Category: Pagan Commentary

  • A Seat at the Table

    A Seat at the Table

    I had the delight this past weekend of attending yet another lecture by one of my favorite bloggers and authors, John Beckett. Every time I sit through one of his classes, I come away with some snippet that will find its way into my own teachings. This particular presentation was at the 2018 Pantheacon gathering in San Jose, California and his topic was alliances. I am paraphrasing and I hope that I capture his intention, if not his exact words. I mostly hope I catch his intention because my intention is to take it in a different direction than he did and I do not wish to misrepresent him here or anywhere. His message was:

    Too many people expect a seat at the table when they bring little or nothing to the table.

    Preach it, John.

    The sense of entitlement in our Pagan community is incredible. I could blame a number of things for the inflated sense of self-worth that permeates our current Pagan culture and society in general. As a baby boomer, I could say that our generation promoted the idea of participation ribbons that made everyone a winner…even those who did not do the work that others did. I could say that just because you roll an impressive number on your character sheet does not mean that you are, in “real life,” a prominent mage. I could say that taking some community college classes on marketing and reading some books on Witchcraft does not make you elder in our community. Sadly, I could also say that desperately wanting to be an elder or leader in our Pagan community does not make you an elder or leader in our Pagan community.

    There is much I could say. Some I will and some I will not.

    Our Elders and Leaders

    Am I an elder or leader in the community? Some would say yes, based on the thirty-five years that I have worked in Craft and the thirty years or so that I have led circles, covens, and other magical working groups. Some would say yes because I wrote several books on Paganism. Some would say yes because I have actively worked in the Sacramento Pagan community since 1998, assisting with festivals and other huge public gatherings. Some would look at me compared to, say, Morning Glory Zell or Selena Fox or Phaedra Bonewits and say “No, she is just getting started.” The status of elder or leader is subjective.

    Regardless, the main point is that a leader and/or elder has done the time. A leader and/or elder must invest on some level beyond reading books and developing a fundamental and working knowledge of Paganism. A leader and/or elder has to give to their community in a noticeable way. A person, no matter how gifted or motivated, does not come in, work hard for a year or two in the community, and get to wear the global leadership crown. It takes time, integrity, and service.

    Three Components of True Leadership

    In the military, there are two terms pertinent to this conversation: “Time in grade” and “time in service.” “Time in grade” is how long you have served in your rank. “Time in service” is the total time you have served in your branch of the military.

    What seems to be happening lately is that we have people with minimal time in grade, even if they have an impressive length of time in service, appearing on the scene expecting to revolutionize the Pagan community. Spending twenty years as a solitary practitioner and taking some marketing classes makes you a valuable asset to any Pagan community, but it does not make you a community leader.

    Putting in the time with community service is what makes you a community leader. Proving yourself to be someone who treats others with dignity and respect consistently and over years of service is what makes you a community leader. Establishing trust and reliability over time earns you the status of being a community leader or elder.

    Another consideration is that even the combination of time in grade and time in service does not guarantee the status of elder or community leader. It should… and it would… if people always conducted themselves with integrity, but often long-standing and prominent fixtures in our Pagan community are only begrudgingly and reluctantly considered leaders, if ever.

    Why? Because as a leader, your dirty laundry is dried on a public clothesline. If you hold yourself out to be a leader, you have to make certain your side of the street is pristine. We all know community “leaders” who fall into dramatic screaming fits as soon as someone disagrees with them or fails to follow their exact orders. We know community “leaders” who sexual predators. We know community “leaders” who vehemently demand respect, their fingers flying furiously over the social media keyboard when the community does not see fit to genuflect to the levels they feel they deserve. These are not community leaders. These are tyrants. These are the playground bullies who found their niche to rule as adults.

    People such as this have time in grade and time in service, but their service record is dishonorable and everyone in the community knows it. Those who go into Pagan leadership for reasons of ego are quickly revealed as such, regardless of how involved they may be in the community.

    Good leaders and elders are the ones you go to when you want good advice. Good leaders and elders might no longer be able to do the work, but they can tell you the pitfalls to avoid and how to navigate the treacherous waters of public events. Good leaders do not demand the title and respect of leadership or even necessarily seek it out. They earn it.

    So How Do You Get It Other Than to Demand It?

    How does a leader earn respect and elderhood? Time in grade AND time in service coupled with an exemplary service record.

    “But nobody’s perfect!” they cried. “Everyone makes mistakes!”

    True words. The operative point to consider is that how a person responds when it is their turn to be confronted by their errors is just as telling as the fact that they made an error in the first place.

    Of course, leaders are humans and make mistakes, but a true leader owns their mistakes and atones accordingly. They do not keep spinning and bending the story until they find a version that renders them blameless for whatever fallout is accumulating from their actions, then cling to it despite all evidence to the contrary. They do not cop to a shining splinter of accountability while ignoring the woodpile of evidence behind them (or to distract from it). In short, when it comes down to “Are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?” pay attention.

    “Pay no attention to that person behind the curtain! I am the Great and Powerful Oz!”

    If you want to find your true community leaders, look for traits such as accountability, willingness to do the work, reliability and follow-through, accountability, humility, focus, truthfulness, dependability, accountability, integrity, and did I mention accountability?  

    What They *Think* They Bring to the Table

    Truly, few if none of the people I am discussing here believe there is anything wrong with what they do. Many will read this and say, “Man, I’m sure glad I don’t act like that.” I am not saying these people are monsters. I’m just saying they need to slow their roll.

    Every year, new people elbow their way to the grown-up table, demanding to be important, to be heard, and to be recognized as community leaders. In a place and time where there is nothing new under the sun, they push forward with NEW and INNOVATIVE ideas that will be the SALVATION of a struggling community. They cleverly identify the problems and imagine themselves and their ideas to be the magic band-aid that will heal all the wounds, even when existing leaders know of the issues and are actively working to resolve them.

    They do not take the time to watch, to learn, to listen.

    “Y’got trouble…right here in River City!”

    When someone appears out of nowhere and pushes their agendas and groups into the community as if they are the second coming of Pagandom, far from ignoring them, pay attention.

    When a person insists that they abhor drama but always seem to have drama around them everywhere they go, pay attention.

    When divisiveness and conflicting stories follow a person throughout the community as they leave a trail of bodies, damaged businesses, and broken relationships in their wake, pay attention.

    When someone comes to you with a long list of stories about people who did them wrong, pay attention. You will likely be their next story on that ever-growing list.

    When someone comes onto the community scene and attempts to create discord among the existing Pagan leaders in the community or tries to undermine those leaders, pay attention.

    The Sweetest Fruit, Let Me Tell Ya

    To a Pagan leader, someone who shows up with apparent motivation, experience, and talent is a balm to the jagged nerves. It is exciting and relieving at the same time to have someone actually want to help because those folks are few and far between. It is intoxicating and the urge to use that resource to its fullest is tempting beyond reason. When you see someone excited and eager to help, the inclination is to allow them to do so at any availability.

    Unfortunately, this sometimes leaves the Pagan leader vulnerable if they give away too much power too soon. Pay attention. 

    So What Can We Do?

    Pay attention and carry on until the person in question establishes time in grade, time in service, and an exemplary service record. Seriously, there is no rush. Use discernment. Give the newbies the time and the honor to create their legacy before deciding they are leaders. Time is the ally in this situation, not the enemy.

    • Do not be afraid to ask the important questions such as, “I’m sorry, who are you again?”
    • Ultimately, people reveal themselves to be exactly who they are. See a person for who they demonstrate themselves to be, not who they tell you they are.
    • Pay attention to and make note of any red flags that come up that you feel inclined to dismiss out of kindness (or desperation).
    • Invest your respect of and your devotion to any person very carefully.
    • When someone who is new to the scene speaks disparagingly about an established person in the community and that accusation seems out of character or unlike the person being discussed, pay attention. Unfortunately, people who wish to create discord in a community will often work from a tiny grain of truth and build a huge story around it, so that what they are saying does not seem completely impossible. This frequently causes others to believe contrived or exaggerated accusations. “Divide and conquer” is a strategy these kinds of people often use without even realizing they are doing it.
    • When someone attempts to malign others from the community to you, say, “You know, I am going to stop you right there” and graciously redirect the conversation.
    • Verify information that seems sketchy. Do not allow misperceptions to spread or linger.
    • Do not allow desperation, loneliness, or fatigue to cloud your better judgment.
    • Remember, “if they will do it with you, they will do it to you.”
    • Remember that if someone has a long line of “done me wrong” stories, you will very likely be the next story on the list.
    • Notice how often you see a person actively listening to others around them versus how often you see them talking.
    • Consider the notion of “methinks thou dost protest too much” when people go public with verbose overexplaining of perceived slights. People tend to overexplain in order to convert, not to defend. If a person is unable to stand on their own integrity, it usually means they have established no integrity on which to stand.
    • When someone’s conversations feel “culty” or have an atmosphere of “us or them,” pay attention.

    If YOU are the one frothing at the mouth for your seat at the table, relax. Chill. We still love you. The community needs competent, motivated, and eager participants just as much as it needs competent, experienced, and vetted leaders. You are the next generation and the life’s blood that will keep the community growing, improving, and developing. Find comfort in that until it is your turn at the table. Invest the time and hard work and the community will embrace you warmly. You will be at that grown-up table in no time.

    Psst, besides, the kids’ table gets the best desserts.


  • The Last Closet – A Book Review

    The Last Closet – A Book Review

    The Last Closet Opens

    I read Moira Greyland’s book The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon (Castalia House, December 2017). Every. Painful. Word.

    I also read countless blog posts and comments about the revelations contained therein. It is quite a time-consuming and heartbreaking rabbit hole to dive into, as anyone who makes even a cursory exploration will find.

    I have quite a lot to say about the book from the perspective of a Pagan woman, a book publisher, and as a thinking, rational person. Some of my impressions and subsequent research appear in this review and more will come later in an article that relates both to this book and the elephant that strides intrusively into the room when we talk about this book.

    For those few people who may not know, The Last Closet details the sexual, emotional, and physical abuse Greyland endured from her mother, author of The Mists of Avalon and other SciFi/Pagan/Fantasy fictional works, and her father, science fiction writer and rare coin expert, Walter Breen, as well as many of their friends.


    In full disclosure, my roots in the Pagan community, particularly in the Sacramento, California area, run deep, beyond knowing a few people who know a few people. I am a founding member of North Western Circles Association and have played an integral role in the administrative side of multiple local festivals since 1999. I have worked as a Pagan teacher and lecturer for over thirty years. I am the author of a series of books called The Seven Sisters of Avalon that draws heavily from the canon created by Marion Zimmer Bradley, as well as a large number of Pagan-centric non-fiction books.

    I am a cis female in a long-term – twenty years and counting – monogamous relationship.

    I am also a child sexual abuse survivor.

    Yes, you could say that I do have a dog or two in this fight, however, I deliberately came at this book with a blank slate to absorb it without filters as much as I possibly could. It became one of the hardest and ugliest tasks I have performed in quite some time and in this case, “taking one for the team” was quite a bitter pill to swallow.

    Taking One For My Team

    As I read through countless blog posts, comments, and discussions about the book, it became clear that almost no one addressing the issues actually read the book. Many said they did not wish to give any money to the publisher, who is an unapologetic alt-right, anti-gay, anti-anything-except-fundamentalist-Christian warrior. Some did not want to risk the trigger factor of reading explicit descriptions of child molestation. Some wanted to play armchair critic and wisdom keeper without doing the work of research. This article is for those who did not read the book, for whatever reason. I intend to present a critical analysis of the book itself, as well as some observations regarding the perspective of the author.

    Technicalities First

    From a publishing standpoint, I cannot advocate for Castalia House. The book is a technical disaster and good editors could easily have shaped it up into a more presentable package, correcting the misspellings and smoothing the structural anomalies. As an example, Ms. Greyland often repeats key stories throughout the book, introducing them as though the reader did not just hear the same tale a few chapters or even pages back. It is like visiting with an elder on the edge of senility who tells you the same story two or three times in one conversation, anticipating wide-eyed fascination with each telling. At several points, the narrative does not flow well, such as when, without the benefit of a decent segue, the author abruptly launches into several pages of discussion about her experiences as a dominatrix in the BDSM (Bondage, Dominance, SadoMasochism) community after a lengthy discussion centered on her profound talent as a singer and a harpist. The shift was quite abrupt and I am still nursing literary whiplash from the lack of transition. In short, the book is just sloppy. Since the author states that her anti-gay perspective regarding the abuse her parent’s inflicted only dawned on her in November and the book released in December, it is likely that a “rush to print” approach is at fault for the poor technical condition of the book. And yet, the anti-gay perspective is a huge component of the book’s message. So why the rush to print?

    Why Now? Does “When” Matter?

    The author is clear that she wrote the book as a catharsis. She openly admits that she struggles with mental health issues because of complex post-traumatic stress syndrome and severe panic disorder resulting from her abuse. I do not doubt this at all. Her decades of silence ended four years ago with allegations against her mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley. It was already well-known and a matter of public record that Ms. Greyland’s father and Bradley’s husband, Walter Breen, was a convicted serial child molester and that MZB was at minimum complicit in his crimes, based on her testimonies in his court proceedings.

    Many wondered why Greyland dropped this bomb now when the abuses occurred decades ago. Most of the people she accuses of molesting and abusing her are dead and unable to defend themselves, which may or not be a coincidence. This observation peppers discussion of the book and is held up by many who speak in defense of those she accuses as far too convenient to be accidental.

    The author makes no secret of the fact that her mother, a multi-millionairess at the time of her death, financed many of her educational and personal ventures, bought her a house and an expensive concert harp, and paid for her education, as well as other considerations, much as any parent in that position might do. The fact that it would hardly serve Ms. Greyland well to criminally implicate or even bring bad press against the person who is underwriting key components to her adulthood does not go unnoticed by her critics. Her mother, however, died nearly twenty years ago, so that criticism does not hold up unless the author continued to receive benefits from her mother’s estate, which is not immediately apparent.

    One person still living who Ms. Greyland aggressively disparages is Elisabeth (Lisa) Waters, author and long-time administrative assistant and lover of Marion Zimmer Bradley. Greyland refers Waters to as her “stepmother.” To my knowledge, Ms. Waters has not addressed the author’s assertions, but she did publicly counter accusations from the father of one of Walter Breen’s victims. (Note: This link includes both Ms. Waters’ statement as well as the father’s rebuttal to her statement) Elisabeth Waters held the golden key to MZB’s fortune both before and after her death in 1999. Although many posters bring up that Greyland was disinherited, in The Last Closet, she states that she accepted the house her mother gave her in lieu of any claim on her mother’s estate.

    The Blog Post Heard ‘Round the World

    The initial accusations against Marion Zimmer Bradley surfaced in 2014 when blogger Deirdre Saoirse Moen reached out to Moira Greyland to oppose’s article praising Bradley. The reply to this email became what Greyland refers to as, The Blog Post Heard Round the World.” In her email, Greyland claims MZB was not only complicit in her husband’s ongoing sexual abuse of children, but that she was herself a serial child molester.

    At that time, regarding the question of why she waited to come forward with her claims, Greyland said, “The reason I have given, and stand by for not talking is this: I know many people found value in my mother’s books, and I did not want to harm them or disturb their lives.” Apparently, some driving force won out over her stated concern for the fans of her mother’s work, who she blatantly criticizes and belittles in The Last Closet. I am not saying she should not have spoken out. I, for one, would prefer to know the truth. What I am saying, however, is that something shifted, motivating a tidal wave of revelation rather than the reason she gave at that time and no longer stands by.

    Had the book served only as a cathartic release of emotions regarding the horrible abuse Greyland suffered at the hands of her monstrous parents, this review would read much differently than it does. Instead, The Last Closet is a devasting and heartbreaking declaration of the experiences the author endured wrapped up in a much larger denigration of Paganism and any kind non-cis, heterosexual lifestyle. In short, unless you are a cis straight Christian, you are part of the reason she was abused.

    A Tiny Closet of Acceptable Social Norms

    One problem with the book is that we have an adult attempting to impose a mature psychoanalysis of the actions of her parents from the traumatized memories she formed as a little girl. From a very early age, she experienced horrible sexual situations, both first and second-hand, that no child should have to endure. Within the writing, however, she presumes to understand them with something other than the child’s mind that experienced them, which is very nearly impossible. Her retroactive speculation is stated as fact, reaching far into what she believes her clearly disturbed mother thought and felt. Ms. Greyland grapples with presumed thoughts and motives, juggling them amongst her own memories from ages three, five, six, and older, to establish a basis of fact that may or may not be accurate, but is nonetheless presented as absolute. She is equally unyielding in her misinformed statements regarding Pagan and LGBT people.

    The author is apparently unaware of the scientific premise that correlation does not equal causation as she directly and explicitly faults cultural correlations for her parents’ behavior. Again, make no mistake… her mother and father were horrible, deplorable people who committed atrocities against her, her brother, and countless other children. Non-parental adults in her childhood environment blithely looked the other way when she and her siblings were in desperate need of advocacy. Adults failed these children profoundly at every turn. Aside and apart from the direct sexual and other physical abuses, from the descriptions offered by Greyland anyone who took a moment to observe the family dynamic and living conditions would clearly see rampant neglect and emotional abuse. Innocent children suffered not only at the hands of these two co-dependent sociopathic parents but from the apathy and neglect of nearly every other grown person around them.

    But also make no mistake that the author places panoramic blame for this abuse not only on her dysfunctional mother and father or the specific people in their social circle, but on 1) Gay people, 2) Paganism, and 3) the relaxed social norms of the 1960s counter-culture. She freely assigns the worldview and values of her abusive mother and father to all of Paganism, all of gaydom, and to everyone from the 1960s counter-culture. This perspective is quite overt and colors most of what she relates in the book. She seems compelled to revisit this conviction on a regular basis just in case we forgot from the previous page that she would never have been abused were it not for all those gay Pagans.

    Conviction Does Not Mean You Are Right

    Ms. Greyland’s views on the LGBT culture and people are profoundly limited and ill-informed. For instance, she has no concept or understanding of bisexuality, insisting that it does not actually exist because some “gay” people go on to enter a heterosexual marriage. When she speaks of marriage between two gay people, she uses quotation marks (“marriage”), presumably to distinguish it from “real” marriage of opposite gendered people.

    The author redefines “pansexual” from the accepted “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity” to “preferring sex with EVERYONE of EVERY age and EVERY gender rather than wanting to be limited to one person” (emphasis is the author’s), espousing and quoting the views of aggressively anti-gay psychologist, Jeffrey Satinover. She qualifies this perspective by saying that “back in November,” it dawned on her that “maybe gayness WAS an issue [in her abuse]” and identifies her “research” on homosexuality as “a guilty secret” since she was raised in an environment of enforced tolerance. Polyamory also engages her derision and she refers to the practice as “a ‘game where men psychologize the women they want with stories of how humans are not biologically intended for monogamy.”

    Interestingly, she cites “cognitive bias” as a reason why high-IQ people like her parents can be “stupid,” but she consistently ignores her own cognitive biases regarding Paganism or LGBT issues.

    Also, Obesity is Offensive

    Ms. Greyland frequently and uncomfortably engages in what I would qualify as “fat-shaming” language, with a strong focus on her mother’s obesity and how it disgusted her while making just as many references to how slim and fit she is herself.

    Isaac in The Last Closet

    Again, I have no doubt that the author experienced the horrors she described and likely much more… “more” because she seldom actually discusses the actual abusive horrors she experienced, turning away from specifics and relying on euphemisms indicating that what happened was far too horrible to describe. She alludes to what happened, but rarely actually states what happened. The one exception is the rape she experienced at age five by her father, an act she depicts in tremendous detail. While it is understandable that Ms. Greyland is under no obligation to regale the reader with graphic depictions of these acts, she does leave a great deal to the imagination and unwritten inference. Most of us, especially those readers who went through sexual abuse ourselves, will fill in the gaping blanks with the worst case scenarios. Whether this is incidental or by intentional design is up for speculation.

    The Pagan and Sci-Fi/Fantasy community reeled when her 2014 accusations against her mother became public, but many were unprepared when implications against the late Pagan pioneer and ADF founder, Isaac Bonewits, appeared in her book. Again, with one exception, she deflects and infers rather than outright accusing in her discussion of Bonewits. She never actually says what he did to her. Although she talks about him for approximately two pages of the book, the summation of her contact with Bonewits when she was six-years-old is that she “smelled things [she] did not want to smell and tasted things [she] did not want to taste.” She goes on to describe the basement in author Diana Paxton’s house where she implies she was victimized by Bonewits, then states that she hated him with every fiber of her being. Her only direct indictment of him is when she writes that she and her friend, Jean, overheard Bonewits asking her mother if he could have sex with her.

    Since the book’s release, Phaedra Bonewits, Isaac’s widow, and Deborah Lipp, Isaac’s ex-wife, as well as his son, Arthur, released statements expressing regret over what Ms. Greyland experienced but also saying that these accusations were not in keeping with what they knew of Isaac. There were others who knew Bonewits (I did not) who were not as surprised by the allegations. Ultimately, it appears that anyone other than Ms. Greyland who knows for certain what happened is dead.

    An Unfortunate Spectrum

    Our culture is currently polarized between a long-prevalent “blame the victim” mentality and a more socially aware pushback that believes the victim at all costs. Comments on blog posts about the author’s assertions clearly reflect this dichotomy. Ms. Greyland’s brother, Mark (formerly Patrick), corroborates her story, although the web page with his statement that does so is no longer online (the dreaded “404: File Not Found”). Public records of court testimony and many online sources confirm that both Marion Zimmer Bradley and Elisabeth Waters knew that Walter Breen was a serial child rapist, primarily of young boys. Breen died in prison, convicted of eight felony counts of child molestation with an additional civil suit pending against him. The assertion that Ms. Greyland, her brother, and an unknown number of other children were violated in horrible ways is beyond dispute and the tragedy of that is incomprehensible.

    The idea of catharsis is fully understandable, however, using her experience to further an anti-gay, anti-Pagan agenda feels suspect. One gets the feeling she is lashing out, seeking some explanation beyond the multi-generational family legacy of child-rape and abuse to explain why her parents behaved as they did, In doing so, she settled on very nearly every cultural influence around them, looking for something or someone beyond them to blame. Or could it be something more sinister than that? Or both?

    As one blog poster wrote, “It’s reprehensible. Moira Greyland, the daughter of fantasy author Marion Zimmer Bradley and science fiction fandom figure Walter Breen, was abused by her parents. Now, she is abused by Theodore ‘Vox Day’ Beale” (her publisher).

    Still in a Closet

    I will leave you with some direct quotes from the book that caught my attention and seem to speak to her overall worldview which, I feel, is as narrow and dark as I imagine the closet she speaks of in her book’s title to be.

    Referencing the behavior of a dramatic and needy woman Ms. Greyland was involved with romantically:  “How can men stand women? If that is what we do, then seriously, how has the species survived?”

    “There is no room at all for promiscuous sex in an adult man or woman. It is irresponsible to the children who need their parents to not be idiots and to the grandchildren who need thier [sic] parents to not be destroyed by their grandparents.”

    “Denying gender roles denies adulthood and adult responsiblities [sic]. It creates an extended adolescence and encourages ongoing stupid decisions.”

    “When women reject femininity, they usually become a bad caricature of a man. Men who reject masculity [sic] end up as bad caricatures of women…the bottom line is that women end up hyper-responsible, and the men end up useless.”

    “Worst of all, men lie to women that they do not take seriously as long-term partners. Why? Because telling women the truth usually results in screaming fights and ends sexual access.”

    “…women who are ‘strong’ or ‘dominant’ are invariably angry that their men aren’t stronger while they emotionally pound them into the ground every time they show a hint of spine.”

    “Pedophilia is the inevitable result of limitless sexual ‘freedom,’ and its defenders are hiding in plain sight in the gay community.”

    “Modern paganism is not historical in the slightest but comes from speculation, wishful thinking, and outright falsification of history.”

    Her description of SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism, which her mother and author Diana Paxton founded together): “…instead of sacrificing one other at Stonehenge, as the archaeology indicates was the case, the Druids were reimagined as happy, free feminists, skipping naked through the trees, practicing Western free love, open marriages, and magically avoiding all normal consequences.”

    Describing her mother’s alledged rejection of the Christian god: “The results of this decision were tragic, as over time, it encouraged tens of thousands of her readers to follow in her footsteps, away from Christianity and into a spirituality that pretended to offer more.”

    Lastly, she quoted a poem of her father’s that she said, “expresses the truth of the gay movement, and how it is hardly exclusive to one sex or age or even species”: “I am a dirty old man. I make love wherever I can. Little boys, little girls, little sheep, little squirrels… I am a dirty old man.”

    I read every word and I cried over some of them. I cried because in our society, then and now, there are precious children who are brutalized by the very people who should keep them safe. As much as I cried over her pain, I cried because, in 2018, we are still having these unwinnable conversations where the misdirected blame for sociopathic behavior lands on good and innocent people for no reason other than fear and ignorance. I am ashamed that there are still people in this country who are not only cloaked in willful ignorance as Ms. Greyland is but who have an amplified voice to spread that ignorance throughout a culture that is already steeped in fear and desperation.

  • Focus in the Dark

    Focus in the Dark

    On Samhain (October 31) each year, a practice our group adds to our ritual is that we go into the dark earth labyrinth where a large mirror is propped on a table. In candlelight, we look into the Mirror of Truth and then pull a Tarot card from the table where they are spread in front of the mirror. This card tells us what our focus should be in the coming dark of the year when introspection and insight are key.

    This year, I almost forgot to pick a card. Just before we went into the labyrinth, I enacted an intense magical component of the ritual when the Crone parts the veil between the worlds, which we traditionally do before going into the labyrinth. As I was about to do it, I stepped in the Mayhole. In the darkness, which seemed so much darker than other years, I did not even see it. It is at least 6-8″ deep and lined with rocks. I stepped in and pitched forward in nearly a face plant.

    The result was that I tore the end off of my toe (wearing sandals), scraped and bruised my shin so it is now pretty colors, and wrenched my hip and knee and apparently, every body part in between the two. I felt myself wanting to cave. My whole premise of late has been to take care of myself first and others after. Shifting out of the Mothering phase I was in since I was ten-years-old has been quite a challenge for me. Now, going into the Crone phase, I am long past overdue to let that part of myself slip into the shadows. It was like someone who keeps trying to leave military service, but gets pulled back in for one more tour of duty. Necessity always demanded.

    I thought about going inside, piling onto the couch and crying. I knew Eric would finish up the ritual just fine on his own. I thought about just not going into the labyrinth and waiting in the circle for everyone to return. My shoe was filling up with blood and the bottom of my dress was wet either from blood or the water that was still in the Mayhole from the previous day’s rain. Samhain only comes once a year and as much as anyone, I was ready for my time of rest. Ultimately, I wanted to embrace the dark of the year fully, so I completed the ritual. When everyone had left, Eric asked me what card I pulled and I realized I’d neglected to do so. I debated whether to get one or not, then picked up a flashlight and made my way into the labyrinth alone.

    The labyrinth is a beautiful and sacred place, but it is also spooky at night, especially in front of a massive mirror with only a flashlight. I pulled my card and found it an interesting juxtapose with Eric’s.


    image031He pulled Death, which means tremendous change. I cringed when I saw it because, to be honest, this was a very tough year. I was called upon to dig deep and find strength I didn’t know I had patience I did not ever think I could muster. I am tired. More change sounds exhausting to me.

    I pulled the 4 of Wands, which means stability, a happy harvest, and the successful end to hard work. It was quite a relief. Apparently, the change will primarily involve Eric and I will somehow be protected from the impact, at least in a negative way.

    I am eager to see how this all manifests in the dark of the year, which runs until March 21 when we plant again. Until then, there will be a great deal of careful consideration about what to manifest in the coming year and a lot of exploring of dark corners to learn more about myself.

    I also plan to rest, restore, regroup, and rejuvenate. I need to revamp my way of being in the world. The greatest gift of the past year was finding out exactly who I am meant to be. That was always in such turmoil before between satisfying what others wanted me to be and trying to honor my own destiny and even to know what that might be. This year left no further mystery as to how I am to best manifest The Goddess in this life and how I should best invest my energy on a daily basis and ultimately. Until further notice, I am giving those objectives my best effort.

    I learned a great deal and I am eager for the repose of the dark. Right now, the rain California so desperately needs is pouring down and with the time change, it is dark, dark, dark. I can feel Autumn all around and I have put a major project (Aster of Avalon) to bed after a year and a half of working on it. Two more projects are waiting to begin after a brief time out from writing. Stephen King might recommend writing every single day, but I have to step away from it now and then to recalibrate my control panel.

    Last Thursday, a tickle in my throat turned into a full scale head cold. I am never, ever ill, so when it does happen every few years that something hits me, I take it as my cue to slow down and rest, giving my body a chance to heal. I managed to get through the weekend of working at the shop with the entire right side of my body feeling sore and broken from the fall and my cold holding court in my head. Today, I cleaned house from our event on Friday and did some busy work, but the rest of the week, with the exception of a trip to town on Wednesday to meet with the homeschool teacher, is dedicated to recovery.

    I hope all of you are welcoming the dark with open arms, ready to embrace the wisdom that is there for you.

  • Time to Dance Forward

    Time to Dance Forward

    Someone once pointed out that Ginger Rogers did everything Fred Astaire did, except backwards and in heels. Some who are not as old as paint like I am may not know who either of those people are, so here is video evidence of what they did. Things don’t really get nuts in the clip until around 3:00 minutes in. Feel free to jump ahead.

    Because of the era to which I was born and how I was raised, I still struggle with male-female dynamic. Some women of my generation were brought up in a home environment where a strong woman ruled and they have no problem stepping into a dominant role. My mother and my father both suffered from their own forms of mental illness when I was growing up. My father was raised as an only child in a home that was emotionally and physically abusive to the extreme. Horrific neglect was a daily occurrence from the earliest time of his life, as well as the outright abuse. He was more “normal,” than he had any right to be, but the psychological damage was profound. Because of experiences he endured as a child, when anything was pressed against his face, he had unbearable panic attacks. He spent most of his life working on cars in a paint and body shop in Owensboro, Kentucky and because of his problems, he was unable to wear a mask when he painted the cars using lead base paint. After years of breathing in the fumes, by the time he died at the age of fifty-one from a massive heart attack resulting in a ventricular rupture, he was, to use medical terms, crazier than a shithouse rat.

    My mother had her own set of paranoias and struggles, but other than a crippling case of hypochondria, her greatest mental and emotional challenges came from a tumor that began growing in her brain at some point in her life. Her doctors could not speculate on how long it had been there, but when she was in her fifties and it was at last diagnosed and removed, it was approximately the size of a lemon. The pressure it put on her brain caused some bizarre behavior.

    In my book, Leaving Kentucky in the Broad Daylight, I detail what it was like to grow up in a tremendously dysfunctional, volatile, and eccentric family. I wrote the book as a catharsis to cleanse and forgive that part of my life. For many years, I could only remember three or four specific moments from my childhood until a friend insisted that I had more in there and encouraged me to find it. I went deep and found more and more memories. A journey through photographs and discussions with my mother’s relatives helped me to feel more whole again and the result of that quest was Leaving Kentucky.

    Many have asked why I have not yet written the book I Aim to Misbehave, the sequel to Leaving Kentucky that tells the rest of my story. Yes, it is quite interesting. I traveled all over the world, married the same man twice, then married a different one, birthed and raised six children, had incredible religious experiences, and accomplished some pretty cool things. The reason why is that I have not yet found my way through that next part of my life and I still have things to reconcile before I can reclaim that time with honor.

    I married at sixteen and moved, as so many of us do, from one dysfunctional, broken situation into another. My first escaped his own horrible childhood and brought with him just as much emotional baggage as I did and we quickly set about duplicating the damaging lives we’d left behind in our childhood homes. He was abusive. I was submissive. I thought it was a good situation because it seemed better than the home I had left to be with him. I literally did not know it was supposed to be different than it was and as a result, our three sons were brought up in an environment that was almost as toxic as the ones Paul and I had survived.

    When Paul and I divorced the first time after fourteen years of marriage, I had a mental break that lasted a little over a year. During that time, I gave birth to a beautiful daughter. I did not come out into the light of day until she was eight months old and I got a job at Edwards Air Base in California. As a single mom of four children, I had to work three jobs to not make enough money to get by. I did not pursue legal counsel as I should have in the divorce, mostly because my husband told me how it was going to be and I accepted what he said. Despite the hardships, I found my own strength during this time and began to stand on my own.

    A year later, Paul came back from a two year tour in Japan and he and I remarried right away. Within a week of him being back, even before we remarried, I knew it was a horrible mistake. I felt the power bleeding out of me moment by moment and my fragile, newborn independence crumbled. I had a list of “this will never happen again” deal-breakers and he agreed to all of them and immediately began to tick his way down the list. I fussed, but acquiesced.

    In early 1996, I was completely blindsided when he returned from a temporary duty assignment (he was an Air Force instructor) and informed me that he was in love with someone else, that we were divorcing, and it was not negotiable. I attempted to negotiate and failed miserably. If anything, I was more devastated than the first time because I now had proof that my trust was so carelessly placed. Again, he told me how it would be. I resisted and fared a little better in the second divorce and somehow became the villain in the situation. I have stopped trying to figure out that mystery.

    In late 1996, through a strange set of coincidences, I met my current husband, and I literally fell instantly in love with him. He thought I was the most amazing woman he had ever met, but he was not attracted to me physically. He was very clear that no matter how much he cared for me, I was too old, too fat, and had too many children to be a romantic interest for him. He was right. When we married, he was 21 and I was 36.

    Despite this, we eventually married and had two sons together. This year, we will celebrate our eighteenth wedding anniversary if all goes well. My husband is very alpha male and is quite a dominant personality. Unlike my first husband, Eric and I share the same spiritual path, even though our own personal practices are slightly different, and that has been a tremendous blessing. Our parenting styles and ways of engaging the world are vastly different and that has been the genesis of some challenging conflicts. Eric is also extremely direct about his thoughts and that has also been a challenge for me since not all of his thoughts about me are particular flattering. In the interest of discretion, I will leave it at that, but suffice it to say that despite an over love that is tremendous and respectful, he goes through periods of utter disgust and frustration over what he views as my lack of success and progress.

    Through all of these years, I have often felt the call to step up, to be more, to do more, to lead, to actualize, to level up into the next dimension of power, to become what I am meant to be. Each and every time I reverted to submissiveness.

    “I will do better.” “I am sorry.” (and my inner dialogue was worse)

    A glance through all of the journals that are on this site, which do not include the more than a decade of online journaling before that I have not even linked up, it is easy to find the places where I was empowered, stood in my own strength, and was ready to embrace my destiny. It is also easy to find all the dark times when my pride, my self-esteem, and my heart were scattered in tiny shards on the ground. I never found all those pieces to put back together again, but I am great with spackle and a putty knife.

    This year, as I have mentioned before, Eric and I chose not to “plant” anything to harvest in the Fall and instead see what seeds the Goddess chose to blow into our fields. We took a leap of faith and instead of attempting to craft our own improvements as we have done every year for the past almost twenty years, we opened to what we needed to know and do. Throughout the year, every ritual, every touch point, has included our own form of opening further to the process. It has been absolutely brutal and the frank, stark realities I have had to see took no precautions to my protect my sensibilities.

    There were times I was pretty sure this year was going to kill me, but this year, the Harvest brought me exactly what I needed: the shove into becoming who I was meant to be.

    I definitely fought it. I prayed. I cried. I begged. I bargained.

    The Goddess looked at me like this:
    and like this:

    and like this:

    and like this:

    It is noteworthy that She never once looked at me like this:

    In short, the Goddess is fully done with my bullshit excuses and victimization. My harvest is that there are no more gimmies and there is no more time.

    This year, I had to deal with the Good Ol’ Boys Club too many times, in too many ways, wearing too many (particularly poor) disguises. I love men. I love men unbelievably and profoundly. I have five sons and two grandsons, so I am surrounded by males. The dynamic I create with them is for ME to police, not them. I helped to create it and now I have to change it.

    My spiritual circle and support network are almost exclusively female, which I did not expect since I often do not get along well with women. Instead, I was led to strong, wise, fearless Valkyries who have my back in all things, but aren’t afraid to call bullshit when they see it. I was sent a full staff of teachers and mentors to guide me.

    Each time I was confronted with dismissive attitudes and condescension because I am a woman, because I am not youthful anymore, or because I am not the physical archetype society now appreciates, I buckled. I turned the experience inward and accepted that it was because I was not worthy of respect. It was because I was a failure. It was because I was weak. Over and over I have allowed myself to be put into a corner and dismissed, despite the growing rage inside me. I did so because since birth, I was taught, primarily by men, but also by a few women here and there, that my needs are not as important as theirs and my presence is secondary to theirs. I embraced this and cried and ducked away in shame.

    This is no longer acceptable to me.


    Except I am not a baby and I do not need Johnny to save me or legitimize me anymore.

    I love a true King and always will, but never again a doormat and never again the lesser.


  • Kim Davis: Everybody Must Get Stoned

    Kim Davis: Everybody Must Get Stoned

    With offerings such as Kim Davis and Mitch McConnell, I am courting the idea of inventing a new life story where instead of hailing from my beloved home state of Kentucky, I was instead born to gypsies who raised me in an RV, moving all over the United States and stocking my mental larders with exciting adventures. (more…)

  • Josh Duggar: Why He Is Relevant to Pagans

    Josh Duggar: Why He Is Relevant to Pagans

    This week, several articles on Josh Duggar popped up on my Patheos feed as news of his marital unfaithfulness spread across the interwebs. Not on Patheos Pagan, mind you, but throughout the other religious channels. Pagans are not much talking about him since he is not one of us and it is hard to see any relevance to us. He is just another vocal, Proposition 8 pushing, up-in-our-reproductive-business, telling us how to live Christian we prefer to ignore.


  • Dealing With Pagan Assholes

    Dealing With Pagan Assholes

    Within the past two weeks, I have seen several articles by Pagan columnists whose work I enjoy expressing surprise and dismay at how other Pagans speak to one another in online message boards. Honestly, I can only look stunned whenever I hear this. Like this: O_O (more…)

  • High Emotion Magic: Bonus or Bad News?

    High Emotion Magic: Bonus or Bad News?

    Emotion is what fuels magical practice because spell work begins with what you want to have happen. If you cannot feel, then you cannot want and feeling is emotion. All intense emotion is high energy and you can, with rational thought and careful planning, direct all the intensity of that energy toward your goal. Passion will spike energy right off the meter, whether that passion comes from lust, anger, fear, or exultation. High emotion of all kinds: love, fear, sadness, anger, frustration, etc, can fuel your magical energy like a stoked furnace. But should you? (more…)

  • Harm None: Paralysis & Hypocrisy

    Harm None: Paralysis & Hypocrisy

    An it harm none do what ye will.”

    We cling to these words, among other reasons, because they are our battle cry to legitimize us to other faiths. “Oh, no… We aren’t bad people. We even have a law that says ‘harm none.’” I saw this again with recent comments an ill-informed Florida sheriff made attributing ritualistic murders to “Witchcraft” when of the many replies that flooded my Facebook news feed, “We harm none!” or some derivative was the most common. It is our haughty badge of honor and overall, it is a lie. Why? Because we are human. (more…)

  • 10 Favorite Witchy Movies

    10 Favorite Witchy Movies

    Welcome to the list of my own 10 Favorite Witchy Movies. Are they predictable? Absolutely. They are at once predictable and cliche. There glaring omissions that will cause readers to say, “But what about…?” and “YOU LEFT OUT..!” This is not a list of ALL Witchy movies or the BEST Witchy movies, but my own favorite Witchy movies. Because it would be like choosing my favorite children, these are listed in no particular order, but are the top ten favorites from a wonderful line of magical films I have enjoyed in my life. (more…)

  • Ceremonial Interruptus: When Rituals Fail

    Ceremonial Interruptus: When Rituals Fail

    It can happen to all of us, although thankfully, not usually to the degree we see in the graphic above. Rituals fail. It is easy to raise one knowing eyebrow and say that it failed because it was intended to fail and all things are exactly as they should be and blah, blah, blah, but there is a huge difference in knowing that rituals sometimes do not go as planned versus understanding why rituals sometimes go in the ditch and how to manage that inevitability. (more…)

  • Despise the Mothers, Worship the Fathers

    Despise the Mothers, Worship the Fathers

    Several of my co-bloggers here at Patheos Pagan have stepped in with their rebuttals the post written by another Patheos blogger, Father Longenecker, called “Twelve Reasons Why You Can’t Call God, ‘Mother,‘” and after reading their wonderful write-ups, I felt inclined to include my own. Please also read the other Patheos Pagan opinions on this issue as they are quite informed and interesting. (more…)

  • The Two Most Powerful Words

    The Two Most Powerful Words

    One of the primary premises not only of magic but also of spirituality itself is words are power. In Catholicism, for instance, the words of a priest have the power to condemn or to provide absolution for confessed sins. In Craft, we learn that our words, spoken, written, or in thought, create form. Our words can thrust us forward into a life filled with joy, magic, and pleasure or they can imprison us in a self-made cage. (more…)

  • Modern Myths and Parables

    Modern Myths and Parables

    All religions bring with them a series of stories/parables designed to illustrate lessons that help us grasp essential truths.  We often think of these fables as being works of the past and granted, the myths of old all hold wisdom critial to the human condition.

    Just as science has never stopped and human development has never stopped and miracles have never stopped, so have the stories that give us lessons in the form of allegories stopped.

    Consider these fables, borrowed from many different sources, new and old, designed to give us something to think about:


  • Animal Magnetism

    Animal Magnetism

    My experience with totem animals is shaky at best. I do not have a particular animal with which I feel a particularly strong alliance, although I had an affection for pigs for awhile, especially those with character. I spend time with Dragons, who are my magical allies, but I could not rightfully call them “totem” animals with a straight face without risking my house burning down. I have friends who are soulfully in tune with cats, dogs, or horses. Some have extreme devotion because they are so dissatisfied with humans they have shunned us in favor of their four-legged friends. I adore cats, but I always end up the ones that use you as a hotel, feed station, scratching post, and catnip connection. That does not inspire sacredness for me, although I deeply grieve when they pass on. I tend to distrust animals and refuse to have pets I cannot take in a fight, regardless of how much I love them. You never know when an animal is going to snap. (more…)

  • The Grateful Child

    The Grateful Child

    What are you like in your relationship with the Deities you honor? How do you engage them? What role do they perform in your life? (more…)

  • Take Back Your Power Eggs

    Take Back Your Power Eggs

    Where does your energy go? Often, I hear even advanced magical practitioners talking about physical, mental, emotional, social, sexual, and magical energy as though these are unconnected. Some even equate success as a Pagan leader with working well beyond healthy exhaustion of limits on those energy reserves. Anyone truly worth their Himalayan Sea Salt knows a deficit in any of these levels compromises them all and if you physically and mentally exhaust yourself, your magical energy suffers greatly. (more…)

  • UnOstara: Celebrating An Unplanting

    UnOstara: Celebrating An Unplanting

    In my own spiritual practice, CUSP, the time between Imbolc and Spring Equinox is critical to our harvest process and the manifestation of positive life change for the coming year. This is especially true of the final few days before Ostara when we officially plant our goals. At Imbolc, we submit our list of desired outcomes for the harvest season and we spend the next six weeks tuned into the Universe to receive confirmations that what we intend to plant is for our greatest good and redirects that tells us, “No, do not plant this…plant this instead.” Redirects may come because what we intend is not in our best interest or perhaps what we plan is already on the verge of manifesting for us and the magical energy we would use for that purpose could go elsewhere. (more…)

  • The Power of Words

    The Power of Words

    Humans often consider the power of speech and written word to be the defining quality that sets us apart from the rest of the animal world. With the exception of some animals specially trained to communicate, Koko the Gorilla, for instance, humans alone possess the demonstrated ability for the ongoing use of language. There is little denying the power of words. We all have memories of times when words cut us to the bone and left us to bleed. Theory says it takes 100 positive words to make up for one negative word. Sometimes, words imprint on our psyches and become the filter through which we experience our lives. Words can damage us forever and often the person doing the wounding has no idea they have hurt us or changed us in some significant way. (more…)

  • Powers of Earth – Be With Us… How?

    Powers of Earth – Be With Us… How?

    I am either the best or the worst High Priestess in the history of, well, ever.  Whichever you tell me, I will likely argue anyway.  One of my beloved, and I do mean beloved, long-time circle members messaged me today with a perfectly reasonable question.

    BLCM:  We have a rosebush in our Earth quarter that needs to be removed right away with great prejudice.  What can we do to appease the Earth quarter once it is done?

    ME:  Leave a five dollar bill on the nightstand and promise you will call.


    I was admittedly in a strange headspace.  I had just finished a particularly steamy scene in the new novel I am writing and I was, shall we say, all dressed up with nowhere to go.  Of course, during those times, the Goddess is not just present, telling you where to turn and how fast to go, but is driving the bus.

    The appropriate response is about leaving a nice crystal or a different plant or a pretty statue for restitution.  I could throw in some stuff about being at a crossroads at midnight with a vial of menstrual blood and a crow’s feather and while that is fun, it really is kind of superfluous to the process.  But then, as I will drone on about momentarily, ritual is for us, prayer is for us, homage is for us. (more…)