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Variety is the Spice of LifeOr so they say!

We’re now with six weeks left in The Pagan Blog Project, and I’m looking at ‘X’, ‘Y’, & ‘Z’ without much love I will admit. Even this ‘V’ post seems to me a stretch too far. Ha! I am however determined to complete this task. If for no other reason than “because finished!”. Though I know it will not be entirely perfect being one ‘G’, one ‘H’ and plus one ‘A’. Go figure. But I have enjoyed it, as I’ve said before, has introduced me to many pagan bloggers and readers, and their experiences and wisdoms. More than that with 52 week’s prompts, along with the other posts I’ve made, writing has become an almost daily activity, and that can never be wrong.

The purpose of this blog has always been to explore and share the experience of this Grand Land o’ Mine. In ways that seem to me to be less explored more broadly from the perspective of the Australian Witch. It was never a personal rambling, all topics journalling activity, though here again I find I am doing that just that. This year has been rather massive for me, and slowly, seed-things, ideas, projects, undertakings, that I planted, instigated etc., at the beginning of 2014 are starting to bear fruit in new opportunities and activities being presented. It’s never in the manner one expects. Things, any things, never seem to come out the way one imagines, so you have to be ever aware in order to catch them when they come along. And certainly, when you’re on a good news run, you really want to maintain that momentum.

In a conversation with my friend and teacher this afternoon, he made the point that magic, for healing or luck or what have you, is never as easy as just ritual and spell work. And let’s face it, a lot of times ritual and spell work is the easier and enjoyable part of garnering and initiating change. I myself have often mused that the Gods must disdain those who seek their help where universal and free healthcare, for example, fought for and gifted to us by our ancestors here in Australia, might otherwise be more effective. If you want something to happen or change in one sphere of your life you have to hit the issue from all other angles as well. In this way it is usually pretty clear when something doesn’t happen that you think you want or that others think you should have, that there are probably very valid reasons it has not, and probably not wholly want you want or need. If you aren’t looking from all angles, you may end up a little singular and banging your head against a wall.

This afternoon I was looking through my journals and notes, and realised how very aware I was this time last year at the position I would find myself in this year. I had a fundamental choice, and was entirely free to do what I wanted and when. And rather than be all usual and conventional, I got entirely creative on it.

MewhenreadingstupidstuffLesson Number One: Keep going. I decided to go back to school and pull together a whole bunch of life and employment experiences in a Diploma. And it has been a complete pain in my arse! A myriad of practical and technical issues in terms of studying via correspondence because what I want and need is not available in Tasmania. So now, having extended the end date past where I expected, I find that in doing so, some of the issues and technical difficulties have resolved themselves. Just because the timing’s wrong doesn’t mean you’re on the wrong track. And I’m glad that I didn’t give into the overwhelming urge to chuck the whole thing in several times. Don’t chuck it in before you’re sure it’s the right thing to do. Keep going. If it’s what you need, how to get it will eventually reveal itself.

Roland Rockville, Papa Legba, fabric and beads, ca. 30 × 36". Courtesy of Nancy Josephson.

Roland Rockville, Papa Legba, fabric and beads, ca. 30 × 36″. Courtesy of Nancy Josephson.

Lesson Number Two: Expect the unexpected. At the beginning of 2014 I knew I was looking for something very particular in terms of my Craft. I had begun the process of stripping back my practices to the bare bones as I stepped away from the tradition I was taught. And that has been a big theme here on the blog as I experiment with seasons, festivals, and currents of power as they are actually manifest rather than how I would like them to be manifest for the benefit of tradition. Besides being possibly the path to madness, it has actually been hugely illuminating and rewarding. On the other side of that was something piecemeal and poorly tacked into my practice, something that didn’t go away even when I thought it probably rightly should. And then quite surprisingly someone showed up who could help me come to terms with the fullness of power and beauty that lay behind those things. In September I wrote about the idea of going back and analysing the sources of habits and practices we have, and about being in the place of the student again. These last two months have been maddening, as often is the case when you begin something new. But in the last two weeks, as crazy as it still seems to me to even write it, I realise, there’s no escaping the fact a Vodu novitiate I am, and that’s precisely where I need to be. Who knew?! Expect the unexpected.

This is sort of what my spare room looks like. Ceramic body jars and human remains at Khnorng Sroal, Cardamon Mountains Cambodia.

This is sort of what my spare room looks like. Ceramic body jars and human remains at Khnorng Sroal, Cardamon Mountains, Cambodia.

Lesson Number Three: Follow your gut. Or, prepare always for more. I hoard. Not randomly like those people you see on TV, but specifically. I always have on hand things that I see use in for my craft and art. Most of which I use myself. But in my own practice not NEARLY as much or as often as the stores I have would offer. I have always crafted when inspiration hits. In truth, I find storing raw materials in my little house much easier than the finished products. I’m a little bit space poor, and so have, to date, worked to that space, and inspiration. Which is not to say I don’t, I almost have some project or another in progress, even when I am just experimenting with new ideas and techniques, or working on something devotional myself. But regardless of the immediate need, there’s no limit to what I will store away thinking to myself, one day, I will use that…

Recently, I’ve been given the opportunity to share my craft and art in larger formats and forums. And they come with the idea that my craft might have a wider appeal than I could have ever imagined. It has been a huge compliment to me, and though not yet set in stone, I am preparing myself for a goodly few months in which my hobby will morph into something much more like a full time job. It’s terrifying to be honest. And of course, when things are more concrete I look forward to sharing the process here on my blog. In the meantime, I can’t help but look at my stores, my notes and ideas, and quietly hi-five myself. I KNEW I would need them. I knew eventually each thing would come in handy for myself or others. It is always better to assume you will get the opportunity rather than decide that right now you don’t need this or that and let it be. Witchcraft collection for the win. Follow your gut, always be prepared for more. Which is sort of linked to…

You know it's been a good dayLesson Number Four: Always be honest about what you are and what you need and want. I know this one is sometimes harder than it ought to be for a lot of people. I have moments where I wonder about the impact of my complete and utter lack of filter in my life, but so far, it’s never occurred to me that it was at all terrible. I’m currently not working a normal people job, I’m studying, as I said, and also I’m a witch and I practice weird things and make weird things in my house. “With what?” Oh you know, herbs, wood, bones, I like skulls, dead things, that sort of thing… It occurred to me after that particular conversation with one of my neighbours that I am getting to know better that saying that to someone who knows where you live is maybe not that bright. Or, as it happens, you could go outside to light one of your shrines on the verandah (which makes worrying about the conversation rather moot) a few days later to find that a small animal skull, that has no doubt been found on a walk in the local bush, has been placed carefully between two of your pot plants where it will not blow away in the breeze. Honesty, transparency, authenticity. I swear, nothing but love has ever come of it. (And here, I might also add, a stealthy break and enter into vacant houses to do a cleansing after really shitty neighbours, and encourage really awesome ones works! Yay!) This in turn leads me to…

Nothing is a waste of timeLesson Number Five: “Nothing is a waste of time if you use the experience wisely.” This is another one of those things that sounds good in theory, but in reality, is one of those choices one makes, like gratitude, that don’t always manifest as our first emotion or response. Like when one finds themselves free in ways they had not previously been. For me, the big one was not working a normal people job. When one works, or has children, a thing external that dictates your time frame, your diary, your calendar, there are great many other things we relegate to “things I would like to do when I have time”. On the flip side, you don’t often wake in the morning with nothing to do, or with no idea what to do. You go to work. And I’ve done that a lot. This was one of the weirder things I’ve experienced. Spoiled for time and choice. So, I got creative, I’ve spent days on projects that didn’t work in the end. And one can feel like they’ve just wasted all that time. But in light of recent opportunities it’s obvious to me I’m bloody lucky I’ve had the time to do these things, and gotten those lessons out of the way. I recently had this discussion with one of my students. Lots of things can feel like you’ve just wasted time, like you’re poorly prepared, as if you’ve bitten off more than you can chew. But- If you keep going, if you expect the unexpected and for things to manifest in their own way rather than impose upon them strict form, if you prepare for them to manifest for your benefit, and follow your gut, if you are honest about what you are and what you need and want, and if you can recognise that ultimately the choice is always yours, and you can choose to say yes or no to anything, there is wisdom to be had. And nothing is a waste of time.

Oh, and finally: Honour the Ancestors, Love the Land, and devote yourself to something Greater. Obviously. The Craft itself is the lens through which we attempt to see one thing as intricately woven into the fabric of all things. It’s big picture thinking that allows us to see more clearly the resources we have at hand now, the possibilities that lay ahead, and remember the lessons and influences from the past.

Honour the Ancestors

I don’t know yet if I will continue with the PBP in 2015. Though I will certainly be keeping up with the reading. It all depends on how these projects and activities pan out over the coming months.

One of the things I’ve noticed in the experience is how often I think better of posting these more everyday observation and experience sort of posts, like I’m deviating from the purpose of having the blog in the first place. They have been the times I’ve struggled with a letter, the process of writing for it’s own sake, I suppose. But, in the process this last year, I’ve come to be more accepting of how little I compartmentalise my life. All these things are part of my craft, my circumstances, my participation with and support of things that I would change in my society, personal experiences, fascinations, community. They all feed back, through me, into my practice, inform the work I do. Variety is the spice, and things are rich, tasty, juicy, fascinating, and pack a punch.

For myself, I quite enjoy reading these sorts of post on other blogs. I like the idea that a person’s practice, ethics, and motivation comes more fully into view when how they respond and participate with the broader community and mundane life is evident. As the craft and art projects mount in coming months, I still wonder if these idiosyncratic posts will remain part of the mix, here, or elsewhere.  I am though, starting to realise that variety is necessary part of sharing, garnering opportunity, and my Craft. I am a student, a craftsperson, a novitiate, a teacher, political, progressive, feminist, witch. I use my Craft in all these spheres. I can’t separate it out so easy.

Like garam masala.

P.S. ‘V’ is for ‘Variety’. This post participates with The Pagan Blog Project 2014.