Thursday, September 24, 2020

[Pagan] A conversion story

 So, Nicky, how did a nice little Methodist girl become a non-binary Hellenistic pagan person?

I got asked about how I became pagan and why. Let's say there's a reason for the blog title.


I was raised Methodist. Church every Sunday, the occasional pot-luck or ice cream social, and the annual Turkey Supper. Communion once a quarter. I was an acolyte after I was confirmed at age 9 and proved I could walk down the aisle with the candle-lighter and not fall or set fire to anything. 

When I was 13, my folks left the Methodist church. The pastor was embezzling and when Mom and my stepdad confronted him at a church meeting, he attempted to assault them. There is a process for getting a new pastor, and my folks were unwilling to continue attending while the church worked through it.

They started in at the Lutheran church, so I went along. Another round of confirmation classes, and I found I disliked the general doctrines of the church. I started going to the Baptist church with my grandparents. Mom quit the Lutheran church and went to a different Baptist church. The pastor was a raging homophobe, exactly what my sexually confused self needed at that time.

By the time I hit college, I was looking for a solid church, one that wasn't going to drag me into the weirdness of charismatic Christianity, one that wasn't insane. My boyfriend went to an independent Bible church, and they did mostly book studies. It appealed to me as an intellectual. They turned out to be crazy too. They had gotten so far into the pro-life movement, they were ending up in the nascent quiverfull and dominionist movement. I bought into it. After all, I wanted a better world for my kids.

And boy did I have kids. I have four because I woke up before I had five. God might forget I was bisexual if I married a man and made lots of little God-warriors.

We church-hopped a lot after we moved to Arkansas. Eventually working 3-5 jobs between us meant we were not able to attend on Sundays.

So I drifted, being a Christian in an every day kind of way without regular church. When the kids got bigger, I tried the Methodist church in West Memphis and it was all right for a while. Then my oldest asked about pagans. She was about 11 or so. I found the local group and we went to one of their full moon circles.

It didn't do much for me, but she was moved. She read books on paganism and began identifying as a witch and as bisexual around 12-13. So I went with her for Sabbats with Summerland Grove. Her sibs tagged along, but only my youngest, another girl, stayed with it.

I was identifying as Cambellian Christian by then, taking Joseph Campbell and his Monomyth theory with my religion. I realized I was scarcely what most would call a Christian. I was working for Christian Brothers University and learning there were other ways to be Christian, rather than the rigid, self-righteous path of denial and austerity and judgement I had been raised with, and other beliefs than Premillennialism.

Bun came out bisexual and I needed to accept my own. I volunteered at the Gay & Lesbian center as she attended the local gay youth group meeting. That sealed my walking away.

In 2005, when Bun was 13, we went through the First Realm course with Summerland Grove. This is an exploratory class, an introduction to paganism. I identified as a pantheist by the end of it. Bun was identifying as Wiccan.

In 2006, both my girls had mental breakdowns. Bun spent much of the year in a mental hospital. Oli, age 6, started self harming. Both were hearing voices. I was having visions and being granted knowledge that if I returned to Christianity all this would stop. If I didn't, my girls would die.

I faced God and walked backward into paganism. I defied him to murder my girls over my beliefs, telling him he wasn't worthy of worship if he stooped to abuse tactics like this. 

I had not been called by any god. But as I learned to drive semi-trucks in 2006, I called on Freyja frequently for aid. She didn't listen. Not my pantheon.

It was 2007 before I figured out my patron was Hera. I called on her for a spell (binding a bad boyfriend). Those I did the spell with said I was gone. I have no memory of anything after lighting the incense. My eyes went blue, they said (my eyes are brown), not blue but Freman blue, and Hera was in the driver's seat. We cast so hard we made a bottle of mead spoil and I couldn't be around men for three days without splitting headaches.

After that, I devoted myself to the Queen of Olympus. Hermes took me up as I realized he was in charge of all my pursuits: travel, writing, merchant work. He also got me terrific parking.

I went my way, praying and lighting candles and reading tarot cards. Never really got serious about it, just a small daily practice and church on the holidays. Most forms of magic are nothing more than applied will. There are some I like but most of the time, I prefer to apply directly, without the hugger-mugger.

Bun became a follower of Aphrodite and the Cyprian smiles on her still. Oli went with Poseidon, because she always has been a water-baby.

We celebrated with Summerland Grove until it went weird and started falling apart when the High Priestess died. They're making a comeback, finally finding their feet after that upheaval. Some friends and I started a small coven, which grew, went wonky as the wrong people joined the mix, and fell apart. We tried again a couple years ago and have a solid church with state recognition and about 30 members now.


I fell into paganism because the kids were interested, got committed to the idea of offering a queer-friendly church (which Summerland is and the Polestari definitely is) and the gods took me up when they were ready. Most recently, the Morrigan laid claim to me a couple years ago.



Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Suffrage growing in unpopularity with Republicans

 Activist Abby Johnson spoke at the RNC this week. She supports Head of Household voting. That means one household, one vote, the husband's.


I've been tracking anti-suffrage sentiment on the Right for a while.

In 2014, I posted a journal entry that linked to Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, David Barton and others saying women shouldn't vote.


This post in 2012 talks about fringe ideas becoming mainstream policy. That was the year the GOP came out anti-birth control. 

"Even Operation Rescue wasn't anti-birth control in the late 80s. Even they realized more BC meant fewer abortions.

Then came abstinence-only sex ed. And talk about the failures of birth control.

I sounded the alert that Roe was teetering and Griswold was in the crosshairs. Everyone said I was nuts, I was overdramatizing.

This year, ALL the major Republican candidates came out AGAINST BIRTH CONTROL!

Twenty years from lunatic fringe to mainstream political endorsement. Think about that.

And think too, there are lunatic fringe voices now calling for the disenfranchisement of women. They want to take my VOTE!

Twenty years from lunatic fringe to mainstream...."


Now, the keynote speaker is anti-suffrage.
It was only 8 years this time.


Thursday, July 30, 2020

THings I must do

Edit Terror
Write Helluva Deal
set up Patreon posts
turn switchblade comb into knife
revamp Mack
Mail vid of Mack to jinxedaposed@gmail.com by Aug 11
Write cookbook
inventory all the made things
Make ALL THE THINGS!!

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

A poll for you, my readers

All right folks, survey time! This is going out on all my social media.

Choose as many as apply

1) How do you prefer to interact/follow/read me?

A) Patreon
B) Website
C) Blog
D) Facebook
E) Twitter
F) Instagram
G) Tumblr
H) Mailing List
I) Newsletter
j) Interpretive Dance
K) Dreamwidth/LiveJournal
L) Telepathy
M) Live chats (Zoom, skype)
N) Podcasts/Youtube

2) What content do you want to see with regard to writing

A) Covers
b) Reviews
c) excerpts
d) Art of Writing
e) Mental casting
f) kidnapped celebrities being forced to act out scenes, with a venmo so we can pay them scale

3) What misc content do you want?

A) Politics
B) Cat pictures
c) Arts and crafts
d) personal updates
e) cat pictures
f) grandkid pictures
g) pagan religion posts
h) cat pictures
i) recipes
j) grandkid pics
k) cat pics
l) memes
m) drag stuff
n) cat pics.

Monday, July 13, 2020

Pagan: Basic Sigil Work

My favorite info page on making Sigils is a 404. So I have cribbed it from the Wayback Machine and put it here.

Papa Nick sez: Remember, a sigil is a Wish spell trapped in a design. be VERY careful how you formulate it.


From A Beginner's Guide to Sigil Making

 One important thing to note is that sigils always appear to work. The distinction being; if I kicked in a window, I’d feel I knew who’d done it. If I cast a sigil which asked for that window to be broken and then discovered a few days later it was now broken, no one can prove a causal relationship between the sigil and the broken window. However I might get the impression that my sigil was involved in the process somewhere.

Secondly, the following is a (in my opinion better) version of other ideas that have been kicking round recently such as, The Secret, Cosmic Ordering, and, to a lesser extent, “positive thinking”. It’s also similar to “praying,” if you think your God lives within you.

All these above techniques have common elements. All of them are pretty much in agreement regarding the first part of the process, set your intent. The most effective Discordian occultists spend more time on step one than they ever do on step four.

Step one: Decide upon your will.

— All your workings should be done with pieces of paper and a pen.

This is the hardest part. You need to imagine what it is you want as clearly as possible. Then refine it until you’ve got a vision of what it is you ‘really’ want. Then refine it again after you’ve imagined the earth shifting upon its axis in order to grant this wish over the next few years. Check you’re good with the consequences and then, refine it again. I can’t emphasise this enough. See the further reading section for more details.

Once you’re happy write it out as a single sentence:

EG: I AM A HEALTHY FOURTEEN AND A HALF STONE, ENERGETIC PERSON.

Notice a few things about the above. When I cast this I wanted to be 14 and a half stone. There are many ways this could have happened, some of them include ill health. Hence the words healthy and energetic.

Think of those old fairy stories where someone makes a wish and there are tragic consequences. King Midas wanted everything he touched to turn to gold. He ends up regretting his wish. The difference between your sigil becoming a blessing or a curse is in its detail. Give it lots of thought. Write and re-write the sentence. Check the further reading section for more information.

Also notice, it’s not “I WANT TO BE” or “I AM THIS AND NOT THAT”. Negatives in sigils are just negative! If you write “I WANT TO BE A MILLIONAIRE” look forward to a life of wanting to be a millionaire. Remember what we learned in part one where you began lucid dreaming. What would happen to you if you dived into the dream world with negatives in your mind?

If you truly have followed this series from part one, as opposed to most who will have  just casually landed on it and curiously read to this point, why not try to lucid dream your intended future first and try it out a bit? If, for example, having lots of sexual partners gets messy in that world ditch it and come up with a better wish. It needs to feel like a world you are comfortable in. Once that’s the case, state it as if you are already there, in that positive future.

As an exercise imagine you’re in that future calling back into the past when you wrote out this sigil. Try describing and declaring what it’s like in as much detail as possible. Now listen out for your “imaginary” future self shouting “I’m the owner of a brand new convertible and I love it” or whatever. Now, write it down!

Finally a note of caution here. Remember we spoke about ‘true will’ in the last piece? Well, if your dreams and visions involve others do not enchant realities which compromise their true will.

So, for example, don’t put “I am married to Dave who works in accounts”. Ask for a less uncompromising: “I’m married to a bloke like Dave who works in accounts”. This doesn’t rule Dave out of the equation, after all who is more like Dave than Dave? However if he thinks you’re a repulsive creature who he’d rather vomit over than have sex with, you’ve given the poor guy a get out and you can still get what you need. Far better to enchant someone, like him who likes you of their own free will.

It’s not unlikely you’ll encounter minor problems with all this but remember what you learned in part three and fear not: you will live and learn!

There’s nothing to stop you doing another sigil in the future.



Step Two: Remove the vowels and repeated letters.

The first step was by far the most important part. These next bits are 1% of sigil craft and the bit you’ve just done was the remaining 99%. However, this 1% which I’m about to explain is the more “magick” bit. It’ll make you feel more like ‘an occultist’ and there’s enormous value in that.

This means you should check you’re comfortable with what you’ve just done as part of this second step. You need to feel good on both a subconscious and intuitive level about the sentence you’re turning into a weird looking symbol. If you’re not it’ll come out in the process later on once the sigil is cast. For now, I’ll assume you are and crack on.

Firstly, sigils are crafted and re-drafted by a process of elimination. Like a sculpture you’re going to chip and chisel that sentence down until it looks like a sort of magical wingding. Begin this by removing the vowels and repeated letters, leaving yourself with a string of consonants, like so:

MHLTYFRNDSGCP



Step three: Combine the letters into one big pattern and begin reducing it into a simpler image.

This bit is where most people get in a tizz. Remember the most difficult part of the process was over once you’d finished step one. There are no rules as to how you go about combining the letters but I find it best to jumble them all into one big squiggle. The main picture is an example of the one we’re looking at. Ultimately it was successful and I used a revised version to hit my target weight of 13.5 a year later. This is down from my initial 18.5 stone.

Keep re-drawing it and omitting details as you go along. The point of this process is to lose sight of what it is the sigil means. Keep drawing until the exact point of your work is irrelevant to you. Get really bored of the process and lose sight of why it is you’re bothering with such superstitious nonsense. Make it look more and more “magickal” to you. Hit a point where it starts to become a labour of love which is totally detached from your initial intent.

The finished product must look perfect and beautiful. It represents the total of your efforts. This is now a sigil, yet to be cast. It represents a thought which you are about to plant into the collective dreamworld so it can start to descend into the world of objective reality and your future.


Not quite but almost the finished product

Treasure it a bit. Don’t cast it straight away. Be pleased with it.

Step Four: Cast it.

People are divided upon how exactly you should do this. You’re looking for an intense transcendental experience where you can focus on this image and force it through your mind into the magical dream world while you are fully conscious. Pain, meditation, orgasm, psychedelic-transcendental drugs or all of the above combined are popular methods. Whichever you’re best at. Combine the intense experience with a good solid look at the sigil. Then close your eyes and think of it. Project it into your minds eye and out into the cosmos. Then destroy the paper it is drawn on and forget all about it.

One simple way, which I use, is with a candle. Have the sigil drawn on a piece of paper. Burn it and then let the flame burn (but not harm) your fingertips. At that precise moment close your eyes and picture it in your mind. There we are, it’s cast. The pain should have done enough to distract you and send it neatly into the world of ideas…

There are numerous other methods[5] but the most important part is, as I said, step 1.

Once you’ve cast your sigil you must then aid its descent into the real world. If you asked for a new job, get applying for them. If you wanted to lose weight like I did, stop eating those chocolate cakes.

23

Nick Margerrison.



FURTHER READING:

Any fairy tale where a wish is granted. Any story featuring a Djinn in a bottle who grants wishes. The story of King Midas.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Notes from the (fictional) Second Civil War

A few years ago, the rumor went around that liberals would launch a second civil war on July 4.
Some of us took the idea and ran with it on Twitter.

#secondcivilwarletters
Our side woefully deficient in marching music. Other side using extruded pop country product. Have taught my squad mates "March of Cambreadth"
Sound the Horn and Call the Cry/How many of them can we make die
They say it's too violent.

#secondcivilwarletters
Beloved.
Killed my first man tonight. He had attempted to steal into the encampment but I had sentry duty. I muffled his scream with a handful of kale and garroted him with my bow tie.
My hands still shake. But at least I don't have to eat the kale.

#secondcivilwarletters
Mother,
I know you fear for my safety as I march into battle. Take courage that you gave the middle name Wyatt for a reason. No, wait, you named me Marie. I am with the 32 TransForce and we will be securing bathrooms for our siblings throughout the country.

#secondcivilwarletters
Baby Girl,
coming home in a wheelchair. Battle of Target Bathrooms went in our favor but a MAGA clipped me in the sciatica and stomped my weather ankle. I fought so you don't have to.
Feeling too old for this shit,
Your genderqueer Mom.

#secondcivilwarletters
Beloved Husband,
Would I was with you, leading the PFLAG Brigade , armed with science in the face of those who need no book learning. Alas, the injury sustained with the 32nd Transforce will leave me limping manfully forever.
Your Nick

#secondcivilwarletters
After three weeks recovery, I have a new assignment, Glitter Artillery. My drag sisters have accepted me as one of them, although Sr. Claire from Accounting keeps trying to contour me. We're psyops, and hope to raise many questions among the MAGA

#secondcivilwarletters
Beloved Husband,
I hear the PFLAG Battalion has been doing wonderful work with psyops. I have left your brother-husband in charge of the household for I have been resummoned to the front.
Pray for me.
Blood! Blood and Souls for my Lord Arioch!

#secondcivilwarletters
Dear Son,
Be proud of your old man. I am in charge of a unit in the Leaflet and Glitter Artillery stationed above Memphis. We're sowing discord in Nashville.
Must go reload shells. Hitting Music Row tomorrow.
Artillery 4ever
Dad

#secondcivilwarletters
The ninja unit attached to our artillery has successfully infiltrated the enemy and strewn wigs, binders, suitcoats and heels among them. Dawn found confusion in the MAGA lines, and we took in seventy defectors as POWs. They will be sent to TransForce.



More, from all over the country can be found under the hashtag on twitter.

and a curated collection can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/libbiegrant/posts/10156197558964597

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Thinking about female characters


This showed up on my twitter and it got me thinking.

I don't write a lot of women. There's not much room for them in the gay romance genre.
But I do include some.

In Curse of the Pharaoh's Manicurists (and other books in the series) I have 4 standard women, and other guest stars. Sarah Brown is a Mako Mori. She has her own narrative arc, although our narrator only catches glimpses of it. She is the primary adversary.  General Elizabeth has lines, but she is strictly support. Janine and Olivia, the housemaids, are silent and efficient, as good Edwardian maids should be. Safi and Josette could be replaced with sexy lamps. Rishima could be problematic, as a dayaan, an Indian witch, but she and Charlie talk and exchange magic, and their relationship not one-sided. She stands in as a magical mentor while he's away from Dr. Walker.

In the Eight Thrones... Tanis is the only woman in the Group and she fails the Strength is Relative. She would much prefer to be one of the boys and acts as if she is. As we visit Rome, we encounter Benta, Padma, Akino and others, all of whom have their own arcs, some of which we see. We failed the Anti-Freeze by killing Charlotte in the first book. Betraying her to her death was part of a test of Nick's commitment to the group.

In the DJ books, we pass the Bechdel, she is her own arc, she is not sexy and cannot be replaced with a lamp, but she is regularly injured in her line of work (Way too many of my cases ended with the words "You're lucky to be alive.")  But again, she is furthering her own story. And she is a hard-drinking, tough PI in the Sam Spade mold. She lives like a stereotype and is quite aware of it, thank you. She does these things by her choice.  This is a series I have done some worrying about. If I represent the demographics of Memphis, am I falling into the Magical Negro trap? (DeMarco hurls a mean fireball) If I don't give magic to characters of color, am I making a point or just being careless? I opted to have them use magic, but have their own ends and only reluctantly (sometimes with bribes, like the pixies) help DJ.

In Hard Reboot, for most of the book, Caitlin could be replaced by a sexy lamp. She is an object the men are squabbling over. (almost literally, after being brainwashed) She is a project. Sean has to rewire the pretty lamp, and when he does, she becomes a person again. Zara...is a mess. She may have her own arc, but all we see of her is in her interactions with men.