Cauldron to Kitchen

Paganism, food and spirituality

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Selina Rifkin

Selina Rifkin

Selina Rifkin, L.M.T., M.S. is a graduate of Temple University and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In 1998 she graduated from the Downeast School of Massage in Maine. She has published articles in Massage Therapy Journal, been a health columnist, and published The Referral Guide for Complementary Care, a book that describes 25 different healing modalities. In 2006 she completed her Masters program in Nutrition with a focus on traditional foods, and the work of Weston A. Price.
Currently she is the Executive Assistant to the Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the first Pagan seminary to offer Master’s degrees.

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_web3_sm.jpgAny discussion of the meaning of “Harm none” can - and should – generate plenty of questions. That’s the nature of determining our ethical behavior: our perspective shifts as we circle the problem at hand. This is necessary. The reason for ethics is to determine how to minimize damage to others, and unless we try to walk for a while in their shoes, to empathize with their viewpoint, its almost impossible to do that. This includes our own viewpoint. If we didn’t need to consider our own desire in any given matter, there would be no need for ethics. Which means we need to be very clear about why we want something, and ideally be aware of the consequences of that desire.

We might call this being good neighbors. How would you treat your neighbor if you want to continue – or create – a good relationship? That in no way means that you must be friends with this person, it only means that when you see them in person, that a smile and a wave is easily done. It might be faked, this person may have done something to mildly annoy you, but the fake is easy, and can eventually become a genuine smile if the offense is not repeated.

...
Last modified on

b2ap3_thumbnail_praybeads1_sm.jpgWhat makes you feel safe? What makes you feel tense and anxious? Does anything make you fear for you life? Most of us can answer that question, but how much sense does the answer make?

My mother was emotionally wounded by her relationship with my father. He was an alcoholic and cheated on her. When the feminist movement rose, she was primed for it.  I was raised to distrust  - and fear – men, which did nothing positive for my future relationships. My father’s abuse of me primed for fear of rape, and the ensuing divorce primed me to fear abandonment. I spent years in a chronic state of anxiety. Going out into the world always required an act of will. Some days I just couldn’t. My animals – horse, cats, dog – were my saving grace. My horse was why I left the house. He needed to be provided for, and the barn was a haven.

I was afraid of being catcalled, raped, having things come at me that I didn’t expect, loosing work (I had a housecleaning business) being audited, not being able to pay the bills, my boyfriend of the moment leaving me. Some of those things were under my control: ie the likelihood of my loosing work was reduced if I did a good job, the likelihood of being raped went down if I didn’t expose myself to certain situations (the reality of one never deserving to be raped is completely different from the statistical data about when and where it occurs), and I could spend less than I made. (generally I spent more. I had a HORSE.) Some things were not under my control: being catcalled, begin audited, and having unexpected things come at me (by definition).

But why fear some things but not others? I didn’t fear driving, and my likelihood of  being injured in a car accident was far higher than the likelihood that I would be audited, or raped (Are there statistics on catcalling in the 90s?) or even killed by fists or bunt object. I was not afraid of being shot - depsite the crime rate being higher back then than it is now. But then, we didn’t have the internet back then, and I didn’t own a TV.

Current brain science confirms that we are biased toward information that is negative. It is so basic to our biology that we don’t think about it. there are perfectly practical reasons for this. Nature is dangerous. It’s better for a clawless, furless primate to think that that rustle in the bushes is a leopard than to relax and ignore it, and  this trait work just as well when we are our own predators. But this trait is rotten for evaluating current actual threats. From the standpoint of human existence, we are barely off the savannah, but modern humans still have most of those instincts. This is generally a good thing. After all, when we get that feeling that something is wrong, we are well served to listen.

But it’s a bad thing when we use our fear to dictate what others should or should not do. Do as thou wilt, but harm none means that my rights end at your nose, and vice versa. There is no such thing as a right that forces others to do things for me, or that prevents others from doing as they please as long as they stay off my property and away from my person. Being afraid that my neighbor will do X (leaving aside for a moment the whole “attracting what you fear” thing) does not mean that I am morally justified in advocating for a law against X. First and foremost, I may be fearing a leopard, when its really a porcupine in the bushes, who would much rather be left alone.

Some things make us more afraid than we need to be based on how often the feared thing actually happens. I spent a lot of time ruminating on the things I feared. My brain made trenches with those thoughts that got deeper and deeper. Climbing out was hard. It became easier when I had a reason to climb out (my animals) and the comfort and reassurance of connection to deity. It also became easier when I learned to defend myself (ie a concrete action). External things can feed those fears. Media is an obvious example, but there are also likely to be people around us that wallow in such fears. My BIL is into prepping.* he talks often about society collapsing. As it happens, that was another thing I feared when I was in my teens (I read On The Beach and grew up during the cold war) and I had to get past that in order to function in the here and now. I can’t spend too much time chatting with him or he will draw me back into that fear.

Our biology biases us toward fear, but giving in to it is not a way to have a good life. I believe that the gods want better for us.

What do you fear? And how do you ease those fears? 

...
Last modified on

b2ap3_thumbnail_web3_sm.jpgI’ve spent the last 13 years living in some level of crisis. Not the “my life is in danger” kind of crisis, but more of an ongoing state of being triggered and having to attempt to reframe. I have many spiritual tools I’ve used to survive this. I have a black cup into which I channel dark thoughts. I have a strong connection with deity when I feel in despair, a connection fostered with meditation and time in nature, and with animals. I have made strands of prayer beads, and when my brain was spinning when I was trying to get some sleep, working my way along that strand was a life line. And I’ve spend time tending my ancestor’s graves.

But the source of my distress has now moved out of my house – how I made that happen is a story for another day – and I can catch a breath. Literally. The day she moved out was very long. I was up and out at 7:30 and got home 12 hours later. The house was empty and I had the sensation of bracing myself for a blow that didn’t come when I came home. I took a breath. Then I took another. She has always taken up a lot of psychic space. She would spread herself out and occupy space, always choosing the best spot for any activity, most often the spot her father liked. Then she resisted being moved. As I write this, I could compile a list of petty offenses, and if that were the only issue, then it would have been a more simple matter. No doubt she would have done what adults do and gotten a job and moved herself out. She has a degree in engineering after all. But she also has serious mental health issues. She has a diagnosis of schizophrenia, autism - which would have been really helpful to know when she was growing up, and most recently OCD has been added to the list. But beyond all that, she was just not a nice person.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_web3_sm.jpgWhen I first started studying magic – almost 40 years ago now – one of the first things I learned was that doing magic on or for someone without their explicit knowledge and consent was a big no-no. There was potential for creating serious negative energy that could extend beyond the lifetime in which the spell was done, and lead to debts that would need to be repaid in successive lives. Such magic also went against my personal philosophy that I was responsible for myself and my own actions, and the gods would judge and reward me accordingly, and by extension, other people we responsible for their own actions and would be suitably judged and rewarded. In general I have lived by this, doing little magic (what I have done has been successful) and often without formal circle as I tend to work more with meditation and journeying. But I have a close family member who is changing my mind.

As a new teen at age 13, she maintained she was evil. Since I have a degree in psychology, I came to some conclusions about why she kept saying this. But those conclusions were not helpful. The child refused any and all self reflection, clinging to this story as if it were life. Perhaps it was. But we could not allow such a belief to continue, especially in the face of her increasing anger and simmering aggression. She had already done damage to property and struck her mother - the latter I didn’t’ find out until over years later – but the psychic dark cloud that surrounded her was enough to demonstrate that she was drawing on some bad stuff.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_woods2_sm.jpgTo be orderly, tidy, structured would seem to be a human thing as opposed to something natural. A stroll in the woods, a thunderstorm, a wild river; none of these seem at all organized in the way that comes to mind when we used that word. “Organized” is more likely to produce images of a desk with every staple in its place, or a schedule so tight that relaxation time is marked on a calendar. But nature too is organized. In a mature eco-system, each element has a precise role to play. That role is highly efficient in that every plant, every animal, every bacterium performs multiple jobs within the system simply by going about their day.

The elderberry bush produces berries that both feeds birds and humans. It provides shade and shelter for small animals. Its rapidly growing branches create biomass that falls to the ground and nurtures and protects the soil herd.* The creatures the bush shelters poop and pee there, providing nutrients to the bush and the soil herd. The microbiota beneath the bush pull minerals and nitrogen from the soil and give it to the bush in exchange for a bit of carbon sugar that the plant makes special for each type of bacteria. The bacteria also build soil aggregates that retain water, which then nourishes the bush. Myochoriza - thin filaments of fungi – spread their strands between and through the roots, puncturing them and connecting the bush with other plants in the neighborhood. This allows them to share both resources and information.

...
Last modified on

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Hiawatha_M._L._Kirk_-_1910.jpgThe people of standing rock North Dakota won a victory this week. The Army Corps of Engineers denied access to the Dakota pipeline. The pipeline, which is already 90% built, will be rerouted. Although exactly where it will be rerouted is still open to question. The pipeline route now being protested does not go through the current boundaries of the reservation, but the old reservation boundaries. And of course that change of boundary has also been contested, and rightfully so.

What is it like to have the land that was declared to be yours seized out from under you? People who have been affected by eminent domain could give you some answer to that. Although they could not speak to the cultural destruction that has been experienced by Native Americans.

Last modified on
Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Rianna Stone
    Rianna Stone says #
    Please tell me where you got your information from because I would love to know. You said, and I quote, "Reservations are owned by
  • Selina Rifkin
    Selina Rifkin says #
    My source is Naomi Schaefer Riley who wrote The New Trail of Tears She spent years visiting reservations and speaking with actual

Posted by on in Culture Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_web3_sm.jpgBeing an introvert, interacting with other humans is tiring. And yet I must, not only because the world is full of us, and I will be more healthy and live longer if I do, but because we all need each other in order to make our lives better. Every day we get help from others even if we never step outside our home or answer the phone. Short of moving out to the woods, building a shelter and finding all our food – an activity statistically likely to result in death – we are enmeshed in a web of human assistance.

This spring, my husband and I bought a house we are fixing up. We aren’t doing it alone thank the gods. We don’t have the time or skills to do everything that needs doing. We have a plumber, Kenny, and Steve, the fellow who did the gutters, but the fellow who has done a great deal of our work is Rey. Rey and his various helpers have re-roofed the shed in the back of the house, replaced the boards on the deck, cut doors in concrete and brick walls, and installed doors and windows. I too am a maker. I can do construction, sew things, and create art. But I physically cannot do everything. My body is not strong enough to do what Rey and his crew achieve in the space of a few weeks. If I did not have their help, it would take months, if it got done at all. I like very much that my energy is in this house. It is an act of magical creation to transform an space that has been empty and lonely for two years into warm and inviting nest. But it is not my energy alone. Rey enjoys his job. He takes pictures of everything he does. He teaches his helpers how to do things, and he keeps doing it, even when they abandon him to make more money working on their own. He helps me, he helps them. Yes, we pay him, and he pays them. But that doesn’t change the good feelings I have about a man who has made my life better. And he feels good about us too. He’s so happy with the amount of money that we have given him over the summer, that he offered us a half day of work for free. (And for the cynical, no, he doesn’t over-charge for his work.)

...
Last modified on

Additional information