Wednesday, December 31, 2014

More on Manifesting

Most Pagans will tell you they work in magic but when you look at how they live that would seem at odds with the claim.  Often they are struggling just to get by, constantly online begging spells to fix this or that in their lives, living in the shadows afraid family and friends will discover they are Pagans.

First understand this, a life devoid of challenges is devoid of learning.  You cannot expect things to be handed to you on a platter because you are "magical" because the reality is you are not and no amount of witchcrap books, Pagan bling and teenaged spirited spell work is going to change that.  Far too many become involved in Paganism seeking personal power over what they see lives of powerlessness.

What is lacking is spirituality, working with the Divine principles of the Universe regardless of how you name that, working for goals beyond your own petty desires.  When you set out to achieve (manifest) a large goal you should expect large challenges along that way, that is how the Universe works for if that was easy, everyone would be doing it and few actually are.  For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction is not just a principle of physics, it is an expression of the old idea of standing in balance and moving the point of balance or restoring it will require work.

Can you stand outside your own ego and see the world as a semi detached observer?  Including your own life?  Because if the answer is no, then you cannot work magic or manifest into the world.  If hardship brings on choruses of "woe is me" or "life is unfair" you are failing to see you might have lessons to learn in this turn on the wheel you are refusing to learn.  Instead of woe is me, look for the lesson.

Change your goals and you change your life, that is magic.  Work with the Universe instead of against it and maybe you can change at least part of the world.  Strive for balance and see what you can actually manifest.

Many people have told me how hard my own life has been but I do not see it that way.  I strive for large goals and thus face large challenges but although I am poor by most people's standards, my life is rich by my own standards.  My own work is far from done and no doubt I shall face many more challenges before it ends but it is a good life, largely other directed but provides me with what I need mainly as a side benefit of a goal to manifest into the world a place of healing, for those to learn and rebuild their lives and to demonstrate how to live in harmony with the Universe.  Every time I faced major challenges along the way there has been no shortage of those telling me to give up, that what I was trying to do was impossible, that you cannot fight city hall.  And yet here I am.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Challenge of Manifesting Your Beliefs

With more and more Pagans being solo these days and buying most of their Pagan bling online, the former gathering places of brick and mortar metaphysical bookstores are becoming fewer and fewer than in the past. Time for the new model to emerge of physical centres set up as central Temples and places to come to workshops and do research like the Maetreum and the New Alexandrian Library project in Delaware. Unlike the bookstores these places for practical reasons are in rural settings rather than the more urban former bookstores.

Most forms of Paganism came from rural roots and it is time to return to those roots for so many reasons.

Setting up such a project takes time, planning and a few very dedicated visionaries with charitable hearts.  Pagan centres that failed in the past did so for fixed reasons, failure to pay as you go, ownership by individuals rather than non-profits, expecting to raise large overheads by community donations and overlooking that as Pagans, our efforts need to be as green as possible.  They need to be as inclusive as possible of other Pagan paths and when combined with community housing they can provide a much improved standard of living for folks with limited means willing to work for the good of all.  This is what Paganism looked like in the pre-Christian era and must look like again for the sake of the planet and each other.

You start by incorporating as a religious non-profit and then applying for IRS 501(c)(3) status.  You then locate property bearing in mind that if you incorporated you might be able to get the property donated for someone's tax write off. Don't try to make it all happen full blown out of the gate, be realistic and start small scale.  Do look into tiny houses remembering that you can build them yourself.  Don't be afraid to ask help from those who are doing already or even by lending a hand with projects already underway as a sort of mentor-ship.

There is built in resistance from some in the Pagan communities, ignore that and understand the greater Pagan communities probably will not provide much in the way of donations.

Paganism is at a crossroads right now and the choices are into the shadows once again and eventual erasure or standing proud and doing and manifesting your beliefs into the real world.  The choice is yours but those of us manifesting are going on with or without you.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Naturalistic Pagan is an Oxymoron

I tend to avoid the Pathos Pagan blog because it feels like worthless ramblings so much of the time but recently a blog entry there crossed my news-feed titled “Thou Shalt Not Judge” (and why this is a problem)" written by John Halstead, who styles himself the Allergic Pagan and includes this definition of naturalistic Pagan in his article:

"As the term is used here, Naturalistic Pagans includes Humanistic Pagans, Atheistic Pagans, Atheopagans, and other non-theistic Pagans."

The article is all about questioning the validity of the experiences of other Pagans.  The problem he fails to grasp is that a non-theistic Pagan is not a Pagan at all but an atheist, a perfectly good word that does not attempt to appropriate an umbrella term for various RELIGIONS and fits him to a "T".

Frankly, as a life long practising Pagan in her mid sixties (meaning I have been a Pagan almost as long as Wicca has been a religion)  I am fed up with those who are clearly self declared atheists claiming membership as Pagans when they are nothing of the sort.  Words matter, their definitions matter.  Halstead bemoans trouble communicating with Pagans while failing to see he isn't even using the same damn language making actual communication impossible.

It's bad enough that John and Jane Q. Public confuses Wicca and Paganism as being the same when Wicca is a mere subset of Paganism and a Gardner come lately one at that, but trying to include atheism under the same umbrella stretches the cloth way the hell past the breaking point.  You want to hang with Pagans because we can be a fun free-wheeling group, fine but if you are an atheist, you are NOT a Pagan yourself.  If your motive is playing with religious trappings without actually believing, go join the UUs, they actually have a place for you to do that.

Lately a lot of so called Pagans have tried to define Paganism.  They need to consult historians.  Pagan used to mean country dwellers until the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire.  It was Emperor Julian who redefined the word to capital P Pagan to mean those devotees of the non Abrahamic religions, the operative word here being religions.  Julian was an initiate of the Cybeline religion who also wrote several important works on Cybele, Magna Mater, the Great Mother.  We Cybelines thus have a greater claim to title "Pagan" than most neo-Pagans can claim.

And we modern Cybelines call foul and say enough is enough.  Stop appropriating our identity.

Postscript:  John apparently has momma issues he is trying to work out through me.  He mined my mostly friends only Facebook account, spammed the hell out of this entry with nonsense and in general is displaying what I call Mysogynistic Deranged Male Syndrome which you normally only see in 18-24 year old males living in their momma's basement  Nice job giving this lunatic a blog Patheos.   His fear of an empowered Crone is beyond evident.

I had to place comments on this blog on full moderation.

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Maetreum Wins Largest Legal Battle in Paganism in Decades, Pagan leadership yawns......

I probably will start writing a lot more now that my cyber-stalker lost in court. That would be the lawyer representing the town of Catskill who has put everything I write or wrote under a microscope looking for anything that could be twisted and used against us in court for more than seven years now.  In the end the best he could come up with was a single phrase that was totally accurate that someone setting up a charitable housing project should check and see if they are eligible for a property tax exemption in their state.

I will start off by pointing out we got a LOT of grassroots support from Pagans as individuals but almost nada from Pagan organizations that purport to exist to help Pagans in the situation we were in.  And unlike the majority of Pagan groups, we dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's legally and thus should have been bulletproof.

When the Wild Hunt first covered our story, comments were made we were unworthy because we were a tranny religion, by the last couple of months of the case, a whisper campaign had been started that we were transphobes.  That seems typical of online Paganism these days. To the best of my knowledge and Google searches, the only Pagan blog that covered our victory was the Wild Hunt... the only one other than a brief shout-out from WiccanWoman, but we got coverage in the Washington Post, the Albany Times Union, both the local papers and our case is considered historic in property tax law circles.  During the case we were featured in the New York Times and Forbes magazine.  So why is that?

Neo-Paganism has never known how to view us.  We are essentially mono-theistic in a community of many gods.  Unlike the apparent fashion in Paganism, we actually believe in the Goddess and live that way day to day.  We are actual scholars.  A typical weekend gathering at the Maetreum would do an academic conference proud with spirited exchanges of ideas on pretty much any topic you care to name but especially on history and theology.  We do real world charitable work, more than 35 women have been supported fully living at the Maetreum while they got their lives back in order over the past decade.  Our rituals are fairly simple other than the solar holidays but they include round table discussions of theology as part of them.  We don't cast circles except specifically for protection because we view the entire world as sacred space.  We worship in an actual Temple we built ourselves.  We own real property and try to set an living example of living lighter on the earth with wind and solar power generation, our flock of chickens, gardens etc.  We are involved in our community instead of cowering in fear in a broom closet.

We don't do the Pagan conference circuit, sell witchcrap courses or self promote relentlessly.  Before our case, most Pagans never even heard of us. Apparently this makes us dangereous to some Big Nose Pagans and Big Nose Pagan wannabees.  Relax BNP's, other than I will be calling out some of you for actually working against us during the case, we have no designs on neo-Paganism because we are the real deal..... Pagans with a legitimate history and without a neo tacked on the front.

One new group mentions us on their webpage as a reason to donate to them but they didn't raise a penny for us.  The founder goes on and on about accountability in Pagan leadership while quoting a known liar, blowhard, writer of soft Pagan porn and self promoter  running around giving Pagan leadership workshops while her only credentials of Pagan leadership is giving her workshops.  They just had a pay for online Pagan Activism conference but no Cybeline was even invited to participate let alone lead a discussion despite the HUGE victory we just won.

We are different.  We are going back to doing our work for the Goddess and our community, we won't be a huge presence at your Pagan get togethers.  But if you are an adult who understands the value of freewheeling debate, free exchange of ideas and discussions, drop by sometime, join the conversation and have a cup or two or three of coffee or tea on us.  The last Pagan Emperor of Rome and devotee of Cybele, Julian, charged Pagans to "Be thou the one" referring to doing public works and charity and thus providing a living example to the rest of the world. We live by this at the Maetreum. We challenge other Pagans to follow our example and be thou the one by coming out of their broom closets and being open and active members of their local communities.

We have proved that if you fight the good fight for the right reason you can prevail regardless of the odds.

"Be thou the one and renew the light" -- Rev. Mother Cathryn-

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Ageism and Pagan Elder Abuse, Part 2

"Hi, I'm Morning Raven Fluff and I've decided to be one of your priestesses, here is a list of the things you have to change for me."

I hope this sounds as ludicrous to your ears as it does to mine but it reflects the attitude more and more younger Pagans seem to approach  established groups with.  What the hell is going on here?

What's going on is a generation of over protected, everyone gets a trophy just for showing up, "you're special" even if you never actually did anythings have entered Paganism and Feminism and the world in general.  The dominant attitude is "my totally uneducated opinion is equal to your educated and experienced knowledge base".  This is accompanied with "more victim than thou" and what I started calling years ago, the Oppression Olympics.

You really don't have to look very far in Pagan discussion groups to run across multiple "so and so isn't an elder in MY tradition so I won't listen to anything they have to say"  Their tradition often is a tradition of one.  In a time where the internet makes connections easy that used to be almost impossible, when Pagan groups should be flourishing with ever expanding numbers, they are dying on the vine and unsupported by groups set up to actually support them but apparently actually set up to support someone's ego and pocketbook.

If this continues you can kiss Paganism goodbye along with the environment, women's rights hard fought for and won by those  awful second wave feminists and we have already lost most of our civil rights in Amerika where standing up for them is now considered terrorism.

And it is ageism.

Most Pagan traditions trace some of their sources to societies where the elders were respected and cherished but today elders are dottering old fools with dinosaur ideas and I've personally been told, "I cannot wait until you die and take your ideas with you."  Because a couple of elder men have been exposed as sex perverts recently within Paganism, all elders and in particular elder women are under some form of attack in some twisted return to the Crone as the evil Halloween witch.. in Paganism!   Wannabe Big Nose Pagans are writing blogs with titles implying all elders are essentially bullies and abusive.  Saying no to these idiots is considered abusive as is refusing to accommodate their every whim.

"You must change your tradition to fit my desires"  Or what?, you won't join?  "Your opinions are oppressing me"  So wipe the dust from your feet and move on darling.  "Your tone is angry"  Really?  I was trying to have a discussion with you thinking you were an adult capable of a spirited debate.  "You are difficult to work with"   Because I didn't give you a trophy for showing up or tell you your opinions were brilliant when they weren't?  

I ain't your grandmother without opinions who just sticks around to hand you a cookie.  I am a woman who fought more damn battles in a long lifetime than you can imagine and stood up for mine and your rights.  I've been kicked and beaten and even raped more times than you can imagine.  This is why I don't run around taking your money to teach you in some Pagan festival workshop or online scam school.  You want to learn from me, you come to me and I share freely.  That's what I do.

If it hadn't been for our legal battle for equal rights under the law and our need to raise each year twice than our operating costs for legal fees, you probably would not have heard of us at the Maetreum because we know what we offer is not for the masses who want quick answers without work.  We don't give answers, we just help you find them but if you are not willing to do the work, we have nothing to offer you.  We don't need you, you need us.  We do the work of taking in women in need and helping them get back on their feet without preaching or requiring they join us and have been doing so for over a decade.  We never asked the greater Pagan community for money to do this.  We do it because it is the right thing to do.

If this youth culture crap continues in Paganism of all places, you will all wind up sitting under a tree alone gazing into your smart phone instead of your navel.  It makes me want to cry.....and feel I wasted a lifetime fighting for rights and equality and respect for women when it wasn't valued enough to just keep the victories won in the past.

But for now, I'm still here and I still share freely with those who actually want to learn something and expand their horizons and get in touch with the Divine within themselves but I am getting old and won't be here forever.......  You cannot make someone respect you but you sure as hell can demand they not disrespect you.

You are throwing away the greatest treasure of all with your ageism, the access to the wisdom that sometimes (not always) comes with age and experience.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Ageism and Pagan Elder Abuse Part 1

Elder abuse is usually associated with caretakers abusing the elderly in nursing homes but it actually goes much deeper and further than that.  When you are older but fail to be the grandma with cookies type of older woman you will experience ageism big time.

Normally I don't like airing our dirty laundry here at the Maetreum but we recently had a multi level example of both ageism and elder abuse happen here starring that crusty old crone, yours truly.

We had a priestess who's involvement in the Cybeline Revival went back to it's near beginnings but who only actually showed up or participated every couple of years or so.  Up until a couple of years ago, she did keep in fairly regular touch by phone but that suddenly came to a halt about 2 and an half years ago until this spring when she descended on us full force telling everyone here I needed more looking after.  I didn't think much of it at the time but then the return in June put everything in an entire new light.

She and her daughter and partner are living in an older home they just moved into to "help" an older gentleman who's family allegedly was not looking after.  This is the second time she has moved into a property to "help" someone and took it over.  He has family, but she somehow arranged power of attorney for his healthcare and finances.  Recently he was moved into a retirement home but they are still living in his house.  Now understand that this sort of house stealing is becoming more and more common and the law hasn't really caught up with it.  Essentially it is a type of con aimed at elderly home owners.  Her own mother has early stage Alzheimer's, something I noticed several years ago on the last whirlwind visit with mom in toe.   She took over all her mothers affairs as well and cleaned her out.  To make a long story short, she's figured out the jig is up on the free housing and planned to move here and take over.  Moving here would not have been a problem but I told her that her mom could not be part of the package as we simply are not equipped to deal with an Alzheimer's patient.  

When I did that, it hit the fan.  She was already telling me my advisor, a woman I literally trust more than anyone else on the planet, had an agenda and I shouldn't trust her.  She'd had a facebook account for ages but never used it at all.  Suddenly she is friending everyone associated with us.  At this time a younger Pagan woman who was to start her novitiate training with me was moving into the Maetreum with her multiple partners.  Our novitiate was zeroed in on.  Then she started telling everyone associated with us that I was showing signs of early dementia, naturally with nothing to back that up because their isn't anything to back it up.  She started working the younger women against the older ones, pushing for major changes in everything about the house.  Not directly, but through the younger women.  My advisor actually overheard her doing this.

The tactic switched to early signs of dementia to full blown very quickly and the rest of the priestesshood realized we had to do something quickly because we'd been down this road years before.

Unlike many other Pagan traditions, we have a blueprint for dealing with conflict and running and living as a community.  This document has been online since 2004.  The last time we had an attempted schismatic takeover of the property (it's always about our property) it was slightly modified to empower an individual Battakes (Rev. Mother of a specific Phrygianum or convent if you will) to simply expel a priestess working to undermine her.  It has further safeguards against just a personality conflict.  Under our rules I could have just done this but I did not.  Instead the priestesses who were aware of the situation, all but two living outside the US, conferred and collectively and unanimously decided to tell her she was no longer a priestess and must leave immediately.  We knew there would be blowback from this.  The rouge priestess was informed she needed to meet with me and my heir for a discussion.   That's where it hit the fan big time.

Apparently she started texting everyone in the house that she was being set up by demented old me and calling for an intervention to prevent the meeting.  We have very specific rules for calling a house meeting and this violated most of them.

She did not show up from her RV until she had it all in place unknown to my successor and myself who walked into an ambush.  When I saw what was happening, I announced this was a priestess only matter and I was speaking as the Battakes.  Not only was I ignored but the novitiate announced she was mediating this and I was physically prevented from leaving the room.  It was two against seven... and clear the agenda was me.  No personal boundary of mine was left intact or respected.  Yes, I yelled but I never threatened even verbally while I had been forcibly stopped from leaving myself by a large younger male we were letting stay with us.

The offending priestess left but not without arranging considerable chaos in her wake in the form of half the downstairs of our home turned upside down and pretty much unusable.  The Noviciate decided I had somehow "triggered her" by yelling and she and her partners decided not to move in and break all the promises they had been making.  Ok, bad situation but resolving itself except they left all their things filling the rest of the downstairs and two bedrooms and the main hallway for six weeks not to mention a dead car in our driveway at a time we were having a battle with the local code office.

The former noviciate was left an open door to come back.  She was in charge of the Albany summer Pagan event and I was supposed to be "honoured" as a crone at that event.  I told her under the circumstances that I considered that inappropriate and I would not be even attending absent an apology for basically total disrespect of the priestesshood and myself in our own home when we were trying to deal with a very difficult situation under our rules and blocked by her, not a priestess, from doing so.  We recognized she was suckered into it by an expert con artist and cut a LOT of slack for her because of that.

Still with me?  This is where it gets interesting.  Apparently I have become a Name Pagan due to our multiple year battle with the town of Catskill and apparently that has made other Name Pagans nervous despite the fact I don't do the festival circuit or hold court like many of them do.  Frankly, I've been far too busy keeping our place going and fighting bigotry to even think about it.  Our former Noviciate does do the circuit and likes to schmooze with the Big Nose Pagans and the BNP wannabes.  I have been trashed to pretty much all of them at this point as an abusive and angry bitch.  All at a time that three separate legal actions with Catskill have been coming to a head and thus cutting off support we badly needed to raise the needed legal fees.

One of the wannabe BNPs is a woman who runs around the community giving "leadership" workshops even though she has never, to the best of my knowledge, ever actually led anything other than a workshop.  She also makes her living writing soft Pagan porn.  Almost exactly a year ago the Albany Pagan group had her come do a workshop and it was done here at the Maetreum for free.  We hostessed the workshop and put this woman up for the night and fed her.  That night she and I sat down to have a chat and were quickly interrupted by a vandal throwing rocks through our windows and screaming anti Pagan and anti LGBT slurs and then threatening to come back with an AK 47 and shoot us up.  The cops did show but did not even bother to do a proper interview with us.  That was the sum of my contact with this wannabe with a couple of very brief FB encounters afterwards.  After being contacted by our former Noviciate, suddenly we were being accused of being transphobic and our wannabe blogged about what a terrible leader and abusive angry person I am being extremely careful not to mention my name but giving more than enough details about the Maetreum and myself that no one familiar with any of this would not know exactly who was being talked about.  I was linked to the recent paedophile and the Frosts.  Also to Z Budapest.

I am writing this because I am seeing evidence my experience is not an isolated one and my next blog entry will deal with the widespread in general disrespect of older women in particular in the Pagan community.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Tired of Waiting for That Next Witch Hunt, Pagans Start Doing it to Themselves

I have been known to speak bluntly and some overly sensitive idiots take that as "too angry". If you are afraid the blunt opinions of an outspoken crone might somehow harm your fluffy bunny, well tough toenails darling.

In full disclosure, I am descended from Salem witchcraft trial victims on both sides of my family, Susanna Martin on my maternal side and Sarah Good on my paternal side.   I grew up with tales of Salem as well as an uncle who used to show me the fertile farmlands near the mouth of the Merrimack river that were stolen from us (his words) of William Wood, another ancestor who wrote the book "New England Prospects" but committed the sin of marrying into a local tribe.  The damn Puritans took it from him.  I grew up with "haunted" pre-revolutionary houses in our family and no one from the family ever told me "there's no such thing as ghosts" because every damn one of us knew the family ghosts on a first name basis.

With others, I reclaimed an ancient Mother Goddess tradition with an actual, traceable heritage, which I suspect pisses off those without those roots.   I have been a practising Pagan for more than fifty years, long before it was "cool", and I spent part of my teenaged years in India, just before the Beatles made that cool.

I've played my part in every major civil rights battle since the mid sixties as a passionate activist.  Every single one.

But apparently I am too hard to work with and too angry to work with on the major Pagan legal battle of the past 30 years, our right to equal treatment of our "church" (IRS designation).   WTF?????

The past year or so has seen revelation after revelation of sexual misconduct and out and out child abuse in the Pagan communities by some of the biggest names in Paganism and covered up by other big name Pagans.  No accountability for that.  Nope, instead we claim the Maetreum of Cybele is transphobic, Z Budapest is a terrorist and evil person for speaking out about sexual fetishism at Pagan events and wishing to keep her group for women born women, which is her absolute civil right under the 1'st amendment to do so.  I keep reading that Z doesn't have the right to call herself an elder, and apparently neither do I.  

Do I agree with Z on everything?  Oh hell no but I would love to sit down with her someday over a pot of coffee and have a lively debate as she is a crusty old crone same as me.  And if she isn't a Pagan elder, then 'taint no such thing.

I've read a number of articles lately about walking away from the term Paganism as well.  I've been told the Maetreum should move somewhere where it would be better received by cowardly asswipe Pagans who apparently are afraid to be called Pagan.

To them I say, don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.  I am a proud Pagan and I am sick to death of the cowards in Paganism who's response to challenges is 'run away, run away'.

Susanna Martin laughed at her accusers during her trial and pointed out their fears.  Sarah Good cursed her judge on the gallows to die with blood in his mouth and he did.  These are the women in my personal history.  To hell with the cowardly Pagans like the Lady Liberty worthless League, to hell with those "leaders" who knowingly covered up the sex crimes of their peers like some Pagan version of Ratzinger, the nazi pope.

The Goddess is angry, I'm angry.  If you cannot deal with that and do the right thing and fight the good fight, go join the Baptists cause there is no room for you in Paganism any more.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Open Letter to the Greater Pagan Communities on Transphobia

From About News Civil Rights section, 

Definition: Transphobia is an irrational fear of, and/or hostility towards, people who are transgender or who otherwise transgress traditional gender norms. Because lesbians and gay men often transgress gender norms, it is often associated with homophobia.

The most direct victims of transphobia are people who are transsexual--those who are labeled one sex at birth but transition into another sex later.

Pay attention to that last part because it is true even among the so called trans communities.  Most non trans people (I refuse to use that ridiculous invention word "cis") would take it as evidence of transphobia the refusal to accept the womanhood of a transitioned transsexual and they would be right.  Where they get suckered is when some random trans-person makes such an accusation against the very people who are the poster children for "trans", post surgically corrected women of transsexual history.  And this is not only common, it is practically universal with the current generation of so called trans-activists.  They flatly refuse to acknowledge the womanhood of those with female bodies and identities who were born transsexed or intersexed.  They will tell her she is forever male because she has an Y chromosome, that her vagina is just an inverted penis, that she can never be a "real" woman because she lacks a uterus and more.  How can I say this?  I can because this has happened to me, not once or twice but literally hundreds of times and I have personally witnessed it done to dozens like me in public so called trans activists who actually hate post surgical women for escaping the "transgender" pot.

Amazing isn't it.  But it is true.  Let a post surgical woman say she has now cured her transsexual condition and is just plain woman like every other woman and these trans-activists will move heaven and earth to deny her that.  Violence is common, death threats are common, attempts to utterly destroy her life are common.  This would include physical abuse, verbal abuse, "outting" to spouses and employers, slander, libel and much more.

So when you hear someone called transphobic, stop, ask yourself what is behind it.  If it is a woman of transsexual history being called transphobic, the real transphobe is likely the one making the accusation, not the victim.  Ask yourself can it actually be more gynophobic as well as transphobic to do this to a post surgical woman and if they are willing to do this to them, what are their true feelings towards non trans women?

This issue is much more complicated than most realize.

I founded the Cybeline Revival with a woman of transsexual history.  I was born a true hermaphrodite and surgically assigned male at birth and had to correct that later in life.  I, personally, recovered the role of the transsexual priestesses in the Mother Goddess traditions of the ancient world and wrote about it........ now I am a transphobe?   Really?  You bought that?

Who's the real transphobe here.

I did not want to have to write this, I left the trans battlegrounds years ago but when this crap is spreading within the Pagan communities and tearing them apart, I cannot maintain silence.

Post Script added 9/4

We have been trolled here and on Facebook because of this accusation that the Maetreum of Cybele is transphobic.  To be perfectly clear, the Maetreum has always welcomed all trans and gender queer people and men to participate fully in all our rituals and events since it's founding.  At issue is one of the requirements to be a priestess in our tradition is being female bodied AND identified.  That anyone feels they have the right to dictate to us who we accept into a very limited sisterhood of priestesses is beyond offensive.  Half of that circle of priestesses consists of women of trans or intersexed history.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Catskill Steps up it's War on the Maetreum of Cybele; Fighting A Town run by Outlaws

Most of you are aware the Maetreum has been involved  in a seven year plus battle with the Town of Catskill, NY over our religious property tax exemption.   Last fall we won in the Appellate Court of New York and this made the town powers that be very nervous because they no longer had any basis to deny us that exemption.   They filed an appeal to the highest NY court and that is now ongoing but they did not ask for or were granted a stay on our victory.

What's a Catskillian bigot to do?   Why dig back into the bag of tricks that did not work in 2009, that what!  Code violation, yeah, that'll work so they scheduled a “fire and safety” inspection to take place a mere two days before the deadline for filing for this year's exemption.  Trouble is we saw through this immediately and refused the inspection.  You see for all those years Catskill's legal position is we are “merely a residence” and not a real church....until it's inspection time, then we are the real deal churchwise.  All well and good except for one thing.  We do live here.  Most people are unaware you can invoke your 4'th Amendment rights to refuse a safety inspection of your home and we did so in writing but we have additional legal protections under a Federal law called the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA).  That law was written specifically for cases like ours and shifts a very very high burden of proof on a town once invoked.

Unless you are a town run by criminals that is.  Not yet convicted criminals mind you but that may change soon.  Let's be kind and call them scofflaws instead, an older term that fits perfectly.

So, two exchanges of letters with the Code office and we invoked all our rights in both.  Mind you, there are two different US Supreme Court decisions that make it clear that once 4'th Amendment rights are invoked, the town must get a warrant to do an inspection and the second of those two ruling also made it clear that no legal jeopardy can be attached (no charges of any kind) until that happens.  It also raised the bar on proof to get that warrant.  RLUIPA raises that bar WAY the hell up from that.

Ok, now the Board of Assessment Review (BOAR) hearing is almost upon us, what is a Catskillian bigot to do when the first move was countered?  Why issue a third letter demanding the inspection or else, the or else being that very legal jeopardy that the Supremes says is a no no....  But we must inspect before the hearing, find them in violation of something and use that as cover for denying the exemption!  Wrong again moosebreath, in order to make it stick you have to actually cite the section of code we were in violation of and when we checked it out with the legal definitions, it doesn't apply to us at all!

What's left to Catskillian bigots ordered to deny us?  Out and out breaking the law and that is exactly what Catskill opted to do,  break the law.  In open defiance of the second highest court in New York, they denied our exemption without giving a single reason at the BOAR even though I carefully spelled out that legally they were out of options here.  Ok, we saw that one coming but the next move beyond belief.  We were cited for a code violation and ordered to appear next week in town court in front of the town judge to the charges.  We had responded to the last threat in writing spelling out how the code we were charged with violating does not apply and why complete with legal citations and even a link to an article by the Counsel General of the State of New York.  We once again invoked our 4'th Amendment rights and our additional rights under RLUIPA.  Mind you charging us is illegal and an actual violation of our civil rights.  In the very first letter in the exchange I explained that their only legal action was to get a warrant after meeting an extremely high burden of proof to do so.  We twice offered a compromise that was ignored both times.

Deprivation of Civil Rights Under Color of Law is a federal felony and the code nazi violated that law.

This town trial should be most interesting indeed.  Stay tuned.  

Thursday, February 27, 2014

A Rant

I need to vent a bit. I've been a practicing Pagan for 50 years now having studied in India as a teenager. I've been involved in Pagan community for about 45 years being a community leader and out Pagan spokesperson when it was dangereous to do so in central Ohio back in the mid seventies. I founded a unique, scholarly researched historic reclaiming of what was the most prominent Pagan religion of Rome that was subjected to wholesale erasure from history by the catholic church.

We built an actual Pagan infrastructure dedicated to charitable works and community service. Throughout all that the "movers and shakers" in Paganism have almost totally ignored us. Multiple contacts with COG totally ignored. Our legal battle, covered multiple times in the large Pagan blogs and even written up in the New York freakin' Times and one of only TWO major legal battles in the past decade ignored by the Pagan legal crowd despite our reaching out multiple times.  One self styled Pagan legal "scholar" did us actual, real world harm with a badly researched article about our initial loss after out and out refusing my offer of background material.  Raising the money for the winning appeal became almost impossible as a result.

I've tried to avoid anything that remotely looked like a witch war but I am sick and tired on being silent about the relentless self promoting "leaders" of Paganism who are all self promotion and no action. I'm sick and tired of watching our path being written out of Paganism by Wicca style Pagans who seem to think they own the word Pagan when arguably we have a much better claim to that label historically. We won a major legal victory for minority religions in general but when it looked like we lost, that was all over the place and the final victory ignored by the greater Pagan community.

All to often Wiccans dismiss us as some sort of Dianics. Dianics don't like us because we are open to all genders. Others dislike that we have reclaimed the original monotheistic Mother Goddess tradition. Others freak out that we are supportive of LGB causes. Sometimes I think we should just ignore the rest of the Pagan community and just do our thing. Ok, venting over, thanks for reading this far.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Paganism: Money is Bad, Right?

Reblogged from

–by Shauna Aura Knight
The question, “Should Pagans charge for services/rituals/events/classes” comes up with some frequency within our community. One of my activist goals is looking at underlying difficulties and assumptions in our culture and how that impacts us.
Pagans (and people, for that matter) have a really unhealthy relationship with money.
It’s one of our cultural “shadows.” Any shadow causes us communal grief. For me, activism is about looking at those cultural shadows and working with them. What are our current assumptions about money? How do those assumptions get in the way of healthy communities and future community resources?

Underlying Assumptions
“Pagans are broke.” What I think is actually means is, “Pagans have a complicated and unhealthy relationship with money and get recalcitrant about paying for things.”
There’s a spectrum of assumptions about money. On one end, you have the idea that “Charging for spiritual work is bad.” On the other end, “I should be paid reasonably for my time.”
What I’m not addressing in that spectrum is obvious extortion and unethical practices, including people who charge exorbitant money for a dangerously-facilitated sweat lodge, or people who say, “You’re cursed but I can lift it for a mere $1,000,” or people who embezzle, or manipulate people.
Now–while I’m not addressing the unethical folks, they impact our assumptions. Many Pagans fear donating to a group because they’ve seen the largess and corruption of the churches of their youth, and, they’ve seen various Pagan leaders fail to ethically handle money. 
I’m focusing on ethical Pagan leaders and teachers who feel that they should be able to charge for their time. After seeing several online discussions basically saying that anyone who charges for spiritual work is bad, or that spiritual work should always be free, I thought that a deeper discussion on money would serve.
The idea that “money is bad” shackles the Pagan community, holding us back and making us less effective in the kind of work many of our groups would like to be able to achieve.
What is Money?
A root challenge with this issue is that we need to define what money actually is. In the dominant culture, money is power, certainly. Big corporations, banks, and rich politicians control our laws. Religious institutions like the Catholic church have vast amounts of wealth. It’s no surprise that many have a knee-jerk reaction that “money is bad.”
But what is money? Money is, in essence, energy. It’s a representation of time and work. Ignoring income tax, if you make $10 an hour, then a $5 cup of coffee reflects a half hour of your effort.
Money is neither good nor bad, it’s simply an easier exchange rate than a chicken and a basket of tomatoes. Barter is, at its core, money. It’s resources being traded for other resources. Money isn’t inherently bad any more than the chicken you raised is bad. It’s just an agreed-upon exchange rate.
But “Real Witches” Never Charged
Completely untrue. If we look at our ancestors, the Witch/Shaman/Druid/Priest/Healer of the tribe was paid in the form of a tithe from the tribe. It might be a chicken, fur, or seat at the dinner table, or help building their home. It’s still payment. They couldn’t have focused on serving their community in that capacity without their community providing their upkeep.
Money is not a dirty thing. Money represents time spent working.
What Do Pagan Events Cost?
Let’s start with supplies. Candles, herbs, printing out handouts, food for the group. Is it fair to ask the group leader who’s already spent time organizing rituals and classes to pay out of pocket for all of that? Many people feel even charging for supplies is bad. Imagine a small group or a public ritual; perhaps money is donated, or members donate the supplies. It’s simple–those are hard costs, someone has to pay them, it’s just a matter of whom.
If it’s a public ritual, like my upcoming Imbolc in Chicago, money must be raised to pay for the $300 daily rental. We haven’t even gotten to additional costs, like a group, a web site, or printing flyers.
When talking about teachers charging, that’s usually where the fisticuffs begin.
What do I Charge?
For a public event like Imbolc, which has a ritual and workshops, I ask for a sliding scale donation, $5-$25, no one turned away for lack of funds. I feel it’s important to make these events open to people regardless of ability to pay.
At the same time, I can’t afford to foot the bill if an event doesn’t break even. It’s utterly unfair to ask clergy that have put in hours to plan, host, and cleanup an event to also spend money to cover the costs.
Traveling Teachers
The subject of money and charging for events and classes is very much on my mind because of recent events in my own life. I was recently in a car accident, and without getting into insurance details, the accident was not my fault but I won’t receive any money for a new car.
How is this relevant to charging for classes?
At least 75%-90% of what I used my car for was to run Pagan events in Chicago, and, to travel and teach at Pagan events. Now I have obligations to travel and teach at several events in the coming months, and many of these are not events I can now easily get to.
Let’s take a step back to assumptions like all Pagan authors are getting rich off of the community, and Pagans who teach at festivals make a lot of money.
When I travel to larger conferences and festivals, I pay my own travel and hotel costs. At some festivals where I’m headlining, I get gas money. I teach weekend-long intensives where I get gas money, and maybe a $200 stipend. However, looking at all of these, I’m actually operating at a loss. Why?
Car repairs.
If I drive 8 hours to teach for a weekend for gas money, I’m out the cost of an oil change. Add in $300 for new brakes and other car repairs…it all adds up. The past years I’ve paid thousands of dollars in car repairs for the pleasure of spending hours on the road to teach mostly without pay.
Why Would I Do That?
It’s the calling of my soul. There are so many groups out there desperate for help with leadership and community building, or learning to facilitate more potent rituals that will inspire their community. I’m a total sucker for a leader who messages me and says, “I loved your workshop at Pagan Spirit Gathering, and our local community is having so many problems but I don’t know if we can afford to pay you…”
So I tell them I can do it for gas money. Often, it’s that leader who’s paying my gas money out of pocket because they are afraid to charge anyone. “If I charge, no one will come,” they confide.
I admire the folks who do this–even while I regret that they continue enabling a dysfunctional pattern in our communities.
I’ve been writing topics of Pagan leadership because I think they are crucial. For instance, this blog post now. Am I getting paid for the 3 or so hours it takes me to write one of these? Nope. I do it because I’m called. I think that’s the essence of any deep calling–we’d do it whether or not we’re being paid.
I have done this work without pay for years. I’ve managed by living simply and other creative means. But it’s put me, financially, where I absolutely can no longer do this work without pay. What I charge is not enough.
Here is the crux of the issue. Many Pagans whine about not having access to things that other faiths have, but there’s a core reason for it–they aren’t willing to pay for it. Pagans are starting to want access to leadership training, and I’m thrilled to offer that. However, taking my time to offer that–driving 4-8 hours–my time spent teaching–preparing for the workshop–it’s rather a lot of time. It’s a part-time job, full time if you add in writing articles, blog posts, answering leadership questions on email or skype.
It’s work I love, but if I can’t make a living doing it, I can’t continue.
Do you get excited when Circle Sanctuary takes on a local school principle discriminating against a Pagan student ? Good. But, where do they get the time to do that? How does Selena Fox have the time to call people going through a crisis, or go to their hospital to sit with them while they’re dying?
Circle charges money for events. The money they raise through events, and through donations, allows them to pay staffers to do this work full time.
Fear and Values
This goes back to values–what we value. What we spend money on. I get frustrated to tears when I see Pagans attend my classes and not donate anything, or donate on the lower end of a sliding scale ($5 for a full weekend of instruction, where the upper rate would be more like $150 a person) and then drop $5 on coffee, $25 on lunch, and $40 on a couple of books at the Pagan bookshop.
I don’t expect everyone to drop $150 on a weekend. That’s why it’s at the upper range of a sliding scale, which functions like a tithe. Those who can pay $5 are welcome. Those who can pay $75-$150 are paying into the scholarship fund, helping the less abundant to be able to attend.
If there’s 20 attendees, gas money is $100, and the space rental is $200 for the weekend, and I get $200, that means two things.
  1. Each person needs to pay around $25, but sliding scale means that folks who can only afford to pay $5 can attend as long as a few people are paying at the middle or top of the scale ($75-$150)
  2. It also means I’m making about $100 for four days of my time. Figure in an oil change, car insurance, and some money for inevitable car repairs. One day is spent traveling to the event, one traveling home, and then 2 days I’m teaching. That doesn’t count the hours spent working with the event organizers consulting on what classes to offer, crafting class descriptions, helping promote the event via Facebook and Email, or the time it takes me to prepare the classes.
That makes it maybe more like $100 for one work week. Still think I’m charging too much?
I know that most groups out there can’t afford more. But if I can’t charge for my work, I can’t afford to do it. This isn’t about me and my challenges, this is about money and what we as individuals and as a community have decided we value, what we are willing to pay for. It’s about what resources we want for our community, for our future.
“If you charge for your work you aren’t really being spiritual.”
Having gone through several years living below the poverty line to be able to bring this work out to my community, I have a few four-letter words in mind for that sentiment.
There are many of us out there that just want to run an Imbolc or Beltane event without panicking the whole night before about whether we’ll break even on space rental. Others of us who want to teach and write and offer our skills up but we need to make a living if we’re going to devote our time to it. 
“If you’re trying to get paid then you aren’t in it for service.”
“You could be doing other things for money and still serving your community.”
“If you were really dedicated to spirit, spirit would take care of you.”
“You shouldn’t expect any money for your work.”
“All spiritual work should be free.”
“If you’re really serving spiritual community, you wouldn’t need to advertise your services.”
“You should just be motivated by love for your community, not a paycheck.”

Would I do this work without pay? Yes, absolutely. I did, and I have. Where did it leave me? Financially stuck between a rock and a hard place. Yes, I made those choices, so I bear that responsibility, but, it’s not something I choose to do going forward.
What do you Value?
If you want to see the Pagan community mature, if you want more services and education available, or Pagan-focused meeting spaces and community centers, if you want advocates for Pagan rights…they have a cost. Do you value some of these things?
Think about your relationship to money, what you value. Begin talking about money in your community. Let’s move past this myth that Pagans are broke and explore our relationship to tithing, donating, and paying for needed services.
There’s the saying, “This is why we can’t have nice things.” I think that we can build amazing resources for future generations, if we can get past our shadows around money.
For further reading:
Here’s a blog post that I wrote going into more depth on this topic.
In the next days on my main blog  I’ll be posting a series on Pagan leadership, with several articles focusing on Pagans, fundraising, and paying for events.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Pagan Leadership, By Their Deeds You Shall Know Them

Paganism is a big tent comprised mainly by those with an independent mindset or unconventional thinkers. As a direct result there is a certain tendency for resistance to anyone seeking to claim a leadership position that goes further than their own particular group. Nonetheless, there is no shortage of those seeking to be the 12 inch trout in the 13 inch puddle. You've seen them, they are the relentless self promoters. During the heyday of what I call the Witchcrap books from the late 70's and most of the 80's many of them cranked out book after book after book often based simply in the old table of correspondences and offering little in the way of actual information that could not be summed up completely in two or three paragraphs.

But they sold, boy did they sell. Today we can communicate widely and instantly via the internet with little requirement beyond a computer and the willingness to use it and the bottom fell out of the Witchcrap book industry. Getting published today requires actual ideas and original thought or enough resources to self publish which requires work. But promoting yourself only requires dedication towards flooding as many Pagan venues as you can with tales of your wonderfulness making your name familiar to a large number of seekers, no actual deeds required. In case you aren't getting my point, this 'taint leadership.

Let's be honest here, an awful lot of people come to Paganism seeking personal empowerment in a world that seems pretty much out of control and they first thing they want to learn is magic that can give them some sort of personal power over others. They are the ones that keep buying the Witchcrap spell books and will flood Pagan venues with requests for spells and healing energies for things they should be able to handle in a mundane fashion. Others come seeking more, ego gratification out of a lack of self-respect. I remember many years ago when I was a gypsy nursing aide encountering a young lady working in a nursing home who was always wearing black and had occult jewelry covering everything. She sought me out one break and told me how powerful she was, how sensitive to others energy she was and implying I should be in awe of her. She had no idea I was a lifelong Pagan myself and I didn't tell her but I ran into her doubles later on all over the internet.

Those who do are those like the ever popular Starhawk who lives what she believes and the late Issac Bonewits who contributed many many original ideas on magical practice and leadership and wrote on bad leadership, cult identification and the concept of antagonists as borrowed from a gifted Christian writer on the subject. Laurie Cabot is a Pagan leader regardless of what you might think of her personal style. But there are a tonne of what Issac called “big nosed Pagans” out there who do little more than promote themselves.

Most of you will be familiar with the Maetreum's seven year long battle for legal recognition in property tax equality with Christian churches despite being incorporated under New York religious corporate law and fully IRS recognition as a church and religious charity. You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of landmark cases regarding Paganism in the past thirty years and this has been one. One of the lessons we learned in the process is the utter worthlessness of the various Pagan advocacy groups when the rubber hits the road. NONE of them were there for us, not a single one! No legal advice, no references for a decent attorney, no legal representation. Not even help raising much needed funds for our legal fees. Individual Pagans helped with raising money, some non-advocacy Pagans groups contributed, but not one of those who claim a reputation for advocacy would so much as talk to us other than one self styled Pagan legal expert who wrote and said “buy my book, buy my book!” which as it turns out had not a single bit of relevant advice in it. When the initial ruling went against us due to extreme bigotry on the part of the judge, this “expert” announced she was going to write a "scholarly" review of the decision. We talked on FaceBook and I offered to provide the background and even documents on the case which was ignored. She called our attorney (without permission) for details resulting in our attorney calling me and asking if I knew this person and was she really a lawyer because her ignorance of the basics of law was staggering, her words not mine.

She wrote the article based solely on the decision of the judge with zero background material and even trashed me because the judge said I was not credible. That claim was on a single aspect of the case regarding the number of hours I put in a week on my duties as a priestess and he HAD to do that in order to ignore a prior, directly on point case in New York law in order to rule against us. I testified an entire day and everything else I testified to was repeated by two other priestesses in direct testimony. She had no way of knowing this. She had no way of knowing that during the years before the actual trial, the town officials had made one expression of bigotry after another to the press because she couldn't be bothered to read the twenty plus main stream media stories on the case, one in the New York Times. That the town's attorney, in direct violation of Federal and State law, repeatedly and endlessly challenged our legitimacy as a religion. Nope, she declared we were not discriminated against and simply not worthy. When we won the appeal she had declared we had zero chance of winning, she made a comment on a blog entry about the win that she remained skeptical! Of an Appellate level win! Talk about arrogance. It would not amount to a hill of beans except that her damn article really slowed down fund raising for the money we needed to file the appeal which we mostly had to raise ourselves because now much of the Pagan community considered our case hopeless. Real world harm from someone's ego that nearly shortchanged one of the significant wins in Pagan legal history.

This is the problem with the self styled leaders of our community. They can do actual real world harm. If you are trying to figure out who is a Pagan leader, look to what they actually do, not claim to do in the real world. By their deeds you shall know them.

Monday, January 20, 2014

We Aren't Wiccan

A recent article about our long long legal battle with the Town of Catskill pointed out
“the views and practices of their organization (the Maetreum of Cybele) vary widely from those of many “Pagan” and other minority religious groups”
This is true and it occurs to me a lot of misunderstandings actually surround that basic statement that should be discussed. I was the principle founder of what we call the Cybeline Revival and it does differ in many respects from most of the category it is lumped in with, neo-Paganism. First of all it is a theology based on historic research that tries to re create the basis of the Mother Goddess traditions of the ancient world. It is not about “the craft” as so many modern neo-Pagan groups are. That is not to say our priestesses are not skilled in the craft, most of us are. Rather that witchcraft is not the focus of what we do, what we believe and how we practice.

We are not reconstructionists. We started off with the history we had readily available, primarily the practices common in Greece and Rome during the classical period and our Season of the Tree celebration does reconstruct much of the body of ritual done in Rome as the Meglamensia as a celebration of that. Our goal, from the start, was to restore Mother Goddess theology and practices as if they had not been interrupted for some 1600 years by the attempt to erase us from history by the Catholic church. In order to do that we had to dig deeply into the prior Mother Goddess traditions stretching far back into pre-history, extract the essence and build from that. It is an ongoing process that although I started, is being continued by some of our younger priestesses, one of whom is pursuing that as the basis of her Doctorate.

We are not “Dianics”. Living in a patriarchy and coming from a history where the priestesses were required to be female bodied many confuse us with Dianic practice. Unlike Dianics, we encourage men to participate in our rituals, share our lives and undergo our Mysteries. Yes, we are decidedly pro woman, feminists and about female empowerment but we also acknowledge the historic fact that every single Mother Goddess tradition had transsexual priestesses as well as non-transsexual women priestesses. Dianics can be quite opposed to this fact. Dianics do not allow men to participate in their rituals.

And let's be frank, we are NOT Wiccan. Modern Pagan practices are often confused with Wicca as established by Gardner and later Alex Sanders. I won't get into my own opinions of that practice today which frequently has little in common with it's own rather late to the party roots and is quickly becoming a generic term rather than a specific one. Wicca depends on “the craft” at it's roots and if it has an actual theology, I have failed to find it because it was reclaimed for the most part from European folk magic and middle ages ceremonial magic that arose as opposition to the Catholic church. The so called rede came directly from Alister Crowley, the self styled most evil man in the world. The so called law of three fold return to discourage so called left hand path work (dark magic) is a hold over of the carrot and stick theology of Christianity and based in fear that the quite old association of cursing and witchcraft not be revisited upon them. And finally, in the original Wicca, one had to be initiated into a coven and there was no such thing as solo practice and self initiation, ideas introduced by Scott Cunningham.

The Cybeline Revival is unique in modern Paganism. We are basically monotheistic which I would argue Christianity never was. We re-introduced the ancient practice of Pagan monasticism, but just as in the ancient times not a cloistered monasticism, but very much a part of the world. One does not seek the priestesshood in our tradition as some sort of spiritual merit badge but rather a life long commitment to service towards others so our congregants are just as important in their own right as the priestesses. We don't serve up answers because we believe the Goddess is eminent in all so we teach people to awaken the Goddess within themselves. That means you have to do the work yourself, we just help you do so. Not a recipe for those who were raised in a world that encourages instant gratification to flock to us so we expect our growth to be slow. We believe in balance in the world, in spirituality, in all things so there is a place for light work as well as dark and a time and place for both.

Many Pagan writers have talked about the things that are at the root of our theology, we practice it.