So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

28 September, 2012

T is for Transformations

(Look at me doing a PBP on time!  Holy shit what!)

Important truth of the universe: the shit doesn't stay put.

Things change.

One of the ways that people do religion wrong is using it to attempt stasis.  It's not that this system, these tools, this work changes you: it's that it provides a good set of excuses to not do anything.  (You know you have made a god in your own image when it hates all the same people that you do, right?)

Even the most passively performed religion still tends to posit some sort of ideal, which the practitioners are at least expected to think about moving towards.  (So pick a religion to passively ignore with an ideal state that seems useful/appropriate/valid/worthwhile/appealing, damnit.)

The more you actually take this sort of thing seriously, the more change it will make.  It's not a coin-operated system where you put offerings in gods and get back what you want in this fleeting moment.  I mean, you may get what you want at times, but there's a lot of backfill on that.  If spiritual stuff leads to more and more navel-contemplation and self-absorption, well ... is that the stasis creeping in?  The perverting it into a dodge for change?

If you're going into the mysteries - Craft traditions, attempts to reconstruct ancient ways, other things - then this is even more so, because a mystery religion is explicitly about transformational experiences, and if you back down from the work for that it's a damn good way to get hurt.  Or, simply and straightforwardly, to fail: to not get accepted for the initiation, to have nothing happen, to be turned away from the teacher for not learning the safety procedures, or whatever else.

And the risk there is a deep one, identity-deep: because the thing about the way the shit doesn't stay put is that one doesn't know where it's going all the time or, indeed, whether or not it is going to hit the fan. Initiatory work means rearranging your spirit in some fashion; even if one's not going for Specific Transformational Experience there is still the process of, say, becoming a better devotee for a god, or better embodying the virtues of the religion, or other things that actually matter, and which will, in the long run, change who you are.  And you can't know from the other side for certain if who that will be is who you wanna be.

Not that you can tell that about getting up in the morning either, but when making deliberate choices it's good to know if you are the sort of person who can live with having made those choices.

25 September, 2012

O is for Ordinary

Yeah yeah yeah I am so amazingly behind I know I know.  But I just made a list!

I'm sure I've touched on this before - certainly on the post on Goals - but it's worth coming back to.

Sometimes people will sneer about Beltaine-and-Samhain pagans (like people sneer at Christmas-and-Easter Christians), or possibly in my case Wep-Renpet-and-Opet pagans or something, I don't know what would be appropriately iconic really.

It's all kind of backwards isn't it?  As if religion orbits primarily - or even solely - about whether or not one properly celebrates a Special Day.

Here's a thing I'm coming to as a reconstructionist, though.  The Special Days are at least 200-level religion.  They're not the fundamentals, they're shiny things.  And sometimes they can distract from the fundamentals.

I write about ka theology a lot.  Ka theology talking about family and food and sex and magic.  This is not special day stuff.  This is today, tomorrow, next week, next month.  This is Little Foot asking me for a glass of milk just now.  There is no "I'm going to put off eating until the next holiday", even in a holiday-packed ritual calendar.

I think a lot of people get caught up in What To Do For The Holiday, to the extent that everything gets kind of dropped when there isn't an impending holiday or other obligation.  I do it too, hell; there are times that noticing an upcoming festival on my calendar is what kickstarts my arse into getting back to regular daily practices, breathing exercises, that kind of thing.

But that's the thing:  I have the ordinary stuff too.  I have the putting away the shopping carts and the theology of lunch, I have ordinary things to deal with, to get back to.  I have foundation.  I can say "I'm losing track of my sense of time" and fall back into the time liturgies that I learned and wrote to attempt to recenter myself, like I did recently.

The ordinary stuff is the basics, the where we are in the fundamental beginning.  When the ordinary is stable, then we can move on to advanced stuff like what to do for this holiday or that holiday.

18 September, 2012


I was given two tools: a wine carafe and a knife.

The first lesson was the knife.  I hated it, I hated the task: being held to a standard of challenge, of knowing the standard and being unyielding when the standard was unmet.  Of being, not cruel, but hard; of offering the support of critique and voicing an awareness of failure.

It was Ordeal work - both in supporting the Ordeal I was serving as challenge-master for, and in finding in myself a place where I could do this thing, rather than do what I wanted to - rather than be softer, gentler, more cuddly, more gracious, a haven rather than a fight.  And I did the work.  And it was hard. And I became stronger.

And I was glad of the resting time afterwards, the space to recover.  Holding to the knifework is hard.  The surgeon's mind - knowing when is the time to cut and when is the time to put the knife away - is a sharp and dangerous place, and it is not easy work.  I had longed for the place I thought of as more of the carafe - the healer, the sustainer, the refuge - and having to cleave to something sharper was exhausting.

There is a common false dichotomy in the gendering of tools - the knife as active, the cup as passive - the phallic nature of the thing that penetrates taking that masculine, dominating, urgent energy in symbolism, while the thing that contains and holds is that vulvar feminine, submitting to its contents, patient.  This is all through a lot of ceremonial magic and other things, and cultural things, and perhaps it infects the brain even when one doesn't symbolise the hieros gamos by stabbing something in the wine as a matter of standard protocol.

The idea is that the knife is work, and the cup just kind of sits there.

This idea, of course, is bullshit.

Even at its most simplistic, the vessel to hold power must be as strong as that which it holds or it will fracture.  That strength must be a held strength, something that sustains, not the sort of burst strength of a single action.  To cut takes strength in a moment; to hold takes strength over time.

Hold the power.  Hold it available.  Be the well, the place from which strength can be drawn.

Hold the image of the possible so that it can be found as a reflection.


Try not to run dry.