A History of Violence

I had a discussion this morning about the history of violence within my family. But that is not exactly the truth. We were discussing the history of violence within my urban community ... no .. within African-American culture ... within American culture ... within human ... within life.

The violence is unmistakeable. The smashing of horns, the slashing of teeth and claw, the blood and gore ... the cries of fear, pain and anguish ... after a while, it all starts to blend together.

But we humans take even the violence inherent in life and dare I say ... improve upon it. We add guns, machetes, bombs, drones, Molotov cocktails and napalm. We kill teenagers in the street, mothers in their beds, and children ... everywhere we kill children.

I have just finished reading The Hunger Games, where children are reaped to fight to the death to atone for the “sins” of their ancestors.

But what are the sins of the massacred Afghani families? What sin did those women commit in todays school massacre? Or in tonights beating of a woman somewhere, anywhere ... all around the world?

- - -

But that is not what we were discussing either. We were discussing the serpent that lays coiled deep down inside of me. The serpent that even now is poised, ready at a moment’s notice. This is not the kundalini, it is something else entirely.

This serpent is my penchant to react with violence.

It never sleeps. it never relaxes. It is armed to the teeth. And the only thing keeping it from rising and blotting out the sun ... is my training.

But this serpent is a product of violence. Just like the violence we are inculcating in the minds, bodies and souls of children all around this planet. We are ripping through their flesh and blood and bone and forcibly implanting them all with this serpent.

You who watched your mother being beaten and raped, you who curl deep into your father’s arms as the bombs explode, you who even in the womb can taste the blood of anguish ... all of our serpents like ticking time bombs waiting for the least provocation, injustice or insult.

And what does the world hand us? Hunger, fear, war and death.

As if the serpent is not already enough.

- -

And this serpent inside of me lays in wait. Waiting for the day when my training will not be enough, when my will falters, and my heart breaks open ... screaming ... Enough!

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Tue, 04/03/2012 - 4:04pm.

Who am I, Now?

I have been struggling with my identity for over a year. Each time I come up against my usual habit of proclaiming my battlefields, i.e. “I am a bisexual Wiccan warrior woman of color, hear me roar!”

But today my mentor asked me a question. “What battle are you fighting now?”

And the answer was revelatory. “I am not on any battle field”

“So why are you still fighting?”

Good question ...

Our latest discussion concerns my calling myself a priestess. First off, it is not about me being a priestess, but my inclusion of that title in my self description, as in “Poet, Priestess, Warrior & Witch.” Skipping over the obvious battlefield references inherent in the “Warrior & Witch” parts, what is the purpose of declaring myself to be a priestess?

To me it is a title that best describes what I do day in and day out. It signifies my leadership role in the realm of spiritual community. And to me it is no different than the collar on a Catholic priest or the “Rev” on a minister’s calling card.

So my mentor asked me why I didn’t just call myself a teacher. Well I am a teacher, but I felt like the teaching part was inherent in the title of priestess. And this is where we hit the snag in our conversation. Because according to Dr Conforti, clergy and teachers occupy very different archetypal fields.

Teachers are inherently within the realm of elders, storytellers and the learning process. Clergy are within the realm of institutional and societal power. The explanations of Joseph Campbell figure highly here.

“In ancient times, that was the business of the [priest]. He was to give you the clues to a spiritual life. That is what the priest was for. Also, that was what ritual was for. A ritual can be defined as an enactment of a myth. By participating in ritual, you are actually experiencing a mythological life. And it’s out of that participation that one can learn to live spiritually.”

“A priest is a functionary of a social sort. The society worships certain deities in a certain way, and the priest becomes ordained as a functionary to carry out that ritual. The deity to whom he is devoted is a deity that was there before he came along. But the shaman’s powers are symbolized in his own familiars, deities of his own experience. His authority comes out of a psychological experience, not a social ordination.”

And the birthplace of religion is to be found within how “... the shaman ... translate[s] some of his visions into ritual performances for his people.”

But as soon as the hunter gatherers settled down and begin building institutions, the shaman was slowly replaced by priests who focused on the forms and structures and left out the “troublesome” mystical sources of the shaman.

And this speaks to the core of my internal conflict. I am both a shaman working with deities of my own experience and enacting my visions in ritual, and a priestess who is ordained to carry out societal functions. And further, my role as priestess flies in the face of the majority culture’s Abrahamic orientation, i.e. Christian, Jewish and Islamic.

So calling myself a priestess is both charging into another battlefield, and entering an archetypal realm ripe with issues like power differentials, spiritual inflation and clerical abuse. No wonder this is so hard.

Conversely as a teacher it seems simpler and more straightforward. A teacher guides, illustrates, and points out the path, the thread, or the essence. As my teacher David Rottman declares, “We can learn some things on our own, but for the rest we need teachers.” The ancient source of teachers is less conflicted and the mythological source is still close at hand. So the archetypal realm of the teacher may hold some negative aspects, but it is not as corrupted as the field of clergy is for both shaman and priests.

I actually feel less conflicted, less defensive even, when I call myself a teacher. And this difference is key here. Publicly declaring myself a priestess pulls up all my defensiveness, I feel like I am picking up the dropped flag and charging into battle. And quite frankly, I am tired of being constantly on the battlefield.

This questioning has been helpful for me in so many ways. It has helped me to clarify my internal conflict and its archetypal source. And since I am unwilling to fight battles I do not need or want, I can accept that I am both a priestess and a shaman without having to declare it for the world. And most importantly, I feel much more willing to declare my identity to the world in a new way. A way that reflects the ease I feel within me and within my work.

Katrina Messenger, teacher and writer ... hmmm ...

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Wed, 03/21/2012 - 7:24pm.

Hail to Inanna, Queen of Heaven

On October 30th, 2011, a group of pagans gathered in Lafayette Square in front of the White House to honor the feminine divine and support religious freedom. We were motivated partially by the malefic prayers of NAR, but mostly out of our love for the goddesses of our various traditions. Here is my speech, my invocation and my prayer from the ceremony.

_ _ _

In September of 2001, many of us felt overwhelmed and filled with emotions from fear to rage, from shock to grief, and from numbness to action.

For those of us who study mythology, we too felt all those same feeling, but we felt something else at work beneath the surface. And here I must quote the late Dr Maggie Macary in her inaugural blog of November of 2001.

“I felt paralyzed along with the rest of the world, wondering how to move forward in life in the face of so much death and destruction. In the days that followed, further news of terrorist acts and death confounded me, leaving me at a loss for words.  I have felt locked in a liminal, in-between state since September, betwixt and between what once was and what will soon be.  Now, during the darkest days between the Autumn Equinox and the Winter Solstice, I feel lost in the Underworld, trying to remember: how does life go on in the face of death? 

As always, I return to my solace: the myths of life, death and rebirth, those timeless stories of darkness and light, despair and hope. ... In studying these stories of death and descent, I am reminded what the ancients knew so wisely: that all transformation, all initiatory experiences, must first begin with a death. The ancients understood this instinctively, basing their rituals, the same rituals that appear disguised over and over again in our own modern lives, on a cosmogonic cycle in which a retreat to Chaos is required before a new world can be created. This Chaos is the end of a “mode of being,” a death to the old life in preparation for the new.  In our modern lives, we forget that death is the beginning of renewal, a time to dismantle the old in preparation for the new.

It is this forgetting of the old patterns, the loss of our retelling the old tales, the forgotten reenactments of initiatory and cosmogonic rituals, that causes us to feel despair at so much death and destruction.  In these tales and rituals humans have found a spiritual comfort that transcends the literal tragic events of life. These tales and rituals allowed people to experience the rebirth that comes from the darkest places of death. Without the retelling, life begins to lose its sense of spiritual meaning and the unconscious steps forward to create its own destructive patterns. ...

It is conscious re-mythologizing of the old tales that becomes important for healing to occur.

... We are not the authors of the stories, we are the re-tellers, the ones who once more take up the ancient myths and through our imaginations, make these stories our own. In the process, we will find a healing that revitalizes our lives.

...Let us rekindle the hearth fires and gather around to re-tell the old stories. Let us hold tight to one another through the long dark nights ahead, and remember that, as always, the light will soon return.”

I savor her precious wisdom, but unlike Dr Macary, I am not only a mythologist, I am also a pagan priestess. So I do not just retell the old stories, I honor the gods within these precious remnants of our ancient human heritage.

And for me, the stories of descent not only lead me toward healing and transformation, they bring me into the presence of many of the old gods. And it is important to honor them all, but today we are here to honor especially Inanna, the Queen of Heaven.

And it is during times of darkness, despair and confusion, that many shrink from the transformative work, clinging instead to forms and structures that are falling apart, creating orthodoxy from past nostalgias and even resisting the turning of the great wheel.

It is at times like these that folks clinging to the status quo demonize the old gods. It seems far easier to denigrate the Queen of Heaven than to follow in her footsteps.

And so the New Apostolic Reformationist have deliberately focused on demonizing the Queen of Heaven. Even today as we gather to hold up Columbia, herself a very American goddess, they seek to dislodge her from her perch because in their eyes, she is an aspect of the Queen of Heaven.

But I am here to say that if our American Goddess, Columbia is an aspect of Inanna, then we will hold them both up for devotion, honor and worship. Because that means that Columbia, like Inanna has the power to transform, the power to heal and the power to guide us towards the new world that is coming into being all around us.

And so today, we honor Inanna, Columbia, and a host other goddesses with prayers and songs.

And in the words of Doctor Macary ...

“Let us rekindle the hearth fires and gather around to re-tell the old stories. Let us hold tight to one another through the long dark nights ahead, and remember that, as always, the light will soon return.”

So mode it Be!

_ _ _


*Our Lady of the Morning is Radiant
She looks down upon us from Heaven

We sing your praises, Holy Inanna
Radiant on the horizon (2x)

We call to Inanna
Queen of Heaven & Earth
Daughter of the Moon

Procurer of the Me
Keeper of the laws
Earning the right through ordeal
to rule all she surveys

We call to Inanna
Queen of Heaven & Earth
Daughter of the Moon

Admirer of her own sexuality
Taking what is hers to receive
Lover of Men and
The Giver of Pleasure

We call to Inanna
Queen of Heaven & Earth
Daughter of the Moon

Journeys under her own authority
Knocks on the gates of the darkness
Enters to face the dark Queen
And dies to be reborn

We call to Inanna
Queen of Heaven & Earth
Daughter of the Moon

Guide us in our journey
Show us the way
Help us face the darkness
of our own transformation

We call to Inanna
Queen of Heaven & Earth
Daughter of the Moon

*Our Lady of the Morning is Radiant
She looks down upon us from Heaven

We sing your praises, Holy Inanna
Radiant on the horizon (2x)

*Original song written by Katrina Messenger

_ _ _


Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven & Earth
I am your daughter and priestess

I who bow in your presence and revel in your love
pray that you bless this work and these people
gathered in your honor.

We greet you as our queen, our guide and our mother
We ask that you bless this work and hear our prayers

Teach us how to reach outside of our comfort
for the work that is ours and true

Give us courage to take what is ours by birth
and defend these traditions and mysteries
against the tyranny of fear

Delight in our beauty and innocence
while gently nudging us forward on our path

Help us to hear the call to healing
and step on the journey of transformation

Open our hands so we can let go of what is non essential
Hold us close when despair takes hold

Revive us with the waters of life
and guide us back into the living light

Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven & Earth
We who are your children, please protect us with your love.

_ _ _

Copyright 2011 Katrina Messenger

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Thu, 11/03/2011 - 4:45pm.

DC Pagans Countering Dominionist Prayer Campaign on October 30th

For Immediate Release

DC Pagans to Hold Halloween Ceremony Countering the New Apostolic Reformation Cursing Prayer Campaign On October 30th in Lafayette Square Park

Priestesses and priests from the Washington, DC Pagan community will hold a Celebration of the Divine Feminine and Religious Freedom in Lafayette Square Park across from the White House on Sunday, October 30th, 2011, as a protest to the New Apostolic Reformation’s 51-day prayer campaign targeting Pagans, Wiccans, Witches, Druids, Heathens, and other Goddess-worshipers nationwide.

The New Apostolic Reformation is a Dominionist group of Christians preaching that all feminine forms of deity are demonic. The NAR is engaged in a 51-day campaign of imprecatory prayer to create a fundamentalist Christian theocracy in the USA. Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachmann and Rick Perry are influenced by the NAR agenda.

Reverend Barry Lynn, United Church of Christ minister and executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said, “Some people think the Dominionists and the New Apostolic Reformation are a newfangled movement. I call them what they are: the Religious Right in a new gown. They're not fooling anyone. This is the same old bunch of theocrats we've been dealing with for more than 40 years. It's the same crew that believes only its narrow version of Christianity is acceptable and pleasing to God. It's the same collection of people who believe their religion gives them the right to run everyone else's lives.”

Rev. Lynn went on to say, “I have news for them: Wiccans and Pagans are part of the American religious mosaic, and they're here to stay. Founding Fathers like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison gave us religious liberty - and that means religious liberty for everyone. The followers of nature-based faiths are going to use it because they don't want to lose it. What could be more in keeping with the great American tradition?”

Katrina Messenger, a writer, teacher, blogger, poet and Washington, DC native, will be the main celebrant in Lafayette Square Park. Ms. Messenger said, "The methods used by the NAR and other Dominionists are founded upon hate, fear, and ignorance. Their demonization of our Gods and Goddesses uses inflammatory language that can lead to violence and discrimination against followers of minority religions. We have choices in how to respond to this threat to our freedom and our faiths. Many are resorting to prayer, some to writing letters, and some to defensive strategies. We decided to honor the Queen of Heaven, the Goddess Inanna, in a public space, and demonstrate the very freedoms the Dominionists seek to destroy." Ms. Messenger is the founder of Connect DC and the Reflections Mystery School in Petworth.

Event organizer Caroline Kenner is a Washington, DC-born shamanic healer and teacher who now lives in Silver Spring, Maryland. “Nationally, many in our community are appalled by the scurrilous lies about our Goddesses spread by the New Apostolic Reformation. We Pagans are proud American citizens entitled to all the religious freedom granted by the Founders of this country in our Constitution. We are dismayed by the hate-filled rhetoric the New Apostolic Reformation uses, and we wish to show the public that our Goddesses are beneficent and peaceful deities.”

The event in Lafayette Square Park begins at noon and ends at 5pm on Sunday, October 30th, Samhain eve to many Pagans, leading into one of the most holy days of the Pagan year. “Samhain, or Halloween, is the Feast of the Ancestors in some of our Pagan religions. We will invoke the Founding Fathers and Mothers of our nation during our ceremony, along with a multitude of Goddesses from pantheons both ancient and modern. Among our Goddesses will be Lady Liberty and Columbia, the Goddess who stands guard atop the Capitol Building,” said Ms. Kenner. “The New Apostolic Reformation people would topple Columbia from Her pinnacle, and rename DC the District of Christ.”

There will be a number of people offering prayers during the ritual, including a Unitarian Universalist minister and celebrants from several Pagan faiths. After the religious ceremony, there will be drumming, dancing, chanting and energy raising designed to protect people in all fifty states and DC who support freedom of religious belief and practice for everyone. People of all faiths or none are welcome to join the event.

Sacred Space, an annual conference on metaphysics, mysticism and magick, now in its 22nd year, is the sponsor of the celebration in Lafayette Square Park on October 30th. Supporting organizations include Connect DC, Reflections Mystery School and Gryphons Grove School of Shamanism. Individual supporters include Washington, DC Pagan bloggers Hecate Demeter, Literata and David Salisbury.

For more information or to read the NAR curse against Pagans, visit: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/2011/09/the-new-apostolic-reformat...

Caroline Kenner

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Wed, 10/19/2011 - 1:29pm.

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