“You Can’t Be Poor If You Can Afford . . .”

. . . books, pets, a haircut, cosmetics, a hamburger, Chinese food, a DVD, clothes from a dollar store or thrift store, a gift on a holiday.

On this Easter Sunday morning, a lot of self-satisfied, false Christians, American evangelicals, are sitting in church preening. They’ll either go home to huge dinners or go out to eat. They’ll tithe in church, of course, because passing the collection plate is a huge see-me thing (my grandfather used to give me and my two sisters 50 cents each) but will they be charitable on Monday? Or Tuesday? Or next weekend?

Not a chance.

I have a big problem with American evangelicals, personally and generally. I live surrounded by them. I’ve tried to keep up superficial friendships with them just to get by, but I’ve had my life upended by one too many and now I’m done with them. They lie, dishonesty is second nature, they steal from the government (audit one at random) and they beat down the poor, relentlessly. They never made it out of the Old Testament. Where in the Bible did Jesus Christ say, “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps?” He didn’t even say, “God helps those who help themselves.” That phrase didn’t originate with Benjamin Franklin, either. Variations of it are found in ancient Greek writings and in the Quran.

American evangelicals voted for trump. American evangelicals have always looked down on the poor. Evangelicalism is heresy according to the Bible. But the sickness has spread from the U.S. South and Midwest to New England and the Northwest. It’s a virus. It spreads like measles from a child whose parents were to ignorant to vaccinate him or her.

This isn’t a happy Easter post. It’s not even a “Happy Holidays to everyone” post from a pagan. It’s a damned pissed off post from an American pagan who can barely look at her beloved patron saint, Mary Magdalene, on Easter, because of the bastardization of what it is to be poor in the U.S. The blasphemy committed by U.S. evangelicals.

I don’t “celebrate” Easter. My enduring fascination with Mary Magdalene brings me back to my Catholic childhood every Easter. I try to make a special dinner for my mom on Christian holidays. I bought an Easter gift for my mom. She didn’t know. She bought me Easter gifts. I didn’t know. But we’re because we’re poor we can’t exchange gifts . . . except that we refuse to bow to evangelicals and we’ll have gifts on every holiday, because we refuse to be trampled underfoot by bloated bleating trash.

My mom has been having a very rough time mentally, spiritually, and physically for the last three years. I’ve been sick with shingles for almost two months. I went on Etsy and bought a folk charm for my mom, a bundle of rowan sticks tied up with red cord. My mom knew I had been longing after two Barbies at Family Dollar for months, but I didn’t buy them because they were $10 each. On Saturday, she saw them on sale for half price. We spent almost the exact same amount on gifts for each other.

But we shouldn’t have. Because we’re poor and we should have spent that money on–

Get over it.

The working/fixed income poor in the U.S. have very little bright spots in our lives. The government is actively and gleefully dismantling all our social safety nets: food, healthcare, housing. We can’t seem to fight back. We really don’t expect to live out normal lifespans anymore. Really. After I got shingles, I looked into the price of the shingles vaccine for my mom. It’s $150, and on back order.

So we exchange gifts that the bloated wealthy evangelicals think we shouldn’t have because We’re Poor and I remain resolutely pagan, except for Mary Magdalene, who I consider a teacher at the very least and really, a goddess, lied about, spat upon, defamed, dehumanized by the church. Later I will sit with oracle cards in hand and see if she has anything to say to me.

Right now, I’m boiling more eggs for the potato salad.

Advertisements

Changes Sneak In . . .

. . . like that stray cat you swear you won’t feed because you have three cats and two months later you have a fourth cat.

I found this picture while googling pagan altars:

Eclectic pagan/Wiccan altar featuring fairies, Madonnas, angels, and Hindu deities.

I love the aesthetic here: the colors, the figures, the crystrals, the shells. I’m a little confused by the combination of Hinduism and Christianity, but this is a very personal altar, so whatever suits the person who created it. At first I didn’t like it because there was, to my eye, too much of a mishmash of different traditions. I even complained about it some. But I kept returning to the picture, trying to understand why it’s so appealing.

My altar/shrine is neat, conforms to Irish, British, and Welsh pantheon, and is a bit cold. I rearrange it a few times a year but still have a cold, unsettled feeling. A former friend told me that I shouldn’t buy any type of altar figure based on a specific deity, that they should all be faceless, nameless. That didn’t appeal to me. I was drawn to two goddesses and now two more have come into my life. I have images of each, as statues or as prints. And over the last 30 years, I’ve accumulated Madonnas, angels, fairies, and even some Willow Creek figures (there are two on the altar above.)

I think my continued state of being blocked and accomplishing nothing with my spells and my fascination with the altar above is a message. “You wanted a Nice, Impressive, Proper shrine. It’s okay to rearrange that. It’s okay to play. It’s okay to do what you need to do to get yourself un-blocked.” I’m stuck in the house most of the time due to health and neighbors. I’m probably repeating that from another post. OCD is one of my health problems. OCD demands perfection from me in this, the most important aspect of my life. Formality. Other witches tell me that I must have this, this, and this.

I think it’s time for me to play a bit, and if I’m not too self-conscious, I’ll write another post with before and after pictures.

Bad Poetry

1.

I wish I could say

The gray rain

Would go away

To the tom cats

Yowling under my feet

But I know it won’t.

I stomp once

Silence

I leave the crawl space

Open.

2.

We surround ourselves

With strength and protection

Move like automatons through

The days, dusting

Lie down to sleep at dawn

Under the knowing weeping eyes.

When a Deity Calls to You

A few years ago, a witch told me that I shouldn’t use images of specific deities on my altar. This was when I was leaving Christianity for the last time. I’ve been studying witchcraft, mythology, and folklore since I was a young teen. Back then, my mom was definitely NOT cool with me having an altar, so I created “stealth altars” using Dollar Tree Virgin Mary figurines, Christmas angels, objects that corresponded to the four elements (I remember a ceramic swan that I wish I still had) and anything else that completed my altar. One birthday, my aunt gave me an incense burner and brass bell that I still have and a windchime made up of hundreds of tiny brass-tone bells that disappeared over the last three decades. It was odd, the selection of gifts, because my aunt was ostensibly a Christian. At the same time, it was like she knew.

Life happened and I moved back in with my mom at age 37. She’s now interested in my path. I had been through a long and agonizing time of searching for my path. I got angry at the Goddess (I did go the nonspecific Lady figure route because I had no choice and because I didn’t know much about pantheons beyond the Greek and Roman, although I was always fascinated by the Fair Folk) and went looking for something else. I found Buddhism and became attached to Kwan Yin. I still have two beautiful Kwan Yins and a gorgeous jade Mala. At the end of my marriage, I was so afraid that I reverted to the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene. I started wearing a Miraculous Medal or a Magdalene Medal. I got away and thanked the two Marys.

In 2015, I had been friends with the witch who told me not to buy anything portraying a specific deity for a few years. That wasn’t me. I have to admit that my first three years of school in Catholic school left me with a love for images of beautiful Marys and saints. But I also had started delving deep into Welsh and Irish pantheons. I was drawn to Rhiannon probably because of the song but after reading about Her, I saw correlations in our stories, and elements of Her that I wanted to develop in my life.

I was also powerfully drawn to The Morrigan. As with Rhiannon, I bought books about Her so that I could cut through the misconceptions and understand why She might summon me. I had never seen a crow or raven before I met The Morrigan. Now I see and hear them almost every day. Am I possibly just paying attention now? Certainly, that’s possible. Or maybe they were always there and I didn’t know to look for them.

Last year, 2018, I bought a book titled Naming the Goddess and found the name Nemetona. It was as if something was tickling the edges of my mind, that I knew this name. Coventina. Sulis. But this Goddess, Nemetona, was associated with trees and groves and sacred spaces and as I said in my last post, I believe She was the Goddess I encountered as a child at Catholic school. I bought a book just about Her. The more I read, the more I felt that She and I were meant to connect again. I even found a tree Goddess doll for myself for Christmas that year.


Treesa Thornwillow

I feel Nemetona pulling at me powerfully right now. It feels like Rhiannon and The Morrigan are standing back quietly and allowing me to re-meet this Goddess, and this time to understand Her. I understand about sacred space now, that my home, my bedroom are sacred space, that my space has been violated over and over for the last 15 years. Maybe She has come back to help me heal. Maybe She has much to teach the little girl from the convent garden. I pray it is both.

This is my grown-up Nemetona, but I thank Her for also coming to me in a form that a child could love.

Earth Elemental by Sheila Wolk

Connecting

I know that Nemetona wants me to come out to Her. I just don’t know where because things have changed so much. It’s not the same staring at a bedroom altar. I have a sacred space on my property, but it’s not private. No kind nuns will come looking for me if I’m not at my desk. Maybe those nuns were more priestesses than they knew. Maybe their motherly and tolerant treatment of a shy and troubled child was a form of initiation. I have no doubt that at least some of them hoped I would stay at the school and take the vows. I might have, if my father hadn’t moved me to public school.

I have only gratitude for those holy women who only once chastised me, when I pulled a fistful of rubber animals out of my pocket during mass.

I have a vision of Nemetona in my mind. I also have a detailed picture of The Morrigan that came to me in a dream. Maybe art is the way to connect. Maybe a few swipes of green and brown or a detailed drawing of a woman in bloody clothes on a battlefield, wielding a spear, is the way to reach them.

My Secret Spell

This is kind of a second test post and also putting advice into action. I asked for opinions and suggestions about this blog and got really the best advice: Try it and see how it evolves.

I have another WordPress blog that was attached to my main Twitter, but I have to say although IT WAS EASIER TO SET UP, I don’t like it. I was all over the place with content . . . when I remembered to blog. My interests have expanded a great deal over the last two years. I’ve reached the point with my vampire series that I need a line editor. I’m working on a pagan story. I’m passionately interested in paganism, Druidism, and witchcraft. I’m personally interested in re-constructionist paganism and the Irish and Welsh pantheons. I’m also fascinated with Nemetona, a Goddess who left traces in Gaul and Britain, perhaps known to the Romans, whose name is not Her name, but a name for Goddesses of sacred groves and sacred spaces (including the home.)

I believe that Nemetona came to me when I was a very small child at Catholic school. I used to sit and read in a grove of small trees next to the convent. The grove sheltered a small stone grotto that held a plaster statue of Mary. I always felt a protective feminine presence in that place. As a child at Catholic school, I of course thought that it was Mary. But last year (just last year!) when I was searching for Celtic goddesses associated with trees and I read about Nemetona, I realized that wasn’t Mary. That was Nemetona. She came to me gently in a place that was sacred and safe to me, and She left the impression of Goddess in my mind. I have never since been able to acknowledge any religious tradition that did not elevate a Goddess to equal stature with a God. Hence, why I am pagan.

I’m trying to reconnect with Nemetona, but I realize that She’ll have to come back to me if She chooses. I just try to recreate that place as much as possible, protecting my trees, sitting on a fallen tree and trying just to be, but it’s so hard as an adult.

I went back to my old school when I moved back to North Carolina and found that it had been sold because the congregation had grown so much that the church required a larger building. It broke my heart because I knew that something sacred had been there and was gone. I did capture these photos before the business that bought the church took the grotto and the representation of the Goddess away.