Benefit for New Orleans Pagan Pride Day

Hey all! If you live in the New Orleans area, come down on June 7th for a benefit being held by my very own Blue Star Iron and Cypress Coven to help with the New Orleans Pagan Pride Day! Here’s a link to the invite on Facebook.

Join us at the beautiful Alombrados Oasis temple for a night of music, dancing and drinks!

Can’t come and still want to donate to help? Go to our Indiegogo fundraiser and give there! There are a lot of awesome benefits available: Greater New Orleans Pagan Pride Day presents “Spritiual Gumbo”

Also be sure to check out the website to read about everything that we’re doing with our Pagan Pride Day. It’s going to be a lot of awesome fun!

And for those of you searching for “Wiccan pussy”, here you go!

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“Flaky” is Unacceptable

I’ve said this before, but I feel like it bears saying again.

I’m really tired of the sentiment found within the Pagan community that “Pagans are flaky”.

We like to say that we are a religion of practice.

We hold ritual.

We speak directly to our gods.

We discuss and debate how and why we go about things.

We consider ourselves to be intellectuals and we question the world around us.

We focus on environmentalism.

We spend years studying our paths.

We go through initiations and tests to prove to ourselves, our gods, our covens, that we are worthy of our place within our groups and the knowledge and secrets given to us.

We study history and try to recreate the practices of the past.

We devote ourselves to the study of herbalism, magic and mythology.

With all of this, how then do we find this idea of flakiness acceptable?

Why do we hold such pride in “practicing” a religion and yet carry around this reputation of being unable to function in the real world?

I believe in fairies, that does not make me a bubble brained idiot. It shows that I am aware of my surroundings on a level that others are not.

If we want Paganism to be truly recognized by the larger monotheistic communities that we live in, we need to get over this idea that Pagan = Flaky.

Very few people like flaky! I sure as Hel don’t!

We don’t put up with it in our professional lives, why in the world would we put up with it in our religious lives?

Lo and behold! It is actually possible to show up for ritual on time!

We make promises to the gods all the time, why can’t we do it with the people in our groups and communities?

We need to get rid of this idea that we’re flaky. We aren’t. We are serious and aware of the world around us. We need to get rid of this excuse of “Oh, Pagans are just flaky” and start taking responsibility for our actions.

Don’t say, “Oops, sorry! Flaky moment!” Say, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t manage to get myself out the door on time. I apologize.”

Don’t say, “Oh, well so and so didn’t do that thing they promised because  they’re a flaky Pagan”. Say, “Hey so and so, remember that promise you made me? Can you do it or not?”

Being Pagan does not automatically mean that you get to ignore basic common sense.

Being Pagan is not an excuse to make poor financial decisions.

Being Pagan does not mean that you get to be irresponsible and make other people pick up your slack.

Being Pagan does not mean you get to act crazy.

Being Pagan means that you actually think about everything that is going on around you and how those things effect the larger picture!

Answer emails!

Return phone calls!

Let people know if you can’t make it.

People are regularly taken aback that I have a “real” job. By Vesta’s Girdle, people! I didn’t realize that when I took on the identity of Pagan that I was throwing the rest of my life away!

I didn’t realize that Pagan automatically meant unreliable and undependable.

People, get your act together. Be adults. If you say you’re going to do something, do it and show up on time while you’re about it. If you can’t do it, let people know and ask for help! It is OK to ask for help!

I don’t see being stuck in our heads and using the excuse that we are intellectuals as being a good excuse for anything.

If we, as a community, can’t take each other seriously, how is anyone else going to take us seriously?

Sirens

Siren Song

This is the one song everyone
would like to learn: the song
that is irresistible:

the song that forces men
to leap overboard in squadrons
even though they see beached skulls

the song nobody knows
because anyone who had heard it
is dead, and the others can’t remember.
Shall I tell you the secret
and if I do, will you get me
out of this bird suit?
I don’t enjoy it here
squatting on this island
looking picturesque and mythical
with these two feathery maniacs,
I don’t enjoy singing
this trio, fatal and valuable.

I will tell the secret to you,
to you, only to you.
Come closer. This song

is a cry for help: Help me!
Only you, only you can,
you are unique

at last. Alas
it is a boring song
but it works every time.

Margaret Atwood

The Grand Medieval Bestiary

I love books. I also love history. Combine the two subjects and you have my next favorite thing after Paganism. Of course, my job in the real world is to buy books and sometimes I get to buy some really cool things.

Today we received The Grand Medieval Bestiary.

Bestiaries are really fascinating. They were Medieval compendiums of animals that cataloged each animal’s characteristics and the moral lessons and symbolism associated with each beast. In the Medieval, Christian world, the Word of God created everything and therefore, everything in it was a reflection of the Word of God. A lot of Pagan lore and mythology slipped into this and a great deal of the stories we have today were kept in these bestiaries. In what was a time of great darkness, these books shine through the years as the works of art and lore that they are. I find these to be particularly compelling books, that ultimately show the power of words and through them, magic.

Here are some pictures from this particular modern Bestiary.

This one amuses me greatly. I really want to start singing “Bad Horse”.

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Actaeon’s transformation after he has come across Artemis bathing.

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The Common House Cat…also possibly some foot fetishists…

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I would hate to have this monkey as a teacher.

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These were just a few of my favorites. If you want to know more about Bestiaries, check out:

The Medieval Beastiary, Animals in the Middle Ages

The Medieval Beastiary

“Medieval Bestiaries and the Birth of Zoology” 
by Aura Beckhöfer-Fialho

Books of Beasts in the British Library: the Medieval Bestiary and its context

Medieval Bestiary

If you want to read more about Medieval books, look at:

The Last of the Great Chained Libraries

The Evolution of the Medieval Book

The Art of the Book in the Middle Ages

The Medieval Library

Beltane Chase

When I think of Beltane, I think about fire. While most sabbats call to me in different ways, most of them slide over me with the coming of the nighttime sky and the Lady’s light.

Not Beltane. Beltane always holds fire in its wild dance and of course, that’s what it’s all about.

The fire of passion, sex, creativity, love, art…

Many couples dance around and over bonfires and there is a whole host of traditional practices associated with this particular holiday. One of the most traditional ways to celebrate this holy day is a reenactment of the marriage of the Young God to the May Queen, which is exactly what the Beltane Fire Society in Scotland does.

Through an immense performance full of pageantry and acrobatics, the Beltane Fire Society tells the story of the conception of summer through the marriage of the May Queen and the Green Man.

Here in New Orleans, a friend of mine is determined to make it to the official Beltane Fire Society event and participate. But, until she can, she has decided to create her own version here. And so on Sunday evening, we all gathered and participated in the Wyld Fire Beltane Hunt in our own version of the Young God’s hunt through the forest to find and capture the May Queen.

I was honored to be crowned the May Queen and spent a tense hour of hiding in the forest as night fell, with my handmaidens holding off eager hunters with riddles. While I was eventually “captured” and “wed”, being chased through the forest in the dark put a completely different spin on this ritual for me.

The hunter who was crowned May King would certainly not have been my choice. As a follower of a Goddess who is torn between two lovers, lovers of duty and choice, I finally understood how suspended she is in that moment of change. There is still choice in the inevitable, but it is not a choice that most of us who are lucky enough to live in a modern era full of personal freedom can easily understand.

As a modern Pagan, it is often easy to overlook the primitive, vital nature of the things we’re celebrating. As I ran down a dark trail that I could barely see, with several large, strange men behind me, my heart was racing with adrenaline and fear. Even knowing that none of these men actually meant to hurt me, or force me, the hunt took on its true nature.

Later, after recreating the “hunt” around the fire, and dancing and celebrating, I bestowed kisses and blessings on anyone who asked me to as the embodiment of the May Queen.

For all of the hard work and planning that went into this event, the ritual itself was fairly simple. But the emotions and energy it brought up certainly weren’t. This ritual changed my perspective on what this time of year means and I hope in the future I can remember to search for the more visceral energy the runs beneath our cleaned up, modern rites. It’s this energy that we’re celebrating after all.

For further reading, check out Rynn Fox’s articles on The Beltane Fire Society:

Pomp, Pageantry & Paganism: Beltane Fire Society Rekindles Celtic Quarter Holiday Celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland

Ancient Tradition, Rekindled: How the Beltane Fire Society Reinvigorated Celtic Quarter Holiday Celebrations in Edinburgh, Scotland

Bringing Legend to Life: How the Beltane Fire Society Creates Ritual for 6,000 People

And Simon Croft’s Beltane Fire Festival

*All pictures were taken from the Wyld Fire Beltane Hunt website

International Pagan Coming Out Day

Today is the official date for the International Pagan Coming Out Day. “IPCOD is a not-for-profit organization working to achieve greater acceptance and equity for Pagans at home, at work, and in every community.” I think it’s vitally important that we support groups like this that work for acceptance within our community. I’m lucky enough to live somewhere where being openly Pagan is not usually an issue, but even here in New Orleans, things happen.

Last summer I was in the midst of cleaning my house. Wearing a pair of short shorts, rubber gloves and with my hair a crazy, frizzy mess, I hauled the trash out. As I was opening my trash can up, I heard someone walking down the street. A huge man decked out in all sorts of gang paraphernalia had just turned around the corner. At that point we lived in a pretty bad neighborhood. Just down the block, a gang regularly hung out and probably did a good bit of business. They left me alone, they knew that I belonged in the neighborhood.  I left them alone in turn. We even, on occasion, gave each other a friendly, neighborly nod and acknowledgment. Apparently, some of this might have been because I am a witch.

This huge man, who I had never seen before and who I would not have wanted to have met in a dark ally late at night, took one look at me and crossed the street. Keeping me in his sight the whole time, he threw hex signs at me and hissed. All I could do at that point was smile and wave.

While this particular anecdote is simply amusing and nothing bad happened, I think it illustrates the type of fear that still persists in our overall society about Pagans and Witches. I made the decision a long time ago that I would be openly who I am. If a job doesn’t want me because I am openly Pagan, that is not a job for me. But other people aren’t so lucky.

So what are things that you can do to help those who aren’t out?

Just be yourself! Be open and approachable. Talk about your gatherings and holidays. Don’t hide being Pagan. Many of my coworkers have asked me a lot of questions about what I do and what Paganism is about. They know me, I’m not scary or intimidating. Be an advocate, as the IPCOD organization calls it.

You can also support your local Pagan community. Whether or not you have your own group or coven, there are usually groups that bring the entire local Pagan community together. In New Orleans, we have a meetup group. Don’t have a group like this? Start one!

Many cities also put together Pagan Pride Days through The Pagan Pride Project, which work to introduce the Pagan community to the larger community and promote acceptance and education. The New Orlean’s Pagan community is doing one this fall. Get involved and help out!

If you’re out, take a moment today to remind people that it is OK, that we can be openly Pagan and not be afraid. There is still a lot hate and intolerance in the world. It is only through standing up and saying “Yes, I am different and that’s OK” that we can start to change this and make it better. Some of us aren’t lucky enough to be safely out as a Pagan, use today as an opportunity to help change that. You never know when telling someone that you’re Pagan will make a difference.

My name is Lauren. I am a Pagan. I am proud to be so!

*If you want to help us raise money for the Greater New Orleans Pagan Pride Day 2013, check out our Indiegogo campaign found here!