Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Is my form of Paganism inherently Goth?

As a child, I honored the shadows of my imagination far more than my playmates, it seemed. We would take turns coming up with games, as children do. When it came to me, my games had storylines that often ended with players' characters turning evil or "dark" in some way when boundaries were crossed or when someone was tagged "it." Then again, I often saw things that adults told me weren't there. Such is the burden of most children and animals. Innocence and the absence of a thought process that numbs senses allows the natural human (and base animal) psyche to observe the things that go bump in the night without restraint. As we grow and "evolve," the ability to connect with these forces are stripped from our minds. Perhaps it is all through the necessity to fit in, or the brainwashing of the thinking masses that abducts our souls from the primal. Regardless, that darkness lingered in the back of my mind as I aged.
My treasured drawings featured the lighter side of the ethereal all throughout elementary and middle school, even if my games and silent personal musings dwelled on the possibilities of those hidden from view. The creatures there certainly made sure I never forgot their existence. Even now, I feel someone looking over my shoulder as I type this. Could be my dad. (Ever since he passed, he turns up randomly and irritates me until I chase him away again.) Could be someone I never knew. Could just be another energy I grew up fearing but have accepted as I have accepted the lighter side energies. The point is the acknowledgment of the eternal, and the eventual embrace if the whole. High school, as it is with many people, due to puberty and its nasty hormonal surges, opened the gate for all manner of expression and all muses that cared to step forward.
My faerie and otherwise cheery characters took on more emaciated and sickly inspirations. Creatures grew fangs drenched in blood (my fascination with vampires deepened), ribs became more pronounced and cheekbones began a subtle protrusion, nails were now claws and talons. Nothing was safe from my shadows' gaze. The more I carved those deep lines, the more intrigued I was by "ugly" nature. Insects and decay were in direct opposition to the giggling prisms of rainbow light in which I dressed myself.
My sister closest in age to me and I have often been mistaken for twins, but we are nearly two years apart in age. Further, in high school, she was, essentially, everything I hid of myself from the world. While I painted my bedroom blue with murals of unicorns, faeries, jesters, and flowers, and danced around to oldies, boy and girl bands, and spoke only of hope and uplifting cheer, she hid away in her dark grey room, shielded from sunlight by heavy red velvet curtains, listening to Korn, Marilyn Manson, Rob Zombie, and Static X. I maintained throughout those early years that I detested the darkness of her room, drama of her crazy hair and makeup, and angry tunes that emanated from her very being. (Though, I must point out that we would listen to The Cure, Cruxshadows, and Voltaire together.) Yet, out and about, and as I became more comfortable with myself, these protestations began to fall away.
Fully realizing my Path, death and decay were finally openly accepted for their beauty in the natural progression of all things. The shadows, creatures, insects, and sadness that I continually pushed away or inwardly repressed were brought out to meet the light. A balance was struck. As we all know here, balance is required for all things to work in harmony. The color black was acknowledged as much as those of the rainbow, the bleached bones of beasts were appreciated for the structure they once provided, shells of previous crawling critters discarded by the mini souls once trapped within were collected for both decoration and magical aid.
Since my recent appreciation of the Goth culture, I am seeing all of these things (and so much more) that have been parts of me since the very beginning turning up time and again in Goth references. Yet, they all just make sense both within the practice of my faith and the parts of my soul that would leave me half of a person if they ever dissolved from my soul.
Am I merely a born Goth, and have fought it for so long? Are any of you Goth? Have you always been? Were you raised Goth? Perhaps you are a "baby bat" like me, but are seeing parallels from throughout your life that have lead you to the same conclusion I have drawn here? If you are experiencing the culture as I am, do you feel a bit like an outsider? (I still wear colors and listen to much of the same music I've always enjoyed. However, I have been returning to Goth artists I used to listen to and sampling other albums previously not heard.) I realize this is an incredibly rambling post, but it is exciting to me. Having come to this realization, I feel as though a part of me, long-rejected, has come home. It is a warm sweetness, and a calm I have not felt since I first came to The Path. As such, I feel a deeper pocket of power now available to me.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Perfect Day for Spirit Boarding!

Surfing around YouTube, looking for "spooky" content to watch while I eat breakfast on this overcast morning (which promises thunderstorms later! Yea!!), a WatchMojo video on the Ouija board caught my attention. It was as disappointing as most of their videos, but a quick look into the comments revealed a user who posted this:
"I'm so curious about the ouija board, but I don't want to risk myself."
Responses ranged from insults on the poster's intelligence to casual warnings to downright forbidding the use of a spirit board for fear of all of the terrible things that will happen! Being the bottomless pit of random facts and experiences that I am, and the ever helpful Pagan I find myself to be, I responded with the following:

Some people get results (planchette movement, answers to questions whether true or not, etc), and some people don't. I used it profusely when I was a teenager, even tried a couple of times by myself. I am still alive. Nothing terrible ever happened to my friends or me. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. There are reports that show discoveries of the use of spirit boards as far back as Ancient Egypt. Regardless, if you are interested in trying, I suggest finding a couple of friends who are truly honest with you, and won't try to screw with you, before attempting on your own - only for the facts that you will have a basis of what to expect and how to respond if/when you do try it alone, and participants will remain respectful (aka: safe). Create a safe space. Some people freak out if it's in a house, but you're not in danger of inviting rude entities if you follow a few simple safety precautions. Never leave the planchette flipped up (as you would when using it) on the board without hands on it; turn it upside down if you must keep it with the board when not in use. Place four white candles at the four directions surrounding yourselves (North/South/East/West.) (Make doubly sure they are placed on fire safe holders/dishes on balanced surfaces so they can't fall over, and far enough away from everyone that a sudden silliness or response doesn't inadvertently knock them over. Be smart.) Once lit, and every one is sitting comfortably and safely inside the "circle," call on any past loved ones (truly call them - remember them fondly, the feeling you had when they were with you in the physical world, and visualize them as perfectly as you can to avoid spiritual confusion.) Their presence will also help protect you. Get something that is pure silver before you begin (not plated) and place it on the board after creating the circle and calling loved ones. Obviously, it will get pushed away if you begin speaking with anyone, but as long as it starts on the board, and stays in your "circle" you should be fine. Anything silver will work, by the way, regardless of size. When everyone is ready, flip the planchette to its upright position. Finally, just be respectful of all entities involved. If you don't get cocky, presumptuous, overly silly (especially with honest, kind, and serious energies), you and your friends will be perfectly fine. Definitely say goodbye and push the planchette to "Goodbye" when you feel uncomfortable, or when ending contact or use of the board, though. It's respectful and provides enough closure to keep unwanted contact down to a minimal. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, and I will be glad to elaborate or point you in the right direction if I don't have answers. :) Be safe and have fun.

I feel truly pleased with this response, and that I covered the same exact knowledge my friends and I had going into our own Ouija board use as young teenagers. I haven't had the opportunity to use one since, but, as stated, I never had any adverse effects or experiences using these precautions. And I adore, seemingly more than anything, introducing folks of all ages to the use of this endless spiritual knowledge that is available to all if we simply open the door with perfect love and perfect trust.

Well, I'm off to flip through my books and see what magicks I can conjure on what promises to be a strikingly energectic power day!

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Let's Geek Out for a Minute

Any Pagan worth his salt knows that JK Rowling must have done even a little research into the ancient properties of magickal herbs, stones, and equipment. To the non-Pagan reader, the references she chose to use in her novels may smack of original invention by the lush imagination of such a fine authoress. However, for those of us in the know, Rowling used a fair bit of practices and tools once used (and, in some cases, still utilized) to affect the outcomes of events in the physical world. Perhaps, for this reason, Bible-thumping teachers, parents, and clergy have a fair argument for not allowing children to read the series. (Not that I feel any book should ever be banned from anyone. We should all be allowed to think and decide for ourselves. How else can discoveries be made and proper problem solving techniques develop?) Nevertheless, this is not the point of this post. Those of you that follow this blog and know me know my stance in this debate. No, the point of this post is actually as the title implies: letting your geek flag fly!

Twice I have signed up on Pottermore. The first was years ago, when it was still set up as an online Hogwarts presence with classes, extra-curriculars, and House points intact. When I answered my House Sorting Quiz as truthfully as I could, Ravenclaw welcomed me with open wings. I wasn't the best student at first, but with determination, my Potions grade moved up to what I felt it should be. It was such fun, and a perfect stress reliever for me. Ah! but life marches on, and I frequented the site less as social interactions, work, and other priorities took over.

Now, having returned, wondering if any of my grades were still available, or if I had to start from square one, I found the site had changed. It was no longer the Hogwarts experience, but a compilation of information all-encompassing both UK and US magickal schools, movie and character data for all of Rowling's stories, and scads of articles and behind-the-story tidbits. For a Potterhead, this is still a perfectly reasonable way to enjoy a little time on the interwebs, but for a part-time gamer, it certainly isn't as much fun as it was once. House sorting is still a thing, though. One is still required to answer a quiz. I like to think that I am at least a slightly different person than I was when first joining Hogwarts. Certainly, my heart and outlook on life in general has changed. Fundamentally, though, the depth of my personality hasn't deviated much. I'm proud to say that I am still a Ravenclaw. Ravenclaw for life, it seems. This new site has two other quizzes a student can take - Ilvermorny House sorting and Patronus discovery. Amazingly, I have been sorted into the Horned Serpent House; the US equivalent to Ravenclaw. My patronus is a Black Swan. For a bird lover (who is also a secret goth), this continues to tickle me! Seems it took longer to figure it out, too, as the quiz kept slowing down, like it was about to discover my patronus, only to speed back up and need more answers.

Have any of you joined Pottermore? Had you done so in the past, and find yourself required to re-join when the site changed? Did your House assignment change (was there a space of time when you feel you changed as a real, living human in the real world?) What's your patronus? Did it take a while to emerge? Geek out with me!

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Beyond Here

Posting recent poetry to the largely faceless masses is something that would surprise my past self. While I am no stranger to acting out for fun and attention, my prose has always been relatively private. (Well, mostly. My Snape fan fiction in high school was a big hit amongst my friends...I never did finish that... And I always loved a good writing assignment in my English classes.) I was urged by my seventh grade Reading teacher, Mrs. Hanson (I had to take Reading because I refused to take a language) to submit a piece or two (or three) to a regional poetry contest. While I was not fond of the one she chose to submit without my knowledge, I ended up winning a place in my age category! Somewhere out there I am a published poet. I was made to go to a local assembly at another school, get up in front of a massive crowd, and read my poem aloud. Public speaking has never triggered any sort of visceral response in me, being a theater kid from the start (I had a Charlie McCarthy doll, and can still do a little ventriloquy...if you ask nicely...) It was the baring of my heart and soul for the consumption of strangers, then the growing fear as I neared the end of the reading, wondering if I will also gain their approval as I had the judges. I did, or they were just being kind. Either way, sharing such private memories and feelings in this format, full of similes and metaphors, as a child of 13 was harrowing to say the least.

Now, though, my need for approval is less than my need for attention. (Haha! I kid...kind of...) Honestly, my poetry could be real crap. Honestly, I don't care if that's the impression others get, now. This public journal may be the modern seeking of attention, but it is also merely a public diary. I am an open book; I always have been. When I start a new job, the intention to keep some cards close to my chest flies straight out the window as soon as one or two people seem to accept me as one of them. And that's okay for the most part. It certainly means I can be crushed more easily than if I could keep my armor on, but it also gives me fodder for writing, drawing, singing, etc.

I digress. The point of this post is buried deep within the introduction of the reading teacher. When I won the spot in the poetry competition, she went to the assembly and sat with my parents. After the recitations of my age group, I met up with the three of them in the intermission. Mrs. Hanson gifted me a beautiful journal (my first in a very long line, if memory serves), which I vowed to only use for my poetry. Flipping through the pages, I came across a mostly blank page. Apparently, I had been about to write a new piece, but only got as far as the title and "By: Renee Wozniak." That title, which seems rather poignant floating at the top of a blank page in my bitter and jaded middle age, is simply "Beyond Here." I guess I was deeper than anyone knew, including myself.

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