Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Flower - Interlude With Osiris

The night after the New Moon is sacred to Osiris, Asar, husband of my Goddess, so I always try and perform an offering to him.  Although he is a judge and lord and God of the Dead, he is also the Lord of the Living, the Beautiful Boy, the Green God and White God, the God whose weapons are dance and verse and who conquers by educating his foes.  He is beautiful and celebratory as well as solemn and dark, and so few know and see that side of him.

Tonight I offered him a sweet, honeysuckle incense called Blessed Bee from Silver Cauldron (it leapt to my hand), a bowl of good brown rice, and what has become one of my customary offerings to him: genmaicha.  Genmaicha is made of green tea leaves, matcha, and roasted brown rice and is a delicacy to me.  It's also Green (like Him) and flavored with grain, and thus appropriate for the Good God of Green and Grain.  Thrice Green Tea for the Green Man.

Among other things, answering concerns of mine he told me this:

"Write this down, scribe, as you do: Whoever lives in Ma'at has no fear of death."

Perhaps the words were different, but I hope I captured the intent.  Important things to remember.

Dua Asar, Beautiful Boy.

Image from the Isis Oracle by Alana Fairchild (one of my favorite decks and a powerful oracle if you resonate with it).

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Hijab at Gay Pride - My Covering Story

I come to the practice of covering as a transgender woman, having been raised in a Muslim country by Sunni Orthodox (others would call them Wahabi) Muslims.  My mother was Episcopalian until she found Islam some time in my early childhood; I believe I was in first grade when she started going to a mosque and then started covering.  I had never been raised in her prior tradition, just given general ideas, and her excitement about her new path was contagious.  I read the books and learned the strange and magickal words in other languages and accepted wholeheartedly that this was good and the way that it was taught to me.  My mother married an Egyptian man who worked in Saudi Arabia and so we moved there with him when I was in fourth grade.

I struggled with my identity for a long time, who I knew I was being in conflict with who I was being told that I was.  My religion did not lead me to any satisfactory solution in regards to me gender.  Because of this and other things, I fought with my mother when I graduated High School to be allowed to move back to the States and live with my grandparents.

I found Pagan paths a few years after I moved back, and realized that Pagans weren’t evil or bad people and that there was a lot of value in Pagan practice.  I started to identify as Pagan and had a massive internal struggle as I cast off parts of my old faith a bit at a time.  I remember distinctly a phase where it felt like I was pulling hooks out of my spine, hooks attached to tense, invisible lines or cords.  It was painful and liberating.

I was afflicted with early-onset male pattern baldness.  I had always had my hair long as a teenager and young adult; it was the only feminine expression that I could get away with and losing my beautiful hair tore me apart inside.  I felt disempowered and that my only connection to my womanhood, to who I really was, was being torn from me one hair at a time.  I eventually just shaved my head and kept it short because it was easier to deal with it that way and keep it neat but it jarred and scarred me internally.

I eventually got to the point where I was ready to deal with my gender identity and began to live as I knew myself to be and transition medically.  At this point I began covering because of my hair loss.  I wore colorful scarves tied simply bandana-style, and over time my scarf collection grew and expanded thanks to friends (thanks, Deb!) and hippy stores in the area that I lived.  I have many colorful scarves that I use
My hormonal changes started allowing some of my hair to grow back.  As it started filling back in I realized that at some point I might be able to go uncovered and enjoy my stolen birthright.  At the same time, though, I had been reading about how ancient Isians would go covered, and was exposed to practitioners of other traditions where women went covered. 

Then, when going to the DMV to get my driver’s license changed to reflect my new name and proper gender identity, they asked me to take off my scarf for the picture.  I nervously invoked New York State’s religious exemption regarding covering in pictures and encountered no resistance to it.  However, walking out of the DMV with my new license made me wonder if making that statement and using my faith as an excuse to cover for the picture meant that I should be walking the walk and embrace it as a regular practice, even though my hair was beginning to fill back in.

Little things happened, too.  When my partner’s ex-husband was on his way over and almost came into the apartment one day I panicked, thinking, “But he’s not muhrim, I need to cover!”  I wasn’t raised as a woman in Islam, and still the concept of muhrim (people who are muhrim are “pure”, people who are allowed to see you unveiled) leaked in to my psyche and I began applying it unconsciously.  I began tucking hair in to try and keep it from showing rather than just covering most of my hair, as well.  I didn’t want to be a “hojabi”.

Today was Pride in Rochester, the city I live in.  I’m a leader in the trans community of Rochester and posed like a figurehead at the front of the float, proudly waving the rainbow flag and greeting those I passed with what I hoped was a good balance between lively enthusiasm and royal aplomb.  I kept seeing my own reflection in the back of the truck pulling the float, and at one point I let little wisps of hair on the sides of my head free and immediately felt bad about it.

We have a large festival after the parade, and while in a bathroom there I was looking in the mirror and saw myself and my scarf.  I took it off to fix and adjust it for the first time since I had left the house, and had a moment of pause.  On a whim, I tied it under my chin (rather than behind my head, tichel-like, as I’ve been doing) and folded it over on my cheeks.  My face was framed as my mother’s had been, as countless women I’d been raised with had been.

I didn’t know how to feel about it.  It felt much more complete and comfortable.  It felt more of a whole thing, and less awkward.  At the same time, I had short sleeves and shorts – I wasn’t covering “properly” for a Muslim woman – and I’m not a Muslim woman.

I put it back into the tichel style and went back to our booth at the festival.  Without taking the scarf off I showed the others there what it looked like as hijab.  I got some compliments, and one person remarked on how easily I had done it for not having done it before.

I don’t feel one hundred percent right doing it.  Part of it is identification – I’m not Muslim, and it’s a style associated with Islam.  At the same time, it covers all of my hair, and is something that provides the comfort of familiarity and a sense of continuity.  It feels “safer” than my standard style.

I like it but I don’t know if I like wearing it.  Part of me really wants to experiment with it, and part of me is afraid.  A lot of the fears are unidentified, but I know there’s a fear of being mistaken for Muslim (which is unfair to Muslims and could potentially be unpleasant for me, especially if I have an encounter with someone who actually is Muslim), there’s a fear of being like my mother or walking too close to the road that she walks on… I don’t know what all of them are. 

It’s both comfortable and unsettling.  I don’t know what to do or how to feel about it.  I’m sharing it on this blog, but also with the facebook groups that I belong to for covered women.  I am still trying to digest how I feel about this. 

The one thing that does put a smile on my face about the situation is the fact that I first wore hijab for Gay Pride.

Friday, January 24, 2014

A Root: The Nameless

I felt that it was time for another Philae post, and that feeling coincided with a desire to share my favorite piece of prose, ever.  It is from the novel Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.  I was going to share it on Facebook, but it is too long, and would rather have it up here where I will be able to see it.

I have omitted a single paragraph, because without the context of the novel it would make no sense, and is the only reference to why this speech is given.  For those who are not familiar, Samsara is the concept of the temporal reality around us, that we dwell in and visit for a time in life, and all that is connected to it.

Please, do me the favor of sitting down and taking the time to read these words.  I read them first when I was eight, and re-visit them and this novel every few years, and every time I find new value, meaning, and purpose in them.  Thank you.

“Names are not important,” he said.  “To speak is to name names, but to speak is not important.  A thing happens once that has never happened before.  Seeing it, a man looks upon reality.  He cannot tell others what he has seen.  Others wish to know, however, so they question him, saying, ‘What is it like, this thing you have seen?’  So he tries to tell them.  Perhaps he has seen the very first fire in the world.  He tells them, ‘It is red, like a poppy, but through it dance other colors.  It has no form, like water, flowing everywhere.  It is warm, like the sun of summer, only warmer.  It exists for a time on a piece of wood, and then the wood is gone, as though it were eaten, leaving behind that which is black and can be sifted like sand.  When the wood is gone, it too is gone’.  Therefore the hearers must think that reality is like a poppy, like water, like the sun, like that which eats and excretes.  They think it is like anything that they are told it is like by the man who has known it.  But they have not looked upon fire.  They cannot really know it.  They can only know of it.  But fire comes again into the world, many times.  More men look upon fire.  After a time fire is common as grass and clouds and the air they breathe.  They see that, while it is like a poppy it is not a poppy, while it is like water, it is not water, while it is like the sun it is not the sun, and while it is like that which eats and passes wastes, it is not that which eats and passes wastes, but something different from each of these apart or all of these together.  So they look upon this new thing and make a word to call it.  They call it ‘fire’.

“If they come upon one who still has not seen it, and they speak to him of fire, he does not know what they mean.  So they, in turn, fall back upon telling him what fire is like.  As they do so, they know from their own experience that what they are telling him is not the truth, but only a part of it.  They know that this man will never know reality from their words, though all the words in the world are theirs to use.  He must look upon the fire, smell of it, warm his hands by it, stare into its heart, or remain forever ignorant.  Therefore ‘fire’ does not matter, ‘earth’, ‘air’, and ‘water’ do not matter.  ‘I’ do not matter.  No word matters.  But man forgets reality and remembers words.  The more words he remembers, the cleverer do his fellows esteem him.  He looks upon the great transformations of the world but he does not see them as they were seen when men looked upon them for the first time.  Their names come to his lips, and he smiles as he tastes them, thinking he knows them in the naming.  The great burning blossom squats, flowing, upon the limb of the world, excreting the ash of the world, and being none of these things I have named and at the same time all of them, and this is reality – The Nameless.

“Therefore, I charge you – forget the names you bear, forget the words I speak as soon as they are uttered.  Look, rather, upon the Nameless within yourselves, which arises as I address it.  It hearkens not to my words but to the reality within me, of which it is a part.  This is the atman, which hears me rather than my words.  All else is unreal.  To define is to lose.  The essence of all things is the Nameless.  The Nameless is unknowable, mightier even than Brahma.  Things pass, but the essence remains.  You sit, therefore, in the midst of a dream.

“Essence dreams it a dream of form.  Forms pass, but the essence remains, dreaming new dreams.  Man names these dreams, and thinks to have captured the essence, not knowing that he invokes the unreal.  These stones, these walls, these bodies you see seated about you are poppies and water and the sun.  They are the dreams of the Nameless.  They are fire, if you like.

“Occasionally there may come a dreamer who is aware that he is dreaming.  He may control something of the dream-stuff, bending it to his will, or he may awaken into greater self-knowledge.  If he chooses the path of self-knowledge, his glory is great and he shall be for all ages like unto a star.  If he chooses the way of the Tantra, combining Samsara and Nirvana, comprehending the world and continuing to live in it, this one is mighty among dreamers.  He may be mighty for good or for ill, as we look upon him – though these terms, too are meaningless, outside of the namings of Samsara.

“To dwell within Samsara, however, is to be subject to the works of those who are mighty among dreamers.  If they are mighty for good, it is a golden time.  If they are mighty for ill, it is a time of darkness.  The dream may turn to nightmare.

“It is written that to live is to suffer.  This is so, say the sages, for man must work off the burden of Karma if he is to achieve enlightenment.  For this reason, say the sages, what does it profit a man to struggle within a dream against that which is his lot, which is the path he must follow to achieve liberation?  In the light of eternal values, say the sages, the suffering is as nothing; in the terms of Samsara, say the sages, it leads to that which is good.  What justification, then, has a man to struggle against those who are mighty for ill?”

He paused for a minute, raised his head higher.


The answer, the justification, is the same for men as it is for gods.  Good or ill, say the sages, mean nothing for they are of Samsara.  Agree with the sages, who have taught our people for as far as the memory of man may reach.  Agree, but consider also a thing of which the sages do not speak.  This thing is ‘beauty’, which is a word – but look behind the word and consider the Way of the Nameless.  And what is the Way of the Nameless?  It is the way of Dream.  And why does the Nameless dream?  This thing is not known to any dweller within Samsara.  So ask, rather, what does the Nameless dream.

“The Nameless, of which we are all a part, does dream form.  And what is the highest attribute any form may possess?  It is beauty.  The Nameless, then, is an artist.  The problem, then, is not one of good or evil but one of aesthetics.  To struggle against those who are mighty among dreamers and mighty for ill, or ugliness, is not to struggle for that which the sages have taught us to be meaningless in terms of Samsara or Nirvana, but rather it is to struggle for the symmetrical dreaming of a dream, in terms of the rhythm and the point, the balance and the antithesis which will make it a thing of beauty.  Of this, the sages say nothing.  This truth is so simple that they have obviously overlooked it.  For this reason, I am bound by the aesthetics of the situation to call it to your attention.  To struggle against the dreamers who dream ugliness, be they men or gods, cannot but be the will of the Nameless.  This struggle will also bear suffering; and so one’s Karmic burden will be lightened thereby, just as it would be by enduring the ugliness; but this suffering is productive of a higher end in the light of the eternal values of which the sages so often speak.

“Therefore I say unto you, the aesthetics of what you have witnessed this evening were of a high order.  You may ask me then, ‘How am I to know that which is beautiful and that which is ugly, and be moved to act thereby?’  This question, I say, you must answer for yourself.  To do this, first forget what I have spken, for I have said nothing.  Dwell now upon the Nameless.”

The Phoenix/Dragon at Sirius Rising, 2011.

Thank you for sharing this with me.  You now know me far better than you once did, even if you knew me well before.

Love and Beauty,

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Fluff: All Conspiracy Theories Are Blatantly False Because:

Initiate countdown:

5) There has never been a recorded example of a government, religious or corporate official presenting a testimony that has been altered from the truth to their own benefit, nor is there any reason to suspect that this has ever happened.

4) There has never been a recorded example of a journalist or media organization altering their reporting or a story to align with the requests of an authority figure or corporation, nor is there any reason to suspect that this has ever happened.

3) There has never been a recorded example of a government organization, church, corporation, or other large-scale organization preventing access of incriminating evidence or information, nor is there any reason to suspect that this has ever happened.

2) There has never been a recorded example of malfeasance or failure to act in good faith on behalf of a government organization, church, corporation, or other authority figure, nor is there any reason to suspect that this has ever happened.

And, the number one reason that all conspiracy theories are blatantly false is:


1)  There has never been a recorded example of people in authority making surreptitious arrangements with one another to their mutual benefit despite detriment to others, nor is there any reason to suspect that this has ever happened.

So if you suspect that any of the above has ever happened, it's time to break out your tinfoil hats and join the legions of fools who believe that it's possible or even likely that an authority figure or person in power might at some point do something to your detriment and represent their actions dishonestly, working with others to make it seem as though they have not.  Congratulations, idiot, you're now a conspiracy theorist.


Today I'm going to teach you some black magick.  Evil, evil incantations that have the power to bend the minds of those around you.

Mind you, you're probably already aware of these words and phrases but their potency might be have slipped beneath your notice.  You've heard them before, interwoven into others' speech and if you're reading this blog, chances are some of them may have been directed against you at one point or another.

These are words and phrases that have the power to shut down minds.  Some of them are old, some of them are new, and most of them vary in efficacy based on your target.  It's good to know who you're working this black magick on before unleashing it to ensure that it works properly.


An oldie but goodie.  Many believe that due to modernization and the spread of information and secularization of Western society, words like this have lost their power.  However, there is still a good portion of the population in the Western world on whom it is effective.

Declaring an action, a behavior, or a statement or argument to be "sinful" suggests that the subject is frowned upon and declared forbidden by the divine authority to whom the person involved owes allegiance.  "Sinful" can be finicky; people are unlikely to accept the use of this black magick word if they do not consider you somewhat of an authority on their religion.  Nevertheless its power cannot be understated; I have personally encountered people who will not read certain kinds of books, will not discuss certain topics and who work hard to deny their own natures because they consider them sinful.

Tinfoil Hat

This phrase is generally of greatest use when dealing with someone who believes something that you consider unlikely.  It comes from the idea that people who have been abducted by UFOs believe that wearing tinfoil on their heads will protect them from unwanted telepathic contact and influence (although if anyone ever used tinfoil and rabbit ears on their TV they can understand why I think that they may have that backwards).

A "tinfoil hat" reference can be made in case of commentary on government or corporate malfeasance or untruths or discussion of the possibility of natural phenomenon that have not been experienced by the person in question.


This term is to refer to any spiritual phenomenon, belief, or experience that is not shared by the user.  It can be used effectively to dispel all possibility of consideration on a subject.  The word "woowoo" when uttered with sincerity can render even the most sincere believer ridiculous in the eyes of those around them.


Yes, crazy.  It may seem trite, and it may seem old-fashioned, but this black magick word is still highly effective, especially when combined with others above.  "Crazy and sinful" suggests that one is committing monstrous acts that they may not even be able to comprehend.  Although the use of tinfoil hats is often synonymous with being "crazy", adding the word can only help your cause.  "Crazy and woowoo" not only writes off a person's personal subjective experiences as nonsense, but also suggests that they would be incapable of judging any such experience.  Tried and true.


Similar to crazy, and best used in conjunction with "unscientific" to make it clear that a person's modes of thought are primitive.

All of these words and phrases can be used for one of the darkest acts of black magick imaginable: to bring about endings, to close off possibilities, to empty minds.  Application of these incantations will serve in most circumstances to instantly dilate the minds and perceptions of those who are listening.  In addition, they will prevent most who hear them from considering the subject that they are applied to as those who have heard the incantations will not want their thought processes tainted with "crazy, irrational woowoo" that might be "sinful" or something that people who wear "tinfoil hats" might consider.

I'm sure if you think about it you can find other powerful black magick incantations that people use to close minds and distract themselves and others from thinking about subjects that they are uncertain about or find uncomfortable.  In case you couldn't tell, I'm not sharing these because I think that you should use them; I'm sharing them as a public service and a reminder to be careful what words you use.  A closed mind helps no one, and these are the sorts of magick words that only get stronger with repetition and use.