Why There Are So Many Solitary Female Pagans - The Hard Truth

“I’ve always wanted to find a pagan group.  Sometimes I feel so lonely doing rituals by myself in my bedroom.” My new friend, lets call her Ashley, took a sip of her wine and relaxed in her chair.

Ashley and I initially met through Instagram.  Upon seeing all the pagan and tarot content on my feed she sent me a message and we started talking about all kinds of topics.  As she also lived in my city we decided to meet in person for some wine and occult discussion - two of my favorite things.

“Have you ever gone to any of the pagan community events in the city?” I asked.  I was waiting for the answer I knew I would hear.  An answer I’ve heard from countless other girls my age.

“Uh, yes..” She started. “But I didn’t really vibe with the people there.”  Ashley looked at me, waiting for the indication that I understood the subtext of her comment.

And yes, I did understand exactly what she was talking about.  For I too have had a variety of ‘interesting’ encounters at various events since I started learning about paganism and wicca as a teenager.   

Going to a new pagan event can definitely be a bit nerve racking, especially if you’re going by yourself.  Some events I have gone to have been wonderful experiences.  In fact, I just went to an excellent summer solstice celebration where I met a lot of new pagan friends.      

However, this is often not the norm.  Usually at pagan events there is always a much older man, often with minimal social skills, who approaches me and begins a conversation.  This usually doesn’t bother me as I love talking about spirituality and paganism with new people.  However, often the conversation takes a dramatic turn when he says something inappropriate and completely out of context to what we were discussing.  This is usually in the form of the man saying something about his sex life in order to see my reaction or have me divulge personal information about my own sex life.  

For example, I might be discussing my ritual plans for the next Esbat and then he will randomly yet suggestively mention how he’s really into sex magic and is planning on meeting up with some of his ‘friend with benefits’ for a full moon tantric sexual celebration.  At this point there is an awkward silence as he waits for me to reply and I think about how to exit this conversation as quickly as possible.

While I’ve never felt in danger at any Pagan events, these types of conversations have definitely made me feel uncomfortable.  Just because us Pagans tend to be a sex positive group of people, it does not mean that I feel comfortable discussing sexuality with strangers. I wish more people understood that and this is why I’m writing this article.  

Of course I do not to mean to suggest all male pagans and witches are like this or that this occurs all the time.  I have plenty of kind and respectful male pagan friends that I’ve met at various events.  However, I believe that we do need to recognize that this is in fact a real issue within our community.

I have had countless young girls who find me on social media and message me about similar issues and experiences they’ve had.  How many young and bright girls does our community lose from our inability to seriously tackle this issue.  

I understand that this article is sure to draw some controversy and by no means am I trying to call myself an expert or say that I have the solution.  All I’m asking is that we have our own discussions about these topics so we can continue to build a respectful community for all.

What are your thoughts on this issue?  Do you have your own experience that you’d like to share? Post below in the comments.

The Invisible Light Tarot

A dark and hazy landscape sets the tone for this photo-based deck.  Empty buildings, foreboding beaches, and desert boulders punctuate the images.  Each card, including the minor arcana, contains an image of a young figure contrasting with the desert-like background.  

With the Invisible Light tarot deck Brandy Allen showcases the people and nature of California.  The California she portrays, however, is more apocalyptic than the bubbly brightness most of us associate with this state.  Half the cards consist of black and white photography and the other half uses a limited palette of crimson, chartreuse, and lilac.  The subdued tones enhance the dystopic dreamscape portrayed in these images.

The dusky figures in this deck are thin and fragile, yet their beauty is evident.  They occasionally appear nude, yet their sensuality is not the main focus.  They seem lost, searching perhaps, as eternal wanderers in this strange world.  In this deck the figures look like us, are fragile like us, and in that way we can relate and connect to them on our level.

Occasionally this deck uses Rider-Waite symbolism but the references are often subtle and not the main focus of the image.  I would consider this deck to be an intuitive deck.  A deck that would be good to meditate with, possibly to place one or two images on an altar and envision yourself walking among these California searchers.

This is a youthful deck and is something that would certainly appeal to millennials.  As a millennial myself, I was definitely drawn towards the characters depicted in the cards.  However, the imagery falls a bit flat when considering several cards of the Major Arcana.  I expect my Emperor, Hierophant, and Chariot to be powerful and strong.  The figures, while languidly beautiful, sometimes don’t portray the otherworldly power these characters represent.  Although, I do certainly appreciate how each suit card is pictorial and that alone definitely makes this deck worth a look.

I commend Brandy Allen for her unique style with this deck.  She really brings something to the table that I have not seen before and I look forward to using this deck more.  One of the true joys of being a reader in the internet age is that it has allowed artists from all over the world to connect and create their own interpretations of the Tarot cards.  I look forward to seeing what Brandy and other deck creators do next.

If you'd like to learn more about Brandy Allen and the Invisible Tarot Deck you can do so here.

Click the button below to learn more about tarot and the readings I offer in-person and online. 

Dispatches from a Haunted City

The roots of gnarled oak trees snaked underneath the sidewalks. They cracked and broke the pavement - a reminder that here, in New Orleans, nature is in control.  I later learned that these ancient sentinels were in fact mostly hollow as termites slowly gnawed at them from the inside out.  A fitting macabre symbol for a city all too familiar with death and slow decay.  As I passed these great dames I was grateful that they were still able to cloak the city beneath their verdant leaves.  The dappled light from the trees shimmered through the branches, providing momentary shade from the heat that steamed up from the ground and fogged my glasses.  

The misty air was enveloping and heavy.  It laid thickly upon my skin and soaked my patterned dress till it clung heavy to my shape.  I greeted the smallest breeze like a savior and I smiled and swayed as the lightest of air swirled past.  It seemed so remarkable to be in a city, yet be immersed in such a vibrant and lush dreamscape.

As I meandered, the jungle of boughs and branches twisted above my head.  Turning onto Gov. Nicholls street I came across rows of shotgun and creole homes.  Each were painted differently in vivid hues of turquoise, burgundy, sunshine yellow, and chartreuse.  The homes themselves were not immune to the cover of nature.  Cascades of honeysuckle burst over crooked fences and green ferns peeked through the gaps.  Like the sidewalks, many of the homes were off-kilter and tilted precariously to the side.  I peaked through the many rod iron gates and glimpsed endless courtyards and fountains - little secret gardens for the citizens of the city.  

As I passed one home a large black cat greeted me with a long stretch before lazily returning to his nap.  As the afternoon light darkened I came across many more felines; stray cats that gravitated to the Jackson Square courtyard.  No one knows why these cats come to sleep there.  Perhaps, they too, are drawn to the city center in search of misty apparitions and midnight revelry.  Nighttime in this city is not passive, it swallows you whole.  Everything, no matter your hearts desire, seems like a good idea in New Orleans.

I chose to forego the bustle of Bourbon street and ventured off to the quieter pathways that seemed to call my name.  As I wandered the darkened streets of the French Quarter it seemed like I traveled back in time.  The only light came from the moon above and the gas lit lanterns that flickered from porches and beneath balconies.  The clip of horse hooves bounced through the streets and the ever-present music seemed to rise from the very earth itself.  A city more dream than reality.  

Stumbling across the LaLaurie mansion I was reminded that this too was a city of ghosts and mystery.  Anyone in tune with such things can feel the cloak of otherworldliness that permeates the air.  The souls of yesteryear inhabit the streets and drip from the trees.  You can almost feel their slow breath as they float swamp-like from one darkened corner to another.  Instead of being frightened I welcomed such feelings.  In fact, I smiled -  glad to be close to such mystery, glad to be part of it all, glad to be in the one place that truly felt like home.

Uncovering the Meaning of Tarot with the Pagan Otherworlds Deck

Capturing the elegance and majesty of renaissance painting, the Pagan Otherworlds deck captivates and charms even the most discerning divinator.  The artistic shading and colors bring to mind the frescos of El Greco and the postures reflect the drama of a captivating Caravaggio.  These cards beg to leap from their deck and be framed upon the wall to be admired by passerby.  A contemplative symbolism nestled within each card alludes to Raider-Waite conventions, yet departs occasionally to create an immersive world where Pagan traditions collide with a Renaissance regal aesthetic.

I’d like to express the artistic and symbolic excellence by describing my three favorite cards within this deck: The High Priestess, Death, and The Devil.  

The blue hues in the High Priestess card mimic the all too familiar shroud of the Virgin Mary.  Yet the priestess reflects a deep female mysticism that is often lacking in modern interpretations of the Virgin.  Her blue cloak clings to her body, a reminder that her femininity is not something to be hidden, but is indeed the very source of her power.  Here the High Priestess is studious, with a book of mysteries upon her lap as she sits relaxed upon her stone throne.  Her feet dwell in the rivers of the subconscious and symbols of the moon twinkle betwixt her fingertips.  Her face is beautifully calm with the assured gaze of a Botticelli Venus.  An inspiring depiction of the innate majesty of female power, intelligence, and magic.

A much different macabre aestheticism presents itself within the Death card.  Death valiantly strides forward, his ever-present scythe at the ready.  Evidence of destruction already wrought lies in the form of human heads beneath his feet.  His posture fills the space as his blue cloak swirls along his skeletal frame, creating a cohesive composition.  Emanating from his spine are rows of arrows in the form of wings.  His menacing war-wings cast a stark departure from the beautiful feathered wings that appear elsewhere in the deck.  Hope comes in the form of a delicate flower following his trail, a reminder that new beginnings always follow destruction.

The Devil card is often a challenge for contemporary tarot artisans.  A delicate balance must be struck by maintaining the symbolism yet avoiding cliche.  Our Pagan Otherworlds Devil departs from his smoking hellscape to join our world of the living.  An uncanny masked face brings to mind the complex bestiary of Hieronymus Bosch.  His hair-suit and animal horns allude to costumes worn during Pagan ceremonies still performed today in Europe.  Human heads again appear within this card.  Though instead of decomposing at the creatures’ humanoid feet, they are attached to his matted suit.  It’s as if they have lost all independence and have become mere parasites to their lascivious host.  This unique interpretation references devil imagery found in other tarot decks, but does so delicately.  Instead of roaring flames and heavy chains, this Devil card conveys its warnings with a lighter, yet still poignant, symbolism.    

The Pagan Otherworlds deck adds to the ever growing aesthetic integrity of the Tarot community. Tarot is unique from other artistic mediums in that it does not simply passively contain archetypes and symbolism.  These concepts are activated and molded into our own lives through their use in readings.  While tarot can be appreciated by its aesthetics alone, it is the action of their use that uncovers its true value.  As we interact with the cards we attach our own narratives to their original interpretations and thus create a continuously evolving realm of meaning and inspiration. Tarot cards are a tool and their imagery is our guide.  Yet it is our own intuition that transforms the cards from physical objects into channels where we can glimpse within the depths of our subconscious and beyond into the realms of the greater unknown.

This review is not sponsored by Pagan Otherworlds or their parent collective of artisans, Uusi.

What are your own opinions of this deck?  Do you have a different interpretation of what tarot means to you?  Let me know in the comments below.

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