Kiss (Of the Five-Fold Variety)

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve recently private a post I wrote about two years ago for the Pagan Blog Project on being Skyclad. At the time I didn’t refer to it as ‘Skyclad’ I wrote it as an entry for ‘N’ and used the term n*d*ty. I was forced to private it after I realised that it was my third most popular post and that half of the visitors this blog was getting were coming here after using variations of the search term ‘n*k*d Pagan women’. So I’m kind of worried that writing about this will lead to the same thing happening… well, I suppose we’ll see…

I’ve talked about being Skyclad and The Great Rite before, I’ve attempted to break down and explore their bad reputations- today I want to talk a little about another Pagan (specifically Gardnerian) tradition that has a bit of a dodgy reputation.

The Five-Fold kiss is a custom performed in certain covens- mainly Gardnerian- whereby the High Priest/ess kisses five points of another member of the covens body whilst reciting:

“Blessed be thy feet, that have brought thee in these ways.

Blessed be thy knees, that shall kneel at the sacred altar.

Blessed be thy womb, without which we would not be.

Blessed be thy breasts, formed in beauty.

Blessed be thy lips, that shall utter the Sacred Names.”

This is often performed as part of an initiation ceremony or as part of ‘Drawing Down the Moon’. As it’s performed in a coven setting it’s not only about the blessing itself but the trust and intimacy that needs to exist for it to be performed. It’s said that this is where the greeting ‘blessed be’ comes from.

Personally, I would (hypothetically) be uncomfortable to both perform this or have it performed on me. I would be happy to go ahead with being Skyclad but a Five-Fold kiss may be a little far for me.

However, this could be down to the fact that I’m not in a coven; I’m a solitary Pagan. Personally I perform a variation of the Five-Fold kiss during most of my rituals. This involves me being Skyclad and washing each of the five areas in water that I’ve blessed whilst reciting. I think this is a really nice little ritual to perform on yourself if you’re solitary, generally I start with my feet and work up. I say a variation on the blessing above which goes:

“Blessed be my feet, which walk the crooked path,

Blessed be my knees, which kneel before the Gods,

Blessed be my womb, which carries sacred life,

Blessed be my breasts, that feed my sacred child,

Blessed be my lips, which speak the words of the Gods,”

An important part of Paganism is accepting and breaking down the taboos around sex and clothes-less-ness. I can see why, to an outsider, this custom may seem odd or uncomfortable. It does to me a little, but then as I mentioned before- I’m not in a coven. If you’re in a coven and you don’t feel comfortable enough to perform this ritual with your members then maybe you should think about why you feel like that.

I’m not in a coven because I prefer to work alone- but also because I find it hard to trust people, especially with my body. Maybe this is something that will change some day, but for now it’s one of the reasons that I don’t work in a coven environment.

The Five-Fold kiss is just another ritual that makes outsiders recoil from Paganism, it’s about trust, dedication and intimacy. In the society that we live in today we don’t encourage these things, but in a coven environment you need these things.

Blessings,

Wren x

Best and Worst Parts of My Time Working in a Supermarket

12176_717991551574482_559850643_nSomeone that I work with recently posted this on Facebook… I kind of had to share it on here.

I know that I complain about my job a lot, trust me- I really do know. I also know that it’s not a bad job, the people I work with are alright, the pay is decent and the hours are very reasonable. (I only work part time, my course is full time.)

As of tomorrow I will have been at my job for a year. About a week ago I went and spoke to my boss about setting a date for me to leave, at the moment it’s looking like I will officially be sacking it off on the 10th August. Counting down the weeks!

It does feel really strange, I finished school on a Friday, on the Thursday I started work at my new job. It was such a quick turnaround, I didn’t even have a holiday or a break. I can’t believe that it’s been a year, it feels like only a few months ago.

By way of reflection I thought I’d give you a run down of some of my best and worst moments:

THE WORST

  • The first time I ID’d someone they got really angry and shouted at me, I think I cried inside for about a week…
  • Got caught in a rainstorm and soaked to the skin in my uniform- even my shoes were full of water. I then had to work in the chill aisle for four hours. Yes, I did get sick.
  • Being stupid and going to work with a fever- almost passed out every time I had to lift something/bend over/be nice.
  • Spending four hours on tills after I’d just ended things with the guy I was seeing. I’m talking ten minutes before the start of my shift… ouch!
  • Having a customer call me stupid. F*cking Twat.
  • The time someone tried to scam us. I had a tug of war with them, we were fighting over £200 worth of notes. (This is also a triumphant kind of moment for me as I worked out what they were doing and didn’t fall into their trap- however it was late, dark and it was only me and one other guy on the shop floor.)
  • Having to calm down a homeless addict who was threatening to attack me because we didn’t stock his tobacco.
  • The Letch. An affectionate nickname that I’ve given to the married man who comes in, occasionally with his kids, and behaves in a very unnerving manner towards me. I can’t actually fault what he says or does, there’s just something about him that makes my skin crawl- actually, maybe it’s the low tone of voice, the leaning in and the frequent winks… urgh.
  • When we/a customer collectively managed to smash five bottles of red wine in the same aisle within a two hour time period.

THE BEST

  • Friendly customers; I have numerous people who come in regularly and ask me about my life and how I am, they really brighten up my day!
  •  The time I got to spend half my shift pissing about in the canteen. Yeah… don’t tell my manager about that one.
  • Any time that they let me off the bloody tills.
  • When I got to till train the new guys, I felt all smug and knowledgeable.
  • The amazing xmas party; we went out for a meal at 7pm, I got back into my house at 5am. What happened in between would take half a blog to detail.
  • When they bake too many doughnuts. Mmm…
  • Scoring 100% with the mystery shopper.
  • When I got to spend half my shift facing up the beans. It was incredibly satisfying.
  • And of course; meeting my partner! Every conversation that we had, (and still have) and the time when he finally worked up enough courage to ask me on a date.

’til next time,

Wren x

Being Tidy Isn’t ‘OCD’…

… laughing and crying in the same day doesn’t mean you’re ‘bipolar’ and ‘schizophrenia’ does not mean different personalities; and if you’re going to keep using these terms then I will get pissed off. To your face.

This is one of my pet peeves; okay, so I’m sure by now you’ve realised that I have a shit load of pet peeves, but this a big one. I get really genuinely angry when people start throwing words like these around. It’s not because I think it’s offensive, it’s because it’s just bloody stupid and will make me think that you’re thick.

I think I’ve written about this subject before, probably years and years ago- it doesn’t upset me like is used to, it just kind of pisses me off now, mainly because I thought that people had moved on from this annoying and puerile habit. Sadly it seems that they haven’t.

When we start throwing around terms like ‘OCD’ ‘bipolar’ ‘depressed’ it devalues them, it makes life harder for people who actually live with those conditions, they don’t get the understanding that they need and deserve for having to live with a serious mental health condition, they just get a load of well meaning people telling them that ‘oh, I know what that feels like.’

No, they do not know what it feels like to have OCD just because they like their house tidy.

Of course mental health problems come on a sliding scale, and some people may experience symptoms of these disorders, but overall they’re not living with the full blown condition. It’s rude and insensitive to trivialise these words; they’re someone’s life.

In the case of ‘schizophrenia’ it’s a little different.

Stupidly, I thought that the incorrect definition of ‘schizophrenic’ (split personalities) was dying out. Then a guy on my course used it the other day. I was so appalled that I actually shouted at him. I shouldn’t have done that; I know, I’m a bitch (especially to him, and especially recently, but at the time I feel that my reactions are justified.)

Schizophrenia has such a shitty image, it really does- and that makes it ten times harder for people who have to live with it. I can’t imagine how hard a condition it would be to live with, and the horrific image that it comes with must be hard enough to deal with without getting the sodding definition wrong as well.

It’s stupid and insensitive to throw words like these around; these are words that define and ruin people’s lives, they shouldn’t be used in a puerile and trivial manner.

Maybe in other three years I won’t have to write a blog post about this again.

’til next time,

Wren x

Karma

I have no idea if I believe in karma or not.

Okay, so I should probably explain myself a little more; I used to be a very strong believer in karma. To be perfectly honest I think the idea of karma is something that is rooted in human nature, we also seem to have an innate sense of fair play, and feel strongly when we are owed something.

I think that karma taps into this, it puts a name and an image to a feeling that is in all of us, and that’s why it’s so popular.

Anyone who has studied or followed Wicca for any length of time will be familiar with ‘the threefold law’; this is the concept that whatever you give out into the world, good or bad, will be returned to you times three.

This is something that I struggled with for a long time when I was practising Wicca, and one of the things that eventually lead to me reconsidering the Wiccan path. I just never felt that this was an accurate view of the world (for me) and it made me feel like I was being cheated a little, I saw good things happening to very bad people and found myself undergoing horrible things when I was trying with everything I had to be a good, responsible person.

Karma, however, is the idea that the sum of your actions during your life will determine the future- either in terms of reincarnation or in the parts of your life you have yet to live.

Essentially, karma is (roughly) ‘you get what you give’, it’s not as stringent or narrow as the threefold law, which I think makes it a concept that more people can identify with. Obviously I’m not saying that it’s ‘better’ or anything like that, I’m just indicating that it’s a different concept and trying to explain why karma is more universally known/popular than the threefold law.

Karma appeals to the hope inside of us, it fits with our inner sense of justice. It’s comforting to think that the universe has a sense of ‘right and wrong’ and that bad people will get what they deserve, this, I think, is why karma is a popular and well known concept. The threefold law just seems a little too idealistic for us to accept and feel comfortable with. For want of a better word, karma is ‘looser’.

So, to sum up that odd little ramble; I think that I do believe in karma, it’s not a large or especially active belief- I think it’s just a quiet inner one that gives me a little comfort.

Blessings,

Wren x

We’re All Crazy Here

There’s a magical, elusive thing that I need to learn about; it’s called ‘organisation.’ I always seem to forget that I have n0 time on a Monday evening to write blog posts…

Mental illness is becoming more and more common; I don’t think that more people are becoming mentally ill, I think that more people with mental health problems are coming forward and talking about them. This is definitely a step in the right direction.

However I do think that there are limits; there’s a line between what is a mental heath problem and what’s just you and your behaviour. Of course we all have behaviours that are limiting- this was something that I discussed in last week’s post- but we also have behaviours that are not really limiting, but that we view as ‘odd’.

A little while ago I thought there was something seriously wrong with me; I would become so anxious in relationships, even just friendships, that I would end up sabotaging them. I just couldn’t deal with anything, I couldn’t trust anyone and would become incredibly anxious at tiny things. I thought that there was something really wrong with me and that I would never be able to find another human being who didn’t think that I was a freak.

It was only after I met my partner that I started to feel normal; I know I’m not like everyone else, but that doesn’t matter to me- I’m not weird, there are other human beings who think the same as I do.

I think what I’m trying to get at here is that when we experience mental illness society teaches that we’re alone, that we’re odd and different; but we’re really not. At least one in four people will experience mental health problems; yes, there is stigma, there is discrimination, but there are also a hell of a lot of people suffering in silence.

More people than you would think have been through horrible things, more people than you would think have undergone some form of therapy, more people than you think have had mental health problems.

Feeling like an outsider, a freak, can be so incredibly damaging. There is no easy way to start a conversation, but nothing will be gained from lying and hiding away. The more we start being honest and admitting things, the more others around us will feel able to open up about their problems. Sadly, it does need one person to be brave; so why don’t you try and be that person?

’til next time,

Wren x

Juno

This week I’m going to be rallying against my deeply Celtic roots in the name of being clever and interesting (let’s face it, ‘J’ is a bloody hard letter.) So I’m going to be giving you a very brief glimpse into the goddess Juno.

Juno is a Roman goddess, she’s one of the most famous and complex Roman goddesses; seen as the patron deity of Rome and the Roman Empire she is also closely associated with war and often compared to the Greek Goddess Hera.

As well as this Juno is also seen as a ‘Queen’ amongst deities and has some association to children and childbirth- though this is something that is highly contested by many scholars. It is generally felt that the roles of looking after children is given to deities associated with the moon. (Also, always female deities… clearly the Ancients didn’t understand concepts such as ‘paternity leave’.)

It has been argued a little that she could be a type of triple goddess; representing fertility, sovereignty and war, however this is kind of sketchy.

She is the daughter of Saturn and sister (and wife) to the god Jupiter. As well as this she is the mother of mars and Vulcan.

Juno also has a strong connection to Janus, the two faced god, they work together as a pair to help bring forth each new month. She gives her strength and vitality in order to help ease the passage.

Another interesting fact about Juno is that she is the goddess of marriage (actually, this is the most obvious fact about Juno and something that I completely forgot to mention at the start of the post… yeah) and has the month of June named after her. Because of this is it considered lucky to marry in June.

Shakespeare himself also seems to have been a fan of the goddess as she is mentioned in two of his works; first she makes a brief appearance in ‘The Tempest’, conjured up by Prospero, she is then also referred to several times during ‘Anthony and Cleopatra.’

Blessings,

Wren x