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 My progression to where I am now was mostly through being an armchair pagan, I started reading Cunningham, flitted briefly over Buckland and Silver Raven Wolf(yes, I know), perused some Arin Murphy-Hiscock. The cauldron(my favorite pagan forum), was how I discovered new things. The first thing that I connected with enough, that I could progress to some sort of practice was Kemeticism. Problem was at the time I found it I did not have the skills to create a practice. At around that time I also read anything I could get my hands on in regards to Feri, but there was a similar problem, I wasn't in a place where I could work at it. 

Fast forward to the start of this year, a chance conversation lead me to look at ADF. The same chance conversation knocked down one of my mental walls I'd been railing against for a while. Both those things were only possible because of the previous work I'd done on myself. The work took a long time, I had to address many issues and reevaluate many things I grew up thinking were true. That period of change, of slowly sapping at the foundations of walls, other times breaking them fast and hard, happened whilst I was mostly being an armchair kemetic. Now I don't know if there was a deity involved(at one time I was sure there was), or if there was if I had misnamed them. I really don't know. Point is, change happened in a time where I was otherwise slowly sinking further and further into my own bullshit. 

Back to this year. 
I found within ADF, my affinity for Slavic paganism. It just felt right. However it's not enough, I knew it wouldn't be, not even in an ADF framework. When I moved away from kemeticism, I knew it wasn't a permanent move, more just shelving it for a while. It looks like it's time to pick it back up(Feri has also been resurfacing inasmuch as it can with online materials)

My conundrum is how do I even bring together these practices?

I think it's going to be a case of working it out as I go, I just feel like I'm floundering around without a boat. 

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There's just something important about them, I'm still figuring out what. I've come across a few myths involving bees, from an account involving creation, a myth about why gingerbread is made with honey. Then there was the section about bees, honey and mead in the book I'm reading(Pharmako Poeia, by Dale Pendell), this poem stuck with me...


Flowers, genitals open to the world,
the wind, critters flying or crawling,
the whole forest a vagina -
bees like semen, promiscuous and orgiastic,
butterflies feeding - proboscis curling
and uncurling, lips, petals, golden
pollen and amber, compound eyes. 

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The following is mostly UPG, just saying. 

Baba Yaga is an interesting character, and one that featured in stories throughout my childhood. Recently she's become something more to me, there is a calling that I'm not sure I want to answer, the things in those stories are not baseless. She is at times helpful and even benevolent, but more often than not Baba Yaga is the antagonist, she will kill you and eat you(possibly not in that order). And yet there is something else..

In all the stories I have read about her, she causes in one way or another necessary change. This is often unpleasant but it's still needed. In the story "Baba Yaga" the children are directed twice to see Baba Yaga, first by the wicked stepmother, then by their own grandmother. The children learn some lessons and Baba Yaga frequently threatens to eat them, Eventually they escape and run home to tell their father the story, the stepmother gets sent packing and things end up peachy. 

This story would not work without Baba Yaga, she is the cause of change, the reason the stepmother is gone. Something similar happens in another story called "Vasilisa the Beautiful"

Anyway, onto something more squishy
Baba Yaga, as we know her, is a more recent character than Slavic Gods we know of such as Perun or Veles. I read in "The Encyclopedia of Russian and Slavic Myth and Legend"  of the possibility that she has her roots in the Goddess Marzana(or Marena depending on the area). I can definitely see some similarities here. Marzana is a goddess of winter and death, in some cases also a sorceress. I'm not entirely sure of this squishyness, sure I can see some cross over but I just feel no connection for Marzana at this point. 

Other sources see Baba Yaga as a protector of liminal spaces, specifically keeping things in or out of the spaces. She is also the Witch.
There is a myth I have come across a few times, though I cannot vouch for it's authenticity, it interests me somewhat. It's the myth of how witches came to exist. 

Long ago, when the world was still fairly new, a young woman ventured into the woods to pick mushrooms. In no time at all, the skies opened up upon her and narrowly escaping the rain, she ran beneath a tree, removed all of her clothing, and bundled them up in her bag so they would not get wet. After some time, the rain stopped and the woman resumed her mushroom picking. Veles, Horned God of the forest happened upon her, and asked her what great magick she knew in order to have kept dry during the storm. 

"If you show me the secret to your magic, I will show you how I kept dry." she said. Being somewhat easily tempted by a pretty face, Veles proceeded to teach her all of his magical secrets. After he was done, she told him how she had removed her clothing and hid under a tree.

Knowing that he had been tricked, but had no one but himself to blame, Veles ran off in a rage, and thus, the first Witch came into being.

If this is the story of the origin of witches, it makes sense to me of who the woman in the story is. I see Baba Yaga as the first Witch(which also pokes holes in my squishiness above). The associations with Veles also make sense to me, though I think that will be another post. 

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Last year the guys bought me a mandrake plant, it wasn't cheap since there's only one place in the country that sold them. It was growing well until we moved to the new place, then all the leaves started falling off. I was hoping it was just going dormant because of the heat, so I put it into a large pot in the shade.
Thankfully I was right. After having a strange urge to go outside and have a look at it(it's in a rather out of the way spot) I was happy to see new green growth on it.
I think I will need to start trying to work with this plant, now that it's awake.
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Always face what you fear. Have just enough money, never too much, and some string. Even if it’s not your fault, it’s your responsibility. Witches deal with things. Never stand between two mirrors. Never cackle. Do what you must do. Never lie, but you don’t always have to be honest. Never wish. Especially don’t wish upon a star, which is astronomically stupid. Open your eyes, and then open your eyes again. 

-Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky
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I think to understand part of my relationship with my ancestors I need to explain some things about my family.

Ok we do talk, but rarely is it anything of consequence. We chit chat, we avoid most things controversial or any deep conversation because we are volatile. It really doesn't take much to start a conversation that will end in screaming and crying and that's if we're lucky. It's always a fine balancing act.
Anyway, this impacts with my relationship to my ancestors in a few ways.

Initially it has caused a complete block for me, I  could not reach back because there were members of my family poisoning the tree. On TC, a forum I frequent, this issue had come up for other people too. After a few people talked it over something helpful came out of it, if your tree is unhealthy it needs healing, sometimes it means you need to cut out the infected parts so it doesn't spread. In a sense that's what I did, now these infected parts are not gone forever, more sealed until I can deal with them.

After I got over that stumbling block, I came to another. It is very hard to get information about relatives if the only people who you can ask have mixed feelings about the relative. Thankfully this problem has mostly vanished.

On the rare occasion where we're not fighting, personal issues have been put aside, we have progress. I have learned stories of my great aunts sordid past(A wild child making friends with Madams, having flings with men in uniform, and a child that doesn't know that her aunt is her mother). There was my great grandmother rowing across a large bay to have a night out(I'd love to get a picture of her since we apparently look alike). My grandmother who despite having a bastard husband and a willfully missing son, was always a lavish entertainer taking great joy in the happiness of life.

My other grandmother's much sadder tale of war in Poland, smuggling her husband out twice, heading off the Germans before they found her family's role in the polish underground. More recently it was discovered that many relatives met their end in auschwitz.

I seem to come from a long line of many strong women who I admire greatly.

I don't often tell stories of my relatives, they're very personal to me. The older ones(the greats if you will) I know so little about, I almost want to hoard that small amount of knowing. I do talk about my grandmothers on occaision though.
My polish grandmother is harder for me to connect to, though my work into Slavic paganism is helping with that. I suppose because she was to my knowledge very christian(During WW2 she knew the man who would become Pope JP2), I never felt she would approve of my practice. I don't recall her going to church often though, so maybe I don't know something?

My other grandmother is however much much closer to me, she always was. When she was still here, we would chat fairly regularly about crafting or cooking or just bantering. I never knew her as the great entertainer(due to some feud it had stopped when I was old enough to notice such things), but there was always that lively spark about her. To hell with what others think she would do what she wanted and enjoy life, there were hardships but it was almost as though she would enjoy herself out of spite. Then she died. It happened only a few days before my highschool dance, infact the funeral was going to be the following day. It wasn't an easy thing for me, there was a lot of emotion, not to mention general teen dance drama. I knew that I had to go though, this would be my tribute to her, to go out and have a hell of a time. Ok so it was an ok time.

These days I often catch myself noting things she'd like, or what she'd say. It doesn't feel like she's been gone over 8 years.

Then again, she's not gone, not to me. I feel as though that same stubbornness of hers is why I connect with her still, why I know what items she wants for her shrine. I think she likes to be honoured, remembered at times of revelry and joy. I certainly try to oblige her.
I do feel like she watches out for me, though sometimes it may just be to laugh when I make that obviously stupid mistake.

I'd like to reach further back with my ancestors, but I think that will come with time.
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At first I thought I'd missed Lupa's latest livestream video, then I noticed she's uploaded some talks to youtube. Well that was my afternoon sorted, I didn't have anything pressing to do, so I took my hammock outside and settled down to listen to Lupa's animal totem meditation.

The gist of the meditation is that you enter into some kind of tunnel(in the earth, a tree, sky, anything you want really), travel through that tunnel and then you come out into an area where you should find your totem or similar.

My journey started with my attempts to squeeze into a tunnel in the earth. It was a very tight fit, no matter how much I tried to change my size like Lupa suggested, the tunnel changed size as well. In reflection I feel that may have something to do with my fears, doubts and general skepticism crushing down on the tunnel around me.
When I was in the tunnel it was really dark and I kept getting frustrated when the meditation was telling me to focus on how it looked. In my opinion it needed to at least mention how it felt. On the whole, guided meditations lean far too heavily on visualisation, what about touch? or smell? those are incredibly strong senses. I could smell the wet earth of that tunnel, I could feel the texture of the dirt(clay/loam), but the smell was definitately stronger to me.

Eventually I made my way towards the end of the tunnel, it was pretty clear because now I could start to see. There was the growing light the closer to the end I got. I ended up in a very lush, moist green area, possibly somewhere between a rain forest and a European forest. They're not environments I've ever been to so it's hard to say, the Australian bush is a very unique thing.

I looked around and saw that the sky was threatening to rain heavily, I could smell the coming rain, and I continued to look around. I felt pulled in two different directions, I explored the stronger pull first. I came across a snake.
Snakes have been a recurring theme for me. I was born in the year of the snake(only by 2 days), and I've always liked snake related iconography. I've often had dreams about snakes, one in particular involved what I think was a god telling me I was part of their snake tribe, something I thought I understood when it happened but I've recently learned I was mistaken and had attempted some celestial shoe horning.

I asked the snake what it could teach me, I was given a variety of answers that wont really make sense to anyone but me. After this I moved towards the other pull.

Turns out the source of that pull was a rabbit, I couldn't tell you the colour as it kept shifting, blending into it's surroundings. I put to the rabbit the same question as the snake, the answers were forthcoming but only relevant to me.

The third thing I noticed was that there was there was some kind of bird of prey overhead. I didn't know much else other than it was a predator to both the snake and rabbit. I got the sense that would be a meeting for another time, after much work.

after a while I started getting anxious about leaving, I was starting to have trouble keeping myself together. The best way to describe it was that I felt as though I was trying to grow scales and fur at the same time.

I eventually found the tunnel again and headed back out.

I think I'll try this again one day.
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For a variety of reasons I ended up pretty upset tonight(the why isn't relevant to this post).

I went out to the yard in the darkness, the rain was falling softly. I always find being in the rain, particularly at night, to be a calming and even cleansing influence. 

Anyway turns out the focus of my ire had followed me outside, into the rain, into the circle of trees I was standing in. After a short talk they made me a promise to make amends  in the rain, inside the circle, in front of my gods. I pointed this out to them, mentioning that regardless of whether they find this important I do. This promise is sacred to me now, and I will not take it lightly if they break it. After some assurances I was alone again.

I lay down on the grass, slowed my breathing and just existed. My mind leisurely wandering through the different sensations of the evening. The rain pattering down on my skin, the sound of the rain falling on different surfaces, the rich smell of the wet earth. 

I really do love being out in the rain, no matter the situation I always feel better afterwards. 

May 2016

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