Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Dual Duties

One of the projects that I am currently working on within CAYA Coven is a group called "Beyond the Binary".  Beyond the Binary was founded by public priest/esses of CAYA who want to create safe, loving, magickal space for the exploration of gender variance as individuals, in the world, and in deity.

We have a blog that each of us contributes something to each month.  My contribution has just been posted, where I talk about attending, "Ain't I a woman?", a lecture given by Laverne Cox.


Friday, March 21, 2014


Each year, the Priestesses of the Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe choose an Ancestress and a Goddess to work with in the coming year.  Each Priestess has her own reasons for why she might choose to work with that Ancestress or Goddess for that year.  For 2013 I chose to work with the Empress Theodora as my ancesstress and Hekate as my Goddess.

The Empress Theodora began her life from what was considered amongst the lowliest of stations in Rome and worked her way through the social ranks to become the most powerful woman in Rome and, indeed, one of the most powerful women in Roman history. What drew me to her was that she was a woman who was both intelligent and highly skilled in the art of seduction and she used these talents to raise herself to a station where she could positively affect the lives of other women like her - prostitutes, single mothers with children, women who faced serious health and physical safety risks that she, herself, was all too familiar with. Theodora's childhood, where her mother prostrated herself before the crowds as she had no other alternative to find help to raise her children, taught Theodora that she, herself, must take control over her own destiny or others would forever rule her life for her.  

My work with her this year largely around strategizing on where my path will go. My year began where I was in a place I didn't want to be in.  I was there because I had let my path progress there without any real efforts at direction on my part and others were directing my life for me, whether it was intentional on their part or not.  I had issues with my home, with my job, with my finances and being able to keep my head above water. In all of these cases, I had never taken the reins to strategize and direct what I wanted to have happen in these areas can because of that, my life was being ruled by them in ways that were suffocating me. Rather than trying to escape or ignore what was happening, i resolved to take these things back under my control.  I moved out of my crappy housing situation.  I started taking steps to repair all my financial issues (taxes and other debts owed).  I also started to actively plan what I wanted my work life to look like beyond just praying that the hop between one contract job and another wouldn't end up just drowning me financially.

Theodora was also a woman who loved with a great depth of passion that may not have always been apparent to anyone except the person she directed her love towards.  Theodora loved Justinian and, staying true to her roots, her bear mother came out when Justinian's rule and life were threatened - she stepped up, spoke out with great passion, and rallied Justinian's men to do for him what she could not (to fight the oncoming uprising and save the Empire). Together, Theodora and Justinian ruled Rome in a (mostly) just manner. 

Theodora taught me that it's OK to be an independent woman who also accepts help as she needs it.  In her case, Theodora accepted help from those who she felt were capable - Justinian's Uncle, Justinian himself, and a few others.  It's the way in which her relationship with Justinian helped her become even more independent that I was interested in.  For the first time, I have a partner in my life who is capable of providing help in many ways and is a solver of problems.  It's been a tough road for me to feel like I can trust someone else to "take care of me" but P-Love has done this for me, many times, in the few years that we have been together.  And, as I learn to trust him, he learns to trust me, and when we start working on a shared goal together, we do really good work together.

In the years to come, I'm looking forward to continuing my work with Theodora as my dedicated ancestress.

For my Goddess work, I chose to work with Hekate.  We've had a bit of an interesting relationship as initially my work with her came through my serving on the CAYA South Bay Full Moon Circles and the Grove of Hekate.  Though I was serving Her publicly, I had always wanted to try working with Her in a more personal manner.  So, when I started to try and commune with Her, I always thought that She was saying to me, "You're not mine", which would indicate to me that my personal work with Her was not to be. What I've come to learn is that Her voice, the one that speaks to me was really being obscured by the voice of Her that others hear and so, in that respect it's true that I was not to work with that particular part of Her. When I settle into my own stillness and I listen for Her voice, what I've realized She was actually saying was, "Not yet."  Now that voice has turned to, "We're getting there".

What does all of that mean?  I knew that I needed to work with a Goddess who wasn't going to tell me where to go but would help me to see all the possible avenues that I might take.  She's been teaching me that my own inner voice is what keeps me from considering the paths that I may take as too often I will say, "well, I can't do that because..." or "that's not possible because...".  She has been showing me, all throughout this past year, how to look at a path with the thought of, "what would it look like if...?" so that I can really explore that possibility and learn from it, rather than shutting myself off before I even take the first step.

I do have to admit, I was strongly considering dedicating to Hekate during CAYA's Ordination Retreat (for those not aware, this is a time where we not only ordain our newest Wildflower Initiates but we give space for our existing ordained Clergy to make new dedications to deities or other spirits/totems/guides/etc.)  In the past several months, She has been calling me to consider taking paths in my life that I DON'T overthink (Virgo) and rationalize myself out of.  This has led me down another path of dedication that I have been resisting exactly because I've rationalized myself out of it (and that's another story entirely).  Although I am not officially working with Hekate through a public dedication or my BRHP work, She and I have both agreed that She still has a lot to teach me. I will continue to work with Her, personally... at least for now.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Cosmic Charlie

Last fall, P-Love and I took a trip down to LA to see Furthur close out the tour with their shows at the Greek Theater there. We also decided that it was important that we make the trek to visit and tend to the grave of P-Love's brother, Charlie.  So we made the drive down south, early on a Saturday morning and arrived in Orange County in the early afternoon.

It's a small, Catholic, cemetery - nestled in between one housing development and another, in a very affluent area. I remark, "Oh.  It's Catholic."  P-Love wonders if I was surprised by this.  I wasn't surprised in that his family IS Catholic and being buried in a Catholic cemetery would make sense.  It's more that I hadn't realized that his brother had remained quite active in the church - P-Love hadn't ever mentioned it, so I was putting that together in my head as we drove up to the cemetery and was feeling some surprise at how much more I understood about P-Love's life by that added detail.  It is a quiet, beautiful, and well-kept cemetery.  P-Love tells me that Nicole Brown-Simpson is buried here and when we arrive, I see that there is one grave that has attracted a group of people, seemingly there at random and not at all dressed for a funeral - they all have bouquets of flowers that they are placing, atop an already growing mound of flowers - I imagine that this must be her grave but I decide that finding out would risk being too disrespectful.

We drive to the end of the lane that runs through the cemetery.  Charlie's grave is near the edge of a small hill where a tree provides shade over a marble bench that sits to the right of his plot.  As we walk to it, I send silent prayers of apology to the departed whose graves we occasionally travel over (I feel it necessary to respect the beloved dead of others in ways that I would want them to respect mine).  We are alone in the section of the cemetery we are in.

I can feel the change in P-Love the moment that he gets close - the air around him changes to one of heaviness, sadness, and rainclouds - very much not his normal state of being.  I can't imagine how the loss of a loved sibling affects a person, especially one that feels as deeply as P-Love does (he doesn't let on but he is a man of great depth). To P-Love, his family is of the highest import and his family is very close-knit. As he reaches his brother's grave, he takes a knee, wiping away fallen leaves before he kisses his fingertips, presses that kiss to the headstone and says, "I miss you, Brother."

We have brought a picnic lunch with us and we set ourselves up on the marble bench under the tree.  It is a gorgeous day - the sun is high in the sky, burning out the last of the summer with a one-day final burst of heat and the Santa Ana winds are racing across the grass.  Despite the glory of the day, it would be too easy to get lost in the gloom of the task ahead of us so I ask P-Love what his favorite memories are of his brother, Charlie.  He tells me about when they were growing up and the things that siblings to do each other.  He tells me of shows that he, his sister, and Charlie all went to when they were adults. He talked a little bit about the funeral and why the headstone didn't end with "Beloved Husband, Father,  Brother and Son" instead of just "Beloved Husband and Father". I get a glimpse into the soul of this man, who has taken me into his heart, as he tells me these things.  I hope that talking about the things that he loved about his brother, helps P-Love feel lighter than he might have otherwise.

We finish our quiet lunch and Peter sets about clearing away the dirt around the flower vase and putting in fresh flowers.  Then he clears away the grass and dirt that has collected around Charlie's headstone before he sets to cleaning the stone itself.  I set myself to putting away our lunch and to cleaning the marble bench.  Peter takes out the large, silver, "Steal Your Face" sticker we'd ordered earlier in the week and he placed it on the headstone.  When this is all finished, P-Love takes a few moments to take a few pictures of the grave having been tended to.  P-Love's parents will want these as it's important to them to know that someone is tending to the grave of their oldest son (the family lives fairly far away, making it hard to make regular visits to Charlie's grave). When P-Love is done, he slumps back down onto the marble bench.  I notice that the Santa Ana's have picked up a bit, winds rushing through the area that go 'shhhh' through the trees and that gently rock the windchimes hung here and there.

I sit quietly behind P-Love as he sits on the edge of the bench and says his silent prayers to his brother.  I can feel his tears of sorrow - I know he dearly misses his brother.  I place my hand on him, gently, letting love flow through my fingers.  I know P-Love well enough to know that waiting for him to indicate what he wants is what needs to happen here - any prompting or questions will break his thoughts of the moment and i know he needs this time.  It hurts my heart to see him have to go through such grief but these are the things that life deals us and that we either learn to cope with or be swallowed up by.  After a time, we realize that the hour is getting late and we must depart - we have the last Furthur concert we'll see for awhile.  It's an appropriate tribute to Charlie that we should not sit here in sorrow all day but that we should celebrate life in one of the ways that he loved to celebrate it - with the music of the Grateful Dead.

The Blessed Mother, bathed in sunlight, keeps all her children close to her heart.
There was definitely a Grateful Dead twist to the entire day.  Old folklore has it that the grateful dead were the spirits of someone who had died and needed help to be buried.  Whomever helped that spirit's body receive a proper burial was rewarded in some way whether it be with the saving of that person's life or the bestowing of gifts of riches.  Not only had P-Love helped to bury his brother but on this day, he was making sure that the grave was properly tended (as he has so often done over the years).  I am convinced that Charlie saw fit to send us energies that we would have a most fantastic evening at the show that night because we did have one amazing and magical night. 

Thank you for that, Cosmic Charlie. You are loved and missed by many here. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Going Furthur at the Greek

When P-Love and I first started seeing each other, I saw that he was a fan of The Grateful Dead.  One day, he says to me, "Do you want to go to the symphony with me?" and that was where I was introduced to the magic that is the music of the Grateful Dead (Bob Weir was doing a project with the Marin Symphony Orchestra where they put together a symphonic arrangement of the GD's music). A month later, I saw a Furthur show, at Shoreline Ampitheater, and I was hooked for life. (Furthur is a band that Phil Lesh and Bob Weir put together to keep the GD's music going.)

Furthur has announced that in 2014 they are going on a hiatus - no more tours!  So, P-Love and I quickly grabbed up tickets for the fall tour shows that we could make it to.  This past weekend, Furthur played at the Berkeley Greek theater - P-Love and I went to all three shows (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).  On Saturday night, I managed to catch this awesome bit of magic on camera:

This is the kind of thing that happens all the time at their shows - little bits of magic, all around the place, that makes the whole experience so amazing.  I have met so many great people through the concerts that I have attended and I have had so many awesome, magical, funny, spiritual, and love-filled experiences at these shows.

I thank P-Love, all the time, for introducing this to me.  This is the best gift he could have ever given me.

Bloodroot Honey Priestess Musical Sampler

The Bloodroot Honey Priestess Tribe LOVES to sing. We, as a group, write a lot of our own music and chants for the rituals that we enact. Here are a few (homegrown) samples of the music that this tribe of women create:

Branwen's Hera Song

Flower Of Death

Hathor Chant

Hera Chant

Juniper's Hera Song

Kore Chant

Mind, Body, Spirit chant

Om Para Shaktiya Swaha

Sacred Maiden Song

Yansumi's Saraswati Song


Recently, I had the opportunity to serve on a ritual where the Three Graces (Euphrosyne, Aglaea, and Thalia) were called in and honored.  The Three Graces were known as the attendants of Aphrodite.  So, as I am both dedicated to Aphrodite and I have taken on a personal task of writing at least one chant/song for each public ritual I work this year, I decided to honor these deities with song.

The Three Graces
Written and sung by Q'desha Yansumi Diwata

In the ancient land of Greece
There were the Graces Three
Between the three of them no party lacked for revelry

Euphrosyne was filled with mirth
Aglaea was splendor in spad-es
Thalia was all good cheer - They livened up even Hades!

One day the Graces Three set off
To party and boogaloo (*pause here to let the Sisters "boogaloo")
Just as they embarked Thalia said, “My sisters, I am blue!”

Aglaea said, “what IS this blue?”
Euphrosyne said, “Blue, who?”
Said Thalia, “My heart is heavy and I don’t know what to do!”

Euphrosyne said, “take this trinket”
And handed her a gift
“see a pretty pinwheel” she said, “your spirits are sure to lift!”
Joy” She said, “is always
within your arm’s reach”
“all you have to do is get your mind to your own beach!”

Aglaea thought a moment
And suddenly she said
“and add a merry little dance to cure your stressed out head!”

Taking her sisters by the hand
They spun and danced around
They danced and spun around so much, they fell upon the ground

But up again, they danced and laughed
The day so merrily
they arrived to see their sisters, in the grove, like you and me

Thalia said, “My sisters dear!
I Know just what to do!
When joy and merriment - have flown away from you!

“Pick up a thing of whimsy” she said
“and dance a step or two
When you find yourself in play, the joy returns to you!”

“so sing along with me,” she said
Repeat it round and round
Sing this song when your joy is nowhere to be found:

Hi ho the merry o
Return to joy with me
We’ll chase away our sorrows with great mirth and revelry!
(repeat this verse until energy reaches high point)
(end with repeat of “we’ll chase away our sorrows with great joy and revelry!”)

Over this past weekend, my tribe headed out to the woods in Sonoma County for our annual coven-wide retreat.  Isis Oasis is a truly wonderful, magical place and I hope to return there for many more retreats with our coven.

Our Coven has a tradition at our Harvest Home (what others might call "Mabon") ritual: we each select an item of importance to us that we will give away during our ritual on the Saturday night of retreat.  This item is something that we should feel some attachment to such that it "has feels" around giving it away - it is up to you to choose the item.  During the ritual, we tell a short story about the importance of the item and it is put into the center of the room.  When everyone has given up their items, the whole tribe gets up and chooses an item that calls to them.  

The item that I gave away, this year, was an abalone shell that has been doing some magicks on my altar to Aphrodite.  Several years ago, when I first approached working with this Coven of wonderful folk, I started working with Aphrodite, asking her to bring someone into my life that was my sanctuary. I used this abalone shell to work a lot of that magic and Aphrodite answered my prayers tenfold.  Not only did I find a coven family who is it's own type of sanctuary for me, but the universe found a way to put P-Love and I together - *HE* is my sanctuary. I wanted to help others find that bit of sanctuary that I have found so I gave this item away.  I know that it has found a good home.

At the end of the retreat, I was standing under a large oak tree near one of the firepits outside.  We had just been sitting around that firepit, talking on various things, one of them being Aphrodite.  Later, as I stood under that oak tree, I saw, in front of me, a flat, round, palm-sized, gray stone, embedded in the dirt.  I like to use these kinds of stones for warding magicks - they're small, light, easy to carry, easy to charge. So I walked over and picked it up.  There was a leaf sticking to the underside and as I brushed it away, I noticed something was different about this stone.  There, carved into the other side of the stone, was a dove, in flight, with a heart in the center. 

Aphrodite, you continue to give me many blessings.  Hail, Aphrodite!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013


I have dug my own hole of stresses and right now, they feel pretty damned heavy. I have been feeling a lot of regret and frustration, directed at myself, for the choices that I have or haven't made that led me to being in this place.  That stress and frustration has been coming out, more than I'd like, in my words and actions as of late - manifesting itself in not-so-great-interactions with others and paralyzing myself from action as I'm caught in "beating myself up".

This morning, I had a straw land on me that is (again) of my own doing and takes my having to ask for something that I hate having to do. So again, I find myself feeling more of the being angry at myself for making these same mistakes over and over again. As I get angry at myself, my perception of the world COMPLETELY changes.  Every little thing begins to bother me whether it be the woman next to me on the train who puts her purse on the seat between us so that it's on top of me (rather than putting it into her own lap) or it's being frustrated with pedestrians around me who walk slower than I do and force me to slow when I need to "get somewhere now" or it's something at work that is a minor issue that is "yet another problem from so-and-so" that I have to deal with. When I'm not stressed, these things don't cause me aggrivation (even though I notice them).  However, when I am feeling stressed, these little things become huge issues that make me even feel even more anger and frustration and I end up really broadcasting that to the world around me (which then affects others who, in turn, affect me even more). In a moment of feeling completely consumed by all of this, my inner Priestess kicks in and says to Herself, "Yansumi, these people don't deserve what you are dishing out.  Get ahold of yourself and simmer down now. You're getting into a bad cycle, again, here."

I started to think to myself, this has GOT to stop!  But what "this" am I speaking of, to myself?  Is the "this" in reference to outside forces that I perceive as acting on me that I must always react to?  Is the "this" my getting angry at every little thing? What "this" is the thing that has to stop?  When I stopped to breathe, center, and examine *myself* for the issue (as I believe that to solve such things, we must always start with ourselves before moving on to the external), what I found was something that may be obvious to others but is the kind of realization that I often feel really uncomfortable with making:

When I really think about it, the "this" that I am referring to is NOT that the world around me has to stop aggrivating ME.  The source of my feelings is NOT externally caused/sourced even if my feelings are, in part, driven by the external.  The "this" is really MY perceptions and those perceptions are caused by things that *I* have done (or not done, in some cases).

In my work as a public priestess, this is something that I often see from others - that they, too, blame the world around them for their problems and look to the Goddess to solve things for them.  When I am in the position of priestessing for someone where this is the case, I am reminded of the line from the Charge of the Star Goddess:

"... And you who seek to know Me, know that the seeking and yearning will avail you not, unless you know the Mystery: for if that which you seek, you find not within yourself, you will never find it without."
I take this to mean, in part: if you cannot find it within yourself to create change, you're not going to find the change outside of you, either. If I need something to happen, I can pray to the Goddess for what I want but if I'm not actually doing the work, why should I expect that She grant my request?  Magic, prayer, spells - each of these, in my opinion, has their price that must be paid in order to happen. Most often, that price is that I, along with the Goddess, must work to make these things happen.  What that "work" is, varies from situation to situation, but still it is the same "price" that must be paid each time.

In the end, it isn't that something must stop in order for me to find more peace, stability, and happiness in my life.  Something must actually start.  That something is me: the choices I make, the accountability that I hold for myself, the steps I take towards my goals, and the work that I must do internally and externally, for all of this to happen. NOW is the time that I must change and must create within myself, the resolve to actually DO something (rather than just allowing myself to continue to sit, fret, and wallow in this quagmire I feel myself in).  The coming days will see me making change for me - my own, personal, revision.