Feb 27, 2012

Monday music break: Cassandra Syndrome

Happy Monday!  Last week was my organization's annual retreat.  This year we had it at the National Conservation Training Center in Shepherdstown, WV.  Although mountains aren't usually my thing, it's really quite beautiful up there.  One of our team-building activities was an evening sitting around a bonfire playing silly games and otherwise enjoying each others' company.  I took photos during the bonfire, so I'll be sure to share a few of those when I get a chance to upload them.

For now, please enjoy this video by my favorite local bands, Cassandra Syndrome.  They are a pagan band with a a brooding, operatic metal sound.  They are really, really amazing, especially live - and I'm not just saying that because I'm friends with the bassist :)  This song, "Shackles," from their 2nd album Satire X, really speaks to what I've been pondering much of lately in terms of the systemic mindlessness of society, and the shackles that we allow ourselves to wear in the name of fitting in.  

And here's a bonus song, because I love their music so damn much and want to share the love.  Here's a live recording of "Mirror, Mirror."  This song is almost certainly the best song off of their first album, Of Patriots and Tyrants.

If you like what you hear, please check out more of their music at www.cassandrasyndrome.com, and if you are so inclined please support local artists and buy one of their albums.

Feb 20, 2012

Monday Music Break: Android Lust

I've been in a very dark place this past week, thanks to a dispute with my coven leadership that quickly spiraled out of control. Between the ongoing anxiety attack and the severe depression that's been lacing my days, I haven't done much besides hole up with Grey's Anatomy and Angel on Netflix streaming, cry, and hug my boyfriend a lot. Oh, and there's been chocolate too. Chocolate is a key ingredient in self care.

Maybe what I really need for these sorts of days is another plushie to squoosh.  A plush Pintsize or Winslow would be super cute, and I have to admit the uber-happy expressions might cheer me up. (If you don't know who Pintsize and Winslow are, go check out Questionable Content!  This comic is made of sheer awesomesauce.)

Plush Pintsize and Winslow
Source: Questionable Content shop

I did finally feel calm and clear-headed enough last night to draft a letter to leadership about the matter.  I decided to sleep on it and give it a look with fresh eyes tonight to make sure I'm saying what I need to and not saying anything rash or accusatory.

Today's Monday Music Break is inspired by all of the Projekt samplers I've been listening to lately.  Android Lust is featured on several of them, and now I'm kind of in love with their music. A little goth, a little electronica, a little industrial, lots of awesome.

You can listen to more of their music here: http://music.androidlust.com/

What music is inspiring you lately?

Feb 14, 2012

Tuesday Music Break: Valentine's Day!

Oops, I'm a day late with my music break!  Today I'm sharing a Valentine's Day song by one of my favorite pagan artists, S.J. Tucker.  Isn't this song gorgeously poetic?

And remember, on this Valentine's Day full of love and romance and stuff: Love your tree.  Because as RuPaul says, "If you can't love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?  Can I get an amen??"


Feb 10, 2012

Does the gender binary still have a place in modern Wicca?

My coven has been performing a full moon ritual for the last few months that involves drawing down the god as "high priest" and then calling upon him to help draw down the goddess/moon into you.
Some of us have voiced discomfort with the idea of being required to use the gender binary/polarity in this ritual.  From my perspective, I don't need a man to help me draw down- I'm a powerful witch in my own right.  And if I do need help, why must it be only a man?  This feels like the patriarchy asserting itself in my spiritual work, which I am not okay with.

Using the gender binary is also exclusive of non-cisgendered people (and non-cis gods!).  I view the gods, as with people, with flexible gender (as above, so below) - nobody is exclusively masculine or feminine.  I'm with Dr. Kinsey, and many other sociological theorists.  I believe that things like sex, sexuality, gender expression, gender identity, good and evil, are all on a continuum.

Some flavors of paganism/witchcraft have begun to shy away from using gods that are exclusively male or female.  I just finished reading Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle.  She discusses how the gods of Feri (God Herself, the Peacock God, etc.) tend to break the boundaries of the gender polarity. 

So my personal views aside, does the gender binary still have a place in modern Wicca?  Is it time to evolve our views on the gods?  What other traditions or god/desses are you aware of that break the boundaries of gender/sex/sexuality?  Please discuss!

Feb 7, 2012

The never-ending puppy cross-stitch project

How did you all like my Monday Music Break?  I didn't receive any comments, but hopefully I got a few of you dancing or turned on to new music :)

I'm almost done with my puppy cross-stitch project!  Finally.  All I've got left is finishing the little saying at the bottom, "never underestimate the power of a nap."

I worked a good deal on it while watching the Superbowl on Sunday with my boyfriend and roommate.   Like you do.  What can I say, my life is full of weird things that don't seem to go together, but work great for me.

Then last night I finished all the outline back stitching, and started on the words.  Right now it says "underesti" because I ran out of red thread, and my hands started to hurt from holding that tiny hoop for several hours.  And then I'll add all the double French knots that go on the ends of the letters, and be done!  

Of course, those double french knots will probably be the death of me.  I spent a half hour last night trying to remember how to do one, and even with the little illustration on the back of the pattern, I couldn't get it right.  Argh.

Seriously, I just don't get this.  Maybe I can find a helpful video later...

In other news, I recently joined Pinterest, in case anyone is interested in following any of my boards on there.  Right now I'm using the site mostly as inspiration boards for my blog, personal style, and such.  Oh, and I'm also pinning Doctor Who things just for fun.  Of course :)

Feb 6, 2012

Monday Music Break - Inaugural Edition

I'm introducing a new weekly feature - the Monday music break!

Music is almost certainly the biggest part of my magickal repertoire.  Music speaks to my soul, and often I feel that a song can say what I cannot with simple words.  I am inspired by all types of music, from classical to pagan folk artists to metal.  I also write chants for ritual as part of my Great Work.

Admittedly this isn't an entirely original idea, as I've seen other blogs with similar features, like The Hathor Legacy's Thursday Interruption feature.  I haven't seen any blogs doing this with pagan music, though.  So in keeping with the pagany theme of my blog I'll probably be sharing music by pagan artists most of the time, but really I just want to share music that is currently moving and inspiring me.

The first is a chant by T. Thorn Coyle and Sharon Knight, that has been running in and out of my head all winter.  I wonder if Hecate has something to say to me?

And since it's the inaugural Monday music break, you get bonus music!  In fact you get 4 songs by the Alabama Shakes.  I heard the Alabama Shakes on WXPN's most recent World Cafe podcast and was absolutely taken by their powerful, soulful music.  Oh blues music, it's like you're speaking my heart.

Feb 4, 2012

Spreading the Word

You may have heard by now that Dr. Gwendolyn Reece, a researcher at American University, is doing a survey about the needs of the Pagan/Wiccan/Heathen communities.  She's looking for at least 2,000 participants (age 18 and older) to ensure high-quality data.  The survey closes on May 1, 2012.

I took the survey last week.  There were some good questions that actually made me think hard about my relationships with other people (pagan and non-pagan alike), how those people view me, and how safe I feel as a pagan in a predominantly non-pagan world. 

If you haven't already, I really encourage you to take it.  It's anonymous and only takes 15 minutes to complete:

Feb 3, 2012

Magickal birdy jewelry

I just snatched up a couple of really beautiful pieces of jewelry from my friend Jenn's Etsy shop!  I saw these two pieces and got a very strong push from my patroness, Rhiannon, to buy her birdy jewelry.

Although Rhiannon is often associated with horses (especially white horses), she is also associated with birds - more specifically, her 3 birds (the Adar Rhiannon).  It is said that their song can wake the dead and lull the living to sleep.  In the Mabinogian, the Adar Rhiannon sing to the 7 Welsh warriors who survived the war with the Irish (and Bran's head, who is still able to talk to the warriors) while they feast for 7 years at Harlech.

"The Birds of Rhiannon" by Johanna Pieterman.  Used in accordance with the principles of fair use.

Given my long-time affinity for birding, I tend to connect more with the bird imagery than with horses.  When I visualize Rhiannon's birds, I often picture 3 songbirds in red, blue, and yellow circling around her head, or flying about nearby in a somewhat triangular formation.  Rhiannon also has a very "silvery" vibe for me, much like the image above.

Lovebirds necklace by justatouchofmagick
"Lovebirds" necklaces from www.etsy.com/justatouchofmagick
Isn't this darling?  I can't wait to wear it in ritual.  I'm even kind of getting a push to dedicate this necklace to Rhiannon... we'll see once I have it in hand.

Nevermore earrings by justatouchofmagick
"Nevermore" earrings from www.etsy.com/justatouchofmagick
Raven earrings with crystals and stars - they're cute and dark all at once..  I don't work with the Morrigan, but these definitely have her vibe, too.  I think there's also some blendy-ness of Rhiannon's darker aspects and the Morrigan, as seen in the alternate spelling MorRhiogan.  If I get them in the mail in time for our Imbolc ritual, I can wear them to honor the passing of the torch, as it were, from the Morrigan to Brighid for the warmer half of the year.  The Secret Life of the American Working Witch talks more about this balance between Brighid and the Morrigan in her latest blog entry.

Do you have any sacred jewelry dedicated to a god or goddess?
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