Crafting through my Acrostic Eye

Hello Dear Friends,

In her writings Starhawk, and I suspect others, have discussed the idea of the Acrostic Eye…. how a Witches explorations in the worlds of magick and symbolism can change how we look at things.  This has happened to me  recently as I have decided to start using a U.U. Flaming Chalice as my Tool of Center upon my Altar.

Now there are many, many ways in which Pagans deal with sacred space and with Fire and with sacred fire. However,  Unitarian Universalist’s have all at least once dealt with sacred fire in the Lighting of the Chalice ceremony, which is also both a very poetic and magickally powerful declaration of Sacred space and time.

As some of you already know, the U.U. Chalice is a symbol inherited by Unitarian Universalists from the Unitarian Service Committee, a charity founded in the 1940’s by a Unitarian Minister who sought to help refugee’s flee Nazi occupied Europe. The agencies symbol was designed by an artist who had been helped out of Nazi Europe by the USC. He was inspired by both the ideals and compassion of the agency and by the oil lamps that sat upon the altars of Ancient Greece (which part of the story, I love) and came up with the first of the many stylized images that have become known as the Flaming Chalice.

As a Pagan and Witch joining the 1st U, family, this caused me a little consternation. The Chalice as any Witchlet could tell you, is a tool of Water. If it’s based on an oil-lamp, why not call it the U.U. Lamp…or Lantern?  Well, I have adjusted, and I like to think that instead of being merely inspired to use the word “Chalice” by the looks of some of the stylized designs being particularly, well, chalice-ey; that some of those Unitarian and Universalist forebears of ours knew a thing or two about the Western Mystical and Magical Traditions and Symbolism.

Let’s look at it magickally and symbolically for a moment.

The Chalice is a tool of water, and relates to things like spiritual and psychological healing and nurturance and transformation and intuition and the emotions, especially love and compassion.

Fire is associated with vitality and passion and will and True Will and creative inspiration.

You can’t of course have fire without air the fire naturally draws in the qualities of intellect and communication and spiritual inspiration.

And to have a chalice, you have to craft the container from some form of earth… either wood or clay or metal or glass; Earth thus bringing it’s strength and stability and balance and nurturance to the mix.

So in lighting the U.U. Chalice we can, if we choose, call upon some of the fundamental Holy Powers of Creation to create a sacred space and sacred time.  Things get even more magically interesting, for those of us who are really into Magick and Theurgy, and who like me use the alchemical or Aristotelian triangles for the elemental symbols.

(image found online here)

We bring together the triangles of Fire, and Water and this creates the Hexagram or the Six-Rayed Star of Ceremonial Magick. Visually and symbolically the interlacing of the two triangles also references the horizontally bisected triangles of Earth and Air, signifying the union of the primal elements of creation. The Hexagram also symbolizes the union of Spirit and Matter and both the invitation of the Divine into the Material. The upward pointing blue triangle representing the desire of the magician to reach up towards the Divine, downward pointing red triangle represents Divine power and presence flowing down into the world, which meet at the moment of magick.

The six-pointed star, or hexagram, is the Qabalistic symbol of initiation and spiritual illumination. The upward-pointing triangle represents the aspiration of the magician to the Gods, and the downward-pointing triangle represents the divine power, flowing down to the world. These meet at the moment of magick and the interlaced triangles forming the hexagram symbolize the power of this meeting.

This is especially interesting when you consider that in most of the Traditions of Witchcraft that use the Rite of the Chalice and the Blade to symbolize the union of the Divine Masculine and Feminine resulting in all of Creation and Magick, many of them associate Blades and the Athame with the element of Fire. So once again the union of Fire and Water brings together all the Holy Powers of Creation.

So, when we light the U.U. Chalice we are able to not only call upon all of the elemental powers we are reaching up to the Divine and opening ourselves and our gathering to the Holy Powers.

So I will be working with that.
As for a Cauldron, I did bless and consecrate my Cast Iron Dutch Oven recently and will be using it where a Cauldron belongs… in the Kitchen for some hearth and health magick…

Peace,

Pax

Interestingly enough I find the above ideas about combining elements of ritual acts and symbols seems to have resonance when applied to acts like burning incense (fire + air = Hexagram), or the burning of food offerings (earth + fire + air = Hexagram) … I feel like I could be onto something here but am not sure where to take it or how to use this, any ideas out there?

Dycyphering my dreams

Dear Friends,
So I had this dream, which woke me up this fine morning…

“I am wandering this intricate and huge combination of Book & Music store, Church, and Tchotchke shop…

…Having conversations in the pews of an unfamiliar building/highschool auditorium with members of my congregation about the growth and changes and evolution at the Church…

…overhearing someone looking for Soldier of Love and talking with them about how much we like that song and who sings the version he likes…

…and a lot of imagery focusing on Candles…”

So some of this comes from Church on Sunday and some journalling I did yesterday about what a nice experience I had last Sunday…

Some of this is coming from the fact that I am soon becoming far past due to Circle for the month…

And some of this is bubbling up from my subconscious, or the Holy Powers, or the Honored and Beloved Dead, or well somewhere someone is, I think, sending a message.

So now it’s off to the Internet to engage in a little exploration

Peace,

Pax

This little light of mine…

Dear Friends,

So in the last couple of weeks I had seen multiple announcements for the LGBT Youth Candlelight Vigils here in Orlando on the 20th and 21st… for LGBT Teen Suicide Awareness Day on the 20th.   I committed to going to the Lake Eola vigil.  There was also one the next night at UCF…

As a part of these vigils, and apparently as a general part of the LGBT Youth Suicide Awareness day on the 20th folks were encouraged to wear Purple.  Now a lot of times when something like this happens you hear all sorts of encouragement to wear a color and show your support… and folks will change the color of their blog or post a new profile pic… but you don’t hear as much about getting off your butt and marching or sending in your money… and as an aging queer and Witch… well, I can get a bit ornry…

No, I am not going to wear purple, nor am I going to put purple on my facebook profile, what I am doing is going to a candle-lit vigil for glbt youth suicide awareness and I am going to re-commit to voting against homophobia…

~ Pax’s rather ornry Facebook profile from a few days ago…

I was there as a Gay man who had been bullied in High School over his orientation, or rather perceived orientation since I was only partially out to even myself at that point.  I was also there as a Witch, who has finally set aside some of his why-not-to-do-stuff for his why-the-hell-not, and is working on his will and Will.  I was also there to support my friends from the 1st Unitarian Church Orlando, including my friend Sister Ambrosia Discordia of the Orlando Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Ambrosia happens to be a member of the 1st U, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have no formal relationship with the U.U.A) and our new settled Minister Reverend Kathy Schmitz.

There was a long time where people were simply mingling and talking.   Reverend Kathy spent some time networking with some of the other religious leaders in attendance.  I was kind of odd man out for a while, although my bright pink “Tough Guys Wear Pink” T-shirt did bring some nice compliments!

What!?  I had to wear something.  If for no other reason, because most folks would NOT appreciate me in my altogether/ Bear-on-the-half-shell glory.  Besides you don’t have to wave a rainbow flag to, well, wave the rainbow flag!

As darkness fell and the crowd began to grow as people found parking near Lake Eola Park, or got to the park from wherever they had found parking, some folks began lighting candles they had brought with them and some of the Come Out Orlando vollunteer’s (the group that had put the event together) distributed their candles for the vigil.  It was at this point that it was a pleasant surprise to see members of the Downtown Orlando Circle of the Sublime Elm, and the Orlando G.L.B.T. Pagan’s and Witcbes Meet-up groups in attendance.  I said hello and introduced them to some of the folks from 1st U and to the Sister’s.

Then there was an all too quiet speech, must look for an microphone/bull-horn for the kids at Come Out Orlando… then a lovely and very interfaith prayer from a young lady wearing a clerical color against a lovely lavender shirt.  Then we marched…

Oddly enough, it was the first time I marched in something other than a Pride parade.  Gay Pride, we Pagans don’t have our own parades yet… at least not public ones that I am aware of.  ANYHOW, I had been in protests before but I don’t think I have ever marched before… and since this was a candle-lit vigil it had more of a spiritual/processional feel to it.

It was quite lovely, and a good renewal of my inner activist and my will and possibly my Will.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey

The Personal and The Professional and The Pagan

Dear Friends,

So I have had some things come up, as readers here and my friends who follow me on Facebook know.  An extended period of frustration and disappointment with my involvement with a local Pagan community organization/group, where my every idea and suggestion and utterance met with negative reactions and resistance and dismissal finally came to a head recently as while I am still a member and still willing to perform the Imbolc for the group if they wish it; I have taken a huge step back from my active involvement there.

I also have had the very deep disappointment of personal betrayal, as you already know.  A friend, someone I trusted enough to help them find employment with my company, has been fired for the first of what has turned out the be several incidents of credit-card fraud and embezzlement.

As frustrating, painful, and difficult as these have been; they have also made me take some steps back and re-evaluate where I am and where I want to be in life and also where I am investing my time, talent, education, experience, and energies.  So I am making a few changes and some of them may affect things here.

I am in the process of creating a secondary Facebook page, and e-mail account for my professional life and goals and communications.  I am also revamping the current FB profile, a little, to emphasized that one as my private/personal one and the one I use as an active member of the online Pagan community.  Do not think, however, that I am closeting.  I am just trying to sort out my personal and professional contacts and images, I am also trying to open up space in my life to write and contemplate things from my professional and educational experiences… I am for example thinking of starting a blog from the P.O.V. of a longtime student and worker in the Hospitality industry, with a possible spiritual angle.

My LinkedIn profile (which, note to self, I have got to work on) is going to include my professional and ‘extra-curricular’ experience as well as my education…. so the work I did in the Pagan community of Anchorage assisting with the first Pagan Pride in Anchorage, AK and the co-coordinatorship of that same event in 2005 will be included as will my work with The Last Frontier Men’s Club in Anchorages Gay community.   Including these is partly a conscious choice in that I would really rather not work someplace where I would need to be closeted from my associates, although I am also trying in my current job not to push any envelopes and haven’t really brought up the Pagan thing too aggressively… although I think my boss knows or suspects cause she kind of gave be an amused grin when I asked about using some of my Vacation time for the Winter Solstice…

Including such experience on my resume/LinkedIn profile is also a luxury of working the Hospitality/Restaurant Industry where you kind of have to be open to cultural diversity in all its manifestations.

I am also planning on re-vamping the Pagan Values Blog.  I am thinking a group-blog format with articles from various contributors on the theme of Pagan Values (and Virtues and Ethics) and some regular writing contests/ events in addition to the Pagan Values Blogging Month.

I am feeling… hopeful and enthusiastic… like I have found my footing again for the first time in a long time after the last year or so of wandering and grieving and upsets.   In some ways these most recent disappointments and the one active betrayal have been the ‘kick in the seat of the pants’ I needed.

Peace,

Pax

 

Trying to Neither feel the hatred, Nor let it flow through me…

Dear Friends,

I am making a list and checking it twice!

A) Midnight

B) Black Goat

C) A Three-Legged Cross-Roads

Of course I am kidding about the goat, I really don’t have anyone else to share the meat with nor do I have any earthly idea how to quickly and painlessly slaughter an animal.  (well as painlessly as you can slaughter something anyway…)

I am however pissed. (as in incandescently angry, not as in drunk off my arse…)

Someone I trusted has betrayed me.  A friend, a darn good friend, a friend who has been in rather desperate financial and medical straits as of late; a friend whom I helped get a job at the No-tell where I work.  I served as a reference for him.  I personally campaigned with my manager for him.  I went out of my way to help him, as he was one of the first friends I found after The Big Guy dumped me.  He and his partner helped me move from the Big Guy’s place into my current digs.

Said, I suppose former, friend has been let go in the last few days for the first of at least 2 incidents of embezzlement and credit-card fraud over the course of a few months.  It also appears he may also have been pilfering cash since very early on in his employment.    My manager has repeatedly assured me that this does not reflect on me… she is still interested in training me for management duties, and based on my knowledge of her I believe her.

Him, on the other hand… I have been muttering a LOT of dark shit about him…

“May The Earth refuse to stand still beneath his feet,

May the Waters refuse to quench his thirst,

May the Fires refuse to warm his flesh,

May the Winds refuse to cool his brow.”

And before anyone lectures me about it I have already explained my take on the Three-fold Law and Harm Ye None and other things here, and quite frankly I am only asking that he be unsettled and discomforted… I may just keep doing so until he is jailed then he shall get mercy.  He has violated my trust and friendship, and had he ever made an oath to me I would have the Eumenides on the speed dial!

It was one thing when I only knew of one, recent, incident.  It could be chalked up to a stupid, horrible, mistake made in desperation.  When it’s a pattern of behavior stretching back months however… then it becomes an active betrayal.  I am pissed.  BUT, I am trying to productively vent without irrevocably DOING anything, while still productively DOING something.

I did toy with the idea of cursing his family 3 generations in each direction until he begged for my forgiveness and did right by me and the company… (did I mention I lettered in Theater in High School?  How about the temper?!)…. I even did a little writing… just to see how the wording might work… BUT AGAIN I haven’t actually DONE anything, in that direction!!!!

IF there were a good three-legged cross-roads around here I would be having a good heart to whatever with Hecate sometime soon… sadly my area of Orlando is rather lacking in Numinous places.  Not that She can’t be reached through other means, but sometimes it’s nice to simply walk to a place of power call on the Gods and experience the Holy Terror and the Ecstasy as you state your case before the Holy Powers.

Now I shall go get ready for bed, enjoy a little light reading, and perchance to dream dark dreams,

Yours in Peace and War,

Pax

Heroism, Queers, and Hell Yes It Gets Better

Dear Friends,

Jason Pitzl-Waters over at The Wild Hunt had recently posted an article (both on his main site and on his On Faith Panel blog ) on the recent spate of Gay teen suicides, or at least how the media is suddenly paying attention to gay teen suicides since they are sadly not all that uncommon.  He discusses how the empowerment of a culture of self-hate must end.

Now while there has been a lot of confusion over the years about the exact percentages and numbers, to the delight of far right fanatics, there is no doubt that queer or even queer perceived (meaning that others think they might be) youth are twice to three times as likely to experience bullying as their straight counterparts.

I never attempted suicide.  One of the things that held me back was the conviction that if I did kill myself, I would just have to come back in another life and deal with the same sort of BS again until I had truly learned from it.  I sure as hell thought about it though…pills usually, mom had a lot of health problems and so there were mad amounts of pills in the house.   I held back, partly out of not wanting to cause my loved ones grief and partly out of not wanting the bastards to win.

It. Gets. Better.

Others are saying it with much more eloquence, and courage, and willingness to face personal and professional repercussions and worse… like Fort Worth, Texas, City Councilman Joel Burns

He is a hero, at the very least send him a polite thank you now.

Peace,

Pax

Reflections on Coming Out, Building Community, and Pagan Pride

Dear Friends,

So it’s National Coming Out Day today (or tomorrow depending on your specific Nation….) this international holiday celebrating GLBTA pride and identity is going strong after 23 years.

Now perhaps you expect me to wax philosophic about LGBT Pride and such… and admittedly I could… but in addition to being the beginnings of Samhaintide, we are in the midst of Pagan Pride season, and I’d like to talk a bit about that today…

Now while it’s focused on the Equinox, there are numerous celebrations across the U.S. and around the world that celebrate their Pagan Pride events in either October or as late as November for various local and logistical reasons; which is rather appropriate as many of the ancient Paganisms had much more localized holy days and festivals in tune with the local seasons and the rhythms of their particular cities and towns.  As I reflect upon my Pagan Pride this year I find my mind turning not only to the many Proud and Out Pagans serving their cities and towns as Public Servants, I am also reminded of those non-Pagans who are now desperately trying to back pedal from confused and ill-informed claims of having been involved in Witchcraft at some vague and undefined date.

I am happy to see Witches taking up the challenge and opportunity presented by this last story to Come Out with Pride.  I believe that by coming out when and where you can do so safely you can advance the cause of Religious Freedom for Pagans and Heathens in our nation and around the world.

I also find myself thinking about the many Pagan Pride events that will have vendors selling books and incense and various sacred supplies and statuary, and bling, and tchotchke’s of all sorts.   We are very good at trying to support some of our Pagan business-folk, as long as they are blatantly “Pagany”… but what about our Doctor’s, our Plumber’s, or Gardener’s and Grocer’s and the many many other areas or our lives where we could be supporting our fellow Pagans economically and demonstrating our Pride with our Pocketbook?

I have written and thought about this a few times before, and expect more of it in the coming year!  When I can go into any Gay bar or LGBT Community Center and pick up a LGBT (local) community publication or community directory listing not only GLBT owned and themed businesses and professionals… everything from bars and beauticians to real-estate agents, doctors, plumbers and electicians and bankers and lawyers…. as well as private listings in some LGBT communities; why is it that you have trouble finding ANY of the same sort of information in Pagan community venues?

I can only hope that some of those Pagan Pride event tables are being held by local Pagan bankers and Pagan real-estate agents and other Pagan business-folk working to network within and support their local Pagan communities in the same way that I see in similar events within the Queer community.  Remember that this is only going to be more important as we weather the current economic woes!

Then my mind turns towards the causes and charities that I can support and work for as a conscious invocation of my Pagan Pride.  Causes like the Officers of Avalon‘s non-profit charity Avalon Cares, and the Military Pagan Network and the Heathen community Open Halls project, and the organizations like Cherry Hill Seminary and The National Pagan Leadership Skills conference.  I am also reminded of those Pagans who are standing up for Religious Freedom and Fairness and Justice, speaking Truth to Power in the Halls of Justice; as well as those who are gaining the full legal recognition and equal access for their faiths.

This year of 2010 began with contemporary Paganism taking it’s place upon the World stage as a World Faith at the Parliament of World’s Religions in Australia, and I am damn proud of that!

I think of my friends and co-conspirators at the Pagan Newswire Collective and our diverse efforts to help connect our local and national communities and to provide news and information of interest to and reflecting the Pagan and Heathen world-views; while at the same time being a resource for our larger communities to get factual and accurate information on the many paths of contemporary Paganism.

Now I do not deny that there is a LOT of work left to do in order to secure true legal Equality and Religious Freedom for the Pagan paths, and I will probably always hold the opinion that we could do more to build connections and relationships that build and strengthen a beloved Pagan community; but I also cannot deny that there is a heck of a lot to be Proud about Pagans!

Peace, and Pride,

Pax