Archive for June, 2012

12 Month Challenge-via M.Shaffer: War of the Sexes

Posted in Feminism, LGBTQ, Ritual with tags , , on June 28, 2012 by theredlass

I am a proud feminist. Allow me to explain for a moment.

I think that women are currently second class citizens in America. I think that though great strides have been made within the last hundred years towards women being viewed equally, there is still a very long way to go towards true equality between the sexes. To me it has very little to do with pay scale or position and a great deal to do with perception and self limitation. I think women today are as much to blame with how we are seen and treated as they way any man treats us. We have allowed ourselves to believe that feminine power is all wrapped up in sexuality and bitchiness instead of simply having some pride and honor in our dealings. I know I’m generalizing here but every time I see a girl wearing a pair of pants that say Bitch in ghetto typography with a shirt that loudly proclaims they are “Too Cute for Math.”, all I can think about is how Susan B. Anthony must be rolling in her grave. We are our own worst enemy, and that is true of MANY different groups in America.

Okay now that I have ranted for a moment, allow me to get into this from a pagan perspective. I think part of the reason that women and men have fallen so far from a path of honor and pride is due to our lack of social recognition for what makes a man or a woman thus. We all watch National Geographic & Discovery, we’ve all seen the Taboo episodes where they discuss initiation rituals where men and women have to prove their adulthood through some trial. And while yes we all flinch at the blood rituals of Africa where a boys skin is made to ripple like a crocodile or the whipping of a new wife as she goes to her husbands house, there is something to these rituals that makes them significant.

Recognition.

Yes they are painful, brutal even, but within this is the recognition by ones family and peers that the initiate is significant. That they have achieved something that makes them worthy of note. In America we simply tend to take advantage of the concept that 18 years old means you are legally an adult. It’s an age, once you hit it you are an adult and that is that. You don’t have to achieve anything beyond breathing to accomplish it. It simply happens.

I read this story once where young men were undergoing their man making. In order to accomplish this, they have to remain awake all night long, holding their spears,  at attention without leaning or resting, no water or food, standing towards the horizon. It was the last in a series of tests including fasting, hunting, leaping over a burning pit, all to prove they were ready for the responsibilities of manhood. In another, the women had to undergo the breaking of their hymen in a ritual in order to ensure their first lovemaking would be pleasurable and their children would be conceived in joy rather than pain. It was painted as terrifying and intimidating, but in the end the girl (now woman) was praised and painted and rewarded especially well if she didn’t cry out or whimper during the ritual. She showed endurance and was treated as a woman from then on, allowed to choose who she wanted to wed.

Now I’m not suggesting these things. They would be inappropriate for our day and age just as would animal/human sacrifice. What I am saying, is that within witchcraft, we have the unique ability to organize some form of recognition for those growing up in our path. While in general I think it’s a good ideal for covens and groves to be unisex, I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with gender specific covens. I think for some people they offer a desperately needed refuge from a very stereotyped culture. And this is not exclusive to women either. In our time we are seeing the shift of gender orientation and conception become more and more open. Male and female is not as cut and dry as we have always seen it to be. So my question becomes, are gender oriented covens limited by genitalia or personal perception? Could a person, born a man but who sees themselves and lives as a woman join a Dianic Wiccan group? Could a woman who identify herself as a warrior personality participate in “Warrior Games” (which are held at some events). Mind you I am not saying that I have seen any evidence that they can’t. Pagans pride themselves on being forward thinking, open minded and tolerant. So I see little reason for this to be an issue.

What I am saying is that when you form a gender oriented group you need to be aware of the ramifications and perceptions people (both within and without) are going to develop. You need to be clear about the purpose and intention of such a group? I have heard of some women’s wiccan groups that are specifically for victims of rape. Does that mean only female victims or could men find support there as well? Does that mean Male on female, female on female, male on male, female on male or all inclusive?

Yes I know it’s a very wife berth to consider thoroughly. But at the same time I think gender oriented groups have a lot to offer in solidarity and actualizing ones self. Something I have been wanting to do for a while now is to host a Red Tent event, just for a day. Talk about issues facing women today, health care (especially now that Obamacare is remaining in tact WOOT!!), life goals, self perception and body image. (I think I just now realized that the Red Tent is a sleepover for adults.) But a lot of my friends are gay and bi sexual males. Does that mean they get excluded? Does that mean their brand of feminine energy (some of which is more powerful than mine) should be cut out because they happened to be born with a dangle rather than a cleft?

It’s not an easy task. But I think when we talk about gender and sexuality in paganism, it is something we need to seriously consider.

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IGOR! HAND ME…THE PUMPKIN SEED OIL

Posted in Cooking, Herbals Oils, Salves with tags , on June 25, 2012 by theredlass

MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAAAAAAA!!!

Part of the fun of getting into herbal concoctions and such is the joy of experimentation. Fiddling around with different oils and scents, decoctions and remedies. Have wicked bad rosacea problems today? Try cool lavender tea with a little drop or two of olive oil. Mix it all up and dampen a soft washcloth with it. Lay that across your face (be sure you can breath!) and let the soothing solution relax your blood vessels.

Want to know how I came up with that? My wifey has rosacea and it was really irritated one day. I started fiddling around with some compresses and stuff and after some trials we discovered this worked.

Want to kill a sore throat and chest congestion? Take dark, natural honey (look for dark or local, grocery stores often cut honey with corn syrup), and cook it on a double boiler with a generous helping of chopped ginger root. Does wonders for clearing your sinuses and phlegm. Figured that out last allergy season when I was drinking tea like crazy and tried some raw ginger root and honey together. Did wonders and actually made it so my chest didn’t crackle.

The point is, when you are getting into herbalism and home health care, you start to take a stronger notice of what happens to you and family when you use certain things. You notice that you aren’t having such bad allergy problems after eating spicy foods (it’s the capsaicin). How a plate of handmade cinnamon rolls makes everything seem just a little bit easier to cope with.

All these things are important to observe and remember, and good basis for experimentation. Most of the time you start out from a simple recipe you found on-line, in my case from a lip balm recipe I got from Mountain Rose Herbs. Then after you get down the basics you expand on it, trying it with peppermint, pumpkin seed oil…all sorts of stuff.

You have to be careful of course. ALWAYS careful, especially if you are selling the stuff like me. Making sure you don’t use herbs that could provoke a bad allergic reaction or ones that shouldn’t come into contact with skin (like cinnamon). My rule of thumb is TRY IT YOURSELF FIRST! if you made something that you aren’t secure enough in to use on yourself on a frequent basis, then it probably isn’t a product you want to make a lot off. Also, always start small. Small batches, small amounts, small orders. Don’t drop $50 on something you’ve never made before.

EX: I was bound and determined to make a nice, thick body butter to sell in my shop. I had done lotion but body butter is a different animal all together. I used shea and coco butter and the essential oils I wanted…well…when I had melted everything together and mixed in the scents how I wanted I was (after an hour of stirring) left with a gloopy, melted mess of sloppy lilac smelling STUFF. I fiddled and worked and worked and fiddled and after 3 hours it still wasn’t a viable product. I was so sick of it at this point I didn’t even want to look at it any more! Not even to throw it away. i tossed it in the kitchen and went to bed. Well I must have kitchen faeries or something because when i got up in the morning it was smooth, creamy and whipped just the way i wanted. Yes it turned out well, but it could have been a gigantic fuck up that would have wasted around $30 of product right there.

So experiment, but in small steps.

Misummer Madness Contest!!

Posted in Contest, Herbals Oils, Salves with tags , , on June 21, 2012 by theredlass

Maybe the heat is getting to us, because we are giving away some of our fine products absolutely FREE!
Our PRIZE includes (1) 8 oz Citrus Mistress, (1) 2 oz Citrus Mistress (2) 4 oz Honey Kisses & (2) .15 oz Peppermint Plush Lip Balms!
To ENTER:
“Like” The Red Lass Emporium on FB!
“Share” This post on your page!
“Comment” below to let us know you have entered our contest!
This contest begins June 21st and ends August 1st!

Midsummer Night

Posted in Flowers, Litha, Ritual with tags , , on June 21, 2012 by theredlass

Little wee ones
Little folk fey
Hear my song
Come out to play

Litha & the Fairy World

Posted in Fun and interesting, Ritual with tags , , on June 19, 2012 by theredlass

One of the most favorite pagan holidays second to Samhain, Litha or Midsummer is widely celebrated and widely recognized as a prime time for gatherings, festivals, chanting and magical work. For many of us it is a time when the wee folk are about en force and we are able to interact with them with greater ease.

I have never been fond of the kewpie doll faeries that seem to grace so many artists imagination. Mind you this is not a comment on the art itself, there are people out there who are for more aesthetically gifted than I and I won’t insult them by suggesting otherwise. It’s the faces themselves. Stupid, placid, vacant faces with not a wit or thought to them.They never looked real, the resembled angelic concepts more than the wild world I associate with the fey.

I always imagined that, if I were to see a fairy, it would look like something out of Brian Froud’s work. Strange, feral, powerful and as frightening as alluring. I have never had the good luck to see one. Not that I am aware of at any rate. It is one of those times when my common sense wars with my desire to just let myself believe like I did when my grandad told me the fireflies glowed because they had bulbs stuck in their butts.

So for Litha I am going to build a fairy home.

I’m not a carpenter, but the local craft store has birdhouses on sale for a $1 a pop. And while I may not be artistic, I am one crafty witch. Sand and pine brushes, marbles and fake gems, moss and leaves, it’s fascinating what can be accomplished with glue and time. I know I want to make a nest inside of birch and clover. I think it would be best to nail it up in a tree so the neighborhood cats can’t get at it readily. Perhaps hang some chimes around it.

Does anyone reading this have any experience with the wee folk? There are a million sites out there that will tell you what to use to attract them, but has anyone any practical experience to offer? Any suggestions as to what has worked for you?

Graduation

Posted in Experience, Life, Theory with tags , , on June 8, 2012 by theredlass

This Saturday, I will graduate from college with an Associates in Early Childcare.

Crossroads are funny things. As pagans we tend to think of them as great mystical portals and places of sacred power. But in day to day life we interact with crossroads all the time and give them barely a thought. We decide what to have for breakfast, we decide what route to take to work, we decide how to prioritize our workload. All of these decisions are small, but they can impact our entire day and on some occasions, our entire life.

I am the sort of person who believes that choices are, at best 50/50. You can use your best judgement, think carefully about the outcome, and consider all points of view, and still have everything turn to shit in your hands. I also believe that hindsight is perfect, and it doesn’t do to blame yourself overmuch for things that can not be changed. Nature does not move backwards, but is perpetual, and so much we be, moving forward through our life and accepting the cycles as they come.

Easier fucking said than done.

About a year ago I lost a well paying job. Since then I have been working hard at school and opening my business The Red Lass Emporium. I still want to get a full time job but they are few and far between for childcare. I would be happy enough for a decent part time teacher’s aid position, which would enable me to continue with my education both financially and experience wise. My long term goal is to be a high school English teacher. That will take a masters degree. Another 3-4 years of schooling. Not bad considering it took me 5 to complete my associates from community college.

There are other things developing as well. My wife of 9 years and I have been talking for a while now about having children. We have even spoken to a friend of ours about providing sperm. The process is a long and frightening one. The agreement has always been that we wouldn’t try for children until we both had graduated college and had a steady job. (See the pattern forming yet?) Not to mention that a child is a HUGE life changing step. it is something we both want in our lives but at the same time we enjoy our selfishness just a bit. We like sleeping in late. We like picking up and going where we want when we want. We like having a rum and coke or two after a hard day. We like having copious sex whenever we feel in the mood. All these things change when a child enters the picture. It may not change in the way you think or it might be just as bad or worse. I am without illusions about child rearing. It can be hard, thankless, selfless and absolutely consume your life. it can also be brilliant, life affirming, and the greatest confirmation of your ability as a life giver. (And plus there will never be such a thing as a clean house AGAIN, or at least till you can enact child labor.)

And lastly, we have started the conversation about the possibility of a house. Urrgh. When I think of a house all I am of two minds. One sees the labor, the bills, the responsibility, the credit, the money, the repairs, the permanence, the effort, the time. The other sees the sense of ownership, the making of something that belongs to us, the setting in of roots, the creative possibilities, a place that is OURS.

So there you have it. My three faces. Job, Home, Family. All of this looming on me as I try to think of the coming graduation, the party, and seeing my family again. Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to this weekend and everything happening! I really am excited to see my mom and grandmom and have everyone get together for the BBQ and going out on the town! I’m so excited.

And at the same time I stay awake at night and think about how to ebb the flow of the river as the rains pour down on me and mine.

Someone remind me why I ever wanted adulthood.

Magpie Syndrome

Posted in Uncategorized on June 4, 2012 by theredlass

One of the things about walking down this path is we all seem to share traits with the common magpie.

We like stuff.

Don’t deny it. Don’t pretend it’s not true. I honestly can’t think of anyone who needs wands carved from every one of the sacred druid trees. But I know people who have them. No one needs 100 tarot decks, but I have a friend who has 128 at last count. You don’t need a pentacle to decorate every wall and available surface in your house, but…

You get the point. I’m not condemning anyone who has this habit. I’m just as guilty as anyone else with the exception that my girlfriend has a far more developed sense of aesthetics than I do and limits my pagan decor to tasteful pieces here and there. But the truth is we all love that brand new statue of Hekate or that wood carving of a Viking Mead Hall and just can not stop ourselves from grabbing it.

However if truth must be told, that shit is EXPENSIVE! Now that I have gotten past my original neophyte lust for all things shiny, I have made a person policy never to buy something I can make myself, and never spend more than $25 on any item. Yes it may mean I can not buy that gold plated replica of a real Egyptian mummification tool. But it will mean I can keep buying food and paying my rent.

So what is a pagan to do? Well…you trade. Goods, services, abilities. You look at the people you already know and offer to trade services with one another. For instance, I really love the smudge wands from Red Moon Design. I think the artistry and effort put into them is beautiful and if I had $120 to spend I would totally buy it. But seeing as how I like having electricity, I made some bargains on my own part.

I went over to a friends house to help them move and she gave me a turkey tail from one of her dads hunting trips. I cleaned the feather bottoms and store it for a while until I found out one of my friends was some wood from his pecan tree to make into wands and such and offered to let him have the fan in exchange for using some of the feathers to make me a smudge wand.

He may also be making me a large phallus out of ash but that’s an entirely other matter.

The point is, you don’t have to pay through the nose for items you really want. You just have to put in a little extra effort. Granted there are just somethings you can’t make yourself either because you don’t know how or don’t know anyone who can make it. But there are a lot of sites and videos out there that show you how to make different items.

So, apologies to all the people out there I would love to spend my money on. But I’m going to do my best to make as much as I can on my own.