31 October, 2012

Samhain Blog!

Today is Samhain (or tonight is, if you go by the night of Oct. 31/day of Nov. 1 rule) and here's what's up!

On Sunday, my UU church had a multigenerational Samhain/Halloween service, meaning the kids were present with the adults instead of having their separate classes, and people dressed in costume and it was a good time. The minister said "SAH-ween" at first, and then as she continued to speak it became more and more altered until she was saying "suh-WEEN." But, oh well. The minister and several other women were dressed as witches (one of whom spoke to me a couple weeks ago about my path), and I have to admit, I was a bit offended at only one point. That was when the minister, who had been wearing a large, pointed "witch" hat with a spiderweb design on it, got up to deliver her homily without the hat. She addressed this first, saying, "I don't feel it would be appropriate to give the homily in a witch hat." At that point I hadn't been wearing my small, headband/hat, so I put it on and said "Why not?"

The truth is, wearing the hat probably would have helped. Remember, the hat is like a visible, physical cone of power, channeling energy from above into you. I didn't find an appropriate time to tell her this because I was too busy chatting with other people, eating sweet potato and lentil soup (we had a soup lunch and placed an extra bowl in the memorial garden for the ancestors), and being a little freaked out in the haunted house that the younger kids made! But I think I will send her an email, at the very least, when I find a moment. It's not right to know a witch or two and not know basic fun facts like that.

Sunday evening, my friend's group had a "not so dumb supper," but I didn't attend because it's an hour in the opposite direction from where I was and I wouldn't have had time to get ready. So instead I made a video giving people ideas for how to celebrate Samhain, and worked on some other things, including packing some more for my approaching move to Grams' house.

As for today, I'm not doing anything fancy or formal. I was supposed to work today, but I asked my boss yesterday for today off in addition to Thursday which I already had off, because some things came up and it would be helpful to not have to work. She didn't even ask my reasons, she just said okay and even put it down as Paid Time Off (though I haven't worked there long enough to earn PTO)! I'm very grateful because instead of working 7:00am until 3:30pm and heading out around 5:00pm, I woke up at 8:30, started my iPod charging, painted some pendants (one of which I need to ship to a customer today and the other which is part of my costume!), and now I have to wrap my boyfriend's presents, type up the blessing I wrote for my friends' wedding, and pack for my trip.

Yes, my trip. Today is Halloween and Samhain and also the magic birthday of my boyfriend! Magic, meaning he turns 31 today, and 31 on the 31st = magic birthday! Mine was my Sweet Sixteen--16 on the 16th. When was yours? Has it passed, or is it still to come?

So today I am driving out of state, 3-3.5 hours, to visit my boyfriend at grad school for his birthday. Since I didn't have to work, I'll be heading out around 1pm in order to arrive around 4:30pm, which should be after he finishes work and before he has to go to class. I'm bringing my laptop and some things to work on so I can do things while he's in class, and tonight we'll probably just dress up and go out somewhere. Then I have to drive back Thursday evening for work on Friday.

I'm speaking very calmly about it now, but I'm really extremely nervous. I've never driven on freeways or interstates, and I've never driven for longer than an hour at a time. But I have the GPS (though it's not showing the route I want to take) and I have maps and directions there AND back. So I do feel quite a bit better about the trip. And I'm very glad to be able to leave at 1pm instead of 5pm because I'll be able to avoid much more traffic and it will not be as dark while I'm driving. And since it's still raining (Hurricane Sandy fringe rain), I'm glad for the daylight and extra elbox room concerning time, so I don't feel that I need to rush. But I'm still nervous, which is why I'm making sure I have plenty of music to listen to along the way and won't have to take my concentration from the road for a moment.

I have several messages to answer on YouTube, but they'll have to wait until I'm settled in at the apartment this evening. I have too much to prepare this morning!


18 October, 2012

Spirit Animals -- Racist?

Hey, Readers,

This first bit is going to be cross-posted from something I just put on my tumblr, where this originated. Then I'll add on.

Someone sent this anonymously to someone I follow on tumblr:
Using the term spirit animal is cultural appropriation and perpetuates racism. I didn’t know until someone told me, so I thought I’d pass the information along. Better terms can be “patronus,” “daemon,” or something similar.
It is, of course, referring to the trend of calling someone or something, especially in the media (Honey Boo Boo, Doritos, that lady who isn’t a model, etc.), your spirit animal.
I was wondering what those of you who also believe in and work with spirit animals think about this. Personally, I never had a problem with it or thought it was racist. Admittedly, this could be because I don’t think spirit animals and similar concepts are specific only to certain cultures and races, so it would be difficult to say exactly whom you are appropriating. I think Native Americans/American Indians are probably the big one people in the States think of, but other cultures use these concepts, as well.
Patronus and daemon actually have more direct cultural connections (they’re not just things made up in books, although the Harry Potter patronus makes more sense with this trend than the Roman patronus) (and daemons are Greek), so I really don’t think they’re any better if you want to avoid something that could potentially be making fun of a culture.
So anyway, I put pagans in the title of this just because there’s a higher chance of finding people who work with these concepts there, but of course non-pagans do, too. So this is just for anyone who believes in and works with these types of guides, or whatever you personally call them. What do you think?

So, here is my add-on section:

mikothecat replied to my post saying "I never thought of it as being racist either. Much like you said, I never considered the idea of having spirit animals limited to a certain group of people or culture."

Someone else suggested the word "Eomkin" which translates to "I am kin." When I looked this up online, the only result I found was a link to the tumblr post wherein someone suggested that word as an alternative, non-offensive term for "spirit animal."

On that post, further up, was where someone suggested "daemon" and "patronus" saying that the only person you're appropriating with "daemon" is Pullman and only Harry Potter with "patronus." However, as I said in my original post, daemon and patronus DO also have cultural meaning. A daemon is a Greek nature spirit. Pullman was certainly not the first to use this term. So you could easily be offending a Hellenist or other followers of Greek religion. And patronus does make more sense in the Harry Potter definition, but the word means "patron" in Roman culture which is where I think Rowling probably got the idea to use that word for a spirit who protects someone. Several of the words she uses in the books for magic spells are actual words, so I wouldn't be surprised if she chose patronus knowing its Roman origin.

Anyway, point being, some people are taking this "racism" thing pretty far when they seek to replace their "offensive" terms with thing that have even more direct history. I do believe that spirit animals are a concept that spans several cultures, whereas these other terms definitely only stem from one.

If you're going to call something racist, at least look up the things you want to start saying instead.


Further edit! I have received a reply on tumblr from a Native American, saying theirs is the culture being appropriated because that is where said terms originated, and as outsiders, we cannot know what spirit animals are about, etc. and we can't use them. Furthermore, I was also being offensive by asking pagans their opinion on this, because they are not pagans' concepts to have opinions on. I explained in the post, as you can see above, that I addressed pagans just because I know pagans use similar concepts, so I was hoping to reach an audience that would have an opinion about it that way. But basically, I'm an eclectic practitioner. Everything I do is probably deemed offensive by someone, no matter how well I look into it and how respectful I am of it--it is racist simply because it's not from my culture. It doesn't matter if a Native American taught me these concepts, or if a Native American wrote the books society reads to learn about these concepts. It doesn't matter what we do, in some cases. And I am still confused about the fact that cultures other than Native Americans do use these concepts. But I've asked the person who wrote to me about that, and I hope to gain some more understanding. Also, I will definitely make it a point to ask my Native American friends about this, now that I know theirs is the culture we're talking about.

11 October, 2012

Tarot & Oracle Stuff

Hey, Readers,

That's an appropriate greeting for this post.

I think one of the stereotypes of witchcraft is that we all read tarot. A girl I follow on Tumblr somewhat recently revealed to her followers that she is a Christian witch, and one of the first questions she got was "Do you read tarot cards?" And I laughed at that, because it was funny to me that as soon as some people hear "witch," even a Christian one, they think of fortune-telling and divination. Now, it turns out she DOES read tarot. I'm not saying it's not an ACCURATE stereotype! But a stereotype, nonetheless. Not every single one of us does it.

That bothered me for years, because even though I was given an oracle deck several years ago and I picked it up pretty quickly, I never felt able to understand tarot. There was a lot more to remember--my oracle deck is based on characters from folklore, and already knowing their stories, it was easier for me to feel "off book" than with tarot where the symbolism was new--and so many people were expecting it of me. My mother is a tarot reader, and she's done shows and parties for people, reading many people's cards to rave reviews. People would always ask if I was also a reader, or if she was teaching me, or, on the rare occasion I would meet someone who would come up to me and say, "You're a reader." Not a question, but a statement.

I've known my whole life that I love symbolism and hidden meaning. I love explaining things and making what looks complicated more simple for people. But I couldn't seem to do that for myself when it came to cards. I still felt like I had to read the meanings to remember, and I didn't like reading the meaning and then applying it to people. I felt like it was no book, or no reading. So for a while I was quite resentful when people thought that my being a witch meant I had to read tarot. I must be a tarot reader, for I was a witch! I didn't like that idea, so I would tell people that I do have an oracle deck but I don't read tarot and I've never read for anyone else because I don't feel ready.

06 October, 2012

Colorful Magick

Hey, Readers,

I'm actually about to head out the door and become busy for the next few hours, and probably just retire to shower and bed upon my return home. But I wanted to post a quick, quick little thing. It's something I've said probably dozens of times now, between my videos, Pagan Perspective videos, messages to people, conversations, and Tweets.

"White" and "black" magick. *shudder*

Those terms, used seriously, make my eyes roll instantly. This is one of the things that continues to bother me under the surface. While I know it doesn't truly make any difference in the long run, it irks me, still.

Magick is magick.

When we do magick (or magic, however you choose to spell it is fine), we often use color. Or colour. =) I love using color symbolism in my workings, and often, the energy I'm working with will take on a color. So yes, magick involves color. But I simply do not buy that there is such a thing as "white magick" and a thing such as "black magick." Magick is itself, colorless and all colors, beyond categorization like that of a box of crayons. It is a tool, and as such can be used any way the practitioner desires. Magick has the capability of doing good, and of being used for less than good.

I understand that this is what most people mean when they say "white" and "black" magick, but I think some people are still using the terms as though they mean separate things. People will say things like "I practice white magick, I would never do black magick." But that doesn't have anything to do with the magick. The magick you're using can do both. It's YOU that makes the decision. YOU that has the flavor for good or otherwise. I will not say "bad" or "evil" because I don't think that's proper, either. Not in this case. Not all which is not light is bad.

Anyway, I think we could all get a lot more out of life and our practice by doing away with such "black and white" imagery as putting magick, something profound and encompassing of many possibilities, into a box of crayons. The colors in this case are symbols, no more. Visual aids.

Magick is the box the colors are in, and the hammer and nails or clay or stone used to create it, and the carpenter or sculptor or some such creator. Magick is so much more.


P.S. There is a video on my channel about this, which I'll link later on. Or search it for yourself, YouTube username cutewitch772, video name "What is Magick?" I think. Cheers.