The Origins of Arianrhod

As most of y’all know I’ve been exploring Proto-Indo-European religion via the ADF. It’s been quite the ride so far, but perhaps nothing has been as meaningful for me as my new and deeper understanding of my Lady, Arianrhod of the Silver Wheel.

Arianrhod shows a different face to me than others seem to see. I’ve never known why, exactly, but finding people who see Her the way I do is one of the reasons I started blogging in the first place. It’s been a lonely road.

My PIE studies may have led me to some answers, although those answers kick off a whole other range of questions.

The Quest

I’ve been pretty open about my Lady and how the way I honor Her is different – sometimes wildly – from the standard stuff associated with Her. Stars yes, moon no. Fire is Her primary elemental association with me, and lore-wise She’s rarely associated with fire at all. Her being the vehicle of manifestation from potential isn’t referenced anywhere except a VERY loose read of the Welsh Triads, and I give that primary emphasis while most folks working with Her seem to ignore it completely. Ritual and petitionary prayer yes, magick not really. Rites of Passage yes, mystic moon mommy (or any other life stage) no. Her representation on my altar has been an armillary sphere, representing atomic/cosmic/universal order, and I haven’t seen that anywhere in relation to Her. And on and on it goes.

As a result my work with Her is different from pretty much everyone else’s. The difference is so stark that I’m often uncomfortable in public rituals involving Her. It usually feels like calling for my mom and having someone entirely different show up.

So, of course, as I started walking a more Proto-Indo-European path I started looking at Arianrhod through a PIE lens too. Could that lens maybe help explain why She’s so different with me than with others?

Following Breadcrumbs

PIE practices are, at core, based on linguistic reconstruction. It’s an academic approach encoded in the very language we speak.

So I started searching for the origins of Arianrhod’s name.

The first breadcrumb I found linked Arianrhod to a reconstructed PIE goddess named Arta. Arta is apparently the goddess of universal order and is specifically linked to cycles and time, as well as rites of passage.

That started clanging bells hard, so I started chasing more threads to see if they could add any information or clarity.

The PIE root of Arianrhod’s name is also linked to the Vedic idea of Ŗta (an obvious link to the name “Arta”), which refers to that which upholds and maintains the Wheel of Dharma (another wheel, and here meaning righteous law) and the order of the universe. That just plays right in with everything else.

The root of Arianrhod’s name in Proto-Indo-European is also shared by Varuna, a Vedic god associated with sky,  water, justice, and truth.

Varuna’s connections to sky and water brought to mind Arianrhod’s homes – according to which sources we credit, Her home is either in the Corona Borealis (sky) or in the sea off the coast of Wales (water). Or both.

Varuna’s streak of demonic violent tendencies, according to myth, led to His demotion and Indra taking away most of His powers. That reminded me of the gist of Arianrhod’s story, where responses to Her behavior led to Her losing Her place. It also reminded me of the “test of truth” in Her story (stepping over Math’s staff) and the justice or perceived lack thereof in the challenges She set Her son.

Varuna is called upon to this day to still the waters of the mind, bringing calmness and peace. This is strongly reminiscent of Arianrhod’s focus (with me) on centering and balance, although it’s not part of Her general lore. Up until very recently I also based my entire Wheel of the Year on the image of a stone dropping into a still pond and the ripples resulting from that, which brings that water connection to the fore. The rings made when a stone is dropped in a pool also reminds me of the rings in an armillary sphere, which pulls all of those associations back around again.

All of that led me to the Zoroastrian concept of asha, which shares the same PIE root as Arta and thus Arianrhod. Asha is linked to fire, truth, manifestation, cosmic order, and right action/right working.

All those things I honor with Arianrhod that didn’t make sense? That seemingly came out of left field and didn’t gel with anything about Her in common practice? They’re connected to Her linguistically. THIS is the goddess I’ve been working with! It even explains why the first goddess She had me work with that wasn’t Her was Hestia! Hestia’s damn near a direct continuation of the Proto-Indo-European goddess Wéstyā, who was the heart of PIE worship, so it makes sense that Arianrhod/Arta would guide me there.

Where to now? 

I am no linguist, and I’m certainly not an expert in this field. I also have no idea what to do with this information in a broader sense, or how to answer all the questions raised by it. The primary book I have on reconstructed PIE practice doesn’t even mention Arta. And yet here we are, here am, and and here is all this information that gels with what I’ve been shown even if I could never explain why. It’s at least a start at verifying my UPG.

Are Arta and Arianrhod the same deity? Am I working with a long forgotten face of Arianrhod, or a newer face of Arta? Have I been working with Arta this whole time under Arianrhod’s name (maybe because Arianrhod was more accessible)? Is Arianrhod simply Arta viewed through a Welsh filter? Does any of this relate to why I’m so solidly Hers, yet She’s the only Celtic deity I’ve ever been called to honor?

I have more questions than I have answers, but I have what may be a direction to follow, and hope that I will eventually find more information that relates. That’s more than I’ve ever had before. I’m excited to see what else I can learn!

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Welcoming the Sisters – Dawn and Dusk Devotionals

Devotional activities can run the gamut from simply sharing tea with the Powers to performing full-on choreographed theatrical productions. I leave the theater to the High Days. I prefer something much more low-key for daily devotions, and over time I’ve learned that it’s best if they’re tied to some activity I’d already be doing anyway. It’s also the best way I’ve found to seamlessly integrate devotions, and thus honoring the Powers, into my day-to-day life.

I’ve discussed mealtime offerings before. Now it’s time to talk about offerings for dawn and dusk. Like mealtime offerings, they’re fairly quick and easy. They’re also way more meaningful than we might otherwise think.

The Herald of Dawn 

The dawn goddess pops up all over the Indo-European world, indicating that She was very important. In fact, the case can be made that She was the most important goddess of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. She’s certainly the most easily reconstructed!

The PIE name She’s given in Deep Ancestors is Xáusōs, or “Rising”. PIE-descendant cultures honored Her too: She appears as the Greek Eos, the Roman Aurōra, the Vedic Uṣás, the Lithuanian Aušrine, and the Germanic Ōstara.

The ubiquity of Her worship in the ancient world makes total sense for a traveling, migratory people. After all, no matter where you go She still appears in the east to open the Gates of Dawn and usher in the coming day. PIE-descended hearth cultures sometimes associated Her with spring, too, as the dawn of the planting season out of the chaotic Fallow Time.

Which brings us to the topic of liminality. Honoring the dawn was incredibly common because it was a transitional, liminal period.  And that made it dangerous.

We hear the most about the ambivalence of betweens from Celtic tradition, but the care necessary when navigating treacherous liminal spaces is part of all PIE-descended cultures. Dawn is a between, a transition zone between night and day, and as such it’s a dangerous opening through which chaos could enter the world. By opening and closing dawn’s gates, though, the dawn goddess controls and safeguards that opening. She’s on the front lines, defending existence itself against the agents of chaos.

The Goddess of the Dawn, in all Her pastel glory.

Pretty heavy stuff for a Goddess almost invariably shown clad in pastel rainbows.

In the Vedas She (as Uṣás) is also associated with prosperity. We see that with the Germanic Ōstara too, through a connection to the fecundity of rabbits and chickens. Every new dawn brings us a new chance for success, prosperity, and acclaim in our lives.

The dawn goddess also illuminates and “wakes up” the world with Her coming. Because of that She pushes back the darkness of the unknown and heralds the coming of enlightenment, strength, action, and activity. She energizes and inspires us.

With all of that in mind it makes sense to respect Her and Her role in the world with every new day that dawns.

Twilight’s Mistress

I’ve been using Deep Ancestors as my primary guide to exploring PIE religious practice. It’s what inspired me to start working with the dawn goddess Xáusōs in the first place. The more I did, though, the more frustrated I got. It felt incomplete.

Celtic lore holds that dusk is just as much a between as dawn, just as dangerous. Dusk too is a liminal time. Simply ignoring the danger inherent in an unguarded liminality seems entirely out of character for the Proto-Indo-Europeans, especially considering the emphasis they put on guarding dawn. However, the surviving lore doesn’t mention the dawn goddesses pulling double duty here. Who guarded the gates at twilight?

So I did some research.

In Vedic lore, the dawn goddess Uṣás has a sister goddess called Ratri. Ratri is usually seen as a quieter, more restful figure than Uṣás. Still beautiful, spangled with stars as She is, but more reserved. She protects us against all night-time dangers, guarding the earth as it sleeps. She’s also associated with dewdrops, and together with Uṣás is said to boost vital energies.

Uṣás and Ratri together are considered “weavers of time and mothers of eternal law”, and in their progression illustrate the cohesion of the created order that sustains the earth. I found that rather significant to PIE practices in general, personally.

We get something similar from the Baltic region, where we have another set of sister dawn/dusk goddesses – Aušrinė and Vakarinė. Aušrinė (associated with the Morning Star) saw the sun goddess off on Her journey through the sky every morning, while Vakarinė (associated with the Evening Star) made Her bed every night.

Another example is found in Slavic lore. The Zorya are yet another set of sister-twins. The first – Zorya Utrennyaya, or the Morning Star – opens the gates to the Sun Palace at dawn. The other – Zorya Vechernyaya, or the Evening Star – closes the gates to the Sun Palace at dusk.

In addition to these duties the Zorya are together the guardians of a winged doomsday hound named Simargl. If Simargl breaks the chains binding him to the northern star Polaris, he’ll eat the constellation of Ursa Minor and end the world. Like Uṣás and Ratri, the Zorya are crucial to maintaining universal order.

The Roman goddess of the dawn, Aurōra, doesn’t have a twin sister. However, She was married to Astraeus, the god of dusk, and together They birthed the four winds. In an interesting link to the Baltic and Slavic lore, Astraeus was also seen as the father of the five “wandering” stars, one of which is the Morning/Evening Star Venus (not to be confused with the goddess of the same name, although there might be some syncretism there). In another interesting link, the Zorya sisters were also collectively called the Auroras.

There’s just too much material here for me to ignore. I’m perfectly comfy moving forward with the idea that there once was a god(dess) associated with twilight who has been lost over the years. I’m also perfectly comfy with considering that deity to be a female sibling, if not an outright twin, of Xáusōs.

I needed a name to call Her, though, since whatever the PIE peoples might have called Her has been long forgotten. After oodles of searching I finally broke down and contacted the author of Deep Ancestors,  Ceisiwr Serith, with a plea for assistance. I simply don’t understand PIE language and linguistics well enough yet to figure this out for myself. He graciously helped – even showed his work with verb conjugation so I could follow! – and suggested “Négwntī”.

This name has a lot going for it. Xáusōs means “Rising”, while Négwntī means “Becoming Dark”. They mirror each other nicely in translation. I also like that both are verbs, action words, because for me that really brings home the fact that They represent a process instead of something static. They embody abstract concepts of Time, Cycles, and Order. So Négwntī’s what I decided to go with.

Welcoming the Sisters

I honor three goddesses as part of my daily devotions, in addition to my Lady.

First of those is Wéstyā, the Proto-Indo-European goddess of the hearth. I honor Her with the mealtime offerings I introduced in a previous post. She helps us maintain order in the domestic sphere, in our homes and families and day-to-day life.

I also honor Xáusōs and Négwntī – They who maintain the progressive order of Night into Day and Day into Night. I love the way they bookend everything. My shrine reflects that.

My kitchen shrine.

My kitchen shrine. To the left is the teacup and saucer used to honor Xáusōs, in the middle is the statue before which I make offerings to Wéstyā, and to the right is the cup and saucer for Négwntī. I’m debating switching the cups around, to reflect the sun rising in the east, but I haven’t decided yet.

Morning Offerings

When I wake up I take care of my immediate needs, walk my dog, and blearily try to activate my brain. Prior to now, my waking up process has been sitting in front of my computer with a cup of tea until the caffeine jolts my system awake.

Now I wake up with tea (coffee would work too) and Dawn’s Lady instead.

It’s really simple. I set up Her cup and saucer, fix the tea, fill Her cup, and say the following over it:

Good morn to You, Herald of the Dawn!
I welcome Your rising as I welcome sun’s glory. 
May I meet all on my path with
An open hand, an open heart, and an open mind. 
Praise to Your name, She Who Opens the Way!

Then I fix a drink of my own, sit down, and quietly think about my day as I wake up. No computers, no distractions, just communing. It takes around 15 minutes.

When I’m done, I empty and wash the dishes I used and return them to their places.

Evening Offerings

Evening offerings follow the same pattern as the morning. Instead of going for the caffeine, though, I go for a nightcap. It’s usually something like Egyptian licorice or chamomile tea.

Whatever it is, I set that to brewing while I prepare Négwntī’s cup and saucer. Then I pour Her a cup, over which I say the following:

Good eve to You, Twilight’s Lady!
I welcome Your presence as I welcome night’s repose.
May You guard my sleep and guide my dreams
That I awaken refreshed and renewed when next I rise

Praise to Your name, She Who Closes the Day!

After that I quietly sip my own cup and cuddle my pupper – without computers or books or anything else – as I calm down enough to sleep. Sometimes that takes another cup of tea, and that’s ok. Whenever I’m ready, though, I clean the dishes I used and return them to their places.

By doing simple devotional activities at dawn, for meals, and at dusk I do up to five devotional activities per day. They’re so simple, though, and so integrated with what I’d already be doing, that I do them with a sense of joy instead of feeling obligated or pressured.

And that – prioritizing joy over pressure – is to my mind the key to regular devotional work. I don’t even have to memorize anything! As with my mealtime offering prayers, the prayers for Xáusōs and Négwntī are written on little cards I can just read off (which is especially handy before my morning caffeine!).

What might/does work for you? I’d love to see your takes in the comments!

 

One Small Thing

I’ve been away from my blog for a bit. I’ve moved 4 times this past year – each time to a different state – and it caught up with me. Now that I’ve landed in Texas (surprise!) I’m raring to go with a whole slate of new posts, which I’m kicking off this next week.

That being said, I thought the post I’m sharing here was a very timely reminder! Enjoy the read, and may you find it as helpful as I did!

Feathers in Amber

desk_4-27-18In my altar makeover earlier this year, I took down some framed pictures I had of Carolina Parakeets and Passenger Pigeons because I didn’t have any room for them on top of the altar itself. But I took them out again this week because I’m celebrating All Species Week, a personal observance where I honor every species of Ancestor Bird, particularly the ones that haven’t been discovered or named by human beings.

After my morning devotions to the Ancestor Birds, I took the one picture, of Carolina Parakeet, my very first spirit ally, to my home office with me while I was working. I just wanted that awareness that today is a special day to stay with me.

It immediately looked at home on my desk–maybe it helps that I’ve got a bunch of other bird items nearby! But then I realized, this is something I can do all the…

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Pagans Don’t Have to Hug: Non-Sexual Consent

As our society grapples with the idea of consent through the #metoo movement, it’s becoming ever-more-important in Pagan groups too. The latest scandal rocking segments of the Pagan community are just that – the latest in a string. I’ve been talking about the need for consent culture since Kenny Klein. Others have been talking about it longer than I have. This isn’t a new concept.

What IS new, I think, is that more folks than ever seem open to hearing about it. However, there are still lots of folks who think consent only applies to sexual interactions, and don’t really get how it can apply non-sexually too. Here’s a great example.

Feathers in Amber

With thanks to Caer, who is always there to remind me that my voice deserves to be heard.

consentIn our concern to address the most egregious breaches of consent in Pagan communities, the basis for consent culture is often overlooked. At its heart, consent means that no one can touch you in any way you aren’t expressly ok with. They have to ask for consent; you can give, refuse to give, or revoke that consent at any time; you do not have to offer any kind of justification as to why you don’t want touched by a particular individual under particular circumstances.

Many people don’t realize that this means more than sexual forms of contact. In fact a lot of times, people who are violating boundaries of consent have no idea that’s what they’re doing.

As an example, I’m going to talk about something that happened to me. For awhile…

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Sexual Assault Allegations Against ADF Founder Isaac Bonewits

Marion Zimmer Bradley’s daughter, Moira Greyland, just released a new book called The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon.

Avalon

The Last Closet: The Dark Side of Avalon by Moira Greyland. Available here on Amazon.

While the book overall speaks of horrible things (and the author herself is problematic in several ways), one of the bombshells within is the accusation that ADF founder Isaac Bonewits not only asked Bradley for permission to rape six-year-old Moira, he was apparently already raping another child.

“When I was at Greyhaven, I had some unfortunate run-ins with an individual from the Pagan community named Isaac Bonewits. Some people called him the ‘Pagan Pope’. He was a frequent visitor to Greyhaven and a friend of my parents… One day Isaac came to my mother when I was six years old, and told her he wanted to have sex with me. He told her there was a girl just my age at the commune he lived in and she had had sex with all the men there [which would have included Bonewits], and she was so ‘free’ and so ‘uninhibited’ that it would be ‘good for me’ to do the same thing with him.”    ~Moira Greyland, The Last Closet

Greyland later alludes to some time spent unwillingly in a basement with Bonewits but refrains from giving further details.

Bonewits and Bradley are both dead. In the era of #metoo, what are we to do with this information?

The ADF’s Statement

The ADF has already released a statement about these accusations on their Facebook page:

To Our ADF Members and the Pagan Community:

It has recently come to our attention that an allegation of sexual
misconduct has been made against a late, former leader of ADF, Isaac
Bonewits. This claim has been made in a newly released book and dates back
to a time prior to ADF being founded in 1983.

To all who have experienced any form of harassment or abuse, we understand
that the process of reaching out for support and reporting your experiences
can be extremely difficult and the impacts of those experiences can often be
felt for months, years, and a lifetime after the fact. Please know that we
reach out to all who have been so afflicted with compassion and care.

In our commitment to create a safe and respectful space for all ADF members
to worship, we have created clear organizational policies and practices.
Leadership Conduct and the safety of our members are taken very seriously.
Our Sexual Misconduct Policy can be found at
(https://www.adf.org/…/org/docs/policy/sexual-misconduct.html) [and then they quote from the policy]…

With the creation of the new Human Services Specialist position, we seek to
make ADF a place that is safe for all of its members, visitors, and leaders
alike. We strive to extend our hospitality to all and to insure that
everyone can worship and interact without fear of being harmed in any way.

Blessings,
Rev. Jean (Drum) Pagano
Archdruid, ADF

This statement, in my opinion, is weak. They don’t directly confront the accusations at all. They simply mention them and quickly move on to stating their love and care for victims. Then they reference their established policy and mention a new staff position (which is fab, and gives me hope that we’ll see a better response in the coming days).

So ok. Maybe they’re still working out a response. What about the policy they reference, though? Is that better?

ADF’s Official Policy

I find the ADF’s policy severely lacking.

  1. At no point is consent mentioned.

    I’ve blogged about consent before, especially in this post. Without a clear and unambiguous understanding and promotion of consent as a guiding concept, from the most established clergy to the newest member, I think we’re going to keep having problems with this. And here the ADF falls short.

    They “commit to practice” things like “love” and “respect”, but that’s not specific enough. How does that look in practice, specifically with sexual situations? We really need to see this spelled out a little more. I’ve addressed this before with my Six Rules for Safer Pagan Sex, and still stand by what I said there. While an understanding of consent culture as a whole won’t stop cases of abuse, I know from first-hand experience in other communities that it will greatly reduce them.

    Openly navigating sexual situations is frankly a skill most Americans aren’t taught, and any organization that hopes to be safe for all people needs to step it up in that area. That includes the ADF.

  2. Sexual misconduct is defined too narrowly in one crucial area.

    According to the policy as written, “sexual misconduct occurs when a person with authority [emphasis mine], either real or perceived, uses their position to obtain sexual favors or behaviors of any kind. These persons in authority include, but are not limited to, clergy, elected or appointed ADF officers, ADF employees, sub-group volunteers, and Grove/Protogrove leaders.”

    So… by definition, a member can’t sexually harass or assault someone of equal or lower rank within the organization? Really, ADF? I’m hoping they didn’t mean it to come out that way, but that’s certainly how it reads. That could convince someone looking for reporting how-tos that their situation doesn’t qualify, stopping them before they start.

    And speaking of…

  3. The three steps of the reporting process are bloody AWFUL, y’all.
    “The first step in stopping sexual harassment is to directly inform the person involved that his/her conduct is unwelcome, a violation of ADF policy, and that it must stop immediately.”

    Ok, fair enough on the surface. But. What if the victim can’t speak? Is frozen? Doesn’t specifically mention ADF policy when rejecting advances? Uncomfortably, nervously waves down a friend and runs towards mutual support instead of directly confronting their harasser and possibly escalating the situation? Are they per this policy now unable to report what happened? And more importantly, if they consult this document before reporting and realize they didn’t follow all of those steps, do they now believe that they can’t make a report, even if the ADF would in fact consider it valid?

    “If the allegation is about a criminal act, it must be reported to the appropriate civil authorities.” [emphasis mine]

    This straight up tells victims that, in order to report what happened, they have to agree to get the cops involved. From what I can tell this is unlike all other official complaints made to ADF, which have an array of options with which a victim might be more comfortable, including mediation (as outlined here in the ADF’s Standard Operating Procedure, although that appears to be a member’s only document).

    There are many, many reasons a victim might be hesitant to pursue legal options. Doing so involves police involvement, rape kits, possibly testifying in court, reliving the event over and over again, opening themselves up to the horror/rage/disbelief/judgment that might be directed at them by other ADF members (which we’re already seeing in the Bonewits case), etc. Maybe they’re still closeted, even, and coming out as a sexual assault victim under their particular circumstances would also mean coming out as Pagan (which is still dangerous for many people).

    This policy blocks all other avenues, meaning folks who don’t want to jump through legal hoops simply won’t make a report.

    There’s also a time limit on criminal prosecution. Thirty-four states have a statute of limitations on reporting rape. Does the ADF follow those guidelines in regards to internal reporting? Can a victim deliberately wait until after that limitation to make a report and so bypass the required reporting rule? If the statute of limitations applies to ADF reporting, the justification for such a decision needs to be explained. If that statute doesn’t, the ADF needs to justify the criminal reporting requirement in the first place.

  4. Those making “false accusations” are threatened with expulsion from ADF, but no guidelines are given for what is required to substantiate an accusation. That alone could make victims hesitate to come forward.
    “[T]hose making false allegations and/or providing false information will be subject to disciplinary action by the Mother Grove, up to and including expulsion from ADF.”

    Statistically, “[o]nly about 2% of all rape and related sex charges are determined to be false… [but] people claim that allegations are false far more frequently than they are and far more frequently than for other crimes.  Put another way, we are much more likely to disbelieve a woman if she says she was raped than if she says she was robbed, but for no good reason.”

    With that in mind, what are the criteria for determining an accusation is false? The accused not being convicted in a court of law? Statistically, only 310 of every 1000 rapes is reported. Out of the 310 rapes reported, only 6 lead to a conviction. Using those numbers, does a victim have a 97.1% chance of being drummed out of the ADF – their spiritual home and source of comfort in trying times – when their report doesn’t end in conviction either? Is some other standard used to determine truthfulness? We need some more clarification here.

The document isn’t that long. I shouldn’t have this many questions after reading it.  Addressing these points in the near future would, in my opinion, go a long way to proving ADF’s ethical stance.

Where To From Here?

Regardless of Bonewits’s actual guilt or innocence in this case, it’s well known that there’s a sexual harassment/assault problem in Paganism. There has been for quite some time. We’ve all heard stories – big names all the way down to randos at festivals.

For instance, I blogged about Kenny Klein and the Pagan approach to sex in general in 2014. At the end of that post I offered a series of suggestions for addressing the issue of sexual harassment and assault in the Pagan community.

I offer the same suggestions to ADF and its members today.

I’d like each and every one of us to start taking responsibility for what’s happening around us. If you see something that makes you or someone else feel unsafe, say something. Speak up for those who, for whatever reason, have difficulty speaking up for themselves. If someone isn’t being heard, add your voice to theirs. Do not be silent. Safety wins out over secrecy every time.

I’d like to see our communities stop silencing those who speak out and start taking complaints seriously, especially if more than one complaint is brought against the same person.

I’d like to see communities adopt safe space guidelines and then enforce them.

It would be wonderful if someone in each area stepped up to serve as an educator and advocate for those who have questions or encounter problems.

Every young person in our community needs to be taught these rules as soon as possible, so they know how to draw a boundary and what to do if that boundary is not respected.

If there’s a big community Beltane ritual consider offering a class on Safer Pagan Sex – even if no sex will be occurring at the event. Let’s do our best to get everyone on the same page where this kind of thing is concerned.

I’d also like to see every festival and group hold regular classes on what is and is not ok when it comes to Safer Pagan Sex – especially if that festival or group is either having ritualized/magickal sex or has an officially-sanctioned “sex area”. Even better would be making this kind of class required for anyone who wants to participate in the ritualized/magickal sex or visit the designated sex area.

Along with this, festivals and groups would ideally specifically designate people to serve as educators and advocates, just like I suggested above for individual communities. That person should be both very visible and easily available, so they can be found quickly if they’re needed.

I’d like to see training offered to anyone and everyone who wants more information on how to help out newcomers, how to handle complaints, and how to address ritual/magickal sexual abuse in a Pagan-centric way that is healing and sacred.

Imagine what changes such policies could make in our community!

At minimum the ADF would do well here to acknowledge the accusations, distance themselves from Bonewits (like maybe taking his picture off of their Facebook page’s banner), not attempt to silence those speaking out, update and revamp their reporting standards, and perhaps incorporate lessons on the FRIES version of consent into the new Dedicant Path framework (whatever that ends up looking like) and any further clergy training.

Any work beyond the minimum would be gladly welcomed and appreciated. Anything less than that simply isn’t acceptable from an ethical Pagan organization. And certainly isn’t acceptable for one I continue to be a part of.

The Triple Goddess of Sustainability

When we talk about sustainability, the trifecta of actions we can take to help it along consists of “Reduce”, “Reuse”, and “Recycle”.

I don’t really use the Triple Goddess concept in my personal practice, but this fit too perfectly into that framework to pass up! And honestly, the more I look at this the more I think I might have finally found a trio that works for me!

So. Here is my fun little exploration of the Triple Goddess archetype as seen through the lens of environmental sustainability.

Recycle: This lovely Maiden transforms that which is used and discarded into something completely new by restoring it to a base state. A blend of scientist and activist, She rattles off plastic grades while advocating for neighborhood recycling programs. I picture Her as a college student, maybe, checking off an address on Her clipboard (or ticking a box on Her tablet) as She tosses another bag of cans into the bed of Her pickup truck. She’s convinced that new up-and-coming technologies are the key to saving the planet, and She sees recycling as the first step to that. She also steers us away from things that can’t be recycled, helping us find better and more sustainable alternatives. Recycle teaches us that what’s old can be made brand new again, if we’re willing to go through the necessary work to make it happen.

Reuse: I picture Reuse as a lovely earth mother and DIY goddess, with a messy knot of paint-spattered hair and a toolbelt. Her creativity overflows when She sees the potential treasure in someone else’s trash, and She’s got the skills and know-how to bring it out both practically and aesthetically. That abandoned dresser on the side of the road? A little of Her magick turns it into an absolutely gorgeous showpiece in Her bedroom. Or maybe instead it becomes an entertainment center, a kitchen island, or a changing table – Her carpentry skills are matched by her vision. She’s the Matron of the thrift store, too, able to turn that 80s prom gown into something absolutely smashing for next month’s wedding. Reuse thinks answers to sustainability lie within the land, the natural world, and what’s available to us right now. She’s a proponent of plant-based diets and the glories of compost. She teaches us that a little creativity and elbow grease can breathe life into something thought dead and useless.

Reduce: An often-neglected part of the sustainability triad, Reduce is a strict task-mistress. She teaches us that the best, most effective way to walk with a light footprint is to carry less to start with. Reduce encourages us to embrace zero-waste groceries, no-buy commitments, minimalism, and smaller and simpler homes. She also helps us see that our quality of life doesn’t drop – and is perhaps even enriched – when we step away from our consumer-driven lives for something a little slower and more present. I picture Her as an older woman in a simple off-grid cabin, serving sun tea in old mason jars on a covered country porch. Reduce thinks that the key to sustainability lies in tradition, and looks to the lifestyles of the past (within reason) as the best inspiration for living in the present and prepping for the future. She’s the cautionary one of the three, teaching us that sacrifice is necessary for sustainability too.

Of course, Recycle, Reuse, and Reduce don’t exist in vacuums. The three generations of the Sustainability family are incredibly close-knit, and each takes joy and satisfaction from sharing Her approaches and discoveries with Her kin. Just think of the things we could learn from talking to all three, and following Their lead in our own lives!

And there you have it – the Triple Goddess of Sustainability! I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed writing it, and encourage you to invite this triad into your life for 2018!

It’s the Little Things: Rethinking the Lighters on Our Altars and Shrines

When I was learning magick back in the day I was warned away from using matches because they contain sulfur on the tips, which was said to introduce “unwelcome energies” to whatever workings most of us were doing. I was steered to lighters instead, and have used them since.

It’s time to rethink that.

Every year 1.5 BILLION disposable lighters end up in landfills, they can’t be recycled, and there are gruesome pictures of birds that have eaten them and then died – the shineys look like fish. (Don’t Google “albatross chicks” and “lighters”, y’all. It’s horrible.) And all that’s before we even get to the carbon footprints of both the manufacturing of the plastic lighters AND burning the fuel within!

Refillable lighters save the lighter from entering the landfill (at least temporarily), but what about the plastic bottles the refillable lighter fuel comes in? That’s usually considered hazardous waste, so recycling can be dicey depending on local rules. Butane has to be kept under pressure, which makes their containers more process-intensive to manufacture and even worse from a recycling perspective. And, again, refillable lighters still burn petrochemicals, which add to our carbon footprints.

Either way, THAT is energy I don’t want to bring to my workings!

So, back to the humble match. I did some research, y’all. Diamond Greenlight matches (the only brand made in the US) are made from either sustainably harvested trees or 100% recycled paperboard.

For wooden matches, one tree can make up to a MILLION matches, and they can even grow back from the same root system after being felled. Burning wood is carbon neutral*, too – the same carbon is released whether it’s burned or it naturally decomposes.

The paperboard ones are a little more flimsy, but they’re made from completely recycled material and, again, they’re carbon neutral*.

The tips of both styles do have trace elements of sulfur on them, in addition to a couple of other things like glue, but the amounts are so minimal per strike we can’t even calculate a toxicity on them. They pretty much burn away instantly, relying on the wood or the paperboard to maintain the flame until being extinguished.

As an aside, I’m not a fan of big business or anything, but back in 1911 Diamond voluntarily released the patent on its safety matches so competitors would stop using the way more dangerous white phosphorus in their products. I can approve of that!

Still concerned about the sulfur on the tips? Sulfur is often used in banishing magick, sure, but that’s because it’s associated so strongly with protection and purification workings. An infinitesimal trace of it when we light candles or incense isn’t necessarily a bad thing!

I just picked up 320 small wooden Diamond Greenlight matches for $1.49 at the grocery store. Better deals are available on Amazon, though – here’s 1000 of the paperboard ones for $5. The latter is both made of recycled material and recyclable.

Why does this even matter? Because the little choices we make echo through our lives and our world in ways we often don’t consider. Getting into the habit of thinking about these kinds of things in relation to our sacred and magickal work will hopefully help us learn to be conscious of the choices we make in other parts of our lives too. That can only be a good thing.

*Note: There’s some hedging about whether burning biomass is truly carbon neutral, and most of that hedging seems to revolve around sustainable forestry practices. In this particular case I’m inclined to go with the carbon neutral take, especially for the paperboard matches since they’re recycled to start. However, that’s me. Please do your own research and choose accordingly.