either by location or by people unable to participate in events. Food became a big topic in the panel, in the form of restrictive diets and not having options for eating when attending events. Also, the language we use within community, which can diminish others who live with any kind of health issue.

General Care and Feeding

Want to care for yourself and not burn out? Not feel drained by work which may have nourished you so deeply at the start? Here is how to start.

1. Drink water! Stay hydrated because every cell of your body needs it.

2. Get enough sleep. I can’t stress this enough. Also go to bed at a reasonable hour if you can manage.

3. Eat good, real, nourishing food. Like the water and sleep, you need this to function.

4. Take breaks. Whether it be from talking online or taking a few days off after an action, the break will give you some time to recuperate.

5. You are not your cause. During the panel, John (effing!) Beckett said something to hit this one on the head: make yourself redundant. There is more to your life than your cause. You will need more to help you keep going, plus if anything happens to you, what would everyone else do?

6. Keep living and keep engaging in your practices. Your connection to Gods/spirits/etc. are great fuel and a way to further nurture and remind yourself of what is important.

Activism and Health

What are the issues facing our activists today? Fibromyalgia, endocrine (thyroid, adrenals) problems, food allergies, Celiac disease, depression, PTSD, autism spectrum, autoimmune problems. We’re a reflection of the world, where many people are dealing with these problems. And it’s not always the adults. Morgan Daimler has spoken (and I shared during the panel) about attending events with a complex child and that it is not always easy to negotiate attendance in these situations. But we should not be shunning them, we need to find a way to welcome and bring everyone into the communities further.

A great deal of talk focused on food, and what people can and cannot eat. Especially since discovering my gluten intolerance last year, I have become much more aware of what others may deal with. I know more than a few people who use diets based around traditional foods, paleo, primal, autoimmune paleo, and similar eating plans to manage chronic illness. While as a community pagans can be very successful accommodating restrictive diets of choice, handling needed restrictions is not always noticed.

A good start would be pagan events taking note of the major food allergens in the US.

Eggs
Peanuts
Tree nuts
Fish
Shellfish
Soy
Dairy
Wheat

For some, consuming these foods can cause a range of symptoms, from digestive issues and cognitive problems (like me + gluten = brain fog) to severe pain and anaphylactic shock. Even having some of these foods openly available in a room can be enough to cause distress to someone who is sensitive enough.

The panel discussion also included being heard with these issues. Not just in terms of what a person might need during a public ritual, but just being seen, heard, acknowledged, when you are a person who may be perceived as being less in our culture. If we need support, whether emotional, or just a chair for a ritual which the facilitator may have wanted all participants laying on the floor.

It’s past time for us to take accessibility, on all fronts, into consideration. Having accessibility coordinators as part of planning committees. Bringing in ASL interpreters for people with auditory issues. Having more food available than pizza and donuts (which happened to me at an event a few months ago). Giving people who have issues with mobility a way to be present and participate.

I’m only at the beginning of looking at these issues for myself. I’d love to hear from people who have handled these matters both in and out of the Pagan communities, and at least continue this discussion.

Thank you to the Pantheon Foundation for hosting this great conference, to Sam Webster, Lady Yeshe and Xochi for all the work they did, to my fellow panelists John (Effing!) Beckett, Rion Roberts, and Rhiannon Laasko, and everyone who attended.

EDIT: The Wild Hunt has a write-up of the conference as a whole, if you are interested.

Greening your magics: From the ground up

Throughout this series I have sought to bring awareness to ways in which regular spiritual practice and tools can be altered to help benefit our world, reconsidering strip mined jewels, petroleum based candles, and offerings which either may not decompose, or, in the case of food, be packed with industrialized ingredients and not nourishing for the body.

Today, my last in the series (for now?), I want to talk about herbs and plants. But instead of talking about plants which are overharvested for New Age and Pagan markets (white sage and sandalwood being two contenders I am sure many of us have in our tool kits, I would rather turn my attention to plants which can be easier to obtain and more plentiful.

wpid-20140909_114041.jpg

10 points to anyone who knew this is mugwort gone to flower. Odds are good that for a good portion of the country, you’ve seen this plant before. Mugworts exist in several parts of the world, and are used for culinary, medicinal and magical purposes. Since I am not an herbalist nor have used the herb in cooking, I will focus on magical properties.

Mugwort is a member of the Artemisia family, which also includes wormwood. As such, this makes it an excellent herb for any psychic work. It can be burned as part of a psychic incense, or made into a tea or oil for consecrating scrying tools like a black mirror.

This next item is included FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY AND I ABSOLVE ANY RESPONSIBILITY IF YOU TRY THIS. The tea can also be drunk to further enhance psychic abilities, but as its active ingredient is thujone, it can build up in the body and potentially become toxic. If you are curious about working with wormwood as an herb but are unsure as to your reaction, this might be an option.

Mugwort is also a very protective herb. If you are looking for an alternative to sage or other bundles for smudging purposes, consider mugwort. A bundle can be ready in six weeks by harvesting several stalks of the plant, binding together with thread, and hanging to dry in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

If you are someone who works in a more ceremonial tradition, mugwort can be in your kit as well. It is a feminine plant, ruled by the planet Venus and the element of Air.

Another option if you’d like to move away from sage bundles is sweetgrass, which was used by many First Nations peoples in different parts of what is now the United States. It has a sweeter (hence the name) smell than sage, and if you react strongly to those bundles this may be a good alternative. Also, if your spiritual practices include honoring the local land spirits, and you live in an area where the People used to use sweetgrass, your local spirits may feel very appreciative. One of my Heathen friends in the area told me many years ago that among her offerings for the land wights she would include things like cornmeal and tobacco, since that is what they used to receive.

For some further ideas of how you can incorporate local plants into your workings, this recent post by Sarah Lawless should provide some good inspiration.

I do hope you have enjoyed this series, as I have enjoyed writing it. If I’ve influenced some of you into looking at your practices with a new or fresh eye, then I have done my job.

Are there any other aspects of magical or spiritual practice you would like to see “Greened?” Or have you incorporated sustainable practices into your regular workings, such as bioregionalism or general socially responsible? IF you would like to talk about any of these things, please leave a comment on this post and I will get in touch with you. My plan is to continue the series by talking about bioregionalism in paganisms/polytheism/witchcraft/magic but I would also like to know other ways people have put these ideas into practice.

Resources:

Beyerl, Paul. The Master Book of Herbalism.

Cunningham, Scott. Magical Herbalism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mugwort

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artemisia_%28genus%29

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thujone

Additional information:
Scylla on the use and overuse of Palo Santo and white sage

Greening your magics: Bones of the earth

A few days ago, I bought myself some new jewelry. I’d been feeling pulled to find some pink tourmaline and rutilated quartz, and succeeded. And I also succeeded, knowing full well what this post would be about.

wpid-20140901_190317.jpg

I’ve loved semi-precious gemstones since I was a kid. And for a long time I have been well aware that they do not make it to the market through altruistic means. The process of mining gems, precious or semi-, most often involved damage to the earth (like other forms of mining), the use of toxic chemicals, and exploitation of workers in the most disadvantaged parts of the world.

That said, I’m not here to shove some sort of guilt or privilege on you, readers, for even thinking about buying gems, whether for spiritual purposes or because you like the piece. My hope is that you will put some thought into your purchases, and maybe consider other options.

But what if there is a stone which would be perfect for your upcoming magical workings, and you don’t already own it? That’s what I had above. Incidentally, it turned out my intuition for being pulled to both stones had merit. Pink tourmaline is said to support the adrenal glands, and rutilated quartz can give energy to people dealing with chronic health problems. Both are still problems for me, and I am still working on healing. It may be psychosomatic, but I am already feeling a change in my state of health, and for the better.

In addition to educating myself about mining practices, I’ve decided to take a few courses of action with gem buying now.

1. Buy with intent
In the past, yes I have bought gems because I thought they were pretty, shiny, and just because I could. Which means that now I do have a nice little collection and can cover a lot of bases with spiritual needs. If I feel pulled to having something new, I will look around and find the right piece. Not just buy a few and hope one of them works out.

2. Buy vintage
Or even secondhand. I’ve bought some lovely stones in the last few years from friends selling off some of their collection. Should you be worried about unwanted energies hanging around the stones, you can clean them with water (where applicable) or put them in sunlight. But not all stones can handle such cleaning. My favorite way to clean gems now is to set them on a piece of selenite. The gem is also said to be self-cleaning which means I do not have to worry about cleaning IT in addition.

wpid-20140901_190417.jpg

3. Look outside your door

Several years ago, I left my house one day and discovered a regular round rock sitting on the ledge of one of the flower beds. Now, the land around my house isn’t all that rocky, and my neighbors aren’t the sort just to leave stones near the door. I’ve kept that rock, even though I don’t know just what its purpose is yet. But gem and rock work is not limited just to shiny polished stones fit for jewelry. A rock from your property can be used for protection work, healing (by drawing out illness), or any Earth-related magic.

A few years ago a friend of mine told me about going to a gem show, hoping to find amethyst and pyrite. There was little to be found that day. According to one of the vendors, a high demand from the New Age market (and yes I am kinda throwing us pagans and polytheists into that group) meant a limited amount of material available. I would hate to think that our demands would also mean these gorgeous materials would no longer be available.

Resources

Bendell, Jem, et. al. “Mindful mining.” in The Journal of Corporate Citizenship. 12/2009, issue 36.

Duffy, Rosaleen. “Gemstone mining in Madagascar: transnational networks, criminalisation and global integration.” in Journal of Modern African Studies. 45:2. 2007.

Greening your Magics: Wildness and Waters

If the land is poisoned, then witchcraft must respond.

(Point one of the Apocalyptic Witchcraft manifesto, by Peter Grey)

Last year, I started the Greening your Magics series in a fit of inspiration for what is my activism: sharing information and changing my own practices as I learn. I got inspired to start writing posts in this series again after a post from my friend Lupa on sourcing ritual items secondhand and another post about the use of animal parts as an ecologically friendly practice. (I can’t find it now though) Then it seemed like I was seeing blogs right and left posting about matters like this. And then there was Peter Grey’s Rewilding Witchcraft essay, which I encourage you to read if you have not already. I also recommend Sarah Lawless’s response. (and Sarah, if you see this, I had forgotten the actual title of your post when I was coming up with mine.)

I read posts like this and my mind races. The fire builds. The waters of emotion overflow. I want to should from the rooftops, shake people, dance like mad, and DO. Whether or not you identify as “Earth-based” in your traditions, the reality remains that you live upon this earth, and there is not a spare one waiting in the wings, nor a Christ to replace a ravaged one as the Wise Use proponents claim.

So first, I give you this reminder about using your magics in whatever form. Do your rituals. Use your words. In ancient Egypt, magic was heka, which also translates as authoritative speech. Execrate, and be like Set at the front of Ra’s barque, slaying Apep, the snake of Uncreation, every single day to ensure the sun rises again.

And then there are the days when I wonder if it’s all just pointless. Because we have too few people like this and too many more like Peter Brabeck-Letmathe who do not even consider water, the building block of life, to be a human right. Oh excuse me, no, it is but it must be “properly managed”. Apparently that proper management includes taking it from the California water table to be bottled at a huge markup. You might also be interested to learn that the same state wants to charge up to a $500 for private citizens who use too much water. But what about businesses who do? What is our culture when we want people to pay such high prices for the very thing which supports us into life? Any deny people it flowing into their homes because of questionable billing practices, like in Detroit?

I’m reminded of the Cochabamba protests of almost 15 years ago, when people in Bolivia were able to overturn the privatization of their water supplies. If that happened in this country, how many people would even protest? I have to wonder now.

Because of the feelings stirred up for me by these readings, I had to reign in my anger, my passion, my sadness, and not let this post turn into rants and screeds. They won’t help. Attacking and demonizing in a blog post does not make for effective magics. Clear thought and words do.

Let us gather our magics. Find our fire, and our water, but do not let either of them overcome us. Suck out the poisons, wherever they are. Let us try to do better by our communities, seen and unseen.


Used with permission