(This is just a list of some of the main reasons (in no particular order) that I am glad that I found my way home to Paganism. Some of these will be discussed more fully in future blog posts. And I have little doubt that I’ll think of 10 more reasons as soon as this posts.)
1) Paganism honors the feminine: I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for being female. Nor do I have to feel that I am in some way “less” because I am a woman.
2) There is no “One True Right Way.” I never believed in proselytizing, even when I was a Christian. I always felt that missionaries going out and trying to force people to believe the same things they did was wrong. After all, their own beliefs had worked well for them for thousands of years – what hubris!
3) It gives me a sense of connection with the natural world. The endless turning of the Wheel of the Year, the cycles of the seasons, of the moon, of my life: they are all connected, and they are part of me and I am part of them
4) It gives me a sense of connection with Deity: The God and Goddess are here. They are in the world (They are the world) not outside of it somewhere. And because of that, because They are part of the world and so am I, I have a sense of connection with Them – everywhere and all the time – not just in church on Sundays.
5) Immediacy. Our God wasn’t born, didn’t live among us, didn’t die, didn’t disappear from Earth to dwell in Heaven. No, our God is born every year, He does live among us, He (as the vegetation god) does die/sacrifice himself, and He is born again to repeat the cycle. It’s not a one time thing and then gone: our God, like our religion, lives.
6) Paganism is not static or carved in stone. It’s a living religion, one that grows and evolves and adapts to a changing knowledge-base. I don’t need someone else to interpret “God’s Word” for me.
7) Paganism is not based in fear. I’m not going to burn in a fiery pit and cry and gnash my teeth for eternity. I don’t have to be perfect in this lifetime: I can – and will – come back again to learn new lessons. I’m not being judged for my actions and I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for being human. I don’t “fall short of the glory of God.”
8) Responsibility. I am responsible for my own actions and their consequences. And I have the power to create change in my life. Yes, there is the Law of Return, that what you send out comes back to you, but there is no one leading me astray: Satan is not part of Paganism, not part of our pantheons – he strictly belongs to the Judeo/Christian/Islamic tradition.
9) I don’t have to follow a set of rule written by men thousands of years ago. All I have to do to understand the laws of my religion is go out into the world and observe.
10) I don’t have to feel guilty, dirty, or unclean for having sexual thoughts or fantasies: sex is also natural, and part of the natural world. “Sex” seemed like a taboo word to me growing up, but The God and Goddess are not celibate.
On a (primarily) cross stitch related message board that I frequent, there is a handful of Pagans and we started a Daily Pagan thread. It’s marked as OT (Off Topic) and as REL(igious) in nature. All are welcome to come and read and ask questions, etc, but they need to expect that some things will be from a Pagan perspective. (Mostly we just talk about our day to day lives.)
One of our many lurkers posted that Summer Solstice always seemed to come too soon and then we begin to lose daylight. That got me started thinking…
One of my favorite things about Paganism is the Wheel of the Year, and the lessons that it teaches. Pagans know that just as the light doesn’t last forever, neither does the darkness.
And that led to the realization that the balance between dark and light is achieved not on the points of equality, but in the flow from one to another.
May we all find balance as the wheel turns.
I know I’m a little late with this – I haven’t been able to decide what to write about. (It wasn’t so much that I was undecided, it was that I was decided on too many things.)
So, I was poking around on Face Book, procrastinating hoping a topic would leap the forefront, and I noticed that I was suddenly seeing a lot of spider pictures on my timeline.
Now, I like spiders – they are a great totem for writers and other creative sorts – so of course, one of my first thoughts was to wonder what it meant to suddenly be seeing so many, especially since I haven’t been feeling especially creative lately.
The answer, of course, is that it doesn’t necessarily mean anything.
I see it over and over again in Pagan groups on Face Book: someone, usually someone new to the path, will post that s/he has seen such and such, or that this, that, or the other has been happening and “What does it mean?”
Chances are, it means nothing. Not everything is a sign. Trust yourself to know when something is. (A large part of walking this path is trusting your inner knowing: get used to it. Sure, you’ll make some mistakes, but that’s how you learn.)
In the same vein, not everything has a metaphysical cause. Sure, everything is connected, and yes, I am a firm believer in a holistic approach to medicine and healing, but let’s get real here, folks: a sudden rash of headaches, or tummy upsets, or hives, or what-have-you is most likely not the result of someone cursing you, nor the result of a plague of demons, or… (fill in your own favorite “reason” here) so…
Get. Thee. To. A. Doctor.
And still in the same vein are the people who are looking for a magical solution to their problems. Yes, magic works, and it can be used for mundane purposes, but it’s a lot easier to tackle most stuff on the physical front first. And even if you do use magic, it doesn’t solve the problem – you still have to get up off your butt and do what needs to be done on the material plane.
In short – and in what may become a recurring theme – believing in magic doesn’t mean losing your common sense.
Hmm… maybe that spider did mean something. It certainly kicked off a blog post…
It’s that time of year again… the start of summer.
This can be a rough Sabbat for a solitary, as the focus is so heavily on sexuality and lust and fertility and procreation. (In fact, being asexual in orientation, this really is the hardest Sabbat for me to get a handle on emotionally, and the hardest to connect with the energy of.)
But there are other forms of creation and passion besides sex.
Beltane might be a good time to plant a garden, weather permitting. Here in Western Pennsylvania the weather is almost reliable by Beltane: there may still be some frosts, but rarely freezes. (Although the way this year’s weather has been acting I wouldn’t be surprised to see snow!)
Do a ritual to honor the creative aspects of yourself. Do you do handcrafts? Write? Scrapbook? Draw/paint? Sculpt? Make jewelry? Spend some time with your creative pursuits — with your passions. Rekindle the flames of creativity and passion.
Want something more esoteric? Just as at Samhain, the Veil thins at Beltane, and it is said that the Fair Folk ride forth into our world. Perhaps leave something out to honor them and curry their favor?
And don’t forget to sing…
Emerald Rose: “Merry May Folk”
Damh the Bard: “Call the May”
Damh the Bard: “Under a Beltane Sun”
Damh the Bard: “Green and Grey”
With Beltane happening next week (already? didn’t we just celebrate Ostara?) there are a lot of groups holding open rituals. (There are at least three in my general vicinity this weekend.)
So, how do you find out about them? I mean, Pagan groups don’t normally take out huge billboards or full-page newspaper ads.
Well, for one thing, check out The Witches’ Voice to find others in your area. (The links are down at the bottom of the page.)
There is also PaganSpace, which has local contacts as well as general forums. (Where asbestos — the general forums can get a little heated at times.)
And then there is Facebook, which probably needs no introduction. Just type Pagan in the box that says “Search for people, places, and things” and be prepared to be overwhelmed. You can narrow the search to your area by including the name of a nearby city, or the county you’re in (and surrounding counties).
As far as what to expect at a public ritual, don’t ask me. I’m very solitary, and my introverted self would probably be very unhappy at a large public gathering. (The weekly coffee night is almost too much sometimes, and all we do is sit around and talk and eat.)
I would, however, suggest you read about the event – most have a website or Facebook page – to see what it says. There may be suggestions for what to bring, information about the space (indoor or outdoor), etc, that will give you some idea of what to expect. Also, some are going to be more “family friendly” than others, so check before bringing your young ‘uns.
The main thing is to be respectful (of the people and the place) and to go in with an open mind – they might not do things the way you do, but then, they might not do things they way they do when they’re alone, either.
I’ve seen a lot of people asking how to find their deity, how do they know who their deity is, etc. And, quite frankly, I’m baffled: I just don’t understand the question.
One part of the problem is that I’m not quite sure exactly what they mean. The deity that they feel closest to? The deity that they are supposed to serve? The deity that they are called to? (How they expect anyone other than themselves to answer that last one is beyond me, but anyhow…)
For that matter, how they expect anyone to provide them with the answer to any of those questions is also beyond my understanding.
Maybe I’m just in “Cranky Old Crone” mode, but why does it seem that no one wants to do the work for themselves anymore? Why are they looking to other people to provide quick answers to questions that they can really only find answers to by looking within?
Maybe I’m just lucky. Once I’d been practicing long enough for things to sink in, I knew who my deities were — I’d always known, actually, I just didn’t realize it at first. They were the ones who first “spoke” to me, way back in high school: Apollo, Artemis, and Athena. Apollo especially. (And, more recently, Hermes.)
How did I know? I just knew.
Looking back, I can see Apollo’s touch in so many little things in my life: my need for sunlight (I swear I run on solar batteries), my love of poetry, being drawn toward divination, being called to a healing path…
And why is it so important to know who their deities are right off the bat?
When I started practicing, I simply invited “The Lord and Lady” to my rituals. There were no specific names — naming them seemed to limit them somehow. (In fact, in general ritual I’m still most likely to use Lord and Lady, unless I am trying to connect with a specific energy or am honoring a specific deity.)
If anyone out there can explain this phenomenon, please do.
It is one of the things that turned me off of a Hellenic Reconstructionist group that I found on line.
Yes, there are some things that are pretty far out there, like claiming that The Morrigan came to you to cheer you in your darkest hour. (That’s an actual line found on a Face Book meme. I cannot make this stuff up.)
(And, frankly, if your darkest hour is dark enough that the Morrigan is able to cheer you up, I’m going to make sure that you, me, and sharp objects are never in the same place at the same time…)
Unlike the Hellenic Reconstructionist group, I think that UPG is fine.
I’m not saying that what you learn in meditation is the answer for everyone, but it might be the answer for you. And if it works for you, then by all means, use it.
After all, at some point, everything we know about the deities was UPG. No one has any way of really knowing for a fact what they are like, although we can know them on an emotional and spiritual level.
Anything other than that is just UPG that was agreed upon by a bunch of other people and preserved through history.
But I’m still not sure that the Morrigan brings cheer…
Recently I posted about casting spells to help yourself, and why it’s okay to do that. But what about casting spells to help others?
Of course that’s permissible. I think it’s better if it’s done with their knowledge and consent, but everyone is going to have different opinions on that, and I’ll admit that there is a huge grey area there.
What about charging someone to cast a spell for them? Much bigger grey area. I mean, yes, your time and energy are worth something, and there should be some sort of exchange if you are doing work for another. And money can be considered to be a form of energy. But…
Are you liable if it backfires or doesn’t work?
I think I’d be more comfortable with teaching them how to do it themselves: not only does that relieve you of liability, but it helps to demystify the process, make it more accessible and understandable.
And more enlightenment can only be a good thing, right?
Now, what about going to someone to have a spell cast for you? (This is what prompted this post…*)
Personally, I’d rather do it myself.
For one thing, no one is going to be more emotionally invested in your problem than you are, and it’s emotional energy that fuels the magic.
(Note: if you are sick or run down or otherwise unable to raise enough energy to do a spell, then by all means, ask for help from friends in the Craft until you are back on your metaphysical feet.)
But more importantly, this path is about taking responsibility for yourself and your life, for creating the change you want and the outcome you want.
Giving that responsibility to another lessens your own power and control over your life.
Don’t do that.
Do it yourself.
*I’ve been getting comments about how great so and so is and how much s/he helped the poster gain control over their life or do whatever.
Every so often I see posts on Pagan groups asking someone what their dreams mean.
First of all, not all dreams have meaning — some are merely “housekeeping” dreams, in which your subconscious clears away the debris of the day. (Mine tend to be really amusing and silly.)
Others are your subconscious’s (or Higher Self’s, whatever you want to call it) way of getting a message to you, and in that case, you are (usually) the best analyzer of your own dreams.
There are a lot of books out there on dream symbols, all of which are interesting but none of which is entirely accurate.
If you want a book on dream interpretation I would like to recommend Sacred Sleep: Dreams and the Divine by Scott Cunningham. Among other things, it teaches you how to construct your own dictionary of symbols that have personal meaning to you. After all, just as one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, one person’s dream of cats may be reassuring while another would find it terrifying.
(I have a feeling that most of the following ideas came from that book, but it’s been so long since I read it that I’m not 100% sure.)
Start keeping a dream diary. If you have a dream that you remember write it down as soon as you wake up.
Write down everything that you remember about it — inside/outside, weather, lighting, colors, other people/animals, what sort of place, as well as what happened and what was said.
And the setting. I will sometimes have a series of dreams set in the same location and just that setting clues me in that it’s a dream that I need to spend some time thinking about.
(That said, I find that the “important” dreams tend to stick with me: I still remember a setting for dreams when I was in high school — a dusty road through a town, but the buildings were just facades, like a movie set.)
Once you’ve written down everything you can remember, start to free associate the images in it. Record those results under the dream entry, then try to piece together an overall theme or meaning.
Don’t worry if nothing comes to you. Sometimes it takes a while, so be patient. If it’s important, the message will get through to you one way or another.
And, yes, sometimes it’s hard to pin down a meaning by yourself. Sometimes you are just too close to the situation and are either resisting the meaning or simply unable to see it from where you are. (This applies to Tarot readings and other forms of divination as well.) In that case, it’s helpful if you have others that you can present the dream to, just to see what they say.
Especially people who know you well.
After all it’s not for nothing that the words above Apollo’s oracle at Delphi were “Know thyself.”
I was beginning to think it would never come.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the changing of the seasons, and I think that winter has a special beauty that you don’t see in other seasons, but this one’s “special beauty” passed its prime long ago. We had over 20 inches of snow more than normal, and long streaks of abnormally cold (sub-zero) temperatures, unusual for Western Pennsylvania.
I am ready for spring.
Well, okay – spring started at Imbolc, according to the way that I see the Wheel, but it sure hasn’t been looking much like it around here.
We could still get some snow, even up into April isn’t unusual, but now the hours of daylight are going to outlast the hours of darkness. The earth is awakening and soon there will be flowers. And green!
But on the equinox itself, for a moment, day and night, lightness and darkness, will be equal, will hover briefly in balance.
That is, in part, what the equinox is about: balance, about finding it within ourselves so that we can live in and celebrate each moment, even as we remember and acknowledge that the wheel continues to turn, and that the only constant is change.
Meh… Enough with the philosophical stuff.
My plans are to maybe go out to the state park and walk along one of the trails, looking for signs of spring. (Depends on the weather and my knee.)
I’m also planning to cook ham and make deviled eggs. (Any excuse for deviled eggs!)
And I will spend some time meditating on balance, as I always do on equinoxes.
And this year I am feeling called to be more active, although I am not yet sure in what way.