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When the 8 of Swords comes up in a reading, it usually means that your predicament is a product of your own making or imagination.  You have confined yourself to the degree that you are unable to free yourself or even see a way out.  In the Anna K version of this card, we see a woman looking at herself in a mirror but she is not seeing her true reflection, she is seeing something else entirely.  Her mirrored self is blindfolded and wrapped up in a material that is in both her current world and her mirrored world.  In the mirror, she is surrounded by swords with a small path in front of her while outside of the mirror she holds a sword in her hand.  Since the swords represent thoughts, the mirrored self suggests that she surrounded by her thoughts, allowing them to confine her while the self on the outside of the mirror has more control of her thoughts since the sword is in her hand.  Could it be that she seeing that she is doing it to herself?


Sometimes all it takes to get out of a situation is to take off the blind fold and look for the path in the swords. This may be as simple as seeing the swords in front of you or it may mean that you need to look at things from another viewpoint in order to see your escape route.  Either way sounds pretty easy but it can be extremely difficult, especially when you unknowingly see things a certain way as a way of self protection.  By not seeing the truth of a situation, the decisions we make or the actions that we take can alter things, taking on a snowball effect, making it worse.  We must ask ourselves: are we purposely refusing to see the truth as a way of protection or do we have so much going on that we are overwhelmed to the point that we can’t see the forest for the trees?  Could there be something else that is going on?  Do I feel like I am in a constant state of being stuck?  This is where the shadow comes in.


When we know that we are able to free ourselves by changing our perspective but we refuse to do so, we are choosing to be victims.  We know we have a choice and we are choosing to feel miserable over joy.  The more we refuse to deal, the more swords pile up around us, building more of a fortress, making it impossible to escape because the path becomes more difficult to see.  


Fear is a major contributor to keeping us stuck: fear of the unknown, fear of change, etc.  It has a way of enslaving us in order to do its bidding…keep us from moving forward.  Is fear the only emotion that keeps us stuck?


This shadow takes some investigating as to the “why” we are refusing to see things the way they really are.  Start asking yourselves more questions:  


Am I seeing things they way they really are?


Do I want to move forward?


What am I afraid of? 


Start journaling and write down every question or statement that comes up.  Meditate on the questions.  You can find an 8 of Swords tarot card that you resonate with and meditate on it.  See yourself as the person in the card, blindfolded and surrounded by the swords. 


What happens if you take off your blindfold?


How does that feel?


Can you see your way out?


What are the swords to you?


Are they different fears?


Are they random things in your life that are holding you back?


Do you know how to handle them?


Do you see the path to get out?


What happens if you take a step toward it?


If it is too overwhelming for you, look at one sword at a time and figure out what it would take to solve the problem so it will disappear.  After the meditation, look at how you can remove the obstacles that are getting in your way.  Don’t get overwhelmed; work on one thing at a time.  If you are truly stuck, ask a close friend to help you out.  Maybe they can help you see things from a different perspective.  Sometimes fresh eyes can see more clearly.  Before you know it, your ties will be unbound and you will be forging your path through those pesky swords.


This months affirmation:


My thoughts do not control me, I control my thoughts. 


Bright blessings, 




Read more]]> (Machelle Earley) Culture Blogs Sun, 16 Mar 2014 15:29:18 -0700
Warrior & Queer



 This is an update on something that I wrote for Green Man back in 1995 (Thank you Diane Conn Darling wherever you are). Surprisingly I had to change very little although 18 years have passed since I first wrote on this topic. Though framed through the lens of being Queer, this post has much to say about being a warrior and acting with honor. This is my way of saying give it a read — this is not a political rant and may be applicable to your life whoever you may be. I could have actually deleted the word Queer from this post and said virtually the same things. I could have justified that deletion on the grounds of making my post more accessible and perhaps more widely read and shared. However that would not have honored the root and the impetus for my ideas and observations, and moreover it would not be a warrior’s choice.


As a Queer man, each day that I spend in the world requires that I make the choice to be or not to be a warrior.  With varying degrees of awareness, I believe this to be true for all people whose gender and sexuality falls outside the commonly accepted norms.  Because of the Isms and Phobias that permeates us as individuals and as communities many of the seemingly mundane encounters with my fellow humans become tests and challenges.  These words may seem a bit like hyperbole, but if you believe that each moment counts then they ring true.  I experience being out as a Queer man as an obligation to myself, a political service, and a sacred duty.  Further,  the quality of how I express being out is in part the measure of my honor.


The elements that make up the path of the warrior can closely parallel the path walked by those Queer people who choose to be out.  Walking this path is a task that requires constant adjustment; each step is falling and catching ourselves while trying to reach a destination.  To be a warrior is to live balanced on the knife edge of free will and karma.  Each action or inaction results in consequences that ultimately make up an individual’s destiny and their legacy.  The warrior lives by an ethic based in personal honor which means they must live as if they were free. Pause and read that again. We are not actually free but we must live as if we were, if we are ever to achieve more freedom. We are all burdened by the yoke of oppressions, some internal and some external, and all partly known and partly hidden from our awareness.  By living true to their inner self, the Queer warrior shows what might be possible to those that are still wearing the yokes that pull the wagon of oppression.  Abiding by the truth of Nature and the truth of Spirit rather than the norms of the world is not without cost.


Indeed, the acceptance of the cost is part of being a warrior.  Most Queer people are not out.  Are they cowards?  No, most are not, but where do you go to learn courage in this culture?  The root for the word courage comes from the Latin word for heart.  I believe that for most Queer people the process of coming into their adulthood, to their self-awareness of sexuality, and to their place in the world is a grueling, frightening, and disheartening journey.   I believe that in part the scarcity of out Queer people is due to a lack of heart, but a greater part may be a lack of spirit.  To be a warrior is a calling, a vocation, that can only be heard if the ears are open to the voice of spirit.


Until the resurgence of Pagan sensibility in the Western world, there were virtually no communities of faith where it was possible for queer people to fully express their spiritual yearnings.  Some Queer people, through talent, perseverance, and divine guidance, have been able to create their own path. Exceptional individuals can find ways to flourish in social terrains where others barely survive. For those Queer people whose spiritual roots have not delved below the arid layers to the ancient waters deep below, the possibilities of a spiritual life that affirms the whole truth of their souls masquerades as a taunting mirage.


Before becoming a warrior, Queer people must undergo a quest.  This is the quest for true identity.  The beginning of coming out is becoming one’s Self.  Like sexuality, and just about everything else in the manifest universe, enlightenment is on a continuum.  The process of coming out is a quest for enlightenment because the quest for the Self is an echo of the quest for the Divine. When the nature of Queer energy is recognized by the seeker, it becomes possible to see others as connected in community.  The old lie of “the only thing we have in common is what we do in bed” becomes absurd.


Being out is a sacrifice in the sacred sense of the word.  For a warrior, sacrifice does not mean martyrdom nor does it mean the slavish devotion of a political soldier to an ideology. A warrior sacrifices himself because of personal honor, because it serves the greater good of the community, and because it expresses a spiritual truth.  So long as those three conditions are served, being out is being a Queer warrior. To be out may result in the loss of employment, loss of housing, loss of opportunities, estrangement from loved ones, physical harm, verbal abuse, and even death.  To accept these dangers, there must be faith in the future and an appreciation for the subtle inner rewards of a life lived in truth.  


Every action against heterosexism is not necessarily the act of a Queer warrior.  A warrior is effective; battles must be chosen carefully.  A warrior’s actions are corrective — not punitive.  A warrior’s actions must not be selfish, rather they serve self, community, and spirit. In concrete terms this means accepting the responsibility implicit in being a visible member of a hidden community.  It means a willingness to teach, to dialogue, and to endlessly endure painful misconceptions.  It also means denying oneself the thrill of shock tactics when the shock will not lead to a higher end. Conflict does not make a warrior but knowing when and why to engage does.


  For myself, each new person I meet and each new social or professional setting brings new choices about how, when, or if to come out. With each day I must reaffirm my vows to myself and renew my belief that our society will grow healthier though I may not live to see the changes I hope for.  A willingness to work for benefits that you will not reap is also another characteristic of the warrior path. Warrior is not my preferred role or identity; it is but one of many. Unfortunately, it is a role that is almost inseparable from living with integrity as a Queer man at this time in history.


If you substituted Pagan for Queer in this post, much would still ring true without changing a word. In fact you can plug in quite a few different identities and affinities and the song remains the same.



The first time I thought about being a warrior was in High School after listening to Wishbone Ash’s song Warrior. Give a listen here if you like:

Read more]]> (Ivo Dominguez Jr) Studies Blogs Thu, 03 Jan 2013 10:24:12 -0800
What "The Rock" Taught Me About Witchcraft

I have a small confession to make, I used to watch wrestling on television. I know, I know, I was younger, I had a television, and I got caught up in all the fireworks, loud music, and drama that goes with it. I haven't seen any of that stuff in over a decade; it gets repetitive pretty quickly, and my brain isn't a fan of repetitive. however, one persona on that show, "The Rock", taught me a valuable lesson with his catch phrase, "Know your role, and shut your mouth."

Read more]]> (Peter Beckley) Culture Blogs Mon, 03 Sep 2012 08:25:00 -0700
Working Spirituality A cross-post this week, if I may - between here at my first blog 'home', and the wonderfully eclectic 'Witches & Pagans' site (because if you can't 'moonlight' as a Pagan, then who can?).

I am very aware that I haven't written anything at either location for a couple of weeks. I could give excuses - ultimately, the days have flown past and life has been more important. I'm sure we all know how that goes. Instead, take a wander with me, if you will.

Regular readers know that one of my favourite places for inspiration is as I walk the dog across the hilltop where I live. This evening I wandered the streets, looking out at the fierce clouds parting after an intense rain and thunder-storm just a few hours ago, the remnants of a rainbow, and the slightly 'stunned' feeling of a normal, modern, country village after a violent and unavoidable incident of Nature. The grass is rich and green, the snails appear to have made a small bypass across the path outside one particular row of houses, and the occasional early bat is swooping overhead.

Read more]]> (Cat) Paths Blogs Tue, 21 Aug 2012 13:37:29 -0700
This Land is My Land... Deity and Modern Practice One of the key foundations of modern (and ancient) Paganism is also one of the most contentious. We find it very hard to talk about, it seems, and yet it's fairly key to many people's personal practice. When I've talked about it in the past, it almost seems like I'm breaking a taboo, with the words themselves being 'dirty' or embarrassing. And yet, learning from my passionate and heartfelt Heathen friends, that embarrassment is itself disrespectful, dishonourable and, ultimately, rather foolish.

Who are your Gods and Goddesses? What does Deity mean to you, and how does it influence and affect your Paganism? From the Platonic 'ultimate Male/Female' images (tallying with 'All Gods/Goddesses are One') to the pantheistic, international eclectic transference of pretty much any deity with any other no matter where you yourself live, talking about Deity is a tricky business. Especially because ultimately, nobody can really tell you you're wrong. Or right. Except, perhaps, those Gods themselves.

The Judgement of Paris (Classical)

Read more]]> (Cat) Paths Blogs Tue, 07 Aug 2012 05:19:41 -0700
Harvest Today is Lammas-tide, Lughnasadh, the festival of the grain harvest. Across the land, fields full of golden wheat, barley and numerous others have been growing tall, a feast for the eyes as they bend in the breeze, a feast for the birds, bees, mice and other creatures that run between the rows.

In centuries past, it would be entire communities who came out to help with the harvest, threshing, binding and preparing the crop to last them the winter. Fuel is needed for heat, nourishment and sustenance for livestock - without a successful harvest, a lean winter means walking the path between life and death.

These days, it's more the rumble of heavy-duty farming machinery at work that is heard as the harvest is gathered in - but it's no less valuable for that. Despite the knowledge that we can import food, fuel and whatever we need from other places, there's still the essential connection between us and the land as personified in the life of our fuel-stuffs. We celebrate it, we recognise and remember it. Children make corn-dollies, singers remember John Barleycorn.

Read more]]> (Cat) Paths Blogs Wed, 01 Aug 2012 14:36:28 -0700
Defining the Path a1sx2_Original1_ThreePathIvo.jpgThis is my first post in this blog and it is actually the first time I am blogging. Although I am generally an early adopter of many technologies and cultural trends, I do resist certain things. As an example, I did not have a cell phone until 3 years ago though I have had email since 1979. Part of my resistance to blogging was that I needed to choose a focus for the blog because I am blessed with so many interests. I am passionate about the growth and development of the various intertwining streams of inspiration that form the pagan community. I also feel a great sense of duty to this community, this marvel of diversity that so often overflows its banks and cuts new stream beds. The name of my blog is "Skryclad" a play on skry and skyclad as I intend to offer my bare personal truths clothed in my visions, dreams, and observations. It is my intention for passion and duty to equally inform my work on this blog.

To get things rolling, I'll be doing a three blog arc on the use of terms to describe personal and collective identity in my community, which may also be your community as well. Names, labels and categories have power and power can be used for good or ill. It may be that you wish to reframe the existing schemes of description or that you just wish to replace a few key words. It may be your choice to reject all notation and that the tradeoffs are equitable from your vantage point. It is my premise that the outright rejection of these containers is also a loss of their powers. I am sharing my work in progress on these matters with the hope that it will enliven your process. Here are a few observations to get us started.

Read more]]> (Ivo Dominguez Jr) Studies Blogs Wed, 01 Aug 2012 14:21:24 -0700