If you can’t join us in person for the pan-Pagan clergy panel discussion tomorrow it will also be live-streamed, with a link to the stream posted on the event page on Facebook, and the recording will be available afterwards through Three Cranes Grove. I’ll update this with a link to the video afterwards. Looking forward to it!
Three Cranes Grove here in Columbus, Ohio is organizing a Pan-Pagan clergy panel discussion next week, and Grafton and I will be participating:
7-8:30pm Thursday, August 22nd, 2019
It Looks Like It’s Open 13 E Tulane Rd, Columbus, Ohio 43202
My Beltane gift to you all is to share this blessing that I’ve been working with for the last few years. It is inspired by the Fivefold Kiss as described in the Farrars’ British traditional style of Wicca; I believe that saluting the body and the parts of self is a beautiful practice, but the Fivefold Kiss was an extremely intimate way of doing so. My Fivefold Blessing is somewhat less sexually charged, making it appropriate in a wider range of situations. I encourage you to try this as a way to ground and center, as a self-blessing on a daily basis, as preparation for ritual, and as a reassurance in difficult times.
The Fivefold Blessing
Blessed be thy feet which have walked thy path.
Blessed be thy body which is thy life.
Blessed be thy heart which is thy love.
Blessed be thy hands which do thy work.
Blessed be thy spirit which is one with all things.
When doing this with myself, I usually touch my feet, belly, heart, hands, and head for the respective parts of the body. Try varying the order as needed; if you want to ground, then salute spirit, hands, heart, body, feet. If you want to draw up energy, use the opposite order. If you want to work from your heart outward, try that, and see what happens!
Today I’ll be participating in a panel discussion at the Cleveland Pagan Pride Day. I couldn’t attend yesterday because of work conflicts, but I’m really looking forward to it today!
Here is the advice I have gotten so far:
Own your shadow or else it will eclipse you.
This eclipse will be a time when secrets about ourselves – maybe even things we try to keep secret from our own awareness – will be revealed, for all of us, for better and worse.
If you’ve been doing the work to get in touch with your own shadow and make an ally of it, then you’ve got a head start. That means you also get the reward of trying to help others cope with the experience and trying to shape this kind of change at the trans-personal level. Ground and center, Witches.
And if you haven’t seen them yet, Hecate’s series on the Magical Battle for America is truly powerful. Give it a try.
Or, how do cats herd themselves?
Given Pagans’ predilection for individuality and eschewing authority, we often talk about organizing ourselves as “herding cats.” But what do we do when there is no one “riding herd” on us as individuals? Whether or not you participate in a larger group, keeping your own knowledge organized can be an important part in making sure you are actually learning and growing over time, as well as creating a resource for yourself and others to rely on in the future.
Thus, with apologies to the Llewellyn authors of the popular series on the Witch’s Tools, I encourage you to use the magical tool known as the Witch’s Three-Ring Binder.
A three-ring binder is an extremely useful way of organizing your knowledge. No, it’s not nearly as romantic as writing all your studies in a venerable hand-bound book with artisanal paper made from the bark of your own favorite willow tree using a feather quill with ink made from burning rue. If you can manage all of that and also keep up your studies and practices and the rest of your life, more power to you. I can’t. Given the choice between waiting until that magical time accidentally drops in my lap and neglecting the romance in favor of actually learning and improving my work in the time and space available to me, I choose the latter. So a three-ring binder, often made at least in part or whole from material written on a computer and printed out, is a perfectly serviceable tool and one I encourage you to explore.
Creating my notebooks about different areas of study (herbs, minerals, Tarot) gives me a chance to review and revise all the information I can think of on a particular topic. Once the notebook is created, it is a place to collect new notes and ideas, and revising it every few years or so becomes a way to solidify my learning and highlight avenues for new study and practice. Most of this I could keep on a computer just as well – but I am old-fashioned enough to think a little better with a pen and paper on some things, and I find it easier to turn to a shelf to locate an alphabetical page or an index entry when I need to look something up rather than a list of text files. I look forward to the magical creations of wikis and apps and so much more that future generations will dazzle us with, but for now, this hybrid paper-and-computer method works best for me.
It’s solid enough to make it easy to use for reference during ritual, while cooking, or doing readings, but not so permanent that I can’t revise it at need. And honestly, after a while, even a basic binder starts to acquire some romance of its own, when I think of all the things I’ve used it for.
That’s why one of the rewards I offer to my supporters on Patreon – for just three dollars a month – is a page from one of my three-ring notebooks, giving an entry on magical materials such as herbs, trees, minerals, oils, teas, incenses, and more. This month’s example covers the herb chamomile, with its names, cautionary warnings, correspondences, and suggestions for uses in magic. If you’re interested, go check it out. I’ll also be asking for feedback on which topics you want to see the most of, so shout out if there’s an entry you want to see first.
Today’s proposed executive order is all about money. Don’t let anyone fool you that it’s about a broader principle of “religious liberty.” Money is a form of power, and the point of today’s exercise is to remove limitations on employing money in pursuit of political goals. The benefits, such as they may be, will accrue to those who already hold both money and power. If you’re a minority religion, that’s not you.
The Johnson Amendment is about the tax code. This executive order – although no one has seen the exact proposed text yet – is at least in part a directive to the IRS, which enforces the tax code. If you’re doing something that doesn’t involve money, then the IRS has nothing to do with you. In the end, this is about money, and about redistributing more money and power to those who already hold the majority of both.
I am not a lawyer and I don’t even play one on the internet. My layperson’s summary is as follows: Religious organizations can become tax exempt, based at least in part on an idea that they are doing socially beneficial endeavors that the government is not doing. But the limitation is that religious organizations cannot then turn around and use those tax-exempt dollars to fund and promote explicitly political speech. Taken at the organizational level, one can talk about whether such political action is substantial or incidental to the organization’s actions, but the upshot is that people cannot use a platform paid for with tax-exempt dollars – such as a pulpit in a church building – to make explicitly political speech. Those same people can make that same speech in another venue, as long as it is clear that they are not using the financial resources of the tax-exempt organization to support or promote that speech.
The religious right wants you to imagine that poor, well-meaning men of God (and yes, they are almost all very specifically men of their male deity) are being forbidden from teaching the dictates of their religion. This is a lie.
It’s a lie because those people are not prevented from teaching their religion using their religious resources, nor are they prevented from expressing themselves politically using their political resources. It’s just that they can’t mix the two. Your local evangelical preacher can’t take the dollars collected in the offering plate on Sunday and use those dollars to erect a sign that says “Jesus Loves Trump.” If he can raise the money in some way that doesn’t come through his church, sure, he can put that sign up. On private property. Using private money. That has paid taxes, just like everyone else, in order to support the common good. (Trust me, when your local preacher listens to Rush Limbaugh, no one has any doubts about that preacher’s political views.)
This isn’t about speech. It’s about dollars.
Second, this pitiable image is a lie not only in theory but in practice. Conservative Christians have been explicitly challenging this boundary for years with little to no resistance, governmental or otherwise. The IRS has been extremely lax in actually following up on even cases of religiously-funded speech deliberately designed to flout this law. Americans United for Separation of Church and State has been following this problem, so check them out to discover more.
Neo-Pagan financial resources are vanishingly small compared to other groups. (Whether that is right, or good, or the way things have to be, is a discussion for another time.) Compared to even a small Christian denomination, we don’t just run on a shoestring, we run on a spider’s thread. How many Pagan organizations do you know that own real estate? (A Pagan shop that puts on events and hosts classes isn’t owned by a tax-exempt organization, so keep that in mind.) We are not the ones who have the money; it’s not our money that has been restricted, so it’s not our money that is being “freed,” so don’t even begin to hope that this move will “benefit” minority religions.
This grandstanding is yet another example of the great conservative tradition of punching down. That’s nothing to celebrate.
I’m coming back to writing here after weathering a series of crises in my offline life. One of the consequences is that I’m trying to become more financially self-sufficient. While I’ve had the privilege of being financially secure, I’ve tried to provide as many resources and services as I could to the community without asking for anything in return. Now I need your help; I need to get some income in exchange for my writing, teaching, and clergy work in order to keep devoting time to it on a regular basis. There are lots of ways you can support me if you’re able:
Tip jar! There’s a PayPal button on the side of my site now. Donate if you find my writing here useful.
Patreon! I’m offering both writing and services as rewards for signing up for an ongoing monthly donation through Patreon. If you’ve enjoyed my Sabbat posts, for example, my new articles in that series will be available at least a week ahead of time to my patrons. I’ll also be giving examples of other benefits patrons can get. See more at my Patreon page.
Classes! I’m going to be offering some in-person classes on special topics to people in the Columbus area starting this summer. If there’s interest, I will look into setting up some online workshops as well, either one-time or ongoing. Let me know what you’d like to learn about and keep an eye on this site for more announcements.
Barter! I may be looking for some graphic design help and maybe some website help and a few other things, plus I’ll be moving soon. If you’re interested in bartering or just lending a hand, let me know: literatahurley at gmail dot com.
I hope you are finding fertility in whatever way you desire this Beltane!
If in some aching dreams you too could pace
sleepless with the choice we find ourselves in,
and hear the fear and loathing we will face
as people tell us aught we do is sin;
If you could feel, with every cramp, the blood
ready to gush forth from ectopic wound
to salve your conscience in its crimson flood
and leave behind my lifeless form marooned,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To women ardent for a martyr’s glory,
The new lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro blastocyte mori.
With acknowledgement to Wilfred Owens, I repost this as the only response capable of expressing my response to the news that Ohio’s statehouse passed the so-called “heartbeat bill” yesterday. This abortion ban without exceptions for rape or incest will lead to deaths if it is signed by the governor (famously anti-choice) and survives court challenges with judges appointed by the incoming administration. I am terrified.
Gentlefolk, please charge your glass
with water pure and clear
I do not ask to bow your heads
Nor bend your knees today
I ask that you sit watchful calm
And lift your heart with mine
Ready for what is to come
And we we need to do
Today we eat, and yes we drink
Around a laden table
While others fight with prayers of peace
For water which is life
We steel ourselves with joy today
Against the fear and hurt
As each of us in our own way
Will stand for what is life
Today I pray and ask you join
Your will to be committed
To yet uphold our lives and loves
As each of us are able
And next year may we meet again
Around this holy table