Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Passing of a Pillar

Seven years ago a young girl named Tempest Smith took her own life. She had been bullied at school for many years in many forms, not the least of this included religious persecution, as she was a Wiccan child. From her death came life and hope.

Her mother, Danessa first donated Tempest’s organs to the Gift of Life Foundation. But this was not enough. No, she wanted to make sure no other child need suffer and no other mother need feel this pain. After reaching out to her local Pagan community, including FOCAS and WOM, Danessa formed the Tempest Smith Foundation, dedicated to promoting tolerance for all religions and backgrounds and combating bullying in schools. Danessa has been tireless in pursuing this goal of tolerance, as well as working with many other local nonprofit and social organizations, both Pagan and secular, in her community.

Yesterday, Danessa left this world to join the beloved daughter who inspired her to do so many things. She was a pillar in so many ways. She rose up strong out of heartbreak- the worst thing that could happen to a parent- and she allowed it to bring out the best in her and encouraged it to bring out the best in others. I did not know her personally though she was part of my local community. I knew of her, I heard of her activities frequently but one degree of separation, it seems, kept us from meeting. I am sure I would have liked her. I hope she is resting now, with her daughter in her arms.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

While I Was Out

So I just got back from a fabulous vacation. I spent some time with my future inlaws and I spent some time alone with my future husband. We went down south where you can get every kind of vegetable imaginable deep fried and I discovered the joy that is bbq beans with cornbread. Yum.
Yes. I am chubby and perhaps chubbier than when I left despite the fact that I spent alot of time walking around and rowing boats. I sure hope my wedding dress still fits!

Anyway, a quick scan of the news reveals that Pagans found their way into it while I wasn’t paying attention. According to the Associated Press, a Wiccan woman stabbed herself in the foot with her sword during a ceremony of thanks in Lebanon Indiana. Wow. Talk about embarassing. To make matters worse, this gaff took place in a public cemetary. After dark. Can you say trespassing?

Lucky for her, the police let her and her crew off with a warning and Ms Gunther (the sore-footed Wiccan) was able to display the Pagan value of laughing it off. I will join her in laughing as soon as I finish pondering the mechanics of how one gets a sword through one’s foot during ritual. Just what was she doing and why did it require enough force to send a sword through a foot? Was she wearing shoes? You know. Reporters just don’t share the important details. Perhaps the Gods demanded a blood sacrifice in exchange for whatever they were being thanked for and simply didn’t let her in on it ahead of time? I have a feeling she’s not the only one laughing!
(”So yea, boss, I’m not going to make it in to work today, you see, I stabbed myself in the foot…”)
Meanwhile, in the UK, a group of bowlers were disappointed to find a strange structure in the middle of their bowling green (they bowl outdoors in the UK. Weirdos!) consisting of a circle of paving slabs surrounding a pentacle made of bricks and inhabited by a headless scarecrow. Weird. While authorities have ruled out satanists. (*snicker*) there is still no clue as to who, what, why? The local ‘occult expert’ blames the teenagers.

The last tidbit of (questionably) Pagan related news that occurred while I was on vacation is a real gem. It seems a crazy drunk lady in Colorado declared herself to be a witch who would hex the officers for arresting her.
Oookay. That’s all I have to say about that.
Now, I need to spend some time recovering from my vacation which was, admittedly, not as exciting as the news but still left me with a mess to clean up.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Book Review: The Wicca Herbal

Today I thought I’d share with you one of my favorite books about herbal magick, The Wicca Herbal by Jamie Wood.

The introduction contains a bunch of information that is, as usual, questionable, but not offensively so. She describes a tradition, which she calls Wicca, which is certainly earth-based spirituality and witchcraft, but is not really Wicca, though the definition of Wicca is so convoluted these days, who knows what it is. She gives a brief ritual outline that is certainly Wiccan and she explains how to get in tune with the energies of plants, which isn’t anything in particular. She expounds romantically on how she believes ancient people viewed the plant world as if it were fact, which is moderately annoying, but still romantic and pleasant so it’s forgiveable. She also includes handy tips for growing, gathering, storing and preserving herbs, but she’s pretty light on general information about making herbal preparations. If you already know all that, you won’t miss it.
Finally, we get to the nitty gritty, the plants themselves. For each plant she gives a brief introduction and provides practical information for integrating it into your magical practice. Here is where the herbal preparations are, but you have to find the herbs she’s chosen to provide recipes for to get the information.

She wraps the whole thing up with a list of sources and of course a handy index.

I just like this book. It’s a good reference and it has lots of neat ideas and recipes. It would be nice, perhaps, if there was more detailed information about the individual herbs, their correspondences, growing conditions, plant identification tips, but I don’t think that’s what this book is all about. I think it assumes you are already familiar with the plants under discussion and just wants to give you some ideas about how to use them. All and all, a great book to have as a companion to more mundane book with more detailed information about the plants themselves.

Of course you can find lots of information about magical herbs at http://www.witchipedia.com/herbs if you want to know more about magical herbs.