omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Looks like I'm going to be celebrating Autumnal Equinox/Akitu/Mabon by myself this year - Equinox proper is in the middle of the week, and half my social circle, including most of my circlemates as well as the Spouse, are going to a con in Dallas this coming weekend.

Having said that, I have some new deity images from this summer that need to be dedicated, and the altar certainly needs cleaning/purifying/re-consecrating. It's not that there isn't plenty of Akitu-related stuff to do; I just won't have anyone to do it with. I'll probably see my circle elders the night before Equinox proper, but that's more a monthly dinner thing than a ritual occasion.

I did buy some new altarware - plain white ceramic this time, since the local feral cats and the organized crime mob of raccoons and squirrels keep drinking out of the water and wine cups when I leave the altar alone for an hour and occasionally knocking them off. I also got new, less-easy-to-knock-over candles for deity calls and the ancestors, in the hopes that they'll last until decorating the altar for Samhain is truly appropriate.
omorka: (Default)
Still working on what proper private practice looks like for me, given the limitations of the space I have. Poured libations at dawn (technically that would have been 15 Simanu) and at as close to local lunar noon as I could figure, for Shapshu and Shamash in the first place and for Yarikhu, Nanna-Sin, and Selune in the second. In the second case, ended up getting effectively a gesa to finish the organizational work I've already been tasked with; I guess the lunar gods think it's a good idea.

Have mostly been focusing my practice around my two primary matrons lately. Not that I'm any less interested in doing broader, cross-pantheonic work, just that this has felt more like time for deepening existing relationships rather than forming new ones.

The Syrio-Levantine and Mesopotamian deities seem to be oddly fond of cheap red wine. This is fine with me; it means libations won't ever break the bank. (In one instance Hadad asked for a shot of Jack, but that was a special case.) I need to work on proper incenses, though.
omorka: (Element Pentacle)
Paraphrasing @papapishu over on Twitter: Celebrate May Day as our foreparents did, by joining/strengthening our unions and by dancing a properly phallic Maypole!

There is something about putting on body glitter and a tie-dyed dress with a couple of holes/snags that is a size too large for you that makes one want to not do anything for the rest of the day. Or, at least, nothing that does not involve rather a lot of skin-to-skin contact. Alas, the Secondary had a gig this evening and no one appears to be doing a Maypole. (I don't know what the CUUPs group is doing, but I can't deal with UU internal politics anymore. CMA has enough internal politics to last me for years.)
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Haven't been doing a good job keeping up with the altar log, either online or in person. Probably ought to work on that.

After having let the last set of candles burn out just after equinox, I hadn't replaced them until tonight. Right now I have a pair of tealights for Al-Lat and Baal-Shamin of Palmyra, and a lavender votive for the Beloved Dead and especially Prince. I need to clean out the offering bowl; it's full of old joss sticks and ashes.

My luck trying to grow rosemary continues to suck; the last one I planted died of transplant shock. I do have an apple mint that died back but seems to have survived at the roots coming back nicely, but it's not as magickally useful. (Nice for juleps, though.)
omorka: (Element Pentacle)
I was originally going to write this post to complain that the Council of Magickal Arts's Beltane gathering this weekend is likely to be at least partially rained out for the second year in a row, and blame this fact on El Nino, because damn.

Then I realized that this is the 20th anniversary of my first CMA Beltane. I'd been a member of the organization since sometime in 1995, but Beltane 1996 was the first one I actually got to attend for a number of reasons.

I have been doing this for twenty godsdamn years. It's been two decades and We're Still Here. The community looks a lot different, and we've lost some dearly beloved folks in that time, but there is still a Pagan-owned and Pagan-operated festival in the heart of Texas, and I've been a part of it for more than half my life.

Still sucks about this weekend possibly getting rained out, but - wow.
omorka: (Element Pentacle)
Another memorial at Pagan's Night Out tonight, for our Fireman. We've lost entirely too many elders recently. (Don't smoke, kids, it'll kill ya.) Two members of Fire Crew were present, and it was obvious they're still grieving; he wasn't just a leader for that community, he was a quasi-parental figure for some of the younger ones whose blood-parents disapproved of their religion or sexuality.

It's hard, especially as such a spread-out community. We can't come together every week the way a 500-member church does. Yeah, we can get 50 of us together at one of the larger PNOs, like last month's or tonight's, but even then we're on the deck at a restaurant and not in a temple or on holy ground of our own. We need that, but who can afford it, and who would we all trust to take financial care of it?
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Fell off the wagon, at least where blogging was concerned. Will write about Akitu later.

Current deities on the altar are Shamash, the Babylonian solar god, and Nanshe, a minor goddess of the sea, the shoreline, and divination. Shamash was specifically invoked as the god of justice and just laws, an extension of his title "the All-Seeing." Nanshe was primarily honored in her aspect as a goddess of divination, dreams, and prophesy away from the coast, but her hymns also describe her as a protectress of the poor, the downtrodden, and the oppressed.

I have occasionally described myself as a Social Justice Cleric. I offer this altar as evidence.

---

Ordering incense via Amazon is not as much fun as one might expect. On the other hand, at least I have laid in a decent supply. I also couldn't find green candles at Fiesta when I went to restock. Not having a decent Pagan supply store whose politics aren't gross around is harder than it looks.
omorka: (Element Pentacle)
I had promised myself a long time ago that I would do this once I had finished my clerical training, but it is quite clear at this point that both the local community and the gods are perfectly happy to demand that I do the work of a priestess, and given the recent turns of events, the time seemed right. So, in addition to being a minor officer of the Council of Magickal Arts, a dedicant-priestess in the Blue Crescent tradition of Dianic Wicca, and a self-initiated priestess in the Chaldean Pagan tradition, I have officially gotten myself ordained through the Universal Life Church.

If you're not familiar with them, they're an organization that exists to provide ordination papers to people who don't have access to traditional Christian channels, primarily for the purpose of performing weddings (and, occasionally, funerals). The ordination itself is free, but they make money off of selling you various official-looking certificates, badges, bumper stickers, etc. It's a racket, but it's a happy and upfront one, and in the states with looser requirements for presiding over weddings, it's good enough. Texas happens to be one of those states.

So, anyway, if anyone needs a clergyperson who is fairly good at designing meaningful ritual and is more than happy to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, I'm available.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Put the orange altar cloth on the outdoor altar (which required some snippage; I cannot cut cloth in a straight line to save my life) and have set out the bright-half altar set with a fresh ancestor candle and some incense. I think I'm going to go ahead and do An and Ki for the deity set, and see what An has to tell me about kingship, power, and the giving up of power.

An/Anu's symbol is also the symbol for any god in cuneiform: four thin wedges intersecting to make an eight-pointed asterisk, or, to unpack that Greek-derived term, a star. In the context of the god-symbol, it's called a dingir and it's the first sign in any deity's name in cuneiform. Now, An is the god of the sky, but it hadn't occurred to me until I was trying to figure out what color candle to use for Him that He'd have been the god of the night sky first - He's not solar, and His symbol is stellar, so it's probably be best to use a black candle. Blue would also work; He's also the god of the day sky as well as the night sky - as would white, the color of the stars themselves. As it happens, the only one of those colors I actually have on hand is white, and finding black jar candles that don't have Santa Muerta's picture printed on them around here is hard, so that's what we'll go with. But thinking of Him as the star-vault god (as well as the blue-sky god) is giving me some theological feels.

Now to find some public-domain images of Them . . .
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
It occurs to me that I've been doing a great deal more theurgy than thaumaturgy lately. I've always been a cast-a-spell-a-month-whether-I-need-to-or-not sort of witch, but usually I depend on the elemental aiwen, or the vibes of different plants and their properties (which I think of as a living subset of the elements, to be honest), for the motive power of the spell. More often lately, I've been asking various deities for their blessings; this has been especially true for the candle spells I've been running for my injured student. I'm really glad I spent the previous month lighting a candle for Eshmun, because He in particular has been invaluable; I've also been calling on Brigid, which is a little unusual for me - She's not from one of my preferred pantheons, and I don't normally mix-and-match like that, but She seemed appropriate for the kid in particular.

I really need to get more incense. I've been going through it like crazy ever since I cleaned off my altar and started doing the daily devotions. This is a good thing; I tend to buy incense when I think about it and then let it sit in my magickal notions drawer until it goes stale. But my stock of a few staples is running low, and I really don't want to go to the local magick shop for more, because some of their clerks are weird old dudes who are creepy when they're not stoned. Anyone know a good incense blender on Etsy or somewhere?
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Note to self: Figure out exactly what promising Enki that you would "make a joyful noise unto him" actually means, and do it before the next full moon.

Also, do not make vague promises to trickster gods.

Also, figure out an appropriate incense for Him other than the standard cedar and frankincence.

But mostly, do not make vague promises to trickster gods. What the Irkalla were you thinking? Now we have to write Him a hymn, I think.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Ancestor candle burned out of wick with over 1/2 inch of wax left to go. This appears to be the way the candle was designed. Not sure if safety measure or customer screwage.

Have about half an inch or so of wax left in the Shapshu and Eshmun candles, too. At this point, I've decided on Yarikhu and Nikkal for the next pair; they're a nice match for European Beltane.

Oh, crud, I need to decide whether I'm going to the local CUUPs Beltane or not.

Still bummed about missing CMA Beltane. Several of our campmates have been talking about renting a cabin at a state park for a weekend to make up for it, but the hanging-out-with-cool-folks-in-the-woods aspect isn't what I'm bummed about missing. I'm half tempted to start working on Get Sirius again just to have an indoor, somewhat intellectually focused local Pagan event.
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Whoa, have I not been keeping up the log properly. Have been lighting the ancestor candle daily, lighting the outdoor altar for a few hours per evening every day bar one, & have been lighting incense indoors (usually for Tiamat, Lahmu & Lahamu, and Anshar & Kishar, but occasionally for Asherah, Astarte, or other deities) whenever we did not have guests and outdoors every day.

The incense donated by JK has a lot of trouble staying lit. It must have gotten damp at some point.

I went on a candle restocking run this weekend and now have plenty of candles. I do wish it was easier to find colored non-scented candles, though.

I sent a description of the votive statues I want made to JK to forward on to his artist. Apparently the description confused her. I'm putting a copy behind the cut for my records & in case anyone else has an artist friend who might want to take a crack at it.

Read more... )
omorka: (Asherah Presides)
Re: dates - yes, I think I like that better.

Lit ancestor candle, cedar/lavender incense for the Goddesses on my altar and the local spirits of house and place. Am having trouble grounding today, probably due to sleep deprivation (have been sleeping poorly since the last couple of days of Spring Break). Must remember to wait until after Movie Night tomorrow to light incense, as several probable guests are allergic.

Have had a lot of lavender popping up in my life since early February. Wonder if this means I should pick up a plant? It doesn't usually grow well here - too hot for too much of the year.

Have not heard from JK regarding potential artist for votive statues. Should probably find placeholder images for the deities in question (Lahmu, Lahamu, Anshar, Kishar) and add them to altar dedications.
omorka: (Default)
3 Nisannu - Lunar incense as an offering to the three goddesses I currently have images of on my altar (Tiamat, Shapshu, Gaia). Finished burning the candle for a spell started last week. Lit ancestor candle & tried to tend the wick a little bit.

4 Nisannu - Unlabeled incense (I think it's sandalwood) as an offering to my ancestors of blood and culture. Need to start working on the Hallows calendar again. Lit ancestor candle. Poured out the water from the altar chalice and refilled it.

Am contemplating declaring the epoch for the NeoChaldean calendar to be 29 October 1969, and use "Internet" as the name of the ruler. It's not far off from the Unix epoch, and it avoids the unpleasant implication that Presidents are somehow kings. That would make the date above "3 and 4 Nisannu, Internet 45." Not sure what to use for the previous ruler (Television, perhaps?), should I need to refer to dates prior to the epoch, but that's probably unlikely to happen.
omorka: (Element Pentacle)
There was an interesting post on the Pagan Newswire Daily's roundup recently, a bit on Gardner and the origins of Wicca, that took a perspective I hadn't thought of previously but which makes sense.

First, we all know that Gardner's origin myth of Wicca is only a myth, not historical fact - this is not a direct survival of the pre-Christian religion of the lower classes of the British Isles, and it probably doesn't resemble that Saxon or Celtic religion much, if indeed at all. It might vaguely resemble a set of countercultural religious practices that may have occurred post-Christianization, but if those even existed, the resemblance is tenuous at best. So what we have might be a reconstruction of a reconstruction, with a whole damn lot of Making It Up As You Go involved at both stages. Or, it might be mostly made up by Gardner out of while cloth, with those countercultural heresies merely being made-up bogeymen imagined by the Church.

However, there were clearly magickal traditions practiced before the current neoPagan and ceremonialist occult revivals. And many of them were recorded in the "pop culture" of the time. We know, for instance, that there were ceremonial mages practicing in a variety of traditions through the High Middle Ages and Renaissance, and in some cases we have copies of their grimoires; the depictions of wizards in Renaissance plays call on this, with big books of magic spells and ceremonial circles. The article points out that the other magickal tradition recorded in those plays is a low-magick witchcraft tradition, involving potions and dancing around in circles. The author's claim is that Gardner seems to have melded these two disparate traditions - adopting the ceremonialist's casing of a ceremonial circle and the use of various altar tools, but using it as a container for the round dance and energy raising of the witchcraft tradition. (He also allows for the possibility that Gardner was in fact passing along a tradition invented by the New Forest coven before Gardner joined, which would push back that melding by one generation.) He then labels this melding a "mutation," although without the usual pejorative implications of the term.

I like the idea, myself. It's clear to anyone who has paid attention to the history of the movement that something new happened in the Gardnerian/Alexandrian/Cochranian period, and the few remaining descriptions of Cochrainian covens don't really have the ceremonialist strain that the Gardnerian and Alexandrian covens did and do. The combination of the Apollonian ceremonial circle and the Dionysian dancing, chanting, and other energy-raising works for a non-trivial percentage of the population; whether it replicates something that existed previously, and I'm more than willing to agree that it's not an unbroken survival of anything, it's functional and powerful.

But I think "mutation" isn't quite the right word. What the article seems to be arguing happened is more along the lines of two different species of plants from the same family that happen to have the same number of chromosomes interbreeding. Most of the time, when this happens, the resulting plant is sterile because the different chromosome pairs from the two parents don't match up. But occasionally, the plants goof up in meiosis and the germ cells end up with a full complement of chromosomes, or they get a half set but that half set gets duplicated. Then the daughter plant has a full set of the chromosomes of each of the parent plants, and expresses all of them correctly - and if they don't clash, you get a plant with the best attributes of both parents. This happened in the Triticum genus, about ten thousand years ago, when a wild grass now called einkorn swapped genes with a jointed goatgrass in the closely-related Aegilops family and produced emmer wheat. A few thousand years later, emmer did the wild thing with another goatgrass and the result was the ancestor of the bread wheats, something very close to spelt. These aren't mutations; they're hybridizations.

Wicca, or at least the standard wiccaform ritual structure, is by this theory a polyploid hybrid. And it seems to have benefited from the standard hybrid vigor, judging by how fast it's spread in the sixty-odd years since being released into the wild. And for all that I'm an Authenticity Cop in a lot of respects - I prefer not mixing pantheons in a single ritual, I like offering different gods the things their home cultures say they like, I'm in favor of permanent sanctuaries, temples, and votive statuary - that's just fine with me. If nothing else, it's one more thing with poly- in front of the name to add to the mix of faiths I call mine.
omorka: (Element Pentacle)
There was an interesting post on the Pagan Newswire Daily's roundup recently, a bit on Gardner and the origins of Wicca, that took a perspective I hadn't thought of previously but which makes sense.

First, we all know that Gardner's origin myth of Wicca is only a myth, not historical fact - this is not a direct survival of the pre-Christian religion of the lower classes of the British Isles, and it probably doesn't resemble that Saxon or Celtic religion much, if indeed at all. It might vaguely resemble a set of countercultural religious practices that may have occurred post-Christianization, but if those even existed, the resemblance is tenuous at best. So what we have might be a reconstruction of a reconstruction, with a whole damn lot of Making It Up As You Go involved at both stages. Or, it might be mostly made up by Gardner out of while cloth, with those countercultural heresies merely being made-up bogeymen imagined by the Church.

However, there were clearly magickal traditions practiced before the current neoPagan and ceremonialist occult revivals. And many of them were recorded in the "pop culture" of the time. We know, for instance, that there were ceremonial mages practicing in a variety of traditions through the High Middle Ages and Renaissance, and in some cases we have copies of their grimoires; the depictions of wizards in Renaissance plays call on this, with big books of magic spells and ceremonial circles. The article points out that the other magickal tradition recorded in those plays is a low-magick witchcraft tradition, involving potions and dancing around in circles. The author's claim is that Gardner seems to have melded these two disparate traditions - adopting the ceremonialist's casing of a ceremonial circle and the use of various altar tools, but using it as a container for the round dance and energy raising of the witchcraft tradition. (He also allows for the possibility that Gardner was in fact passing along a tradition invented by the New Forest coven before Gardner joined, which would push back that melding by one generation.) He then labels this melding a "mutation," although without the usual pejorative implications of the term.

I like the idea, myself. It's clear to anyone who has paid attention to the history of the movement that something new happened in the Gardnerian/Alexandrian/Cochranian period, and the few remaining descriptions of Cochrainian covens don't really have the ceremonialist strain that the Gardnerian and Alexandrian covens did and do. The combination of the Apollonian ceremonial circle and the Dionysian dancing, chanting, and other energy-raising works for a non-trivial percentage of the population; whether it replicates something that existed previously, and I'm more than willing to agree that it's not an unbroken survival of anything, it's functional and powerful.

But I think "mutation" isn't quite the right word. What the article seems to be arguing happened is more along the lines of two different species of plants from the same family that happen to have the same number of chromosomes interbreeding. Most of the time, when this happens, the resulting plant is sterile because the different chromosome pairs from the two parents don't match up. But occasionally, the plants goof up in meiosis and the germ cells end up with a full complement of chromosomes, or they get a half set but that half set gets duplicated. Then the daughter plant has a full set of the chromosomes of each of the parent plants, and expresses all of them correctly - and if they don't clash, you get a plant with the best attributes of both parents. This happened in the Triticum genus, about ten thousand years ago, when a wild grass now called einkorn swapped genes with a jointed goatgrass in the closely-related Aegilops family and produced emmer wheat. A few thousand years later, emmer did the wild thing with another goatgrass and the result was the ancestor of the bread wheats, something very close to spelt. These aren't mutations; they're hybridizations.

Wicca, or at least the standard wiccaform ritual structure, is by this theory a polyploid hybrid. And it seems to have benefited from the standard hybrid vigor, judging by how fast it's spread in the sixty-odd years since being released into the wild. And for all that I'm an Authenticity Cop in a lot of respects - I prefer not mixing pantheons in a single ritual, I like offering different gods the things their home cultures say they like, I'm in favor of permanent sanctuaries, temples, and votive statuary - that's just fine with me. If nothing else, it's one more thing with poly- in front of the name to add to the mix of faiths I call mine.

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