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The Facts of Life on a Tantric Path

In Tantra, there is a famous dictum that guides, “Yair eva patanam dravyaih siddhis tair eva.” It offers us instruction on the facts of life: “that by which one falls is also that by which one rises.” On first glance, it might appear as though this is no different than the adage, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But the lynchpin of Tantra here is not the resilience we might cultivate while withstanding the blows of living. Rather, it is the paradox that one’s own unique psycho-spiritual mechanism of failure is not merely the impetus toward enlightenment; but it is actually the only thing that has the power to let us finally reach it.

The first step on a path toward self-realization is likely obvious. We must let go of our egos enough to embrace failure as a teacher. While this does allow us to gain resilience from the lessons built right into the fabric of our everyday lives, we must still come to learn the ways in which the beautiful secrets of our soul lie hidden below the residue of failures brought on by the oppressions we carry within us. Most concretely, these are the consciously or unconsciously inflicted slights (and our internalization of them) of our upbringing at the hands of those in various social, religious, and cultural institutions, including our family. Less graspable are the residues of our karma from prior incarnations. Either way, getting to and beneath those layers is an essential step in deepening our progress on the spiritual path. And this work is what makes us capable of understanding our own particular variety of a spiritual homeopathic cure—like curing like—in service to the unveiling of our soul.

Embracing Tantra as a way of life, we set ourselves up for a complete reconstitution of self, from the physical to the psycho-spiritual, in order to find the authentic essence we carry within us.  That essence is our soul, a spark of the boundless Divine that exists beyond the confines of spacetime limitations. In choosing involution toward incarnation, that spark sacrifices its infinite self in order to experience another one of the infinite number of selves expressing themselves through life. Hence, as souls encapsulated, the stuff of failure is inevitable. Just as there exists suffering as a necessary condition of creation (the sacrifice required of the Divine to become manifest), so too must we experience failure as a necessary condition of our evolution.

The encouraging news is that we therefore all have the potential within us to achieve freedom. Certainly, some may choose to impose additional layers of binding residue upon the in-dwelling Divine, choosing to be defended, emotionally wrapped up or otherwise in denial of the way toward health and wholeness. But we all have the capacity for release should we desire it. The challenge is the work and dedication we must put into our own liberation.

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Beltane..because I am weary of the other

The clergy team came together last weekend and plotted the Beltane ritual for Mother Grove Goddess Temple. We'll be in a new park this year--ah, new to us: it's a seasoned public park.

I've been pondering and writing about the Recent Awfulness with Klein and the Frosts over at my personal blog and I can't really manage to dredge up anything else about that that hasn't been said by a hundred other people who have far more Important and Serious things to say about it than I.

So I am turning my thoughts to Earth Day and to Beltane.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Wedding in the works

Well here I am, 60 yrs old and getting married again. My husband-to-be is Dean Pestana and our wedding will be pagan, with a pirate/gypsy theme held on May 31st, 2014. Yikes! Not a lot of time left for me to get everything accomplished that I need to do. but we're old hands at being a couple and since both have been married before neither of us require the white dress and tux flutters of a first time bride and groom (thank the Spirits). We'll have two officiants, one is the leader of a pirate band that plays at Ren Faires and the like and the other is a Wiccan High Priestess. We'll combine the tradition wedding with a hand fasting and the calling of the quarters. I even plan on having a small acting segment where we either have two warring pirate groups bond together as their Captains marry or a raiding pirate party showing allegiance with the island ruling government via a marriage. Our reception is flat out going to be a party, a Hafla, with belly dancers,poi and fire spinners, pirates, an Irish band, (along with canned music) hoop dancing, sword dancing, lots of folks in costume and wonderful geekyness. This is going to be an outdoor event, held in our large front yard under a huge Father Oak and surrounded by all our flowers and various critters that will more than likely photo bomb the pictures take throughout the day. Both Dean and I have a deep connection to nature and we can't think of a better locale than our own yard with trees he's planted and cared for and both our flower and vegetable garden with their Devas and sprites joining with us.b2ap3_thumbnail_Dean-and-sword.jpg

Then the very next weekend I am one of the workshop presenters at the St. Louis Pagan Picnic and although I've spoken about ghosts and hauntings the past three years at this event I am changing my topic--this time the subject matter will be Tantric touch and sensual massage for all us Baby Boomers (and anyone else for that matter) who are still going strong and sexy or for those who want to get their sexy back.b2ap3_thumbnail_janice-pirate.jpg

So for the next few weeks I'll be busy, sewing, preparing my workshop notes and hands on massage demonstration and my first fiction novel will be in at the publishers May 15th. Goddess knows I need the elves to come at night and help carry out all my insane plans to get this finished on schedule and not be totally frazzled by wedding day.b2ap3_thumbnail_book-cover-The-Haunting-of-Booger-County.jpg

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Much has been said eloquently elsewhere by others about a recent tragedy and what Heathenry is actually based upon. I thought it best, in my case, rather than repeating their fine words, to simply write about what Odin is like as a person.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Albuquerque-from-the-air_wikipedia.jpg
Central Albuquerque, New Mexico USA. Seen from the sky. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

"Look wide, and look far. Look upon your city. This is your community. These are your people, all of them. The people you know and the people you will never meet. Even the ones you don't like. Good or bad, rich or poor, status and class and family don't matter. Politics don't matter. They're still all your people.

"You are a part of this, and your wyrd is tied together, for as long as you live here..."

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  • Kimberly Glaser
    Kimberly Glaser says #
    So beautiful! Makes me think of my own journal entries about Cerridwyn

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
It's all in the Healing

With all of the wacky weather we have been experiencing the globe over, one could get the impression that Mother Nature is royally ticked-off with us. Can you blame her? She's been so often abused, neglected, and taken for granted it is a wonder that we still have a planet fit to live on. What we can do is let her know that we care. Think of it like honoring your own mother on Mother's Day. I am a big fan of building strong energy and channeling it through ecstatic dance and music. I used to attend a great dance in Evanston back in the day, and there's no reason why you couldn't hold your own. For Earth Day this year, try organizing a Trance Dance. As in Transcendental. No, we're not talking about Rave 'Til Dawn. Your mission: find a great space, and create mood lighting. Low lights, candles on the outskirts (safely out of the way), pretty electric glowy lights and lava lamps, would all do the trick. Do you or someone you know have access to a large basement, church space, or school gym? The most important factor is that the space is wide open and that no one has to worry about colliding with objects or each other in it. Elect someone to play DJ for the eve. Make sure in advance that you have a decent sound system. Get a good-sized, unselfconscious group to come on out and let the party begin.

The main idea that everyone should be let in on from the beginning is that you are holding a dance with intent. To send out nurturing energy to help heal our Mother Earth. Send her your love with the energy that you create through your dancing.

Ideally, you move like crazy to a steady mix of New-Agey, Electronica, World music for one to two hours straight. You dance with total abandon, literally stomping your ya-yas out until you are dripping with sweat and reach the equivalent of a runner's high. If you need to cool it down in the midst of your twirling, feel free to strike some good yoga poses in the middle of the circle and catch your breath. See the clear unpolluted waters, protected forests, recycling programs, solar and wind power all happening in your mind's eye. Believe that it can continue to happen– that it is not to late to do our part to have a beneficial, lasting ecological impact on our planet. 

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
The Blood Well

I followed the flight of the heron through the willows, the wide blue sky above. Skirting my way around the little town, I made my way between the hills, between the greening orchards and down the leafy Well House Lane, the glorious lush green belly of Glastonbury Tor above me bright in the sunshine. I have walked this road a million times, in rain and summer heat, in winter shadows and sleet, in the utter darkness of a Samhain waning moon...it knows me well, and every time my feet tread this path I feel blessed to live in such a sacred landscape. I greet the tree spirits I have worked with over the years, the hidden springs, one a deep secret, another a mere boggy patch in the meadow upon such a day as this...

Turning the corner I enter the gardens of Chalice Well, and the hush of the day becomes somehow more refined as I make my way past the manicured flower beds and beneath the rose archway, passed 'the chakra border', a rainbow of blossoms unfurling. The sense of wholeness I have gathered to me all the way builds now, my body finds comfort in the serenity of the garden, as I make my way along the worn stone pathway to take my seat beside the well. Aching feet find ease upon the cool damp stone. There is the sound of distant drums beating upon the Tor, but all is still here, all is quiet. I am blessed with solitude, but I am not alone. As my stillness gathers, I feel the presence of this place all around me. The spirit of the well, the ancient goddess envelops me. Without words or ceremony, Her presence both warm and bright rises from the waters, and I sit in quiet communion, my spirit drinking in all She may offer. Her daughter, Her pupil, Her priestess.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Jill Swift
    Jill Swift says #
    Truly Beautiful! Blessings!
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    "all that we have suffered, all that we have lost, and all that we know." Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
What Odin doesn't stand for

Odin is a god of many, many things: wisdom, inspiration, exploration, shamanism, prophecy, kingship, rune magic, language and expression, expanding and altering consciousness, creativity, death, blood magic, self-sacrifice, and yes, even warfare, savagery and bloodshed at times.  But do you know one thing He does not stand for?  Racial hate crimes.  Seriously people, I defy you to find anything–anything at all–in the northern lore that supports this kind of atrocity.  As my friend Heather Freysdottir posted today, hate is not a Heathen value–not in any way, shape or form, and I for one am thoroughly sick and tired of having my God’s name used as an excuse for racist violence.

You know why I don’t primarily identify as Heathen?  Know why I am not able to call myself an “Odinist witch” or “Odinic witch” (the way some of my friends will refer to themselves as “Lokean witches”)?  This.  This is why.  Because, thanks to assholes like this (and others like him in the past 100 years or so of history), my God’s name is now identified with racially motivated violence.  And from these maniacs, the poisonous notion that Odinism=white supremacy and racial hatred seeps into the community, until you can’t hold an “Asatru meet-up” without having one or two white-supremacist-leaning individuals show up. (Yes, this truly was my experience when I was still trying to organize meet-ups back east.)

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  • Soli
    Soli says #
    I have never called myself Odinist due to its association with this kind of poison. And I hate that honoring some of the Gods I do
  • Amoret BriarRose
    Amoret BriarRose says #
    Thank you for posting this! I am also hesitant to describe myself as an Odinist or Odinic witch for these reasons.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Hate Is Not a Heathen Value

On April 13, 2014, a white supremacist perpetuated a hate crime on a Jewish Community Center. Some mass media outlets have attempted to identify the shooter as a Heathen, but I'd like to take a moment to reiterate that his values (or rather, his lack thereof) are not shared by Heathenry or Northern Tradition Paganism at large. The Troth has already issued a statement on using the Northern Tradition as a justification for hate crimes and bigotry.  And there are Heathens who feel that words are not enough, and have organized a fundraiser to help the families affected by the shooting.

Y'all know that I don't primarily identify as a Heathen, and there are some reasons for that. One is that I don't consider my practice reconstructionist in nature, and that's a large one, but truth be told, the problematic issue of hate groups claiming Heathen identity is also part of why I back away from most Heathen groups. The Troth is the ONLY  Heathen org that I've ever joined because it has explicit, defined mission statements that are committed to racial diversity, "Membership in the Troth is open to all who seek to know and honor the Gods, ancestors, and values of the pre-Christian Germanic traditions, regardless of gender, race, nationality, or sexual orientation."

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  • Amoret BriarRose
    Amoret BriarRose says #
    Well said!
  • Shirl Sazynski
    Shirl Sazynski says #
    Well said, and heartily agreed. (Other than that I still identify as Heathen/Rodnova, because that's the historic and modern term

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Witchlings, Tarot and Snakes? Oh my!

Sometimes I run into a situation with a client where the answer simply isn't making itself known. When that happens, I turn to the clarification card technique.

This isn't something I developed. I learned it a long time ago from a beautiful witch in Toledo. Lady Lhianna taught me that sometimes

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Posted by on in Studies Blogs

You know, there are times when I feel like I have nothing to contribute to Paganism.  I've gotten a lot out of it, but then I think to myself: What happened?  No, I don't want this to be all normal and easy to digest, I want it to be mysterious and exciting, and for some reason, it isn't anymore.


Why do I feel as though what I have to say isn't special? I'm scratching my head on this one, because it's an important part of my motivation to keep my blogs-that what I'm saying is important and useful.  Maybe I'm having my mid-Pagan crisis or something.  But where went the power and majesty of worshipping the Moon and the forbidden Gods? Because let's face it; what we do is forbidden by mainstream culture. 

I'm particularly at a loss with trying to connect classical music to Pagan culture-even though it's my specialty, somehow I feel like I can't write for the Pagan audience. I just don't know enough about their musical skill or what they'll accept. 

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  • Gabriel Moore
    Gabriel Moore says #
    Candi, I agree with Carl on doubt. In addition doubt slows us down and makes us consider our intent and actions. To many have forg
  • Carl Neal
    Carl Neal says #
    We all have our moments of doubt and feelings of disconnection. One thing that helps me in those times is to reflect on how I cam

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

It's Springtime here in Texas -- though my friends in Chicago assure me it's still winter there -- and along with the bluebonnets and the longer days, that means it's almost finals time. Somehow this time of year is at least as busy for me in my professor role as it ever was for me as a student. I'm also staring down a summer of uncertain employment, as my faculty appointments are part-time. So it's been a time of excitement at new possibilities but also worries about what ifs, and in my typical fashion I've been internalizing and stressing and feeling as though I have to find a way to figure out an answer to the pressing questions of finances and career.

Thank Goddess that Tara decided to dance into my week!

b2ap3_thumbnail_Tara.jpg

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  • Arwen Lynch
    Arwen Lynch says #
    I do love our bluebonnets! Lovely inspiration, Susan.

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
EASTER AND THE GODDESS

This is my body, given for you,

This is my blood, given for you.

While these words are the center of a Christian liturgy celebrating the sacrifice of Jesus as the Christ, they are more appropriately spoken of our own mothers. Your mother and my mother and all mothers, human and other than human, mammalian, avian, and reptilian, give their bodies and blood so their offspring might have life. True, mothers do not always make conscious choices to get pregnant, but almost all mothers affirm life in their willingness to nurture the young who emerge from their bodies and from their nests. Had mothers—human and other than human–not been giving their bodies and their blood from time immemorial, you and I would not be here.

The Easter liturgy fails to acknowledge that the original offering of body and blood is the mother’s offering. Christianity “stole” the imagery associated with birth and attributed it to a male savior.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    I needed to read this today. Thanks.
  • Amoret BriarRose
    Amoret BriarRose says #
    "Should we reject the gift of life because it doesn’t last forever? Should we reject flowers because most of them bloom only in sp
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Thank you Carol. You eloquently explain what continues to bother me about Christianity-- it's denial of the mother and the divinit

Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs

I recently went away to a weekend intensive hosted by Expanding Inward.  It was a wonderful weekend, full of revelations and tears...and not once during sessions was I hugged by another participant.

I was not hugged because I didn't ask for a hug.

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  • Amoret BriarRose
    Amoret BriarRose says #
    You are very welcome, and yes, consent is something we can be more aware of. It takes practice, but it is a worthwhile endeavor.
  • Paola Suarez
    Paola Suarez says #
    Thank you. Personally I find that conversations about consent even when it comes to "innocent" interactions like hugs isn't brough
  • Amoret BriarRose
    Amoret BriarRose says #
    Thank you for sharing your experiences, Shauna. I know that my time at the Grove has deeply impacted my ability to witness others.

Don't be deceived by personal presentation. Some will bite on the front end and you'll never see the kindness coming. Some will bite on the back end - where you expect sympathy you will suddenly get steel.

That is the way of it. Do not confuse softness with powerlessness, harshness with lack of solace.

Do not coddle your own weakness. Listen deeply, and open. There are teachers are all around you.

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Posted by on in SageWoman Blogs
Helper: Help Thyself

Step One is "We admitted that we were harming ourselves and others and that our lives had become overwhelming."

When I am overwhelmed, my primal brain is in control, and all it cares about is survival.  I've been under the control of my primal brain for most of the year so far, even when things were going good.  I was aware that something was wrong, but I kept putting off examining myself to find my problem while I helped other people find and work out theirs.

That's what I'm doing with my life.  I help people identify their problems, figure out solutions, and empower themselves to take those steps.  I am a healer, a teacher, and an intuitive consultant (sometimes known as a psychic,) but all those roles are simply aspects of Helper.

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  • Michele L Warch
    Michele L Warch says #
    Thank you. That was very helpful to see them side by side. I think I've always understood the wording in my own head to be in keep
  • Michele L Warch
    Michele L Warch says #
    Thank you for your review. Its funny the way the world works -- not really, just synchronicity. I was having a conversation, last
  • Ashley Rae
    Ashley Rae says #
    Thank you for your insight, Michele! I have to admit that Christian wording turns me off. I can't get through A Course in Miracl

Not satisfied with the response to a complaint that I had made at the beginning of April regarding two sexist comments that Ken Bruce had made at the beginning of his BBC Radio 2 show on 2 April, I have written back to the BBC and am sharing this story with you. What we say DOES matter, and we need to speak out against what we think is wrong. As a Druid, I take speech quite seriously (when I'm not being The Fool, but there is method in my madness there as well - indeed, a good friend of mine this weekend said that I am one of the most intelligent people she knows, and also the silliest - but I digress...)

What happened was that I wrote in to BBC Radio 2 because Ken Bruce had called Lynne Bowles a "whale" (in jest) and in the next breath said something about her putting on a French maid's uniform. Many people would say that taking this out of context is making it appear worse than it actually is. What I am saying is that the context of sexism doesn't matter - it's still sexism. Ways to undermine women's power in our society is becoming more and insidious where it cannot be achieved through brute force. Here is the correspondence that I have received back from my complaint, and my further response.

I am putting this here on my blog as well as my Facebook page. My original post in which I tagged the BBC has mysteriously disappeared from my Facebook timeline. It is my intention to make this public, and whether it is simply a Facebook error or a more targeted silencing, I shall never know - what I do know is that they cannot touch this blog.

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Pagan savings challenge, week fifteen:  secrets

There's been a lot written about the culture secrecy lately.  In the Pagan community, many people are questioning whether a culture of secrecy perpetuates bad behavior, and in the broader United States, the President is seeking to dismantle the culture of secrecy surrounding salaries.

In both of those cases, secrecy can lead to advantage being taken, but secrecy has its place.  When it comes to money specifically, even if we develop a culture in which we all feel comfortable talking about money, we don't necessarily want people to know where we stash our cash.  That's why I was delighted to discover a post on creating a money jar for the Pagan savings challenge, the image for this very post was nicked from Mistress of the Hearth to show what one might look like.

As someone who is saving this money in cash, and particularly since I make a habit of taking pictures of my savings for most of these posts, I appreciate this form of secrecy.  My money is protected by the gods of my household generally, the gods of wealth and thievery specifically, and the best locks and methods of hiding that I can muster.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs
Axis Mundi: The God-Pole Rite

After decades of juiceless talkie-talkie Men's Rituals at pagan festivals here in the Midwestern US, Sparky T. Rabbit (of Lunacy fame), Frebur Moore and I decided that we'd had enough. So we put together the kind of Men's Ritual we ourselves had always wanted to attend. The Rite of the God-Pole premiered at Pagan Spirit Gathering 2009 at Camp Zoe, Missouri.

One hot, steamy night in late June, some 60 men ceremonially bore an eight-foot phallic wooden menhir through the camp and together raised it on a sandy little spit jutting out into the creek that flowed through the valley. We anointed and garlanded the God-Pole, sang songs of praise, danced, and poured libations. I knew the Rite had been a success when immediately afterward many of the men tore off their clothing and dashed naked into the cooling waters of the creek. I'll tell you, they should all end that way.

Our theological point was that, like the Women's Mysteries, the Men's Mysteries are at heart biological: the Red Mysteries and the White, the Blood mysteries and those of Semen. Like women's bodies, men's bodies have their own cycle that every man knows in every cell of his body: the cycle of quiescence, erection, love-play, and ejaculation. The Mysteries, by their nature, express Primal Truths.

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  • Christopher Blackwell
    Christopher Blackwell says #
    We men are way behind to women when it comes to men mysteries and what to we want being a man to be for ourselves. Just like the w
  • Wizard Garber
    Wizard Garber says #
    This is good as far as it goes, but unfortunately you seem to have fallen into the same trap as most men -- that is to say that me
  • Steven Posch
    Steven Posch says #
    I think, Wizard, that we're seeing here some of the semantic limitations inherent in symbolism and ritual. Over the decades, my ex

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

Before I talk about tarot as a Jungian Neo-Pagan practice, I want to take a time out and share some of my favorite tarot decks with you.

Mary-El Tarot by Marie White

My absolutely favorite deck is the Mary-El Tarot.  I waited literally years for Marie White to finish this deck.  It is non-traditional and based on White's own fantastic oil paintings.  I could stare at the art of any one of these cards for a long time.  I think the Death and World cards below are especially lovely.  If I had more space, I would have included several of the Minor Arcana cards as well.  

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  • Danielle Aubenque
    Danielle Aubenque says #
    I too have the original Vertigo deck and it's my personal deck. I have the Geiger and Black tarot too. I use Crow's Magic for read

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_heartbleed.pngThe recent news has been so full of the current astrological symbolism, it’s hard for a poor astrologer to keep up. In tech news (Uranus rules computers and hi-tech) we have the NASDAQ sell-off, and the Heartbleed bug — which may not be entirely unrelated. In the “yet more insane, horrifying violence” sort of news, we have the shooting at Fort Hood, and the stabbings at a PA school, both involving heroic actions by women. Also, this.  I suggested the likelihood of "notable actions of a woman or group of women" happening this month in my post on the Aries New Moon.

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  • Byron Ballard
    Byron Ballard says #
    I think I'm going to print this out so I can carry it with me. Every time I read it, I find something new. Thanks, my dear friend

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