Wannabepriestians

Picture origination: http://www.newyorkslime.com/wizard-behind-curtain.jpg

When you’ve got my kind of stats it’s hard to get a date, let alone a real girlfriend.

But I grow another foot and lose a bunch of weight every time I log in.

Online, I’m out in Hollywood.  
I’m six-foot five and I look damn good. 


Even on a slow day, I can have a three-way chat
 with two women at one time. 

I’m so much cooler online.  Brad Paisley, Cooler Online

I feel something frying–and it’s not my chicken.  My magical panties are in a bit of a wad and, as this is my own blog, I plan on hammering it all out until they are smoothed a bit.  Here’s the turd in my pond, the hitch in my stitch and the stick up my rather robust ass:

Performative personas.  Plastic, interchangeable magical identities/faiths/religions/statements that play upon the masses and newbies at such a rate that most never see the slight of hand, nor the string on the puppet.  Welcome to Oz.  Don’t pull back that damnable curtain, now.  I have a new term for y’all to chew on: Wannabepriestians.  Yup.  You know these folks: one month, it’s Asatru, the next, Wicca, on a Tuesday, Hoodoo, but Saturday?  Heathen.  Laws, by the time it’s Sunday, we’ve been anointed at a Golden Dawn ceremony–but by Monday?  Ceremonial Magician.  All while using Christian biblical references, terminology and pedagogies.  One day, the Wizard is Western, the next, Eastern, the next, German, the next, Cherokee . . . and the newbie–half mad with the erratic nature of it all, the you-can-eat-all-the-candy mentality–runs headfirst into that chaos cornucopia with no compass.  Bam.  Fubar.

Picture origination: http://blogs.salon.com/0001705/images/great+powerful_oz.gif

Who can blame them?  It’s the Wikipedia Wonder of Wizardry, on crack.  And here’s the big pile of poo in the middle of Oz: as long as a Wannabepriestian skips fast enough, you can’t see the color of their hat.  Worse, that chaotic, morphinic high that comes from each and every infusion is fleeting–and therefore, addictive.  Cosmic crack to go, please.  I contend that our upcoming generation deserves better than a quickie, so let’s look at it Southern, nice and slow.

Last night, my tribe and I held a lesson on Saturnalia Cooking.  Y’all know the kind, right?  Well, I like olives and tomatoes, but I also like hazelnuts and green peas.  What if I . . . and before you know it, there’s a casserole on the table of who knows what the hell to call it of flavors that don’t jive and that no backyard dog will swallow.  It is a buffet born of gluttony and negligence of balance.   Look at it this way:

The best kitchen witches know better than to concoct a hot holy mess of chaos in a skillet.  We know that, iffin you hanker on flavor–pure, deep flavor–there’s an equation to factor: which flavors work together like they’re kin?  Mmmmm, chicken and rosemary.  Lemon and thyme.  Tomatoes and basil.  Chocolate and citrus.  Right, then there’s process: bacon always in cast iron, Dutch ovens over crockpots (every time), high and fast for toasting, low and slow for tender meat.  Keep your scrambled chicken love on simmer to prevent drying and mind that you “cook” your raw flour down in butter for a roue.  It’s the simplest recipes (when cooked with attention, balance and intent) that are the ones that make us miss our childhoods, heal our wounds and live forever, albeit grease-splattered, on our grandchildren’s bookshelves. And energy works in that same pure, simpatico way.  I’ve heard such a concept referred to as Low Magic–and I would firmly agree, if the term means that we consider the dirt under our feet and “craft” from a local, seasonal, pragmatic manner that elegantly engages our Earth.  It worries my mind that we may have forgotten some simple, true premises of magic:

Be faithful to your tradition–even if you leave it.  It’s now your legacy.

Long, thorough study of a path results in melt-in-yor-mouth knowledge.

Pure, clean simplicity of design and process has less chance of failure and a higher incidence of divinity.

Understand and THEN balance the diversity within your practice.

Respect and hone the artistry of process.  Don’t be a glutton: we don’t have to be the master of every skill.  Put that ego down.  And become the sacred thump you chase.

Be true to and teach that which has sustained generations of souls.  There is no greater blasphemy than creating chaos out of purity for the sake of gluttony–or sheer carelessness.

This translates rather simply:  If you want to learn Heathenry, go to a true, blue Heathen.  If you want to become nothing more than a Ceremonial Magician, show up at their door and don’t leave until there’s nothing left to gain.  If the Native path feels like it’s carved for your feet, run down it straight and hard as if a gun were at your head.  Don’t look back.  At the end of the day, I reckon I’m saying:

Screw being a Jack of all Trades, be a Master.  Honor that tradition, comprehend its joints, feel its muscle, swim in its blood.  And then, when you know it like your own skin, if it becomes uninhabitable to your soul-beat, then bid it (respectfully and with dignity) adieu.  And not before.  Anything else is a frat-boy-one-night-stand and you look bat shit crazy walking down that dirt road, high heels in one hand, mascara scarring your cheek, hollerin’ on that it made you a professional.  Hell, naw, it didn’t.  And Hooker Paganism will leave you hungry, broke and beaten.  (Or/and with an incurable case of astral nasties.)

Why, I think the Karate Kid had it right, all along.  Wax on.  Wax off.  Takes more sweat than log in, log off.  It takes, ahem, patient process.

Say you want to learn how to whip up Southern Peach Cobbler.  Now, in Alabama we have something called Crazy Crust Pie: the perfect balance of sugar, self-rising flour, peaches, milk and salted butter.  The ratios are tried and true.  Grandmas and Mommies have been spinning this crusty concoction up for decades down here, trading out only the fruit, adding in only one spice at a bake and spooning it out all hot and crusty alongside vanilla ice cream.  Now, I’ve tried messing with the sacred ratio.  I’ve added honey, subtracted salt, replaced milk for cream and extended the cooking time . . . but nothing is as full-tilt-boogie Camelot as that sacred ratio.  Discipline.  Respect for the recipe.  Aho.

Extend that metaphor to Southern Cooking.  It has taken me forty-six years to be half as divine over a stove as my Grandma when she threw down her spoonhand.  I understand this endeavor as a commitment, not unlike any warrior learning a sword for battle, and factor that when my hair completes its transformation to snow-white I might have finally mastered the perfect crust on roast and the creamiest gravy on a biscuit.  Then, there’s my Momma’s Orange Christmas Rolls, risen all yeasty in small aluminum tins of zest and cinnamon, her homemade barbecue sauce simmered in bay leaf and real mustard and her skillet potatoes that were always soft on the inside, salty and crunchy brown on the outside.  Naw.  I ain’t done learnin’ yet.   And I ain’t jumping ship on account of iffin I do, who’s passing down that legacy?

Yup.  I reckon it chaps my forty-something, Cherokee/Irish ass to hear folk running ramshod over traditions that they’ve read about in a book, heard about at a county fair or scared up on the internet and then labeling that experience “learning.”  In fact, it makes my ass rash crimson to then find them posturing as a teacher of those fine and hard-earned thumps, flipping out decontextualized nuggets of knowledge like so much fast food in order draw in starving newbies.  I suppose I could chalk it up to: well.  If those chillun will eat chaw but taste fatback, they ain’t ready for the real thing, anyhow.

But it worries my soul.

I hope that there will be, still in this off-centered civilization, those who still honor real butter over margarine, roasted turkey over tofu and dark, green grass over plastic turf.  I hope that they will search, undaunted, for a Master of Their Thump who will hold them to an ethical, sound and thorough lashing of learning.  I hope that our Asatru, Wiccan, Celtic, Native, Faery and all our other fabulously pulsing paths will not be disseminated nor watered down by an internet Wannabepriestian.  I hope that our legends and stories, processes and arts will not be demeaned into the capsule of a 101 class taught by some cyber asshat with whom they have never broken bread.  (Or couldn’t pick out of a police lineup.)  I hope that newbies will recognize the Wannabepriestian whirl of chromatically designed Pagan propaganda as not the wisdom of a magi simply because it’s “intellectual,” but rather only the intoxicating, addictive, masturbatory horse shit of someone with an agenda.  And– I hope that newbies realize– that at the end of the day, inorganic rhetoric is the crack that they have smoked in place of an organic journey.  I hope students investigate their mentor, look them in the eye, work the ground beside the flesh that holds the knowledge that they seek.  I hope.

As for me?

Well.  As John Lennon said, I’m not the only one.  Search us out.  Usually, you can find us by a fire, in a garden, on a mountain, by a stream, or in front of a bubbling pot.  You’ll have to learn in person (gasp!), share cricket space with our feet and hear the inflection of our voices.  It’s called work.  Real. Muddy. Sweaty. Bloody. Work.  If we catch you slacking off, we’ll cut you loose–you’ll feel it–and if you give it everything, we’ll tell you our secrets.  You’ll feel that too.

Of course, you may just want to go the drive-through option.  I mean, everyone wants a Big Mac every now and again.  The snag in the carpet is:  You really wanna derive your spiritual knowledge, your personal path, from a cartoon character?  Have you seen what Big Macs do to an artery when eaten on a daily basis?  Think.  Not ‘ary witch out there in Cyberland is giving you the real juice, bleeding in front of you, or acknowledging their failures.  There are some who would sit in a gold chair and blog at you that it was pine.  Parade a Pagan legacy that never existed from a path that would have considered it unholy.  Garner your trust through the calculated use of colloquialisms and histories that could not be farther from the truth of their bones.  They are so much cooler online.  Careful, Batchildren. You might be served a peanut butter/salami/banana/cheddar casserole.  Most times?  Those who know them in “real” life wouldn’t eat a cracker on their porch, much less trust their mentorship. [1]

It worries my mind.  In the middle of the night, driving down Country Road 158, standing in the shower and drinking my morning coffee.  We have lost the smell of truth, the taste of synergy and the hard, blistered feel of working for knowledge.  The woman I have become has not once regretted the girl I was: ravished for the real thing, magic in my hands, gritty against my skin.

I said:  I wanna touch the Earth.  I wanna break it in my hands.  I wanna grow something wild and unruly.  Oh, it sounds so good to me.  [2]

When it came to my soul magic?  I craved slow-braised, hand-carved sustenance.  Special sauce, be damned.  I put on my doo-rag when I was wee, turned off the t.v. and saddled up for the ride of my life. [3]

But, then again, I never was chicken shit.

Yeehaw,

Seba

Wannabees

1.  As a “live” teacher in a University system, I have been privy to the debate on the subject of online teaching.  And, while I agree that there is a need for an online system (in order that more students have access to education), such a system is never an even replacement for the live classroom.  I claim this even as a part-time online instructor of over five years.  There are real losses for the average student: face time, personal engagement, sensory experience, discipline to time/work and interaction with peers.  Like sending a text instead of making a phone call, it is easier to just walk away from an online class than it ever would be to walk from a human being looking you in the eye.  Live learning breeds personal connection.  And while I realize that such a stance is not the popular one, I’d rather know the real name of the person with his/her hands down my magical pants.  Call me old-fashioned.

2.  Dixie Chicks, “Cowboy Take Me Away,” Fly.   Monument Records: 1999.

3.  My own son is taught, year after year, over campfires and dinner tables amidst the voices of old salty dogs and wise old women.  He can’t get that kind of spiritual osmosis against the flash of graphic moons on a purple screen.  My son has to be present, pure and simple.  It will be his truest inheritance, that time he spent waxing on, waxing off under a palpable and unbearably real sky.

23 Comments on “Wannabepriestians

  1. I have been wanting to blog about this for awhile. Now I don’t have too. After teaching online for awhile I’ve decided to stop. I can convey the knowledge but not the relationship. Love this one sister!

  2. Gorgeous, transcendently gorgeous.
    And, ladies and gentlemen: “incurable case of astral nasties” has now entered the lexicon. Let us praise the almightly divine spirit for that.

  3. This is exactly why I have stopped teaching online. I can convey knowledge but not the “knowing”. No relationship. I just can’t do it online the way I can in person. Thanks for this one!!!!

  4. my wife uses the word asshat, and i think that’s so cool. i hear what you’re saying, and i say that no one wants to work for anything nowadays. <— that's a southern word. yall have a good day or night whatever the case may be and i'll be back or some more.

  5. My queendom for a Seba in this neck of the woods, my online friend. I’m doing the best I can to learn the true, the real, the substance. I want no will o’ the wisp, no faery light, no pixie dust. I want the Goddess full and true because the God tends to be more complicated for me to relate to (at least singularly anyways). Yet, when paired with the Lady, the Lord makes much more sense and the circle, the concept completes itself within me. Until I’m lucky/ready (?) to attract the teacher/group who I can trust completely and in so doing we can, together and separate, create amazing energy work together, I soldier on, solitary and content to be so, for now. Too much astral/earthly nasty out there for me to risk group work masked as ego and flagrant self-aggrandizement from a potential leader one Dixie cup from using a Kool-Aid Special as sacramental wine. It is true that grandmother wisdom and contact education is the greatest meeting of mind/spirit possible, but what does one do when that isn’t possible? When your family for all intents and purposes are those whom you choose as soul sisters/brothers because the real is broken and unfixable? What do you do when you seek the camaraderie of like minds who will honor your dedication to your quest yet consistently find asshats who are unable to remove themselves from the equation during the teaching? Clear, firm defiance and a “the-sharpest-knife-cuts-the quickest” exit strategy on my part is the general result when I experience that type of personality, male or female. Just some thoughts from the eternal student that is moi. 😉

    Erin (Sinclair)

  6. My queendom for a Seba in this neck of the woods, my online friend. I’m doing the best I can to learn the true, the real, the substance. I want no will o’ the wisp, no faery light, no pixie dust. I want the Goddess full and true because the God tends to be more complicated for me to relate to (at least singularly anyways). Yet, when paired with the Lady, the Lord makes much more sense and the circle, the concept completes itself within me. Until I’m lucky/ready (?) to attract the teacher/group who I can trust completely and in so doing we can, together and separate, create amazing energy work together, I soldier on, solitary and content to be so, for now. Too much astral/earthly nasty out there for me to risk group work masked as ego and flagrant self-aggrandizement from a potential leader one Dixie cup awa from using a Kool-Aid Special as sacramental celebration. It is true that grandmother wisdom and contact education is the greatest meeting of mind/spirit possible, but what does one do when that isn’t possible? When your family for all intents and purposes are those whom you choose as soul sisters/brothers because the real is broken and unfixable? What do you do when you seek the camaraderie of like minds who will honor your dedication to your quest yet consistently find asshats who are unable to remove themselves from the equation during the teaching? Clear, firm defiance and a “the-sharpest-knife-cuts-the quickest” exit strategy on my part is the general result when I experience that type of personality, male or female. Just some thoughts from the eternal student that is moi. 😉

    Erin (Sinclair)

    • This one, my dearest Erin, deserves an entire blog post for an answer. I will try to work on it. And: I wish you were closer. As booked as I am with live students, I would hustle you right into the fire circle! Your questions, however, are ones that I have worked through myself. Expect a blog soon. And: love you.

      • Love you back. I look forward to the day when we can learn from one another. Would love the blog response and wait with bated breath! I would ask for an online version for now that perhaps I can bring into my solitary studies? As they say, can’t hurt to as, right?

      • And there you did it. You knew you would, one day. You asked. I reckon you know what comes next. Time for the (gasp!) actual, real, live phone call. Don’t chicken out, now.

  7. I’m not a newbie but I am a young’in and I feel where you are coming from. My peers irritate the heck out of me when they just skip around from book to book and then wonder why I can cast circles around them. I may not study under one teacher (yet), but I search them out and listen at their feet and engage in their work. And no matter how many people come to me for learnin’, I never once claim to be a teacher. I am willing to share with them what I have learned, point them in the direction of the wise one I learned from, and then talk about what they’ve learned as well; but I am no teacher.

  8. Ok, so the question is, “Where to find a teacher? A real Kitchen Witch who would take on a student who wants to get their hands dirty?” I have been searching for two years+ and am having a very hard time finding someone whose beliefs align with mine. It’s frustrating. I am a firm believer of working with what you’ve got but this methodology doesn’t really apply to a sacred Craft that is oftentimes secretive and requires instruction. Some books just don’t seem right or don’t speak to me, SOME online authors seem like straight-up looney-birds so I quit all except a smidge of Witchvox and your blog. I know that I am missing something and want to learn more but truly have only myself to rely on. I have joined a Shaminic Meet-Up which I am attending this evening for the first time (fingers crossed), Joined a UU church because the faith in which I was raised (Catholic) would say I am going to burn. (Ouch, that’s hot!) Even there I found mostly liberal Christians, Buddhists and Atheists.
    I realized I was empathic several years ago and have had minimal instruction on protection but it has helped. Now, I want to continue forward in the Craft (kitchen Witch) and can’t find a soul to guide me. I am about as average as they come. Mom of a toddler. Work part time to supplement income/ help out the hubby. You have inspired me to finish up my formal education and I can easily head down to the nearest college for that.. The spiritual stuff? There’s nobody, yet. Don’t have a lot of options other than to read what I find online. I actually only follow your blog. Should I follow more? I spend more time researching deities, and how to do rituals BUT there is so much conflicting information. Should I cast a circle or not? Do I have to hand make my athame, I mean, I use a kitchen knife that I purified. I feel like the Universe is banging on my door and I don’t have the key to open it. I meditate during nap time, burn a little sage (sometimes I use cedar or rosemary from my garden) and then I do the dishes, haha! When the the baby goes to bed at night I read books and pour over online info, sometimes until I fall asleep. I have a witch’s garden that I plant by the moon. I make food with intention and when I stir my sauce it’s full of love for my family and I usually work with Brigid although I did work with Kali-Ma during this past waning moon. Trust me I needed her!
    There’s not too much else, baby steps for me I guess.
    It takes a lot of courage to follow an unconvential path and embrace your goddess and thank the Goddess that i have a supportive husband, especially when EVERYONE else close to me would instantly scoff at my choice. I am deep in the broom closet, ha!

    I would love to find a mentor (a tangible human) so I don’t end up like the people you are talking about in your blog. I’ll keep turning stones but maybe you can offer some advice? You seem to know a thing or two 🙂
    Blessings.

    • I am so glad you reached out about all of this. First, let me clarify: There are some mighty fine witches out there, pure and well-taught, but as of yet it is just so difficult to come up with an adequate “accredited” manner to rate them. My strongest advice about online learning would be: ask to speak with them on the phone. Spend some time researching their background. Watch for those who teach the “cornucopia” approach where there simply is no real standard. In addition? I would encourage you, if you are able, to seek out others within your community. There are asshats and drama mongers in all of them, but such is life. You may end up befriending a witchy bestie who is on the same search, or finding a mentor you adore, or at the very least experience fellowship. Last, but not least, read. And practice, yourself, out in the grass, out by the water, under a tree. Keep a journal, discipline yourself, and ask for help like you have done here. Ask for someone to come to you.

      As to some of the specifics you ask? Nah. Follow only the blogs that thump like you. Circle casting works as protection and a form of clarity for me–but I don’t always do it or need it. My athame IS my kitchen knife: it is a pragmatic, real-life tool and that is all you need. Brigid and Kali-Ma? Awesome mix. Don’t worry: fancy beads, store-bought chalices and formal wear did not exist for our ancestors. Can you imagine? “Well, I’d like to worship, but my altar cloth is dated. Best run to Witches Are Us?” Nah. You sound like a born witch. Listen to that thump. Consider some fellowship. Keep a journal. And: believe!

      • Haha! Awesome, thank you so much Seba. It’s funny you should say I am a “born witch” because I do feel like I found the greatest pair of jeans, ever. I enjoy your wisdom and your fearlessness. From one to another, I know you had to exercise that muscle to be where you are now and it probably wasn’t always easy, nothing worth having is, right?
        At the Shamanic meet-up we did a ritual called The Life/Death arrow. I loved it…afterwards a beautiful Crone walked up to me and said, “Your Light is so bright!” and gave me a big hug. I almost cried. OMG, if some of my friends even knew about this, lol! It does sorta make me laugh to myself when I hear regulars at my bar talking about sports and the President…all relative things in their lives but then they say, “so, what have you been up to?”
        “Um…I am totally excited that the wild Mugwort I potted is sprouting.”
        “Can I get another Miller Lite?”
        Ha! Hilarious.
        I am also dressing my daughter up in the cutest little witch outfit for her costume this year. *Wink. I will get you a picture.
        I am making jam to send out for Mabon bc I won’t be able to celebrate that evening and am keeping a journal. I am glad someone like you is out there…Your Light is so bright!!! Big Hugs, Aho.

  9. Thank you for this much needed post! A frat-boy-one-night stand is something we may all do (intentionally or accidentally) in our lives. But why, oh why would you ever do anything with such carelessness as it relates to your immortal spirit?? WTF!

    BTW, what’s the re4cipe for your Crazy Crust Pie/Cobbler? I’ve mangled several cobblers this summer would love to redeem myself!! TY AGAIN! 🙂

  10. Oh. My. … !!
    I know the people you’re talking about – have seen them, have heard from them, have had them offer to teach me, and ask to work with me (me… who knows not {yet} what she does!)… and it’s all disturbing. Wannabepriestians is perfect! And I agree that “incurable case of astral nasties” has now entered the lexicon.” – Love. It.

    “I hope that they will search, undaunted, for a Master of Their Thump who will hold them to an ethical, sound and thorough lashing of learning.”
    ………. Laws, yes! Even if it takes just shy of 20 years before you find them. You know when it’s right. Your ‘thump’ knows – in pounding, earth-wracking, soul-changing tones. But you have to be listening. And you have to have the balls to stand up, swallow the fear, and say “YOU. I know you’re the one!”
    Totally worth every moment of the search.

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