Chicago Witch: Witchy Living in the Windy City

A perspective of a modern, urban Witch who strives to balance faith with family and career.

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The Gods are among us

For Pagan Spirit Gathering this year, one of my workshops really isn't work to me. It's more of further expressing a part of myself I ordinarily am unable to do. I'm one of those extreme extroverts the introverted either are are okay with me in small doses or are straight up annoyed with. That's just who I am, and yeah, I do try to rein in my personality some, but I don't always succeed in that. I'm not any type of activist really, or hardlined into politics, or get overly enthused with intellectual stuff. (Not saying I'm stupid or less than worldly, but academia has its place... over there - something to occasionally peruse from a shelf.) In all honesty, I'm just your typical urban American who also happens to be Pagan, which I've come to find over the last couple of decades usually goes the other way around.

So this workshop - it allows me to be me in a big way. I did it for the first time last year, and it was well-received, but there were definitely bugs to work out. What is it? It's hosting a photobooth for the big party known as Pan's Ball. And yeah, that's how I've always seen it - a party. A drunken barn dance. An outdoor night club. A costume party. A kegger in the woods without the keg. For those who follow the Hellenic path, it was much more than that; it was a ritual. And this year, one of the main features has been changed up in order to keep everyone safe and happy - taking out the punch (aka Jungle Juice). There was a very long discussion over the change, which also included starting the festivities early and kicking it off with a costume parade. Sure, it's still BYOB, and yeah, we'll actually be able to see some of the costumes since it'll still be daylight during the parade, but for some folks who preferred the old way of doing things, it was a disappointment. Change is hard, but for those who saw Pan's Ball as a ritual, I'm certain things can be adjusted to bring the ritual part back into it.

So back to my photobooth. Last year, I took out an old bedsheet and painted the labyrinth onto it as a backdrop. It was a lot of work as you can imagine, but it made my heart sing. I'm more on the agnostic side of Paganism, as no God or Goddess has ever truly spoken to me, even though I'm most certainly aware of their presence. It's a personal thing really, and a big part of where the heart lies is from what experiences it has taken into it. So in my case, the gods have always seemed to be over there someplace. On a shelf to occasionally peruse.

When all that to do happened with the change-up, and those who pointed out the ritual aspect was being taken out, it had me thinking of Pan himself. What would his take on the situation be? if he was to join us, in his current physical form, what would he look like? What would his personality be? Sculptures and illustrations seem so dated to me. Over there. So that's when I was inspired to use his modern likeness for the backdrop.

From my original painting on canvas, I took a large amount of pictures to get the best one blown up and printed. The result arrived in the mail this week, and he's not only full of character, but he is life-sized. My heart sang as soon as I rolled it out! He's someone I could easily see joining us in our revelry, talking up the ladies, high-fiving the brosephs, pouring himself another drink and passing his favorite CDs over to the DJ to get the party into full swing. It's just not a party until Pan arrives! I can see this year's photobooth as very busy indeed!

And from there, it had me thinking of other gods and goddesses who have been set over there, on their pedestals, to be worshiped from a low distance. Perhaps that's why I've never felt any type of connection. They're not here with me. They're not among us. They're... over there someplace. So I began drawing more. And more. And more. And from my efforts, I have accumulated a lot of sketches to be painted, which I will share with you:b2ap3_thumbnail_Diana-and-dog.jpg

This is what I think Diana would look like today. She's still a Huntress, out with her dog in the woods. She's the kind of lady Daryl Dixon would admire. A no-nonsense kind of woman who embraces the modern world but prefers the rural life. What is she hunting? That's her business.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Venus.jpg

Here is the lovely Venus walking along the beach in her one-piece swimsuit selling seashells and roses. She earns a small income, but money isn't what's important to her. She wants to give and receive love more than anything else and do so while making people happy just being in her presence.

b2ap3_thumbnail_Triple-Goddess-Bakery.JPG

And here - this is what I think the Triple Goddess would look like - working together in the kitchen making cookies.Simple, right? Maybe too simple?

Of course, my sketches are just that - sketches - where I will be adding lots of little details to bring out their true nature. As is, these three people could be anyone - people you meet at the grocery store or whatever. And to me, that's how it should be. Why? Because the gods should be approachable. They shouldn't be over there someplace.

When I brought Pan to life from a sketch like the ones above, he felt like that guy everyone knows. I came this close to adding a '78 Trans Am with the Screaming Chicken and t-tops in the background, and as I was painting him, The Stroke was looping in my head. I could see him whipping up in a dust-blown donut with that song blasting from the sub-woofers, jumping out through the t-tops, two-fisting wine bottles and boastfully announcing his presence. "Sup, brahs! Who's here to party? Yeah!" And then the mere gathering becomes a night of pure debauchery - the stuff of legends!

So I ask you today: How do you see the gods? Are they with the capital "G" or are they people you work and hang out with daily?

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Lori Dake is a life-long native several generations back , is a mom to an adult son and married for over fifteen years. She is a leasing agent primarily serving the North Side and has also worked as a paralegal for several years. Sometimes, she’s a hardcore fashionista, and sometimes a concert shirt and jeans are more her style. Hobbies include painting while listening to 80’s metal, writing, participating in various forms of philanthropy and creating fabulous meals on a budget.

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