Thursday, May 31, 2012


Kindred: a clan, group, tribe...mortal or other-world being. In some traditions the definition extends to creatures of Earth, and those not so earthly. The term exists in both Celtic and Native American traditions, and probably elsewhere that I've never heard of, but the word has always given me a feeling of familiarity and comfort. It's on of those words that is very old and makes one feel rooted where they are.

In the blended folk tradition of my personal practice, I welcome the Kindred from the multiverse to witness my rituals as a courtesy:

"All you who are above and below, in earth,sea and sky, human and animal, growing things and things formed millions of years ago, I welcome that spirit with you as Kindred..."

You never know when you might just need to draw on them for a special favor, and I think it's just a nice idea to be on good speaking terms with the other inhabitants of whatever realm you happen to be operating in at the moment.

Drudic traditions have a special place in their worship for the Kindred. Within the cosmology of the everyday, the Kindred are recognized and given their due.( ) All beings are Children of the Mother, all within our wondrous Universe are relations, we are indeed connected by a Web of Life according to those assigned to pass down the histories of all those who have ever lived.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorial Day: Unsung Heroes of a Different Kind

We're used to hearing the trumpet play "Taps" for the fallen warrior on Memorial Day. Originally a day of remembrance for war dead of the Civil War and know as Decoration Day (the day to decorate the graves of soldiers and sailors), the holiday has been expanded to include all those U.S. Military members who gave their lives in battle. As times changed, Decoration Day eventually morphed into Memorial Day and was regarded as a day to honor all dead, with those family members in the Armed Forces holding a special place of honor. In actuality, the traditional day to honor all dead-civilian and military alike- is on November 2nd, which is All Souls Day. Those who hold no particular spiritual attachment to a religious tradition mostly prefer the date in May, however, because of it's secular separation. In most places in the continental US, the weather is much more hospitable and flowers available and abundant for trimming graves at this time of year, and the day serves as an early launch into warm weather activities. Personally, I don't go to 'Memorial Day' sales or engage in celebration other than for the war dead. There is nothing particularly happy in it for me. ( )

My own family used to trim the graves of family members at this time, making it into a family picnic celebration.( ).

The other day I was reminded by a meme posted on Facebook by  my friend  Elizabeth who founded The Ministry of Animals ( ) that not all of our war dead were human.

There were those  animals -horses, mules, dogs, pigeons and others-equally as brave as any warrior in battle, who gave their lives unselfishly for our freedoms and the common good. Yet we seldom recognize their sacrifice along with that of our human loved ones. Humans tend to forget they weren't the only ones conscripted to duty in wartime. Those animals who lost their lives weren't just the property of men or the military-they were members of the fighting forces as well, pressed into service to pull artillery caissons, personnel and supply wagons. They moved ambulances and water tanks into dangerous territory, and some were ridden at the forefront of battalions during the heat of battle. Others flew recognizance and were messengers behind enemy lines, and some worked side by side with human companions using their extraordinary sensory gifts to sniff bombs and assist in recovery of the dead...and the living.( ) Modern warfare currently includes rodents and sea creatures such as dolphins in combat situations.( )

It is well, dear Pagan, to remember these creatures not only as service animals, but as the totems whose characteristics we take into ourselves. Remember the loyalty of Dog, the stealth of Cat, the keenness of sight of Bird, the fleetness of Rat, the bravery of many, many more unnamed. Yes, it is well we remember them, too on Memorial Day, for their contribution to the lifestyle we enjoy and the freedom they helped win.

Gods and Goddesses or War and Peace, we remember this day those creatures who fought at our side in battle, and that they, too, made the Ultimate sacrifice for freedom. So Mote It Be.

Thursday, May 17, 2012


For those of you who don't know, I write another blog, Feast of Days, which is more geared to the interfaith community. Occasionally I cross post between the two...this is one of those times.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Tree Tunnel, Irish Countryside by Pathfinder
There are two stereotypes the Irish are famous for: drinking to excess and internal reflection. Having considered the merits of both, I realize one can be responsible for the other and visa versa. Not quite a teetotaler myself, I wholly reject the first while happily reclaiming the second.

If I had to call my style of reflection anything, I'd say I was a Caitlin Matthews with just a smattering of John O' Donohue kinda gal with just a pinch of Thich Nhat Hanh thrown in for good measure. A little bit Brigit and a little bit Buddha.

From a psychological view I see most 'deep thinkers' as self-absorbed, pretentious narcissists-particularly those in our Pagan community. You've seen the type: the  floor-length robed Dumbledore-wannabe armed with a dusty, arcane volume of some ancient  tome that addresses what is 'pagan proper' in every situation, or the Hot Topic pseudo- Goth just out of their teens who has explored their spirituality for a hot minute though a long-lost, dog-eared copy of The Dungeons and Dragons Users Manual by Pooh. I eschew both like I do a rabid raccoon because the eerie glow emitted from their eyes frightens me.

Thinking deeply, however, is much different, it's the thing you do when you realize there is something more and a better understanding of  things that affect you. I have created a meditative place of trans-personal exploration for myself  which I have named the Place of Deep Indwelling

I can best describe it as a portion of  astral space which specifically belongs to the individual seeker who created it. Timeless and limitless, it is sanctuary in which to simply exist. It's the place where my 16-year old self coincides with  my Crone. It holds both my child's wonder and ancestor's wisdom. It's boundary keeps changing. At times I visualize it as time sitting in a rocking chair by the fire in a remote cabin, my personal 'white room', or  a dark underground grotto within my cosmic being. It is where I need to be at the moment when I need to think; it is the place where I truly live.It is a place of my own invention, although I believe we all have it.  I reside there when I want to figure out where I'm going next in my life, where I go to remind myself that I am not my circumstances, where I take my disappointment in others-and often myself-for reconciliation, where bygone days and memory are momentarily the present once more. The Place of Deep Indwelling is my plasma core and spiritual nuclear reactor or  a cool, quiet cave for my spirit.

The Place of Deep Indwelling is where I am most myself without being afraid. It is my ultimate comfort... and sometimes my own personal hell, where I wrestle with demons of my own creation that have followed me there.
It is the Place of Presence. It is where I truly am when I am not caught up in the drama of society,  melded into the lives of others, or slaying the dragons of the everyday world. It is my fortress and it is where I shut the door on The World and all that is in it- and breathe a sigh of relief.  It is my Rabbit Hole

When I emerge from this place of indwelling, I feel restored and able to once again dive into the stream of life, where I can swim with the other fish of my kind. I am hopefully a little calmer and kinder, but I am always more aware of my surroundings and situations around me. I am more greatly empathic than normal. Perhaps I am more sympathetic as well.

Indwelling, at least for me, is a spiritual practice that grounds and centers me in the real world. I have found that it also enhances my magick. It is where I most identify with my 'paganess', where the wild and uninhibited self is unfettered by societal convention, and it is where I proclaim my Great I Am Who I Am.


There are times when everyone needs a break from the routine and ordinary, and the last several weeks have been just such a period. Every so often I find that I need to re-arrange and reorganize my priorities to take care of particular commitments...and frankly, just to have time to take care of me.

I am not often interrupted by illness or disability, but this last flair-up of MS-multiple sclerosis-has been a doozie and impacted other injuries not directly associated with the disease. (If you're interested in finding out what MS is, Google it. I'm skipping the physiology lesson this time.) I haven't been bed-ridden, but I haven't been exactly mobile, either.

I have been rather zen about the whole thing, actually. My usual response is to dig out my contingency plan for when I periodically have these bouts of regression, and attack it head on to retain as much function as possible and muscle my way through. This time I took a different approach. I just existed in the moment: when I didn't feel as if I'd had enough sleep, I stayed in bed and slept until I wanted to be up and about. When I didn't feel like being around too many people, I stayed in my room, with the door closed and read, did crafts, went through boxes to find out what they contained...or slept some more. I have found that when my body doesn't want to cooperate and becomes spastic to the point that I drop or knock over everything I reach for or I trip over my own feet, I am not in the mood to socialize...I was a lot happier choosing to be alone with my books and journals. I wrote in my journals in long hand, which has it's own feeling of reward, but often found that what I had written appeared to be in a strange, foreign language, so I began printing, which is not only laborious, but exhausting.

Reading was equally exhausting because my eyesight has become affected as the degeneration of those nerves have progressed, so I read in snatches and rested my eyes as I meditated. It was a good trade-off.  My visual world has appeared through a softly focused, greased lens for the last several weeks. While that makes things interesting, it also gives me a I lie down. Sitting for long periods is tiring-so is standing. Lying down is painful, so I medicate myself into a state of Nirvana. I now know why I had no interest in hallucinogenics in the 70's...the feeling sucks. Maybe I knew from a previous life or had a glimpse of the future.

The entire time was not spent in largess, however...I did nearly a week's worth of  kitty-sitting for a friend. Mr.Fu and Isabella are typical felines-fussy, finicky and opinionated. Fu had gotten out a couple of days prior to my arrival and engaged in a roundhouse with another tomcat, so he required medical ministrations which he far from appreciated. He spent a lot of time hiding under one of the beds from me. Isabella, who is a Siamese, more than made up for his absence by following me throughout the house and yowling loudly. We shared half a turkey sandwich one afternoon while I was reading...okay, actually, I was mugged. Adsorbed in reading, I didn't see her delicate triangular head looming closer until she yanked a chunk of meat out of the sandwich in my fingers...then it was too late. I'd forgotten how swift and precise a greedy cat could be when presented with an opportunistic snack. She'd removed most of the turkey, sucked it down and let out a resounding burp before I could shift positions to stop her. Dinner that night consisted of a turkey-flavored tomato and lettuce sandwich on wheat with mayo. She thanked me later by leaving a gift of her own creation in the litter box for me to scoop out and dispose of....cats are thoughtful that way. I'd forgotten. I gratefully allowed them both to share my body heat during the night by permitting them to pin me to the bed and immobilizing me. Nothing says "I love you" quite like a symbiotic feline relationship. It's a good thing the gods created them soft, furry and cute.
During my self-imposed sabbatical, the documentary I was featured in-An Affair of the Heart- made its public premier at the Florida Film Festival, where the director, Emmy Award-winner Sylvia Caminer, received the Special Jury Award for Outstanding Direction. At the Nashville Film Festival it was given the Gibson Impact of Music Award...and it was entered at the Canadian International Documentary Film Festival (aka Hot Docs), the largest  festival in North America. We had a lot of good press-but I have to admit that I am personally offended and disturbed by the references in articles about the featured fans being "religiously devoted" and "obsessed" with Rick Springfield. Yes, there are a couple of people like that in the film, but they do not represent the typical fan base, and there were seven of us chosen as a cross section, and  although we enjoy Rick's brand of hard rocking music, we aren't  all suffering from arrested development and stuck in our teens.( I wasn't even filmed with Rick, like the others. My segment stands alone and on its own.) We are a diverse group of individuals (female and male), and lumping us in with the over-the-top crazies is unrealistic, untrue, and unfair.

However, for my part, it was good to be able to share that there is a spiritual connection much deeper that most people realize in the music we choose to listen to everyday, that there is something healing in the familiar...and not to be afraid to admit it when you need a little help when you've been traumatized and loose your perspective...Because in the movie I share that I was gang raped a few years back. I am very candid and emphatic about it. Although that was a difficult thing for me to do, I wanted to come forward because there is still such an unnecessary stigma attached to what I went through mentally and physically. And I wanted to let others know that there is no shame in admitting to needing help to put something like that behind you. There is always  something good and positive waiting on the other side of the shit you go through, but it takes work to get there. Being in the film was a great way of getting that message out to a large number of people, and I sincerely hope my contribution helps someone else, even in some small way. Helping even one person know that they have worth beyond measure when they feel their most alone and vulnerable will be enough of a reward for me.

And I'll tell you something: I really struggled with being in this movie because of  the potential  crazed fan angle, because I value my credibility as a member of the clergy. Even Rick thought it was going to be a puff piece before he saw the previews.  I have to say that I'm surprised that it's a good music documentary, it has a lot of humor and soul in it, as well as some really hard, kick-ass rock and roll. Rick re-mastered the sound himself as as part of his contribution. He even took time off from touring to help promote the film (which was not his project, it's an independent film) by showing up at a couple of the festivals and doing TV spots and interviews...and he mentioned me in a number of them. I'm happy to know that what I had to say made enough of an impression with him to remember and merit mentioning, because hearing Rick say it will make others notice, too. It's not about self-promotion, because it's not about me-or anyone else in the film for that matter- even Rick- because the message of personal connection at heart-level transcends all of us. 

So, yes, life has been interrupted, but sometimes the departure from the routine allows room for other things to fall into their proper place...and that, in turn, allows life to continue.