“Redeﬁning the Self” November 2012 Volume 3 • Issue 11 ™• November 2012 • Volume 3
A New Title by S.J. Drew Meet Nevermore and the Ravens, an all-girl Meet Nevermore and progressive the Ravens, anconcept all-girl progressive rock band!concept They’ve rock They’ve just band! released their just released their major first album, major first album, “Necromancy “Necromancy for the for the Good. Greater Greater ” Read about the band’s Good. ” Read supernaturallyabout the band’s themed supernaturallymisadventures themed that were the misadventures inspiration for their thatalbum were in the inspiration this novel-length collection of short stories. for their album in this novellength collection of short stories.
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™• November 2012 • Volume 3
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Our goal at Pagan Edge is to provide readers a high quality, timely magazine with content relevant to modern pagans’ lifestyle and passions. Our publication is a lifestyle magazine so while we may publish spells, rituals, and some magick how-to; we aim to focus on ways that pagans, wiccans, earth-based-spiritualists, and those of like mind can incorporate their values and beliefs into their everyday living. Pagan Edge Magazine & paganedge.com exist solely to offer information to our readers. The publisher, editor, and the entire personnel of Pagan Edge, Pagan Edge Magazine, Personal Visions, Refraction Design and paganedge.com cannot be held responsible for misuse of any information provided. The views expressed in the articles and ads are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of Pagan Edge Magazine. Product descriptions, recipes & any how-to information: While we, and our affiliates, attempt to provide accurate information in the magazine and on the site, we do not warrant that the content on this site will be accurate, complete, reliable, current, or error-free. It is your sole responsibility for the use of the content of this Magazine or web site. For additional details please see www.paganedge.com ™•
November 2012 • Volume 3 3
™• November 2012 • Volume 3
contents 6 Dream Weaving 8 Divine Mind Facing, Embracing, and Erasing the Shadow
10 Food of Gods Gratitude is Sexy? Inside: The Call a Pagan Edge exclusive series by illustrator Ankolie
13 Life’s Wit Through a Lens Darkly 14 The Call by Ankolie 16 Rewriting Your Social Contracts 20 Behind Life’s Curtain Pinning Down One’s Dreams
22 PE Book Review The Fifth Sacred Thing The Body Sacred
VOLUME 3 • ISSUE 11 • NOVEMBER 2012 “REDEFINING THE SELF” PAGAN EDGE™ IS PUBLISHED MONTHLY BY PERSONAL VISIONS ADMIN@PAGANEDGE.COM ™•
November 2012 • Volume 3 5
Dream Weaving Redefining ourselves is something we seldom think about on a daily basis but is something that happens almost continuously in our lives. Most modern pagans still come from family backgrounds that are not pagan and have found their individual spiritual paths by deliberately choosing to leave the old behind. This act by itself is a major effort in redefinition. If we are indeed rooted in by nature in a transformative process from the very start is it not natural for us to continue to seek ways to discover things that have been hidden individually from us up to now? Redefining our beliefs and practices over our entire lives is or should be the norm. Our shared faith paths are not ones that have been easily bound by written dogma as seen in the “bigger” religions, instead personal wellbeing and growth have been two of the banners that pagan’s have communally shared. Redefinition or transformation takes place each time one of
us changes a ritual to meet a personal or group need, we write something new in our Book of Shadows, or we acknowledge and participate in one of life’s mile stones. Magick for those of us who practice its craft is a transformational tool that takes us beyond the directly observable parts of our lives to those that are more extraordinary. If we think of all life energy, or the energy contained in the ever moving nature of our planted as a dynamo driving change it becomes apparent that using magick to alter our perceived reality is not only natural but common place as all life works to discover the best way to survive. To be happy and feel part of the world we should embrace change and attempt to use it to help discover the stories of our lives. If we understand and acknowledge that each day or even each event changes who we are to ourselves and close friends/family.
Magick ... takes us beyond the directly observable parts of our lives to those that are more extraordinary. 6
™• November 2012 • Volume 3
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Facing, Embracing and Erasing the Shadow Changes in life are rarely always good or always bad. They tend to be a mixed bag of both and not at all unlike a bag of left over trick or treat candy. Now the changes are about shadows, shackles and cave walls, and they’re even harder to deal with. To move forward however, we must do this work. To do otherwise is to condemn ourselves to yet another year of more of the same. Since losing my child five years ago, I developed a rather debilitating case of PTSD ringed about by agoraphobia. I’m not proud of these. I tell all of you these things to show you one important truth about facing the shadow: You must do so fearlessly. If you name it, it has lost a great deal of its power over you. Now, I’ve named it aloud to all of you, brothers and sisters I’ve
Making the Divine Mind, Mine
By Reverend Mother Nariel, Magna Mater, COAC; Elder UCA
come to love and to trust. The shadow of this on my cave wall is HUGE. It has shown me how “stuck” I truly am. It tells me I can never be happy again: it would only prove what a crappy mother I really was. These shadows tower over me and have held me bound right where I am, for the past five years of my life. They have kept me biddable to them and away from a world full of love, growth and possibility. Now, it is our new year. We descend to the depths to find what was lost, broken, hiding, presumed stolen. We go to unleash what has been bound, to give life and drink to the one who has been bound up for so very long. We may of course choose to do or not to do—but every choice comes with responsibility. Perhaps initially, the girl who hit and killed my boy terrorized me and leg shackled me. My anguish set my arms out to receive iron. My tears washed away my coverings, leaving me naked, vulnerable, scared and weak. Every year since, it’s been my own choice to be bound in my own version of Hell. I terrorized me and tore myself apart. The large black
Kellas Cat in the darkness, stalking me? It was me all along. This year is in fact, different. My pain is still with me; and my God and my Goddess how it burns. Yet, this year I feel more motivated to move from this pit within towards whatever is next. I’ll arrive, or I’ll die trying. As I stand bare and shackled, I can feel the key firmly within my grasp. And as the Cat growls, I growl. It is time to rise this year, to the year of possibility. As I use the key in my grasp to unlock first my feet, then my legs, I turn to see the reality of what is behind me. Nothing more than a small fire, casting huge shadow before me. Scarcely anything to fear, I find. And behind it, a sunny opening to the sunny world above me. It had been there all along. Naked, bleeding but filled with purpose, I rise— step by step to a new world and a new me. This is the nature of the shadow dance. Year by year, century by century, we’ve been given the opportunity to see, to embrace and to erase the shadows within. Will this be your year to do so? I pray that it is.
Food of Gods
“Gratitude is Sexy”?
Did you ever think you would read the phrase “Gratitude is sexy”? I didn’t set out to write it; it just sort of happened. But, now that it’s out there, I think that being grateful and appreciative are attractive, sexy qualities in a person. There are many ways to show gratitude. It’s getting to be that time of year when many Americans celebrate Thanksgiving. Some lead the meal by listing that for which they are thankful. Not all Americans (including Pagans) celebrate this day, for a variety of reasons. Many Pagans celebrate at Mabon instead. Before sitting down to write this article, I thought about the things in my life for which I am grateful and how I express my gratitude. Being a kitchen witch, I normally go with food. One of the ways in which I express my thankfulness for the food I have is by sharing it with others. I don’t mean only having friends over for dinner, but also doing things like donating food to the county foodbank and visiting websites such as www.thehungersite. com. I am happy to have someone for whom I can prepare meals. I love being able to cook for my boyfriend and my friends and family. I used to cook for my dog! Just having someone to share the meal with me makes me happy. I’m thankful for the company. I cook with gratitude. I give thanks for the food, for the earth in which it grew, for the sun and rain that helped it thrive. I light a candle and cover my hair during the light half of the year to show respect to Hestia, and to thank her for being my hearth goddess. What I propose is making gratefulness part of your regular routine: just a little “Thank you” to the deity of your choice, for whatever reason. Thank your partners for the little, often overlooked things they may do around the house. Again – gratitude is sexy. It puts you in a positive light.
On that note, I would like to thank you for reading this column. I would like to leave you a recipe for which I am certain you will be thankful. Butternut Squash Flan - Halve this recipe if you aren’t feeding an army 1 cup + ½ cup granulated sugar 6 eggs 2 14-oz cans evaporated milk 1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract ½ teaspoon maple extract ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ cup roasted butternut squash In a saucepan, heat one cup of sugar until it melts and caramelizes. Watch carefully, as you don’t want the caramel to be too dark. It should be a golden brown. Spray a 9 x 13 casserole (or 8-10 ramekins) with nonstick spray (especially important if you plan to invert the flan),and pour in the caramel. In a blender, combine the rest of the ingredients. Pour into the casserole dish. Heat oven to 325. Place casserole into a larger dish. Set in the oven and then add hot (recently boiled) water about halfway up the side of the flan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool and then place in the refrigerator to chill.
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Through a Lens Darkly Ranya sat down at the desk and faced a familiar woman. “Well, here I am.” “Here you are,” said the other woman. “Where is here?” “Rock-bottom,” Ranya sighed. “I failed the Bar exam. I broke up with Justin. The wedding’s off and Mom and Dad are out about two-thousand bucks in deposits and I’m out about a thousand. No one understands why we called it off. I was laid off from work, so I have to move back in with my parents until I figure out what to do. I’m in my midtwenties and right back where
I was when I was a teenager.” “Yeah, that’s bad,” the other woman agreed. “How did that happen?” “I don’t know.” “You don’t know? If you don’t know, who does?” Ranya stared angrily at the other woman for a minute. Then she sighed. “You’re right. I ought to know. I got here because I thought it was what I was supposed to do. I was supposed to go to college and get into law school and become a lawyer. I was
Life’s Wit by S.J. Drew
supposed to get married and settle down and have kids.” “Why were you supposed to do all that?” “Because that’s who I am. I’m the overachiever. I was going to have a high-powered career and be the supermom with the family. I’m the responsible one. I don’t fail. I don’t fail at tests and I don’t fail in life,” Ranya answered miserably. “So you never did what you wanted, but only what you were supposed to do, because that’s who continued on page 19
Re-Writing Your Social Contracts There comes a point in one’s life when you desire something different than what you have in your career, your spirituality, your relationships. You realize although you may have exactly what you set out to get, it doesn’t fit your current situation or lifestyle. There are still skeletons in the closet to with which to deal, people in your life who are unhealthy for you, and you have outgrown the dreams of your younger years. That’s right: even as a full-fledged adult, you have growing pains.
out of the clouds of mid-life crisis (or third-life crisis, or empty nest crisis), anchor your feet to the earth mother, and realize all you really need to do is re-define yourself. Re-define yourself for your own knowledge and well-being; redefine yourself for those in your life; redefine your relationships with those in your life. It’s time to re-write your social contracts.
The growing pains are often triggered by a lifestyle change such as adding or removing a person from your household, gaining or losing a job, moving house, starting school… and the obvious: aging. There is something about birthdays, especially milestone birthdays, which make one close her eyes, concentrate on a wish, and just about the time when the candles go out, think “What the heck am I doing!?” The next thing you know, you are buying a sports car, having a hot fling, and moving someplace tropical. Okay, well, maybe you’re not, but it crossed your mind.
What? What is a social contract? A social contract is an implicit agreement between members of a group defining the duties, rights, and limits of each person participating to benefit the whole. The term is often applied to governing bodies but can also be applied to individuals. Is there any one person or group of people in your life with whom you would like to re-define your mutual duties, rights, and limits? Are you in a situation where everyone is not benefitting from the work being done? Perhaps your presidency of the PTA is not as fulfilling as it used to be? Perhaps your sister is always calling you for help but never offering it? Perhaps you’re tired of hiding some aspect of your person from your closest friends?
So, put aside the shiny material items, the affairs, and exotic travel plans. Pull your head slowly
Well then, you may just want to re-write a social contract or five.
A Ritual For Re-Writing Your Social Contracts The best time to do this ritual is at a time of renewal such as the new moon, New Yearâ€™s Day, Samhain, or your birthday. You will need: Three candles, candle holder, two contracts, pen, altar cloth, ribbon. To begin, light the white candle, a symbol of your spirit and being. Invoke the guardians of the compass directions and any spirit guides you would like to accompany you during this work. Create your sacred space in a manner appropriate to your path such as burning incense, smudging or sweeping. Using the white candle of your spirit, light the Ending Candle. While staring into the flame of the Ending Candle, envision the existing situation of the social contract in which you are ending. In words, pictures, or symbols, record existing or pre-existing contract onto paper. While looking over the paper contract, or continuing to stare into the flame: cherish and honor the situation you are letting go. Hold it in your heart, respect the role it has played in your life. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and feel this bond detach itself from your being. When you feel separated from this social contract, as you breathe in, feel yourself filled with resolve and closure. As you breathe out, blow out the flame of the Ending Candle. Fold the paper contract so the writing is not visible and wrap it around the Ending Candle. Seal it closed permanently with wax, ribbon, or tape. Again, give your attention to the white spirit candle. Center yourself if necessary. Thank your
guardians for their help thus far, and ask them to stay with your for the second part of the ritual. Using the white candle, light the Affirming Candle. While staring into the flame of the Affirming Candle, envision your hopes, goals, and dreams of the new social contract arrangement. In words, pictures, or symbols, record your new contract onto paper. While looking over the paper contract, or continuing to stare into the flame: absorb the promise the new contract holds for you. In your mindâ€™s eye, see the benefits and improvements of this new social contract manifesting in your life. Take a deep breath, close your eyes, and feel this arrangement defining itself in your being. When you feel connected to this social contract, as you breathe in, feel yourself re-defined and open to possibility. As you breathe out, blow out the flame of the Affirming Candle. Turning your attention to the white candle, thank your spirit guides and compass guardians for their help and company. Wish them farewell. After opening the circle, place the Ending Candle and contract someplace where you will never see it again. Burn it in an outdoor fire, bury it, or sink it in a body of water. Place the Affirming Candle and contract in a prominent location where you will be reminded of it often; on your working altar or a bookshelf. From this point forward, you have re-defined yourself. You will start living and acting in your new social contract to the benefit of yourself, benefit of your life, and the benefit of your relationships.
continued from page 13
you are?” the other woman asked. “But if that’s who you are, why wasn’t this what you wanted?”
said patiently. “That’s how your brother defines you.”
“I don’t know.”
“That’s how Justin defines you. Don’t you know who you are? How do you define yourself? Can you define yourself without using the labels others give you?”
“Ranya,” the other woman said sternly, “if you don’t know, then no one knows. Who are you?” “The responsible one,” she answered. “No, that’s how your parents define you.” “The overachiever.” “No, that’s how your family defines you.” “The big sister.” “No, Ranya,” the other woman
Ranya looked down at her lap. “I-I’m not sure,” she said hesitantly. “Maybe I really am back to being a teenager; trying to figure out who I am and what I want. I think I’m too old for this,” she said, looking back up. “No one is too old to realize they’re on the wrong path. It takes courage to admit it and more courage to try to find the right path. Maybe staying
with your parents isn’t ideal, but at least you have a place to go while you figure that out,” said the other woman. “It won’t be easy. It won’t be fun. But it’s necessary, and you know it.” Ranya nodded. “You’re right. Maybe it’s good my life fell apart. It’d be worse if I married a man I shouldn’t have or gotten stuck at a job I hated but felt guilty leaving. I’ll get through this. Maybe I won’t figure out the right path right away, but at least I know what’s the wrong path for me. Now, I’d better get back to packing. Thanks for listening,” she said to the familiar woman. Then she picked up the mirror from the desk she’d been sitting at and packed it into a box.
Behind Lifeâ€™s Curtain by Stephanie Rose Bird
When I was 18 my definition of myself was clear: I was a painter, period. I went to art school and then graduate school for visual arts, coming out of school and immediately taking a position teaching art. Over the years though I began to suspect I was much more. My spirituality came to the fore in my art and I found I wanted to write. I ended up writing 5 books during the 2000s, mostly focused around alternative spirituality.
heart towards many of the gods and especially the goddesses found in earth-based spirituality and traditional African religions. YemayaOlokun the West African orishas speak to me on a primal level. I feel my best and most sound in the water. I also hold orisha Erinle, the orisha of the forest and herbalism in high esteem. The magick of the forest and healing plants has fueled my developing since of self as I redefine what and who I am.
After I stopped teaching college in the early 2000s, I scrambled for work and I say scrambled because my work had defined who I was. Without my title of Professor I questioned my professional identity.
Over the years I have passionately studied plants, joined plant groups like United Plant Savers and American Botanic Council. I was even able to share my passion at Chicago Botanic Garden and Garfield Conservatory.
My refuge is now and has always been Mother Nature and I see her as Gaia. I have a warm
Meanwhile, shadowing my own development, my garden has morphed from a pretty place
housing annuals and perennials, to a prairie patch of thick natural grasses and herbs. I have morphed in an attempt to accommodate all of my interests—art, writing, earth-based spirituality and the natural world. Like many, I have been out of work and while this made me uncomfortable it also afforded an opportunity to do some soul searching. How could I be all that I am in a single job? I looked high and low for teaching jobs at first but knew that in some ways that limits and over taps my energy. Then I was on to professional writing and editing opportunities. Ultimately though I knew that it would tap out my creativity and my paranormal novel I am writing would fall by the wayside if I got such a all-encompassing job. Lost and confused, I consulted a crone. She advised me to create a dream board from the book, The Secret. When she suggested this activity it was like I was receiving light and energy from the Goddess. I set about the task enthusiastically. At first I thought I’d fill it with words and images but it ended up being only words that created my message to the universe.
On my dream board I use different sized fonts to describe everything important to me— family, spirituality, health and a job. I wrote out everything, not as wishes but like it is so. Since creating the board and mounting it near my bed, where I can see it first thing in the morning and the last thing at night, a flood gate of transformations has occurred. The universe has heard my dreams loud and clear and she has responded. Once I made the dream board full of intent, my inbox and voice mail started filling up with requests for “next steps” and interviews. In this poor economy I actually have had the blessing of being able to choose the job that is most suitable to my new definition of my ‘self’. I have found an opportunity to fully engage in nature while helping others that desperately need to make that connection to nature and the environment. Redefining one’s self can be daunting and downright frightening. Taking the leap though, allowing changes to manifest can lead to a beautiful and meaningful realization of your true self.
The Pagan Edge
The Fifth Sacred Thing
by Starhawk, 1993 ISBN: 9870553373806
is accessible to all due to hard work of collecting and purifying while not wasting. All is not picture perfect however, for outside the boundaries of the society described above, is the rest of the world. Some clans live as huntergather societies while others are the dirty, crimefilled societies which are the center of many postapocolyptic books and films today. Unlike other books, The Fifth Sacred Thing has not lost it’s “wow” with age. A bestselling book, it has won numerous awards and is often used in college course reading.
Starhawk is not know as a fiction writer but The Fifth Sacred Thing may be her key to reach an audience outside of Earth Based Spiritualists. This book combines theories and practices of Starhawk’s spirituality books to create an ecological-conscious Utopia, an “Ecotopia”. Set in some distant future, it seems an alternate dimension, a picture is painted of a society honoring and rewarding to everyone. All genders, races, religions, and marriages are accepted and live in harmony. While we have heard and read of such things before, this book takes it a step further by showing us examples of working relationships in action. Talk about “re-defining”! The people of this society achieve such an ideal by honoring the four sacred elements and living in a sustainable environment. In this community, water
It continues to gain popularity and support as its permaculture is discussed in online chat rooms and at conventions. Starhawk presents her Ecotopia regularly at symposiums along the U.S. West Coast. You can sign up for Tweets and join the FaceBook page. Meanwhile, plans are in the works for a movie! Of course, it has been a challenge to “sell” this concept to Hollywood and a KickStarter fundraiser has been started. The KickStarter page is definitely worth a visit just to see the video. But until the movie is made, definitely put The Fifth Sacred thing on your reading list. What the heck, “Like” the FaceBook page and get your daily dose of Ecotopia.
Starhawk is one of the most respected voices in modern earth-based spirituality. She is also well-known as a global justice activist and organizer, whose work and writings have inspired many to action.
by PE Staff
The Body Sacred
by Dianne Sylvan, 2005 ISBN: 9780316078009
us archetypes to identify with and cherish. Through exercises and meditations, she helps us to re-build our self-worth. Through ritual she helps us to affirm the worth of ourselves and of others. Find the sacred divine within yourself, overcome body hatred, by working through the paths and teachings of The Reflection (self-perception), The Mother (nourishment and self care), The Healer (wellness and energy), The Lover (sexuality and sensuality), The Dancer (movement & spiritual ectstasy), and The Crone (aging and the Blood Mysteries). Indeed, there is so much packed into this book, it may take you many moons to work through it. It is one worth keeping on the shelf for reference and to go back to for “refresher courses”. The Body Sacred challenges us to analyze our selfperceptions and re-define our self-image “...nomatter how short, fat, old, or imperfect...” Sylvan provides spells, myths, rituals, and meditations to help us find our inner Goddess - and love Her, or rather, love ourselves. This book is not just for women however, men can gain insight to the women in their lives, bring awareness to supporting them, and learn much about themselves. Going beyond the wheel of the year and ritual howto, the content is definitely beyond “Pagan 101” and takes us deeper within ourselves and farther out into the world. Walking us through the myths and society which led to the destruction of women’s self-worth, she offers
Written mostly for solitary work, the passages and practices are easy enough to adapt for a group or coven arrangement. Be wary though, the pages contain some life-changing power and not all in your circle may be ready for this challenging work.
Dianne Sylvan, author of the Shadow World novels as well as two books on NeoPagan spirituality, lives in Austin, Texas, U.S. the only sane part of the entire state.
™• November 2012 • Volume 3