Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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Open Enrollment Ends December 15th

Despite Republican efforts to make it as difficult as possible to enroll in healthcare, remember you still can. Open enrollment ends on December 15th, so take a moment this Yule season and get the gift that really keep on giving: a health insurance plan.

You can enroll here.


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A Song of Endurance

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When I was a child, I met La Llorona. I was playing in the river and slipped and fell in. The water was deceptively still, so the current took me by surprise. While I was, and am, a decent swimmer; the current carried me downstream, and I could feel fingers wrapping around my ankle and pulling down. Surrendering to that firm tug was the most comforting thing to do. It was a small thing, just follow it down, don’t fight it. Above the surface is difficult and hot, just sink down. It was only after I scraped my hand on a rock, did I come back. My stinging palm reminded me to swim, so I did. Because I had to. I had no other choice.

I’m entering the first harvest after my divorce. And there were many times during the disintegration of my marriage and later adventures in the legal system, where it was so much easier to sink. To sink into depression and anxiety. There were sometimes I did, and my two pit bulls were great sources of strength for me at the time, but they were more “keep my head above water” strength. Other things, such as hecatedemeters Prayers for the Resistance, scraped my hand and reminded me to swim.

Now, a year after reading the Prayer for the Resistance, I’m writing a response to that post. This is a Song of Endurance.

 

This is a song of Lughnasadh. This is a song of Endurance.

 

Lughnasadh: when the wildfires send ash into the air, when the harvest is beaten by hail, and we dream of the cool in the dark. Here, Lughnasadh is when we share and share alike: frying green tomatoes broken from the vine, and neighbors watch the river to protect what we have. Lughnasadh is the song of Endurance.

This is the song of the green witches, who grow communities in the rich bosque soil. Who build arches of peas and plenty, even in the high heat of a desert drought. This is their song of Endurance.

This is the song of children making lemonade as taught by their mothers and the song of women making Lemonade as taught by Beyonce. This is their song of Endurance.

Lughnasadh is our fire festival when ash graces our hair and clings to our taste buds, and we crave the clean taste of winter and fall. Lughnasadh is when we share and share alike, for that is how we survive. Lughnasadh is the song of Endurance.

This is the song of the scientist working against disbelief and lack of funding to bring light to the dark places. This is the song of the teacher who tries to protect students from swastikas. This is the song of waiting for Mueller Time. This is the song of Endurance.

This is the song at the food bank, giving rhythm to sorting good food from bad. This is rhythm reverberates in typed letters to Senators, dial tones to Representatives, and the endless march of feet. This is the song of Endurance.

Lughnasadh is our fire festival when the heat of fires miles away make it too hot to sleep and exhaustion pulls our bones into Skeleton Woman’s embrace. Lughnasadh is when we share and share alike, for this is how blessings grow. Lughnasadh is the song of Endurance.

This is the song of the women’s group, moving one step forward through all setbacks. This is the song of the mothers who push back against encroaching normalization. This is the song of Endurance.

This is the song of the nagging reminder: they/them not she/her. She/her because she was always a woman, even when she isn’t here. And he was always a man. This is the song of Endurance.

Lughnasadh is our fire festival when the rainbow lightning touches trees bringing rain and fertile ash to the dry, sandy earth. Lughnasadh is when we share

and share alike, for this is how rain falls and the wheel turns. Lughnasadh is the song of Endurance.

My song isn’t for tomato cravings, or gorging cucumbers, or rambling vines, or sharp-witted eggplant. My hands aren’t made for plants, only the hardiest survive my home. Aloe, pothos, bamboo, and an oddly defiant orchid. They endure through my neglect, and my unskilled watering. My wheel never centered the agrarian.

Lughnasadh is our fire festival when the ash has settled, and the monsoons unleashed; a second quiet growing season begins with curling sprouts around charcoal foundations. Lughnasadh is when we share and share alike, the gifts I bring combined with yours means we all survive. Lughnasadh is the song of Endurance.

Lughnasadh is how we endure. When the hardest hail punishes growth, and the lightning strikes those who dare to touch the sky, and the fire burns all but the hardiest away; Lughnasadh sings, Endure. Endure. Endure. Hold on, and hold out. Sink roots deep to the hidden water, let the broken branches protect new growth. And when you have survived all this, reach once more for the sky.


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Old Year’s Food for thought

new yearsOnly one more day left of the old year before we see the new one. Which is a little crazy when you think about it, so much has happened so quickly. So here is a quick break down of the good, the bad, and the “ugly” of the past year.

Good:

I started to do more self-care. This one is a hard one for me to do, which is a little ironic since in some ways I’m super selfish. But by starting small, I think I’m on a better path to being happier and healthier.

I started this blog. Again, a hard one for me to get started. This blog seems to be a living example of inertia—when I’m going, I’m really going; when I’m at rest, it’s hard to restart. But I’m really glad that I have, it is a project that I’ve been wanting to do.

I dedicated officially to a coven, and I did my first degree initiation. Super exciting stuff on that side.

I passed all of my classes with good grades! Excitement all around for that. Now to keep going and to study for the GRE.

Bad:

Merkel (my car) broke down again. I think that this is a serious lesson in buying cars that are low to the ground. On the up side though, I have become a much better driver.

Teddy (I finally decided on a name to protect my fiance’s innocence) and I drove into Texas for the funeral of his great aunt. We actually got back on Sunday, so it was very recent. Grief is never an easy burden to share.

I was in a car accident in May. No one was hurt, thank the gods, but it still was a bit sucky.

My job description changed. True, I’m lucky to still be employed when a great many aren’t, but being sent back to the job description and duties that I left over a year ago is kind of miserable.

“Ugly”:

Teddy’s sister is maintaining her status of bitter-pain-in-the-butt. It’s nothing that is super serious, more like a long string of snipes, jabs, and unresolved arguments. But it’s still an unpleasant experience.

My father got a job in Nebraska. It’s fantastic that he’s employed again, and since he works in construction it’s a sign that the economy is pick up. But he’s very far away and it’s difficult to stay in communication with him

Our parents finally met each other, after Teddy and I have been together for 4 years. The only word for that experience is “surreal”.

The wedding plans became official. It’s not an ugly thing, but this is more of a miscellaneous category than anything else. The panic attacks have begun and are occurring with some frequency now. Be still my heart.

Overall, it wasn’t a bad year. I had to actually think hard of 4 things to put in the bad category, which is probably a good sign. I’m beginning the process of physically cleaning the house, and soon there will be the aroma of sage and lavender to help magickally clean the house. Tomorrow I’ll make black eyed peas and pork, and we’ll play poker and dominos until it’s time to light fireworks and start the new year.


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Happy Holidays, Ares!

In terms of libations and such, Ares kicks off the holiday season.

At first blush, that seems very counter-intuitive. Most non-Pagans are a little confused by the idea of Ares as a holiday god, and most Pagans would agree with them. Ares is not your party boy, unless your idea of a party is one that ends with at least one ambulance called and possibly the cops. Just make sure there are no large pots nearby.

For those who aren’t familiar with him, Ares is the son of Hera and Zeus and a fairly well known war god. But that’s about all his duties encompass. Ares is almost exclusively a war deity, true he is also a patron of the police (#Ferguson and #Icantbreathe make so much more sense now) and an ancestral god of Thebes but that’s about it. He isn’t a particularly glamorous war god either, he doesn’t have the wisdom of Athene, nor does he carry a sense of honor for those who die in battle. Ares does not offer a glorious death, there is no Valhalla for those in his service. But in an odd, contradictory way, Ares is a god of peace.

Ares is a god of peace, in that war avoided is peace; and for this reason offerings are given to him. Which seems a little bit like bribery. Or maybe like Christian prayer-bargaining, “If you give me this, then I will do this”. But I think that it’s a little more complex than that. So humor my explanation.

Ares isn’t the easiest god to identify in art. He doesn’t have very distinctive symbols like Hecate’s torches, or Apollo’s harp, or Athene’s owls. In all the ancient images I’ve seen (and I will totally own up to not having seen them all, so if anyone has a counter example I’d love to see it!) he shows up as a man with weapons and helmet, pants and shield optional. When he does carry a shield, the device seems to change if it has one at all. The point I’m trying to get at is, even when it’s not obvious Ares is there. That temper, blood lust and almost uncontrollable desire to cause damage is there. Which all sounds vastly negative and harmful; so why am I spending a whole blog post on him this close to the holidays?

Because the holidays suck. Everyone has a story about a holiday gone sour. And not just sour; screaming, raging, furious, throw-the-plates-on-the-floor bad. Where the strongest desire you have is to hurt those who have hurt you, when you revel in the shock and pain on the face of the person you are fighting with, when seeing them hurt makes you feel good. This kind of family throw down seems to happen most often when children are different in a way that their parents and families have difficulty processing. When we have been hurt, we want to hurt others back, particularly those who have caused us pain.

For those of us like that, for us Pagans who have some pretty intense friction with our families, the holidays are exceptionally difficult. As we attempt to navigate the murky waters of family, family tradition, and our own autonomy and core; it helps to remember Ares and that lurking rage. Honoring Ares is honoring that anger and rage, we acknowledge it exists. We acknowledge that it is there, and by honoring we can move forward.

This is why Ares is the first god to receive a libation during the holiday season at my house. Thanksgiving and Yule don’t seem like the best time to do shadow work, and to be honest I’m fairly certain libations to Ares is shadow work lite. But at a time when the lights can be a bit over bearing, Ares can be a nice break.  Below, I’ve included the hymn I give to Ares when I pour libations.

 

To Ares, fumigation of frankincense:

Magnanimous, unconquered, boisterous Ares, in dart rejoicing, and in bloody wars; fierce and untamed, whose mighty power can make the strongest walls from their foundations shake: mortal destroying king, defiled with gore, pleased with war’s dreadful and tumultuous roar. Thee human blood, and swords, and spears delight, and the dire ruin of mad savage fight. Stay furious contests and avenging strife, whose works with woe embitter life; to lovely Aphrodite and Dionysus yield, for arms exchange the labors of the field; encourage peace, to gentle works inclined, and give abundance with benignant mind.

~Orphic Hymn 65