This little light of mine…

Dear Friends,

So in the last couple of weeks I had seen multiple announcements for the LGBT Youth Candlelight Vigils here in Orlando on the 20th and 21st… for LGBT Teen Suicide Awareness Day on the 20th.   I committed to going to the Lake Eola vigil.  There was also one the next night at UCF…

As a part of these vigils, and apparently as a general part of the LGBT Youth Suicide Awareness day on the 20th folks were encouraged to wear Purple.  Now a lot of times when something like this happens you hear all sorts of encouragement to wear a color and show your support… and folks will change the color of their blog or post a new profile pic… but you don’t hear as much about getting off your butt and marching or sending in your money… and as an aging queer and Witch… well, I can get a bit ornry…

No, I am not going to wear purple, nor am I going to put purple on my facebook profile, what I am doing is going to a candle-lit vigil for glbt youth suicide awareness and I am going to re-commit to voting against homophobia…

~ Pax’s rather ornry Facebook profile from a few days ago…

I was there as a Gay man who had been bullied in High School over his orientation, or rather perceived orientation since I was only partially out to even myself at that point.  I was also there as a Witch, who has finally set aside some of his why-not-to-do-stuff for his why-the-hell-not, and is working on his will and Will.  I was also there to support my friends from the 1st Unitarian Church Orlando, including my friend Sister Ambrosia Discordia of the Orlando Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence (Ambrosia happens to be a member of the 1st U, the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have no formal relationship with the U.U.A) and our new settled Minister Reverend Kathy Schmitz.

There was a long time where people were simply mingling and talking.   Reverend Kathy spent some time networking with some of the other religious leaders in attendance.  I was kind of odd man out for a while, although my bright pink “Tough Guys Wear Pink” T-shirt did bring some nice compliments!

What!?  I had to wear something.  If for no other reason, because most folks would NOT appreciate me in my altogether/ Bear-on-the-half-shell glory.  Besides you don’t have to wave a rainbow flag to, well, wave the rainbow flag!

As darkness fell and the crowd began to grow as people found parking near Lake Eola Park, or got to the park from wherever they had found parking, some folks began lighting candles they had brought with them and some of the Come Out Orlando vollunteer’s (the group that had put the event together) distributed their candles for the vigil.  It was at this point that it was a pleasant surprise to see members of the Downtown Orlando Circle of the Sublime Elm, and the Orlando G.L.B.T. Pagan’s and Witcbes Meet-up groups in attendance.  I said hello and introduced them to some of the folks from 1st U and to the Sister’s.

Then there was an all too quiet speech, must look for an microphone/bull-horn for the kids at Come Out Orlando… then a lovely and very interfaith prayer from a young lady wearing a clerical color against a lovely lavender shirt.  Then we marched…

Oddly enough, it was the first time I marched in something other than a Pride parade.  Gay Pride, we Pagans don’t have our own parades yet… at least not public ones that I am aware of.  ANYHOW, I had been in protests before but I don’t think I have ever marched before… and since this was a candle-lit vigil it had more of a spiritual/processional feel to it.

It was quite lovely, and a good renewal of my inner activist and my will and possibly my Will.


Pax / Geoffrey

Spirals and Arcs

“Let us remember that the arc of a moral universe is long

but it bends toward justice.”

~Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 1962

In this season when so many of us will be remembering our own Ancestors and a variety of Honored and Beloved Dead, casting Circles,  dancing in Spirals; it is both funny and synchronous I now find myself contemplating an Arc.

It started as I was surfing through FaceBook  the other day, and someone had posted about how they couldn’t believe that they were seeing GLBT folks being added to Federal Hate Crimes legislation here in the U.S.  They were surprised, and amazed and overjoyed, to see it happening in their lifetime.  I am glad for them, and a little saddened that it should come as such a surprise to folks.

I am really not all that shocked or surprised at this development.  As a Pagan and a Gay man I have seen a lot of changes already in my lifetime.  I was born in March of 1972.  Later that year the American Psychological Association removed homosexuality from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, its authoritative list of mental disorders and illnesses.

Surprised?  No.  Gladdened, yes; and heartened, and inspired to pick up some torches I had dropped recently,  but not surprised.  I AM surprised that it took so many average people of conscience so long to see the rightness of equal rights and human rights, but we humans can be pretty dense sometimes.   I am something of an idealist, or so I have been told, and I have every expectation that I will see true GLBT equality, and Gay Marriage, in my lifetime; because these  are right and true causes rooted in morality, honor, love, and justice.

As the example of Dr. King, and the U.S. Civil Rights Movement of the 1960’s shows, when people of conscience and faith gather around shared values they can change the world for the better.  We can change the world for the better.  So now, in this season of Samhain,  when I remember and seek ways to honor the memories and spirits of my Beloved and Honored Dead; I find my mind turning to those causes of equality and justice and rights that some of them lived and died to help bring about.  I find myself wondering…

“What can I do?  What can we in the Pagan community do?”

(And YES, as a matter of fact I did go there, I DID say that oh SO scandalous “C”-word!)

I have said here before, among other places, that Paganism is a religious, spiritual, and social movement made up of several overlapping and intertwined religious and regional communities.  Recently I am debating about that definition with myself.  Juniper from Walking the Hedge made some excellent points in An Open Letter to the Pagan Community that, Yes, we are a community actually and could we please stop arguing that point and look at how we could be a better and more functioning one please?

Yewtree over at the dance of the elements bog, in her post on Community among Pagans and Unitarians, makes the point about how Unitarians (British cousins to the Unitarian Universalists) who, like U.U.’s are of many faiths, gather around and covenant within and are unified into beloved community by shared values and principles and moral beliefs.   I know that part of why I have become a Unitarian Universalist is that going to Services and seeking to covenant around the Principles of Unitarian Universalism allows me to better act upon and live  the virtues and values I have embraced as a Witch.  These facts and this ability of U.U.’s to covenant and create beloved community based on shared values was, I now realize, part of what inspired the 2009 IPVBM.

We are a Community and we share similar and interwoven and interconnected values.  We do not all share the exact same list, nor should we, but our lists and their key points have enough in common that I think we could engage in a little forgiveness about past infighting and Pagan drama and work together in service of our many Gods, living our values and faiths, and stand up for what is right and honorable and true and loving and good; so, inspired by the example of some of the Honored Dead, what should we do?

Beth Owl’s Daughter reminds us that Freedom of Religion is one of those Rights that is not simply handed to us, we must be willing to stand up and invoke and protect our rights.  Even with legal protections in place we can face hardship and injustice simply for our faiths.

In a similar vein, T. Thorn Coyle in her blog post for IPVBM 2009, observed that we in the U.S. have let much of our public policy debates fall to the arguments of (predominantly) Christian Conservatives and Secular Liberals.  Where is the diversity of voices one would expect in the Great American Melting Pot?

Here in the U.S. 1 in every 8 people is going hungry, and across the U.S. and the world, poverty and the recession are hitting folks harder and harder.

Then too, there are those who seek to line their pockets and fill their pews while stepping over the blood and bones of children and helpless old women.

What would our Ancestors think of thse things?  What DO our many  Goddesses and Gods think of that?   Do such things serve the All That Is?  Most importantly, what are WE as people of conscience, and values, and many faiths; what shall we do about these things?

In praise of Halloween’s mixed bag of treats…

picture of a party noise-maker from the Sexy Witch Website (see bellow)

This post is about Halloween as opposed to Samhain, but as they are more than a little intertwined temporally, thematically and in my own mind and emotions; as well as in the popular and Pagan cultures… I am not all that worried about it.

As a Witch, I have some very mixed feelings about Halloween…

On the one hand it delights and amuses me that Halloween is becoming such a widely decorated and celebrated holiday (at least in the U.S.).  I delight in my memories of Halloween’s of my childhood.  The costumes and the trick-or-treating.  The delicious agony of waiting till sun-down to go trick or treating.  The excitement and fun of a school Halloween Carnival, the cheesy games, the cake-walk, the haunted house and the costume contests and the home-made food booths.

I’d like to digress for a moment, as I often do, to mention a fading tradition of the U.S. Halloween experience, the Halloween Parades at school where classes would take turns parading through classes in their costumes!  I used to love those, in the few school years where I was going to schools that still did them they were a big, big deal.  Sometimes you’d have one costume for the School Parade and a whole other one for your actual trick-or-treating.  Good times, good times. (sigh)

Another long-lost part of Halloween that I can just remember is getting home-made treats in your trick-or-treating.  Paranoia, some of it sadly justified, of malicious trick-or-treat tampering has killed this fondly remembered tradition from Halloween’s long ago.

Now, back to our post, and the dreaded other hand…

I despair of the fact that the all-out-gross-out has become such a bloody and gory part of Halloween.  Now I realize that a certain blood-‘n-gutsy-ness has always been a part of Halloween.  It is an undeniable part of it’s ghoulish charm.   I am not sure of this blood soaked gore is, in part, a reaction to the anti-Halloween movement of the 1970’s and 80’s; or how it relates to the increasing fascination with blood and gore shock-em Horror films of the same period.  I just know that this trend depresses me.  It just seems to me that gore and gross has really began to overwhelm the spooky and fun charm of the Holiday.

There has always been a sense of the limenal-time to Halloween as social and personal barriers are lowered or transformed and folks let their (sometimes rather naughty) inner-child out to play dress up at costume parties.  There is also a sense of wonder as we accept the uncanny, if even briefly, into our lives with ghost-stories and fortunetelling and masquerade’s.  This time between times when, in beliefs ancient and modern, the walls between the worlds were thin and spirits walk amongst us has always held a sense of power and wonder and mystery for me.  Even as archeology begins to let go of the idea that the ancient Celts celebrated the new year at Samhain, it will remain a spiritual New Years, because it is a turning point.  A treasured night-time journey between the worlds of the mundane and the fantastic.

Is this, truly, a more jaded age that we require more visceral thrills to throw us into Halloween’s liminal state?  Or do you agree with me that Halloween can regain it’s Spooktacular aura once more?

I’ve been longing for some old-fashioned spooky fun in the last week or so.  Perhaps I’ll go bobbing for apples or carve a Jack O’lantern.  In the meantime I’ll be browsing through a few of my Favorite Halloween links and contemplating a fabulous old-fashioned Halloween.

If any of you can suggest further links, especially to old-fashioned Halloween costumes and decor, please post a comment and share!




Old-Fashioned, or just plain geek-tacular Halloween links…

The Vintage Halloween Website ~ This wonderful website is full of vintage collectibles and party suggestions, it is related to a Vintage Halloween Store website, and sadly lacks a lot of the how-to info I crave for my own edification and enjoyment, but this site is a useful ideas resource if your a bit arts & crafty minded!

Dragonfly Design Studio ~ This online store presents a wide number of antiques and reproductions that could help supply an old fashioned Halloween part, and provide some cool ideas. ~ Is one man’s website of resources and links for the Halloween lover.  If has information, and links and some great images!

Halloween Lantern’s ~ This is a sales website where a crafter sellser her original and reproduction Halloween Lantern’s and light screens.  Some great images, items and links…

The Monster Page of Halloween Project Links ~ Is a comprehensive do-it-yourself list of Halloween related projects, most of them are more Haunted House (or front yard) than old-fashioned, but it appealse to much to my inner geek not to include!

Allen’s Halloween Page ~ One mans chronicles of his own Haunted fron yard projects for Halloween.  Included instructions and links to a variety of resources.  Again, my inner geek was drooling…

Sexy Witch ~ A (NSFW) blog whose author Red Witch seeks out images of sexy witches for her own edification and as an antidote to the vile hag them common in many depictions.  The party noise-maker image at the top of this post was culled from this site.

Thrill The World ~ An annual event that seeks to get increasing numbers of folks to do the dance from the Thriller video by Michael Jackson.  They set a new world record in 2007 in Toronto.  (this link gets bonus points for not only being Halloween fun & weirdness, but 80’s fun and weirdness, ah the surreal days of my youth…..)

Samhaintide: 2008

I find myself feeling more creative, and like I am capable of a lot more than I am currently doing in many aspects of my life.  Some of this I attribute to coming out of the Summer doldrums and into the cooler and more invigorating weather of Winter.   (Subtropical Florida being here)

I also attribute some of this to Samhaintide.  It seems as if I feel a rising tide of magic, or perhaps I feel some of the walls of the worlds growing thin.  Some of this tidal pull is purely internal my sense of one of the holy days of Witchcraft approaching.  I think, in part, because whatever else changes with having moved to a subtropical climate, there is still an air of mystery and magic and strangeness and charm about Samhain.  Even in all the gory blood soaked haunted houses of some of the local theme parks, there is still that subtle edge of limnality to Samhain, or Halloween as they call it.

It is as if Mabon and the Equinox were the opening of a starting gate to … something new for me.  Parhaps Samhain is to be the starting bell?  It is well past time I dug out my Tarot cards and applied myself to them, and perhaps to some other scryings as well; and other prayers and offerings and libations and magics as well.

I mentioned feeling more creative.  I have had a lot of literary ideas bubbling up recently.  It also feels as if what little Hunters instict I have has finally come to bear on my job hunt.  II think this is part of why Mabon felt like Spring to me this year, it was the begining of a break up of some frozen lake within the wates of my stream of consciousness.  The cool nights have returned and window are opened once more, and sometimes doors; both physical and metaphysical, internal and external.

I made offerings to my personal Goddesses and Gods a couple of weeks ago.  Incense to Hecate and Dionysus, and a Libation to the Lady and Lord of Witchcraft.  In the direct experience of them they are different, but in my own minds meanderings I sometimes have trouble putting them into discrete mental boxes.  I wonder if other polytheists have this sort of problem?



Ok more extra early Halloween posting…

So I was on my way to a community Mabon event and I stopped in the store to buy some sort of potluck contribution because I was entirely unsure about going until the last minute. I was fine until I got to the Seasonal Aisle at the Dollar General Grocery… they had the Halloween decorations out….



Luckilly I am freakishly poor this month… or I would have probably gotten in some trouble with my Partner. Try as I might I have yet to convince him that the little purple and orange lights, scarecrows, fake spider webs, and one or two dozen actual or symbolic pumpkins and jack-o-lanterns are a necessity! As it was I had to chase my inner child around the store for a good 10-15 minutes… Finally caught the little bugger in the Home Furnishings section and had club him into submission and get to the event.




Its SUCH a good thing I don’t work at a Fabric or Crafts store anymore! (Heck, I STILL have fabric from Fabricland in the early 1990’s…

I tend to like my Halloween decor light-hearted and spooky with just a few pinches to a dash of the macabre. Pumpkins, scarecrows, bedsheet ghosts, maybe a skelleton or two… none of the blood and guts stuff that is popular in some quarters.

I will be adding and editing this post as the Holidays approach… WATCH THIS SPACE!!

So maybe I’m getting into the Spirit of the Season a wee bit early…

“It’s the Most Magickal Time of The Year”
by Pax (With apologies to Eddie Pola, and George Wyle, and, of course, Andy Williams)

It’s the most magickal time of the year
With the kids trick-or-treating
And everyone telling you “Spirits are Near”
It’s the most magickal time of the year
It’s the spook-spookiest season of all
With candy filled greetings and gay happy meetings
When Ancestors come to call
It’s the spook-spookiest season of all

There’ll be parties for hosting
Family Feasts for the Roasting
And acres of candy you know
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of Samhains long, long ago

It’s the most magickal time of the year
There’ll be memorial toasting
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It’s the most magickal time of the year

There’ll be parties for hosting
Feasts for the Roasting
And acres of candy you know
There’ll be scary ghost stories
And tales of the glories of Samhains long, long ago

It’s the most magickal time of the year
There’ll be memorial toasting
And hearts will be glowing
When love ones are near
It’s the most magickal time
It’s the most magickal time
It’s the most magickal time
It’s the most magickal time of the year!