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.