Tuesday, May 16, 2017

To Know the Gods

Showering Epiphany #12

I hear people wondering about how to build a meaningful relationship with the Gods. How do I pick a God to worship? How do I get to know that God? If I never see Her/Him, how can I know I'm not just talking to myself?

We all carry a Divine Spark that comes from the Gods. You have it, I have it, they have it. Pagans and non-Pagans, theists and atheists, every living creature, and even the stones. They all carry a spark of that Divine essence and it's right there, at your fingertips. It is this common spark that ties us together, and in turn, ties us to the Gods, and then binds the Gods to us.

Did the Gods create the people, or did the people create the Gods? The answer is Yes. We need the Gods and the Gods need us. We sustain each other via the common Divine Spark.

So if you are looking to build a meaningful relationship with the Gods (whichever Gods you choose), you can start by building meaningful relationships with the closest, most relate-able form of Divinity: the People.

Paganism has this popular notion that our spirituality is a personal journey: that we build personal relationship with our Gods. And while this is somewhat true, we still need each other to complete that journey. If you want more Divinity in your life, surround yourself with more Divine Spark keepers.

Find people you trust, who challenge you, who push you to be better, who teach you new ideas, who force you out of your comfort zone, who nurture you when you need it. All of these people are keepers of that Divine Spark, real-world expressions of the Gods.

If you build meaningful relationships with these people, nurturing connections with your Divine Sparks, you are building real, concrete relationships with the Gods. From that foundation, with a firm anchor in the real world, you can expand your reach beyond the physical and deepen your relationship with the Gods, and they with you. However, without that grounding anchor in the real world, the Gods may always seem vague, disconnected, far-away, and just theories.

Find your Divine Spark, seek it out in others, and nurture each other. In this way, you will discover the Gods have been around you this entire time.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Excessive Drag

Years ago, I used to participate in Dragon Boat racing. Friends encouraged me to join, we practiced, we went to races, and it was great fun.

Often these races take place in other cities. I think we had traveled to Ottawa for such a race, staying in the dorms at the university. I was out walking the grounds for some reason when I crossed another team. They spotted my team tee-shirt and one of them came over and said "Oh hey... you're rowing with the ABC team?"

"Yeah," I replied proudly. "Are you racing tomorrow?"

"We are," she said. "I'm really glad you're on their team because having a fat guy like you gives us a real edge." They walked away, laughing at how clever they were.

Honestly, there are jerks everywhere. It stung, but I quickly brushed it off and continued on. She was just trying to psyche me out and it didn't matter because my team accepted me the way I was.

The next day was sunny and clear. Our team gathered, stretched, did some warm-ups and cheered each other on. We raced a few times and did pretty well. The team worked well together, rowing in unison (which is the secret to a fast Dragon Boat BTW). It was exciting, exhilarating, and lots of fun.

** Revised **
Near the end of the day, the coach came over and benched me for a number of reasons including that it was my first competition, that I was still green, and there was a paddler limit.

On its surface, the reasons were legit, but with what happened the day before, all I heard was "The fat guy is slowing us down." Sure, there were other larger people on the team, but when you're embarrassed about your weight, you find excuses for others ("Yeah, but he's strong", "Yeah, but she's skilled", "Yeah, but I'm larger and weaker than the others").

When we got home, I quit the team. I had also been injured that season, but coupled with my own humiliation, I couldn't motivate myself to go back. I could have spoken to the coach about the incident, but I couldn't face it.

I get it. I'm at this point in my health because every day, I make choices. Sometimes I choose to walk more, sometimes I get lazy. The weight I am at is combination of choice, genes, and physiology. I can choose to get more exercise and try to disregard the despair and the pain that comes with it to try to achieve some amorphous weight loss number that seems impossible (even though so many of my friends have managed to do the same). I can choose to go out there and make a change, or I can choose comfort and stay in. It's my choice. It's always my choice.

But you also need to understand that it's difficult to face not only myself, but the others who see my weight as either a burden or a visual signpost of an undesired life. Even well-meaning people pat my tummy and laugh, as if to say "I recognize you're fat, but I still like you." I recognize the good intention in that moment, but the delivery needs work.

Another summer is arriving and with it comes more choices. Every day, I need to make the choice to take the bus, walk more, and maybe even take swimming again. I love the water, I love to swim, but taking off my shirt in public is one of the most difficult acts in this life.

I know that need to make these choices and I do appreciate all the support I do get for making these choices. When people say "You just need to [insert instruction here].", that's all well and good, but you need to understand how difficult it is to take and maintain these actions when you are surrounded by others who treat you like they are glad not to be you.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

The Gods are not to be Trusted

I have to come out and make a confession-declaration:
I have insufficient faith in the Gods.
I do have faith in the Gods, but I also realize that there are many aspects of this life that the Gods either have no control over, or into which they refuse to intervene. I seem to be alone in this belief, however, and everyone else faith seems absolute. The fact that these other people have absolutely nothing to lose is surely completely coincidental.

Context: I work with a small team to organize events in my community, so we occasionally need to make practical decisions which some people object to loudly. When we try to explain why we came to these decisions, the Gods are often invoked and our lack of faith is presented as Exhibit A.

THEM: You should organize a Witches Ball for Halloween!
US: Eeek. To rent a hall big enough, we'd need about $1500 to rent the hall and pay the DJ. That means assuming we charge $10 per person, we'd need to get at least 150 people to show up. I'm not sure we'd get enough people.
THEM: You worry too much. HAVE MORE FAITH IN THE GODS!

THEM: Why do the Public Rituals cost $5 per person? Spirituality should be free!
US: The ritual itself is free, but the 3rd floor studio that is close to the metro and has an elevator (because making it accessible to everyone is important) costs $300.
THEM: You should pass the hat and ask for donations AND HAVE MORE FAITH IN THE GODS!

THEM: You should hold this event on a piece of land that is difficult to access, but also provide everyone with return transportation.
US: Eeek. Okay, that location is about an hour away. We could rent a bus, but that will cost about $500. We could car pool it, but there's no guarantee that a bunch of strangers would be willing to--
THEM: You worry too much! It'll work because it's a great idea and everyone will buy into it AND YOU SHOULD HAVE MORE FAITH IN THE GODS!

You get the picture. When I tell these people that, if they have such faith in the Gods and their ideas, they should organize it themselves.

THEM: "Oh no... I can't do that for Reason A. Then Reason B comes into play, which causes Reason C that makes Reason A even more impossible. But I'll help you and support you if you take care of it. JUST TRUST IN THE GODS!"

In the early days of my community involvement, I used to do this. When it seemed impractical and financially risky, I tried to put faith in the Gods that it would all work out in the end. What would actually happen is that these risky events would flop, the promised support would disappear, and I would be left to foot the bill. But on the surface, it would look like everything worked out and IT WAS ALL THE WILL OF THE GODS.

So yeah... I'm left to make the hard decisions that allow events to take place, while mitigating the risks, and dealing with a loud, disappointed few (who didn't support the event at all, btw). All the while to be told that everything would be fine if I JUST HAD FAITH IN THE GODS.

Fuck that noise. I have learned that replacing an insufficient trust in the Gods with some critical thinking and realistic risk analysis increases the chances that an event will be successful. Or at the very least, I won't lose my shirt in the process.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Celebrating Beauty over Violence

I tried sharing an important video on Facebook today, but predictably, the Facebook Overlords lost their collective shit and removed the video. Because violent and hateful posts are okay, but Gods forbid a nude woman should speak her mind... that's just shameful.

I'm sharing the video here because I think it can still get shared and not get detected by the puritans at Facebook. I would much rather share the video directly from Kundalinikak.com, but she doesn't have the video on her blog (yet). If she puts her video up on her blog, I'll share that instead (I may take it down from here).

Choose Pussy over Pain from Cidney G Green on Vimeo.

Friday, February 24, 2017

You matter.

After speaking with a friend today about some challenges she is facing, I would like to take a moment to remind you that you matter. Yes, you there. YOU. You matter. You are important. You are valued. Even now, you are missed by someone who matters to you.

If anyone dares to tell you that you don't matter, that you are unimportant, or that no one truly cares about you, they are lying to you (especially if it's that voice in your head). You are so important, so impressive, so unequivocally awesome that they feel threatened by your greatness. Don't let them lie to you, don't give these lies any credit. You are awesome. You matter.

Some people feel so worthless that the only way they know how to feel better is to prop themselves on top of awesome people. You may have become attracted to people like this, that their broken spirit appealed to you in some way. They may have even been able to hide that broken spirit for a time, but now it has revealed itself and is now looking to tear something down in order to build itself up. Unfortunately, that something might be you, but this is not your fault.

If you have become their target, you need to first get some distance between you both to keep yourself safe. When the air-masks pop out of the overhead compartment, you need to secure your mask first before assisting others. Recognize that this person needs help, but you might not be the person to help them.

Do what you have to do to keep yourself safe. Because you matter. You are important. You are loved. YOU MATTER.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Rebirth of the Print Media

I have finally finished listening to Trump's first Press Conference.

Unrelated: I am out of Gin. I need more Gin.

I might be going crazy here, but people were harping endlessly on Trump's seemingly non-sequitur of "The leaks were real, but the news was fake" (timestamp 00:44:40). It sounds crazy (and it is) and contradictory, but I think I understood what he meant.

Remember the whole Death Panels thing years ago? The Fox propaganda machine took an idea that had some basis in fact and tried to spin it into a wild breaking news story, and then did the same thing with every hot-topic news story that would make Obama look bad: take a small story and whip it up into a big news story to discredit the current Administration.

Trump's position here is that the media is reporting the wrong stuff. The news may be true (the leaks are real), but Trump doesn't want the media to report it because it would present the people with a message that he doesn't want them to hear. If the Trump admin wants to control how the people are informed, then they would have to power to define what is real (real news) and what is untrue or not in-line with the Admin's messaging (fake news).

In fact, he even refers to that idea in the same session: that the news sites are filled with hatred against him, which they shouldn't be doing because he won.

So when he says that CNN reports Fake News, what he means is that they are reporting news that he does not approve of. Trump wants his government to decide what the media reports on and what they get to say. When Kelly Anne Conway says "We might have to rethink our relationship with the media," this is what she means.

You know who does that? North Korea. China. Russia. It's fucking crazy, and if Trump attempts to shut down the Internet and Social Media the way he has talked about in the past, we might see the grand return of the underground Print Media.


As I'm writing this article (which started out as a Facebook Comment and lengthened into an article because it turns out I have more to say), I am reminded of my College days when I wrote articles for my college newspaper The Broadside. At that time (1986-1988), the Student Council that was so incredibly corrupt that over half the council members were ejected for using Student Council funds for a Get-Rich pyramid scheme (you can actually read about this here, published by fellow writer Keith Waddington).

I personally sat in a Council meeting where they openly discussed using the college money to buy alcohol on a student trip and disguise the expense as getting theatre tickets. So when I wrote an article in The Broadside about what I witnessed, the Student Council demanded that they get to approve articles before they could be publish. We we refused this request, they defunded the The Broadside and took our room away. The College Administration was happy to see us go because we were critical of them as well.

But The Broadside didn't go away. We went underground and continued to publish the paper with a limited printing (funded by secret donors), and our supporters helped us with distribution by sharing the paper person-to-person. Any copy that the Student Council president found was ripped up and I was personally threatened with physical violence several times. Of course, this only strengthened my resolve and gave birth to my backbone.

With a dictatorial administration in power, this may be the rebirth of the Print Media industry with an underground, community-driven financial and distribution system. Mark my words.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Eye Wide Open to Inconvenient Truths

Still reeling from the tragedy in Quebec city last night. Sleepless night.

The outpouring of sadness and solidarity for the Muslim community in Quebec is heartening, but too many people are quick to blame Trump, as if Canada was somehow immune to the racism that he is institutionalizing in his own country.

Have we already forgotten the despicable Charte that Pauline Marois championed to save Quebec from anything that didn't look Christian enough? It was just 4 years ago when that proposed piece of legislation emboldened too many to speak their racism aloud, to harass and attack anyone they felt looked too foreign. Even now, chapters of the despicable Sons of Odin walk the streets of Quebec city looking to oppress anyone who looks unfamiliar  (yes, I mentioning them very specifically and pointedly).

This year marks the 150th anniversary of a country that founded itself by using the religion of a foreign land to oppress and to attempt to eradicate the First Nations people. The last Indian residential school operated by the Canadian government was closed in 1996, only 20 years ago.

It's easy to blame Trump, an outsider, for bringing this tragedy to our homes, but he is just one of many who rile and legitimize an undercurrent of racism that has been constantly humming in our country for over 150 years. Marois did it, the Harper Government did it, and Ezra Levant continues to do it to get clicks and sell papers. Once Trump is gone, others will come to fan the flames to manipulate the people.

As an open and educated society, it does us no good to pretend that this came out of nowhere and wail "How can this happen in Quebec/Canada?" We need to be honest with ourselves and acknowledge that this kind of racism is not only a part of our history, but is also a living, pulsing fragment in our living, present culture. We can choose to stand against it, to support all of our brothers and sisters, and to move forward to embrace a positive, inclusive, multi-cultural society, but we can only do this by acknowledging that we all play a part in the inherent racism and bigotry that exists in our living culture.

I choose to stand against it, but my eyes are not shut to the inconvenient truths. Thanks be to friends Molly B. and Natalie H. for keeping my eyes open. #mosqueequebec #JeSuisQuebec

Monday, January 23, 2017

Magical Resistance is Fertile

Reading the Social Media feeds, I'm seeing lots of fear, anger, and subsequent violence. In magical circles, I'm also seeing people demand that Trump be cursed magically and have some kind of ill-moment befall him (watch the skies for fallling pianos).

But quite frankly, lots of cursing and magical workings were going on during the election and they all seemed to fail. As much as I fear the next four years, this may be something that America needs to go through. Keeping a culture afraid for 15+ years (since 9/11) has consequences, and Mr. Trump being President is one of many consequences.

Right or wrong, the people put him there for a reason. It may have not have been the reason they expected, but it's lesson that will be taught (and learned, hopefully). After decades of deposing dictators in foreign lands, let's see how America deals with its own despots.

Rather than trying to get Mr. Trump out, this might be a good time to fix the system that put him in place (i.e. the demise of the Electoral College?). As revealed during his campaign, Mr. Trump does not follow the rules, which may then rupture the systems in place in a way that requires change and correction. It took the tragedy of the Titanic for ships to be required to have enough lifeboats for every passenger on the ship. From tragedy, good works can flourish. Lots of work to do in the next four years.

Going back to the point, if any magical workings are to be done, they should be made to support those who actively resist what is happening. Magic alone cannot bring about this kind of change. It requires boots on the ground, fists in the air, and voices in harmony. It requires physical presence, people getting their hands dirty, and physically working towards a better tomorrow. It needs people putting pressure on government, working with them to devise better solutions, demanding accountability when systems fail, and renewing the energy needed to demand positive change.

So be ready to get your boots and hands dirty, get on the phone to your reps, get yourself to the Statehouse to add your voice. But if you cannot do these things (your reasons are your own), send your magic to bolster those who can. Your magical workings should be directed to keeping these front-line people safe, allowing their efforts to be met with success, and to broadcast their message to bolster others. The magic could be used to awaken people's sense of compassion rather than give in to their fear (fear is definitely what caused this result).

Sure... it's not as sexy as cursing Mr. Trump himself, but it's a much more efficient and potentially effective use of energy. Support the people and they will bring about the change that's needed. Resistance is fertile, and from it, life will grow stronger.


There have been articles floating around on social media about how a bunch of witches are going to perform a magic spell to bind Donald Trump. Personally, I think this is a huge waste of misdirected energy. Although the Trump admin needs to be opposed, its the people who are on the front lines that needs to be bolstered and protected.

When I've seen people raise this point, the come-back is something like "Well I'm glad the witches in the UK didn't think like that when they performed their spell to bind and stop Hitler."

The power of that legend is compelling, but it's wrong.

In World War II, Dion Fortune gathered a group of witches to perform a war spell, that's true enough. But their focus wasn't on stopping or binding Hitler.

What they attempted to do (and succeeded) was to bolster the soldiers' resolve so that they could push through the horrors of the war and exhaust Hitler's forces, keeping him away from Britain. By raising magic, they seeded archetypal visions, invoked angelic protection, and upheld British morale under fire.

It was the unrelenting sacrifice of the Commonwealth pilots that kept Hitler away from Britain. The witches supported the troops and kept them from panicking under fire.

With that success in mind, this is why I think it would be a better use of magical energy to bolster the protesters and the front-liners to defeat the Trump administration and restore some sense of normalcy and respect to the world.

You can read more about the Magical Battle of Britain here.