Posts Tagged With: Pagan

Paganism 101: Basics of Pagan Spirituality

Paganism 101: Basics of Pagan Spirituality

Author: Cu Mhorrigan

Introduction:

Paganism has received a lot of attention in recent years with the increased use of the internet, television shows like Charmed, Buffy: the Vampire Slayer, Angel and movies like The Craft, Harry Potter, as well as cartoons like Sabrina the Teen-Aged Witch.

Nowadays, it has become fashionable to announce oneself to be a Pagan, or Neo-Pagan, Wiccan or Witch – especially for teenagers, wishing to attract attention, adults trying to follow the latest fad in spirituality, or just as an excuse to justify weird or aberrant behavior.

However, calling yourself a Pagan is one thing; actually following the spiritual path is something else. It is my hope with this ‘class’ that I might explain in practical terms what it actually means to be a Pagan in our modern age and to assist those who wish to implement the following of this spiritual path.

Definition of the word “Pagan”:

The Word Pagan is derived from the Latin word ‘paganus’, which is loosely translated to mean “of the country”. It should be noted however that the usage of ‘paganus’ within the Roman Empire (Where they spoke Latin. Duh!) was always meant to be a slur meaning “hillbilly, redneck, hick, trailer trash, or white trash”. Much in the same way we would talk about guests on the Jerry Springer Show.

Later, when the Christian faith took over the Roman Empire under Charlemagne, it was used to describe those outside of the Christian faith and those in need of conversion. Not an improvement, because paganus was still pretty much of an insult.

Turning a negative into a positive:

It wasn’t until recently that the term ‘Pagan’ gained a more positive use with the resurgence of Pagan beliefs within the European and American Cultures. Those who sought spirituality closer to that of their “ancestors” adopted it. Eventually, it came to mean ‘those who follow the Old religions’ or ‘those who follow a spiritual path outside of the big three Abrahamic religions’. (What are the big Three Abrahamic religions?)

What DO Pagans Believe?:

An it harm none Do as thou wilt.

Speaking in general terms, Paganism is an earth-centered spirituality, which believes in the sacredness of all things, equality of all persons regardless of gender, sexual, and spiritual and social practices. The practices within Paganism are extremely diverse and open-ended allowing individuals to incorporate whatever rituals and belief systems they feel comfortable with.

Since there is so much diversity within our spiritual path, we stress personal liberty, and responsibility for one’s own actions. That as long as a person does not cause physical, mental, emotional, financial, and spiritual harm to others or himself, he/she is free to pursue one’s physical, mental and spiritual development as he/she sees fit.

Which brings me to my next point: Pagans, in general, do not proselytize! That means you aren’t going to get a call from us at three o’clock in the morning asking us if you are going to ritual or not. There is no High Priestess going around smacking people over the head if they haven’t worked on their Book of Shadows or if they bought the wrong candle for a personal ritual. Aint gonna happen.

Why? We are assuming that if you are here, you want to be here. We’ll give you information, let you know your options, and the rest is up to you. We aren’t going to stand on a street corner and scream at folks for not worshipping Athena nor at women/men who chose not to go around sky clad (That’s ‘nekkid’ for those of us who are really new to this).

The Law of Return (or sowing and reaping):

There are no true “sins” within our spiritual practices. There are only things that cause harm (or, as I like to call them, “Stupid Ideas”) and things that are helpful (Or as I like to call them, “Good Ideas”).

When you do good things, good things tend to happen to you (Eventually). When you do bad things, bad things tend to happen to you (Eventually). Of course, since we do not live in a static environment, and people tend to interact with one another, sometimes things get a little ‘fa-kakhed’. However, the Universe always balances Itself out in the end.

This concept is called, karma and it’s a relatively complicated matter, which I have here boiled down to its lowest common denominator. Of course, there are differing views of Karma, one of which is the Three-Fold Law What you do comes back three-fold, or three times, back at you. (If you are not sure as to whether an act will have some kind of repercussion, ask yourself, how much would I really like this done to me?)

(The self-defense caveat: Like all “Laws”, there are loopholes. If someone else is out to cause you harm in some way it would be a really STUPID (Bad Karma) idea not to protect yourself, or your family, or your friends. However, make sure you have as many facts as possible (like the guy is holding a knife and threatens to cut you up) before beating the oneness of all things back into these individuals.

Pantheons, Divinities, Spirits, Energies:

Okay this is where it gets a little tricky, but stay with me. The most common (and extremely annoying) question we as Pagans get is, “Don’t you folks worship Satan?” (Everyone roll his or her eyes here.)

The answer to that is a resounding, “NO!” For the most part, you need to keep in mind that Paganism is a separate religion from Christianity. Hence Satan (Whom I call, the Christian God of Evil and Nastiness) is not a part of our pantheon. Sorry…

For the most part (depending on the tradition you follow) the Pagan concept of Divinity falls under one of the following expressions:

Duo-Theism: (Duo=Two or Dual, Theos=Divinities):

The Worship of a Co-Equal God and Goddess, each having unlimited power, compassion, wisdom, energy or what-have-you, but maintaining different roles and functions.

The God is aggressive, powerful, sexual adventurous, skillful. He handles the Male side of fertility.

The Goddess is nurturing, passionate, creative, sensual and artistic. She oversees the power of creating life through birth and the Female side of fertility.

This belief is widely held by the Wiccans and Wicca-like factions of Paganism.

Poly Theism: (Poly=Many, Theos=Divinities) The belief in multiple Gods and Goddesses.

Many folks see these Gods as extensions of the God and Goddess (i.e. Monism) with each one taking on different aspects at the time of their encounter with the worshipper. Others (like myself) believe that They are actually separate entities with Their own personalities, quirks and motives.

Not every god or goddess is a real people person nor does every god and goddess have a laid back attitude. If you are going to get involved with a particular deity, you had better make sure you do a LOT of research as to what they like, don’t like, and if a particular god or goddess is right for you. Otherwise your life will get extremely interesting in a bad way.

The third school of though in polytheism is the idea of the gods and goddesses being archetypes within a person’s own psyche. This is sort of like a piece of our own subconscious wrapped up in a costume and a mask in order to teach our conscious minds lessons they need.

Of course, there is more than those three Schools of thought, but I’m just giving the basics here.

Pantheism:

Simply put, this is the idea that the Divine is in everything; hence all things are a part of the energy we call god. Since all things are a part of god, all things are sacred and are expressions of the divine in some way, shape or form. When I worship a tree, I am worshipping the Divine; when I give food to a hungry stray, I am feeding the Divine; when I am hurting someone, I am hurting the Divine.

Then there is the Fourth Category:

I-have-no-Friggin-Clue-ism:

For the beginner, this is the best spiritual idea I can suggest. The idea is essentially, “I have no friggin’ clue if there is a Divinity or not, therefore unless I am shown otherwise, I will not say that the Gods are this way or that. I will respect the Power behind the name, but I will not pledge myself to him/her/it unless I have an absolutely good reason to.”

This is actually one of the safest belief systems to take as a new student of the Pagan path because you are open enough to receive enlightenment, but at the same time, you do not run the risk of making a total, complete ass out of yourself. The Gods will instruct you as They see fit.

Now of course, Pagans will usually incorporate not only one, but perhaps two or three of the ideas listed above. This usually comes from personal experience and cannot be learned any other way.
Keep in mind that it’s okay to shift from one idea to another or even to incorporate two or more of these ideas…it’s all good. Just find out what works best for you.

So How the Hades do I Become a Pagan? (Or stupid questions that are commonly asked)

Well, for the most part, it’s a matter of doing a lot of reading and a lot of self-exploration. It took me at least two years of studying online and reading books and attending classes to even consider myself a Pagan. A lot of the traditions under the banner of Paganism will have different views on training and initiation (think of it as baptism), and how one becomes a member of that tradition.

The best way is to start out attending Pagan gatherings, visiting bookstores and such, and talk to other Pagans. Eventually, you will either find a religious path that works for you or you will throw your arms up in dismay and run screaming back to your religion of birth. And there is nothing wrong with that. NOT AT ALL! We realize that the Pagan spiritual path is not for everyone, and we will not be offended. Just make sure you don’t tell people we sacrificed your cat and you’ll be cool with us.

Do I Need to Buy Special Clothes and Dress in Black?

The answer is: Only if you really want to. Yes, there are special robes some folks wear, but unless your coven says otherwise, you can pretty much wear what you want.

Just some basic suggestions: Wear something comfortable and wear something you won’t mind getting dirty. Most of our rituals take place outdoors and, while you may look really good in an Armani suit and Gucci shoes, there is a good chance your clothes will get messed up and your shoes scuffed.

Loose, light clothes in summer and spring is always a good idea, and warmer clothes in the fall are really smart. Most winter rituals will be held indoors, depending on the weather. If it makes you comfortable to wear black Witch clothes and pointed hats and cloaks… Knock yourself out…You’ll be getting lots of stares and odd looks (mostly from us), but all-in-all, if it makes you comfortable, then that is all that matters.

Do I Need to Buy Special Jewelry?

Again, only if you want to and if you enjoy it. Jewelry is a personal matter to the people who wear it. And it’s usually best to find a piece that says, “HEY! I LIKE YOU. WEAR ME AROUND YOUR NECK!” Otherwise, No special jewelry is required to be a Pagan.

Do I Need to Kill Something (like a kitten) and Drink its Blood?

No, you don’t have to kill an animal to be a Pagan. For the most part, we are animal friendly and don’t believe in killing a critter in order to work our rituals. Yes, there are some Pagan groups that practice animal sacrifice and it is left alone…but fear not, the only thing usually killed has already been slaughtered and put on the feasting table in a sacred bucket marked, KFC.

Do I Need to Become a Vegetarian?

Nope, being a vegetarian is a matter of personal preference and what you feel in your heart. While many of us are vegetarians, a lot of us aren’t. It may be a good idea to eat a little healthier, but no one is going to come down on you for eating meat or using meat-based products. However, you might want to do your own research and come up with your own choices.

So, What DO I Need to Do?

Excellent question. One, as I suggested before, do a lot of research, a lot of reading and, when in doubt, do more research. A lot of Pagans keep what is called a “Book of shadows”, which is just a fancy name for a Journal. Write down everything you learn in that book and when you get a chance, read it. If you see a cool article on the net, feel free to print it (for your personal use only, please).

To create a book of shadows, I would suggest buying a loose-leaf binder and fill it half-way with paper. It’s also a good idea to invest in a three hole punch. That way, you can put articles that you printed from the net and use them for later reference. Do not worry about using blood and special things to “make it official”. It is your study guide — your book — and so, make sure you personalize it to suit your needs.

When you feel you are ready, and you have found a religious tradition you feel comfy with, take that Book of Shadows and attend any class you can afford. A lot of places have very reasonable rates for their classes. The Learning Annex is one source, but so is your local Pagan bookstore. Just make sure you talk to the person running the store to make sure he knows what he/she is talking about. If you are not entirely comfortable in studying there, consider looking for another teacher. Remember, this is about YOUR spiritual growth and enrichment and you need to be in an environment conducive to YOUR learning.

Holidays, and Rituals:

There are eight major Holy Days during the Pagan year that a lot of us agree upon. There are also rituals that are held on the New Moon and the Full moon depending on how often your coven (A group of Pagans you worship with) meets.

The Eight Major Holidays are listed in the order they fall on:
Imbolc (February)
Spring Equinox (March 21)
Beltaine (May 1)
Summer Solstice (Litha) (June 21)
Lughnassadh or Lamas (August)
Autumn Equinox (Mabon) (September 21)
Samhain or Halloween (October 31 to Nov 1)
Winter Solstice (Yule) (December 21)

Each Holy Day represents a certain mythological event in our religion, which will be discussed by the High Priest (ess) in advance.

It’s usually a good idea to find out what you would need to bring so that you can best participate in the ritual.

Now most likely you are going to have a hard time pronouncing the names of the days when you first start out, so don’t be afraid to ask stupid questions; it’s the only way you are going to learn.

Tools For Rituals:

Energy: This is the most important, and since I am assuming people know Jack about Paganism, I’m going to make this explanation brief: When we perform rituals and cast spells, we are attempting to gather energy. This energy comes from the universe and ourselves. Depending on what we are trying to do, we use certain rituals, and tools. Think of it this way: It’s like gathering up a whole bunch of snow together. We eventually gather enough to make a snowball and then we pack it in and send it off to impact your friend. It’s basically the same thing. When we perform these rites, they help our minds to focus on gathering this energy and tell it what we want done. Energy is the most important part of any ritual, and without it, we are just looking stupid.

Cauldron: This is basically a black, three-legged pot to be used for burning incense and for other things. They range from tiny to huge and can be used to burn incense, burn paper, and make potions. Now cauldrons tend to be rather expensive, so if you are a bit “Price Sensitive” like me, find yourself one of those old fashioned iron pots that Mom uses to make rice. Make sure you clean it before and after use. If you have one of these in your own home and have had it for a long time, you are pretty much used to it and it is used to you. So, you really don’t have to “charge” it with energy.

Athemae: Essentially, this is a knife or a really small sword. This is used to direct energy raised up during rituals. THESE ARE NOT USED TO CUT PEOPLE (of any species). It can be used for cutting vegetables. Most traditions prefer a double sided blade, small enough to conceal. (You would be amazed how many cops will stop you for carrying a broad sword.) If you’re unable to get an athamae, it’s totally cool to make yourself a wand or use your index finger to direct energy.

Wands/Rods: Okay, these are wooden or crystal sticks also used to direct energy as well as to draw it to yourself. Wands tend to be no longer than your arm, while rods can be longer. Best way to get a rod is to go out on little walks in the park and look for a stick. Once you find a stick you like and that screams out for you to take it, take it home, and sand it and decorate it until you are totally comfortable with it. Viola! You have a wand or rod. If you have as much mechanical aptitude as a slug, ask around your local occult bookstores. Keep in mind they are going to be slightly expensive and you will have to charge it once you get it home.

Candles: Candles are used in rituals to help get your mind into the practice of Magic (No, I am not spelling magic with a K or a J…I’m keeping this as simple as possible. If you want to use the funky spellings in your own notebooks, knock yourself out. You’re not being graded here). Candles are lit in order to help get the mind into a state where it’s easier to put the patterns in for the energy to flow. I would strongly suggest getting candles of all colors and sizes and as many as you can afford. (Usually one of each color.) You can pick them up anywhere.

Incense: Like candles, incense helps the mind get energy together to cast spells. It’s a good idea to make your own incense or to purchase them from a botanica, or occult bookstore. Incense sticks may be colored, but it’s usually a good idea to purchase them based on their smells. Pungent or spicy incense is normally used to send stuff away. (Mainly because they are offensive.) Sweet incense is used to bring stuff to you. Earthy smells help to facilitate healing and to strengthen you.

Divination tools: Things like Tarot Cards, Runes and what not. These are mainly used to help you to make decisions or to gain some kind of insight as to what is going on around you. Keep in mind, these items themselves are not magical in and of themselves, but are based on your own intuition interpreting what you are seeing.

Books, books and more books: Like I said earlier, it is suggested you read religiously. It’s best to keep a library of things you have read or are about to read. Don’t just pick books only by one author, but of different ones. Some people may know a lot about what they are talking about; others are complete and utter horse feces. However, the only way you are going to find out is if you look for yourself and keep your Book of Shadows nearby while you read. If something sounds like nonsense, or if you aren’t sure about whether or not what is true within a book, do some research. It sounds like a lot of work, but this is your spirituality we are talking about here.

It is a good idea to question everything and find out if there is an agreement between the authors you have read. Another thing to keep in mind is that some folks are completely full of fluff and bluster while others deliberately water stuff down to keep from divulging too much about their path. And some are completely straightforward about the things they are writing about.

One of the best ways to learn about an author is find out when they are going to be doing a book signing near you. Get to meet them (Most book signings are free and most will give a short lecture about their book just to whet your appetite for it.) Some of the most intense learning experiences I gained were in attending some of these lectures; it’s also a great way to actually see the person who is writing.

Use your intuition…and don’t be shy about picking their brains. That is what they are there for. In fact, I would suggest doing the same thing at the store where you get your tools and books. It helps you learn a lot faster; especially when you ask Stupid questions. Yes you will get looks. Yes, you will even get the occasional shake of the head, But if you don’t ask, you wont know. It’s worth it.

Suggested Things to do:

Check out different groups that meet in your area. You can do this by attending open (public) circles or classes. Use them as a way to meet other Pagans and eventually find a group that you feel comfortable studying with. If you are Solitary Pagan, it helps to “meet and greet” other Pagans.

Look around for Pagan shops, botanicas and other places where you can get supplies. Most botanicas are devoted to Santeria or Voudu, but you can get some really good equipment at cheap prices.

Check out the local library, as well as the bookstore for things you can read about your particular pantheon.

Ask a lot of questions. Even stupid ones. It’s one of the chief tenets of Paganism to question everything you come across. If you get an answer that sounds like horsesh*t, then verify, verify, verify.

Things Not To Do:

Don’t panic; this seems like a lot of information, but it really isn’t. This is just the primer for your own research.

Don’t sweat if you cannot find a teacher right away, Nine times out of ten, they usually show up when you are ready to learn more about a particular aspect of your tradition.

Don’t start off calling yourself a High Something of a particular tradition. Most systems within Paganism have their own methods of teaching and credentials for clergy and what not. No faking!

Don’t be afraid of getting criticized; it’s going to happen. Learn to grow a thick skin, and if someone points something out to you, listen and check out your own motives and conscience. If the shoe fits, wear it. If it doesn’t, then don’t.

Don’t take everything at face value…Learn how to question what you hear and not be a total jerk about it.

Don’t try and convert people, It rarely works just put out information let people know where you stand and end it there.

Recommended Websites:

http://www.witchvox.com “The Witches’ Voice” — It’s a great place to start since they have information about everything.

http://pantheon.org — A great place to learn about the Gods of your chosen pantheon. It doesn’t have all the information, but enough for you to get your feet wet and do some research.

Yahoo.com — They have a plethora of Pagan groups and places where you can talk to people of different walks of life. It’s also a great way to meet Pagans in your area.

Google and other search engines — Another great website with links to thousands of Pagan websites.

Recommended Books:

The Truth about Witchcraft Today: Scott Cunningham
Urban Primitive: Tannin Silverstein and Raven Kaldera
The Book of Shamanic Healing: Kristin Madden
The Celestine Prophecy: James Redfield (Yes, it’s a novel but it helps to get an idea about energy-work and how energy can be gathered and stolen.)
The Wiccan Warrior: Kerr Cucuhain
Witchcraft Theory and Practice: Ly de Angeles
When I see the Wild God: Ly de Angeles
Drawing Down the Moon: Margot Adler (of NPR)
The Spiral Dance: Starhawk
Buckland’s Complete Witches Handbook: Raymond Buckland

_________________________________

Footnotes:
Listed in the article..

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

5 Mistakes New Pagans Make – and How To Avoid Them

5 Mistakes New Pagans Make – and How To Avoid Them

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Wicca, Witchcraft | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

The Matter Of Faith

The Matter Of Faith

Author: RuneWolf

Faith, simply put, is trust.

Some Pagans have a negative reaction to the entire concept of faith, because it has become synonymous in our culture with one particular brand of faith: Christian. But I submit that, whether one is Christian or Pagan or whatever, faith is the root and foundation of any serious spiritual life. Christian faith and Pagan faith may differ radically, but I believe that faith itself, that is to say trust, is indispensable in any genuine relationship with the Divine, however we may understand It. If I have no trust in my Goddess and my God, then I am simply going through the motions of being a Witch, and I might as well just declare myself an atheist and get it over with.

From my experience as a nominal Christian in my youth, and from my observations since then, it seems that Christian faith is an almost fanatical trust that God or Jesus will deliver the faithful from the tribulations of this life, and secure that person a place in Paradise in the afterlife. Pagan faith, on the other hand – at least as I practice it – is an implicit trust that my Goddess and my God will always help me to find within myself the resources to deal with the trials of life. A large part of my spiritual life as a Witch is spent opening myself to the various ways in which the Divine communicates with me in the course of my daily life, so that when a crisis does occur, the lines of communication are already open.

These two types of faith may be labeled “passive” and “active, ” and objectively neither is really superior to the other. I do, however, have my personal opinions and preferences.

Faced with a crisis, a Christian will tend to pray and “put things in God’s hand, ” trusting that their Lord will set things right. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as most negative situations are beyond our human control anyway, and the more we meddle, trying to “fix” things, the worse the situation gets, and the more stressful it becomes. “Getting out of our own way” by turning the matter over to a spiritual power, and trusting that the situation will work out, may indeed be the best course of action, and in this situation, faith becomes the psychic buffer that allows someone to let circumstances run their course without living in constant anxiety. Using their version of prayer and having deep faith in their Lord and Savior, the Christian is effectively working magic, if one defines magic as “changing consciousness at will.”

Speaking solely for myself, I believe that this type of faith ultimately disempowers the individual. Like a child who never escapes the apron strings, the practitioner of passive faith learns nothing from the challenges of life, and can only meet each new challenge as the last was met, with passivity and an abdication of responsibility.

Active faith, on the other hand, encourages – even demands – that the individual take responsibility and take action, even if that action is taking no action at all. This last may seem a bit paradoxical, but it is really an important and subtle point. A practitioner of passive faith may take no action by default – the matter has been turned over to God, and there is no further need for personal action. Indeed, continuing to struggle after invoking Divine intercession could be seen as a denial of faith. The practitioner of active faith, on the other hand, may elect to take no action, but only after appropriate contemplation of the situation, and due consultation with the Gods. In this context, taking no action becomes a choice, perhaps just one among many.

There is a Jewish proverb that says: “Pray as if everything depends on God, act as if everything depends on you.” I think this is a beautiful and concise definition of active faith, one that is both eminently mystical and logically practical, and it is the manner in which I strive to live my life as a Witch.

One important function of faith, in the spiritual or religious sense, is indeed to satisfy deep psychological needs. My faith, my trust, that my Goddess and God are always with me helps me to feel secure, appreciated and loved unconditionally, often in the face of insecurity, rejection and hatred. My Deities do not eliminate the negative circumstances willy-nilly. Rather, They provide the guidance whereby I find within myself the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual resources to deal with those negative circumstances. I do not hide behind Them, but I know They are “watching my back.”

For many people, Pagan and non-Pagan, this sense of “Divine parenting” is all that is required of faith. Many people can accept it and practice it simply because it is a tenet of their chosen religion, and it is so effective in their lives that they never find the need to go deeper.

For some of us, however, the matter of faith runs much deeper, into realms that are difficult to address via the cumbersome medium of the spoken or written word, and the linchpin of this difference is often the “spiritual experience.”

I have heard it said that there is a difference between “faith” and “belief.” One is said to have faith when one trusts in something that cannot be or has not been proven. One believes in something that one has directly experienced. Today, the words are synonymous to me, largely because I have been fortunate enough to have had two powerful “spiritual experiences” in my Pagan life. Members of 12 Step fellowships often refer to these as “burning bushes;” the immediate and undeniable manifestation of Divine presence in our ordinary reality. Before the first such event, I had “faith” in the Gods because that was what a good Pagan was “supposed” to do. Actually, it was simply a matter of fitting the spiritual beliefs that I had developed on my own into the Pagan context. But still, I took it “on faith” that the Gods were real, as I had not yet had direct experience of Them. After my first spiritual experience, I believed in the Gods the same way I believed in my ’92 Taurus, for They were suddenly just as “real” and just as “present” in my life.

Faith and belief have their own logic, if one can call it that, and it is certainly fractal in nature. I think, at times, we grasp that logic in a brief and tentative manner. Ultimately, however, it eludes examination and defeats definition. Nor is it necessary, for me at least, to know “how” or “why” it works. It is enough that I have faith, belief and trust in my Deities. These, along with willingness, are the doors through which They enter my life, that we may dance together.

In Their Service…

RuneWolf

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

In Praise of Pagan Men

In Praise of Pagan Men

Author: Sia@FullCircle

Speaking as a feminist and as a Pagan woman, I would like to say this: I like men. I like to flirt with them, I like to be around them, I like to knowing them as friends, I like working with them, and I like hearing their take on things. So it seems to me that Beltane — a holiday that celebrates the Green Man – is a perfect time to celebrate the many great men in the Earthwise community.

It’s been said that “Nine tenths of the Laws of Chivalry is the desire on the part of men to keep all the fun to themselves”. While that may have been true in the past, our Pagan men have found a way to merge old world courtesy with modern equality. Anyone who’s been to a Pagan event will know whereof I speak, and will appreciate these men for their gallantry and their sense of style.

Goddess knows, I like their sense of style. These guys are as comfortable wearing leather, silk or velvet as they are wearing blue jeans or a suit. I’m not taking just about the young, hunky guys, either; I happen to think that all men are handsome and that all women are beautiful. In fact, it’s been said that I organize Pagan events just so I can see lots of men in costume. To that I answer, “Yea, verily.” (Hey, I may be married, folks, but I’m not dead.)

I like these men because they’re proud of who they are. They view themselves as people, and not just as wage earners or studs. I also love their honesty, their humor, and their hard won maturity. They treat both women and men with respect and they expect the same in return.

When these men choose to parent, I see them doing their very best to be nurturing, involved fathers. They are comfortable caring for children and they do a great job. Many of these men did not have wise or loving fathers themselves but they are determined to be the right kind of parent for their own kids, and to this I say, “Praise Be.”

These men have no wish to live in some patriarchal past. They know that good men don’t “help” with the housework; they simply do what’s needed. In other words, they see themselves as equal partners. As a result, their lovers don’t have to work the dreaded “Second Shift” (1) It’s amazing what a great relationship people can have when they’re not exhausted, angry, and bitter. The sex is better, too.

All women know that a man who does the laundry, actually sees the dirt and deals with it, and who knows how to cook is much sexier than the guy who brings flowers and jewels when he’s courting, but who expects us to become his serving wench after the honeymoon is over. The first kind of man is cherished and his partner is the envy of all. The second kind is disrespected, nagged, and very often divorced. Pagan men know this. Many of them witnessed a dysfunctional relationship between their own parents and they want something healthier for themselves. And to this I say, “Praise Be.” (2)

All of my men friends, whether they are heterosexual, gay, or bisexual, like and honor women. In turn, we Pagan women honor them. What matters to us is not how much money they make or what kind of car they drive. No, we want to be around men who are strong minded and kind. We want them to be happy, and we’ll do what it takes to help them realize their dreams. It’s amazing what kind of a relationship people can have when one of them isn’t caught in a life littered with missed opportunities or locked into a job they hate because their partner expects a certain kind of lifestyle. If being Pagan means anything, it means we accept the responsibily for our own lives and have the courage to make our own choices. Even so, it’s nice to have someone who believes in you, standing on the sidelines, cheering you on. These men do that for us, and we are happy to do the same for them.

Knowing men of such high quality can be a challenge, but I guarantee you this: you’ll never be bored. If you know a man who loves life, who does his best at work (and who has interests outside of work) and if he is funny, smart and capable and honors your strength as well as his own, then you are blessed.

Such magikal beings may seem to exist only in myth but they are real enough in our community. I tend to think of these wonderful guys as “Green Men” because The Green Man (3) is such a positive male archetype.

William Anderson notes in his book Green Man that this image has existed in our culture for many thousands of years. The Green Man is most often portrayed as a human head in a leaf mask and as such it is often found carved on hunting weapons, pendants, horns and drinking vessels. We moderns know him mostly because the Gothic stone carvers (4) placed the Green Man on so many medieval places of worship. These heads were placed in thousands of churches and cathedrals throughout Europe in an area ranging all the way from Ireland to Russia. Most of these carvings can still be seen today.

Writers like Anderson and John Matthews (the author of Green Man: Spirit of Nature) have traced this archetype and they note that it appears many times in human history. We see him as Robin of the Wood, the Green Knight of Arthurian Legend, as the May King and the Summer Lord and as Cernunnos, the Celtic God of the Forest. The myth extends beyond Europe into Mesopotamia and Greece for he is related to Silbanus, the Roman God of the wood, Adonis, the beloved of Aphrodite and Dionysus the God of wine and wildness. He appears yet again as The Fool in the first Arcanum of the Tarot. Those of you who loved The Lord of the Rings will recognize the Green Man in the figure an Ent named Tree Beard. Ents are a race of beings (Tree Herders) who protect the forests they inhabit.

At its deepest level, the Green Man figure represents our kinship with trees and wood. He is both in the wood and of the wood. Herein he acts as hunter, provider, guardian, progenitor, and friend.

The Green Man is complex; he’s gentle and strong, wise and foolish, divine and human. He stands for the power of the life force and he brings with him abundance and great joy. He is also a God of death and rebirth. Like Kali, he controls the powers of creation and destruction. He can teach us to understand the difficult paradox of a “good death” and warns against the curse of a wasted life. He understands pain, loss, letting go, sadness, change, and renewal; things we all experience at some point in our lives. Whether we mourn or whether we dance, we can call upon the Green Man.

This powerful image has recently become popular with the members of the modern ecology movement. Anderson notes:

Our remote ancestors said to their mother Earth, “We are yours.”
Modern humanity has said to Nature, “You are mine.”
The Green Man has returned as the living face of the whole earth
so that through his mouth we may say to the universe, “We are one.”

Today I see many Pagan men (and women) wearing this symbol to events. Some wear it to honor the God and some to show that they are Green Witches, healers, or herbalists. It is also popular among those who are part of a Shamanistic tradition. The Green Man is a symbol honored by all who seek mystery and transformation in their lives. He can be found by anyone brave enough to venture into those dark woods and wild places inside our selves. To find the Green Man is to find a deeper meaning to our own life’s story. To quote Oscar Wilde, “The final mystery is oneself”. The Green Man knows this and is willing to point the way.

To be in touch with the Green Man is also to revel in the bacchanalian side of our nature. The ancient Greek’s taught that we should all cut loose and go a little “mad” from time to time. They believed that this was essential for spiritual balance. But to view the Green Man only in that context is turn the Wild Wood into a Frat House. Let us not mistake the great God for a Lost Boy; he’s the Green Man, not Peter Pan (and by the way, guys, none of us wants to be your “Wendy”. She’s right up there with Becky Thatcher in the Codependant Pantheon and, frankly, the role is no damn fun… .but I digress). Yes, the Green Man knows how to party, but he is also a wise leader, teacher, and guide.

True leadership is not as our culture would have it “power over” but rather “power with” and “power for”. In T.H. White’s book “The Once and Future King”, King Arthur realizes early in his reign that many of Merlin’s lessons have been about the use of power. The problem in Arthur’s world is that “Might is right” and once he realizes that he designs his Round Table around the concept of “Might for right”, and so changes history.

When I look at my male friends I see that they, too, are changing history. These men are harkening back to a much older and more profound male model, and in doing so they are changing what it means to be a man in this society. The personal (as we feminists have so often pointed out) is political. Change one aspect, and you can’t help but change the other.

Women have worked for many years to make our own way back to strength, honor and balance so we know how hard this process can be. These days both men and women are traveling without a map and with no clear directions on how to proceed. But I firmly believe that if we support one another we can all get there, or rather, we can all get back there. As Gloria Steinem once said:

“The first problem, for all of us, is not to learn, but to unlearn.”

So, if you know man within your Circle or circle of friends who you think is special, please take a moment and let him know that you appreciate him. Green Men are hard to find these days; let’s honor the ones we know. (5)

Blessed Be to all our men,

Sia

Biography: Sia is the Council Leader for Full Circle Events, a non-profit Neo-Pagan group which hosts events like the annual Beltane Ball. She can reached for comment at info@fullcircleevents.org.

End Notes:

(1) In her book titled “The Second Shift“, sociologist Arlie Hochschild takes us into the homes of two-career parents to observe what really goes on at the end of the “work day.” Overwhelmingly, she discovers, it’s the working mother who takes on the second shift.

Hochschild finds that men share housework equally with their wives in only twenty percent of dual-career families. While many women accept this inequity in order to keep peace, they tend to suffer from chronic exhaustion, low sex drive, and more frequent illness as a result. The ultimate cost is the forfeited health and happiness of both partners, and often the survival of the marriage itself.

(2) I’m not suggesting that partners have to do exactly the same tasks or that everyone has to work outside the home for their love to be a union of equals. What I am saying is that each relationship (whether it be lover, roommate or friend, poly, hetero, lesbian or gay) has to have a deep-seated feeling of equity between partners. If the burdens of daily life are seen by those in the relationship to be fairly shared amongst all parties, then it doesn’t matter who cuts the grass. (It does matter if you don’t know how to do laundry or if you “would just die” if they ever left you to fend for yourself. In such cases it’s time to add some new skills to your toolbox).

(3) The first use of the term “Green Man” was by the distinguished anthropologist, Lady Raglan. Her article on the Green Man appeared in the magazine “Folk Lore” (vol. 50) in 1939. It is she who makes the connection among the various myths, the carvings, and Pagan ritual. Lady Raglan writes “(there is) a figure variously known as the Green Man, Jack-in-the-Green, Robin Hood, the King of May, and the Garland, who is the central figure in the May-Day celebrations throughout Northern and Central Europe.”

(4) Gothic Art is the style of art produced in Europe from the Middle

Ages up to the beginning of the Renaissance. Typically religious in nature, it is especially known for the distinctive arched design of its churches, its stained glass, and its illuminated manuscripts. The Gothic Period in art history dates roughly from the 5th to the 16th century, C.E.

(5) According to Anderson, Terri Windling and other writers there are also “Green Women”. The goddesses Asherah and Flora are good examples, as are the nymph Chloris and Dakshi, the tree-goddess of India. The Green Woman can also be found in the legend of the Lady Greensleeves and in the stories of the gallant lass known as Maid Marian.

 

Here are some other books of interest:

 

King, Warrior, Magician, Lover: Rediscovering the Archetypes of the Mature Masculineby Robert Moore and Douglas Gillette

Lord of Light and Shadow: The Many Faces of the God by D.J. Conway

Wiccan Warrior: Walking A Spiritual Path In A Sometimes Hostile Worldby Kerr Cuhulain

Triumph Of The Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton

Here are some websites you might enjoy:The Green Man and The Green Woman: Tales of the Mythic Forest – This part of Teri Windling’s website features her splendid essay titled “Tales of the Mythic Forest” which is about the Green Man and Green Woman archetype as it appears in ancient and modern literature. It also has some beautiful images by artists such as Brian Froud, Robert Gould, Wendy Froud and Alan Lee, among others.

The Green Man: Variations on a Theme: – This essay by Ruth Wylie for Edge Magazine discusses the Green Man image as it appears on churches throughout Europe.

The Mystery of the Green Man — A site with great images, including pictures of the Green Man in India and Nepal.

The Lodge of Herne: A Place for Pagan Men

Gay Paganism – The index at The Witches Voice

The Green Man: Common Themes: East & West

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

This is Wicca

This is Wicca

Author: Pulchra Lupus 

Before you begin, I would like to make my intended audience clear. This essay, while perhaps appreciated by my fellow believers, is more directed toward doubters, or new practitioners of the craft. This is meant to educate those ill informed or else those who are curious.

Wicca. What is your first impression, when you hear this word? Tainted witchcraft? Satanism? Evil? If these are among your thoughts, then you have been sadly misinformed.

Wicca is Pagan. This is very true. But Pagan no more means evil than being a bird means you can fly. Pagan came from the Latin word Paganus, literally meaning country-dweller or rustic. It is a religion predating Christianity by roughly twenty-eight thousand years, making it ancient and different. It is not Satanic Worship; the Devil had not yet even come into the picture. It is simply different, and the Old Church set out to destroy or convert that which scared it, that which it could not understand.

Pagans deal with more attacks, verbal and violent, for being what they are than nearly any other religion. But, the uneducated and the crude initiate those attacks. For, if you truly knew what Wicca was, you would know that we are no threat to you.

Those who practice this religion are benign, peaceful. They are comfortable with who they are, knowing that they have nothing to prove to anybody but themselves. They do not try to recruit others to their belief system; they do not try to convert others away from their religion. If a person comes to Wicca, they do it of their own free will. They do not attempt to harm others in any way, and they do not try to right any wrong done to them, especially with use of magick. This, in part, is due to their belief in the three-fold law, known by most simply as Karma.

We celebrate two deities, the God and the Goddess. These deities are known by many names. The Goddess is commonly associated with all maiden goddesses such as Artemis, Greek goddess of the moon and the Hunt, and Diana, Artemis’ Roman aspect, but she has three aspects, not just the Maiden. She is the Crone, the wise old woman stirring the cauldron, the Mother, who calls us all her children, and the Maiden, who is young and pure and kind. The God is depicted often with the antlers of a stag, and so many assume that he represents the Devil. This is not so. He is closely associated with the Greco-Roman gods of Pan, god of nature, and Apollo, got of the sun, of music and archery, of healing. Kernunos, Cernunnos, his names are also many. They both rule over nature, but they also have specific spheres of power. The Goddess rules the night sky and is the Mother of the Earth. The God is represented as the midday sun and is in charge of the hunt.

Wiccans do not worship trees, or rocks, or rivers. These are symbols that they attune themselves with in order to link with nature and, through it, to their deities. The elder tree is the Lady’s sacred tree, and oak is linked with the Horned God. The Wiccans believe that they are born of nature and that, when they die, their bodies return to the earth, and their souls travel to the afterlife. The afterlife itself is unique for each person. By definition, most do not believe in Hell, or Heaven, in the strictest sense. We believe that, when you die, whatever you imagined your death to be is what it will be. If you pictured yourself in Avalon, walking beside the Goddess among the apple trees, this is where you would go. We also believe in reincarnation; the God and Goddess give us the option of being reborn, with the knowledge that we will not remember our past lives and only the very bare essence of the soul will remain, bearing unconsciously the lessons learned in previous lives.

Wiccans do practice magick, but never should it be used in a way intended to harm or negatively affect our selves or another. They have two classifications of magick: white magick, and black magick. Black magick is practiced solely by those who divert from the true Wiccan path in a foolish quest for power, but all religions have their fools. The entire Wiccan existence is based on the belief that all life is sacred, and to intentionally take one’s life, as suicide or homicide, is gravely looked upon, but they try to see it as just another mistake.

Wiccans have the Wiccan Rede, which speaks of the Sabbats, the guidelines of the use of magick, and the respect of the higher powers. The final eight words are not negotiable, and are the firmest, set-in-stone rule of all Wicca, no matter the specific tradition. These words are: An ye harm none, do as ye will. Harm none. This is the one and only hard rule of Wicca. Hurt nobody. So why are our kind constantly attacked? Verbally abused with cruel insults, physically assaulted by those who know nothing of the true religion?

Why? Because everyone is afraid of what they cannot understand, and so they lash out in order to rid themselves of the fear by ridding themselves of the cause. But this is cruelty and an abuse of their rights as human beings, and we should not have to tolerate this as we do. We are not the neighborhood pot-smokers, nor are we the tattoo-riddled, pierced from head to toe hippies. Some fall into these categories, but so do some Christians, and Catholics, and Muslims. We are all human beings, regardless of our beliefs, and we should be treated as such. And yet, wars are started over things simple as this. This mass prejudice on not just Wiccans but all different religions is making us forget that we are all part of the same race. This is wrong, alienating our own kind over something as trivial as what god someone prays to. It isn’t our business what others believe in, and we should learn to leave well enough alone.

I hope this really made you think about your actions and others. I hope you can find it in yourself to rise above the most primal part of human nature and learn to love everybody, regardless of religion, or skin color, or language.

This is Wicca.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Should You Come Out of the Broom Closet?

Should You Come Out of the Broom Closet?

By , About.com

 

After you’ve been Pagan or Wiccan for a while, you will eventually find yourself facing the question of whether or not to come out of the broom closet. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, this essentially means coming out as a Pagan or Wiccan — making it known to family, friends, neighbors, etc. It’s a highly personal issue, and people have a number of reasons for choosing to stay closeted. Just as many people have reasons for making their beliefs known.

Coming out may not be for everyone, or it may be something you choose to do in degrees. When you decide to make your faith known, you are opening yourself up to all the problems that may accompany being recognized as part of a non-mainstream faith. However — and this is a mighty big however — you do have certain rights, particularly in the United States. Arming yourself with knowledge will help you tremendously in protecting those rights.

How Out Do You Want to Be?

There are different levels of being out. For many Pagans and Wiccans, simply letting their families or spouses know about their spirituality is enough. Many people consider religion to be a private thing anyway — no matter what religion they may be — and are perfectly content to limit the number of people in their lives who actually know the details. Plenty more people are of the opinion that if you are asked, tell the truth, but otherwise don’t be in-your-face about Paganism or Wicca.

Other folks are more vocal — feeling that if you really believe in something, you need to tell everyone, and do so with pride. These are the folks you usually see on television discussing Pagan and Wiccan rights, they’re the ones who openly teach classes, and often are leaders of your local Pagan community. Some probably own shops, perform ceremonies as Pagan clergy, or work as liaisons between the Pagan community and the non-Pagan world.

One of the reasons it’s so hard to get an accurate count of the current Pagan and Wiccan population is because there are so many people who are simply private about their beliefs. Estimates in the United States alone suggest that there are anywhere from 200,000 to two million Pagans and Wiccans in the country.

As Paganism and Wicca move more towards the mainstream, more and more people are coming out of the broom closet. Some are flamboyant and vocal, others are more discreet and quiet. Most of us, honestly, are somewhere in the middle. Others don’t come out at all, because they’re concerned about the reactions they’ll receive.

Bear in mind also that there’s a huge difference between being private and being deceptive.

Moving Towards the Mainstream

Thirty years ago, coming out as a Pagan or Wiccan was virtually unheard of. The only people who were actually out were Pagan authors — people like Sybil Leek, Ray Buckland, Scott Cunningham, Isaac Bonewits, Starhawk. These were the people who became leaders of the modern Pagan movement, simply because they were the most visible.

During the 1980s, more books became available on Paganism and Wicca, and one of the topics covered nearly universally was the decision to come out or not. In subsequent decades, as the Internet became a resource found in every household and coffee shop, Pagan and Wiccan networking sites became readily available. Earth-based spirituality became open to the masses, and more and more people realized it was okay to come out.

Advantages of Being Out

There are several positive aspects to being out as a Pagan or Wiccan. For starters, it allows you the freedom of not hiding your true self. When you’ve shared who you are with others, it makes it that much easier to be honest and open about other things.

When it comes to controversial issues, Wiccans and Pagans are often at the forefront of writing letters to congress people, marching in parades, and organizing protests. By making your presence as a Pagan known, it allows like-minded people to find you when they need your assistance. Likewise, if you need them, you’ll be able to find them if they’re out.

Finally, there is a sense of liberation that comes with being out. Even if you’re not one of those in-your-face Pagans, and are simply out to friends and family, there’s a freedom born of openness. Once you’re out, you don’t have to worry that other people are going to find out — because you’ve already made it known, on your own terms.

The Downside of Stepping Out
For some people, the idea of coming out as Pagan or Wiccan is terrifying. They may feel that they’ll be persecuted by local fundamentalist groups, or that they will be in danger of losing jobs, children, etc. If this is of concern to you, be sure to read the section on Your Rights as a Pagan.

Some Pagans choose not to come out because of fears related to past history. There is sometimes a concern that outing oneself as Pagan or Wiccan could lead to a repeat of the Burning Times that existed during the Middle Ages.

Another thing to bear in mind is that once you’re out, it’s a one-way street. You can’t suddenly take back that you’re Wiccan or Pagan, because people won’t forget. This is why it’s not a bad idea to come out gradually — rather than waking up one morning and wearing your brand new I’m a Witch, Deal With It! shirt, it may be better to first let family know, then friends, and finally become open with others. Regardless, it’s something you can do at the pace that feels best to you.

The Bottom Line

Ultimately, the decision to come out is one that takes some thought and possibly some clever planning as well, depending on how you believe you will be received. You may be pleasantly surprised to find support and friendship in places that you didn’t expect it — it’s possible that dear old mom and dad will embrace your newfound spirituality rather than chastising you for it. Talk to people who are out of the broom closet and ask them for advice on how to talk to their families and friends about who they are.

Finally, be sure to never, EVER, out someone else without their permission. It’s a personal choice, and while you’re more than welcome to tell people what you believe — without proselytizing, of course — you’re not welcome to announce that other people are Pagan or Wiccan, unless they are already out.

Religion and spirituality is a private and personal thing, no matter who you are. Coming out of the broom closet is a choice that only you can make for yourself. It’s something that you can choose to do when the time is right for you — or not.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Wicca, Witchcraft | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Not All Pagans are Wiccans

Not All Pagans Are Wiccans

By , About.com

 

Wicca is a tradition of Witchcraft that was brought to the public by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. There is a great deal of debate among the Pagan community about whether or not Wicca is truly the same form of Witchcraft that the ancients practiced. Regardless, many people use the terms Wicca and Witchcraft interchangeably. Paganism is an umbrella term used to apply to a number of different earth-based faiths. Wicca falls under that heading, although not all Pagans are Wiccan.

So, in a nutshell, here’s what’s going on. All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. All Wiccans are Pagans, but not all Pagans are Wiccans. Finally, some witches are Pagans, but some are not – and some Pagans practice witchcraft, while others choose not to.

If you’re reading this page, chances are you’re either a Wiccan or Pagan, or you’re someone who’s interested in learning more about the modern Pagan movement. You may be a parent who’s curious about what your child is reading, or you might be someone who is unsatisfied with the spiritual path you’re on right now. Perhaps you’re seeking something more than what you’ve had in the past. You might be someone who’s practiced Wicca or Paganism for years, and who just wants to learn more.

For many people, the embracing of an earth-based spirituality is a feeling of “coming home”. Often, people say that when they first discovered Wicca, they felt like they finally fit in. For others, it’s a journey TO something new, rather than running away from something else.

Paganism is an Umbrella Term

Please bear in mind that there are dozens of different traditions that fall under the umbrella title of “Paganism”. While one group may have a certain practice, not everyone will follow the same criteria. Statements made on this site referring to Wiccans and Pagans generally refer to MOST Wiccans and Pagans, with the acknowledgement that not all practices are identical.

Not All Pagans are Wiccans

There are many Witches who are not Wiccans. Some are Pagans, but some consider themselves something else entirely.

Just to make sure everyone’s on the same page, let’s clear up one thing right off the bat: not all Pagans are Wiccans. The term “Pagan” (derived from the Latin paganus, which translates roughly to “hick from the sticks”) was originally used to describe people who lived in rural areas. As time progressed and Christianity spread, those same country folk were often the last holdouts clinging to their old religions. Thus, “Pagan” came to mean people who didn’t worship the god of Abraham.

In the 1950s, Gerald Gardner brought Wicca to the public, and many contemporary Pagans embraced the practice. Although Wicca itself was founded by Gardner, he based it upon old traditions. However, a lot of Witches and Pagans were perfectly happy to continue practicing their own spiritual path without converting to Wicca.

Therefore, “Pagan” is an umbrella term that includes many different spiritual belief systems – Wicca is just one of many.

Think of it this way:

Christian > Lutheran or Methodist or Jehovah’s Witness

Pagan > Wiccan or Asatru or Dianic or Eclectic Witchcraft

As if that wasn’t confusing enough, not all people who practice witchcraft are Wiccans, or even Pagans. There are a few witches who embrace the Christian god as well as a Wiccan goddess – the Christian Witch movement is alive and well! There are also people out there who practice Jewish mysticism, or “Jewitchery”, and atheist witches who practice magic but do not follow a deity.

What About Magic?

There are a number of people who consider themselves Witches, but who are not necessarily Wiccan or even Pagan. Typically, these are people who use the term “eclectic Witch” or to apply to themselves. In many cases, Witchcraft is seen as a skill set in addition to or instead of a religious system. A Witch may practice magic in a manner completely separate from their spirituality; in other words, one does not have to interact with the Divine to be a Witch.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts, Wicca | Tags: , | Leave a comment

Personal Responsibility

Personal Responsibility

Author: Crick 

As more and more folks rediscover their Pagan roots, they run into an emotional, spiritual and mental paradox called individuality. This concept for so many, lends itself to a heretofore unrealized sense of intellectual, spiritual and personal responsibility. No longer is there the option of blaming ones actions on an ethereal entity such as the Devil or Satan or what have you.

While one was a member of one of the organized religions, this was an accepted and in many instances an encouraged cop out. However this self-abasement and pleading for mercy from a distant God is not a tenet of Paganism.

This is in fact one of the tenets that tends to separate a spiritual path from a formal religion.

As a Pagan, one is expected, and indeed should seek, to become involved in a deeper sense of personal responsibility. Seeking out the mysteries, and thus the spiritual lessons of life, become our primary goal within this realm. And this goal is not something that can be handed off to someone else. For each of us is indeed, responsible for our own growth. As Pagans we are each expected to strive for the highest spiritual level that we can attain.

This is not to say that such a sense of responsibility is to be taken for granted. Saying that “I am a Pagan therefore I am a responsible person” just does not fly. Sincere and devoted Pagans do not hang pentacles around their necks and simply pay lip service.

One has to actually work at and continue to adjust one’s thoughts and actions in order to achieve this personal goal.

This is in part what the lessons of life are all about: the ability to face the obstacles that are placed before us — and to act or react accordingly in a way that is spiritually acceptable — is our ultimate challenge as Pagans.

As Neo-Pagans, we have entered into a special world that is very exciting and full of rewarding experiences. We are availed the opportunity to rediscover and explore the world of our ancestors.

Prior to the onset of organized religion, such acts as working with energy, healing with herbs, walking amongst spirits to name a few, were common place events. And the mindset that goes with such responsibility was inherent in such nature-connected folks.

But alas, over the ages we have become somewhat disconnected with our world and all that She offers. We have to make a concerted and conscious effort to regain the values and respect for such gifts that we once took for granted.

If we are to walk the path of Paganism, then we have to make a honest decision to clear off the layers of dust and apathy that have settled upon our souls and seek out the truths that will lead us to spiritual growth.

In general, becoming one with our chosen Deity is a goal that many Pagans choose as their personal goal.

Fortunately Deity has allotted us many tools in order to achieve this level of spiritual responsibility and fulfillment.

We are blessed with an inner voice, which opens up many options when faced with a challenge. Some folks call this their conscious; others may call it Shaitan or even Coyote (the Trickster). There are of course many other names for this particular phenomenon.

But the point being made here is that this is not something that is intended to lead us down a negative or evil path. Rather it is a way of testing our choices in life. As every Pagan should realize, there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to personal spiritual responsibility. We are unique individuals with many different beliefs and/or approaches to the great mysteries of life.

How we respond to challenges is dependent on our personal experiences and the lessons encountered up to any given point in time. There are no masters in this journey of the soul; rather we are all students of life. And continue to be so until it is our turn to pass through the veil. Once we do pass through the silvery veil and the book of Akashic records is opened, there is no one to answer for the pages of your life but yourself.

It is a wise person that keeps in mind that as we walk the path of Paganism.

Mistakes will be made. It is what we learn from our mistakes and how we proceed from that lesson to the next that will be the mark of our personal growth. These are the defining moments of our personal spiritual responsibility.

There are, of course, many, many other tools available to those who engage the path of Paganism. For instance, when we embark on an astral journey there are many teachers waiting and willing in the cosmic realm. We need but to reach out and make our desires known to them.

We even have the ability to visit the Akashic records in order to review lessons, both past and present. In addition, there are many spiritual entities here on Mother Earth who are patiently waiting for us to find the inner strength to once again be able to see and acknowledge them and who are more then willing to assist us in our journey towards such a personal goal.

Deity has not left us to our own devises but rather has provided us with many opportunities for attaining a sense of personal responsibility for ourselves.

Deity awaits us with open hearts and arms. But it is up to each of us as to how quickly we arrive home to them. And thus become one with them.

So whether you are one who has walked this path for a number of years or are just starting out on the path of Paganism, in whatever form, do so with a deep sense of awareness. And fully embrace the concept of personal responsibility that is a mainstay of this particular and fascinating belief system.

Categories: Articles, Daily Posts | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 2,474 other followers