What Do You Bring to the Table?

October 10th, 2021

Very recently I learned of two charlatans who were preying on our community.  It hit me fairly hard because both were people who I believed in and admired.  It was also a harsh reminder of a fundamental weakness in the Pagan community.  We have a most unfortunate tendency to value titles and authority, and this focus has created a fertile playground for narcissists and similar people who will say or do almost anything to bolster their own sense of power.

This can manifest in so many ways.  I’ve lost count of how often I have heard someone brag about their degree, or initiatory lineage, or ancestral lineage, or how long they have practiced whatever it is they do.  To be fair, our infatuation with title and authority is built into our culture.  How do I describe myself in a blurb as a presenter without mentioning how long I have worked with herbs or how long I have practiced witchcraft, or giving some other “credentials”?  As a friend mentioned to me recently, the difference is that I don’t list these things with malicious intent.  But unfortunately you can’t see or smell or taste intent.  At least not until the damage has been done.  And there are people out there who are doing damage.

I think we can turn things around to some extent, though, in our conversations with one another.  But this is something we need to do consciously.  We need to move away from our focus on authority.  So you’re a third degree Whatzamatradition?  Why should I care?  Unless I personally know the person who initiated you, it has literally no meaning.  There isn’t any standard for these degrees.  You have some Native American ancestry?  Big damn deal.  Chromosomes do not form your ideas or your worth or your character.  Or (my favorite) you’re so proud of how long you’ve been a practicing witch, like there’s some kind of contest and Christian Bale is first prize for whoever was initiated first.  The fact is that most of the basic practice – whatever you practice – is something learned within the first year or so.  Let’s stop worshiping this meaningless crap!  Instead of admiring titles and degrees and lineage, let’s give our respect to service.

Service.  What do you give?  Everyone in our community has worth.  Maybe you only discovered and embraced Paganism two weeks ago, but you are bringing years of life experience to the table.  What can you share?  What will you share?  Over the years I have come to realize that my real power – the real impact I have had in the world – comes not from any glory or title, but from small acts born of compassion.  And that latter quality is imperative.  It can’t be things you do because you want to be seen doing good deeds.  Your acts have to truly come from compassion; from a desire to bring some light into the world.

So don’t tell me when you were initiated or to what elevation.  Don’t boast of your ancestry or your training, don’t drop names (who you know is not who you are).  Don’t tell me what you have done.  Just bring your best.  Because we can do better than we have.

Wizards’ Guilds Now Accepting New Apprentices!

September 21st, 2020

As the Sun moves into Libra on this equinox day, Sodalicia Magi Scriptor (the wizards’ guilds) extends an invitation to all witches, sorcerers, wizards and others who would like to expand and nurture their magical skills and knowledge!

Sodalicia Magi Scriptor is not a “school”, but rather a fellowship of magical people helping each other learn and grow. You enter a guild as an Apprentice and are soon recognized as a Journeyman when you demonstrate a basic understanding of the respective art. Journeymen who prove themselves to be adept and have an interest in teaching others can move on further to be recognized as Masters of their art. S.M.S. currently offers seven guilds: Abjuration, Alchemy, Artificers, Cartomancy, Healing, Herbology and Runes. We plan to add more guilds as our fellowship grows.

There is no fee to participate in Sodalicia Magi Scriptor. The easiest way to get involved is to join our Facebook group (S.M.S. Wizards) and ask to apprentice in one of the guilds. A Master of that guild will then contact you as soon as an apprenticeship is available. Whether you are an adept or a novice, you’ll find the guild format to be a useful structure for magical learning and development.  While the guilds of S.M.S. are organized in three tiers of Apprentice, Journeyman and Master, we are ever cognizant that these terms are relevant only to our guild structures, acknowledging that the Apprentice may indeed be more adept than the Master.

If you have any interest in the magical arts, I recommend that you look up the S.M.S. Wizards group on Facebook.  Sodalicia Magi Scriptor is open to all magical people age 18 or older, regardless of religion, race, gender or sexual orientation.


A Potion for Our Time

September 17th, 2020

If you are anything like me, this pandemic is probably getting to you. It’s hard to be separated from your tribe, masked like a bandit whenever you go out in public, worried about your friends and family. It was stressful enough for me that my physician prescribed some medication to relieve my anxiety.

The cure, however, was as troublesome as the anxiety. I realized this when I found myself standing in the middle of our dining hall, doing nothing, simply admiring the color of the walls. The pills swept away all of my ambition as well as my anxiety, and that wasn’t acceptable. They were also (I discovered through a Google search) potentially addictive. So I ditched the pills and worked up my own calming potion. It has been working great for me. The potion takes the edge off without any noticeable side effects, so I thought I would share it here for anyone who would like to try the same approach.

You will need:
1 Coffee Filter
A Cup or Mug
A Kettle

Start a kettle of water boiling. While it’s heating up, put your coffee filter into the cup. (You can use a tea ball or something similar, but you won’t get all those little bits of herb floating around if you use a coffee filter.) Then put about 2 teaspoons of chamomile and 1 teaspoon of lavendar inside the filter. When the water begins to boil remove it from the stove and pour it over the herbs, filling the cup. Let this steep for at least seven minutes. Then carefully lift out the filter to remove the herbs from the menstruum. The filter and herbs may now be discarded. Let the resulting potion cool a bit before drinking.

Hopefully there will be a light at the end of this tunnel; a day when we can again meet in person without fear, and hug and love and bask in human contact. Until then, perhaps this potion will make the days pass more easily for you. I know it has been a great help for me.

(Herbology is not a substitute for professional medical care. I did talk to my physician about the pills, explaining what I was doing instead. If you are uncertain about anything pertaining to your physical or mental health, talk to your doctor.)

A Rose by Any Other Name

February 14th, 2020

“I’m not Pagan, I’m Heathen.”

“The difference between a sorcerer and a witch is (fill in some kind of nonsense here).”

“I’m not religious, I’m spiritual.”

You’ve probably heard people say something like this, if not all of it.  Words define the universe around us, so it’s only natural that people want precise definitions for those words.  But topics like spirituality and magic don’t lend themselves well to precise, finite definitions, which can actually foster ignorance rather than understanding.  In science exact definitions are a useful tool, but even there it can be misleading.  Scientists scoff at the idea of alchemists trying to turn lead into gold, but the fact is they did exactly that.  (Don’t believe me?  Read Dennis William Hauck’s  The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Alchemy.)  It only seems impossible today because modern science redefined what we mean by “gold”.  The more precise a definition, the more it excludes other possibilities.  This is not always a bad thing, sometimes it is necessary, but it should be approached with humility and the knowledge that those other possibilities do indeed exist.

And let’s face it, the English language is renowned for its fluidity.  We can choose to hop, leap or jump.  We can be joyous or delighted.  English allows us to express a single concept in multiple ways, often with a different emphasis or tone, but in words that are essentially synonymous.

So don’t worry too much about labels.  Use what is appropriate at the moment, taking into consideration who you are speaking to and the context of the conversation.  I am a Pagan, a Heathen, a wizard and witch and sorcerer.  You can label my spiritual path Anglo-Saxon or Saxon, I don’t care which because all of these terms are correct.

Don’t waste time trying to define what you are not.  Just know who you are, and accept that there may be numerous words that define you.

Dead Grandparents

October 21st, 2018

Ray Buckland died only a year ago and already there are people making claims that they have some kind of leadership position over the tradition he created in the 1970’s.  But there’s nothing new about this behavior.  It’s easy to say that somebody initiated you or appointed you or otherwise conferred some position of authority to you when that person is safely dead and buried.  Far too many witchcraft traditions have been passed down from conveniently dead grandmothers.

The most recent manifestation of this phenomenon has come before me with questions about the Steward of the Seax tradition.  The answer to any question like that is the Seax tradition does not have a Steward. It has not had one since Mark Ventimiglia (the tradition’s second Steward) made such a mess of things trying to promote his own homophobic, vegan agenda. This is a fact. Ray and I discussed it in person, and I also still have an email that Ray sent me on June 24th, 2013 in which he flatly says, “I therefore decided (after Ventimiglia left) that the Seax-Wica must sink or swim on its own merits. Hopefully I had given sufficient information to create a good foundation. Others could build from there. So there is no longer a Steward of the Seax-Wica.”

This is a good thing.  The position of Steward was supposed to be nothing more than a person who people could go to if they had questions about the tradition.  But Ventimiglia’s tenure was evidence that a position like this can be corrupted if it conveys even the slightest position of “power”.  And that is the very antithesis of the Seax tradition.  One of Ray’s primary goals was to create a tradition without hierarchies and claims to authority.

Ray did not acknowledge any Steward or other authority of the Seax tradition after Ventimiglia, and I have the email to prove it.  The lesson here is that if you need a dead grandparent to back up your claims, choose one who hasn’t left a paper trail.

Into the West

August 19th, 2018

At the end of The Return of the King when the end credits come up Annie Lennox’ haunting lyrics ask, “What can you see on the horizon?”

This summer, after seventeen years in Pennsylvania, my husband and I returned west across the Mississippi to settle in Dubuque, Iowa.  This move brings us closer to our families and to longtime friends in St. Louis, Kansas City and Springfield, but at the same time it is a new and wondrous experience for us.  Everything is at once new and yet familiar.

We’re glad to be closer to the lands of our ancestors.  Scott and I are both sons of the Midwest.  His people came from Minnesota, mine from Missouri and Arkansas.  This is our place, our part of the world, and we find that we are more comfortable here.

Nevertheless, old patterns have been broken and the new have yet to emerge.  I have several writing projects that I’ve been kicking around, however only time will tell which will come to fruition.  I’m sure that all of these projects will be shaped, at least to some degree, by my new experiences here in the Midwest.

What can I see on the horizon?  The vision is not yet clear, but I hope it will be something wonderful.

Reversed Runes?

May 9th, 2018

I have been asked again about the reversed meanings of runes, interpretations when the runes pulled are upside down.  I think this notion originated with Tarot readings, although even with Tarot reversed meanings are a later adaptation.  Assigning reversed meanings to the runes is demonstrably erroneous.  First, none of the Rune Poems give any “reversed meanings”.  The very idea reminds me of those old rumors of how you would supposedly hear Satanic messages if you played Stairway to Heaven backwards.  Like that song, playing the Rune Poems backwards will only produce garbled mush.  There’s no hidden meaning.  Each rune (a word meaning mystery or secret) is exactly what it is.

As evidence of this, notice that more than a third of the Anglo-Saxon runes (Gyfu, Hagol, Nied, Is, Gear, Éoh, Sigel, Ing, Dæg and Ior) appear EXACTLY THE SAME whether they are upright or upside down.  It is literally impossible to tell if any of those runes are reversed unless the card, chip or stone is marked in some way to show which way is “up”.  If the runes were each intended to have a positive and negative interpretation they would all clearly have a top side and a bottom side.

We are fortunate to still have the runic mysteries (in the Old English Rune Poem for the Anglo-Saxon Fuþorc; the Norse and Icelandic Rune Poems for the Younger Fuþark).  Adding contrived “reversed” interpretations changes any serious study of the runes into a modern perspective only peripherally related to rune lore.

Spirituality and Race

April 12th, 2018


I recently heard that at least one right-wing racist group is under the impression I am “pro-Nazi”.  If this tidbit of news has reached you, or should it at any time in the future, let me clarify something.

I’m not.

First of all, even if I wanted to join the club Neo-Nazis are notoriously anti-gay.  They would also expect me to be racist and anti-Semitic and neither of those are really my thing either.  Frankly, how anyone who has read even ONE of my books could think I’m pro-Nazi boggles my mind.

It’s a shame these people latch onto Germanic spiritual paths and try to twist them into something they aren’t.  Anglo-Saxon is a culture, not a race.  Anyone of any race or ethnic background can honor and praise the gods of the Anglo-Saxons.  You may not know this but Woden has a substantial following in Peru, and his followers there have distinctly brown complexions unless there’s something wrong with the color on my computer monitor.  If it were up to me everyone would worship Woden and Thunor and Ing Fréa.  I give offerings and praise to my gods because they are freaking awesome, not because I’m “white”.

I would make a terrible Nazi.  I hang out with men and women of all races.  Last year I joined some Jewish friends for their Passover celebration (because my gods are NOT “jealous gods”).  I find men sexy, and that’s unlikely to change any time soon.  I’m sure Neo-Nazis would never accept me in their clique.  Nor do I have any desire to sign up.


A New Look for a Great Book

February 10th, 2017

I honestly believe that Wyrdworking: The Path of a Saxon Sorcerer is the best of my books, and I am not alone in that opinion.  Just last month the owner of one of the nation’s largest New Age stores told me she thought Wyrdworking was the best book about Anglo-Saxon runes available today.  And apparently “the people upstairs” at Llewellyn Worldwide are also impressed by the book, because they think it should be reaching a far wider audience.

Because of this, my acquisitions editor contacted me last year and asked how I would feel about the book getting a new title.  I certainly had no objections.  Back when I submitted a book called Charming the Plow, Elysia (my editor) said the title was confusing and insisted I change it.  That’s why it became To Walk a Pagan Path, which managed to hit the #1 spot for several months on Amazon’s list of Pagan books.  So if Elysia wanted a new title for Wyrdworking, I was immediately on board!

And so there were meetings.  Ideas were tossed around.  I was told that the book would also get a new cover by the talented Kevin R. Brown (who did the amazing cover for To Walk a Pagan Path).  Officially, Wyrdworking went out of print.

This coming September, with a beautiful new cover, my book will be released as A Handbook of Saxon Sorcery and Magic.  If you already have Wyrdworking, don’t worry, you aren’t missing out on anything.  The new version is the exact same book, only with a different title.  The fact is, most people don’t know what ‘wyrd’ is, and so they don’t have a clue of what ‘wyrdworking’ might mean.  Under this new title, my book may reach countless people who would otherwise pass it up.  And some of those people will feel a connection to Saxon wiccecræft.  And some of those people will hear Woden’s call.

And that, after all, is why I write these books.

Blessings of the Green Man: An Activity for Pagan Kids

July 29th, 2016

Here is a way to share your love of Paganism with all but the very youngest children.  When using green onions in a recipe, leave 1½ inches from the root intact.  Let your child put this piece in a small cup of water, roots submerged, leaving the very top exposed to the air.  Several onion roots can be placed in the same cup if you are using more than one.

After this, the child should put the cup in a sunny place.  It does not need to be on a windowsill, but the cup should get at least a few hours of sunlight each day.  Within a couple of days a new green shoot will emerge.

When a shoot is about three inches long, the child should now plant the onion in a pot of soil.  This pot can then be set outside or in a sunny windowsill.  The new onion plant needs to be watered regularly, of course.  When it has grown to 9″ or more the onion can be uprooted, the green part cut up for cooking, and your child can start the root again in a new cup of water.

This simple activity involves the child in Pagan spirituality in multiple ways.  Engage your child in a conversation about Ing Fréa, the Saxon god who rules over plant growth and abundance.  The growth of a new onion demonstrates the eternal cycle of life.  In a world where we have largely forfeited the ability to provide our own food, this can help children begin to reclaim that power.  The child experiences a personal cycle of planting, growing, harvesting, and planting again.

My Travels through Middle-Earth is proudly powered by WordPress

Entries (RSS) and Comments (RSS).