21 February, 2018

I Am a Change-Maker

Hey, Readers,

Last month I posted a video going over the results from a viewer survey I posted about a year ago. Some of the questions I asked in the survey were about how people felt about the more political topics I had started to make some videos about, and in the video I responded to a few things I learned from the survey results. For example, some people said they don't understand why the political/justice related topics are relevant, and/or they don't think they belong on my channel. I explained briefly in said video, that my channel is about my life, and the identities I hold are part of my life. So when I talk about the LGBTQ+ community, I talk about my own place within it and my own experiences as a non-hetero person. When I talk about Paganism and Witchcraft, it is with the similar knowledge that I am sharing views from minority identities. There are more of us than people think, but Pagans ARE still a religious minority. And we get treated as such. I used to not think my life was political, and I "didn't like politics" (which, as a child, I thought of mostly as voting for Senators and the like, and voting for or against school tax levies). But ever since starting my YouTube channel, I have made videos about my religious path and identity with the knowledge that this is a minority point of view. This is fringe. This is still widely and vastly misunderstood by many people. I started The Pagan Perspective collaborative channel with some other Pagan YouTubers in order to show more of the diversity of our community, and find common ground while celebrating our differences and the fact that having those differences is okay! At the end of my college career I did a semester's research for a Psychology course on prejudice/stereotyping using Pagans as my target study group, and since then, I've been presenting that work as a workshop at Pagan Pride events, at Unitarian Universalist Churches, and to private coven groups. People have asked me to continue sharing that work for years now, because people realize that we are a group that is affected by prejudice and stereotypes, and that the work I talk about, understanding how and why we do those things, how they work, can help us change the way we operate for the better.

I did all those things, believed all those things, wanted the world to be a better, more inclusive, more understanding and fair and just place, before I woke up to the fact that this meant my life was political, and that I was doing social justice work. Now I know that. And while I know it took me some time to see, I continually find myself being surprised when others don't see it. One, I need to slow down and remember that if it took me time, it won't happen overnight for them, either. And two, you'll see repeated several times below, maybe I'm not being clear enough about my work.

As an example, earlier this month (when I first started writing this post) I was looking through old posts and found a continued thread from a year ago that I hadn't continued reading after my initial response, because I was upset and confused and didn't feel like having to explain my position once again. But I read through it today, and wrote a long response, and I'd like to share it here, with some reflection.

The comments I responded to were in response to a video I posted about understanding privilege, intersectionality, and what it means for an identity to be "salient" in a situation (based on my prejudice/stereotyping work, also). I was originally going to share the comments here, without the people's names, but I've decided just to recap it for you. In the comments, the people share their opinions that the idea of privilege is "nonsense" and "rubbish". When I said it isn't either, and that I was surprised to find that so many people who regularly watch my videos don't agree with this work, the new comments (that were from a year ago, that I didn't read until now) said that such things "come down to people's opinion that is strongly shaped by their worldview". They also express that in their opinion, people watch my channel for Paganism and Witchcraft content, not social justice or "progressive theories on how society should work." Someone else said that the idea of privilege has been "debunked countless times" (which... it absolutely has not, unless they mean in their own mind), and "has no place in Paganism or Wicca." Another comment said the commenter doesn't think privilege is something that really even happens, and that it's not important. The final comment was something about how "plenty of religions ... focus on teaching people to ... control other people's behavior" and that Paganism isn't one of them.

Most of these comments were from someone who's been following and supporting my work for years, so I initially felt personally hurt that someone who I thought has liked and supported me for so long apparently doesn't care about my rights, our rights, our issues, the way I thought people who support me did. I clearly made an assumption about what supporting me means to the people who choose to do so.

I cannot know why people decide to support me. I have learned over the years that some people who support me DO entirely disagree with me... They've left enough hateful comments to make that clear, yet they still watch and offer financial support. And that feels weird. Why support me if you don't agree with the work I'm doing? To have someone to make fun of? That doesn't feel good, that doesn't feel supportive... I can't guess why people do what they do. I struggle often with whether it's ethical to continue being supported by people who don't actually support me as a person, my life, my rights, my values.

On the other hand, there are others who I feel do support me, but for some reason they don't actually know what the work I'm doing is about. As you'll see from my reply below, which was written earlier this month, I'm beginning to think that perhaps I haven't been clear enough about how my work is political/social justice work, if people who have been following my work for so long don't see that, yes, I AM a "social justice warrior"... And that's not the insult that people on the internet think it is. Have I been unclear? Or have I been perfectly clear in my intentions, but people who don't believe in it will only ever see their own point of view regardless of what I say? While I cannot know for sure, because I am only me, not everyone's reactions to me, I can think about it and adjust my own work accordingly to where I think I might have work to do, such as considering whether I do need to be even clearer about what my work is for, and what I believe. Here is the response I wrote that day, and have left here on my blog in reflection before actually coming back to publish this post. I've decided to share it publicly and reflect on it here as one way of clearing things up, and marking this point in my path:

Cara Mia - cutewitch772 
I didn't read these again until now because this kind of thought process makes me upset. The fact that people don't see social justice and privilege as issues related to religion is actually part of the problem. A lot of people seem to view religion as something outside justice, and it really isn't... It's a huge part of how people think the world should work, as you said. Which is why I don't understand making a distinction between Paganism/Wicca/Witchcraft and "progressive theories on how society should work"... Paganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft ARE progressive ideas about how society should work! 
Paganism is a minority religion. We are a minority, and we are treated as such. There is privilege to being a member of a majority faith--people don't tend to automatically assume you're evil, people don't think you're made up or don't exist or are pretending to be Harry Potter, the civic calendar acknowledges all your religious holidays and many places automatically get days off for them, to name a few privileges. You don't think Pagans and Wiccans online talk about the unfair treatment we get as Pagans all the time? They do. All over the internet, all the time. Most people seem to spend the first few years of their Pagan path doing just that, lamenting the way society treats us relative to majority faiths (mainly Christianity, in the US). Maybe those people aren't thinking of it as a social justice issue, or as lacking privilege in that realm, but that's exactly what they're talking about. We just don't all have the terminology to know what other people (activists, people working in social justice, etc) call it. 
My channel is about me and my life. You may recall that I've also done videos about my sexuality, because it's part of my life, and about the intersections between my Pagan identity and my identity as a member of the LGBTQ+ community. LGBTQ+ rights issues are social justice issues. Heterosexuals have privilege in our society. As do white people, as do men, as do able-bodied people, as do neuro-typical people, as do lots of groups, some of which I am a part and some of which I am not a part. This is about recognizing that we have privileges in some ways, and not in others, depending on our identities, and remembering to take other people's identities into account instead of assuming everyone is like us. Things like wheelchair accessible buildings are a result of recognizing privilege that people who can walk up stairs have, and making the world more accessible for people who have a different identity in that regard. That's just one example that I think many people comprehend today, but don't necessarily think of as related to this issue, and it is. 
Plenty of Pagans have progressive notions about society. Have you never heard people talk about how much better they think things would be if Christianity and other Abrahamic religions hadn't killed or converted everyone and changed the way the world works? The resurgence of interest in Goddess traditions in the past several decades? What about people making plans for Pagan-based education for our future generations? At the last Pagan Pride event I attended, last year, there was a whole section of Selena Fox asking people to name out loud ideas for the future that we would like to see, such as Pagan schooling, more Pagan-oriented senior care and end of life assistance, Twelve Step programs for recovery that aren't focused on only one religion's idea of God, and much more. Pagans have their own ideas of how society should work, all right. Again, I go back to how many videos and blogs I've seen from Pagans talking about how mainstream society misunderstands us. The Pagan Perspective is about education for the betterment of the community, learning about our differing views so we can expand the way we think about our diverse community, and the way we relate to one another. The Pagan Pride movement is similarly about education and community, educating people that we are not the horrible people they have been taught that we are... These ARE social justice issues. I used to try to separate them, too, because I thought I "wasn't a political person." But the reality is that every identity we hold is political. Laws and social structures make things a certain way, and changing them to improve our lives and the world around us is political. LGBTQ+ rights, political. Pagan rights, political. It's not about controlling other people's behavior... It's about recognizing our own privilege and how we can understand it to help improve the world. I can't control you, nor can you control me. It's about choosing to do the work ourselves, because we believe in treating other people (or animals, or the planet) better. And if some people don't think that I've been trying to improve the world and our place in it by educating people about Paganism... I'm not sure what anyone thinks I've been doing. 
If people think, for example, that I've been educating with workshops on Pagans & Prejudice, and being asked to fly or drive to various locations around the country to present this information to Pagan groups and non-Pagan groups alike, because people DON'T think prejudice and social justice are issues that Pagans and Witches can speak to and do something about... then I'm not sure those people have been paying attention. That's what it's been about the whole time. 
It's not my fault if people haven't seen it. We all live with our own blinders on about certain things. I've been doing the work, but it's up to the people observing it to see what they choose to see. We all experience the world through our own lens. 
I didn't always see it either, but now I do. Witches ARE warriors for justice. Magick is the art of CREATING CHANGE. That's radical. We've always been that way. Not all of us are today, I think due in large part to the fact that so many of us have convinced ourselves, like I did, that politics is a separate thing that we don't have to be part of. But realizing that's not true is up to each of us, on our own journey. I can't make that happen for others, I can just talk about my own experiences and my own journey, which is what I've been doing this whole time. And maybe the fact that people haven't gotten that, means I haven't been clear or loud ENOUGH. I think most of us, radical as we may be, could do MUCH more. 
I am happy to have found traditions of Witchcraft lately that fully embrace our role as Witches in creating change for the world, which again I think many Pagans and Witches already do, but they either don't know that it "counts" as politics or activism or social justice because we don't always talk about it in those terms, or they're afraid to name it, because maybe they don't want to sound like a radical "SJW" as you said. Maybe they don't want to get made fun of online for it. But if you don't want change, you don't do magick. If you don't want a better, more just world, if you don't have ideas about a better way of living, I'm not sure what people are doing with their religious views at all... Because that IS the way we see the world and how we think it should be, or we'd believe something else. Some people in this world cling to a religious identity but don't truly live its principles, but THAT is something that is not widespread in Paganism. And that's probably because many of us weren't raised in it, we found it, and we consciously chose to follow it. We typically do something about our beliefs. You revere nature? You work to protect it. That means everyday practices like conserving energy and water, not littering, not polluting, but it also means supporting environmental protection efforts, signing petitions, donating to causes doing the work you support, maybe taking part in community impact like cleaning up the beach. Pagans are usually people who DO things based on their worldview. We don't only sit home and pray about it. We go out into the world and make it a better place, we design ritual to change our consciousness and the way we see the world because we understand that when we change the way we see the world, the world around us changes. We know how magick works. We are change-makers. 
Or, we're not. 
Lots of people will continue to do nothing and be complicit because they don't see anything wrong to change, and that's their own journey, but that's not me. Once you see it, you can't unsee it. I've seen it my whole life, I just didn't know anything was wrong. So I get that. A lot of people are there. But please don't try to tell me it's not my place, or doesn't fit with what I do on my channel... It is everything to do with my channel. All my identities, all my life experiences. It's everything, and everywhere. 
Those who can't see that, it makes sense that they also don't see it in the world around them. And vice versa--if they don't see it as a problem in the world, of course they wouldn't notice it in my channel, in my work. That makes sense. But as you said, it's about your worldview. If you don't see it, YOU don't see it. That doesn't mean it's not there, everywhere, permeating our culture. If anything, it just proves it. It's so ingrained, we don't even notice it anymore. Until we do. 
Taking a deep breath... Honoring that you have been watching and supporting my channel this whole time... without realizing that you apparently fundamentally disagree with why I do this work, the whole time... That feels very raw for me, I imagine it feels weird for you, too. So just offering gratitude for the situation that you are even here to have heard what I've been saying for years, and acceptance that it is always up to you whether to actually hear/see it. 

There are so many more examples I could give to this discussion...

Part of revering nature and wanting to protect the environment for me is also my choice to be Vegan. Very few of us talk about that, because what we eat is such a charged topic for people. I remember years ago talking on The Pagan Perspective about whether Pagans are required to be vegetarian, and saying no, of course it's not a requirement for your beliefs the way that some religions have actual dietary requirements or other lifestyle restrictions (which plenty of people break anyway). But for me, not eating meat is a change I wanted to make as a child, but my family was in charge of what I ate and made me eat meat. As soon as I graduated from college, moved out and became solely responsible for buying my own food, I went Vegan. I personally don't see that choice as separate from my environmental work, from bettering life for creatures on this planet whether human or non-human animals (for we are animals, too, and what makes us more important?), or from dismantling systems of oppression and abuse--ALL forms of oppression and abuse. This is something I've been thinking about a lot as I read more about Witches who work for justice, specifying "ALL forms of justice, dismantling ALL forms of oppression and abuse", but all of it is focused on humans and the planet, the Earth itself and the plant life, with only a side note for the animals, as though they aren't part of the inhabitants of the planet and the environment. I even did it above in my response to that person, talking about revering nature and I only talked about the planet itself... Even I, as a Vegan, still have ingrained programming that makes us forget to talk about the animals in the main discussion. That's a powerful realization in and of itself. And I know people will  be tempted to say that focusing on that means we don't care about the injustice against humans. That's not true at all. We can care about MANY issues at once, and think they are ALL important, and do work toward as many of them as we can. ALL forms of justice. Against ALL systems of oppression and abuse.

Which brings me back to the idea that some people seem to think justice is not applied to religion. It takes me back to the YouTube Project For Awesome in 2014. P4A is an annual event created by the Vlogbrothers, Hank and John Green, where people create videos about a non-profit cause of their choice and upload it to YouTube, and fill out a form to have it be part of the official Project for Awesome website. Then everyone watches them, likes and comments on them, donates directly to the cause if they want to, over the course of a few days, and at the end, the videos with the most interactions get some of the money raised by P4A itself. It's a pretty cool thing the Vlogbrothers put together to get people involved in learning about causes, and an easy way to learn about causes others care about and donate to them if you can. The reason I think of this is that you can make your video about ANY non-profit organization, so one year, after I had been working closely with Pentacles of Pride, International, an organization based in Arkansas, I made my video for P4A about them. Pentacles of Pride's main project is sending free pentacle charms to anyone who requests one, because we know that pentacles are a minority faith symbol that isn't as readily available to people, and sometimes they can be expensive. So, even though they are not the ONLY symbol used by Pagans, of course--it largely depends on the path you follow--Pentacles of Pride decided to send simple pentacle charms to those who wanted a symbol of their faith and couldn't otherwise obtain one. Of course, they had to buy the charms, and they pay for the shipping. So donations to them mainly go toward helping pay for the charms themselves, and to pay for shipping them, because they ship anywhere in the world. Some of their other projects, which I mentioned in the video I made (linked above), include interfaith temples, funding scholarships, and publishing anthologies of Pagan stories/experiences.

I was really proud of the video I made about the organization, and I listed it in the section of P4A that was for Religious/Spiritual non-profits. It may have been a miscellaneous category, I can't remember now, but I do remember checking it out and finding that someone else did a video about an Atheist non-profit that sounded really cool, so I went to leave that person a comment about how I liked their video, and saw the comments other people were leaving them. Other people, other Nerdfighters... people from this online community who are all about Decreasing World Suck, were saying things like "This video doesn't belong on here. This issue isn't as important as other causes." Someone else actually said "Religious organizations don't belong on here, P4A is more for important things like hunger and clean water." No one was saying those things weren't important, as there were hundreds of videos already about those causes. I was surprised. We're a community of nerds who fight for the things we love, and fight to Decrease World Suck. The non-profit is called The Foundation to Decrease World Suck. Why did these people think that hating on someone for their views was appropriate or necessary, or in any way decreasing the amount that the world sucks? They clearly forgot to be awesome that day, which is the exact thing Nerdfighters strive NOT to do. DFTBA = Don't Forget To Be Awesome... it's the reason I say it at the end of all my videos as part of my closing statement, and here was this community that is all about making the world better and learning about causes, saying this religious organization wasn't important enough, that this person's identity as an Atheist was so unimportant that they shouldn't have made a video about a cause they care about, that they had a personal connection to, that helps improve their world... What would they say about my video about Pentacles of Pride, International?

Obviously wanting to be taken seriously as a religious minority, not wanting to get hatred every day from family, school staff, peers, strangers at the grocery store, etc., are not the same as fundamental needs like clean water, providing education, and battling hunger across our country and across the globe. But that doesn't mean being part of a minority religious identity doesn't affect people. I mean, clearly, people think it's not important enough to talk about... That shows some prejudice and privilege right there. People think religion isn't part of the discussion of justice, even though religion is where a lot of people first get their ideas of justice. This person had a strong personal connection with this non-profit that no one else was talking about, so they made a video to get the info out there, just like I did with my personal connection to Pentacles of Pride. Hundreds of people made videos for Water.org and other big causes that we had all already heard of because they have been P4A causes for years... To tell some people that their choice to expose people to a little-known, minority faith (or no-faith) organization, "didn't belong" and "wasn't important"... is... not awesome. And it goes right back to that idea that if we care about one thing, like being taken seriously in our religion and spirituality, it somehow means we don't care about clean water and sustainable resources and educating children across the globe. We do care about those things... (In fact, as a Nature-reverent, Earth-based Pagan, those things are PART of my religious and spiritual path and experience, not separate from it.) That's why, in life, we contribute to as many causes as we care about. No one said we were picking one over the whole, but lots of people like to make that argument as a way of making someone's cause seem lesser. Our hearts are big. Our love is infinite. There IS enough to care about ALL THE THINGS. Just because someone wants to say "Hey, I have this other experience that not a lot of other people know about or take seriously, and I thought you might like to add it to the list of things you know about so maybe it can help", does NOT mean they are saying "Hey my experience is way more important than all those other experiences in the world and you should only listen to me."

WHICH brings me to another example of a Pagan operating in privilege that came to mind while writing the above response to that I didn't go into: there once was a straight male Pagan commenting on my video about gay male Pagans/the stereotype that men in Paganism are gay, who attested that people never assume male Pagans are gay, because it's never happened to him. In his mind, because it has never happened to him personally, that meant it never happens, and I must have been lying or making it up. This is a problem that many people have. We think that our experience speaks for everyone's reality, and it doesn't. Thinking it does, is a form of privilege. The video I did on that subject was actually requested by multiple male Pagans who watched my videos, who have personally encountered the stereotype that men in Paganism are gay--they are heterosexual, but had experienced that some people, when learning that they were Pagan, assumed they were also homosexual--and they wanted to hear my thoughts on it. That is a stereotype I had seen and heard for YEARS, since I was about 12 and first studying Wicca, so when people asked me to talk about it, I thought sure, I have experienced that stereotype floating around enough that I can talk about it a little. For someone to say it's fake, a lie, or never happens because it hasn't happened to them, is an example of privilege. Just because something doesn't happen to you doesn't give you the right to claim others are lying about their own experiences. I'm not a male Pagan, so that stereotype has never been put on me, but I know it happens to others. I concluded that perhaps it makes a difference if you know the exact paths these men follow...

The stereotype that Pagan men are gay often is leveled at Wiccan practitioners, I've noticed, perhaps because of the fact that many people in the general public only know Wicca and Witches as examples of Paganism, and there is a stereotype that those paths are "for women." But Norse paths are more associated with Viking warriors, typically thought of as very masculine and made up of mostly men. There is not as much stereotype of those men's sexuality. Druids, similarly. I have not specifically heard people offering the stereotype that Druids are gay because of their path. Both Norse paths and Druid paths, while we know they are not specific to any gender, are generally stereotyped as pretty male-centric paths, having mostly male practitioners, etc. We know this isn't true today... It's a false stereotype. But it may explain why a straight, male member of one of those paths has never been faced with the stereotype that his Pagan path makes him gay. Because people don't have that stereotype of paths they see as heavily masculine or male-centered, only of paths that are stereotypically seen as "feminine" and made up of mainly "women." So we see how it might work, from one person's point of view to another's. But to say that the men who asked me to talk about the topic because it happens to them all the time, are lying about it, or that I'm lying about it and made it up, because this other person has never had it happen to them... is it's own kind of closed-minded. And it could be related to a discussion of privilege and social justice--if you don't believe something negative/harmful is happening, you aren't very likely to work toward helping it not happen anymore. It can also be used in a discussion of intersectionality, because all the men in this example are Pagan, and all identify as Men. But it makes a difference which path they follow--a Norse Pagan man, or a Druid Pagan man, and a Wiccan man, have different stereotypes leveled at them, and different experiences of the world. The intersection of their identities and experiences makes a big difference in how each of them are treated, how they treat others, and how they see the world. But for one to say the other is lying about those experiences because they are different, is unjust, and plain incorrect. Just because something doesn't happen to us personally, doesn't mean it doesn't happen.

There are many more examples, but you've got the idea by now.

This is stuff that we, as Pagans, as Witches, talk about all the time. How people see us, how we see each other, how we treat ourselves and others as a result. This is about prejudice, it's about stereotype, it's about justice and compassion and equity in our affairs, it's about political identities, and it's about social change.

Magick is about change. It is the art of creating change. Of changing consciousness. At will.

We are change-makers.

"She changes everything She touches and everything She touches changes."

"When we change the way we see the world, the world we see changes."

"What happens between the Worlds changes all the Worlds."

"Be the change you wish to see..."

These are not ideals for people who don't want change. Who don't want progress. Who don't have ideas of a better world. These are tenants of those who seek to create substantial change, not resist change or be complicit with systems in power simply because we were born into them.

(As a side note, anyone who was raised in a majority/Abrahamic faith and consciously chose to begin following Paganism of any kind, or any other minority faith, is already someone who consciously chose Change rather than be complicit with the system in power that they were born into. You are magickal. Don't tell me you're not able to change the world. You already did.)

In the interest of intersectionality and knowing that this is not everyone's path, I do want to say here that I know not all Pagans are Witches. Not all Witches identify as Pagans. Not all Pagans do magick or spellcraft outside the magick inherent in their rituals. And maybe their rituals are for change, maybe they aren't; maybe they're purely for celebrating the holidays or communing with the gods. Maybe the gods never challenge some of us to change, maybe they don't ask us to help change the world, to be better people, to treat others better, to dismantle oppressive systems. Maybe they don't. So that is up to everyone's individual path. It is each of our decision to answer the call, or to listen for it in the first place.

But for those of us whose path is about change, who do care about social justice, and fighting injustice and oppression, I don't believe we should shy away from that. And maybe I've been too quiet, too unclear, about who I am and what all my work has been for. Maybe not. But just in case,

I am a Witch.

I am a change-maker.

My path is not about sitting still, never changing, never making progress.
My path is not about not believing other people, or saying they're wrong, or lying, because I haven't yet or never will experience what they have.

I was long ago called to understand, and to help others understand.
We can't always fully understand, we can't be in someone else's shoes, but we can listen to them. We can believe them. We can take their experience into account, knowing we will NEVER have the exact same experience as someone else and that's why their view matters. Because with it, we have a fuller picture of reality than we would with just our own.

My path is not about denying other people's experiences.
My path is about recognizing the role I play in the world, and how I can better understand it, and change it when I need to, to create the change I really want to see.

So many people now are doing intense inner work to improve themselves and the world around them and their relations with others, to remove blockages, and traumas, and old behavioral patterns that hold us back. They aren't all billed as Witchy practices, or as religious or spiritual at all, but they are absolutely the same as the work Witches do. As I do. Maybe not all Witches are doing that work. That's their own decision. But it's important work, that I think we should all be doing at some point. Just not until you're ready. I wasn't ready for a long time, myself. Now, even though I am ready, there are aspects I'm not ready for. It's a long process, and a lot of work.

My path is about doing the work.
My path is about being ready to not be ready.
My path is about showing up.
Learning everything I can. Deciding how it applies to me.

My path is about struggling with things I don't think are for me until I learn the lesson I need to learn. My path is about not immediately saying "no" to someone's experience because I disagree, but sitting with it until I decide whether it's for me, whether it's good work, whether I need to create a change. And if it's not... then saying "no."

I understand--I have to continually remind myself--that this, to be a Witch, is not the same idea shared by all Witches or Pagans. But it is what I believe we are here for, whether it takes us years to realize it and start to do the work or not. It took me years. It takes years, it takes lifetimes.

There are whole groups of Witches and Pagans who understand that we can create substantial change, and we have a responsibility to do so for the better, to help the world and its creatures and peoples, not hinder them. These groups do so much, and every day we recognize that we choose the work we will do, but that there is always more to do. And maybe one day we will add on that further work, and maybe we will let others head it up while we continue doing ours. But it's all good work, all important work.

There are also groups of Witches and Pagans who honestly do nothing but dress up, call the quarters, and gossip together. I know, because I've been to some of those circles. They don't care about change, they talk about the same things every time, complain about the same things, never considering that they could actually do something about it instead. Through witnessing those kinds of groups, I quickly learned that Witchcraft and magick that aren't seeking to do anything to create positive change are not for me. Make no mistake, Witches are change-makers, and that means potential to create change... But not all of us are actually doing that. Again, that's their journey.

But it's not mine.

I hope I've made things a little more clear.



I wrote this post weeks ago, originally. I'm publishing it today and wanted to offer a few other thoughts that came up last night/today.

  • First, a link to the programming schedule of this year's Paganicon, the Pagan convention in Minnesota. A friend reminded me of this event yesterday, and I can't help but notice how much of the programming--the rituals, the panel discussions, the workshops--is rooted in social justice and political work. As you look through it, you'll see content relating to creating healthy boundaries, addressing issues of abuse and related things in our communities (similar to what we recently talked about on Pagan Perspective), looking at paths through a queer perspective, a Pagan recovery meeting (remember one of the suggestions with Selena Fox's talk? Some people are already doing it!), discussing the role that colonization has on the way we view indigenous practices, viewing the Goddess through more than just physical biology/having a uterus, making spaces more welcoming to trans individuals, Self Love work (which is radical in itself in a society that profits off us not liking ourselves), the dangers of cult mindsets and how to watch out for unhealthy religious groups, death midwifery (another suggestion someone had in Selena's talk and which people are already implementing in a Pagan framework), cultural identity, and many more including things actually titled "Tarot and Social Justice" and "Political Magick." And this is just one year at one event. These things have a place in Paganism.
  • I checked my email today and found SJ Tucker's most recent email update. In addition to talking about her newly released songs this month and the fact that she is performing at Paganicon next month, she also mentions in the email that this weekend is her birthday (Feb 22), and if people want to do something nice for her birthday, she suggested that we donate to a group fighting to save the White River Bridge in Clarendon, Arkansas, and preserve it as a walking and bike path. Here is SJ, a Pagan singer-songwriter and musician, encouraging folks to give to a local conservation effort that is important to her personally. Her email says, "Their next official court date, to fight for the conservation of the old bridge as a pedestrian and bike path, just happens to be on my birthday, February 22nd. Let’s give them a boost! Learn more about the organization and their conservation efforts here: http://www.whiteriverbridge.org/ " This is political. This is people going to court, fighting for things that matter to them, to maintain something good for their community.

Just more things to think about. Thanks again for reading. I'm sure there will be more in the future, but this post is long enough for today. =)

Blessings x2~

20 January, 2018

Moon Sign Datebook: My First Impressions

Hey, there!

This blog post is a companion to my video review of the 2018 Moon Sign Datebook, giving my first impressions of it as I prepare to work with it this year. I also plan to do a fuller review at the end of the year, to share any further insight after working with it for the whole year.

I'm writing this blog post in addition to the video for two reasons:
1) So that people can choose to read this text summary rather than listen to/watch the video.
2) I can add updates here, as I've continued looking things up and adding information to my planner since the video was recorded and edited.

A couple disclaimers:
  • To begin with, I do not have an overall bias against Llewellyn Publishing. There are many Pagan/Witchy books on my bookshelf that I consider awesome resources, which bear the iconic Waxing Crescent logo. That said, I am aware that many people do not like Llewellyn because they also publish things that are poorly researched and/or rife with misinformation. Unfortunately, the Moon Sign Datebook appears to be one of those things.
  • The back cover of the Moon Sign Datebook says that it is a companion to the Moon Sign Book. I have never read completely through a Moon Sign Book, so I don't know if some of the information that is missing from the datebook is in the Book itself. For the purposes of this review and my work with it this year, I am treating the Moon Sign Datebook as its own, self-contained item.

Basic features of the planner:
  • Page toward the front listing Eclipses, Solstices & Equinoxes, and Mercury Retrograde/Direct dates and times. This page also has a Symbols key so you know which Zodiac symbol stands for which sign, Moon phase symbols, and that V/C stands for Void of Course.
  • Tabs at the start of each month making finding that month easier.
  • Full monthly calendar view, followed by weekly views with daily spaces for planning.
  • Random Moon info and interesting history, etc. interspersed throughout.
  • Monthly "At-A-Glance" sections list brief interpretations of the Full and New Moons, as well as more detailed info for gardening by the Moon.
  • Printed in Eastern Time. Already adjusted for Daylight Savings Time.

Now, into the specifics of things I noticed...
  • The definitions of terms included are incorrect or incomplete. For example, only the popular misunderstanding (the "new definition" that most people know) of a Blue Moon is included, which is expected, but they don't talk about the original definition or the history of how the new definition came to be. I like to have all the available information and make my own decisions as to what has meaning for my practice. This only gives you the popular definition. And the definition of a Void of Course Moon given is incorrect.  (Check out the links at the end of this post to learn more!)
  • As mentioned above, the datebook is printed in Eastern Time only. If you are in another time zone, you have to adjust all times for your time zone yourself. There is a World Time Zone map and conversion chart to help with this, but it's still extra work to do on your own.
  • Doesn't explain what the notations "1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th" on all the days are. I figured out by looking at the phases that they are breaking the Moon cycle into 4 quarters, so every day from the New Moon to First Quarter says "1st", every day from the First Quarter to Full Moon says "2nd", and so on. But it doesn't explain that anywhere. (Not sure if these things are explained in the Moon Sign Book or not. This was just the first thing I noticed that I was confused about and had to figure out myself.)
  • Times are included for when the Moon goes Void of Course (Eastern time, UTC -5).
    • Times are NOT included for when the Moon enters the next sign (so I'm looking that up and writing it in myself). As a result of this, some of the signs printed on the days are misleading--not WRONG, per se, but since they don't tell you when the Moon changes signs, it can be confusing. For example, one day might say Cancer, but the Moon moved into Leo at 1am that day. So Cancer is printed on that day, even though it's Leo for most of the day. If you're trying to align your magick with a certain Moon Sign, you might need or want to know when the Moon changed signs, and this doesn't tell you that.
    • In the Gardening sections in the Month At-A-Glance, it does list the times the Moon entered and left each sign. But that's the only place it does so. I almost didn't notice, because I'm not going to be using it much for gardening. It seems strange that they'd have the info there, but not do it for every time throughout the year. Maybe two different people were in charge of those sections of the datebook. Who knows?
    • Most of the Void of Course times are correct so far. At the time of uploading the video and writing this blog post, I've double checked and added times the Moon entered signs for January through May. So far, I've come across one Void of Course time that was wrong (should be 1:59 AM and the datebook says 10:59 PM--I double checked on multiple other websites to be sure), and one V/C time that wasn't printed at all--it got skipped. Seems like the editors weren't looking closely.

  • Also since the signs are sometimes notated in a misleading way, it doesn't say what sign each Full and New/Dark Moon is in. Example: If the Moon is in Pisces in the morning, and it says there's a Full Moon that evening, you may think that Full Moon is in Pisces. But if the Moon moved into Aries in the afternoon, that Full Moon is actually a Full Moon in Aries. Maybe not a huge deal for everyone, but if you're trying to align your magick with specific astrological signs, this makes a difference--Pisces energy and Aries energy are not the same. So again, knowing when the Moon entered each sign makes a difference, and those times aren't listed.
  • Eclipses are notated in Month At-A-Glance areas, and on the reference page in the front of the planner, but not on the days in the weekly view. Not a huge deal, but if you want to see them all on every day you have to put them there yourself. It says whether it's a Full Moon on the days, of course, but it doesn't say that that Full Moon is also an Eclipse, for example.
  • Solstices and Equinoxes are noted in the reference page at the front of the datebook, and in the daily/weekly view. Times for them are not noted anywhere. Maybe because they're Solar events, not Lunar? *shrugs* The Eclipse times and astrological degrees are listed, but Solstice/Equinox times are not. Just thought that was interesting.
  • Major Moon Phases (Full, New/Dark, First Quarter, Third/Last Quarter) which are specifically noted in the weekly view on the appropriate day, are not marked in the monthly view at all. Most wall calendars you can get at the store include symbols for these major phases, so I was really surprised that this datebook doesn't put them in the monthly views at all. In fact, nothing is on the monthly views. You have to add the major Moon phases, solstices & equinoxes, etc. yourself.
  • Another thing I expected to find in something with "Moon Sign" in the title was for it to tell you what it means when the Moon is in each sign of the Zodiac. The Full/New Moon snippets in the At-A-Glance sections are probably created with the sign in mind, but it doesn't correctly list them all in the weekly view (as I already mentioned) and it doesn't tell you what they mean so that you can come up with your own meanings, or apply it to your work for that Moon. To be fair, the back cover lists some major features of the datebook, and it never claims to tell you what the signs mean. That's just something I expected based on the item's title.

Overall First Impression:

As of right now, I don't recommend this item. I specifically don't recommend it to anyone outside the Eastern US time zone (UTC -5), because you have to redo all the times yourself anyway, and I'm already having to look up and add in all the other things that the datebook doesn't include even for Eastern time. You'd be better off buying whatever planner you want--even a blank, inexpensive one--and adding it all in yourself, since you have to redo everything regardless. I also don't recommend this to beginners. The introduction in the datebook says that they've always intended these books to be suitable for beginners all the way up to experience practitioners, but now that I've had a chance to look at it, see all the things that are left out, the incorrect definitions, and so on, I wouldn't recommend it to someone who wants to use it to begin learning about Moon Magick or how it relates to the Zodiac signs. At the end of this post (and in the description of the video) you'll find links to resources where you can learn more, find Void of Course times and times the Moon enters each sign for multiple time zones, etc.

At the end of the day, this item is a planner, and it can be used as a regular everyday planner. It has monthly and weekly views, tabs for ease of finding months, and space to write it notes and appointments. However, you can find that in any basic planner. You don't necessarily need this one, especially since it's rather misleading more often than not. I will be using this planner all year--with all my corrections, additions, and added charts and tables for the information I feel is necessary--so it will certainly get used, but I wouldn't give it to a student of mine as it stands right now.

Have you used the Moon Sign Book before? What do you think of them?

Links for Further Research:

Blue Moon

Black Moon

Void of Course Times, Tables, & Calendars

https://www.lunarium.co.uk/articles/void-of-course.jsp (Lunarium.com article explaining Void of Course Moon)

https://www.lunarium.co.uk/calendar/universal.jsp (Lunarium calendar--You can adjust for your own time zone and generate a calendar for any month from 1900 to 2020. It uses symbols instead of words, but there's a key at the bottom to tell you what you're looking for.)

https://www.moontracks.com/void_of_course_moon_dates.html (MoonTracks table--You can adjust these for your time zone, but it's only available for the current month and following month, so you'd have to do it every couple months. These also don't adjust for Daylight Savings, just the time zone at Standard Time.)

https://www.astrologybyjudithryan.com/2018-void-of-course-moon (Full tables for Eastern Time for all of 2018. Already adjusted for Daylight Savings, but you have to calculate for other Time Zones yourself.)

https://www.moontracks.com/cgi-bin/astrology-calendar.pl (MoonTracks calendar covers the whole year and lists V/C times, the time the Moon enters each sign, and the times every other planet/the Sun enters a new sign. But... it's in Pacific Standard Time. So you have to adjust. This is the one I've been using mostly, and triple checking with the one above, since it's in my time zone already.)


If you're interested in learning more about how I work with the Moon in my practice, I'm working on a Moon Phase Magick course to offer this year. My friend gifting me this datebook was, in my book, a message from the Universe to get my butt in gear and get my courses ready! Until then, you can join this Facebook group I created to keep updated on any courses I offer related to the Moon, and I'll be posting articles and other resources there, as well. =)


Thank you for reading!


19 December, 2017

Trust & Who We Are

Hey, Readers,

Have you ever noticed people whose energies and personalities seem totally out of line with what they say they do?

I have. In the past, and again today, a similar thing.

In college, for instance, one of my friends and I got into a course that was usually for Nursing students only, because it fulfilled a core requirement we needed and overlapped with our studies in theatre. It was a course on bioethics and how narratives (theatre, fictional stories, non-fictional accounts, etc.) can help have difficult conversations about ethics in medicine. So it was myself, and one of my theatre friends, in a class full of people who were studying to be Nurses.

Long story short, not only did half of the Nurses-to-be in the class have poor attitudes and not seem to care at all about other people's needs, but a few of them actually actively fought back against having to learn about other people's views and needs, arguing that the Western medical system always knows best and everyone needs to just deal with it.

Needless to say, I hope no one I know ever ends up with such uncompassionate nursing care. But it's out there. There are a ton of people in fields like that because the medical field makes money, and has a certain amount of prestige. Thankfully there are also those out there who are amazingly caring and compassionate, and passionate about their work helping people--PEOPLE, not just names on clipboards, not just means to a paycheck. One such nurse is a friend of mine who also happens to be a High Priestess. Another is my partner's mother, who recently retired from many, many years caring for people. A third, though not a Nurse but a Nurse's Aid, is my mother. My mother cares deeply about people, who they really are, what they really want and need.

But, this isn't about Nurses. That was just an example, one of the more startling experiences I had, in that classroom with these people who were meant to care about people and flat out refused to do so. This is about people whose personalities make them seem out of place with what they're doing. Nurses who don't care about people seems a little odd, if the way you think of nurses is as people who care for others. Care-givers. Nurturers. Nurturers who don't nurture? Seems like maybe something else would be more suited to their personality and views, right?

Today I came across a pair of women in a restaurant, one of whom was wearing a very Eastern style necklace, with a chakra lotus charm and the Om in the center. When I see things like this, I think, "Hey, my people!" What I mean is, "people who are interested in/know about the same things I do!" But despite this, I feel a knot in my chest, closing my heart chakra area. As I've learned from my previous work this year, this is the area through which I feel the most.

I quickly realized that these women, including the one wearing the necklace, didn't actually know what they were talking about. I see this a lot, especially with people who get into Yoga though classes recommended by their friends, classes which don't teach principles of Yoga in an Eastern way, don't teach history, or really any form of practice beyond he physical asanas. And they definitely don't talk about the Deities involved.

(Some classes do. I've been to some. But some definitely don't, and you can tell when those are the only classes someone has been to. A while ago I had a conversation with a woman I had gotten to know over a few months, and I knew she was into Yoga and practiced it regularly. One day we got into a conversation in which it was revealed that she never knew several pretty basic things about the practice's background or origin. She said her classes hadn't taught that. I'm not surprised, given that many classes are taught by people who took 200-hour training from another teacher who wasn't taught the background in their 200-hour training, either. 200 hours is about 8 days total... Think about that. Study of Witchcraft recommends a year and a day before you even decide whether it's right for you, a minimum of 365 days to even reach the point when a coven will consider having you join, before they begin teaching you... And people today get to the point where they're certified to teach Yoga without knowing about it's history or meaning, in the equivalent of a little over one week's total time. But I digress... this isn't about Yoga, either.)


The women are discussing. They don't know how to pronounce any of the things they're talking about. They're getting things slightly wrong. I don't want to correct them and sound like a know-it-all, even though we had just been talking moments before. But then--THANK YOU, INTERNET--one of them realizes they're not sure how to pronounce something and pulls out her smartphone to check. They start looking up and reading about Reiki (RAY-key), energy work, chakras (they learn that it means "wheel" in Sanskrit), and I'm proud. I'm happy these women are taking the initiative to learn about something more fully, looking up pronunciations when they realize "Oh I've only read this before, I've never said or heard it out loud, I don't know how to say it." I'm kicking myself for forgetting my bracelets this morning because I would have loved to talk about my chakra bracelets with them, and I start thinking I'll recommend my favorite chakra website that I use so they can learn more. I start to wonder what my heart constriction was all about, because this is great!

Then, in the middle of telling her friend about healing rays of light that help people fight depression, Lotus Necklace woman becomes a huge jerk.

She starts complaining about the food her friend is eating. It looks bad. It looks wrong. Her friend seems fine with it, continuing to eat. But the woman continues to get angry. She yells at the server, who immediately removes the food and offers the woman who ordered it another meal free of charge. That woman says no, that it's okay, she'd just like some new bread, but the rest of the meal is fine and she'll keep it. This takes place. Shortly after, Lotus Necklace gets back up and returns her friend's whole meal, saying it's horrible, she tasted it and she's not letting her friend eat it, and they're not paying for it. They are told that the charge was already removed, and they are happy to provide another meal for free, the bread she asked for was provided, what else would she like instead? The woman kept insisting that she didn't want anything, her meal was fine. But Lotus Necklace said "No, we don't have TIME for you to make a whole new meal for her." She spooned her own meal onto her friend's plate and made her eat that. (I don't know about you, but if my friends try to mess with my food, they've got another thing coming.)

The server is in the back talking to the chef, who is crying. Not about the returned food, about something else, because she was crying before... but this probably isn't making her feel any better.

Meanwhile, back at the table, Lotus Necklace is talking sweetly about her grandkids and upcoming holiday plans. But when the server returns, she's surly and biting. She snaps, "Of course it's one check, there was only one meal!" I might point out that this was quite a long time after the initial issue. Plenty of time for the restaurant to have made them another meal. Or they could have taken it to-go. But, oh well, some people would rather be bitter and try to justify the anger they already have within them, than be willing to accept a correction of a mistake.

I've worked in food service, and I can tell you, some people really do think the old adage "the customer is always right" (which is bullshit, by the way) is a license to be an asshole. At least we know this person wasn't just out for free food, because she repeatedly refused the free meal for her friend. And her poor friend just wanted to eat! Yikes.

So why am I blogging about this?

Two reasons. One, when our energy field picks up on something, it may not be clear immediately, but we need to trust it. My energy field knew something was wrong right away, but the outer circumstances seemed inky, and then much better, so I thought I had misinterpreted my body's own sign. But finally, the truth revealed. This woman, for all her talk about healing energy, and her attempts to begin to learn, still has a long way to go. And the energy she was in--of Anger, of Spite--is not the energy she was just teaching her friend about minutes before. It seems, like the uncaring nurses, out of place. And that's the second reason I'm blogging about this: because some people might wear the jewelry, might go to the classes, might look up the correct pronunciations, but they still don't necessarily comprehend the values. They haven't done the work--either they're so new they haven't done it yet, or they've been doing this for a while and still just don't get it, haven't gotten to a place of their own inner progress. Which reminds me of a video a posted this week, "When We Don't Change." When I say these things, I'm never claiming that I've mastered them. I'm noticing patterns in myself and others around me, noticing when our behaviors, thoughts, and words clash with what we say we believe, the work we say we're doing.

Scott Cunningham included in his "Goals of a Witch" that we must keep our thoughts in good order, and keep our words in good order. Think before we speak, and after we speak. Pay attention to what we're doing versus what we're saying. I have a blog about my interpretations of those goals, as well. (In looking back at that post, this topic touches on several goals... or all of them!)

I am partially blogging about this to say that it bothers me. And I'm not always sure if it should. Why does it bother me when I catch people talking about certain topics--like energy work, healing, chakras, meditation, these things that are so much about Self evaluation and Self-healing--and then learn that they don't embody those teachings at all? Is this because I think I'm better? Is it that I take offense? Is it unreasonable to expect people who preach such things to try to make an effort, not just in their yoga space, but in all aspects of their lives? I don't think so. But I don't pretend to know who people are outside of the short interactions I may have with them. In the video linked above I talk about people I've had interactions with over many months or years, and can observe their words and behaviors a little more. In this instance today, I only have this instance as a mirror of what this woman is like in public around strangers. Maybe it was a bad day? Who knows? I have bad days, but even on my worst days I don't think I act that way. I hope I don't. Either way, I do tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, sometimes too often. People have actually told me I offer the benefit of the doubt to many who don't deserve it.

Wasn't it Maya Angelou who said "When people show you who they are, believe them"?

I think I need to be a little better at that. Trusting my gut, my instinct, my intuition... and trusting that when people show us who they are, that is who they are. And I do wish people who claim to work on such inner-peace and balancing type work would actually do it. Not saying you have to be perfect, because no one is, I'm not. But. At least try to do the actual work. That's all I ask.

This has come up for me a lot in the past couple weeks, and I've seen others post about similar things coming up for them, or with people around them. How about you? Noticing anything like this coming into your awareness lately?


03 December, 2017

Dissociation & Sub-Typing

Hey again, Readers,

I was writing a blog post about generalization and seeing other groups as one big group that believes all the same (outgroup homogeneity) while simultaneously seeing our own groups as diverse and made up of unique individuals. I wrote too much for one cohesive blog post, but I wanted to talk more about another aspect of this kind of thing, which is dissociation. Here's a recap from the other post:
When members of our groups do something we disagree with, we might dissociate from them, saying they're not representative of the whole group, or aren't actually members of the group at all. (And sometimes this is true.) Or we put them into a sub-type. Sub-typing is one of the reasons stereotypes persist as long as they do, because when one stereotype is revealed as not actually being true of the whole group, we just add a sub-type! Instead of saying "Hmm, this must not be true," we say, "Oh this is true of the group, but this individual is part of this sub-type, over here, which is different in these ways..." 
Human beings love stereotypes so much that we'd rather create more, smaller, more specific ones, than admit that a stereotype can't possibly be true of a whole group. We are silly.

Now that we're caught up, I want to talk about dissociation and sub-typing.

If a group is highly varied, then it probably has sub-types. Paganism is a large group containing many paths under its larger community title. In our case, sub-types might be thought of as the different types of paths within Paganism. So we can have stereotypes about Pagans as a WHOLE, and sub-types that explain why not all Pagans fit those stereotypes. On the other hand, if a group largely agrees on something and some members (or a very small fringe group) have a different view, we might instead dissociate from them, explaining that they are not core members and do not speak for everyone.

For example: If I have a stereotype of Pagans as all being Nature-reverent, and then someone comes along who says they're Pagan and doesn't give a crap about Nature, I might dissociate from them, saying they're really a minority view but MOST of us are in fact nature-reverent. We might even think that person isn't really Pagan, but something else entirely. It depends on how important that stereotypical characteristic is to us in our definition of our group identity. However, if I already know there's a whole group within Paganism, or multiple groups, which are not focused on Nature as part of their path, then I can go for the sub-type, saying "Oh yeah they're Pagan, too, they're just part of this specific path that focuses more on Deity than Nature." Or whatever the case may be.

It depends on who you know, in a way. And it depends on who you like. Because we tend to know more about, and have more positive feelings and thoughts toward groups we like and get more familiar with. This is why we say education and exposure are such key parts of prejudice reduction.

This reminds me of a specific example from my life:

At a discussion in Arkansas at one of the Universities there, with Pentacles of Pride, International, I went around asking members of the Pagan group in attendance what they consider their path. One person there identified as a Satanist. When talking about dissociation, I asked them how they felt about the fact that so many people still begin explaining their Pagan, Wiccan, or Witchy path by saying "But I'm NOT a Satanist/Devil-worshiper" pretty much first thing. Their answer was that being a Satanist, they figure it pretty much comes with the territory, that deciding to be a Satanist means they just have to put up with that. And I think that's pretty much crap.

If we consider Satanists members of our community (which I do), and we know that they don't all even actually worship a Devil, why do so many of us still feel the need to defend ourselves by saying "Don't worry, I'm not a Satanist or anything"...? Think about it. What do the actual Satanists get to say? "Don't worry, I'm not a... Wait. Actually yes. I am the thing everyone else eases people's fears by saying they're not. That's me. Take it or leave it."

And maybe some people like that. Maybe some people enjoy the shock value, or scaring people. Some people DO actually get into Witchcraft because they want to look cool and feel powerful, we know that. So sure, maybe some Satanists don't care. But overall, as a community, I think we can do better.

How about we define ourselves by what we are, instead of what we're not?

Maybe I did the "I don't worship the Devil" thing when I was younger. I probably did. But I haven't done it in years. I don't need to. We don't need to. I talk about what I DO believe, what I do, how I personally define "Paganism" and what the major factors are for me. Probably 99% of the time, the Devil never need enter the conversation. That other 1% of the time, it's the other person saying something about "Wait, I thought that was all Devil-worshipers", and then, and only then, do I begin to explain that. It's too complicated of a subject to just bring up first thing and toss away in a one-liner. Besides, what if you're talking to someone who has actually never heard that stereotype, and you just put it into their heads? Yeah. Let's not do that.

That's just the biggest example I have to use, because it's something that so many people still continue to say when explaining their path to non-Pagans. It's one of the first things they say, and it's reinforcing a negative stereotype about a certain group of people within the community, in the hope that we will lessen the negative stereotypes about the parts of the community with which we identify.

It's pretty rude--

But it's not the only way we dissociate from people within our community. Try to think of other ways you have done this, or have seen or heard others do it, and think about who it's leaving behind. Sometimes it's the whole community dissociating from extremists who truly do not speak for us, any of us, wide variety and all. And that's probably as positive as it gets, because it attempts to ensure that reprehensible acts are not continually associated with our community based on the actions of an individual or small group who really isn't connected or embodying the community's beliefs. (The overall Pagan community speaking out against white supremacy comes to mind as a great example of when dissociation from people who claim to be part of our community is important.) But in other ways, like shunning Satanists, or Wiccans, or solitary practitioners of any path, or Christo-Pagans, or people who we think are only focused on the Dark, or people who we think are only focused on the Light (I love those, because people think they know everything a person does in their own practice and, they usually don't), or any number of groups that we casually dissociate from... We could actually be breaking our community further apart.

I'm not saying we have to believe all the things. Not gonna happen. I'm saying, instead of saying "We don't do that," maybe say "I don't do that, but some people do." Instead of erasing things we simply don't like, we can acknowledge that they do exist in our community. And if we don't actually know what other people do, the least we can do is make it clear that we only speak for ourselves.

Now, I'm talking about differences that don't actually harm anyone, like differences in beliefs in Deity, or the way we do ritual. But this can apply to actual harmful beliefs that exist in the community, as well. We don't have to pretend they don't exist. In fact, we shouldn't. As we've learned in United States politics recently, a lot of shitty beliefs still exist in our society, and we need to deal with it, not just act like it isn't there. If it really is something that needs to change, we need to change it, not ignore it. Talk about it. Transform it. If we don't, it'll just continue.

What do we do about dissociation, then?

As always, these are just my ideas. We can start to pay more attention and notice when we are tempted to dissociate from an individual or group. (I definitely do this. This isn't about never doing it, it's about noticing it and figuring out our reasons, to hopefully reduce it to only really necessary occurrences.) Ask ourselves questions about what we feel. What are we dissociating from, and why? Then, make sure that what we say matches the reality of the situation for us. I'm a Witch, and this is just an example, but let's say I dislike a group of Witches for some deep, moral reason. Then I might say "Yeah, I'm not like them. No way. I really disagree with what they do on a fundamental level because I believe this and they believe that and it doesn't sit well with me." If the difference between us is also hugely different from my overall definition of what a Witch is, I MIGHT even go so far as to question their Witchiness. (!!!) But if I feel the need to dissociate and upon inspection of my feelings I learn that it's just because I don't prefer the way they do their circle casting, then I might say "Yeah, we don't do things the same way, but that's true of Witches as a whole. We're a very diverse group. I do this, they do that. To each their own."

I think you get the point. =)

For me, this work is all about just trying to pay more attention, looking at why we react the way we do to certain things, and figuring out how understanding our reasons can help us look for strategies for reducing negative reactions, stereotypes, and prejudice.

If you didn't read my previous post, go ahead and do that!

Otherwise, I hope you have a great day. Thanks for reading.

Generalization: "ALL Witches" etc.

Hey, Readers,

After posting a miniature version of this post (really just introducing the ideas/thought process) on my Facebook Page, I'm happy and unsurprised to see that those who responded basically already get what I'm going to say here. Happy, because that's great! Unsurprised, because they're people who watch my videos and hear me talk about this stuff a lot, so it's really a "preaching to the choir" situation. Nevertheless, I hope some of this provides food for thought and gives a little more background.

For a quick recap, I mentioned that I get comments on my YouTube videos saying things like "Wiccans all think ____" or "Witches are all ____" or even "All Pagans ____". These are coming from someone outside whatever group they're commenting about. But then what gets me is that in the same comment, they'll talk about their own groups in a much less generalized way, talking about the diversity and variety that can exist in their group. This is something that happens a lot. We have a tendency to see our own groups as diverse and able to be different from one another while still part of the same group, and to see groups we aren't in as being made up of people who are all the same as each other (and very different from us).

There's a term for this in prejudice psychology: outgroup homogeneity. Our outgroups (groups that we do not identify with/that we are not a part of) seem like one big, homogenous group of people with no variety. We generalize them into people who all act, think, believe, or look the same. But since we know the groups that we are part of, we know how different they can be... because they're made up of real people... whose personalities and quirks we know well. And accept.

There's another side of this, which is dissociation. Or, related to this, we sub-type.

When members of our groups do something we disagree with, we might dissociate from them, saying they're not representative of the whole group, or aren't actually members of the group at all. (And sometimes this is true.) Or we put them into a sub-type. Sub-typing is one of the reasons stereotypes persist as long as they do, because when one stereotype is revealed as not actually being true of the whole group, we just add a sub-type! Instead of saying "Hmm, this must not be true," we say, "Oh this is true of the group, but this individual is part of this sub-type, over here, which is different in these ways..."

Human beings love stereotypes so much that we'd rather create more, smaller, more specific ones, than admit that a stereotype can't possibly be true of a whole group. We are silly.

So let's talk about outgroup homogeneity and generalization for a bit.

As many of us know, stereotyping & feelings of prejudice are things that are natural to human beings for many reasons. They help us in some way, otherwise we wouldn't continue to do it! This is called the functional approach to stereotyping & prejudice: the idea that stereotypes and prejudice serve a function, or multiple functions. Different functions have different sources, and different methods for reducing them, so knowing which function is at play makes a difference in how you approach reducing it.

If you'll notice, we don't typically refer to "getting rid of" stereotypes/prejudice. This is because we know that on some level human beings will always be doing it--and that has to do with the functions it serves (which I talk about in my Pagans & Prejudice workshop, but is perhaps too tangential even for this post). But this is why we say "prejudice reduction". We're looking at how to reduce its frequency, severity, and so on. That sounds a lot more doable than getting rid of it all at once, right?

Let's go back to my specific example with these comments. People say things like "All Witches think ___ about my group, but MY group is not all like that. We are really like this, but Witches don't realize that. They all think we're ____." This hypothetical commenter sees their own group as diverse--allowing that maybe SOME people in their group are whatever it is they're talking about, but they're NOT ALL like that--while at the same time grouping all Witches together as ALL believing that everyone of this other group is the same. To which I might say, well, in my experience as a Witch and knowing lots of Witches, I know that some Witches do believe that about your group, but not all of us do.

Of course not. And we all know this. On a certain level, we all realize that we cannot accurately generalize a whole group, whatever that group is. All Witches, all Muslims, all Milennials, all Whovians, all whatever. Can't be done. We know that, because we see it in practice with the groups we're a part of and know well. Therefore it should follow that we can't do that about other groups, either. And yet, it doesn't seem to follow for a lot of people... We still keep doing it. Stereotypes persist.

Stereotypes persist for several reasons, and I don't want to go too much into that kind of stuff (I talk about it in my Pagans & Prejudice workshop, which I will get around to putting online at some point, but it's definitely too much to go into now), but I will say that knowing why we do it, or even just starting to think more about it, helps us to become more aware of when we're doing it, which helps us begin to reduce it.

For me, one of the things I do is just try to catch myself when I find that I want to say "All" of some group does/is something or other. If I stop to think for a fraction of a second, I remember that the thing I'm talking about really can't be said to apply to EVERYONE in that group. So I ask myself, what do I mean to say? And how well do I know this group? How much is what I'm saying really characteristic of the group as a whole? Based on my answers to those questions, I'll change what I'm saying, usually something as simple as changing "all" to "some", "most", or "many" depending on how prevalent this thing (whatever it is) really is, and how well I think I know the group that gives me reason to think I can actually make such a claim.

In reality, I never know a group I'm not in as well as I know a group I am in. And because the groups I'm in tend to be extremely varied, such as Pagans... How well do we even know the groups we're in?

So usually I go a step further and get more specific. Instead of saying "All Pagans" for example, I might say "Most of the Pagans I know," "many of the people who watch my channel," or I might allow a very specific "all" such as "All the Pagans I've worked with" IF the thing really does apply to EVERY ONE in a specific group I can actually speak to.

I don't know a single thing that I feel I can authoritatively say about "All Witches" except that they practice Witchcraft. And you know some Witches out there would even try to argue that.

I did a video on the "Principles of Paganism" from the book "PAGANISM: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions" wherein Joyce & River Higginbotham shared seven things that, through their research, they found to be the core beliefs tying together ALL Pagans. I asked my viewers who identify as Pagan for their thoughts, and only one of the principles was debated as far as I could see, which was our beliefs (or lack thereof) in the Afterlife. So, there's that. We've tried to come up with things that are true of All Pagans. It's not easy! The best we can usually say is "most".

Until next time, thanks for reading!

29 September, 2017

Long Live Uncle Ray

Dear Readers,
Me with Ray at the Buckland Gallery opening, April 2017

As you may know by now, especially if you follow me on other social media, Raymond Buckland, known by many as Uncle Bucky or Uncle Ray, and more formally/historically as "The Father of American Witchcraft," has passed on. He has left his mortal body in favor of his Spirit body. In other words, he has died. We say all kinds of things instead of "died" often, don't we? In this case, since Ray is a Spiritualist, we know that he believes Consciousness survives Death. So while it is true that he died, I feel totally comfortable with the flowery language of "Raymond Buckland left his mortal body on this Earthly plane."


I had the pleasure of meeting Uncle Ray (my preferred name for him in casual speech and writing, though to his face and in our emails, I ALWAYS called him Mr. Buckland) five months ago today, at the grand opening of the Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft and Magick in Cleveland, OH. Before that, we had exchanged a few emails a couple of years ago, about Wicca, different definitions, and things that my online viewing audience had asked me about repeatedly over the years. Who better to ask than someone who was THERE? Who was actually first-hand part of the history of Witchcraft in the United States, as such? I believe whenever possible, we should go to the source. For me and my purposes, that source was Raymond Buckland.

There are many articles about Ray's life, work, and influence online today because of his death this week. I can't claim to do a better job than any of them, but I can talk about my own experiences and share in my own way. The Ray Buckland I corresponded with, the man I met five months ago, is a wonderful, warm, and encouraging energy. In some posts I wrote in my private Facebook groups with people who are working with me currently (and maybe on my public page, I really can't remember, I wrote so many posts while processing the event yesterday), I said that in meeting Uncle Ray it was clear to me that he embodied the Goddess' wishes for us, and by that I mean those named in The Charge of the Star Goddess. Ray exuded both, and all,

Beauty and Strength
Power and Compassion
Honor and Humility
Mirth and Reverence

Chatting with Ray at the Buckland Gallery opening.
Thank you, Steven, for taking the photos!

In many ways, I am grateful to have met Ray in his twilight years. He retired years ago, has been over the "hustle and bustle" of public appearances and huge online courses for quite some time, and he has been living for years right here in my own state of Ohio. He is a grandfather, a well respected Pagan elder to many, and that calming, charming, goofball energy that is the prerogative of folks who've done more than their share and they're ready to just kick back and relax, is wonderful to have known, even for a short time.


Everyone processes things in their own way. As I have been enamored with Numerology and Tarot this year, it's only natural that I decided to look up some of Ray's Year Cards, as though I were to do one of my Year Card Readings for him. Then, while reading other folks' articles about his life, I decided to see what cards matched up with some of the major moments in his career (at least, as far as the dates are publicly reported). Just for a little insight, here is some of what I learned.

Raymond Buckland was born in London, England, on the 31st of August, 1934.
*All Year Card dates are based on your birthday, and the year in question. We add them together, then reduce to get a number between 1-22, the number of cards in the Major Arcana of Tarot, with 22 standing in for the number 0, The Fool. Some people choose always to reduce to a number between 1 and 9, working only between The Magician and the Hermit. I prefer to use the whole Major Arcana. So if you've seen it done another way, perhaps that explains it!*
Thus, his Life's Purpose or Personality card, based on his whole birth date, is Judgement (20). His Soul's Purpose, then, is The High Priestess (2). One of the key words for "Year Card Lessons" for Judgement is "dealing with criticism," which Ray definitely did in all aspects of his work. And the High Priestess, a card of spirituality, occult wisdom and knowledge, instinct and intuition, more than describes the work Ray was here to do, as a Spiritualist, as a teacher and author, and as a High Priest.

Being a Virgo, his Zodiac card is The Hermit (9). The Zodiac card represents what we need for self-expression. In this case, The Hermit points to a need for introspection and solitary study and work. Ray spent the last several decades as a mainly solitary practitioner, having left the coven he first formed in the US. Others who knew him better could speak more to how solitary a person he liked to be. His Shadow/Hidden Factor/Teacher card is Justice (or Strength, depending on the deck) (11). A Master Number, speaking to either balance, harmony, and integrity (Justice) or endurance, staying the course, and standing your ground (Strength).

In my Year Card Readings, I look at your current year, and also the previous year and next year, to see the transitions in between. Ray's card for this year, 2017, is Death (13). We know that Death as a symbol, as a card, is not always literal, but signifies a great change, a new beginning. While in this case Ray did actually die this year after his birthday (in some systems the card of the year begins its energy on your birthday that year, in others it begins at the top of the calendar year--I prefer the system that looks at both overlapping), it also still most certainly represents a great change in the status of his Spirit, and a change in that the worldly plane on which we exist, in which I am typing this, is now short one Raymond Buckland.

His card for last year (2016) was The Hanged Man (12), symbolizing gaining of wisdom through seeking new perspectives. And his card for next year is Temperance (14), which is about compromise, give & take, blending of ideas, finding a healthy balance, and making things stronger and able to handle more. Depending on your beliefs in what happens after physical Death, I'd venture that's a pretty good thing for a Spirit to be doing to prepare for its next lifetime, if it believes in that sort of thing.

My set-up for Ray's Year Cards, using The Vertigo Tarot.
This is the first I've done so far with all 7 being different. =)


Those are the 7 card positions I work with in my Year Card Readings. But I went a little further to see what cards match up with some of Ray's published life moments, just to see. Hindsight is 20/20, as we know. (When the cards repeat, just check above to the first mention of the card for the meaning.)

  • 1955: Ray marries his first wife, Rosemary.
    • (5) The Hierophant. Teaching, studying, professional development, spiritual development and guidance.
  • 1957-59: Ray serves in the Royal Air Force.
    • (7) The Chariot. Movement, goals, taking control, overcoming struggle.
    • (8) Strength (or Justice, in some decks, but I read it as Strength). Courage, endurance, standing your ground, allowing without forcing.
    • (9) Hermit. Solitude, contemplation, taking a break, taking stock, caring for health.
  • 1962: Ray & Rosemary move to Long Island, NY & begin studying Gardnerian Witchcraft and corresponding with Gerald Gardner.
    • (3) The Empress. Abundance, developing creativity, nurturing, settling down.
  • 1963: They go back to the UK to be initiated into Gardner's lineage. Gardner was present at the initiation, from what I've read.
    • (4) The Emperor. Important decisions made, tradition, lineage, taking charge, leadership.
  • 1968: Ray opens his collection of artifacts as "The First Museum of Witchcraft and Magick in the United States", running it out of his basement by appointment only.
    • (9) The Hermit.
  • 1969: Ray's first book is published, A Pocket Guide to the Supernatural.
    • (10) Wheel of Fortune. Luck, fate, completion and turning of cycles, major change.
  • 1973: Ray & Rosemary separate/divorce (some sources use different words) and both leave the Long Island Coven, as the coven they founded on Long Island came to be called, although articles with interviews say that Ray said the coven didn't have an official name.
    • (5) The Hierophant. (I found it interesting that the year they married and the year they separated and left the coven had the same card energy.)
  • 1974: Ray married his second wife, Joan. / Publishes The Tree, a book on Anglo-Saxon Witchcraft that is now considered to be the kind of guide for solitary practice that Cunningham's Wicca is, years before Cunningham's was published.
    • (6) The Lovers. Relationships, choices, taking responsibility, following your heart without losing your head.
  • 1978: Ray shuts down his museum and moves all the artifacts into storage.
    • (10) Wheel of Fortune.
  • 1982-83: Met Tara Cochran, who was to become his third wife. / Married her in 1983.
    • 1982 meeting: (5) The Hierophant
    • 1983 marriage: (6) The Lovers
  • 1986: Buckland's Complete Book of Witchcraft, also known as "The Big Blue Book" is published.
    • (9) The Hermit.
  • 1992: Ray & his third wife, Tara, move to a farm in Ohio.
    • (6) The Lovers
  • 2015: Ray's health begings to decline. / Also, his museum collection artifacts are turned over to a coven in Columbus, OH, which he co-founded, for them to put them on display again. That collection eventually opens as the Buckland Gallery (see 2017, below).
    • (11) Justice. Balance, harmony, legal issues, integrity, what is fair vs. what is just, partnerships. (or Strength, in some decks, meaning listed above)
  • 2017: The Buckland Gallery opens in Cleveland, OH. / Raymond Buckland dies in September.
    • (13) Death. Letting go, releasing the old to make room for the new, transformation, regeneration, dealing with emotional pain, end of old life. (As mentioned, this is the overall Card energy of the year 2017 for Buckland.)
    • 29/April (4)/2017 - Buckland Gallery opening date - This specific date adds up to (7) The Chariot. Forward movement, setting goals, etc.
    • 27/Sept. (9)/2017, Buckland's exact date of death - (10) Wheel of Fortune.

All of this, to me, makes me feel like I know Ray a little better because now I've read more about some of the major things he did in his life. This isn't the same as knowing him in person, of course, but is a little more than we may know otherwise. And obviously there are tons of books he's published, interviews he's done, etc. and we could look up the years for ALL of them, but I chose only some of the most major ones, and of course the first one.

Ray's Zodiac card, or "what he needs for self expression" is The Hermit, and I find it interesting that several of his major moments that I looked up, happen during other Hermit years for him. He opened the first iteration of his museum and gallery during one of his Hermit years (it cracks me up that opening a museum in his basement would be a Hermit year! Of course!), and published his first book the following year (The Wheel of Fortune makes a lot of sense for publishing his first book, being a big change that made him into a published author, but this also means he likely did a lot of the work on that book in the previous, Hermit year). "The Big Blue Book" was also published in a Hermit year for him, and he did his last year of service in the Royal Air Force in another Hermit year.

The Hierophant and The Lovers repeat through many of his relationship milestones--marrying and separating from his first wife, marrying the second, meeting and marrying the third, moving to Ohio, as well as leaving the first coven he established in the US, which is definitely another kind of relationship and partnership with people.


What energetic patterns repeat for you? What years have you experienced milestones in different aspects of your life, and what does that card's energy tell you about the experience in hindsight? Use numerology and the Tarot to find out for yourself and explore the possibilities of what those patterns can tell you! And if you'd like, get a Year Card reading with me and I'll help with some insight from a third party perspective, from me to you, in video format.


Dear Ray, this is part of my way of processing the surreal nature of your not being here with us on this plane anymore. I hope it isn't too much. You are worthy of so much respect and thanks. My gratitude to you. Blessings on your journey, and bright blessings to your family and friends at this time, and always.