Category Archives: magic
In Frazer’s The Golden Bough there is some exploration of the notion of the sacred king. There are a number of components to this idea. One is in the Divine right of kings to rule, and subsequently that they are the representatives of the Divine on Earth. Then there is the belief that the kings are connected to the land. As the king succeeds the land thrives, as the king fails or falls ill the land is depleted. In a system that holds these principles to be true, the logical outcome is to demand the sacrifice of the king to relieve a drought or natural disaster. Frazer took that philosophy and connected it to the agricultural cycle of reaping and sowing – death and rebirth.
I came back from spending a long weekend on the land to see my Facebook full of images of our Secretary of the Interior assessing National Parkland for its value to sell to industry for development. Moving from visiting a Prairie reclamation project at the height of success to a clearly out of control consume and profit narrative was disheartening to say the least.
On the way home I noticed the corn was starting to come in from the fields. The corn harvest is the mark for me of the Lammas celebration, John Barley Corn is dead, long live John Barley Corn. This is the representation in Wicca of the sacred king mythology. The grain God is sacrificed to feed the people.
It’s been difficult to sort out the sacred from the political. Police are shooting people, healthcare continues to be threatened in spite of an overwhelming majority who clearly want to have coverage, and our sacred lands are being sold out from under us – again and still.
I see spiritual representatives from around the world being dismissed by Big Oil at Standing Rock. I see a spiritual leader in my hometown, trying to help a neighbor in distress, being shot by police. I see places that I’ve stood in awe of nature being looked upon as a feast for mining, logging and manufacturing industries.
Included in the sacrificial king mythology is the Arthurian story of the Fisher King. This is part of the grail quest. The sacred chalice, that has magical qualities including the ability to heal, is apparently in the possession of the Fisher King. The king has a grievous wound and is failing, as is his land. Somehow he doesn’t have the wisdom, moral integrity, or desire/belief to use the grail. Percival, who was raised by a single mother in the forest away from the society of men, sees the solution but fails (out of politeness?) to ask the question that will heal everything.
We need to ask the questions. We need to keep asking until we get answers that go beyond pats on the head and being told we can’t possibly understand. Why can’t we get along? Why does the notion of “equal rights” always seem to have an “except” clause? When and how much is enough? Who has the vision for our future? Does that vision include life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? For everyone?
Previous blogs about the holiday season:
Yesterday was one of those days when I needed to give myself points just for getting dressed. I meant to post a blog. I had started one about a weekend worth of celebrations. I had started one about the immigration ban. I had started one about Imbolc and the winter thaw. I just couldn’t manage to bring any of those topics into a coherent, cohesive whole.
I needed an ostrich day. A day to curl up and put my head in the sand. A day to pretend the world didn’t matter. I didn’t talk to friends. I didn’t get to my “to do” list. I stuck my head in a book, turned on Netflix, and played games on the computer.
We all need an occasional day like that. Right now there are many people who are practicing civil disobedience. There are many people who are truly threatened by the political climate. There are many who are suffering cognitive dissonance working to convince themselves that what they see, what they say, means something else. My Facebook feed is full of posts saying “maybe I should take a break from Facebook”
Sometimes we need to just take the time and space to actually feel our feelings. There can be so much going on in our lives that our emotions become a jumble and we don’t know where we stand or what we think. Allowing ourselves a moment to come back to our own center, without being battered about by our circumstances, can recharge us. Taking time can allows us to be more effective in the world.
Unfortunately, sometimes those ostrich days make me feel worse rather than better. It’s too easy to get into the cycle of self blame and guilt. It’s easy to start thinking of all “better” ways to have used the time. We live in a culture that has no patience for this kind of “time out”, and we carry that culture with us into our “time out” space.
It’s my Daily Practice that gets me through. I get dressed. Then, since I’m dressed I might throw in a load of laundry or run out to the mailbox. I make my bed. Then, since I really appreciate having the bed made I might tidy up someplace else in the house. I do my language lesson. Then, since I really do want a vacation, I might balance the checkbook or pack a bag or make a fun meal or even just tend to my seasonal spaces.
Doing the small Daily Practices I know I’m not lost in a hole. I am not entirely overwhelmed. I’m just taking some time out. Doing the Daily Practices I have a springboard to reconnect, to move forward. Doing the Daily Practices I am reminded to have compassion for myself. I am reminded to appreciate what I do, and accept that I can not accomplish everything.
Daily Practice becomes a kindness to myself. Doing Daily Practice is a magical act of transformation. It’s not always apparent that Daily Practice is doing anything. (That’s one of the reason “Daily Practice Sucks”) But ultimately we practice so that when we need something to be easy, when we don’t have the time or energy, when we are looking for a lifeline we have the Daily Practice to lean on.
Today is the day. Let us join together in ceremony and prayer. Let us do our cleansing and find our space on this Sacred Earth. Let us light our fires and make our offerings. Let us sing our songs, dance our dances, drum our drums and open our hearts. Let us Honor those who died at Wounded Knee, naming the names. Let us find connection with All Our Relations. Let us embrace those who have gone before us. Let us find compassion and healing as we move forward in a Sacred Way. Let us make a better place for our descendants.
Thank you for participating.
I really hope you are all sharing these posts. It would be great to share in “Reclaiming the Heart of Our Humanity” on December 29th and Noon. The more the merrier in this kind of global interfaith work.
In my last post I talked about cleansing and creating a sacred space. In this one I’m going to talk about prayer, or ritual, or the working.
Transformation: Fire is transformative, and since we are looking to transform from the 125th anniversary of a horror to a world where those things don’t happen fire seems like a good focus.
Depending on your circumstances, lighting a fire might not be easy or practical. I have a fireplace, but even a candle will work. If you’ve chosen to take time out on your lunch hour visualizing a fire can be effective. There are Kundalini Yoga techniques that build internal fire energy.
However you choose to create fire, remember that this particular fire is sacred. It is symbolic of the divine energy we are calling upon to manifest this transformation. There is a Buddhist philosophy that says the first step to changing the world is changing yourself. In doing this work the hope is we will transform our own understanding of our relationship to these events and carry that change out into the world.
Offerings: The other nice thing about fire is that it will accept offerings. We can offer up gifts, like additional candles or our incense or smudge sticks, in thanksgiving. Expressing gratitude for the help fire gives us in transforming is very appropriate.
We can also offer our own emotions to the fire. This can be especially useful if you can not work with an actual flame. Sitting in meditation with the reality of our history can raise up powerful feelings. Allowing ourselves to experience those feelings fully, and then give them over to the flame is a very transformative process.
One thing I will encourage you to offer up is the names of those who died 125 years ago at Wounded Knee. The fact is that we don’t have names for even the majority of those who were killed. That is part of the great wound that needs healing. But the names we do know deserve to be honored. Here is a link
There are other things that can be offered as part of this working, part of this prayer. Drumming would be appropriate as would singing and dancing. As this is an interfaith working bringing something to offer from your own faith tradition is very appropriate. Or you could simply allow yourself to be present in the moment and trust that your body, your heart will know what to do.
It is very difficult for white Americans to sing or dance or move directly from our spirit. We tend to edit ourselves. We wonder, “How do I look?” We wonder, “How do I sound?” We ask ourselves, “Am I doing it right?” But if we can find a way through to that child-like trust, If we can truly let go and allow spirit to move through us, that is also a very transformative act.
Two more days, and hopefully two more posts.
No, this post isn’t about the “Incident at Wounded Knee”, although part of the reason that had so much impact is because of the history of the Massacre taking place on the same land. This is a posting for those who are interested in joining us in prayer and healing for those who were chased down, and shot down, and buried in the mass grave at Wounded Knee.
Praying, to my mind, is a very personal thing. Approaching the Divine sincerely is not something anyone can tell you how to do it “right”. However, for an event like this I’m happy to offer some suggestions of things you might want to try.
Cleansing: Many rituals and acts of prayer start with some form of cleansing. This can be anything from a full ritual bath to an energetic cleansing like grounding and centering. In many Native American practices cleansing is done with smoke, or smudging. Commonly smudge sticks are made with sage or sweetgrass.
The cleansing practice can be constructed as a small prayer in and of itself. The water, or smoke can be blessed. Prayers can be made about being prepared – appropriate and able (I hate the notion of worthy) – to do the work at hand. Any “excess” can be returned to the earth for recycling and renewal.
For this particular work I’m using this prayer for cleansing:
Blessed be my mind and heart
Let me be open to the struggle, the pain, and the heartbreak of what has been lost
Let me be honest about my participation in a culture that would allow, condone, and reward persecution of people already pushed out of their homes
Let me be compassionate to the fear, on both sides, that caused the shooting to start and to continue until the dead littered the ground
Let me be open, honest, and compassionate
May my heart and mind be blessed.
Creating Sacred Space: There is no need to do this work in a separated space. To the Native Americans every place you stand on this planet is sacred. But many of us appreciate a small act to acknowledge that sacred work is distinct from our mundane lives. Some of us need a special space so that we know to avoid distractions. Because this is a prayer, not just for Wounded Knee, but for all those massacred in similar situations it seems to me that the most appropriate way to create sacred space is to acknowledge the 4 directions.
North, East, South, and West are the compass points that cartographers have used for ages to define the land. Many of us have associations with those directions, as do the Native tribes. However, those associations are not universal.
Where I live, and in my spiritual tradition, North is associated with winter, darkness, silence, and wisdom. If I lived in Argentina North might be associated with warmth and growth. In my spiritual tradition West is associated with water, compassion, sunset, and healing. The sunset in the West is globally true, but it’s hard to associate West with water if you live with the ocean only a short trip to the East.
In religions where the spiritual center is a geographic point, like Mecca, where you stand in relation to that point impacts your association with the directions. Even where we stand relative to Wounded Knee, South Dakota, may impact how we establish this space.
So I leave the specifics up to you. Establish the sacredness of where you stand by recognizing where you are in the world at this moment. Honor what is in each of the 4 directions. Honor the sacredness of the Earth upon which you stand.
More to come…………….
Wounded Knee means many things to many people. Then there are those who’ve never heard of the place. American history is taught with a carefully edited eye to the white mans point of view. But to most of the Native people of this continent Wounded Knee stands as a tipping point. It is the Ferguson of the era of conquest and oppression of the indigenous people of this land.
This year, on December 29th, is the 125th anniversary of the massacre at Wounded Knee. It is a massacre that took place because the white army perceived the natives as dangerous and unruly. It took place because there was no understanding or appreciation of different points of view, different religious practices. It took place because a failure to communicate lead to a “need” to control, to take away human and civil liberties, and to respond with brute force to a perceived threat.
There are many tellings of what happened at Wounded Knee. I read Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee back in 1974. On line there are several accounts eye witnesses, official reports, and of course wikipedia. All the versions agree that the natives were practicing their religion illegally. (The practice of the Ghost Dance was banned) They all agree that hundreds of men, women and children were killed. They don’t all agree on why.
The massacre at Wounded Knee is a living injury in the hearts of the Native people. These are their ancestors, and they are honored with dance, and song and story, and a reenactment of the ride to escape the soldiers.
When I was at the Parliament of World Religions I attended several seminars led by Chief Arvol Looking Horse. He is one of the spiritual leaders of the ride. This year, on this anniversary, he called on us a spiritual leaders to join together and help heal the hearts of those massacred unjustly. He asked us to pray not only for Wounded Knee, but for all those killed in massacres because they are perceived as “other” or “threatening” simply for trying to make their way in the world.
So I created a Facebook event and will write on and off for the next week about things we can do. Let us join together, in spirit, in ritual, in prayer. The Natives pray “all my relations” and recognize that we are all related, we are all one. These are our relatives, our ancestors who have died at Wounded Knee, in Boznia, at Tiananmen Square, in Rwanda, in Syria. These are our relations killed in the Holocaust, in the streets and prisons of the USA, in the Ukraine.
As Chief Looking Horse invites us, let us stop the massacres, let us heal hearts, let us move forward in a Sacred Way.
Manifesting has been a buzz word for quite a while now. The book “The Secret” made a big deal about it. There are all kinds of business protocols about dreaming big for your future. People make vision boards to keep their eyes on the prize. If you can make it work it’s the greatest. If you can’t, it’s easy to feel like a failure – especially as a measure of spiritual connection.
I find it hard to get out of my own way when I can’t see where I’m standing. I recognize when I’m 100% behind a desire, state it, work toward it, and it happens. I also understand when I’m resisting my desires, even if I’m not always sure how or why. Occasionally there are good reasons to put things off. I’m not always aware of those either.
The books and workshops make it sound easy, but it’s not. There’s a piece of manifesting that has to do with recognizing the flow of your life. It’s like giving a toddler a choice between an apple and a chocolate and them having a tantrum because what they want is a banana. The banana isn’t going to appear, but if they wanted an apple or a chocolate life is happy to give them one.
There are a few things I want right now. One of them is a garden. I’m digging beds out from under two years of overgrowth. I’m not working very fast, or even in very long stints. I’ll get as far as I get and I’ll be happy with that. In the meantime I’m enjoying the process as much as I hope to enjoy the outcome.
Another thing I want right now is a schedule that allows me time to work and time to play. I want time off being Orion’s Mom/Caretaker/Case Manager. I’m pushing the edges of that the way parents do with grade school aged kids. I ran off to the grocery store to pick up some milk before waking Orion up. I’ve taught him how to get into the house so I don’t have to race home to be here before the bus. I’ll let a sitter leave once he’s in bed, knowing he’ll just sleep and not notice when I get home. It’s coming, but I’m not quite ready to let go either. I get in my own way and I know it.
The third thing I want is an income, a career, a life. It’s part of the reason I want that time off. It’s also something I want to feel good about myself, my recovery, and just to be out in the world. Being a writer is part of that. Taking classes through the National Speakers Association is part of that. But that’s building a business, and isn’t really impacting my cash flow in a positive way.
I hit that line and told my daughter that I’m ready to look for a job. The same day I got a call from a friend. She knew someone who needed copy-editing done, right now. It’s a short-term gig, and work (of all sorts) may come in bits and pieces. But THAT’s manifesting!
We’re in that space between the winter solstice and the New Year. Unless you are a committed last-minute shopper, most of the hustle of the season has ended. It is time to raise a cup, relax, and enjoy the celebrations. It is a time of quiet, a breath before the round of New Years eve parties and Super Bowl buffets.
It is the darkest time of the year. The solstice marks the sun’s return, but we won’t really notice that the days are getting longer for at least a month. The holiday lights reflected on the snow bring a hint of magic to the darkness. It is a time to review the past year and make plans (goals and dreams) for the next.
This is a family time of year. That family may be blood, or may just be your close friends. But it is a time to connect with those we love and care about. It is a time to share, not only in our exchange of presents but in our presence.
The darkness can be bittersweet, especially for those who have suffered a recent loss. I have had years where much of my silence was missing companions. I have had years where I couldn’t afford to purchase gifts and had to make due. I have had years where my children and I were adopted by secret Santa’s who made our holidays bountiful in spite of our poverty.
At the heart of the darkness is the light that comes from gratitude. I am grateful for the loved ones in my life. I am grateful to have the opportunity to spend time and share laughter. I am grateful to have food, and warmth, and shelter, knowing there are many who go without. I am grateful to have the energy to participate in the holiday season in ways I couldn’t even imagine a year ago.
I am grateful to people I’ve never met who have bought my books and who read my blog. I’m grateful for the opportunities and ability to express myself and for my voice to be heard. I’m grateful for the family and friends who support me, promote me, and direct others to my work.
I am grateful to still be open to growth and learning. I’m grateful for the opportunities I have to further my education either through independent research or through classes. I’m grateful for the writers who inspire me, who make me think, and who challenge my world view. I’m also grateful for the one’s who express what I feel more eloquently than I could manage on my own.
May you find the space to take a breath in this part of the seasons celebrations. May you welcome in the magic, and the darkness, and the light. May you find renewal at the center of the unknown. Please cherish this Yuletide Season. Happy Holidays!
I often start the autumn decorating in August, with the first harvest. Then add and subtract all the way through Thanksgiving. This year though it’s taken me until now to start thinking about Halloween decorating. It’s the neighbors that got me started. All those walks around the block are becoming inspirational.
I was surprised at how few actual Halloween decorations I could find. I suspect several of the things I know I’ve got somewhere are too practical to be tucked away. I know I have a few serving platters and baskets. The gourds and corn may have all been tossed. Over the years they can get a little nasty in the damp basement.
What I did find was my Brujeria. I picked her up in Mazatlan when I was there with Orion for his High School graduation trip. She’s too delicate to ship well. (I’ve been glueing bits back on ever since.) But I loved her attitude. Halloween, Samhein, Dios de los Muertos all come together for me in this little witch.
I’ve always enjoyed the fall. The cooler weather appeals to me. In Minnesota fall is much more dependable a season than spring. Denial of winter is easy as long as the snow doesn’t get too thick on the ground. I’ve trick-or-treated in snow pants and boots, but most of the time those early snows don’t linger.
On the other side of the year it doesn’t seem like spring until something green is poking out from the ground. That doesn’t often happen when there’s still melting snow. In Minnesota spring can last a day or a week, but fall can go on for months September-October-November. Sometimes it feels like fall in August, but it’s still summer at least until Labor Day, regardless of the weather.
It’s a good time of the year for fires in the fireplace, or even a bonfire outdoors. It’s all about being dressed in layers. Sweaters, woolens, deep pockets and hats but mostly sweaters. It’s not unusual to see a sweater with shorts, or a wool coat and shoes – no socks. There are plenty of people here who will hang on to wearing sandals until the snow really flies.
At this time of year it’s easy to be aware of the presence of our ancestors. I think about the fishing and hunting this time of year as a way to gather enough to make it through the winter. I think about my own ancestors wishing for a little more warm to get in the crops and a little more cold to make refrigeration possible. When I pick up sticks in the yard I’m planning kindling for when the woodpile is buried under the snow.
The Brujeria thinks like this at all times, in all seasons. She lives in harmony with the world around her, even when she is at odds with the culture. She gathers her ingredients when the time is right and uses them at her own discretion as the need arises. She feels the changing of the seasons in her bones and readies herself and her clients for whatever she foresees.
This year I’m hoping she’ll help me with that!
With the Fall equinox upon us I’ve started to notice the signs of autumn creeping up. The leaves are just beginning to turn. The trees that have been severely stressed by our odd weather are further along, but the majority are just hinting at colors.
That stress is definitely in the air. One day the highs are barely above 60F the next they’re well into the 70’s. Mornings are cool, almost cold when they are damp. There’s been hard frost further north and it would not be unseasonable to see some here in the city. It’s difficult to dress for such unpredictable, changeable weather.
The sun shines, equal with the darkness. It still carries warmth with its light, but that warmth seems more focused. It gets hot in the car, if it’s in the direct sun, but the warmth doesn’t creep past the edges of the shadows of the tree line.
I’ve had a fire or two in the fireplace, trying not to turn on the heat. It’s difficult to crawl out of bed when the temperature in the house is below 65. When I do turn on the furnace (because it’s impossible to get out of a warm tub when the air is that cold) I try to remember to turn it off again. Sometimes I get to wondering why I’m so hot before it occurs to me I’ve forgotten.
At least with the heat on the air is filtered. The cool and damp is ideal for mold – one of my worst allergies. It will get worse before it gets better as leaves fall into mulch. Soon I’ll be begging for the hard freeze, but I wouldn’t begrudge a few more weeks of summer weather after.
Happy Autumnal Equinox!
Previous Equinox blogs: