Hunting the Hunter

Hunting the Hunter

by Melanie Fire Salamander

When I first started work in the Craft, as a solitary, I hadn’t much use for the God. The deity Who attracted me was the Goddess. I remember communing with Her in candlelight, before an altar of old telephone books covered with blue-figured silk. I felt incorporated by Her, supported.

My concept then of the God was the God of the Christians. From my ninth year to my thirteenth, I attended an Episcopalian church, where everyone was too polite to save me, though I did enjoy singing in the Youth Choir. I found the Episcopalian services pretty on the outside, but within they seemed dry as dust. I tried to be moved, but I ended up yawning, more taken by my walks to church through the quiet, sun-splotched Sunday mornings than by the ritual. The most of God I sensed among the Episcopalians was the echo of a long-ago voice.

When I did feel a presence from the God, that presence was of God the Father. Jesus I always saw as a person, a visionary you had to respect; I never got in touch with the loving Christ. We see our gods through the archetypes we’ve found in life, I think, and I was reared in a patriarchal household, from which I wrenched fight by fight over a period of years. In that household, the looming male figure was my father, grey-haired before my birth, the raging patriarch. Though my father and I patched up our relationship as I started serious work as a witch, my wounds were still raw enough I wanted nothing to do with fathers.

One of the first books I read that spoke of witchcraft as a spiritual path was The Spiral Dance. I remember Starhawk’s descriptions of different versions of the God: the gentle, loving Blue God, the viny Green One, and the Horned God, the Hunter. But for me none of Starhawk’s gods rang true. They seemed merely constructs. The Blue God appeared too girlish, and for me green was female. I felt the Horned God as the most real, but frightening and lumpen, as if one would want to mate with a bull. I shrugged, paid lip-service to the God in the group rituals I attended, and on my own worshipped the Goddess.

Meanwhile, life went on. Though I had no vision of the God, I managed to enjoy His sex. In Ireland I had a fling with a 21-year-old boy with dyed black hair, who wore a black shirt his friend’s sister made; we drank too much ale and richocheted against the painted stone walls of his village at 2 a.m.. Back in Seattle, I dated a photographer, also younger than me, slender as a brown sapling, sarcastic; I eroticized the smell of developer. I dated men my own age, too, but I kept reverting. Take my intersection with the surly boy, a singer in a band: I fell in love with his pumped chest and pierced nipple, though we never once held a conversation without arguing. Or take my e-mail flirtation, which went on too long and was never consummated: spiky, poison-sweet, dysfunctional as a car crash.

That one finally brought me to full stop. Some of the others had been obsessions, too, but this one patently made no sense. He had a girlfriend; we’d seen each other in the flesh perhaps five times; we’d never touched. What was it about him that sent my head spinning?

Those attachments you get, which are too strong, in the end seem to have little to do with the persons who inspire them. We tend to worship the gods we see in our lives, and the corollary is that if we don’t see the gods, they try harder and harder to reveal themselves.

I came to the God slowly, through His fauns.

Luckily the gods will teach you lessons many times over. But even when you’ve learned a few things, nothing is for sure. This story I’m telling you now, none of it is “true”; it’s just the explanation I’m giving myself.

Right now for me, the God is a muse. He comes on as a lover, but he is not a husband, nor even exactly a friend, more a capricious mentor. Our relationship is only sometimes about satisfaction; mainly the point is longing.

The God inspires my fiction; the characters I find most fun to write are usually fauns. They’re not portraits of boys I’ve known, though on occasion they’ve started out to be. Often they begin as minor players, who then take on a life of their own. The God inspires them: fills them with His breath and sets them moving. As they move, they draw me into the work, and their touch inspires the other characters.

This particular God-energy seems to work better for me driving fiction than real-life relationships. My fauns were never good boyfriends; I don’t think the Muse makes a good partner. His and my relationship is about tension, a pleasurable discomfort that makes me itch. I wouldn’t want that tantalizing, unfulfilling energy in an ongoing human relationship, but it feels right in relating to a god. It keeps me writing.

But the God will not be bound only into fiction.

At a festival, I saw a boy all in leather, crouched among greenery, looking up at me: black eyes, black hair, trembling lips with a fringe of mustache. I knew for certain I wanted him when I saw him take off his shirt. At the firepit, I maneuvered to sit next to him, warmed my cold hands on his thighs.

The Aphrodite shrine was full, locked, so we found the Pan shrine. Under a fake-fur pelt, we made love by candlelight. Something there was intoxicating as whiskey, something glancing, a bit heart-rending. I remembered him a long time, and I wrote him letters, though no permanent connection came.

It was only later I saw the God was laughing at me.

In the Pan shrine? Melanie, don’t you get it?

So it is often, I think. The gods don’t just come when you call. They make cameo appearances, and later you wonder why you remember that scene.

To see Him in your life, use your peripheral vision. Some people He comforts, some He teases; it depends on what He thinks you need from Him. But never doubt the God is there.

Beginner Witchcraft – What to read:

Beginner Witchcraft – What to read:

But reading is less important than observing. You will be tempted to try to become a witch by reading, because those of us w/ big brains and big educations always operate that way. Try to keep a balance between hours spent reading, and hours spent walking in the woods.

Other references:
–Joseph Campbell’s PBS series on mythology is now available on video. He’s a good storyteller and has a wonderful philosophy of how to incorporate myth into your life.

Objects/tools/toys:
Anything can be a tool for working magic and gaining understanding (a leaf, a stone, a pen, a plastic dinosaur)–it’s all in what you invest it with –be slow to acquire toys (blades, wands, etc.)–it’s better if they find you, then your finding them –more important than a lot of gidgets, is setting aside a special place in your home as an altar. Start with candles and incense, and invent simple rituals: lighting a candle while you read, burning incense while you meditate. –because it’s nonverbal in form, the Tarot is actually a better source for learning about the Craft, than any book. Seek out one of the less Christianized decks–I personally like the Barbara Walker and the Motherpeace.

Sacred space:
The first formal “magic” you should learn, is how to set aside sacred space. Pick a place in your home or your yard where you will practice this, and practice often, even if at first it makes you feel self-conscious.

I realize that a lot of this sounds terribly vague. I used to get frustrated when I read books about the Craft, and they didn’t have, like, RECIPES to perform. The hard part of it is, that you learn more from the Goddess, than you do from any human being. But that doesn’t mean you can’t do some simple spells, right from the very beginning: both Adler’s and Starhawk’s books have some straightforward descriptions of working magic.

Don’t get hung up on issues of reality, or the unknown, or the verifiable, or whatever. Just DO. It’s far more important to TRY things, than it is to READ about them.

Crone’s Corner – Imbolc Ideas Having to do with Fire

 

Crone’s Corner – Imbolc Ideas Having to do with Fire

by Starhawk, Anne Hill, and Diane Baker

Brigit Fire
Whether we circle around a hearth, outdoor bonfire, or kindle a blaze
in a cast-iron cauldron, in the season of Brigit we welcome the
return of light. Here are some suggestions for a safe and cheerful
blaze.

Cauldron Fire
You will need:
a cast-iron pot of any size
a lid that fits snugly, for putting out the fire
bricks, hotplate or other heat-resistant material to set the cauldron
on.
Epsom salts
rubbing alcohol
To keep the blaze going for 45 minutes in a five quart cauldron, you
need 1/2 gallon of Epsom salts and approximately 4 to 6 pints of
rubbing alcohol
Any cast-iron pot can be made into a cauldron with a fire of Epsom
salts and rubbing alcohol. This is a very safe blaze. Once the
cauldron is secured on a heat-proof surface, pour the Epsom salts in
until the bottom is covered, approximately 1 inch deep. Pour rubbing
alcohol over the salts until the alcohol is about an inch higher than
the salts. Hold a lighted match just above the alcohol. The liquid
will light and produce a strong orange flame. The flame burns cool,
unlike a wood fire, and it is difficult to burn things
in. When the flame gets low, cover to snuff out completely. Add more
rubbing alcohol to the cauldron and relight carefully. The warmer the
rubbing alcohol, the more quickly it ignites. This fire recipe leaves
a significant amount of sediment in the bottom of the cauldron. For
this reason, it is best to dedicate a pot strictly for cauldron use.

Kindling a Fire
This holiday is a good time to teach your older children how to set a
fire and kindle a blaze. Most children are eager to help lay a fire,
but may be too scared to light one. Using long matches often eases
their fear, and with supervision they can become quite proficient at
lighting fires. Children are great at gathering wood. A note of
caution about burning found wood, however: Make sure you inspect the
wood. Scrap plywood gives off toxic fumes, as does wood that has been
painted or coated with urethane. Make sure the wood you are burning
has not been coated with creosote. Creosote is a dark, often tarry
preservative and is commonly found on wood washed up on the beach.
Its fumes are toxic, and when burned, the treated wood creates a
smoky, stinky blaze. Creosote is easy to identify by its smell, which
resembles that of turpentine or paint thinner.

Egg Carton Fire Starters
You will need:
paraffin wax or beeswax (old candle stubs work great for this)
the bottom halves of cardboard egg cartons
sawdust, pine needles, scraps of cotton material, dry pinecones, or
shredded paper
scissors
a pot
Reuse all those old candle ends in this practical, convenient fire
project. Stuff each cardboard egg holder with sawdust or other
flammable material. Melt the wax in a pot, over low to medium heat.
When the wax is melted, carefully pour the wax into each depression
in the egg cartons. Make sure the wax does not overflow. Let cool.
After the wax has cooled down, use scissors to cut the fire starters
apart from each other, leaving the hardened wax inside its cardboard
shell. To use, set one or two fire starters in your fireplace,
surround with kindling and larger wood, and light. The fire starters
will keep burning long enough to light even the most stubborn logs.

Fire Safety
Never leave candles lit and a blazing fire unattended. It is a good
idea to have a pail of water or a fire extinguisher close at hand
when having a fire. If you often light fires at your home, try
growing an aloe vera plant, or keep some of the pure gel on hand in
the fridge, to use as first aid for burns. Fires at the beach are
popular in all seasons, and eliminate some of the risks of fires in
the woods or in the meadow. Few people are aware of how to extinguish
a beach fire safely, however. Covering up a beach fire with sand
actually insulates the coals, keeping them burning through the night.
Those hidden coals will still be red-hot in the morning waiting for
an unsuspecting person to step on them. Always douse a beach fire with
water – seawater works as well as fresh water – until there are no
more live coals. Wait for the steam to clear; then using a stick,
turn over all the coals to make sure no smoldering coals remain.

Candle Hat
One holiday tradition in Scandinavian countries is for the girls to
wear garlands in their hair that hold a circle of lit candles and
bless the light’s return. We’ve adapted this candle custom to honor
the returning light for Brigit. These paper hats are a simple and
safe variation. Draw an inner circle on a 9-inch paper plate, about
an inch from the rim. Next draw very light lines dividing the circle
into quarters. Draw four rectangular candle shapes, keeping the
dividing lines as guides for the candles’ centers. The rectangles
will meet in the center of the plate in a small square. Cut out the
candle shapes, preserving their connection to the ring at the rim.
This connection serves as the base of the candle. Bend candles
from their base to stand upright. Decorate candles with markers,
crayons and glitter. use the discarded plate material to cut flame
shapes. Color them bright flame colors, then glue or staple them to
the top of the candles.

Brigit Candles
You will need:
1 recipe salt dough clay
a bowl of water
8 1/2 by 11 inch sheet of paper, one for each candle
wax paper, cut into 8 1/2 by 11 inch sheets, one for each candle tape
1 T vegetable oil
toothpicks
small bowl
candle making supplies
Honor Brigit with new special candles. These candles use molds made
from coiled salt dough ropes so that each completely unique candle
bears the spiral imprint of the coil.

Taper Candles
Make ropes by rolling salt dough clay between your hands. Each rope
should be two or three feet long and 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. If
younger children can’t manage such lengths, have them make smaller
segments that can be joined later with a little pressure and water.
Dip your fingers into the bowl of water occasionally if the dough
tends to crack. Roll the paper into a 1 inch wide cylinder and tape
it shut. Around this cylinder, tape a piece of wax paper. Coat the
wax paper with a thin layer of oil. Lightly moisten a salt dough rope
with water. Lay the paper cylinder on its side at one end of the
rope. Roll it along the dough, wrapping the rope up the cylinder
until it is six inches tall. Be sure the edges of the coiled rope
always touch. To provide extra support, at intervals stick several
toothpicks vertically through the coils. Make a bottom for the mold by
shaping another piece of salt dough into a 3/4 inch thick circle
that’s larger than the coiled tower in diameter. Moisten the bottom’s
surface, then carefully lift the coiled tower onto the bottom piece
and press gently to make a seal. Pull the paper cylinder out. This
slides out easily, leaving the wax paper. Remove it by gently tugging
on the wax paper with one hand while you support the clay coils with
the others. Inspect each part of the mold, looking for tiny cracks
where melted wax could leak. Press these shut. If the coils start to
sag, quickly fashion a paper cylinder around the outside of the coils
and tape it closed. Trim it to the same height as the clay, so it
won’t get in the way when you are pouring wax. Set the mold in
an empty bowl, in case wax leaks through. You are ready to pour.
Pouring the wax is thrilling. Go very slowly up each level to make
sure no wax is leaking through. If a leak appears, carefully pinch it
shut and pour again. Insert the wick. The wax will harden within an
hour, long before the clay dries. To unmold, just unwind the clay. If
some sticks, soak the candle in cool water and then gently rinse off
the clay. The candles have a wonderfully craggy spiral looping from
bottom to top, and burn with a lovely strong flame.

Beehive Candles
You can also make beehive candles with great success by coiling ropes
of salt dough in a small, deep bowl. A rice bowl is the perfect size.
It’s easier to start with making a spiral, about 3 inches across,
outside of the bowl, then transferring this into the bottom of the
bowl. Next coil the rope inside the bowl until you reach the top. The
candle is burned with the dome side up, so the wick has to be
extended through the wax at the bottom of the bowl. When the wax is
firm enough to insert the wick, use a slightly larger straw than
usual, and push it firmly through the candle, into the dough beneath,
straight to the bottom of the bowl. The candle unmolds easily: Lift
candle and mold from the bowl and uncoil the mold.

Brigit Candleholder
To echo the Goddess’s symbol of the serpent, make this candleholder,
which resembles a coiled snake. Follow directions for making a mold
for taper candles, with the following differences:
1. Size your holder by wrapping a paper cylinder around whatever
candle you intend to use. Remove candle before proceeding further.
2. Dough ropes should be about 1/2 inch wide and a foot long. If
candleholder is taller than 4 inches, use toothpicks for extra
support.
3. Make the bottom by coiling a rope into a small circle. 4. After
the paper cylinder has been removed, use your candle to gently test
of the open end of the candleholder is large enough to accommodate
the candle. If it’s too small, delicately press the opening wider. If
it’s too large, fill in with bits of salt dough.
5 Bake the holder as directed. Turn after the first hour to be sure
it does not stick to the pan.
6 Cool completely after baking. Then paint with snaky patterns,
finishing with eyes on the end of the top coil.

 

(from “Circle Round” By Starhawk, Diane Baker and Anne Hill

 

Courtesy of Witches Moon

 

Imbolc Ritual #2

Imbolc Ritual
Adapted from Edain McCoy’s The Sabbats


Cleanse and cast the circle. Then call the elements in the manner with which you are most comfortable. We used the corner callings from Spiral Dance, by Starhawk.

The high priestess takes the chalice from the alter and holds it up to the sky.

HPS: Blessed Lady Goddess, we humbly ask your presence at our circle tonight as we honor you at this season.

Coveners: Blessed be the Lady.

The high priest takes the athame from the altar and holds it up to the sky.

HP: Blessed Lord God, we humbly ask your presence at our circle tonight as we honor you at this season.

Coveners: Blessed be the Lord.

The Virgin Goddess leaves the circle. She comes to the edge of the circle with her candle wheel in her hands. She should stand at the West quarter (the doorway to the Land of the Dead). The high priestess will cut a doorway in the circle and allow the Goddess to enter. Everyone should greet her in their own way (verbal, motion, etc). The Goddess should walk three times clockwise around the inside of the circle, and come to a stop before the alter and kneel before it, facing North.

The coveners should walk in single file to the altar starting with the person to the altar’s right. This will make the procession head clockwise. When everyone is back in their places holding their lighted candles, the ritual can continue.

HP: Behold the light. The God has returned for his bride.

Coveners:

Blessed be the light which warms. Blessed be the God.
Blessed be the Wheel which turns. Blessed be the Goddess.

The child God steps out from among the rest and stands before the bride, who is still kneeling. The God bows to the goddess and she to him. Then they do a few flowing dance steps around the circle without touching each other, but conveying the idea of awakening sexuality. When they are finished, they lift the besom from its resting place on the altar. The Goddess should hold the straw part and the God the stick. They should make sure they do not physically come in contact with each other while they do this. The high priestess stands in front of the besom and takes it from them by grasping it firmly with both hands. The Goddess and God step back to take their places with the rest of the coven.

HPS: With Imbolc we sweep away the last vestiges of winter.

The Coveners turn and face outward from the circle. The Priestess moves counterclockwise around the circle behind the covenors, sweeping from the center outward. As the High Priestess passes each covenor he or she should voice either aloud or silently all the things that he or she wishes to have swept from their lives. When this is finished, the Virgin Goddess and the child God step forward again and take the besom fromt he High Priestess in the same manner in which it was given. Then the High Priestess steps back and the Virgin Goddess and child God place the besom back onto the altar, and again take their positions among the covenors around the circle.

HPS: The God has claimed the Goddess bride and the Wheel of the Year turns on. Who is Goddess?

All women: I am Goddess.

HP: Who is God?

All men: I am God.

HP and HPS: Who is Goddess and God?

Coveners: All living beings are Goddess and God.

HP and HPS: And who are we?

Coveners: We are the children of deity. And we are deity. We are part of the creative life forces which move the universe. we are microcosm and macrocosm. We are part of all that is.
Cakes and Ale

HPS: Though we are apart, we are ever together – for we are one in the spirit of our goddess and God. Merry meet. Merry part.

Coveners: And merry meet again.

All: Blessed be!

Ground, take down the circle.

Where Have All the Gardners and Crowleys Gone? (An Answer)

Where Have All the Gardners and Crowleys Gone? (An Answer)

Author: Juniper

In the last couple of weeks a question, or rather a few similar questions, have been coming across my radar, again and again. I do try to pay attention to such things, when they come my way. One or more of these times were in articles posted on Witchvox, while other times this question has been uttered to me by friends. Here are the questions:

“Why are there no more Gardners and Crowleys?”

“Where are the women like Doreen Valentine and Janet Farrar and Dion Fortune in younger generations?”

“Where have all the good Elders gone?”

“Why are there no impressive High Priest/ess any more?”

… And such similar ponderings.

Despite the fact the fact that I am no Crowley, nor Starhawk, nor Elder, I think I may have hit upon an answer. It’s an ugly answer, and I know that sharing it may only cause me problems. Yet, I feel compelled to share it. So folks, if you are easily offended, please … keep reading. Bear with me, let me sit upon a “high horse” for but a moment and allow me to say some things you may not want to hear.

Gardner and Crowley were trailblazers. They were bold and daring, they said and did outrageous things. People like Gardner, Crowley, Cochrane and Hutton (to name a few) were eclectics, they tried stuff out, and they mixed and matched. They mixed pantheons and traditions. Nowadays we pagans use the word “eclectic” like a dirty word, an insult to be slung at anyone who dares to mix traditions or practices.

Because our watered-down version of paganism and occultism does not breed such people, does not encourage them. In fact, we make them pariahs. We are not comfortable with controversial leaders. We don’t want teachers with a reputation for being eccentric. We don’t like it when someone walks through the mall wearing a giant pentagram, or purple hair or a black dress. We don’t want to rock the boat. We don’t like it when someone says or does something new or different or outside the box. We are uncomfortable with pagans who don’t fit neatly into some label.

There are no more good elders for two reasons.

One, we treat them horribly, you know it and I know it. We give them no reason to participate in the community. We are pleading and demanding and completely lacking in respect. We expect them to do all the work for us, with barely an introduction. We never finish what they work so hard to help us start.

Two, many of our elders and pagans who have been around for a while have become jaded and disenfranchised. They have decided to give up on us and are hiding away somewhere. Far too often now, when they do decide to show up, it is either for our adulation or to make fun of other less experienced pagans… which only leads to a lack of respect for our elders. And thus we create a vicious cycle.

We all understand cycles do we not?

Because we seem to think that High Priestess and other spiritual leaders and teachers of such caliber are “born”, not slowly grown over time. We think that once a pagan reaches 40, they should just magickally turn into a great leader, teacher or guru. We think we do not need to support our young leaders and teachers. We feel that we do not need to help them to grow into great elders.

No, instead we pick and snipe at them and demand to see credentials and examine their birth certificate as if age is what matters. Because we forget that people like Janet Farrar, Doreen Valentine, and Starhawk were in their twenties when they first made their claim to fame. We forget, and we treat our young witches and priestesses like idiot children.

Because we buy white-lighter, easy-to-read, fluffy little books when we should be buying the books Chapters and Barnes and Noble refuse to sell. How many of you actually have books written by Gardner, Valentine, Farrar, and Crowley? How many of you have more books written by the likes of Sylvia Browne than books by our great old Elders?

There are no more Gardners and Crowleys because we are afraid. Afraid of controversy, afraid of not being politically correct, afraid of being judged, afraid of ourselves, afraid of what the neighbors might think. Afraid of what the rest of the pagan community might think or do.

Because we are afraid to try something that no one has done before, we need to read three instructional books on how to do it first. We need an author, teacher, or Internet friend to assure us that nothing bad might happen, that it will be fun and safe … and boring. Because we panic when a hedgewitch posts Flying Ointment recipes on her blog.

And we are lazy. We have become a community whose majority are little more than armchair pagans. We study more than we practice and we think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Paganism, witchcraft, magick … these are PRACTICES. You have to practice them! These pissing contests about what you know are meaningless. We need to focus on ourselves and our practices, not on what someone else has memorized.

Because we have made paganism too commercial, too user friendly, too easy, too accessible. We are more comfortable with a clean, neat, organized, sterilized version of spirituality. We don’t want something messy, sexy, nitty and gritty. We want something that matches the row upon row of identical pink stucco houses that litter suburbia.

Because we don’t want to have to work hard to find wisdom. We want it handed to us in a textbook format.

There are no more Gardners and Crowleys and the like because you’re supposed to be one.

That’s right. YOU.

Who else is going to do it? So what’s stopping ya?

You want more visionaries, teachers, and leaders? You want to see the next generation of Gardners and Crowleys crop up? Then go and do it yourself. Because chances are everyone else is too yellowbelly to do it for you. And why should anyone do it for you anyway?

Think about it.

*climbs off high-horse and raises shield*

Light, Love and Fluffy Bunnies, Oh My! (Thoughts on Polarities)

Light, Love and Fluffy Bunnies, Oh My! (Thoughts on Polarities)

Author: Corvidae

I’ve always been a non-conformist. I suppose a lot of us are, or we wouldn’t be Pagan in a largely Judeo-Christian society. Here we are, doing the best we can to better ourselves spiritually in the most non-hypocritical manner possible.

So when I come across books and people that stress again and again the importance of light, love and compassion, unfortunately my knee-jerk reaction … is a gag.

No really! Let me explain! I’m not some goth pessimist who’s into the Pagan community just for the shock value and the cool darkness theme. I consider myself a student of Life and actively read anything I can get my hands on with mention to Paganism, new, old or ancient, well or poorly written, just for a nice broad spectrum to base my opinions on. When I was first initiated into Wicca, the reading list was rich and informative. Now it’s hard to find a read out there that isn’t blandly 101 or just a rehash of what I already know. So I started reading the basics once again. Just to see if there was anything I’d missed.

Oh boy.

The concept of polarities was consistent in every page I turned, and it got me thinking very hard on some of the more “fresh” books in my library. It occurred to me that a lot of advanced or specialized published material out there stresses the goodness, wholesome love of our Source and how we should spread the love and be good, decent people to better all of humanity.

All well and good of course. Very noble indeed.

Polarities kept nagging me. So you’re trying to ascend to a “higher vibration, ” “seek the light” and “open the love” in all you meet. In a world where such crappy things keep happening such as violence, rape, intolerance and greed, its no wonder a lot of people are trying to pull away from such a nasty mindset. Kudos for those who are trying, I’m sure the world could use a bit of uplifting. But when I review the most basic fundamentals of polarities, I find that favoring this “higher vibration” is no better than being in the dark and ignorant of higher consciousness.

I would much rather be in balance with the vibrations of the world. To be so high up on that divine ladder is to lose touch with our humanity. Gods are Gods for a reason; we are human for a reason. Life is to be experienced, not transcended. Some humans may indeed move on to another stage of existence, and more still may even guide humanity in a positive or negative fashion. But here, now, in the present, the only moment that truly matters, we are human and experiencing what it’s like to be incarnated.

Some humans (most even) are entrenched in their primal instincts (or vibrating on a “lower” or “denser” level) , and simply using their self-awareness and intelligence to serve their own egos and are slaves to their whims. These kinds of people are clearly out of balance and could use a bit of light and love.

But what about the rest of us?

It would be ridiculous to think that one side of the spectrum is better over another. Striking the right balance should be our goal, as many of us knew when we first saw an image of a yin yang. Favoring the light over the darkness would be like favoring men over women, day over night or right over left. Forget the terms good or evil – there may well be no such thing as pure manifestations of either. Neither the high nor the low end of this vibrational spectrum has anything to do with such simple-minded notions. But as for the rest of the comparisons… it doesn’t make much sense to play favorites, does it?

Let’s face it, negative emotions exist. Fear, anger and sadness all have very useful functions. Some of our reactions to them may or may not be acceptable, but to think of a world without such things? How would we know when we were happy? Starhawk once said, “To light a candle is to cast a shadow.” You simply cannot have one without the other. Some fantasy utopia in which everyone is happy and lovey and full of nothing but light is nothing but that – a fantasy. In that world, we would be mindless robots with no motivation to seek, change or develop. Boooooooring.

Helping people grow to the point where they can control their reactions to negativity in a productive manner might be a more realistic goal. “An it harm none, do as ye will.” That’s a loaded moral code right there, and the topic of other essays, but living it out in a mature fashion might be the better destination.

There is no one single point upon which we are all in balance, either. Balance for one person might be totally wrong for another. To better ourselves as human beings, finding that middle ground (not a monotonous, static stay-in-one-place point, but a baseline of sorts) in which we can make wise and unbiased decisions seems to be ideal.

So forgive me if the world “naive” comes to mind when people start talking about “being one with the light” and “being filled with nothing but compassion and love for all of humanity.” Yes, yes, but don’t be so silly to believe that you are above anger, fear or even hate. We are human. As humans, we need to deal with both the joy and the horrors of being incarnate. It is our duty to do so in a responsible manner. Why? Well that one is up to you, according to your creed or personal ideals. I think it’s a pretty universal concept in Paganism however, to want the best for our brethren and ourselves.

Why not go back to some basics, and see what you can find for yourself?


Footnotes:
Starhawk (1979) . The Spiral Dance. First Edition. San Francisco: Harper.