Free Reading Lottery! (Now Closed)

THIS LOTTERY IS CLOSED AS OF 12/1. Thanks for signing up!

 

I am learning Lenormand, a new-to-me and somewhat-rare form of cartomancy (using cards to explore a question or situation). Lenormand is much less esoteric than Tarot; a typical Lenormand sentence would be “You need to go back to school if you want a better job”, whereas the Tarot would say “The situation is good for taking in new knowledge and skills, and figuring out where to apply them best”. Whereas most of the Tarot cards, even the ones with “negative” connotations (like the Tower and the Devil), are interpreted in a positive fashion (like a warning or “…if you don’t change your course, this will happen in some way), the Lenormand cards are charged with positive, negative, and indifferent meanings.

That all being said, if you are interested in helping me learn the system and getting a free reading in the process, this is how the lottery will work:

1. You send an area of your life you would like to know more about (finance, career, education, domestic, romantic, travel, etc) in an email to delandrave@gmail.com with the subject of “Lottery Entry”

2. Your name and query will be put in a hat.

3. When I am ready and willing to do a practice reading, I will draw a name out of the hat.

4. It will solely be -my- decision/whim if you get a three card reading, a nine card reading, all the way up to what is called the Grand Tableau, which is all 36 cards. It’s more about me learning the different formats, and less about choosing who gets more information. To make it fair, I will decide what kind of reading I am doing before I draw the name.

5. If the reading is short, I will likely email you the results. The Grand Tableau can take up to 2 hours to perform, so in that case I will email you an mp3. Getting a GT reading from me now is a big deal, as I will likely be charging up to $50 for GT readings once I am proficient. I *may* decide to also send you a picture of the layout, if I feel that seeing the cards will help better understand the results.

6. I will continue to draw names out of the hat until I feel I am done learning and experimenting – and this might happen at any time. There is a chance I will not choose your name at all, depending on how many entries we get, but it is my intent to give everyone at least a 3 card reading, since that takes all of 5 or 10 minutes to do.

7. I would really, really appreciate feedback on your reading, so I can see where I was off-track and where I was really getting it right. Some of the layouts have many different interpretations, so it will take me a while to hone in on which ones work best for me and my clients.

8. If you feel so inclined, writing a short one-or-two sentence review of the reading for me to post on Sex, Gods, and Rock Stars’ divination page would be super helpful. Few people know of the Lenormand in America, so helping people understand why they might choose a Lenormand reading over a Tarot reading (or vice versa) will be useful.

Good luck!

Looking for Input on an Upcoming Essay

Hey there, readers. I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking about mentorship – primarily, what a mentor is and is not, and why someone might want to be a mentor; what qualities makes someone attractive as a mentor; and what people seeking a mentor should look for or think about while looking. 

Of course, you can also substitute for “mentor” whatever kind of leadership role that deals with helping someone better understand a skill, a community, a role, a lifestyle, an ideology, I decided to think of it as a “mentor” so as to be more broad; I don’t just want to write about spiritual teachers, but leather, kink, queer, polyamorous, power dynamic, and other sorts of “more experienced hands” that seem to be in demand.

So what I’m looking for is general concepts and thoughts about what makes a good mentor, and how can someone recognize a mentor that is a good fit for them. After all, there are a lot of people out there who bestow titles of authority onto themselves (“mentor” only being one of them), and it’s possible that even if Moonbeam drives you bonzo because he only “teaches” by pointing out when you’ve fucked up, for someone else that might be the best arrangement they could think of. 

I would greatly appreciate if you would share your thoughts with me, and I will try to get the essay written before the end of the week. You can either leave a comment here, or email me at awesome dot del at gmail dot com. 

Thanks in advance! I look forward to reading your thoughts!

Sex, Ethics, and Paganism

An amazing and very timely essay about the fraught nature of sex and sex positivity within Paganism. As a group I belong to looks at whether or not to eliminate sex-positive and kink-positive programming, I hope they read this and take a deep look at their impressions and stereotypes.

I have been the Pagan leader who was shunned ffrom an event I was volunteering for because one person (only one!) Was overly concerned that my reputation as an ordeal master and kink educator would somehow tarnish the whole events reputation. Even though I had worked the event the year before to high acclaim. If we really believe that ALL acts of love and pleasure are holy, we need to accept that acts of love and pleasure we don’t understand or personally practice are equally holy.

Pagan Activist

4487248_xl–By Shauna Aura Knight

I believe in being sex positive. Not just in the Pagan community–I’d like to see more positive, healthy behaviors across the world. I hear Pagans talking about wanting that too, but there’s a few elephants in the room. And until we acknowledge some of them, we aren’t going to have a healthy sex dynamic in our community.

First, what does “Sex positive” mean?

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When Rumors Kill

Did I get your attention yet? 

To be abundantly clear, as I tend to write about many different communities on this blog, this post was inspired from some events in the BDSM/kink community, not the Pagan/Polytheist community. Just so we get our rumor mongering straight, as it were.

Laura Antinou, If you don’t know her, is a wonderful author of a series of books called “The Marketplace Series”. They take place in a world where people who consensually choose a life of slavery and service are auctioned for real money to Owners. They are fun, sexy, interesting books, and some of the best M/s erotica I’ve ever read. 

About a week ago, Laura caught wind of a rumor going around about her. People were claiming that she charges “thousands of dollars” for appearances/readings at events. I can’t begin to tell you the eight different ways how misguided and unrealistic that rumor is. First of all, there’s a perception that BDSM events make hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit, and therefore can afford to give their presenters lucrative compensation for their time. The reality is, most events I’ve been able to peek into the backstage of are barely breaking even, and many lose money. Most presenters, regardless of how many books they’ve written or how much porn they’ve starred in, are lucky if they get enough to cover their travel and hotel expenses, much less something on top of that. A very few might get an honorarium, but that is few and far between.

But my point here isn’t that a rumor was farfetched and inaccurate. And that’s not why Laura was upset by that. The reason that “meaningless little rumor” has real-world consequences is because people are fucking gullible and are easy to buy into shit they don’t understand. They will take this rumor as “proof” that events make tons of cash profits and some presenters are living high on the hog. But other people will hear this rumor too. For example, event organizers may decide not to invite her to their event because they don’t have “thousands of dollars” to give her. Also,other presenters may feel (rightfully, in some cases) slighted that Ms. Antinou seems to be able to rock up to an event and read a paragraph from a book she wrote ten years ago and make “thousands” doing it while other presenters are running around teaching classes and volunteering in exchange for nothing more than a reduced-price or maybe free entry. In turn, those presenters might not submit to teach at whatever event(s) this outrageous disparity took place at, and may actively encourage others not to attend in “protest”. People may choose not to buy her books because she’s supposedly making so much money by touring, that it’s totally okay if they get a pirated e-book version. And so on.

Here’s a different example of a rumor that could potentially cause damage. A brand new event I’ve thrown my support behind, called Sacrenaila (Thanksgiving Day weekend in Atlanta, GA…see <a href=”http://www.sacrenalia.com/“>website </a> for more details!) has been struggling, like most first-time events do. There hasn’t been any events that combine spirituality and kink in the Atlanta region, or really in Georgia, and there’s a lot of people keen on attending one. Anyway, the rumor that got to me was that Sacrenalia wasn’t comping their presenters anything. Let me be crystal clear here: That is 100% false. The organizer is going into his own personal finances in some cases to make sure his presenters are compensated as fairly as he can provide. But this rumor means that presenters who might be thinking about throwing their hat into the ring will likely give it a pass, if they “know” that their time won’t be valued. It may also mean that attendees who feel that kink/spirituality educators get the short shift too often when it comes to these sorts of events, and they’ll stay home in protest too. It also means that people may choose to go to a different sacred sexuality/kink event, and in this case it wouldn’t surprise me if this rumor was started by someone from a rival organization who hosts similar events. 

In both of these cases, something that may seem like a juicy piece of gossip, something that confirms many misconceptions about how these sorts of events work, have actually damaging effects. Laura may have to make several public statements so event organizers know she does kinky book club events via Skype for free, and that she frequently volunteers at events for much much less than even one of those thousands of dollars. The organizer for Sacrenalia, especially as this rumor has hit while he’s making his final push to get some great presenters on board, is now going to have to spend at least some of his valuable time assuaging the public that presenters will be fairly compensated based on how much work they do at the event. (I can say that I am getting a better comp package from this event than I do for many of its rivals.) 

Something like this happened to me recently too. Although this does come from the Pagan community, and is a bit more sticky and less clear cut, it still has damaged me in a real-world way. I do this shaman thing as part of what I do for a living, which means that I offer spiritual services to my community and I am sometimes paid for my services. This is because I am good at what I do, I have lots of clients who will happily sing my praises, and I am very professional about my work. I show up on time, I do the job well, I will go to great lengths to help someone realize whatever it is they’re trying to do. So when the rumor reached my ears that I totally “faked” a recent possession, it really fucking bothered me. And although I will admit there was a bit of a blow to my ego, that’s not what upset me the most. I worked very hard, against many setbacks and challenges, to give that service to my God and my community. I hold myself to an extremely high level of honesty and forthrightness when it comes to possession – If I am asked to carry a Deity, and I don’t feel their presence, I will immediately announce this to whomever is gathered for such. 
 
This isn’t the first time (nor will it be the last, probably) that I have been accused of faking a possession. I almost think it’s a badge all possessory workers have to earn at some point if they’re going to go “legit”. But what really bothered me about this latest accusation was that this particular ritual was incredibly meaningful for people I care about, and they just happened to be people who were actually present at the ritual, unlike the person who supposedly made this accusation. (That’s a whole different story for another day, since it turns out that the supposed source of the rumor never said it, and I believe them, which means someone else is obfuscating their ownership of this comment by claiming they heard it from someone else.)
There have been times I have been at a possessory ritual and there has been a person who either acts as if or claims to be possessed and I just don’t feel it. But that doesn’t mean that the possession is faked. And even if it were, if someone got something meaningful out of the experience, it’s not my fucking job to rain on that person’s parade. I can go back to my dark little corner and try to suss out if I just wasn’t feeling it or if the person was actively being deceitful. But in the end, I am not the world’s arbiter on who is and is not actually practicing possession. If I had a negative experience at such a thing and I didn’t like what happened, I am free to write it off in any number of ways, including deciding that the possession wasn’t real. The difference is that I don’t have any obligation to the general public to advertise my opinion. If someone asks me if Joe SuchandSo is a good horse, I will give my honest opinion, in private, and make sure to be clear that this is just my point of view and others may feel differently.
 
To leave spirituality and go back to the fun sexy stuff, I will begin to make my point. When you hear a rumor from someone, regard the fucking source. If a person who works for a competing event tells you JerkOffACon is a terrible awful event full of skeevy perverts, they have something tangible to gain from sharing that point of view. If you’re honestly trying to find out how much it might cost to have your favorite presenter (you know, me) come talk to your Kinky Munch, the best person to ask is….me. Even if you’ve heard wild rumors about Green M&Ms and a harem of cabana boys, do yourself a favor and push through the drama and ask the source. Don’t rely on rumor to make decisions like what event to attend or which group has the most single females.
 
Because I’m a Libra and we are own our Devil’s Advocate, let me tell you a story that shows how to substantiate a rumor before you spread it. There was a big camp kink event not too long ago, where there was much physical destruction of property. One vendor who had lent equipment to the playspace had it returned in serious disrepair. But I didn’t take one person’s word on it. I asked people who were there. People who worked on staff. I sent an email to the vendor and asked if he had any pictures. This is an event that has asked me to present before, but I had a feeling in my gut it was a bad idea. So I was investigating this primarily because every year people ask me if I’m teaching there, and every year I get more and more tempted to go. However, this incident has given me a lot more pause, so if this event happens again I will likely take a pass. 
 
But I didn’t accept the first source. Nor the second. I kept asking around, looking for primary sources; that is, if you hear “Sannion called Del a flaming homo”, you ask Sannion, “Hey dude, why point out the obvious?” (Hi Sannion. No offense.) And you ask Del, “Did Sannion call you a burning pile of sticks?” (or a British slang for a cigarette?) If anyone else tells you what Sannion said, keep in mind who might gain (financially, emotionally, socially, etc) from such a thing. 

Do your homework. People can, and do, actually suffer real consequences from such behavior. I’m making a public promise here to be more circumspect about what opinions I share and with whom, and all I ask is you do the same.

I am what I say I am.

I am the only expert on what a Del is.

You are, in turn, the only expert on who and what you are, and why and how you became this person standing before me.

We cannot live in a true and free society if something as personal as self-identification becomes something assigned to us, with little or no input from us on the matter.

If someone dies, this does not give future generations permission to label us in any way other than the way we labeled ourselves in life. If Brandon Teena identified as a man, then he was a man, and when we reference him now, he is still a man and we still use masculine pronouns when writing or talking about him.

If a transgender or transsexual person believes that, post transition, they are no longer transgender or transsexual identified, then that is how we refer and interact with them. Regardless of what their personal transition entailed, most notably whether or not surgery or hormones were a part of that journey.

If someone feels that they are not beholden to educate others about how they identify or how they came to that identity, we respect that and drop the subject.

If someone asks for pronouns or referential terms that don’t gel with your perception of them, you still give them the common courtesy of identifying that person the way they choose to identify. You and they can decide in conjunction with one another whether or not talking you through your perceptional issues is something either of you want to participate in.

To me, using the wrong pronouns or referential terms for someone due to your personal perception of who and what they are, is like meeting someone who introduces themselves as “Sam”, and you reply with,”You look more like a Joe to me, so I’m going to call you Joe from now on, and tell everyone around us that your name is Joe.”

It is the same when it comes to gender: if you don’t know, don’t assume. Either stick to neutral terms like “they”, or ask the person, “What pronouns do you prefer?”

A great example of this happened recently. I was in a bar and needed to use the restroom. The first person I asked, knowing my gender identification, directed me to the men’s room. Another person interrupted my progress to inform me, “There are only stand up urinals in there…you might want to use the other room.” Not, “You can’t go there” or “That’s for real men!”, but addressing the logistics of my situation without nullifying my gender identity.

Anyone who refers to a transgender person by pronouns that assume a gender based on their genitals is a disrespectful person who deserves to be forcibly reeducated. If someone corrects you, take it in stride and pledge to do better. Never, ever, ever argue with someone that the trans person is wrong or really should be referred to by other words based on genetics, especially when you do not know what the genetics of the referred are. A large percentage of people may appear to be wholly male or female, but may actually be intersex or transgender in some way.

If you read or see something that refers to people by the wrong pronouns or referential terms, at the very least acknowledge to yourself and others close to you how problematic that is. Do not defend or deny that others may know more than you about a person’s preferred gender.

If you have questions or comments about any of this, feel free to ask in the comments. I am accepting that I will answer whatever is asked in the best way I can, and I am willing to educate in this particular instance.

I am what I say I am.

I am the only expert on what a Del is.

You are, in turn, the only expert on who and what you are, and why and how you became this person standing before me.

We cannot live in a true and free society if something as personal as self-identification becomes something assigned to us, with little or no input from us on the matter.

If someone dies, this does not give future generations permission to label us in any way other than the way we labeled ourselves in life. If Brandon Teena identified as a man, then he was a man, and when we reference him now, he is still a man and we still use masculine pronouns when writing or talking about him.

If a transgender or transsexual person believes that, post transition, they are no longer transgender or transsexual identified, then that is how we refer and interact with them. Regardless of what their personal transition entailed, most notably whether or not surgery or hormones were a part of that journey.

If someone feels that they are not beholden to educate others about how they identify or how they came to that identity, we respect that and drop the subject.

If someone asks for pronouns or referential terms that don’t gel with your perception of them, you still give them the common courtesy of identifying that person the way they choose to identify. You and they can decide in conjunction with one another whether or not talking you through your perceptional issues is something either of you want to participate in.

To me, using the wrong pronouns or referential terms for someone due to your personal perception of who and what they are, is like meeting someone who introduces themselves as “Sam”, and you reply with,”You look more like a Joe to me, so I’m going to call you Joe from now on, and tell everyone around us that your name is Joe.”

It is the same when it comes to gender: if you don’t know, don’t assume. Either stick to neutral terms like “they”, or ask the person, “What pronouns do you prefer?”

A great example of this happened recently. I was in a bar and needed to use the restroom. The first person I asked, knowing my gender identification, directed me to the men’s room. Another person interrupted my progress to inform me, “There are only stand up urinals in there…you might want to use the other room.” Not, “You can’t go there” or “That’s for real men!”, but addressing the logistics of my situation without nullifying my gender identity.

Anyone who refers to a transgender person by pronouns that assume a gender based on their genitals is a disrespectful person who deserves to be forcibly reeducated. If someone corrects you, take it in stride and pledge to do better. Never, ever, ever argue with someone that the trans person is wrong or really should be referred to by other words based on genetics, especially when you do not know what the genetics of the referred are. A large percentage of people may appear to be wholly male or female, but may actually be intersex or transgender in some way.

If you read or see something that refers to people by the wrong pronouns or referential terms, at the very least acknowledge to yourself and others close to you how problematic that is. Do not defend or deny that others may know more than you about a person’s preferred gender.

If you have questions or comments about any of this, feel free to ask in the comments. I am accepting that I will answer whatever is asked in the best way I can, and I am willing to educate in this particular instance.

The poly closet: It’s not just about you

A wonderful and insightful essay on “being in the closet” – or not – when it comes to nonstandard relationships. These concepts and ideas can be applied to all sorts of relationships, from nonmonogamy to power dynamics toqueer/LGBT families. I am out as I think is possible for a person to be – my birth family, friends, and aquaintences all know I have nonstandard relationships of many kinds. It was not easy, and there were prices to be paid, but in the end being *honest* about how and who I love was too important to me not to risk possible rejection. And most people I’ve come out to, even people I was afraid would be violent or abusive when I told them, usually come around to the opinion that as long as I am happy, and everyone involved enthusiastically consents and is happy, that’s all that matters.

SoloPoly

It’s Pride Month — hey, President Obama just proclaimed it so — and that’s not just for gay people. How out are you about your nonmonogamous relationships and partners? That’s a pretty touchy question for many people who are polyamorous, swingers, or have otherwise honestly open relationships.

I talk to a lot of people in these communities, especially through this survey for my forthcoming book on nonstandard relationships (basically, everything that’s off the relationship escalator social norm).

One theme is clear: Most of these people (and I’ve heard from hundreds so far) are not out about their relationship choices and preferences in at least some important contexts. They either don’t mention their choices or partners, or they only mention the ones that meet social norms, or they lie. They choose the closet, in whole or in part, for a lot of reasons.

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I Worship (and Work) For A Comic Book Character

…and I’m not only not afraid to say so, but I have a large devotional tattoo to her on my body.

She came to me like any other God, and we entered into a relationship the same way I did with Loki, or any of the other Gods I Work for.

I will elaborate on this more later, as I am not at home in the moment, and can’t write more. (In fact, I didn’t mean to publish this yet, but my phone had other plans.) But I want to address the current conversation about “fandom” and how it is different, and similar, to being devoted to a God. And how Gods come to be, through shared stories we use to explain phenomenon in our lives, and comic books/movies being the modern day version of those stories.

I am, in fact, not alone in the worship of The Endless from the comic book Sandman as Gods. I originally bonded with Kate Bornstein (gender pioneer and prolific author on being true to oneself) over The Endless as Gods. She, too, has permanently marked her body to show her devotion and love to them.

More later, I promise.

Hysteria, or The Madness Road

When I tell people I am a madness shaman, or that I work with Madness as a concept (rather than death, as many other well known shamans do), I get a lot of mixed reactions. Frequently, I feel very lonely, as much is out there in terms of resources, when one chooses or is chosen for the death road; so much so, that the publisher of my book (which, the book is on a bit of hiatus as I deal with some health issues) required me to write a few essays about my experiences on the Madness Road. I share the following as someone’s else journeys on that path, how it can tear you apart and shatter your life as completely, if not more so, than dying and being reborn. We, the mad, are always keenly aware on how we don’t fit in with the societal expectations of “normal”, often on ways we cannot hide or mask. It is wholly a part of us, something we carry and suffer and struggle with, every single day. I’m not implying that it is somehow more difficult or “better” than the death road, but it is just as valid.

MAP AND COMPASS VERSUS INVISIBLE STARS

I think this blogger is brave for stepping into a contentious fray and attempting to remind both sides where we agree, where we are similar, and how behavior on both sides is sometimes antithetical to what we claim to believe.

facingthefireswithin

OR – UPG versus very strict Recon

I have been a practicing heathen for well over ten (10) years and have seen a lot of strife, condescension and stupidity in that time with some of it directed at me or my friends.  It is, in fact, why I almost never call myself Asatru but rather Heathen.  I had early experiences with people telling me we were wrong to celebrate our sumbels a certain way that I felt was only proper due to hospitality.  More recently, I see tremendous strife between two poles which I will call the strict reconstructionist Map and Compass side (the Right, for this case) and a very UPG (Unverifiable Personal Gnosis) oriented Invisible Stars side, sometimes calling itself spirit inspired (the Left, for this example).  While I see the sides screaming at each other for reasons beyond these two “poles” (ranging from accusations of bigotry to…

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