Tag Archives: wicca

Interview with The Balanced Witch

I know, this is a Paganism-related blog post, but I felt like posting it here anyway.  I’m still hammering out the niftiness of Thistle in the Wind… so it’s on the back burner for awhile.

ANYWAY.  I was interviewed over at The Balanced Witch for being named Member of the Month for February 2010.  For everyone who hasn’t checked out The Balanced Witch blog or The Circle of Balanced Witches forum, well, all you witchy everyones, I absolutely recommend checking it out.  Fantastic content.  Fantastic people.  So far, the best Pagan forum I’ve had the pleasure of being part of.

READ MY INTERVIEW!

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30 Days of Paganism Day 1: Why (Not) Paganism?

I have to admit, that this post may be the easiest of the entire 30 day list, and it’s also the one I’m dreading the most.  This has been a growing part of who I am for seven years now, so to look back and remember why I made the conscious decision to pursue this path is going to be a bit difficult.  It’s been a part of me, and I’ve rarely had to chronicle how that came to be.

For starters, I was introduced to Wicca when I was 11 or so, when The Taproot bookstore took up its post in Whitinsville, MA.  My friends and I, out of sheer curiosity, went in after the grand opening one day after school, and were immediately met with a wall of sweet-smelling incense.  The entire store was decorated in Native American trinkets, dream catchers, instruments, and artwork.  There were several bookshelves lining the walls, and in the center of the shop was a station that had sage bundles, tumbled stones of every color, geodes, and all sorts of herbs.

While my friends were completely engrossed in the “colorful rocks”, I was drawn to the bookshelves.  (I started my geekish love affair with books when I was three, so don’t be startled.  By the time I was eleven there was no hope in making me a “normal” kid.)  I can’t recall the titles of the books, but there were dozens that passed through my hands.  A book on Wicca (again, the title escapes me.  It was a long time ago) was the last one I picked up, and sat on the floor, thumbing through it.  Before long, I had my other three friends sitting on the floor with me, all completely enraptured by the contents and the notion that magic was real.

Fast forward eight years.  I graduated from high school and had absolutely no direction in my life.  I’d been working at Subway for just about a year, and felt myself spiraling downward.  My best friend was in college 75 miles away, and I had no way of seeing her.  My other friends, at the time, were work friends (though they became much more eventually) and I didn’t feel comfortable confiding in them.

A metaphysical shop moves in across the street from where I work.  The Purple Moon.  My boss, my coworkers, and I all stood in the large Subway window, looking across the street, making speculations.

“I hear they sell statues.”  Mark said.  He was the boss, but acted more like a big kid with a massive twitchy mustache. Kind of like Luigi from Super Mario Brothers.  He died a few years back from cirrhosis, it was awful.

ANYWAY.

“It doesn’t look like it sells statues,” I said, and looked up at him.

“Maybe.  Go over there.” He responded.

“You mean leave work and go shopping while I’m on the clock?”  I grinned and popped my Subway polo shirt collar like the dork I am.

“No, you’re investigating, not shopping.  Ten minutes.”  He opened the door.

No one told Mark that curiosity killed the cat.  I didn’t come back for over an hour.

Inside The Purple Moon, which was heavily Wicca-oriented, I was met with Pam (the proprietor), Angela (her daughter-in-law and partner), and Pam’s son (whose name escapes me now).  They welcomed me, talked to me, let me browse as I saw fit.  And told me I smelled delicious.  Damn Subway.

Leaning on the counter, I started talking to Pam’s son about the nature of the shop, which had me completely wide-eyed and making connections back to that day when I was eleven.

“So, how do you know if you’re pagan?”  I asked, thumbing through a copy of Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner.

“Have you ever watched a sunset, or stood in the rain, or gone hiking for the experience and not the fitness, and thought ‘maybe there’s more to it than this’?”

“Yeah, but isn’t there?”  It seemed obvious to me, a connection to the world around me, ‘something more.’

“Maybe for you there is.  Why don’t you research a little on your own, and when you’re ready to talk more, we’ll be here.”

A life-altering experience just punched me in the face… and I had to go spend the next four hours at Subway instead of doing that research that was now nagging to get started.

Those are my roots.  It was a long story and I’m sorry for overloading you, but I’m a storyteller by nature.

At The Purple Moon, I took two levels of Wicca classes hosted by Tala, but by the end of my first year in that course of study, I decided Wicca was not my calling.  Since then, I’ve been referring to myself as ‘eclectic pagan,’ which, so far, has been reasonably accurate.  Recently though, over the last year, I’ve been feeling incredibly wrong about the mix-and-match style of conventional neo-paganism, and I’ve been seeking something a little more culturally exclusive.

Celtic Reconstructionist Paganism enters here.  The problem?  I’m not looking to recreate an entire Iron Age culture in my every day life.   Some of the customs adapted to my modern lifestyle are more than welcome, and I certainly want to learn as much of the gods, land spirits, and ritual as possible.  Recreating what was mostly lost to the ages, and tainted by the Romans, is a difficult undertaking, but I’m a researcher.  I suck up information like a sponge.

I want to know more, and I want to continue finding me.

So, why paganism?  It’s just who I am, even if the path has been somewhat indirect.

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A brief rundown on my faith…

… because no one can seem to grasp it, and I want to have it documented.  This is actually taken, mostly, from my profile at PaganSpace.net with bits and pieces added on.

~~~

I am not my faith. My faith is a part of me.

In the options listed below (on PaganSpace, there are boxes you can check to describe your path), I’ve selected Pagan, Witch, and Wiccan from the list. I am not Wiccan. My path/ritual/worship is often structured in a similar manner as Wicca, but I don’t identify as Wiccan. That would be false.

“Harm None” is not my credo. Circumstance creates an expansive grey area, and if by doing a little harm, I can accomplish a larger good, then that’s acceptable to me. I won’t hurt anything or anyone intentionally if it can be reasonably avoided. It’s more a matter of compassion than of ethics.

I identify in my path a Goddess and a God and I favor neither over the other. I believe the same in life: women are life-givers, and sacred, but there would be no possibility of creating life without the seed of a man, and there would be no men if women didn’t birth them. We are equal halves in the grand scheme of things.  I’m currently getting to know the broad pantheon of Scots-Gaelic gods, and the Old Traditions that managed to have been documented.  Information of Celtic Recontructionism has been infinitely valuable in that aspect.

I’m American, but I honor my heritage, and where my families have come from: Holland, France, Scotland, and England. I’d like to dig deeper into my genealogy, but I’m having difficulty getting started. I find nothing wrong with being American, so everyone who thinks that Americans who enjoy researching their ancestry are discontent or ignorant can go fly a kite. <3 I like to know what made my family what it is today, whether my great grandparents were American or Dutch or Scottish or English makes no difference, as long as I make the connection with who they were.  In old Gaelic culture, ancestor-reverence is a large part of worship.

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Blessed Lughnasadh ~<3

Lughnasadh is upon us!  It’s really not that epic, but as a pagan woman, I figured I should make known that it is, in fact, Lughnasadh  (Lammas to some).  I scribbled out a short synopsis of the holiday for a class I took recently, and thought I might share.  So, for everyone unfamiliar with Lughnasadh and its roots, please enjoy.  =]

Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas and August Eve, is celebrated on August 1st to mark the arrival of the beginning of autumn and the first of the three harvests. The three harvests, Lughnasadh, Mabon, and Samhain, are observed now to celebrate and give thanks for the abundance of the God and Goddess, and mourn the death of the God. “The Goddess watches in sorrow and in joy as she realizes that the God is dying, and yet lives on inside her as her child.” (Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner, p. 70. Cunningham.)

One of the Greater Sabbats of Witchcraft, Lughnasadh is a cross-quarter day on the Wheel of the Year. Though August 1st is
the date it is typically celebrated, August 6th is referred to as Old Lammas; Lammas being the medieval Christian word for ‘loaf-mass’ when loaves of bread were baked from the first grain harvest of the season, though, regardless of date, it originally coincided with the first reaping. In Irish Gaelic, Lughnasadh was observed to celebrate the funeral games of Taillte, the foster-mother of Lugh, the god of light and the sun. Many people believe it to be an observance of Lugh’s funeral games, but Lugh does not die until the Autumnal Equinox (our Mabon).

Coinciding with Irish beliefs during the Tailltean Games, Lammas is one of the most appropriate times to perform a handfasting.  Much like the Tailltean Marriages, a handfasting is traditionally observed for a year and a day, or until the following Lughnasadh, when the couple would be given the option to continue the marriage for another year and a day, or part ways. They were not performed by a parish priest, but of priests or priestesses of the Old Religion, bards, or poets, and were very common into the 1500s.

Lughnasadh was also the most popular date for Saint Catherine’s feast day, when they would cover a wagon wheel in tar, set it on fire, and roll it down a hill. One of the speculations is that this was done to symbolize the sun god’s decline in power, and carried over from the pagan traditions into Christianity.

During Lughnasadh, it is common to weave corn dollies, visit fields, orchards, and lakes, and plant the seeds from any fruit consumed in the Lughnasadh ritual. Should the seeds grow into plants, they should be tended with love, since they symbolize the connection with the divine. The sorts of foods that should be eaten include bread (which can also be baked into the figure of the God and used in The Simple Feast), any sort of berry, acorns after the poisons have been removed, crab apples, and any sort of produce or grain due to the fact that Lughnasadh is the grain harvest.

References:
Eight Sabbats of Witchcraft by Mike Nichols
Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
Firefly: Wiccan Advancement by Iris Firemoon

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Be Gentle with One Another

I’d like to share a post I read over at Sacred Mists, entitled Be Gentle With One Another.  A list of affirmations.

1. Never jump to conclusions.

2. Always give the benefit of the doubt.

3. Make constructive criticism the only criticism you will give.

4. Always give a second chance.

5. Find forgiveness in your heart, no matter the issue.

6. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes, even yourself.

7. Always treat others how you wish to be treated.

8. Never forget to place yourself in the other person’s shoes, even if just for a moment.

9. Recognize that we all carry baggage. Don’t make yours someone else’s.

10. Recognize that we have all come to Mother Earth to learn our life lessons. You can choose to help those who are learning, or reject them when their lessons become hard to deal with.

11. Always give importance to yourself in every situation, but not so much that it removes compassion and understanding.

12. Open yourself to the love and harmony that is offered within your spiritual path.

13. Remove yourself from any place or person where you find yourself incapable of being loving and nurturing, but always recognize that it is your issue and not their own.

14. No one can do anything to you that you do not allow them to do, consciously or subconsciously.

15. We are all complete with perfection and faults that balance us into imperfect beings.

16. To dislike, hate, or otherwise reject one whom you feel wronged by is to reject your own ability to learn lessons that are being presented to you.

17. Be a positive influence.

18. The old adage, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all” holds true in all group settings, at a minimum. Create a “safe haven” experience wherever you are. Be a part of holding that philosophy in every interaction.

19. Love. Simply love. Yourself, and others.

20. Be the change you want to see in the world.

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An Apology to Myself

Number one destroyer of my current mental health: Unemployment.


I could spend the better part of this post going off about the state of the US economy, bad politics, and a blatant disdain for what our country has become.  We have a pretty epically awesome history, but– yeah, never mind.  I said I wouldn’t complain about what’s become of us.

I could blame everything from the unbalanced hold Big Business has on The Consumer, to the fact that, as a whole, we have become solely The Consumer.

I could blame my parents.  Everyone always blames their parents, but it’s not my parents’ fault.

Or I could be honest, and I could blame me.  I could do the responsible thing and own up to my actions — or lack thereof.  I could tell you that I’m unemployed because I was a lazy, smart ass high school student whose ambition was destroyed by butting heads with teachers who didn’t really care.  I knew they didn’t care about their students, and I should have had the good sense to account for that and care about myself.  I could have done better if I didn’t blame them for hating me, all the while contributing to their frustration with my bullheaded remarks and know-it-all personality.

I like to think I’ve grown since then.  In some ways, I have, but in others — well, I’ve gone from confident in all the wrong ways to self-conscious in all the major ones.  Life knocked me down a few pegs; something that happens to way too many people. Reality is vicious.  Reality doesn’t care if it knocks you off your pedestal so many times you lose the will to climb back up.

You have to care.  No one is going to do it for you.  No one can fix you but you, and you can’t fix you if you don’t want to fix you.

I can’t fix me if I don’t want to fix me.  I have to sometimes remind myself that talking in the second person isn’t going to change the fact that I am talking about me, even if it’s a topic I want to avoid.

But I’m trying to face it.  That’s the point.

I’m broken.  I can fix me.  I want to fix me.

The steps I’m taking to “fix” what’s broken:

  • Job hunting and tweaking my very limited resume to make me look awesome, even though that fact is debatable among employers.
  • Becoming a better pagan.  We get a bad rep, but we’re too busy being too afraid to “come out of the broom closet” to mend it.  Those of us with the ability should make some effort to educate.  Not through ‘conversion’, but through our acts in the community.
  • Motivating myself.  I can’t wait for other people to come along and pull me out of this ditch.  I need to write, read, and create the me that I want to be.
  • Loving myself.  It’s hard sometimes, but I can’t appropriately love others until I love myself.  It isn’t fair to expect someone else to love all the things about me that I hate, just so I can fill the gap.

And there’s my very depressing post for today.  It took me a couple of hours to write it, because… I hate self-evaluation, as I mentioned a few posts ago.

So, here I am, ready to be better, and willing to make the changes that are necessary to be who I want to be.

Are you who you want to be?

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I hate self-evaluation

“Once the Queen is dead, the king is useless.”

“… What’s that about?”

“I dunno… Maybe he’s too depressed to fight.  He really loved her, you know.”

Mm… chess references and movie quotes.

So, I’ve been flying through lessons at TFA.  I’m about to start Wicca 1, lesson 4.  I’m on Scrying 1, lesson 2 (I don’t put much into divination, but I figured it would round me out a little bit).  And I’m about to start Tools 1, lesson 2 (Which is easy, since I’ve been through it three times in other classes).

Lesson 3 of Wicca 1 was a little difficult for me to face, honestly.  It was a lesson in the elements and the Four Rooms.

Here’s a quick lesson in The Four Rooms:

You separate yourself into four parts, physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.  Each part has a ‘room’ associated with it (which seems a little unnecessary to me).

“Our existence is divided up into four areas, or four rooms, if you will. Imagine that you live in a big house with four rooms. Your house includes: 1) a large, green kitchen with a small garden off of the side; 2) a bright yellow living room with a large, private balcony, 3) a luxurious, blue bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub; and 4) a cozy, red bedroom with a fireplace (do not forget the king-sized bed). Each of the four elements corresponds with one of these rooms, and each of these rooms corresponds with a part of you.”

~ Firefly: Wiccan Advancement by Iris Firemoon

The kitchen is the physical and associated with Earth, the living room is the mental and associated with Air, the bathroom is emotional and associated with Water, and the bedroom is spiritual and associated with Fire.

The exercise was to divide yourself into these four “rooms” and give a brief evaluation of the state of yourself in each.

Physically, I’m out of shape, I eat like crap, and I sleep more than I should.

Mentally, my writing is getting done, so I guess that’s an upside.

Emotionally, I’m 25, single, and watching all of my friends get married and start families.  I feel like crap.  Blah.

Spiritually, I’m connecting with my religion again, my writing is getting done, but I’m still stuck in the ‘love myself before I can appropriately love others’ conundrum.

So… I really don’t know if this exercise was made to make the student feel like crap enough to recognize that change is necessary, or to just understand the material, but holy fucking downer, Batman.

But.  This is nothing an over-consumption of caffeine won’t temporarily fix.

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Nostalgia and a Spiritual Refresher

It was 93 degrees Fahrenheit today, and I thought my SKIN was going to melt off.  So, I plopped myself in front of my computer, which happens to be adjacent to my window fan, and decided to undertake my first course at The Firefly Academy, an online pagan classroom, to weather the heat.  I’ve been a self-dedicated eclectic pagan since I was nineteen, I’ve taken three levels of Wicca classes in person, and studied independently for the last six years.

It started raining just now, as an aside.  I shut my fan off, since the breeze is doing a damn good job of coming through my window on its own, and let me tell you…. it feels amazing.  My favorite smell, out of every other smell, is the earthy, clean smell of a hard, cool rain after an unbearably hot summer day.

Anyway, back to what I was saying.  Independent study and practice wasn’t fulfilling me the way it used to, and I thought that a trip back to the beginning was just what I needed.  It took me months of searching for an online pagan classroom that was reasonably priced before I finally gave up.  It was disheartening, but I kept doing what I was doing, because it was better than nothing at all.  The problem with paganism is that it’s hard to find someone willing to teach you for free.  It’s free to go to a Christian church, minus the voluntary donation, because the man or woman teaching you is getting paid to do so…. probably not very much, but religion is a labor of love.  Unfortunately, to learn enough to teach respectably in paganism (as in other religions), it’s customary to practice and learn for quite some time, and with so much time invested it’s only reasonable that the teacher want a little compensation for their efforts.  Most teachers only charge for materials, but others charge an arm and a leg just for the time.  In any case, I’m poor and I was disappointed.

Then, one day, I’m screwing around on YouTube, looking at other people’s altars, tools, dedications, spells, rituals, etc (too private for me to be posting, but I apparently don’t mind being a hypocrite and spying on other people’s random broadcasts), and I ran across videos from The Firefly Academy, narrated by Iris Firemoon.  It led me to their Facebook page, and subsequently, their website, and, as luck would have it, they are an online classroom and community who offers courses for FREE.

Now, I’ve never really cared for the quote “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear” because, frankly, I don’t like waiting.  When I want to do something, I generally kick butt in making it happen as soon as possible… but stumbling on TFA really gave me a new respect for that proverb.

So, today I started back at Wicca I and Paganism I, a place I haven’t been in years, and I have to admit… I feel both refreshed and nostalgic.  Sometimes all you need to renew your love in what you do or how you feel, is revisit what gave you that love in the first place.

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