No to the Bathroom Bill: An Open Letter to Texas Gov. Abbott

No Bathroom Bill: An Open Letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott

The “Bathroom Bill,” SB 6, is a misguided piece of legislation that’s currently being debated. Here is my letter to the Texas governor about this hateful bill.

 

Governor Greg Abbott

P.O. Box 12428

Austin, TX 78711-2428

(512) 463-2000

Dear Governor Abbott:

The motto of the state of Texas, as you well know, is the Friendship State. While Texas is known for many things that further this motto, such as its bluebonnets, its barbecue, its sunsets, and its music–home, after all, to such musical greats as Scott Joplin, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Beyoncé Knowles, Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett, Buddy Holly, and ZZ Top, among many others. Eleven years ago, Texas Monthly published an article, “75 Things We Love about Texas,” that highlights these and other accomplishments. In many ways, Texas should be proud.

Of course, there is always room for improvement in education, in health, and in other social matters. Again, we are–or are supposed to be–the “Friendship State,” not the “Bathroom State.”

Unfortunately, SB 6, the so-called “Bathroom Bill”, will not pave the way towards these improvements. SB 6, as well as other bills — HB 46, HB 50, and SB 23–unfairly target and discriminate against trans-gendered people. Worse, they are technically unnecessary, as Texas already has laws on the books that prohibit sexual assault, the main argument that you and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick are making: Texas Penal Code – PENAL § 22.011. Sexual Assault certainly comes to mind here.

These bills are based on fear, ignorance, and hate: not at all in keeping with our motto “The Friendship State.”  As a state, we are better than this. We must be better than this.

It’s past time to flush away this hateful bill.

Thank you for your time,

Lisa Wall

Bathroom Bill

Close the door on the Bathroom Bill

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Threefold Law as Wiccan Moral Compass, Not a Mental Straitjacket

Threefold Law: An Overview

The Threefold Law, also known as the Rule of Three,  is similar to the concept of karma and is mentioned in the Wiccan Rede. Essentially, the Threefold Law states that whatever you do will come back to you, times three. In other words, the effect is tripled. This boomerang effect may not happen right away, but rest assured that it will happen, usually at the best possible time–for good actions–or at the worst possible time–for bad actions.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

Threefold Law: Some Examples in Literature

An example of the Threefold Law at work in literature, with  “good” karma, appears in J. R. R. Tolkien’s  The Lord of the Rings trilogy, when Gandalf and Frodo are discussing Gollum and the role that pity plays. Frodo cannot bring himself to kill Gollum; his pity works out in the end, as Gollum, filled with greed, falls into the molten lava, destroying himself as well as the ring. Only in this way can the ring, and its evil, be annihilated and Frodo’s quest end successfully.

An example of  the Threefold Law at work in literature, with “bad” karma,  appears in Zora Neale Hurston’s short story “Sweat,” where the antagonist, Sykes, torments his wife Delia, particularly with snakes. He boasts that he can control any snake, yet toward the end of the story, after he has released a rattlesnake in the home in hopes of killing Delia, the snake turns on him and ends up killing him.

Threefold Law

The Threefold Law: A Symbolic Representation

Of course, these are just some literary examples. In real life, the Threefold Law can take the form of  an act of kindness or of cruelty repaying the giver. The overall message here is that if whatever you do comes back to you in triplicate, make sure that whatever you do is honorable and generous. Blessed Be, by star and stone.

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Druid’s Prayer: An Analysis “for the love of all existences”

Druid’s Prayer: An Overview

The Druid’s Prayer, also known as the Gorsedd Prayer, is generally attributed to The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg, although some concerns of authenticity have emerged with this book. The following comes from The Barddas of Iolo Morganwg, available at Sacred Texts online:

Grant, O God,
Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of God. God and all goodness.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

The Druid’s Prayer: My Version

You will find several different versions of the Druid’s Prayer on the web: it is human nature to tinker with things, and published prayers are no exception. Personally, I was concerned with the version above because it did not acknowledge the Goddess as well as the God, an important consideration for me, so I came up with this version:

Druid’s Prayer

Grant, O Lord and Lady,
Thy protection;
And in protection, strength;
And in strength, understanding;
And in understanding, knowledge;
And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;
And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;
And in that love, the love of all existences;
And in the love of all existences, the love of Spirit and all Goodness.

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Druid’s Prayer and the Chakras: A Suggestion

I have a suggestion to encourage grounding with the Druid’s Prayer: tie it to opening and clearing (if necessary) the chakras during meditation. The spiritual journey with the chakras would look something like this:

“Grant, O Lord and Lady,Thy protection;”  
This protection starts a chain reaction.
“And in protection, strength;”    
The root chakra is opened.
“And in strength, understanding;”  
This understanding, on an emotional, primal level, opens up the sacral chakra.
“And in understanding, knowledge;” 
This knowledge, propelled by Will, opens up the solar plexus chakra.
“And in knowledge, the knowledge of justice;”  
This knowledge of justice opens up the heart chakra.
“And in the knowledge of justice, the love of it;” 
 The love of justice, and being able to articulate this love, opens up the throat chakra.
“And in that love, the love of all existences;” 
 The third eye chakra is opened.
“And in the love of all existences, the love of Spirit and all Goodness.”
The crown chakra is opened.

Feel free to try this exercise and see if it does not provide grounding for the Druid’s Prayer. Blessed Be, by star and stone.

Druid's Prayer

Sunrise at Stonehenge: Symbolic of the Druid’s Prayer

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Positive Path: What on Earth and in the Stars Make it “Positive”?

What Is a Positive Path?

Inquiries into a Positive Path: Occasionally someone will see my pentacle or other magickal jewelry, or perhaps note my Pagan status from a Facebook post, and express curiosity about my beliefs, such as a belief in God. I’ve even been asked if I’m on a positive path — couched in the phrase of “Are you a good witch or a bad witch?”

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

I usually give a concise answer: that Wiccans and other Pagans believe in God and Goddess, that we embrace a nature-based religion, and that it holds life as sacred. I also mentioned believing that all positive paths ultimately lead to the same place: the Divine.

A Positive Path: Some Intriguing Philosophical Questions

This last part got me to thinking: what makes a path “positive”? What quality do these positive paths have in common? Is it the presence of a moral code, and how explicit does this moral code have to be?

For Christians, this code consists of the Ten Commandments, a list of what not to do. Jewish observers follow a comprehensive, holistic code, Midrash Halakha.  For Buddhists, the Five Precepts comprise a moral compass. And Baha’i observers have their own extensive moral code.

Awen and Nature

Wiccans, of course, honor the Wiccan Rede (keeping in mind that the Rede offers advice rather than a mental straitjacket), and other Pagan observers have other moral codes; Asatru follow the Nine Noble Virtues, for instance. These are but only a few examples of religious moral codes of various positive paths: many of them discourage certain actions, and some of them exhort proactive thoughts and deeds.

What is the common denominator? I believe that what makes a spiritual path positive is love: the power to send out love as well as the power to receive love unconditionally. This includes loving oneself as well as family, friends, acquaintances, coworkers, and the earth. Love is the driving force.

That is why all positive paths lead to the same goal. If a Hindu, a Christian, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Jew, a Zoroastrian, a Sikh, and a Pagan are all praying for peace, these prayers are all going to the Divine–whatever each person’s concept of the Divine: an important lesson to remember, especially in these turbulent times. Blessed Be, by star and stone.

The Divine and the Positive Path

The Divine and the Positive Path

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Fond, Bittersweet Memories of my Best Friend: Rest in Peace

Memories of My Best Friend Sara

A friend is forever: this I believe in every fiber of my being. This bond of friendship can last forever, even surpassing death.

I remember meeting Sara when we were both in grade school. Her family lived next door to mine; their cat, Kangaroo, came over to visit in my front yard. As I was petting Kangaroo, Sara came over indignantly and proclaimed Kangaroo as hers. After a brief argument ensued, one in which we were debating who owns a cat (the answer, it turns out, is “no one” –no surprise to a true cat aficionado) and whether strangers had the right to pet a visiting cat, we became fast friends.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

Sara, an Arian, and I, an Aquarian, were all but inseparable: her fiery enthusiasm for life and my contemplative approach to living complemented one another beautifully. as best friends, we confided in one another: our hopes, fears, and opinions  revolving around math, the well-being of our various cats and dogs,  the exasperating nature of various siblings, and, later, the enigma of boys. This continued during elementary, junior high, and high school—until I moved away during my sophomore year. That was the year that we—indeed, our daily lives— began to drift apart. For awhile, I lost my best friend.

My biggest regret is not staying more closely in touch with my friend over the years. Yes, life happens–and did happen, for both of us. We both had our share of heartache, but also joy, in our personal and professional lives. Yet when we would occasionally see each other, it was as if the years melted away, as if we were still living next door to one another: our friendship seemed to pick up where it had been left off.

best friend

Pinky Swear and the Best Friend

These memories came flooding back on December 6, 2012–the day that Sara was taken off life support, courtesy of a brain aneurysm–and afterwards, during the grief process.

These memories are bittersweet at best; however, time is beginning to soften the pain, years later.  One comforting thought is that Sara did find spiritual peace in the months before she died: she found a relationship with the Divine that made her happier, more fulfilled. Whatever her life lesson happened to be, perhaps she found the answer to it. Blessed Be, by star and stone.

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Prayer for Victims of Despair: Love and Light to You All in These Troubling Times

Prayer: An Offering for Victims of Despair and Dimmed Hope

Around this time of year, I notice that my own mood tends to plummet as I delve further into hibernation mode. This tendency is pronounced this year, more than ever, as we experience the demoralizing roller coaster ride that is our current presidency of the United States.  With that spirit in mind, I offer this humble prayer: may it give hope to all during these difficult times.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

Prayer for Victims of Despair

O Blessed Lady, O Blessed Lord,

Please be with those who are in the depths of despair, especially loved ones left behind by those who have passed into the Summerland, as well as those who are experiencing depression or who are contemplating suicide. Hold them in your arms: comfort them with your presence.

As the dark, cold winter is but a temporary stage, may the despair be just as fleeting. May love and light shine upon All. Blessed be, by star and stone.

Flying Dove, Symbol of Prayer

Flying Dove, Symbol of Prayer

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Ritual Altar

Abbreviated, Not Gutted Ritual: Still Meaningul

Rituals: Streamlined but Not Truncated

In an ideal world, the Pagan working outside the home would be able to take off Sabbat days and observe ritual without guilt or repercussions.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

Federal law does allow for observance of holy days. However, some Pagans find that, in practice, taking off these days is a hassle, at the very least. Some Pagans who are not out of the broom closet may not feel comfortable in asking for these days off.

I find it helpful to do full ritual the weekend before the Sabbat, if the holy day falls on a weekday, and to do the same for Esbats, or moon (often, full moon) observances. On the actual day of the Sabbat or Esbat, though, I do an abbreviated ritual to honor the Lady and the Lord.


With this in mind, I offer the following ideas for streamlined rituals; feel free to combine any of the following tips.  Keep in mind that a ritual need not be complex in order to be “real”: if you connect to the Goddess and to the God, the ritual is authentic and “counts.” This is what is most important.

Streamlining Ritual Tips

1. Meditate upon Deity and the meaning of this observance, whether it be Sabbat or Esbat, to you.

2. Take a walk; enjoy nature and the tranquility it offers. Stop and smell the roses, or whatever flowers happen to be in bloom. If necessary, take allergy medication.

3. While at your desk, treat yourself to a floral arrangement or, better yet, a potted seasonal plant.

4. Treat yourself to a special lunch or dinner that contains foods associated with the observance.

5. Give back to nature: hang a birdhouse, work in compost around established plants, plan (and then later plant) a garden that will attract butterflies, such as the Monarch butterfly.

6. Give of yourself. Volunteer your time to a worthy cause, even if for an hour at a time.

7. Play music that is appropriate to the Sabbat or Esbat. Create playlists ahead of time; bask in the music.

8. Tap your inner child: draw your conception of the Lady and the Lord at the moment in the Wheel of the Year or at this particular moon phase.

9. Write a poem about the Sabbat or Esbat and/or about the Lady and the Lord.

10. Light a candle with a seasonally-appropriate scent, if allowed at your workplace; alternately, you can use a flame-less, scentless  candle.

Pagan Altar set up for Ritual, featuring the Goddess

Streamlining Ritual: My Wish for You

May all of your rituals touch your heart and connect you lovingly with the Goddess and the God. Blessed Be, by star and stone.

The Goddess and ritual

Pagan Altar set up for Ritual, featuring the Goddess

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Waning Moon: Getting Rid of the Negative Stuff in Life

The Waning Moon: A Time for Banishing and Releasing

The waning moon occurs right after a full moon and lasts until just before the new moon makes an appearance. Symbolized by the Goddess as Crone, the energy of the waning moon is steadily decreasing; thus, any magickal efforts you put forth during this time should concentrate on removing or banishing things in your life.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

Do you want to cast a spell to banish emotional overeating or to reduce debt? Do you wish to end an addiction or bad habit? Do you wish to break off a toxic relationship? Do you wish to banish an illness? The waning moon is the perfect time to do so.

More specifically, the waning moon is divided into two phases: waning gibbous and waning crescent; each phase lasts about a week. According to The White Goddess, a waning gibboous moon is the “Moon of Retribution” and “brings a conscious process of creative release,”  while a waning crescent is the “Moon of Harvest” and is a time for introspection and “readying oneself for the energies of the New Moon.”

Whatever you need or want to banish and release in your life, you should call upon the aid of the waning moon to make it happen. Blessed Be, by star and stone.

waning moon

Waning Moon

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The God as Greenman: Verdant, Fertile Deity

The Greenman: An Overview

The Greenman is one of many archetypal aspects of the God: the paired twin of the Horned God. Whereas the Horned God represents animalian sexuality, the Greenman is a god of vegetation, representing the lushness of the warmer seasons as well as the promise of rebirth.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

The Greenman: A Closer Look

The Greenman’s face, the one part of the body usually seen, and often depicted in sculpture and similar artwork, is surrounded by or, more often, consists of green leaves, often oak. Branches or vines may protrude from the Green Man’s mouth. The Greenman goes by other names as well: according to Alan G. Hefner’s article “Green Man” in Encyclopedia Mythica, the Greenman’s aliases include Green George, Green Jack, and Jack in the Green . Specific gods who embody the Green Man aspect include Dionysus,Viridios/Viridius, and Osiris. The Greenman appears in folklore and literature as Puck, Robin Hood, Peter Pan, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, as well as Treebeard and, most likely, Tom Bombadil.

May your relationship with the Greenman be a lush, meaningful one. Blessed Be, by star and stone.

Dionysus, one aspect of the Greenman

Dionysus, one aspect of the Greenman

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The Horned God: Or, It’s Time to Get Horny

The Horned God, Frequently Misjudged

Just as with the Goddess, the God has myriad aspects: one of the more prominent aspects is that of the Horned God. This aspect is often the most misunderstood and maligned by non-Pagans but revered by those of us drawn to the Pagan paths.

Disclaimer: I am an affiliate for several companies, and I am a participant in the Amazon Associates Program (proudly billed as “the leading selling program on the Internet, with hundreds of thousands of members”). I use and heartily endorse these products and services, some of which are linked in this blog post, and any monies I receive as an affiliate or associate helps support my ever-growing book habit–at no extra cost to you.

Christian Distortion of the Horned God

In a brilliant public relations move, the Catholic Church transformed the Horned God into Satan, a jealous, evil, and sexual, fallen angel, as a foil to God, that gleefully tempts humankind into temptation and sin. This transformation solidified with Eliphas Levi’s artwork of Baphomet.

Pagans’ View of the Horned God

Pagans regard the Horned God as in his sexual prime, in his aspect as Lover: the horns represent virility: entirely appropriate, as he is the Consort of the Lady. The horns, or sometimes antlers,  also link this aspect of the God as does the erect phallus he often sports, to his role as Lord of wild animals and raw sensuality, as well as the hunt, both literal and figurative: the Horned God is pure male energy.

The Horned God is usually associated with late spring and summer, as well as noontime. Conversely, the Horned God also plays a role  in Death and the Underworld, as collector or hunter and escort.  Some examples of the Horned God include Pan, Cernunnos, Dianus, and Herne the Hunter.

Pagans continue to reclaim the Horned God and his role as a wild, sexual being, ready to unleash that raw energy at a moment’s notice. May He continue to run untamed in our hearts and imaginations. Blessed Be, by star and stone.

Horned God

The Horned God: One Interpretation
Image courtesy of Pixabay

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