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30 Day Pagan Journaling Challenge 9-10-2017

There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.

And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)

Today’s question is:

My favorite Pagan authors are…? Why are they my favorites?

Scott Cunningham.  He was my first, and I love his gentle soft style. I think I have just about every one of his Pagan books and they are the ones that never seem to be up for shelf-purges. He passed through the veil far too soon.

Trish Telesco. Another down-to-earth writer. (Urban Pagan was one of my favorite books way back when.)

These days I’m looking for more traditional and less fluffy writers, though. And less “how to” and more… in depth explorations of spirituality and living life as a Pagan.

Alaric Albertsson’s book To Walk a Pagan Path is excellent and I want to get some of his other Pagan books.

It seems, though, that the longer I walk this path the harder it is to find authors who don’t set my teeth on edge. (I’m even pretty sure that if I’d go back and reread Cunningham or Telesco that I’d get irritated.)

I’m getting more discriminatory in my reading, I suppose, and there are some things that I really don’t like and are automatic turn offs.

I’m not a fan of books (or traditions) that are strictly Goddess-oriented. Yes, I understand that there’s a reason for them, but they don’t feel any more balanced to me than Christianity does.

Another turn-off is books or writers that are all fluffy and white light. You can’t ignore the dark. If you do, it eats you up and eventually controls you. (The Devil card in Tarot comes to mind.)  You need balance. The autumn equinox (no, it was never called Mabon*) is coming soon – a good time to reflect on said balance.

Anyhow, I guess I don’t have any favorite contemporary Pagan authors.  I’m going to have to remedy that.

 

*(The autumn equinox may actually never have been anything special to the ancients, either.)

 

 

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30 Day Pagan Journaling Challenge 9-9-2017

There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.

And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)

Today’s question is:

What are my top three resource books? Why?

This question is a lot harder than I thought it would be when I first read the list of prompts. I haven’t bought any new Pagan books in ages and rarely refer to the ones that have been sitting on the shelves for years.

Why is that?

I think it’s because after a while you stop relying on books and start relying on your own intuition and knowledge and observation and understanding and…

Still, there are some things that it’s good to have a reference for, so I think I’m probably going to go with books that I used a lot – and still do pull when I need to find something specific.

Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Crystal, Gem, and Metal Magic by Scott Cunningham

The Complete Book of Incense, Oils, and Brews (also by Scott Cunningham)

Aw, heck. Just books by Scott Cunningham. I just looked through his bibliography and I’m not going to try to pick a third.

Why his books?

Well, because the first book on Paganism I read was his book The Truth About Witchcraft Today. It’s what led me home.

And because his style of writing is approachable and… soothing somehow.

Will my list of books change?

Probably. I have some books on Hellenic practice that I need to read – and a list of some that I need to get. And I have a friend who is into more traditional witchcraft and she has some recommendations for me.

But for now, I’m sticking with that list.

 

 

 

 

 

30 Day Pagan Journaling Challenge 9-8-2017

There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.

And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)

Today’s question is:

How would I like to change or improve my daily practice?

That’s easy.

Consistency.

I really want (and need) to become more consistent with everything from worship through meditation to spell work.

The answer was easy. The implementation? Er… yeah.

This journaling challenge is helping.  It’s making me think about stuff on a daily basis and put that thinking into action (writing).

But what am I going to do when the month ends?

Well, they say it takes 21 days to establish a new habit, so maybe by the time October rolls around spending some time each day on some sort of spiritual practice will be a part of my life.

And maybe by then the insanity of my new job will have settled and I’ll have developed some sort of routine in the rest of my life as well.

 

30 Day Pagan Journaling Challenge 9-7-2017

There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.

And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)

Today’s question is:

Do I work with deities? If yes, who and why? In not, why not?

Define “work with.”

Are there deities that I worship, that I make offerings to, give thanks and praise to, and ask for Their assistance?

Yes.

Do I ask Them to do things for me (other than protection, or giving me the strength, courage, and knowledge to handle challenges)?

No.

Do I use Them when I’m casting a spell?

No.

Why not?

Because They are my deities, not my familiar spirits, or members of my (non-existent) coven.

But do I pray to Them and meditate on Them?

Yes, of course I do. I seek Their guidance and counsel, either through prayer and meditation or through divination or just staying open to signs in the outer world.

(Note: not everything you see is a sign. And if you ask for one, being specific is a good idea so you know that you’ve been answered.)

As for which deities, I am primarily Hellenic in orientation, with special devotions to Apollo, Hermes, Athena, and Artemis.

Why?

The answer to that might fill a book or two or three or…

Athena for Her wisdom and courage. When I need strength to fight a battle She is the one I turn to. When I am truly angry I’m probably closer to Ares in nature, and She provides the calmness, logic, and rational outlook that I need to temper my temper. “Revenge is a dish best served cold” and She keeps me from burning it.

Artemis because She is both huntress and protectress of the wilderness, and it is in the latter aspect that She calls to me. I was raised in an area where hunting is almost a way of life, but so is respect for and conservation of the wilderness.  Both of my maternal grandparents were very big on conservation, so Artemis is a natural (pardon the pun) choice for me.

Apollo… What can I say? God of the sun, music, poetry, prophecy, healing (and also pestilence) from the very first I was drawn to Him, perhaps because I used to write a lot of poetry. (Hey! I was in high school. That made a lot more sense as a reason to choose a deity then than it does now, but even so, looking back I can see His presence and guidance throughout my life ever since.)

Hermes is a more recent addition to my life, I think stemming from when I worked at the jail. A friend and I were having a conversation (an email exchange, actually) and he commented that the jail was very much an “underworld” type of place. Hermes journeys freely between all the realms – Olympus, Earth, and Hades. Hermes is also the god of thieves – and of protection from thieves.  He is also the patron of travelers and I was doing a lot of driving back then.

Outside of the Greek deities, I have a fondness for Kwan Yin, “She Who Hears the Cries of the World” because if there is anything this entire world needs it is more compassion.

And Blodeuwedd. Her story spoke to me from the first moment I heard it. (Years ago I read a quote attributed to Muhammad Ali (“I don’t have to be what you want me to be.”) and when I first learned of Blodeuwedd that quote came to mind because She is the embodiment of it.

And there you have it: the deities that hold a special place in my life. My life would be much the poorer without Their presence.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

(If you would like more information on the Greek myths and deities, I recommend The Theoi Project.)

30 Day Pagan Journaling Challenge 9-5-2017

There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.

And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)

Today’s question is:

Where has my study focus been recently?

That’s a really good question as I’ve actually been rather unfocused lately. (As evidenced by the long hiatus this blog has been on.)

That doesn’t seem to be too unusual, actually. I’ve heard from several Pagan friends that they seem to take a break from active learning and participation. (That doesn’t mean that we stop practicing or following our path, just that we ease off for a bit now and then before being called back to a more active approach.)

For me that “call back” seems to be coming in the form of wanting to learn about herbs, both medicinal and magical.

That and a desire to set up shrines to my deities, but that’s going to be a somewhat lengthy process as it’s tied up in the “but firsts.”

As in:

But first I need to get craft stuff moved out of my bedroom and into my craft room so I have room to set up shrines.

But first I have to get my craft room set up as an actual working area instead of a craft storage area.

But first I have to get it decluttered and organized so it can be an actual working area instead of a craft storage area.

But first I need to get some sort of organizers set up.

But first I have to make room in my craft room to put organizers.

And now we’re into a vicious cycle of “but firsts.”

But I’m working on them.

And I’m looking into herbalism courses.

 

 

 

30 Day Pagan Journaling Challenge 9-4-2017

There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.

And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)

Today’s question is:

 

What does a typical day look like for me through Pagan eyes?

I posted the link to this challenge on Face Book and a non-Pagan friend of mine said that she thinks that I see the world pretty much the same way she does. I think that Pagans do have a slightly different world-view but I also think that it’s going to be hard to put it into words.

Oh, sure. I get up and get dressed and go through a day-to-day routine the same way everyone else does, but something is different.

It’s a subtle something, and I’m not sure I can put it into words.

It’s… an awareness. I’m more… aware… than I was before.

I’m aware of how my energy moves and interacts with the world around me and of how the energy of the world interacts with me.  And along with that comes an awareness of the interconnectedness of things.

And that includes my deities.

In Christianity, God created the world. He made it. It’s something apart from Him.

But to a Pagan, our deities aren’t “out there” somewhere; they are a part of the world, not apart from it.

I think, too, that there is a greater sense of responsibility that comes from being Pagan.  We don’t just say “it was God’s will” or blame problems on having fallen to temptation from the devil. We own our choices, take responsibility for them.

Another thing that I’ve found is that I think for myself.  Pagans interact directly with our deities; there is no one interpreting the word of God for us and we have no holy book other than Nature – unless you count our own thoughts and observations that we write down, and those are personal to each individual, and are subject to change as we grow in our path.

There is nothing and no one telling me that I have to think or believe a certain way. I use my own judgment on what is right or wrong, and I don’t have to live up to someone (or something) else’s expectations. There is no threat of hell if I don’t toe the line.

And I think that somewhere up there I strayed from the question but I’m really not sure how to get back to it.

 

 

 

30 Day Pagan Journaling Challenge 9-3-2017

There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.

And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)

Today’s question is:

Why did I become Pagan?

Because it felt like coming home.

I was raised Christian, but it never really felt right to me; it never “fit” with what my soul actually felt.

Once I found Paganism and the concept of both God and Goddess, I felt like I finally had some place where I belonged.

I’m not going to lie. It was a struggle at first, dealing with the guilt, and fear of hell induced by the Christian church.

How did I get past them?

One was the knowledge or understanding or whatever that various forms of Paganism had been around since long before Christianity. (I never did get a satisfactory answer to the question of what happened to all the people who died before Jesus was crucified.)

Then came the understanding that Satan is pretty much a Christian concept, not part of the Pagan mythos or belief system.

That helped, but what really clinched it was a dream I had one night, a few months after my grandfather’s death.  That was over 20 years ago and the dream is still vivid.

I was outside of a little country church. It was late evening; the moon and stars weren’t visible yet, but light spilled from the windows of the church. I walked up the gravel driveway toward it but my attention was on the forest beyond it, the pine trees nothing more than a black silhouette against the dark purple sky. Outside all was quiet and peaceful, but from inside the church I could hear a man’s voice: the preacher speaking. It was a service for my grandfather, one of the gentlest, kindest men ever to walk the earth, but not a church-goer, and the preacher was praying that he would be received into heaven even though he didn’t attend church regularly.

I stopped walking toward the building and turned toward the forest.

I woke with the words, “What a sad religion” in my head.

 

 

30 Day Pagan Journaling Challenge 9-2-2017

There is a 30 day Pagan journaling challenge for the month of September set up on Instagram and I thought it would be fun to do it – and would get me back into the swing of things as well.

And back into blogging here as I answer the posts. (I’m not much of an Instagram person.)

Today’s question is:

How did I become Pagan?

The sarcastic part of me wants to answer this with “I jumped on the nearest broom and flew to the moon and danced with the devil and all his demons and then was given the secrets to making magic and…”

Yeah, no. It’s nothing like that.

As mentioned previously (in yesterday’s post and in “My Path to My Path”) I came to Paganism through the much-maligned New Age Movement.

What I felt on a soul-level just didn’t fit with what I’d learned in church and Sunday School and summer Bible Camps when I was a kid, but much of what came from the New Age movement did: spirit guides, divination, crystals…

Somehow through that (and a long string of “coincidences”) I got in touch with someone I’d known in college, and she introduced me to the concept of Goddess Worship.

And that fit too, but…

It still didn’t seem right. It seemed to be just as one sided as the patriarchal religion that I hadn’t quite figured out how to let go of yet.

So I started trying to blend the two and, well… it didn’t go too well. For some reason I never connected Goddess Worship with Paganism. (And, actually, at the time I probably wouldn’t have connected Paganism with the Greek mythology that had provided an “ah ha!” moment in high school, either.*)

But what it did do was introduce me to “witchcraft” as something… not evil.

Then one day I was in the occult section of a Waldenbooks (anyone remember them?) and this little paperback just about jumped into my hands. It was The Truth About Witchcraft Today by Scott Cunningham.  I bought it, read it, and felt as if I had come home.

That was over twenty five years ago, and while I may have changed a few things here and there it was minor redecorating. I had found my home and I have been happy in it ever since.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

*In high school we had a mini course on mythology. At some point during it I realized that this had been their religion, just like Christianity was. (And wondered what made The Bible more than another set of myths, a question that I wisely kept to myself at the time.)  I thought it was sad that the old gods were no longer worshiped, so on my way home from school that day I sort of “adopted” three of them: Apollo, Artemis, and Athena.

 

Summer Solstice 2014

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.

Beltane 2014

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”