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A blog for her friends to check that she's still alive, when she's been missing for a while, and what she's whinging about now.
Friday, August 27, 2004
Witchgrove and Me, by Johnny aged 31 and 360 days.
Once upon a time, I was brand new to computers. I got onto the computer up the library with the help of the librarian and looked up Syd Barrett and genealogy things for £1.50 for half an hour. Then Auntie Gwen died and left me with enough money to half buy one. I got the rest on the HP. That was 2000. I started joining Yahoo pagan groups, because my friend put me onto them, one of which was the precursor to Witchgrove. I joined that in autumn 2001 and it got deleted in March 2002.
I was at Lady Kenco's house when that happened, with a mod from the previous group, hence we got the major gossip by sheer dint of being there when the 'phone calls were flying around. I got my invitation to Witchgrove the night it was born - one of about 60-100 is my guess, though it might be far less. I was in and very relieved.
That didn't last long. Before too long, I started getting the first whispers on the grapevine. I'd been psychically attacking folk, I'd been irresponsible, I'd been that, I'd been this. I didn't have a clue what was going on, as I'd just considered myself pretty much a pleb on the previous group. I was there to learn, nothing else, though I'd share if I could contribute at all. I mentioned the rumours to some close friends, including Cerr. I was told not to afret, there was a lot of it going around and I was just the latest.
We couldn't have known then that I wasn't. There was someone out there feeling very threatened by me (though I wasn't alone). To this very day, there will occasionally be someone who pops up saying, 'I've heard something very disturbing about you and I don't know what to make of it.' IF that happens, I will hear them out and try very hard not to be negative about the person(s) passing on those stories. This blog right now is the most open I've ever been about it. There IS no way to defend myself, so I'll just say to them, 'what you've heard boils down to my word against hers. I'll not put you in a position where you have to choose between us and I'll not blame you for being wary of me. All I ask is that you look at what you know of me and what you know of her, then make your own mind up.'
That's the most fair I can be. To me it feels like that Biblical story where Solomon (or was it David?) tests who is the mother by offering to cut the baby in half. I'll not have my friends cut in half. Does it hurt? You bet it does, but over the years, I've found that those I actually care about have ultimately come to me and said, 'I believe you.' There was one person who wavered for so long, but she had been the most hurt in the psychic attack. I didn't blame her wavering at all, because she had to be sure of herself and defend her own. I didn't try to tell her my side of things, but tell her come to her own conclusions. In the past few months, she did and she came to let me know that she trusted me. That moment was pure relief for me, though I tried hard not to show it. It was as if I'd had my y gwir erbyn ar y byd on the subject.
In the meantime though, I'd worked out for myself that the psychic attacks had had to have come from somewhere. One of my friends (very sadly now gone) went through the past files and proved very well that it was either me or the other person. I had one up on everyone else, I knew that it wasn't me. This meant that I was uniquely in the position of knowing that someone else was not only dangerous but irresponsible and callous as well - a woman who'd step on any heads to make her point. I set myself the task of defending the less experienced folk, without ever mentioning it to anyone, outside a tight, small circle of friends. I got caught, of course, but only by two people, who put two and two together. One of whom was meant to work it out seeing as it was aimed at her, the other was just very clever.
Against this backdrop, I was a member of Witchgrove. Not a very good member at times, as I lurked mostly, though I did read all of the posts. Every so often I'd post a long waffle, then drifted back into the lurkers' lounge. Sometimes I was on a lot, but nothing major. Cerr has always been very careful to ensure no egos or crap is brought onto the group; on the whole, there hasn't even been this amongst the membership to keep off-list, though there have been attacks from external sources. Cerr battered them down with professionalism and let them go. I only found out about them much later!
Then, one day, Cerr posted to list something about how quiet it was on there and generally chatted. It wasn't a POST NOW e-mail, at least that isn't how it came across, but it caught my attention. I looked and realized that the Grove was getting ridiculously quiet and it niggled in my mind. I remember driving across the Dudley by-pass thinking of all the things that could be done to make it a lovely place. Two days later, I was driving back still thinking of these, then I went on line. None of them were necessary - the Grove was as chatty as ever, with such a gorgeous feeling to it. I sat back and thought about the achievement of Cerr, Chelle, Anna and Cabochon in creating such a place, which I took for granted. I promised myself there and then to post more and contribute more in whatever way I could, then I wrote a waffling e-mail telling everyone this. Me being me and all.
Moreover, I was going to stop concentrating on the darkness and start balancing that in myself with the lightness. More Witchgrove loving to balance the Kindly Ones ranting and fury; more looking at the good in people, as WG demonstrated, and less looking to see who was hurting me and mine. See if I could be the sort of priestess who folk could come to for something other than war. At the time, I should imagine that those who really knew me saw that in much the same light as we now all view FtE telling us he's going to be more like his brother and not hold grudges from now on.
I jumped into Witchgrove with both feet and suddenly there were Mab, Mab, Mab blogs and off-list e-mails off Cerr thanking me. I felt very grinny. Then there was a blot out of the blue - Cabochon was leaving the Grove, on one of his sabbaticals. This left a vacancy for a Mod, would I like to be one? ME?! I remember staring at the screen for a good few minutes, going from shock to blushing to shock to wondering to shock. ME?! I thought of the calibre of other Grovers - the like of Minerva Ravenwing for a start - and it kept coming back to ME?! Then I spotted that word before 'mod' - British. Ah! That made it a little more understandable, as there were only about three of us at the time! I accepted, proud, thrilled, honoured, shitting myself.
I got invited into the Mods group and found a whole world that I'd known nothing about. All the people who hurled abuse at the mods, whom Cerr had dealt with calmly and dignified, but had sheltered us all from it. I came to understand - as bright a light as the Grove has to cast a long, dark shadow. The shadow is only really seen from the Mods group and it can be an ugly thing. I learned utter and total respect for Cerr, Chelle, Anna and Cabochon. I felt like Queen Victoria, being told she was now Queen - 'I will be good.' I would do my best to help with the Grove.
To be honest, I was a shit Mod. I didn't do a single, solitary thing without checking with Cerr and Anna first. They might as well have done it themselves! I think that the only thing I did without checking first was to look those bouncing and send the reactivation things. I don't think I've ever (even now) deleted someone's membership because of bouncing for months - I was too worried about Cerr shouting! LOL She's even given us guidelines of when to do that, and I still pretend I haven't seen it and hide until she deletes them herself. *blush*
The first time I ever did anything of use, that I couldn't do as a member, was after Ivy Wolfmoon suggested that a web-site be nice. I'd been experimenting with an idiot proof site for my genealogy and asked if I could play. The first WG site was very basic. You load a picture and it places it for you. You have a box to enter text in. I was so nervous doing it, but determined to contribute. Poor Cerr and Anna must have wondered if it it was worth all the hassle, as I checked on just about everything I did on it! It stalled for ages, as I waited for permission to do such and such or had to learn how to do the other. There was no way of adding the code for not stealing pictures, that held it up for ages.
In the end, I was told that this code could not be added to that, it could only go onto a complex web-page, involving ftp server and other foreign concepts. I turned to the Friends of the Heroes, where Rachel and Grainne patiently taught me how to do what was needful. Then I turned to google and the search 'html + *insert thing*' The web-site as it looks now took hours and hours and hours of frustration, waiting for permission, wanting to put the computer through the window. In the end I broke and stopped waiting for permission. Without knowing it, I was starting to become a mod, this after a memorable night when I wiped the floor with WM Mike for daring to interupt me after I'd just accidentally deleted a page that had taken me half a day to write. Cerr intervened and calmed tempers, I apologized.
In the background, Cerr wasn't do so well. Medical treatment followed by the early stages of pregnancy meant that she wasn't as calm as usual and her massive workload couldn't be crowbarred into the times between throwing up and needing to lie down before she fell down. All lists ebb and flow, this was one of the quieter times; but also one of WG's most consistent critics was back and we were all on edge. Cerr let it get to her one night and got upset about everything in her world. I couldn't do much about 90% of it, but I could do something about the quietness of Witchgrove. The pie chart did that accidentally, but me posting 20 million e-mails was my main cunning plan, coupled with modding how Cerr modded as much as I could.
I also nervously passed on my idea for a weekly discussion, which would ensure at least one pagan related e-mail a week. Cerr and Anna liked that idea and we coincided Cerr's introductory discussion - 'Wiccaning' - with the launch of the web-site. I was utterly determined to get her proof that all was well with the Grove at least, so she could stop fretting and concentrate on everything else, so I went on a manic round of talking people into introducing a subject. That worked.
So October 2003... that's when I look back now and say I started to change. After 31 years of being the 'officially difficult' one, whom you mainly spoke to via the like of FT Kate, and who did not play well with other people, suddenly I was one of two people stepping up into the spotlight to cover Cerr. My name was all over the Grove. I was responding to posts that I wouldn't normally respond to. I was canting with people off-list about things. I was gaining confidence daily, though I wasn't yet ready for compliments. If a Grover had a project, I was there supporting it or, in the case of the Pagan Headstone Campaign, right there in the forerunning of it. Instead of watching, I was daring to act. Seizing every new idea offered up by the Grove and running with it. Cerr was kept informed, but I no longer asked her and Anna for permission to breathe.
In December, I took a chance. One of the Grovers was unable to introduce the subject of 'Christmas', and an urgent, last minute replacement was needed. I knew of one Grover who feared and detested Christmas. I thought it through. Would a weekly discussion help him come to terms with the ghosts of Christmasses past? I asked him, this time consciously trying to be a HPS. Hours later, he agreed to it and it was stunning: Christmas by Warriormail Mike.
Through Christmas, into January, I was starting to feel pretty cocky. Time after time, my instincts were proving spot on; either by luck or uncanny knowing, things kept falling into place. I stood on Cadar Idris at the end of January feeling as though I'd finally passed through the Judgement card phase of my life and heading into The World. In the cottage behind me, I was to sit with old, old friends and one was to explain something very basic to me about Paganism, as he didn't think I'd know it. I didn't want to say out loud what I was thinking, because it sounded like arrogance. But damned, arrogance is a crap concept. I tried to tell them, but I'd had a bit too much and the words weren't coming out. I got locked inside my own head, with all of my achievements laid out in front of me, realizing suddenly the enormity of what I was up to and just how high my star was blazing.
That's when it first started to fall again. It's a little like when the cartoon characters keep running and suddenly realize they've gone over a cliff. They hang in the air for a while, then fall. I hung in the air for a few months, because I got distracted.
There was a thread on the Grove, which turned very deep and heart-felt. Folk talking about their suicide attempts and depressions, their madness, addictions etc - things which had been over years before and survived to make them the dudes as they are now. I contributed to it, but pulled back right at the edge of telling about 1994. Pixie e-mailed me to tell me not to tell because I felt like I had to. They loved me enough to not need to know. I was shedding layers of soul and didn't know it. Pixie could see it a mile off and warned me.
By now, I was basking in the glow of having been accepted for a new job. I was having people big me up left, right and centre, and I wasn't allowing myself to transmute that into insult in my own head. I was letting myself fly higher and higher and calling it gaining confidence. I ignored Pixie and did possibly the most stupid thing in my life: I typed up 'Priestess' and put it on-line. While I was doing so, I had a car-crash which left me in a lot of pain; followed less than a month later by the deaths of Nick Aylett and Clive Southall, within a few days of each other.
That's when the bubble burst. That's when I realized that I had run off a cliff. That's when I noticed that there were no safety nets underneath me. The fall used to be a lot shorter than this. Other things have occurred while I've been falling, but those are for another blog. It took from Samhain to Beltane to rise (more or less) and it's so far taken from Beltane to fall. Presumably I'm on course to hit the ground around the end of October, unless I learn how to fly first.
I think I might as well learn how to fly.
But me and Witchgrove - since the crash, I've twice tried to leave and twice been headed off at the pass. There are now two more mods - Georgia and Roxanne - who provide the missing links and the team now is brilliant. I seem to have metamorphosed from the annoying mod who did sod all and asked permission for the rest into the capable mod who could run the Grove in the absense of Cerr and/or Anna. Cerr's now 95% back and rising, and so she's taking the reins more and more. She's practically got them full time again now. That makes me feel very relieved! And I'm pretty sure that I did live up to their faith in me, even now. I'll not be leaving now.
Anyway, I appreicate you posting all of this. We got your back
Thanks, Georgia fach, I know you have.
I'm glad you're not leaving the grove and, pending your decision, may see you at the october moot.
the other deaf one - Bex