Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Personal Sovereignty

I have been reminded recently about a topic that is quite fundamental and unique to the Ursan philosophy and culture. That topic is personal sovereignty. Personal sovereignty at its simplest, is a feeling and understanding of the fact that you are our your own master, and no person and no thing can take that away from you. To our understanding, it is the reward for living our lives the way we do, and not just as an abstract gift, but as a representation of the sum of our actions. 

Primary to our decision making process is personal responsibility, especially as it is expressed through the filter of free will. We understand that we are the only ones who can and should be in control of our lives, and as such, we are the only ones that will reap the rewards and suffer the punishments for the actions that we take. Nobody can make us do something we do not want to do, and similarly, we cannot control what other people do in any meaningful sense. We take complete and absolute responsibility for ourselves, who we are and what we do. We understand that while doing our personal work of learning, making responsible choices, and being the best that we can be, we will reap the empowering psychological, emotional, and societal benefits of being good people. We understand that in very practical terms, if we want to be helped in our life, we must help others, and it is that structure of a supportive community that allows us to accomplish things bigger than ourselves. And with the knowledge that by holding up our end of any bargain we enter, we ensure the success of our community, taking on responsibility in those respects are rewarded too.

As a result of this, we take great pride in our accomplishments, and stand tall in the knowledge that we have always done our best in every situation, and that we have always fulfilled our obligations with thoroughness, compassion, and good cheer. This also applies to the magickal and religious aspects of our lives. Our interactions with whatever Gods we work with are colored by our knowledge that as personally responsible people, we must acknowledge that the Gods cannot do our work for us. Which brings us back to the personal sovereignty, because, as in our interactions with each other, we also understand that we cannot simply blindly follow any God, without surrendering our personal responsibility and free will and everything that has earned us. This has created the unique dynamic in Ursan culture of the ability to stare any deity or spirit square in the eyes and say "No. I will not do that, because I do not believe that it is the right thing to do. Furthermore, if you continue to attempt to control me without allowing me my free will and personal responsibility, I will stop working with you altogether." 

This is unlike any religion I, or any of my most learned friends, have heard of, and I see it as quite the beneficial, positive, and empowering evolution of the religious aspect of the human experience. It allows us to recognize uncontrolled agents of negativity, as well as patterns of behavior, in ourselves and in others, that are self-destructive, manipulative, or malicious. Once recognized, we can make educated and responsible decisions, secure in the knowledge that those things are not worthwhile or beneficial, since they require us to give up our own free will or steal that of the people around us, wrecking the structure of support and beneficial action that our community relies on, much less our own personal feelings of righteousness or security. In fact, it elevates righteousness to its proper stature of an absolute feeling of being right, because you are secure in the knowledge that you have done everything in your power to be doing what is right. Perhaps most importantly, it also allows us to recognize false righteousness as a position that is not actually supported by responsible actions that respect free will. And I believe it is this that sets our path apart as the truest route to personal power - within ourselves and with each other, over nothing but our own destiny.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

To my family...

As we looked at each other across the wreckage of another botched Samhain, Aleks and I promised each other, silently fuming, not again. This is a true story. Samhain after Samhain, year after year. Drama. Fighting. People flinging themselves out of doors weeping. Biting. Seriously, biting. We were nowhere. And then there was THIS year. THE year. It finally happened! We fucking did it!

I am seriously fucking proud to call myself an Ursa this year, and all the years before us. I am proud to have watched each and every one of you face fears, and learn something new, and take the leap. You are all inspiring. The overwhelming message from our gods this year has been to break the mold, set the bar higher. To DECIDE FOR OURSELVES what the fuck we want to be real. Look around. You did it. We did it. We started the year doing it.

I love you all, and am proud to call you my family.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Ancestor Magick

The hands of the ancestors, layers upon layers deep. They are reaching for us. Reaching through time itself, in benediction, in supplication. This is without question the most affecting piece of art I have ever seen.

I can well imagine a shamanic journey into the heart of the world, to reach the center of the Earth, and the center of yourself. To find there waiting for you the marks of those who had come before, and to place yours along with theirs. To know that you have made your mark upon the history of your people, and to have included your own touch with the great leaders of the past... This is the utter essence of ancestor worship. So old a thing, impossibly old, even then. Our own words of initiation come to mind : "I place my hands upon your shoulders as my teacher once placed her hands on my shoulders, and her teacher placed her hands upon her, and her teacher, and his teacher, all the way to the beginning. As you will one day place your hands on the shoulders of your student, all the way until the end." Thus is the power passed, thus has it always been. True ancestor veneration is such. Found in the path that our ancestors have walked for thousands upon thousands of years. As we will be venerated in our time, when we become those ancestors, those hands, reaching into the infinite.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Context, Not Contest

The Tribe takes context very seriously. We have to, it's a tool for our deepest realization. Context can make a situation ordinarily untenable into something that is generally understood and accepted. When we challenge ourselves, we are moving forward.

We have seen what happens to people who do not do their Work. They engage with other people in the Tribe only on the level of CONTEST. Pretty basically, if you are making ANY portion of your life a contest, you are not doing the Work. The Ursa Tribe is not about vying for attention or control. We are about becoming our deepest, truest selves. This is hard work, and it often rubs all of us rather raw. Which is why we make it clear when it occurs what is going on. Context. Sometimes it occurs that people do not let others know why they are hurting, and they begin to strike out when their brethren attempt to help. At this point you have two choices, you can let it out, or you can let it fester.

We know what happens when a person lets it fester over a long period of time, because we have a couple of really excellent examples. The Work becomes sublimated to the Ego, and that creates a a situation where the person who is hurting doesn't do the Work. The next step after that is that the person draws attention away from their pain and vulnerabilities through a series of attacks. Contest.

It only works if you work it.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Trauma is tricky. It has a nasty habit of sneaking up behind you and taking a bite out of your ass when you aren't looking. It hurts and it's hard, and it needs to be dealt with, but if you aren't careful, you end up spending all your time on yesterday, and not enough on today. Perception shapes reality and reality is tricky too. Reality will start manifesting almost immediately whatever you think about all the time.

Tomorrow never comes, if all we have to look forward to are yesterdays. So it's time to leave yesterday to yesterday, tomorrow to tomorrow, and deal with NOW.

Forgiveness? Not today. maybe tomorrow.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Men's Magick

The Men's Mysteries have long been a topic of discussion among my people. What do they mean, how do they help to define us? I think Christopher Penczack's book "Sons of the Goddess," is incredibly helpful, but my tribe doesn't deal with archetypes, so much as we deal with personalities. The gods of my people walk the crossroads of the twenty first century, and they will not be denied.

The Father of Cats and Strays, who wanders the between places, waiting to offer aid, or hindrance. Cai, the Stormfather; trickster, mercurial and powerful, but kind. Old Jack Rabbit, who charmed the moon down from the sky with his fiddle. Raevyn Whitefeather, who stole the moon from Old Jack when he fell asleep, because he couldn't bear not to have the shiny. Menetonka, the wise old man; horned one who roams what is left of the wild places of the world. These are our fathers. Wise men, and strong, intemperate and tricksy, fey and unspeakably Other.

But what are we to be? Brothers, lovers, strong arms, long legs, and shoulders to cry on? As men we must be more than our relationships to those around us. Our gods are wild and sly, and we must become like them to survive. What else is tribal magick about, but the survival of the people? Were the Green Men to devote ourselves to anything, it ought to be that.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009


Walking down the darkened paths of my neighborhood last night, I came upon a place where earth met sky, and wind met water. As I stood there at the crossroads of my everyday life, and the mystical blend of all things REAL, the moon materialized from behind a thick bank of whirling purple and grey clouds. It hung, massive and orange and round, reflected in the summer-dark water of the lake. The silence of the world was complete, and nearly raucous in it's intensity. Not a bird cawed, not a leaf moved. I threw my arms up in wonder, and gave praise to the Moon spirit, shining grace down upon me as I stumbled through the dark.

This is what it is to be a shaman, and to walk a lonely road between awareness, and madness. There is the practice of Craft, and there is the Mysteries made manifest. This was the latter. Satori never happens when you're trying. This is the place where man meets spirit. I have walked, and stumbled, along my path for thirteen years now. Only a handful of times have I been blessed with absolute clarity. And every time it's completely bloody worth it! This is the point of it all... We learn to walk between the worlds, and take congress with the spirits; wander the twisted lands where nothing is as it seems, especially yourself; summon beings impossibly old, and bend them to a will of iron. All of it, all of it as nothing before this.

We must learn to loose ourselves in awareness. To be so deeply in the moment, in our own skins, that even time gets the fuck out of the way. Things happen just for your own convenience, when you do this work. You learn to live on the right side of your eyelids, and then to see, or See. When you ARE the spirits, you've fucking got it!

It's Grainspell in a couple of days, the first Harvest. Things happen, in the tween times. The world gets out of it's own way to reveal itself. To revel in itself. It's harvest time, and we are revealed in the revealing, and reveling in the revels. Time to let our hair down and be wild.