Simply, gently, we begin again 

It’s been a while. Since April, in fact. A lot has happened during that time, not all of it good, but much of it powerful.

The pilgrimage to England changed me. The depths of the Ovate grade changed me. The death of my father changed me.

So here I am, riding on the dregs of the super moon in Aries to get out a post. Break the logjam, let a trickle of words through.

For now, it’s enough.


The Luxury of Fragmentation

Many gods, one altar.

 After reading several of the Internet dust-ups over the past few weeks, it occurred to me that we are in a unique forum where we no longer have to tolerate anyone.

As I’ve mentioned before, I live in a co-housing development. It’s another iteration on intentional living, where everyone still owns their own property, but funds are pooled to accomplish larger community projects such as herb and vegetable gardens, carports, and common meals.  There is a lot of diversity–the youngest, in utero, the oldest in her mid-seventies; whites and people of color; priests and layfolk; five-flavors-of-Pagan, Jewish, Christian, Atheist; six-figure incomes and 40B housing; able-bodied and wheelchair-bound; public schoolers and homer schoolers and unschoolers; monogamy, polyamory, gay, straight, bi, transgender…we pretty much run the gamut. And still, there is one thing that we all have in common.

We have made a commitment to living in community.

This stands in stark contrast to what I see happening on all sides of the Pagan Internet Social Scene. (See what I did there? Because, really, anything one can walk away from so easily can hardly be called a “community.”) Sitting face-to-face in a discussion circle, working though disagreements and differing opinions with my neighbors, operating by consensus (yes, we’re that crazy)–this is growth. This is community, in all of its painful fits and starts.

Because really, exile and shunning has never been easier than in the age of the internet. Don’t like someone’s politics, fine.  Smear them. If that won’t stick, grab your gods ball and go home. We succumb to the insidious luxury of fragmentation–we no longer have to learn to get along because we can always divide ourselves into a smaller and smaller subsets of people who are just like us.

Doesn’t that get boring after a while?

The Pagan Internet Social Scene has its uses, potentially. Debating ideas is one of the most powerful ones. Yet, it is a rare thing to see ideas debated and tested. More often than not, a blog post will descend into a mire of puffed-up egos, an insatiable need to be right, and a veritable smorgasbord of the worst behaviors the web has to offer. Add in a golden flounce for good measure, and presto! Another scene is born, perhaps this time for the Libertarian Vegans who worship N’zoth.

When you are in community, especially if you live in proximity to someone, it necessitates a different sort of behavior. The threat, “I know where you live,” well, it becomes pretty meaningless. You wanna flounce? Ok, but you’re going to have to sell your house first. Proximity raises the stakes. Not everyone is going to be a bosom companion, but they are going to be able to sit in a meeting together to pass the budget when it’s time. From what I’ve witnessed of the Pagan internet scene over the past 15 years, it’s done little to build actual communities–if anything the witch-wars and heathen-harangues are worse than ever.

My co-housing community isn’t perfect. What we do have in our favor is that we’re willing to struggle. We have skin in the game. We’re willing to work to get along with people who are fundamentally different from ourselves because we know our diversity is in fact our greatest strength. Community-minded Pagan and Polytheists could stand to learn quite a bit from this attitude.


As one fellow put it, “Some days I want to kill my neighbors, but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”



Turkey hen’s death throes

Poults scattering, lost and cold —

I give back his ring.*

*Within a week of my ex asking me for a divorce, a neighbor called to let me know that our local momma turkey had been hit by a red sports car. I held her as she died, but was unable to save any of her poults. Turkey has always represented family to me. The timing of this couldn’t have been more clear.


Review: A Deed Without a Name

jhp502a54bb94476This is truly a little gem of a book.

The first thing that strikes me about this book is how well written it is. Morgan creates rich images with his sparse prose. He manages to sharing meaningful personal experiences (both his own and those of other witches) without sacrificing the mystery of this path.  Morgan promises a synthesis of practical experience and scholarship, and judging by his footnotes I would say he delivers. It’s rare to find such a satisfying combination of learning and skill in the esoteric genre, so pardon me if I come off as a touch enthusiastic.

There is undeniably a lot of literature to wade through on this topic, and Morgan does an impressive job of summarizing it for a 201 or even 301 student. He seizes on a number of European cultures to illustrate his points, not just the standard witchcraft documents from the British Isles, but accounts from Italy and eastern Europe as well. Most importantly, he makes it relevant for the modern practitioner, detailing how various manifestations manifestations were dealt with historically and how we today as spirit workers can adapt these methods and attain similar experiences.

Oineric woodcut illustrations by Brett Morgan accompany each chapter, inviting the reader to dive more deeply into the many layers of the text. I’m admittedly a sucker for woodcuts, but these alternately fascinate and repulse–just like witchcraft itself.

Now, the following quibbles are really nitpicky things that my own copy-editor brain picked up on and just wouldn’t let go, and would probably not disturb the average reader. There are a few odd editing choices which detract from the overall flow of the book, especially the lack of chapter numbers within the text itself despite these being listed in the table of contents.  The book has a gentle flow from historical evidence to modern accounts, but also might have benefited from some broader subject headings. Chapter 21 on, for instance, is really more of a practical grimoire than the previous historical and folkloric comparisons; this is somewhat indicated by the ToC, but is lacking in the text body itself. Still, these points do not really detract from the message and value of the book overall.

A neighbor of mine who is just beginning to explore the Pagan/Occult paths has been asking me for books to read. I started him out with Phillip Carr-Gomm’s What Do Druids Believe? When he returns it next week, A Deed Without a Name will surely be my next recommendation.

Morgan, Lee. 2013. A Deed Without a Name: Unearthing the Legacy of Traditional WitchcraftAlresford, UK: John Hunt Publishing.


Preparing for the Journey

A week from now I’ll have crossed the Atlantic and my feet will rest upon the lands of my ancestors. Or at least that’s the romantic image my brain has created. More likely than not the reality of it will be me trying to navigate my way to Newbury from Gatwick on various forms of public transit on way too little sleep.

Still, I’m excited. The climax of the trip (as it were) is a visit to the British Museum and the much acclaimed Celts: Art and Identity exhibit on Monday morning. But thanks to the Druid interpersonal network of my Grove Mother, I’ll be taking a side trip to Wayland’s Smithy and the White Horse, with a possible jaunt over to Avebury as well.  Then it’s back to London to meet up with our Head Druid’s brother for a tour of the more esoteric aspects of London. I’m absolutely giddy at the prospect.

The plane tickets are set, the packing list drawn up, financial institutions notified, and arrangements are being made to look after Jinx-kitty (Hufflespawn is staying with dad for an extra day).  I love traveling and haven’t been abroad since 2011.  And as I think on it, this will be my first entirely solo trip–I’ve always traveled with family or friends before, so the freedom to go where I want when I want in a bit intoxicating.

Other London sites I’d love to cram in somehow are

  • Primrose Hill, site of the first modern Druid gathering led by good ol’ Ewythr Iolo.
  • Tower of London, pay my respects to the resident Ravens and Bran.
  • Treadwell’s and/or Atlantis bookstores
  • Twinings. Because, TEA!

Now, so long as we don’t get any of our infamous New England weather in the next week, I’ll be all set!