Thursday, July 3, 2014

N is for Newbies

This post might piss some people off.  That wasn’t an apology. 
Newbies.    The new Pagan or new witch.  We all know them, and guess what?  We all WERE new at one point in time.  Holy smokes!  We were all in the same place as some of these people!  Whoda thunkit?
This post isn’t going to bash newbies (much), but it is going to discuss the attitudes a lot of people in the Pagan community have toward those who are just beginning on their paths. has this tongue-in-cheek post about types of Pagans.   The new ones are described as such:
1. Bright-Eyed Novice:
You just read this cool book about a religion where there's a Goddess and a God, and they meet outside in nature, instead of some scary old building. They think sex is GOOD not evil, and you want to know where to sign up.
Distinguishing Signs:
Mispronounces god/dess names, has to think a moment about which is deosil and which is widdershins. Has a shiny new athame (rhymes with "A-frame".)

Now, again, this is HUMOR, but unfortunately, a lot of people see the “bright-eyed novice” and either roll their eyes or bash them outright.  “How dare you not know such and such?  I’ve known that for years!”    Well, guess what?  You learned it from somewhere, didn’t you, oh wise one?

I’ve been a practicing (sorta practicing, anyway) Pagan for over 15 years now, and I honestly have to say I roll my eyes just as much at the more “experienced” members of the community because of their attitudes of superiority. 

That brings me to a HUGE pet peeve I have:  The term “fluffy bunny”.   As I understand it, the term can be used to describe people who are new as well as people who *gasp* don’t acknowledge the dark sides of the path.    Grow the fuck up, seriously.   Did you get into Paganism because you felt bashed for your beliefs and thought it would be fun to bash other people for their beliefs instead?   Does calling someone a fluffy bunny make you feel better about yourself?   If so, you might need to do some self evaluation there, sparky.

My approach is to listen, answer questions, and help guide people.  The path to the Divine is deeply personal, but sometimes people need help forging their own path.  I’ll let you borrow my scythe for a minute so you can start cutting down some weeds and start walking your own way, y’all.

I try to guide people away from what I see as the misconception that Paganism and D&D are intertwined.   *Whispers*  They’re not.     I’m not necessarily judging your path or your practice if you really, truly, honestly think you’re a dragon or a wolf or whatever, but I am seriously questioning your grasp on reality.  If you want to play fantasy games, go right on, but por favor, don’t attach that shit to me.  

Poor newbies get confused easily  at times, and some of them might think that that’s the norm.  Not so much.  

They are exploring. They are finding what works for them.  Some of them want to do only helpful things (aka “white magic”).  Others might want to pretend to be super-ultra-mega powerful dark witches or whatever, but again, they just need some guidance.   And possibly a boot to the head.   This goes for EVERYBODY, though, not just the newbies.

Not everyone wants guidance, and some people cannot be reached, but I still want to try, if only to protect my reputation.  Yeah, so I’m a bit selfish, but not entirely.

Some people never grow out of the attention-seeking phase.  I’ve known plenty who have, however.  This isn’t the fault of Paganism; rather that’s a combination of self-esteem issues and who knows what else.   Again, though, this isn’t something that only new Pagans exhibit.  I know way more experienced Pagans who are insufferable twits.

My point, after all of my ranting and raving, is this:  

New does not mean bad, wrong, or stupid.  It means new.  It means inexperienced and possibly in need of some more education.  Instead of being all high and mighty about your years of experience, why not try this:
·         Recommend some books by reputable authors.  Show them the basics and let them go from there.

·         Use all of your knowledge and experience to offer advice based on interest – Greek mythology, the Celts, whatever.  Factual, not fictional, please and thank you.

·         Stop using that annoying fucking fluffy bunny term before I puke through my eyes.

·         Foster a sense of community.  Work on bringing people together rather than driving them apart. 


Sunday, June 22, 2014

M is for Magical Names

Magical names, Craft names, Witchy names – whatever you want to call them, have a special significance to many.    While not everyone chooses one, many do prefer to take on another name while practicing or attending events.  There are many reasons for this. 

Some people choose a special, new name because they feel it fits their newfound selves. Others may choose a magical name because they don’t want to be ‘outed’ by having their real name in groups, on forums, or associated with Paganism in any other way.  There are also a few who just wanna be ‘cool’.  Come on…you know it’s true.

Names, preferences, and beliefs and practices change over time, so it isn’t unusual for a magical name to be changed once it no longer ‘fits’ its owner.   There is also the phenomenon of Ravens, Morganas, Willows, Wolves, and Ambers in the Pagan community.  I can’t tell you how many people I’ve encountered who went by Raven or Wolf or had a name that included one (or both, ahem) of those monikers.

There are many, many methods for choosing a name.  Numerology is used by some.  Magical names that reflect the owner’s path are also used.  Yet another method is meditation and allowing the name to just come, perhaps as a message from a personal deity.   Whatever name you use, it should be one that is carefully chosen and not just a “flavor of the month” that you’ll grow out of before you’re ready to change your socks.  Of course, if that’s your style, far be it for me to judge, of course!  

This brings me to my name.   When I first embarked on my path to the Divine, I had a different name.  You’ll probably laugh.  One day, I was in that state between asleep and awake, and a name came to me.  It reflected my personality and my intentions.  My brain said to me, “Greenlady”.   Not Lady such-and-such, mind you, but adopting a Lord or Lady title is something rookies tend to do.  It resonated with me…sort of.  I didn’t really use it, though.   I felt strange having another name.  I didn’t feel it the way I wanted to feel it 

 So I went without for a long time.

I don’t believe magical names are necessary at all.  In fact, for a lot of people, they may not even be desirable.  I never thought I HAD to have one, but I did like the idea of being called something other than by birth name, which I consider rather boring.  It doesn’t really fit me either.  I like my surname, but my first and middle names are just ‘meh’. 

Fast forward a few years to a non-practicing Pagan-flavored Agnostic woman living in Istanbul, absorbing local culture and customs (and fooooood!).    Wait, let me go back again.  Further back, to middle school English class.   We read the myth of Persephone, and I became enamored.  The name Persephone was – and still is – very beautiful to me.   I explored this story a bit more and read more about mythology.
Later, I became a huge fan of one of her symbols – the pomegranate.   I had had a few pomegranates before moving to Turkey, but there they are plentiful and more flavorful.  Juice stands press these gorgeous fruits into a dark red juice that is tart on the palate.   I began to connect with this symbol of Persephone, of the womb, of  life and rebirth. 

I couldn’t just call myself ‘Pomegranate’ though, now, could I?  That would be silly (she said facetiously). 
Nar.   The Turkish word for pomegranate is nar.   Now, I may not be Turkish, but I consider that just an accident of birth.  It’s a country that I really love, a beautiful country with a long and colorful (and often bloody) history.   I was learning the language, and food vocabulary is what we learned first.  After all, teachers gotta eat, right?  

The pomegranate is a sacred symbol in many belief systems, and I identify with its season of fall.  I explored the symbolism a bit more, and it just felt right.  I am Nar.   Nice to meet you. 

Let the Countdown Officially Begin!

Yesterday we observed the summer solstice, the longest day of the year.  From here on out, days get shorter.  The temperatures may soar for a few more months, but there will be cooler weather soon.  Even though we are in the middle of summer, my eyes and my heart look to autumn, my favorite season.

Autumn is truly the season of the witch, and although I love cooking dishes using summer's bounty, I look forward to the harvest holidays the most.  Autumn is the time I enjoy most of all, before the biting, bitter cold of winter.  It may seem like the season of dying for some, and I suppose it is, but it is when I come to life.  It is when I feel the strongest connection to the earth, when life turns inward for a season of introspection and inner growth.

Then there is Samhain...Ah, Samhain. Beautiful, wonderful Halloween/Samhain, followed closely by the Day of the Dead.  It's a time of remembrance and feeling a stronger connection with those who have come before.  It is a time to revel in the mysteries of the wise and aged, a time to take their wisdom to heart and put it into practice.  Plus the cobwebs and dust in my house look like decorations!  Ha!

What season do you like best?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Touched by his Noodley Appendage

High five if you got the Flying Spaghetti Monster reference.

Now, on to the noodle salad!

I know I've mentioned this before, but I suck at food photography.

This makes a LOT.  I'm going to a potluck, so I needed a good amount.

Noodle Salad:
* 1 package extra firm tofu, pressed, dried, cut into cubes
* oil for frying
* 1 cup shredded carrot
* 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage
* 1 cup sugar snap peas, cut into small-ish pieces
* 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
* 1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced into strips
* 1 16-oz. box angel hair pasta

* 1/3 cup lite soy sauce
* 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
* 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
* 2 tablespoons brown sugar
* 2 cloves garlic
* 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled

Put the garlic and ginger in a food processor and pulse until chopped.  Add the rest of the ingredients and pulse to combine.

Cook the pasta until just al dente.  Drain.  I rinsed mine a bit, but you don't have to.

If you are using the tofu (and you can certainly leave it out), deep fry in oil until cubes are crispy and golden.  Drain on paper towels.

In a very large bowl, combine the vegetables, pasta, and tofu.  Toss with the dressing.  

Optional: Add a tablespoon or two of furikake (Japanese rice seasoning).  There are many varieties available. I used one with toasted sesame seeds in with the seaweed.

Feel free to use gluten-free pasta.

Glad Midsummer!

A very happy summer solstice to all!  It's overcast and a bit spritzy here today, but hopefully that will clear up for tonight's celebration.

 I'm about to start potluck preparations. I decided to take some chicken legs and a noodle salad.  The noodle salad will be vegan because there are a few vegetarians in the group.  I am going to do an Asian-ish noodle salad.  The idea is in my brain, but I don't have the exact measurements yet.  I will post the recipe once I work things out outside of my mind.

The chicken legs are going to get coated in a sesame-orange-ginger-pineapple glaze.  The noodle salad will be made with regular ol' angel hair pasta and cubes of fried tofu, some Napa cabbage, shredded carrot, red bell pepper, green onions, and sugar snap peas.  I'm going to make a sesame-ginger dressing for it, and I will probably sprinkle on some furikake, too.   Mmmmm!  I'm excited to get the cooking started!

I hope you all have a lovely celebration, whatever you do!  

Friday, June 20, 2014

Money and Magic

Money has been on my mind a lot lately.  There's never enough of it to go around, never enough to cover every single bill that needs to be taken care of.  It's a situation, one that makes me lose sleep and cry from time to time.

In the past, I have written about ways to save money in the kitchen, and I do my best to use a lot of those methods.  Still, there isn't much I can do to make my electricity bill lower (I've tried) or the cell phone plan, or, or, or...

I looked at my bank account this morning and saw that the car insurance had cleared.  The water bill is next.  I barely have enough to get gas in the car and a few crappy grocery items.  Payday for the Aussie is the 26th.  For me, it's the 30th.   What's a girl to do?

Sometimes people turn to magic to help with money woes.  I do and don't.  I've been known to whip up a batch of Prosperity Shortbread Cookies from time to time (actually my go-to "get a job" cookie recipe), but as for doing spells to get money, I steer clear.  Why?

Well, it has been my experience - and that of others I've spoken to - that the Universe is not particular.  You can be specific, but it still does what it wants.  If you're not specific, look out!  You might be in for quite a ride.   No, the Universe isn't terribly particular in HOW it helps when you ask it for help.

To illustrate further, a dear friend related a story to me of a man who needed a certain amount of money.  He prayed.  He did spellwork.  He did this and that to get this amount of money, and it worked.  Sort of.  It worked in such a way that it made me want to avoid money magic for the rest of my life.  Let's just say it involved a horrific auto accident in which he remained in the back seat, while his legs joined the driver in the front seat.  He got his money, but at what cost?

I don't do spellwork for money because the money might come from a source I'd rather it didn't.  An inheritance, for example.  I'd rather not have anyone die just so I can get a few extra dollars.  I'd rather not win a settlement from an accident that leaves me disabled, either.  I'm gonna pass on that and just rearrange my retirement funds to get the money I need in order to get caught up on the bills, bills, bills.

If you are in need of a small amount to help you get through the month, I think it's all right to burn that green candle.  Leave out a dish of sesame seeds.  Plant a money plant.  Visualize a little extra coming in from somewhere or something.  Then, you must take some action to make it happen.  Again, the Universe ain't too damn particular, so you kind of have to take matters into your own hands for those small amounts.   Have a yard sale.  Put something on eBay.  Practical steps of that type are what you need to take to make it happen.   Don't depend solely on magic for anything, really.  That's been my stance for a very long time.

Also, evaluate your reasons.  Why do you need the money?  Were you frivolous earlier in the month?   Or did something big and unexpected come up, like a car repair or a home repair?  Did a pet have to go to the vet?   For me, it's a chiropractic bill that my insurance didn't fully cover.  It's a cancelled satellite bill (Suddenlink finally came through and I was able to drop that awful Frontier bullshit).   It's home repairs and owing my parents back payments for the trailer because the Aussie was out of work and I wasn't able to give them anything.   I haven't been buying crazy shit that I don't need; I've just been trying to survive.   (Okay, maybe Internet isn't a necessity, per se, but I do have to work at home sometimes, so it sort of is...)

Anyhell,  it boils down to this:  Avoid the temptation to do money spells for big amounts.  Little bits of prosperity magic should be fine.  Just remember to do your part, too.  Don't leave it all up to magic.