*Here in the Magical MidAtlantic, at least, March roared in like a very angry lion. We had a several-day-long windstorm with very high gusts. I’ve already picked up enough branches and sticks to make a bonfire and there’s more out there. Two sections of my fence blew down, but I was lucky. No trees fell on my house and I wasn’t without power except for a few hours in the middle of the night. When we experience a strong weather event, I often stop and check if there’s some good use to which a bit of the spare energy could be put. A heat wave, a rainstorm, wind, lots of snow — they all create a lot of energy and Mother Nature is often amenable to letting a well-meaning Witch borrow a bit of it. And, indeed, it felt to me as if some of that wind could go towards blowing some deadwood out of our nation’s capital. Do you ever borrow weather energy for magic?
*And, the UK has been dealing with its own extreme winter weather. Terri Windling describes it beautifully.
*Meanwhile, Chas Clifton posted an interesting meditation about being Pagan in a world full of fires, uncertainty, and the need to show up and do your best. Describing a drought fire that he and other firefighters were called out to face, Mr. Clifton reports:
Driving towards the fire, I was thinking, “Is this another big one?” No, it was not. But what about the one that will come after it?
I’m a Pagan, and there is no miraculous Savior. We go out there and do our best, but even the gods submit to Fate. Meanwhile, as one of the Old Ones said,
Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre,
mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað.
Thought must be the harder, heart the keener
Spirit shall be more — as our might lessens.
Four volunteers and a brush truck versus fire and wind. That’s my lying-awake-at-4 a.m. worry about how it goes.
The whole thing is worth a read.
*Theodora Goss writes more practical, good sense than almost anyone else I know. Here, she talks about how we figure out our life’s purpose and then go about doing that.
It would be helpful, I think, if we still had gods of various disciplines. It’s easier, in a sense, to serve Asklepios than to serve medicine, or even health, which seem so abstract. So if it helps you, name your god, or if you prefer, your patron saint: Do you serve one of the muses? One of the saints that presides over teaching or metalsmithing or studying orangutans? (If there are no gods or saints for such disciplines, create them.) There are two advantages to naming your god or saint. First, it gives what you do an ethical dimension. You want to serve well. Asklepios has rules and standards for the practice of medicine. Clio demands that you record history accurately. Terpsichore wants to see you at the barre every morning. And second, it gives you something to pray to. We all need something, or someone, to pray to now and then.
I know that in my own life, when the first method, the method of the article, has failed me — when I have not met my goals, when I don’t see how I can possibly achieve the life I want — the second method keeps me going. I can say to myself, but I am writing the book I’m supposed to write. I am teaching to the best of my ability. I am serving the higher purpose for which I was made, and whether I succeed or fail is irrelevant to the fact that I have served, that I have done my part.
What do I serve? It’s not literature, exactly — that is the method, the way in which I serve. But my patron deity is the oldest of them all, Mother Night herself, and everything that, for me at least, she stands for. That is where my writing comes from, when it’s going well. When I’m not sure whether I’m doing the right thing, I can ask myself, what would Mother Night say? And when I’m down and disappointed, I check to see — have I done anything worthwhile lately? Not in pursuit of my personal goals, but in service to the larger purpose of which I am only a part.
Of course, modern Pagans DO serve Goddesses and Gods; I spend some time every morning with Columbia, Hecate, and a few others and, throughout the day, I’m either serving them or I’m flailing. Journaling helps me to figure out which I’m doing and how to correct course. Whom do you serve? How do you stay on course?
*The current issue of Witches & Pagans is devoted to “Natural Paganism,” and it’s one of the best issues, ever. I want to point especially to Aine Orga’s article, “Gods of the Earth; the Gods of My Heart,” which explains that “Pantheism — the belief that the universe is God/dess, and God/dess is the universe — is a choice I make every day to exchange and re-imagine scientific cosmology.” Also well worth your time is Nimue Brown’s article “Nature, Thou Art My Goddess,” in which Ms. Brown notes that “Nature is what I hold sacred. Life is where I find my sense of the divine — not sorting stood behind life pulling the strings, but the moment to moment experience, with no more meaning to it than the glorious fact that it’s all there.” But if you only have time to read one article, it should be Shirt Snazynski’s “One-Eyed Cat” article about land spirits. It’s full of actual, practical advice about coming into relationship with the spirits of your own landbase. (Full disclosure: I write a regular column for Witches & Pagans and my article about being a natural Pagan in an urban setting is included in the current issue.)
*Speaking of being fully Pagan in urban settings, if you can possibly get your hands on Sarah Kate Istra Winter’s new little book entitled The City is a Labyrinth: A Walking Guide for Urban Animists, please do so. It is full of simple, practical, doable ways to come into relationship with an urban landscape. Some suggestions I especially like:
It can be particularly rewarding to embark on a series of related and meaningful walks over a longer period of time, as a devotional act. For instance, visit every cemetery in your city over the course of a year and leave flowers on the oldest grave in each. Or take a month to make offerings to the river from every bridge. If you’re trying to get closer to a [G]od [or Goddess] or pantheon, this can also be a good way to further that process while simultaneously connecting Them to your immediate environment, so that you create localized worship right from the start. For instance, for Aphrodite, you could embark on a series of walks to locations associated with her attributes — rose garden, ocean pier, popular proposal spot — taking the opportunity to understand Her better with each journey and noting if you feel Her presence more strongly in any particular place, suggesting perhaps a site for future rituals and communion.
Where in your city would you go to connect to Hygeia, Brigid, Pan, Hestia, Columbia, the Greenman?
Picture found here.