Monday, November 25, 2013

Dark of the Moon

The Dark of the Moon is often a misunderstood concept.  Many books about spell craft, and Wiccans I have heard discussing magic, refer incorrectly to the New Moon as the "Dark Moon". In reality, the Dark moon is really the final day of the 4th Quarter Waning Moon, when the moon is at its final decline before beginning to finally wax into the first day of the 1st Quarter Waxing moon, or New Moon.  This is a highly powerful and liminal space in lunar time.

The New Moon is rightly discussed as a time for beginnings.  Planting a garden, for example a magical one, is an excellent endeavor for a New Moon act of magic.  By contrast, the Dark of the Moon is the day to mark the finality of endings and the dark itself.  Traditionally the best day for hexing and cursing, the Dark Moon has been much maligned.  It is the time of the Death aspect of the Lady, the dark Crone and Washer at the Ford.  The spinner of Fate, the most unknowable aspect of the Lady, should be honored at this time.  The Dark Lord, too, should be honored at the Dark of the Moon for without destruction and endings new beginnings would often not be possible.   

Recognizing the dark parts of ourselves is appropriate at this phase of the moon as well.  Our "shadow", as Jung called it, is that restricting and destroying part of the self which can hold us back.  It fills us with fear and slows our progress toward success with whispers of "not good enough", doubt, and negativity.  The Dark Moon is the perfect time to meet our shadow on its own turf; to work to integrate it into being so that it can fuel, temper and complete the lighter half of the self.  We are a model of the macrocosm.  As such, we are properly composed of light and Dark halves. This is as it should be.  When we accept and embrace our darker aspects, we open ourselves to deep and powerful magic. 

Much if Wicca today has been whitewashed with fluffy self help junk.  The fluff aspires to normalize and make "safe" the practice of Witchcraft, making it palatable to popular culture, but the reality is that witches have never been afraid of taking responsibility for the muck in their own lives.  We make decisions and cast spells.  We know that we will ultimately have to take responsibility for how we alter the weave of the fabric of Fate with our magic.  With that in mind, aught we not see what motivations our darker selves might be hiding in the dark corners of our souls?  I think so...

So this December 1st, I encourage readers (if ther are any) to embrace the Dark Moon in Scorpio and plumb the depths of your own self.  Look for, name, and envision your darker self. Maybe give it a name and spend some time with it.  I promise you that you will not be asked to expose this tender spot, but knowing it intimately will make your powerful because you will understand your own motivations and intent.  No person will ever do this fully, but this is why we call our actions the "practice" of Witchcraft, right.  May we all find happiness in our balanced imperfection. So Mote It Be.

Monday, November 18, 2013

X is for eX-Xians and the Craft


                                          


Though there are more and more families raising Pagan children, there are still precious few folks that grew up in Craft families.  As a result, many of us (myself included) came from Christian families. 

When I first came to the Craft, I was seeking escape from a pontificating, overbearing father god. I had sought relief in other religions including those of the Eastern variety.  Those simply didn't fit my worldview. I was not seeking escape from my body and human existence any more than I was seeking eternity on a fluffy cloud with wings and a harp.  Once I discovered Paganism I learned that there we other concepts and images of deity which were far more in keeping with my internal image of God.  I was home. 

Unfortunately, as happens all too often with converts, the desire to demonize and degrade my previous religious upbringing overtook me for a period of a couple years. I was angry about the church's role in past wars, it's obfuscation of truth thoughout the centuries, its hatred of diversity, its obsession with the collection of wealth blah, blah, blah. I was confrontational, self righteous and quick to make assumptions about the way I assumed that Chrisitian people saw me.  These became self fulfilling prophesies. I would find every opportunity to prove my archetype of the "evil Christian" and, frankly, behaved like the bigot I was railing against clothed in a different spiritual uniform.  I was young and rebelling against the yoke of oppression. Or so I thought...

Eventually I realized that, if I put half as much energy into working on myself as I invested in railing against the religion of my childhood, I would be a good example of a non-Christian rather than holding myself up as superior to all Christianity - a far more powerful message, I have found. 

As I teach other newcomers in the Craft, I sometimes see my early anger and prejudice reflected back at me.  I hear objections to words like "worship", "deity" and "ritual" because of the use of these terms in Judeo Christian religions.  Perhaps it is a natural process, like the stages of grief, that one goes through when it is realized that the religion of one's youth no longer fits the bill.  Just like a kid changing peer groups, the old group is often held up for ridicule by the new group as if to prove where true allegiance lies.  In reality, this catharsis can be helpful and healthy so long as we don't dwell there.  Like sadness, remaining in a state of anger for an extended period of time begins to breed illusion in the mind.  These delusions inhibit forward spiritual, mental and magical growth. After all, "know thyself" is first and foremost in the most basic of spiritual practice, and it is impossible to do so if one is focused on the evils of the ubiquitous "they".    

One thing I have learned after being away from my childhood religion for over 20 years is this: real release and freedom from a repressive, dogmatic religious group comes from giving yourself permission to let go of ALL your connections to that past.  Yup, all of it.  The hurt, the anger, the feelings of being less than and the anger that festers as a result of all those past hurts.  Recognize that the religion itself is not the problem and you free yourself to choose.  Just as there are rotten people grasping for power in churches across the country, there are also rotten people grasping for power and control in covens and groves and, hell, even Cub Scout troops I'd wager.  Railing against Christianity, or any other religion for that matter, is an exercise in futility.  You can make sure that your voice is heard, point out and act on inequality when you find it etc. but to demonize an entire segment of the world's population as ignorant, intolerant and down right evil only serves to expose your own ignorance. Our real freedom comes when we choose to redefine our relationships with deity, our community and ourselves and act on that choice to be a good example of what a Pagan, Witch, or Druid looks like.