Monthly Archives: November 2013

Thanksgiving 2013

I had originally planned a post about reasons that I’m glad I’m Pagan, but that was before I realized that this is the day before Thanksgiving.

(Yeah, sometimes days get away from me…)

So instead I thought I would take this post to do the traditional listing of things I’m thankful for.

1) Friends: both online and in person. They keep me sane – most of the time.

2) Family: they may be a little a little hard to explain and things might be a little strained at times, but they are still there, and they are important.

3) Freedom: I live in a country where I am free to practice the religion I choose and to walk down the street unescorted, without having to answer to anyone – not all people are that lucky.

4) Paganism: I feel so much more at home on this path than I ever did as a Christian, and I am grateful to the forces that guided me home.

5) My deities: the way They impact my life, the way They have guided and protected and taught me, and simply for being so that I could find Them and know Them.

6) Internet: it makes job-hunting so much easier.  Plus, without it, I wouldn’t have some of the wonderful people who are a part of my life.

7) Creativity: writing, stitching, scrapbooking, all of the other hundred and one things I want to learn and do – they all help keep me sane. I really don’t understand people who have no hobbies other than television, who never feel the urge to create something. (I’m not judging them, I just don’t understand them.) (I don’t understand people who have totally spotless houses, either, but I sure wish I could be one of them!)

8) Home: I have a place to live, warm and dry and sheltered from the elements.  And I love it here – this apartment felt like home the first time I walked in the door to look at it.

9) Health: overall, I’m healthy.  Well, other than the fact that it’s bronchitis season.  (Oh, and that pesky weight thing, a.k.a. “the perpetual New Year’s Resolution.”)

10) Food: I love food (a little too much – see above) and I am grateful that I have enough to eat and the ability to cook it.

11) Clutter: yes, clutter. It means that I have more than I need, which means that I can help those who have less.  I have probably cut my wardrobe in half by donating clothes to charities, and I’m currently doing the same with books. (I have more clothes to go through too, but that’s going to wait until the next change of seasons.)  (It also means that I probably don’t need to spend money on craft supplies for the rest of my life.)

12) Sense of humor: yes, it’s warped and people don’t always understand it, but it allows me to revel in the ludicrousness of human behavior without being insulted (most of the time).

13) Imagination: without it I… The one thing I can’t seem to imagine is what it would be like to have no imagination.  It enriches my life in so many ways.

There are other things of course – those were just the first 13 things that popped into my head.  And just about each one of the above could be broken down into individual items, but that would leave me feeling a little overwhelmed.

Overwhelmed with gratitude.

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Book of Shadows

I don’t have one.  I have been on this path for 25 years or more and I still don’t have a Book of Shadows.

Why not?
Because indecision may be the basis of flexibility but it is also the bane of progress. In short, I can’t decide how to organize it, and my perfectionist streak wants it to be done right, not just done.

I do know that it is going to be in a three-ring binder instead of a journal-type book.  (So why do I own so many journal type books, including ones that actually say “Book of Shadows” on them?  Um… Good question.  Probably for the same reason that I own enough spiral bound notebooks to stock my own office supply store.)

Why a three-ring binder?  So that I can organize it and find what I’m looking for, and so it has room to grow and still stay organized.

Because my non-existent Book of Shadows has grown.  When I first started it was a “Manilla Folder of Shadows.”  Then it was “A File Cabinet Drawer of Shadows.” Then it became a “Box of Shadows” which at least had the right initials.  That, however, quickly became an “Overflowing Box of Shadows,” which grew into an “Overflowing Box of Shadows with More Scraps of Paper Crammed in Along the Edges.”  And so on.

I know what sort of sections I want, and three of them are spells, prayers, and rituals, but that’s where a large part of the problem comes in:  what distinguishes between the three?  When does a prayer become a spell and when does a spell become a ritual and when does a ritual become a prayer?

For instance, if I make an amulet of protection, and I do it inside a circle and I ask a deity for assistance… is that a spell, a ritual, or a prayer, or all three?  Which section does it belong in?

Another thing that has held me back is the fact that I have lousy handwriting. (There’s that perfectionist streak again…)  That has been more or less circumvented by the existence of computers, so it isn’t really an excuse anymore, although I do really love the idea of a hand written Book of Shadows.

And at this point, I’m wondering if it is worth it to create one.  So much of what I do is informal and spontaneous, not to mention second nature to me, that I wonder if I would even use one.

And yet, I still love the idea of having one, although I don’t know why.  Maybe just for the creativity of it?  My current plan is to use scrapbooks and make a “Scrapbook of Shadows.”  (Which, of course, gives me the excuse of finding the perfect paper for each page…)

I think I’m going to make making a BoS one of my goals for next year.

If anyone reading this has one, what is in it and how is it organized?  I’m open for suggestions.

 

R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Do you respect the gods of your religion — your pantheon?  Do you respect the gods (pantheon) of other religions?

I think that most Pagans would answer yes to both of those questions.  (At least, I would hope that they would!)

Maybe I’m hyper-sensitive, but when I see people using the names of the Pagan deities for their pets, or characters in a novel, it gets under my skin.   My gods and goddesses are just as real to me as their god is to them, and I just have to wonder how they would feel if I named my cat Yahweh, or made Jehovah the name of a character in a novel.

And don’t think I’m not tempted:  I regularly vent to friends and say that I’m going to use those names for characters in a novel.

But I know I won’t.

Why?

Respect.

They may not be names of any of the deities that I personally follow, but they are the names of a deity.  And if I want others to come to respect my path and my deities, then I have to respect theirs as well.  (Law of return, folks: it’s not just for magic anymore.)

And yet, I don’t want to just let it slide, either.  People won’t learn about our path, our deities, unless we educate them, unless we have the courage to say, “Hey, Apollo is as alive and real to me as Jesus is to you. Would you like it if I named my cat Jesus?”

Sure, some are going sneer and dismiss you as a flake, but maybe, just maybe, some will stop and think and realize that it is not okay to denigrate the gods of other religions.  (By “other religions” I mean Pagan religions:  I’m relatively certain that none of them would use Allah for the name their pet.)

So why do they think that it is all right to profane* Pagan deities by using their names in such a way?

Part of it is because schools are still teaching classes on mythology in such a way that people don’t even realize that this was their religion, let alone that it still is a religion.

And there is still a belief among many of those who follow the “mainstream” religions that there is only one true right way – a belief, thankfully, that is not shared by any of the Pagans that I have met.  We realize that there is no one true right way:  just because a path doesn’t work for you doesn’t meant that it isn’t the right one for someone else.

Someday, maybe, all deities will be treated with equal respect.  Until then all we can do is try to educate those around us.

And respect them.

 

*Profane:
1:  to treat (something sacred) with abuse, irreverence, or contempt
2:  to debase by a wrong, unworthy, or vulgar use
(Source: Merriam-Webster.com)

Kitchen Witch

What is a kitchen witch?  There are a variety of answers to that, but the most common is that a kitchen witch is someone who uses the kitchen and cooking as their primary focus of magic.

Many also set up a small altar in the kitchen.  (When I find the image I want, I will have one to Hestia, the Greek goddess of the hearth, on, over, or near the stove, which is the modern-day equivalent of the hearth.)

I don’t know if I am strictly a kitchen witch, but I do use kitchen magic a great deal: from my own “traditional” meals at Sabbats to daily cooking to making something special.

And, as with many things on my path, I got my start long before I had heard of any form of Paganism, and back when “magic” was just something in fairy tales and fantasy novels.

I was in high school, and was tasked with making a meatloaf for supper.  Normally I didn’t mind cooking, but for some reason lost in the halls of time I really didn’t want to do it that night and was feeling somewhat resentful.

I asked my (paternal) grandfather why his meatloaf always tasted better than mine:   after all, he was the one that I had learned from.

He said he didn’t know, but he would watch me make it and see what I was doing that was different than the way he did it.

Ground beef in a bowl, salt and pepper added, eggs added, I started tearing bread into chunks and dropping them into the bowl, all under his watchful eye.

“It’s the way you’re tearing the bread,” he said, reaching out and taking it from me. Strong gentle fingers broke the bread into pieces.  “You have to do it with love.”

And in those words is the key to kitchen magic – to any magic, really:  intent.

Many years later those words still guide me in my cooking and I am aware of when I am not cooking in a spirit of love and nourishment, but doing it with an attitude of resentment.

I try to remain focused when cooking. (It’s not always possible, but I try.)

I stir widdershins to banish illness if cooking something when I’m sick (or for someone else who is sick), and deosil to draw in health and prosperity.

Of course, the direction you move the spoon isn’t all there is to it:  there is also the focus, intent, and visualization – illness leaving, or abundance and health coming in – imbuing the food with magic.

And, truly, it is the intent that makes the magic…

“You have to do it with love.”