listen/

©2021 Michael Raven

black on the snow crow
flowing forward slipstream sing
love wolf prancing playing
powder motes the air

-- you can almost hear their laughter

[listen]

skeleton grey rattlestick trees
applauding brother wind sing
the sky alight with the night fire
they dance and fall and guffaw 

-- shhh now, don't stop the lovemaking

[listen]

see...

Tarot for Fun | 29March2021

Mostly based on whim, but also because I have a birthday coming up and I thought I’d have some fun with doing tarot readings leading up to it, I think I’ll draw a single tarot card each day for the next week to see what I have currently going on in that archetypal head of mine looking into the present and my future. Let’s go easy on the cards and I’ll consider everything through Thursday this week as past/present readings and the weekend (including Friday) for the shape of things to come.

Normal caveats apply: I see tarot as potential method of understanding the inner psyche and self-learning — I don’t see it as a divination tool. I know there are folks who strongly disagree with me, but I know there are also quite a few who see tarot in the same light as me; a tool for self-reflection. This is why I never do a reading for anyone else, because it can confuse the issue by me applying my interpretation on their understanding and perhaps biasing what they might learn from tossing down any number of cards. Most people throw down at least three cards (often more), but I like to keep it simple and just draw a single card. Interpretations are paraphrased or quoted from biddytarot.com unless I note otherwise. The choice for using that source is the site is not ad-riddled, the definitions are largely in agreement with what I find elsewhere with some of the more mystical elements stripped, and it is easy to find a card without drilling down. It is not an endorsement of the site or their definitions.

Today is XX | Judgement (reversed):

Rider-Waite deck image

Interpretation:

Period of reflection and self-evaluation is required. I may have kept universal themes woven through my life secret or hidden. Work on self-forgiveness, self-acceptance, self-love, release and freedom.

The Call: “The Judgement reversed often appears when the Universe is trying to send you a message and invite you to something bigger, but you’re not listening. Maybe you’re afraid of the sacrifice you will need to make to heed the call, or you’re worried you are not ready to step into a more prominent role and just want to play it safe. You are doing your best to pretend you didn’t receive it and are carrying on with your daily life, hoping it will go away. But let’s be honest – the ‘call’ never goes away; it just gets louder and louder until you pay attention. It’s time to push past your inner fears and self-doubt, and trust that the Universe has your back. This is happening for a reason.” [Biddy Tarot]

Reflection:

I find it interesting that I see to keep drawing major arcana with some of the reoccurring messages at the same time that I have decided to dig down into my personal understanding of the universe and try to “bite my own teeth” a bit on the matter (which is why I think it has proven somewhat of a trial at times).

As I delved into the Eastern philosophies to augment my other studies in the late 90s, those other studies/practices fell by the wayside (at the time: Lakota myth and ritual, Celtic shamanism) as I felt I had found the essence of what I was trying to reach in Taoist and Zen approaches, but I never felt entirely comfortable in leaving my other knowledge buried. I kept getting drawn back to parts of it that still seemed to hold secrets or value. However, telling folks you are into Zen and Tao is received a whole hell of a lot better than saying you are a neo-pagan or a witch, even thirty years later. Sometimes, it’s nice to not have to swim upstream. “Playing it safe” is what I’ve done for most of those years, not rocking the boat, not asserting my thoughts and opinions too strongly, not getting involved. My alcoholism did a lot to damage my standing, and I often doubted what I thought I had previously understood. Was it true understanding? Or just the fantasies of dear beloved drunk guy?

But, longer-time readers will notice that I’ve undergone a bit of an inflection point these past few months, and starting to come back to the Old Ways, only I should probably call it my New Old Ways, because it is informed by all the intellectual journeying I’ve done over the years and only resembles the other interpretations of the Old Ways in the overlaid veneer I have pasted over it. I don’t even know that “Old Ways” should be applied, as I struggle to reconcile that the phrase may largely be fantasy and has only the slimmest of data to inform it. I’ve started refreshing my brain, investigating, looking to the spirit, trying to reclaim what I had buried deep inside for the sake of expedience and quietude. I don’t know that I see myself as a witch, or even a neo-pagan these days. Part of my process of late has been trying to define myself (see first paragraph in this section), and I don’t know that either apply in the way that most people understand the words — at large or in the community itself.

I see this card (as drawn today) as a confirmation of that process of embracing who I am instead of hiding or hating on who I am. It is one of those past/present cards which points to the place I was and the process I am undertaking. It was a valuable card to reflect on.

Now (re)reading: Drawing Down the Moon

As I said over the past few days, I read Alder’s Drawing Down the Moon (first edition) when I was a wee, impressionable lad back in the late 80s at the tender age of about nineteen. I actually was told to read it as an assignment by either my sponsor or by my soon-to-be priestess of a coven that went by the name of “Plumage” located in the heart of Minneapolis, in an area spitting distance from where all the turmoil took place this last summer in the city — almost a half mile north and one block west of that intersection. Star (craft name) and Hillary (priestess) both approved of my early education, having read several of Starhawk’s books, as well as Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, and other sundry titles that ranged from mostly fluff (titles with the formula “[Celtic/Norse/Candle/Gypsy] Magic”) to stuff that leaned more occult than most practicing witches would normally read (Crowley, etc.). I’d also attended a few classes at the local witchy bookstore called “Evenstar” put on by the Gardner and Alex folks, so I had a pretty good cross-pollination of the locally-practiced traditions. Before I was to be initiated into Plumage, one of them told me that it would be a good idea to read Drawing Down the Moon (DDM), as whomever recommended it thought it would give me an even broader idea of what might be expected.

Plumage was a self-described “theatrical” coven, with a large emphasis on ritual as theater. I probably should go into it beyond saying that, as I don’t recall exactly how secretive Hillary wanted things to be (30 years and rivers of alcohol do horrible things to memory). I recall we were not terribly secretive, but I think the actual workings within circle and, especially initiation, were considered secret. To be safe, I’ll just keep mum about that stuff.

Star was a scholarly type. She and I swapped books all the time because, while everyone in the coven had a veracious appetite for books, I think we were the two most interested in amassing as much knowledge as possible in order to help define a new approach towards the idea of practice. We devoured herbals, books on the ecstatic practices of folks like the gnostics and the dervish, Dead Sea scrolls, Kabbalah, ceremonial magick, mystic Christianity… everything was a valid source of potential understanding. Her initiation gift? A hardbound copy of the condensed version of The Golden Bough.

It tickled her to no end that I was Michael and she was Star and we met in a manner similar to those namesakes from The Lost Boys. Were she about five years younger, I think she might have dressed more goth than she did.

Anyway, if Star, my sponsor, told me to read something — I was going to read it as prep for my initiation. And you didn’t ignore a request from your high priestess at that time. Whomever it was, I did as I was bid and read DDM.

My recollection of it was that it was more scholarly than I preferred — it didn’t have the sexiness of other books that read more like novels or a conversation over coffee. I recall being impressed and putting it on my list of must-have books to keep in my library and maybe something to reread in a year or two. I did eventually — about thirty years late.

As I read the revised version, I’m struck by the feeling that I should be kicking myself in the ass for not getting back to it sooner — I’m sure much of my recent searching would probably have been less frustrating if I’d not avoided going back to older material in my studies and revisiting ideas from my past. Sure, I could have found some of this information elsewhere, but DDM puts it into a single place and keeps the fluff out of the discussion.

You see, one thing I find really annoying (as I’ve said plainly in the past), is the tendency of a number of nonfiction authors to drift from the scholarly to the speculative and, more often than not lately, complete fabrication. Adler does not (so far) reach into the fantastic and speculative — she may relay what other people believe in those realms, but she presents it as viewpoint or counterpoint rather than an authoritative bit of information. She’s critical of her own first edition and the errors she felt she passed on that people took as fact and she’s much more careful about how she presents information as a result.

Now, I should state that I am intimately familiar with many of the concepts she talks about in the early part of the book, but I have to admit that refreshing my memory has made me say “THAT! That’s what I’ve been trying to get at.” Sometimes I think it is a matter of someone reminding you of the things you already know in a straightforward pattern unencumbered by the brambles of your own thinking that sets the lightbulbs ablaze with eureka moments. Is anything profound? Not by itself. But it is profound in the way that it rekindles certain concepts that were already there, but mere deadwood and fragments.

So I find myself highlighting paragraphs with “anima” and “animism” and reminding myself as to the differences between poly- and pantheism. Nodding as I read that ritual is being deemphasized in a number of groups in favor of spontaneity and recognizing certain elements that seemed radical when I’d sit and discuss these matters with people back in my Plumage years (and the 5-10 years following) now being presented as settled matters, largely unchanged from what was considered divisive thirty years ago. So Star and I were not the only ones looking to be progressive — others saw the limitations in being derivative and too focused on a fog-obscured past. While it doesn’t seem that way in the published books AI sends to me on Amazon, there are people out there who are forward-looking instead of trying to recreate a past that might be entirely a figment of someone’s fugue.

I’m not even a quarter of the way through the book and I’m already anxious to re-read my other favorite from that time period, The Spiral Dance, as I recall it having leaving me feeling the same way in a more narrative manner that DDM.

But, back to my current eye candy….