Akin to a Fine Wine

So after a, regretfully, much needed swift kick in the arse, and getting all EMO (I detest EMO,)  I had an interesting conversation with my spouse, reflecting on our big camping outing.  This little group is not made up of speed racers.  I feel the need to preface.  We are not a bring-in-as many-as-we-can-and-let-the-Goddess-sort-them-out kind of crew.  It may work for some, but us… not so much… I don’t seem to understand how clergy can be trained lickity split.  Yeah yeah, every one is different, and it isn’t a race, but seriously.  From dedicant to third in anything less than 3 years seems insane.  Another notch on one’s belt, sound good, is exciting and fun, but like a quick mead, all that fuzzy and bubbles and sweet covers up little more than shallow purposeless alcohol.  To truly develop a well grounded, fully rounded, strong, confident, leader takes time.

You can do it faster BUNK!  I channel a dear friend and raise my little fist of defiance and extend my middle finger.  Insert choice words here….  ok now that that little rant is out of the way…

Let me tell you how we do do it here.  Much like a fine single malt Scotch, or small-batch, aged red wine, we take our time.  Sometimes we take a little long developing certain flavors and need a sound shake… but I digress.  There is so much more than just getting through material that happens here.  We are a training group.  We read, we study, we let information ferment, and develop the subtle flavor that only thought, experience, reflection and application can provide.   Could we plow through material at lightening speed? Sure!  We are everyday folks with everyday busy lives.  We could give material a cursory skim, dot the i’s and cross t’s to finish assignments, regurgitate what was presented in a test and hurry on to the next unit.  However, just as quickly as the lesson is finished, the information is lost and replaced with the next bit.  (inner teacher preachin’ here)  To truly gain a meaningful experience from the lesson it must be experienced.  I am not talking about whipping up a crafty bit to make a perfunctory shrine, speak some words over it, make up some bunk about “oooh that just did it for me” and go.  I am talking about, doing research and meditation to determine what that shrine should look like.  Taking the time to get in the brain-space to focus the intent as it is created.  Truly evoking the intent, emotion, etc necessary to invoke the Divine and give them their rightful Hail and Welcome.  The latter will forever hold a much more rich and deeper meaning than the former ever would.

Now there is definitely a balance.  You shouldn’t rush through something just to say you have done it; however, one cannot just wait for the right time and head-space to come about.  We have to make time.  The seeds must be planted.  They must mature and be harvested.  They must be put through the press and and given the right blend of spice to develop the perfect flavor.  The casks must be watched so that the mix does not sour, and the bottles must be aged so that they reach their full potential.  Each wine has its own subtlety and is celebrated for its individuality.  Each member has been given the information, time, mentorship, friendship and love to fully develop into a BF HP/s and is a shining example of what our craft is really about.  We develop our gifts to our fullest potential and honor the Divine.  We are Sphinx!!

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Clan Camp Impressions

So this year was my first “big” clan camp event.  I got 1* my first year at clamp, a smaller affair with a few of our Ohio cousins, and we’ve had Sphinx-centric clamps since.  Until this year, that is.  This year, all that changed.  All the clans, all the covens, five years apart, all together, all at once.

Never have I been amidst so many fantastic caring folks, around so much genuine love and mutual respect, and never have I felt so very much at home, within the larger Clan, of whom I’d only heard about and never even seen in a photo.  Those who’ve been before have said that the winds have changed, and that there has been a lot of healing and renewal, and the road is clear for growth and kinship.  It certainly feels that way to me.  I met and connected online with many names with which I now have faces to match, and formed some hopefully enduring acquaintances and friendships.  Only time will tell, of course, but I hope to keep in touch and renew the bonds in 2 or 4 years, at the next big’un.

I had a great chat with a great clan co-head from up north.  We talked about how we’d gotten to where we are in the Clan and in life, the gods, the kids, the weather, the fire,  all that.  I shared a couple of uncertainties and lines of self-questioning I wrestle with, and was delightedly surprised to learn that, even though his path has taken a much different route than mine has, he has wrestled with many of the same issues, come out the other side, and his advice was maddeningly simple and spot-on: Talk to your facilitator or clan head, and talk to the gods.   The thing most witches need to remember is after you talk, be silent and listen.

That’s the message I’m taking from my First Big Clan Camp.  Talk, laugh, yell, rant, chant, shout, ask, sing, cry… but then be silent and listen.  The best answers often come in soft voices at quiet times.  So mote it be.

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It’s a Jungle in Here

Fine time, now that we’ve all reserved names, but here’s a list sitting on my desk of critters that are not taken – I wonder why:

  • Kestrel
  • Turkey
  • Armadillo
  • Bobcat
  • Cat
  • Elepant
  • Elk
  • Lynx
  • Moose
  • Opossum (there is a Possum)
  • Panther
  • Snake
  • Alligator
  • Crocs (coven of the plastic footwear)
  • Chameleon
  • Lizard
  • Ophidean
  • Ocelot
  • Ray
  • Shark
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Thank you Priestess, may I have another?

So, surprise pop ‘skills assessment’ time today! “Bring the pain”, as an agenda topic, indeed!

Probably just what some of us needed, and continue to need, though so my gratitude as always. I’m sure I’m not the only one who works best under pressure, and there’s no better pressure than that applied with love, and a stiff-toed boot. And deadlines! Who doesn’t work to deadlines, even when it hurts? – which is why they call them DEAD-lines, right?

Passion, bringing the pain, healing, proper setting of expectation, and still time to rejoice in each others company. A good day in the Magick Kingdom, I think!  And please thank our Host-with-the-Most for the chocolate confectionery mayhem; great with coffee!

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Coven Corporate Culture

I had the opportunity the other night to attend an event locally where one of the founders of GitHub, Chris Wanstrath was speaking. He spoke mostly on the amazing wonder that is git (which has nothing to do with the theme of this blog, except that it is nearly magical).

When he was asked about entrepreneurship and making money, he said something that really stuck with me. He said that every time they (he and the other founders) chased after money, it blew up in their faces, but when they made something awesome that they loved and enjoyed creating, the money followed. And even when the money wasn’t amazing, they were happy, so it was a win-win.

This is good advice for many areas of life: follow your passions, and do really awesome stuff, and your needs will be met. Focus on the destination instead of the journey, and who knows what bitterness will happen!

He also talked about the growth of the company. Doing what they were passionate about created growth, not *trying* to grow. He said that he wouldn’t mind being the head of a company with thousands of employees if he did it well, and everyone was still doing great, passionate work.

This sounds a lot like where I come down on the growth of my magical family. I am not opposed to growth, by any means, but I don’t feel comfortable with expansion for the sake of expansion. My concern is to follow my heart, to do what I feel passionate about, and to surround myself with wonderful people who feel similar. Growth may follow, but that is a side effect of creating a positive energy that connects all those involved.

Keeping this purity and positive culture is a challenge. Chris mentioned that as they grow they have to be sure that they can fire people; it’s imperative to maintaining the culture. It’s much the same in a magical clan, therefore there is much testing before someone becomes a member of the Sphinx. Not only knowledge and ability, but also personality compatibility, energy balance fit, etc. This ensures that the “culture” of the clan is always as positive and beneficial as possible!

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Cookie

I often post to forums of various types when I have something to share, and find them endlessly helpful when it comes to debugging some bit of code (day job!) But it’s a rare thing for me to become involved in a forum about magic, especially on spell-slingin’, “wicca is what you want” type sites.

Our national clan head recently relaunched her website with the help of some of our magical cousins, so I thought I’d check it out. And I got drawn into the conversation and posted a couple of items there. I thought I’d share them here for discussion as well.

In a thread on cookie magic:

I saw this thread and had a pipe up. My husband swears I nabbed him with my “Damn Magic Cookies”.

The situation: I had recently begun a new job where I had been told I would find someone who would be very special to me for a very long time, if not for a lifetime or more. About 2 months in, I can see that there is definitely potential for this with SEVERAL individuals, but the place is also a bit of a meat market, so I want to sort out the “real feelings” people from the “just wanna getsum” folks.

I baked two batches of sugar cookies, using appropriate* herbs (in small amounts), colored frostings and cut-out symbolism and imbuing them with the following intents: 1) Intensify *existing* feelings and 2) create a great desire to communicate emotions. I put the tin of cookies out in the break room the next day. Most people took 2-3 and it was certainly an interesting day at work! A great deal of “clearing the air” got done that day.

One young man, however, ate nearly two dozen of the bite-sized cookies. Then he asked me to lunch. And spilled his handbag.

It’s eleven years later and we’ve been together pretty much ever since.

Notes of caution with this one:
1) I did a dangerous thing, leaving them cookies out in public. I think I was prepared to take any blowback. This is part of being a witch: you break it you bought it. Go fix it.
2) The feelings had to already be there. My intent was simply to figure out who was for real and who was pure hormones. Another thing you learn about magic pretty quickly: *intent* is not the same as *how it will play out*. The Universe takes the path of least resistance, and that path is often ineffable.
3) This was NOT a love spell. It intensifies ANY feelings and creates communication about them. This can be a very good thing. It can also lead to hurt feelings, breakups, job losses, etc. Fortunately only my husband has enough of a sweet tooth that he got the mega dose.

You could use a formula like this for almost any intent. See “Like Water for Chocolate”…beautiful book/film and very instructive on magical cookery.

*Do the research and search yourself. Often the appropriate item is what *feels* right. Don’t be a lazy witch.

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Refreshed & Renewed

The Sphinx recently returned from a weekend of song, ritual and bonding with our extended Black Forest Clan Family. We aren’t all rugged camping types, but the time out in Mother Nature healed many rifts and reminded us of the strength and power of our family. As Clan Head, I came back with a renewed interest in reaching out to the community, and almost immediately transformed our website into this blog.

I hope that our musings and sharing here spark some interest in our Family and among the general Pagan community. We will all grow together in this way!

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