Be a Rebel, Blow Out Your Candles

candles

Never blow out a candle or you blow away the magick. This was something all little, new baby witches were taught when I was coming up as a youngster. Growing up there were countless frustrations as I imagined I’d ruined a ritual completely by blowing out my candles at the end. Blowing out candles has such joyful, childlike association for me that I couldn’t stop myself from doing it. Then I’d have a meltdown after I did and remembered I wasn’t supposed to. Who doesn’t like blowing out birthday candles? Who doesn’t like controlling something with only the invisible force of their breath? At the time I didn’t question the instruction, but little by little over the years I’ve come at that from a completely different angle.

Breath is life.

Breath, divine breath, wakes up life.

When you’re making a gris-gris bag you breathe life into it, wake up the spirit of the bag, depending on how you make one, of course. They’re not as strong if you don’t.

Your breath is magic. When I blow out a candle I don’t see it as blowing away the magick, but rather using my breath to spread my intention into the universe. I’m adding to the magick. In my mind’s eye I’m spreading the gossamer strands of my intention far and wide with my breath, especially with ritual magick. Of course, there are times I don’t blow out candles. When I don’t want to sacrifice any of my life energy to an endeavor I don’t, but normally if something is worth doing on the magickal front it’s worth me putting any energy I can into it.

Like all magick though, if you just can’t get the idea that you’re blowing away the magick out of yoru head when you blow out candles you’re using in a ritual or for devotional purposes you probably shouldn’t do it. You program your intentions with your thoughts. That’s why mental control is such an integral part of witchcraft in general.

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Appropriation: Worship Like You Stole It

Okay. Appropriation. I want to have a discussion, and here’s a thought I seem to always have when the topic comes up. As an American, everything I have is appropriated. I have not a single thing that I can claim as unique cultural heritage found only in my birth land that belongs to “my people”. The language I use-English, is an obvious place to begin. I learned Spanish. I’m not Latina. Therefore, by the broad scope of appropriation, I’ve just bungled. English itself is a mash up of other languages. I use it every day and I don’t bother giving a wit about the words that aren’t English. I don’t know the history of the words and I use them with impunity. I speak therefore I appropriate. I guess you can argue that my ancestors, or at least some of them, brought the language along with them, but some of my ancestors didn’t speak English, it was forced on them. So, am I now practicing some strange form of forced appropriation? Is there a term for that?

I’m not Native American, or at least not ONLY Native American (I believe I would be about 1/8 native American. My Great Grandmother was the ancestor in question.), so if I try to immerse myself in that culture I wasn’t raised in it can be considered appropriation. I haven’t, but I like learning about it, and I’ve occasionally thought I’d like to use some terms here or there in my spiritual practice, though I don’t out of shear laziness. It takes more time to explain something unusual than use common lexicon. I use sage-sage bundles, which are native American in origin, without knowing much about the traditional use for them. I don’t feel bad about it and I don’t know that most pagans would. I rather think of it as a tool l’ve acquired that works. Should I research it? Probably. Nothing but good would come of it. However, I’m extremely thankful for the people who came before me and realized Sage was awesome.

Because of my mixed genetic background I can say I feel free to work with any number of deities, but I wasn’t really raised in any of the backgrounds they “come from”, such as the Norse pantheon I work with now. I’m not part of the Asatru bandwagon that thinks we should only work with deities we’re blood tuned for (*cough*racisist undertones*cough* Excuse me.), but then isn’t that what the abhorrence of appropriation is all about? Don’t raid other people’s cultures for your own benefit, willy nilly. I wonder how America’s Buddhists feel about this? Either it’s okay for me to research and come to something respectfully and use it in my practice or work with deities that want to work with me, or it isn’t.

For example, most Americans almost look on Greek and Roman mythology as our own. It’s very intrinsic to our culture, at least educationally, yet, it isn’t ours. Is it appropriation if Persephone wants to work with me (I’m not Greek) if She’s decided to work with me? In some ways the entire idea of appropriation spiritually is just farcical. Some aspects of appropriation seem to negate the idea of free will on behalf of deities or the fact that some ideas simply don’t exist in other cultures. Isn’t making up new words for an idea, such as two spirit people for example, more disrespectful than simply using the original term? I realize bigender is more academic, but there was already a name for that. Maybe I’m just being a jackass and maybe I just don’t get it, but much like the rest of American culture, spiritually, there just isn’t anything unique that I can lay claim to without “appropriating”.  We don’t have many things that are uniquely our own aside from Phili cheese steaks, the Liberty Bell, and arguably, pop culture deities that originate in the States. Voodoo, I suppose, but wouldn’t that still be appropriation? Thoughts? Should I just let this go? I think that people who come from countries with their own deities and cultures get more hung up on appropriation than Americans do, in general, because of this stuff.

Americans don’t have anything that we haven’t stolen.

Ascetic Lokean

Lokean Asceticism

For the last two years I haven’t had a bed. My children have a bed because toddler beds aren’t expensive, but my husband and I have been bunking on the floor. At first the floor was hard and I couldn’t get a good night’s sleep. Every night was a battle with my body, tossing and turning, bitching and moaning. The first few weeks after we moved (I pushed the move because Loki was shrieking NOW, NOW, NOW at me about it) we were sleeping on the hardwood floor of what is now our living room. We decided to move to one of the carpeted rooms to add some padding. Then we found some old blankets when we started to get everything unpacked, and that’s what we’ve been sleeping on ever since.

I’m actually comfortable sleeping on the floor now. It’s not the best, but I can have a good night’s sleep. We’ve added pillows over time and it’s kind of like sleeping in an old depiction of a harem room.

I do a lot of writing these days, which is what Loki encourages in me. I have a natural talent with words and he nourishes it. It hasn’t made me rich yet, and honestly I’m not sure it ever will, but my art is my life.

I don’t have nice clothing. I have two pairs of jeans and a rotating tee shirt collection full of comic book characters and kitchy sayings I layer with plain long sleeved tees in the winter. I have a pile of fluffy socks as a concession to the frozen northlands we live in.

I don’t need nice clothing to write in. I need clothing to survive in. I don’t need to be toasty warm to write because if I am I get sleepy and drowsy, and I’m under a caffeine ban, so that’s not good. I’m actually at optimum mental awareness when I’m a bit colder than I would prefer, since I would prefer to be wrapped up in a fleece cocoon when the weather dips below fifty degrees.

We spend most of our money on food because we try to fuel our bodies as healthfully as possible on a budget. Fresh fruit and vegetables cost money, even when I’m as thrifty as possible about where I buy them.

Loki has been on me not to eat certain things from the beginning, and trips to my doctor confirm every time that He’s had a valid point. The foodstyle he wants from me is very basic, holistic, and not purchased. He prefers things made from my own hands for both Himself and me, even though He enjoys candies, but He doesn’t demand them from me the way He did at the beginning. He has shifted His requests to more homey things as I’ve become comfortable with Him. He’s become as much a member of my household as my husband and children. My husband talks to Him now. I catch Him chatting with Loki sometimes after I’ve gone to bed, and he sheepishly says They have things to talk about. Food is home and Loki’s say in it has been nothing but good for us.

I don’t buy new things. I don’t buy things I don’t need. The bulk of my purchases are for my children, to ensure they have the clothing they need, books to learn from, toys to play with, and generally they don’t feel the sting of our lifestyle the way I do. I try to take care of my family and loved ones first.

Is that ascetism? On the surface my life has been paired down greatly, at least in material goods, in following requests and demands from Loki Himself, in His insistence that I follow my own dreams as well. Living sparsely has turned out to make me happier than I ever have been. It turns out when you have no money to spend you don’t worry about spending it. When you have no money to spend material goods beyond those linked to survival don’t have a pull on you any longer. If we need something, really need it, the money seems to pop up.

I think more for myself now.

Asceticism leads to disconnection from materialism and mainstream ideals which are intimately connected to THINGS and WANTING THEM and often unhealthy, and in that way Loki has lead me to an ideal I’d only read about and topically investigated as part of other religions. Buddhist monks weren’t even allowed to beg meals beyond the one for the day they were living, and they lead poor lives of fulfillment.

I’ve been leading a form of ascetic monasticism for Loki for about two years and I didn’t even see it. No, I’m not celibate, so I’m not what those from a Christian background would consider a monk in that manner, but I tend Loki’s altar, I try to live my life to make Him, myself, and my family proud, and I write stories that He sometimes has a hand in inspiring and influencing while trying to keep my spiritual life rich and open to new experiences. Every day I interact with the Gods I work with. Every day I read some new spot of lore or hear some new idea whether I’m trying to or not.

I’m an Ascetic Lokean by Loki’s design.

I’ve often joked with myself about Loki being the God of Thrift, but maybe, just maybe, He’s a god who has an Ascetic path to His fabulous center.

…Yeah, just blew my own mind today. Thank you, Loki, my Sweetest Friend.