Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Witch in Every Woman

I finished The Witch in Every Woman: Reawakening the Magical Nature of the Feminine to Heal, Protect, Create, and Empower by Laurie Cabot with Jean Mills and I wanted to give my opinions on the last half of the book.  I liked the second half a lot better than I did the first half.  I don't know if it is because the second half is better or if it is because I'm becoming used to a book on feminine witchcraft.  I've never read a book like this before, so it's possible I didn't like the first half as much because I had no idea what to expect.  It's a whole new genre to me, and I'm excited about it.

Laurie Cabot
I like that Cabot points out that the Witch (she capitalizes it) believes in science.  She means more than just what we call science, but includes the holistic view of science she proposes that our ancestors used.  One of the problems I had with Christianity was the clash with science.  She also founded her own tradition, the Cabot Tradition of the Science of Witchcraft.  She does a lot of work against stereotypes and to defend the rights of witches; she also founded the Witches' League for Public Awareness (WLPA).

There is a enchantment for a awareness that I like, so you will not be deceived or bear the burden of other's deception.  I haven't done any spells yet; I'm trying to learn about/feel energy better first.  Without that my spells would be useless.  It calls for a potion.  I'm really interested in doing this enchantment once I get a handle on learning about/feeling energy.

Cabot stresses neutralizing harm, rather than retaliation.  I like that.  There is no reason to lower yourself down to your attacker's level.  Instead, you can neutralize the harm.  I can think of a lot of instances in my life that if I could just neutralize the harm things wouldn't have escalated to the point were they did--which usually ends badly for me.

Cabot includes a chapter about women's creativity.  She advises Witches to get out of their box, try something new, and inspire themselves.  She lists the "Moons and Correspondences," which is basically a list of the month with the moon name and what corresponds to it.  i.e. "January: Wolf Moon; protection; confidence; strength."  I looked at this month, August, and it says "August: Barley Moon; Grain Goddess and Sun Gods; bounty; fertility; marriage; health."  She says that the Witches' menstrual flow corresponds to a woman's creative flow.  I wonder what happens to women who don't have periods because of injury, birth control, hysterectomy, illness, birth defect, or menopause?  Is their creativity lower than a woman who menstruates?  I've wondered that for awhile now.

She suggests, and even has an exercise in the book, to suck your thumb, pressing the pad of your thumb into the roof of your mouth.  She said that may people used to do this to to into an alpha state of consciousness and small children still do.  Perhaps she is right, but it doesn't matter, because I'm not sucking my thumb.

Cabot devotes a very interesting chapter to women and healing.  It used to be that women did the healing.  They were: witches, midwives, herbalists, abortionists, anatomists, pharmacologists, surgeons, and unlicensed doctors.  The medical community now is quite different than it used to be and I think that's a good thing.  While I do believe in alternative medicine there are some things I prefer to see a doctor for because they graduated from med school and have the experience of seeing other patients in a medical/hospital setting.  I think women healing in alternative medicine is a good thing, though.  Cabot writes on page 176:

Midwives were looked upon as enemies of the Church.  Women were burned alive for using herbs and crystals to ease pain in childbirth.  They were falsely accused of infanticide and for "eating babies" in an effort by the Church to torture women, undermine female strengths, and destroy the practice of midwifery.
She talks about using a psychic diagnosis to heal, when you only know the persons name, age, sex, and location.  I think that may be stretching things a bit far, but I may be wrong.  I know in Reiki you can heal from across the world with only a name, what's wrong with them, and picture.

The last chapter is about accepting and celebrating the power within the Witch.  I'm really glad I read this book, and I think that the the previous sentence sums up the whole book.  This is my first book on feminine witchcraft, and I liked it a lot.  I'm never going to read a book by Z Budapest, though.  She started Dianic Wicca, which is only open to women, and are mostly lesbians.  However she doesn't recognize trans women as being women and doesn't allow them into Dianic covens.  I am a strong supporter of trans rights and consider a trans woman just as much woman as I am, or any other woman.  I will not support her transphobic views by even reading a used book she wrote.  When I heard about her and her "problem" with trans women I was so disgusted I removed every book of hers on my wishlist on paperbackswap and

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sekhmet: Egyptian warrior goddess of fire and heat

Sekhmet is a Northern Egyptian warrior goddess of fire and heat.  Sekhmet means strong, mighty, powerful, and violent.  Alternate spellings of her name include: Sachmet, Sakmet, Sakhet, Sekmet, Sakhmet, Sekhet, and Sachmis. She was invoked by the Egyptians before battle, as well as for healing.  Sekhmet has a dynamic energy that overcomes disease and cleanses the world of evil and pollution.  She also cares for the human body in the underworld.  The many names attributed to her included: Mistress of the Gods, Lion Goddess, Goddess of War, Goddess of Vengeance, Mother of all the Gods, Lady of the Place at the Beginning of Time, One Who Was Before the Gods Were, the Mighty One of Enchantments.

Sekmet is one of the earliest of the known Egyptian deities. She  is depicted by a Lioness, the fiercest animal the Egyptians knew.  She wears a solar disc, sometimes circled by the spitting cobra.  She is also represented as a lioness whose mane was smoked with fire.  Her back is the color of blood, her eyes shine like fire, and her countenance glows like the sun.  Some myths said that Sekmet is the daughter of the great Sun God, Ra, while other myths put Sekhmet as much older than Ra.

According to myth, Sekhmet's breath created the desert and she led the warrior men into battle.  She is the Crone aspect of the Maiden-Mother-Crone trinity, Hathor-Bast-Sekhmet.  Sekmet is a solar goddess.  She is directly related to the creative and destructive powers of the sun.  Seated statues show her holding the ankh of life, while standing statues show her holding a staff made of papyrus.  Sekhmet's consort is Ptah (the creator) and their son is Nefertum (the healer).  She could not only cure diseases, but could avert the plague, and was the Patron of physicians and healers; her priests became skilled doctors.  She is sometimes called "the lady of terror" and "the lady of life."

Sekhmet's myth involves Ra, as well.  Ra, the sun god, was angry at mankind for not preserving Ma'at, which is justice, or balance.  He sent Sekhmet down to Earth to punish mankind.  Sekhmet began her rampage; the fields ran red with blood.  Ra told Sekhmet to stop now, but she had developed a bloodthirst and continued to kill.  It was then that Ra decided to trick her so she would stop killing, before all of mankind was dead.  He poured 7,000 jugs of beer and pomegranate juice into a field Sekhmet was sure to see.  When she saw it, she fell for the trick, thinking it was blood that she was drinking.  She was so drunk that she slept for three days.  At the end of three days she woke up, with all of her former bloodlust gone.  Humanity was saved and Ma'at was reestablished.  Ra soothed and praised Sekhmet, calling her "the One Who Comes in Peace," and "beautiful, charming, graceful."

Monday, August 15, 2011

Chapter 2 Exercise from book Paganism, page 53

This blog entry will be answering questions from the book I'm working through right now.

Paganism: An Introduction to Earth Centered Religions

by Joyce & River Higginbotham

ISBN 978-0-7387-0222-3

Exercise: Drawing Your Self-Image Filter page 53, Chapter 2

Draw a pair of eyeglasses that show the "filters" that you see the world through. How does it make you feel? Is this how you want to see the world? Make a drawing for each word you wished described your self-image. How do you wish your self-image filter looked? Pick up your new pair of eyeglasses. Do you feel any differently about yourself? In what way is your life different with the new filter?

I drew a balance of pink and gray on my glasses.  The pink represents looking at the world "through rose colored glasses," while the gray represents the darkness in life.  In the pink I drew in hearts to show that I am very much in love and that affects the way I see things.  The yellow stars represent being a dreamer.  They are also in the pink part.  Feminism is in the pink part.  I see feminism as a positive filter because it helps me interpret the world around me better and gives me a chance to fight injustice.  Depression is in the gray part.  I have struggled with depression since childhood and I know it sometimes colors how I look at things.  Fear also takes place in the gray part of my glasses.  Fear is a strong filter, and I am afraid of a lot of things.  Two ideas I added are in both the pink and gray areas.  Pain can filter my thinking in a positive or negative manner.  I try for it to be a positive manner, but sometimes it just doesn't work that way.  Lastly, I have growth as filter.  Growth also appears in both the pink and gray areas.  Growth can be a positive or negative experience.  

The main filter I wish I had that I don't is self-confidence.  I have some self-confidence, but not enough to, say, walk into a crowded room or talk to someone new without lots of anxiety.  When I drew the self-confidence filter, I drew a person with their shoulders squared, standing tall and proud.  I also drew a cat, because what animal could have more self-confidence than a cat?  None that I know of.  If I had the self confidence filter then I could walk into a crowded room or meet someone new without anxiety, and that would be really cool.  :-)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wordl and books

A lot of people convert to a new religion or spirituality and go way overboard for the first few years.  They go psycho with it.  I'm certainly not saying everyone does this, just that I've noticed this trend.  I think I have done a good job not doing this.  I am exploring my spirituality and Paganism slowly, and letting everything sink in before I move on to the next topic I am studying/contemplating.  This blog isn't one I write in on a regular basis, and at least for now it probably won't be.  I'm studying what I need to learn with though and contemplation, rolling each idea over in my brain, pulling it apart, putting it back together, and standing back and seeing the creation of though, idea, value, spirituality.

I've only had a few blog entries so far, but I decided to do a Wordl anyway for Pagan Spoonie.  A Wordl drawing puts the words you use most in big letters.  The bigger the word the more you use it in your blog (or webpage), and the smaller the word, the less you use it.  I thought it was interesting, anyway.

Recently I've been reading a book called The Witch in Every Woman: Reawakening the Magical Nature of the Feminine to Heal, Protect, Create, and Empower by Laurie Cabot with Jean Mills.  I am halfway done now.  I'd like to discuss my impressions of the book so far.

First of all, I don't like it that Cabot calls being a Witch (she capitalizes it) a religion.  Wicca is a religion, witchcraft is, well, a Craft.  You can be a witch and not be a Goddess worshiper or even a Pagan.  There are all sorts of witches.  To narrow down Witch to mean a Goddess worshiper who practices witchcraft is annoying.  In the beginning she interchanges the words "Wiccan" and "Witch," but then says Witch for the rest of the book.

I like the way Cabot goes into explanations of where words come from.  For instance, "witch" is derived from the Anglo-Saon root wicce (fem) or wicca (masc.).  These words meant "wise one," "seer," and someone who used magic to access information.  She goes on to say that the Saxon root wych meant "to bend, turn, or shape."  The Indo-European root wic and weik meant the same thing.  Germanic root words wit and witan means "to know," or "to see."

She also talks about how the definition of the word "virgin."  A virgin didn't use to mean a woman who has never had sex.  Instead, "virgin," a word derived from Latin, meant "young girl."  The Celtic root of the Latin work virgin, is werg, means "young girl," "wife," and "woman," and according to Cabot also referred to a woman's strength, force and skill.

I agree with Cabot that forcing women to remain sexually inactive to avoid being branded a "slut," while men are congratulated by the notches on their belt, is wrong.  Very wrong.  She points out that young girls often have sex for the wrong reason.  Women should be able to have consensual (and hopefully safer) sex with anyone they want, without fearing what people will think of her.  While I agree with her on that, I disagree with her on some of the things she says about sex.  She seems to be saying (and I could be taking this wrong) that a woman's sexual enjoyment is divine and far more important than her partner's.  I'm not disagreeing that a woman's sexual enjoyment is divine.  It's just that I personally think in a committed relationship the enjoyment of your partner is also very important.  It's different in a one night stand, but I don't think that's what she is talking about.  I'm not saying that a woman's sexual enjoyment isn't important-it is!  I am saying that her partner's enjoyment is also important.  Also, what if the woman is in a lesbian relationship?  Are both partners divine and supposed to find their sexual enjoyment more far more important than their partner's?

I think a lot of the folklore and mythology she put a lot of her own spin on, while I got the impression she might have made up one or two of them.  Does that make it wrong?  Well, not necessarily, if you can still learn from them.  However, since I am still a beginner I would appreciate it if she also told more about the myths that we know and then put her own spin on it.

I can't really say I've learned that much from this book so far.  While I am a feminist, I don't think woman are that much superior to men.  Well, I do think women are superior (sorry guys), but I don't think they are as superior as Cabot seems to claim.

I just received in the mail yesterday Witchcraft on a Shoestring: Practicing the Craft Without Breaking Your Budget by Deborah Blake and I am waiting on Energy Essentials for Witches and Spellcasters Mya Om to arrive in the mail. I'm yet to do any spell work, though I have done a ritual or two. Like I said, I'm getting my feet wet slowly. I've been practicing every day to feel energy and I really hope Energy Essentials helps with explaining energy better than the books and stuff online I've read so far. It got great reviews on, so I'm optimistic. I just can't wait until it gets here!