Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Words of Aradia: Concerning the Elements

These words are taken from Italian Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi:

There is a vaporous, subtle and invisible quality to each of these things which are called the physical elements. The ancients have told us that all of creation was brought into being when Spirit drew the four elements unto itself. These elements are called Earth, Air, Fire and Water. And they are controlled by Spirit.

Each of these elements possess an etheric double. It is this essence which gives vitality or fertility to the physical object.

Just as the physical realms or matter contain their own forms of life, so too do the etheric realms. These entities have been personified as the many spirits and creatures of myth and legend. It is their activity which creates and maintains the vital essence within all matter.

The etheric powers of the elements also give potency to spells and works of Magick. It is within their realms that the Magickal powers ebb and flow. Thus are the spirits of the elements summoned to assist us.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A candle burning to light the way

Today a friend, and someone born to be Strega, experienced the greatest of all initiations. To honor her I gathered all the Owls that I had in my house together in one place. Owls were special to her. I cast a circle and read the rite of passage. And cried and smiled remembering her. So did 2 other Strega in straight line up the Mississippi River toward Canada, where our friend was born. Whether we were trying to or not, we coordinated the timing of the rite.

I didn't have all the woods (Juniper, Sandalwood, Cedar) but I did have all the woods necessary in incense form so I burned the 3 incense types. I also had pennyroyal in the garden and used fresh cut from my backyard on the shrine and the smell was intense.

After casting the circle, I moved over to the small shrine and read the rite out loud, and cried. I was moved to actually say something out loud about Lore even though it was only me in the room.

I then moved back to the circle altar and did a TAROT spread, which included the Sun, The Wheel of Fortune & The World and the Ace of Wands & Swords.

I added some Strega Oil/Extract to the Spirit Bowl and refilled it with Everclear and watched the Spirit Flame for awhile. When it got to the point where it should just wick out, the flames began jumping and crackling. This was of course the Strega Oil burning. But it felt like Lore saying goodbye. She liked her magics. It took almost as long for these remnants to burn out as it had the for the whole bowl of Spirit Flame. And when the flame was gone it truly felt like closure.

"We gather now in honor of our Sister who has crossed over and begun the sacred journey to the Realms of Luna. We wish you well on your journey, and send with you the emanations of our love, and our friendship. We know that the sorrow that we feel is of our own making. There has been no loss among us, for we shall meet each other again in a future life to come. And we shall remember, and know each other, and love again. We shall speak your name and remember you at Shadowfest. If it be that we shall see you, or speak with you, then let it be of your own desire. For it is not our wish that our desires should bind you to this life.

May the Great Lord and Lady receive you into their care, and may they comfort you and prepare you to be born anew.

May the realms of Luna give you all that you desire, and may you find peace and pleasure, and reunion with those who have gone before. Farewell dear sister, farewell dear friend. Blessed be."

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Chapter 9 - Aradia's Words

Owen woke up the next morning and opened the mailbox found that the manual had already arrived. Cool. He could get some reading in before Thursday and maybe impress his teacher. As he finished his coffee he realized that she didn’t have his address. Stupid. He panicked thinking that he didn’t have her phone number, then remembered that he did have her eMail and dug the ticket stub he had safely tucked away out of his wallet. He booted up the laptop prepared to send her an eMail only to discover that there was one waiting for him from her.

I’ll see you at your house on Friday @8PM. Please send me your address so I don’t have to wander in the wilderness. Let me know if something comes up and you can’t meet. I’ll make sure to check eMail before I leave home.

Well, that does make it easy doesn’t it? He sent a quick reply with his address and with his phone number, telling her to call him if she needed directions and to call before she left her house. He also let her know he had the manual but had only had a chance to flip through the pages not read it. Then he pressed send and shut the laptop cover and was off to the job sites.

The days flew by. They always did after Nola was out of the office for a day or 2. Thursday was Thanksgiving. Nola and her family spent the day on the NorthShore. Owen spent the day with his friend and colleague Roger at a large potluck. Before Nola knew it was Friday and she was heading off for the first lesson. She kissed her family goodnight in case the session ran late. She was lucky because she had a little less than 3 weeks of vacation to burn up and it was already late November. She had already planned on taking every Friday off through the end of the year, so it didn’t matter if the other Thursday classes went late, she could sleep in on Fridays.

She wasn’t kidding when she had said that new students took a whole lot of time at the very beginning. Once they felt like they had found “IT”, they wanted all of “IT”, NOW. Owen had already proven he had the fire. Meeting her at the airport! And he already had “the manual”. She’d have to wait and see if he burned out or burned in. With the way things had worked out so far, including her already planned time off it seemed like the Gods approved of her undertaking his teaching.

Once she had gone to 2nd she knew that she had a certain responsibility to teach and took it seriously. She had spent countless hours communicating with new students only to have them burn themselves out or hit a snag in what they wanted the tradition to be and what it actually was and end up “dropping out”, never to return. It seemed to be a part of the process. It frustrated many of those who taught, but strangely not her. She tried to give everyone who worked with her for any length of time what *they* needed. She hoped and was also pretty sure that they each took something valuable away from the experience even if they decided her path wasn’t their path. Sometimes you had to figure out what you weren’t before you figured out what you were.

Getting started with a new student was always an odd time. You never knew what they knew already and what they didn’t. She had found that when it came to her tradition that often it wasn’t what the student needed to learn as much as what they needed to unlearn. But everyone was different. Some read the book and thought they knew it all and so didn’t ask the necessary questions. Some read the book and parsed every paragraph looking for the hidden meanings and asked so many questions she wasn’t sure that they were really hearing the answers. Some just wanted face time or eMail time. Some were interested in 'smells & bells' tricks of the trade and magic words. Some were deeply philosophical and all in their heads. There were of course combinations of all of the above. In short anything was possible.

She drove past the front of Owen’s home slowly, taking a look at the kind of house it was, appreciating the large front yard and the balcony on the 2nd story which seemed like it might give a peak at the river. It looked like his architectural training had paid off. It was a great old house and it fit perfectly on the lot. It didn’t look crammed in between the other houses and as she drove around the block again saw that it had a gated driveway. How civilized. He’s right. He would make a fortune if he ever decided to sell it. It was dark but she could see the bell light glowing on the front gate so she looked around to make sure the street was safe, then got out to ring the bell. She had called Owen to let him know she was on her way and to make sure that nothing had come up. He must have been on the look out for her because she was ringing the bell as he opened the front door and walked to the gate.

“Well I see you do know your way around.”
“Yep. Great old house, mid 1800s? and I love the size of the yard.”
He didn’t expect her to be able to place the time period. But then remembered how much New Orleanians reveled in what was special about their city. Still placing a house she’d never seen before in the right decade when she had almost 3 centuries to choose from was pretty damn good. So he decided to ask how she knew the house’s vintage.
“Wow, that’s pretty impressive. How did you nail the construction period so quickly?”
As she thought about it she realized she hadn’t really thought about it. The timeframe just felt right. But the scientist in her searched for an answer. “Hmm, actually I’m not sure, but I think it’s the way the house sits on the lot, it has lots of room so it looks like it was here first. It’s a key lot isn’t it? And then there is the brickwork and the layout. The basic structure looks like 4 large square rooms on top of 4 large square rooms. I bet it has a large back porch and an upper balcony on the back too huh?”
He eyes got large as he said “Yes it does, but there are a few modern additions as well. I thought you said you had a degree in geology? It sounds like you have a degree in architecture and history.”
She wrinkled her forehead as if anyone could have done it, then shrugged thinking, well maybe not and said. “Nope I’m just a reasonably well read native New Orleanian who uses scientific field assessment skills almost without thinking about it.”
“Really? And what else can you do without thinking about it?”
“I’m still figuring that out.”

At that he opened the front door and said, “Well come on in and I’ll get you a glass of wine and we can decide where we want to settle for the lesson.”
The house was in great shape, the modern kitchen was across the back, complete with wine fridge and Viking range. There was a back porch, screened and it was definitely a large key lot with a large old oak in one corner. He loved how much she appreciated the old house. He was thrilled to have her here. But he was unsure of how this whole process would work and felt just a little unsettled.

They eventually settled in the living room with glasses of wine. He had the manual on an end table. There was a sofa and a chair and an ottoman. But there was also a large fireplace with a small fire going and large pillows on the floor. Nola couldn’t resist sitting on the floor and said: “Sitting on the sofa, seems a bit too formal and stiff, do you mind if we sit on the floor?”
Owen smiled and plopped down on a pillow and said “Not all.” and looked up as Nola kicked off her shoes off and settled down on a large pillow next to him.

“So student, where do you want to start?”
“Huh? Where do I want to start? Isn’t that a strange question for the teacher to ask?”
“Maybe. But not always. Sometimes new students have things that they have read or heard and they want to clear up things they don’t understand or don’t like”.
“Yes, really. But given that you just heard about this path a week ago, I guess it may be too early for you to have questions. But I thought I’d ask anyway. Have you had a chance to read the manual?”
“Ok, good, how far did you get?”
“Oh I read the whole thing.”
“Really? Well then, what do you think? Was there a particular part that resonated or confused you?”
“Well, I find the story of Aradia interesting. I like the idea that there was a real person oh so long ago that helped save what we have today.”

What she was thinking was he was holding something back and that something was the matter here. He seemed withdrawn reserved, perhaps less interested. Maybe this was an instance where he had read the book and found it less fascinating than he thought it would be. Perhaps he had changed his mind.

What he was thinking was that when they first met he had been strangely drawn. And being honest with himself, he still was. But he wasn’t sure if it was the path or the idea of finally finding someone he thought he could study and maybe practice a pagan path with or if it was the woman herself. And the problem with the woman herself was that she was married and that didn’t fit some of the things that he had caught himself thinking. He liked her. But he was no longer sure how he felt about someone who could be married and then do what she had already said she’d done for her 3rd degree and what reading between the lines of the rituals indicated she might do again. And he wasn’t sure if that was the place to start asking questions.

“Owen, What’s the matter here? Have you gotten a chance to read up and decided this isn’t a good fit for you? Remember I told you that I needed you to be honest with me. It’s ok if you think that this path isn’t for you. It happens. All you need to do is tell me and we can stop right now.”
What? Ok that did it. She had broken through his fog. He was aware and alert now.
“Oh NO, that’s not it at all.”
“Ok” she thought that sounded sincere but also that he seemed a little stressed.
“Is this a bad time, do you have something else you need to do, somewhere else you want to be? We can reschedule.”
He was still a thousand miles away, trying to find his way back. He had heard her and before he knew it the words came out of his mouth, “There is nowhere else I’d rather be right now than right here.”

She was thinking that this was one of the most exasperating men she had ever met and she seemed to have a special talent for attracting exasperating men. “If there is nowhere else you’d rather be, why does it look like you’re not quite sure you want to be here?" Then her intuition kicked fully in and said, "There is something you want to ask, but you’re not sure how to go about asking it. Stop thinking so hard and just spit it out. Then we’ll talk it through. I’ve got nowhere else to be tonight. I’m all yours.”

And his inside voice said, No you’re not and I think that might just be the problem. When I had you on the plane to myself it felt fun and interesting and good, but I’ve had a chance to meet your husband and I’m not sure how to fit him into this process. How do you make all this work in your head? Because I can’t make it work in mine.

She waited as he tried to work out what he needed to say.

“You know I keep going back to the phrase heterosexual religion and the fact that you are married and yet you’ve had sex with another man. And if what I think I’m reading between the lines of the rituals in the book are true then there’s a pretty good chance that sex could be a part of any number of rituals. How in the world do you make that work and be married? Jezz, I shook your husband’s hand.”

She sat straight up on the pillow and looking in his eyes she saw his anxiety. She managed to get out, “Oh. Wow. That’s honest.” And then remembered his Sagittarius rising and her own Sagittarius rising tendency to say exactly what she was thinking.

She then turned to the fire and looked deeply into it and tried to figure exactly where to start. He had jumped way ahead of where she thought they’d end up tonight. But she had seen his discomfort on the plane when he realized that he would meet her husband so the deep intuitive part of her wasn’t all that surprised. The real question was where to start to unravel the confusion in his head and how to go about finding the root cause of his anxiety.

“Nola, I’m sorry.”
She put her hand up slightly and said, “No, please don’t be. You did exactly what I asked you to, you asked about what was bothering you and you were honest. It’s hard to ask for more in a student. But you’ve skipped way ahead in the program and have rolled couple of issues into one, so give me a minute to figure out what I do next.”
He watched her think and then he watched her get up as she said, “You know I think I need to stand and pace a little. I knew you’d be challenging but whew, I didn’t think I’d break a sweat in the first lesson.” He got up too, not knowing what to do with himself. She walked to the fireplace and took a sip of wine and put her glass on the mantle.

He just watched her, feeling like an idiot and thinking she might just be planning to leave. When she caught the look on his face she laughed lightly but right out loud. He had no idea what to make of that and the new look on his face made her laugh again. So she crossed the room put her hands on his arms and said: “Relax, Owen. I’m not going anywhere.” and as she said it and touched him he did just that, he relaxed, realizing that he had been pent up all afternoon. When he relaxed she felt it. “Ok, good that‘s better.” They were close to the chair so she got him to sit on the chair and she sat on the ottoman across from him.

She wasn’t sure how but her intuition told her that the underlying issues here weren’t exactly what they seemed. Her intuition said that part of his problem was that he was jealous of her husband. But that seemed ridiculous. Yet her husband was definitely part of the problem in his head. Then it came to her.

“Owen do you know what my daughter calls me?”
And his brow furrowed because it seemed a ridiculously simple question, but he answered: “Mom?”
That’s right, she calls me mom, because to her I am and always will be her mom.
“Do you think of me as ‘mom’?”
And his face said another ridiculous question. But she looked dead serious. So he answered. “No.”
“Good” and she smiled and said, “I was hoping not." Then she asked another question,
“What do you call me?” And she was still looking him straight in his eyes, so he answered, “Nola”.
“Tell me if someone asked you who I was, what would you say?”
“Just work with me here, if I showed up at a job site looking to talk to you and then one of your workers asked: ‘Who was that?’ what would you say?”
“Well I guess I’d say you were a woman I met on my flight to Pennsylvania.”
“Ok, there you are. I’m just a woman. To them and to you, I’m not mom. When I’m at work in the corporate world I supervise a large team of people and I am the boss, not mom. Right here right now with you I am your teacher. Right now are you my student?”
“When you are running your job site, would it do anyone any good if they thought of you as my student or as your mother's son?”
“Do you know that there is a pagan practice of taking magical names, that pagans actually intentionally do not use their given names in circle.”
“Yeah, I’ve heard of that. But Lady this and Lord that always seemed a little ridiculous to me.”
“Well me too and we don’t use those kinds of titles in Stregheria.” Then her intuition told her to do something not usually done, especially not at this stage of training “Do you want to know my circle name?”
“Ok. What is it?”
And she told him.
And he repeated it.
“mm hmmm, Do you know why we use circle names?”
“Well, no, not really.”
“It’s because when we are in circle, when we participate in ritual, we aren’t mom or dad or boss or son or wife or husband or anything else, we are our magical, pagan selves.”
And at that it seemed like the light bulb might just be coming on over his head.
“Owen, I’m going to the kitchen to get a glass of water.”
He started to get up but she said, “No, sit, think, I’ll be right back.”

He felt calmer. He was thinking that her touch seemed to have had a strange affect him. It didn’t take long for her to get a glass of water and get her wine glass off of the mantle and return to the ottoman.

She took a sip of water and then a sip of wine and put them on the side table next to him. “Owen, you really don’t know me very well. So it’s fair to wonder if I am trustworthy. I can see how a woman who does not seem to be fazed by the fact that she had sex with a man other than her husband, might appear to be someone who wasn’t completely trustworthy.”

He looked up at her and tried to stop her and say ‘no that wasn’t it at all’, and for an instant she wasn’t sure if she was on the right track. But she plowed on. “I think we need to start working on the Words of Aradia, specifically the ones on marriage, sexuality, love and freedom. This is so not where I usually start teaching. But apparently it’s where we need to be. Where is the manual? Ah right here. Good." And she flipped to the back of the book. "Since marriage seems to be part of the problem, let’s start with Aradia’s words on Marriage." Handing him the book she said," Here Owen, you read them out loud for us.”

He set his glass down and took the book and read:
“When a man and a woman join their lives together through ritual, and the love which they share, then they are linked to each other in another life to come.”
She put her hand on his arm and he stopped and looked up. She said, ”That sounds pretty serious, ‘linked to each other in another life to come.’ This means that when we marry, the Streghe believe that it’s not just for this life but for another one as well. Does that sound like the belief of a people who will take marriage lightly?”
And he said, “Well, no it doesn’t.”
“Keep reading.”
“Yet being together, know that each of you must be alone.
Understand that even though you are bound together, let this not be as captives.”
And she put her hand on his arm again and their eyes met and she said,
“Together by choice, yet acknowledging that each must be alone, bound by choice but not captive.”
Then she nodded her head and he read,
“There shall always be others with who each of you may desire to share a closeness, either physical or spiritual. This is as it should be.”
And she touched his arm and he stopped and she said, “Read it again.”
“There shall always be others with who each of you may desire to share a closeness, either physical or spiritual. This is as it should be.”
And she nodded and he read,
“Let your love desire fullness of life for each other and also pleasure for each other. Honor each other with openness and honesty.”
She touched his arm again and said: “Openness and honesty. My husband knows I am a witch and he knows, just like you do, what hieros gamos is and he knows that I am now 3rd degree. We haven’t talked in detail about it, but he knows. And he knows I only recently became 3rd degree. “

And she sighed deeply as if she didn’t want to go on or know exactly how but then she did anyway. “Before I met my husband I had never been in love before. I had had lots of sex. I had loved people but I hadn’t been IN love. I’m a big Robert Heinlein fan and I always believed that I could love more than one person at a time. But then I met the man who is now my husband and I couldn’t imagine being sexual with anyone else or as deeply in love. He completed me. And then after a year, and this was before we were married, he left me. He said, I was too much, I was too loud, too bold, not gentle enough, not gracious enough and that he couldn't be happy with me and didn’t love me. And he totally broke my heart. And then 9 months later he came back. In his head it was now all good and he talked me into moving in with him, which wasn't that difficult because I had fallen for him hard and after 9 months had only started to feel human again. A year later he proposed and 9 months later we got married. And then a little less than 2 years later, he fell into a funk. He wasn’t working. He didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life. He didn’t want me to touch him or kiss him and one of the things that I loved about being with him was the warm and physical nature of our relationship. He eventually pulled himself out of it and about year later I got pregnant for Jamie. Then in 1998 the fact that our marriage is and always has been upside down finally got the best of us. I have the corporate job, I take care of mortgage and insurance and the ways of the world. I am the scientist. I am practical, I am the one who takes out the garbage and makes sure the laundry is done, makes sure the oil gets changed in the vehicles. He is the artist, he cooks because he likes to cook, but he didn’t think cleaning was necessary. He is a great and loving dad, but I made the doctor appointments and made sure that the kid got vaccinations and school uniforms. What I kept telling him was that I needed a partner, I needed help, with the laundry, with the cleaning, with the taking the garbage out, that taking care of all our worldly needs was leaving too little for me to give to him in our relationship, that we were out of balance. What he heard was that he wasn’t good enough.

He had a great run in a play and ended up winning a significant award as an actor & musician. Everyone told him he was very good and he was very good. At home his ego was bruised, elsewhere he was great. So part of him felt that the problem was me. I was never satisfied. I didn’t appreciate what he did. I was not the person he wanted me to be. One of the women who had been in the play kept calling him at home. I told him that she was interested in him and I was of course right. He had an affair and broke my heart. Again. Not because of the sex. But because of the horrible things he said to me while he was angry with himself and angry with me and angry about having sex with another woman. He said I was too hard on him, I worked and didn’t have anything left for him and he was angry that I couldn’t be the warm, loving woman he wanted because I was working too hard. He essentially blamed me because he was unhappy in the marriage and because I was working too hard to put a roof over my daughter's head and his too for that matter. And while I knew he was having sex with another woman he wouldn’t admit it or at least didn't right away. When he did, he essentially said that it was also my fault that he was having sex with another woman. I was nothing short of totally devastated. I did NOT want the man I loved and the father of my child to feel this way about me. I barely functioned and only because I had a child who had just turned 3 who needed me.

But here is the surprise, his having sex with another woman, helped him find a balance he had been unable to find another way. Sex with her woke him up. He saw that what he was doing and saying was actually able to seriously hurt me. It took a few months but he found his way again and to decide, again, I was what he wanted. He’s become a better person and a better partner every year since. Now he finally seems committed to me and IN love with me again. And now after all of this, what I know is that I love him. I know that he is good for me and has been good for our daughter. Sometimes I am IN love with him but there is no doubt that I love him.

She had been watching him all along and could tell that he had heard and understood every word. She paused and then concluded, “Sorry I know that’s a lot to dump on you at one time, but well my intuition says you may need to know this to understand me and to work through what you are struggling with.” She gave him some time to think about that but could see that it already seemed to have made a difference. “Please keep reading."

“Because you have joined your lives together, you are sanctuary and comfort for each other. Together shall you stand in all things, for you are true friends”
And she touched his arm again and said, “And we are now, true friends.” then nodded for him to continue.

“You are together because of your love, and you remain for this reason. Yet if this reason for coming together is forgotten, or fades, then it is well to part if needs be such. You do not honor the joining by remaining without love. Neither do you honor each other.”

As he finished he sat back and looked at her.
And she asked, “Too much information?”
And he said, “No, your intuition was dead on.”
And she smiled and reached for her glass and took a sip and said. "Let’s take a break, I’d like to get some ice cubes for my water and then find your bathroom. Then we can start back with Aradia’s words on Sexuality.”
And he smiled and said, “That should be a little bit more fun.”

The chair and ottoman set up worked well so they settled back in. She opened the manual and asked him read again.
“The sexual power of a man or a woman is the strongest power that may be raised from the body. The Christians teach that sexuality must be repressed, and thereby rob people of their personal power.”
He stopped and looked up and she said. “The strongest power.”
And he said, “this is one of the reasons why I told you the one thing I know is I’m not Christian.” and they both smiled.
“Do not be confused by the duality of sex, for it can be physical alone or it can be spiritual alone. It can also be both together.”
And he looked up again and she said. “What I love about this is that it acknowledges that sexuality can be only physical, which is fine and fun. But that it can also be spiritual alone, which is more difficult but just a beautiful. But when it is both together it is sublime.”
And he smiled at that and continued reading,
“Share your sexuality with whomever you may, in whatever manner you may. For all acts of love and pleasure are rituals to the Goddess and to the God.”
And their eyes met and she said, “’nuf said.”
“It has been written that you shall be free, and so shall you be free in body, and mind and spirit. Be not like the Christians who teach shame and modesty and false morality. Blessed are the free.”
And their eyes met again over the word Christian, his with a twinkle in them.

“You have heard it said the homosexuality is unnatural, yet I say to you that heterosexuality is likewise unbalanced. Everything is masculine and feminine in essence, and all bear the divine spark of the God and Goddess within them. Realize this, and do not exalt the one above the other. A Strega must live with inner and outer harmony.”
And he looked up a little skeptical.
And she said, “We all have the capacity to carry masculine and feminine aspects. I have masculine capacity, it is part of why I function well in the corporate world, why I can appear tough and scary” and his brow wrinkled because he didn’t see this in her, “or taller than I actually am” and his eyebrows rose because he had noticed this on first meeting her. "I am also feminine but I’ve had to work harder at it than many women do. It is about finding balance. Someone's preference for sex partners is only one aspect of who they are. The key is to find your masculine and feminine balance and harmony of spirit.”
He read again,
“You have heard the Christians condemn adultery, and say that the spouse is the property of the other. Yet no one may rightly dictate the will of another. Do not confuse love with sex or sex with love.”
And she said, “Do not confuse love with sex or sex with love.”
And he finished up with, “Remember that pleasure belongs to everyone, and rightly so. Therefore harm no one through you own will, nor place your will above another's.”
She took a sip of her wine and smiled and said “you were right more fun. Ready to go on to Aradia’s words on Love?"

He nodded and started reading.
“Love is the gift of the spirit's blessings. It is the emanation of spirit within. Love is the Great Attainment.
Receive love when it is offered, and offer love regardless. Yet do not allow the duality of love to cause you despair. For love can lift up you heart and it can likewise drag it down.”
And he looked up and said, “you totally understand this don’t you? You’ve lived this.”
And she just nodded.
He read,
“Accept love in the manner in which is comes to you. Do not possess it, or attempt to control it or shape it. For love is free and shall come or go in its manner.”
He looked up and she said, “Read that part again.”
“Accept love in the manner in which is comes to you. Do not possess it, or attempt to control it or shape it. For love is free and shall come or go in its manner.”
And she said, “Words to live by.”

He said “What’s next”” and she said “Aradia’s Words on Freedom.”
He read,
“We have been enslaved. We are persecuted, hunted, and murdered by the Christian Church.
We are outlaws."
And he looked up, liking the idea of being an outlaw, outside the law, and smiled at her.
“Because of our plight we have come to know the meaning of Freedom. To be free is the essence of life.
Freedom allows the mind, body, and spirit to be rid of shame, guilt and restriction (which the Christians teach).
The freedom to act as you desire, harming no one by your deeds, is the gift of Freedom. The Old Ways free us from the restrictions of society and the expectations of other people.
Therefore you shall be free. And as a sign that you are truly free, you shall be naked in your rites. And you shall sing, dance and make love.”
And he looked up, put the book in his lap and leaned forward slightly and said, “Ok, I think I get it.”
And she leaned into him and said “Good” and kissed him on the forehead “then that seems like a good stopping point for tonight.”

He sat back in the chair and was oddly relaxed and happy. She noticed that all the tension and uncertainty seemed to have dissipated. “Owen.”
“Take some time to read over these words again before next week. Rather than me doing all the talking, I’m hoping next time you can share your thoughts. I think it would also be kind of fun to go over the altar configuration so that we can do the Winter Solstice Ritual and Full Moon Ritual in December. Are you up for that?”

Then she reached over and grabbed the glasses and stood up. He did too and they walked to the kitchen. They dropped the glasses in the sink and she picked up her purse and they walked back to the living room where she slipped on her shoes and said, “Next time we can sit on the floor.”
And he said, “You bet.”

He walked her to her truck and gave her a hug before she got in saying, “See you in a week.”
And he thought, a week, why do I have to wait a week? I've just learned more in a few hours than I've learned reading the manual or in a life time come to think of it. There is no way I am going to make it through waiting a whole week.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hot House Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire

I love reading. I've been living on the books I already have in my house, and I'm not starving, but I wanted something new, different and fun. So with a few minutes to spare between work and a meeting at my daughter's school I went to the locally owned and operated bookstore just a few blocks away from the school.

I can always count on this bookstore to have something interesting. I talked myself into going specifically to buy a book based on blog posts written by a native New Orleanian PostKatrina; a book by Mark Folse called "Carry Me Home". I found it and then I wandered around looking for something fun to read. A bright fuchsia book with blue and yellow flowers on it caught my eye: Hot House Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire.
Hot House Flower & the 9 Plants of Desire

It was exactly what I thought it would be fun, a mini vacation and a quick weekend read; but embedded in the fun were bits of wisdom that were drawn from nature. Given that one of the key teachings we get from Aradia's words is that Nature is the Great Teacher, it is wonderful to find a fun book that uses Nature to teach deeper life lessons. The plant "lore" embedded in the book provides an interesting example of how any of us can draw lessons from Natures. The lessons the main character learns aren't always straight forward or even logical. What is interesting in this is that the book shows that sometimes we have to let go of what we have been taught is logical and just listen and go with the flow. Remember I'm trained as a scientist so I know how silly this will sound to some. Sometimes the best way to learn is from our mistakes and scientists don't really understand human intuition . So I recommend that you read the book, let it wash over you, go with the flow, but keep a look out for lessons from the Great Teacher, Nature.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Chapter 8 - Arrival Gate

Her brain was spinning trying to figure out exactly what to say to her friends and knowing that they were going to be surprised as hell by Owen, even more so than she had been. Owen on the other hand seemed ridiculously pleased with himself. Gods, knew what he would say on being introduced.

They made it up the escalator and to the ticket counter to see if they could get on an earlier flight. Owen took control. Which was awkward, because she was not used to it. At all. But if they were going to get on the same flights home together then they had to make the arrangements together. In the process he managed to get a look at her real name without pressing her for it. They managed to get on an earlier flight out, but still ended up with a layover in Philadelphia.

Her friends had finished with their check in and walked over to her with questions all over their faces. They had to wait while the arrangements were finalized and managed to pull themselves away to the waiting area while she and Owen finalized their plans. He grinned at her and said, “Bet they’re wondering who the cute guy is, huh.” She rolled her eyes at him then smiled and said, “I’m sure that you’ll also bowl them over with your charm. Come on, I’ll introduce you”.

She made the introductions and used all her senses to watch everyone’s reaction. She explained that they had met on the plane ride up and had struck up a conversation because of “The Witch of Portobello.” She explained that Owen was from the Allentown area but had moved to New Orleans PostKatrina. Oh if only she had a picture of their faces when she said that. But the mental one she now carried would have to do. Owen was charming. He explained that he was interested in learning more about the tradition and her teacher beamed. When he mentioned that he had changed his flight from Sunday to Monday hoping to ride back with her, her teacher turned to her and said, “You must have made quite an impression.” To which she’d jokingly replied that she’d learned from the best. She let them have their way with him and went off to find the restroom and clear her head.

She had assumed that she’d have a quiet trip back home. Now she’d probably be teaching and learning about her new student. For hours. But then she thought, new student and smiled. It could be worse.

They suggested moving from the ticketing area through security when she returned. They ended up the in small cafĂ© while they all waited for her fellow streghe’s flight to board. Owen asked about how they all ended up together and she watched as her teacher told her story and then how they had met. It was interesting to hear it from the beginning and from someone else’s point of view. She had never seen her own story explained by her teacher to an outsider. Owen explained about visiting for his mom’s birthday and ended sharing a little of his family history, which was pretty interesting. Before they knew it, it was time for goodbyes. Her teacher whispered to her as they hugged goodbye, “He’s sure a live one. Make sure you give regular updates.” She agreed he was and promised that she would.

After her friends boarded the plane Owen said, “Wow, now I know 3 streghe.”
All she could do was nod her head in agreement. They walked to the gate but still had about 30 minutes before they would board.

Owen said, “Do you mind if I make a few phone calls to the guys I have running my jobs at home?”
She raised her eyebrow and thought, weird that he would ask if it was ok with her but said, “Sure go ahead. Remember I didn’t expect you to be here. I assumed I’d be flying home alone.” He grinned a little sheepishly realizing that he had known that they would fly home together but she had had no idea. Then he returned to being pleased with himself about the success of his plan.

On the flight to Philadelphia they settled on the Friday after Thanksgiving for their first lesson and then Thursday nights for regular lessons unless it was a week with a Full Moon or Treguenda. Owen seemed thrilled that she also wanted to do the rituals with him as part of his teaching. She reminded him that at this point in his training they would be doing the non-initiate rituals from ‘the manual’ as he called it. She assured him the basics were mostly the same in initiate and non-initiate rituals, but the levels and type of experience could be significantly different. Because her home was still under repair Owen suggested that they meet at his home and she agreed that would work just fine. She was glad that they were going to be able to start with a Full Moon ritual and the Winter Solstice Treguenda. She was also glad that they were starting this during the God months when the rituals were worked robed instead of skyclad. It would give her time to work through any issues he might have with skyclad. But her intuition said he probably wouldn’t have any. The way she outlined the plan made him realize that she had definitely done this before. By the time they landed in Philadelphia he felt like he had the equivalent of a college course syllabus and the times and day for classes all lined up. He was way farther along than he thought he’d be at this point and congratulated himself again for making the effort to change his flight home to Monday.

In Philadelphia they confirmed the flight times to New Orleans and then Owen checked in with his crews again. While he did she called home and made sure that her family could still pick her up at the airport and told her husband about her new student. Before they knew it they had boarded the flight to New Orleans.

After the flight attendant finished giving them their drinks, Owen leaned over and said, “I have my truck at the airport. I can give you a ride home.”
“Oh that’s nice of you Owen, but my family is meeting me at the airport. I talked to them while you were on the phone with your crews.”
She thought, he is like a kid with a new toy and I’m the toy. Thank the Gods the fervor of new students usually settles down after a few weeks. Then said, “If we stick to the training schedule and you decide to stay on this path I’ll be spending a good bit of time with you, at least once a week. I think it’s good that you’ll get to meet my family and they get to meet you.”
He thought about that and realized that of course she was right. But was oddly nervous about meeting her family and he wondered why since he was so jazzed about meeting what she called her ‘streghe family’. What he said was, “So your family knows all about your teaching pagan classes?”
“Well, yes, my husband does. He knows I’ve done a good bit of online teaching. I think I also mentioned that I taught for almost a year at a pagan bookstore PreKatrina. I’ve also had 2 students come to our house for classes. PreKatrina, I thought my daughter was a little young to really share the details of what I am and teach. But she’s grown up since Katrina, haven’t we all, and she’s also seen me have neighborhood meetings at the house and knows I go to planning meetings so me being out of the house working on something else won’t be a stretch. Plus she’s started asking more direct questions about what I do and likes having what she called philosophical discussions. So I'm confident she’ll understand.”
“So what have you taught her so far in these philosophical conversations?”
“Hmmm… When kids are young it’s impossible for them to understand what to say and what not to say about this kind of thing. So I focused here early education on the scientific aspects, Solstices, Equinoxes. We don’t go to church so she is without those influences. She has been to church a few times with relatives and associated with a few special occasions. She says she doesn’t like it. My husband’s mom & dad actually worked for a church in the area for decades.”
“Oh that must have been interesting.”
“Not really. They weren’t the preachers or anything. I’ve discovered that when I don’t make a big deal about the differences between our paths but instead focus on where we agree that it’s really not an issue. Plus their son was the one who made his own choice first about not being “Christian”. The only real confrontation, and that is probably too big a word, that we’ve ever really had was about not baptizing our daughter. But I stayed calm and explained that I could not believe that little children came into this world filled with sin that needed to be washed away. I asked how anyone can look at a newborn and not think that they are perfect. So I saw no need for baptism and said that my daughter could make her own decisions when she grew up.”
“And that worked!?”
“Well I had to say it more than once. I was told by my in-laws that it wasn’t really washing away sins but a just blessing on the child. So I asked to see the service they would use and then was able to point to the places where it clearly said the ritual was washing away original sins of the fathers. This was enough to hold to our firm no. My mom was the one who said, 'I kind of agree with you about original sin, but what if you are wrong? Shouldn’t you do it just in case?' To which I replied, mom, I can’t believe that if my daughter were to die before she could make a choice on her own that ‘God’ would send her straight to 'hell' and that I was willing to take the chance. I also had to explain to both families that I respected the beliefs of others enough not to make a mockery of these beliefs by participating in a ritual with which neither, my husband James or I agreed. Eventually they gave up. And that battle drew the lines on what the families talk about when it comes to religion. We have almost the equivalent of ‘Don’t ask, Don’t tell’ policy. It isn’t optimal, but it allows the folks who would be uncomfortable with the truth their delusions.”

“Wow. But you still consider yourself ‘in the closet’ about your paganism?”
“Yes, because I don’t advertise. I don’t confront people. I can weave my philosophy into any conversation. Because I know so much Christian theology, I know how to speak their language. So I know how to say what I believe in a way that is non-threatening because it is seems aligned with what they know and the assumptions they will make. You’d be surprised at how often we can use ‘the common thread’ that weaves through so many spiritual paths. And when that wouldn’t work, I use a scientific approach and nobody blinks. When you have a spiritual path and says ‘Nature is the great teacher’, it’s easy to make science-based arguments and analogies to the natural world.”

He sat back and thought about that for a little. She let him and then wondered...
"Owen do you mind if I ask you when your birthday is?" And he looked at her quizzically. "I like to have an astrological chart on my students. I find it helps me understand what kind of teaching style will work best for them, what fuels their leaning drive."
"I mostly use your sun sign.."
She nodded, thinking hands on face to face, just as she suspected, "and your Moon Sign...
"hmm... I don't know."
"and your rising sign."
"Still don't know."
She pulled out a very small note book about 3 inches by 2 inches and asked him to right down his date of birth, time if he knew it and place of birth. He did and asked, "What do those 3 things tell you?"
"You sun sign is who you are at your core, it's your basic personality, your more conscious personality. You Moon Sign indicates how your mind works or more precisely what turns you on or pleases you about learning, what drives your need to know, what makes you happy subconsciously. Your Rising Sign is the face you show the world. It influences your outer personality, the sense that most people get about who you are, your surface features."

They got caught up in wandering conversation and only remembering they were on a plane when the flight attendant worked the rows picking up cups. Before they knew it they were landing.

James and Jamie were waiting for right outside the security gates. She had to remind Owen not to hang back as they walked out. She gave James a kiss and hugged Jamie and then started the introductions:
“Owen, this is my family, James and Jamie."
They said “Hi” and James shook Owen’s hand.
“James, this is Owen. He and I met on the plane going out to Pennsylvania and bumped into each other on the way home too. We’ve had some interesting philosophical discussions on the plane and he thinks he wants to be one of my students.”
James laughed and said “Well Owen, good luck. She can be a taskmaster.”

The men chit chatted as they walked to baggage claim. She hugged Jamie again and asked if anything exciting had happened while she was gone. Nothing had. The bags arrived and they said goodbye. As Nola walked away she said: “See you Friday, Owen.”

And he replied “See you Friday”.
He drove home without the radio on lost in his thoughts. He had been half dreading the trip back home to Pennsylvania. But with Nola and the opportunity to learn something new to distract him, he realized that he had managed to have a wonderful time. His mom had a great time at the party which was of course fabulous. He and his brothers got to spend some quality time hanging out and catching up. His dad, ever the rock, had sounded a lot like Papa Eric when he said that he was glad to see him happy. And being able to hang out at the cabin with Eric was always a treat.

He drove past 2 job sites on the way home and they looked cleaned up. He hated messy job sites. It also looked like the work was progressing nicely. As the gates to the driveway slid open he realized just how keyed up he’d been all day and was grateful that the drive home had let his mind began to wind down. He pulled his suitcase out of the back of the truck and opened the side door. He dumped the suitcase on top of the dryer in the laundry closet at the side kitchen door. Then and poured himself a bit of JD and went upstairs to his bedroom and then out to sit on the balcony.

It was a beautiful night. Slightly breezy, air a bit dry, not quite cool. He propped his feet up on the railing and settled back into the chair. He drank a toast to Papa Eric and thought again just how right he had been about New Orleans. He was pleasantly relaxed and turned in early knowing he had to be up early to get a good look at all the job sites, especially since he had been away for 3 work days.

Nola managed to catch up with her daughter, do a load of laundry, catch up on neighborhood eMails, thankfully it had been a quiet weekend, check in via eMail with her streghe family as they always let each other know that they had each returned home safely. The ‘what’s your new student like’ replies could wait. She also sent an eMail to Owen asking for the address of his house in the Bywater. She had agreed to meet him on Friday and realized when she sent the eMail right around midnight that this was now only 4 days away. While the Bywater was relatively small, it was too big to wander around in hoping the bump into the right house.
As she slid into bed with James he said “All quiet on the Western Front?”
“Remarkably, yes. All’s quiet in the neighborhood and everyone made it home safely.”
“A new student, huh?”
“Yeah, weird meeting him on the plane like that. Do you know that the book I was rereading ‘The Witch of Portobello’, was what made him strike up a conversation? And it was totally strange to bump into him again on the plane coming home. It seems pretty quiet here on the homefront too. Jamie said nothing exciting happened.”
“Nope, not really, it was a pretty quiet weekend.”
“I see you made some progress on the walls downstairs. It looks good baby.”
They lay there quietly, until he said, “Love ya baby, no shit. It’s good to have you home.”
“Love you too. It’s good to be home."

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Words of Aradia: Concerning Luna

Luna is the purest of all the Moon Worlds. It is where the Soul is taken to rest and be renewed. It is a place of eternal youth. Here there is union with the Gods and with those Streghe who have gone before.

The portal to Luna is in the West, beyone the sunset and beyond the Ocean. Luna is a place of beautiful forests and meadows. A place of clear streams, rivers and lakes. Nature spirits inhabit these places as to all the beautiful creatures of ancient myth and legend. In Luna it is always Summer.

Each Soul experiences Luna in the manner which is most suited to its life experiences. This is as it should be.

In ancient times, it was said that the shape of the Moon grew as it received the Souls from the Physical World, and that it depleted as they were reborn. Yet if you could see between the Worlds, you would see that the Moon is Luna.

From the Physical Work, and by the physical senses, you can never see or know the World of Luna

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Nature Boy

This is a haunting tune that never fails to take me off to mystical places. The song reminds me of the God's cycle through the Wheel of the Year and seems esspecially appropriate at this season. It also reminds us that Love is the Great Attainment.

Lyrics source

There was a boy
A very strange enchanted boy
They say he wandered very far, very far
Over land and sea
A little shy
And sad of eye
But very wise
Was he

And then one day
A magic day he passed my way
And while we spoke of many things, fools and kings
This he said to me
"The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return"

(instrumental interlude)

"The greatest thing
You'll ever learn
Is just to love
And be loved
In return"

The song has a unique history and author.

And because I'm a New Orleans girl, here's a shameless plug for another New Orleanian who put Nature Boy on her 2008 CD

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hello Stranger

New Orleans, where bothering strangers is allowed: a Monday monologue
Posted by Jarvis DeBerry, Editorial writer, The Times-Picayune September 06, 2009 11:58PM.

Last month, as my wife was inside the Office of Motor Vehicles becoming an official Louisianian, I was outside fixing the brake light.

I had fixed it before -- so I thought -- but soon it was again being pointed out to me that the light was out. It was also pointed out that - given the nature of my columns - I should try to avoid a traffic stop.

The biggest frustration with fixing a brake light is the inherent inability to see if the job is done. Kelly was inside in a long line. She couldn't help. Some folks were sitting idly outside the building, but who wanted to bother them?

Oh, wait. I'm in New Orleans. Bothering is allowed.

I could be wrong, but the woman I yelled at through the open window looked like she was just waiting to be asked to do something. She hopped up joyfully. She asked me to take my foot off the brake and put it back on. "Do it again," she said, so she could be sure it was the light from the bulb and not the light from the sun causing it to glow.

I thanked her and she went back to sitting, perhaps waiting for the next stranger's request.

I went inside with the newspaper, and as I flipped through it, I thought about how few boundaries there are this city. I'd demonstrated it by bothering that woman for a brake light inspection.

I felt a hard tap on my shoulder. I turned to see a woman I'd never seen. She pointed at the A-section I still held in my hand. She said, "You done with that part?"

In New Orleans it has always been our habit to actively participate in the web of life. The article above is only one example. I think it is part of what makes this place unique and special. Nola

Friday, September 4, 2009

Chapter 7 - Surprise

Nola picked up the car and followed the rental agent's verbal instructions to the nearest grocery store. She picked up a few basics. Now that she knew where the store was it would be easy to get back to it once her friends arrived at the airport. The next stop was a gas station she had passed on the way to the store. Who knew that getting a local map would involve so many choices? She finally settled on one that looked like it would do for this trip. It covered the area around the airport and off to Hazleton and to Lake Pocono where the butcher shop that specialized in native meats: elk, buffalo etc. was located. It was a good thing that she had called them and asked for directions. Because without the names of the towns the owner mentioned it would have been much harder to find.

She easily made her way back to the airport with plenty enough time to study the map to be sure she could get them to the cabin. The instructions from the cabin owners were lame and this was annoying but she hadn’t been lying when she said that she had traveled lots of places. Many American cities had the same pattern around their airports and America had only become more homogeneous since her first forays at map reading and travel. Plus when you are dropped of in the middle of no where in Mexico and told you have to geologically map a 25 square mile area in 3 days, most road maps don’t pose too much trouble. Oh she’d been lost plenty of times in her travels. But she had discovered that lost was really only a matter of degree. You always had some broad knowledge about where you were. It was only the fine details and specifics that could make you feel lost and getting found was typically a matter of admitting to yourself you needed help with the fine details and asking a question. Even with the lousy instructions to the cabin she was sure she could get them there before dark.

There were big hugs at the airport. The three of them had gathered only a few short months ago in Savannah but it seemed longer somehow. Perhaps because that was before she had gone to 3rd and she allowed herself an internal smile. It was always good to be in the company of other Streghe.

They managed to make it most of the way to the cabin before they had to stop and ask directions. Then when the google and mapquest instructions only got them close enough to be frustrated by almost right street configurations, they got lucky and asked some guys outside a house having an evening beer for help. After one of the guys realized that it was virtually impossible to explain how to get there if you had never been, he led them there in his truck. A real knight in shining armor, even if the armor was a pickup truck.

The cabin was rustic and comfortable. The kitchen would be challenging. But there was a fabulous large deck with a great view. A great room with a fireplace and enough space for a nice ritual. After settling in to their rooms and doing some slight rearranging to make the space more comfortable they settled around the table with glasses of wine and began the conversation that would flow for the next 4 days. They were also waiting for the last of their group to arrive. Time seemed to stop whenever a group of Strega got together. They used cell phones to let their families know they were safe and sound. But they didn’t turn on the radio or the television all weekend. It was like slipping into another world. After 2 phones calls from the 1st degree, who lived locally and who had made the cabin rental arrangements, Nola told her teacher that the 1st degree wasn’t coming up tonight. About 2 hours later the 1st degree actually said this herself via the final phone call of the night.

Their time together was well spent. The ritual went well. She was able to impress her teacher with a new and unexpected skill she had picked up since her 3rd degree. They did a lot of joint teaching and career counseling of the 1st degree.

The countryside was beautiful. The cabin had a glorious view. When they went out to visit the butcher who sold local game or to visit the town of Jim Thorpe, she was both the chauffer and the navigator. Everyone has their skills and when in a group it was best to go with your strengths and let everyone chip in as they could.

Soon enough it was time to pack up and return to the airport. She wasn't sure whether to tell the rest of them about meeting Owen or not. New students often popped up only to disappear just as quickly. So she decided not to say anything and just wait and see what, if anything, would happen.

Owen was able to talk his brother into letting Eric say with him at the cabin on Sunday night. Hanging with Eric was like being with his grandfather had been. Easy and fun so he took every opportunity he got. As a result he was up early on Monday to make sure he got Eric to school on time. He dropped by his parent's house to kiss him mom goodbye again and managed to get his dad, and only his dad, to drive him to the airport and evade prodding questions from his mom.

It was around 10AM when he arrived at the airport. He was fidgeting. Nola had said she would call him. But she hadn't said whether she would do this while she was here or when they got back to New Orleans. And, damn the woman, she hadn't called yet. She had said that she had to get her friends to the airport for a noon flight. So he was stalking the rental car counter hoping to catch her as she returned the car. Ridiculous? Maybe. Probably. But the flights up here had been fun. He hadn't had time to stress about what it would be like to be back home and as a result he had had a really good time. Lots of folks commented on how good he looked and how happy he seemed. They also shook their heads a lot and made noises about not understanding the appeal of New Orleans, but well, he was used to it.

He was pacing a bit back and forth around the baggage claim when, finally, she walked through the door with 2 other women. She didn't see him because she was focused on helping get their bags through the door. She went straight to the rental car return counter.

The other 2 women, whose flights he knew were earlier, went ahead to check in. She said she'd meet them upstairs when she finished turning in the car. So when she turned around and saw him there was no one there but him to see how surprised and glad she was to see him.
"Well, at least you look pleased."
"and more than a little surprised. What are you doing here?"
"You didn't call. You promised."
"Wha..." Her brow wrinkled. "but I didn't promise to call you while I was here." At least I don't think I did. No, I didn't. "I figured we'd both be plenty busy and I'd call you when I got home. You weren't expecting me to call, were you?"
"No, hoping."
Rolling her eyes, she said, "Owen, you are too big a flirt. When is your flight?"
"3 something out of Philadelphia or at least that is what I hope you said."
She pulled her ticket out and they compared and yep he had got it right.
"Impressive. But I was planning on trying to get an earlier flight out.” And she looked at him again. “You got a haircut.”
“Mom insisted.”
“Well it looks good.”
“Thanks!” he smiled and then wondered how someone who had only met him once on a plane ride just few days ago would notice a hair cut.

The car rental agent handed her the receipt. And as she went to put it away she looked around for her ticket. He waved the tickets and said, “Now, want to see if we can get on an earlier flight together?”
She sighed, “Ok, but this means that you will have to meet my teacher. I’m supposed to meet her upstairs before her flight takes off.”
“Cool.” And took her hand and started walking like he knew where he was going.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Words of Aradia: Concerning the Act of Rebirth

After the death experience has been completed, then the Soul is made ready to be born again.

When a couple is engaged in sexual union, a whirlpool of energy (a vortex) is created above them. This energy attracts Souls who are awaiting rebirth, from the plane which is harmonious to the energy of the union (the vortex is a composite aura of the couple.)

Once attracted, the Soul will be drawn into the female womb and will enter into a new physical life (all conditions be procreant).

Before being born again, the Soul will obtain knowledge of the life to come. Then is the plan realized.