What we have in common

I dreamed that I was in an Anglican or Episcopalian Church in North America and had been invited by the vicar to introduce a hymn. She handed me the order of service which already had a hymn picked out, and it had been annotated to change “him” to “her”, so I introduced it and encouraged people to sing “her” where appropriate if they wanted to. One of the congregation said they didn’t really know the tune for that hymn. So then I suggested we sang Morning has broken and changed “him” to “her” in the second verse, and “God’s” to “Her” in the third verse. Then I woke up.

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Notable and quotable: coronavirus (1)

  • There have been some great posts on the coronavirus in the Pagan community.
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    Avoiding spiritual burn-out

    Ask Grace: What are the symptoms of spiritual burnout and how to avoid psychic burnout

    Spiritual burn-out is a real risk for spiritual leaders, counsellors, caregivers, healers and psychics. Grace, a psychic, gives advice on how to avoid it (and she should know because she has suffered from it). I have suffered from this myself (in 2011), and have found in the past that if I was getting nurtured by others, and receiving energy from the universe, it didn’t happen, whereas if you fail to do these things, you will get burn-out, and the symptoms can be quite nasty.

    She first identifies the symptoms of spiritual burn-out, and then identifies how to avoid it, or how to recover from it if you already have it.

    The symptoms of spiritual burnout or psychic burnout can include exhaustion, depression, dread before or after working, feelings of unbearable responsibility, feeling overwhelmed, crying for no reason, crying often, being overtired, insomnia, difficulty getting out of bed, restlessness, procrastination, avoidance, constant illness, problems with the heart, difficulty breathing, anxiety and panic attacks, extreme weight loss or weight gain, hair loss, irritability, and a desire to avoid people.

    Grace’s advice can be summed up in six key points:

    • Take a break and rest – Grace says “take a sabbatical from everyone and everything, and really nurture yourself physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually”.
    • Make sure your needs are met – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Breathe properly.
    • Draw your energy from the universe – don’t use up all your personal energy; make sure to be replenished from the source.
    • Charge for your services – either in money or in kind – Grace says “there always has to be an exchange of energy, which is what money is – it is the energy of worth and value given in exchange for the service received.”

    See my article on Pagans and money for a discussion of when charging for spiritual services is appropriate and when it’s not. Most Wiccans agree that it’s inappropriate to charge for training because you received your training for free, it’s a continuing relationship, and you get as much out of it as your coveners. But it’s okay to charge for services where you don’t receive energy in return, like Tarot readings.

    • Maintain strong boundaries – visualise yourself surrounded by white light; set aside a special room for your clients; set fixed working hours. If there’s an emergency, calm the client down first. Have a website which answers all the obvious questions about what you do.
    • Only work when you can give 100% – don’t deplete yourself by working when you are ill, distracted, etc.

    It’s well worth reading the whole article, which gives more examples and some excellent techniques and advice.

    If you think you are suffering spiritual burn-out, get help – don’t leave it until you are absolutely exhausted.

    (This article was originally published on UK Spirituality)


    Related articles

    Self care for activists

    Pagans and money

    If you enjoyed this post, you might enjoy my books, Dark Mirror: the inner work of witchcraft and The Night Journey: witchcraft as transformation.

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    Reblog: Where do your stones come from?

    Where do your stones come from?

    There is a deep irony in this. Pagan-y type folk often use stones and crystals to connect with the earth, to honour the spiritus mundi, the world-soul. Yet, frequently these stones themselves have been industrially yanked out of the earth without any consideration of the spirit of the place where they were mined, and often without any consideration of the humanity of the exploited workers toiling in hellish conditions.

    Read on at wrycrow.com

    Please read this very important post from Ryan Cronin, on sourcing your crystals ethically.

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    The Overton Window

    I’m finding the concept of the Overton Window increasingly useful right now, as various sociopolitical ideas gain or lose ground, and debates change and morph.

    The Overton window, also known as the window of discourse, describes the range of ideas tolerated in public discourse. The term is derived from its originator, Joseph P. Overton, a former vice president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, who, in his description of his window, claimed that an idea’s political viability depends mainly on whether it falls within the window, rather than on politicians’ individual preferences.

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    What are ethics based on?

    I often see Pagans, polytheists, and Christians talking about ethics and morality as if they were mandated by a deity, and as if that deity was the ultimate arbiter of what is good.

    I mention Christians because it’s all too easy to pretend that Pagans are so much cleverer than Christians — but only because we don’t yet have the Pagan equivalent of a “What would Jesus do?” bracelet (as far as I know).

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    Hex The System, Bind The Perpetrator

    Regarding the hexing of the perpetrator of the Stanford rape case. I am not sure why the Steubenville rape case didn’t provoke a similar response, but maybe it did and we just didn’t hear about it. I am saddened that many articles failed to report that the people doing the hexing also sent healing to the victim.

    My preferred method in such cases is to bind the person not to cause harm again, by placing a mirror around a poppet of them. If they cause harm it will rebound on them; if they do good, it will bless them. So the binding acts as a way of reinforcing good behaviour. I guess it is still a hex in some ways, but it is about limiting the harm that the person can cause.

    The rapist is a complete arsehole and so is his father, and they both need to realise the consequences of their behaviour and attitudes, but they are the end result of a system of white privilege and male privilege and rape culture and failing to teach kids what consent culture looks like. We need to start work on tearing down that system. Fine, so you have hexed a rapist. Are you working to help transform the culture that created his apparent lack of awareness that what he was doing was wrong?

    Others have pointed out that claiming that the Goddess, or the gods, endorse your actions is somewhat hubristic, and arrogates the vision and judgement of the gods to your own finite perspective.  Your actions, the consequences of your actions, and your views, are your responsibility.

    Erin Lund Johnson’s comment on Erick Dupree’s article is an excellent suggestion:

    I read the letter written by the rape victim. She was appalled at the light sentence, but even more so by her attacker’s continued defiance, even in the face of his guilty verdict. She mostly wished for him to “get it.” I would hex him with that–the burden of fully understanding what he’d done, and the impact he’d had, of experiencing her inner experience. That would enlighten him more than anything, and change his attitude and behavior. For those who haven’t read this letter yet, please do. Her voice, above all else in this, needs to be heard and honored.

    http://www.independent.co.uk/n…

    In this particular case, the moving testimony of the victim has shocked many people into thinking about what it is like to be raped, perhaps for the first time. Many of my male friends have said that they cried while reading her testimony. Thank you for your compassion, my friends. Personally, I have read too many such accounts to shed tears any more. I feel a huge and sickened void inside me, numb and paralysed. I suspect that my female friends have also read, or heard, too many such accounts already.

    The one bright spot in all of this is the two Swedish guys who stopped to help the victim and bring the perpetrator to justice. Their names are Carl-Fredrik Arndt and Peter Jonsson. It is very good to know that they were paying attention and that they intervened. It’s possible that they actually saved her life.

    If you don’t think that white privilege is involved in this case, read what happened to Brian Banks, who also had a promising sporting career, but is Black, so was sentenced to six years in prison – despite being innocent.

    If you think that “nice” people don’t commit rape and sexual assault, think again.

    photo by Sundaram Ramaswamy, CC-BY-SA

    The shadow. [photo by Sundaram Ramaswamy, CC-BY-SA]

    A system that still tries to blame a woman for being sexually assaulted is deeply flawed. That is rape culture, right there. The fact that a judge who went to the same university as the perpetrator can judge the case without it occurring to anyone that there is a conflict of interest there, and then give the rapist only six months in jail – words fail me. The fact that his “promising sporting career” was taken into account: ugh. He ruined his prospects: no-one else did that. A system that sends a Black guy to prison for six years, but sends a white guy to prison for six months: deeply flawed. A system that encourages young men to think they are entitled to sex, that’s it’s OK, or that it’s not rape, to put your penis or your fingers into an unconscious woman: deeply flawed. As Emlyn Pearce has pointed out, there is a culture of toxic masculinity that needs to be challenged:

    You can’t fix this situation, but you are young, and you can fix yourself. You NEED to fix yourself, Brock: those around you still seem to claim that your conviction has damaged you, but you were already damaged when you took a valuable, much-loved human being behind a trash can and raped her in the dirt. What you are seeing now is the consequences of your damage, not its cause.

    That is why we need to hex rape culture, and white privilege, and male entitlement. We need to bring about the realisation, once and for all, that rape and sexual assault are the end result of a failure to teach people about consent, a failure to create a culture of consent, and respect, and sovereignty. Sure, we need to make this rapist feel and understand the consequences of his actions – but we need to get all men to understand that women are not property.

    It’s not enough to hex a rapist. There are conversations to be had about how women are blamed for being raped while drunk, and men are excused for perpetrating rape while drunk. There are many difficult conversations to be had where we explore together what a consent culture looks like – because we are currently living in a rape culture, and we have to work out how to create a consent culture.

    The other day, I fended a man off who wanted to kiss me on the cheek and got snitty when I said no. Another man asked me for a hug (good that he asked). Then he asked my husband if that was OK. GRRR!!! A hug is not sexual, and it is up to me who I hug, not my husband. I am not his property.  This kind of incident happens too frequently for me to dismiss it as merely one person being an idiot. I see examples of male assumptions of entitlement being discussed very frequently on social media. That’s why I think rape culture is deeply ingrained, and we need to do some serious work to uproot it. And the same applies to deeply ingrained racism. It’s not enough to be not openly sexist and not openly racist: you actually have to actively work to uproot internalised misogyny, internalised homophobia, and internalised racism, as well as working to uproot systemic racism, systemic misogyny, and systemic homophobia and transphobia. Yes, it is hard work. Anything worthwhile is hard work.

    If a man assumes he is entitled to physical contact (sexual or otherwise) with a woman, do you challenge this assumption? If another man treats your partner as your property, do you challenge that behaviour? If you saw a woman (unconscious or otherwise) being raped, would you intervene? If you saw a woman in a hijab being vilified and attacked, would you intervene?

     

    You’ll Never Walk Alone

    I am not a football fan, personally, but I have always believed that the fans in the Hillsborough disaster were innocent.

    For those who are not familiar with what happened, on 15 April 1989, there was a huge crush at the football stadium where Liverpool fans had gathered to watch their team in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. Due to fears of football hooligans, the spectator areas were arranged in pens. In part because of the poor way that these had been constructed, and in part because of overcrowding, one of these pens collapsed and 96 people were killed.

    I will never forget the time I was at Paddington Station in London, trying to get back to Bristol, and there had been a football match. Barriers were set up all along the platform, and the fans (and me) were herded along the platform, and had to queue for ages to get on the train. They were apparently used to this sort of treatment and responded with good humoured banter to the whole thing. I had not experienced this corralling before, and found it extremely frustrating, claustrophobic, and potentially panic-inducing. I was only calmed down by the good-natured chat of the football fans.

    At the time of the Hillsborough disaster, police and politicians tried to pin the blame on the fans – but now, after the third judicial inquiry into what happened, it has been ruled that the fans were unlawfully killed.

    As Jeremy Corbyn said in his statement,

    Today, after 27 long years, the 96 victims of the Hillsborough tragedy – and their families – have finally received justice.

    The youngest victim was just 10, Jon-Paul Gilhooley, and the oldest was 67 years old, Gerard Bernard Patrick Baron. These were fans that went to a football match, as so many of us do, on the 15th April 1989, but never returned to their loved ones.

    I pay tribute to the families and friends of all the victims of the tragedy – as well as many others from the city of Liverpool – for the passionate and dignified campaign they have fought for almost three decades.

    Today they received total vindication for their fight for the truth and for justice.

    But what does all this tell us about the state of British society? In my opinion, it tells us that the ruling classes want to create a caricature of working class people as an unruly mob of workshy slobs who eat terrible food and behave badly at football matches. The authorities also made efforts to conceal the truth about what actually happened. The ruling classes fear the solidarity and organisation of the working classes, and have done their best to destroy it by undermining or destroying the power of the unions, and removing every social measure that creates an even playing-field for the less-well-off. Council houses were sold off, utilities privatised, and now they are trying to destroy the NHS. However, perhaps this victory for the Hillsborough families means that the tide is turning. I hope so.

    It also tells us that you don’t get justice without struggling for it, campaigning for it, and organising together in solidarity to get it. It tells us that the families of the victims of the Hillsborough disaster pulled together, through thick and thin, for 27 years to get their victory. As the Liverpool football anthem has it, “You’ll never walk alone”.

    By Linksfuss - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7337412

    Liverpool fans unfurl a banner displaying the names of the deceased on the twentieth anniversary of the disaster. Photo by LinksfussOwn work, CC BY-SA 3.0.

    I congratulate the Hillsborough families for their victory. Justice at last. The names of the victims are no longer besmirched – may they rest in peace. As The Hávamál puts it:

    Cattle die, kindred die,
    Every man is mortal:
    But the good name never dies
    Of one who has done well.

    That is why posthumous reputation is so important. Now that the Hillsborough victims’ good names are restored, perhaps they can rest a little easier.

    These victories (small or great) for social justice are won by real people getting together in solidarity, setting aside their differences, to campaign for truth and justice. Yes, we must change ourselves, but we can and will change the world by working together. We cannot sit idly by, arguing about how many gods can dance on the head of a pin, in the face of climate change and social injustice and environmental destruction. My theological musings tend to be of a mostly practical nature: how to put our values into practice, and how our theology underpins the struggle for social justice. I chose my values (of democracy, fairness, justice, equality for all, environmentalism) on the basis that all life is sacred. The gods I am in relationship with also seem to share these values – otherwise I wouldn’t be in relationship with them.