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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 9-8-2017

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.

 

Why I’m Glad I’m Pagan

 (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.

Mercury Retrograde February 2014

It started on my birthday (and ends on my mother’s — how’s that for weird?) and it has been miserable this time around.

Usually, a retrograde Mercury doesn’t bother me all that much.  It’s more of a minor annoyance.  But this time…

I have had nothing but trouble with electronic devices.

My cell phone wouldn’t pick up a signal the other day, yet someone else was having no trouble at all.

My computer has been lagging and temperamental.  (Okay, it’s old and cranky but it’s not normally this cranky.)

The computers in at work really hate me.  I’ve been rebooting them seven times a shift or more.

There was some sort of a glitch and a scheduled payment didn’t happen.  (The money was in the account but somehow it just never happened.)

And let’s not talk about transportation issues.

But all that aside, a couple people have asked me about Mercury retrogrades, and at some point in explaining them the following came out:

Mercury retrogrades are not a good time for communication.  Messages are missed, misdirected, and misunderstood.  Communication is disrupted in one way or another.

But retrograde Mercury is a good time to meditate on communication: on how you communicate, on how you fail to communicate (remembering that communication is a two-way street — you not only have to speak, but listen), on what you do and do not say, on what blocks your own personal communication — with others, with the gods, with yourself.

There are always lessons — even from things like a retrograde Mercury.

In fact, the best lessons come from adversity.

And, I just realized that Mercury is the Roman version of Hermes, who is one of my primary deities, and I do believe He has been trying to get my attention.

So if you will all excuse me, I have a couple more days of retrograde to use to use to improve my communication with Him…

Be blessed, and blessed be.

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.