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Danielle
06 September 2008 @ 06:06 pm
It has been a long time since I logged in here. Life is very busy these days. I never seem to have much free time anymore. I changed jobs recently, and now have a lot more responsibilities at work than I used to, including being on-call all the time. I am also a Moderator at a website now, which keeps me pretty busy when I have free time.
 
 
Danielle
14 April 2007 @ 07:11 pm
I was watching a history channel show about the Greek Gods this afternoon, when who do I see appears as one of the experts? Professor John Camp of Randy Mac. Do any of you girls know him?

 
 
Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: Live - Dance With You
 
 
Danielle
26 February 2007 @ 05:52 pm
Since I did not get home until way late Saturday night (well, it was Sunday morning when I got home if you want to be technical). I slept in a little Sunday, and skipped the first class of the day. There was not anything I was really dying to partake in that time slot, so it was a sacrifice I was willing to make for some extra sleepy-time. Even with the extra two hours I was still exhausted when I got up (and was for the rest of the day).

Once at the hotel I went to the dealer's room to buy a silver coin belt to go with my new dress, which I was wearing (I had only worn it for a few hours the night before, and I was determined to get my money's worth out of it, since there are not going to be too many opportunities for me to wear it. As I would later say to Lorraine, it is not like you go to the grocery store wearing a full-length black velvet dress).

Then I went to Gus diZerega's Divine Feminine class. It was pretty cool. He based it on a presentation on Feminism that he gave at St. Lawrence Uni up in New York, and in fact is planning to write a book based around it, which sounds cool to me. It was very political. I am not sure how to describe it, except that he focused on the 60's and how the events in that decade in the fields of the Counter-Culture, Environmentalism, and Civil Rights were tied to changing masculine/feminine energy and what many in Neo-Paganism refer to as the return of the Goddess. It was not at all what I expected, especially out of a class about feminine Divinity. Although Gus did tell me that it would be very political when I talked to him on Saturday.

When that was done, I did more catching up with people I did not know that I know. Well, now I know that I do know them. People like Helen, Russell, Adam, Rocky, Denise, as well as lorrraine and sacredsideshow. Oh, I finally ran into Christina and her b/f Toby too. I saw her a few times Saturday night, but she was always in the middle of a group of people, and I had not wanted to barge in. Especially when Blair was there for me to pay attention too.

Besides, Blair had already been teasing me enough Saturday night about how I did not know anyone, when there was person after person coming up to me that I met last year.

I had a chance to talk to sugarmaplelife too. She is a cool chick. She thanked me for talking her into coming to Convocation. She will be coming back next year. This place is addictive. Once someone comes out once, it seems they never want to miss it again. It is like a vacation to Hogwarts.

I missed the beginning of the Closing Ceremony because I was talking to people in the halls. But I did catch the tail end. It made me sad, because it meant the festival was over and it was time to go home. *sigh*. I wish it was a whole week. Like another Pagan festival in Ohio that one of the merchants told me about. Of course I have forgotten the name already. Who knows, maybe some day it will go that long. It seems that every year more people attend, and the guests of honor seem to have a good time and want to come back. To be honest, it seems hard to imagine Convocation without Chris Penczak. Gee, I keep mentioning him a lot huh? Guess who must be a big influence on me?

I am glad I came this year. I remember late last fall I was feeling so depressed that I did not want to be around people. I am glad I took the gamble to come. This year was even better than the last. Like I said, I did not know how many people I know, even if I might only see them once a year. Maybe I will be able to see some of them more often. Who knows?

Addendum: I was so exhausted when I got home Sunday afternoon. Convocation is fun, but it does take a lot out of you. I hardly ate, hardly slept, and that initiation took a lot out of me. I still feel wiped out, and it is Monday afternoon. I should have taken today off as well as Friday. I had meant to, but I forgot. I still need to get in touch with Helen about her survey, and look up Russell on her Myspace. I need to clean house too, and do my bills. It was so much more fun back at Hogwarts.
 
 
Current Mood: exhaustedexhausted
Current Music: microwave beeping
 
 
Danielle
25 February 2007 @ 07:10 pm
After the Initiation I was pretty scattered. For example, I thought I had lost my purse. Only to find it was exactly where I had left it when I had put on my coat (on the coat rack). Blair took me to get something to eat at the Kerby's across the street. That was a good idea. Not only was I hungry, I really, really needed the food to ground me back into physical reality.

I related what had happened to her over a dinner of saganaki and taco salads. I ate all the saganaki, but not even half my salad. I just could not handle much. Still, it helped. I felt a lot better afterward. Talking to Blair helped too. She brought some things into focus for me. Like the fact that I was sad during the initiation because I was grieving.

Anwyay, after dinner we went back to hotel and to the Masquerade. I was originally going to drive home to change into the new dress I bought and put on a pair of boots (I was wearing my white strappy shoes, since I had worn my long white bell skirt and white Hekate tee that day). But then I saw other people with no shoes, so instead I just kicked off my shoes too, and went to the bathroom to change.

There were a pair of teenage girl's standing at the counter, their faces done up in body paint (actually, I think it was just from a felt-tip pen). One of them looked at me and her eyes lit up. Yes, another person I know. It was Russell, the girl from last year's Gay Witchcraft workshop, who had been having problems at school because she is Out as a lesbian there.

I was so glad to see her. I have been wondering what has happened to her since. SO we caught up. She is in high school now, and things sound a lot better. Instead of the other kids taunting her about being a lesbian, now the straight girls want to get her to kiss them in order to make their boyfriends all hot and bothered. Yeah, joy. Well, it is still an improvement.

We had a lot of fun dancing, holding hands, and checking out all the costumes. My favorite was a little girl in a Batgirl outfit. She had on a black tee with the Bat logo, a long cape, long gloves, and a mask. Oh, and black boots too. She was cool. In fact, she won the best female child costume award. The coolest adult costume I saw was a woman who came as Kali. I cannot describe what she was wearing, except it was exotic. The thing that made me notice her was that she had painted her entire body blue (as the Hindu's depict their deities). She was awesome.

We even did the Spiral Dance there. I did not think we could, with the amount of people and size of the room. Sure, it was a ballroom. But there were a *lot* of people. Still, we pulled it off. It was so much fun. This is the second time I have danced the spiral, and it was Blair's first. She liked it. In fact, she said she is coming back next year for the whole weekend. YaaY, another one brought over to the Convo-side!

We met up with Rocky, the husband of Denise, another person (and priestess of Hekate) whom I had met last year, and we danced and hung out a while. After a while we got tired though, and went to sit in on the drumming. It sounded like Orcs Marching To Party. Smile Goddess I love drums. Not the regular kind you hear in modern music, but the big, hand-beaten ones used in Paganism and Native cultures. The beats just roll through you (and help induce an altered state of consciousness).

Around midnight we both decided that was enough. I was wiped out, and she had an early day Sunday. So did I. So we split up and went home. But not before deciding that we will meet again, and next time it will be at her place, where I will meet her sister and brother. So Yaay there too. Smile
 
 
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
Current Music: Evan's Blue - Cold
 
 
Danielle
25 February 2007 @ 06:16 pm
Okay, this changed me forever. The meditative journey in the Sorcerer's Initiation.

First of all, I want to say that I did not go into this journey consciously seeking initiation. Instead it was my goal to see healing. Because I am coming to think that is my purpose in this life. Not to learn about courage, or about tolerance, but rather to learn how to heal myself. There will be more on that in another post.

I did not seek initiation because for a long time now, since starting as a Witch, I have seen my journey as a transgendered person as being an initiation, and a shamanic one at that. I faced my Shadow, I made peace with it. I metaphorically died and was reborn a new person. Honestly, these things all trans-folk go through are what Witches are supposed to do, if they can, and I suspect that many never can achieve except the most dedicated. That is not a knock against anyone. I know how hard it was for me. I had to be pushed kicking and screaming into facing my Shadow. It was literally that or suicide.

So I never thought it was necessary. Been there, done that I have always said. Well, the Universe had other ideas. Maybe I should say that it knows better than I do. You would think that I would have figured that out by now... For initiation is not something done once, but rather something done over and over again as one grows, just as facing the Shadow is.

On to the journey-work. It was one of Chris' standard guided meditations. He played a hand drum, and led us into trance, to the great World Tree, from there to go where we would. The moment I got there, I met Crow and he descended into me, transforming me into the Crow/Human that I always am when outside of my Astral Temple. I looked at the tree a moment later, and Hekate was standing there at its base, in her form as the Crone. She was smiling at me. That sly sort of smile that hinted she knew what was coming. Beside her was an opening in the trunk of the great Tree, rimmed with human skulls.

She did not have to say a word, or even gesture. I was to enter. So I did, flying into the opening and laterally through a cave. I came out not in the Underworld, as I expected, but rather in Outer Space. The Earth was far below, and the stars all around. I flew directly toward one of the stars, and it quickly came to fill my view. I did not turn aside, but flew directly into its glowing white fire.

In the heart of the star, I burned. First went my feathered hide. I did not realize it at the time, but now upon reflection I see that is where Crow left me, as all spirit guides must in the moment of final decision where the shaman must face their test upon their own. When that happened, I ceased to be that Crow/Human. Rather I was my normal self, embedded within brilliant white flame.

It was not fast, but rather a slow destruction of my body. My hair and clothes went first. Then my skin. My muscles followed, and finally even my bones were reduced to ashes. Even those disintegrated completely in the nuclear furnace of the star.

And yeah, it hurt. A lot. It was not a physical pain however, so I cannot really describe it. I simply have no reference points. All I can say is that it was agonizing. Yet not in the sense that one would think.

I died.

I felt no fear however, because I knew exactly what was happening. I figured it out when I flew into the heart of the star and Crow left me. This was the Shamanic Initiation.

When it was done, there was nothing left of me. Nothing except my consciousness. Suddenly I was overwhelmed with a sense of grief. It felt as if my heart was breaking. Like when Mercury died. I felt so sad and crushed that I cried, and I mean in the physical world (it ruined the makeup in one of my eyes).

At the time I had no idea why I was so sad. But now I realize that I was grieving. For myself. I had died, and I was sorry. Also, as Blair would later tell me, one cannot move on from death until one has grieved. She is right of course.

Then I felt a presence beside me. It was Hekate, not as the Crone, but as a woman in her prime. She brought darkness with her, and with it she created my body anew by adding layer and layer of it upon my consciousness, my spirit. When she was done, she drew stars from the sky and set them on my brow in a band of light. Then she drew forth silver from the earth, and set it as a belt around my waist.

She took my hand and led me from the heart of the star, back into the void of space. I could see the Earth in the far distance, and stretching from it to us was a long line of people. They were of all ethnicities, genders, ages, genders. I saw a Native American man. A Native Australian. A nun. People from ancient Greece. People from the turn of the century. People from all times. There were trans-folk of all kinds. Some the gender-queer who do not try to conceal their trans-ness, some like me who try to blend in. There were also many non-trans folk. There were gay people. There were straight people. There was even a young punk rocker with a spiked mohawk.

It was the Hidden Company.

Hekate led me to the Earth, passing each member of the Company on the way. Each looked at me and nodded in approval. Finally we came to Earth, landing on a hilltop crowned by a great apple tree, with the sun setting in the ocean to the west. This was a place Hekate commonly took me. I think of it as Avalon.

She walked to the tree and plucked an apple, offering it to me. It was large, hard, and brilliantly red. It surfaces shone like it has been polished, reflecting the sun from the sky above. Without a word or hesitation I bit deeply into it and ate a mouthful, then proceeded to eat the rest of the fruit.

At that point Hekate reached up and pulled the sun from the sky, placing it in one of my hands. Then she reached up again, bringing the moon this time, and set it in my other hand. I looked down at them in my hands, day and night, then then drew them into my torso, incorporating them into my being.

Then Hekate filled me with the four elements. She poured water down my throat, followed by dirt. Then she made a fire spring up at my feet, and it quickly rose up within me (not without) encompassing my entire being. Finally she surrounded me with smoke, that congealed tightly around me, and was absorbed into my skin.

She took my hand again, and we turned to face the Hidden Company in what was now the night sky overhead. They were all smiling and nodding at me. I felt a great sense of joy then. I felt reborn. I was so happy that I rose up in the air with my arms upraised. As if I had just scored the winning goal in the Stanley Cup.

That is when Chris called us back. Suddenly crow was there with me again, and we flew back the way we had come. Back through the tunnel. Back to the other side of the World Tree, where Hekate waited for me, once again a Crone, with a look of intense satisfaction on her wizened face. Finally, I returned to physical reality.

I was glad Blair was there with me. I was leaning on her for the whole rest of the ritual, which went by in sort of a blur. She told me later that I was white as a sheet, and that she had put her arm around me because she was afraid I was going to collapse.

When the time came, I did enter the center of the circle for initiation. sugarmaplelife was one of the people performing the annointing. So I went to her. I was first in her line in fact. I saw Andrew was among the others seeking annointing, though Blair was not.

That was pretty much it.

I have never experienced anything like it. I have had many powerful journeys. But never, ever like this. Not even last year during the God Meditation. This was just like all of the Shamanic Initiations that I have read about. Not only from Pagan sources, but especially from anthropological ones. I journeyed to the otherworld, I was violently slain and my body destroyed, only to recreated, with something magical added. In my case it was not only the power (and balance) of the four elements, but also that of Day and Night, Light and Dark, as well as the Heavens and the Earth (the headband of stars, and the belt of silver). Other Shamanic traditions talk of the new shaman being filled with crystals, or a strange fluffy white substance, well, all sorts of things. Mine obviously reflect my background as a Shamanic Witch, and as a Semnotatoi of Hekate.

I died. I was reborn.



Addendum: Looking back on my experience, I noticed something. There was almost no speaking at all in my journey. I remember greeting Crow when he came to me, and thanking him when he left at the end. But that was it. Neither Hekate or I said a single word to one another, in spite of how dramatic the experience was. I think that is because I know her so well, and she me, that there is no need to speak much of the time now. She looks at me and I just know what she is thinking, and she in turn knows everything in my heart. She is the Goddess of dark places after all...
 
 
Current Mood: rejuvenatedrejuvenated
Current Music: Ayumi Hamasaki - Rainbow
 
 
 
Danielle
25 February 2007 @ 05:42 pm
Chris Penczak did a ritual Saturday night called The Sorcerer's Initiation. I should not say Chris, because while he lead it, there were many people who took part in making it happen. Including sugarmaplelife, and Helen, another girl I know from a local coven. She is the one who I talked to last year in the Con Suite (and who remembered me from last year, see, more gravity). In fact, now that I remember, I ran into her Friday morning as I was walking in the hotel and she gave me her card. She is doing a survey on Queer Witchraft practitioners, which I intend to take part in. But that is beside the point.

Back to the Ritual. The purpose was to give people an initiation. But not a normal one like you would receive from a traditional, well, Tradition. This as an initiation into a group that Chris has talked about many times before. A collection of magicans, shamans, Witches, psychics, healers, Light-Workers, whatever term you want to use. People of many different Traditions and times, who have died and continue to serve us from beyond as mentors and guides, especially in terms of things like Overshadowing, spirit guides, and spirit teachers. Among other things, they are our honored ancestors, both of genetics and of spirit.

He called this group the Hidden Company, though other traditions have different names for them. In Ascension Magic they are the Ascended Masters. In Buddhism they are the Bodhisattvas. i think you get the picture.

Then he told us what was to come. Unlike other rituals, this was going to be one of Ritual Drama. They were going to put on six skits that portrayed a different form of initiation each. Afterward there would be a meditative journey, where those who sought initiation could find it, and those who did not, might still have a powerful, meaningful experience. Then afterward those who had gained initiation could enter the central circle to be annointed and greeted as Initiates.

The skits were amazing. I have never witnessed anything like it. I know it probably sounds silly to the rational minds that are probably reading this, but when you are in an altered state of consciousness and you witness such a thing, let me tell you, it is powerful. Read about the Eleusinian Mysteries to learn more about what I mean. This was stunning, and it is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what went on at Eleusis.

I am not sure I can remember all the skits. But I will try as best I can. The first was on the Shaman's Descent into the Underworld, his destruction, and re-incorporation. I could identify with it on a very personal level, as my practice has a very strong shamanic bent. In fact, I consider myself an Shamanic Witch. It was cool. It started with Chris holding a Poppet in the shape of a person, and he was beset by other members of the Ritual who were acting as demons, circling him, threatening him, besetting him. He is overwhelmed by them, and they take the poppet and tear it to shreds between them in a frenzy of violence.

Then sugarmaplelife stepped out, taking up the remnants of the poppet, while Chris narrated in the background, explaining what was happening. She was the Goddess, who finds the remains of the shaman and sees something there to work with. She took up the torn cloth and then with a clever bit of slight of hand produced a statuette from them (actually from the folds of her robe, but who cares).

Following were skits about the psychic, unaware of her power, is beset by spirits. She is rescued by a spirit master who becomes her teacher and mentor, showing her how to use her power. There was one of the lovers, who use sacred sex to find enlightenment. This was played out by three couples - one of two men, one of two women, and the last of a man and woman - who at first circled one another in hungry fashion, slowly closing in to embrace and very passionately kiss one another. That was incredibly powerful to watch. Especially the two gay boys. Wow.

There was also the Promethian initiation. Where the practitioner steals the secrets of power from the gods, only to be imprisoned by them, so that they must re-learn the secrets in order to free themselves. This was played out by Helen, who stole fire from the altar and carried it around the circle, only to be beset by other ritual member, bound, and dragged away.

The last I can remember at the moment is the standard Wiccan Initiation rite. I think there is enough on that out there that I do not need to describe it. However, that too was very moving to watch, especially since it is probably the only time I will ever see something like that happen.

Next came the meditation. Oh my. I will do this in another post. It deserves it. It changed me forever. I died and was reborn. No shit.
 
 
Current Music: Blue Oyster Cult - Veteran Of The Psychic Wars
 
 
Danielle
25 February 2007 @ 04:24 pm
Saturday at Convocation. Saturday was the most fun day of the weekend, because that is when Blair came out. I got there just as she was finishing signing up at the registration desk, and I was able to sneak up behind her. The Con person (the Trickster who gave me my packet o' Con Stuff Thursday night in fact) at the desk was handing Blair her badge and said he could pin it to her chest. That is when I said "Oh, I want to do that!" Smile Pinnage did not ensue, as there were plastic badge holders, but it was good to see her.

We had to split up soon however, as the morning classes were soon to begin. My first stop was Adam Andrew's class on Hekate (like I was going to miss that). It was very intriguing, and I think very well done by him. He had even more information on her than I did, which I think I can honestly say is an accomplishment. I know how long it took me to put together what I know on Hekate: Moving Through Darkness

He started by reading four short essays written by people who have had experiences with Hekate, all of which I found very moving. Then he had us throw out words that people would use to describe her. I asked if he meant that I would use, or what other people would, since they seem to be very different. Adam grinned and said both, because one of the things he was emphasizing in his class was the widely varied perception of Hekate throughout history. So I said: "Scary!" in my best Count Scary voice. Other people threw up more flattering things like "Powerful.", "Light-bearer", "Crossroads", etc...

Then he basically gave a rather academic lecture about Hekate's history, starting from Hesiod circa 700 B.C.E. He stuck with the facts, and had a wealth of info to provide. One thing I did not realize that it was with Shakespheare's play Macbeth that her image was imprinted on Western society as a crone figure. I had thought it was much earlier. Certainly the idea was percolating, but it was Macbeth that cemented it. He also had some more names for her that I do not. I cannot remember them now of course, because they were all in Greek. He does have a website where he plans to post his lecture - Hecate's Light - but unfortunately he has only finished the first page. Well, aside from the About page and some pics (he even has one there from last year's Convocation).

We talked some afterward, but like all conversations and Convocation seem to be, it was short because there was another class coming up, bathrooms to go to, and so many people to catch up with. He did tell me something very intriguing and sad. He had been doing his dissertation on men who are the victim of rape, especially on gay men and date rape in the gay community (Adam is gay btw.), and he found that when doing surveys if he asked if men were raped, almost no one said yes (so surprise, considering how are society is about male power). However, if he asked if they had been coerced into sex, the number jumped way up, to about 1 in 4 men. Yep, 1 in 4 men are coerced into having sex. Makes you think huh?

Anyway, next class was Chris Penczak's Witchcraft and the Shadow Self. Which was pretty cool. Most of the lecture part was stuff I already knew, since Shamanic work with the Shadow is pretty well old-hat to me. The journey work afterward was interesting however. It is what I talked about in my last post, Crow Is With Me

After that was Gus diZerega's book signing and the lunch break. Blair and I had been planning on doing lunch together, but her class ran long so I had time on my hands. So I ran to the book signing, and actually got there just before Gus did. So I was first in line. Since other people were forming up behind me, we talked for a long while. At least fifteen minutes. It was rather cool. He is a Gardnerian High Priest (and a phd), so he has a somewhat different view on things that a Shamanic Witch like myself. He is also a very smart man. We were actually talking about how being trans has prepared me for Witchcraft, and I could see him think about it. I get the feeling it is not something that he ever really considered before (no surprise, being a Wiccan and a straight boy), and he said something very interesting. That how everyone has a combination of masculine and feminine energy in them, he could see how in a trans person that was very different than in other people, and how that places us in a different position, magically and spiritually, than other folks.

Then Blair showed up, and we went to Quiznos lunch. Funny thing is, Adam was there already with is sister and Leslie, a woman whom I had met Friday at Chris Penczak's Ascension Magic class and chatted with a bit. Convocation is like that. You keep meeting the people you know. It is like magical gravity pulls you together.

So after lunch I was not really sure what class to do. So I did the Santeria discussion with eshu_dina, P.K., Jackye, and a few others I did not know from the local Lukumi Ile. It was interesting. I even learned a few things I did not know, in spite of how much Eshu has told me over the years. It was also nice to see him and the others again. Once again, it is like gravity pulls you to certain people.

At one point someone asked a question about the use of cowrie shells for divination. It turns out that there are 256 possible meanings to divining with them. The moment I heard that, I could not help but to think that is the same number of IP Addresses in a subnet with a /24 mask, before you subtract one for the base network address and another one for the loopback of course. Yeah, I am so the net girl.

Then was the Tempest Smith Foundation raffle. I found out at the Closing Ceremony Sunday that we raised $1,300 for the foundation! WoW! $8 of that was mine. I did not win anything unfortunately. However sugarmaplelife did, and I got to see her husband. Goddess, he is tall. Way taller than her (and remember, she is taller than me). We did not get a chance to talk, because the raffle was going on. Though we did touch base several times over the weekend. I like her. She is a cool chick. By Freja she is yummy too... Hottie

Instead of trying to do rush to dinner after and get back in time for Chris Penczak's Sorcerer's Initiation Ritual that was coming up, Blair and I decided to just hang out and troll through the merchants room. I found an adorabe dress that I am wearing as I type. Here is a pic (Though I did not buy the coin belt until Sunday morning):



Chris Penczak's ritual was next. It was so stunning that it deserves an entry of its own. This has probably run waaay too long anyhow, so I will end this post now, and start the next one with the Hidden Company.
 
 
Current Mood: indescribableindescribable
Current Music: Live - Deep Enough
 
 
Danielle
23 February 2007 @ 09:14 pm
There is something I just remembered. We did a meditative journey in Chris Penczak's class today. I have done enough breathwork that I easily slipped into a very deep trance. As soon as the actual trancing began, I found that before me was a huge crow, vastly large than myself, with a bright light behind it, causing the shadow of its outstretched wings to fall upon me, casting me in shadow.

The crow descended upon me, and as so often happens in my trancwork, it sank into me, and became me. I transformed into a black, half-human/half-crow being, and remained that way until the trance was finished.

I find this significant, because this always happens when I do trancework without journeying to my Astral Temple. When I am there, I am myself, albeit often dressed in something fancy. But whenever I leave the Temple, Crow is always immediately there. I am not exactly sure why. Maybe because my Temple is Hekate's domain (and to a lesser extent, Freja's), and Crow does not want to intrude? Or perhaps he does not need to intrude, because he knows I am in good hands?

In any case it is a good feeling to have my spirit guide there with me. I think I should do more non-Temple trancing, so that I can spend more time with Crow.
 
 
Current Music: The Go Gos - Our Lips Are Sealed
 
 
Danielle
23 February 2007 @ 08:03 pm
Day 2 of Convocation down. It did not start out so great. I woke up, took my bath, and just as I was drying off I realized that I had forgotten to shave my legs while I was in the tub. Doh! So, I filled the tub back up and make my legs all nice and smooth (they look so much better in my black gothy skirt that way).

With that finally done, comes dryage and shaving the other body parts that need it, dressing, and finally doing my makeup. I was just finishing when I managed to stab myself in the eye with my liquid eye pen. It did not really hurt, but it made quite a mess. So more time spent dealing with that crisis.

By now time was really running short, so I was in the car and off to the festival. I still had a half hour before the first class, so I was not really in a huge hurry. I stopped at a car wash to clean all the salt off my Saturn. I had not expected that that take fifteen minutes. So now I had fifteen minutes to make it to the Con and my first class. Grr...

Of course every light I came to was red, and every person in front of me determined to be an anchor. But still, I barely made it, thanks to not stopping in the bathroom or to hang up my coat. I ran through the parking lot and straight to the room.

That first class was about the nature of Divinity, by Deborah Lipp, who gave the Demeter/Persephone/Hades class Thursday night. It was interesting, mainly a discussion about things like hard and soft polytheism (which are prevalent in Neo-Paganism), with a touch on Jungian Psychology (hey, that's me!) and Monotheism. Although according to Deborah's terms, I am a Jungian who has 'gone native', because I do not draw the line at strictly psychology and refuse to cross over it into the territory of religion.

The real pearl I took away from the class however, was something Deborah said (she is a Gardnarian High Priestess btw.). She was talking about the Duotheism in Wicca, and how it basically starts when the God separates himself from the Goddess (or how she gives birth to him, however you like the creation myth), making him a singular entity. The reason being so that he could love her as an individual. So he could unite with her. Deborah pointed out that all interaction between polar energies take part in this creation.

Well, it was not hard for me to realize the significance of this as a transgendered person. I am an interaction of polar opposites. No matter how much I might like to escape it, everything in my life is affected by that interaction of polarity within me. That also means that my entire existence is a part in the creation myth of Wicca. I am a walking metaphor for it. Though I doubt that would ever occur to a Wiccan, since they seem to rigidly set in the idea that boys are boys and girls are girls, and that is it. It is no accident that I am Witch, rather than a Wiccan after all...

It is not exactly a revelation to me. It is just that I never looked at it from quite that view before. That is one of the things I like about Convocation, and why I make an effort to keep my spiritual horizons broad. Looking at other viewpoints, especially ones not from my own path, reveal new understands that help me see my *own* way more clearly. It is like Raven Grimassi. He is one of my favorite writers, whom I respect very highly. However, I find that almost nothing he says works for me. He is too ceremonial and Wiccan in his background. Yet by reading his books, I learned where my path was not, which is sometimes as important as learning where it truly lies. He also provided me with the first real information about Hekate that I learned, but that is beside my current point.

Anyway, we talked about other stuff too. Among them about maintaining a relationship with Divinity, rather than just groveling and asking for stuff. About it being a give and take relationship, which is what a real relationship is after all, rather than just one person taking advantage of another.

That also led to us discussing how in Neo-Paganism we do not spend all our time groveling and praising Deity. We complain too. We argue. Like Deborah said. It is a two way street. I piped up to mention how I often call Freja a bitch, because she is, and she knows it. She always gives me what I need, rather than what I want (which is a nice, quiet, peaceful life). Instead Freja throws boys at me and says "Here, take this for a test drive." or "about time you did something about that BDSM stuff." or "Hey, why don't you play with a girl now." Total bitch. But I am rambling. Deborah just said "You go girl!", and I think everyone laughed.

The next class was Chris Penczak's Ascension Magic. I am not really very interested in Ascension Magic, but I decided to go to that one instead of the one on Dionysos because of what I said earlier. It is good to look at different things, because you never know what you might stumble across. It was interesting. Some of it I already knew, like it origins with the channels, Madame Blavatsky and the Theosophists, etc...

The real meat of it I did not know however. The funny thing is, I found that some of it was remarkably similar to things that Raven Grimassi had said in some of his books, which I found intriguing. I brought that up with Chris later and he knew exactly what I was talking about. We talked a bit about Raven, and he said that he was a really cool guy to hang out with, in spite of how stuffy and scholarly he can seem on paper. He is someone I would like to meet, like Chris and Gus diZerega, because he has had such a strong influence on my practice.

Something else Chris mentioned when we were talking about Queer Religion is that he sees more transgendered people here at Convocation than in festivals at places like San Francisco. Almost as if Michigan is the trans-capital of Paganism. Which seems strange, since Michigan is hardly known for its tolerant attitudes, and more known for its rednecks.

I was thinking about that later that day, and I think I might know why. In cities like San Fran, where being trans is not quite so stigmatized (though where you you can still be murdered like Gwen Araujo), trans-folk have more social outlets. More groups of non-trans people they can be a part of. Here in Michigan we have basically three options. BDSM, Fur, or Paganism. So if you do not like whips and chains, or are not a fan of fuzzy things, you better learn how to sing "We Are The Circle." At least that's my story, and I am sticking to it...

The next class was the aforementioned Gus diZerega. I had been looking forward to him because he wrote one of the first Pagan books I ever read: Pagans and Christians: The Personal Spiritual Experience. In fact, I believe it was the second Pagan book, the first being The Idiots Guide to Wicca and Witchcraft. Where the Idiots Guide was your basic Witchcraft 101 book, Gus' was not. His was all about the spirituality in Paganism, and nothing about how to perform a ritual, how to cast a spell, etc... His book made me think "there is something here for me" in Witchcraft. It touched me, because he talked about feeling the same things I was feeling when I was with the Goddess. In a very real way, his book became the bar that I measured other Pagan books by. Because that is what I am looking for, not something on what colors my candles should be.

The class was not what I was expecting. To be honest, I was not really sure what to expect. Which is not bad. He talked about the religious differences between hunter/gatherer societies and agricultural ones, and how they in turn are different from our own, modern technological one. It was interesting. I even asked him a question. I am so the vocal Witch.

Phew, I have really rambled. I better sign off now, in case anyone is still actually reading.
 
 
Current Music: Rob Tyner - Renegade
 
 
Danielle
Okay, time to start posting things with some real meat to them. Today was Day One of Convocation (well, night one if you want to be technical, since it did not start until around 7pm). I skipped the opening ritual, and got there around 8. My first stop was a the registration desk of course, to pick up my badge, program booklet, and etc... stuff. I had pre-registered back in January, so I was not signing up then and there, just telling them who I was so they could fish out the folder of my stuff from the big pile.

The girl I spoke to first seemed to clue in that I was trans when she first saw me (though I am not sure about that), but she was on the wrong side of the registration desk, and so she had the guy back there get my things. She basically just told him my last name and he fished it out. Then he looked at the other names on the folder, which were my full legal name, and then the name on my badge. The genders of which are naturally not consistent. He looked up and handed me the folder, and while he did not do the double take some people do, I could see that was when the light bulb went off. I found it rather amusing, since I remembered him from last year. He was the trickster who used his cell-phone in the closing ritual to release one of the elements ("Yeah, yeah, glad you could come, too bad you can't stay, have a good one, bye.")

So stuff in tow, I went to my first class. As soon as I walked in the room I saw a familiar face, lorrraine! So I sat down next to her and said hi, and we talked while the classroom filled up. A few minutes later who walks in and sits down in front of us? Chris Penczak and Gus Di Zerega (Gus wrote one of the first Pagan books I have ever read - Pagans and Christians, and he is one of the people I was looking forward to meeting at this year's Con.)

Then the class got going. It was by Deborah Lipp, and about the myth of the abduction of Persephone, and it was really interesting. I learned some things that I had never put together, namely the parallels betweens the characters. Demeter and Persephone, who were sometimes known as "The Two Who Are One", who each seem to have experiences in parallel with one another during the story (Persephone is raped, Demeter is raped). Then there is Hades and Dionysos, who seem to be a yin-yang of one another. There is Hades and Demeter, who are the older Olympian gods, and Persephone and Dionysos, who are the younger, next generation, the offspring of what the Olypians had sown. Finally there is Hekate and Helios, the Moon and Sun, Dark and Light, the combination of whom lead Demeter to Persephone.

One of the things that really struck me was one of the things Deborah really emphasized in the story. How when Demeter is making the human boy immortal, only to have his father stop her at the last moment. That is when she reveals herself for who she truly is, and says: "The Gods Are Giving You Gifts, And You Don't Even Know It!"

That really hit home, because one of the core themes of this myth, no matter how you choose to view it, is that it is a transformative journey through darkness and suffering. The things which frighten us, sometimes which even harm us, are often ultimately the things with set us empower us, enlighten us, and set us free.

That is something that has come back to me so many times since I began my transition. At times being trans makes me feel empowered, and I see why people of other cultures have thought Queer Folk were specially blessed by Divinity. The trouble is it can be hard to remember that feeling when most of the time people are smirking or laughing or shooting hateful glares at you. It is so easy to forget the gift, and only see the insecurities of others. It is good to remember. Something I need to be reminded of.

There are so many ways of looking at the myths of this story (and so many different versions of it), and we talked about a lot of them. Lorriane was one of the first people to pipe up about the mythical origin of pomegranates (that when Attis was castrated his blood spilled to the ground, and out from that sprang the pomegranate). Chris turned around when she was talking, recognized the both of us, smiled and made a little wave. That was nice, and amazing, to think he would remember us from a year ago. Then again, I wonder who many trans-folk he actually meets at these things...

Anyway, when the class ended and people were breaking up, Chris got up and went over to talk to this incredibly hot blond woman who had been sitting near the front. I heard him ask about her pregnancy (she was not showing at all), and ask rhetorically if it was 3 months now.

Click. It was sugarmaplelife, I did not recognize her because her hair was blond rather than red. Goddess, she is much taller than I had imagined. She is taller than I am (was she wearing heels? I do not remember). That is pretty rare for a genetic girl, and a nice feeling for me. Her, Lorraine, Chris and I talked some. Then Lorraine and Chris went off, and songtoisis chatted a while. I was trying to think of things her poor, non-pagan husband could do during the days while she was festivaling. Unfortunately, I had little luck. All the huge mounds of snow we have had from last week's blizzard melted today, so things like skiing or snowmobiling are out. There are no outdoor festivals like Tastefest or Arts, Beats, and Eats going on. There are the casinos, which is sounds he might like.

Anway, after a while she had to go see hubby and presumably bedtime, and I really had to pee (I had been holding it through the last half hour of class). I saw Lorraine and Chris talking after I came out, and for a moment I was going to go over. But it was 10:30 already, and as ecstatic as I was, I was also tired. I have been feeling wiped out all week. I need some sleepy time, so I headed home to pet the kitty and write this. My journaling done, this Witch is going night, night.
 
 
Current Mood: excitedexcited
Current Music: Lenny Kravitz - Once You Dig In