Tag Archive | Pagan blog project

Q is for Q & A with an old pagan fart

Q & A on paganism of the last 30 years

1, How long have you been a pagan, wiccan, etc?

I’ve been part of modern paganism since 1984 when I met Merrie Foerster and started studying with her group but I was part of a family tradition of folk ways from when I was little.

2. What’s changed in that time?

So much. A lot of the elders I met in the 80’s are gone, Marion Weinstein, Marija Gimbutas, Isaac Bonewits, Monica Sjoo, Scott Cunningham and others are gone now.

When I first entered the community it was mostly female and very few people called themselves pagan. Everybody but CES and the small Asatru group in LA was Wiccan. Dianics were among the biggest active groups in LA and there were several out and active groups of women. There were some 1749 Wicca groups and a few Gardnerians but most people seemed to be solitary that came to Harvest Moon and later to Long Beach Womenspirit events. Now there are a lot more straight men which I’m not always sure is a good thing because I see women sometimes reflexively defer to the men and that didn’t used to happen as much. The big names in LA were women and now that isn’t necessarily true.

The community has diversified as to tradition. There are more types of Wicca and more types of paganism and more territorialism than there used to be and more tendency to say they have the one, true and only way and to have blinders to other people’s practices. The only place you used to see that was among the different Dianic groups.

There used to be a lot more newsletters now the only one I know that is still around is the Rowan Tree Church’s “the Unicorn.” The rest are gone and who knows where the archives of those publications are. A lot of knowledge has been lost and from not that long ago.

There are fewer gatherings now too. There used to be more public ritual than there seems to be now out here because the community has gotten so splintered. It used to be you could go to a FERAL event which were about once a month for a concert or dance and see most of the community, BNP and everyone else. There was Harvest Moon in fall and Pacific Circle in May and numerous other small gatherings.

Now there is Pagan Pride and Long Beach Womenspirit and that’s about it.

Is the tech different?

Everything used to come out by newsletter or if you were a techno pagan there were bulletin boards on line and later chat rooms that were free for alls. Now everything is Facebook. No more chats and no more BBNs

How is the community now?

It’s younger, at least the visible AKA the internet community is younger. It’s not as well read sometimes as the students I used to have. They are more influenced by the media than most of us were. The media was mostly negative pre Charmed, Practical Magic and Harry Potter. Positive media was mostly Marion Zimmer Bradley, Bewitched, D&D and maybe, the Wizard of Oz.

How has your personal practice evolved?

I’m more of a Druid than a Wiccan anymore. Still have a Dianic outlook many times. I can only stand straight male energy in circle in small doses. I no longer feel the need to practice by the phases of the moon. My moon bloods are long gone and there is no lunar pull at all. I don’t feel the need to use ritual tools when I’m practicing by myself. I’ll use my hands for any tool I need. Tools are highly overrated. Even when I was in my 30’s I tended more to Granny Weatherwax than Magrat. I’d rather use headology. (see Terry Pratchett) Unlike a lot of Dianics, I have a sense of humour that can get me in trouble. I still tend to be practice in the Emperor’s New Clothes Coven, membership of 1 as well as being a member of COMMA and TOILA, Http//:www.mothermountain.org & http//:www.toila.org.

I think some recons take it to the land of silly. Our world is not the world of the ancients. Trying to replicate it exactly is not going to happen because no matter how much we’d like it we can’t bring it back. I spent a very long time without hot water and flush toilets working at summer camps and it ain’t that much fun. Do you really want to live pre-vaccines for polio, and small pox? I don’t! The lack of the measles vaccine was why I was born blind. I like fabric softener. I like allergy medications that save my life. I like living past the age of 40. I like underwear with elastic. I like having a cup of camellia sinensis tea available to me and not coming by camel over spice route when it would have been way beyond my price range. I find it funny how many recons put themselves in the wealthy classes and not the slave or peasant class which would have had much less free time or money to pursue their spirituality and more concerned with having enough to eat. So while I pursue family traditions and a lot of Gaelic spiritual traditions you will not find me wearing urine cured tweed like my ancestors even in the mid 20th century did. I remember stinky imported Harris tweed. Not fun to wear in the rain at all. You smell like pee and sheep.

I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian because plants are sentient at least to some extent and I have more empathy with plants that with many animals. I only eat meat I would feel comfortable killing and trust me I’ve been around a lot of mean chickens and would have no trouble snapping one’s neck. I have no problem with killing a turkey or with fishing. I couldn’t kill a deer having come face to face with one. And having had to run from a homicidal pig, I could probably do it. Cows are just too damn big and they kick too damn hard.

I tend to the practical first. I do what works. If it doesn’t I won’t do it. I’ll excuse myself if your ritual bores me or trips the foolishness button. If something seems stupid, life is too short not to say so or leave. I’ll be 60 years old next year and I don’t have the time to put up with newage crap.

Anyway, This was the only Q I could come up with this week.

Q is for Quiet

Q is for Quiet

With all the running around we do sometimes it’s really hard to be quiet. I don’t mean meditation. I mean to just sit some place outside and to be quiet and listen. If you live in a city find a park or someplace you can be safe and sit with your eyes closed.

Sit down because standing would be one more thing to think about. Close your eyes. And for a moment just be. You can also do this when you wake up in the morning.

With your eyes closed, listen.

I mean actively listen. This is not a passive exercise.

What do your hear?

It’s okay if the first think you hear is the trash truck or a car alarm or the buzz of your cell phone by the bed but go deeper.

Can you hear the neighbor’s sprinkler?

Count the birds you hear. Who is singing in that morning chorus?

If you have mockingbirds in your area see if you can identify all the different calls they are mimicking. How many car alarms, other birds or animals are you hearing from them.

Who else is making noise? What directions are they coming from?

Can you hear the wind?

What other weather do you hear?

Lie or sit there a while in stillness.

Just be, quietly.

Pagan v Gay Coming Out – A pagan blog post

Part 2

The next year at camp I fell in love and fell hard but wouldn’t act on it. I’m sure there are people who think we did but we didn’t. I didn’t come out even to myself until camp was over and I decided that if I was gay then to hell with what the church said because I sure didn’t feel that I was evil or bad. I took the next step out that if the church was wrong and I wasn’t bad then I better leave the church because nothing had really changed except that I could look in the mirror and acknowledge what and who I was and stop hiding from myself. It’s still one of the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

We were dragged to church several times a week our entire lives as kids. We were even born in the church hospital. We were dedicated when we were babies. Presbyterians don’t baptize even when they call it that. It’s a dedication that involves the parent’s agreeing to raise the child in the church. It doesn’t obligate the child to anything. I refused to get baptized when we had to join the church in 7th grade. My best friend did but I flat out refused to get up in front of the church and do it. I wasn’t exactly sure why but I knew I didn’t want it. My mom should have known then that something was up. I don’t remember Dad saying anything and he was an Elder in the church. All I knew was they couldn’t make me and I didn’t do it.

Sometimes I wonder how my siblings and I ever escaped the brainwashing and came out of the closet but all three of us did. My brother just became an Episcopalian instead of a Presbyterian but we all left. Interesting because at the time it was the largest Presbyterian Church in the US. Most of our friends were there even the one’s I had gone to school with also went to my church so when I left I knew I was leaving everything behind. My family, my choirs, my childhood friends, most of my role models, everything except Girl Scouts was getting dumped. I had to make a totally new life with only my brother at that point in it from the past. It was hard. It was extremely hard but it was the right thing to do for me to be a whole person.

Now it isn’t as hard unless you live in the Bible Belt or in a very conservative place but then? In 1979 it was only 10 years after Stonewall. I wasn’t out enough to take on Gay Pride but I was out. I came out to my brother after all my friends informed me that he was gay.

We were supposed to be buying him dress shoes that day and instead I got in the car and as we were leaving the house I flat out asked him if he was gay. His response was to ask me if I was. My reply ,what do you think? We never got him shoes that day because he decided I was going to meet his friends at the Grand Opening of Different Light bookstore. It turned out his friends had been telling him the same thing mine had. We had a great time and got the Broadway 5 minutes before closing so we could say we had looked and not lie to my mom.

It was gut wrenching to leave everything I had known but when a friend dropped Z’s first book in my lap. I was more ready for something else. Z’s book was still a yellow bound paper book, not even massed produced and I remember sitting on the floor reading about cursing with my eyes bugging out. I wasn’t that ready yet. It took a while longer and to be out of control psychically with no shields to agree to go to her HP and wound up sitting circle my first night there. And being told to go read, “Positive Magic”. I was headed up to camp in a week. A Catholic camp I’d never worked at before. I read that book in secret all that summer and for the first time a lot of the stuff my grandmother had said made sense. I had come home. So becoming a pagan was a lot easier than the wrench that coming out of the gay closet was. I had a lot less to lose by then.

N is for nature religion

As Pagans/Druids/Wiccans we are supposed to be practicing a nature religion. This does not mean just an occasional donation to Greenpeace or the ASPCA. It means getting out where there are trees and birds and actual living natural elements. Maybe it’s because I started my formal path to the Craft out in Nature but this to me seems a no-brainer. Nature religions mean nature, ie all of it including bugs and creepy crawlies.

If you use the elements at all in the practice of your religion you are practicing a nature religion. The elements are the building blocks of nature ergo, one should have a passing familiarity with wind and weather, dirt and trees, tides and rain, sun and campfire. In order to do this one has to GO OUTSIDE!

Otherwise there is really no point in being a pagan and go practice something else. Go practice one of those religions that regard themselves as having dominance over the Earth.

Before last two years of working at kid’s camps I found the Craft or more correctly, it found me. I got out of control and unable to shut out other people’s emotions and thoughts and one of my friends who had been taking classes in Dianic Craft at the local feminist bookstore dragged me to her HP. Kathy being Kathy gave me the wrong directions. For a fire fighter who had to get to the correct place to fight a fire she could not give directions to save her life. Anyway, I ended up getting my trusty Thomas Guide out and figuring out that the witches lived on a tiny street named Broomfield. (Where else would a witch live?) And got there in time for a ritual that I had no idea was happening and helping braid their new coven cord. I was greeted by what at the time I thought was a 10ft tall woman dressed in white who turned gleefully to Kath and said, “See I told you she’d get here!” Way to scare the newbie.

That night I got the first crash course that Merrie would give me. A reading list that consisted of one book. There only was one book back then that was readily accessible. Positive Magic by Marion Weinstein. Spiral Dance wasn’t readily available yet. I didn’t find that for at least another year.

At the time I was working at a Catholic girl’s summer camp in the mountains around Wrightwood sitting smack on the San Andreas fault. I could look straight down several hundred feet into the fault right out the door of Arts and Crafts. Way to be intensely conscious of earth energy. I was in stealth mode and the other counselors all thought I was the token Protestant. I was hiding my book every time someone walked into the building.

I had worked at camps as A&C and Nature Director for many years, becoming a pagan was the next logical step because I no longer fit in my parent’s church and all the things my grandmother had taught me about nature and the earth were striving to get out and express themselves in some meaningful way. Especially since I was about to graduate with a degree as a Naturalist. It all made more sense.

So maybe that makes sense why I’m part of a nature religion but why do so many pagans never set foot outside in nature? I live within 5 miles of 2 wildlife refuges and most other Los Angeleans do too because there are places all over Los Angeles where nature is accessible. Many we’re spoiled but even New Yorkers have Central Park and the Bronx Zoo and botanical garden. So why aren’t you outside?

H is for Hierophant – Pagan blog post

In most tarot decks the Hierophant is defined in fairly negative language as being a male authority figure that doesn’t always use his authority wisely. Someone who dominates through his will and authority. This is especially true of feminist tarot decks.

Well, if you are a member of the Fellowship of Isis you have to confront what a Hierophant is in real life very quickly and at least, for us it couldn’t be more wrong.

A Hierophant in the FOI tradition is defined as “One who shows forth”, quite a difference from most tarot definitions. Our Hierophant in particular is the living definition. Laura, who we loving call our Hieromum, is our beacon and example.

Hierophants according to the FOI are “College of Isis preceptors. Hierophants already belong to the FOI Priesthood and are Founders/Administrators of a Lyceum. They are qualified to guide Fellowship members through the 32 Magi degrees and consecrate another member as a Hierophant. Laura has consecrated at 5 of our group as Hierophants. Hierophants are at least 4th degree Magi. Addressed as “Reverend Hierophant” in FOI Ritual.”

It also says of Hierophants, “Their vocation from the Goddess is to act as Guides and Teachers of candidates, already FOI members who wish to obtain Magi degrees in a particular Lyceum. … The hallmarks of a fine Hierophant are wisdom and humility, love and understanding. The possession of a sense of humour brings the laughter of the Gods.” (Which explains why I have the Iseum of BunniHoTep.)

So, I’ve had to revise the meaning of Hierophant mentally since I joined FOI. I’ve watched our Hieromum gently heard the cats (us) in her care. She’s good at nudging us in the directions that are best for each of us which sometimes are radically different that where we thought we might go. She is also our Archdruidess and because of that we now have a Grove and 3 of us have progressed through Companion to Bard to Druid. It’s been a lot of fun deciding cooperatively what our Grove should look like and what we need to do and in supporting each other.

Right now the Hieromum is recovering from surgery and I know all of us are sending her love and healing all the time.

G is for Ghosts – Pagan Blog Post

Like I said for Faeries last week, it’s hard not to believe in ghosts when you grow up with them around you. When we moved to our new house when I was 9, I inherited a beds from a recently deceased great aunt but she was never a problem and I loved the bed. It was a four poster mahogany high thing that I was convinced pirates were hiding under. I got over that but I couldn’t get over the man who would stand at the end of my bed near one of the posts and not moving for hours while I lay there terrified. What I didn’t know was that my baby sister who moved into my room a few years later could see him too. For years she wouldn’t go to sleep unless someone sat with her. It was a chore that was a pain in the ass until I got old enough to not be home when she was going to bed.

The man would just stand there and not do anything. You couldn’t quite see through him and when he first appeared I thought he was a real living man. Finally I got used to him and would just fall back asleep. My sister told me as an adult that she used to see him outside the bathroom door.

It wasn’t until I was grown I figured out who he was. The house had been built in the 1920’s by a husband and wife with 3 daughters. In fact, the house was designed by the wife and it’s the only house I’ve ever been in that had enough storage space because every room had a huge closet and our room had a closet inside the closet and some were as big as bedrooms and that doesn’t count the closet under the stairs or the attic that ran the length of the house. Anyway, I finally realized he was just watching his daughters sleep and was still doing it with us.

He also used to walk up and down the stairs at night which could be a bit disturbing when your babysitting your sister and she’s upstairs and you’re downstairs. It was a really big house too and one stair always creaked if you stepped on it so you KNEW someone was walking on the stairs.

We also had relatives that would come and visit and still do. My grandmother liked to spook my mom after she died. I was working as a Girl Scout professional and we were having one of the first Girl Guides, Wendy come and visit our council and we were going to save “God save the Queen.” And while I knew all the words my boss wanted to see it written down. So I called home to see if my mom could find it in one of our books. (pre-internet, boys and girls, when you actually looked things up in books.) Anyway, mom looked all over and couldn’t find it and made the mistake of saying, where was her mother when she needed her? (Grandma had participated in something in the 1890’s for a royal visit to Toronto. Dead silence fell on the phone. So I asked what was wrong. My mom finally replied with a shaking voice. “I think she heard me.” Out of the book mom was holding and had already looked through had fallen a piece of paper in my grandmother’s handwriting, the words to “God save the King.” That was just her sense of humour.

When I was living in Pasadena, a friend came over to practice her energy massage technique and while I was on the massage table I became aware of someone being there and because it felt like a hug I knew who it was, Only one person in my family always gave off the energy of being hugged. He was also a Master Mason and I think he was really intrigued. I didn’t say anything about him being there but my friend finally asked if some one was there so I asked her what it felt like. She said, “ this is going to sound weird but he feels like a hug.” So I told her who it was.

So yes, I believe in ghosts.

The Fae – Pagan Blog Post

It would be hard not to believe in the fae if you grew up in our family for the same reason we believe in ghosts. If you see them on a regular basis and live with their behaviour then not believing in them would be harder than believing in them.

The family faeries were easy to dismiss when I was younger and living in my family. If something was misplaced it could easily be blamed on another family member but when I started living alone it was a lot harder to dismiss.

When I started living alone I became a creature of habit for some things. Keys always went on the hook by the door, art supplies, even if they looked a mess were in organized chaos and I knew where they were. My books were organized by subject. I have to admit my apartment looked chaotic sometimes but things were in an order that suited me so when things were out of whack I knew it.

I knew when I needed to clean because things would start being moved and there was no one else doing the moving. I also had a familiar that would hunch down and watch them move about the apartment. His intent stare and sometimes stalking nothing that could be seen with the naked eye was a regular evening happening during spring and summer, not so much during winter and fall. His gaze would be firmly fixed 6 to 8 inches above the floor or up around the ceiling.

The most blatant example was one day I was going to teach a class we used to call, bake a goddess. We would get together and sculpt goddesses and other things out of Sculpey. I had bought a bunch of tiny cutter shapes to use in the clay.

When I teach crafts I usually box things up all together in a carrying tote ahead of time and I had put the cutters on my drafting table in a sandwich bag. When I packed the supplies up they were gone. Absolutely no where to be found. I searched the whole apartment and finally went without them. When I got home sitting in lonely splendour in a bag sitting on it’s end and nothing else near them, there they were.

Sometimes when I have been missing something I have walked into a room and asked nicely for something to be returned and in a few hours it usually appears if they have made off with it.

I’ve learned the hard way it’s good to make garden offerings of milk and honey. Life is a lot easier when you play by their rules.

Fam Trad – Pagan Blog Project

Do Family Traditions really exist?

Not according to some people, I recently heard an anthropologist who happens to be pagan say it was just pagans trying to claim to be an indigenous religion. I would have to disagree.

I can only speak for myself but growing up with magick in the family was nothing like my more formal training as a Witch.

Growing up in my family was an adventure and that was how I was taught to look at life and the world.

The magickal folk in my family were highly educated and trained in many different fields and I’m sure this affected what they taught me as a child. I later learned that what they taught me was not what other children were being taught by their families and I learned very early on in my formal Craft training that most teachers felt family traditions either really didn’t exist or just weren’t considered as good as “formal” training.

So, what happens in a “fam trad”? Here is my story: I was raised in a mostly Scottish family with Swedish bits thrown in when they had to be on holidays.

My maternal grandmother who was responsible for most of my “training” probably never, ever would have used the “W” word. As far as she was concerned she was a Presbyterian like the rest of her family. She went to church on Sunday with my grandfather and was there any time one of us kids were singing or playing hand bells in the choir. She was there when my father was ordained as an elder in the church. But in the rest of her life she went her own merry way as she had been taught by her grandparents and as my great- grandfather attempted to teach my mother.

I can’t compare my traditions with others since most family traditions are kept very quiet in the family but I can tell you how I was taught. I also can say that I believe family traditions probably grow and evolve just as other more formal traditions do. I say that because I have yet to meet pagan that wasn’t intensely curious about the rest of the world and did every thing in their power to learn all they could. In my family learning and books were the greatest treasures a person could acquire. My grandmother got her college degree in 1910 from what would become U.C.L.A and never stopped reading and learning, and was a woman who did as she pleased. She was a silver smith. A leather worker, a wood worker, a gardener, a mountain climber and hiker, at some point she painted china did some ceramics. She took a cruise with her best friend when she was sixteen to Alaska in 1906. She was a bit ahead of her time, women didn’t get the vote until 1914. If she was interested she did it. When she died she was taking Japanese cooking lessons from the gas company. She was in her 80’s. Her mother was just as ornery and made a practice of buying property in her neighborhood. One part of the family had moved to Canada from around Balmoral Scotland and the other were Scots who came from Northern Ireland and from around the river Boyne in Ireland but they always called themselves Scots because they moved there against their will. They moved to California on January 01,1901 from Canada.

Education and experiences change your view point and as a result I don’t thing it is possible for a family traditions to be completely unpolluted.

So how did it start? Well from what I can tell the oldest child was the one who was taught by their grandparent. I have an older cousin and I don’t know if Grandma offered to teach her or not but somehow I lucked out. I spent every summer with my maternal grandparents and it was the most wonderful part of my childhood. I was born blind in one eye and only partially sighted in the other (my mother had the measles before I was born) and my grandparent’s house was the only place that treated as if my disability didn’t matter. And when I was seven I had one of the first child eye surgeries and it didn’t matter after that.

Some of my first memories are taking walks around my grandparent’s neighborhood. My grandmother would take me around and introduce me to all the plants and trees. Her introductions were no different than when she introduced to Mrs. Foote, her neighbor, except I didn’t have to curtsy to the trees. It was very clear that I should treat them with as much respect as any human.

When I was 6 my grandparents took me to the San Diego Zoo and to this day I don’t know how my grandmother did it but she talked the Aviary keeper into letting me hold a toucan. I was so enchanted by this bird with blue eyes and a huge bill. I got to feed the bird and that just was an amazing and awesome experience.

She took me to Marineland so I could talk and touch Orky, Corky and Bubbles, the whales. It was on a weekday and fairly deserted and visitors were encouraged to be friendly with whales. Many years later when I was employed as a Girl Scout Program Director I visited Marineland on a day it was closed to the public to arrange a G.S. day at the park . The woman who worked at the park took me up to the whale tank. It was her turn to talk to the whales. It seemed that on closed days the whales got lonely and bored and Corky had broken the glass on the tank more than once until people started talking to them.

I read a book on the training of Druids not too long ago and was startled to find that every subject covered was taught by my grandmother. Obviously she had some idea of what I needed to know but I never was aware at the time I was being taught.

I learned my family traditions and genealogy for both sides of my family. I learned the stories of the famous members of the clan. She was still incensed at Robert the Bruce for killing the Red Cumin on the altar of a church in Dumfries Scotland like it had just happened. It happened in the 1290’s. I have to admit when I read Katherine Kurtz’s novel about the murder of the “evil pagan” the Red Cumin I was just as angry. Those good Christian stabbed him the back. Not exactly sporting was it? I learned about Rob Roy MacGregor and the MacGregor’s punishments. I learned about Adam Smith and Queen Victoria’s ghillie John Brown, they were my cousins (He’s my first cousng thrice removed, pretty convoluted). I learned our tartans and mottos and had my own tiny Cumming tartan kilt when I was so small I had to be lifted on to the bleachers at the Highland Games. I learned about being a Cumming, a MacGregor, or my dad’s Robbs, Stewarts, Campbells and MacFarlanes. I later took Highland Dancing which was a bit of disaster as I was painfully shy. I took Gaelic as an adult so I could read in some old books we had.

I learned the songs of Scotland. One of my earliest memories is having my grandmother try to teach me “Speed bonny boat” in the backseat of the car. Why are so many lullabies so grisly? I learned about Greyfriars Bobby, the dog who wouldn’t leave his master when his master died. I learned about bogles and faeries and the family brownies. My first and best gift after my eye operation was a magically illustrated book of faery tales from her. I still have it, after my cat and my sister it would be what I grabbed in an emergency.

I learned about divination. My grandmother had a tarot deck and a gypsy fortune deck she hid in her desk. She also had a contraption I have never seen since. It was a small wooden board a little larger than a cribbage board with small holes through it from which you pushed out fortunes.

She had some interesting crafts. We made sachets from good smelling things in the garden. We took special paper needles and wove paper. I learned embroidery and stitching. I learned to draw and make little books to keep my drawings in. We made fruit cordials and her father’s Scottish shortbread. We gathered flowers and herbs and pressed them. We sang charms as we did crafts to make them. I thought it was too make them go faster if I was getting bored. I know differently now.

I learned it was no big deal to know things before they happened. I thought every one knew who was on the phone before they answered it. I learned the life was magic and couldn’t be separated from it.

I was given books to read, art supplies, anything I wanted to create with and I was never told no when It came to what I could learn to do. If I was curious I was taken to the library or bought a book on what ever it was. I took classes at our local botanical garden. Every holiday we went to museums.

My parents were both teachers and when I was growing up I never knew that other families took vacations to places just to have fun. We went on expeditions. We traveled the Mission trail. We went to the gold country of California. We went to famous author’s houses like Jack London. My favorite visit was the one we took to Luther Burbank’s home. We went to places like Lava Beds National Monument and Lassen National Park. We went to wildlife sanctuaries and botanical gardens. I was an adult before I knew my mom hated the tadpoles I came home with, after all, she helped me catch them.

My father was raised on a farm and he was the one who gave me my first garden. There ought to be laws about children abusing radishes and carrots. Poor radishes, being yanked out of the ground to see how big they are everyday. He taught his family’s stories. My father was a very conflicted man. He was the one who took care of us when we were throwing up. He was the one who bought our sanitary supplies when we were too chicken to go in the store but he also was the most angry person I have ever known in my life.

All my male relatives with the exception of my father were Master Masons. So I’m sure those attitudes coloured what I was taught also. My great uncle Winn had all of us kids convinced that if we turned around fast enough we would see his garden gnome push his wheel barrow. Why we don’t all have permanent whiplash I don’t know. One evening when I was small he took me outside in the twilight to his backyard to show me some Magic! First he showed me a hummingbird’s nest with its tiny, little eggs. Then he pointed Sputnik overhead in the sky and lastly he showed me the great horned owl who lived in the wild part of his backyard. It was a beautiful evening and I will always remember it. I have garden gnomes in my garden now because one never knows, do they? When my mother and her brother were small he had them convinced that they heard Santa’s reindeer’s sleigh bells on Christmas Eve.

I’m afraid I also absorbed some quirks of Presbyterianism along the way into my Craft. Presbyterians have almost no decoration except flowers and some carved wood in their churches. Anything else is considered idolatry and not done. The only “frills” they have are music, poetry and storytelling. I tend to be that way now if the ritual is over dramatic or elaborate with no purpose or energy behind it I lose interest fast. I’m too like the boy in the story of the Emperor’s New Clothes and likely to laugh and point.

I don’t know if when I was an adult the things I learned and the way I was taught would have changed because my grandmother died when I was seventeen. The summer before she died she sat me down and made me make a promise to her. She wasn’t sick so I don’t quite know why she did it. She made me promise never to look in her casket when she was dead. Me, being clueless, promised and didn’t think too much about it. I thought she was being morbid. The next August she had a stroke and died a few days later. When I visited her in the hospital it was the first time in my life I had ever seen her furious. She was angry at her body because she couldn’t speak or move. I knew exactly what she was mad at and I think she willed herself to die because she couldn’t communicate. At her funeral that promise I made came due. My mother raised holy heck about it and the whole world knew about it. She was screaming at me in front of the whole funeral home and I kept saying that I had promised I wouldn’t so I wasn’t going to break my last promise to my grandma. This was all so weird because my family doesn’t do open casket at funerals anyway. She was also mad at me for crying. She said I was hurting my grandfather’s feelings. Some times the Swedish non-emotional part of my heritage is a pain in the patoot. I still struggle with that part of me.

I do know I keep her lessons and attitudes in my heart. My grandmother and great uncle are the reason I’m not an axe murderess because my dad may have been a teacher but he could not hold his tongue or his temper and I was his punching bag. If I hadn’t had a garden and books to escape too I might not be alive today.

So back to family traditions, I know of two other women who were taught in the same way by their grandmothers and I suspect most family traditions in magic are passed the same way. What better way to learn than from someone you love and adore and would do anything for?

So yes, there are fam trads. Most of us just learn to shut up about it. You wants to be told you don’t exist?

Elves and names – pagan blog project

Somehow my whole life people have named me an elf, among other things. People who don’t know about each other, People who have never met each other name me elf. It’s kind of nice but a bit unnerving.

Part of it is being born with pointed ears and the rest I have no idea. The first person was my mom. I was always her little elf or faery. She didn’t call my brother or sister that, just me. And it was a little strange because I was the kid she didn’t particularly like. Yes, I was small for a long time and since she’s gone now I’ll never have an answer. I was so small I wore a 6x size all the way to sixth grade. 6x is for 6 year olds, I weighed 56 pounds when I started 7th grade. I’d started to grow by then.

In the next 3 years I grew a foot and gained 50 pounds. I had a lot of growing pains. Mom called me her late bloomer and I kept growing and grew another 2 inches in college. I was still really skinny and probably borderline anorexic because I’ve never really been the type that hoovered down food even though I’m overweight now. That’s more a function of not being active enough because I didn’t really gain weight until I blew out my knee and spent more than a year on crutches and after that in an industrial sized knee brace.

Some time at camp I played at being an elf but no one called me elf.

When I joined TOILA there were other people named Kat/Cat so I started being called ElfKat because of my ears. But last week I started a new job and there is an older gentleman temping there who got laid off and has a Ph.d in physics of all things. He started calling me the Elf Queen. (When he isn’t calling me Professor, another nickname I frequently pick up.) When I asked him why he said it just seemed right???

But I seem to be the kind of person that gathers nicknames even some time magical names. Some I got because I joined something like a camp staff or my sorority but the rest of the time they come like they are attracted by magnets. My real birth name I got under false pretenses, I suppose. Mom and Dad had agreed on a name and while I was being born by c-section my dad went down and registered a completely different one and when my mom found out she supposedly went ballistic and set down conditions for what I would be called, my first nickname I suppose. And it’s been happening ever since.