#2098

Tarot reading with Bast regarding how helpless I feel in the world right now, and what I personally can do to make a difference.

Question: Do this to be a force of good in the world
Card: The Fool
Interpretation: I’ve been pulling this card a lot lately, so I’m definitely not surprised to see it again. The Fool urges me to take chances, to be brave and optimistic, and to try to see the world in a new way. Dwelling on the past will only hold me down; if I want to do good, I need to let go of my (many) fears and anxieties and force myself to jump into the unknown.

Question: Stop doing this to be a force of good in the world
Card: Temperance
Interpretation: Cat Mom’s calling me out – I need to stop being the peacekeeper in tense situations and start standing up for the side that I know is right. My instinct is always to smooth things over, to avoid conflict or at least keep out of it, but that’s not always the right choice. It’s important, of course, to understand others’ viewpoints and the role opposites play in balancing out our world; however, hate and ignorance need to be met with courage, not neutrality, and there are plenty of situations where right and wrong are very clearly defined. As someone who is as non-confrontational as humanly possible, this will be… challenging.

Question: Remember this as you go forward
Card: 3 of Swords
Interpretation: There is a time to mourn and a time to heal, and I need to give myself the space to do both properly. Like pruning a tree, I need to recognize where branches have died and cut them away so new branches can grow. I shouldn’t try to ignore all the awful stuff happening in the world; I just need to remember to process my anger and sorrow in a way that helps me to take actionable steps to enact change.

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#2087

Top 10 Fiction Books with Feline Main Characters

If you haven’t noticed, I’m kind of a cat person. Next to queer literature, cat literature is probably the genre I read most. When it comes to cat fiction I’ve read a good number of the non-children’s books out there and so I know the genre has some real hidden gems. Therefore, I want to share my top ten cat books so other cat lovers out there can check them out!

10. Warriors – Erin Hunter

If the immensely popular cat series Warriors had existed when I was a kid it would have been my number one obsession. Even as an adult the books hold a certain charm despite being marketed to readers less than half my age. The first set of six books center around Rusty, a pet kitten who finds himself thrown into the world of the “clans” – tribes of feral cats who live in unsteady alliance in the forest beyond his home. Our protagonist desperately wants to leave his comfy “housepet” life and become a warrior, cats who defend their clans and are therefore respected and admired. But is there more to this majestic, adventurous life than meets our young hero’s eye? You’ll have to find out for yourself!

These books can feel a little formulaic after a while, but characterization and action keep them interesting and the first six, which compose the first main plot line, are quite worth your reading time. Despite being aimed at young readers, though, these books have some gruesome and painful moments. The life of a feral cat isn’t easy, and the books thankfully don’t sugarcoat this issue too much. They’re a good balance of whimsy, reality, and that special something that all animal books seem to share.

The first book in the series is Warriors: Into the Wild.

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9. Ghatti’s Tale – Gayle Greeno

Remember in the late 80s and early 90s when fantasy novels went through that popular phase of having human characters bonded with magical animals? And it was amazing because who doesn’t want to communicate telepathically with their animal BFF? Well, this craze produced the Ghatti series, which involves the bonding of humans stranded on the planet Methuen with alien creatures which look like very large housecats. These creatures, called ghatti, can read human minds in order to sense emotions, deception, etc. Bonded pairs therefore have become an integral part of society called Seekers, traveling from town to town to solve disputes and crimes. This first trilogy follows the human Doyce and her ghatta Khar’pern, who are being targeted by an unknown force hostile to the Seekers. Detailed world-building and loveable characters round out an interesting and well-executed sci-fi/fantasy concept in this series, one that fans of similar books like The Heralds of Valdemar with come to love as well.

The first book in the original trilogy is Finders-Seekers.

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8. The Incredible Journey – Sheila Burnford

Here’s a little factoid about me: Homeward Bound always makes me cry. Always. I can probably make myself cry just thinking about it, honestly. I can’t even watch the scene when Sassy goes over the waterfall, even though I know she’ll be okay. So I was a little nervous about reading The Incredible Journey, the book on which the movie is based. I’m pretty sure the book made me cry too, but it was so worth the read. The animals don’t talk like our trio in the movie, but the book still captures their personalities, determination, and the magnitude of their adventure. The Incredible Journey is a must-read for anyone who likes the movie, and is a powerful (if fictional) testament to the devotion of our beloved pets.

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7. Catfantastic – ed. Andre Norton

In the 80s and 90s anthologies called “[insert noun]+fantastic” seemed to be very popular in the sci-fi/fantasy community. Of these series, Catfantastic was obviously the best because it was about cats. The collection of five anthologies features sci-fi/fantasy stories from a variety of well-known authors who approach the feline subject in a myriad of ways. Unlike other anthologies, many of the stories in the Catfantastic books build on earlier stories, giving readers a chance to revisit favorite characters and settings. Like all good anthologies, the stories in these books run the gamut from humor to horror, hard sci-fi to high fantasy, and everything in between. They’re hidden jewels you’re likely to find in your local used book store; if not, you can get them off Amazon for real cheap. Totally worth the cost of shipping, I promise!

The first book in the series is Catfantastic: Nine Lives and Fifteen Tales.

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6. Yeshua’s Cats – C.L. Francisco

You’re wary of that title, aren’t you? You’re wondering why I, proud pagan and (newbie) witch, am reading Christian fiction. Well, obviously because it has cats in it and you can’t be too picky about your cat fiction. I’m so, so glad I have this series a chance though. The first book in the Yeshua’s Cats series is told from the point of view of a cat named Mari who is healed by Yeshua after a vicious dog attack. She then travels with him for many years, including the year of his crucifixion. Through her we see the (obviously fictional) origins of a lot of his teachings, and the Yeshua painted by C. L. Francisco is one of immense patience, love, and understanding. The book is beautiful, touching, and at times heart-wrenching, as are all of its sequels/prequels. There are currently five books in the series, some focusing on other cats whose lives have been touched in some way by Yeshua, and I’ve loved each one.

Before you ask, the books really aren’t that preachy. As a follower of Bast, I was highly sensitive to anything in the books that felt judgmental of pagan religions and was overall pretty satisfied with how other religions are handled in the books. The “mother goddess” believed in by the cats of this world is explained as simply a different face of the Christian god, instead of something fake or demonic. This is still Christian fiction, of course, so it’s not entirely free of Christian themes, but I think non-Christian cat lovers will still enjoy these books and appreciate this particular cat-loving depiction of Jesus.

The first book in the series is The Gospel According to Yeshua’s Cat.

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5. Tomorrow’s Sphinx – Clare Bell

Tomorrow’s Sphinx is a rare book, even when used, but so worth tracking down. I probably checked it out from the library a hundred times as a kid; some scenes from it are forever branded in my mind. The book is set on a far future earth and follows Kichebo, a black cheetah whose unnatural coloring causes her to become alienated from her family. When she discovers an abandoned human toddler and chooses to care for the creature, she’s thrown into a strange psychic link between herself and another black cheetah – one living during the reign of Tutankhamen. Kichebo must understand how and why this bond exists while protecting her new cub not only from other predators, but from the strange creatures in the sky.

Tomorrow’s Sphinx sounds super weird when you try to explain the plot, but it comes together masterfully in a strange, beautiful tale of the bonds possible between human and animal. If you get the opportunity, give this book a chance; you won’t regret it.

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4. The Named – Clare Bell

Clare Bell is on this list twice for a good reason: her books capture the essential wildness of big cats while establishing feline characters and societies as believable as our own. She is probably most known for her Named series, books set on an unspecified planet during a prehistoric age in which the top species are not humans but large, highly intelligent cats who call themselves the Named. The series follows Ratha, a young adult who is banished from her clan when she accidentally discovers how to tend and wield fire – what she calls her “creature”. Her journey will take her to very dark places, both physically and emotionally, but she will come to lead the Named into a new era. For a book about prehistoric cats, this series manages to touch on a variety of different issues such as xenophobia, PTSD, abuse, betrayal and forgiveness, mental illness, and what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself. These books are absolutely a must-read for any cat lover – but I’m warning you now, you’re gonna cry.

The first book in The Named series is Ratha’s Creature.

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3. Varjak Paw – S.F. Said

You know how you sometimes read a children’s book as an adult and think “this is way more disturbing than it should be”? That’s Varjak Paw. The book is aimed at third through seventh graders, but the content is creepy enough (including the illustrations!) to not only satisfy an adult reader, but to help it stand out among its competition. Varjak Paw tells the story of young Varjak, a kitten who lives with his family in an idealic house away from the rest of the world. However, when a threatening gentleman takes over the care of the cats, Varjak escapes the house to find help and winds up in the middle of a mystery bigger than anything he could imagine. He must use the newfound powers given to him by his ancestor and the assistance of an unlikely group of friends to save his family and all the cats who have been disappearing without a trace.

Varjak Paw is book one of the duology; be sure to check out its sequel, The Outlaw Varjak Paw, which is a direct continuation of the events in the first book. Varjak is an unforgettable protagonist who will have you cheering for him from page one.

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2. Tailchaser’s Song – Tad Williams

If you’re a cat lover, you knew this book would be on the list. And it deserves to be; it’s a beautiful, heartfelt story that masterfully weaves fantasy, horror, and adventure into a tale worthy of Tolkien or C.S Lewis. Fritti Tailchaser, our courageous young hero, goes on a quest to find his friend after she disappears. Much like Varjak, Tailchaser uncovers a mystery much bigger than any could have expected – one that will have him facing off with the gods themselves to save his very species.

Like many of the other books on this list, Tailchaser’s Song is partly so engaging because it builds us an entire world for our feline protagonists. The book includes vocabulary, religion, and social etiquette unique to the cats of this world that feel completely real. Despite being thrown into an entirely different society from the first page, the reader lands on their feet (pun intended) and becomes entirely immersed in the fantasy world Tad Williams is building.

I utterly love this book, but it does come with a warning: it has some seriously dark themes and several disturbing scenes. It’s a hard read sometimes, but one that will leave you in that perfect post-book daze.

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1. The Wild Road – Gabriel King

I’ve seen this book compared to Watership Down, which is fair in the sense that they are both sweeping epics focusing on the lives of everyday animals and both are astoundingly good. The Wild Road, however, employs fantasy elements in a way which Watership Down does not, making it more comparable to Tailchaser’s Song. Also like Tailchaser’s Song, this book is dark. Not just dark for a kid’s book, I mean DARK dark. It deals with the topic of animal experimentation, after all, and the villain known only as the Alchemist is as evil as they come. However, the blend of fantasy and horror, combined with an unforgettable ragtag group of animals who must band together to stop the Alchemist, makes this book beautifully heart-wrenching in all the right ways. Like Tailchaser and Varjak Paw, little Tag must leave the safety of his home to save a world he knows nothing about – and to do so he will grow and change in so many ways.

The Wild Road is my #1 absolutely must read cat book. Definitely read its sequel, The Golden Cat, as well to see how the story plays out.

Caution: Apparently two more books came out in the series last year, much to my surprise. They have no reviews on Amazon, though, and seem to focus on human characters with pet cats, so… read at your own risk, I guess. Seems fishy to me. The first two books are AMAZING, though, and you should probably end there.

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Honorable mention: The Unadoptables –  Margaret Chiavetta

I promote this fledgling webcomic on every social media site possible because it deserves so much more attention and acclaim that it receives. The story centers on a cat cafe where all the resident cats are up for adoption. The twist, however, is that the cats are what most people would consider “unadoptable” in some way; too sick, too old, too aloof, pair bonded, etc. The story follows both the cats and the humans who run the cafe, where all are hopeful that the next visitor will take one of the kitties home. The cats are all loveable characters in their own way, of course, but the human characters shine as well (and are some great POC representation, too) and in general the comic gives you a lot of warm fuzzy feelings. It has its tenser moments, though, as you’ll see if you check out the first story arc!

Check out The Unadoptables and consider supporting them on Patreon to get a sneak peek at new pages, character designs, and other cool behind-the-scenes stuff!

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Think another cat book should be on this list? Let me know, I want to read all of the cat books that ever existed!

#2082

Tarot reading with Bast and Inanna because my brain has been in a semi-frantic state of wondering, “Am I witch? Do I want to be?? What does that mean???”. Introspection is great, but sometimes you need to get out of your own head by seeing what the cards have to say.

Question: What will identifying as a witch bring me?
Card: The Fool
Interpretation: I doubt I could have pulled a more archetypal card for this question. Clearly, choosing to identify as a witch will open up a whole new journey for me, hopefully one of adventure, personal growth, and satisfying rewards. The Fool in the Shadowscapes deck is a very joyous card, one that celebrates the possibilities inherent in any new venture even while acknowledging the hard work ahead. As a harbinger of how this choice may affect my life, I find The Fool to be a very positive prediction.

Question: What, deep down in my heart, do I truly want to do?
Card: Page of Wands
Interpretation: I have always identified most with the suit of Wands and so I wasn’t at all surprised to see a Wand card in this position. The Page of Wands indicates a desire to embrace creativity and confidence, to finally take action, and to delve within yourself to seek opportunities that seem frightening or otherwise impossible. The Page of Wands is comfortable in their skin and has almost mastered their craft, which allows them to meet new challenges with grace and intuition. I long to reach this stage in my spiritual journey and I think this card illuminates a desire inside me to learn more, to do more, that I haven’t acknowledged before.

Question: What advice does Bast have for me?
Card: 9 of Swords
Interpretation: Bast urges me to set aside the fear, doubt, and anguish that currently keep me from feeling worthy of the title witch. She reminds me that I am already a creature of spirituality and magic, and that the only thing holding me back is myself. If I want to walk this road, all I need do is take the first step and leave my uncertainties behind. This response is very in character with our relationship; a lot of Bast’s readings with me are basically, Stop worrying about the thing, honey, you’re fine. Still, the answer is comforting because I know that if She did see an issue with me delving into witchcraft, She would not hesitate to tell me. This card indicates not only Her approval, but also Her future support.

Question: What advice does Inanna have for me?
Card: Queen of Pentacles
Interpretation: The Shadowscapes Queen of Pentacles shows a naked red-headed woman emerging from the trunk of a great oak tree with arms outstretched. She stares directly out of the card at the reader, exuding pride and authority. When combined with this card’s meanings – security in material aspects of life, abundance, confidence, and the ability to help others – this image seems to indicate Inanna Herself. I believe She is telling me that She will be by my side for this journey, which supports the “witchy” (for lack of a better word) sense I’ve been getting from Her lately. This may be the natural extension of the path She wants me to walk; if so, witchcraft may play a role in my shadow work and self-care goals.

#2073

Two-card tarot reading with Bast:

Question: Where am I on my spiritual journey?
Card: Ace of Pentacles
Interpretation: You’ve planted the seeds and are working hard to nourish their growth. Many possibilities are open to you and you can achieve your goals if you continue to dedicate yourself to learning and expanding your practice. You’re still in the early stages of your journey, but that’s okay; it’s a journey that will last you a lifetime.

Question: What’s next on my journey?
Card: 3 of Cups
Interpretation: Slow down, daughter! Let yourself take a moment to review the work you’ve done so far and what work will be needed in the future. Celebrate the steps you have already taken; you’ve come a long way in the last three years. Use this time to also reach out to your community, to grow your connections with others who share your beliefs or practices.

– – –

One card reading with Inanna:

Question: What lesson do I need to learn from You next?
Card: Knight of Cups
Interpretation: You haven’t finished learning the first lesson yet, so slow down. You need to focus on building your intuition and through it your other psychic senses. You will need to hone all of these senses in order to continue down my path, and especially to acknowledge and accept the darkness you will find along the way.

#2042

There’s a War on Christmas – In My Heart


Oh Christmas, what a strange holiday you have become. Some say you have your source in paganism, others in Christianity, and still others curse you as a capitalist conspiracy. Regardless, you have centered yourself in the American mindset as the most important holiday of the year, so important in fact that you overshadow your competitors – Hanukkah usually gets a polite nod, Kwanzaa the occasional tossed crumbs, and as for the rest, well, they have to be content with “happy holidays”.  But I don’t hate you, Christmas. In fact, up until the last few years Christmas was one of my favorite holidays. I love how cheerful everything looks covered in evergreen boughs and twinkle lights; I love holiday foods like stuffing and pumpkin pie; I even love the old Christmas hymns like We Three Kings and O Come Emmanuel. This time of the year hearkens back to all those happy Christmases of my childhood, filled with choir performances, homemade decorations, and the nervous excitement of trying to fall asleep on Christmas eve. And yes, I’ll admit, I am certainly a fan of getting lots of gifts.

That being said, I’m just… not feeling it this year.

Actually, it’s more than not feeling – I’m downright bah humbug. I know my lack of enthusiasm is from a mixture of the usual reasons so many people hate the holidays: family drama; monetary stress; no two weeks of freedom like when you were in school. It can be hard to recapture the magic you felt as a kid when you’re unwrapping a tofu press instead of a new toy, or giving a gift to someone you are obligated to interact with but don’t actually like. It’s even harder when you’re in a committed relationship and either have to slight one family in favor of another or spend the holiday apart. So yeah, partly I’m being a grinch because Christmas as an adult isn’t nearly as easy and fun as when I was a kid. There’s more to it than that, though. I think. My feelings are very tangled right now, but when I try to work out the knots and get to the problem in the center I get the feeling it’s not just about family drama. It’s not just because I miss kid-Christmas. It’s because Christmas… isn’t my holiday.

Uh, DUH, you’re probably thinking if you know me. You’re pagan, of course Christmas isn’t your holiday. And yeah, there’s the rub. Up until 2015, I was a pseudo-agnostic content with celebrating a Christian holiday which has forced itself into the secular world. After all, almost everyone I know celebrates Christmas regardless of their spiritual beliefs, and in America it is very much assumed that you celebrate Christmas too. Sure, some folks go to church on Christmas eve, but many others just stay home and have cocoa. No one questions why you would celebrate this particular Christian holiday if you’re not Christian, and so you grow up not questioning it either. After all, most of us got baskets of candy on Easter, too.

But this year I find myself tripping over that “Christ” in Christmas. Despite how secular Christmas has become in our society, this year its religious connections seem to chafe me. Don’t get me wrong, I think Jesus was a great guy – but he’s not my savior. Why am I celebrating a Christian holy day? I’m proudly Kemetic, so isn’t that a little insulting to both Jesus and Bast? Somehow, celebrating Christmas as a pagan feels less okay than celebrating it as a maybe-agnostic, even though in both situations I’m still celebrating the secular version of the holiday. I feel like the guest no one invited to Baby Jesus’ birthday party, you know? Some friends dragged me along and now I’m standing awkwardly in the corner while Mary’s asking Joseph who the fuck I am.

To clarify, I don’t think I’m getting these vibes from either Jesus or the Netjeru. I don’t think anyone is angry or feels ignored, or is trying to push me into a decision I’m not ready to make. I think this is just the next logical stop on my spiritual journey; where I go from here is up to me. That’s kinda scary, though. What if I decide I don’t want to celebrate Christmas anymore? Does that mean I have to start explaining my religious beliefs to everyone who asks? Does it mean our family traditions have to change, or that I have to forgo seeing them on the holidays? What would my wife tell her staunchly Catholic family? What would I tell my fairly atheist family?

I know I have a lot of options no matter what decision I finally make, and Christmas 2018 is quite far away. Still, I think these feelings mark a turning point, and I’m both excited and scared to see where they take me. I’m pretty unapologetic about who I am – I’m fiercely queer, fiercely feminist, and fiercely geeky – but pagans don’t get a lot of respect in American society. People who embrace my queerness might mock my belief in Bast behind my back; people who support my rejection of Christian morals might draw the line at worshiping actual pagan deities. You just never know, and that unknown makes me anxious. Right now I fly below most people’s radar, even with my ankh ring and tattoos. Am I ready to be seen as pagan by everyone and to possibly defend my faith to family and strangers alike?

#2023

[ A prayer to Bast for protection over a dwelling/property. I like to imagine a shining yellow light outlining the space I want protected when I say this prayer, and sometimes even something “bad” (I usually use shadow figures) trying to cross through the light but being repelled. ]

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth!
Dua Bast, Glorious Goddess and Protective Mother Cat!
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Lady of the Ointment Jar!
Dua Bast, She Who Is Without Equal!
Dua Bast!

Great Lady, I ask You to protect this house and all who dwell within;
let nothing that means harm step onto this property
let nothing that means ill cross over this threshold.
This dwelling is a safe space for all who we welcome here;
may this place be sacred to You and all who enter be under Your protection.
Goddess of Family and Home, secure our borders with tooth and claw;
tear apart that which would harm us and let pass through only that which is good.
May this offering and my love bring You strength as You safeguard us
and may the family we create here bring You much joy.

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, of the Flame, and of the Truth!
Dua Bast, Glorious Goddess and Protective Mother Cat!
Dua Bast, Vengeful Eye of Ra, Lady of the Ointment Jar!
Dua Bast, She Who Is Without Equal!
Dua Bast!

#2020

Mother, if I stop to think how many of Your children are suffering or dying right now, right this very moment, I nearly drown. The grief is an unseen tsunami and the hopeless part of me wants to get it over with, let the wave wash me out to sea. How can I have any faith in this world when Your children are tortured, hunted, abandoned, experimented on, killed by a thousand different heartless methods every day simply because their lives are not valued? When they are born in cages and die in cages, having never once felt the sun? I want to reach out, to find and be with them in their dark places, their last moments, but their reality’s terror cripples me. I ignore the truth like an open wound I cannot tend – the only option is to keep going until it heals or hurts too much to move. All across the world Your children do the same and I am their sibling, after all, though unbelievably lucky to have been born in a body and place that ensure me basic rights. Your children have no rights anywhere. No right to live and breed freely in the wild; no right to be the masters of their own bodies; no right to be seen as a living creature at all, let alone an individual with wants and needs and a soul as valuable as every other.

People will say I’m exaggerating. I’m not. You know I’m not. Help me, Mother. Teach me how to shield my heart so I don’t have to harden it. Show me how to embrace the pain without making it part of myself. I refuse to be ignorant; I refuse to be uncaring; I refuse to be hopeless. But it’s so hard to face a future that feels inevitable and a truth that seems too heavy to bear. I have feared all my life that it would be my fate to watch Your children perish by the species, and thus far I have been given no reason to think it might be otherwise. So what do I do? How do I move forward? Help me, Mother.