Thursday, February 28, 2008

My life at the moment

Sigh. Sad but true.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Boo! Win prizes!

I'm guest-blogging the Tuesday Trivia over at Property of a Lady this week. Drop on by and see if you know as much about cheesy horror movies as I do.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Return from the Otherworld

I got back from PantheaCon late last night, exhausted and reeling and happier about Paganism than I've been in ages.

I'm planning on writing up a series of posts about the conference once I've had time to regroup and sort out the whole experience, so stay tuned, Loyal Strifemongers. In the meantime, and in homage to Deborah Lipp, I've compiled a sampling of...

Things You Only Hear at PantheaCon

"The difference is, that's science fiction, and this is religion."

"We're Witches. Why can't we get an elevator here faster?"

"Technically, she's a living vampire."

"I got invited to be initiated into the Illuminati, but I didn't bring anything black to wear."

"Wait! That cucumber's not consecrated."

"Your dog has the same coloring as the Welsh Hounds of Death."

"Third floor. Pirates."

"Nothing is ever the gryphon's fault."

"My cigarette papers are 100% flax, and the filters are biodegradable."

"We can use the top of the ice chest for geomancy!"

"Are the chipmunks conspiring to throw me in prison?"

"Tantric Ewok Wicca."

"I've been writing since I was nine years old. Well, not the gay porn: that's relatively new."

"The Goddess is so clever."

"I got lit up and was flaming for decades."

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Do you know the way to San Jose? Cuz I do.

In a few scant hours I'll be hopping a plane to PantheaCon, an annual, gi-normous NeoPagan conference in San Jose, CA. I'm so excited that I may need to pour a bottle of water over my head to keep my hair from actually bursting into flame.

The weeks leading up to my departure have been rather trying for Jack. Normally, he only has to put up with me going on about obscure, esoteric Pagan topics. However, for the past ten days he's had to put up with me going on about obscure, esoteric Pagans--specifically the various authors who have signed on as guest speakers, many of whom I've idolized since the mid 90's.

"Oh my GOD!" I'll scream, looking over the workshop schedule.

"What is it?! What's wrong?!" Jack will yell, running into the room.

"Luisah Teish is giving a lecture on the erotic folktales of the African Diaspora!"

"What are you talking about?" He'll ask. "Who is Luisah Teish? Why are you screaming?"

"You know, Luisah Teish!" I'll say, waving my hands in the air in an attempt to phyiscally jog his memory. "Remember the time I made you watch that documentary on occult practices in America? And between the segment on Feminist Wicca and the segment on the metaphysical art of H.R. Giger, there was a 30-second clip of a woman talking about how, when she was a little girl, her mother used to scrub the floor with holy water enhanced with drops of perfume and urine while praying to St. Anthony?"

"Um... no."

"Well, that's her! That's Luisah Teish! And she and I are going to be in the same room! Do you know what this means?!"

"I guess it means that you'll be in the same room as this person I don't know?"

"YES!!! I gotta go pick out an outfit. Luisah Teish! Squeal!"

And then I'll scamper away, leaving him alone with his inner monologue and Baptist upbringing.

Overall, Jack's being very supportive about my trip, primarily because he's looking forward to four straight days of being able to play Nintendo games without interruption. At the same time, I have not allowed him access to the conference itinerary. I'd prefer to avoid the meaningful looks he'd give me if he found out one of the events is called "Magical Experience or Mental Illness?"

Anyhoo, I'm out of here. I'll call you when I get to the hotel, and I'll bring you back lots of souvenirs. Promise.

Friday, February 08, 2008

This just in: the Gods are bored

I'd like to introduce everyone to Anne: hilarious blogger from the upstate community of Snobville and all around nice gal, who recently referred to me as a "hoot."

Repeat, I'm a "hoot." Hoot!

Anne, meet the Strifemongers. Initiation into Strifemongerhood involves, among other things, kissing the Devil's buttocks and reciting the Lord's Prayer backwards.

Ha ha, just kidding! Probably!

Regardless, read Anne's blog. Evn commandeth it.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Save the Last Word for Me

Got myself into an online altercation with a peevish young miss--let's call her Gertie--of the Pantheistic Pagan persuasion.

In all honesty, Pantheism bugs me not: God is everything, everything is God, fine by me. I'll admit that Pantheistic Paganism gives me pause, if only because I can't quite get my brain around calling oneself Pagan while asserting that Gods don't actually exist. But hey, that's my solar cross to bear. Besides, I'm an ordained Spiritual Humanist, so, you know, welcome to my big, roomy glass house. I polished all the windows m'self.

Beliefs is beliefs am beliefs. I'm not going to foist my personal religious worldview [there are Gods, and I venerate some of them] on anyone who's not into foisting, nor am I going to harangue someone else's perception of the Divine without provocation. Or at least without some solid secondary sources backing me up.

Gertie, on the other hand... well, let's just say ol' Gert feels a might different 'bout these things.

Our skirmish took place (as always) on a local e-mail list devoted to Things Wicca, after a newcomer asked for feedback on effective circle casting. Before anyone could offer so much as an incense recommendation, Gertie jumped in to Set The Record Straight:

Gertie - "Don't waste time with all that ceremonial stuff. Casting a circle is never necessary, ever."

Me - "Well, that's certainly one way of looking at it. But it's good to keep in mind that the Circle itself is a key element of Wiccan practice."

Gertie - "I just said it's not necessary."

Me (taking a stab at compromise) - "And for you, perhaps it's not. Which is cool. Different traditions call for different ritual approaches."

Gertie - "Nothing you say applies to me."

Me - "Okay. No problem, then."

Gertie - "I'm not going to sit here and argue with you."

Me - "Um...que?"

Gertie - "You suck. And the Gods are metaphors."

At that, I let the conversation drop. Part of not being foisty is realizing when you're facing a mindset that ain't gonna budge, no matter how big of a psychic crowbar you're wielding.

What the Gerties of the Pagan World don't understand is that the New doesn't have to denigrate the Old to achieve validity. Co-existence can be a downright beautiful thing, once you try it on and walk around in it for a bit.

I truly wish they'd understand this. Because if they did, I wouldn't have to field so many backchannel e-mails that start with, "Wow, Gertie's a real bitch."

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fat and Happy Tuesday in the Conjure Tradition

In lieu of the traditional pancake supper, I'm going to celebrate Mardi Gras by brewing up a homemade batch of Four Thieves Vinegar, then watching Angel Heart.

Every time Lisa Bonet shows a nipple, I'm going to holler and throw beads at my TV.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Better than a Ricola

February 3 is the feast day of St. Blaise, protector of livestock and healthy throats, and patron of those who work with wool. On this day, Catholic priests perform the Blessing of the Throats. Two white tapers, blessed the day before (February 2, i.e. Candlemas, i.e. the Feast of St. Brigit, i.e. the Pagan festival of Imbolc) are crossed into an "X" formation, then tied together with red cord and held against the throat, while a traditional invocation to Blaise is recited:

Ain't no other man can stand up next to you,
Ain't no other man on the planet does what you do. (What you do!)
You're the kind of guy a girl finds in a blue moon. (hey)
You got soul (yeah), you got class (ohh).
You got style, you bad ass (Oh Yeah!)
Ain't no other man it's true (all right)

[guitar solo]

Blaise is one of the 14 Holy Helpers, a group of legendary saints invoked against the Black Plague during the Middle Ages, all of whom are Christianized perceptions of older Pagan Gods. Veneration of Blaise traces back to the Slavic horned deity Veles (whose name means "wool"), God of earth, water, cattle, magic, wealth and the Underworld. It's fairly obvious to see why Blaise is the patron of livestock and woolworkers, although the healthy throats thing seems to come out of nowhere. But according to legend, a little girl was choking on a fish bone, and Blaise miraculously saved her--possibly by miraculously whacking her on the back until she miraculously yacked it up.

If you look at photos of priests blessing throats, you'll notice that they grip the candles with one hand, in a manner suspiciously reminiscent of la mano cornuta contro il malocchio, i.e. the corna, i.e. "Hook 'em Horns," i.e. that hand gesture people make at Metallica concerts. Historically, the corna is a symbol of protection, used to ward off bad luck and the evil eye... or, in this case, to ward off the evil throat.

So, to sum up, making the sign of the horns and invoking a wooly God of the Underworld is good for what ails ye, provided the whole thing takes place under the auspices of Jesus.

Don't you just love Catholics? I know I do.