Pagan Blog Project: Marriage

I’m getting married. In a month.

Yeaaaaah…

I never pegged myself as the “marrying type”, mostly due to my childhood, but fast forward to an amazing guy and the compromise I make because its important to him.

But he’s not a pagan. He’s more of the lapsed Catholic/pseudo-atheist type. He doesn’t have a problem with my spirituality, far from it. He has told me that he gets a kick out of having a non-christian SO. But he’s not a pagan. Which means the split in my life is weird.

I have my normal life, my friends that are his friends, his friends that are my friends. And then I have my friends that he has never met, that made jokes about the “made up boyfriend” until I started dragging him to help me do stuff. Like get a free couch from my High Priestess. Or say hi to the couple that came over to hang out. He has no interest in going to Circle or Solstice parties, and when I asked him if he wanted to go to the pagan camp ground with me for Earth Day, his first question was “Do they have wifi?”

Add into this a step-daughter of 12 and her Baptist mother, and it begins to be a weird mine-field kind of life at some points. The kiddo is more than happy to talk paganism with me, mostly mythology at this point. And she has mentioned an interest in going to a circle with me “when I am about 18”.  See thats the catch. Her mother thinks I am trying to convert her, the child is asking the most amazing questions and the fiance isnt really involved in any of the religious conversations beyond “I just want people to do what makes them happy”.

I know some of you have pagan SO’s and some of you don’t. How do you juggle life with faith? Do you have to make hard choices? Did you purposefully seek out someone who does/does not align with your spirituality?

Pagan Blog Project: Learning to fight again

I was driving home this morning in the rain, blasting Ani Difranco after rediscovering the joy of a CD player in the car, when my eyes began to tear up and I had to pull into a random parking lot. No… okay maybe its partially cause I love her that much. But something else hit me like a rock and I had to pull off to verify my fear. The CD I was listening to? It was made 20 years ago. And her music is still just as raw and relevant today as it was in the early 90’s.

It got me thinking. I was the same age my step-daughter is now when that music came out. We were fighting for our reproductive rights, our right to wear what we want, our right to walk down the streets at night without being accosted and/or blamed for it. Now I admit, I love a worthy fight. But I never thought I would feel as old and useless as I did sitting in my car listening to Ani sing “i am growing older/ waiting in this line/ some of life’s best lessons/ are learned at the worst times”.

Just the other day I read in horror as a young woman proclaimed:

 “I don’t know of a single area now where there is a doubt over a woman’s equality to a man… so why the hell is there still a feminist movement at all?! You’re not going to throw me back into the kitchen now! Sure, previously women had to band together to gain equal status – but is there anything left to argue our position on now? I don’t think there is…?”

My politics and my religion are completely interwoven. My identity as a woman and my identity as a pagan are nearly impossible to separate. My faith feeds my desire to fight for true freedom. My gender feeds my desire to carve out a faith that is right for me. Every story I read as a child, every tale of patriarchal-centered religion pushed me one step closer to my calling. I worship and am bound to some of the strongest female figures I have ever encountered in my reading. So it hurts me on multiple levels to think that we have somehow failed our fellow women, cis or trans or other.

I think we need to rediscover what it means to be women and pagans in a patriarchal, white, christian-centric society. I don’t know about you guys, but I tend to surround myself with like-minded individuals. I can have a conversation about feminism and cultural appropriation and no one blinks an eye. I have even gotten to the point where I am semi-sanitizing my Facebook page. But these are the ways we delude ourselves into thinking this is an afternoon tea and not a battlefield. We subdue and sedate our passions, focus on the pretty, the clean, the candles and shiny stones.

But I think our Gods and Goddess’ would rather have bruises and scars as signs of our devotion to our paths than the latest shiny object. I know there are people devoted to prayer and introspection, but how many more of us can take to action and go out and do something about the things we disagree with?

So lets fight. Lets have the awkward conversations that devolve into arguing. Lets get mad, get noisy. Lets teach the next generation what we are fighting for. Lets stand side by side, across race and gender lines, and loudly proclaim that we aren’t going to back down. Lets honor our Gods and Goddess’ and ancestors and spirits by refusing to be silenced or scared away. This isn’t just about one fight or label or one line in the sand. This is about our right to be who we were meant to be, as pagans, as men and/or women.

Next time I hear someone say “whats left to fight for?” I want to know its because we didn’t back down, not because we got drowned out by the opposition.

Pagan Blog Project: Life vs Oaths: where do you stand?

For the majority of pagans, I think, life and religion are simpatico, running along the same forest paths, running towards the same goals.

But what happens when your lives are not aligned? Do you chose one over the other, placing more value in the mundane or in the vows you have chosen to take to the Divine Beings in your life?

What sacrifices are we willing to make, to step outside our everyday comfort zones, in order to seek the face of God?

I admit, I have too many questions, not enough answers. And my brain hurts from the life chaos. So forgive me for the blatant cop-out post. Step-child arrives on Saturday, wedding in July, sister moving in in the fall. I’m a little scattered. 🙂

Pagan Blog Project – lost Knowledge

I know, I missed last weeks K post. I was uninspired and stressed over a visit from the parents. Please forgive me. I hope this post makes up for it.

Have you ever been to see a doctor over a nagging medical issue and come home defeated and frustrated? Have you ever had a medical professional look right through you? You get home and think “They didn’t even listen to me! They definitely didn’t solve the problem. They just threw pills at me and made me go away.” Now, I know this isn’t every doctors’ visit, this might not even be the majority of them. I think Western medicine definitely has a place in the world. But I am also of the opinion that Western medicine has alienated and disenfranchised a large portion of the population and left them struggling for health, wellness and the joy that is our birthright. Lines of race, gender, ethnicity and economic status have been firmly drawn in the sand and all you have to do is look around to see who lands on what side of what line.

This is where my spirituality and my knowledge and political convictions tend to cross on a regular basis. When I was 19, I gained 50 pounds in 6 months, and ultimately I gained 155 pounds within 3 years. I went from a scrawny, underweight kid to clinically obese. At the time, I was in the military and all the doctor’s would say was “Eat less and exercise more” and they looked straight through me. It took a random phone conversation my mother had with her sister, who is a nurse, for my Aunt to diagnose me in 5 seconds and tell me exactly what tests to demand for the answers.

Today, I’m not skinny. I’ve battled an eating disorder and self-esteem issues and I think I have come out the other side stronger and smarter for the war. And this “thing” that has cursed me and haunted me has also become my ally and my teacher and ignited in me a driving fire to teach myself and others how to take the power of their health back. Has anyone here ever heard of Susun Weed? She is an herbalist and green witch in upstate New York who teaches that there are three traditions of healing: the Scientific tradition, the Heroic tradition and what she calls the Wise Woman tradition. And buried deep within her teachings is this nugget: “Disease and injury are doorways of transformation.”

That’s a revolutionary concept if you stop and think about it long enough. At its core, it puts the power back into the hands of the individual experiencing the illness. If something is no longer your enemy, it becomes your ally and can strip away the years of conditioning and brainwashing and start to show us the truth.

Fifty years ago, pregnancy and birth were horrible traumas women had to go through and women everywhere were actually put out during labor and delivery rather than experience the birth process.  A hundred years ago, the dentist was the surgeon and leeches and bleeding were the cure for everything. But you go back farther and you begin to see a trend. Two hundred years ago it was the wise wo/man who you went to for healing. It was your grandmother’s family recipe for soup that got you through the illness. The knowledge of healing was passed down in everyday lessons, learned at your mother and father’s heel. Healing and knowledge and food went hand in hand down the generations.

Today, when we feel sick, we give hundreds of dollars to some antiseptic institution. Now, don’t get me wrong. Health care for everyone is something we need to fight for. But its not our only source of knowledge. So what is this “art of knowing” I referenced in the title? I want us to know where to turn for the common illness’ that invade our lives. That cold doesn’t need you to pour medicine down your throat that just cover up the symptoms. It needs honey and lots of garlic and chicken noodle soup and for you to rest. Really, I want us to reach for our crock pot more often than we reach for our pill bottle. I want us to recognize the connection between the food we eat and the way we feel. I want us to learn to turn to centuries of stories and recipes instead of a prescription pad. What would an ADD child look like if we removed the sugar and chemicals and white, processed crap from the diet and turned to healthy fats and whole grains? Would that kid still need Ritalin? I don’t know but the truth is it can only help.

There are traditional ways of preparing food and condiments that have fallen by the wayside. We need to bring those back. There was a reason fermented foods were high in the diet. We need to learn how to truly live side by side with nature. Dandelions, plantain, burdock, comfrey, mullein, and other weeds are medicine and deeply nutritious, yet many of us spend how much time and money trying to remove them from our lives? Did you know that, ounce for ounce, dandelions have more calcium in them than milk?

So I am going to leave you with a recipe. Hey there is a first time for everything!! This goes really well on roasted veggies and whole wheat pasta. And it can be frozen indefinitely. Try portioning it out and freezing it in an ice cube tray, then transfer it to a plastic bag when solid.

Dandelion Pesto

Makes about 2 cups

12 ounces washed and cleaned dandelion leaves
1/2 cup olive oil
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted
sea salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano cheese, grated

Blend till smooth, drizzling in olive oil until it looks the way you want it to.

Try cutting the dandelion with basil. Or try nettle pesto. You can also substitute the pine nuts with other kinds, I just made some with walnuts since that was what I had in my cupboard. This is an easy recipe to change up. Don’t like dandelion? Try some spinach in there, a simple way to get kids to eat more of it. Don’t want as much garlic? Change it. Want it to be lower fat? Use some water and less oil and blend until emulsified. Try this mixed with yogurt as a salad dressing.

The point is to reconnect with ourselves, without a doctor telling us what health or illness looks like.