Thursday, September 22, 2011
Everything in my life is moving.
My place of residence. My perceptions. My feelings.
Maybe I can do real spiritual work here. I do love Yemaya. She can knock down a huge emotional wall. I need to be more in touch with my center. Wherever the hell it is. I find myself crying and praying to this Orisha. I suppose She is very close.
Stir the pot. I heard thunder today. Saw a few storms out in the distance. Prayed to Set that I can handle chaos and weird stuff until I come out of all this. Handle being tossed about on the ocean.
I do want to see what's next.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
So, I saw a disturbing article on my sister Sobeq's twitter today, about some new vast prayer project aimed at "taking the country back" for christians, sponsored by our favorite Jesus freaks, the New Apostolic Reformation, and while they are against, well, everyone but themselves (because Mormons and Catholics aren't christian either), they are having pagans sit up and take notice. And responding back to pagans - with "blood-covered love." (I wish I was kidding about that quote)
Some of you might remember some rumblings over the NAR during our last American presidential election, mostly around Sarah Palin, our favorite witch hunter. It's a part of an over-arching ideal in some factions of American christian fundamentalism termed "dominionism," basically, "all your soulz are belong to us." It's a relatively new term, describing the political aspirations of far-right christians, but has been on the rise here in the US, as far as I can tell, since Ronald Reagan. The evangelical right is a minority, but a very noisy one, and very faithful to the polls - and they are masters of organization.
What made me want to write about this episode, particularly the "Forty Days of Light over D.C.", is partly the comment section of the first link to the Wild Hunt blog about it, and my own mixed-up feelings. I'm no stranger to the feelings of these kinds of people, who feel it is their duty to force their god's "love" on us, as well as their god's laws and spiritual dominion, to make sure we're "free" and "saved." I have always chaffed at this kind of "love", and know it does not really come from compassion, but from deep insecurities covered by a kind of haughty surety of their own "righteousness." I try to have my own compassion for them, but at the same time, know that there is really no talking to them. They are convinced I'm an emissary of the devil. Nothing I say would be considered for a moment.
I do worry that these nutters will gain political ground - for that, I vote. However, the mention of their prayers against their enemies and "pagan idols" such as Columbia (notice that D.C., to them, is the "District of Christ"), and ongoing commentary on the power of intent (even admitted to be a force by the NAR themselves - the irony is delicious), do make me pause and think. I fully believe in magic/heka. I employ it, I live it (as best I can), and I don't think it is limited to a few specialized hands. I believe it is a natural force - one that can be honed, specialized, and used more specifically and effectively by practiced people who have put the time and effort into it, yes; but a stick can be used to kill a person, not just a balanced sword. What can an organized group of wall-eyed praying foot-soldiers do, with enough directed intent/malice/misunderstanding, to disrupt a government that ensures my freedom? What would it take to counteract it?
I'm not sure.
Please understand, I dislike the whole notion of "spiritual warfare" as put forth by these neo-pentecostal types like the NAR. I don't think it's helpful to announce "we are against you, and our god(s) is(are) too!" I don't want to drag anyone, least of all myself, down to their level of "my god can beat up your god." (Though I do think I just heard Set snicker somewhere...)
However, in the interest of balance, ma'at, and well, concern for our country not getting any crazier, I do think I will try to save the date (11-11-11, oh, but magic is evil :P) and say a few prayers to Ma'at and perhaps the genius loci Columbia. It couldn't hurt, and it might help add a few feathers on the scale on the side of keeping my country free. Maybe my fellow American pagans/Kemetics/Vodouns can jump in as well - there are days for every state, and the one for the District of Columbia.
How you respond, and the level of it, is entirely up to you, but I think perhaps quietly, privately, and lovingly might be best. Maybe do what Jesus said, and go into your closet - because these guys are certainly ignoring that part of their book.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
I was pondering my life in the bath, as I am wont to do, and I recalled some weird episodes in my life, where my spirituality was questioned not because it wasn't christian, but because of the color of my skin. As bizarre as this sounds, it does happen, and I got this from mostly pagan people.
I will admit, there was a time in my life, as a fairly new practicing pagan, that I thought I should follow the ancient ways that my "blood kin" followed. This meant Welsh and Irish pagan beliefs. I did try. The art is gorgeous, yes - the stories interesting, the history just spotty enough to let a curious researcher really dig in and stay interested. But, for whatever reason, it didn't spark my soul. I just wasn't moved.
So I moved on. I wandered around many pagan paths, even kept a little bit of the Celtic stuff around for the sake of my ancestors. What ended up moving me and really reaching my core was radically different, and turned out to be taboo.
I even remember the moment. I was in a religious studies class on sacrifice at college, and we were watching Maya Deren's film, The Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. It's a black and white film, it's a documentary, so no putting on the soft lights to attract people - but all the same, I knew that was what I was looking for. Vodou, of all things! I found Deren's book by the same title, and any other book I could find on Vodou or any other Afro-Diasporic religion. I had found my home. At the same time, I was also interested in Kemetic Orthodoxy, another African religion, but that took a while longer.
But, as it turned out, not everyone thought what I had found was the best thing for me. Oh, I expected evangelical christians to hate my religion, I had been used to that for a while, starting with Stregheria. I didn't expect other pagans to object. It was by no means a consensus, but there were a few pagans who thought it was wrong of me to practice a "black religion" as a "white person." The strongest response along these lines did come from a christian, who said something to the effect of "why are you practicing that n***** religion? It's not enough that you're not christian, you have to go do THAT??" Very sad, indeed.
I don't buy this idea in some recon pagan circles that one is obligated to follow the gods of "their blood." If a pagan is happy honoring the gods of their ancient ancestors, and feels best identifying with their own ethnic spirituality, that's great. I don't object to anyone doing what their spirit honestly calls them to do. I just don't accept or like the idea that this is the way it must be. I even heard a person visiting New Orleans say they wouldn't go see Mambo Sallie Glassman, because she couldn't be a "real" priestess, she was white. Never you mind that she has been to Haiti and was initiated there by a Haitian houngan, and has every right in the world to call herself Mambo Sallie. To this person, the color of her skin determined her spiritual pedigree. That is all kinds of wrong.
Spirit has no skin color. Race doesn't even really exist, even by scientific and anthropological standards. And if you go back in your genetic ancestry far enough, you'll end up in Africa anyway (not to say everyone should worship African deities, my faith isn't for everyone either). Christianity is semetic, when you get down to it, but people of all backgrounds are christian - same goes for Islam, and to a lesser extent, Judaism. And I've seen plenty of white Hare Krishnas. When I'm in a ceremony, or at my shrine, I don't think of my skin color - I am my soul, and my soul happens to love Africa.
Of course, practicing African religions, ancestor veneration is part of what I do - I don't eschew my heritage because I feel called to honor the loa and netjeru. I am here and who I am today because of my ancestors, and my heritage does get recognition. I just don't worship Lugh and Rhiannon because my last name is Welsh. Of course, for my immediate ancestors, being southern and poor, soul food is an offering I make, which happens to be influenced by African people.
I love that I, and my culture, is a huge mix. Makes things interesting. And if more people looked past skin color, and saw the rainbows of true culture and background, maybe these racist ideas of "proper religion" would vanish.
I know, I'm a dreamer.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
So I finally joined twitter (under qefathethert, if anyone cares). I'm notoriously behind on the social-media times, so this is normal. It took me a few years to even join facebook, so, at least I'm consistent.
This leap into the 21st century was prompted by the recent disastrous tropical storm that wasn't. I noticed that on nola.com, our web-version of the Times-Picayune, that twitter was being used to get the word out about damage, floods, power-outages, and even sand-bag sharing (mostly for outlying parishes, but still, all to the good). I remarked on facebook that I liked seeing twitter used for something besides celebrity stalking and raging over lines at the coffee shop.
A good local friend of mine, a very savvy chick, let me know that twitter helped her coordinate evacuations, as well as ways back in the city not guarded by the military after the whole Gustav kerfuffle. She considers it a vital tool when it comes to disaster management (and as she is a Red Cross volunteer, I take her word for it).
She then asks what my twitter handle is. I say I don't have a smart phone, so I see no benefit to having an account. She rebuts that to post, one only needs to text.
Touchè, my friend.
I instantly see the point, especially in a situation where I might need to get word out that my insides are still inside me. Or where I might need a boat, a shotgun, a ride out of harm's way, or bail money.
Therefore, I have joined the world in the twitverse. Maybe it will help me spread word of this blog. Maybe it will be mostly inane, until the zombie apocalypse.
Time will tell.