Pagan and the Pit(bulls)

The political musings of a Pagan and her dogs.


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Hail Thalassa

I’ll admit, Poseidon as a sea god isn’t much on my radar. I was born and raised in a desert, so while the ocean was never a present thing in my life. Despite spending many vacations by the sea, and currently living less than an hour from the ocean, Poseidon is not an ocean god to me. He’s the god of horses, his rape of Demeter produced Despoine a goddess with a strong connection. When I rode, it was never with Epona (despite my Celtic family history) it was always with Poseidon. For me the hymn to Poseidon was Xenophons foundations of dressage: controlled energy and movement until the precise moment to release it. In this form, Poseidon still makes an appearance in my practice and I have two horses on my altar.

But if we use the Athenian devotional calendar as a foundation, it doesn’t make sense for me to include Poseidon as my December offering. The Athenians were to a seafaring people, the Acropolis gave the Athenians access to the sea and an advantage over their land-locked competetiors. Their naval supremacy lasted for centuries, and the Battle of Salamis is still taught in military history courses. Athens gets the most rain in December, and floods are at their most likely. To me, this sounds like the emphasis isn’t so much on Poseidon but on his control of water and the sea.

Because the sea was always so far away, it was a deeply inscrutable thing for my childhood and into my adult hood. As a scientist, I know a lot about the sea, more than the average bear. But this doesn’t make it any less mysterious, less the mother of life, or less grief stricken. The sea is Thalassa, and to her I make my offering in December.

Thalassa isn’t one of the more popular sea goddesses, but hear me out. She has the standard mother of the sea and all sea life aspect; and that’s cool. But she has this great sea witch look: a middle aged woman with crab claws as horns, dressed in sea weed, and holding an oar from a sunken ship. YAS QUEEN.

What makes her even better is she’s so salty, pun intended. When a shipwrecked sailor rails stands on a beach and rails at her Thalassa appears and says “Dude, don’t blame me. I didn’t blow your ship to bits. I’m as calm and as firm as the earth; but even the earth is whipped into fury by the wind sometimes.” When the river gods came to complain to Thalassa about they gave her fresh water, and she made it salty; she replied “don’t come near me and you won’t get salty!” When a farmer saw a ship sink into the waves, he scolded the sea calling her the enemy of mankind. To which Thalassa replied “Don’t tell evil stories about me! The winds make me cruel, when there are no winds you’ll find I’m gentler than your dry land.”

Thalassa is a feminist sea goddess. I am what I am, she says. My nature is firm and gentle, she says. The cruelty of the elements, the cruelty of the environment, shapes me into something harder than I am. Thalassa lives in the salt of each woman who is shaped into something harder than she is; no matter how far we are from the shore.

Thalassa I call, with eyes cærulean bright, hid in a veil obscure from human sight;
Great Ocean’s empress, wand’ring thro’ the deep, and pleas’d with gentle gales, the earth to sweep;
Whose blessed waves in swift succession go, and lash the rocky shore with endless flow:
Delighting in the Sea serene to play, in ships exulting and the wat’ry way.
Mother of Aphrodite, and of clouds obscure, great nurse of beasts, and source of fountains pure.
O venerable Goddess, hear my prayer, and make benevolent my life thy care;
Send, blessed queen, to ships a prosperous breeze, and waft them safely o’er the stormy seas.

 


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Happy Wolfenoot!

Woolfenoot is a holiday created by Jax Goss and their 7 year old son, celebrated on the 23rd of November. I think the Goss’ had the right idea, because in this time of darkness we all need a little light and snoot boops. There is something so very pure about a holiday celebrating dogs.

Obviously, I love dogs. I love my two enough to take them on an international and intercontinental adventure (they’re adapting fine and love the heated floor in our new home). But dogs play a role in many magickal traditions and myths. I personally suspect this is because they were the first domesticated animals and we share a unique and strong evolutionary bond with them. From the celestial Bul-gae, Aralez, and Raiju to the guardians of the Underword Anubis, Cerebus, Xolotl and Black Dogs to the hardworking Sarama to the chaotic bois Fenrir, Pan Hu, and the Cadejos; our magickal, mythical, astral, and physical realities have dogs running around. My own magickal practice (again, obviously) involves doggos too.

So, from my good dogs to yours and from me to you, have a Happy Wolfenoot.

So, from


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Sephora offers “witch kits”. Just no.

In October, Sephora will start to sell a “Starter Witch Kit” from Pinrose. It’s a box of perfumes with tarot cards, sage, and a rose quartz, and it sells for $42 plus tax.

I’m going to put this warning right here, I love Halloween. As a Libra, I love October. As a white girl, I love pumpkin spice. But this time of year also makes me super irritable, because people turn witchcraft into a capitalist boost.

I get it, October is the perfect time to use witchcraft as a capitalist/consumerist gimmick to more people to buy your product. And thanks to irresponsible representation and claims by foolish celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow, the beauty industry is incorporating mysticism and magick into its toxic portfolio. I am not ok with that.

I, like most women, do use cosmetics. I have a bag full of them, and my bathroom counter is littered with serums and eye creams. I will cut someone if they take my mucin serum. I do incorporate magick into my cosmetic routine: my clay mask has rose oil in it, and I use as part of a self-love charm/meditation. But using magick as a selling point to wealthy white women who want to dabble in the mystic arts like sneaky school girls? That’s both the beginning of The Crucible and white Christian feminism at its finest.

Witchcraft is not your marketing gimmick. It’s an art form that should be practiced with care because it can be messed up. Yes, you can (and should!) have fun with it, but sometimes a little caution is warranted.

And while this seems innocuous and “good fun”, it feeds into the cultural paranoia around witchcraft. Just yesterday, I got a link to a webcast calling Burning Man the “biggest religious festival in the US” dedicated to Moloch and witchcraft.  Two days ago I wrote about a White Evangelical Christian pastor preaching against witchcraft from the pulpit. Sermons have been going on for decades about the dangers of mainstream witchcraft. “Good fun” for non-Pagans or non-magickal practitioners can have real impacts on the rest of us.

It’s not cool to use our religion and spiritual beliefs as your sales pitch. And it’s really not cool to use it when it could have real-life implications on us.

 

 


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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.