Songs Of A Year Past

That feeling of a year has come and gone.

Its place was carved from my memory with an athame, cold and deep.

I feel the empty space that grew bigger after you ran through me . . .

You saw the child inside, looking for love in all the wrong places, bruised knees, bare feet, and my heart on my sleeve. You took this little bird under your wing; you said, “Little bird, fly higher than me. Little bird, be all that you can be.”

Little bird wanted to see the forest in its entirety; she left the nest in search of clarity.

The little girl is further away and the young woman is showing more with each day. Her wings are growing stronger and one day she will fly, higher than she ever dreamed.

She remembers the patience, care, and love you showed her and will not forget it. It was a cherished time in the girls’ life and she was looking for someone to fill the void that tarnished her soul. She wanted to feel whole and cared about as anyone does. She thought she had found it, everything felt so right; how could it have been so wrong? She doesn’t waste time stirring the cauldron on this one; she knows it’s better to take it for what it was and move on.

She wouldn’t change the past for anything.

The Little bird has built a new nest now and has plans of her own. She greets the morning sun each day with a delightful song, she stretches her wings and prepares for flight, yet in the back of her mind she knows she’s not ready for the sky.

She listens to Grandfather Wind just the same as she always did, she hugs Grandmother Oak even tighter, and she knows all that she knows from experiencing it in full force. She talks to those that don’t speak and she listens because she knows they do. Her intuition is getting stronger and stronger and she feels as though she’s actually opening doors inside herself that she never knew where there.

The stars still dance and shine just as bright as ever; the world still spins beneath her bare feet. She still dances to those same old songs and still makes up her own beats.

Her energy harmonizes with the rhythm of the Universe and she can see behind sight, she can hear without sound, she can feel without tangible touch, and she knows things grander than this tiny earth are all around.

She still doesn’t care if people want to stare; chances are so does she. She is open and free and can finally see everything for what it really is or is trying to be. Her truest feelings she keeps locked deep inside, if you want to know you must pay a price.

Big Brother is watching, the eyes never sleep; they are keeping tabs so we have to watch what we speak. Freedom of Press is so 1893, in 2013 nothing is free. She knows this all too well; she can’t assure you it hasn’t already been said.

With the clay in her hands, she sculpts her future. She lays down the past and walks away. “Lessons learned,” is what she’d say.

The sun is brighter tomorrow the moon is farther away. The grass is greener where you water it, don’t forget that and think it’s better in another place.

She has dwelt on things in the past way too long. It’s The End of The World record, skipping in the background. You make do with what you have, you sacrifice for what you want, and you shouldn’t change for anyone but you; that’s how regrets are made, that leave you feeling blue.

Those feelings drive you to abuse the things you shouldn’t and take for granted the ones that really care. The rest of the world doesn’t get it and other people make me feel weird.

There’s much on this Little Birds list of things to do. She cannot sit still and watch everyone else fall apart and melt into one big pile of goo. She wants to help in a game she can’t win. You see the game has no rules so she’s always on the losing end.

The intentions are becoming ever so clear the Little Bird is joyful and queer.

She can’t change what has happened and will not defend it anymore, no matter the side; she stopped keeping score.

There is a community around her that can use her energy more; she sees where she is needed and leaves when she is needed no more. The feeling of this past year has left scars on her bones. She’s changed in more ways than she’ll ever know.

She is quite lucky so don’t feel sad, she found what she was looking for on the outside and is slowly letting go of everyone and everything that makes her mad.

She has walked off the yellow brick road and has decided to see where the red one leads. She knows better this time around, she won’t be caught gazing at the stars with her guard down. Time will tell all and all will be known, there are greater mysteries I’d rather spend my time on.

If you care to come along you know how to find me; until then, my readers’ das Leben.

Smells Like American Poetry

I’m so ugly, that’s okay
‘Cause so are you.

“Lithium.” Kurt Cobain


The married couple sleep . . .
The sisters sleep . . .
The men sleep . . .
And the mother . . . .

The blind sleep, and the deaf and dumb sleep,
The prisoner sleeps . . . the runaway son
The murderer that is to be hung next day, how does he
And the murder’d person, how does he sleep?

The female that loves unrequited sleeps,
And the male that loves unrequited sleeps,
The head of the money-maker that plotted all day
And the enraged and treacherous dispositions, all, all

“The Sleepers.” W.W.


I rounded out the semester with Emily Dickinson, a delightful (even if overused) pairing with Whitman. I tried explaining to my students the different ways of critiquing poetry. They were all surprisingly fine with a formalist approach but couldn’t wrangle New Criticism. It’s usually the other way around.

Student: “I think with writers like Poe and Dickinson, it’s just too difficult to separate how they lived from how they wrote.”
Me: “And how they died? Does that influence your reading of Poe or–for next semester–say, Plath?”
Student: [adamantly] “Ho, yes. Especially when they commit suicide.”
Me: “So how do you listen to Nirvana?”
Student: “Well, I don’t really. But, yeah. I hear ‘self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head’ when I hear ‘Lithium.'”
Me: [damned impressed that he referenced “Lithium” instead of “Teen Spirit”] “So, how does that work for someone like me? I mean, I remember Cobain as ‘alive.’ I watched him on MTV. I remember when he died.”

They were all disconcertingly visibly stunned at this revelation. I was not about to tell them that I remembered when John Lennon died. Or (shite) Elvis.

Ah, death. Death and sleep. The two great levelers, Walt would say.

My students were able to manage New Criticism for Bradstreet and Wigglesworth and even Wheatly to some extent; but Dickinson, like Cobain, was more famous for her life (and his death) than they could get past.

Then I thought about Al.

I’m started a new course tonight. I mean–it’s a new set of students, I’ve taught the course before. Just before they finished the course prior, I asked them what they wanted to take on in the next phase. One of the students wanted to know if we could cover more about Thelema; but another “just [has] a bad feeling about Crowley.”

Yea, yea. He was a shitfucker–and I mean that literally–but can we even begin to apply something like New Critical approaches to the study of Thelema? I can if I accept that it was an inspired work, meaning it came from Aiwass and not “just” Al. I have to say “just” since I believe our HGA is also part of our own psyche. If our higher-self elevates our work to greatness (I’m not claiming that Crowley’s oeuvre is “great,” it just a statement for argument’s sake), does our baser-self not degrade our work? Can we approach Thelemic texts and rites without thinking about Crowley’s proclivities? Admittedly, some folks find his lifestyle revolutionary and subversively enthralling. Some, I acknowledge, just find Crowley gross.

How, as a teacher, do I remain objective? I mean, I have fairly strong feelings about the whole affair. And the more I learn, the stronger my feelings become.

It’s why I don’t teach Hemingway.

Papa and The Beast, hmmm.

As ever, I’ll let you know how it goes.

B, Q, and, maybe, 93

Walt Whitman

I teach American Literature so I have had my hand at teaching Walt Whitman for a good decade or more. I took a graduate class called “Whitman and Dickinson” in the late 90s. But, unlike my ongoing affair with Giles Deleuze, it wasn’t the academic jargon and the erudite theory that made me fall for W.W.; it was the gritty repetition of work-a-dayness that I discovered while still a lower-class grub in high school.

Strangely, this had nothing to do with my English Teacher, Mrs. C, one of the best teachers I’ve ever known (and who, along with an eighth grade teacher guy named Miles, may be the reason I became an English teacher myself), who was more for Shakespeare and Madrigals than she was for Howling beatnicks. It’s too bad. I could have used some advice about what happened Under the El[1] before finding out about that particular brand of up-close-and-way-too-personal by myself.[2] However, nothing coarse or profane ever worked its way into Mrs. C’s class. I mean, the randiest thing I remember from that grade is The Mayor of Casterbridge. (Mr. B the year before taught us that there was nothing in poetry except sex and death and childhood memories. Only he said it like it was a bad thing.) It was Miss Louise, my drama teacher and the choral director, who chose the musical Working, the songs of which are all based on Whitman’s poetry, when I was a Sophomore in the mid-Reagan years. It was at the point when I too heard America singing and fell hard for the hairy, horny, horn blower.

The mason, the waitress, the farm worker, the fireman, the factory worker, all had a beautiful place in a poetic flow of a nation’s infrastructure.

And I was not a product of the academy; I was the child of a factory worker and a truck driver, granddaughter to sharecroppers all around.

So, you see, it’s no surprise that despite my deep and abiding love for My Captain, I was never able to convey such adoration to a set of undergraduates who longed less for urban poetry and more for the imminent end of the semester.

After I left high school, I went to work at a factory too. The bend-lift-straighten-flip-turn-dump-bend-lift repetition of my days and nights and overtime-weekends would send me into reveries of singing my body electric as I watched products, from which I was ultimately estranged as Marx called it (little did I know at the time that there was a word for what I was feeling-like-a-cogg-in-the-machinery), roll up the undulating conveyor belt like pink salmon driving to their spawny-death.

Death and sex and childhood memories.

But now, PhD’d, clean and respectable, only occasionally getting tipsy and committing candor that horrifies my peers, I don’t read Whitman for the joy he brought me—I teach him for the core curriculum. You see, I was told not to let my students see that I am “human”—and though I usually chuck that advice where it belongs, every once-in-a-while I think, “They don’t need to know that side of me.” And in this case, it’s true. They don’t need to know what happened to me on Ashland, on Kedvale, on Morgan, in Burbank, in Brighton Park, or at that fancy South Shore penthouse. Aw, hell, nobody needs to know that shite.

So—I suck at teaching Whitman.

Until this year.

This pretty little thing wandered her way into my life and scared the feck out of me. I didn’t see myself if her, if that’s what you are thinking. She just loved Whitman. For his grunge—not in spite of it. We stayed up all night talking through a common-mess we’d both been marinated in, and we might have had a spot too much to drink. The next day, I did not have a clue about what I was going to do in class. I’d make a quick PowerPoint, I guessed, and force-feed Leaves to begrudging, entitled George Strait fans. Then I thought—how would I teach this to Hazey? I imagined a sympathetic audience instead of a hostile one.

I made a Power-Point, yes. But I set it to run a series of 19th century faces and bodies—mostly bodies, some human, some not: white men, white women, poor folk, old folk, slaves on the auction block, prostitutes, pigs in the streets of Manhattan, the Golden Gate and the water below. Then, I did the unthinkable. I didn’t lecture.

I read:

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form’d from this soil, this air,
Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and their parents the same,
I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,
Hoping to cease not till death.

And then I’d tell a little bit about Whitman’s life—kinda like I was talking about my granddad. How he thought abolitionists were full of shite and hot-stink while he lived in New England but then he moved to NOLA and saw what he saw and knew what he knew. All while these images of bodies flashed behind me. And through urge and urge and urge, I think they heard me. The way I meant for them to hear me. The way W.W. meant for them to hear him. I’m sure of it because one young man, the one who had said horrid things about Bradstreet, sat in the back with his eyes welled-up and the edge of his desk in a white-knuckled grip.

At that moment I thought—this is sort of like magic.

OK—not magic—but teaching magic.

I have taught students from a purely theoretical standpoint where I’ve totally thrown my back into the teaching before—and they got it. They didn’t loooove it, but they got it. When I didn’t throw my back into it, they seemed to love it much more. And Whitman is very Pagan-friendly in his god-imbued-nature-and-humanity-is-cool-especially-when-united-in-its-stinky-and/or-naked-ness anyway. So, next semester when I have a new set of preps in ground classes (well, one brand-new—one I haven’t done in a few semesters) and two brand-spanking new preps Online, I think I’ll take the less aggressive route and let the material do the work for me.

I mention all this because it’s (conveniently) a make-up post for my W week and I am starting a new set of classes this upcoming week and I’m a little twitterpated, as usual. I have a full-to-capacity Seekers class (and running-over—I may have to tell two students that they had to wait for the next session, I hate that feeling!!) and a comfortably full Neophyte class and straggling students at other levels. My concerns run from “Where is everybody going to sit?” to “Will I get back in time from belly-dancing to change before teaching X, Y, or Z?”

Maybe I’ll just flash naked bodies on a screen and call it a day.

This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet” (http://paganblogproject/).

[1] A line from Howl.

I wrote a poem called “Under the El” in 1990 while organizing and performing in local “Slams”—remember those?—making a prolonged metaphorical connection between the poet and the rapist: “I use my tongue / to invade your space . . . my verse / [fills your mouth] / with the bitterness / and you can’t breathe / gasping / gulping / your chest won’t expand / and yeah . . . you really don’t / want me / to / stop.” I look back at the absolute violence of the entire poem (bits of which I will not publish here) and I wonder how the feck, given the first-hand nature of it all, I got out of the 80s alive.

I also wrote a poem about heroine—called it “screaming Hyacinths”—and proclaimed myself, “a fabulous junkie.” At that point in my life, I felt that “Scraping the bottom / with my mirror and razor / was better than floating in cinder-block / office wall mediocrity.”

[2] I mean, I was with my sister when she was mugged when I was only three-years-old, saw my first DB while in second grade, and was never really a stranger to sexual cruelty—but this shit is different, y’all.

J is for Jargon

A few posts back, I – admittedly – misquoted the Wiccan Rede and was called on the carpet by a reader and fellow blogger, Drea.  I love when this happens. It keeps me on my toes now that I am permanently on the other side of the desk (and cauldron it seems).[1]

But, let’s face it. This is a blog, not doctoral work; and sometimes I slack off. I often write my posts right off the cuff, with no reference books at hand – I do this between feeding chickens and drinking coffee. Often I misspell thinks. On occasion, I commit the crimes of comma splice, poorly phrased modifiers, and usage error, and (gasp) I have been known to mis-cite or misquote.

As ever, the misstatement didn’t change the crux of anything I was arguing, but it sure did open a can of worms (caterpillars?) in The Bad Witch’s academic psyche.

And in her email. Some people get so hung up on religious formulae that they forget that words have meaning.

Over the past few days I’ve been busily writing a syllabus for a new secular Lit course, noodling around a proposed course on High Magic, toying with the idea of accepting a slot on a Pagan radio-show (I turned down the TV documentary BTW), and looking for a Bible study class that will teach my daughter (committed to a Christian path) how to understand Christianity rather than simply accepting its tenets as so many of its followers do. Somewhere between finishing a chicken coop & run, squashing caterpillars (which are finally big enough to pluck off and bring to the chicks without eviscerating), raising teens who are hell-bent on raising Cain this summer, fighting some kind of RA related BS, reading voraciously before I have to go back to work in less than 24 hours,[2] and writing as many thoughts down before I lose them in the aether, I started thinking about our attachment to particular expressions. You know, the kind of attachment which prevents us from looking into the real meaning behind our religious expressions.

I’ll call it “Pagan Jargon.” It’s kinda like “Drill Baby Drill” for Pagans. [3]

I’ve seen Pagan folk (who turn around and accuse Christian folk of the same error) recite doxology without thinking. My opinion is that, like many ideologies, if folks were to think about it for a minute, they might feel some chagrin at not knowing the (correct) origin of their favorite phraseology. Or at least they should. Look, it don’t make no nevermind to The Bad Witch what you believe, just be able to defend it with some sort of logic that hangs together a little more tightly than “The Buckland Tells Me So.” But, it’s embarrassing to say that I have seen Pagans latch on to a narrative that is comforting to them, one that helps them justify their actions (and often their biases). What’s worse it I’ve seen them proceed to perpetuate the misinformation. Like the idea that connects Saddam Hussein to 9/11, some folks believe that if it is said with enough frequency, it becomes truth. Fact is, it just becomes another piece of propaganda.

To illustrate my point, I want to rehash that post about “The Wiccan Rede.” This time, I don’t want to talk about the practicality of the notion; I want to talk about the words. As a matter of fact, The Bad Witch will revel in the etymology of it all.

One of the assignments I give in my classroom is a critical explication using contemporary etymology to make meaning of an older text. I have my students find key words from the text then look up alternate and historical definitions using the Oxford English Dictionary,  “The definitive record of the English language.” With guided attention at the level of the word, new meanings emerge. Some of the definitions illuminate a text’s (sometimes double) meaning; others are interesting but are not helpful.

For instance: In John Donne’s “The Flea,” Donne states, “Though parents grudge … we’re met / And cloistered in these living walls of jet” (15). A student might argue that during this time period it was common place for parents to send their daughters off to convents for protection of their virginity as well as education; in this sense, cloistered is: “Shut-up or dwelling in a cloister, monastic; confined as in a cloister, recluse.” And they’d be right. But what’s more interesting is Donne’s use of the word “jet.” Sure, it’s a synonym for “black” it refers to the stone-hardness of the flea’s exoskeleton, but then again, randy old Donne just might be inferring another definition of jet: “A projection, a protruding part” like his erection, “a sudden movement of fluid” as in ejaculation, or “a jerk of the body” as happens during orgasm. How fun is that?

This assignment works best with arcane poetry since there are words in, say, Seventeenth-Century Religious Poetry that we use today yet do not yield to their contemporary meaning. We have to go back and look up their former, more apropos, meaning.

Let’s do this assignment with the Wiccan Rede.

Note: Doreen Valiente wrote her poetry in the Late-Twentieth-Century. This is when Wicca was invented; for this reason, something about the term Traditional Witchcraft seems anachronistic to me.[4] Therefore, the poetry is not timeworn, but Valiente still made an attempt at using arcane language. For the sake of clarity and brevity, I am using her 1964 couplet: “Eight Words the Wiccan Rede fulfil: / An it harm none, do what ye will,” as my point of investigation. To look at the Ostara 1975 Green Egg (Vol. III. No. 69) article, “Wiccan-Pagan Potpourri,” which contained Gwen Thompson’s longer poem, “Rede Of The Wiccae,” would make this explication article length. Also, to look at Adriana Porter’s “Wiccan Credo” of 1910 (the text on which Thompson’s version of the poem was purportedly based), raises questions of authenticity that I am not interested in arguing in this post.[5] Maybe later.

To begin, the assignment states that the reader/writer should catalogue all of the interesting words. I choose: “an,” “rede,” “harm,” and “will.” Given my misquote of last week, I would like to add “mote” to the list.

Also, I am using a digital (meaning “most updated thing possible) university subscription of the OED. I’ll give general citations of the definition number but won’t cite the OED in full – seeing as I just told you where I got my info.

The next step in the assignment is to gloss the words using their contemporary meaning. But how do we decide on what “contemporary” means given that Valiente was writing in archaic language but during the Vietnam War Era? *Sigh* We roll with it. While I know that Valiente was writing in 1964, I’m assuming she was aiming for a pre-Christian – at least pre-Roman – lexicon. Just to give you some context, Beowulf is sited as OE (Old English) in the Fourth-Century. There are older texts cited eOE (early Old English) prior to the Christianization of Briton. I won’t gloss every definition given by the Oxford English Dictionary (OED); rather, I will look at the definitions that are most likely to be useful – perhaps footnoting anything that looks amusing. The final step is to develop a concept of appropriateness for reading the text. Here, we apply what we have just discovered.

An – Used as a contracted conjunction (and) beginning around 1160. A nonstandard form, there seems to be no history of the word prior to the High-Middle Ages. In writing, it almost never occurred at all, save, in what is assumed to be, scribal error. So basically, the word means “and.” However, it didn’t appear until well after Christianity entrenched itself in medieval-Briton. Just sayin’.

All of that aside, it does not and never has meant “if” as a lot of folks like to say.

Rede – Aside from Tolkien and Joyce (and Wiccan poets, I reckon), no one uses this word anymore.

Someone very kindly pointed me to this article. The author of this article claims that the word “rede” “is derived from an Old English word ‘roedan’ which means to guide or direct.” The footnote to this information leads to a blog that states the same thing verbatim and is uncited. As a matter of fact, in all of my searches for the word “roedan” the only information I find is someone talking about The Rede, saying the same thing word-for-word, and not citing from whence that information is derived.

This is what I’m talking about. Drill Baby Drill. Memorize and regurgitate with no investigation.

Being The Bad Witch that I am, I had to know the history of “roedan.” So, I looked in my inclusive OE dictionary, consulted my Bruce Mitchell texts, looked in the OED, and – just to be extra bad – asked a colleague whose expertise is Old English.

Guess what?

Roedan is not a word. Never was.

Roeðe and Roeðen (past participle), however, are. But, that’s not a D, ladies and gentlemen – that’s a thorn, a TH. So, the word to which they are all trying to link is pronounced Rō Thᵊ. Roeðe redirects to réðe – again, that’s not a D! Réðe is an adjective – not a noun. It means “righteous, right, just” it also means “fierce, cruel, savage; 1. applied to persons, (a) in a bad sense; (b) of justifiable severity, severe, stern, austere, zealous; 2. applied to animals, wild, savage, fierce; 3. applied to things (punishment, calamity, etc.) severe, cruel fierce, dire.”

I’m pretty sure that’s not the word we are looking for.

Now, getting the word wrong doesn’t change the meaning of the word rede or The Rede itself, but it sure does cast suspicion on sources that would so entirely eff-up a trivial bit of information. I mean, if that’s wrong, what else has been schlepped out for the parade?

The original meanings of the actual word “rede” (with a D) are mostly related to (no surprise here), “Counsel or advice given by one person to another,” as well as, “A scheme, plan, or method for attaining some end.”

Because I am The Bad Witch, and because I don’t take any stock in what Wikipedia has to say about anything, I went ahead and looked at all of the definitions of “rede” that applied in what many neo-Pagans like to believe is the correct time frame for their sources. What’s interesting is that the older eOE meaning of the word is “Fate, lot.” In a second, later OE definition, rede means, “To have or exercise control over; to rule, govern, guide.” Later this “guidance” was translated into the 15th Century usage: “To save, rescue, deliver.” There is a definite theological statement to be made here because rede also means to be “saved” by Christ or The Virgin Mary. I couldn’t make this shit up. Reality is so much more interesting than the things we fabricate. It also means, “To decree; to appoint, select.” Ironically, it also means “interpretation.”

Harm – Strange to discover, but this word didn’t really wheedle its way into English until the eleventh century.[6] Prior to that, it was used in Old High German, harmjan, “to calumniate,” or to injure with words, and in Old Norse, harmr, “grief, sorrow.” Turns out, it rarely meant “harm, hurt.” Fun fact.

It’s possible that the word had a cognate with Sanskrit śrama, “labour, toil,” but I doubt Valiente knew that.

Will – We are most familiar with the definition, “Desire, inclination, and disposition” and “To wish, desire; sometimes with implication of intention.” This word, too, did not join our lexicon until after Romanization. According to the OED, “The most remarkable feature of this vb., besides its many idiomatic and phrasal uses, is its employment as a regular auxiliary of the future tense, which goes back to the Old European period, and may be paralleled in other Germanic languages, e.g. Middle High German.”[7] Now this idea of “disposition” is the older definition of the word and it goes a little further to suggest that things should be “arranged or distributed in a particular order.” It’s as if “will” has something to do with “order.” This doesn’t negate Crowley’s idea of Pure Will and Transcendental Will – it actually reinforces it, hot damn.

Mote – This has many definitions as a noun, but as a verb it indicated only one thing in Old English[8]: “Expressing permission or possibility: am (is, or are) permitted to, have (or has) the opportunity to, may.”

If this Rede were something handed down from preRoman, preChristian sources as traditionalists would like it to be, “Eight words the Wiccan Rede fulfill, / An it harm none do what ye will,” would translate as: “Eight words are my council [most likely ‘concerning your fate’]; let them guide you: / If you use no words to injure others,[9] do what meets your desire [with a hint of ‘as long as it is in the grand scheme of things’].”

Sounds anti-climactic to me.

If my incorrect statement: “so mote it be” were part of the Rede, we would have an expression of “possibility, permission, and opportunity.”

That sounds a little like magic to me.

So, couple of things:

1) If the Rede is “An it harm none, do as ye will,” we have a lot of weeding to do in this word garden. Especially if we start taking into consideration Crowley’s writings on what is often misstated as “true will.” Crowley actually never wrote directly about “True Will.” In The Book of the Law, he addresses “Pure Will” (CCXX I:44); in The Law of Liberty, he mentions “Transcendent Will.”[10] It is only in commentary, when, presumably he was just mortal Al, and not a divine messenger imbued with the knowledge of Thoth, that he uses the phrase “true will.”[11] I like to think that the gods know what they mean when they send messages.

2) The word “rede” means so much more than either “advice” or “law.” When we start talking about Pure Will, throwing a word that translates as “Fate” into the mix is either meaningful or careless.

You pick.

I prefer a little meaning with my words.

My point is that when we start talking about the actual theological meaning of doctrine, each word matters. The Jewish tradition has an entire system of exegesis: Midrash and PRDS or “Pardes” (Peshat Remez Derash Sod).[12] When I earned my degree in Religious Studies (at a little Jesuit University in Chicago, no biggie) I learned to focus on hermeneutics. So thoughtlessness in dogma doesn’t fly on the same broom with The Bad Witch.

3) So, if the Rede doesn’t mean “do no harm,” as the Hippocratic oath suggests should be any healer’s first option, WTF does the Rede mean when you put it back together with a little bit of sense rather than simply an active imagination and a flair for cheesy poetry?

My opinion is that it means whatever you want it to mean.[13]

For TBW it means my rights end where yours begin. Likewise, yours end where mine begin. I might be a Libertarian Witch at that. And should your little toe creep over the line into my arena of rights?


[1] What I don’t love is when I’ve clarified myself and yet arsehats continue to argue a point which has become moot.

[2] I wrote this post on Wednesday. Class starts Thursday. I’ll be posting this for PBP Friday, but doing it on a Saturday which turned into a Sunday.


[4] Traditional Wiccan just seems like an oxymoron. Calling Valiente “early” seems kinda like calling Philadelphia “an ancient city.” Now, antediluvian cuneiform. . .

[5] Everybody seems to have learned “The Craft” from their grandmother. Sadly, they all started publishing when associated with Gardener. What are the odds?

[6] I’m a bit of an Old English poetry fan-girl so I have learned to pull random etymological facts out of my arse from time to time. When I can’t, I research. All damn day if I have to. But I never accept someone else’s word as fact – unless that someone is heavily and widely covered in source-work, or unless that someone is my momma.

[7] Did you also realize that the word (used as late as 1871 as such) means “Going or gone astray; that has lost his way, or has nowhere to go for rest or shelter; straying, wandering, ‘lost’”? Now this definition is only used in the dialect of Shetland, but it’s still interesting.

[8] In a recent (17th Century) Scandinavian colloquialism it means “to find fault” and in some rare modern occasions it means “to travel by motor vehicle.” Cool – but not helpful.

[9] Words, spells, lies, namecalling, blogs, all of it.

[10] Watch, this is where someone will argue, “Same thing!” The point of this post is that it’s only the same thing if you are talking about broader concepts. When you talk about theological rhetorical meaning and doctrinaire, it’s different.

[11] Please let me save that for another blog before y’all jump on me for that one?

[12] Why would we not investigate each word in each text upon which we base our religious beliefs? Because it’s easier to be spoon-fed religion. That’s why. It’s also part of why I’m neither Christian nor Wiccan.

[13] My theology contains concepts like “Justified,” “Wyrd,” “O·pv·ne·tv.”

This post is part of a year-long project. Rowan Pendragon’s The Pagan Blog Project; “a way to spend a full year dedicating time each week very specifically to studying, reflecting, and sharing . . . .    The project consists of a single blog post each week posted on prompt that will focus on a letter of the alphabet.”