A nine-month update

It’s been a bit! I said in my last post that the beginning of the year would be quiet, and that certainly seems to have been the case. This year I’ve been doing more than thinking, planning, or writing, which is a much-needed step in my own personal growth. I’m very Air-oriented and live in my head a lot of the time, and I occasionally need reminders that visualizing a spell or a ritual that should work is not the same as physically performing the spell or involving other people in doing the ritual. (I’m thinking of two instances this year in which I had grand plans that looked excellent on paper, but in reality, they didn’t end up happening the way I envisioned. This is fine, though! This is experience, and learning, and the accumulation of wisdom to do things differently next time.)

In the spring, from March through late May, I did a daily working for self-confidence that was centered on the solar plexus chakra. (In April I finished a year of daily meditation with the Insight app, and a lot of my meditations worked with chakras, so this was a natural extension of that.) This was a solid, well-timed working and did what I wanted it to do… except I didn’t plan a big finish or really any kind of ending, and it just sort of petered out. I’d like to revisit it in the waning year.

Since my intensive work with Tarot last year, I’ve acquired some skill, and I continue to read publicly on occasion (usually on a Saturday at Artes & Craft when my coven sister, the regular Tarot reader, isn’t available). I’ll be doing Tarot readings this coming Saturday at Artes & Craft’s booth at Grand Rapids Pagan Pride Day.

Other parts of my work in the past few months have not been glamorous: coordinating coven events, doing some of the cooking for those coven events, helping with setup beforehand or cleanup afterward. A covener died unexpectedly this summer, so there was much to do to honor her life and mark her passing (and Samhain is still to come).

And — I’m burying the lede here, yes — this month I was initiated and am now a first degree in Cththonioi-Alexandrian Wicca. *confetti toss* I’ve told the story of my seeking many times; altogether, it was about 13 years from my serious pursuit of BTW to initiation. (I’ll clarify that from the start of my seeking to finding Blue Star and beginning study was pretty fast, only about a year, although I moved cross-country in that year. But I wanted initiation, and there were other twists, turns, delays, and detours along my path to that goal.) I would say that I’m still adjusting — that’s a long time to say not yet, I’m not, not yet, not yet — but I have a whole lot on my plate right now, and it’s starting to feel like the gods are saying, “You’re here, excellent! Now it’s time to really get to work.”

On Saturday, MoonFire will be presenting a Dionysus ritual at GRPPD. On Sept. 22, the following Saturday, I will be leading a public Full Moon Esbat at Artes & Craft; the next day, Sunday, Sept. 23, I will be co-leading a public Harvest Home ritual, also at Artes & Craft. These are excellent opportunities to come talk to me in person, if that’s a thing you would like to do!

The year ahead: building

It’s the season for Year Ahead Tarot spreads (if you didn’t do one at Samhain). Here’s one from The Wild Unknown, which is also a deck I got for Yule! I laid down the cards one space to the right, so they go around like the numbers on a clock face, and mine actually looked more like a diamond so it was easier to see which cards were reversed. But this is a pretty spread image that gives you the general idea.

I won’t spend hundreds of words talking about my cards here, but there was a pretty strong Wands influence and a theme of power and authority. Which, since I don’t wield a whole lot of authority in other aspects of my life, made me think of this not-coven I’m building.

Honestly, it doesn’t look like this was the year it will come together. I didn’t see or intuitively sense any other people in the cards. And yet… what else have I been working on here?

So, this year, I might be talking more about building and creating. I might post more in general and find something to talk about at least once in the month. (The first half of the year might be pretty quiet, my cards say.) There might be more literal woodwork, as well; I’ve got a broom and a staff to work on, and yesterday I was talked out of building a bookcase because the temperature has been in the single digits and the garage is not only not heated, it has some gaps big enough to see daylight through. I’m also considering creating a fiery oil to dress candles with and encourage that Wands energy, which doesn’t come all that naturally to me.

We’ll see where 2018 takes us.

An update on Saturday Night Witchcraft

I had little nibbles of interest but none rose to the level of “Let’s meet up, I’d like to attend,” so I’m suspending Saturday Night Witchcraft for now. I’ll still meet with anyone who’s interested, but I won’t plan to open my home on Saturdays, as I was doing.

Perhaps it’s not the right time. It could be that folks nearby aren’t ready to take the step of attending classes (or interested), or that people don’t trust the classes because I’m not an initiate yet (I am super self-conscious about teaching without being an actual initiate), or maybe it’s just the time of year (Saturdays in November and December tend to fill up quickly).

Or perhaps it’s the coffee-shop meetup requirement that’s putting people off. People might prefer to wander into a public class held at a store rather than commit to attending something held in the priestess’s home. (The counterpart Wicca 101 class at Artes & Craft has gone on as scheduled with several attendees.) However, I’m not going to budge on this, and my HPS and one of our coven’s Thirds have also advised me not to budge. It’s a safety thing, and for seekers, it’s also a very small test of commitment and follow-through.

Perhaps I didn’t advertise well enough. I did put up flyers (or ask to put them up) in what I thought were key locations, but I don’t know how many people saw them, or whether the shop customers or library patrons who saw them were interested in Wicca 101 classes. For me, this butts up against the whole “we don’t proselytize” thing, though. The flyers only say “hey, classes exist, here is info,” and while that’s not the same as proselytizing, it still makes me feel like I’m crossing a line by asking to post the flyers in public places.

So, I’ll leave the Witchvox listing up — as a seeker, Witchvox would have been one of my first stops, and the listing is getting views — and beyond that, we’ll see, I guess. To be continued.

Pagan Pride Day 2017!

I had a blast at this year’s Grand Rapids Pagan Pride Day! This year I was helping with Artes & Craft‘s booth and offering Tarot readings. (Kids in tow, once they were done with Saturday morning’s soccer game. Being a soccer mom and a witch at the same time is a special kind of liminality.) I’m glad I got the chance to talk to so many old friends and new people!

Time really is a spiral, and you really do come back to the same points over and over again, changed as a person. Two years ago I was here with a different, looser Pagan group. MoonFire put on the main ritual, and I only heard about it afterward. A year ago, I came specifically to ask about joining MoonFire, an introduction from an elder having paved my way; I’d read Tarot on and off for years but always with a book and only for myself. This year, I was here as a member of MoonFire, and I’d studied Tarot enough to read for others. Maybe next year I’ll be back and something else will be different.

Notes on Tarot practice

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been doing daily Tarot card draws and writing meanings in a journal — both my own intuitive meanings and notes on each card from 78 Degrees of Wisdom. Here are a few notes so far:

I’m really hesitant to write down more than very brief meanings before consulting the book. I don’t want to get them wrong because this Tarot journal is also intended as a reference, but that also means I’m relying more on copying someone else’s words than on intuition. So, this practice is kind of a mixed bag, but I do find that I’m able to look at a card I haven’t drawn before — today’s was 2 of Wands — and intuitively say, “Oh, this card is about how I have what I worked for (in my case, a book to edit), but my success means that I have to sit on the sidelines and wish I was doing something else.”

However, court cards are the most difficult so far. Even if a specific court card has popped up multiple times and I’ve had a solid intuitive sense of its meaning, I look at the card and go, “…uh?” It’s like the meanings fly right out of my head.

It’s also interesting to look at what cards have come up so far: queens of every suit, but only one king (King of Wands). Pages of Wands and Cups, knights of Cups and Pentacles. Eight total cards from Wands, Swords, and Pentacles; seven from Cups. None of the pips have shown up in all four suits, none of the aces have shown up at all, but at least one of each number has shown up (and I’ve had three 10s and three 2s).

I’ve been drawing cards for 40 days, but that doesn’t mean I’ve drawn 40 different cards. Some days I had “stalker cards,” or cards that show up repeatedly (sometimes days in a row, no matter how well I shuffled), because the situation they refer to is ongoing or because I wasn’t getting a message. When I did readings for myself with this deck, I also wrote down the meanings of the cards I drew, just because it was becoming apparent that simply drawing a card a day would not get me to 78 card meanings on its own. (Which makes sense; over time, that might happen, but if the cards are meant to reflect a wide range of human experience, that’s a lot for one person to go through in three months or so.) I suspect that at some point I’ll run out of patience and just finish writing journal entries.

So, this might be a longer-term project than I’d thought! It’s worthwhile, though, because I’m acquiring a facility with Tarot and a confidence in my own intuition that I didn’t get from simply reading through 78 Degrees of Wisdom. 

Returning to Tarot and meditation

Daily practice used to be very difficult for me. I’d forget, or there wasn’t anything that seemed to be important enough to do every day, or my heart wasn’t in it… any number of excuses.

Just this year, however, I’ve finally begun (and maintained!) two daily practices that are often recommended for beginners: meditation and Tarot. And I’ve found that both of them really are useful, separately and together.

Back when I first started — I love that I’ve been around long enough to need that qualification! — meditation practice was very different. Guided meditations were included in many books published in the late ’90s and early 2000s. But how do you actually have that guided journeying experience from a book? Personally, I developed a mental ability to be in two places at once; part of me was reading the words on the page, and part of me was off doing the journey. That’s not as satisfying as participating wholly, but it got the job done.

My alternatives were to memorize what the journey was supposed to be, then put on a CD of drumming (yes, I paid money for a CD of nothing but drumming in different increments of time) and attempt it, or have a friend read the meditation for me. Highly embarrassing. Or I could get out my trusty Walkman cassette tape player and some blank cassettes, record myself reading the meditation, and then listen to it later. (A lot of folks went the tape recorder route, but this is also how I memorized Bible verses for quiz team, so I didn’t want to touch it.)

Or you learned Zen meditation, which was about emptying your mind, and you didn’t need a book or drumming or a friend with a good reading voice to do that. However, you were supposed to come out of the meditation after so many minutes by hearing a note played on a special bowl… and how were you to know how long it’d been without watching the clock? And if you were “back” enough to play the note, did you even need to hear it?

Here in the future, however, we have iPhones and apps. I’m hitting my meditation groove with Insight Timer, which is so much easier. Yes, there is a timer that will play a number of calm sounds when time is up and at intervals along the way, but there are also thousands of guided meditations in many languages available, and — crucially for me — there are milestones shown by stars for the number of days you’ve meditated with the app and the number of days in a row (because daily practice isn’t important for everyone). Some guided meditations help you sleep, some help you ground and center, some help you clear your chakras (or focus on specific chakras), and I’m sure there are tons I haven’t explored. And you can even do the old-school meditations outside the app by recording them on your phone, no blank cassettes needed.

Also, this practice has already borne fruit, less than three months after beginning. I really wanted to keep my days-in-a-row streak alive even though I was fatigued and it was nearly midnight, so I meditated with the timer for five minutes and had some experiences of second sight. In that moment I understood why newbies are told to learn meditation: not only is it important to learn how to focus your mind and keep that focus where you want it for as long as you want it (a skill you need just to cast a circle), but regular practice will also open you up and make you more sensitive to spirit and to altered states of consciousness. And I’ve also used meditation twice now when I was writing rituals to let something bubble up: the perfect activity, a concept to tie the whole thing together, the best order of steps.

Speaking of sensitivity to spirit, my practice with Tarot is also improving quickly. When I started out, I bought a deck or two, didn’t really understand how to read the cards, and the books that came with the decks didn’t clarify things much. I don’t think I had driving divinatory questions, either. I set Tarot aside as “not for me” for a few years. However, sometime around 2008, Tarot struck me as a necessary occult skill to learn, and I picked up the Universal Waite deck so I wouldn’t have to translate image descriptions. I also bought 78 Degrees of Wisdom by Rachel Pollack and read it cover to cover, cards in hand. I found Aeclectic Tarot and did many readings with many different spreads. My interpretations gained more depth (and I successfully predicted my first pregnancy, which shocked the hell out of me when I realized), but I was still dependent on the book; I understood the Major Arcana well enough but the Minor Arcana eluded me.

I didn’t read Tarot often when my kids were babies, however. I didn’t like my reliance on the book, didn’t how I’d get past that without investing time I didn’t think I had, and had lost four cards from my Universal Waite deck so I couldn’t read anyway. (Finding them again felt like a sign.)

Becoming much more active in Wicca this year brought back my interest in all of this, though, and I decided two weeks ago — on the night of the New Moon — that I was finally going to learn Tarot in a more structured way. I’d become more confident in reading with Earth Magic Oracle cards, which used a symbol set that I understood immediately and intuitively, and I’d been doing daily single-card draws with Extraordinary Oracle cards, which were much the same. So I began drawing daily Tarot cards as well, and with guidance from Biddy Tarot, pressed a pretty notebook into service as a Tarot journal (tip: steal ideas from bullet journaling, like adding a table of contents and page numbers and pretty headings!). So far I’ve discovered that the two cards work with each other, the oracle card often building on or highlighting an aspect of the Tarot card; for example, today’s cards are the 10 of Swords and Broomstick, which tell me to quit my whining and tackle some overdue housecleaning chores I’ve been putting off because they’re haaaaaaaaaard or they’re groooooooooooss. (And I didn’t even need to get out the book to know that, because I’d drawn the 10 of Swords reversed earlier and had written the upright and reversed meanings in my journal.)

So, one important idea here is that the advice given to beginners is sound. It’s not just busywork or distractions aimed at teens or twentysomethings who are interested in Wicca — these two practices, among others, really will help you later on, so they’re good first steps (and don’t cost much or take up much space). Another key idea is that you can always come back to something that wasn’t important to you at an earlier point on your path, and you might find that it’s important now or that experiences you’ve had along the way can shed light on it now.

Also, just know that Tarot cards will call you out sometimes. It’s way more fun to write 1200 words on reminiscences and lessons learned than to do gross household chores. FINE, I’ll DO IT now, ugh.

Books: On borrowing and buying and keeping and returning

I just have to share: I’m rediscovering the joys of the local library and inter-library loan. This is a story about how I get books.

When I was first studying Paganism and witchcraft as a college student in the early 2000s, I read every book on the topic I could get from the university library, so obviously I knew all about borrowing the books I needed. However, right around that time, Amazon (and free shipping!) became popular. Folks on Pagan email lists (yep, that’s how I first learned) spoke with astonishment about all the hard-to-find books that were now readily available on Amazon. Buying my witch books has pretty much been a habit since then. Why would I not, especially when I can get them used for cheap?

But six or seven years ago, when my first daughter was born and my attention span dropped off sharply because infant, in stolen moments I started reading way more fiction and very little nonfiction. (I just did not have the brain cells left for history or theory. It happens.) That’s when I discovered ebooks and, specifically, that the reading experience and the quality of the books themselves and had gone way up while the price had gone down. Joy of joys! The future is awesome.

Within the past year or two, however, enough of my bitterness had faded and my heartbreak healed that I was ready to pick up witch books again, and I do have a few ebooks. But they’re largely priced around $10, and when you get used to snagging ebooks for free or cheap ($1-2), laying out $8-12 for a book starts to look like an investment.

I’d also been thinking about what I wanted to do with my books when I was done reading them, rather than just indiscriminately collecting them. Did I just want to read this book once, and maybe I didn’t care if I kept it after that? Did it end up being shitty, and added to my pile of shitty books no one else wants, either, so I can’t sell or donate them? Or was this book so good, I wanted my daughters to read it, too, without having to ask permission to use a tablet? Did I want to loan the book to anyone else? Did I want to make sure I had it forever and ever, no matter what changes ereaders and apps and publishers and sellers went through? (I started out buying Nook books, and it is now a process to get to them on my Kindle, let me tell you.)

There’s one more factor at play here, too. When I had resolved to start a coven (or, given my current status, a weird not-coven maybe-study-group thing) and I started developing the Resources page here, I went to the libraries closest to me to evaluate the books they had on the shelf. Could I tell my future students to go get this or that title from the library? Or would I need to loan out my own books instead? Also, could I test-drive being “out” locally by borrowing books that were very obviously about Wicca and witchcraft? (Librarians could hardly give someone my contact info, but maybe they could tell some lonely seeker that someone else was borrowing witch books too, and they weren’t alone. Or maybe that lonely seeker would see me checking out the books and strike up a conversation with me.)

Side note: The Greenville library has a small but decent Wicca-specific section. The Lakeview library has a few mythology books and only two on Wicca, both by Steve Russo and published in 2005: Protecting Your Teen From Today’s Witchcraft: A Parent’s Guide to Confronting Wicca and the Occult and What’s the Deal with Wicca? A Deeper Look into the Dark Side of Today’s Witchcraft. So, you know. Not particularly friendly.

Instead of trying to find cheap used copies of books that were recommended to me but that I didn’t know for sure I’d want to keep always… enter the library! And thanks to the MelCat interlibrary loan system, it doesn’t matter if my local library only has books that are antagonistic to Wicca. If a participating library anywhere in Michigan has a copy of a book I want, I can borrow it. It’s not quite so broom closet-friendly as Amazon, because you can click buttons to request books online but you do have to interact with another human to pick them up. It is free, however, and that’s hard to beat.

This post was brought to you by the books I’ve read recently that were interesting, but not worth keeping on my shelf or in my ereader, and books I’ve just requested that are similarly interesting but I’m not sure I’ll love them (and if I do, I’ll buy a print copy to keep). If I’d paid money for the books I just finished, I’d be cranky. But I didn’t! And they simply go back to the library! Off you go, mediocre books! May you be just the thing someone else is looking for.

Further wand update

So, in my last post about wands, I’d made tiny kid-size wands to make sure I knew what I was doing when it came time to make the one I wanted. I carved the bark off, made one rounded end and one pointy end, then used 100-grit and 220-grit sandpaper to make the finish silky smooth.

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They came out super tiny — and I want to reiterate that this is the result of starting with a stick that’s about as wide as you think you’ll want the end result to be. Go bigger! Your wand will lose width as you remove bark and sand it smooth. Start with one that seems a little too thick, maybe the size of your thumb. The piece I ended up working with was from a long stick I’d intended for a staff, but once I started this project, it became clear that this stick was too skinny to be a staff (and one end was starting to rot anyway). I cut my wand from a long, straight section in the middle.

A little while after Ostara — so, these sticks had had a few weeks to dry indoors — I carved the bark off my wand, shaped the rounded end, and shaped the point.

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I’ve left a lot of time in between steps here. Partly, that was because I didn’t want to rush things; another part was that I had my Chthonioi Alexandrian dedication over Beltane and wanted to finish the wand sometime afterward. I did not, however, wait to find out if there were tradition-specific elements that needed to be included. I’m sticking close to published information about wands in Traditional Wicca, so I don’t think I’m way off base. (If I am, I know how to make wands now. I can make another if I need to.) Also, I feel strongly that this is my wand, of my own creation, and I don’t want to carve or burn any symbols into the wood or wrap it in anything or attach crystals or feathers or anything else. I like simple and straightforward witch’s tools.

In the meantime, I also read The Witch’s Wand by Alferian Gwydion MacLir (from Llewellyn’s Witch’s Tools series). There was rather a lot of silliness about Harry Potter–style astral phoenix feather cores, as well as information about pairing stones and woods for those who do want to add to their wand, but there was also some solid info about using the wand that made the flow of energy really click for me. I couldn’t wait to finish my wand to practice with it.

Last week, I gave in to the feeling that my wand was too big somehow. Too thick, certainly, and too long as well. I took my knife again (the Opinel No. 7 that’s pictured above), cut about an inch and a half off the tip, and remade the point. (No photos of this, unfortunately.) Now the wand feels right, both in length and thickness.

This week, I began sanding it. The weather has been quite warm for May, so two days ago I sat on my back patio at sunset and spent a good hour with my wand. First I sanded it with 100-grit sandpaper, feeling the surface of the wood as the light faded until I sensed very little roughness in it. And then I tested it out energetically: letting the energy gather in the rounded end from the chakra point in my palm, then sending it through the shaft of the wand and out the tip. (I was careful to make the point in the very center of the wood for best flow. You can see the tiny core of heartwood right at the tip.) Then I cast a satisfying circle with it and just sat holding it, joining with it, falling in love with it, to be honest.

Today: Sanding again with 100-grit sandpaper, to get any rough spots left because I was working in low light last time, then 220-grit. This only took about 20 minutes of meditative work.

Six months ago, this was a living branch on a tall maple tree that’s not 20 feet from the office where I now sit, typing. When I finished sanding today, my wand was really starting to feel like a wand, not a glorified stick. I’m showing you all the photos I can, but nothing about them is as inherently magical as experiencing the process of making this tool.

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It’s so smooth now — and I’m not even done. The fine-grit sandpaper pack I bought had some 220, 320, and 400, so I’ll give it a pass with each grit before I start finishing.

The kids’ wands were finished with a coat of boiled linseed oil every day for 7 days, then a coat of beeswax polish that I’ll use to maintain them. Or, at least, that was the plan. To apply the oil, you’re supposed to rub it on with a rag, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then wipe off any excess. I don’t think I did the wiping off excess part right. Either that or I didn’t let it dry completely before applying the beeswax, because the kids’ wands are still the slightest bit tacky to the touch. I may take another piece of wood and test applying the oil, then waiting a week before applying the wax, to see if that prevents the sticky feeling.

Here’s what the kids’ wands looked like after finishing, next to my wand before sanding (and a quarter for scale).

I’m thoroughly enjoying this process.

Merry Beltane!

This weekend I’m off to MoonFire’s Beltane celebration. There’s so much going on! It’s like a mini festival! Which is doubly exciting for me because I don’t usually get to go to festivals (from some combination of brokeness, lack of ability to take time off work, and anxiety about traveling there or attending alone). This time, however, I’ll be there! Possibly with bells on, in a very literal sense!

In other news, I’ve borrowed The Witch’s Athame by Jason Mankey, The Witch’s Broom by Deborah Blake, and The Witch’s Wand by Alferian Gwydion MacLir (all from Llewellyn’s Witch’s Tools series) from my local library, and I’m currently reading through that last one. All three are tools that I’m currently making or working with, and I’m enjoying the deep dive.

Spring cleaning also continues, possibly a little harder because the whole family will be away this weekend and I like to come home to a clean house (as much as possible with little kids; I’ll settle for being caught up on the laundry and the dishes before we go). When I was at the library I saw The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up on the shelf, and the KonMari trend has mostly passed (I think?) but I hadn’t actually read the book yet. I’m giving her folding method a chance — so far I kind of love it; every time I open my dresser drawers, it’s like picking something new from a store, just because every piece of clothing is now visible — and I’ve gotten a little ruthless about tossing or donating items that we don’t need. (Like sheets. We do not need 10 sets of sheets. Five or six of those sets are just taking up space.) And as many jokes as the “does it bring you joy?” thing has spawned, I honestly love the animistic approach Marie Kondo takes to considering each item in your household and where it would best be happy and useful. If you are the least bit sensitive, you can make this same kind of connection to your stuff and think about who you are, deep down, and whether you need or want this item, what its function is in your life. If it’s worn, you can thank it for its time in service to you and send it to the trash; if it’s still useful to someone, just not you, release it to the Goodwill bin or maybe an eBay buyer with gratitude. (Also I totally am throwing out my electric bill. I don’t need to keep the past four years’ worth of bills — and shouldn’t I be getting them as PDFs anyway? Go online and click that e-statement option.) And I do personal transformation as sort of a hobby, so the challenge for me right now is to go through all my stuff without the pressure of moving, to reinvent myself while remaining rooted to the house and the family I’ve worked hard for.

OK, back to packing. Overnight bags for two adults (for a ritual weekend) and two kids (at Grandma’s) are about as much work to pack as a camping trip for one adult.

Wicca is connection

I’ve really been enjoying Deporodh’s series over at Swangrove Coven about eight qualities in the Charge of the Goddess: beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, mirth and reverence. Her most recent post is on humility, and I want to pull this excerpt from it:

…if you boil Wicca down to a one-word core concept, it is “connection”; (K.C.’s example for Christianity was “forgiveness” or for Buddhism was “mindfulness”). Humility joins people, and that junction, that connection, so key to the love and trust intrinsic to Wiccan magic & Wiccan ritual—that connection depends on the equalizing effect of humility as much as it depends on that love and trust.

This… this is a beautiful core thing that I want to hold onto. Without getting too deep and spilling out too much of my needy inner self, I can say that connection is one of the driving forces that brought me to Wicca and keeps me here. I’ve been solitary, as a baby Pagan and as a more experienced adult. I’ve been part of a small group that met literally down the block from my own apartment, I’ve been part of a slightly larger group that met hours away from where I lived, and I was far away from blood family and my home state both times. Now I’m finding myself home, still living far enough away from my group that I only make it to a few events, but also part of a group with 20+ regulars attending public full moons. My goal is to build a group that will actually meet in my home, which is going to be an entirely new experience.

The connections that I’m building now are part of being in a tradition. I’ve always been very aware of my self, my personality, my thought patterns and habits and experiences, and able to analyze them and make changes in my life. Yet I’ve recently concluded that this ability is only half of the story. If I can’t give voice to those understandings and tell about those experiences, what good does it do anyone else? How can I be connected to other people? What value do I bring to the table, and what value can I get as part of a functioning group? It’s all of a piece: willingness to speak my piece, showing why anyone should listen to what I have to say, how someone could connect to me and why they might want to be part of a coven with me.

And then there’s connection to the gods. We help Them and They help us. We’re connected to them and to each other at the level of the divine soul, and physically here on Earth, we’re all part of many ecosystems. All connected.

(All this said: My lesson is probably to have more self-esteem and only as much humility is appropriate. It’s what I’m fighting against by learning to stand up, metaphorically sometimes, and say my piece.)