Isaac Bonewits Died of Cancer

August 12, 2010 7 comments

It’s official, the ArchDruid Emeritus Isaac Bonewits has died this morning. The official obituary is here. Bonewits was one of our American elders. He studied, wrote about, stood up for, classified, created and served the Neo-Pagan community since the early 1970’s. He pretty much founded the druid movement in America. He’s written a number of books, all of them very good, particularly Real Magic. He also added a lot to the polyamory movement, having lived the lifestyle for many years.

He was scholarly, witty, adventurous and tough. He worked hard to live his life by his beliefs, and to share what he’d learned with others. We are fortunate that he has left us so much writing to enjoy, both as books easily found online, and his miscellaneous found on his website. He wasn’t universally loved, but who is these days? Still, his service to the community, in his own way, is undeniable, and he will be missed.

Rest in Peace.

Categories: Uncategorized

Farewell Familiar

August 9, 2010 1 comment

Dear Witchful Thinking,

My cat, who was my familiar and my feline soulmate passed away last October. My neighbor poisoned him with antifreeze and I rushed him to the hospital, but they couldn’t do anything to stop it, and I had to make the horrible decision after much crying and begging the deities to help, to let him go.


Since then, my life is empty and I feel lost. What can I do to get my life back on track and is he still with me? I don’t feel him. Am I just too overcome with emotions?  Please help guide me back to the true path.
Thanks,
Suisan

Dear Suisan,

I am so sorry about your loss. What a sad case! Antifreeze is so dangerous to animals. I can hardly imagine the pain you are going through. It doesn’t surprise me that you are still grieving over the loss of your friend.

First allow me to say that grief takes as much time as it takes, and where you are and whatever you are feeling is exactly where you are supposed to be and what you should be feeling. That being said, in order to process grief, you must address it. Writing to me is a good step, and sharing your feelings with others is important–you are already on your healing path. Have you allowed yourself to have closure through ritual such as a funeral?

I think this grieving and healing process is complicated by your neighbors actions. It seems so malicious–who would hurt an animal? I am wondering if you are feeling betrayed, violated, or perhaps depressed. It was traumatic and difficult to go through. What support and help have you received from friends and family during that time?

In Paganism, our pets are important relationships and have a significant impact on our lives. Perhaps it is because we don’t have “dominion over the animals” and we see them equally as children of the Goddess and God, or recognize the inherent divinity in animals. Consequently, the loss of a pet can hit one as hard as the loss of a family member. Yet our society tells us to “get over it” and to “just get another pet”–as if you can replace family members!

Yet animals come and go in our lives for many reasons. They come to teach us lessons about trust, unconditional love, dependence, and play. What lessons have you learned from your cat friend? The harder questions is, what lessons can you learn from the death of your cat friend? Forgiveness? Independence? Letting go? Permission to feel pain and anger? Honor those lessons, even the ones that hurt, and you’re friend will be honored and a part of you. Being in constant pain awash with grief does not honor your friend.

When my cats disappeared mysteriously, I placed strips of fabric in a tree with a prayer to each of them, inviting them to come back and to give me a sign that it is them. I wished them well on their journey and told them I loved them–a sort of funeral for them. I knew that if they weren’t with me, they were with another family that needed them, or would be reincarnated where they were needed. Is there a prayer, spell or ritual that you can do to mark the passing of your friend?

As to not being able to feel him, it is because you have not integrated the lesson he was trying to teach you. If you feel that you just HAVE to get in contact with him, perhaps contact a pet psychic to help you find that lesson and help you contact your friend.

The anniversary of this event is approaching, and it is likely to stir up some old feelings–that’s ok. Dying is part of life. Hurting is part of healing. This is the path–not just the light side, but the dark nights, too. You know that if you keep walking, it will get light again.

See this post on grief for more information. My heart goes out to you.

Eat Me

August 3, 2010 3 comments

I watched Food, Inc. While eating dinner. Then I stopped eating dinner and started crying.

Ya’all may not know this, but I have an aversion bordering on phobia of animal carcass. This includes chicken, beef, pork, etc. that you would get in the grocery store. I know that meat contains many bacteria that can harm me, and am extremely careful of cross contamination. I don’t like to eat meat off the bone and prefer to see it ready to cook and eat. I do eat sushi and rare meat only because I know it has been handled well and am educated in food safety practices.

So watching animals get slaughtered was a bit much for me. Knowing where the meat came from, and how it got there, and how awful it is –it made me sick. The worst was the pigs. And the screaming. I honestly couldn’t tell if they were screaming or if I was.

There is absolutely nothing humane or honorable in our production of meat. That animal is not a creature of the Gods, but a product–nothing more than an arrangement of biology. That’s what a factory system believes.

Our food is being genetically modified and patented. Big corporations are suing farmers out of business or keeping them like slaves, always owing the company to keep up with upgrades. It is inhumane to people as wages are minuscule and people are taken advantage of until they are useless, then thrown away. Upton Sinclair is still relevant in the way we process foods.

I want to be a part of the solution, not a part of the problem. So how does a small person take on a giant corporation? We vote. With money. I will no longer spend my money to support this disgusting system. I will vote for representatives and legislation which shares my values. I’m going to do my best to eat local, whole food–food that was treated with honor–food that is nutritious, not technological.

If you’ll excuse me, culture, I’ve got a planet to save.

Does your religious beliefs influence the way you think about these topics?

Call of the Clergy

July 15, 2010 3 comments

So you’re standing in line at the post office and you’re cell phone goes off. You don’t recognize the number on the caller ID. Who could it be? You ask yourself. But your intuition tells you to answer it, because it’s the call you’ve been waiting for. . .

“Hello?”

It’s the Gods. You’ve been recruited and they want you to help. They want you to become clergy.

Few of us get The Call. It’s subtle. It requires a high sense of ethics, a thorough understanding of your religion, philosophies and rituals, and a desire—nay, a calling—to help other people to the best of your ability. Perhaps, most importantly, it requires a true dedication and devotion to the All Mighty.

If you were Christian, you would know exactly what to do: you’d tell your priest, he’d get all excited. Then you’d be whisked away to seminary school where you learn all about how to run a church, how to pastor, how to give services, philosophies and ethics, comparative religion, your sacred stories, your legal duties, your religious duties…the list goes on. By the time you come out of seminary, you are extremely educated, given a post, and you begin your life of service to the community, never working a regular job again.

If you were Buddhist, you would join the monastery, shave your head, and take a vow of poverty. You would be subjected to the rigorous and harsh life of a monk: early to rise, long meditations, ascetic dietary limitations, meditation, community service, more meditation, and so on until you achieve Enlightenment.

It’s the same story if you’re Jewish, Hindu, Muslim or Fundamentalist—whatever.

But that’s not you. You’re Pagan. We don’t have priests or seminaries or monasteries.

Or do we? The world is changing, my friend. This generation of Pagans has more opportunities available to them than ever before. Most of us are no longer in the broom-closet because there are organizations set up to protect us, and there are long-established churches of various Pagan traditions. But perhaps most importantly, for the first time, what we really need is Pagan clergy. We need those experts who are trained to help us in times of spiritual crisis, to look to when we need guidance, and to help us along the path.

There are several ways of going about becoming clergy. Much of it depends upon your lifestyle, talents and goals. Think about your level of dedication and drive: are you willing to put your entire life in service to the Gods? Or do you have bills to pay?

Get the Training

This is step one. There are many organizations of varying quality that are able and willing to train you. Like many church denominations, they train and ordain clergy based upon their own practices, and often their degrees don’t mean anything beyond their own tradition. This is perfect if you want to dedicate your service to a specific group of people. But there are other organizations that are getting state approval for their seminary programs, which gives your seminary degree clout beyond the religious world—something you could definitely put on your resume.  You could always do it on your own: get a degree in philosophy, comparative religion, psychology or other related fields, and try to focus it to your branch of Paganism. But getting that higher quality clergy training is becoming more important if you plan on living in the real world.

Here are just a handful of Pagan Seminaries:

All-Faiths Seminary International

Length of Program: 1 year accelerated

Accreditation: Yes

Ordination: Yes

You must hold at least a B.A. in your chosen field and be able to attend classes in New York City. Although they have correspondence courses, they do not seem to be as thorough as their classroom assignments. Upon completion of work, you will be ordained as an Interfaith Minister, and may add “Reverend” to your title. This is perfect for someone who already has a high standing within their own system of Paganism, as it fills in the gaps of education and rounds out the study for clergy.

Cherry Hill Seminary

Length of Program: 2-4 years

Accreditation: No

Ordination: Yes

Located in the state of Vermont, this thorough graduate-level course is not currently accredited, but their program is among the most rigorous for Pagan clergy. Their staff includes Judy Harrow and M. Macha Nightmare, who write profusely for the Pagan community, and most of the faculty holds advanced degrees in their specialties. Nearly their entire curriculum is online, but they require students to attend two intensives on campus before they graduate.

College of the Sacred Mists

Length of Program: 3+years

Accreditation: No

Ordination: No

The program here is basically by witches, for witches, with a focus on Celtic, Faery and Eclectic traditions. The tuition is sensible, and their entirely online program makes it extremely accessible, though you must spend at least a year and a day on each degree. Consider this your standard coven training, which would allow you to go out and competently start a coven in your area, but if you want training on counseling and church business, you might have to get additional training elsewhere.

Dianic University

Length of Program: 1 year and a day – 3 years and 3 days

Accreditation: No

Ordination: Yes

This is a school for women-born-women only, in Z. Budapest’s feminist Dianic Wicca tradition. The program requires attendance in online classrooms, and a few live intensives. Students are prepared to minister, perform ritual, keep tradition and records in the Dianic tradition.

Harvard Divinity School

Length of Program: 1-3 years

Accreditation: Yes

Ordination: No

Yes, it’s that Harvard. While they don’t specialize in Pagan studies (or, indeed, teach any courses about them at all), you won’t get a more academically rigorous religious education anywhere—if you can cough up the money to live in Boston, Massachusetts and the $20,000+ per year tuition. I don’t think anyone has tried to study Paganism in their Divinity programs, so you’d have to talk to the dean about it, but their website insists it can be done. For most programs, a B.A. is a prerequisite, and they all require extensive field study and a thesis.

Universal University

Length of Program: 2-4 years

Accreditation: Yes

Ordination: Yes

Completely online holistic learning center, the UU has open enrollment, meaning you can start a class whenever you want, learn at your own pace, and at whatever time of day you choose. They have classes in normal things, like business, but also classes like drug-herb interaction, natural animal medicine, and spiritual coaching. They also have the LightHaven Seminary which offers advanced degrees and certifications in topics of interest to Pagans, though you might want to rearrange some of the curriculum to get the most out of the UU experience.

Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary

Length of Program: 2-4 years

Accreditation: Yes and no. They can grant Ministry degrees.

Ordination: Yes

Created by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church to serve the Pagan community, this is currently a classroom based school in Washington state, although they are working on getting online curriculum. Woolston-Steen holds their students to high academic standards, and is only for those willing to put in the serious time and energy required. Students work closely with their mentor to integrate the lessons into their personal practices, and upper level students are required to be relatively active within the church performing rituals and helping the administration. At higher levels, the students become the teachers. The history of the ATC is covered and ordination is of their tradition, though the seminary is focused on more general Wiccan and Pagan practices.

Make it Work!

Ok, so getting trained is one thing, but what do you do then? How do you pay back those massive student loans? If you were Christian, you’d be handed a Pastorship where you will make your living wage, often living free on the church property. Not us, though, we’ve got to get actual jobs.

If you ask anyone you consider Pagan clergy, nearly all of them will tell you they still keep their day jobs. I can name on one hand the number of Pagans I know who are able to devote completely to their chosen religion. Most of the teachers running the seminary programs are psychologists, educators and healers.

Here is a short list of potential employment for Pagan clergy:

Army Chaplain

The Military Pagan Network claims that there are over 4,000 Pagans serving right now in the armed forces, almost half of them are Wiccan. They have a whopping zero chaplains. Studies indicate that there are more Pagan then even Buddhist or Hindu soldiers, yet they have chaplains to support them (well, not very many, but more than us!). This is probably the most stable way to make money (lots!) as clergy. Chaplains are responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of ALL of the soldiers in their unit. They travel with them, get to know them, and try to keep up morale. They perform weddings, funerals and other religious rituals within their tradition, and set up appointments for visiting Rabbis, Fathers and Reverends for other denominations. They currently require at least a Masters Degree in Ministry, Religion or Divinity from an accredited school. The catch is that the school must be accredited by a specific accreditation institute, to which none of the afore-mentioned Pagan seminaries currently belong. However, the rules are being challenged by several non-mainstream religions, and changes are happening quickly.

Author

Write about your subject, your experiences and your knowledge. Write an advanced book on Pagan philosophy, or on solving problems in a coven, or rituals for the sick…whatever, just add some quality knowledge to the market place. We are always complaining about the profusion of Pagan 101 books, but I suspect there aren’t very many authors qualified to write about more difficult subjects. Lots of people make money writing books.

Hospital Chaplain

Your job is to be spiritual advisor to those in the hospital 24/7, often counseling families, giving lectures to staff, and supporting any who come to you. Many of these positions are not paid, but some hospitals offer salaried positions. They will require you get at least a Masters from an accredited seminary, and some of them require that you believe in Jesus Christ. These are coveted positions precisely because they are paid, but they are also very difficult because of the nearness of death. Most hospitals will train their chaplains, though you might have to financially support yourself through that time.

Monastic Life

Forget the real world! Join a commune or one of the (rare) Pagan monasteries and live a life of quiet contemplation and hard work. You won’t need a seminary degree to get in, but you will need to surrender all of your worldly possessions.

Officiate

Check your state laws to see if you can get ordained where you live. Officiates are hired to perform weddings and funerals, and often do premarital and grief counseling. Places like theknot.com and others contain databases where hundreds of couples search for officiates every day. You might have to get a business license to promote yourself if it is outside the limits of a recognized church organization.

Spiritual Counseling

How are your divination skills? Maybe it’s time to get out there and charge money for your expert knowledge of the tarot, runes or oracle, and your knowledge of psychology and counseling/pastoral skills will make your readings all the better. Most likely, you’d be in business for yourself, so make sure you are smart about it and get the proper licenses: most states consider you an entertainer, not a spiritual counselor, and you can get in big trouble for “fortune telling” in some areas.

Teacher

Forget the clergy! Become a teacher instead! Many in the community teach classes, go on lecture tours and write articles. Teaching Pagan subjects allows you to serve the Gods, and, in many ways, your students become your flock. A public school won’t be allowed to pay you for your seminary degrees, so you’ll have to go through mainstream channels to get your certification, but you might talk them into giving you some credit for all those counseling classes you took. Or start taking students in your area and revive that old tradition of learning from a person, not out of a book.

Overall, Pagan clergy is in its infancy. It is up to us who receive The Call to forge our own paths, create new opportunities and serve the Gods. You can help these organizations by giving them your feedback, using their resources, and of course, spending your money with them. So the next time the Gods call, you’ll have a little more information and can make the best choices in walking your path.

Categories: Uncategorized

Karma for Witches

Dear Witchful Thinking,

I heard somewhere something weird, and wanted to ask you about it. I heard that during the Burning Times, if a Witch broke her oaths to the coven then part of the punishment was that she would be reincarnated away from people she knows. She would be amongst strangers and not with other Witches. Is that true?

Sincerely,

Young Padawan Learner

Dear Young,

This falls into the realm of coven oral teaching, which I have not been able to verify in a book, and had to ask an elder. While we historically know that the Burning Times did not happen as we thought they did, the mythology surrounding medieval covens has stuck with us and been reinterpreted for modern times.

Wiccans believe in reincarnation. Since everything else in nature goes in cycles, it makes sense that so do we. That’s why people have past-life memories sometimes. Many subscribe to the idea that our souls are here to learn lessons, and that we have decided before our incarnation what lessons we need to learn. People come into our lives because they have a lesson to teach us–especially people we don’t get along with. If you  have it in you, try thanking someone who makes you angry, hurts you, or that you find deeply unpleasant–thank them for the lesson they are teaching you.

I think we are reincarnated with people we know, especially family. In one way or another, we all must come to terms with our family and balance out the relationships as we grow and change and when there is a lot of stress. The elder I talked to calls this your “soul group”. When you meet somebody who reminds you of somebody else, or you feel like you’ve known them forever, then you’ve been with them in a past life. Additionally, if you instantly dislike someone, you’ve met with them in a past life too.

The elder I spoke to told me about the term “Warlocking” (yes, I realize it is a World of Warcraft word for newbies gone wrong). As you know, “warlock” means “oath-breaker”. She explained it as a karmic law (rather than the effect of the coven actions) of the Fates that goes into effect when one does something unspeakably horrible to get in the way of things. This includes murder, so ratting out your coven would have been something that would qualify one for Warlocking. Basically, it reincarnates them out of the way of the work that magical people are doing and puts them out of harms way. It gives them a chance to fix their mistake rather than repeating it in another life, and keeps those doing the magical work safe from their bad influence. It is a self-regulating mechanism that is not controlled by the Gods, but to which they too are a part.

Because magical people like Witches are working to become familiar with the laws of Karma and in working with energy, deity and other sacred tasks, they are held to a higher standard than non-magical folk. Remember that everything you do comes back to you, and if not this time, then it’ll catch you the next!

Small Dilemma

July 13, 2010 1 comment

Dear Witchful Thinking,

Let me start off by saying I love your writtings everytime I read your articles I race around the house like a school kid .. to tell the wife “guess what she said about this”…lol!

With that I ask a personal question that is troubling me…My wife and I got married about a year ago and she has a son that is 7 years old. He has been living with her mother since she came here to find work and make a home for him but, we want to be a whole family again and don’t know how to go about introducing him back into the family without shocking the childs mind. We are pagan family and her mother is raising him christian and we are afraid of how he would react to the change of life style… her mother has fought bringing him down to us saying we are not stable enough a family for him, but we want to be whole. She has always had an excuse to keep him from us but we want to be part of his life. My wife crys a lot and misses him badly to the point she calls everyday.  How do I bring my family together again? And at the same time keep from scaring the child with culture shock.

Signed,

Loving Pagan Father

Dear Loving,

First of all, thank you for your comment about my writing. You are exactly who I am writing for!

Second, family. I really feel for your wife. It is hard to be away from your child, and the way it is being done, it sounds like a judgment against her, know what I mean? Somehow having her son at his grandmothers says “it’s because you aren’t a good enough mom”. I doubt very much that is what grandma means. The real question here has little to do with religion and has everything to do with what is best for the child.

My question is: who has custody? Who is legally responsible for the boy? It sounds like the arrangement was supposed to be temporary and has become permanent. If grandma has custody, you will have to go through the courts. The courts prefer that children be with their mothers, and are much more enlightened about Paganism than they were in the 1980’s. All you have to do is prove to the court that you are stable and will be good parents. This will be things like no illegal drug use, toys and space for the child, demonstrating affection and some knowledge of child development (that is, you aren’t asking your 3 year old complex questions and expecting an answer, etc.).

If mom has custody, then it should be easier. Grandma might be holding on because she doesn’t trust the situation–has she checked it out for herself? Give her the opportunity to see what a loving family you are, whatever your religion. If you haven’t already, set up a room for the son. Magically, this sets up the expectation that he will come to stay, and makes room for him in your family. Your other children will begin to see that there will soon be a new addition. Have them help put it together.

Create the magical idea of the whole family by including your son in things, even if he is not there. So if the the other children get a new coat, so does your wife’s son. He gets cake on his birthday, even if he isn’t there to celebrate with the family. He’s included in family prayers as part of the family. This sets the intent and gets your side of the family ready to include him. It will help your wife feel more whole.

Find out from Grandma what “stable” means. She might mean financially, but she might mean morally. On one you can change her mind on, but the other you are far less likely. If she does not have custody, remind her–this is not her choice. If she keeps the kid against your wife’s consent, I’m pretty sure that is kidnapping, no matter what state you are in. Go fetch the child yourself. Bring the whole family. Tell Grandma, in no uncertain terms, to pack him up (and then be prepared to pack his things when you get there). This puts less burden on Grandma to do all the work, and shows that you are more than serious about this, and ready to take responsibility. If you get there, and she refuses, call the non-emergency local police, and ask for an escort. The law is on your side, and if it escalates, they can help out. If nothing else, it sends a very strong message. But consider this your last resort. Having the police come is very embarrassing, and might cause trouble for both of you. Still, you need to know that you have that as an option.

I know you are worried about culture shock, but your son is so young, he hasn’t formed a concept of moral right or wrongness. He doesn’t really get religion. He understands structure, love and affection. In an ideal world, you would have Grandma start talking to him about going back to live with mom, and how exciting it will be. When you get your son, have a sit down talk (as much as a seven year old will sit!) and introduce him to everyone in the family. Talk about the rules of the house, such as if he has any chores, how he gets his allowance, what time bed time is, etc. Make special note of any rules that are different: “I know at your grandmas house, you got in trouble if you _____, but here we _____.” You can even approach religion: “I know at your grandmas house, you went to church on Sunday, but here we have a different kind of church, and we go when the moon is full.” Or whatever the case may be. Talk about what consequences will be for breaking the rules, and be firm about them. Give him the opportunity to ask questions about how things are, and don’t put him in timeout for breaking a rule he doesn’t know about. This is all good parenting, Pagan or otherwise.

In my work, I often see kids in split homes, and when they come to the visiting parents home, they throw temper tantrums, are fussy, or break rules they know on purpose. This is part of testing the environment and the parent. Your son might do that. If you are firm and clear, you will nip a lot of later problems in the bud. I’ve found that open and honest communication with children stops a lot of problems. They are more perceptive than we think. At any rate, give the son a lot of affection and attention when he gets there. Do things with him, ask what he wants to do or check out and do it together.

When it comes to Paganism, treat it as a normal thing that the family does— because it is. If you are raising your children Pagan, you can help him create an identity by getting him a pentacle, teaching him to meditate and talk to faeries, whatever your persuasion is. You might consider doing a ritual to welcome him into the family. There are some really great books about family Paganism and introducing children to Pagan ideas. If he asks about why things are different, just explain as best you can that your family is Pagan and different from Grandma’s family. Your attitude about it will go a long way in how the child frames the experience. If you are awkward about it and treat it with shame, so will your son. As always, give him the space to ask questions and address problems directly. Children are skilled negotiators!

Most importantly, I think, let Grandma be a part of his life, but in a normal Grandma way, and not as primary caregiver. You and your wife should set the limits on that, so have Granny come over for the afternoon or the weekend to do things with the whole family. The truth is that being a whole family also means making peace with other generations. Grandma did your wife a huge favor, and while this period is over, she deserves your families gratitude and respect (no matter if you had to call the police or not).

Whatever you do, if you do it in the spirit of Love, and the Best Interest of the Child, you will do right. No one will ever be a perfect parent, and there is usually never quite enough to make a household perfectly stable. But if you do your best, you’ll do right by your son and by the Gods.

[God Oracle] Ares

July 9, 2010 2 comments

Ares –Anger

[Card Description: Flying through battle in his war chariot, Ares is a young nude man wearing only his battle helmet, a sword, and the blood of his enemies. His face contorted in rage as he takes the life of his adversaries. Behind him, a village burns as families rush to collect save their livelihood from ruin and wonton destruction. ]

Charge:

Would you ask me

For self-knowledge?

Why would you?

Would you ask

mortal-destroying king,

defiled with gore,

pleased with war’s dreadful

and tumultuous roar?

In human blood,

in swords, and spears delight,

and the dire ruin of mad savage fight.

I hurt, maim and utterly destroy.

Intensely focused on one thing:

The Fight.

Knock me down again

And again

I stand up

Prepared to fight

To die.

So bring it.

Ask again.

I break through cowardice

By destroying reason

Ready or not.

Statistics: Culture of Origin: Greece Location: Greco-Roman empire. Age: Mature or Young Beardless Warrior. Element: Fire

Mythology: In all of mythology, it seems that nobody has cause to by angry like Ares does. The only legitimate child of Zeus and Hera, he is despised by both parents, as well as the other Gods. Although usually considered the God of War, he is really the din, chaos and fury of war and the people who fight and die in them. It is his sister, Athena, who plans the strategy of War, and Zeus or Eris (the Goddess of Chaos) to induce it. But Ares is the one who does the dirty work, and he wins as often as he loses. He is, literally, the war drums, the sword and weapons of death, manslaughter, the battle cry, and the banishing of cowardliness. His energy is quite raw and pure, and he was never the one to engage in politics, though he was often a pawn by others. He was also the lover of Aphrodite, and became her partner in adultery after he lost a contest with Hephaestus to win the hand of the Goddess. When The God of the Forge, Hephaestus, found out, he created chains that none could break, and his invention captured the lovers mid-tryst. Hephaestus called in all the Gods to witness their shame. Ares struggled and fought, but no matter how much he wanted to save his lover from humiliation, the chains would not budge. Indeed, it was only at Poseidon offering to pay the Adulterers Tax (a law whereby the Adulterer must pay the offended husband) that Ares was set free. Ares is the father of Nike, the winged Goddess of Victory, and the Romans associate him with Mars.

Meaning in Reading: Although our society is changing slowly, men have traditionally been socialized to be aggressive go-getters, and honoring your emotions is seen as weak. Men often hide their real feelings because in an aggressive world, it could be seen as something to exploit. Often a man’s real emotions are hidden from the people he cares about most, like his own partner, or worse, hidden from himself. One of the few emotions men are allowed to show is anger. Consequently, a man might manifest fear, jealousy, excitement, even happiness and sadness, into anger. When that energy is used constructively, and with an eye for honesty, Ares can help you to address these feelings directly. Your anger doesn’t have to stay there. You can do something with it. It may be time to take up arms and fight for a cause, to fight against something that makes you angry.

Reversed: Failing to get beyond the anger means the real problem lies underneath the surface, festering like an unhealed wound. The angry fire of Ares pushes you to fight…but what are you fighting against? Are you wasting your emotional energy on battles that cannot be won? Are you standing against people who are actually on your side, like your friends, sweethearts and family? Of course you have the right to feel angry, but you still don’t have the right to hurt other people.

Connecting Ritual: There is nothing so raw as the power of a gun. With the smallest finger movement, you can kill someone, destroy lives shattered in violence, protect yourself, or feed your family in the depth of winter. Life and death become manifest and real in that object. Many people fear the power of guns, but Ares challenges you to master it. Go down to a shooting range and take a class on gun safety, then fire off a variety of guns on the range. Feel the power, the kick back, and the weight of that power in your hands. What would happen if you shot out of anger or jealousy? What would happen if you fired out of self-protection? If you can, bring something to shoot such as a fruit that will explode, like melons or apples. It will show you the destruction of that power. Know that the power of Ares is in that gun, and treat it with that same respect.

Advanced Working: Believe it or not, according to some sources, Ares was the God of Dance before he was the God of War. Indeed, the primitive pounding of drums gets directly to the heart of what Ares represents: raw power, pulsing rhythms, chaos, din, fighting for your life. Few of us in today’s culture, except for soldiers and police, have the opportunity to experience Ares energy. Gather some drumming friends around a bonfire, drink something that makes you angry and winds you up, like whiskey, and go nuts. Drum, dance around the fire, pound the ground with your feet and hands, and hurl an intense battle cry to Ares!

Interesting Fact: Gary Sanders, a prominent scholar on sexual health and on Gay couples in particular, invented the Angry Feeling Wheel. He helps men to identify what kind of anger they are really feeling. In couples who are experiencing anger in their relationship, he uses the wheel to have them identify what is behind their anger. The then asks them how they would react if their partner was feeling fearful, excited, sad, etc. This new perspective moves behavior out of the realm of aggression and anger and begins to deal with the problem more constructively.