Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Buzz Coil: May-June-July

Here are some notes about recent posts from blogs on our blogroll:

PaGaian Cosmology: From Australia, Glenys Livingstone writes about the relationship of the current cross-quarter holidays in both the global north and global south in her July 25 post, "Imbolc--Lammas Moment @ Earth-Gaia August 2018." Her July 22 post, "Imbolc Process of Her Red Carpet: Her Flow," is about a PaGaian Imbolc ceremony which includes a procession of participants carrying lit candles as they enter on a red carpet. Livingstone writes that the ritual is "a commitment to Being, expressed as a commitment to the Great Goddess Brigid."

Annelinde's World: Annelinde Metzner's posts are usually her poems. Her July 17 poem is "When Azaleas Bloom." With pics.  Her June 25 poem "Carrying us still," is dedicated to her son and posted on the anniversary of his death in 2004. With family and other pics. Her June 2 poem, "Morning at the Sanctuary" honors Mountain Light Sanctuary in North Carolina, which includes both a garden and grotto of the Divine Feminine. With pics of both. Published on May 26, her poem "The Magic Pouch," begins
"I have released my magic pouch.
Fathom this - the miracle sac nestled in my abdomen
where spirits come to Earth and find their destiny."
Her May 18 poem is "Magdala Tower." The musical setting of this poem was performed on Mary Magdalene's most recent feast day of July 22 at a performance in Black Mountain, NC.

HecateDemeter: In the midst of writing about politics, voter registration, and a July 4 post about her work with "An American Goddess," Columbia, blogger Hecate continues her series "The Magical Battle for America." Here are topics of some of the series' posts from the last 3 months: July 15, the State flag you most identify with; July 8, work with your American ancestors, Mr. Rogers, and kidnapped children; July 1, children, Native Americans, and Cowboys; June 10, Thoreau, Walden Pond, and the need for "civil disobedience"; June 3, young people growing into "Salmon people" (related to the series' Salmon banner); May 27, Underground Railroads, in the past and present and future;  May 20, working to register voters and various forms of women's art, including quilting and sewing; May 13 Immigrants and Lady Liberty, including the full poem (a sonnet) on the base of what is commonly called the Statue of Liberty. 

Starhawk's blog: Starhawk's July 4 post, "A Spell for the 4th" with Part 2 of "A Spell for Justice," follows Part 1 of "A Spell for Justice," which she posted on June 21. Both include full suggestions on how to do these workings, and both relate to the current U.S. political situation. Among her comments in her June 18 post, "The Children Are Counting on Us," is this paragraph referring to the separation of immigrant children from their parents:
 "Today I read that the Pope has condemned these actions—and that speaks well of him. I cannot understand why every priest, minister, preacher, rabbi, imam, rinpoche, and spiritual leader in the land isn’t crying out “Foul!” from every pulpit. While many are, where are the voices of those who are so quick to trumpet ‘family values’?" 

Works of Literata: In her May 5 post, blogger Literata offers a "Fivefold Blessing" as a Beltane gift. Inspired by the "Fivefold Kiss," Literata writes that her Blessing is "somewhat  less sexually charged, making it appropriate in a wider range of situations."

My Village Witch: Byron Ballard writes several posts about her experience so far at this season's festivals. Her July 3 post, "So I went to this Festival," starts in Cleveland, then moves to Arkansas, Kansas City, Illinois, and Pittsburgh. Her June 5 post, "The Living Ain't Easy But It Is Grand," gives more details and impressions about these festivals. And her May 3 post, "Festival Etiquette...pretty please" tells about a Beltaine celebration in Indiana which prompts her to think about "what I don't like about Pagan festivals." 

Association for the Study of Women and Mythology: ASWM's June 19 post, "Webanaki Women" Ritual Tradition and Feminine Institution," offers a video of a panel from the organizations's 2016 conference in Boston. The May 11 post, "Farewell to Elinor Gadon" is an obituary for this leader in feminist spiritualty who died on May 8 at the age of 92.

Broomstick Chronicles: A June 15 post from Aline O'Brien (aka Macha NightMare), "AAR Annual Meeting -III (2017)" discusses many different aspects of the American Academy of Religion's meeting including "American Gods," and " Witchcraft, Activism, and Political Resistance." (This post also appears on COG Interfaith Report.)

Hearth Moon Rising: Hearth Moon's July 20 post, "Oh My Goddess, Not This Again," is about Max Dashu's being "disinvited" from a San Francisco witchcraft event. For more information see Dashu's July 18 post on this on Facebook.

Because of the large number and variety of bloggers and posts on the following blogs, we are now suggesting that you visit them and select the posts that interest you most.
The Wild Hunt: Pagan, news-oriented blog that has grown from single blogger to many bloggers

The Motherhouse of the Goddess: Blog affiliated with Motherhouse Podcasts and Mystery School.

Feminism and Religion: Many bloggers from many different religions and paths.
Pagan Square: This blog of many mostly-Pagan paths is sponsored by BBI Media and includes SageWoman blog posts.


Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Review: Book by Nancy Vedder-Shults

The World is Your Oracle: Divinatory Practice For Tapping Your Inner Wisdom And Getting The Answers You Need by Nancy Vedder-Shults, Quarto Publishing Group USA 2017,240 pages (Also available as an e-book.)

This short interview is meant as an introduction to Nancy Vedder-Shults’ book, The World is Your Oracle. For the interview section of this review, the reviewer is using the name she usually writes under, Judith Laura. Her blogger name for this blog is Medusa, and will appear at the end of the review

Judith Laura: How does The World is Your Oracle relate to Goddess spirituality?
Nancy Vedder-Shults: The book is a compilation of 40 different techniques for accessing your deep knowing, 1/3 of which are visual, 1/3 auditory, and 1/3 kinesthetic. It comes directly out of my work in feminist spirituality, although it certainly could be used by men as well.

Judith Laura: In what way(s) do these techniques come out of your work in feminist spirituality?

Nancy Vedder-Shults: I was in a deeply magical coven of seven women in the 1990s. Since there were 7 of us, we decided that for a year and a day each of us would be responsible for one of the 7 chakras. We put colored slips of paper into a hat and selected one a piece. When I picked indigo, signifying the 6th chakra, I must have blanched. The sixth chakra, also known as the third eye, is the site of intuition and psychic awareness. I didn’t consider myself very psychic at the time and wondered why I had chosen that chakra. What this experience began was an intense exploration of intuition and ways of tapping into our inner wisdom. The World is Your Oracle is a direct result. I don’t think I would have researched and written it if I hadn’t been in that coven.
Judith Laura: Are there any other ways that your approach in this book grew out of your work in feminist or Goddess spirituality?
Nancy Vedder-Shults: I discovered divination as a Goddess woman, so for me it’s obvious that these techniques are a part of my spirituality. If I had remained in my birth religion, I would never have encountered them. I practice Wicca, and I’m also a Unitarian Universalist. This second religion may be THE most tolerant religion in the world. There are no dogmas or beliefs that we ascribe to, so there are UUs of many stripes — Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, pagan, atheist, agnostic, and even a few Muslims. As a UU, I wanted my book — which comes out of the magical practices that Goddess feminists perform — to be accessible to any open-minded person. Molly Remer in her review called it "not a specifically pagan book, but instead is markedly (and enjoyably!) interfaith in approach, while also being culturally respectful.” That made me feel great, because it meant that I had not imposed my beliefs on others, but allowed them to realize how the techniques could be useful to them, whatever their beliefs.

And now for my review:

Beginning with the first chapter, “Preparing, Interpreting, and Honoring your Oracle,” the book contains a wealth of helpful material. In addition to being a look at oracles through the author’s lens of feminist spirituality, The World Is Your Oracle is a fascinating book on a metaphysical topic that the author bases strongly on science. For example, Vedder-Shults writes in the 2nd chapter, “… Science has recently demonstrated a number of techniques that can make our divinations even more successful.” Some of these techniques, the author writes, are smiling, replacing worry and anxiety with trust, broadening your attention but also letting your mind wander. In addition, in this section the author discusses 5 other ways for aiding divination based on scientific research.
While maintaining a focus on science, Vedder-Shults includes light touches that keep the book from bogging down. The title of the book itself is one of these for me. “The World is Your Oracle,” to me is a play on the saying “The world is your oyster,” (an expression originally from Shakespeare), only in the case of the book we are looking for answers to questions, or help from what some call “psychic” perceptions, whereas in the common maxim, we are giving a new meaning or an expanded role to oysters—that an oyster represents enjoyment or simply that we have some type of ownership of the world . Another light touch is use of the term “brain blink” in the chapter discussed above on science. The author gives four recommendations for encouraging “brain blink.”
Both the cover (which shows what I assume is a world egg breaking open and releasing a bird, and which surrounds the main title with the subtitle), and the interior illustrations are by the author’s daughter, Linnea Vedder. They add greatly to this book. Most of the chapters begin with a color illustration. Beginning with the chapter sections of “Visual Techniques” the chapter sections also have color illustration. For example, the section on air begins with a color illustrations that seems to me to illustrate the displayed boxed text for “winds of change: this modern form of wind divination (austromancy) allows you to read your oracle in the movements of an object blown by the wind.” This chapter section and those that follow on visual techniques connected with air (ashes, balloon diagrams, books, candles, creatures, dreams, mirrors, numbers, scrying, spirit guides, stars) also contain further instructions titled “Steps” and “Continuing the Journey.” Similar color illustrations, accompanied by boxed explanatory quotes, as well as separate sections with instructions are included in the chapters on Auditory Techniques and Kinesthetic Techniques, each of which have at least 14 sections each on various techniques.
The Back Matter contains Works Frequently Cited; References; Endnotes, including those from the works of Layne Redmond, Gerina Dunwich, Robert Graves, D.J. Conway, James Lovelock; Resources, with sections on “chanting and other music” including material on Atheist, Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, “Om Tara,” featuring Chants for the Queen of Heaven and Songs of the Earth: Music of the Earth; and Pagan, Wiccan, or Native American. Also, “drumming,” “gods, goddesses, saints, and power animals,” whose material includes work by Ted Andrews, and Patricia Monaghan; and “birds, animals, and insects.” There is also a 6-page index, whose citations include Alpha brain wave activity, Sigmund Freud, Gaia theory, Guided meditation, Carl Jung, Sweet Honey in the Rock, and Trance state. The Appendix section has spaces for the reader to fill in personal meanings and includes topics of “Creatures” with 3 charts of Associations with Common North American Bugs, ….Animals, …Birds’. The topics of “Numbers” and “Body Sense” have one chart each.

The World Is Your Oracle is a down-to-earth description of how to use mysticism and mystical techniques to achieve excellence in oracular practice. Well thought out and organized, it is appropriate for the person first starting to use oracles as well as those who have been involved in this form of divination for quite some time.

According to Vedder-Shults’ biography at the end of the book, she participated in the Women’s Studies program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison from 1975-1991, received a Ph.D, and is “a storyteller, writer, and musician.” She has written for SageWoman magazine and Tikkun Daily blog and has recorded Chants for the Queen of Heaven. Her website is

Labels: , , , ,