Monday, December 17, 2012

IO! IO! IO! Merry Saturnalia!

I'm excited at the number of articles I've seen about Saturnalia this year. Even the Wild Hunt had something spiffy to say.  I don't want to repeat what's already out there, but I have a whole week of posts planned (insofar as I plan posts...)

Coming up this week:
Saturnalia is NOT the winter solstice celebration.  Saturnalia =/= Yule. Two different things. True? False? Yes. No.

Saturn as a distinct deity from Kronos, Etruscan in origin, only later conflated by the Romans?
I've read an interesting discussion on this and have gone to the source material to draw my own conclusions.

Keeping Saturnalia. The what, why and how of a modern, practice and a nod to the Reconstructionists who are keepin' it Roman.

My traditional list of every Saturnalia tradition which still survives in popular culture today! The first of which is the title of this post: Io! Say it 3 times fast... Ho ho ho bitches!

To kick things off here's a playlist to jam to during this festive week! There's something here for everyone. Add to it if you think of more.

Time: The Beginning -Megadeth
River of Time -Van Morrison
Big Time -Peter Gabriel
Rock & Roll -Led Zepplin
Wasted Time -Eagles
Time -Hootie & The Blowfish
Times Like These -Foo Fighters
Time in a bottle -Jim Croce
Does Anybody Really Know what Time it Is - Chicago
3 am eternal -Enigma
It's 3 am I must be lonely -Matchbox 20
Time After Time -Cindi Lauper
The Longest Time -Billy Joel
Rock Around the Clock - Bill Haley and the Comets
Feels Like the First Time -Foreigner
Right Now -Van Halen
Time Warp -Rocky Horror Picture Show
Time - Pink Floyd
Good Riddance (Time of your Life) - Green Day
Closing Time - Semisonic
The Time's They Are a Changin' - Bob Dylan
Nothin' But A Good Time - Poison
Too Much Time on My Hands - Styx
I've Had the Time of My Life - Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
Back in Time - Huey Lewis & the News
If I Could Turn Back Time - Cher
Time of the Season - The Zombies
Turn! Turn! Turn! -Byrds
Time is on my side -Rolling Stones
Time (Clock of the heart) -Culture Club



Sunday, December 2, 2012

Retro Thoughts

How did Mercury's latest retrograde treat you?

I was somehow caught off guard by the timing and wasn't prepared. This has lead to several hundred words on the nature of time and Mercury as a Time Lord, but nothing I'm up for sharing  yet. This retrograde felt like an especial throwback to the previous ones of the year. Issues came up not only from the previous one in July/August, but also from March/April.

I have never taken note of a cyclical nature of the retrogrades, and if I did, what would define a cycle? A calendar year? That's as silly to me as assigning importance to a "blue moon" since this calendar is a modern invention based on no significant point in the earth's movement/cycle. Start at Spring when all is even? Start at winter when the potential energy is about to become kinetic and lead us into the equality of Spring?

Astrologically speaking, Mercury wasn't traveling over the same degrees, so why were the same issues coming up, and differently, too? Because the issues never went away, I just processed them differently and came to new conclusions and found a new understanding. The cycle was my own personal one- the time it took me to process and gain new perspective.

I should amend the above question: How did this retrograde change your perspective?

Friday, November 9, 2012

Kabbalah, Qabbalah, and Cultural Appopriation

If you've glanced at more than a few posts on the blog, you'll know that I am not a fan of the kabbalah, at least not how it's generally used within the neo pagan community. I'm a Neoplatonist. Same basic philosophy without the catch-all filing system of the universe business. I've been told that I'll love QBL, I just dealt with teachers who had no perspective, and in some cases, no business teaching anything. I disagree as I've had this icky feeling about QBL before I encountered such people. Thing is, I want to be able to explain what bothers me. I want to understand it (and I don't want it to bother me, I want to have another tool available, another perspective) and so I have continued to study it with amazing teachers who are well versed and well rounded, magically speaking.

Two streams of consciousness have lead to this blog. The first: Posts around the internet about cultural appropriation; Every few months there seems to be a whole new slew of articles and posts about what is and isn't appropriate when drawn to or called to certain deities outside of your current cultural sphere (current = present life, as opposed to past lives). The themes range from you can't do it because that's not your culture this time, to: you can, but you must become immersed in that culture with natives of that culture, to you can because you were in a past life and therefore can do whatever you feel drawn to do.

The second: I've seen many comments about Neo-Platonism vs Qabalah in very different places. Some were along the lines of which came first, how did they influence each other, or the idea that you can't discuss Neoplatonism with some people because they get very defensive about Kabbalah and it's origins, going as far as to call Neoplatonists anti semitic. I've seen it happen.

The questions which have arisen:

Is "Hermetic Qabalah" the cultural appropriation of the Jewish magical system?

Should a true devotee of Kabbalah also practice Judaism?

Is the fact that it's called "Hermetic Qabalah" so as to not be mistaken for Jewish Kabbalah inherently anti semitic?

Just a few questions to ponder.



Friday, October 19, 2012

This!

I usually enjoy Star Foster's writing. Even when I don't entirely agree, she has a style that I appreciate. Maybe I've found a kindred cranky spirit.

Here is something she posted today, reminiscent of several posts I've made over the last few years. It's nice to be validated sometimes (as in, I'm not the only one who feels this way). Today is one of those times. She makes several points in her article, including one about the need for it to be more family friendly. I don't believe the problem is exclusive to Wicca; it's all groups born of people who were not raised in their faith, but only came to it as an adult, so of course it's adult oriented, because most of the current leaders of these groups have zero experience from a child's perspective. As I've said many times before: You cannot lead someone on a path you yourself have not traveled.

One point which I think needs clarification in the general community, especially regarding this topic: A family practice, a religion, is not the same thing as being part of a mystery tradition. Wicca is a mystery tradition (at least it was until people started substituting the word "Wiccan" for "Witch"). They are different paths and the two don't often intersect neatly. 


Thoughts? Please share!


Monday, October 15, 2012

Octoberfest!

I turned around at it was October!

NYC Pagan Pride, Italian Heritage Day, preparing for Hallow's Eve.... I've been sharing links on the facebook page left and right, just little things that I can put up in a moment. My current readings has been a book by someone I'm so glad to have met at NYC PPD, Reverend Mother Battakes Catherine Platine, of the Maetreum of Cybele. I'm currently reading her book, Cybeline Revival. I'm about halfway through. One of the many quotes which has resonated: "Restoring a mostly lost religious tradition requires a lot of scholarly research if it is to be done correctly and there is the trap of mimicking the past rather than doing the actual work of restoration..."


I'll leave off tonight with a quick how to for the Galliambic meter, the Cybelline Rhythm:


Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Highs and Lows of Ecstasy

This year's Nemoralia celebration was a fun one. It was a wonderful group of women (it wasn't exclusively female on purpose, it just happened that way), and all were open to working a ritual in a way that was mostly extempore.

Most of the attendees were not used to being without a cheat sheet, so I wrote an outline and printed it. I rarely do the paper-in-ritual thing, but I was honestly inspired to write it down this time. No one brought paper into the ritual and everyone was comfortable enough at that point to roll with whatever came up next.

This is one of the few times I do trance work with an open group of people. Last year's lesson of being sucked into a vortex onto the altar gave me the impetus to better understand how to slip gracefully into that energy, rather than get sucked into it. Then again, I didn't have a reliable person standing watch last year. This year there were more safeguards in place.

Before we continue, here are a few definitions for reference and clarity. These are not the sum total of their meanings, just what we're working with in this post:

• High magic: Ceremonial. Planned, Precision, specificity.
Jumping UP from the ground to get as high into the air as you can.

• Low magic: Folk. Sympathetic. Spontaneous, From the heart/extempore.
Jumping ON the ground to make an impact and send that into the earth as deep as possible.

• Ecstasy: A religious frenzy or trance-like state, involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence.

Note: I use High and Ceremonial interchangeably; I also use Low and Folk interchangeably.

A "low magic" example of ecstasy: When dancing the pizzica tarantata, we jump down onto the ground. We stomp. We pound the ground, we wail, we kick, we scream. The dance of the spider is on the ground, flailing and vocalizing. It is messy, it is loud, it is driven by the forces around you in a prepared space and has given their implicit permission to be "taken" by virtue of their participation, including the musicians. Often the drummers, singers and fiddlers are called into the dance. I've seen those who are protected by the music they play, I've seen those who are drawn in by the music which is being played through them. I have attended conjure dances and rites of other traditions which are incredibly similar.

I've found it to be like small tornados of energy swirling in the space: They float above, they move within the space, they touchdown, and the same force can take more than one person at a time. You can either stay out of it's way, feel the winds generated, be swept up by it, or step into it on purpose. That is why spinning is such an effective way to get there. Spinning takes you out of your every day headspace- it's freeing and it's disorienting in a way that allows you to be oriented otherwise.

An example of the "high magic" path to ecstasy (just one example, your mileage may vary): Person studies the deity they intend to contain/host in advance. They cleanse, energetically align, and otherwise prepare themselves as a host. They go through a quiet, serene process, much like hypnosis, or directly using hypnosis techniques, and embrace, or are embraced by, the deity they have invoked. It is a neat, clean, and quiet process, one meant to be replicated easily, almost scientifically, and on demand.

Is one way better than another? Each has advantages and disadvantages. They are, for the most part, just different paths to the same goal. Preference doesn't equal judgment. Do I personally prefer one way more than the other? I prefer the folk way- I like it loud and messy. However, I'm open to learning all methods and have investigated the differences out of curiosity. Once I found out there was another way, I wanted to learn that way too. Created a new technique? Show me! Deciphered an ancient way from an untranslated text? I'm in! I find it sad that some people choose to cut themselves off from new learning because they think it would diminish what they already know instead of add to it.

One big difference I've noticed is that in the Folk style, one can go into, out of, and back into this state again all within the same event. A person can be taken more than once by the same or different energies. In the ceremonial style trances I've witnessed, once the person is out of trance, they're out for the duration. I have not witnessed someone who genuinely got back into a ceremonial style trance once they were out. I have, however, seen them fake it, using dungeons and dragons references. It's ok to say deity departed; It's not a reflection on the practitioner.

In the many different Folk ways I've experienced, the space is prepared and Deities, Spirits, Ancestors, beings appropriate to whatever the intention of the group/purpose of the ritual, are invited into the space. However, this invocation isn't just with chanting, or names or simple gestures, it is with fierce joy- with the modern/mundane definition of ecstasy. You open yourself physically, vocally, as well as spiritually. In this way, those who haven't been "trained" are also able to participate in the experience, from the newest practitioner to the most experienced one, while those who have training and experience help to set up and to guard the participants.

Is that the real difference? That the folk way doesn't require the same kind of training and preparation to participate? There is a level of equality amongst all who participate which is missing from the ceremonial version. There is "preparation" necessary in both styles: In the Ceremonial version, the preparation is of a single vessel (usually experienced, occasionally not and those who are experienced do the guiding/drawing down), while in the Folk version, it is a preparation of the space wherein anyone might be a vessel, despite their level of previous experience.

I have, and many others I know have, unfortunately, been witness to people who lord this skill over others, who have the temerity to demean and deny the experiences of others; Unless the person had the same kind of, or as much training as they had, the person's experience was dismissed as invalid or merely imagined or hallucinated; As if the notion that others can experience the same thing without the same kind of training diminishes how "special" the skill is and diminishes the accomplishment of those who have been taught one way to do it. These kind of people forget:

A Rising Tide Lifts ALL Boats.

Everyone can get something out of this kind of ritual wether or not they are swept up into it, or feel the winds, or the person next to them is the one to host those who have been called. The only concern participants should have is enjoying the energy of the community, the cooperative effort, the spiritual experience of ecstasy. No one should ever have to worry about being judged. Unfortunately, too many do  (judge others or worry about being judged). This only impedes the work and hurts the community- when people close themselves off with anxiety over how they will appear to others, they aren't free enough to let go and receive.

To be clear: Most of the ceremonial-oriented magicians I have encountered aren't jealous of the talents of others, and are so secure in their own skills that they don't need to be the "best" one in the room, the most experienced, the most well read. They are happy for -and happy to help- those who are experiencing things they don't yet understand but are on the path to discovering. I admire and respect those people and pity the ones who have to surround themselves with others who are not as accomplished so they can feel good about themselves. It is the rare bad apple I am speaking of which ruins it for so many.

There is nothing in the work which makes one person better than another or establishes one's spiritual dominion over another, even between student and teacher. It is a cooperative effort, when we choose to cooperate. There are those who have opened more doors, experienced more, or read more books, but it is not something to be lorded over others; It is something to share. It is a responsibility and a privilege to be such a resource. Too many people forget that. Too many are not satisfied with being called by the gods, they want to be called by man, too. Too many people want a title to puff themselves up.

I haven't had a rant in a while. It didn't start out that way, but it went there. So to bring it back around again I'll share a few key quotes from a post written by someone I admire. It's currently on the front page of Witchvox, and a reminder to us all. Even when we reach for the spiritual, for direct communion with our deities, or ancestors or other beings, it is to better understand our humanity:

Shared humanity is the most important part of this work.
I am a midwife of the Sacred...

But what is the sacred? Is it just a beautiful moonlit night, dancing with my brothers and sisters with our feet bare to the earth as we revel in the rhythms of nature?

A midwife of the Sacred. That is what I strive to be and the kind of people I seek to surround myself with.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Once in...


I've seen a lot of chatter regarding blue moons this week, about how they are especially magical or powerful and grand opportunities for... something.... change, power, etc. Are they? Even most mundane folks know what a blue moon is: two full moons in one calendar month.

Here is where we return to a favorite old theme on the blog: Calendar.

I've ranted, at various lengths, about how the ancient calendar functioned. Well, those were more about how it was dysfunctional and the various attempts to correct it. The pertinent points:

• The calendar used to be lunar.
• Lunar timing does not line up perfectly with solar timing, as in the earth returning to the same spot in relation to the orbit around the sun.
• The solar calendar was adopted, resulting in the occasional occurrence of two full moons in one solar month.

Some don't think this is a big deal, just an imperfect alignment of timing. There can be a blue moon in one part of the world, but not another- depends on the time zone and the international date line.


Some view a blue moon as a big deal, some don't. I personally have gone back and forth. It's a man-made occurrence, but so are many things we celebrate, like New Year's Eve. The energy we give to this not-so-rare occurrence is what makes the difference, just as with New Year's Eve. The energetic ante has been upped, so we might as well use the current of energy!

No matter how you view the significance of a blue moon, I hope you get out there and actually view it!


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Bwahaha!

Sometimes you just have to laugh. Today, I was surfing around cracked.com (it's a guilty pleasure!) and came upon this little gem. No, I'm not going to launch into a lecture about the origins of each of these saints or their symbolism.

6 Saints With Superpowers Straight from the Marvel Universe 

If your only knowledge of Christian saints is that certain holidays and cities are named after them, hang on to your asses. Some of these guys went down in history because they supposedly could fly, slay dragons and function without heads.


Here are the saints who were only an adamantium skeleton away from joining the X-Men.


I'm off to gigglesnort my way through the rest of cracked.com

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Communing

I have noticed an increase in solitary practitioners. I am referring to people who are solitary by choice, not because there are no other practitioners around them or they haven't picked the right group yet. Have you made a foray into "community" only to walk away again? What did you think of it?

It was so much easier when it was just a family thing. I have come to appreciate Star Foster's work and am reposting her commentary on the state of the pagan community.

I want to know when Paganism is going to grow up. Because it’s really tempting to check out for a few years and come back when it’s reached maturity. There are days, and not just today, when it feels like Paganism is plagued by waves of stupidity and high school politics.

I responded there in the comments:
I think the community is growing up, we're just in Jr. High right now, with occasional the foray into Lord of the Flies territory.
There are too many people who need to be "right" and don't listen to each other. There are too many people who act as if a disagreement is a personal affront (but that seems rampant in our country at the moment and not exclusive to Pagans). There are too many who don't understand that a rising tide lifts ALL boats. They also don't understand that to purposefully sink one ship hurts the entire fleet.

Does "community" distract from the work? In ancient Italia it was the rituals of home (your business, your deities) and of the state. Ours is (supposed to be) a secular nation. Our public rituals are The 4th of July and Memorial Day and Labor Day and President's Day. Back then? You get together, get stuff done, and go back to your daily life and household gods. The Nemoralia? The Eleusinian Mysteries? Not about "community," about getting the work done.

Maybe if more people were actually working instead of playing politics we would be much better off. Maybe we'd just have better skilled bad apples.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Buon Abbondanza!

Tonight we gave thanks for our blessings, for the first harvest, for the beautiful full moon, and shared bread and wine with our Goddess, God, Patrons and Ancestors. Whatever your flavor of this turn of the wheel, I hope you have had a wonderful celebration!


Bellissima dea Diana, 
la Regina delle Streghe,  
Madre di magia, 
seguo il vostro treno,
Ballo nella tua luce, 
mi rallegro nello
stupore della notte. 
I cani alle calcagna, 
Le fate al vostro fianco, 
abbiamo cavalcare
I venti verso l'albero,
per vedere,
dove non abbiamo da nascondere. 
Sorelle e fratelli, danza con me, 
si incontrano nella tondo l'albero

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Justification by Conflation


 I posed the following request on the Facebook group:


We celebrate Diana's feast on the ides of August (13 - 15). There is evidence in the historical record of this observance- the festival of Diana Nemorensis. I've seen others celebrate this date as Hecate's feast. Why? We celebrate Hecate's feast in November. With no sarcasm intended, will someone please refer me to evidence in the historical record of the ides of August being celebrated as Hecate's feast? I would like to have actual references. Thanks!

I also sent the request to a friend who is celebrating a feast of Hekate on the ides of August, and his response was a Sorita d'este video on the justification for the idea of celebrating Hekate on that date.

In this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVGjZwSgP5Q)  she talks almost exclusively about the Italian Nemoralia and says that since Diana, Artemis and Hekate had similar attributes she assumes that one may also honor Hekate on this date. This video is justification by conflation. Sorita assumes that because Hekate and Diana share attributes that it's ok to call it a festival of Hekate when it's actually a festival of Diana. But then she goes on to say that each deity is distinct... So how can this be justified?

You don't call on the Maiden at a festival of the Crone. You don't call the Mother at the festival of the Maiden. We call Diana, Hecate and Proserpine, but not interchangeably- each has different aspects and a different function. Each has their own festival and their own place in the cycle of the year. In my Nemoralia celebration a token is given to Hekate and to Proserpine, but the focus is on Diana. Just as at the feast of Hekate, Proserpine and Diana are given tokens and at the feast of Proserpine, Diana and Hekate are recognized. Again, the focus stays where it should be.

Conflation and assumption that Italic practices are all Greek in origin are two of my biggest pet-peeves. The Nemoralia is a pre-Roman Italic festival, not a Greek festival. It is tied to the location. It's not like every lake in Italy or Greece was circled by women who left offerings. It's a festival of place. The only reason the date was later adopted at Rome was political- Aricia was a competitor politically and financially.

Sorita also assumes that the torches are the main aspect of the festival and that because Hecate is depicted with torches that this is justification for her to be celebrated as well. The torches were not the focus of this festival, the torches were the means by which people left the city and went to the lake at night. The offerings were mostly votive or perishable in nature. There is no evidence that anything was floated on the lake until Nero put a ship on it. 

If there is historical evidence of Hekate being celebrated on this date, I'd be glad to know it. So far, I have seen no evidence that this was ever an historical practice- not in the Chaldean Oracles, or even the Hellenic recon calendars. The closest is the _monthly_ honoring or kourotrophos on the 16th, which was done every month, not just in August. 

This video really struck a nerve with me. It's rare enough to have a pre-Roman Italic feast make it past Roman syncretism and Greek syncretism, but again as this is a Festival specific to a place, it is not Greek in origin or Roman in origin. And here comes someone who ignores all but one aspect of Hekate, ignores her historical times of worship, has said Hekate is all the Goddess you need, and then proceeds to interject Her where She never was in the first place.

I am more than willing to say "I'm wrong, thanks for the info." I love new info, especially when it broadens my understanding, not only when it matches my currently held beliefs. I don't think people believe that others are capable of this. I'm a Libra who loves debate, who loves to learn. If you have facts, please present them!


The best source of fact based information I have seen about this feast is Roman Religion and the Cult of Diana at Aricia. I've talked about it on the blog before. It's expensive, but google books has a nice preview of it.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Practical Magic

Good evening, Loyal Horde. For those of you who have seen and enjoyed the movie, Practical Magic, I have found this opening soundtrack by Alan Silvestri with a very nice poem attached to it on You Tube. The poem is entitled "The Witch's Moon" by Ms. Julie Carol. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I did.

With Magick Comes Wisdom.
By The Old Ways,
Dusio

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Ancient Discoveries

On the Feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, the Grain Mother, news of an archaeological discovery has hit the news:

In Sicily, a Temple of Demeter was found, along with artifacts from the temple! They found fragments of vases depicting offerings to Demeter and a flute made of bone. I'm very excited about the flute. I'm also excited that this particular search was led by someone from New York University. Aside from the university being my alma mater, they have a wonderful archaeology school and have presentations and lectures and curated shows. Here are some of their past offerings. Check out the programs at your local college or university- you might be surprised by what they offer to the public.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Italian American Women You May Know.

Greetings Loyal Horde! Today's blog is a tribute to many successful Italian American women who made their way into history. Usually I am all about the Godfather, Goodfellas, Donnie Brascoe, and all those really cool Mob guys. But today I'm taking a look at the female side of Italian Americans.

Maria Francesca Cabrini was born July 15, 1850 in San Angelo, Italy. Mother Francis Cabrini was the first Italian American saint, she founded 14 American colleges, 98 schools, 28 orphanages, 8 hospitals, 3 training schools, and numbers of other institutions with the help of over 4,000 sisters she recruited for the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart, a group she also founded. Mother Cabrini immigrated to the United States in 1889 and became a US citizen in 1909. She died in 1917 and was canonized in 1949.

The woman who inspired the image of WW2 icon "Rosie the Riveter" was Rosie Bonavita of Long Island, New York.

One of the earliest women to star in politics was Ella T Grasso of Connecticut. She was the 1st woman ever elected governor. Born in 1919 the same year as my mother, she was elected to the US House of Representatives in 1970. Mrs.Grasso was also the 1st Italian-American woman elected to congress. She served until 1975 when she was elected to Governor of Connecticut.

Bolder yet in Italian American women in politics comes Geraldine Ann Ferraro, the 1st woman to run for Vice President of the United States. In 1984 Mrs. Ferraro ran on the presidential ticket with Walter Mondale, but lost to Ronald Regan. Ms. Ferraro was born in Newburgh, New York on August 26,1935. She skipped 3 grades, finished high school at 16, and won a college scholarship. She then taught 2nd grade in the New York public schools for 5 years. During that time, she also put herself through Fordham Law School at night. She served in Congress, representing the 9th Congressional District in Queens, New York, from 1979 to 1985.

In the Hollywood celebrity world Sophia Loren is considered to be the most famous Italian actress of all time.Though she is not American by citizenship, her many years of living in Hollywood and working in American films gives her the honorary status. Miss Loren was born Sofia Villani Scicolone on Sept. 20, 1934. She grew up during World War 2 in Pozzuoli, a town near Naples. By the mid 50s she had become a star in Hollywood movies. Co-starred along side Frank Sinatra. In 1960, her acclaimed performance in "Two Women" earned her a multitude of awards and, along with the Cannes, Venezia and Berlin festivals' best performance prizes, she was the first actor to win a major category Academy Award (Best Actress) for a non-English language performance.

In the early 1900s, Angela Bambace, and 18-year-old Italian American woman who worked in a shirtwaist factory in New York, organized the International Ladies' Garment Workers Union (ILGWU) in New York and Maryland. She was elected Vice President of the ILGWU in 1956, becoming the 1st woman to penetrate the all-male leadership of the ILGWU. She retired in 1972.

In a profession still dominated by men, actress Penny Marshall (Carol Penny Masciarelli) made the tough and remarkable transition from star of a hit TV series "Laverne & Shirley," to one of the few successful women directors in Hollywood. Her 2nd film "Big" in 1988 made her the 1st woman director in American history to direct a film that earned $100 million. Her other films include "Jumping Jack Flash," Awakenings," and "A League of Their Own."

One of the all time great singers, songwriter, actress, dancer, and entrepreneurs, Madonna was born in Bay City, Michigan on August 16, 1958. Her birth name is Madonna Louise Ciccione. She has sold more then 300 million records world wide and is recognized as the world's top-selling female recording artist of all time by Guinness World Records. Considered to be one of the "25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century" by Time Magazine for being an influential figure in contemporary music. Madonna also placed at number one on VH1s "100 Greatest Women in Music". She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 10, 2008, her first year of eligibility.

American songwriter and singer Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, most famously known as Lady Gaga,  was born in New York City on March 28th, 1986. She was raised in the Upper East Side of Manhattan and started attending NYU's Tisch School of The Arts by the time she was 17. In early 2009, Gaga won the Grammy for Best Dance Recording for her 2nd hit song, "Poker Face", off of her first album The Fame, which won the Grammy for Best Dance/Electronica Album.  In 2010, Gaga won 8 out of the 13 nominations she received at The MTV Video Music Awards, including Video of The Year for "Bad Romance". Among her many acts as a philanthropist, her biggest achievement to date is starting the Born This Way Foundation, an organization that's main focus is on teen empowerment and issues.

A Big Shout out to all of my Italian American sisters. May you all find success in whatever you desire to dream! Proud to be an Italian American.

Blessings,
Dusio



   

Our Lady...

This weekend marks the feast of  Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. Why should a Witch care? Why should a Pagan care? Why have I gotten funny looks when I've told people I'm celebrating this feast? I mean besides the fact that thousands show up on Giglio Sunday.

This very popular feast is yet another example of the Old Ways continuing uninterrupted, tho not unchanged. Here is the link to last year's musings.

Our Lady. You might call Her Mary, I might call Her Ceres, others, Demeter. The fact remains that the Mother of Grain, sewer, harvester, and protector of the crop, is celebrated at this time of year. We often hear of Demeter in relation to Her daughter and the Mystery of death and rebirth. This celebration, while related, has a different focus, an earthly one. No food? No life. Beyond that basic fact, This Goddess is the Mother of civilization. Until humans learned/figured out/were taught to farm (by Demeter as per the Eleusinian Mysteries), they were nomads, moving from place to place to follow the food source. With the advent of grain cultivation, cities sprung up. Whether or not that was a good thing is up for debate, but if if hadn't happened I wouldn't have typed this and you wouldn't be reading it. This weekend we are celebrating the start of civilization.

This feast ties in with the concept of family Patrons. There are as many versions of Mary as there are Goddesses: Our Lady of; Perpetual Help, Mount Carmel, Lourdes, Victory, Good Help, Peace, Miracles, Sorrows, Mercy, Angels, Snows, Mountains, Roses, Elms, Consolation, and Our Lady of the Lake, just to name a few.

Depending on where a family is from and/or the family business, that would be the patron. In pre-christian days, that would be a deity: Farming? Ceres (and pre-Roman Mars), Wine making? Dionysus. These patrons changed guises as the dominant religions changed, but in the wine making areas of Italy, you will still find Carnevale celebrated with all of the pomp and circumstance of Pagan times. In farming communities you will find them still doing the dance of the Lily, aka the Giglio.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Medea Musings

I find it interesting that Theseus is also involved in the story of Medea... That's two powerful women who were "taken away" or "married" and betrayed- Ariadne by Theseus and Medea by Jason. Medea later weds the father of Theseus and has a son by him. Long thought dead and Medea's son heir to Athens, Theseus returns. Medea tries to poison him but is thwarted and flees with her son. This is one of many versions of the tale. Still... interesting how Theseus appears in a similar tale. What does this say about him?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

I'm Your Venus!



Good Evening Loyal Horde. Just a very quick and light post tonight. I was on my way to work today and this song popped up on my radio. It stayed with me all day so I decided to now put it in the heads of all of you eighties fans. It goes like this...

Goddess on the mountain top
Burning like a silver flame
The summit of beauty and love
and Venus was her name

She's got it
Yeah, baby, She's got it
I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire
Well, I'm you're Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire

Her weapons were her crystal eyes
Making every man mad
Black as the dark night she was
Got what no-one else had
Wa!

She's got it
Yeah, baby, she's got it
I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire
Well, I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire

Goddess on the mountain top
Burning like a silver flame
The summit of beauty and love
And Venus was her name

She's got it
Yeah, baby, she's got it
I'm your Venus, I'm your fire
At your desire

Enjoy All!

Dusio

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Midsummer quickie

A few thoughts before I head to bed this Midsummer night, pardon this stream of consciousness. I fully intend to return to this theme and explore it further:

According to legend: Theseus willingly goes to Crete as a sacrifice so he may kill the minotaur. Ariadne helps him. He promises to marry her. The pair leave together on his ship. She somehow, through abandonment, trickery or otherwise, winds up on the island of Dia, aka Naxos, bereft of Theseus and weds Dionysus.

Then Theseus goes after the Amazons, and when Hyppolyta turns down his proposal, he goes to war with the Amazons and kidnaps her.

The timing is interesting. That would place the Ariadne episode some time in Spring, I would say. I've been searching for information on the timing of the sacrifice to the minotaur. All I have found is that it happened at "regular intervals."

The mythology points to deeper themes:
The cult of Dionysos and the cult of Ariadne combining
The son of the sea bringing Ariadne ashore on the island of Dia (Goddess!)
Theseus "wooing" the leader of a warrior woman tribe,  Here is a quote from an interesting article on the play:

A Midsummer Night’s Dream opens with a public conversation between Theseus—the mythic leader of Athens and creator of democracy—and his bride Hippolyta—an Amazonian princess.  Theseus is moaning about the amount of time he has to wait until Hippolyta is his wife, and his terms are a bit intimate, particularly with the focus on the way the moon is “linger[ing] [his] desires.”  Hippolyta’s terms are no less fraught with meaning, but she uses the moon in another way.  “Like to a silver bow/New-bent in heaven,” the moon will be watching over their “solemnities” (1.1.19-21).  The moon and archery are both domains of Diana, the virgin goddess.  Funny that a bride would suggest she is being watched by Diana so close to her wedding.  Perhaps she is suggesting that she is watching the clock run out on her virginity; maybe she is hinting at a changing phase in her life.  Significantly, the mention of a bow recalls Hippolyta’s recent past as a warrior and a notable skill in archery.


Something to think about this Midsummer Eve!

Lovers, to bed; 'tis almost fairy time.



Sunday, June 17, 2012

Italian Pastry

So I was in my local Italian pastry shop today looking to get some cannolis for father's day and low and behold I find this bag of Alberti Maglia Allo Strega candies at the cash register. I ask the woman behind the counter what they are all about. She couldn't really explain them so she gives me a sample. I open the package to find three witches flying around the top of the package. Inside there is a delicate extra fine shell of milk chocolate enclosing a fresh and succulent cream. The flavor is the result of selected specialties like Liquor Strega. The producer of the famous Liquor Strega (Witches Liquor) is Alberti for 150 years. These milk chocolate truffles filled with a creme flavored  Strega Liquor are excellent in my humble opinion. Each bag contains 12 Pieces of Magie allo Strega. My cost at this specific Italian bakery was $9.99. Certainly a must have while keeping company with other Italian Streghe.

Just a quick note,
Blessings all around ,
Dusio

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Feast of Saint Anthony


Saint Anthony, come down!
Something has to be found!


The Patron Saint of lost things, seafarers, defender and devotee of the Queen of Heaven.

He was called "the hammer of heretics" for his apparent ability to convert people to catholicism with only his words. I find it interesting that many of his words concerned Mary, Mother of God, Theotokos, Queen of Heaven, The Morning Star. I will go as far as to say his devotion to Mary and his preaching on her behalf, enabled the transition of those who held a Goddess-centered, or Goddess-equal belief and practice beforehand to the new religion of the day. 

Here is an excerpt from a site on Marian devotion:
From the outset his life was markedly Marian, being born in Lisbon on the feast of the Assumption, August 15th, 1195 A. D., and baptized in the Church of St. Mary in Lisbon. At the age of 15 he completed his studies at the Cathedral School of St. Mary. Appropriately his earthly life, ever pure and humble, was brought to a close in a similar Marian tone, for when death drew nigh he longed to be taken to the St. Mary, Mother of God Friary in Padua. After receiving Extreme Unction he intoned his favorite hymn, "O gloriosa Domina..." (O glorious Lady).
In 431 A. D. the Catholic Church at the Council of Ephesus proclaimed that since Jesus Christ is the second Person of the most Holy Trinity, that is, a divine Person, Mary can rightly be called "Mother of God" (Theotokos). St. Anthony maintains that as Jesus was "designated Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness..." (Rm. 1:4), so Mary "is designated as Mother of God in power according to the spirit of holiness." For him Mary was designated, predestined from all eternity, to receive this singular grace.



Notice he was born on the date celebrated as the Assumption, the Feast of Diana in Italy, the Feast of Hekate in Greece... The ides of August were celebrated in honor of the Queen of Heaven long before the advent of Christianity. Theotokos is the title of Diana. Recognize the name Ephesus? That's because the famous Sanctuary and statue of Diana were there. Giving Mary the title held by Diana in the city of Her sanctuary wasn't a random happenstance.

Here is the full hymn mentioned in the first quoted paragraph (it's often broken into two). I love this one, and I think many of you would happily sing along with me (at least most of it!) since it's full of more Pagan imagery than many of the ditties we sing around the fire at the drum circle these days:


The God whom earth, and sea, and sky
adore, and laud, and magnify,
who o'er their threefold fabric reigns,
the Virgin's spotless womb contains.

The God whose will by moon, and sun,
and all things in due course is done,
is borne upon a Maiden's breast,
by fullest heavenly grace possessed.

How blest that Mother, in whose shrine
the great Artificer Divine,
whose hand contains the earth and sky,
vouchsafed, as in His ark, to lie. 

Blest, in the message Gabriel brought;
blest, by the work the Spirit wrought;
from whom the great Desire of earth
took human flesh and human birth.

All honor, laud, and glory be,
o Jesu Virgin-born, to Thee,
whom with the Father we adore,
and Holy Ghost for evermore. Amen.

O Heaven's glorious mistress,
enthron'd above the starry sky!
thou feedest with thy sacred breast
thy own Creator, Lord most high.

What man had lost in hapless Eve,
thy sacred womb to man restores,
thou to the wretched here beneath
hast open'd Heaven's eternal doors.

Hail, O refulgent Hall of light!
Hail Gate august of Heaven's high King!
through thee redeem'd to endless life,
thy praise let all the nations sing.

To the Father and the Spirit
and to thy Son all glory be,
who with a wonderous garment
of graces encircled thee. Amen. 

A typical offering to Saint Anthony, especially when he comes through for you, is to donate bread to the hungry- your weight, or the weight of the blessed person in wheat. You can also donate the equivalent money to a charity dedicated to feeding the hungry.


Saint Anthony, Patrono della mia famiglia, patron of seafarers, of the lost, of those in need, devoted to the Queen of Heaven, please accept my offer of thanks for all you have done for us. Grazie!

Next time we'll talk about his "miracle of the fishes" and more about why workers of magic and the ways,  by whatever title they use, can and do work with Saints.



Monday, June 11, 2012

Animal Medicine.

Good evening all. Tonight's thoughts are on the healing power of mind, body, and spirit through the lessons of the animal kingdom and their messages on how to heal to anyone astute enough to observe their lessons. When you call upon the power of an animal, you are asking to be drawn into complete harmony with the strength of that animals essence. They are part of the pathway to power. The power lies in the wisdom of one's role in the Great Mystery, and in honoring every living thing as a teacher. This is part of the initiation process of Animal Medicine, and brings great power to the healer.
Every year on my birthday I draw a card to see who will be working with me for the upcoming year. Yesterday I pulled the Jaguar.

Sacred Jaguar teach me
To wear my power lightly,
To walk with impeccability,
To approach life with compassion,
And to live up to the integrity of my human potential.

If Jaguar is roaming your dream/reality today, it's primal roar may be rewarding you for remaining your integrity in some situation where you could have easily misused your authority. You may have been unwilling to pass judgement on another, or to be self serving. Were you especially kind to someone or do a good deed that was unexpected? If so, allow the recognition to fill you with feelings of well-being and continue to serve with compassion and and openhearted integrity. Do not falter in your resolve to be your personal best at all times. Maintain your dignity, devotion, and compassion, holding to forthrightness and honesty, no matter what the contrary influences. Do not feed any self-important need to be an "enlightened one," treating others in a self-righteous manner. Jaguar medicine teaches you that personal integrity allows for mistakes, embraces forgiveness, and humbly makes self-directed corrections, allowing a rebalanced spirit to triumph once again.
May you all come to know your animal totems.

Many Blessings,
Dusio  

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Elementals.

Greetings all, tonight's topic is contacting the elemental beings. These would be the four elements of creation. Earth - Gnomes; Air - Sylphs; Fire - Salamanders; and Water - Nymphs or Undines.

First you must believe in Elementals. Your belief strengthens and gives them energy.

Be happy and enthusiastic, they are not attracted to depressed sad humans.

Go to places in nature as often as possible. Walk along a seashore, forests, lie in a meadow, listen to birds, or sit by a brook.

Appreciate the beauty in nature, when you do this, elementals will be attracted to you.

Connect with nature by growing flowers, planting trees, and feeding birds.

With gratitude and love send energy to elementals who watch over water and mountains to keep them healthy.

Take time to stop and smell the roses, free yourself from planning and constantly organizing.

Create a space in your house to clear your head and just let magick happen.

To contact an elemental who wants to work with you, sit in a quiet natural place, close your eyes and call this elemental to you. Watch what kind of elemental comes. Ask it what it's name is and what it's gift is. Listen to this elemental on an on going basis, and your relationship will become stronger.

I have journeyed to the underworld and was totally amazed with watching and working with the gnomes. It was during dream time but I will never forget this vivid journey. All you have to do is just believe.

Many Blessings,
Dusio

Monday, June 4, 2012

Speaking of Oils...

Good Evening All. Last night the night of the June full moon, we got together for a little working. We have come up with our own special blend of oil for our dear friends and compatriots. Of course it's contents are of the secretive nature but none the less very powerful. We are not looking to sell this formula, but to share it with those who work with us, both near and far. We will be hosting open workshops, classes and circles in NYC, NJ and CT. We certainly are not looking for quantity, but much prefer quality practitioners who have a serious interest in the Old Ways.

With that said, I would like to share some of the more public formulas of oils created in honor of Italian deities:

Aradia:

2 drops Vervain
2 drops Violet
2 drops Lavender
2 drops Pine
1 drop Yarrow
1 drop Frankincense
1 drop Myrrh

Umbrea:

2 drops Heather
2 drops Cinnamon
2 drops Clove
3 drops Cedarwood

Losna:
Drops each

Sandlewood
Yarrow
Violet
Honeysuckle
Frankincense
Dragons Blood

Befana:

2 drops Holly Berry
2 drops Pine
2 drops Ginger
1 drop Bay
1 drop Myrrh

Manea:

2 drops Musk
2 drops Ginger
2 drops Palmarosa
1 drop Pine

Diana:

5 drops Jasmine
3 drops Sandlewood
2 drops Myrrh
1 drop Pine
1 Flower

May these formulas help any of you in your magickal journey.
By the Old Ways,
Dusio



Sunday, June 3, 2012

Wild and free

She beckons
I abide
I feel her drawing up the tide
Pulling me into Her silver light

I call
She comes
I don't expect the creature's run
Fear fills my chest on this shadow'd night

I dance
She smiles
Her brilliant beam negates the miles
I twist and turn and dance with all my might

She blesses
I am thankful
Union with her daring faithful
I claim once more my divine birthright



Tonight I was drawn outside of my house by the gorgeous moonlight. I had no intention of going out there, but when the light caught my eye, I had to go. I walked out into the full light, away from my back door. I took a moment to connect, to ask for Her presence. Something skittered onto my property from behind me and walked past. My heart proverbially jumped into my throat. I'm a city girl! And that's not usually how She makes Her presence known to me. I still don't know what that was. It wasn't a cat or a rabbit or a raccoon or a skunk. Maybe it was one of those. Maybe it was something else entirely, maybe it was something from another plane. Doesn't matter, it had the intended effect.

We communed about fear, about what it meant to worship outside in The Wild. She is the Goddess of The Wild. You must be Wild to follow Her (or at least have access to that wild part of your nature). This is why Her worship wasn't as widespread in Rome as other Goddesses, ie: Minerva. Diana is The Wild. To run with Her, you must be too. She is controlled chaos. She is random order. The same way Jazz is ordered, but random, the same way drummers fall into rhythm together while playing wildly different patterns.

I couldn't take out my tamburello and play tonight. However! I danced. I danced the fear into excitement. I walked back into my house ecstatic (well, nearly lol), ready to run, and better understanding what that means. I also found more insight into the wild natures of Pan, Dionysos and Hermes and their connection with the Goddess of The Wild.


Buona Caccia di Diana!













Friday, May 25, 2012

The Feast of Latona and Her Twins

It is the Feast of Latona and Her Twins!
Who are Her twins? Diana and Apollo!
Here is a little something I composed as an offering for Latona, Diana and Apollo.

Have a wonderful Feast and to the Loyal Horde in the USA:
Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend!


Latona of the Golden Spindle,
Mother of the Twins Divine,
On this eve of your Delian feast
I ask you bless both me and mine.
Protect us when we are assailed,
Give us land where we may pause
Turn those who thwart us into frogs
And reveal their inhospitable cause.
Latona, Great Goddess eternal
Of Polus and Phoebe, Hidden One;
We praise, we honor, we adore thee,
And thank the Mother of Moon and Sun.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Old European Love Potion

On a Friday, the day of Venus, obtain some hair from the man or woman desired without him or her being aware of the fact you have taken it. Keep this hair very well hidden until the next Friday. At sunrise that Friday morning write his or her name and your own on parchment paper using some blood drawn from the third finger of your left hand instead of ink. This will make the potion all the more powerful. After the writing is finished, take the parchment paper and place the hair together with it. Burn the two together into a pile of ashes. Next take some of the ashes and place them into the man or woman's food or drink. Once he or she has ate or drank this potion, he or she will fall head over heels for you. I have never tried this one myself, so unfortunately  no guarantee's.  

Of course there are always easier routes such as oils. Strega Oil can be made with 50% Gold base oil, equal parts of Vetavert, Juniper, Lavender, and Honey. This is only used by women. A great producer of passion that helps to attract both love and success.

I personally like this Venus oil. If dressing a candle I would use Pink, Red, or Green. Jasmine (4) Rose (1) Ylang Ylang (3) Civit (drops) Ambergris (1) This is an alluring magnet used to draw love toward you. Makes a person irresistible to the opposite sex. To further strengthen the fragrances of the oils used, they may be put on your skin or in your bath.

Many Blessings,
Dusio

Friday, May 4, 2012

Roman Augury

In ancient Etrusca and Rome an auger was a religious official who used birds for divination and to interpret omens. Plutarch states that the augur was originally called auspex and is the act of looking at birds. An Augur's main job was to interpret the divine will by reading signs of nature and predict the future. An Auger was of great importance in ancient Rome due to the fact their sole purpose was to determine the Gods/Goddess will approved of the military or political acts that the the king was attempting to instill. An Augur also used his abilities to seek out sacred areas, known as "templas".

King Romulus was also considered to be one of the greatest augurs of his time. The elder augers elected new members and once elected, it was a lifetime commitment. In ancient Rome the king alone possessed the right to auspice "one who looks at birds" on behalf of Rome by acting as its chief augur. No public business could be performed without the will of the Gods made known through auspices. The people of Rome revered their king with a religious awe since he was the mediator between themselves and the Gods.

An augur would perform his ceremonies by reading flight and behavioral patterns of birds in the sky. Depending on the patterns of the birds, the augurs would relate whether the omens from the Gods were favorable or unfavorable. Nature is and will always be the teacher.

By the Old Ways,
Dusio

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

New Reading List!


I just noticed I haven't really addressed what I've been reading, or plan to read, this year and we're almost halfway through Spring!

Let's correct this oversight!


On the Society of Diana facebook page I asked for opinions on When the Drummers were Women by Layne Redmond. I've read reviews about how it's heavy on the matriarchy vs patriarchy and less focused on the thread of women (as priestesses?) drumming/communing with The Goddess. However, I won't judge this book by its cover and will give it a go. I'm going to get it from the library. If I fall in love with it, I'll put it on my list of books to add to my Beauty and the Beast style library.

I am skeptical. I used books.google.com to do a word search to see if "tarantella" was in the book and it was not. Hrmmm... We shall see!

Care to read along? You can go to worldcat and enter the title and your zipcode and it will show you a list of libraries near you which have it. You can also probably request an inter library loan through your local library.

Speaking of lists, let's get to it!

Last year I read the Aeneid. This year's epic? The Argonautica! I'll be starting that officially in June for anyone who wants to play along at home.

Where were we? Ah.. on the list so far:

When the Drummers were Women, Layne Redmond

The Argonautica, translation by Douglass E Killings

Sumerian hymns from cuneiform texts in the British Museum by Frederick Augustus Vanderburgh

Tubelo's Green Fire by Shani Oates is one I've been meaning to read for a while! I wonder if the e-book is out yet?


What are you reading now? Have you read any of the books on the list? Have any comments or recommendations?


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Recent Articles

Thanks to friends and to the meme nature of the internet, I've come across a few articles this week which discuss Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Sumerian religions and cultures. The articles show the influences of each on the other, but this confluence, this trade, or fluidity or syncretization isn't the subject of the articles.


This one isn't a news article or even new, it's an entry on the Goddess Tnt, or Tanit.
"The details of Tanit’s nature and powers are not really clear. Like Astarte, she had a complex personality. First and foremost, she was the mother deity of Carthage, protector of the city and provider of fertility. As such she seems to have been a deity of good fortune. Goddess of the heavens, she was often associated with the moon. Like Asherah, she had maritime connections and was a patron of sailors. There is also some indication that she had a warlike nature, as we would expect of the protector of a city."

Johanna Stuckey, the author of the above entry, has an interesting body of work on Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Goddesses.


I posted this one on the Facebook group; It's about Cleopatra's children- what happened to them after her death? Her daughter married and became a queen and had children, including Drusilla, of whom little is known. I wonder what happened to the line? I wonder how many will start claiming descent from Cleopatra, especially when the movie hits theatres. Some have remarked at the blending of Egyptian, Roman and Greek religions and symbolism in Cleopatra's time, but let's remember that she was Greek!


Romeland theme park? Relive ancient times near the city itself...




Female Gladiators? Folks thought this statue was of a woman grooming herself. Turns out she was a victorious gladiator. Mmmm the smell of sexism in the morning...

If you're in the UK, you can Meet the Romans in this new TV special.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Shelter from the Storm

Star Foster just posted this article and it's definitely worth the read...

In Paganism a crisis of faith is an alien concept. Paganism is often seen as therapy, as self-help, and as a way to feel better about yourself. To question the pan-Pagan orthodoxy (and there is one whether you choose to recognize it or not) is not acceptable, and likely lead to people suggesting you leave Paganism for a path better suited to you. What is fascinating is that same element that suggests you leave is often the same element that loudly insists you belong when you try to distance yourself from mainstream Paganism.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

RAAAAAWR!!!!!!!!!!

The righteous anger of the protester!
The determination of the athlete!
The drive of the flowers and trees bursting forth from the ground!
The artistry of the tango!

That's a quick list of the "positive" uses of such energy. Mars is the passion to make something happen. It's the essence of our drive. It's the will to manifest. What is magic but the application of will?

Mars goes direct on Friday, April 13th. He has been retrograde since Nov 2012. Do you feel like you've gotten much done this year, or have you been reassessing, prioritizing and taking a look at where you are and what you want? I'm in the latter group. Don't get too excited about Friday; mars might be going direct, but we'll be retreading this ground in Virgo again until June 19th.

So wtf does this mean? I kinda like how the Cafe Astrology folks lay it out:

When Mars is in its retrograde cycle, we are forced to re-assess our current projects, our approach to getting what we want, and our desire nature. Rather than directly asserting our desires, we tend towards introspection. While Mars in direct motion is direct, straightforward, assertive, and aggressive, with Mars in retrograde motion, Mars energy is essentially turned inward--it's internalized, intensified, personalized, and perhaps pressurized. We can be hesitant about taking action, second-guessing our instincts or our natural impulses rather than acting upon them. The way we react to situations under normal conditions doesn't necessarily work for us now, or we don't exactly trust it.
When anger is internalized, there can be some rather negative byproducts, such as tension, resentment, depression, apathy, and even some paranoia. On the other hand, it can also be personalized and made more intimate. The goal of a Mars retrograde period is not, however, to simply sit on our impulses or to squelch our enthusiasm. Rather, it's to better understand our impulses, our survival instincts, our anger, our sexuality, our inner courage, and the ways we go about getting what we want from life. The cosmos are asking us to look before we leap rather than throw ourselves into action, just for the time being.

Yeah that. They go into more of an explanation about how this is expressed in Virgo, the sign in which He's currently retrograding.

On our facebook page I talked about writing a post on how to harness this energy for good instead of "rawr." I suppose I should define "rawr:" It's that moment where rage or drive/desire takes over and you can't fucking think. And that's another thing... if you "see red" or get "red in the face" or go "red with rage," then WHY was the Incredible Hulk GREEN?!??! I call bullshit! I digress!

You can't meditate this shit away. Maybe you can, but I sure can't, neither can anyone else I know (tho I'm sure with practice the advice of the Buddha can be followed for visualizing anger as a person running, slowing sleeping). I don't think this is a meditative, contemplative time. It's the time for dancing, for rough sex, for primal scream therapy, for a mosh pit! But this doesn't "harness" the energy, it spends or transmutes it. I think that's the best we can do. We can ride this wave like a pro surfer with some foresight, intuition and practice.

Keep an eye on your natal chart and the transits and feel where the energy is taking you. For fucks sake, don't keep it all in- anger turned inward is depression, so they say. Find something to be angry about- there's plenty out there wrong in the world, go work on fixing some of it: protest, write letters, organize fundraisers- further your cause! Just understand that this is a short term burst of energy, not the slow burn of the long haul.

Now... who wants to come dancing with me? I think a fierce tarantella is in order!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The number 3 in Roman Mythology



The three rulers:

In Roman myth three brothers Jupiter, Neptune and Pluto were each rulers of their worlds. Jupiter was ruler of the sky. Neptune was ruler of the sea. Pluto was ruler of the underworld.

The three graces were followers of  the Goddess Venus. The three Graces gave beauty to the world. Every attractive human being could thank the three Graces for the gift of beauty. They chose the humans who would receive the gift of physical beauty.

The ancient Romans believed that the first seven vowels were invented by the three Fates. The first was known as "The Spinner". She spun the life web of the humans. Her name was Nona. The second was known as "The Apportioner". She decided how long each human was to live. Her name was Decima. The third was known as "The Inevitable". She cut the life when it was time for someone to die. Her name was Morta.

The three Furies were goddesses of revenge. They were greatly feared as they showed no mercy. They were particularly upset with anyone who killed a family member.

The entrance of a home was also protected by three different Gods. They had the power to keep evil demons from entering the house. The three Gods were Forculus-god of doors, Cardea-goddess of door handles and hinges, and Limentinus-god of thresholds.

Lastly there is the Goddess Hecate/Trivia. Three faced statues of Hecate were often found in forks of the road looking in three directions. She was the protector of witches, sorcerers and wizards. She was accompanied by ghostly and scary dogs. She was also associated with the three phases of the moon.

So there you have it. The number 3 is also significant to us Streghe.

Many Blessings,
Dusio

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Talisman of Mercury


Mercury was considered to be the third of the seven fabled planets of the ancients. The influence of Mercury is said to enliven the brain, the nervous system and breathing.

This talisman consists of the third and fourth pentacles of Mercury which are said to:

Invoke all spirits subject to Mercury.
Acquire understanding and knowledge of all things.
Aid in finding and penetrating hidden treasures.
Give a fine memory, skill in writing, artistic and scientific ability.
Enhance psychic communication.
Convey personal magnetism.
Help gain the impossible.
Bring success in business.
Make one eloquent.
Open all doors to secret knowledge.
Cause all wishes to be granted.
Inspire writers and remove writer's block.
The one talisman for writer's, poets or artists.

The priests, rabbis, and mystics of the ancient world believed that the "planets" had immense powers over the emotions, character, and physical attributes of mankind as well as the spirit world.

The Ancients knew of seven "planets": the Sun, the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. They believed that these magical symbols channeled the powers of the planets and then commanded the spirits of each planet to obey.

Sorry I haven't posted for so long. I had some serious health issues to work on.

By the Old Ways,
Dusio

Friday, March 16, 2012

The wearin' of the.... RED!!!

How did I neglect to post about The Liberalia last year! :-o I suppose, like everyone else, my vision was clouded by the Irish celebration and the implications of a "saint" feast substituting for an older Pagan celebration. Point is: Everyone was gettin' drunk at this time of year!

What's the Liberalia? Just after the Ides of March (a whole other post) was the celebration of Pater Liber and Liberia. It was a state festival AND a personal feast AND considered a rustic festival as well, or a farmer's holy day of obligation. Liber and Liberalia are protectors of the seed, which has just been planted.

On the personal or family level, this is the Italian Bar Mitzvah! When Boys became Men (Girls became Women at menarche)! Boys would take the talisman they'd wear for protection from The Eye (the bulla) along with their boyhood clothes- the toga praetexta, and burn them in offering to The Lare. The boys would get their "Toga Virilis" and be officially welcomed into the company of men. No wonder there was so much drinking! I bet they'd drink the newly minted men under the table. No doubt there was also the visit to the sacred prostitutes and an "initiation into the art of love." Nice way of saying they got the new men drunk and lost their virginity. Stories are told about how Mothers would keep the son's bulla and not let it burn so their son would be protected through their life.

With all the talk of seed protection and drunkenness, it's hard to not think of Ceres, Proserpine and Bacchus. It was hard for the ancients too: There was a temple dedicated to this triad with Liber and Liberia being likened to/syncretized/identified with Bacchus and Proserpine.

This celebration had its high class elements and its low class elements. Liber and Libera were deities of freedom and therefore of slaves. Their fest was a way of letting off steam. Quoth the holy wiki"

Liber's festivals are timed to the springtime awakening and renewal of fertility in the agricultural cycle. In Rome, his annual Liberalia public festival was held on March 17. A portable shrine was carried through Rome's neighbourhoods (vici); Liber's aged, ivy-crowned priestesses offered honey cakes for sale, and offered sacrifice on behalf of those who bought them – the discovery of honey was credited to Liber-Bacchus. Embedded within Liberalia, more or less at a ritualistic level, were the various freedoms and rights attached to Roman ideas of virility as a divine and natural force.[2] Young men celebrated their coming of age; they cut off and dedicated their first beards to their household Lares and if citizens, wore their first toga virilis, the "manly" toga – which Ovid, perhaps by way of poetic etymology, calls a toga libera (Liber's toga or "toga of freedom"). These new citizens registered their citizenship at the forum and were then free to vote, to leave their father's domus (household), choose a marriage partner and, thanks to Liber's endowment of virility, father their own children.

Liber is credited with the invention of honey, which ties into the Bacchic and Dionysian lore. There was a LOT of overlap, including Liber being credited with protecting the grape. However, even in ancient days, Liber and Bacchus were seen as very distinct entities. In fact, Bacchinals were outlawed. Likely because of their Siclian/Southern Italian origins and the repression of the lower classes by the 1% (the more things change, huh?)

The same way celtic based wicca eclipses every tradition out there (it's been called the loud neon light of paganism), I'm tired of every Irish holiday eclipsing the Italian ones. I remember the stories about how the Irish immigrants lived on one side of the street and the Italian immigrants on the other side and there was constant fighting. Literal fisticuffs. Kids getting jumped on the way to/from school It was Jets n Sharks time and the cops didn't care because who cares when the rabble fight amongst themselves?

Italians wear Red on this festival day for many reasons, not the least of which being to piss off their Irish neighbors! Red is, of course for Rome, protection against The Eye (which Pater Liber was- He was the horn which warded off evil! That's one reason why the phallus processed through the town). Red is also the different color in the Irish and Italian flags. Orange was worn, allegedly, by those protesting the church- the rebellious Irish. Red was worn by the Italians as an FU ;) (Also, St Joseph's day is March 19th and red is worn on his day too!). The Green/White/Red stripe flag of Italy wasn't adopted officially until after WW2 so it was likely an early start to the Italian feast of St. Joseph, but who knows- a lot of these clashes were happening in the 40s and 50s- The Irish showed up and settled, then waves of Italians came so the Irish were no longer low man on the ladder and picked on the Italians until new waves of immigrants arrived from other lands.

So when I wear red tomorrow, know that I'm flippin all of you the bird and taking back this drunken celebration of Spring for Italia! ;) And I'm still gonna make zeppoles on the 19th! Ha!

PS: Patrick was Roman :P Haha!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Dancin the night away

Actually, I've been dancing the week away!

Last Thursday I taught a Tarantella class at the Sacred Space conference in MD. After my class, I went to a trance-prophecy dance where Lakshmi was very present with me. On Friday, I went to a conjure dance and thankfully stopped myself before I was taken. On Saturday, I danced with Alessandra Belloni at her show in NYC. On Sunday I took a drum and dance class with her. On Monday I picked up my new castanets and spent a few hours breaking them in while dancing and teaching kiddo how to use them and the steps to the dance.

I'm taking today off from dancing!

Tomorrow I'll post the outline from the class along with a reading and reference list.

Here is a bit of what I've been doing with the castanets:

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Origin Peeve!

I'm always reading and researching ancient Italia and Sikelia, even when I'm not boning up for a class or a presentation. Lately, however, I've been turning my attention specifically toward Tarantella, the difference between southern/Sicilian and northern styles, and it's origins, before the cult of Dionysos.

So many sources which discuss Tarantella in Italy claim that because Italy was part of Magna Graecia, the Greeks must have brought this practice, as well as their pantheon and any and all magic to Italy. 

BULLSHIT!

I'm not denying influence and exchange and cross-over, but this is like saying the Pilgrims brought corn to the Americas and taught the Native Americans how to cultivate and use it! Eventually, the religion of the colonists was adopted, but it doesn't mean the folk practices were ever forgotten or discontinued.

Colonists are as changed by the Natives as the Natives are by the colonists. In this case, the Sikels and Sicels and Elmyans were already there when the Greeks showed up. Enna was already a site of Mother/Daughter Goddess worship way before the Greeks ever set foot on Her shores. So why aren't the ancient Sicilians given credit for doing the influencing?

It's lazy research and lazy writing to assume that because two groups touched, the group we know more about are the ones who did the influencing instead of the ones who were influenced. The Greeks are still around (tho it's lazy to assume there's one homogeneous group) while the Etruscans are not. Actually, it would be a better comparison to say the Etruscans were absorbed into larger Roman, and later, Italian culture while the Spartans were absorbed into the larger Athenean and later Greek culture. We don't know which traditions specifically came from where.

The Romans had a few of their own rites and customs but they learned from the Etruscans and the Sabines. This is documented by the ancient writers (judge the veracity as you will). No one is claiming the Greeks came along and taught the Etruscans how to consecrate a city or the art of Augury.

So why are we talking about the Greeks inventing Tarantella? Sacred dance existed before Athens, before Attica. Sacred dance was used by the Sicilians, the Egyptians, the Babylonians the Israelites and the Sumerians too. Every group has their sacred movement. Again, Native Americans had their sacred movement and no one is saying that the Pilgrims taught them how to do it.

I think my head of steam has run its course. As always, I love to hear the opinions of others and get new insight and perspectives.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Carnevale Morto!

Sorry I missed posting for Carnevale last week, but I was actually off celebrating it!

One branch of my Family is from Montemarano, where Carnevale still lives, or in this case, where it also dies. When "lent" comes around and Catholics are pledging to do without, those in Montemarano keep to the old ways. The Sunday after Ash Wednesday (which we've already discussed as an ancient pre-christian ritual), we find the people of Montemarano still partying! Drinking! Obscenities! Drinking! Tawdry jokes! Drinking! Commedia! Drinking! Dancing! Drinking!

The effigy of the King of Carnevale is given a funeral. Men dressed as butchers read the King's Last will and testament where different parts, such as the brain, the heart, the guts, etc, are given to different people in the community. There's local and political satire involved as well. This isn't a kids show ;)



The effigy is processed through the streets in a coffin (with his huge phallus sticking up high above the box). Following the coffin are men in drag playing the parts of the King's wife, mother, sisters, mother in-law, aunts, and so on. They comically mourn, weep, lament and wail (with lots of profanity thrown in). There are two versions, one for the kids, one for the adults.

The effigy is set on fire, symbolizing the sacrificed King returning to the land. Everyone then eats, drinks and parties! And dances!



Oh, the dancing! Lead by Pulcinella, we follow the King, through ecstatic dancing, on his journey down into the underworld and back up again.

So what's been happening since the last big festival?

Saturnalia, dark of winter, Parentalia, Carnevale, Ash Wednesday, then... March!

The ashes not only remind us of mortality, they also connect us to the earth which is about to be worked. Mars, for whom March was named, is a God of Fertility, a son born of Virgin Goddess, Hera. The period known as "lent" is when we're cleaning up the land from the Winter and preparing for the planting season. Mars will soon be petitioned by his priests, the Salii via dance after the seed has been sewn. Before that, however, we have the old season which must be cleared up and extinguished. As we begin to work the thawing land, we have the Winter King descend, to later rise up as the Solar King in the plant to be sacrificed when reaped and consumed, then reborn again... and so on.

That's what we do today. Farewell, Carnevale! Time to get to work!