Astral Poo ( Or If Not For Bad Luck, I Wouldn’t Have Any Luck At All)

Since sometime last week I have been fighting some kind of flu or virus that has fogged my brain, congested my sinuses, plagued me with nausea, given me fever chills, and supplied me with muscle aches. My brain is finally emerging from the fog slowly, and my fully lucid moments are long enough to be able to write something that maintains coherency for more than a few sentences. Before I got sick I hurt my back. Last night I believe I managed to fracture my big toe. I didn’t want to get up this morning for fear of what the day would bring, besides piles of work to catch up on.

My brain doesn’t have much of a filter on it normally, and when I get sick it all goes away. Whatever I think comes out of my mouth before I have a chance to examine it. My sister used to like to call and talk to me when I’m sick because she thought I was hilarious, cussing everyone and everything in the angerless loopyness a fogged brain will give you. So I have been mostly quiet here.

As a Witch, as a magician, as someone who takes a pretty level-headed approach to “woo,” it has crossed my mind that maybe I have a case of the astral nasties. Maybe even some astral nasties flung in my direction by some poo-flinging monkey. A part of my brain thinks the notion is ridiculous. As if the foundation of psychological motivations behind such concepts as the Evil Eye are not still valid. As if I am somehow better and more evolved than my ancestors and their traditions. I, who can neither butcher a hog nor build an iPhone.

Greek evil eye charms.

I believe we should have scholarly, serious, more theologically complex Pagan traditions. I yearn for it. I read, enjoy and generally soak up the work of the marvelous academics in our communities. It’s good stuff. But I also believe in “woo.” In gods that appear to us and instruct us to build temples to them. In the Evil Eye. In the time proven notion that with a bit of devotion and gratitude the Parking Witch will find me a good spot near the grocery store entrance.

Because my big toe really freaking hurts right now, and I’m all congested and feeling nasty, and I’m trying to be easy on my back so I don’t re-injure it. I’m liable to cuss you out without even being angry at you. So, silly as it may seem, I’m going to take steps to protect myself from astral poo. Pray a little, and conjure a bit. Maybe I’m just having my natural share of bad luck come in one dose rather than spaced out, or maybe I have a problem that can be solved by some “woo.”

Regardless, while my filters are absent, I want to make one statement regarding the recent kerfuffle over “woo.”

I don’t think anyone is upset that people are looking down their noses at “woo” anymore than people are upset that people are trying to build religious institutions or that people are brewing up love spells in the kitchen. We’re upset because we’re all running around calling ourselves Pagans as if we have anything in common. We all know Pagan is a meaningless word, it’s why we use it. Just like the Hindu’s use the word Hindu even though it essentially has no meaning for their many religions. But we all run around calling ourselves Pagans and making stupid, broad statements like “Pagans don’t talk about the nature of the gods” and keep assuming we practice the same religion and get angry at each other when that is over and over again proven untrue.

When the hell are the gods going to smash this tower of Babel so we can get on with the real business of our spiritual lives? So the poetic, naturalistic atheists can go their way, and the ceremonial magicians get their own groove on, and the devout, reviving polytheists can go do their thing, and all the eclectic, ecstatic, folk magic people go do theirs? Without us getting up in each others face all the time?

Let me know when you figure that out. I’m going to hobble into the kitchen to get coffee, take some ibuprofen and conjure against the Evil Eye.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Brian Rush

    Nice article, Star. You should get sick more often. (Just kidding.)

    Seriously, you’ve stated an important truth here, namely that “Paganism” is not a single religion but an umbrella concept embracing many different approaches to the sacred. I call myself a Pagan because nobody can tell me I can’t unless I agree with religious propositions A, B, and C all of which I consider either preposterous nonsense or morally dangerous drivel. Not that there isn’t plenty of preposterous nonsense in Paganism (there does seem to be less in the way of morally dangerous drivel than in some faiths, though), but nobody can tell me I have to believe it or I can’t call myself a Pagan.

    It’s so much easier to say than “Pagan-Nazarene-Sufi-Buddhist-Hindu-Hermeticmage-Fantasywriter-Iconoclast” which is what I would call myself if I were into full disclosure. Unless I left something out, which I probably did.

    Oh, and you’re right to take the woo seriously, too. Best of luck with that.

  • DonnaB

    I have lately been debating myself over the possibility that I’ve somehow collected some astral poo that needs hosing off.  On the one hand, I don’t want to look for some Super Cosmic Reason for my string of bad luck, as if the cosmos has intentionally arranged Itself to crap especially on me (because I’m so super special, right); on the other hand, bad luck is bad luck and you know when you’ve got more than normal.  So I’ll be brewing and chanting and praying and lighting candles for my ritual baths, and doing whatever I can to turn my luck.  

    I find that I have a weird relationship with the “woo”.  My Pagan practices have lead to more “woo” moments than anything I ever practiced before, and yet I feel especially self-conscious when talking about these amazing experiences to Pagans and non-Pagans alike.  I worry that people will write my experiences off as hippy-dippy nonsense, non-pagans because their expectations come largely from movies and tv, and other Pagans because chances are pretty good that my UPG will not match up with what every other Pagan believes, and sometimes we’re not all that mature about handling those discrepancies.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a good confrontation as much as the next girl -oh, wait, no I don’t!  Honestly, I don’t have the energy to parry the haters from either side of that battlefield.  I have wondered what modern Myths we’re missing out on because we’ve made a culture that discourages openly discussing the Wonder that we experience beyond the trappings and labels of our various practices.

  • Sage Blackthorn

    21-some-old-years ago, I became interested in Nature-Based-Spirituality and ended up studying Wicca with a woman who at the same time felt called to teach and opened up her home to anyone who felt compelled to seek her out. This was roughly the early 90′s, (’92 or ’93 as I remember since I hadn’t yet graduated High School). I remember back then, everyone in Southern California that I talked to was very hung up on Titles. Wicca, Witta, Strega, Eclectic Wicca, Dianic (From the goddess Diana, which was all women) Wicca, Dionic (From the god Dionysus, which was all men) Wicca……. People use to say “I follow the religion of Wicca, but I call myself a Witch to reclaim the term.” Other people use to say “I call myself Wiccan because Witch has a negative stereotype attached to it and I don’t want to get into the political bullshit.”….. 

    10-some-odd-years ago, while reading through and commenting of various articles on WitchVox I mentioned what I said above, and I got slammed with all sorts of vitrolic comments…. but especially from people in Europe. “Wicca is not the same as Witchcraft! All you Americans are so arrogant!” and the like………

    8-some-odd-years ago, we started to see people coming into the shop (I work for a little family run store that carries candles, incense, herbs, oils, books on a variety of spiritual paths… as well as “garb” for the Renaissance Faire, SCA, and other historical re-enactment events/clubs…. we’re kind of the last “Pagan Shop” in our area,) and these 16- and 17-year-olds would say things like “I’m a WITCH not a WICCAN, so I don’t have to follow any of that “An It Harm None” crap. I can curse people, and cast love spells to force someone to fall in love with me and NOTHING BAD is gonna happen to me because I don’t believe in that Threefold Law garbage.”….. Which just kinda left me going “Whatever kid, you’ll learn eventually.” About this time, I decide to look up what the current definitions of “Witch” and “Wiccan” were that were being tossed around (and of course what people were using “Pagan” to mean as well….see, there was a point to this long, meandering, and I’m sure to some, boring story,) and I found that many of the definitions I grew up with had changed in the last 21-some-odd years. “Witches” were now not politically active Wiccans who had set forth to “reclaim the Title Of Witch from those who had turned it into someone negative with their religious propaganda war!”… but were now defining themselves as a distinctly seperate branch of Paganism. Which “Wicca” was now being defined as “British Traditional Witchcraft…especially traditions founded by Gerald Gardner or his students”……

    So these days, when someone asks me what I am I just tell them “I’m complicated.”

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      There does seem to be quite a divide between ‘native’ European and  ‘diasporic’ European ideas on ‘Paganism’.

  • Soli

    Nothing wrong with spiritual house and body cleaning. As my teacher has told me before, one can never be too pure. 

  • Aine Llewellyn

    Hoping you start feeling better!

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I am beginning to think that, perhaps, it is time for the terms ‘Pagan’ and ‘Paganism’ to be left behind. Not by all, but by many.

    We do not see Christians and Muslims primarily identifying as Abrahamic, after all.

    The purpose of the (self) identifier of ‘Pagan’ is to communicate with others our own personal religious persuasion. We can get much higher numbers if we all identify as ‘Pagan’ rather than as the distinct traditions that currently exist within the umbrella – Paganism is, apparently, the sixth largest religion in the UK.

    It can still be a useful term, from an organisational point of view – Wicca, Witchcraft (sorry, as a Brit, I see the distinction between ‘Gardner-brand’ Wicca and traditional folk-craft), Druidry… all get to be forms of ‘Pagan’ religion, but still very much distinct from each other.

    At an individual level, such an expansive term is meaningless to the point of being obsolete. To some, that may be part of the appeal – ‘Paganism can be whatever we want it to be’ – a form of shield against potential judgemental attitudes but, to others, it can just be an obstacle in conversation and comprehension.

  • Katie

    A friend and I have a lot of conversations about the nature of ‘woo’, though we refer to it as woo-woo as if the double woo gives it more weight. I’m a pagan with a heavy academic background in sociology and she’s a seeker with a background in anthropology. Our decidedly untested approach is that woo is what it is. It’s helpful if for no other reason than it makes you feel like you’re doing something, and as long as you at least attempt respect the woo’s not going to harm you (though we have entered a grey area with some of our discussions- don’t get too heavy into woo if you know nothing of that woo). Practice is about self healing as much as anything else in my experience. Some people pray. I use woo.

  • Lamyka L.

    Maybe to find the answer we first have to find our own Mind. What if the need to constantly divvy us all up into our own categories comes from the first mentality/culture/up-bringing that we *had* and it’s poisoning the new life with it’s old ways. Just a thought.