Tuesday, August 14, 2018

High Summer

I have said before in this blog that I am not a Summer person; heat and humidity makes it my least favorite season. But I will admit to a special affinity for High Summer at the point of Lughnasadh when the corn has tasseled and stands waiting to be harvested. There is something that speaks to the spark of life at this time of year. There is an accomplishment that is both glorious and bittersweet that reaches back through the ages and loves us into life.

First Harvest, the traditional gathering time for grains, has a golden aura about it that embodies the Sun. It also gives witness to the beauty of selfless sacrifice for the continuation of Life through dying. It makes death purposeful and reminds us of endings. Without endings, there would be no reason for beginnings.  The end of things gives opportunity to rebirth and regeneration. Without the end, we would never have the chance to become new. Becoming new is messy-disrupted fields where once  proud heads of grain bobbed gently in the rain and wind, trees shedding their leaves everywhere...to be carried away by a sudden warm wind; the scattering of seeds for tomorrows crops.

It is a time of romantic stories written in the past to tell the truths of life and death. One of my favorites is the story/song of John Barleycorn. The original concept of the character has been around in one form or another for centuries, but my favorite is Steve Winwood's arrangement of the British traditional classic which he created in the 1970s. Winwood recorded John Barleycorn Must Die while a member of the English folk/rock group Traffic, and re-recorded it as an acoustic solo the video which I am including here because it is told so beautifully:

A blessed First Harvest to you, may you grow from this place and reach the place you desire.

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Coexistence: Spirituality, Science and My Way

Simple spirituality was formed out of our human need to connect with Mystery. I believe that even those who profess to be atheist are still hard wired to have questions about the deep Universal truths and Mystery. Everyone wonders where we came from, how we arrived where we are, and why we're here: those questions are etched in our very souls. Humans have had those questions for thousands of years and have not, despite developing countless means of doing so, managed to answer them- at least not satisfactorily. And we may never do so. That is the Nature of Mystery.

I am trained in both Religion and Science and hold post graduate degrees in Comparative Religion and Psychology. I never thought of the two to be at odds with each other, so I suppose that's the reason I find answers in both with little conflict. At one point in our human history, the two were yolked together, both sides of a single coin. One did not exist without the other: The Church, that bastion of belief and superstition, slowly begat Science through the evolution of its Colleges and Universities, until the two finally branched off into the individual disciplines we know today. But it wasn't always so, much to the chagrin of the practitioners of each.

Those who cleaved to the Spiritual side became the keepers of  the non physical part of being: soul seekers, sorcerers, wizards,witches, and initiates of various theologies. They were priests and priestesses, and interpreters of the occult. Likewise, Science begat scientists, explorers of the natural order who looked to the stars and culled the study of intellect and practical reason. They eschewed the pneuma in favor of bodies of knowledge and processes.

It remains my humble opinion that the two can coexist logically and to the benefit of all. There will still be parts that will be with odds of one another, but those parts will eventually be explained, as they are being explored continuously and new theories formed everyday. The Craft is, after all, the place where belief is suspended- spiritual and scientific. The Craft is an experiential entity. It is different and unique for every individual who has ever tuned into the vibration of a crystal or combined herbs in spell work, or cast a circle or simply stood in silence with the gods.

Laurie Cabot, the 'Official Witch of Salem' explains this wonderfully: the Craft is a system that combines religion, art and science to utilize the magickal forces of the Universe and nature. There is nothing demonic, nothing supernatural about it. Anyone can use magick with work and practice, and in fact, that which is loosely defined as Occult is not hidden when brought out of the shadows. More on Laurie's thoughts can be found here:https://www.lauriecabot.com/understanding-witchcraft .

Many years have gone by, and I still practice a Craft which is fully immersed in Nature and the Mysteries. At times I use the example of archetypal gods and goddesses that allow me to clarify the intention behind my work. I have patrons across several pantheons who speak clearly to me and to whom I connect spiritually, and my rituals are highly personalized. This is what works for me and what I depend on to shape my spirituality. You may do things differently- as it should be. I will admit that there are elements of practice which make me cringe, but if they work for others? All is right for them. I will keep my way as you keep yours.

May you be blessed by your journey and discovery!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Incantations And Other Things At Which I Sucketh

Magic Circle,  John Waterhouse,1886
When I was a pre-teen, my cousin Roger and I used to write poetry and ( for lack of a real audience) read it to one another . I used to think we were pretty good. Roger was- and still is-a poet. I, alas, was not. I will be the first to admit I'm a lousy poet. What can I say? Rhyming words just isn't my thing. It's not that I haven't tried- I have, in fact, tried very hard.  Probably too hard, particularly when I was new to the Craft and had fallen for the 'unwritten rule ' that everything you said in circle or mumbled over a cauldron had to rhyme because, well, they had to sound witchy.

When I was younger I was very much mindful ( and self-conscious) of being a proper witch - and 'real witches' spoke incantations in rhyme. Well, didn't they? Okay, let's just say that I bought into a lot of things early on that turned out to be utter nonsense  or at least no longer served me when I was older, more experienced, and confident in who I was. It took awhile for me to figure things out. Meanwhile, I had to face the fact that I was never going to write the Wiccan ritual version of American Pie, no matter how I tried. Bye, bye Big Ole Moon in the sky... See, I warned you.

Not that I'm sour on rhyming- not at all. It helps to train the brain to remember key elements in liturgy and ritual. That's why many spiritual traditions, and some Christian churches in particular 'sing' the Psalms and prayers. It's why you can recite prayers in Latin without actually any real knowledge of the language. It's all about sonic resonance. In the Pagan community, authors like Dorothy Morrison and Gernia Dunwich excel at writing poetry, and their spell work is notable. The Celtic inspired work of Caitlin Matthews is profoundly striking in both content and wording.

I, on the other hand, suck at rhyming ( which means I will never be much of a songwriter) even though I am a trained liturgist. I am fine with the content part of it liturgy- I know what I want to say and am actually quite good at condensing and editing prose. Metrical structure, not so much. The result of this are incantations that are direct and to the point and not overly flowery. I have become very good at addressing the issue and stating my intention clearly. I have dropped the tendency we have all fallen into sometime or another of being unintentionally pretentious, resorting to murky murmurings that we believe impress whatever entity or energy we're currently working with.

Thankfully, the gods are more sympathetic to intention than how we ask.

Not that I've given up. I still make a valiant attempt in the hope that one day I'll come up with something that is just left of brilliant and not sound too lame.

Did I mention that I also suck at dancing? My two left feet go in different directions. I have been known to fall down on level ground while not moving. Ecstatic dance dedicated to the Goddess is rather embarrassing on my part. My best attempt has come off looking like a wounded goose. Thankfully, She loves me anyway. I've probably given her a good laugh a time or two.

I am also rather bad at holding things ( like books), pouring liquids ( as in filling a chalice ) and lighting candles. Dramatic, sweeping gestures have resulted in knocking over statuary, vases of flowers and sending other things tumbling off the altar. Various pieces of jewelry have come off in the middle of preparing the Simple Feast ( I once had to fish a ring out of the cup, and lost a necklace that dropped off in my cleavage.)  How I have not yet set myself on fire is a mystery, but I suspect the opportunity still awaits me.

I have a sneaking suspicion all of this may have something to do with my preference for working solitary. I can bang, clank, and limp around the circle to my heart's contentment. No one sees me but Herself... and the cat.  


Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Midsummer Musings

photo via Google search
After divorcing my mother, my father married a Creole woman named Roxie Anne, who was a mixture of African American, French and Choctaw heritage. I thought her exotic features made her beautiful, although she was shunned as much for the color of her skin as for being a second wife in a time ( the 1960s) when such things just weren't done in very white Roman Catholic families. She was a good woman, a quiet soul who introduced me to Creole cuisine, and the wonderful traditions of St. John's Eve in her native New Orleans.

A strict Roman Catholic, Roxie kept as many saints' feasts as she could, attended mass when she was able, and never forgot her cultural roots, even when she and my father frequently moved around the East Coast. No matter where she made her home, her Louisiana customs went with her. Though she never claimed or admitted to practicing Voodoo, I can sit back now and sort through some of the things I observed when I spent time with her, and those elements of her personal spiritual practice stand out. She always wore white on the Feast of St. John, lit a candle-she was always lighting candles and poured her own- and said prayers throughout the day. One year I spent a few weeks during early Summer with Roxie and my Daddy at their cottage rental in Rehoboth, Delaware, and she introduced me to her version of  a St. John's Eve head washing. After the sun set we went to a remote area of the beach beyond the boardwalk and walked out into the ocean, holding hands. Roxie sang a chant in French as the water lapped up against us. Both of us were wearing head scarves, and when we got out into the water a little more than waste high, she removed her scarf and let her long black hair tumble down into the waves. She stood there for several minutes combing her fingers through her hair in the water before gathering it up again in the scarf; then she pulled off my scarf, took my hair  down, and 'washed' my hair in the salty seawater. I remembered how she handled my hair; it was an act of reverence. She hummed throughout it all, which seemed like a long time but couldn't have been more than a few minutes. When finished we walked to shore, the ocean at our backs.

We stopped just short of the waterline and sat on the sand, where she told me the story of the Lost Acre, the place between the sea and the shore. It is a liminal place, she explained, a place in the Otherworld that belongs to the spirits of the sea. I found a holey stone on the beach that day. I still have it; it sits on my desk in the living room and when I pick it up, it reminds me of that day on the beach, my hair still wet with salt water, where my step-mother baptized me in the mysteries of the sea. It makes me hungry for steamed clams and all the good things about time at the shore, for the briny scent of the ocean, and the sound of gulls flying overhead.

I am a Pisces child, born on my father's birthday. I love bodies of water- lakes, ponds, rivers and oceans, and yet I have never learned to swim ( I have an inkling that a past life was spent as an Irish third class passenger on the Titanic, where I drowned). I am enchanted by the sound of rain, waterfalls and ocean waves, which lifts my vibration and increases my energies. A portal opens for me when I'm in running water (http://amethjera.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-wonder-of-water.html). My Pisces intuition also connects me solidly to the earth, mountains and stones of all kinds. I'm an empath still learning to manage my emotional insights and how I'm affected by what I pick up from others. I am still learning a lot of things about my spiritual choices and practice...that is the joy of this journey.

This morning I went wort cutting, which sounds very mysterious and witchy, but is actually just a stroll around town to see what's growing in the wild places that are available for collecting. I use common plants ( some which you might call weeds) and adapt their correspondences for simple spell craft. I rarely do any really involved high magick because simple seems to work best for me. I keep a jar of pennies by the door for offerings and take along a bottle of water for both me and thanking the spirits. Today I came home with some catnip, mugwort, wild sweet pea blossoms, red clover, white clover,  blue anemone,creeping bluet, and dandelions. I also found a chunk of broken vintage red brick,and three crow feathers. Not a bad haul, and all I had to do was keep my eyes open!

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Wonder of Water

Plain water- the stuff that comes out of your tap at home,  falls from the sky, or is found in the ocean is a great conductor of energy because of the variety of minerals it contains.  Salt, calcium and magnesium ( to name a few), all of which are found in tap water, rain water and sea water, are electrolytes, which form ions that form a movement of charge. These 'impurities' are what allow an electrical charge to flow through water.
Which is why it's wise to stay away from water sources such as sinks, tubs and water pipes indoors, and bodies of water outside during electrical storms. ( Incidentally, distilled water - pure water that forms from steam- contains none of the above and  contains no ions, which cause it to react as an insulator rather than a conductor.)

Spells of magic  and energy work call for the use of natural spring water because of its ability to attract and hold energy. ( If you use bottled water, check the label to see how it's been processed at the source.  Drinking water that has been purified by reverse osmosis often has electrolytes added to improve its flavor, so it can be used for these purposes. Other RO water and distilled water cannot. When we add salt to water during ritual, we are re-creating this science besides purifying the element.

It has been scientifically proven that being near water has untold physical and mental benefits to our health: the negative ions found in water, fresh running water in particular, refreshes body and mind.  Water molecules contain oxygen ions and are most abundant near waterfalls, oceans, rivers and streams. There is also a surprising amount present in your everyday shower and bath.Who doesn't love a long soak in the tub or an invigorating shower? Drinking a simple glass of water refreshes not only the body, but the mind. Since the human body contains a large amount of water, around 60%, the additional ionic charge is an energetic boost. But that's not all...

Common water is an amazing conductor of psychic energy as well. Have you noticed feeling more connected to the spiritual ether when you are around a water source? That's because you are: water is a natural amplifier to the Otherworld. In the normal world, sound travels as pressure waves through the air, and since the temperature just above a body of water (or a wall of water, such as running water in a shower or a rain storm) is cooler than that higher up or father away, and the speed at which sound travels is lower, which affects how noise manifests. The difference in speed causes the sound waves to change shape and amplify. ( On the other hand, dry air is not a good conductor of sound.) Parapsychologists believe this is why spirit communication is sometimes improved when we are around water.

Since moisture has the ability to affect the vibration of sound, water is a naturally occurring channel for those who have crossed over and wish to communicate. My friend Randy, who leads a paranormal group, has stated that EVPs received near a water source during investigations ( including during and just after rain storms) are more frequent, clearer and more intelligible. Both my friend Laurel and I have heard our mutual friend Arthur's voice while in the shower. While that experience was a little freaky at first, it makes perfect sense now because of the sound/water connection. I often hear my friend/guide John when I'm running water at the kitchen sink. Beyond the science of ions, I also believe that the 'white noise' caused by the shower or running faucet creates the same sort of sonic conduit in the way that radio static is used by paranormal investigators. Maybe it's simply a trick of the brain, but whatever it is, it seems to work. Maybe it's just another part of the Great Mystery. Whatever it is, I'll take it.


Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Channeling, Spirit Guides And Totem Animals

From the perspective of a forensic psychologist, I've always been interested in mediumistic channeling because it's one of those things that science cannot definitively explain. Undertaking  such a study would have to include psycho-logical, para psychological and metaphysical studies of consciousness, co-consciousness and unconscious processes, disassociation and other altered states such as disembodied consciousness and entities, and state specific consciousness in order to sort the non-pathological from pathological. As you can see, that's a pretty tall order. All of these things must be examined to establish whether or not the person claiming to be a psychic medium is authentically and genuinely receiving information from a source outside of themselves, or projecting from an internal state which is  possibly  psychosis. In other words, the source must be verified and the message authenticated. Which, in my opinion, is damned near impossible to do unless the person in question is so obviously out of touch with reality that their mental state and cognitive behavior supports such a conclusion. Despite Hollywood's best efforts, it is very, very difficult to prove in the real world of legality that someone is a raving lunatic because psychoses can be easily hidden or masked.

Psychic abilities are and always have been a 'hot button' subject to psychoanalysts; we are pretty evenly divided on the subject . We are by training philosophical pragmatists advocating an approach that evaluates theories in terms of the success of their practical application and our opinions are heavily influenced by the school of thought which we embrace. Professional opinion of the individual practitioner  is based on theses experiences. Notice I said opinion. Nothing is writ in stone, no matter what your philosophy. Such is the flexible nature of science, particularly of the mind.

This why I cannot  discount channeling out of hand as mental illness and prefer to think of it as a type of  spiritual phenomena. There is a type of disassociation during the experience which is not pathological psychosis.The symptomology simply doesn't fit the clinical diagnosis of disfunction.
[ See the DSM-IV definition of mental disorders and compare to the DSM-V version.]
It's my opinion (for whatever that's worth) that the disassociation experienced by a medium during channeling is a state of co-consciousness where the individuals ego is set aside in order for the entity to communicate. Some theorists such as Ken Wilbur believe this is actually a state of higher consciousness, and I can't argue that as either a psychologist or theologian. (There is a rather long but enlightening paper published by Paul M. Helfrich that supports the work of Ken Wilbur and others found here: //www.paulhelfrich.com/library/Helfrich_P_Assessing_Channeling.pdf ).

Spiritualists have embraced a similar belief throughout the history of their movement, calling it spirit communication ("revelation from spirit guides"). The phenomena of spirit communication became particularly popular during the late Victorian period as a past time, and during the early 20th century as families turned to mediums to contact their loved ones  who died serving in the military during WWI. It's popularity faded for a few decades, only to see a resurgence during the 1960's and to become a staple of the current New Age Movement. Channels such as JZ Knight (Ramtha) and Ester Hicks (Abraham, who is described as a conglomeration of several entities) have many followers and are still in demand, as is  Jane Roberts' entity Seth.  Long before, however, the ancients consulted oracles ( e.g., the Pythia of Delphi) and instances of channeling are evidenced in the Bible such as Saul seeking the help of a psychic to contact the prophet Samuel (1 Samuel 28:6–20). As the saying goes, "everything old is new again".

Many Pagans and magickal people have a relationship with spirit guides and totem animals from which they seek wisdom and guidance. My own experience with seeking out a spirit guide/totem animal began from an interest in the shamanic work of the late Dr. Michael Harner, and currently, his student Sandra Ingerman, who is a licensed family therapist and mental health counselor board certified as an expert in traumatic stress. ( Her books
Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self,  and Medicine for the Earth are classics which I highly recommend to add to your  library!)

I believe that channeling is a gift and an art, and not all of us are chosen. Channeling a manifested entity is not "hearing the still small voice in your head"; rather it is tapping into a state of disassociation from the personal vessel (medium) in order to give voice to a disincarnate being. After the message is delivered, the vessel disengages from the being who is in spirit and returns to their own reality.  The majority of mediums who do this type of work can engage their entity at will with preparation, usually involving a ritual of some sort. Not all channeled entities are spirit guides, some exist to simply impart information. An example of this type of spirit is Erik, the son of Elisa Medhus, MD, who speaks at will through numerous mediums, usually responding from questions asked by his mother during sessions that are subject specific. ( Stumbled on the Channeling Erik site on You Tube, and he seems to have quite an ardent following. You can find his back story and other information at the website dedicated to his work. I will reserve my opinion other than to say sessions with him are interesting from several standpoints and depending on which medium is featured at the time.. Some seem to be better than others at connecting with him).

Although I have psychic abilities- as we all do- I am not a medium per se. As a High Priestess, I have  participated in the ritual known as Calling Down the Moon and have temporarily been filled by the spiritual presence of Goddess for the duration of the ceremony. Other than that I do not channel anyone or anything. I believe I have  been blessed with gifts, but channeling is not one of them.

I don't have a spirit guide either.  I sit on the proverbial fence when it comes to believing that spirit guides originate from within or outside of ourselves. There is a theory that spirit guides are ancestors or our beloved dead or another  form of entity ( think guardian angel) that somehow connects with humans. And yet there is another which explains them as a higher form of consciousness such as the Universal Mind. Further still, there is they theory that the originate from within our own consciousness on a different level of experience. [Check out this article from Live Science to learn more: https://www.livescience.com/38561-channeling.html]

In closing, I will tell you that I do have animal totems. I have gleaned  a great deal from the characteristics of the ones who have presented themselves to me over time. Their wisdom, I believe comes from the relationship of those characteristics applied to situations in my life. Through them I know more about myself. And in the end, that's what we're all looking for, isn't it?

[Another fine source you may enjoy is reading the book
Information from Paranormal Sources
by Jon Klimo, which also has more information on Ken Wilbur and others and a section about the purported contact of the Challenger astronauts with NASA scientist Sally Ride .]

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Pagan Elder Speaks Out For Gun Control

Kerr Cuhulain is a retired RCMP officer with 28  years of service. An expert in the field of law enforcement and the Pagan community, here he speaks about current events concerning gun control.
I think so much of what he has to say, I'm posting the links to his two most recent videos here:



I would have posted the actual videos, but once again, there are technical difficulties with Blogger.

Please watch these videos. The issue of gun control in the US affects all of us. Too many are dying. Too many of our children are now afraid to go to school. There is too much public apathy.