The Need for Regular Practice

One of the constant challenges in today’s world is finding the time and the space to engage in a regular practice. Yet there is very little–for our spiritual or magical development–that is more critical than finding that time and space.

For some people, there priorities in Paganism are primarily social. They like to get together with friends on full moons, or perhaps only on Beltane and Samhain, talk and eat with friends, engage in the motions of ritual to build frith, and then go back to their lives. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this for them.

However, if you are looking to engage in focused spiritual development and progress as a spirit worker, I maintain that one of the first steps to doing so is to engage in regular–and preferably daily–practice of some variety. It improves discipline, it enhances the Will, and it contributes to leading a meaningful and mindful life.

Example Practices

There are a variety of practices we can engage in, depending on the specifics of the path we are walking on.

  • Daily prayer synced to specific events in the day (times of day, meals, etc).
  • Doing a relaxation ritual meditation before bed.
  • Mindfulness meditations while sitting on a bus or train or over lunch.
  • Drawing a tarot card (or rune, or a geomantic figure) and spending 2-3 minutes reflecting on it.
  • Engaging in a prolonged grounding visualization, such as a tree meditation.
  • Journey once a week at a set time.

So long as you commit a set amount of time to it, focus on it and do it mindfully, and do it reliably on a regular basis, it counts. Daily is best, on weekdays is okay, weekly will even work. Anything less than weekly, however, and you are getting into the territory that the development is so slow that it is probably good to find something else to augment your practice with.

Ensuring Mindfulness

Many people, when they read guides on these sorts of daily exercises, will tell themselves things such as I will just meditate on my walk to work or I will meditate while in the shower in the morning.

While these are doable exercises, it has been my experience that they are also incredibly difficult for someone who is not already engaged in daily practice to do reliably or well. Spending thirty seconds telling yourself you are meditating will not cut it, and meditating in the shower (which is filled with physical stimuli) can be extremely challenging. Similarly, walking meditation is doable, but it also requires being aware, focused, and is significantly more difficult than sitting meditation for many people.

What’s more, these are events that for many people take place when they are rushing to get to work or otherwise easily distractible, thus ensuring they will not be done reliably.

So while these are possible, I have generally found it is best to start with some other practice, and then integrate such activities into your life at a later point.

Not Doing Too Much

Another trap that people fall into is trying to do too much at once. They will tell themselves that they will spend time each day doing mindfulness meditation, drawing tarot cards and reflecting on those, performing the LBRP, exercising, cooking at home more, doing a walking meditation to work, practice cycle energy, and then do a progressive muscle relaxation exercise before bed.

There are two major problems with setting this sort of goal and trying to start doing it now or, worse, tomorrow.

The first is that it means that the individual is unlikely to last more than a day or two (if that) doing everything in their curriculum. The mind rebels and they have not yet developed the discipline to do all of it, so they end up doing none of it. They tell themselves that they are tired, or busy today, or some other explanation for why today is an exception… and then tomorrow is an exception, and then the day after that.

The second is that those practices become associated. So even if our intrepid individual manages to do all of this for a few weeks, something can happen that disrupts one of them (or one of them turns out to be a bad idea for them due to illness or psychological conditions), and suddenly it becomes a matter of keeping all of them or keeping none of them.

Instead, it is almost always better to start by practicing one thing at a time. Do it for a month, and then move on to the next thing. There’s a reason books like Kraig’s Modern Magick and Israel Regardie’s One Year Manual are geared around doing–at most–one new exercise a month.

That way, it is just one (more) thing instead of these eight things and if you stop practicing one for some reason, you will generally still keep all of the others you have worked so hard to make progress on.

Conclusion

If you are looking to improve yourself and are not already engaged in such, find a single practice and do it for a month. Then, if you feel it is appropriate, either add another or change that one out. This doesn’t even just apply to spiritual matters: in Kageyama’s Lessons of the Fundamentals of Go he describes dedicating fifteen minutes a day to your basics in Go to improve there. Habit is an incredibly powerful thing.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate: Very basic practice can even be better than elaborate practice, especially when starting out. It just needs to be disciplined, done with purpose, and performed regularly. It is frequently not as difficult to find time as we tell ourselves, and there are a variety of possible exercises out there that can help us train ourselves.

Whatever it is you prefer, if you wish to develop as an occultist, a spirit worker, or even just spiritually then you owe it to yourself to find a way of engaging in regular practice. You will not be perfect to start, but that’s okay, just focus on making it happen every day–even if you do not feel as though it is doing anything at first–and amazing things can come of it.

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Healing Ethics and Relationships

This is a revised version of a previously written essay.

I don’t believe that we can automatically emulate mental health or physical health professionals. I believe that model has much to teach us, but many of us don’t have the educational background or emotional detachment.

Most of us are muddling through the universe trying to do our best. And our best has some colossal screw ups in it that a professional model doesn’t have much compassion for. I understand why the professional model has little compassion; it’s to protect those who can’t protect themselves.

But sometimes that’s not the client. Sometimes, that’s the worker.

We should have an ethical framework for our practice. I do. But it is developed over time through  getting dirty and making mistakes.

Many of us were either taught in a pagan/Wiccan/ceremonial magic context where boundaries and ethics were situational and not shared by everyone  or wight/ancestor/deity taught. In my experience, gods, ancestors and wights have a much different perspective on ethics than we do.

So here are my basic guidelines.

1)There are intense feelings that occur between worker and client. You are sharing energy and experiences that are painful, sorrowful and transformative. It creates a bond. But it is your responsibility as the worker to know that bond is NOT romantic in nature. And I know this from personal experience, if you try to turn that bond into a romantic relationship, you will not be happy. Pity kills love just as surely as if you stabbed it through the heart. 

2) There are some people that you just can’t help. Not because they are bad people or you are a bad worker, but because there is some sort of energy between you, good or bad. Rather than get elbow deep in the problem and find you are stuck, take a step back when some one comes to you for work, meditate on it, ask your gods, ancestors, wights or spirit/animal guides if this is what you should be doing. If any indications come back to you in the negative, refer, refer, refer. That’s why you have a network of colleagues, even if its only your local Pagan Meetup.

3)If you get stuck in a dual relationship(and it happens, despite your best intentions), ask for help to get perspective on it. It doesn’t mean you are a horrible person. You made a mistake. Everyone makes mistakes.  The sooner you confront that mistake and work out how to make it right, the less damage you will do, to yourself as well as your client. If the person you go to for perspective gets self-righteous with you about your mistake, go talk to someone else.

4)Get help yourself. It’s easy for us to blame ourselves when things go awry. We assume because we are the workers, we should never make mistakes.We do. So own up to it, work to make it right, learn from it and MOVE ON. There is nothing sadder than a worker that has crippled themselves or stop working because they made a mistake that they are too ashamed to work out. We try to treat our clients with the utmost compassion and care. We need to treat ourselves with the same.

But what if you are both energy workers that are trading work back and forth?

This one is more of a grey area for me.

We live in a society where finding a person that doesn’t think we are totally and completely whackadoo is difficult and fraught with the twin perils of scientifically based disbelief and spiritual apathy.

So that other person or people we find as helpmate and lover usually works with or for  energy/spirits/gods/ancestors/wights also.

My current beloved is a ceremonial magician, Reiki Master and massage therapist.

He teaches me as much as I teach him.

Dual relationship? It could be construed as such.

Your mileage will most certainly vary.

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Dual Relationships: Romantic Relationships with Clients

This is a revised version of a previously written essay.

Paying attention to other ethics codes and looking at the reasons why, the answer to the sex/romantic dual relationship with clients issue can be summarized with a single word: Don’t.

The problems with this are not abstract or theoretical. After studying the subject relatively extensively in the late 60’s and early 70’s, William Masters and Virginia Johnson put forth the statement that:

We feel that when sexual seduction of patients can be firmly established by due legal process, regardless of whether the seduction was initiated by the patient or the therapist, the therapist should be sued for rape rather than malpractice, i.e., the legal process should be criminal rather than civil.

Kenneth Pope and Valerie Vetter conducted research on the subject and found some tragic–and sadly unsurprising–results. Around 90% of patients who have had sex with a previous therapist have been harmed by it, and around 80% are harmed even when the relationship doesn’t begin until after the therapeutic relationship ended.

Of course, reality is more interesting and nuanced than can be summarized in a single word, and as spirit workers we are faced with some unique challenges in this department. However, even if everything else I say about professionalism for spirit workers is ignored, this is the one thing I adamantly believe should not be. The risk for harm, unintentional abuse, and boundary violations are simply too great.

What Others Say

This is one of the older creeds among healing professions going back to the Nigerian Healing Arts. It is also found, though indirectly, among numerous shamanic cultures. Here are some general statements from other helping professions throughout the centuries:

Psychologists do not engage in sexual intimacies with current therapy clients/patients. — APA 2002 Ethics Code

Sexual or romantic counselor–client interactions or relationships with current clients, their romantic partners, or their family members are prohibited. — ACA 2005 Ethics Code

Sexual intimacy with patients/clients is unethical. — AGPA (American Group Psychotherapy Association) and NRCGP (National Registry of Certified Group Psychotherapists) Guidelines for Ethics

Massage therapists shall […] Refrain from engaging in any sexual conduct or sexual activities involving their clients.– AMTA (American Massage Therapy Association) Code of Ethics

In every house where I come I will enter only for the good of my patients, keeping myself far from all intentional ill-doing and all seduction and especially from the pleasures of love with women or with men, be they free or slaves. — Hippocratic Oath

You should not tell what you have learned from the time you enter a woman’s room, and, moreover, you should not have obscene or immoral feelings when examining a woman. — Seventeen Rules of Enjuin

Initiators agree not to engage in sexual activity with their mureeds; if an initiator and their mureed choose to develop a sexual relationship, they agree to first dissolve their initiatic link and to wait until the student has formed an initiatic link with another teacher. — Sufi Ruhaniat International Ethics Committee

The details, of course, vary. The ACA bans romantic or sexual counselor-client relationships for a period of five years following the end of the counseling relationship. The APA puts the number at two years. Both state that the therapist/counselor should document whether the relationship could then be viewed as exploitive or whether there is a potential of harm to the client.

I personally feel that two years makes a good absolute minimum, and that five years is a safer number.

Doing Work For Significant Others

While the statement don’t sleep with your clients is relatively uncontroversial, one of the subtle ways this can become a problem is in doing work for someone who you already have a preexisting romantic relationship with. Because surely there’s no problem with helping them ward their home, right?

Of course there is. Just because the romantic relationship started first, doesn’t mean that the situation won’t compromise your ability to heal and cause long-term trust issues in the romantic relationship.

This is where we get into what constitutes a low powered relationship. It is one thing for me to offer friendly advice, to help ward someone’s house, to have them help me ward my house, to receive help from the spirits on the behalf of someone else in an emergency situation, and another for me to enter into a professional, deeper or longer term relationship with a client who I am seeing romantically. The former are lower-power and usually single shot and do not require an intimate, healing relationship with the individual. It is also best even if these lower power relationships are kept professional in attitude and demeanor while they are taking place, just to establish that sense of space while the work is taking place.

It is also a good idea to document when such things happen, and to talk about it with a Teacher or another spirit worker, just to make sure that everything stays above board. Do not be afraid to refer them to another individual if the situation starts to get too high powered or if the boundary lines start to blur.

To do otherwise, to make them your client, creates an unstable situation where the position of trust you share in one domain will cause conflicts in the other. It can make a relationship unintentionally abusive, and your focus cannot be entirely on healing them as your client.

To illustrate, consider what happens if there are problems in the relationship, or even if you break up? Will they lose their spirit worker while simultaneously losing their significant other, should they? What if during a journey on their behalf you find out that you caused the problem that you are trying to help them with. What if it turns out that, as described in Sandra Ingerman’s Soul Retrieval, you–entirely accidentally–steal part of their soul.

While all of these are manageable situations overall if the spirit worker and the romantic partner are different people, they can and do cause endless problems and are rife with potential unintentional abuses–let alone if either parties intentions are not entirely honorable.

In short, you can be their lover, you can be their spirit worker, but you cannot be both.

Conclusion

Although the prohibition against sex with patients reaches back beyond Freud, beyond the Hippocratic Oath, and at least as far as the code of the Nigerian Healing Arts, it was only with systematic research that began in the 1950s that the profession began to understand the depth, pervasiveness, and persistence of the harm that can result when therapists abuse their license, role, power, and trust. — Kenneth S. Pope

The more we learn about shamanic practice and its links with psychology, especially now that our techniques are being used in psychological healing, the more it looks like the boundaries set by these other healing organizations–especially groups like the APA and ACA–are appropriate for us as spirit workers as well. We are members of a healing profession and our role as spirit workers is to help others, it only makes sense that we build our code of ethics off of others who are trying to do similar things.

I will admit that there are some corner cases here that I am deliberately not addressing such as sacred prostitution, where I view that as part of the nature of the primary relationship and thus not strictly dual in the same sense. Still, this is an area where we need to be extraordinarily careful and considerate of the proper ethical boundaries of the professional and nonprofessional relationships, and deserving of significant discussion.

Aside from that case, romantic relationships with clients are one of the most clear-cut areas in the domain of dual relationships. Fortunately, where professional and social relationships can be unavoidable in the communities we frequent, romantic entanglements are almost always entirely avoidable with existent clients, as is becoming the spirit worker for your current romantic partner.

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American Culture and Reconstruction

But I am coming to see that contemporary America is very, very strange in one respect. It just may be the first society in which it is a major reflexive dogma that there must be no dogmas. Think about it. There’s always another way of looking at things’ is a basic assumption of a great many Americans. (David Brin, The Dogma of Otherness)

     

I’m not white. I’m beige with brown freckles.

Ethnically I am Scots-Irish, German, French, Norwegian, English and if I take my mother’s word for truth,Hunkpapa or Sihasapa Lakota and African.

Regionally, I am a woman from Montana, a mountainous and sparsely populated state in the northwestern part of the  United States of America.

Individually, I am a mother, a priestess, a journalist, a teller of tales and lover of history.

All of these facets of me affect my beliefs and practice as a Northern Tradition practitioner.

I look at orlog and wyrd as something I build. The idea that it is  even partially dependent on my ancestors is frankly a frightening one. The ancestors I know of were not the kind of people I want to emulate(there are a couple of exceptions). But as an American, I don’t know most of my ancestors. Like most people I know, I can reliably trace back to my great-great grandparents. Beyond that, it’s blank.

Every culture is built on a series of values that define how the people in that culture relate to one another for the survival and health of the culture. And despite what many reconstructionists or people guilty of cultural appropriation say, “white” Americans have a culture. It has flaws, like any other culture. But it shapes our worldview, that deep, unconscious framework where we fit everything we learn. And the American worldview is radically different than ancient and medieval Northern Europeans.

Americans believe that the values and rights of the individual are more important than the family or the region or the nation-state. In analyzing our Constitution, the Bill of Rights is all about rights of the individual.

Americans believe in self improvement through education and experience. Since the majority of the early settlers were Protestant, they believed that they had a responsibility  to be the best they could be and to develop their talents.

Americans believe in self-reliant individualism. Because of our pioneer history, we have been forced to be self-sufficient, creative and optimistic about the future.

Americans believe in equality of opportunity, we believe that the chances for success are fair and that a person does not succeed just because he or she was born into wealth, power or privilege.  Despite whether or not you believe it actually happens in reality, Americans believe that if they work hard enough, they can be Donald Trump. It’s hard work, and competitive, but if our immigrant ancestors could come here and succeed, so can we.

Americans believe in privacy. From the anonymous ballot to small talk to privacy laws to protect against your information being used to the right to choose, the ability to control what people see about you is very important to Americans.

Americans believe in social justice. Between Christianity and the various progressive movements in American history, as well as the American belief in equality of opportunity, Americans believe in correcting injustice.

Please don’t think I’m glossing over the dark side of American values. Because there is a painful shadow that lives at the base of all American values.  All of this values have excesses that can harm individuals and American society. But excess is part of American culture too. Look at Disneyland. Or Super Size Me.

These values change how we look at the gods, heroes and lore of ancient and medieval Northern Europe.

We as Americans are  individuals. If you read the sagas, you will note, if your translation is unabridged, that there is a paragraph at least of how each person is related to others. In Iceland, people have been living in the same place for 1000 years. Who you are related to is part of your reputation.

In America, we are a mobile people. Our reputation is individual and what we make of it.

Americans are optimistic. Based on the sagas and Eddas, the ancient Norse were pessimistic.

Asatru reconstructionists would have you believe that you can understand the worldview of our Northern European ancestors and see things as they saw things, to use as a foundation on which to build a way of life.

Reconstruction can not be achieved.

I can learn all the sagas and Eddas backwards and forwards. I can recreate the cultural hallmarks of dress, food, ritual, architecture, language. I can memorize every law in the Gragas. I can go to Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland, Germany and live in that culture for years.

I will still filter everything through my American worldview, my culture, my place in time.

I’m not saying reconstruction is pointless. It is a very important part of getting to know the gods, wights and ancestors that make up our spiritual neighbors and allies. But it’s not the only part.

There is always another way of looking at things.

Your mileage will most certainly vary.

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Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is a very difficult holiday for me.

On one hand, I am a mother. I have a 19 year old son that I absolutely adore. He is smart and funny and talented and off to college to study biology in August.  I think being a mother was one of the best learning experiences I could have chosen.

On the other hand, I have no relationship with my mother.  I broke off all contact with her after years of failing to build a relationship on mutual understanding and love. Since then, I have been able to work through most of the anger and pain I have from growing up as her daughter.

Many pagan people, when they learn I have no contact with my mother, are appalled. “She’s your mother,” they say, “She gave you life.”

Yes, she gave birth to me 44 years ago. As a single mother, she worked very hard to make sure we didn’t go hungry or without shelter or clothing. She had the tenacity to survive no matter what the cost. She worked hard, and expected hard work from us.  She also scarred my soul, with her rigidity and intolerance for difference. She pitted my siblings and me against one another.  She treated us like possessions that reflected on her, rather than special, unique individuals.

The best lesson I learned from her was not to be like her. She became a yardstick for any action I took as a mother, “Would Mom have done that?” And if the answer was yes, then I did the opposite.

My most valuable lesson about motherhood came from goddesses themselves.

When I found out I was pregnant at 25, I was terrified.

I have passed on motherhood three times before I became pregnant with my son, through both abortion and adoption, because I knew I would be a terrible mother. I could see the connections between my mother and her mother, the weave of narcissism and abuse that wove from generation to generation, all the judgmental intolerance, all the hate. My mother was horrible and her mother was horrible and I assumed that I would be horrible too.  I couldn’t see how I could avoid it. It was part of my DNA, my soul, my wyrd.

In my terror, I prayed to Freya for advice and got Frigga instead. I had never had any contact with Frigga. With my issues about mothers, I never expected to have contact with her.  And she gave me the most transformative sentences I have ever been given. “Your wyrd is not set in stone. You control what kind of mother you will be.”

Her words calmed me in a way no one else’s words could have.

I’ve never regretted becoming a mother.

Thank you, Lady Frigga. Happy Mother’s Day.

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Book Review: Soul Retrieval, Mending the Fragmented Self

This is a revised version of a previously written book review.

Soul Retrieval: Mending the Fragmented Self by Sandra Ingerman (✭✭✭✭✬, 4.5/5)

I decided to read this book after reading Lupa’s book review where she gave it “Five pawprints out of five” and concluded:

While there are occasional things I personally disagree with, overall I think this is a great text. Once I’m ready to do soul retrieval in practice, this will be an invaluable guide.

This piqued my interest enormously. I had seen this book on Amazon before, but given that it is from a Core Shaman perspective and I don’t currently do soul retrievals I didn’t pay much attention to it one way or the other. After some recent events have lead me to think that I have some soul fragments I will need to retrieve and after reading Lupa’s review, however, I decided to go ahead and read the book.

I am extremely glad that I did. The content is well laid out and excellent. Safety and ethics are both discussed, and at no point does the author treat this as safer than dreaming, conflate it with guided meditation, or treat it as something that can be learned in a weekend workshop. She also addresses topics such as soul theft, rape, and incest and how soul retrieval works/can help with these.

She goes on to say that:

Learning to do shamanic healing takes time, lots of practice, and experience. I will share the details of my work to demystify it for you as you read on. I do not intend to teach you how to do soul retrieval in this chapter–that, I believe, is unethical. And I feel it is just as unethical for one to try soul retrieval after just reading this book.

If we truly want to honor the spirits and use the ancient ways in a powerful way, we must maintain integrity in the work at all times. Please do not dishonor yourselves, the people who are important to you, or the spirits by trying soul retrieval without the appropriate training.

Suffice it to say, after growing a little fed up with one of the most difficult techniques in shamanism getting relegated to being trained in weekend seminars, it was extremely refreshing to see this in front of the chapter on technique.

The book is spread into 11 chapters split into three parts:

  • Part I: The Soul and Soul Loss
  • Chapter 1: Soul Loss
  • Chapter 2: Soul Retrieval
  • Chapter 3: Tracking Lost Souls
  • Part II: The Search
    • Chapter 4: A Question of Technique
    • Chapter 5: Classic Examples of Soul Retrieval
    • Chapter 6: Community
    • Chapter 7: When Souls Have Been Stolen
  • Part III: Welcome Home, Healing Through Wholeness
    • Chapter 8: Effects of Soul Retrieval
    • Chapter 9: Relationships and Sexual Issues
    • Chapter 10: Life After Soul Retrieval
    • Chapter 11: Preparing for Your Own Soul’s Return

    The first part deals with the nature of soul loss, what soul retrieval can look like, the nature of the worlds, and the tools that a spirit worker might use in their practice. It provides an effective demonstration of the concept of soul retrieval, without requiring a detailed knowledge of existent jargon. I believe this book can be effectively read by someone who has just heard of it and is considering it as an option, as well as someone who is considering performing it in the future. There is something of value in this book for both groups, despite that soul retrieval is one of the more difficult areas of shamanism.

    The second part goes into more details about the process of looking for souls, and goes into more depth with the mechanics of Ingerman’s practice in this field. She also gets into examples of things that cause people to lose parts of their soul, including soul theft and the loss of community.

    Part three talks about the repercussions, positive and negative, of soul retrieval and gives advice on what to expect from soul retrieval. She emphasizes the need for people to do this in their own time when they are truly ready for change in their own life.

    Spread throughout the book are exercises designed to help with your own healing and understanding of shamanic practice, along with copious case studies derived from her own practice. In a sense, I feel like this was the book I was looking for when I read Gagan’s Journeying: Where Shamanism and Psychology Meet. Something filled with case studies that focuses on how this helps along with some psychological theory, rather than focusing on where the issues come from that shamanic practices might be able to help with.

    On the issue of reality in this practice, Ingerman states that:

    As you read this book and wonder whether or not what I am talking about is real, I ask you not to enter into a battle between the right brain and left brain. Simply read the material and experience it. After eleven years of working with the shamanic journey I know nonordinary reality is real. But I don’t intend to convince you of that. For me, the big questions are these: Does the information that comes from a shamanic journey work? Does this information make positive changes in a person’s life? If so, who cares if we are making it up?

    Suffice it to say, given my own perspectives on the subject, this does it work attitude is something I am thrilled to see in well-regarded books on the subject, especially those published in 1991.

    Conclusion

    In aggregate, I felt that this book is excellent. I have some disagreements with the author, but they don’t really detract from the usefulness or power of the book. She doesn’t flinch for describing things as real, including interactions with power animals and the goddess Isis. My only real issues with the book are a lack of an effective index and that, while it discusses illness from a shamanic perspective, shows a lack of analysis on when soul retrieval might be counter-indicated despite a client’s insistence of wanting to continue (admittedly, this latter is a difficult and somewhat fuzzy category, and likely beyond the scope of the book).

    These, however, are functionally minor points. Highly recommended.

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    Charity Criteria

    Since in the past few months we’ve had a few different instances where we’ve posted charities on Weaving Wyrd with the tornados in the south and Japanese earthquake and tsunami, I figured I would take a moment to talk about how I evaluate charities. These are strictly my criteria, and not representative of the other authors on the site.

    Here are my criteria:

    • I check the Charity Navigator page. I will not list one-star charities, and prefer to list 3-4 star charities where available. This matters less for local charities, since those don’t always get listed.
    • I strongly prefer charities that have a written privacy policy. They must at least have opt-out capability.
    • I strongly prefer charities that have a mechanism that allows for online donations.
    • I strongly prefer charities that do not only help a religious or cultural subset during a disaster (e.g., there are charities that only help Catholics, which I don’t have a problem with in general, but it also won’t get them listed).
    • They need to not be created for the specific event in question in the last few years, unless they are directly partnered with a larger and better established organization.
    • They need to have a statement saying that they are specifically engaged in the domain or area in question (e.g., in the case of a disaster they need to list that specific disaster on their website).
    • Charities must not use charity as a cover for attempts at conversion.

    These criteria apply pretty much across the board for charities that I prefer, both in disaster and non-disaster situations. In disaster situations I will also take to listing local charities where I don’t necessarily know all of the above, but have seen evidence that they are at least sufficiently on their feet to be responding.

    On the Salvation Army and Red Cross

    Two organizations that I will almost always list in some capacity for disasters are the Salvation Army and Red Cross. Neither of these groups are what I would consider ideal for a variety of reasons, but they are also ubiquitous, very well established, are frequently some of the first ones on a scene, and often have some of the widest avenues open for possible donations. They frequently are the first charities organizations reach for when they are going to do charitable offers, such as Blizzard’s $10 in-game pet for World of Warcraft.

    The particular issues with each of them are also generally fairly well known, and people have usually made a decision on their positions with respect to them one way or the other. So I will almost always list these two organizations and some of the various avenues I hear about to donate to them for people who would like to donate to them or who would like to use a deal that’s associated with them.

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    Therioshamanism Links

    Recently Lupa on Therioshamanism began posting again and in the past few weeks has produced a set of really high quality and thoughtful articles on white, middle-class, American Shamanism, cultural appropriation, and people’s conception of the Natural and the Artificial.

    You can find them here:

    They are well worth checking out when you get a chance.

    Posted in Blog, Links | Leave a comment

    Review: MoonPhase

    MoonPhase iPad/iPhone app from RomanDuck. (✭✭✭✭✬, 4.5/5, version 2.1, $1.99 )

    One of the things that comes up frequently when I am working with geomancy, various forms of ceremonial magic, or just trying to schedule Pagan events, I find that I keep going online to reference a few different things:

    • What is the current phase of the moon?
    • When is the next new/full moon?
    • When is the moonrise/moonset?
    • When is the sunrise/sunset? (used in part for calculating geomantic hours)
    • What astrological position is the moon in?

    Then there is additional information that is periodically useful or at least interesting (such as which full moon it is). All of this information is readily available, but frequently requires that I be online to find it, then track down the appropriate websites (sometimes plural, depending on what exactly I am looking for), wait for them to load, etc. Then not all of the good sites make it easy to pick a time in the future or the past if I am planning for a future date or performing a divinatory retrojective.

    While I had played with some of the software moon calculators (e.g., iEphemeris) I had issues with many of them. They either did not provide a significant piece of information, were buggy, or required an internet connection to work. So I was quite willing to give MoonPhase a try.

    This is a remarkably simple app that does a few things very well that are of interest to Pagans, Ceremonial Magicians, and really anyone interested in the moon. When you first open up the app and select your location (if you let it then it will use Location Services to help with this) it displays:

    • The current phase of the moon
    • The name of the moon you are in (e.g., Flower Moon)
    • The next/current set of moon phases
    • When the next eclipse is
    • Lumination and moon age
    • Current moon phase
    • Moonrise, moonset, sunrise, and sunset, zenith time (sun and moon), along with where you are in each progression
    • Where the moon is in the zodiac
    • Current latitude and longitude
    • Basic time and location statistics (UTC, julian day, altitude, etc).

    Along with a large phase of the moon diagram. There are buttons to adjust the time, bring up a compass (if your device has a magnetometer), get help, adjust your current location, or adjust your preferences.

    The preferences are mostly customization around interests. So you can customize the names used for the moon (to Calendar Month, Northeast Native American, Colonial American, English, Celtic, Wiccan (Medieval), and Wiccan (NeoPagan)), how you want the moon shadow to appear, and whether you prefer miles or kilometers. There are also a few “silly” options (show the moon as a cartoon, or as cheese, or provide a werewolf warning).

    Finally, there is a Calendar button that provides a standard lunar calendar.

    In other words, it does most of what I need quickly without getting in my way, and most of the flair is optional. First impressions are that it is stable (at least in the current version) and accurate, and the information provided is good. While I have tried some other apps and websites for this, I haven’t found one that is quite as clean in presentation as this one.

    There is some room for improvement, especially if they move past displaying just information on the moon, as iEphemeris did. Or including more detailed information in some cases, such as minutes in addition to degrees. But these things don’t really detract much from its current usefulness as a tool.

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    Huginn, Call for Submissions: The Work

    For those interested, Huginn Journal has a Call for Submissions out for their next issue titled The Work.

    HUGINN is now accepting submissions for the Midsummer 2011 issue. Submissions are due by 1 June 2011.

    The Midsummer issue will deal with THE WORK: your personal practice, family or group practice, mystical or occult practice, unusual aspects of your divine Work, heathen work outside of heathenry or non-heathens working in heathenry, your geasa, your deity-given roles, tasks, boundaries and relationships — what you’re doing, with whom, and why; or what you’re not allowed to do at all.

    HUGINN’s next issue will be published for Midsummer 2011 as an online journal/magazine at http://huginnjournal.com, with issues available for .pdf download for e-book readers or to print.

    Writers are encouraged to submit scholarly and/or experiential articles, stories, poems, columns, which deal with some aspect of THE WORK, in either plain text (TXT) or rich text (RTF) to submit@huginnjournal.com. Artists are encouraged to submit high-resolution original full color OR black-and-white art in PNG, GIF, JPEG or TIFF to submit@huginnjournal.com. For inquiries into full-color cover art, please email editor@huginnjournal.com. New or not-yet-established writers and artists are more than welcome.

    For other questions or comments, please email Talas Pái at editor@huginnjournal.com.

    See their page on Submissions for updates.

    Posted in CFS | Tagged | Leave a comment