Category Archives: Priestessing

Protecting What’s Ours

After about 12 years of visioning and fundraising, the Open Hearth Foundation is opening a community center for pagans of all paths here in the District of Columbia. The center officially opens December 31, 2011, but Becoming has the honor of facilitating the cleansing, warding, and blessing of the center at its monthly circle of connection on Sunday, November 13.

I’m very excited to be conspiring collaborating with Frank Stormcatcher again. We met last night and made some plans for a working that would be powerful, meaningful, effective, and inclusive. The intent is to prepare and protect the physical space on a spiritual and psychic level for the future stability and growth of the community. If the physical community is a container for the good of the community, then our magic will wash that container, strengthen it, and then fill it with the blessings of the community and the Divine in its many forms and faces.

With that in mind, I want to invite those in the local community who desire the community center to succeed and flourish to join us in this work on Sunday, November 13, 12:15pm at the OHF community center, 1502 Massachusetts Ave, NE, Washington, DC. Circle will begin promptly at 12:30pm with potluck lunch to follow.

Photograph of Frank Stormcatcher at the Jefferson Memorial Samhain Drumming by Eric Eldritch, 2011

Tarot Blessing

One of my spiritual groups, Becoming, is undergoing a time of transitions. I am stepping down as the Presiding Celebrant after eight and a half years of service, and handing the responsibility over to my dear spirit sister Ketzirah and her vision. We have also been struggling with the continual search for a permanent home and the ongoing dance of delegation and decentralization through a new leadership framework. We have also lost some long-term, dearly loved members over the last couple years, while gaining a few new ones. It has been bumpy, but we each have faith that we will move through it and out the other side stronger.

With the upcoming transition of Celebrants on my mind, I offered a working experiment at our monthly Circle of Connection yesterday. It was an experiment that was quite elegant in my head, but I wanted to see how it would play out. The Becoming folks are nothing if not adventurous when it comes to such experiments. Some of our members are familiar with tarot; others not so much. We used the Gaian Tarot (the fan-girl edition as I call it) because they are nature based (like our group) and work well with people who are unfamiliar with tradition tarot meanings but willing to be open to the images.

Our intent was to use the cards as a way to ask and listen for a blessing from the Heart of the Universe, the core energy of Becoming, and our individual Divine Sparks.

I shuffled the cards and explained the steps in the working. Each person in the circle drew a card and held it face down until all cards were drawn. We then looked at our cards to examine the visual image. What drew the eye? What colors, shapes, animals, plants, people were present? What were they doing? How did the card feel?

We then closed our eyes and recreated the image of the card around ourselves. What did we notice now? What sounds, tastes, textures, smells? What was hooked our attention? What were people, plants, animals doing or saying? Where were we in the scene?

Opening our eyes and looking at the card again, we noticed what was absent in our imagination that was present in the card. And what was absent in the card but present in our imagination? What message was the card telling us? What blessings was the card giving us?

I asked everyone to use the phrase “May we…” to begin the blessing from their card. I said a short intro to the prayer and then we went around the circle, showing our card, and giving the blessing.  Here’s what came up for Becoming this day.

We call to the Heart of the Universe, the core of Becoming, and the divine spark within each of us to give us a blessing.

[Canoe] May we have the vision to see our destination clearly and the discipline and strength to get there.

[Elder of Fire] May we honor the diverse paths and perspectives that we all bring to Becoming and that contribute to the spirit of Becoming.

[Explorer of Water] May we fearlessly meet the challenges and adventures along our path.

[Elder of Earth] May we continue to spin the threads of connection between us and other people, between us and Nature, between us and the Divine.

[Bindweed] May the ears of Becoming never be closed to the song.

[Ace of Air] May we receive the blessing of the root of the powers of air, the mediator of fire and water, the balance which cannot exist without both. As the butterfly’s life depends on the flowers, the flowers are sustained by the butterfly—so Becoming is blessed by its members and its members are blessed by Becoming.

[Child of Air] May we be filled with grace and peace. Although we have our own paths, may we remember that we all fly together.

[Ten of Fire] May we be able to burn away the things we no longer need so that new growth may arise in their place.

[Elder of Air] May we always hear the simple music in the melody of the wind. Even if the birthplace of Becoming is beyond the horizon, together we will always have a home.

[Four of Air]May we bring all the needed pieces together to create a home to nurture us in growth.

[Five of Air] May Becoming be blessed with leadership that inspires us to connect with one another and the outside world.

[Child of Water] May we be like children before the universe, willing to wade into it and explore it, willing to stand in it and experience it.

[Guardian of Earth] may we all be good stewards of the earth. May we have the serenity to recognize the small thing that helps us achieve that task. May we also recognize those whose loyalty we have engendered to help us along this path.

Heart of the Universe, hear our prayers.
Core of Becoming, hear our prayers.
Divine Spark with Us, hear our prayers.
Blessed be. So Mote It Be.

I noticed a few things about the cards we pulled. Five out of thirteen were Air, which is the element we started studying on Sunday for the next three months. We pulled three Elder cards and two Child cards. All our numbered cards speak to beginnings and transitions. And the two Major Arcana cards speak to freedom of movement and displine, and the lack thereof.

Once again, I am in awe of the inspiration and beauty that Becoming members find in themselves when we connect to that rich source of divinity in circle together.

Blessings be to the journeyer; blessings on the journey.

Self-evident Equality

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

The overturning of Proposition 8 and other legal successes to grant same-sex couples the same rights as different-sex couples are one more step toward the fulfillment of the grand promise and vision that our Ancestors/Founding Fathers and Mothers ascribed to.

I have been struggling with how to put into words how deeply I feel it when another state takes a stand for this equality. It hits my family in an intensely personal way. My father, who died 10 years ago, lived a life of shame and depression, which would have been ameliorated by the social acceptance heralded by legalizing same-sex marriage. Choices would have been available to him that were not.

When I look at same-sex couples getting married today, I see people who are pursuing their American dream of life, liberty, and happiness with the people they choose, the people who they are called to in the deepest level of the heart.

This can only strengthen our society, our connections with each other. Same-sex marriage makes for stronger families and happier people overall.

On Monday, I’m going to the District courthouse to register as a legal wedding officiant in DC. I could’ve done this 5 years ago, but the paperwork never seemed worth it. Now, I have two very good reasons — two same-sex couples have asked me to perform their ceremonies for them.  How could I say “no” when I am so honored and humbled to do such a service?

Getting Excited For Samhain


Saturday night bonfire, originally uploaded by heatherbirdtx.

In Becoming, it is known that Samhain is mine. It is my favorite holiday, the one that stirs my ritualist’s imagination.

When I create ritual, I usually start with the “feel” or atmosphere of the ritual, rather than a precisely worded intention. That comes as the ritual forms in my head. Usually a piece of the ritual will dance in my mind’s eye for a while before the intention and the whole ritual blooms from my subconscious.

I create ritual the way I create art, it seems.

This year, I was going to be “lazy” and use the ritual from last year with minimal changes. The ritual had other plans. A component from last year’s rite wanted a bigger role, wanted us to really dance and let loose more. A song suggested itself and wormed its way into my ear — over and over again.

When I bounced the idea off a Samhain co-conspirator, he loved it — much to my surprise!  I really thought he would give me a reality check. Instead, I got a free ticket to the land of “why not?” and “f**k yeah!”

But the overall plan wasn’t gelling. Or should I say, I wasn’t sitting still long enough to write out the narrative to give the other co-conspirators an insight into my thinking.

Yesterday, I did just that. Opened my laptop on the commuter train and just typed out what I saw, what was flowing up from my heart and into my imagination.

And now….NOW, I am excited for Samhain.  I can’t wait until we meet and start planning how we are going to do this and that! I am hopeful that my co-conspirators will be just as excited.

And with that, my Samhain season officially starts!

More on the Animating the Spirit of Democracy ritual

I just thought I would share some coverage of the ritual from the Monday before the inauguration.

Caroline Kenner, one of the main organizers, wrote a feature article of the whole process at Witches’ Voice with a few pictures.

Interfaith Voices, which airs locally on WAMU 88.5 on Sundays at 3:00pm, had a segment in their show featuring recordings from the ritual.  You can play the whole show from their web site.  Our segment starts about 43 minutes into the program.

The folks over at Magic TV recorded the whole 1 hour 20 minute ritual and interviews with the three organizers.

If you don’t want to watch the whole ritual, some highlights (with a personal bias) include:

Me giving the Water invocation (at 17:40)
Caroline Casey‘s invocation of the Compassionate Trickster (at 24:00)
Ketzirah Carly‘s blessing on the District of Columbia (at 42:00)
Katrina Messenger‘s message (at 57:40)

Last, but not least, the Associated Press picked up the Witches’ Broom Dance, which started off the ritual and many local stations around the country showed the video.  You can see it at the website of The Washington Post

Invoking compassion and heart into democracy

 

Angela, originally uploaded by Carly & Art.

On Monday, January 19, about 100 people attended a Ritual of Unity and Blessing to Animate the Spirit of Democracy at the Jefferson Memorial. I was honored to invoke the powers of Water to the occasion.

With a strong and open heart,
I call upon the power of the sacred living Waters
to be with us.

I call to the tears of the Goddess to wash through us
To cleanse and heal our nation’s wounds
To wash away all that stands in our way
All that keeps us from reaching out and fully connecting with each other.

I call to the spirits of the rivers that flow through this land
to bring abundance and joyful life
to all beings who live here, work here, and play here.
to keep the heart of our nation
flowing strong and clean and free.

I ask the spirits of the rain that nourishes our land
to bring compassionate awareness and action
to the heart of our nation.
Help our leaders to actually care about those they lead
Help each of us here at this ritual, attending the inauguration, or watching it on TV
to open our hearts more fully
to embody the sacredness, and love, and healing that
we all so desperately need.

I call on the power of the sacred living Waters
to be with us here and now in this sacred circle,
in this sacred city, for this sacred event.

Blessed be.

Ketzirah, my soon to be sister Celebrant, also delivered a truly moving blessing for the city.

Reflections on Samhain

Becoming’s Samhain ritual was Saturday evening. This year we did the biennial Journey to the Otherworld. Every time we do this ritual I learn new things about myself, my abilities, the people I work with, and what’s weighing in the hearts and minds of those who journey through.

This year, a core group began preparing for this ritual about six months in advance. We met at the Full Moons to begin connecting more closely with each other, allowing the spirit of the group show us how the ritual would shape up, and planning the logistics. This year was different for me as I opened the process of discovery up to others in the group and released control over every little detail. I had to trust in others more than I have previously — trust that the small, still “voice” would be there to guide me and the others, trust that others would open themselves to the process of discovery and connection, trust that I had the skills, experience, and talent to shepherd the process as a priestess, trust that I could step out of the way and allow the “voice” of Becoming to speak through me. At times, it was the most natural, wonderful feeling; at others, it was one of the most frightening things I have done.

Back in the early part of this year, I set my intent and did magic to call a temple for Becoming into existence. At the time, I was assuming a physical space and did not specify that in my working. What seemed like an oops! was really fortunate for how the Samhain ritual developed. I realized after the ritual team had been meeting for a few months that we were building a temple — an astral temple and the core energy to guide and focus the work of the larger group of Becoming. It is this temple that we manifested before the public arrived and through which the journeyers moved.

For the ritual, our Steward and I embodied this central core energy of Becoming, our part within the web of life and light, a connection and channel to the Heart of the Universe, envisioned for this ritual as the Oracle. I’m not sure where on the spectrum between light trance and full aspecting we were, probably somewhere along drawing down, where you step out of the way, allow the energy to envelop you, and inspire your speech. I can’t speak for the other, but I was never completely aware or unaware, but I felt our individual energies combine into one flow up our spines and chakras. I also felt that it was not me speaking — I was a channel for the group mind or group heart of Becoming. I was so full of the love of the Heart of the Universe, which is how we tend to speak of the Divine (capital D in addition to individual’s relationship with specific gods and goddesses).

While I don’t remember specific questions or needs, I do remember the overall flavor of what journeyers were seeking that night. Mostly meaning and direction. What is the meaning of my life? Am I on the right path? What is my path? Should I take the path that calls to me? How can I be less afraid in my journey? How can I find certainty and peace?

Here is what I remember the Oracle saying: If you are breathing, you are certainly alive. If you are human, you will certainly die. If you are alive, then you can make choices and do something. If your feet are moving, then you are walking your path. Even if it is dark and scary, you are still walking your path. If you are not sure which way to go, stop and listen to your heart. Which option sings to you? Follow that. If you are looking for peace, take a deep breath. Find the moment of peace within that breath. Continue to breath with attention, and you will notice that moment stretching through time. Strength lies in your heart. Tears, family, joy, and fellow journeyers are precious and will support you. Keep breathing and know that you are alive and can act in this world.

Maybe it seems basic, but simple is not necessarily easy, or easy to remember when we get caught in the fears and pains of daily life. I don’t think there are hard and fast answers beyond these anyway. Holding hands, touching hearts, acting in truth and love, breathing together.

And of course, if you want a bit of absurdity about the whole “meaning of life” question, there’s always Mr. Deity.

Becoming Samhain Journey

If you are around the DC area….

Journey to the Otherworld
Saturday, November 3, 2007

Time: Gather in at 6:30pm. Ritual begins promptly at 7:00pm.
Location: Campgrounds at Watkins Regional Park, Upper Marlboro, MD.

Written or emailed RSVP required – Angela (at) Becomingdc.org

Do you dare to cross the threshold and walk the unknown path? In the temple of the Otherworld, a connection to the Heart of the Universe is opened. Take a journey to the oracle of the Heart. Only you know what you are seeking; and who knows what you will find at the Heart of Mystery.

You only need bring food for potluck after the ritual, a flashlight, a small token offering, and yourself. Sturdy shoes and warm dress is encouraged as we will be outdoors the entire time. Depending on the attendance, this ritual can last up to 3 hours. People between 12 and 18 must be accompanied by a parent; no children under 12 should attend this ritual.

More information will be sent when you RSVP. Please include your name and the number of people you are bringing. If you do not have a car and would like to carpool, please indicate that as well. We will try to make arrangements for a pick-up from the nearest Metro station.

Let Angela know that you are coming by Thursday, November 1, 10:00pm.

[tags]Becoming, Samhain, announcements[/tags]

Caring for Each Other, We Care for the Earth

Every spring, Becoming goes on pilgrimage to the source of the Potomac River to give blessings and praise offerings to the beginning of the river that runs through the land on which we live. Some years, we have had lots of snow in the mountains, the land is saturated, and the spring is full and flowing. Even then, the Potomac at this stage is small enough to stand with one foot on either “shore.” Some years, there has been little snow or rain, the land is parched, and the spring is empty. During these years, we pour water over our cold hands into the spring, praying for rain and lending our energy to unblock the flow of the waters.

Every fall, we meet near Hains Point, where the Anacostia flows into the Potomac, and the river becomes tidal and salty with the waters from the far-off ocean and Chesapeake Bay. Here we give thanks for the abundance of our lives and the land on which we live, and we give back some of that abundance in appreciation.

In our monthly circle yesterday, we mixed water from the source with salt to bring together this two annual rites for us. Becoming is about connections and community — connections with the world around us, with each other, and with our gods; and being in community within these relationships of connections. This has been a tough drought year for our region. Many of us in the group belong to community supported agriculture coops and are learning from our local farmers and from the vegetables that do and do not show up on our tables how the lack of rain affects us directly.

In circle, we cannot just pray for rain and expect it to come. A cone of power can do wonders, but learning through doing is more effective for our group. So, gathered in sacred space, we teach ourselves how to nurture and care for the earth by nurturing and caring for each other. We wash each others hands in the salty water, gently showing caring for each other. Care. Compassion. Love. Respect. Our simple actions embody the attitude we wish to carry forth in our lives to others and the world around us.

The water is then lovingly spread on the ground between us. From the earth to us, from us to the earth. May the rains fall. May your harvest be bountiful. May your life have meaning. And may the earth be renewed and loved.

Blessed be. So mote it be. So say we all.

posted as part of Blog Action Day

[tags]Becoming, ritual, Potomac, water, compassion, pantheism[/tags]

Journey of Transition

On the night of the New Moon and the eve of National Coming Out Day, I had the honor of priestessing a ritual for a friend of mine who is transitioning male to female. She has been passing as female since starting graduate school this summer, and now is starting hormonal treatments. She wanted to honor her transitional journey and set her intention to reshape her body with the help of the hormones with the New Moon.

The intent of the ritual was to:

  • release the male identity and honor the death of the male body
  • accept the female identity and celebrate the journey toward the
    female body
  • experience the Mystery of the liminal space of transition and her personal identity

Prior to the ritual, she wrote on slips of flash paper those aspects of identifying as male and being in a male body—both good and bad— that she was releasing, on slips of colorful origami paper those aspects of identifying as female and transitioning to a female body—both joyful and challenging—that she anticipated. The strips of flash paper were strung on a cord tied around her neck.

Three of us (myself, a Radical Faerie priest, and a transgenedered priest/ess from the West Coast) gathered with our friend near the arbor of her backyard under the night sky. We purified the space and ourselves with sage and lavender. We cast the circle and called in the elements. We invoked deity as Divine Male, Divine Female, and the Divine Two-Souled. Our friend invoked her higher self into the circle and called upon her spirit guides to help her with her intent.

To release the male identity and honor the death of the male body, my friend pulled off the slips of flash paper from her necklace and read them aloud one-by-one, before burning each in the candle flame. We then washed her body with salt water to honor the body she was born into and the lessons she learned in it.

To accept the female identity and celebrate journey toward a female body, she read each slip of origami paper aloud one-by-one and strung them onto her necklace. We then anointed her body with oil and welcomed her as a strong, beautiful woman.

To experience the Mystery of the liminal space of transition and her personal identity, she stepped into her place of power to commune directly with herself and her spirit guides and to offer prayers for how her body is to be kept healthy while being transformed into a new feminine shape.

As we welcomed her back into the circle, a gentle rain began to fall. Tears of love from the Goddess, indeed! As the drops grew fatter and fell more quickly, we thanked the Divine and the elements, and opened the circle.

Fare well on your journey, my magnificent and glowing sister! You’ll do just fine.

[tags]ritual, gender issues, transgender, rites of passage[/tags]