Thursday, October 29, 2009

Peripatetic, but Now Home

As many of you know, we have just returned from a series of trips to various Pagan Pride Days and other meetings and festivals around the nation. Instead of writing numerous letters to each individual person or group that hosted us, we want such parties to be widely known and acknowledged for their generosity. We have deliberately not mentioned surnames; it's not our place to out anybody who feels they can't afford to be outed. Please, every reader, know our boundless gratitude. Face reality:
Together we are changing the face of this nation.
Here is some of what happened.
1. Cindy and T.J. in Erie arranged for us to attend the Erie PPD and to visit the Unitarian-Universalist fellowship for a presentation. Here we must also thank Diana and Rich and all the four-legged beings who opened their dwelling, for their hospitality and for the comfortable bed.
2. We move to the Mountain Mabon Mysteries near Stanardsville VA. Our thanks to Deb for inviting us and for all her effort in our behalf, despite the imminent arrival of Evan; to wonderful Catt for feeding and looking after us. We are getting old, after all, and do need a certain amount of logistical support to get around. Indeed, everyone on site was kind beyond the demands of politesse. What a variety of skills they demonstrated.
3. On southward to Little Rock AR and meetings with pagans from the area, at El Paso Community Center, and then a wonderfully successful presentation at the Unitarian-Universalist fellowship of Little Rock. Our choreographer here was the Egyptologist and our warm hostess Fran, and we slept at Krystina's residence. We owe both these good people, and their associates, a great debt.
4. We spent a couple of pleasant days down in Hot Springs with David and Bryen and Pa Don, and got a chance to meet (too briefly) Tii and Ra and their front-door greeter. Then it was on to Conway for another really wonderful session with the departments of Religious Studies and Philosophy, and the heads of both departments, at University of Central Arkansas. They told us that no speaker earlier had had such a numerous attendance; somebody figured that about 85 people came in. Then it was on to a potluck meet-and-greet supper with Werfriends at the home of Beth and Stephen (or Steven? sorry), organized principally by Uni.
Many of the people we met had really never had a chance to see for themselves what pagan/Wiccan fangs and hairy palms actually look like. We were as open as we knew how to be, in the hope that any reflexive adrenalin would be calmed down and stabilized.
Throughout all this caper we owe thanks to Krystina for giving us her own bed and space in her dwelling despite her busy schedule; also to Bryen and David for transportation and bed.
4. Then it was northward to Fayetteville and Springdale AR (near the foot of the great Walmart shrine in Bentonville) and to Debra, who hosted us for a week while Gavin had the flu for the first part and she herself had flu the second part. Debra, Cody, Mitch, assorted schnauzers, and a Maine Coon cat all played their roles in keeping us stable. We gave a presentation at Passages book store, did a book signing at Hastings, and presented at the Pagan Pride Day in Fayetteville.
5. The trip northward into Missouri brought us up to our old friends of Greenleaf Coven, a coven led by Pat and HP Bill for more years than they or we can remember. They held a Witches' Ball together with what we call the Samhain Seminar : a series of talks of which all were not just highly enjoyable but also thoroughly informative. Praise to the scholarship that enriched us. A self-effacing lady with a French name shyly got introduced and then left. After her departure someone told us she had left us a mind-bending gift appropriate to the Craft and to the season of the year : mead, a beautiful wooden bowl, and tea towels. Come on, Lady. We can't have reticent, indeed furtive, behavior of this nature. Next time our paths cross, let us thank you properly! Fair is fair.
Again, Pat hosted us to a room at the very comfortable Lamplighter Inn in Springfield.
6. So we're home once more, after nearly three weeks on the road. Three weeks is a l o n g time. Gavin seems to have recovered, whereas Yvonne is now fighting a bronchial manifestation of some kind. But as she says, a few days in her own matrix, with her own washing machine and her own bed, should fix her up, especially if we can summon the resolve to do our customary self-directed aquarobics.
We have mentioned many generous people. Numerous others worked more behind the scenes so that we were less aware of their efforts. This is not by any means to disregard them. All we can say is, thank you all enormously. We hugely enjoyed your company and the exchange of ideas, and one of these years we'll do some of it again.
So beware. We walk among you and you know us not.
Blessed be those who remain true to their considered path.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tradition versus Reality

A certain piece of tradition is believed to be older than the sutras. It dictates the directions that many use in casting Circle(s).
Once we had the pleasure of participating in a circle held outside Bateman's Bay on the east coast of Australia. We had thought we were well above the high-tide mark, there on the ocean sand, and were patting ourselves on the back for putting Fire in the North--but when we called the traditional Air in the East, a rogue wave came in and simply wiped the circle out. Okay. We didn't think too much about it, but simply did it all again. Another rogue wave wiped out that second circle. Hmm.
It came to us that possibly we hadn't gotten the directions right. Since we were in Australia and had already cleverly relocated North and South, we decided simply to rotate the whole circle (the circle to which we northerners were accustomed) clockwise 180 degrees.
That put Earth in the South, Air in the West, Fire in the North, and Water in the East--where the ocean was.
We had a very successful circle.
Back in the US, we began to discuss with others what should realistically be represented in each direction in the real world. The first and most obvious point was that we were standing on the Earth--so why imagine that North represented it? In India with the Himalayas at the north, it might make sense; but on the flat plains of Kansas or Missouri it surely did not.
Then we thought about East, the direction of new beginnings, symbolized every single day by the "rising"* of the sun to begin another day. Science tells us that all life began in the primordial oceans; so new beginnings should be associated with water and with such concepts as amniotic fluid or, back even further, with seminal fluid. Fire in the South, the direction of the sun at noon, seemed reasonable--except that some might argue that we are casting the circle at midnight ... We broke our pick thinking about this one, and left Fire in the South.
In North America the winds come from the West. Watch any broadcast from the Weather Channel. Therefore quite simply it seemed that Air in the West was a natural pairing.
That left us with North. Since we had already called Earth as Down/Below, we had several choices. They ranged from Wisdom or Intelligence through Ice. Finally we settled on Time; for without Time, none of this work or even ourselves would exist. As a sixth direction to complement Earth, we decided that Spirit should be Up.
These correlations fit our own group. If you live on the west coast with the ocean to the west, or you live south of one of the Great Lakes--or, for that matter, if you live on the gulf coast--where would it be best to put Water? There is an old admonition that the Witch should work her tasks in tune with the environment of her habitation. Many abrahamic religions follow tradition without question, whatever the cost to their integrity or the compromise of their common sense ... It's all too easy to see the effects of that mindset.
So what say you? Do you prefer the tradition or the real world? Which works for you and your group?
Blessed be those who question. Gavin and Yvonne
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* If we draw back to get an overview, of course, the sun does not rise. The earth sinks.