What Being a Witch Means To Me

Until my next phase of education begins in June, I have extra free time, which I’ve been using to the fullest. My painting and writing are flourishing and I have added self-hypnosis to my meditation time, which has been wonderful.

The beauty of time well-spent is that, in addition to getting a lot of things done, you get a sense of clarity. I have had time to think about a lot of things, one of which is my spiritual path.

Being a witch means different things to different people. To some people it will always be some caricature of an old lady on a broom, or something scary and evil. So, I can only talk about what it means to me.

For me, being a witch means that I reject the static and inflexible notions of deity found in mainstream religion. I embrace the beauty and mystery of the natural world and believe that it has lessons to teach us. I reject old-school patriarchy and all of its dysfunction. Rather, I believe that Male and Female are the essential building blocks of Creation and that these two energies are essential counterparts to one another.

I believe that Energy is the creative force behind all visible forms and that this Energy can be manipulated by trained human minds.  I believe that true morality can only be self-imposed and must serve both common sense and the common good.

I believe that there is unbelievable power in collective unity, but that each individual is a complete manifestation of Deity.

While I believe that there are many expressions of Deity, there is really only one Intelligent Force that governs the evolution of the universe.  The practice of paganism is a humble recognition of both the One Force and its many manifestations.  It is a grateful acknowledgment that we already have everything that we need to establish heaven on earth.  To look outside one’s self to a fantasy super-hero god to “save” and “fix” things is both lazy and irresponsible.

So, for better or for worse, this is what I believe.  But I’m still learning and growing, trialing and erroring.  I’m proud of where I am right now and look forward to my own continued evolution. The most important part of any spiritual practice, though, is the practice part, so this is how I try to live my life: “An it harm none, do what ye will.”

As far as my artistic life goes, I am still working on my belated Beltane painting. This is what I have so far. I hope to finish it this week.

work in progress

work in progress

Until next time, peace and blessings on the path towards your most authentic self.

Love and Light,

Raven

The Search For Love In A Patriarchal Society

There has been a persistent theme in my life over the last few weeks of analyzing romantic relationships and how I feel about them.  I just finished a wonderful book on the subject entitled Communion: The Female Search For Love by bell hooks.  Hooks is a feminist writer whom I had heard of but had never read any of her books.  The book was an excellent analysis of how patriarchy impacts romantic relationships.

Hooks’ basic premise is that enlightened women, especially feminists, who have been largely successful in fighting patriarchy in so many other areas, want romantic relationships that are deeply intimate and fulfilling.  At odds with this goal is the patriarchal tenet that says that real men are unemotional, closed, and unwilling to talk about their feelings.  This is a learned social behavior, not something innate in male babies.  Male babies cry for the same reasons female babies cry.  But, over time we learn our roles within the patriarchy; and these roles provide built-in conflict when it comes to relationships.

Happily, more and more men are embracing feminism, knowing that equality and decency towards one another is not merely a “woman’s issue”.  Every living human being has had a mother at some point, so women’s issues affect everyone.  In addition, the happiness and success of our daughters, sisters, friends, and coworkers affects the society as a whole, not just those individual women.

While hooks’ book title implies that the topic is romantic love, that is only part of it.  Love is love, and it shows up in many different forms.  Strong platonic friendships in addition to healthy family relationships, where they exist, are key to a sense of community and to one’s overall happiness and security.

What I took away from the book for myself is a confirmation of what I see going on in many romantic relationships and a rational explanation for why I have resisted them.  Within patriarchy, women are taught to find their fulfillment within the boundaries of a romantic relationship.  Men are taught that marriage is a trap and a burden that should be postponed for as long as possible.  Women are taught that being loved by a man is the highest form of validation and the key to a happy and successful life.  Men are taught to find their validation through work, that women are an accessory to their lives, and that a wife’s goals and aspirations should be secondary to the man’s career goals and to the happiness of the family.  Men are also taught that they should be superior to all women in all relevant aspects of life and that a woman’s beauty is a reflection upon his worth as a man.  This is why many men, especially those whose financial success makes them feel entitled, leave their marriages in pursuit of younger women once they reach a certain age.  A woman’s worth, under patriarchy, expires once her youthful good looks and innocence give way to wisdom and maturity.

Given this sad state of affairs between men and women, many women understandably try to navigate their happiness as best they can without directly challenging the system.  To challenge the system is to risk “being alone” – which is patriarchy’s ultimate punishment for lack of conformity.  Society has always taught women that the worst thing that could happen to them is to end up a “spinster” or “old maid” (notice that there are no male equivalents for these derogatory labels).  So women try to find love anyway, within the system, and often tolerate a lifetime of disrespect, uncertainty, and a lack of love.  Those who are luckier either find loving enlightened men or “benevolent patriarchs” with whom they are able to forge reasonably happy unions.

The whole topic is fascinating to me, but I am happy to be a spectator for now.  My goal is to fill my life with love of all kinds.  I love my children, my friends, my career in art, my God, and myself.  I find a great deal of fulfillment in just Being.  Ironically, self-love is the first step and represents the only real shot any of us has in finding romantic love.  But a general sense of happiness and fulfillment is what’s important and is what we are put on this earth to experience.

May this week be one of deep, profound love and connection with Reality and with each other.  Peace and blessings and, as always, please continue to follow your Bliss…

How Do You Know When Love Is Real???

M. Scott Peck wrote in The Road Less Traveled that love is “the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth.”  By this definition, how many people can we say we truly, genuinely love?

Feminist author bell hooks wrote even more on this subject.  In All About Love: New Visions she writes “Most of us learn early on to think of love as a feeling.  When we feel deeply drawn to someone, we cathect with them; that is, we invest feeling or emotion in them…We all know how often individuals, feeling connected to someone through the process of cathecting, insist that they love the other person even if they are hurting or neglecting them.  Since their feeling is that of cathexis, they insist that what they feel is love…Love and abuse cannot coexist…Without justice there can be no love” (p. 5-6; 7).

This got me to thinking about how often we throw around the word love.  Some use it so much that it becomes meaningless.  Others are so afraid to say it they seem almost crazy.  However, if we think of love as an action rather than as a feeling, there’s less confusion.  There is also less of a need to say “I love you” because it becomes obvious – through our words and deeds – that we Love.

Let’s think about it for a second. If the only evidence we had were consistent acts of kindness, devotion, care, and commitment, how many people, things, hobbies, etc. could we say that we Love?  How many people, by this same criteria, actually Love us?

I can say unequivocally that I Love my children and that I Love art.  I can say this because of the amount of sacrifice, devotion, and commitment I have displayed.  There is a willingness to go out of your way for the things and people who you Love.  However, I want to do better.  I want to widen my circle.  I want to be someone who just Loves in general – not just a few people close to me, but everyone I interact with.  I know this is a tall order, but as an artist and a mystic, this is what I want – to embody and reveal Love through my work and through my everyday actions.  I have many goals for the New Year, but this is the most important – and challenging – one.

I wish all of you true Love throughout the holidays and into the New Year.  Happy Holidays!

Now go follow your bliss…

The following works are sketches I’ve been working on during the winter break

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Art School Vacay – Finding My Niche

This is my first weekend following the end of my first semester at art school.  Although I felt a bit lost at first (since I am used to juggling six classes and being gone all day and evening) I feel like I’ve found my groove.

The beauty of vacation is that you get to determine your own schedule and your own course of study, if you choose.  Some people travel, some people veg on the couch.  Since I’m a nerd, I have chosen to study and try to find my creative niche as an artist.

I know the types of things I care about: social, political, and economic justice; racial and gender equality; spirituality; classical art, music, and literature; and entrepreneurism.  But, which of these things should I center my art around?  Which of these worlds should be my niche?

To help me find out, I spent the afternoon at the library.  The Civic Center Library in Torrance is one of the best non-university libraries I’ve ever been to.  It’s fabulous.  And it’s open on Sundays!  Anyway, I got the following books as part of my vacation self-education plan:

  1. Reality Bites Back: The Troubling Truth About Guilty Pleasure TV, by Jennifer Pozner
  2. Selling Art Without Galleries, by Daniel Grant
  3. The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, by Mike Madrid
  4. Drawing Cartoons & Comics for Dummies, by Brian Fairrington
  5. The Business of Being An Artist, by Daniel Grant
  6. Making Comics, by Scott McCloud
  7. Watercolor Painting For Dummies, by Colette Pitcher
  8. Figure Drawing Workshop, by Allan Kraayvanger
  9. How To Make Clay Characters, by Maureen Carlson

My goal is to complete all of these books before school starts back and to make several pieces of art that are inspired by what I learn.  This is a cool challenge and I’m excited to see what comes of it!

I think when you find your passion, you have energy to burn!  Suddenly you can’t learn enough, grow enough, or share enough.  I hope my wacky exploits encourage you to explore your own passions to the fullest!

Now go follow your bliss…