#2068

I dreamed I was in a giant antique store which contained all sorts of pagan/witchy items. While I was walking around, a woman I did not recognize (either in the dream or in real life) found me and was convinced I was supposed to be her teacher; it seemed she had received a sign or some sort of spiritual message that I was the one to teach her witchcraft. I politely turned her down at first by saying I thought she had the wrong person, but she would not leave me alone. She stuck by her story and her certainty that I was the person she was told to find. At some point I became frustrated and snapped, “I’m not even a witch! I’m just a pagan who does some witchy stuff with my gods!” Yet something in my gut told me the woman’s certainty must have a bit of truth to it. I was even considering showing her my book of shadows, but the dream changed at that point. I woke from the dream feeling like I needed to listen to its message; while some of my dreams feel like random sleeping-brain entertainment, and others like memories of past lives, this one definitely felt like it was trying to tell me something. I couldn’t figure out what, though, so I turned to my tarot cards.

Question: What message was my dream trying to send?
Card: Ace of Pentacles
Interpretation: The Ace of Pentacles is all about prosperity. It can indicate financial security, a new financial or educational venture, or other forms of abundance – though it also cautions that patience and work are required to make these gains. Pentacles can also apparently refer to self-image, self-esteem, and the ego, as well as that which manifests itself in the physical world.

Question: What step should I take now?
Card: Justice
Interpretation: Justice counsels the need to make a reasoned and thoughtful decision after having weighed all factors. It also urges you to admit and acknowledge the truth of a situation. Justice is not necessarily a mind-over-heart card, but it does emphasize balancing the two.

Question: Who sent this dream?
Card: Nine of Wands
Interpretation: The Nine of Wands is a lull, a little breathing-room amid the constant battles of life. It indicates someone with a core of inner strength, someone who won’t back down from what they believe is right; they might be called persistent or tenacious, or even stubborn, inflexible, or rebellious. This card is also associated with fire, and especially with the fire signs Aries and Leo.

After mulling over the cards and talking with my wife, I think I sent myself the dream – or at least some inner shadow part of me did. I think the woman in the dream was that part of myself trying to get my attention. It could be that I have focused so much on outward aspects of my spirituality, such as my gods, that I have neglected to nourish my inner spiritual aspects. Even with my new journey toward self-love, I’ve been focusing way more on Inanna, what She wants from me and what I can do for Her, than myself… which is kinda the opposite of self-love. I think I need to focus inwards and get to know my (witchy??) self.

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#2064

Kneeling before Inanna’s altar I eat a pomegranate with my hands, bloody juice dripping down my fingers and chin. Sweet, bitter, I swallow seeds and spit out half-chewed rind. Inanna’s self-love isn’t all rose petals and bubble bath; it’s stained lips, sticky hands, the crunch of firm flesh beneath your teeth. Inanna’s self-love is red, raw, naked and proud of it. It is both the throne and the meat hook, the body and the spirit. She would have me know all of myself, especially those dark depths into which I am afraid to descend. There can be no self-love without acceptance, no acceptance without understanding, no understanding without recognition.

In my dreams I call myself witch.

#2052

Here’s what 2018 holds for me (spread from Tarot.com):

Question: A lesson learned in 2017
Card: 3 of Cups
Interpretation: This year I learned the value of developing community, in this case through the queer meetup I started early in the year. Through Queer Club I made several long lasting friendships that really encouraged me to get out of my comfort zone and boring routine. I had no idea what kind of impact it would have on me to have queer friends in real life; while I love the connections I’ve made online, there’s something much more comforting and immediate about being in a room full of other queer folks. I found this to be especially important in light of the downturn my country, and much of the world, has taken in the last year. While I can educate myself about all sorts of issues online, and offer my support, sometimes what I need is to just get off my electronics and hang out with friends. I’m so grateful for the connections I made in 2017 and excited to see how they develop in 2018.

Question: What to expect in the next year
Card: Ace of Cups
Interpretation: The Ace of Cups is here to tell me I’ll be doing more emotional, intuitive, and psychic work in 2018. I suspect I may be doing a lot of this work with Inanna’s support, as She has recently taken to communicating through cup cards. In addition, a recent energy reading mentioned a “small white bird”, which made me think of a white dove. Doves are common symbols in the cup cards of many tarot decks, and are also one of Aphrodite’s/Venus’ symbols. With Inanna encouraging me to focus on Her aspect as a goddess of love, She’s been reminding me a lot of Aphrodite and Venus (who are considered connected with Her).

Question: A challenge you’ll face in the next year
Card: 10 of Wands
Interpretation: 2018 looks to be a big year for me – more responsibilities at work, this new journey with Inanna, and the continued development of my intuition and spiritual practice. In between all that I also need to find time for family, friends, my wife, our animals, and my hobbies. The 10 of Wands therefore warns me I’ll be juggling a lot of responsibilities in 2018 and will need to tap into my inner strength to make it all happen. The 10 of Wands also rightly indicates that I’m afraid to take on some of these responsibilities and challenges (especially at work), so I’ll struggle with that anxiety as well.

Question: How to harness your inner power next year
Card: Knight of Pentacles
Interpretation: The Knight of Pentacles urges me to be methodical, patient, focused, and goal oriented. Its motto could be “slow and steady wins the race”, and there’s a lot of truth in that statement. I have zero patience, after all, and tend to procrastinate boring or unpleasant tasks out of laziness. If I want to successfully juggle all these different responsibilities and goals in 2018, I need to have a plan in place and not let myself get distracted or discouraged.

Question: Some guidance for the year ahead
Card: 4 of Pentacles
Interpretation: The 4 of Pentacles says let go! In 2018 I should try to let go of my need to control everything because all it does is cause me anxiety, anger, and depression. I need to be generous in spirit and with my blessings, instead of hoarding those blessings against some hypothetical future disaster. Having a savings is one thing; refusing to spend a dollar now because I might need it in thirty years is another. I did work on this during 2017, so I think the 4 of Pentacles is indicating I’m on the right path and should continue that work.

Question: Your personal theme for the year
Card: 4 of Cups
Interpretation: 2017 was a year of apathy as armor – though I’m not proud of being apathetic, I think a dose of apathy was what kept me from sinking even deeper into the well of depression. The 4 of Cups indicates that the time for apathy and internal discontent is over; it’s time to learn how to look within and act without, to find balance between introspection and action. Basically, I need to get out of my head, which some emotional and spiritual overhauling should help.

#2050

Inanna has been in my life for some time now, but I have yet to figure out why. I know She has plans for me, but I thus far haven’t been ready in Her eyes. I checked in with a tarot reading that gave me some unexpected answers.

Question: Where your path begins
Card: 7 of Cups
Interpretation: The 7 of Cups is a card of unlimited possibilities, fantasies, and paths. These endless choices muddle the mind and make it hard to act decisively. The head and heart may be at war, and the person may be tempted to eschew the inevitable choice for escapism or wishful thinking. I certainly feel like I’m standing in the intersection of a dozen different roads, and every direction I turn I see another option. In waiting for a strong sign from Inanna, perhaps I have lingered at this crossroads for too long. It may be time to close my eyes and trust my feet to take me down the right path. I have been trying to listen more closely to my intuition, after all.

Question: Where your path leads (the descent)
Card: 2 of Cups
Interpretation: Inanna’s path is a long and hard one, and I have feared where it might take me. I therefore did not expect to draw a card which signifies unity, relationships, understanding, and resolution or reconciliation. The 2 of Cups tells me Inanna’s path leads to an agreement or bond, or otherwise a harmony between two forces. I didn’t understand at first – was the card indicating my bond with my wife? With someone new? When I later pulled the Page of Cups, though, I determined that this card must indicate Inanna Herself.

Question: Where your path emerges
Card: Queen of Cups
Interpretation: I am so very fond of the Queen of Cups. She is a master of her intuition and subconscious, a fount of creativity, and exudes the peace needed for true introspection. She neither fears her emotions nor lets them subjugate her, but embraces and sets them free. She is everything I struggle to achieve; to know she lays at the end of this journey tells me Inanna’s path is the right one, wherever it leads me.

Question: What do you want from me?
Card: 4 of Wands
Interpretation: The 4 of Wands encourages celebration of an initial success to reward one’s hard work. Rest and relaxation have been well earned. This rejoicing can be but temporary, however, for there is much more work to come. Inanna wants to lead me to greater successes, and to celebrate those successes with me, but She also wants me to know my journey isn’t over.

Question: How will I know I’m ready?
Card: 5 of Pentacles
Interpretation: For the last two years, Inanna has been telling me I’m not ready for whatever She has planned. The 5 of Pentacles doesn’t feel like a very positive symbol of readiness, though; it’s all about feeling lost, faithless, and demoralized. You’re so preoccupied with practical difficulties and your personal sorrow that you can’t see the help that waits for you to just reach out. So what does this mean for me? Is Inanna saying that I will know I’m ready when I reach out on my own to her, instead of waiting for something to push me from behind?

I admit, I wasn’t sure what to make of this reading. I decided to draw a single clarifying card just to see if it could put things in perspective.

Question: Why are you in my life? (Asked with some exasperation… sorry Lady!)
Card: Page of Cups
Interpretation: Friendship, comfort, creativity, intuition, psychic ability, introversion and introspection. I am entering a new phase of emotional growth that requires relearning trust and embracing new feelings and attitudes. I must be still and look within, to listen to my inner voice and follow my intuition. Inanna will guide me on this journey, which will strengthen our bond and develop me spiritually in ways only She can show me. This feels like a very positive card.

Other thoughts: I pulled quite a few cups cards, so I know this journey is one of emotion. I pulled no swords, which is odd because Inanna usually uses swords to communicate with me. This reading makes me think I’ve been misinterpreting Her reason for being in my life – I thought She was going to lead me into some majorly dark stuff, because She always appears to me in Her war goddess form. But now I wonder… maybe She’s here to teach me to love myself. That will be fucking hard too, and it’ll require being tough and fierce, but it will also mean letting myself be soft and vulnerable too. I think I’ve been so focused on the Inanna of the descent that I overlooked Her other aspects. Still, it’ll be a hard journey…

#2049

Self-love in a woman is so radical it is akin to war. This is Inanna’s lesson.

The Queen of Heaven came to me painted in blood and exhaling ash; with every lightning crack the skull showed beneath Her proud face. She walked up out of the underworld carrying knowledge of life and death in Her curving flesh, and all the armies of man cowered before Her like dumb beasts before a lioness. I cowered too, for I was afraid of what She would demand of me. She is no gentle Aphrodite, no sweet-eyed Venus. She is Inanna, who dances on the battlefield, who strikes down mountains and laughs in Death’s face.

But, Stand daughter, She commanded and I obeyed. When I looked upon Her again, She was not half so terrifying. She wore red silk, not blood, and smelled of roses and myrrh. She was lovely as the dawn and dusk, and all the stars in the sky. Every gem has many facets, She said, and I will teach you to love all of yours. That is what it means to own yourself. That is what it means to fight back.

I begin to understand now. I ignored Inanna’s softer aspects, scornful of the vulnerability of femininity, and focused only on blood lust as Her mode of defiance. But men fear anyone with more power than theirs, and they gain power by making us hate ourselves. In this world, to be a goddess of love is as revolutionary as a goddess of war. Inanna does not rebel against patriarchal oppression with sword alone – She rebels by loving Herself, by taking ownership of Her body and treating it like the sacred vessel it is. Inanna shows us that all we need do to break our chains is embrace ourselves. Self-love is the shield with which we may protect ourselves as we walk onto the battlefield.

I do not know how to love myself. I do not know how to love this body. But if anyone can show me how, it is She who walked naked into the underworld, dressed only in Her self-love, and back out in triumph.

#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!