Category Archives: Work

Defining my practice in terms of my culture, or not.

So, as I prepare to moderate (at least, I hope it’s me moderating as opposed to presenting, though I’m prepared for that possibility) the People of Color Caucus at Pantheacon, I recognize that it is forcing me to look at my own practice and how I work within the contexts of the cultures I am, and cultures I am working with.

My Fearsome Foursome™ are Aztec, Celtic, Hindu, and Norse (why yes, I put them in alphabetical order, not order of importance) and I have been made aware (more than once, by each of them in turn) that I can’t hide behind the argument that I get a pass because I am a PoC (Pagan of Color).  If anything, I am compelled to work harder because I can’t be lazy about my practice and about recognizing its origins in my own work and the work of those who belong to the cultures I am drawing from.

Even the fact that I am Mexican (with Indian, Italian, and Spanish heritages feeding it) doesn’t let me slack off on the Aztec side.  I am pushed (and currently gathering resources) to learn Nahuatl, to study what my Matron wants me to study, to research and correct the erroneous information about Aztec practices that perpetuates the New Age talk out there.  I’m the gnashing of teeth you hear miles away whenever someone starts talking about the “Mayan Apocalypse” because first: they ran out of room on the stone, if you look at it, you can tell, there’s an end to how many days they would be able to fit on it.  Second, why would an ancient civilization attach itself to Christian terminology?  Yes, in Mayan, Aztec, and Incan mythos there is talk of ending the worlds, but not leaving them obliterated, but to recreate them.  The end of the Mayan Sun Calendar is the assumed destruction of the current world and the recognized beginning of a new one, one they assumed would be an attempt by the g*ds of their pantheon to make something better.  /endrant

No, really, it was an issue with space.  Think about it, someone had to lug that thing!

And this truth was costing you 300$ two years ago at some cheap Hilton conference room!

 

In working the Hindu pantheon, and my being in Sharanya as an initiate means I have to make sure that I work closely with current organizations that are working on issues like the AIDS epidemic amongst sex workers, freedoms for trans/alternate gender expressing people (which some worshippers are, as part of their worship) because it is part of my path as a genderqueer Spirit sexworker.

Working with the Celt and Norse though; that creates a kettle of fish I have to try and fry sometimes.   It makes it difficult for me to feel like I connect sometimes, despite what Odin and the Morrighan tell me (which is that I’m doing just fine) but this ties into my feeling of not achieving enough and thus overachieving to make up for the self-doubt.  So when it comes to these, I tend to take the path of an academic, I read a lot of reconstructionist works, because I have friends who are big in recon and because that academia is important to learning about civilizations, not necessarily to do their rites as they’ve been discovered (except when requested, I have a format, it works for me) but to acknowledge the work being done there.  To support it when I can by buying a book on a part of it that interests me (runes, ogam, and cultural/historical findings), and collecting all these tiny facts and resources for when someone might have need of them.

But I still feel like I don’t do enough.   I think of all my issues, this one ties into my cultural background the most.  I don’t feel I do enough, I’m a workhorse (my maternal family were ranch hands, it’s in the blood to work hard is what my Mama would say when I was up late studying) and sometimes, I push too far or too hard and wonder why I’ve been knocked on my ass. . . it’s still hard for me to deal with knowing that I do enough.  One of these days, I will know that I have.  This is part of that learning.

Research, so hard! (Not.)

I am currently sitting with a copy of Modern Primitives that was dedicated to a Claudine from an Emma and Jim, Christmas of ’93.  I kinda wish I’d been old enough to know Emma and Jim at that time, if these are the kind of Yuletide gifts they’re giving out!

But in all seriousness, in opening the pages one can feel the energy (if one is of the kind) that they invested into the book and felt compelled to pass on to someone who they were sure were kindred spirits to the feelings they shared in this book.

I love that this is my job (my calling, my passion); sharing with the world the rituals of profanity and unearthing their sacred origins, aspects, attributes, and ability to make sacred the mundane to those who go through them.

Sigh, that all days were like this.

On Sacred Art, Body Mods, and Self-Image

Growing up, I was told that the idea of getting a modification on my body was a sacrilege.  That tattoos, piercings, etc. marred the body g*d had given me and made me imperfect for the afterlife.  I was told all this after having my ears pierced at an age I couldn’t object to, and what I later found out was against my mother’s wishes.  *shrug*  I can’t hold that against her, she shouldn’t either.

However, as I grew up, I learned to see a certain fearlessness in people who would go and get these things done.  That fascination turned into a bit of an objectification for me as I enjoyed meeting with, dating, and getting to be very close to people who had artwork that fascinated and captivated me.

As I grew older and made my forays into the kink communities I chanced upon a class on branding, a new and emerging body modification that was happening in the community at large and decided (against maybe my better thinking) to try it.  I got up and in less than 15 seconds, had a crescent moon branded onto a shoulder blade.  The pain was minimal to nonexistent and there was no bleeding.  The cautery pen (the same kind used in vasectomies) had done it’s job well.  I played around a bit with the healing process and have a smooth scar with very little indentation and marring.  The skin inside didn’t die or nectrotize or any other horror story that’s out there.  It’s been a fairly good mark on me.

As I worked and learned about my spiritual path, the brand took on a life of its own and worked as my very own caller ID, if you will.  If I was in deep meditation and focused on the intent I’d decided on, I would feel the brand light up and burn under the skin, an uncomfortable itch that I would leave alone as this feeling of peace and joy came over me.  It is a way to know that Spirit is close, that I am being listened to, or that I need to pay attention.  It has gone off at the weirdest moments; moments when I’m not paying attention, when I need to be reminded to stop, drop into myself, and check-in on how I’m feeling, moments of trepidation to remind me that I’m uplifted and supported.  And during Ordeal work, it lets me know that one of my Fearsome Foursome™ is around, helping me, guiding me, or pushing me through the working.

It’s also become a marker for my real-life relationship.  I am My Beloved’s Shadow Prince. The Moon and the Stars was one of the first songs I heard from My Beloved’s lips, and the moon on my shoulder warmed in response.  My Beloved also enjoys the imagery and the concept of the spiral and has incorporated it into two complementary pieces of jewelry we wear.

In the here and now, I am currently researching and in consideration of five pieces of body art.  Four for my Fearsome Foursome™ and one for My Beloved.

The one for My Beloved is probably going to be the first one I do and its details aren’t necessary here.  The other four, need to be written down to reference them.  This is also a way to provide some insight into who They are.

The first is a butterfly adapted from Paul Borda’s Butterfly for Xochiquetzal (Head Matron), I’m not sure what I want to change yet, or even if I’m ‘supposed’ to make changes, but we’ll see.

The second is Kali’s yantra.  I am an initiate in the Daughters of Kali through Sharanya and received the name of Duti at my initiation.  It means She Who Is Ambassador.  Quite fitting.

The third is for the Morrighan.  There is a piece of poetry that speaks of her cloaking us in her mantle of red, black, and white feathers.  I am invoking that imagery and a crow into the piece I have created for her.

The fourth is for Odin.  His two ravens, Huginn and Muninn, Thought and Memory, one holding a Valknut (as befits a dottir of Odin) and the other holding my bindrune.

The first part of all this is getting past the part where I remember that my flesh is no longer my own.  I am reminded of this on a daily basis as I go through my day to day functions because that’s all I know to do.  I walk in the beauty They provide.  I walk in the mire of life because that is the path laid before me, and the one I consciously choose to walk for Them.

The second part is time and cost.  That is on me, finding the artist who can do this for me, finding the time to get it done, finding the strength to survive the time in the chair, that’s where this all must have focus for me.

This may be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do; harder than inserting hooks into my flesh, harder than standing still while a flogger went after my back, harder than letting myself be tossed around and nearly drowned.  This requires not shying away from myself and where my mind will travel, as the tattoo is placed on my flesh.

As the New Year starts to ring in. . .

I’m left looking at the year I’ve had.

A move to the northern part of my state.

A move, shift, change in the state of my mind, my heart, my wyrd.

The strength to get all this accomplished.  To face the crippling doubts that kept me up at night.  The uncertainty when jobs weren’t coming through.  To deal with the mire of the one that did, and to find the fortitude to stick the one that I’ve been in and will be in for much of the next year.

The willingness to converse with Deity to put up this project/shrine/thing that’s still becoming, the work that I am doing to Become.

I ring in the new year, and do it in cognizance of how I evolve, how the sacredness I try to bring forth is centered and stems from the profanity I willingly put myself into, sometimes with trepidation and fear, sometimes with gusto.  In either case, I am pushed, cajoled, taunted, and embraced, praised, titillated, and yes, loved.

This is my life, may more of THIS be my 2012.

What are you looking forward to in the New Year?  Where do you want your intentions to take you?  What are your plans to expand your horizons?

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