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Why growing up in a church home can really hurt – part 1

I’ve been thinking a lot about Orlando and about how so many pastors condemned the dead and not the shooter. It brought back a lot of bad memories of growing up in church and hiding for all the years before I came out and had to leave the church or rather, they left me.

I was raised in the largest Presbyterian church in the US at the time. We always had a minimum of 5 pastors, an executive pastor, an asst, a pastor that did hospital visits, a youth pastor, a college pastor and we also had Christian ED heads, usually the only woman on the executive staff and a Minister of Music. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Presbyterian_Church_of_Hollywood

There were a multitude of choirs and we were world famous for the one that ranked the highest. I started in Carol Choir and moved up to the all girl Lyric choir in Junior high, I was also in a special choir that sang at Junior Church, Wylie Chapel Choir during second service which was supposed to be an honour to be asked to be in but most of us were choir brats whose parents were in the main choir, The Cathedral choir. There was also a High School choir and a choir that was a mix of people not good enough to be in Cathedral Choir and college kids that I skipped called the Chancel Choir and got into Cathedral Choir after High School and I was in the Sunday night choir called the Happening, (hey it was the 70s.) and we got to sing more modern music. We also had a bell choir for each age group and I was in those along with my brother and eventually my sister.

We started Sunday School at 2 years of age and started learning the Bible and memorizing to for awards, a Bible in third grade, filling up shields with memorized passages, (they were shields because they represented the armour of God). This why the holy rollers and Bible beaters can’t get far with me because I usually know the Bible better than they do. I was in Church every Sunday and at Bible Study during the week when I was older. We took catechism in 7th grade to become members of the church and that was the first big time I was aware that maybe I didn’t fit in. I had feelings before this about it. I had difficulty memorizing and Saturday nights before I had to recite some new thing were absolute torture, if I couldn’t sing it I had real trouble remembering  it. I felt really bad about it. I was told I wasn’t trying hard enough.

The year I joined the church I had to make some decisions. At the time I was dad’s punching bag when he got mad and I decided to tell the Elder that interviewed us to join about it and I did and I was told to honour my father and mother in all things. So I made my first act of rebellion. I refused to get baptized when I joined the church. Presbyterians dedicate their babies to raise them in the church and you are supposed to be baptized when you join the church. I told my parents it was because I didn’t want to get up in front of the church which shouldn’t have made any sense since we had to be in the front of the church to join and I was in front all the time when I was in choir and when I did other things but they bought it, even though my best friend was doing it.

My Dad was Head Usher, he was an Elder, he had been a Deacon. He had status in church and I did not. My mom was in Cathedral Choir, and was at one point, President of the Women’s Auxillary, She was President of Elder’s Wives and when women were allowed to be Deacons and Elders she became a Deacon. Wives and husbands couldn’t be Elders or Deacons at the same time. They were in their adult Sunday School classes. Mom was also the Executive Secretary for the Minister of Music. She had status.

We were in church at least 3 days a week, usually more. The only respite I got was summer when I was with my grandparents who for some reason did not go in the summer. That was when we took trips to be in nature. That was when I became a sponge to what my grandmother was teaching about nature and faeries and family stories. That was when I was free.

About 7th grade I became aware that I liked girls way more than the girls around me who liked boys. So not only did what they were teaching in church make me in uncomfortable but the only kind of church I felt at home in was when we went to camp.

They sent us to some conference where the minister yelled about the evils of holding hands and kissing boys and I felt relieved because I had no desire to do it anyway.

I would sit in Sunday School and make up questions to ask my Sunday School teachers. Miss Pringle was our 7th grade Sunday School teacher. She was older than God and had no business teaching a bunch of 12 year olds in the late 1960s. We were smarter than her and we knew it. I remember asking why is was okay for Mary to be an unwed mother and not us? She freaked out at the question and scolded all of us. This was on my mind because my mother has started going on about being an unwed mother and that it would be the worst thing in the world if I did that. Since I didn’t like boys, I found it amusing.

But I was feeling more and more alienated and out of place and the feeling only grew as I got older. No one ever told me there was such a thing as lesbians and this was pre-Stonewall. I only ever heard about gay men and how it was so sad about them being “HOMOSEXUALS” even though I could see Jim in my mom’s choir was anything but sad and I loved him because he was always encouraging me to try new things like design needlework patterns. He loved to needlepoint and at the time I did a lot of it too.

Saturday’s Faire was magical

Saturday at the Faire was wonderful. At our winter Faire I was sick and I was living with a diagnosis of advance ovarian cancer, supposedly Stage 3 or 4 and I hadn’t told anyone that it was that bad. I went through Faire wondering if it was my last time at Faire. I didn’t take as many pictures then as I usually do. I just wasn’t fully present and I was being pulled away.

Saturday was joyous. I have never been hugged and kissed by so many people. I’m firmly convinced these people saved my life by their loving wonderful energy. I% of the tumours like mine are advanced ovarian cancer but the doctors were wrong and I will take the 1% I was given with love gladly.

I took pictures which I will post some of soon. I even had my traditional photo battle with my friend Tony. We both do a lot of pagan events so we are always getting each other on film , He says I’m sneaky. I like to take candids and he likes to pose people. So we have a bit of fun, I smiled, I even danced a tiny bit. I hugged my friend, Ruth Barrett and was hugged and thanked in return for her support. I’ve known Ruth for 30 years. I started in the Dianic community and I will always have at least one foot there. What the pagan community is doing to her is wrong. And the majority should not rule in their bigotry to women who worship the Goddess and love other women.

For once I was not horribly nervous when I was reading. I did it from my new Kindle which was not cooperating about which stories it allowed me to access. I think the faeries had control. They kept bringing up the Littlest Druid story I posted yesterday. I just couldn’t read that. I was already in tears from thanking everyone for their energy so I could be well.

Faire is always between the worlds but Saturday it felt so obvious that it was a rare safe space to be pagan in public. Womenspirit Faire was magical.

Flameshift

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Every day and every night that I say the genealogy of Brighid
I shall not be killed
I shall not be harmed
I shall not be put into a cell
I shall not be wounded

No fire, no sun, no moon shall burn me
No lake, no water, no sea shall drown me.

For I am the child of Poetry,
Poetry, child of Reflection,
Reflection, child of Meditation,
Meditation, child of Lore,
Lore, child of Research,
Research, child of Great Knowledge,
Great Knowledge, child of Intelligence,
Intelligence, child of Comprehension,
Comprehension, child of Wisdom,
Wisdom, child of Brighid.
Carmina Gaedelica edited by Lunea Weatherstone

May my words be as considered as poetry,
May I reflect on all I do or say,
May I meditate on those things important spiritually
May I seek to know more of the lore
May I research what I am curious about and what will enable me to grow
May I seek to know great knowledge,
May I acknowledge the intelligence of others
May I comprehend what I seek to learn and apply those lessons
May I know that seeking wisdom is not the same as being wise.
May I be a child of Brighid.

SelfBlessing is by me

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Brighid, bean-oirdheirc
Lasrach grad
Fetaim lasrach soillse
Thoir cuireadh sinne
ris a’ bheatha
mhaireannach`

Brighid, Sublime Woman
Quick flame
Long may you burn bright!
You give us the invitation
to life everlasting

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Say my name that I may live – Laura Janesdaughter

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For those gone too soon:

I give thanks for those who have gone beyond the veil.

Say my name that I may live!

I give thanks that they have touched my life

Say my name that I may live!

I remember the beauty of a face

Say my name that I may live!

I remember that they laughed

Say my name that I may live!

I remember that they cried

Say my name that I may live!

I remember that they were afraid

Say my name that I may live!

I remember that they were brave

Say my name that I may live!

I remember their smile

Say my name that I may live!

I remember the good about them

Say my name that I may live!

I remember their love

Say my name that I may live!

I remember them!

Say my name that I may live!

©Kat Robb

How “the Dance or BunniHoTep and the real reason for the Flood” was written

A lot of my stories were dreamed but this one wasn’t. It was born on the way home from our twice yearly Solstice Faires. Long Beach Womenspirit and TOILA (Temple of Isis Los Angeles) have been putting on Faires for over 25 years now. It’s goes to once a year on Summer Solstice this year, we are too old and there are fewer and fewer of us to do all the work but anyway we do Faire.

We always have plenty of good pagan entertainment and some years we have had at least 3 groups of belly dancers, as well as storytellers like me and musical acts like Ruth Barrett and Lisa Thiel or Miri Hunter. We used to end every Faire with a group bellydance led by Anniitra after her performance. The year I wrote this it turned into lessons and C and E were two kids there dancing with Anniitra and just glowing with life and joy.

Somehow this touched something in my heart and the story started to take shape. It solidified when I got home and was going through the 400 photos minimum I usually take to document Faire, one year it was closer to 800. And I managed to capture some of it and within an hour I was writing and the Dance was born. It’s still one of my favourites if just because it’s so anti Judeo-Christian interpretation of the event that actually does show in geologic sediment in the Mediterranean as having really happened and since cultures all over the world have Flood stories, why not another one. Anyway, that was how this particular story came to be.

And here are the photos:

A prayer for Laura

 

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Oh Hecate, Be with us this week
This was a week, 3 years ago that was so hard
You sat with us as we sat with Laura
We watched her pass from our realm to yours
We sang, We prayed, We read to her
We soothed her fears and tried to sooth our own
We loved her in all the ways we could
And we wept.

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Oh Hecate, let her know she was loved
Let her know her name is still spoken
Let her know that her life was written on our hearts
Let her know she helped us grow
She taught us to be priestesses by her being one
She taught us to stay on the path

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She showed us the Goddess and we followed
She showed us courage
She showed us love
She showed us the path
Oh Hecate, I miss her
I miss her ideas
I miss her encouragement
I miss her wild red hair and ever changing streaks
I miss the matching nail polish
But most of all I miss her wisdom and love

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The Night Before Beltane

This is what happens when the system goes down at work. Never let a pagan’s brain roam.

                     )O(

T’was the night before Beltane

And all through the house

Not a creature was stirring

Well, Brownies chasing a mouse.

The Maypole was hung in the garden

With care

In hopes that the coven soon would be there.

The people were nestled all snug in their tents

Some of them dreaming of bonfires immense

And I in my sleep shirt and she in much less

And just settled in to state of undress.

When out on the lawn arose such a clatter

I sprang from my bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the doorway I flew like a fool

And promptly tripped over her mules.

The moon rose high over lawns green and dim

Gave luster to a man who was definitely not slim

Surrounded by Maenads it now did appear

That Beltane was going to be wilder this year.

With a great bowl of wine and a keg by his side

I knew that Sir Bacchus had now just arrived.

“To the Maypole, to the Maypole”, he cried

And I hoped that the cheeses and meat would survive.

The Maenads were dancing and making us dizzy

And I knew that the Priestesses would throw such a tizzy

They were being upstaged by the Maenads crazed dance

That only Radical Fairies even stood half a chance.

I feared for the children’s well dressing to last

The Maenads were sweeping along in the paths

The Maypole was leaning a bit to the south

While I just stood gaping with wide open mouth

He was dressed all in leaves, from head to his toe

With grape vines entwined thoughout, don cha know.

A keg on two legs was found at his heels

I could see that he hardly ever missed a few meals.

His face was so red and shined with a glow

The wreath on his head was tipping just so

He smiled with a smile just full of great glee

He was going to be our most favourite party crashee

He gathered us round and started the dance

We all then joined in for such a fine prance.

Morning came when the sun started to rise

He waved us goodbye from over the rise

“Drink plenty of wine!” He gave us his warning

“Happy Beltane to all and to all a great morning”.

By ElfKat ©2012