What Is Studentship?

As the High Priestess of Weavers of the Web, I’ve been saying for a while now that I am taking students. But what does that mean?
I’ve written before about what a church is, and what it does. Weavers of the Web is here to provide community for all Pagans, and the ability to come and participate without obligation. Our discussion groups and rituals are always open to the public. Anybody can come and learn the basics, and participate in rituals and meditations. This structure provides a place for anybody to observe the Wheel of the Year, to learn and grow, to make friends and find support, as well as the ability to participate in many Rites of Passage.
Becoming a student means taking the next step into learning about how Wicca and magick work, and putting that knowledge to use both in your own life and in the context of turning the Wheel and ministering to the community. Studentship is a path of learning and discovery, both internal and external. There are many steps along the path which must be taken in order, for each level builds upon the foundations of the previous. The first step is signing up!
I highly recommend the Woolston-Steen Theological Seminary as part of your studentship path. Here you will have the opportunity to study with the best and brightest minds in our tradition, some from around the world, with rigorous scholarship and many available electives. Classes and labs are held online, utilizing a variety of modalities including the Sacred Cauldron region on SecondLife. In four years, you can achieve a Bachelor’s of Wiccan Ministry, along with the majority of the requirements for the first several years of your initiatory path. The work is hard, but well worth the time and effort spent. Freshman can enter the school anytime during the year, with new terms starting quarterly.
Many prospective students have expressed concerns about enrolling in the seminary as they begin this path. While it is possible to complete your initiatory requirements through one-on-one teaching, this will not mean less work; in many ways, it is more work, for both teacher and student. The same requirements must be met. By studying locally only, you may have a more flexible timetable, but you will not have the academic degree at the end.
There are several levels along the initiatory path. New students begin at the beginning, studying the history of Wicca and British Traditional Witchcraft, along with the main elements of ritual, traditional writings that are used and revered by many modern traditions, and the basics of Wiccan theology and practice. Dedicants who have completed this work and been through their Dedication ritual can take on certain roles within Weavers, helping with portions of ritual presentation and community service. The knowledge gained brings confidence to both public and private workings, and aids in building a personal practice and relationship with Deity. Dedicants are committed to supporting Weavers of the Web in whatever way possible, and to working closely with their teacher in pursuing further knowledge.
Every level beyond Dedication requires further study and work, both personal and public. First-degree Initiates have spent a minimum of a year and a day studying Wicca and the Craft in greater detail, learning about effective ritual and spellcasting. They have become attuned to the Wheel of the Year and have studied myth, symbolism, astrology, chakras, stones, and much more. First-degree work includes personal rites of passage and honest evaluations of both self and community, and greatly deepens the relationship with Deity that was established as a Dedicant. Initiates will join a world-wide community in the WISE tradition, and will be able to take on more prominent positions in ritual and outreach.
Training beyond the first degree prepares the Initiate for service as clergy within Weavers of the Web. This includes intensive study of ritual construction, the Wheel of the Year, and healing and divination work. Second-degree Initiates are able to take on their own students, as well as both writing and leading rituals and workshops.
If you’ve ever wanted to walk the Path of the Priest, studentship is definitely for you. Contact me to get started!

Now Accepting Students

Over the past few weeks, I have not only received my second Second Degree, I have received a powerful message from our Mother Goddess Demeter. Belladonna LaVeau and Dusty Dionne have been bringing this message to Pagans across North American this spring and summer. You can read more about their mission in the Wild Hunt. If you have not yet had a chance to hear from Demeter directly on the World Love Tour, I strongly encourage you to meet up with them on one of their final stops if at all possible.

In order to continue doing the Work before me, that of bringing a living faith community to all Wiccans and witches of all generations, as well as sharing and spreading knowledge and learning, I am now seeking students to join me on this path.

Have you always felt a calling to the Gods but have not been sure of how you can serve? Do you want to improve yourself and learn how to manifest the best possible world for you and those you love? Do you want to be a part of building this living faith community in Mid-Michigan?

Please come out and join me at Weavers of the Web on Wednesday nights in Lansing. All our Community Night and Sabbat events are free and open to the public, although donations are greatly appreciated. Come and learn and practice with me, and if you’d like to do more, please, let me know.

I’m ready to help the light of the Gods shine a little brighter in this world. Would you like to join me?

What Is A Church?

The word “church” in our Western culture has become almost synonymous with the idea of Christianity. If it’s a church, it must be a place where the Abrahamic god is worshipped and pastors lecture from the pulpit on the teachings of the Bible, right?

Maybe not so much.

Merriam-Webster has several definitions for the word “church,” and while a couple still reference Christianity, it is not the main focus of the word. The first definition says, “a building for public and especially Christian worship.” Another definition reads, “a body or organization of religious believers,” and still another, “a public divine worship.” When we remove Christianity from the discussion, we find that the word “church” really means, “a place for public, group worship of the divine.”

This is the spirit in which Lansing’s new Weavers of the Web was born. Founded in 2018 by Solinox Silverstar, Weavers of the Web’s mission statement is “to provide the community support and public ritual structure so that all Wiccans can celebrate and worship together, at all ages and stages of life.” Weavers is a Wiccan church, founded on the principles established by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church.

A Wiccan church, you say?

The unit of organization usually associated with Wicca is the coven, a close-knit group of initiates. Everybody within a coven is generally an initiate, working on their own path toward priesthood. Everybody is involved in studying the Craft and in working magick, and (theoretically, at least!) everybody is working toward their own elevations and eventual priesthood.

Where does that leave those who believe in Wiccan deities and principles, but who do not have the calling to become clergy themselves? What about the other elements of a church community, the social group that provides support through rough times and celebration of good times? What about children, who are not old enough to initiate but want to share in the celebrations of their family’s faith? That is where the Wiccan church comes in.

Solinox Silverstar, founder and High Priestess of Weavers of the Web, grew up in Christian churches as did many Pagans of her generation. She continued to attend different Christian churches for a couple of years after admitting that she did not believe in the religion itself. She wanted to belong to the group, to go to the youth group field trips and participate in the choir, to have someplace to go once a week where people knew here and welcome her. Ever since then, Solinox has had a vision of creating this kind of community for Wiccans … a Wiccan church.

Do you want to participate in a Beltaine or Samhain celebration, but don’t have the resources or experience to put on your own and don’t know how to join a local coven? Do you have kids, and can’t imagine bringing them to an adult-oriented ritual? Come on out; at a church, celebrations are always open to the public of all ages. Do you want to learn more about Wicca and magic, but don’t have the time or inclination to initiate and spend years in study? Come on out; the church’s Community Night events provide Wicca 101 basic instruction and offer opportunities for working rituals, meditations, and more. Looking for somebody to officiate at a wedding or handfasting? Come on out; that’s what the church’s clergy are here for. Are you interesting in taking the step to become clergy yourself? The church can provide that as well.

Are you looking for a place that offers you the opportunity to belong, to practice and celebrate your Wiccan faith? Look no further than your local Wiccan church.

Git ‘Er Done

Git ‘er done. Tackle that to-do list. Finish the job.

What about the jobs that never end?

What about the work that keeps growing as you do it?

And where on earth did we get this idea that we have to finish everything every day anyway? That’s the big question my brain is pondering this morning. Because I know that this idea is sunk deep into my very bones, but I am not sure why or where it came from. All I know is that it is causing unnecessary stress and harm, and probably not just for me.

My first job after high school was working as a secretary in a patent and trademark law firm. After I’d temped there for a few weeks, they hired me, and within a few months I had several attorneys to myself as well as the whole firm bringing me work. I wanted to be a good worker, and I actually enjoyed the work, so I worked hard every day to clear that inbox. I was very quickly staying late, sometimes until 8 or 10 at night, just to clear the box and be able to say I was done. It took the office manager explicitly coming over and telling me that I wasn’t expected to clear the box, that it wasn’t my job to clear the box, before I started going home with work left undone.

Is this an autism thing? Or a cultural thing? I don’t know.

Looking at my life today, I do have this huge to-do list. I maintain it in Todoist, with many categories and priorities and tags to try and get a handle on it. It’s so big because I expect Todoist to relieve a lot of that “mental load” so many wifey articles talk about today. If something needs doing, I put it into the list so that it won’t be forgotten. Then I don’t worry so much about what I’m forgetting.

Instead, I worry about getting everything done every day. Nevermind that there aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things that theoretically should be done every day. Exercise, cooking, housecleaning, gardening, studying, practicing music, schoolwork with each of the kids, working on church activities, writing…these are all things that are supposed to be done every day, and I’m pretty sure I just filled a couple of days there. And none of it will stay done. People get hungry every day, exercise is not a “once and done” thing, the kids will mess up the house and dirty the laundry. It’s not like an entry for “Send flowers to Christina” or “Buy this cool thing for David for a present,” where I do it and then it’s all gone. All of this stuff just keeps coming back. And if I’m supposed to do all of that repeating stuff every day, when do I get time for me, or for the once-and-dones?

Why do I keep measuring myself against impossible standards? What does it take to permanently shift my mind-set into “journey” mode instead of “project” mode, where it becomes okay to just keep swimming? I’m getting better at it. Having my head clear and my body energized with enough blood is helping everything these days. But I still catch those thoughts bubbling up, and that constant running narrative in the back of my head telling me it’s not enough, I’m not good enough, I don’t do enough.

And I think back to that first job, and I wonder what gave me that idea in the first place.

Brain Surgery

I realized recently that I never posted much here about the biggest little thing in our lives this past year:  Brian’s Little Friend, the asshole brain tumor.  The acoustic neuroma that appeared out of nowhere, so big that every surgeon looking at his MRIs had to do double-takes and come back to us saying things like, “Did you see those pictures?!?!” The tumor that is technically classified as “giant”, since a “large” neuroma starts at 2.5cm and Brian’s is more like 4-4.5cm.  The tumor that has already taken away his hearing and balance on one side, leaving him now deaf as well as blind and struggling for balance.  The tumor that has already required one extensive brain surgery, needs another one in less than two months, and might require yet a third surgery or radiation to completely eliminate.

Such a little thing.  Such a huge disruption to our life.  All our plans went on hold as our stress levels went through the roof.  Just dealing with the anxiety and panic attacks, for both me and Brian, has been difficult, to say the least.  Brian is still in pain more than six months after the first surgery, and knowing the second one isn’t going to be any easier is not helping with the anticipation leading up to it.

It keeps surprising me when I run across people in our life who haven’t heard yet.  And then I have to explain all over again, and people never know what to say. Who would? It’s the ultimate conversation killer.

We received some wonderful gifts from friends and coworkers last fall that helped us get up to and through the first surgery.  We were able to take a wonderful trip down to the Caribbean, and tour some breweries in both Michigan and Florida.  We’re hoping to get some support again as we head into Surgery Part Deux, because we’re maxing out the credit cards right now just trying to stay sane.  Going to do it anyway.  But anything helps.

And if you’ve wondered why I’ve been a little flaky this year, why we haven’t been at festivals much, why I keep not going out…this is it.

If you’d like to help you, you can contribute to our Part Deux fundraiser below, and blessed be to all who can help, whether with money, or prayers and energy.

Click to Donate Now!

Need New Routines

Before we get started, I’d like to announce that anybody who says, “You need to get your kids to do more of that,” is automatically drafted to come live in my house for two weeks while I take a much-needed mental health vacation alone.  You get my kids to do that, and then you can show me how you did it.  Or you can run away screaming and never say that again, which is what most people do. The best I’ve been able to get on a good week is my kids doing maybe half what they are capable of doing, and most of that’s only if I stand over them, telling them exactly what to do and how.

It’s time to shake up my life again.  My health is doing some things that say my self and my body need more attention.  My gods are seeking my attention.  My home desperately needs more care to again become the haven it should always be.  And my budget needs more income.  My husband is having his second brain surgery in less than three months, and having good solid routines in place in a house that is clean and welcoming to him would be a huge blessing right now.  I need to find a way to maintain my health, mentally and physically; to cook healthy meals for myself and my family; to maintain my daily contact with deity; to devote necessary time to school and church commitments; to teach Kender how to read and stay on top of schooling for Jarod; and to declutter and clean my home and maintain it that way.

Last week, I worked really hard, but I couldn’t get much past the daily chores, laundry and dishes and cooking and such.  I spent 19 hours driving last week, which is not entirely unusual; although when my second-oldest is home she helps with the driving, she is gone for the next three weeks, and when she gets back she has her own job and school to deal with.

I have been on top of my game before, but things are always changing around here, so I am seeking crowd-sourced suggestions on new routines for getting things done.  The current skeleton parameters for my life are:

  • 8 hours of sleep per night for me, with an average wake time of 9am
  • I’m guessing an average of 5-10 hours a week of driving people around
  • At least two doctor or vet appointments per week, sometimes more (for reference, I see ten appointments for somebody other than myself on my calendar over the next month)
  • 2.5 hours of therapy for Kender on Fridays
  • Date night with my husband used to could be a weekly or monthly thing, but for his sake right now needs to happen at least twice a week, if not more

General household requirements:

  • Two loads of laundry every day
  • Two bathrooms to care for
  • One dog that must be thoroughly brushed, walked, fed, medicated, and trained every day
  • 5-6 cats with five litterboxes that need daily attention and medication
  • Dinner for eight every night (plus occasional guests, with planned leftovers to cover lunches and off days, requires menu planning and shopping time)

Here are the additional things that I need to add in just for me:

  • Time for nutrition logging and body monitoring (blood pressure, blood sugar, etc.)
  • An hour a day for exercise
  • Time for personal hygiene
  • Daily meditation and journaling
  • Daily time to create (knitting, crochet, sewing, whatever)
  • Time to pay attention to my household altars and shrines
  • Time for music, I have a harp and a piano here that are only getting played once every 2-3 months right now

Household additions that are needed:

  • 15-20 minutes per day decluttering and clearing
  • Regular time each day to balance the checkbook and pay bills
  • 1 hour a week of routine housecleaning
  • 15 minutes per day of deeper house cleaning
  • Regular time for home repairs (and time to learn how to do them)
  • Time for car cleaning
  • Time for yard work and gardening, so the outside looks welcoming and all my plants can survive

For my own seminary studies and volunteer work, I would like to have:

  • 2 hours a day of study time
  • 1 hour a day of volunteer time
  • Time to work on community commitments (writing rituals, prepping and holding regular sabbats, prepping workshops, maintaining my blog and social media pages)

For my kids’ homeschooling requirements, I need:

  • 1-2 hours a day working with Kender
  • Time to prep Kender’s school materials (the Brailler needs a complete overhaul, his books have to be brailled, things need tactile labels, etc.)
  • Time for field trips and park days with our homeschool group
  • 1 hour a day working with Jarod (with the rest of his to be done on his own, and reviewed during our time together)

I also need time for errands and things like:

  • Getting the car maintenance done (the little car has needed tires and alignment for two months now)
  • Giving gifts (bloody hell, I wish somebody else could do this for me, I love my peeps but I am a terrible gifter)
  • Sending thank you notes to people who have helped us (yeah, I know…)
  • Getting old clothes out to Goodwill, getting bottles out to the recycling center
  • Filling out paperwork for doctor’s appointments, A’Kos certification renewals, school forms

What I have found to work well in the past is to have strong routines, wherein the same thing happens every day.  This has been hard to maintain, especially since Kender was born and the doctor appointments started increasing, and since the older kids became teens and started doing so many things away from home.  I can’t even keep the doctor appointments away from the days we do other things, because (for example) our homeschool group does our weekly co-op/park days on Tuesdays, which is also the only day our retinal specialist sees patients.  Things like that.  I feel like every time I have tried to establish a regular routine over the past few years, it’s gotten shot in the face.  Nevermind how difficult it feels to me to be able to fit all these things in.  If I had all my wishes come true, there’d be money for a private school for Kender that would place him in kindergarten despite his age and adapt all his materials and teach him Braille, and there’d be a housekeeper coming in here once a week to do all the major cleaning.  Not sure anything else could be outsourced.

But anyway, there it is.  Give it a try.  Leave a comment here, or on Facebook, or come by and chat with me sometime.  I’m open to suggestions.