Announcing: Witch on Fire

Hello, my lovelies. Long time; no post. Sorry ’bout that.

Back at Imbolc, I dedicated to writing more, possibly a book, being the willing channel for Hermes and Aphrodite to make widely known Her Thealogy of Divine Love. I even asked for opportunities to travel for speaking/teaching engagements in other communities.

In April, I was privileged to enact the second degree initiation within The Sojo Circle, making vows to the Gods and my community to serve as their priestess. Expect a future blog on how deeply meaningful and powerful that process was for me.

But I digress. Almost immediately after the Imbolc dedication, I traveled to Pantheacon, and the message from Hermes was an undeniable, “Shut up; pay attention.”  That is why I haven’t posted anything here in months. Heck, I couldn’t even find my favorite journaling pen until last week.

That message shifted and changed after Litha’s fires were extinguished. There is a story to tell here, but I’m saving that for a special post on my new column at The Patheos Pagan Channel, on the Agora blog, July 30th.

That’s the big announcement: Jason Mankey wrote to invite me to become a columnist for the Agora, which kinda freaked me out. I mean, I consider that to be both a great honor and a great responsibility. I revere so many of the Authors there. I confess to suffering a panic attack of self-doubt.  Nevertheless, I accepted. 🙂 So, starting officially in August, I will be the contributing columnist on the second and fourth Tuesdays of the month.

But what to call the column? Meditation and divination happened. There were a few long, sleepless nights.  The undeniable guidance from my patrons was to call it Witch on Fire.  Way to go, Heron, always bludgening the squishy places with the blunt-force irony.

But I’m a pisces! I have almost no fire in my birth chart, whatsoever. I’m afraid I’ll evaporate and lose myself. What If I can’t keep my ego in check? Witch on Fire DivinationTarot Messages:

Art:  Alchemy, catalyst, union of fire and water; melting of contradictions. “I surrender to the transforming powers of The divine. I am an open channel of creative energy.”

Queen of Wands: Watery aspect of Fire, Mastery of self-knowledge, transformation. Time to learn how to share that with others. “I am a radiant being filled with light and love.”

Knight of Disks: Sacred mission brings in the harvest. Now is the time to set your abilities to service, the tasks are large and demand the full use of your powers. “With every task that needs doing, comes also the energy needed to accomplish the task.”

I’m looking back over the journey of the last 10 years, that brought me from the fearful, lonely depths of the broom closet, to this out-and-proud, public witch, priestess and shop-keeper that I am today.  It all started when I first heard the catalyzing proverbs:

“‘Tis better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Shining a light; being a light; creating change in accordance with my WILL; rising up to be the warrior witch, staring down the Balrog, defending the boundaries….

So many metaphors to choose from, but its all been about fire….un-shuttering the flame of my own, inner truths so that others can find their own way out of the broom closet…Being the lighthouse keeper for Spirit, helping others find their way into safe harbor, avoiding the treacherous rocks of fear and despair. I’ve willingly become a catalyst of change within the Craft, so that it could evolve with the modern world. That’s what I do.

Plus, I can’t pass up a chance to transmute the horrors of the burning time, to reclaim that power.

I am grateful for this opportunity with Patheos Pagan channel to extend the visible range of that light. I’m just going to keep on doing what I do, and hope it is a benefit in the world. Stay tuned for my upcoming article: “Witch on Fire: Lammas Sacrifice and the Sacred Mission.”

Blessings,

~Heron Michelle

Lessons in the Blood

It was just a little over a year ago that I almost perished. I wasn’t taking good care of myself, worried over money and skipping meals. I worked long hours one day, and other than the coffee at work, neither drank nor ate adequately. That night, a friend showed up at the shop with a bottle of wine, and we drank a few glasses on an empty stomach. Not advisable.

<Flash forward>

It is the witching hour (3:00 am) and I wake up with a thirst so great that it actually felt like a life or death emergency–complete with sense of panic. I rushed to the kitchen with only the moonlight through the windows to guide the way. I was in a cold sweat, yet burning hot, nauseous, and my arms felt heavy when I raised them to the cabinet for a glass. I stood there in my white nightshirt as the filtered water from the fridge door dispenser poured in. I turned into the doorway to the living room intending to sit down and made it one more step, having not yet taken a single sip…

I’m guessing that low blood pressure, possibly low blood sugar, and obvious dehydration caused me to faint. I know now that I had a ridiculously low vitamin D deficiency, too, that maybe had something to do with it.

faint

I have no idea who these perfomers are, but don’t they look theatrical with their fainting?

Fainting is something you see in the movies a lot more than it actually happens in real life. I’ve never seen anyone *actually* faint, so it was just a caricature to me–a movie stunt.

What happened next is remembered more like an out-of-body experience. The memory is of “throwing” my consciousness across the room, visualized like an old, men’s overcoat, heavy and thick, and that it crumpled with a clunk across the coffee table as if the pockets were full of rocks.  I remember a disembodied sensation of violent, awkward pain, as my chin met the edge of the coffee table, that my head almost wrenched free of my neck. I felt very heavy and boney as my chest scraped down the edge of the table, and that the floor hit me rudely hard. This memory is two-fold, both that I was the “coat,” so irreverently cast aside, and I was also observer who threw me and watched me crumple and thunk.

IMG_7278

Where I woke up in the living room next to the TV Cabinet. OUT OUT DAMNED SPOT!

How long I lay there, I don’t know. It felt like a long time that I lay bleeding into the carpet, dreaming.  Eventually, I realized that I was very cold, and wondered who stole my covers. Followed closely by, why am I sticky? Slowly I became aware of my blood-wet hair clinging to my face, tangled in my eye lashes…that there were blue lights too close to my face for this to be my bed…oh yeah, those are the lights from the Wii in the TV cabinet….

Where am I? Why am I…?

That is when I noticed the searing pain and touched my face.. that sticky wet was everywhere. Then the nausea…and the gut-wrenching thirst. I tried to sit up, but when my head was raised higher than my heart, I nearly fainted again.  So I marine crawled first to the bathroom, leaving a trail of bloody prints on floors, light switches and counters. I wanted a mirror…but seeing what I was at that moment didn’t help. I thought I’d drink from the sink, but the black edges would crowd in whenever I stood up, and there was no cup.

IMG_7279

One of the places I fainted briefly, crawling back through to the kitchen past the original glass I dropped.

I crawled on hands and knees back through the broken glass I’d dropped in the living room to get to the kitchen again, fainting once in the middle, creating a second bloody puddle, but I made it to the kitchen sink and guzzled down cup after cup of tap water as fast as I could between stints lying on the cold vinyl floor.

I think I lost consciousness a total of 4 times, briefly, before I made it back to my bed, threw back the blankets and lay there under the ceiling fan on the white sheets, so not caring what I was ruining. I was covered in my own blood from head to feet, in a flop-sweat, heart racing, and praying to all that is holy that I may keep living.

I did consider calling 911. I will confess to you that, at that moment, I chose to tempt death rather than rack up a medical bill I have no ability to pay. I wanted to call the man I was engaged to at the time, but it was 4:00 in the morning, and he lived 3 hours away. I knew he would pack his kids into the car, and drive directly to me, but that would only cause him difficulty, and to what end? So, I chose to persevere and not send him into a crazed panic on the highway.

I honestly thought I might die alone in the dark.  Mind you, I am not in the least bit afraid of dying, when the time comes.  Actually, I look forward to the Next Big Adventure, while being in no hurry to get there, but as I lay there praying to my guides, focusing on the Reiki energy I tapped into, and allowing the water to work it’s magic, I thought about many difficult things.

I thought about how in recent years, I’d been bricking myself into a tower away from the intimacy of true friendships, for fear of losing anyone else that I loved. If I keep them at a distance, I can keep them.

Anger I thought long dealt with welled to the surface; anger at my ex-husband for leaving me to be alone at this moment. Even anger that he had my 11 and 9 year old children at his house and I had no one to cry out for. Where was my promise of “in sickness and in health?”

Then, I thought of my mother who had been in a loving, inspirational marriage, but as fate would have it, died almost 7 years before, snuffed out in a matter of moments from a cerebral hemorrhage while alone. My step-dad was out of state on a fishing trip. Mind you, she called her mother who lived two doors down, and she came running to find her brain-dead on the floor. *My* mommy is dead; I live far away from my family. So who do *I* call to come running?

I thought about many things as I waited for those life-giving waters to work their way through my system. What if I *did* die at that moment?  How long would it be before someone noticed I was missing at work? Courtney, my co-worker, would probably find me…would have to call…I dunno…who do you call when you find someone dead? That thought caused me to feel embarrassed, an imposition, not fair to her…

Who would comfort my children? Who would soften the harshness of their father who does not tolerate the expression of unpleasant emotions?  Would someone else carry on running The Sojourner? I spent time thinking of all the work still left undone.

I remembered, to my horror, that I’d never updated my will since my divorce!  The nurturing of my children, all my assets, and all my dreams, would fall to the person who’d treated me like last week’s garbage, then dumped me off at the curb; all my endeavors would go to shit if I died, and that was reason enough to live!

IMG_7271 - Version 2

BRAINS! Yes, I am posting a zombie picture of me for all the internet to see…I’ve selectively clipped it so as to protect you from the worst of it.

Drinking the water was enough to restore me.  Eventually, I got up, faced myself in the mirror, and took this picture for proof of the horror I’d become. Then I sat in the shower as the water swirled with red down the drain.

In the end, I needed a few band-aids, an aspirin and a few months for the giant knot of a bone-bruise on my chin to heal on it’s own. I am glad I did not waste thousands of dollars of my kid’s grocery money on an ambulance trip because I was too careless to drink a glass of water and have a meal while they were gone.

Moments of clarity like these do not happen randomly, not to witches. These kinds of revelations are like the Universal Gong ringing so loudly in your consciousness, that all your thoughts just fall into harmonious rhythm with Highest Divine Mind.  It is sometimes called the Cosmic Clue-by-Four smacking you upside the…chin…in this instance. You can’t help but walk away from that moment a transformed person.

I realized how precious and delicate human life truly is; how stupidly easy it was to kill yourself through neglect.  I also realized that it was very important to me to live on and raise my kids myself.  I know now that no matter who I have in my life, my home, my heart –ultimately– I entered this life alone, I am solely responsible for my survival while here, and I’ll depart this life alone, but it is up to me to make that trip a healthy one. I was reminded that I have to cultivate the support structure of relationships that I desire.

IMG_7282

See? As my little children would say, all I needed was a “boo boo bandaid” to make it all better…

This all comes to mind because the wheel of the year turns back to these anniversaries once again; of that long hard stare into the maw of death last winter; of the long-distance engagement that ended shortly thereafter on my 40th birthday, of my mother’s death on the day of my 33rd birthday party.  While I recognize the passage of these difficult milestones in time, today I am grateful for the lessons they taught me —  yet did not kill me — so that I can enjoy the miracle of my life as it is unfolding now, with the correct people.

You know how witchy folks like to say that every moment is both a death and a rebirth? Those were just the labor pains that delivered me into this new, independent life I enjoy as I prepare to celebrate my 41st birthday. It has been a bumpy ski down the slope of that “hill” I went over last year, but DAMN what a thrilling ride!  I couldn’t be happier, and I’m much healthier now.

Thank you, Cosmic Clue-by-Four. I remain open to your lessons, but next time, I humbly request that the experience not leave my house looking like a scene from Pulp Fiction, nor require professional carpet cleaning to remove blood from ALL THE THINGS. Though, I’ll keep these scars as a gentle reminder.

Happy (almost) birthday to me!
Cheers!
~Heron

Creating Sacred Space: Calls of Thanksgiving

Horn_Of_Plenty_01aa

Tomorrow, The Sojo Circle participates in the Interfaith Thanksgiving Service alongside our Abrahamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Secular Humanist, and Unitarian Universalist neighbors. I’m proud to say that a member of our circle is now the Director of the Interfaith Alliance of Eastern North Carolina, so we feel right at home in their lovely services. Every year this is a beneficial experience, and I look forward to reprising these poetic calls that we first shared in 2011.  Of course, we celebrated the Mabon Thanksgiving sabbat and feast back in September, but I’m happy to join my neighbors during this time our nation sets aside for gratitude.

Should the opportunity present itself, I welcome you to use these words to create your own sacred space. Happy Thanksgiving, and many blessings of abundance to you all!

Mabon Calls of Thanksgiving

~By Heron Michelle

Blessings of the East and of Air!
Amber twilight and crisp autumn chill, reddening the cheeks and painting the hills!
As the harvest ends, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of thought and inspire us!
Let there be wonder and wisdom as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Air!

Blessings of the South and of Fire!
Crimson sun and hearth fire burning, warming heart and home this autumn turning,
As the nights lengthen, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of action and revitalize us!
Let there be generosity and gratitude as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Fire!

Blessings of the West and of Water!
Silver rains and misty morning, hot mulled cider and memory swirling!
As the tides ebb, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of emotion and stir our hearts!
Let there be compassion and benevolence as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome Water!

Blessings of the North and of Earth!
Russet fields and bounty gathered, family recipes prepared on heaping platters,
As the feast is celebrated, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of growth and nurture us!
Let there be abundance and fulfillment as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome, Earth!

Blessings of the Center, Great Spirit!
Known by many names and many faces, Mother and Father, Nurturer and Provider!
Dark fertile earth and flaming sun, when met with love brings forth the bounty of the land and all that can sustain us.
As we assemble with our greater family, I greet you in this sacred space!
Open the gates of Spirit and unite us!
Let there be acceptance and peace for our community as we gather in Thanksgiving!
Welcome, Spirit!

Release

Blessings of the Center, Great Spirit!
From this sacred space we send the light of acceptance and peace into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we walk in Spirit.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the North and of Earth!
From this sacred space we send the light of abundance and fulfillment into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the West and of Water!
From this sacred space we send the light of compassion and benevolence into our community!
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the South and of Fire!
From this sacred space we send the light of generosity and gratitude into our community.
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

Blessings of the East and of Air!
From this sacred space we send the light of wonder and wisdom into our community.
With gratitude and reverence, we bid you farewell.
Blessed be!

All!

The circle is open, but never broken. Merry Meet, Merry Part and Merry Meet Again!

Rule #4: Must be Present to Win, Tarot Message

IMG_8083

…continued… This blog is the fifth part in a series that began with Heron’s Rules of Modern Witchcraft, and continued with Rule #1: Don’t Burn the Witch. and Rule #2: Don’t be the Asshole. Rule #3: Don’t be the Weak Link. If you’ve made it this far, thanks! You are a reader of great fortitude!

Recap: Rule #4: Must be Present to Win, Tarot Message

Speak up: To walk the path of the Witch, you have to seek it out, ask for it, keep persisting and insisting until the way is opened. This path is not for the feint of will, heart or mind.

Show Up: You want this wisdom? This power? It’s not available by mail order; there will be no remote down-load; no one else holds the keys to your gateway. Get yourself to the crossroads and DO THE WORK. Now do it again…and again, with every breath, in full-engagement in the dance. The minute you project the locus of your control onto anyone or anything outside of yourself, you might as well hand in your pointy hat, because you lose. “If that which you seek you find not within, you will never find it without.”~Charge of the Goddess.

Wake up: Do not squander the gift of this exquisite moment. Be fully present in the joy and the pain, the abundance and the lack, the spanking and the kiss, all of it. Courageously approach everything that life has to offer because it all hones your wisdom and power to propel you forward in your evolution.

Take-up the magickal weapons to defend the boundaries. Be the warrior. Confront your fears and tackle them into submission. No matter what the issue, it can only be solved by being fully present, listening, observing, engaging compassionately with people in person, especially when there is a conflict to resolve or a need to be met.

With no fool a season spend, nor be counted as their friend: “Haters” of any stripe cannot simultaneously claim to be a Witch and be taken seriously. Defrock them. Warlock them (in the most traditional sense of term “warlock” being the banishment from the coven as an “oath-breaker” and a binding of their harm.)  If you know a magickal practitioner who is doing deliberate harm for ego-maniacal gain, a sociopath bent on baneful manipulation to serve their own ends, then they are not a Witch, they are a fool. The long version of the Wiccan Rede states: With no fool a season spend, nor be counted as their friend. If you do nothing to stop them, you are guilty by association.

Be proud: Do not hide behind lies, or facades. Witches of good conscience cannot continue to knuckle under to, nor ignore, the “witch burners” of our society who would seek to silence us, intimidate us, or do us harm. Nor can we blithely accept the divisive, abusive behavior of those claiming to be Witches among us.

lighthouse_westcott_bigBe the Lighthouse: Come out of the broom closet.  No parade is necessary, just the mere outer acknowledgement, where it is effective, while we unshutter our flames like lighthouses on the rocky shores of this society; not chasing the ships, just standing tall and sturdy, and shining brightly without shame.

WE ARE WITCHES.  If we cannot take up the power to be fully present and beneficial in this society, accurately known for our contributions, then who can be? We have to BE PRESENT TO WIN!

Tarot Query: What lessons do you offer us through “Must be Present to Win?”
Highest Divine Guidance speaks to how we are to attend to our outer relationships within our community.

Card: 5 of Wands: Strife– In the realm of thought, Divine asks us to dismiss what we think we know and begin to WONDER about facing situations ans doing something about it. Not resigning, not becoming embittered, nor allowing unfulfilled desires or restrictions.

Card: 9 of Wands: Strength In the realm of will, we are asked to apply the full force of our passions, drive, WILL, to our inner strength, to banish the darkness of ignorance, let our latent powers be awakened and power found by unifying conscious and unconscious energies to find wholeness.

Card: 5 of Cups: Disappointment In the realm of emotion, Divine directs us to ACCEPT that there will be unfulfilled expectations and sometimes a lost balance from problematic relationships. Learn from these situations, not hide from them. Where do we fool ourselves? Do not engage in emotional battles from expecting the same results without doing anymore work.

Card: 5 of Swords: Defeat In the realm of the physical, we are asked to RESONATE outward and draw forth from the void of potential an acknowledgement of our fears, understanding that fear is irrational in nature and does not reflect the truth of the situation. Control is an illusion. Release your fear of defeat, and you will be set free.

Card: III The Empress Highest Divine Guidance wants us to understand that by “being present to win” we will interact within our communities with sovereignty, as beings of beauty, love, and wisdom, in a process of evolving into our compassion and nurturing, filled with creative power. We will become the gateways between Spirit and Matter that serve with a place of Divine Love.

As I am dedicated to Aphrodite/Venus this turning, and this is Her card, I also felt a deep sense of Her presence and a confirmation that I am on the right track to apply Her lessons.

This is my interpretation. What do these cards and messages mean to you? How does this message inform how you would apply “Must be Present to Win” to your own life?
In gratitude, blessed be.

Rule #3: Don’t be the Weak Link, Tarot Message

IMG_8235

…continued… This blog is the fourth part in a series that began with Heron’s Rules of Modern Witchcraft, and continued with Rule #1: Don’t Burn the Witch. and Rule #2: Don’t be the Asshole. Next, you can browse over to Rule #4: Must be Present to Win.

Recap: Don’t be the Weak Link

Pithy, yes? But what does it mean to a Witch, practically? Beneficial and responsible behavior has to both begin and end with yourself, regardless of if anyone is watching, regardless of the poor behavior of those assholes who may be challenging you.  Choose to be a circle, a sphere of influence, of integrity and strong character.  The construct of the circle is paramount to the Witch. Anything we can dream of being is more effectively accomplished in the sacred circle, so choose to make your own body, your own life, a microcosm circle of protection, amplification, and focus for your will. It is here that we go to the crossroads, find our axis mundi, where all the worlds intersect.

rainbowchainI see the tapestry of the Universe, matter and spirit woven together, like a cloth of chainmaille, with each entity within it their own circle link, pliable enough to have free will, sovereign on their own, but woven together they can do so much more!  If all links remain strong within their own character, who begin and end every interaction as responsible members of society and in alignment with their principles, and as magicians they use their power, intellect, hearts, bodies and spirits to weave together a responsible life, then apply that energy cohesively with their neighbors, then together they create a society within which we can all coexist to ENORMOUS, reverberating benefit.

Do as you will, but Harm None: However, if one person, one link, weakens and behaves like a straight line pointing only to their own selfish, ego-driven needs as if there are no consequences to their actions; If they start to “burn” themselves through self-loathing, or project that self-loathing onto others as distrust, (Don’t burn the Witch;) who wields their own wound as a weapon to wound other people (Don’t be the Asshole); through this weakness of character, they betray the bonds of the surrounding links, betraying “perfect love and trust,” exploiting, disrupting their relationship to the Divine through each other.  That hole in the chainmaille grows, and ruins things exponentially throughout existence.

The three-fold law: If you exude beneficial energy in the world you receive benefit. If you exude destructive energy in the world, you are destroyed. If you work with unity, for unity, all of Divine creation flows with you. It only takes one weak link to ruin harmonious existence for everyone. So, don’t do it!  We are all counting on you, man!

Tarot Query: What lessons do you offer us through “Don’t Be the Weak Link”
Highest Divine Guidance speaks to how we are to attend to our internal state of being through “perfect love and perfect trust.”

Card: X Fortune In the realm of thought, Divine asks us to dismiss what we think we know and begin to WONDER about the wholeness of the cycles of life, the cycle in constant motion, yet unchanging in its completeness. What miracles and possibilities are to be found in each moment? What self-realization and creativity comes from unexpected fortune? I would note also that this image is about the completeness of a circle, so just at face value, we are given confirmation of this metaphor of the “links.”

Card: XIII Death In the realm of will, we are asked to apply the full force of our Will, our passions, and drive, to a radical transformation and becoming free of anything that keeps us from moving forward in our personal evolution. We are now ready to make the necessary changes in our lives. This is the path between success and failure; there is no difference between them besides our attitudes about it. Release all that does not serve our growth and evolution.

Card: I The Magus In the realm of emotion, Divine directs us to DARE to overcome all obstacles to create the world anew with clear communication and our brilliant capabilities. We have all the tools and skills we need to tear down the established order, to rise above any barrier, and create the world we desire.

Card: Knight of Swords In the realm of the physical, we are asked to HOLD THE SPACE, to BE SILENT and observant, paying attention to the harvest of our ambitions. It is our time for the harvest of a new way of thinking and being.  Our intellectual powers will bring deep emotional perceptions. This master of imagination can achieve all that he dreams.

Card: 10 of Disks, Wealth Highest Divine Guidance wants you to understand that you will attract to yourself everone and every situation in your life, and if your internal state of being resonates with overflowing riches from spiritual, emotional and intellectual levels, then you will be outwardly wealthy, but that wealth must be shared on all levels with others in order to remain valuable. Endless wealth can be yours, but the responsibility is also yours, only if you remain generous and grateful.

This is my interpretation. What do these cards and messages mean to you? How does this message inform how you would apply “Don’t be the Weak” to your own life?
In gratitude, blessed be.
Stay tuned for the tarot messages for:
Rule #4: Must be Present to Win.

Hail Mercury In Retrograde!

[This blog was originally posted on my column Witch on Fire at the Agora on Patheos Pagan.]

A Charm for Mercurial Mercy…
Hail Mercury, of dark cosmic humor,
log me in, accept my password.
Find the WiFi, connect me soon,
hear my prayer and grant this boon:
Run the payroll, transmit the taxes,
upload the work, grant me access.
Trickster Mercury, why the confusion?
Cease the problems, grant a solution!
Take heed of these wishes bade,
even while in retrograde!

mercuryThe planet Mercury has been in retrograde since September 17 and will return to his direct path October 9th, so not long now. ¹ You may have noticed that communications have gone a bit sideways over the last few weeks, especially if you’ve been paying attention to the Patheos Pagan channel and the very hot debates raging there.  This will account for some of it.

While I am loathe to allow planetary movements to be used as an excuse for insensitive communication choices, I do understand it to be a reflection on the largest, most visible scale of how patterns play out among us. So, we assuage our frustration by saying things like, “Mercury is in retrograde, so that explains it….” However, there is a very big difference between an excuse and an explanation, and in my opinion, any pagan worth their podium on Patheos should know better, and act accordingly.

To read more, click here to go to Witch on Fire…

Rule #2: Don’t be the Asshole, Tarot Message

IMG_8085
…continued… This blog is the third part in a series that began with Heron’s Rules of Modern Witchcraft, and continued with Rule #1: Don’t Burn the Witch. I will post the tarot spreads for each of the rules in subsequent blogs.
To recap: What I mean by “Don’t be the Asshole”

  1. If through your behavioral choices you cease to be a beneficial member of society, becoming a detriment, a harm, by violating any one of the necessary love-conditions in the world around you. These are:

Acceptance of who people truly are without threat to their emotional boundaries.

Acknowledging sovereignty of others, without threatening their free-will or liberty.

Adequate resources to preserve good health, without threatening survival.

Physical affection, including healthy sexual expression, without threatening sexual identity or access to nurturing.

A means of personal expression, and being heard as a being of dignity and worth, without threatening their sense of value within society.

Security and privacy, safety from physical harm.

Acting with authenticity, that you and your actions are exactly what you present them to be without ulterior motive or any attempt to exploit others.

Trust in your perception of your environment and those around you, as offering you the same consideration that you offer others. (You can see more about this subject on my Divine Love blog .)

  1. If you witness any violation of the above love conditions and through apathy, or neglect of your responsibility, you do nothing to stop someone from harming others or the world around them, then you are choosing to be part of the problem, not a benefit. Example: If you hear violence against your neighbor, call the police.

Query: What lessons do you offer us through “Don’t Be the Asshole”
Highest Divine Guidance speaks to how we are to apply attention to our outer relationships in society.
Card: XV The Devil In the realm of thought, Divine asks us to dismiss what we think we know and begin to WONDER about our shadow sides, our wants and desires, our lusty, ego-centric needs, and find a healthy way to express and explore that side of ourselves. Why are we demonized? Begin to wonder how we can express our vitality while remaining practical and grounded.
Card: Knight of Cups In the realm of will, we are asked to apply the full force of our Will, our passions, and drive, to a harvest of emotional maturity, to Spiritual relationships in a community of like-minds, and to achieving higher emotional planes and mutual understanding.
Card: 9 of Swords, Cruelty In the realm of emotion, Divine directs us to ACCEPT
the reality that when you are the asshole you are being cruel to yourself, heartless, and it is just a form of self-denigration. You are sabotaging yourself and must stop this behavior pattern. “Rule #1: Don’t burn the Witch,” including yourself.
Card: 8 of Wands, Swiftness In the realm of the physical, we are asked to HOLD THE SPACE, to BE SILENT and observant, paying attention to the subtle manifestations of our goals. Allow swift communication to overcome misunderstandings and hindrances. Nothing is in your way to attain your goals; move quickly. Adapt to change; define where you stand; your openness and self-confidence will open hearts.
Card: 10 of Disks, Wealth Highest Divine Guidance asks you to interact with your community knowing that you will attract to yourself everyone and every situation in your life–that you create your reality. The wealth of the Universe is in your hands and its yours to do with as you like, but the responsibility is yours. If you share this wealth openly with others you will be endlessly wealthy. Make your inner wealth visible and share that with others. This brings to mind the Hermetic Principle of Vibration. Like attracts like, dontcha know? Wealth consciousness begets wealth and generous interactions with others. Asshole consciousness begets selfishness and a parade of assholery and abuse by others.
This is my interpretation. What do these cards and messages mean to you? How does this message inform how you would apply “Don’t be the Asshole” to your own life?
In gratitude, blessed be.
Stay tuned for the tarot messages for:
Rule #3: Don’t be the Weak Link
Rule #4: Must be Present to Win.

Rule #1: Don’t Burn the Witch, Tarot Message

IMG_8084

 

This blog is the second part to Heron’s Rules of Modern Witchcraft.

…continued to:  Rule #2: Don’t be the Asshole,

Rule #3: Don’t be the Weak Link

Rule #4: Must be Present to Win.

To recap: What I mean by “Don’t Burn the Witch”

  1. Practice basic fire safety with thorough respect for the Powers of Fire.
  2. Do not conjure what you cannot banish.
  3. Begin by healing, loving and respecting yourself. “If that which you seek you find not within, you will never find it without.”
  4. Protect, defend and support your fellow Witches, engaging them with mutual respect, in “perfect love and perfect trust.”

September 23, 2014, after I awoke from the Mabon Day Revelation dream, I grabbed up my Thoth Tarot Deck and engaged Spirit in a conversation about each of my Rules of Modern Witchcraft. I used a spread I developed last year that I call the Witches’ Pyramid Spread. This spread has since become a key instrument in my divinatory practice as it speaks to the evolutionary process and works especially well when I’m reading for magickal people engaged in The Great Work.

Query: What lessons do you offer us through “Don’t Burn the Witch”

Highest Divine Guidance speaks to how we are to apply attention to our outer relationships in society.

Card: The Magus In the realm of thought, Divine is asking us to dismiss what we think we know and begin to WONDER  about the brilliant capabilities, skills and tools we have to share with others, and how we can create the world we desire through clear communication. We are asked how the full expression of our creative potentials can bring us happiness. How can we become fully-realized mages, capable of creating the world we desire?

Card: The Princess of Disks In the realm of will, we are asked to SURRENDER to a new beauty entering our lives; to become the gateway to a new identity, to a new concept. We are asked to rebel against the old ways, and gain sovereignty over what we manifest in the world. We must surrender to the transformative powers of divine harmonic balance.

Card: 5 of Wands: Strife In the realm of emotion, Divine directs us to DARE to overcome restriction, to face the strife of the situation and do something about it, to express ourselves creatively. Face our adversaries and build our strength, gaining dominion, by bravely facing any resistance to our will-power.

Card: Knight of Wands In the realm of the physical, we are asked to RESONATE, to make the quest into the void of potential, applying dynamic forward motion, seeking out and gaining increased insight, resulting in a mastery of growth and development, and changes in consciousness. Be grateful for this gift from existence; every challenge that arises will help us grow. It is our time to reap the harvests we’ve long worked to achieve.

Card: 8 of Swords: Interference Highest Divine Guidance for our outer relationships with society, asks us to relax and trust life; stop worrying so much about our choices. Problems which seem unsolvable will find their solution in their own way. Apply endurance and trust in all that we do. We have a choice to “burn” or to nurture ourselves and our fellow humans. What sort of neighbor do we wish to be?

So, this is my interpretation. What do these cards and messages mean to you? How does this message inform how you would apply “Don’t Burn the Witch” to your own life?

In gratitude, blessed be.

Heron’s Rules of Modern Witchcraft

[Heron’s note: following is the continuation of Aphrodite’s Thealogy of Perfection that developed into our “Four Rules.” This is the story of how the last two were revealed to me as a visionary message back on September 23rd, 2014.]

Allow me to take you back to a time not so long ago…It was a warm and shining Autumn Equinox day here in North Carolina, and we’d just returned from vending at the Pagan Pride Festival in Raleigh the previous day, so I was considerably exhausted.

By USFWS Mountain-Prairie ("And the Raven Still is Sitting ...") [CC BY 2.0] Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

By Lori Iverson, USFWS Mountain-Prairie (“And the Raven Still is Sitting …”) [CC BY 2.0] Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

We’d spent a lovely weekend in the company of 3000+ fine pagans . It was also a family reunion, as we got to see many from our Sojo Tribe who live in that area. I love my tribe; they are the most mature, civilized and responsible group of witches I’ve ever known. It is a rare thing to have a teaching coven last so long without strain from diva-drama.

The Mabon Day Revelations

That crisp afternoon, I was cruising Facebook and see a posting by Raven Grimassi lamenting how within the witching communities, many are quick to stoop to pitiful levels of back-stabbing each other in public forums.  He implored us to become the kind of people who seek out the best in each other, rather than constantly harping on the worst in each other.

I read this sad message just as I was laying down for a nap. As my three kitties snuggled in around me, I thought about all the times folks I’d trusted had betrayed me, and the “Rules” that developed as we tried to learn a better way to coven together. They started as a comedic way to illustrate thealogical concepts (3). Until this fateful Mabon day, we only had two: Don’t burn the Witch and Don’t be the Asshole. As I descended into sleep, I knew this is basically what Raven was asking of us.

"Burning at the stake. An illustration from an mid 19th century book" By mullica [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

By mullica [CC BY 2.0] public domain via Wikimedia Commons

1.  Don’t burn the Witch.

The obvious: If you are going to work with the element of Fire, respect its potential, then avoid accidents.
 The less obvious: Be careful not to conjure up what you don’t know how to safely send back.

Heal thyself: All things vibrate, and like vibrations attract more of the same. (Hermetic Principle of Vibration, also called the Law of Attraction.) If you remain a pulsing magnet of self-loathing, no matter what intention your mouth speaks, you are doomed to repeat your past suffering. If you continue to harbor your wounds, you cannot evolve beyond “wounded consciousness” and all your magick will ever cause is a good ol’ fashioned witch burning of YOURSELF.

“If that which you seek you find not within, you will never find it without.” Charge of the Goddess, Doreen Valiente

Empowerment starts with YOU. Wisdom starts with YOU. Healing starts with YOU. YOU ARE THE MAGICK, so make it effective, harmonious, kick-ass magick sourced by Divine Love. The FIRST step on the path of the Witch is to learn to recognize these wounds for what they are, release all lingering connection to them, and heal from the inside out. Love yourself first. THEN, and only then, can you begin to break the cycle of woundings and don the crown of personal sovereignty.

Perfect Love and Perfect Trust: In the name of all things holy, STOP burning your fellow Witches!  We have a hard enough time not being “burned” by the rest of society, if we can’t treat each other with respect, what are we playing at?

Divine Love: The Thealogy of Perfection

venusThealogy (a neologism coined by Isaac Bonewits in 1974) is a discourse that reflects upon the meaning of Goddess and Her relationship to life forms. It is a discourse that critically engages the past and contemporary Goddess community’s beliefs, wisdom, embodied practices, questions, and values.”

Now that we’ve cleared up the issue of my spelling of “Thealogy,” back to the topic at hand.  What is “Divine” Love? What do we mean by “Perfection?”

If you begin to see the world as a divine tapestry, woven with the love of the Goddess and God, “Love” begins to take on a different definition. If it is EVERYTHING, it is also “Whole” and “Complete” in that there are no parts missing or excluded, and that is healthy thing.

Consider the word, “Wholesome.”  It is both sides of every polarity, all states of matter, all types of energy, all four seasons, all types of life-forms, all genders, all sexual preferences, all social strata, all areas of consciousness, crests/troughs, good hair days and bad hair days, red votes and blue votes, sinners and saints, etcetera and so on. Think of a “Perfect” circle; its all “god/dess.”perfect circle

Well then, that stirs up the hornets nest of all kinds of controversy in today’s societal discourse, doesn’t it? Wanna piss off fundie members of the family at the next reunion? There you go; try that topic of dinner conversation.

As I choose to focus my paradigm on the polarity of Goddess LOVING God, rather than the Abrahamic paradigm of God VERSUS Satan, I find myself not in the battlefield paradigm of destruction, but in the Honeymoon Suite of creation, and that leads me to this question: Where would “evil” fit into this equation? (Check out that discourse in this blog.)  More importantly, What is the polar opposite of love?

Hate? Indifference? Both of those answers have scored their share of believers, as evidenced by the many memes that show up on Facebook.  Those are both in opposition to love, to be certain, but I think we have to dig deeper than that.

When I started this dedication, Venus*, threw me under the bus.  All of a sudden I was confronted relentlessly with every way in which I could possibly feel unloved, threatened or disrespected. These thorns of havoc jabbed me from every direction, until I recognized them for the lesson that they were. Then different thorns would snag me. In some cases, I would experience violent physical discomfort until I recognized the thorn, then it would clear up just as quickly as it came!  Today I present to you the “thorns,” my dear readers, and believe me, gathering this list hurt like hell.

So here is my list so far of the conditions necessary for me to feel loved, and by extension, fulfilled, happy and in balance:

  • Acceptance: When I feel safe to be my whole self; when my inner truth can be expressed outwardly without risk of rejection, including acceptance within my community, social group, family, friendship, lovers.
  • Sovereignty: When my absolute authority over my own body, mind, emotions, and spirit are respected and I have FREE WILL to be master of my fate, and make my own decisions as a being of dignity and worth.  My emotional boundaries are not being threatened.
  • Resources: When I know I have access to sufficient resources to make sure my physical needs of food, water, oxygen, and shelter will be met.
  • Affection: We are social beasts, there is just no more base truth than how all human beings need touch and nurturing, and how ADULT humans need sexual gratification to be well-rounded, healthy people.
  • Expression: When I have a means of expressing my needs/opinions as a sovereign being, and have the respect of being heard by others around me as an important person of dignity and worth. I want my place at the table, and in the voting booth, etc.
  • Security: When my physical safety is not threatened, and I can let down my guard and relax and get a good night’s sleep; when my physical boundaries are not trespassed, also when my privacy is respected.
  • Authenticity: When I know that I can trust that the outward appearance and declaration of any person, product, and circumstance is the actual truth, without deception or trickery. Is this just a “bait and switch” sales pitch? Does this label accurately describe the contents? It is worth what it says it is worth, etc. Are you charging me a fair rate for your services?
  • Trustworthy, an extension of Authenticity: Are YOU worthy of my care, are YOU worthy to be treated with sovereignty, can I trust your expression to be well intentioned? Are the other people around me granting me the same level of courtesy, honesty, dignity, worth, security, etc., that I’m investing in them? Can I trust what you say is true? Are you actually a sheep, or just a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

This is just the short list that I’ve discovered between Imbolc and Litha.  Let me plant this seed of thought: The opposite of Love grows from the root of FEAR; the fear of a LACK OF LOVE felt through acceptance, sovereignty, resources, affection, expression, security, authenticity and trustworthiness.

When we do not have these things, we are wounded, deep down in our wee-baby souls.  To be denied these basic human needs for too long creates stress, and trauma, and from that grows anxiety, fearfulness, and anger, that twists and festers inside us and emerges at paranoia and hate.

Fear of a lack of love leads to selfishness, hostility, aggression, and violence wherein we lash out and impose the same transgressions that we’ve suffered onto others as a way of either getting what we need the hard way, or exacting revenge.  We become the bully, and do ugly things, like a giant billboard announcing what bullet wounded us in the first place. “Thou dost protest too much!” This is the Jungian shadow, and we project our own “fears of a lack of love” onto those around us, calling out those things we hate most about ourselves.

Suffer the bullet of bigotry? You find someone different than you and become their bigot. “I may be a red-neck, but at least I’m not whitetrash.” “I may be whitetrash, but at least I’m not a nigger.” “I may be a nigger but at least I’m not a fag.” This is just another example of shit rolling down hill; there is no end to it and it is all shameful.

The bullet of name calling because you think you are too fat? You call the skinny kid on the playground names.

The bullet of homophobia? You must be terrified of your own homosexual curiosity, and if you can’t have what you want, ain’t nobody gonna get what they want.

The bullet of poverty? You steal, pillage, exploit ALL THE RESOURCES.

The bullet of sexual rejection? You rape, cheat, exploit.

The bullet of physical abuse?  You try to control and hurt those weaker than you, the kids, an animal, your employee, your spouse…

I know these lessons so intimately well because I have been both the bully and bullied, and I’m not proud of that.

Why are there bullies in a world when just about everybody has heard of The Golden Rule, to Treat Others as you would like to be treated?  I was raised by an evangelical Christian touting the Golden Rule at every opportunity, and she was a model human being. Yet I was rather monstrous, if I’m honest with myself.  My sovereignty of mind and Spirit were not respected, I was given no voice, and no credence, and it made me ANGRY.  Wounds are like that. It feels better to blow off that steam for a little while, but then it just festers further. Only love can heal those wounds.

Think about it, why do people do anti-social things? Why do people do destructive things?   They are wounded; and wounded people wound others. Its a fictional example, but consider the Star Wars story, even powerful Anakin Skywalker became Darth Vader because deep down he was still the former slave, afraid of death, afraid of losing his dearest love, and afraid of not having control over the uncontrollable…but even he could be saved by the love of his son. USE THE FORCE, LUKE!

Yoda-Eyes-Closed“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” Yoda, George Lucas in Star Wars

The opposite of love is the fear of being hungry, alone, powerless, voiceless, rejected, or harmed. Love that is security, acceptance and the resources to survive; love that is sovereignty, free-will and respect; THAT LOVE is Divine love, and it is “perfect.”

The Thealogy of Perfection:

In Wicca there is a phrase often used when we enter sacred space with our spiritual family. We say that we enter, “In Perfect love and Perfect trust.”  Perfect love, is the “whole,” Divine love that acknowledges you as a sovereign being, with dignity and worth, having ALL parts; light and shadow, good days and bad days, ups and downs, and we accept you unconditionally. A promise of “perfect love” embodies the needs of acceptance, sovereignty, resources, affection and expression. We care, you are important, and we will not abandon you just because you are having a bad day, or we disagree with one another.

hands_above_4However, that is a powder keg, unless it is tempered by the most important part of that statement about “Perfect Trust.”  This sets the strong boundaries in place that make a safe environment for all that unconditional love you’ll be offering.

Trust embodies the needs of security, authenticity, and trustworthiness, and is the social contract between members that promises that the care that you are extending to them will be returned in equal measure, to the best of their ability. This is the trust that they are honest, authentic and trustworthy in their dealings with you, and that they will not transgress against your boundaries, while expecting the same from you in return, to the best of your ability.

This social contract is a two way street and promises that you are both trying to live up to your shared ideals, and if one of you misses the mark, then you will respectfully help them get back into your good graces, and vice versa, without a witchwar, nor name-calling, nor slander, nor gossiping behind their backs, nor cursing them into a toad.  Remember, Heron’s second rule of Witchcraft is “don’t be the asshole.” If somebody starts behaving like the asshole, remember Heron’s first rule of Witchcraft is “don’t burn the witch.” I’m sure you can find a nice way to correct the situation, because that is how sovereign beings with dignity behave.

However, and this is the fly in the ointment; If all your best efforts to correct the harmful situation go unheeded, and you find yourself in the company of a person who violates your boundaries, love and trust without care, and they refuse to accept responsibility for themselves… go Gandalf on them. “You shall not pass!”  Bind that behavior into oblivion, send love and light into the wound, then show them to the door with a Namaste and a smile.  Be the Warrior Witch, because ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat. With great power, comes great responsibility! 🙂

Which brings me to the idea of vows that people make with their partners, or their coven-mates. In both previous instances wherein I took vows to my ex-husband, and later to my former coven-mates, I asked that this line be included, “I will trust in your good intentions, as I strive to be trustworthy.” I love this idea, and I’ve tried to live up to that in every way I know how.  Unfortunately, in both cases the courtesy was not returned in equal measure and I felt the harm of that betrayal. Those are still my wounds to this day.

When writing vows, and when entering into formal unions, consider how you will offer “perfect love and perfect trust” to your partner or group, meeting the conditions listed above. Parents, how are you fostering these ideals and conditions for your children? How do you train them to their sovereignty? Do they have a voice in your home that is heard and given credence? Are they safe from harm, and treated as a being of dignity and worth? I should hope so, because you should ensure they extend you the some respect and courtesy, and I know you’ve heard of the “Golden Rule” to treat others as you would like to be treated.  Consider also the “harm” caused when those vows are broken, and just don’t be that person, because that makes you the asshole, and by now you know how I feel about that. DON’T DO IT!

“Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill; an it harm none, do as ye will.”

Blessed be.

Continued from Part 1: Divine Love: The Dedication

*For the purposes of ease, I’ve begun to call the Goddess of Love by her Roman name, Venus, though I see her as one Goddess of Love with many aspects, names, faces and cultural lenses. Hey, I’m a panentheist, this is as close you’ll catch me to “polytheism” before I start to twitch.  😉