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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.)

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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.

 

A Lesson in Trust

I am writing this blog post as a thank you.

As some of you know, on August 31st I became unemployed, walking away from a job that I loved because there were just too many red flags being waved at me regarding the company that was taking over medical services at the jail where I worked.

It wasn’t an easy decision.  I cried.  I waffled, changing my mind on a nearly hourly basis for two weeks. And with every change of my mind I cried some more.

And I prayed.

And every answer I got said to leave.  The answers were soft, gentle, subtle: song lyrics that struck home and echoed in my head all day, a whisper of a breeze, a touch of the sun, a knowing that came from seemingly nowhere…

And every time that I made up my mind to leave, I felt a huge sense of peace.

But then fear intruded, and I waffled some more.  What if I couldn’t get unemployment? What if I couldn’t find a new job in time to pay the rent after my savings ran out?   What if, what if, what if?

I was torn, and the stress was making me physically ill.

But as much as I feared the what ifs, and as much as I knew that I would miss everything about my job, the thought of staying made me feel sick.  I had no trust in the things the new company was telling us.

But I also seemed to have no trust in myself to listen to the subtle messages that I was receiving.  (I trust my gods, I just didn’t trust that I was hearing Their voices and not my own.)

And then came a series of “last straws” that pushed me into my final decision.

And when the decision was finally made and my key and badge were turned in, the tears that night were not of regret for my decision or for fear of the future:  they were tears of loss – I was going to miss that job.  (And I still do.)

The decision to leave was the right one.

My stress level (which had been unbelievably high) dropped almost immediately.

And from what I’ve heard from former co-workers who stayed, it was an even bigger mess than I had thought it was going to be. More people have left and more are looking to leave.

And me?

September 1st was my first day of unemployment.

October 1st I got a phone call that I had been hired for a job that I had interviewed for last week.

A job that is closer to home and pays better.

It’s different than anything I have ever done before, and I am scared, but this time, around the small brief stabs of fears and self-doubt, and the occasional what ifs, there is an insulating layer of trust.

My gods have led me here, to this new place, this new experience.  They have cleared the path and lit the way for me.  How can I do anything but follow where They lead, singing in praise and gratitude?

I am blessed.

And I am thankful.