Tag Archives: MAD Goddess

No Joy In Snowville

Once upon a time, there was this book that set the self help world on fire, I’m Okay—You’re Okay, by Thomas Harris. It examined the behavioral patterns of self doubt, and called for the understanding that we are all different individuals, we approach life circumstances differently, but none of us is less okay than others of us because of our differences.

That’s a pretty simplistic take, but I think it covers it. There’s more than one way to peel a banana, viva la difference.

Fast forward half a century and our culture, from global to next door neighbors, has become considerably more divisive than amenable. I think we all see it happening in the same way we see a forest, and maybe some of us even see the individual trees, but I believe too few are seeing the root of the problem.

It became crystal clear to me thanks to a Facebook meme; or you might say, it became as clear as the icicles in a Wisconsin winter.

 

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I have lived in this northern state my entire life. Specifically, I’ve lived on the edge of Lake Superior, the largest and coldest Great Lake in the chain. Our winters are brutal. The recent arctic blast that plunged the upper Midwest and eastern states to below zero temperatures is a guaranteed January  occurrence here at the head of the lakes. Some years it’s short lived, some years we’re blasted for the entire month.

Most often the deep freeze is followed by four to six weeks (sometimes more) of relentless snow. Not necessarily blizzards, though we’re familiar with them, but rather light and steady snowfall that accumulates to several feet in a matter of days. Weeks on end of accumulating snow, until the banks lining my walkway are so high I can no longer shovel the snow up and over them, it hits the snow tunnel wall and just cascades back onto the walkway.

This is snow country. So you might think a Facebook meme that encourages finding the silver lining in all that white stuff would be a good thing. You might, but I don’t, at least not in Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 2.08.16 PMthe way it’s presented. It’s okay to enjoy the snow and cold, it’s okay to love winter recreation, it’s okay to wish for more of it because it’s the bread and butter of your business. But it’s also okay to not like it. The finding joy in snow meme may as well say, I enjoy the snow and there’s something lacking in you’re life, in you, if you don’t.

I’m all for making the best of any unchangeable situation—and yes, the snow will fall here whether we like it or not, but taking the position that enjoying the snow is simply a matter of choice is dismissive, it others those who are not able bodied, healthy, and young. The real choice being made is in choosing to see circumstance, limitations, and obstacles as being easily overcome if you just change your attitude. It says my perception and experience is okay, yours is somehow flawed. It’s really saying, “Just get over it already and quit yer complaining—sheesh!”

Well if this isn’t the height of irony—a snowflake (I’m not, but a lot of people reading this must surely think so) complaining about actual snow. If one person can’t enjoy it, then nobody should?

Bear with me.

I’m sure those who must navigate a wheelchair over snow and ice don’t find joy in six months of struggling just to get into and out of their house. Nor do those with lung or heart conditions, who are at greatly increased risk in extreme weather conditions, find joy in being virtually shut in for the duration.

And let’s not forget the elderly—though it’s easy because our youth focused culture has made them all but invisible. Aside from mobility difficulties and the danger of falling (a fall for an elderly person can be the beginning of a long downhill slide to further complications and even death) this vulnerable demographic includes many who cannot shovel, who must depend on (and wait on) others to shovel them out.

Many seniors are living on meager fixed incomes, and the cost of snow removal is prohibitive. In addition, most municipalities levy fines to residents who fail to clear the walkways in front of their house. We can get people to stand in sub-zero temperatures and ring bells for charity, but we can’t organize volunteers to shovel for the elderly?

Not everybody owns a car. How much joy do you suppose there is to be found walking in temperatures and wind speeds that cause frostbite in a matter of minutes?

Do I even need to talk about the homeless?

Further, blizzards endanger the lives of essential service and health workers, who must report for work when everything else is closed—not to mention the police, fire and rescue teams who respond to accidents on icy roadways. Extreme conditions endanger the lives of school children, dismissed early when storms blow up suddenly in mid-day. Snow and ice covered roads present life-threatening dangers for everybody who drives or rides as a passenger. I don’t guess those involved in the recent forty vehicle pile up on I-90 in central Wisconsin are finding much joy in the injury and expense incurred.

Snow and ice also cause expensive property damage. Is the single parent working for minimum wage dancing for joy beneath the leaky roof caused by ice dams? Or is the family whose furnace goes out with no money to repair it, feeling any particular joy?

I commented on my social media, saying the meme was annoying and dismissive of the real, dire consequences that can come from the perfectly natural weather we experience here in northern Wisconsin, and that it’s completely lacking in empathy or compassion for those who don’t fare so well in snow and cold to say they should find joy in it.

Friends told me I was disgruntled because I came back from a warm respite in the Southwest too soon. Actually not. I don’t have many concerns over the snow and cold. I don’t like it much, but my driveway and walks are cleared (we can afford to pay for the service), I don’t have to go out on the icy roads or walkways, I have the privilege of waiting for safer conditions. I’m not at any increased health risk and if my heat goes out we can afford repair—and a nice warm hotel room while we wait. My only real concern is for my kids safety; they still have to drive back and forth to work in bad weather.

But I’m not so myopic as to think that extreme snow and cold isn’t a great hardship for many people just because I’m okay. I think that meme makes it easy to overlook the real dangers and lulls us into believing it’s no big deal, we just have to toughen up, and face the weather with a smile on our faces. It insinuates weakness on those who complain and shames them for doing so.

It may have been well meaning, but would it be so different if I posted one saying You can choose not to find the joy of living in an impoverished neighborhood, or country, you’ll still be impoverished, but you’ll have less joy in your life. Factual or not, that would be a pretty shitty—and privileged—thing to say. Believing it’s a matter of choice to find joy in circumstances that cause hardships greater than your own, is the very act of rendering marginalized people invisible in our society.

Many more Californian’s escaped this past summer’s horrendous fires, than suffered from them. Would anybody have had the gaul to post a meme suggesting that Screen Shot 2019-02-14 at 2.22.37 PM.pngeverybody would be happier if they just found the joy in hot, dry weather?  After all, you can’t control the weather and it’s not unexpected for a region bordering the Southwest desert to experience unusually hot and dry spells. For those not in fire regions that was the worst of it, so lets all look for the joy in it.

Or, perhaps if they’d found the joy in being outside raking leaves the previous fall . . .  you get the point, right?

The fact that extreme winter weather and excessive snowfall is expected or normal in northern Wisconsin, doesn’t negate the also true fact that it’s a dangerous situation for many people who cannot just up and move. 

Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with enjoying the wintery snow and cold if that’s your jam. I’m not saying anybody shouldn’t because somebody can’t. And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t talk about enjoying it. I have a friend who leaves Wisconsin for the entire winter to go to Montana for skiing. God bless her snow loving heart, I hear about her joy in every post, tweet, and phone call and it makes me happy that she’s happy. I’m also happy she doesn’t expect everybody else to feel the same way.

The snow-joy meme is judgmental; it stinks of privilege regardless if the number of people who are adversely affected by extreme weather is small in comparison to the overall population. I’m not sure if this mantle of privilege is coming down from the top, or if it’s the fertilizer feeding the roots from the ground up. I am sure it’s a slippery slope of simplification that leads to not seeing those in need.

Please, just stop perpetuating the idea that those who find no joy in Snowville (or anything else that delights you) are disgruntled complainers who need to get over it. And maybe get your joy on by shoveling the sidewalks of two or three people who can’t.

I find joy in the snow twice a year, when I see the first flakes, and when I race my car though the spring-melt puddles. The rest of the five or six months it’s a huge pain in the rear end as far as I’m concerned. Pretending different doesn’t add one bit of joy to my life.


Witchy Wares: A Merry Little Gift List

I’ve been so busy in my northwoods realm I nearly forgot to share my list of witchin’ gifts for the holidays.

Topping my gift picks this year is anything from Sarah Ann Lawless’s newly launched herbal shop, Bane Folk. I have long been a follower of this folk herbal witch, watching her develop and refine her line of exquisite poisons into modern versions of historic flying potions and other products. Her mandrake ointment has been a wonder for easing the pain from my spinal stenosis.* Now that she offers 5ml tubes for sampling each of her six herbal salves, I can’t wait to try them all.Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 12.22.30 PM

The newest addition to her product line is her Poison Garden Perfume Collection. The website states, “Each poison garden roll-on perfume oil is crafted with the botanical extracts & essential oils of psychoactive and poisonous plants from the Artemisia and Solanaceae plant families.”

The size and price (a mere $4 +S&H) make this a perfect stocking stuffer.

*This is not an endorsement, recommendation, or suggestion for medical treatment.

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Listen, a witch can never have too many candles. For magics. I found these colorful beauties at Menorah(.com). Hand dipped using organic beeswax, they feature 100% cotton, clean burning wicks. Don’t be fooled by the picture, these diminutive tapers are only about 5 inches tall, but in my opinion that only lends to their magical uses. At $17.99 for a package of 45, it might be the best deal on this year’s list.

If you’re like me, scrolling through #witchesofinstagram, #pagasofinstagram and #castingspells on your Instagram feed turns you just a little bit green with envy. Some witches really know how to visually style a spell. While I’m waiting for the book of pretty spell casting to comeScreen Shot 2018-12-15 at 1.41.14 PM out (hint-hint Spell Bar), I find a lot of inspiration in the not-exactly-meant-for-witches magazine, Willow and Sage One year of four issues costs a dear price of $50 by subscription, a $2.50 savings per issue. It’s filled with how-to, ingredient lists and sources, and pages of visual eye candy for the home herbalist. A cleaver witch can see past the practical application and transform inspiration into beautifully laid spells.

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Of course, there’s much more to casting a good spell than meets the eye. This quirky little book, Composing Magic, by Elizabeth Barrette, covers the basics skills of  good writing and applies them to magical works. The easy to read format lets you jump around to areas of interest, such as spells, rituals, or a book of shadows, but the books flows from beginning to end with an easy to read style.

Screen Shot 2018-12-15 at 2.05.07 PMI can’t leave without sharing my fountain pen pick of the year. I’m obsessed with these scratchy, inky, pens that harken to the past. This rose gold and aquamarine Ted Baker model is hard to come by, but a Google search will still lock in a few available for purchase. If you love it as much as I do, don’t dally!

Don’t forget the ink! Though this is categorized as a red, the shimmer in Diamine Red Luster gives it the appearance of a rich copper sheen.

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That rounds out my witchin’ gift picks for Yuletide 2018. Wishing you a bright and blessed Solstice Season.

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Simple Witchery — Part 1

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What is simple witchery? Perhaps an explanation of witchery, or practicing witchcraft, is first called for.

Truly, there are so many schools and styles of witchcraft, and so many more personal takes on each, that trying to even touch on all would be a herculean task and not at all in the spirit of keeping it simple. You have Google for that.

Know this, the first rule of witchcraft is to seek knowledge, always.

It may be easier to explain some of the things witchcraft is not.

Witchcraft is not devil worship. In witchcraft there is no devil of the widespread Christian understanding. Witchcraft holds that all that is good and all that is evil coexists within each of us, much as in the Cherokee story of the two wolves. Witches acknowledge and work with their shadow side to recognize, understand, and in most cases, temper its influence, or at least reserve it for specific use.

Spells are not conjuring or working with the devil. See above, there is no devil. Spells are focused intention, usually a petition or expression of gratitude. In that way they are not unlike a prayer. However, unlike prayer they are not always directed to a deity or spiritual entity. This makes them also like a mantra or positive affirmation. To whatever extent science confirms the success of positive thinking, self fulfilling prophecy, and fake it ’til you make it, it also supports the success of spell casting.

Spells are also science. Whatever science has proven about quantum physics, it proves the same about sympathetic (or correspondence) magic.

Ethical witches do not attempt to manipulate the free will of others. This is probably the number one rule among true witches and translates to the shorthand, “You do you.” It applies to how you practice your craft, and all the personal choices you make both in magical and every day life. A coven or other gathering of witches may have guidelines and rules, but those are upon your voluntary membership—if you are accepted and join (initiate) you agree to this and that.

This is why most witches worth their salt will not cast a love spell to inspire or change the feelings of a specific person. A love spell is worked either on yourself to prepare you for the right relationship when it comes along, or to appeal to the powers that be (energies) that the right love be sent your way.

Witches do not always belong to a coven. Many witches practice their craft as solitaries. Take appropriate cautions if you join a coven, as you would joining any group of people you don’t otherwise know, remembering that a coven is considered a family bound by oath—you will likely share vulnerability and deeply personal aspects of your life.

If a witch ever, in any situation, asks you to participate in something that goes against your values and ethics, get thee away from said witch(es) post haste and never, ever return.

So, while were on the subject of covens and groups . . .

Sky clad (naked) ritual is not necessary. It is practiced by solitary witches and covens, but you don’t fail at being a witch if you don’t dance naked under the moon, or in the hot tub or whatever else may be the setting for stripping down. The reason for sky clad ritual is to show to the deity God/Goddess that you come in perfect love and trust with nothing to hide. It also demonstrates the same to your coven.

Again, if you join a group or a coven that does make sky clad ritual a required part of their group practice, it should be stated up front and understood. You can and should decline joining if it makes you uncomfortable. You should also leave any coven in which you feel there is an abusive element to naked ritual. I do not practice sky clad; for one thing, it’s too dang cold six months of the year in my realm to even consider it.  I doubt that I would ever join a coven that requires it—but never say never!

There is no rule against personal gain. Other than those which apply to dishonor and greed in every day life. So go ahead and cast that spell for a raise, or promotion, or the winning lottery numbers. It never hurts to try.

There is no threefold rule. Other than the every day concept that you get what you give, you reap what you sow, the golden rule, etc. The idea that whatever you send will come back to you times 3 is part of the folklore, crafted by some of the early, modern day witches. However, do not take this lightly, every witch has a story to tell of the spell that manifested with consequences not anticipate, even though they thought they had considered every possible outcome.

There isn’t even a rule of do no harm. That too, was written in by the modern day practitioners. Ethical witches are also just ethical people; we practice under the same real world laws of nature, physics, human emotion, and civil laws as everybody else. The important thing to remember here is our belief that all life is connected and what we do to any one, we do to all, including ourselves. For deity witches, there is also the belief that every living thing harbors the Divine within, and so to harm any is to harm the Divine. “As above so below, as within, so without, as the universe so the soul.” ― Hermes Trismegistus

Before we leave this concept, all witches believe in complete acceptance of the consequence of our actions. We do not deflect, we do not whine, we do not say, “Woe is me.” To know this down to our bones, greatly governs our actions.

Witchcraft in and of itself is not a religion. Wicca is a recognized religion, but not all witches are Wiccans. In fact not all witches practice the craft as a religious/spiritual practice. Some practice strictly as magic, magic being the understanding of the laws of nature and the physical world, and using that understanding to create (manifest) their intention, to the extent that many modern day witches study quantum science and string theory. Some witches are simply on a path of personal betterment without high magic.

Many self identify as folk, garden, hedge, herbal, kitchen, or green witches (not referring to skin color, but working with nature elements). Others identify by the deity they primarily worship, such as Hekataen witches, Dianic witches, etc. There are traditions pertaining to pantheons, such as Celtic, Norse, Italian, Slavic, etc. This is a comprehensive list.

Witchcraft is not all about the magick, but the magick is fun. First, magick with a  K differentiates the craft of the witch from the art of illusion practiced by magicians.
Magick is real. Think of it this way. Fire was magick to the ancients – sent by the gods in lighting bolts. It remained magick until they discovered the science behind fire, until some astute being observed that friction could also create fire and that s/he could create friction. And so it went until we were cooking with gas, not to mention short wave radiation! Magick happens all around us, understanding how it happens allows us to discover ways of harnessing it.

And while we’re on cooking . . .

Cooking is magic by definition. Taking any number of ingredients, applying either heat, cooling or some physical action, to arrive at an end result that is more than just the sum of its parts, is alchemical magic. Take the simple act of whipping egg whites into meringue, or churning milk into butter. Or combing milk, butter and sugar to make caramel. In a time before these things were common skill, they were first magick. Once upon a time, only nature could make a diamond, but not any longer.

Your near ancestors were witches. Women mostly, but men also, were kitchen, hedge and hearth witches, they were water diviners, weather predictors, and tillers of soil. Whether they called themselves such or not, their ways were the ways of the witch, they worked with the seasons, natural elements and physics. They practiced folk remedies and cures with plants and herbs. They tossed salt over their shoulders, hung symbols in their homes, planted their gardens and harvested their crops by the moons. Some of their traditions were part of a religious faith, but not all of them were. They lived with an understanding and working knowledge of the physical world around them.

Witch, as we know it, is a word and concept that was created by the early patriarchal religions of the world to wrest the power of a relationship to the natural world, divinity and faith, and cultural belief, from the hands of the masses. Power was shifted to the governing body of the church. Pagans were simply the unlearned, unbaptized country folk in the beginning—the simple folk. Most often, when they were persecuted, tortured and murdered, it was for ulterior agendas (such as property and land grabs) or out of ignorant fear.

As I said in an earlier post, my practice of witchcraft is a reflection of my reverence for the Divine signature in all living things, especially humanity. It is an ongoing effort to rise above ego and seek the greater good. My practice is rooted in the simple faith that there is something bigger than myself, bigger than humanity, bigger than this life as we know it. It doesn’t matter what I call it or how I aspire to connect with it, because when I do, when any witch does, we are woke to the knowledge that God and Love are one and the same.

Blessed be and journey well.

Click here to read Simple Witchery — Part 2


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