Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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I see witches

I’ve been seeing a lot of articles in my news alerts that are in a panic about how there are more witches in the States than Presbyterians. Now, that’s based on a misinterpetation of a poorly reported poll, it’s a whole story on its own, and something I will address on Wednesday when I have wifi and don’t have to type my posts on my phone (2 more days praise the gods).

But before that, I honestly think more visible witches is a good thing. For the people in the back: RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY IS A GOOD THING. My spiritual perspective allows me to see problems and alternatives others may be blind to. My minority religion status allows me to see where the majority religion fails; and Jesus Christ does it do that.

But that visibility and diversity isn’t just good for political and activist reasons.

It’s also good for the kids like me, kids in small towns whose conversions brought out waves of spite. I spent hours on the forums recommended by Witch Vox. Social media was still in its infancy-at this time Facebook still only allowed college students on their platform, and Myspace was the place to be. I didn’t have glamorous and inspiring role models.

But this generation does. The Hood Witch is the glamorous, elegant, and confident witch that will always be my #goals. Also, check out the Slutist tarot deck she has for sale. That deck is a thing of sex positivity, diversity, and beauty. And we need that. New and budding magickal practitioners need to see that representation to develop the strength and core needed to walk in strength and beauty on this path.

So keep representing witches. Keep showing up because we all need to see you.

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A day of Thanksgiving

Image by Ts’uyya Farm

Today in the States it’s Thanksgiving. In my own home state of New Mexico, there are 23 tribes so I have a slight understanding about how fraught the holiday can be for Native peoples. While none of the tribes in my state are the Wampanoag from the Thanksgiving myth (to my knowledge), there is still an extensive history of trauma and genocide under the colonial and later United States governments. A trauma that continues to this day. It makes Thanksgiving more uncomfortable than it already is. Although to think of it, nothing is so Americana as a Trumpy uncle screaming about making America great again as Native lands are stolen and Native women are raped while a roast turkey sits on the table.

Sean Sherman of the Sioux Chef wrote an article for Time explaining his conplicated and evolving relationship with Thanksgiving. In it, he brings up a truely excellent point: Thanksgiving is made with indigenous foods like turkey, corn, beans, pumpkin, etc; perhaps it’s time to embrace those foods and step back from the Thanksgiving narrative.

Thanksgiving falls in the no-mans land between Samhain and Yule, and it’s an excellent time to reconnect to the land as the year spirals into winter. It’s also a time for shadow-work and reconciling our dark past and present actions, and paying for them.

While its probably a little late to change your Thanksgiving menus to support Native chefs (Thanksgiving at a restaurant anyone?) you can still buy their products, support their farmers, and donate to their efforts to reclaim their foodways.

Get inspiration for leftovers from The Fancy Navajo. Buy The Sioux Chefs Indigenous Kitchen or Foods of the Southwest Indian Nations (Lois Ellen Frank, Kiowa) or Original Local (Heid E Sherman, Ojibwe).

Visit restaurants with Native chefs like Ray Naranjo, Karlos Baca, and Freddie Bitsoie.

Support Native farmers like Ts’uyya Farm.

Support the Dine Food Policies, the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project, the I-Collective and Gather, and the North American Traditional Indigenous Food Systems.

At this time, give thanks for what you have. And give back to people still suffering from trauma.


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Turning the wheel at Samhain

Honestly, I have no idea what to write right now because Samhain is a loaded time for me on a good year. While this is a good year: I’m successfully divorced with only a few details remaining and I’m living in a place I’ve dreamed of; it’s also a very bittersweet year. A year ago exactly today I packed all my things and left.

There are a lot of things that influenced my decision to get a divorce. One of the ones that played no small part was my ex-husbands politics and his family’s politics. They’re a special kind of libertarian that will see the world burn, as long as it never touches them. As I read the news about gender being strictly defined and the tragedy at the Tree of Life Synagogue, I can’t help but be reminded that to my deep eternal shame I was once part of them. Even if I voted blue, and donated blue, and tried to persuade them blue, I was still part of that tribe. (Although as my mother noted, that tribe and my wedding into that family were some of the coldest we’ve experienced.)

But I pulled my way out. And that means something. So maybe as we head into the new year, we should pay tribute to the beloved dead, and then honor them by trying to pull our way out of the national mess we’re in. The first step is to vote. The wheel won’t turn unless we turn it.


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Influential Books: The Serpents Shadow

mlserpshadAfter the discovery of my first Book of Shadows and the explosive fallout, I found it easier to just hide what I was reading and studying. This means that a lot of my standard magical cookbook comes from fictional inspiration, a trend that continues to this day. One of the most useful was The Serpents Shadow by Mercedes Lackey. Personally, I think the first 5 books of the Elemental Masters series moves through the full Wiccan initiatory cycle. The Serpents Shadow focuses on the element of Earth. Aside from the adventure and romance of the book, most memorable are 5 magickal acts: pulling energy from the earth, grounding the energy back into the earth, setting a protection around a house, pets as familiars, and an entertaining interaction with a selkie colony.

Now, the selkie colony isn’t hugely important magickally. It’s a cute addition to the plot, and after having gone through the full Wiccan initiatory cycle myself, it’s an interesting magickal layer. Which makes this a classic on my bookshelf for that reason, magickal books should always gain layers as you gain knowledge and understanding. The pets as familiars are similar, interesting as a Witch with 10+ years experience but something that I missed on my first read through.

What was more important was the energy manipulation, grounding, and setting a circle. With few exceptions (all of which prove the rule), energy shouldn’t be pulled from your own core being. The core of the earth is a much better place to pull from. Not only is it self-replenishing, it doesn’t exhaust the practitioner. Of all the energy in the core of the earth, I prefer the blue fire that grows like flowers. But everyone’s mileage varies, and some may find the silver rivers or the red iron that tastes like cinnamon better fits for their work and style.  And as many others (So. Many. Others. Like all of them), will tell you grounding is a crucial part of energy manipulation. Holding onto that is like holding onto a grenade with the pin pulled. It will blow up in your face.  All of this is explained in easy to use terms, and in fact is very easy to follow from the book. I still use that meditation from time to time, when I need to get back to my center point.

Since energy needs a place to go, Maya and Peter (the main characters) put it into crystals to create a barrier that doesn’t rely on Maya’s energy to sustain itself and protect the house. This is a common way to create house barriers, and since the barrier works with the earth and the energy of the earth, it’s self-sustaining. I have uses variations of this barrier in my house, my office, and the other spaces I spend a lot of time in. I find it to be a solid way to put magickal protection around my spaces, and if I use pretty crystals and rocks it’s easy to disguise.

Mercedes Lackey is an author I will always recommend as a metaphysical/magickal must read. Some of the series haven’t aged well: the Dianna Tregarde series, for example, are fantastic for their use of practical, real-life magick; but they are very 80’s. The Elemental Masters series, The Serpents Shadow is the second book, is classic and timeless. 10/10 would recommend.


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A Dark Horse on the Horizon

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While my musical tastes are broad and sometimes “auditorily offensive”, Katy Perry is by no means a favorite, and not someone I normally associate with Paganism. So when I saw Katy Perry mentioned on The Wild Hunt, I was a bit confused. Apparently, Perry is in the hot seat again for her 2013 hit “Dark Horse”. For me, Perry is hugely problematic not-fave for reasons you can see here, here, here, and here.

And honestly, even if none of her homophobia, cultural appropriation, or sexual misconduct was a factor, I’m not super enthused by the music video. As a Hellenic practitioner with no real ties to the Egyptian pantheon, I don’t have a horse in the race in terms of divine representation; even if the color scheme in the music video is the hue of my depression. The song is meh and I have no comment on the use of Aphrodite’s name in the lyrics. In an early version of the music video, Perry destroyed a necklace with the name of Allah on it which is really just another sign of her inattentiveness as an artist. Although I did find her Grammy performance of “Dark Horse” distasteful and concerning for a whole host of reasons.

The issue here is that Perry is being sued by Marcus Gray, Lecrae Moore, Emanuel Lambert, and Chike Ojukwu for plagiarism of their song “Joyful Noise“, as well as tarnishing the reputation of “Joyful Noise” with “Dark Horse”s “association with the witchcraft, paganism, black magic, and Illuminati imagery evoked by the same music in Dark Horse. Indeed, the music video of Dark Horse generated widespread accusations of blasphemy and an online petition signed by more than 60,000 demanding removal of an offensive religious image from the video.” Given that Perry has a background as a Christian music singer, and that the songs do share a remarkably similar beat and melody I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that Perry didn’t give credit where it was due. And that’s really shitty of her if she did. But I take serious issue with where this fits into the larger cultural narrative, particularly the cultural narrative in Trump’s America. 

Right out of the gate, I will say I don’t expect my celebrities to use their platform politically. I do think that individuals with that kind of reach have an ethical responsibility to use that platform wisely, but having a responsibility doesn’t mean you have to do something. However, I do know for a fact that people who claim minority status have to behave like the eye of the Moirae is on them; because the eye of the public is and it’s not much kinder.

Why does that matter? Perry has claimed to be a New Age practitioner.

Now, if we’re talking labels, “New Age practitioner” isn’t Pagan isn’t pagan isn’t Wiccan isn’t witchcraft isn’t Illuminati (what even is an Illuminati when it’s at home?). But those are differences without a distinction to most of the populace, as we see in the “Joyful Noise” lawsuit.

In terms of the claims from the lawsuit, most of the pagan imagery comes from the music video. Excluding the army of sexy-Bastet, I can somewhat understand it. Ra and Anubis have probably never been so ripped, but many who reject the Christian faith often go through a phase of strongly connecting with the Divine Feminine. Most people don’t have such a large artistic venture to express it though, and others who do have certainly done it better (the bold mixture of Isis and Christianity in The Cranberries “Zombie” and Beyonce as Oshun come to mind).  I can tolerate Perry’s bubblegum attempt at Isis, even if I give it a healthy dose of side eye.

More concerning was her Grammy performance. I’m not going to claim that witchcraft is always rainbows and fairies: in my magickal pantry I have grave dirt, bones, and menstrual blood. But that performance. I was a child during the Satanic Panic, and the evangelical school my parents sent me to clung to the panic even after it passed out of the mainstream media. That Grammy performance was EXACTLY what my parents and the school said witchcraft was: skeletal trees, hooded Baphomet, dancing demons, witches branded with red crosses, women getting sexual pleasure from being burned. I swear, joining my first coven after that build up was such a letdown.

Outside of a very wise group of Cassandras, I don’t think any of us really expected the political rise of the White Evangelical to play out the way it did. In 2014 I remember Pagans talking about LGBTQ rights and evangelism; Trump, Russia, and the malice of White Evangelism were hidden for the most part. Most of us didn’t think it could or would happen. Except it did, and we’re seeing all sorts of human rights violations and bullshit go down. After all, evangelical lobbyists sell access to the president at the Prayer Breakfast, the DOJ uses the Bible to justify separating children at the border, and Jeff Sessions formed the Religious Liberty Task Force (ostensibly to protect the voices of religion in the government, but let’s be real about how that’s going to play out).  In the grand scheme of things, this lawsuit seems small and insignificant. But bigger atrocities are built on the small and insignificant, so this case very well should be watched closely.

Perry has the wealth and resources to inoculate herself against the discrimination every Pagans and magickal practitioners face. Regardless of the outcome of this case, Perry will continue on making money by the boatload and will present an air of the effortless New Age practitioner. She will not struggle to find employment or days off, and should things in America turn against minority religions she has the means to protect herself and her empire. But if Perry claims to be a New Age practitioner, she’s the representative we have in the wider world even if she isn’t one we would have chosen for ourselves. Which means she needs to step up her game, and we need to call her out about it. Because it’s not her neck on the line. It’s ours.


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Taking a Breath

Wow, a whole lot happened since I posted last. Like, Jesus Christ on a stick, could it not have slowed down just a little bit?

School started and my schedule changed, twice; my wedding plans blew up; Teddy’s family is attempting to resolve the residual drama from the break and the wedding; I completely forgot about a test; job description changed, again; the car dumped a full tank of gas into the parking lot; a former lover and I figured out that we are a hot mess but we’ll be ok; and my brother finally told my mother that he is joining the Army. He shipped out for basic last Sunday. Whew.

To say things are a in a state of flux is putting it mildly. But I think that this is the time when things start to become really clear, especially how people handle difficulty. Hot damn, that was cliche. If I weren’t so exhausted, I would try and fix that. So, I’m doing what everyone has always told me–take a breath. Sort things out.

School and work are a bit beyond my control. The work/class schedule will be what it will be, and it’s early enough in the semester that I can do a little badly on one test. Breathe, let it go.

The wedding will happen regardless of any stressors and weird that go on before we get there.  The important thing is that Teddy and I will be married. Breathe, let it go.

I’ve taken the car to the shop, and they are trying to fix it. This is all I can do about it, breathe, let it go.

The former lover is a little more complicated. Different choices, and we could have been something wonderful. And, even though he said it first I have to agree with him, he will always have a little bit of my heart. That was something we never really shared until it was completely over. I love him, but we aren’t meant to be. Breathe, mourn, and let it go.

My brother has finally achieved his dream of being in the military. It’s what he’s wanted for years, and I have to commend him for doing what he seems to love. Comforting my mother is a little bit harder, but it can be done. We’ll all get through this. Breathe, let him go.

And now everything seems simpler, easier to handle. I know I probably should have posted the next Pagan definition post but I needed to get this off my chest first. Now it’s time to cuddle the puppies.