Archive | March 29, 2013

G is for my Garden – a Pagan Blog Post

Things I’ve learned by gardening

I’ve learned that beauty can be in the most amazing things. The first glimpse of a seed poking through the dirt, butterflies and hummingbirds and the lowly earthworm. All the colours and shades of green and that even in winter there is something to appreciate.

I’ve learned patience – that plants take their own sweet time and that some take years to get to where you want them.

I’ve learned that you have to be ruthless and willing to kill. Nothing thrives in a garden if there are bad bugs so you have to fight with things like soap and predator bugs like ladybugs and decollated snails. That pruning helps a plant many times and that you have to be willing to cut one you love down. And that pretty copper tape and stale beer work wonders killing snails.

You can’t be vegan and be a gardener. The best fertilizers are urine, blood and bone meal. If you are using chemical fertilizers sometimes you are robbing your soil. Compost alone won’t do it for many plants and you need blood and bone.

You have to be willing to take the time to put a plant where it will be happy and not just put it where you want it.

You have to learn to share with the squirrels and the skunks and the opossums and the deer. You aren’t alone in the world.

I’ve learned that plants can communicate and that if you are patient it’s not hard to learn how and to listen to them and I’m not talking about plant devas, that is a different kind of communication.

I’ve learned that the world outside my door is a wonderous, beautiful place and that my garden is a place of rest and constant warfare on a small scale. That spiders can be vicious killing machines and strangely beautiful at the same time.

I love my garden.

I’ve been very, very lucky

One of the reasons I’ve been able to meet so many people is that when I joined the pagan community here in Los Angeles the pagan community was a lot smaller than it is now. It was easy to get involved and if you volunteered to help you were golden.

As I said my first HP was on the Board of the Pallas Society. And the Pallas Society put on Harvest Moon. By virtue of that fact if Merrie wanted you to do it you did it. She had too many apprentices at the time I met her and I was going to have to wait at least a year to apprentice when some friends decided to start a women’s spirituality study group and I was asked to join. We were a mixed lot.

Meanwhile Merrie was lying in wait and waiting for us to grow up.

Some us were fans of the Darkover books and the idea of Thendara House. Some had read Mists of Avalon that had just come out. Some had been D&D players. One woman had been in the class with Ruth Barrett under Z and got her training there. I was a big MZB fan and played D&D as well as being one of Merrie’s merry band of students. I had Merrie’s seal of approval so we started out and after a year and a day which just happened to be Brighid/Candlemas we initiated the coven and ourselves. And then we went to the first Harvest Moon and I found the wider world of paganism.

At that point of time in LA there were 2 factions of DIanics in LA. Ones that would hex and ones that wouldn’t, my group was in the one that wouldn’t and the PS board was taking flack for being homophobic which was really strange because all of Merrie’s students were dykes. But the board decided they wanted a mixed circle and a women’s only circle the 2nd festival and we were the ones the board asked to do it. And we took a lot of shit for it and were terrified to do it but we did. Some of the men came to us and told us we had no right to put on a women’s only circle. That magic had to have men and women to work, uh no! and they were quite angry at the board for doing it. There was a gay man who came to the circle and had a quite literal temper tantrum when we told him no. He said he was “just like a woman”. Uh no! and he went squeeling off to the board to complain. All I know is that we had support from people like Selene and the other women high priestesses that were there and we survived to do it again the next year and several after that.

I’ve met a lot of really wonderful pagans and I’ve met several that quite frankly go jump off a cliff, either just plain nasty or so full of themselves that I started looking for a large hat pin. There are some notables that have been at Harvest Moon that made me want to take a bath. They were either so homophobic they made us want to run because they hated us so much. Or so dim that they made passes at us. Hint: group of women in the mid 80’s with very short hair and masculine clothing who mostly stuck together, except me who found herself talking to almost everybody.

I eventually ended up on the Pallas Society board and one of the editors and occasional illustrators and writers under various names of the Pallas Society News/Pagan Digest. And I taught the first Wicca 101 classes with DJ for them. When that collapsed out of burnout I was on the board of FERAL. FERAL put on concerts once a month. We had a lot of pagan talent come through and when we did have a concert we had a party or dance. I taught Wicca 101 for them too until everyone got burnout from doing that and poor Stacia that was the head of FERAL got health problems we called it a day. I also was on the board of United We Circle that Barbara McGraw and Pat McCollum started.

We had a division of labor in our coven. Most of the others were active in gay rights causes and I was the dyke that was active in pagan groups. I took a rest and in 1998 I took a Haedery class from a woman that was teaching got TOILA and that was how I ended up there and I’ve been there ever since. So I have been very, very lucky and I’m grateful to everyone I have learned from along the way. I’m a much better person from the people I have met and I thank the Goddess every day.

I’m ashamed – I forgot a biggie

I forgot someone who has been extremely influential to me, Laura Janesdaughter. Laura has taught me so much and I view her a major role model. Laura Is a Heirophant and an Arch Druidess in FOI. She founded the first Iseum out here, Iseum of Isis Pelagia. She has been involved with Long Beach Womenspirit. She is a coach, a cheerleader, a Priestess and a leader. And a lot of people have come through her tutelage whether they will admit it or not, including one person on the other influential pagan women’s list who likes to pretend she didn’t.

All of us in the Temple of Isis/Los Angeles love her dearly and I know I would follow her just about anywhere.

the 13 Pagans who have been influential to me

Two blogs have listed the Most Influential Pagans and I thought I’d list mine.

The Pagans I call influential are the ones who I have met and have been my teachers at least once. Some I have called friend and some I still do. So in no particular order.

Marion Weinstein – Author of Positive Magic which at the point I came into paganism/Wicca was the only readily available book. I was lucky enough to be one of her escorts when she was a presenter at Harvest Moon much later. She was one of the most down to earth people you will ever meet and the typical Jewish grandmother. She was always asking if I needed a sweater, wasn’t I cold? So I made her a button,” I am the Goddess of all things and all things should wear a sweater!” She was a delight.

Z Budapest – Mother of the Dianic movement. Love her or hate her, Z is the founder of Dianic craft and deserves respect. I happen to find her a lot of fun most of the time. She is a fighter and fights for what she believes to be right and has the courage of her convictions. Something that can be awfully rare. Her tiny yellow book had a big influence on me when It first came out.

Shekinah Mountainwater – Author of Ariadne’s thread, great book if you haven’t read it. She spoke at the WCWMF one year and had every one mesmerized.

Ruth Barrett – is both a lovely person and musician but a pillar to the Dianic Movement. I met her long ago before Circle of Aradia came about and will always admire her.

Selene Fox – I had the pleasure of meeting her at the first Harvest Moon and participated in her wonderful workshops and the next year when she came she attended my coven’s first open women’s circle and was a major calming influence a some very scared, first time in public priestesses. We adored her for that and always will.

Marija Gimbutas – her scholarship was amazing and I had the pleasure to meet her when she gave the Pallas Society their first workshop. That was a wonderful evening of slides and knowledge and laughter. She is sorely missed.

Scott Cunningham – a fantastic, funny, take no shit, wonderful person that I had the best time with one Harvest Moon. Even if he did embarrass the shit out of me. He was a font of wisdom and common sense something that can be sorely lacking in pagans sometimes. Rest well, Scott.

Paul Bereyl – my other favourite gay male pagan whom I dearly love. Author of several books on herbalism , astrology and the Wiccan Bardo. I took many classes from him. He can be a stern task master and has the most mischievous sense of humour. The time he spent in LA was wonderful and I loved going to Circle when he was having them here. I just wish I could get up to Seattle to see him again.

Pat McCollum – An amazing man, generous friend and our best ambassador. I met him at the first Harvest Moon. He is doing wonderful work as a prison chaplain and as he travels the world. He also knows a lot about herbs and the craft. He also is married to another wonderful person who is rather quiet now, Barbara McGraw, but if you ever get to hear her sing her goddess music, do it!

Merrie Foerster – My first teacher , on the first board of the Pallas Society and one of the founders of Harvest Moon. Priestess extraordinaire, ex Marine MP capable of scarring little Mormon boys who show up during Circle for life.

Ffiona Morgan – Author of the Daughters of the Moon tarot. Wonderful priestess and maker of jewelry and a mainstay of the West Coast Women’s Music Festival. We always had to hurry to her booth to see what she had and to get the women who hadn’t bought her deck to buy one to colour. She also had at least one Circle at the fest that was a can’t miss date.

Steve Blamires – Author of various well researched works on Celtic Craft. I got to be Steve’s escort at the Harvest Moon he was main presenter at and I had the best time even though we had a hard time finding things to do since most things were closed on a holiday Monday. We ended up at Descanso Gardens, roaming under the trees and talking like old friends. I had a great time comparing what my Scottish grandmother had taught me and what he as a Scottish native knew. It was a wonderful day.

Diana Paxson – I fell in love with her novels but I got to meet her at one of Z’s Goddess 2000 camps and go to her workshops on Scandanavian seers, runes and other Northern European women’s spirituality topics the 2 times I was able to attend. Excellent teacher and I love her writing fiction and non-fiction.

So those are my thirteen pagans who were influential on my practice aside from my grandmother who was not an influential person to other pagans but she was to me.