Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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Hail to Persephone and Demeter, goddesses of agency

Personally, I don’t hold onto myths if they don’t serve me or the world I live in. Yesterday was the offering to Demeter and Persephone, and I decided to share the Persephone myth I believe in.

Demeter, as an earth goddess, spent much time in the beginning underground encouraging the roots to grow; and beloved Persephone often came with her. But since you can only wat your mother work for so long, Persephone began to explore the world underground and the underworld beneath it. On her explorations, she came upon Hades, overworked and overtaxed by the demands of the dead.  Persephone offered help, and Hades gladly took it. The work of bringing justice and order to the dead gave Persephone purpose and in the light of the silent flames, she blossomed. Eventually, she fell in love with Hades, the underworld, and the dead; refusing to leave. Demeter, as mothers do, refused to believe that Persephone (her bright spring child Persephone) would rather stay in the dark underworld and flew into a rage that destroyed the gree growing plants of the earth. Demeter refused to go underground to tend to the roots. The dead flocked to the underworld in droves and told Persephone of the famine and her mother’s cruelties. Kind-hearted Persephone went to the border of the underworld and underground, where the seeds sleep and the roots grow. Slowly, because she had little of her mothers powers, Persephone pulled the roots from the seeds directing them to water and rich patches of soil before pushing tentative shoots up to the sun. During this time of famine, Demeter grieved on Hecate’s shoulder. Demeter mourned her daughter and all the dreams she had for her. With time and Hecates care came acceptance, so when the first brave shoot came through the earth Demeter was ready to begin again. But grief is something we live with, not something we conquer; and on the anniversary of Persephone’s absence,  Demeter falls into deep grief again.

Some men I know, have an issue with this version of the myth. They say I don’t know my gods appropriately, or that I have never bothered reading about them. When I show them my collection of classic writers: Apollodorus, Diodorus Siculus, Hesiod, Pausanias, the Papyrii, Strabo, Oppian, Ovid, Pseudo-Hyginus, Virgil, Cicero, Propertius, Seneca, Valerius Flaccus, Statius, Apuleius, Claudian, and both the Homeric and Orphic hymns; I’m accused of keeping them on my shelf to make myself look smarter. Even though some of them aren’t in neatly bound books, but rather were pdfs I printed and put into beat-up binders.

Those men do exactly what the classic myth does: they take away the agency of the women around them and diminish them to something smaller. That’s why I love my myth so much. It’s pure women’s culture, and you’ll have to pry it from my cold dead hands before I let it go.

Women’s culture is the art and stories women make around their identity as women. Here at the Pagan and the Pitbulls, this culture is intersectional. In the middle of that intersection of gender, sex, sexuality, race, age, ability, and nationality is our agency.

Our agency to live in our bodies, to modify and dress them as we see fit.

Our agency to not only decide if and when we want children; but also to raise those children in a place with good housing, clean water and air, healthcare, and education.

Our agency to choose the careers and jobs we want, to follow our purpose and desires. Without others putting arbitrary barriers to accessibility.

Our agency to choose as many or as few partners we desire, and to form bonds with them in ways that fit our lives.

Our agency to grieve our beloveds fully.

Our agency to call for justice for harm done to us and our communities, and to have those calls be heard.

Our agency to choose our religion, philosophy, or beliefs without them being questioned.

Our agency to simply exist.

Demeter and Persephone are goddesses of agency and to them, I give an offering.

XXVIII. TO PERSEPHONE

Daughter of Zeus, almighty and divine, come, blessed queen, and to these rites incline:

Only-begotten, Plouton’s honored wife, O venerable Goddess, source of life:

‘Tis thine in earth’s profundities to dwell, fast by the wide and dismal gates of hell:

Zeus’ holy offspring, of a beauteous mien, Praxidike, with lovely locks, infernal queen:

Source of the Eumenides, whose blest frame proceeds from Zeus’ ineffable and secret seeds:

Mother of Eubouleos, Sonorous, divine, and many-form’d, the parent of the vine:

The dancing Horai attend thee, essence bright, all-ruling virgin, bearing heav’nly light:

Illustrious, horned, of a bounteous mind, alone desir’d by those of mortal kind.

O, vernal queen, whom grassy plains delight, sweet to the smell, and pleasing to the sight:

Whose holy form in budding fruits we view, Earth’s vigorous offspring of a various hue:

Espous’d in Autumn: life and death alone to wretched mortals from thy power is known:

For thine the task according to thy will, life to produce, and all that lives to kill.

Hear, blessed Goddess, send a rich increase of various fruits from earth, with lovely Peace;

Send Health with gentle hand, and crown my life with blest abundance, free from noisy strife;

Last, in extreme old age the prey of Death, dismiss we willing to the realms beneath,

To thy fair palace, and the blissful plains where happy spirits dwell, and Pluto [Plouton] reigns.

XXXIX. TO DEMETER ELEUSINIA

O Universal mother Deo fam’d august, the source of wealth, and various named:

Great nurse, all-bounteous, blessed and divine, who joy’st in peace, to nourish corn is thine:

Goddess of seed, of fruits abundant, fair, harvest and threshing, are thy constant care;

Who dwell’st in Eleusina’s seats retir’d, lovely, delightful queen, by all desired.

Nurse of all mortals, whose benignant mind, first ploughing oxen to the yoke confin’d;

And gave to men, what nature’s wants require, with plenteous means of bliss which all desire.

In verdure flourishing in honor bright, assessor of great Bacchus [Bromios], bearing light:

Rejoicing in the reapers sickles, kind, whose nature lucid, earthly, pure, we find.

Prolific, venerable, Nurse divine, thy daughter loving, holy Proserpine [Koure]:

A car with dragons yok’d, ’tis thine to guide, and orgies singing round thy throne to ride:

Only-begotten, much-producing queen, all flowers are thine and fruits of lovely green.

Bright Goddess, come, with Summer’s rich increase swelling and pregnant, leading smiling Peace;

Come, with fair Concord and imperial Health, and join with these a needful store of wealth.


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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.