2013: A Year of First Steps

The end of the year is a time of reflection.  We note what we have accomplished; what we tried to achieve but didn’t attain; what boxes we stepped outside; what lives we impacted; what goals were set aside; what new dreams we cooked up.

This year, I launched this blog in May (ta-da!) I meant to write more frequently than I have, but it has worked to keep a journaling mentality and some writing discipline present in my life.

I have continued to be involved with The Owen Society for Hermetic and Spiritual Enlightenment, which is an absolutely delightful group of Steampunk occultists.  I started going to the meetings in 2012, but their importance to me has become greater in 2013. My connection to The Owen Society inspired me to open my home twice to parties, something I always enjoyed, but hadn’t done in several years.

The Owen Society was also the occasion for me to try my hand at public speaking for the first time since college, when I did a presentation for the group over the summer.

In 2013, I finally attended several public rituals hosted by The Brotherhood of the Phoenix, and I have just recently completed and submitted my application for initiation (completing that process will one of my 2014 goals).

I have seen a reawakening of my own spiritual path and my communication with the gods. I am still in the process of working through what that means for me in my daily life, and I do anticipate new things on that front in 2014.

The process of learning about, weeding through, and understanding the Pagan community has been a project in 2013.  I have been much more connected to Pagan media and stories.  I have discovered blogs and podcasts and tried to understand some of the many paths that are covered under that umbrella.

I also went to Teslacon, my first Steampunk convention in 2013, and it was a marvelous experience.  I have already committed to go next November.

I continue my commitment to my family, especially to visit my father on at least a monthly basis. He faces some serious health issues and my youngest sister has really taken on the burden of his care.  It’s exhausting for her and I try to give her help, even with my limitations of budget, distance and time.

I am in the 3rd year of a 6 year commitment to the Alumni Board for my college.  It has been great in many ways to connect back to the college.  One of my goals is to bring about an LGBTQ reunion, and that is scheduled to happen in 2015.  That is an upcoming project for me.

I am lucky and privileged to have a decent job and home, and a solid relationship with my loving and supportive partner. I live in a culturally rich and diverse city with good public transportation. I am privileged to have many great friends and to have met a number a wonderful new people over the past year. Some of my past friendships have faded away, but I think that is sometimes for the best as well.

I sit here writing this as I recover from bad cold which has kept me feeling pretty awful the past couple days.  I am glad to look back at the year and see so much that I have accomplished and so much abundance. My aches and cough might have colored my view of the year and giving me a negative view, but that’s not at all true.  The wonderful things have shone through.

Thank you, readers, for following my thoughts. May Janus, the two-faced god of beginnings and endings, look kindly upon you and grant us all a happy 2014.

Miss Rabbit and the Snow Queen

On the coldest night of the year, when everyone who was wise was inside sipping hot tea next to the fire, young Miss Rabbit decided to go out to look at the stars. Her mother had always told her that if she went out on a night like this, the Snow Queen would find her and send white bobcats to snatch her up, but Miss Rabbit didn’t really believe this tale. She didn’t know anyone who had seen the Snow Queen or a white bobcat. Even if they really existed, why would they bother with a little rabbit like her?

So she put on her warmest coat and scarf went out on the still and brittle night. The snow crunched under her furry feet and her breath seemed to turn into ice crystals before her eyes. But the sky seemed twice as dark as usual and there were twice as many stars as any other night of the year. Young Miss Rabbit stared in wonder at the vast and sparkly dome of the sky.

Then she heard the sound of a great sled and the sniffing of great cats. The Snow Queen had come, along with her white bobcats. Miss Rabbit stayed perfectly still, but the cats had smelled her and they were closing in fast.

“Young Rabbit”, said the Snow Queen “I see that you are enjoying the night air. Don’t you know it’s dangerous out here for a creature such as yourself? You had better come under my protection. I can always use an extra servant.”

“No thank you, dear Lady,” Miss Rabbit said in her most polite but firm tone. “I was just going back home.”

The Snow Queen moved closer and looked Miss Rabbit in the face and touched her long, elegant finger gently to the top Miss Rabbit’s head. “Ah, but you don’t understand little Rabbit. If you are out on a night like this, you belong to me. It will be wonderful for you. I will turn your fur to pure white. You can ride with me in my sleigh.”

“No thank you, dear Lady. I do not belong to you. I only belong to myself.”

“I disagree, you tiny little pest. I can do with you what I like, and if you resist, my bobcats will make short work of you.” The Snow Queen’s bobcats growled softly and bared their pointy teeth for emphasis.

“No thank you, dear Lady. Good Night!” Miss Rabbit said and launched into the fastest sprint of her life, headed directly for her comfortable rabbit hole, where a cup of tea and a warm fire awaited her.

The bobcats gave chase, but they were not quick enough for her young legs. She bounded over tree roots and under bushes, bounded through snow drifts and skittered across and icy pond. She made it back home and slammed the door tight. The bobcats were far too large to get into her snug rabbit hole.

She peeked out a few times, but didn’t see the Snow Queen or the bobcats. Eventually, she relaxed and had her cup of tea by the fire and fell asleep.

In the morning, when she woke up, she thought she may have dreamed it. But she looked in the mirror and there on the top of her grey-brown furry head was a shock of pure white fur.

Pagan Voices

We are surrounded by voices of the dominant religion in this country – Christianity.  We may be a secular society in a sense, but Christian assumption is everywhere and overtly proselytizing Christianity is just around every corner. Even in a non-Bible Belt, cosmopolitan big city like Chicago, there are always people ready to bring their personal relationship with Jesus into any and all conversations, no matter how random or inappropriate.

It’s vitally important to recognize Pagan Voices where we can find them.  Part of my process has been discovering and getting to know these resources, and here are a few to share, if you’re interested.

I want point out what a valuable service The Wild Hunt provides for the Pagan community.  They really do provide an incomparable source for news, as well as quality columnists. In terms of the news portion, the diversity and complexity of the Pagan community makes it nearly impossible for even well-meaning mainstream outlets to cover many news stories in a way that isn’t based on assumptions and biases.  Most Pagan websites center more on opinion, discussion, and education than on any attempt at objective coverage of news items.  The Wild Hunt fills this void.

PNC – Pagan Newswire Collective – has various bureaus that provide news reports in regions of the United States.  Many of the individual bureaus seem to provide excellent coverage of events in that area, but the coverage is patchy at best.  Chicago, where I live, is not covered, and there doesn’t seem to be any presence in the Northeastern part of the country.

Another good resource is the Pagan Channel at Patheos.  There are a number of writers who provide quality opinion and educational blogs through Patheos (which is a multi-faith religious site).  I have particularly been enjoying John Beckett’s Under the Ancient Oaks blog, although nearly all of their bloggers/columnists have entries that I have found valuable and enjoyable.

HuffPost has a Pagan channel, too, although their content lately has been sporadic at best.  They are anchored by the big name of T. Thorn Coyle, but she hasn’t been posting regularly lately.

Witches and Pagans is another site that features a wide variety of Pagan voices, including many well known voices, providing opinion and education. There is a lot of content here. The site itself is visually beyond bland, and I don’t find it enticing. I really should look at it more, since there is a lot of great content there. I wrote about some of the controversy several months ago centering on several of their bloggers quitting in protest over the issue of racism and ethnic exclusion in certain Pagan paths.

Many Pagan bloggers and website owners are just stand-alone sites, and many can be found in the links to the sites above.  In addition sites like The Pagan Blog Directory have lists of Pagan bloggers of various stripes.

There are also sites like Witchvox and Tribe.net that have Pagan networks, but I have to admit that I am not very familiar with them.

The internet has been a wonderful tool for connecting Pagans from different paths and facilitating communication. Since Pagans are often hard to find in many contexts, it is a great help for people to connect and to hear other voices.