Monday, February 28, 2011

Where to go for Astrology...

I always talk to George. Now, EVERYONE can talk to George!

George Courtney of Tarot of the Boroughs has just started an Astrology blog. It's probably the greatest thing to ever happen to humanity.

I suggest you go read it,

Sunday, February 27, 2011


I'll be on Beyond Worlds Tarot blogshow tonight at 7 p.m., Eastern Time. We'll be discussing the Strength and the Hermit cards. Listen to me so I feel important!!!!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Pursuing Higher Education

Lately, I've heard more Pagan leaders talk about furthering their education and often looking to seminaries. I can't recommend it enough. The fact that there is a sudden spike in interest indicates that we do have work to be done and further education will be a necessity.

If you are a Pagan and are considering Seminary, there are a lot of factors to keep in mind. Here are just a few of the things I did not expect:

* The Generosity of my Professors and Classmates
When I told members of the community that I was going into the Seminary, many asked how I would "spin" or "cloak" things, in regards to being Wiccan. I did not spin or cloak anything. They would either take me as a loud and crazy Witch, or not take me at all. They took me. :) And it's been great! Many of my professors have said they'd heard about Wicca but had never met a Wiccan. All of my classmates who have asked about my background have been curious for information.

* The progressive attitudes of the Christians that surround me.
Gay rights, women's rights, environmental activism, social justice, poverty initiatives--these people are WORKING for change in all of the areas that are important to me and to the vast majority of Pagans that I know.

* Pagans for the most part are doing pretty well.

When I applied to Union, I went in begging for tools to help my community. But the more time I've spent in the school and the more stories I've heard about my classmates' congregations and backgrounds, we're actually doing pretty well! The focus on the growth of the individual is something many mainstream traditions have either lost or never had in the first place. Even in our most dogmatic traditions, the focus is generally on the individual's personal progress and development. While I still think we have quite a bit of room to grow in a community outreach sense, we have a core of developing empowerment on a base level that many mainstream ministers long to be able to impart. Yay for us!!! Also, our "laity" (as my classmates would call it) are generally better read and educated than the average layperson of a mainstream faith. Pagans read. They read about their rituals, their myths, their religion's history and they generally understand their own ritual components and processes far better than their mainstream counterparts. Serious "yay" for us. :)

* Meeting former (and burned...) Pagans
It was a sad day for me to discover that we have "refugees" of our own. I was jokingly talking about "Bitchcraft" (the nasty habit Witches have of personally decimating each other) with a classmate of mine, having no idea of her background. She smiled and shook her head and said, "That's why I'm no longer Pagan." It's a real shame that we lost her. She's a very cool person.

* Testing my Coven's patience
...with my fatigue and absent mindedness. They have been unceasingly supportive of this insane thing I'm trying to do. It's hard for me to not be as available for them as I was before the program started. I want to do my ultimate best at everything--especially leading a Coven. I just am not able to devote as much brain space to anything as I did a few months ago. It takes me longer to respond to emails and phone calls and I can't plan as far ahead for our curriculum as I'd like. I'm learning to accept my limitations, which is a bitter lesson to accept.

* Missing my social life.
A few years ago, I was out at every show on the Lower East Side, every night. I thought I was ready to leave that behind for a time and dig into the books. Guess what? I miss it. A LOT!!!!! It's worth it, but I do miss the cool shit I used to do.

* The Fatigue
I wonder if I'll ever be not-tired again. Even when I'm well-rested, I'm exhausted by 9:00 p.m. On Mondays, when I work 8-4 and then have class from 4:10-8:30, there is no hope for me to do anything but stare at the wall.

* How much I'd love writing papers
I LOVE writing papers. But exams still scare me.

* Not playing guitar.
I was just starting to get back into it. Now it just sits there at the foot of my bed. When I'm done with homework, all I have the energy to do is stare at the wall. (Please see above).

Between the Tarot deck and the classes I've developed, things were just starting to roll in regards to teaching at festivals!!! Now, I'm finding myself saying no to all the things I used to jump all over. If I've turned down a chance to lecture at your store or festival...know that it's killing me!!! How I crave the drums, the bonfires and sleeping in the mud!!!!

* Having an awesome boyfriend.
My boyfriend is awesome. :) He has been my rock and my guiding light throughout all of this.

I guess that's it for now. I'm burdened by blessings and I don't forget that. But I've made some sacrifices and sometimes, I wish I had all the cake while eating all of it, on both sides of the lawn where it's all sooooo green, studying and writing and teaching and partying all at the same time. Yes. It's impossible. But I do enjoy a pre-breakfast imagination session....

See you all in 2013. :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Application for Government Permission to Incarnate into China in your Next Life.

Apparently, they're serious. Read about it, here

February 17, 2011
Consulate General of the People’s Republic of China in New York
520 12th Avenue
New York, NY 10036

To Whom it May Concern:
I am inquiring about the procedure for granting the government of China’s permission to reincarnate into Tibet in my next life. Is there a background check required? Does my religion in this lifetime come into the equation? I’m of European-American descent; does current ethnic background play a role? What about in previous lifetimes? If my family is of Slavic descent, does that technically count as Asian even though we are Caucasian? Will work for democratic initiatives in this lifetime count against us as the approvals are distributed?
Please let me know what forms I need to fill out and whether they are required to be submitted while I am still alive in this incarnation, or if I will need to wait for this life to be over.

Very truly yours,

Courtney Weber

You can find your local Chinese Embassy by Googling them with the name of your hometown. Come on. It'll be fun. If you do it, though, try to remember to print out the article and include it so the poor clerk who gets the letter knows what the hell you're bugging him/her for.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


That last post was full of typos.

I'm blaming Theraflu and you can't stop me.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Your Circle Casting is Weird!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At our Imbolc celebration on Saturday, one newbie guest approached me to say that he had a very good time, except for one thing. He had difficulty with the way we had cast the Circle. It probably would have been a good idea to explain things prior to casting. But I forgot.

Hold onto your panties, boys and girls!!!!! The East Coast branch of Novices of the Old Ways casts a Circle by invoking Water from the East and Air from the West!!!




Okay. Yeah. We changed the order of East and West. B-b-b-b-but why???? How could we? How dare we? Why would we????

A couple of years ago, Circle Casting was my least favorite part of the ritual, behind cleaning up empty wine bottles and discarded cheese rind at the end. The reason for it was because even getting Quarter Callers to volunteer was harder than asking for root canals volunteers at a dentistry school. And (sorry to rag on my own crew!!!) when I would finally get people to agree to it, the Quarter Calling often sounded like this:

"Hail to the to the Guardians of the.....(*cough*) invoke Thee, Ancient Ones of the....what is associated with West, again?" Giggle. Giggle. Giggle.

While many other groups were working very hard to formalize the Quarter Calling, I wanted to get rid of the whole thing.

One day, my teacher, who is British, mentioned that the reason the Circle is cast as it often is cast is because the directions were based on a European system of direction. In Great Britain, where the traditional Circle Casting was developed, the greatest body of water was to be found in the West--the Atlantic Ocean. The jet stream of wind was strongest coming in from the East. Hence, honor Air in the East and Water in the West.

"So, I wonder if it would make sense for East Coast American Witches to cast by invoking Water from the East, where our ocean is located, and Air from the West, where our own jet stream comes from? North could stay the same--Earth being associated with ice, which we'd find in the North. Fire could stay in the South, where the hot equator is located?" I asked.

"Try it and see," he said.

I suggested it to my Coven this fall and at first, they were hesitant. Throwing something into the mix that is so different than what is familiar takes quite a bit of getting used to. But for us, it worked. We had stronger results. I no longer have to plead for Quarter Calling volunteers--people are excited about them. They flow easier and come in stronger. We've even taken to chanting the names of the Elementals to summon Them instead of using "Hail to the Guardians" in our private rituals. When we do cast using the "Hail" format, it's again much stronger than it was before. As New York City Witches, whenever we can move out of the symbolic and theoretical into the practical and tangible, the better. We have a difficult enough time connecting with nature. Why make it even harder? The closest ocean is in the East. Why not summon the spirit of the body of Water which is only 4-5 miles away, instead of reaching 3,000 miles to the next body of Water, on the West Coast? We are constantly pummeled by frigid winds that sweep in from the Midwest. Why not use Their energies for our ritual work?

Let me say again for the record that I do respect tradition and its place in our practices. Traditions are important as they act as the glue that holds practices together long-term. But the equally important role of the non-traditional practice is that it challenges longer-standing practices, moves them forward and keeps them from becoming stagnant cesspools of dogma. We've seen it happen to mainstream religions. The traditional and the non-traditional work together to provide healthy, holistic options for all members of the Craft. It is of dire importance that both are respected, but I'm worried to see that so many sects of the Craft are in danger of repeating the same mistakes mainstream religions have made. These are the same mistakes that sent most of us packing from the Churches, Synagogues and Mosques (among others) of our youth: Dogma without questioning, rules without understanding, practices by rout instead of by heart.

When we are not open to breaking tradition, we become its slave and in that mistake, our spirituality is whittled down to a system of right or wrong, which is precisely what is killing Christianity. It has the potent potential to kill Wicca, too.If you are member of a tradition, more power to you and kudos to you for finding a system that works for you! Your work in preserving your tradition is important as it will provide a strong framework of practice for those to come. If you are a non-traditionalist, again kudos to you for keeping things shaken up and moving forward--discovering new things and enriching the Craft.

Being a non-traditionalist is scary. We make lots of mistakes. We feel like we are out in the proverbial wilderness a lot of the time. But what we have is the unbelievable power of potential and discovery.

I urge those of the non-traditional persuasion to remember that your practices are as valid as the "Ancient Traditions" ("ancient" meaning they date way back to the 1970's....most of them.....). But do also be respectful when attending a traditional Circle. Avoid being critical or snickering at what might be too rigid for your tastes. Someone, somewhere has worked very hard to preserve that tradition and it serves many people, even if it's not your flavor.

If you are a traditionalist, be open to the way a non-traditionalist is performing things. They are keeping the Craft from fading into another dogmatic cult. I think that's something none of us, regardless of our tradition or non-tradition, want to see.

I encourage Witches all over the place, particularly those in the Southern Hemisphere to try moving around the Elemental Quarter calling. Would it make sense for South American and Australian Witches to call Fire from the North and Earth from the South? Just a thought and a question. Would love to hear your stories at

Happy (belated) Imbolc!!!


Friday, February 4, 2011

Isis called. Get up. We're late.

I'll be honest--the Egyptian riots caught me off guard. I admit that I had no idea that the Egyptian people had not had voted in a fair, legitimate election in over 30 years. I did not know the people were so unhappy. Some have said that revolutions happen unexpectedly. But is this really such a surprise? Did truly no one see this coming?

How many of us were paying attention?

In Trance session after Trance session, the Goddess comes through and yells at us for not paying attention to something. There's always something we're missing. At Yule, Brid crashed the Sabbat. It was like having a party in the rec room with Mom upstairs asleep, and being terrified to whirl around and face Her--curlers and robe--looking at us all and demanding, "What the HELL is going on down here????" We were told to wake up. We were told to start NOW. Not to wait until later. "Your Mother is in pain," said Brid. "Do something NOW."

As Pagans, we revere the Gods and history of Ancient Egypt. But when we the last time that contemporary Egyptian events and oppression was discussed openly at a festival or gathering? We consider ourselves to be concerned for the fate of the pyramids and the monuments, but what of the people and their ability to get to a ballot box? Americans are quick to complain about the lack of a third-party option, but what about in Egypt, where there hasn't been an option offered besides the incumbent in decades?

This incident illustrates the great gap between what we Pagans say we love and where we are falling short. We say we love Isis. But we have done so little to help Her people. We say we are Earth worshipers. But I can't remember the last time I attended a Pagan gathering where paper plates and plastic cutlery weren't used. I am not immune. I have been oblivious to the plight of areas of the world sacred to my Deities. Our Coven was pretty ashamed of ourselves for having created as much garbage as we did at Yule and are now working to greenify our Sabbats--first by banning disposable plates and cutlery, as well as not using electricity during the ritual.

Let this be a sign to us. Mama Isis called. We're not paying attention. We have the potential to influence our communities for the better and we sure as hell better do it. To quote Queen Mother Imakhu: Your spirituality should compel you to get actively involved in helping your community, and not hide behind your cross, ankh, elekes, pentagram, prayer beads, mandala... What will your legacy be? Roll up your sleeves. Give a damn. Make a difference.

Okay. I said my piece. Off to find something else to razz you all about.