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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.

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

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.

Buying Spells

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?

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.

Be wise.

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. 

Ya Gotta Do What Ya Gotta Do

(Oops!  I thought I scheduled this, and found it still sitting here in “edit post” mode.)

 

Before I start, let’s talk about the Rede.

“Harm None.”

Nice sentiment.

What is frequently not considered is that “harm none” includes yourself.

Taking it a step further, it also means not permitting harm to come to yourself. (And I include harm to loved ones in that.)

Keep in mind, also, that the Rede applies to Wicca and its offshoots.  Not all Witches are Wiccan and not all follow the Rede.

That’s not to say that they are unethical or that they go around cursing people at will. It just means that they aren’t afraid of the dark.

Nor are they afraid to be proactive, or to take matters into their own hands.

Sometimes a situation arises where you need to not be a doormat.

The other night there was an incident with a new neighbor that set off some caution flags.  He didn’t do anything, or even make any threats, but… let’s just say that his application for asshole has been pre-approved.

So, what to do?

He hasn’t done anything, but the potential for trouble is there.

Do I ignore my instincts or take action?

I believe in being proactive.

No, I’m not going to do a spell to get him to move.  (Although people tend to not stay in that rental for long and I am going to hope that the trend continues.)

I will, however, be putting some extra protections on my home and my car.  And I may extend them to the neighbors on either side of me.

Proactive defensive magic.

This can take many different forms.

Probably the most common is to place some sort of wards on your home, especially doors and windows. to keep out negative energy.  I’ll admit, I’ve become a little lax about that lately, as the neighbors on either side of us are good people.

A friend of mine suggested some prickly plants on the porch, so maybe I’ll start a dish garden for cacti.  Once it’s warmer (on a consistent basis!) I think I’m going to do just that.

And I was thinking about growing some rue in a pot on the porch as well.

You can also charge an object to act as a protective device:  a rock, a statue, etc.  I’m going to be on the lookout for a statue (or maybe a wind chime) of a cat to do that with.  (Why a cat?  Because for some reason, “Cat” is a protective totem for me.)

And, of course, there is always the standby of a line of salt.

And binding magic.   I don’t use knot magic a lot but I have used it quite effectively to bind negative energy.

So many options…

I love being a  witch!

Familiars

It’s been a pretty busy week.  I’ve been working, writing, editing, and trying to create space for new members of the household…

Rats.

I was supposed to be getting some last month, taking the last four males from a litter.  The deal fell through, but she offered me first choice of a litter due in mid-March.

Meanwhile, however, I found another offer and called and I will be picking up three little boys this afternoon.

I am so excited!

I love critters of all types, and I’ve missed having a pet.  (The semi-feral cat doesn’t quite count.)

The cage for the rats will be right next to my computer (yeah, that’s gonna be good for productivity…) so we’ll get to know each other pretty well.

But that doesn’t mean that they are going to be acting as my familiars.

A witch’s familiar isn’t just a pet.

It’s not even a pet that you have a close relationship with, although that helps.

A witch’s familiar is a working partner.  It lends energy to rituals and it acts as a defender.

Depending on your belief system, a familiar can be one of many things.

It can be a pet with which you have an especially close bond.

It can be a spirit that has assumed an animal form and comes to assist a witch in his or her workings.

In a more shamanic tradition, it can be a spirit animal, perhaps not even a physical animal at all, and in addition to protecting the worker and aiding in rituals, it can retrieve information and relay it to its partner.

There are also totem animals, power spirits, etc.

Hmm… maybe I’ll do a series on animals in magic.

But, anyhow…

You don’t find a familiar – a familiar finds you.  They come to you when they are needed and they may choose to stay with you or they may leave when they have served their purpose and return if needed again, either in the same form or a different one.

I’ve never worked with a physical familiar, but I have had spirit animals show up, primarily big cats in a protective role.  I didn’t summon them or ask for them, they just showed up – and I was grateful.

Would I like to work with a familiar in a physical form?  I’m not certain. I think I would worry about it too much.

Not that the choice seems to be up to the witch…