Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Fantom Fest 2014 in San Antonio, TX

I was very excited to be able to return to the Menger Historic Hotel to vend at the Fantom Fest 2014.  This hotel is beautiful and situated right across the street from the Alamo in downtown San Antonio, TX.  As a previous night auditor there, I can tell you without a doubt that this place is truly haunted... but I was made to sign disclaimers and documents preventing any public discussion of my 'paranormal experiences'.  You'll just have to read the book "Histories & Mysteries of the Menger" for the fluffier versions. I'm hoping at some point that they do allow a TV show to do a ghost hunting episode investigation there.
 My vending table at Fantom Fest, featuring handmade organic herbal goods, candles, jewelry, and magickal supplies.  Because it was a ghost hunting event, I focused on cleansing and protection.
Because there were Cosplay, Gaming, and Comic conventions going on simultaneously, I decided to dress up as myself- a Witch.  Just put on my regular clothes and popped on my pointy hat!
I was very busy setting up and vending so I was not able to take any of the classes or workshops given by the many celebrity speakers.  I did really enjoy myself though and want to thank my friends who stopped by and my brother who helped me so much that weekend.  I met all of the paranormal guests at least briefly.  For the most part, they were just really down to earth cool people. They brought their books, their art, and their stories to teach and entertain us. There were a few disappointments... I think being on TV or radio shows gave certain folks an inflated sense of ego, but hey, that is their luggage to haul around.
There was a guy making the most realistic vampire fangs I have ever seen. They were $100 but Hollywood quality. I passed on those (I think I would injure myself somehow) but bought several books and a St. Michael's medal that had been blessed at the Vatican. These were available at noted paranormal radio host's Dave Schrader's table (pictured below). We joked that even though he didn't know exactly who blessed the medals- the Pope or not- even a janitor working at the Vatican is sanctified!  I've been listening to Mr. Schrader's radio show for years- Darkness on the Edge of Town now usually shortened to Darkness Radio 
 Both Dustin Pari of TAPS and psychic Dakota Lawrence were very nice guys and great to meet!
 Robert Murch, an expert, collector, and artist of Ouija Boards was great. He had some really beautiful work at his table and gave me an ear load about working with the djinn. Very knowledgeable and interesting guy!
He brought both classic rare boards as well as many handmade pieces.  The snakeskin leather planchettes were gorgeous.

It was good to see psychic medium Jen Devellier again!  I met her last year at a Day of the Dead Paranormal event downtown. She was kind enough to sign one of her books for me.  Local horror author Tim Miller was there. After hearing that his writing was so graphic that wouldn't carry it, I had to pick up a few titles.  I'll let you know how that goes when I get some time to read those.  I really nice guy had helped my brother and I push my giant wagon train of boxes and display pieces into the vendors room before the event. Turns out that this was San Antonio's local Leather Face who is at so many conventions!  Thanks so much dude!  He scared the crap out of my mom once at MonsterCon. She was good natured about it and I have pics.

I also got to meet Steve Santini and his very sweet wife from the show Deals from the Darkside! He was named most extreme escape artist by Ripley's Believe it or Not and has been seen on Stan Lee's show Superhumans.  A fellow deep freak with a heart of black gold! Loved meeting them both. He had a table with a few curious antiques such as a chastity strap, a very evil looking iron mask, and various torture devices and chains.

Some of the other costumes seen about the event:

Curandero, Brujo, Witch, & Wiccan: Conflation & Defamation

While reading through the discussion board of an online Curanderismo class I'm taking offered by the University of New Mexico, I came across a thought provoking thread on the terms 'Witch' and 'Brujo' in relation to the healing practices of Mexico and other indigenous people's of the Americas. There were many good points on both sides and passions ran high.  It began when one of the instructors, who self identifies as a Curandera, separated herself from 'witchcraft' and 'brujas'.  She told of how as a spiritual and herbal healer she had been called a 'puta' (equivalent to English bitch, slut, or whore) and a 'bruja' (witch, sorceress).  She was visibly uncomfortable and strongly asserted she is not these things.  As this is an extremely large online class open to students around the world, there of course are those who practice various modern Witchcraft, Shamanic, and Pagan religions. Some took offense.  I know I was a bit put off but was willing to listen and consider. The thread ran in many tangents. Some claimed all herbal and energetic workers were Witches and that all terms that could be translated as 'witch' needed to be reclaimed for positive uses. Other felt all 'witches' were Satanic. There was plenty of misinformation about the various African Diaspora Traditions and synchretic Catholic elements.  There were well founded requests for European descended practitioners to respect indigenous definitions of their own terms and to avoid conflating them with modern Wiccan understandings. I had this creeping sensation that all the lines we draw in the sand are so temporary and not worth drawing blood over...  One aspect of stepping into another culture to learn is setting aside your own cultural assumptions and really listen with fresh eyes and ears.  The cross comparisons, the conflation and appropriation, the act of labeling others and ourselves- this is not why we are here but seems like such an ubiquitous human impulse.

Before going any further with my discussion I would like to deeply thank the Elders and Teachers in the Curanderismo class who have taken the effort to open their traditions to outsiders.  It is unprecedented and a true gift. Their efforts to create a form of wholistic health combining modern Western medicine with traditional herbal knowledge and techniques takes its cue from the success of Chinese medicine which has done the same on a very large scale.  We saw that many Curanderos are using elements of Chinese medicine within their own practices. In fact, the Mayan's had their own ancient form of fire cupping and scraping similar to Chinese cupping and gua sha and so these elements meld easily.  This approach has been refreshing after listening to rants about cultural, magickal, and racial purity. A distinct tradition exists but if it is living and breathing, it grows, adapts, and overcomes. The class has just been a joy to take.

Curanderismo class website:
The specific thread in question:

So my response to the instructor's comment, the original thread poster's question, and all the bugaloo following:  I was initially really astounded by the instructor's aggressive attitude toward being called a 'bruja'. The open distaste as she spat out the word bothered me. But it demonstrated that she, like the majority of other Hispanic and Native people, agrees with the definition of brujo as evil.  So what is this 'evil' that brujos are supposedly doing, that Curanderos are separating themselves from?  I know Curanderos who do blocking, binding, removal, and send back work- all defensive and occasionally offensive movements of energy. I also know many who will give spells to help criminals be invisible, help to steal other people's spouses, to get your boss fired, etc. You can walk into any of the 20 + botanicas in my city and ask for this.  Those all could be defined as negative workings. The difference between a Curandero & a Brujo is really semantics. The Brujos I know locally laugh at it. Still I'm very cautious with any attempt as an outsider to reclaim the word 'brujo' for 'good'. I know workers within the cultural context who are and that is their struggle. However, I think as a student I have a legitimate complaint. Any teacher in this course must know on some level that within the hundreds of online students taking it, some herbalist or spiritual worker will be identifying themselves as 'witch'. Why alienate them by singling out that word in your introduction video?

I am a working Witch. I provide services, ritual art, and hand made organic herbal goods for both spiritual and physical cleansing. This is both my Spiritual Path and how I make a modest living. I actually do a lot of work on trade. I have strong personal ethical code and have turned down negative work on many occasions. No breaking marriages and no spirits in bottles. I do believe any worker has the right to defend themselves and their clients, which may manifest as either defensive (blocking and removing what has already been sent) or offensive (reaching out to bind one from doing harm or sending that ugly energy back to it's source).

I have multiple forms of praxis but am largely informed by Southern style Conjure and Traditional Witchcraft, Hedge and Sabbatic varieties.  The healing energy in plants, both genuinely therapeutic and the imbued anima, are my main form of expression. Taking the Curanderismo course has expanded my knowledge of the physically therapeutic aspect of native plants in my region of the Southwest.  I do plan to continue in my herbal studies after completing this course.

The majority of my clients are Hispanic Catholics.  I have a few regular Caucasian Pagan and Protestant African American clients as well.  I respect the very different views that each of these populations comes to me with.  I use 'Witch' regardless of the cultural baggage associated with it bc it best describes what I do- I 'see' (Witta- witness, witty, wisdom) and I 'bend' (Wicca- wicker, wicked, whittle).  My work is fairly shamanic but I don't refer to myself with that term (it has it's own special baggage centered around cultural appropriation and the New Age). Hispanic people will often ask if I am a 'white witch' or a 'bruja'.  I do not work in distinct fields of black or white- energy is like water in Nature, both destructive and creative, killing us in floods or feeding us with rain on our seeds.  I usually say I am a 'Green Witch' meaning a natural Witch.  I've had people seek my services but still insist I'm going to hell.  That is their cultural perception, not mine.

I did have one run in with local members of a biker club, which will remain unnamed.  They had wanted the same flea market stall I was in but I had offered the rent first that morning.  I was warned by nearby merchants to be careful. 4 large members of the local chapter walked by a few times then came in gruffly asking who I was and what I was doing in that stall.  I told them I was a Witch and discussed a bit of what I sold. One of the guys looked at the others and said 'Bruja'. They left without saying anything else. Later that week my brother got a call from a friend of his who is a club member.  He was freaking out about the whole thing, very concerned for me. He couldn't believe I was 'the Witch' because he had been over at our house for dinner a few times and it was never mentioned.  Our house looks like a very good Catholic home downstairs- my private world is upstairs.

Both the words 'Bruja' and 'Witch' have real power in Hispanic culture. This is much more than just wearing fairy jewelry and flitting around festivals in your sparkles. This can lead to ostracism, people not doing business with or renting to you, job loss, unfriendly neighbors, death threats- there is a real level of fear and willingness to take action against perceived magickal threats that most Caucasian Wiccans will never have to face. There are also strong associations between witchcraft and the violence of drug cartels.  I've had to talk to my mom about publicly outing me at local Bar-B-Q's and adverting my services at her work place. While she is just proud to have a daughter that is different and a family that is progressively respectful of diverse religions, how the word 'witch' sounds on our Hispanic neighbor's, in-laws, and coworker's ears is not to be underestimated. It's one thing to whip up a batch of green rice for ladies playing bingo. It's an entirely different playing field when they come over with a cow tongue and jar of nails to deal with their gossipy coworker.  I don't want my mom associated with any of that or be targeted by fearful people. The majority of people we live and work with are Hispanic. I've married into a Mexican American family. We have to respect these beliefs. In another incident, I was stopped from drinking out of my cup at work one night because a security guard saw a coworker put powder in it when I stepped away.  She wrongly felt I had worked against her and consulted a local Brujo on how to 'destroy me'.  Such an ugly cycle to get caught in. Needless to say, I dealt with it successfully and she is out of my life.  I think this is the type of negativity and fear that the instructor of the Curandero course was trying to separate herself from.  In that regard, I completely understand.
Interestingly, I have some of the loveliest Brujo friends. Very wonderful people. They have claimed the word for themselves and also accept the English word Witch.  These are Spanish speaking Mexicans living in the US. They barely speak English- my point being I'm not sure there is a case to be made that they are influenced by European varieties of Wicca and Caucasian reclamations of the word 'witch'.  Between my conversations with them as well as a few other Brujeros online, they feel that they are doing much the same work as Curanderos.  When I asked what the difference is they say that there really isn't much, just a perception by outsiders of 'good' or 'bad'. They discussed Curanderos who do take on defensive and offensive work beyond merely healing. They also rejected the notion that a brujo is essentially 'evil'.

This does not deny the fact that there are many Hispanic followers of the new religion 'Wicca', which came to the Americas in the 1950's via various British authors.  Some of these folks do equate a Brujo with a "Wiccano".  Many of the popular mainstream Wiccan books being pumped out by Llewellyn are now translated into Spanish and readily available.  There are also many pulp pamphlets and booklets in the botanicas containing a mix of Catholic folk magick, Hoodoo, and Granny Magick. These do not contain a shred of Wiccan elements.  Any resemblance between them is the result of both groups drawing from Ceremonial Magick; hence the sigils, pentacles, and zodiac. Wicca of course completely leaves out the psalms and other Abrahamic elements.  I would argue that while traditional Brujeria is from a totally different cultural base than European derived Wicca, there is a growing trend blurring these lines.  That sounds like a fantastic thesis on synchretic new religious movements for some young grad student.

Here is one example of a psychic site equating the two systems.
Here is Spanish Wiccan shop offering "produtos e artigos Wiccanos"

Here is a Bruherio book, how much Wiccan influence it has, I'm not sure but I will try and get a copy to see if this is so.  The description: "El presente manual ofrece a lector una variada y sencilla selección de fórmulas, conjuros, hechizos y encantamientos, para lograr los más diversos objectivos a través de los enormes poderes de la brujería: Cómo curar y evitar enfermedades, cómo alcanzar el amor, cómo obtener trabajo, Qué hacer para tener buena suerte, cómo alejar a personas indeseables, que hacer para librarse de maldiciones, salaciones, envidias y mal de ojo."

This is my quick translation, forgive any glaring mistakes- my Spanish needs some work! "The present manual offers a lecture of various selections of formulas, conjurations, and enchantments for diverse objectives largely used by the brujeria. How to cure and evict sickness, how to draw love, how to obtain a job. How to make good luck, how to make a person __?, and how to free from maledictions (curses), gossip, envy, and evil eye".

This site combines the author's interests in both Mexican Brujeria and American Conjure and Hoodoo traditions.  The folk magick elements & Christian veneer in Southern Conjure are probably much closer to brujeria ways than Neo-Paganism and Wicca.

In the Daily Wicca blog, there is a vague attempt to understand Brujeria on its own terms.  Many eclectic Wiccans will probably be fascinated by this new 'exotic' element to add flavor to their rituals, completely oblivious to the offense taken by such outside appropriation. I would suggest that if you are going to call yourself such, you should be studying under a true Elder in the tradition.

I have also come across very ignorant but well meaning Wiccans who used 'brujo/a' to refer to themselves.  The first time was at a Samhain costume party in Ohio. I wasn't sure what her point was beyond 'all witches of the world must unite' but I was pretty sure that the term she was using was not appropriate for her. Still I kept it to myself.  Years later I made my way back home to Texas and ran into someone wearing a Brujo t-shirt at a metaphysical festival.  A psychic at a nearby table, an older Hispanic lady, pointed her out. She was a local Wiccan I had met a few times, with fairy earrings, a large pentacle, and a red 'Proud to be a Bruja' t-shirt. The girl meant no harm but she was warned to take the shirt off because of 'expectations of what she should be able to do'.  The girl was confused and embarrassed and I felt for her. Considering the type of actions some of my Hispanic clients have asked me to do, I don't think your average festival going Wiccan or Celtic Neo-Pagan is up to it (although I'm sure the Scottish and Irish curse traditions work just fine- these elements of the full magickal tradition aren't generally found in the 'self- initiated' eclectic American Wiccan scene, in fact being frowned upon by the fluffier elements).
It seems unwise for people outside of Hispanic cultures to either appropriate the word 'brujo' for themselves or try to force a redefinition of the word within Spanish traditions, mirroring their own reclamation of European based Witchcraft. I in no way impose my definition of 'witch' upon another culture. I also wouldn't insist a healer carry the term 'witch' if they do not find it useful or accurate.  Their are healers, diviners, wise people, shamans, sorcerers, singers, priests, and all other manner of spiritual people throughout the world using their own cultural terms. We all tap into the same Universal Source.  I think a healthy respect for one another and avoiding disparaging remarks about any term a practitioner wishes to identify with is the best way to move forward and learn.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Solar Flares & Lucifer: making some Witches uncomfortable

An X1.6 class solar flare flashes in the middle of the sun in this image taken September 10, 2014, in this image courtesy of NASA. This image was captured by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and shows light in the 131 Angstrom wavelength, which is typically colorized in teal. A rare double burst of magnetically charged solar storms will hit Earth Thursday night and Friday, raising concerns that GPS signals, radio communications and power transmissions could be disrupted, officials said on September 11, 2014. (NASA) Courtesy of the Dark Room

I woke up this Sunday morning thinking about how productive I had been this entire week.  I thought about all the extra time I spent outside working in my garden, vending at a festival, bottling many of my new recipes.  I also remembered a quick comment by my husband, that he hadn't seen me 'charge' anything under the moon this month.  He's a Christian and I always think it's sweet when he mentions something about my Craft or uses one of our terms.  That he understood 'charging' was pleasing.  I realized that everything this month I was doing was very much solar driven.  I was taking citrine and orange calcite outside to sit in the sun as I worked on floral smudge sticks.  All the oils I chose to bottle and charge were either working with fire elements or at least balancing fire and ice.  This was unusual for I am a very lunar focused worker.  I had unconsciously balanced myself. All last week we heard about the intense solar storms that had been barraging our small green and blue marble hanging in space. Photos of beautiful Northern Light displays as well as fears of fried circuitry were posted all over the net.  Was I responding to the Solar output?

It was in this frame of mind that I posted a very small blurb on my facebook about the Craft and working with 2 significant Solar deities: Mithra & Lucifer.  Coming out of an Italian heritage, both of these figures are prominent in the ancient mythologies I focus on.  I briefly made the point that the ancient Lucifer was not the same figure (or even from the same ethnic-religious mileau) as Sa-tan: the first being Etruscan-Italian and the later being Semitic.  This led to a well meaning but very typical comment by another Pagan.  He wanted to know why I would feel the need to 'reclaim' the ancient figure of Lucifer and gently reminded me of it's terrible baggage.  He also questioned 'based on his intuition', why I would have the 'need to steal some fire'.  There is so much cultural conditioning and assumption in his questions that I could write a book about this. His language insinuated that this particular line of mythology was not worth pursuing or it was simply too dangerous and that if I was doing so, clearly I must personally be missing something or suffering from something.  My response: why would I have to steal any fire when the sun was raining it down for free in my backyard!
Points to be made:

1)I don't think there is any way I could live in modern Western society or be raised a Catholic and somehow missed the baggage associated with the name Lucifer. That seems like common knowledge and does not require an outside reminder.

2)These 'gentle reminders' from fluffier Pagans and Wiccans, although so well meaning, are really pejorative and imposing.  I practice Traditional Witchcraft and Hoodoo, neither of which follows a Threefold Law, Harm None, or Karma.  This is not to say there isn't a reaction for every action, a drawing of like energy to what you put out there.  It's the great magickal Law of Attraction.  You get what you give period and there is always a reckoning for wrongs committed. Nature is usually impersonal about balancing things so I'm very careful about what work I do. And 'harm none'... hey good intentions have killed millions. So get your sparkly wand out of my face please.

3)If I was afraid of 'baggage' when reclaiming any particular aspect of my Craft, I would have avoided the terms 'Witch', 'Pagan', & 'Heathen'.  I would never have bothered learning about the true symbolism of the Pentacle.  I wouldn't have started worshiping a God that sported a pair of horns and a huge cock. Hell, I would have just stayed in Church and kept swallowing that dry bread wafer every Sunday. 

5)The historical fact that ancient religions and their deities existed, and in some manner do continue to exist, is a bitter pill for mainstream Abrahamic religious leaders. The medieval Church had various methods for dealing with any indigenous Pagan God it encountered as it swept across Europe and then later the Americas.  Melt the statues and relics down and turn them into Vatican candlesticks.  Allow the really pesky popular deities to become folk Saints.  Shrink them into little elves and fairy folk.  Call them demons and cast them out.  Only a very few were actually merged with 'The Devil', to become a new face of Sa-tan. Interestingly, Pan, a horny little goat of a guy, very much a lesser demi-god (more of a Elemental if you ask me) was turned into the devil.  Maybe he was so offensive to the Padres because his name translates to "All' or "Total"?  Maybe it was because in Europe they encountered so many horned male deities of fertility, animal husbandry, and the wild hunt.  A prime competitor for the demasculated Christ. Had to be done away with in the strictest terms. Anything with horns now equals the Devil himself, be it goat, sheep ram, bull, elk, or deer horns. Horns Bad.  Halo Good.  Well who has the shiniest halo of all?  Um that was Lucifer- the Sun incarnate.  This ancient Etruscan deity, often associated with Apollo and Sol, has been reworked into many mythologies as both a savior and a fall guy over time.
So who was Lucifer and if he isn't 'THE DEVIL', then what was he? What is he now?

He was an ancient Solar God, sometimes described as a 'Star God', which seems less powerful than being linked with our solar system's one single sun... still a sun is a star. Semantics really.  Anyway he was the child of the personification of Dawn, often paired with Diana or later Venus as Greek mythology was imported into Rome.  Diana comes from a category of ancient sacred twins, a male female allegorical pair.  Jana and Janus, Dianna and Dianus, or sometimes Tiannus, even Frey and Freya come from this archetype.  Lucifer was the 'Bearer of Light' and 'God of the Evening Star and Morning Star'.  He was associated with Sol, Apollo, Phospheros, Mithra, and all the other young solar deities who provided light and truth and died and were reborn... hey that sounds like someone we all know!  This guy was not horned, scaly, tailed, involved in the Underworld realms, or had anything to do with any ancient Semitic figures, be it demonic or angelic.  He did occasionally have sex with his sister but so did many of the Pharaohs.

This being was associated with the fallen angels during the Middle Ages.  It was a very successful PR smear campaign accompanied by forced assimilation to the new religion, serfdom, loss of property and rights, and all economic gains being funneled to the Church and it's elite supporters.  It's power and it's fear.  That fact that a modern Neo-Pagan adherent could feel so uncomfortable with merely the mention of an ancient deity's name shows how completely successful the Church has been.  Still, unlike countless other lost gods of Europe, Lucifer's name will not ever be forgotten simply because he is so closely associated with the Biblical Sa-tan.

In the Aradia, or the Gospel of Witches, Diana creates her brother Lucifer from the dividing of herself in a cosmological allegory of light born from darkness. Aradia is a book composed by the American folklorist Charles Godfrey Leland that was published in 1899. It contains what he believed was the religious text of a group of Witches in Tuscany, Italy that documented their beliefs and rituals, although various historians and folklorists have disputed the existence of such a group. In the 20th century, the book was very influential in the development of the contemporary Pagan religion of Wicca. I personally believe that if any of this lore was genuinely being shared in secret by a hidden body of Witches in Italy, the remnants of ancient Etruscan religion were heavily influenced by Biblical symbolism and interpretation.  Here Lucifer is a fallen being of light but not a betrayer, rather a savior for the downtrodden.

A very good article on what Lucifer means within modern Traditional Witchcraft:

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

In the Garden: Meet the Green Lynx Spider

 Meet the fair verdant lady, the Green Lynx Spider.  I met this big girl in her favored environment, leafy green shrubs- my white and yellow lantana to be specific.  I was cutting flowers for smudge sticks when a large green leaf fell on my hand. Then I noticed it had 8 legs and was munching on a honey bee!  Step back... that is the greenest spider with the most vicious looking barbed legs I've ever encountered. This was a very large female of the species and quite lovely. I got a couple good shots of her with my camera phone before she dropped her snack and turned around to brandish her long front legs at me.

According to Candice Hawkinson, a Galveston County Master Gardner, this spider is "aptly named for their bright green body color and capability of running very fast, then jumping on its prey like a cat, Peucetia viridans, is North America’s largest lynx spider. These long-legged hunting arachnoids are known by the Spanish name araña (spider) verde (green) or the Latin “viridis” meaning green"
 This is a hunting spider that can see up to 4" in the day. She jumps like her namesake the lynx, using her barbed legs to capture insect pray.  Not a web weaver but usually on a drag line.  Also not usually a biter, non-poisonous, but will aggressively protect her egg sack and her young.

"Once the egg sac is attached to the plant, the female either sits right on top of it, with her legs wrapped around it or hangs upside down from the sac. Either way, she guards the egg sac continuously and vigorously, rushing at anything that threatens it. This is common in the spider world. The female Green Lynx Spider shows great parental care, protecting her eggs and later, when the egg sac hatches, guarding her young until the spiderlings can fend for themselves. Each egg sac contains 25 to 600 bright orange eggs, with an average of 200 eggs. The post-embryo remains in the egg sac, requiring 11 to 16 days to hatch. 

"The first instar spiderling is bright orange, has functional eyes, a digestive tract and spines. After about 2 weeks the young spiderlings emerge. (Spiderlings undergo their first molt inside the egg sac). The female spider helps the young to emerge by tearing open the egg sac. Unlike the wolf spiders, in an emergency, Green Lynx Spiderlings can make their own exit holes from the egg sac. They remain near the egg sac for 10 days or more, before dispersing by ballooning. Usually the spiderlings emerge in the fall, catch whatever tiny insects they can capture"
She's a spitter!  "Peucetia viridans is the only spider that can squirt or spit venom, aside from spitting spiders (Scytodidae). Although Green Lynx Spiders aggressively attack its insect prey, they very seldom bite humans"

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Language of Rape in Our Culture and Ill Mannered Warlocks: Christian Day

 Guess he's following the Harm All Who Question You Rede?

He and his followers are carefully scouring the internet for any peep on this issue.  We will not let you pretend that this did not happen and go back to business as usual Christian Day.  Be a man and own what you did.  If your apology is truly sincere, donate some time to a battered women's shelter, get some counseling on anger management, and allow people to openly discuss the issues at hand. Most importantly STOP THREATENING PEOPLE!!!  Lawyering up against those who should have the right to discuss what happens in our community does not look like you are really sorry for your mistakes.  Bragging about telling Z. Budapest off while "stroking your cock" just doesn't ring well with your 'heartfelt apology' Outing everyone's legal names and addresses, having their posts and accounts removed, these actions are a continuance of your bullying. Just stop it. You do not get to be both victim and bad ass attacker in the same breath. 

I have considered for a few days whether to post publicly on this topic or not.  Stirring the pot of a hyper emotional man known to threaten people with curses and attorneys and rapists... along with his rabid fan girl base have given me pause- do I want any trouble or not?  A few have already said something so should I express myself or not?  Well that is what abusive people count on.  That no one will say anything, take a stand, or want to be associated with something so distasteful as abuse.  The perpetrator knows the bystander will worry that they themselves might become a target if they speak up.  That everyone will go "but he is so funny and popular", it was a "mistake", it was "just one time", the girl "put herself in that situation", and my favorite "that's his mode of operation, everyone just knows how he is".  This is how cyber bullies, stalkers, and rapists hope we will react.  Really I don't want trouble.  I want the magickal community to be a safer place without predatory sexually based attacks, verbal or physical.  We must not tolerate this type of behavior.

It is possible that Christian Day was simply having a bad hair day, had diarrhea of the mouth when he made those threats, and is truly sorry. But as a public figure who writes books, teaches, organizes festivals, appears on tv and radio shows, and calls himself an Elder Warlock- he must know that he is accountable for what he says and will be held to a higher standard.  I personally am disgusted by this very public face of Paganism and Witchcraft. His behavior should in no way represent what our spiritual movement is.  Rape language directed at either male or female victims is abhorrent under any condition.  Practitioners should be able to have discussions and disagreements without digressing to threats of rape or other forms of violence. 

What did he do and say?

The infamous screen shot of his message sent to another Craft practitioner after having a disagreement with her online.  He decided to lash out by reporting that she was using an alias due to a past violent stalker situation. He outed her publicly online and then mocked her with the above message.

Where I first found out about the situation.
The victim's own post.
And the continued bullshit she deals with from his loyal followers.


What are the responses?

I don't care what started the argument, whether the victim should have even been online or not since she has suffered from stalking, whether Mr. Day uses too much eyeliner, and all the other issues circling around the fiasco. His words and actions constituted a sexually based threat against another person.  This is intolerable. To say that he is an 'Elder' and therefore cannot be questioned is ridiculous. Only the Pope is infallible and I left the Catholic Church long ago.  Anyone's behavior can be questioned.

Even the Satanists spoke out on the idiocy.

Heathens speaking out against him.

Well known Pagan blog the Wildhunt did have a thoughtful article condemning hate speech and Christian Day's actions but it has since been taking down.  A search on the site for his name only pulls up past interviews and shows.  Disappointing. Does he have that much pull or did he zip off a cease and desist letter?

Inciting a Riot blog asks if all of this was another one of Mr. Day's media grabbing stunts. Considering past behavior that's very possible.

The Poison Apple radio show discussing "Pagans Behaving Badly" and using "outing" someone publicly as a tactic in arguments.

Poison Apple's follow up show was focused less on the sexual threat aspect and more on the complaint that many Pagans and Witches have concerning Mr. Day's theatricality. That he is somehow hyping up and cheapening 'true' Witchcraft.  Folks, let's not lose site of the real issue: a sexually based verbal threat that followed an actual action which outed a single mother to her stalker.  That is the only issue. Not his hair, his makeup, or his sound bytes against Charlie Sheen.

Big Name Pagans behaving badly

Criticizes Mr. Day's brief blanket apology that didn't even mentioning the victim herself.

Gangleri's Grove questioning his claim to 'Eldership' in the magickal community as well as his misogyny.

A Stand Against Abuse by

The Reddit Thread fall out from the threats

And Rev. Ronald French vowing to keep the issue visible so this Warlock cannot just go along his merry way as if nothing happened.

Rev. Ronald French's follow up is interesting after the initial song.  Mr. Day actually called him and continued threats against uninvolved 4th parties. Threats seem to be his mode of magic.

Has he apologized?

At this point I'm thinking why didn't Mr. Day apologize directly to her?  Why does he claim it was simply words at the heat of the moment because the threatening words came AFTER his ACTIONS of reporting her alias? Then he follows up his less than heart felt apology with this bit:
To get a taste of the extreme responses by his followers and his own thread of comments visit Cowardly Christian, a blog by a disillusioned fan.  I cannot believe people in our community think it is ok to speak to one another in this fashion.

Has he threatened anyone in the past?

It's also come out that he had his fortune telling license revoked in Salem for making threats against other businesses. He finally gave Salem a break and left but poor NOLA got him. Throwing threats then crying like the victim are part of this guy's "mode of operation".

The issue of "outing" someone online.

Is this a viable and respectable tactic that "Elders" and public figures should be allowed to use against those who question, argue, or otherwise displease them? Absolutely not.  We must respect each one another's Craft names as part of respecting the basic tenents of Witchcraft, of being members of this often maligned community.  It used to be punishable by death for one Witch to name another publicly or give up another to the authorities. We might not have to suffer being burned on the stake now days but family issues, loss of jobs, child custody issues, treatment by neighbors, attacks by conservative religious groups, and stalkers are all dangers any online Pagan or Witch potentially faces.  No Witch that is "out" should force another to be as well.  To have done just this is itself a terrible offense.

Supporting your freedom to choose the name you use on social networks and other online services.

Google understands online dangers and has rethought it's "Real Name Policy".  Facebook should also reconsider their own online identity policies.

Performers and public personas onlne.

Is he tacky and is that the issue?

Yes to the first, no to the second question.  As for allegations that he is a fraud in the Craft, that is between him and the Spirits.

Why would anyone defend him?

Someone posed this question to me.  Mostly he is known in Wiccan circles.  I'm not Wiccan, being interested in other forms of Witchcraft, as are most of my friends who hadn't even heard of him.  Still, he's a face on tv and that is part of the problem.  Our society craves confrontation, competition, and flipping tables. We pay stupid beautiful people to bitch at each other on 'reality' tv.  The same peeps that like him are probably watching the Kardashians.  It's noise that most intelligent people I know tune out.  He has a lot of very loyal fans and they are circling their wagons right now, outing anyone who speaks his name or posts about what he did. I and at least 4 other people I know on facebook had our accounts turned in because we used an 'alias', exactly the tactic he used that started all the shenanigans.  Funny, my Craft name is my real name.  I am Rowntree. Whether I use my real first name Jana or my nickname Grim doesn't matter. I own what I say.

The issue of "rape culture" and "rape language" in our society.

The 4 of Wands

What is rape culture?

What is rape language?

It took a lot of pressure on facebook to have rape joke pages banned. Although Mr. Day certainly wasn't joking.  FB actually removed the posts by some of my friends discussing Mr. Day's threat and the screen shot of his note to the victim.  As someone making these threats and placing someone in actual danger to her stalker, he should have been removed from the social site I think.  Instead he and his followers have been trolling around that HE is the victim of "lies, gossip, and slander".  I think he's just worried about how well his next book will sell after the public backlash.  Thanx facebook for keeping your community of users so safe.

What is associated with Christian Day?

If you wish to boycott Christian Day do not go to:

Hex: Old World Witchery in Salem, MA
Hex: Old World Witchery in New Orleans, LA
OMEN in Salem, MA
Or attend any of the Festival of the Dead festivities throughout October in Salem, MA, including the Psychic Faire.

Don't buy his books or listen to his podcasts.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

How to burn granular resin and other loose Incense

 Smoke carries our energy, prayers, and petitions upwards to the Gods and the sweet scents are most pleasing to them.

 "But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the Queen of Heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto Her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty..."

Like most who have been raised Catholic, the smell of frankincense brings back memories of heavy white clouds of incense rolling through somber Church services, sitting on hard backed wooden pews and trying not to fidget under mother's watchful eye as the priest intones his prayers whilst splashing holy water about.  When I left the church after my second year in college, I greatly missed the peace and the sanctity of ritual.  I craved that moment when you felt outside of yourself, in connection with something so much greater.  The scent of incense always brought it crashing back to me.  Cheap incense is burned in copious amounts throughout the dorms, flats, and dingy apartments across our campuses.  Kids experiment with new spiritual traditions and various mind altering chemicals.  Buddha statues, puffing dragon burners, Ganesh t-shirts... all part of the scene.  The scent of genuine incense always transported me beyond either kitschy college experimentation or the droll worldly authority of the church.  Flickering candles, sanctified water, and perfumed air... I was trained to be a Witch before I even knew what it meant to be of the Craft.

Although I do have a few longtime favorite incense stick brands, I much prefer to work with raw natural resins.  I go out of my searching for organic fair trade resin incense, having several varieties from different regions in my collection.  Some are so expensive and precious that I might only burn a bit once a year.  I've learned how to make traditional Egyptian Kapet, or Kyphi as the Greeks called it.  These heavily scented resin pellets take many days to manufacture, adding one ingredient a day.  I also make several types of herbed incense blends, combining granular resin, aromatic woods, dried spices, flowers, and essential oils for specific purposes.

Resins incense is obtained from barks, saps, roots or woods in their natural form. Resins will not burn on their own. They require charcoal and a heat resistant burner.  Some plants need to properly dry before being burned.  You can also add drops of essential oils to granular resin, wood, or dried herbs before burning to layer scent and energy.

Burners made of soapstone or clay readily disperse heat.  Metal versions in brass, copper, or iron are fine too but be very careful about handling them as they hold the heat.  Although many Witches prefer to use little black iron cauldron, I generally use a Mayan style clay bowl with a short thin leg under it that I can easily handle and move about the room with.

There are many brands of charcoal tablets but I like swift-lite.  These can be ordered online or found locally in Christian stores, metaphysical shops, smoke shops, hookah cafes, and middle eastern grocers. Usually I will break a tablet in half or even quarters. Again a little goes a long way.

Fill the burner with a bed of sand, rice, or rock to absorb the heat.  I've made lovely colored censor sands using aquarium ingredients, marbles, & crystals.  
Place the burner on a protective surface that is nonflammable and heat resistant.  Marble coasters, flat rocks, or porcelain tiles will protect the tabletop surface from the heat. If burring stick or cone incense go ahead and place lit incense on or in the rocks. If burning resin incense, light the charcoal and once the spark has traversed the entire charcoal and the briquette is glowing hot (you can tell by blowing on it a little), it's time for the resin to be placed on the charcoal. You can also put a layer of table salt over the charcoal to reduce the heat, slowing the burning process to produce a heavier fragrance. Start by burning a very small amount of resin at a time as this type of incense can smoke more heavily than powdered herbs or stick incense.  A little will go a long way. Then add more as desired. For beginners, I recommend starting the process outdoors, or on the stove top under the exhaust fan to control the amount of incense fragrance and smoke being released. 

At no time should you touch the charcoal briquette once lit.  It is very hot and will burn you. If you need to move the charcoal once lit, us tongs, or a metal spoon or fork. Be cautious when touching or moving the soapstone container during or after the charcoal has been burning on it. Be aware of how hot the bottom of the burner is getting so that it does not damage the surface it is on. If the bottom is hot, you need to add more non-flammable material such as rice, rocks or sand. Or put a thicker barrier between the bottom of the burner and your surface.  

I suggest beginning with frankincense.  It is readily available, has a range of prices, and burns easily.  You can then begin to sample myrrh, benzoin, dragons blood, copal, and any number of other types of resin.  Consider what you have in your own environment. Pine sap and green juniper cones are very fragrant.  Learn the associations, the energies, and the history of different resins.  Far from being simply a 'dressing' on a ritual, the resin can lead to deeper understanding within any working.  They come from living plants and are a gift to us.