#MeToo and Paganism: Time to Change

So as I’m sure many of you who are in the Pagan community know, Sarah Anne Lawless recently came out with an amazing and desperately needed blog post¬†about sexual abuse in Paganism; primarily by Pagan leaders and BNP’s. She only named one of her abusers after he commented on her post, but the rest she kept silent about until she released their names in a FB later on.
I applaud Ms. Lawless for exposing her story and her abusers. I’ve never been involved in any form of Pagan community (save this blog, if that even counts), so I can only imagine the courage and stress it took to write that post, knowing how many may become upset at her (rather than for her) and how many will victim blame, call her a liar, etc. I was completely shocked when I realized one of her abusers was in fact MoJo from the podcast “The Wigglian Way” a podcast that I followed fairly closely and really liked and enjoyed the hosts. It made sense though. I had a sense in the episodes after Sarah left, it may have been due to a possible affair. I felt ashamed suspecting an affair between the hosts when one of them was married, so I pushed it aside, but I guess that wasn’t entirely unfounded.

I have chosen to stay away from any covens, groups, meet-ups, and even Sabbat celebrations because I feel like I can’t 100% trust the intentions of the leaders and even participators. That’s not fair to them, because they’re probably wonderful people and it’s not fair to me because I may be missing out on a lot of wisdom and guidance. Unfortunately, I’ve heard and read about horror stories of being pressured to go Sky Clad for rituals, to kiss or embrace while in circle at certain points. And then there’s the sex. Now, admittedly, I’m in the group of Pagans who also fall into the BDSM community, but BDSM is very, VERY consent oriented and the events I’ve gone to absolutely has that safe feeling to it. However, just because I enjoy these things (with my husband and only my husband) doesn’t mean I’m down for whatever, which seems to be the idea a lot of Pagans push onto each other, regardless of gender. This idea that being a “free spirit” and nature worshipper means you should be polyamorous or basically a human nymph is ridiculous and also super off-putting.

I’m hoping Sarah’s story and the stories of other Pagans coming forward about their own experiences will help spark change in the community. We need to be zero-tolerance no matter what coven the person belongs to or heads, no matter how many books or classes they’ve taught, no matter if other people think they’re “nice” and we shouldn’t “ruin their lives” over this. No. Paganism receives enough criticism; we don’t need to or want to fall under the same umbrella as Catholicism when it comes to how our elders behave. I know that there’s always a scramble to protect our own, but rapists, sexual abusers, and domestic abusers are NOT our own. A majority of us try to follow the “Do no harm” rule right? Well, we need to stop letting these individuals get away with harming us and our community.

To anyone out there who is a survivor; I support you and I believe you.
Blessed be.

~Lark

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Larkie’s Library: “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” by Scott Cunningham

Finally read my first Scott Cunningham book this Summer and decided to go with the ever popular and always recommended “Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner” as my intro to his writings. Before I go any further with the review I’ll give a disclaimer that I am NOT Wiccan. My Pagan practice is eclectic and takes a few notes from Wicca (mostly the Wheel of the Year), but it is not very much related to the religion itself. With that being said, just remember that my review is coming from someone who is not involved in this specific practice.569e7bf3-ae55-4b49-99d6-a59c5c06bd0c
I can see the usefulness of this book as a beginner’s intro into Wicca specifically (not as a general Pagan book), but that’s about where it ends for me (which is fine, since it’s supposed to be introductory in a way). It is written based on Cunningham’s views on Wicca and his own beliefs, complete with examples of his craft, so it’s not super educational on the history of Wicca. It’s possible you could offer it to family or friends who don’t “get it” as a way to further explain what Wicca is for you, but that’s if you’re okay with some of the potentially embarrassing moments in the book, which I will get to next!

There’s a tiny bit of shade thrown at Christianity in the book, which may or may not upset more sensitive family if you do so choose to share this book with them. It’s not hateful, but it does come off a bit “this way is better” which isn’t necessarily true; the faith that speaks to you (if any) is the path that’s truly better for you and if Christianity is not it, that’s fine. My biggest issue with the book, as far as cringe-worthy notes go, is the woo-woo. Some of the things, or really examples, he claims are magic is so out there. For instance, claiming that rubbing your hands together really fast, then holding them apart and feeling a tingling is magic energy shooting from your palms. While, yes, the heat you’ve activated by rubbing your hands together is a form of energy, it’s not magic…this is simple physics. He also used an example of casting a spell to obtain the funds to pay your phone bill, but pretty much leaves it at “do this spell and the money will come eventually” whereas really you should focus intention and motivation to pay the bill, but still put work in to actually getting money to pay it (like saving up, selling items you don’t need, etc). That was just too much for me.

Other critiques I have are that I felt his section on the tools, while easy to understand, were too simple. Not much information on the history of the tools or anything. I also disagreed with his views on dark/black magic. He constantly talks about the duality of Wicca, but once light and dark are there, he kind of pushes dark away and claims it as a no-no for good Wiccans. There’s a saying I heard somewhere that goes “If you can’t hex, you can’t heal,” a much better example and embrace of duality, in my opinion. Now, I’m not saying you should bind, hex, and curse after every little slight you experience, but I don’t view dark/black magic as an ultimately bad thing either.

All-in-all it wasn’t a terrible book and I do see value in it for a beginner Wiccan, but I wouldn’t recommend it alone; it’s definitely not a text that stands on its own for Pagan study. I will be reading more by Cunningham eventually, as this book didn’t totally turn me off to him and I’m interested to read some more of his work.

Keep reading and learning, everyone. Blessed be!

~Larkie

 

Merry Mabon/Second Harvest!

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I meant to do another “Larkie’s Library” but got side tracked by a vacation and crazy week at work. I will be sure to put it out soon, but since today is the Autumnal Equinox I figured I’d put out a short celebratory post to everyone.
I was actually able to celebrate Mabon properly yesterday and today, so I’m feeling extra witchy. I went apple picking yesterday and then today I started my morning with some yoga, then cleaned and cleansed my house, and broke out all of my Fall decorations and put away the Summer stuff. I even created a Fall wreath for my door (with craft store items) and then decorated my altar for the season and dead headed my white lavender so I at least had something to represent a true harvest.
I look forward to colder days, rain, sweaters, scarves, warm tea and cocoa, slipper socks and cozy cardigans. This is truly the greatest time of year. Wishing you all a very happy equinox, a bountiful second harvest, and merry Mabon!

~Larkie

Lark’s Library: “Equal Rites” by Terry Pratchett (from the Discworld series)

Merry meet! It’s been over 8 months since my last post, turns out I was not finished with self-care, self-reflection, and general life craziness, but I’m back and starting out simple with a book post. Now, I finished this book last month, so it’s been awhile since I put it down, but I remember enough to be able to form a coherent, but quick review.
image“Equal Rites” is the third book written for the Discworld series. It is my absolute favorite book so far, which I know isn’t saying much since it’s only book 3 of 42 (or however many), but it is fantastic and an awesome read for those interested in feminist sic-fi/fantasy genre. It follows new characters this time: Granny Weatherwax (a witch) and a young girl named Eskarina Smith (the first-born/appointed female wizard). The “natural” law is that only women can be witches and only men can be wizards; a law that even Granny Weatherwax herself tries to strictly follow by attempting to train Eskarina in witchcraft to stave off the wizard powers, though you can tell she see’s silliness in it.
Eventually, she has to reveal the truth to Eskarina and decides the only way to best control her powers is by challenging the law and sending her to the Unseen University. They have adventures and arguments along the way of course and Granny Weatherwax goes from being a woman who accepts societal norms to one Hell of a badass feminist hero and challenges them in hopes to get Eskarina the education and training she has deserved since her birth essentially. It’s an easy and amusing read (as all of Pratchett’s works have been) and I enjoy the bits of patriarchy smashing that takes place. It’s obvious change doesn’t happen quickly or easily, but Eskarina seems like a strong and admirable character to trail blaze the way for future female wizards (and perhaps male witches).
Overall, I give the book high marks for being entertaining and readily applicable to issues we see today. Terry Pratchett seems like he was as true an ally as the feminist movement could have for the 80’s and a bit ahead of his time. I truly enjoyed this book and think many others would as well; highly recommend!

Side note: Since I’ve been away for more than half a year, I will try to get out another Larkie’s Library post that I really want to discuss and is very much of the Pagan/witchy variety. Until next time…merry part and blessed be!

~Lark

 

The Witch is Back!

My apologies for the sudden disappearance. The holidays were busy this year and I fell into a bit of a depression. I’m finally crawling my way back out though and getting back to the blog. I have managed to stay on the path though. I’ve been slowly continuing the Witch’s Primer podcast lessons and actually found a good streak in writing in my Grimoire. I think I’ve finally reached a place where all of the correspondences and info I need/want to have is in place and I can begin documenting and following my craft.
I’ve also been looking into getting a Dream Journal and a basic journal for daily journaling. I used to do that all the time in middle and high school and it was actually really helpful now that I look back on it. I’ve also received a lot of support in walking my path from my husband.
He isn’t very religious, but is supportive and open minded with my humanistic Paganism beliefs and bought me a Yule gift this year. I wasn’t expecting him to even remember or recognize when Yule was, but he did! His gift was a miniature altar table with Yggdrasil carved on the top. I plan to use it to keep my future cauldron on. He also bought me a pentacle necklace (something I actually didn’t have much plans to buy), but it’s perfect. It’s on a black suede cord and the pentacle is small, but a raven is perched atop it. The final gift was another necklace on a silver chain. The pendant is a really pretty silver crescent moon with a charm hanging in the center with the saying “Earth my Body, Water my Blood, Air my Breath, Fire my Spirit” I love it. It’s something I can wear out without being super obvious since it’s kind of a nice saying that doesn’t necessarily mean “witch” since I’m still fairly in the broom closet.

That’s about the most witchy thing I’ve been up to lately (aside from updating the Grimoire). I will try to be more active now that I seem to be getting back to my normal self. Hopefully you all had a great Yule!

Blessed be!

Larkie’s Library: “The Secret Garden”

Hello again, sorry for the disappearance, once again life happens and I have been focusing more on building up/writing in my Grimoire. However, I have been trying to keep up on my reading as well and finished “The Secret Garden” this week (finally), so I thought I would make a return with a book review.
secret-garden
The story begins with a young, orphaned girl named Mary Lennox who is sent to live with her wealthy uncle in Yorkshire, England after the death of her parents from a cholera outbreak in their home in India. She’s a sour child and spoiled beyond belief, but eventually decides (after some persuasion) to explore her new home and soon discovers a secret garden. She also discovers more secrets around the manor and slowly becomes a much happier, healthier child and is even a positive influence to another peer, her cousin, Colin. She shares the wonder and the “magic” of the garden with trusted friends and it has a ripple effect over everyone at the manor. I don’t want to give too much away for anyone who hasn’t read it, so I will leave the description at this point.

Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I’m almost disappointed that I didn’t read this earlier in life, but I still got a lot out of it now. (There is a bit of India-bashing, so just a head’s up there). The “magic” theme was wonderfully done and isn’t Hollywood magic, but more earthly, everyday “magic” you can find in nature. The descriptions of plants coming back to life as Spring arrives, the mist over the moors, the sunshine, the buds sprouting from the ground, the animals coming out, and birds building nests; it was the true magic and wonder one can find every year with the changing of the seasons (yes, it’s not “magic” but the look and feel is quite wondrous at times). And given that I read it during Fall, it really made the seasonal change I was seeing around me pop out. The fading of the leaves from green to orange. The grass becoming blanketed by the same orange, yellow, red, and brown leaves. The chill in the air. It was/is magical.
The theme of secrets really flows strongly through the book. Whether it’s a secret garden, a secret room holding a secret person, a secret “miracle”, etc. And what I noticed was the effects secrets can have, both negative and positive. Keeping things secret due to shame only makes it worse and sours more than the secret itself…it can also influence gossip. More harmless secrets can be fun when kept to oneself, but are made more so when shared with people you trust/friends and can actually be like a gift which strengthens bonds. Not all secrets are bad, but in the end, no secret should be kept that way for long.
There was also quite a lot about positivity and how one can attempt to change how they see the world. A glass half full vs glass half empty thing. I don’t think it necessarily promotes blind optimism, but instead trying not to let yourself be bogged down with negative thoughts all of the time. It’s not just a physical garden they tend to, but the gardens in their minds (I know that sounds hippy and weird, but Mr. Rogers used that term once, so it stands as forever cool, IMO). Of course, we know just thinking positively can’t solve all of our problems and is definitely not a cure-all, but it can have an impact. “Where you plant a rose, a thistle cannot grow.”
Finally, there was a great line in this book about children that I thought was very smart. While I have no intention to ever have them myself, I think it’s great advice for anyone who would so desire some. It goes like this, “Two worst things as can happen to a child is never to have his own way or to always have it.” It speaks for itself.

So there you have it. 4 out of 5 stars from me, would definitely recommend for just about all ages.

Hope everyone had a blessed Samhain. Happy reading!

Lark

Building My Earth Body – Do Over

So I haven’t been great about my Earth body building practices this week. Earth is tied to the section of the Witch’s Pyramid called “To Be Silent/Secretive” which I think is important to remember. Part of the practice is to get out into the wilderness, take hikes, walks, garden, etc. I have not been taking time to do this much this week even with the holiday. We’ve been so busy and had a family illness (which is on the mend, thank goodness), but it hasn’t been the best week for this.

Another task is to practice choosing my words and opting to be silent more often than not. Basically, focusing on listening and only speaking when absolutely necessary. My job involves animal health and wellbeing, so that does require a lot of necessary verbal communication. However, at home I’ve been a chatty Kathy on mindless subjects that really don’t deserve or need that much discussion/attention.

So, starting Monday I will be redoing the Earth Body practice, which will be good. That’s why they call it practice, right? We all have our off weeks ::shrug:: Otherwise, I have continued my Fire practice of being active, my Water practice of increasing my water intake, and my Air practice of deep breathing, so I’ve at least got that down!

Until next time, blessed be!

Lark