‘THINK on THESE THINGS’ for February 25th

‘THINK on THESE THINGS’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler

Some of the dearest moments ever spent are those on the road I didn’t want to travel. And some of the most magnificent doors I’ve ever passed through are where before there was no way.

Some of the kindest people I shall ever know are the ones I didn’t want to meet. And the greatest abundance I’ve ever received came from a pittance I wanted to withhold.

Tears I have wanted to shed have turned to happiness because for a moment I could see beyond them. And hope has saved everything when I wanted most to give up in despair.

And suddenly I realize how great my progress could be if I could get myself and my emotions out of the way. How hard I push against the door that opens inward – inward, where faith and hope and trust abide.

There’s not enough ambling done any more. There are too many deadlines. Time for a favorite TV show, time to take pills, time for appointments, time to catch a plane. Life is one continual alarm clock.

Never a gentle gait, but always at a dogtrot to meet those deadlines. It seems that dawdling along or staring into space is a waste of time, as the ambitious, eager for superiority, move dangerously ahead.

Many great people have known the wisdom of safeguarding their health and security by taking time to analyze, not in the role of fact sifting, but by allowing the minds to amble, to drift openly from thought to thought. This sitting idly on the sidelines and fishing quietly in the mind can catch many a solution that casting would never hook.

After a period of creative silence, attacking any deadline is made simple. The mind has had time to lay down the brittle aggressiveness and is ready to operate efficiently. Even physical weariness passes and the goal ahead isn’t so far in the distance.

When there isn’t time to go fishing, remember the words of American author William Mathews: “Knowledge is acquired by study and observation, but wisdom cometh by opportunity of leisure. The ripest thoughts come from a mind which is not always on the stretch, but fed, at times, by a wise passiveness.”

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Available online! ‘Cherokee Feast of Days’
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler.

Visit her web site to purchase the wonderful books by Joyce as gifts for yourself or for loved ones……and also for those who don’t have access to the Internet: http://www.hifler.com
Click Here to Buy her books at Amazon.com

Elder’s Meditation of the Day
By White Bison, Inc., an American Indian-owned nonprofit organization. Order their many products from their web site: http://www.whitebison.org

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Elder’s Meditation of the Day – February 25

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – February 25

“The Creator was responsible for the existence of everything, a part of the Creator’s spirit exists in everything and thus all things are connected.”

–Larry P. Aitken, CHIPPEWA

The Creator designed nature, people, and all things as an interconnected system. Everything is connected to each other. This connection exists in the Unseen World. The same way our body parts are all port of the body-the parts are separate but also connected. If a part of our body is in pain, the rest of the body recognizes this pain as its own. In other words, the pain of one is the pain of all. This is also true of every interconnected system. Because we are connected, we should respect and take care of our Earth and each other.

Great Spirit, let me treat everyone, today, as if they were You.

February 25 – Daily Feast

February 25 – Daily Feast

When we stop fretting we gain more ground. If we can stop trying to control everything with our minds and let it go, even for a little while, we will get a clearer view. There is wisdom in the words, “Having done all, stand.” Do what can be done, build faith, know there is a Great Holy Spirit that knows even the very smallest thing we need. At this point, everything will challenge us, but just let it slide away, let it dissolve from inattention. The greatest steps are taken when we decide not to thrash out, not to hate and resent and lose ourselves in the confusion. Put it all down and walk away to something totally different. Having done all, stand, and refuse to be drawn back into a place of no peace.

~ The man who sat on the ground in his tipi meditating on life and its meaning, accepting the kinship of all creatures and acknowledging unity with the universe of things, was infusing into his being the true essence of civilization. ~

CHIEF LUTHER STANDING BEAR

‘A Cherokee Feast of Days’, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

The Daily Motivator for February 25th – Put something positive

Put something positive

Put something positive in your world. Circumstances, events and other people  can’t be depended on to do it, so step up and do it yourself.

There are plenty of influences in your life that can lead to dismay and  disappointment. Fortunately, you don’t have to be one of those disappointing  influences.

You can put something positive in your life any time you choose to do so. Go  ahead and choose this day, this moment, and this place to do so.

You know you’ll be much more effective with a positive perspective. So do  something good for yourself and for your world.

There are all too many things to feel bad about. Use a little time today to  do something you can truly feel good about.

Put something good and positive in your world today. Give yourself the gift  and the power of a fresh, new positive outlook.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Daily OM for February 25th – Your Most Vital Commitment

Your Most Vital Commitment
Finding Time for You

by Madisyn Taylor

We can excel easier in our lives when our own spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs are fulfilled.

Within each of there is a well of energy that must be regularly replenished. When we act as if this well is bottomless, scheduling a long list of activities that fit like puzzle pieces into every minute of every day, it becomes depleted and we feel exhausted, disconnected, and weak. Refilling this well is a matter of finding time to focus on, nurture, and care for ourselves, or “you time.” Most of us are, at different times throughout the day, a spouse, a friend, a relative, an employee, a parent, or a volunteer, which means that down time, however relaxing in nature, is not necessarily “you time.” Though some people will inevitably look upon “you time” as being selfish, it is actually the polar opposite of selfishness. We can only excel where our outer world affairs are concerned when our own spiritual, physical, and intellectual needs are fulfilled.

Recognizing the importance of “you time” is far easier than finding a place for it in an active, multifaceted lifestyle, however. Even if you find a spot for it in your agenda, you may be dismayed to discover that your thoughts continuously stray into worldly territory. To make the most of “you time,” give yourself enough time on either side of the block of time you plan to spend on yourself to ensure that you do not feel rushed. Consider how you would like to pass the time, forgetting for the moment your obligations and embracing the notion of renewal. You may discover that you are energized by creative pursuits, guided meditation, relaxing activities during which your mind can wander, or modes of expression such as writing.

Even if you have achieved a functioning work-life balance, you may still be neglecting the most important part of that equation: you. “You time” prepares you for the next round of daily life, whether you are poised to immerse yourself in a professional project or chores around the home. It also affords you a unique opportunity to learn about yourself, your needs, and your tolerances in a concrete way. As unimportant as “you time” can sometimes seem, it truly is crucial to your well-being because it ensures that you are never left without the energy to give of yourself.

The Daily OM

Informal Training

Informal Training

Author:   Mama Fortuna 

If I were planning on performing brain surgery, I would probably want to attend medical school first.

Lucky for me – and for anyone undergoing brain surgery – I’m not planning on doing any such thing. I’m merely planning on altering reality, which does not, in fact, require a medical degree in the slightest.

In fact… does it require any degree at all?

For some people, there’s something comforting about knowing that the person leading your religious ritual has some sort of credentials. Someone, somewhere, has deemed that That Guy up there invoking the gods is strong enough, responsible enough, and knowledgeable enough to handle the spiritual needs of a large body of people. Likewise, if there’s magic to be done, then That Guy can handle it because he’s passed some sort of test.  He knows what he’s doing.  Pressure’s off.

For other people, the idea of letting somebody else direct their rituals or spells makes them awfully uncomfortable. “Just who ARE these people who decided That Guy should be in charge? Why can’t I do it myself?”

And let’s face it – some people just do not play well with others.

I am such a person.

I’m skeptical by nature.  If someone tells me that they have the Secrets of the Universe™, my first instinct is not to say “Wow!” and throw piles of money at them, but rather to cackle maniacally and say, “Yeah, and I’m the Queen of Atlantis.” While this doesn’t exactly make me popular at parties, it does keep me from placing my trust in people who don’t deserve it. If somebody wants to teach me something, they had better expect me to interrogate them. Frequently.

I believe very strongly in personal responsibility.  I feel that every person on the planet is ultimately responsible for his or her own destiny. Therefore, even if you’re engaged in formal traditional training, it is your duty not to follow along blindly. Question everything. You’re dealing with concepts like your soul, here. If you were buying a new car, you’d ask plenty of questions.  Shouldn’t your spiritual path be afforded more thought than that?

A true teacher won’t mind if you ask questions. A really good teacher will expect you to, and a fantastic one will kick your ass if you don’t.

Looking back, I can safely say that the best teachers I’ve ever had – mundane or otherwise – were the ones who recognized the importance of personal experience. I learned the most from teachers who pointed the way and then stood back, letting me make my own discoveries and yes, my own mistakes. This method might be more frustrating, but I also find it infinitely more rewarding because everything you learn is taken to heart. There’s also a much greater sense of accomplishment to be had – you really earn your insights, rather than just having information handed to you.

And let’s face it — sometimes you won’t truly learn a lesson unless you learn it the hard way. No matter how many times you might have heard that summoning Pazuzu in your living room is a Bad Idea, you might not ever really believe it until you try. (Note: the author has nothing against Pazuzu personally, but feels he serves as an excellent example due to his lousy PR.)

If you have the drive and the ability to think critically, then a flesh-and-blood teacher isn’t exactly necessary. Your desire to improve yourself spiritually and magically will force you to try, try, and try again. In many ways, not having someone there to lay out the basics for you will make you work even harder, as you’ll imagine you need to keep up with some imaginary class of initiates. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t, if only through trial-and-error.

Traditional ritual is not useless, mind you– there’s something to be said for tried and true methods. They can certainly be time-savers, to be sure, as you eliminate a lot of that previously mentioned trial-and-error. But we no longer live in small rural communities where 90% of people are illiterate; we live in the information age, where supposed ‘secret’ teachings are available for $24.99 on Amazon.com.  If you really have your heart set on learning how to perform the Lesser Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram, you can do a Google search and presto! Knowledge at your fingertips. (Like magic, I’m tempted to say.)

This knowledge is pretty useless without practice, of course. The motivated practitioner realizes this and will take the time and effort required to master the techniques he/she learns. And all that practice translates into more personal experience. The learning never stops.

One of the downsides of sticking to a strict formal training regime is that some people fall into the trap of “this is the way it is done, and this is the ONLY way.” Gosh, sounds awfully dogmatic when you put it like that, doesn’t it? For many people, one of the allures of Paganism is the lack of rules etched on stone tablets and the encouragement of creative thought. While some people are content to do things the way they were taught and only the way they were taught, others find such an attitude stifling.

Ritual and magic are, I think, meant to push a person’s limits. You learn more about yourself – and indeed the world around you – when you force yourself to explore boundaries. It’s awfully hard to do that, however, if you don’t try and think critically and creatively about what you already know. How can you grow if you’re not willing to challenge yourself?

“Nothing is true, everything is permitted,” cry the Chaos Magicians. I think that all Pagans could benefit from meditating on what they mean by that. (Whether or not you wind up agreeing with it is totally irrelevant.)

The emphasis on personal interaction with deity in religious matters is another thing that is so attractive about Pagan paths, and to claim that one has to go through a series of qualifying events in order to truly be able to experience the Divine would seem to run completely counter to that idea. Is it truly necessary to complete some sort of theological course before a deity deigns to speak to you? I don’t think so, and if the stories of fellow Pagans are to be believed, the gods don’t think so either.

That’s another thing – if people are truly interacting with gods, wouldn’t that alone be sufficient to act as a learning aid? In my experience, if the desire to learn is present, the gods tend to be more than willing to teach. And I personally place a lot more importance on what my gods have to say rather than what any High Priest or Priestess does.

Formal training certainly has its place in Paganism, but it should not be viewed as the only method for judging how serious a person is about their faith, or as a measuring stick for magical adeptness. If a person does not hold a third-level degree in the Fantastic Coven of Our Lady of the Moonbeams, but they have been practicing and pushing their own magical limits for fifteen years, does that automatically mean they are not as skilled as some Pagan ‘elite clergy’?

If it does, then I think the Pagan community needs to re-examine its values.

In The End, We’re All Solitary

In The End, We’re All Solitary

Author:   Chi   
 
I’m not bashing coven practice here – It’s a wonderful spiritual path and way of learning and it works for lots of people. Those people have my blessings and all my best wishes. There are plenty of teens that someday want to be part of a coven, and there are dozens of adults who warn against teen groups (and even several of articles on Witchvox about it) . But if solitary practice is so wonderful, I have to ask myself why no one advocates it, at least not until asked or provoked. That’s what I will attempt to do, to go over some of the things that solitaries have the opportunity for, and even solitary fundamentals that anyone can use.

After all, you are an individual. In the end, you are solitary. And I don’t mean that in a bad way, I mean it in the most glorious way possible. At the end of the day, the Divinity shines down on YOU and recognizes YOU for what YOU are, and takes you into their arms as their child with your own uniqueness and respects you for every ounce of it.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. There are many people who consider themselves to be solitary Wiccans or solitary Witches. I almost want to say there is a majority – but I don’t have the statistics on hand to back that up, just my observation.

Most practitioners consider it a long-term goal to be able to get into a coven or other pagan group. Even though there are sometimes degree systems in place for covens, being a solitary is usually considered being “at the bottom of the food chain”, so to speak.

Some people are solitary because they choose to be, they know it is the best for their learning and they know it is better to study alone then with people that have the potential to delay your spiritual definition. Others are solitary simply because they have to be, there are no covens around, they are too young to join a ‘real’ coven, they do not have enough experience, or what have you.

I personally am some blend of the two. I began really studying and dedicating myself to “this path” a few years ago. I knew that I needed to study; I believed I had to have every rule memorized if I was ever to reach the glorious rank of a coven member.

However, since that time I have come to realize many things. First, I am not only a Wiccan. I am also Buddhist, Hindu, Christian, Shinto, and a multitude of other things…so joining a group of strict Wiccans would probably drive several of us mad!

Second, I know how I learn. That’s not to say I do everything right, but being a solitary has taught me a lot of things about how to self teach, how to remember, and how to adapt that I don’t think I would get if I was being taught by another sole person (or group of teachers) .

Third, I don’t fit into a category that any degree system or standardized test can put me into. I consider myself to be very well-rounded in many types of practice; I meditate at least once a day, I am very accomplished in divination, plus some alternative and spiritual healing…but at the same time, I had forgotten what a “boline” was a few weeks ago and had to Google search it. You might find some of these apply to you and you may find they do not.

My point here is that self-exploration is essential to your learning. I have been self-exploring and self-coaching myself for long enough that I think if I were to join a coven, it would have to be very flexible at the least. And that’s fine with me.

However, most solitaries, including myself…no matter how much we love our individual practice, we want some sort of structure, some group or support system. This is not a bad thing, if anything it shows us that we are realistic. I myself have daydreamed about starting a teen Pagan study group (notice I did not say ‘teen coven’) before…leading group meditations and having workshops to carve our own wands and such…sounds glorious doesn’t it? But I know that in the end that is not what a group is for.

I have joined many Pagan forums and websites…some of which are like my own online Grimoire. I say almost nothing to members but comb through hundreds of information pages and topics, completely in awe. On others, I have a group of elders or mentors that I ask for help quite often, whether it’s “Can I use this pretty dish my mom gave me instead of a chalice?” or “Who can tell me in detail the exact workings of the lesser banishing ritual of the pentagram?” (And to be fair…some of the websites out there are total B.S.) . Many casual groups have the potential to help you.

This is the first rule of being a solitary. Solitary does not equate to being alone. I like knowing that I can plan my own rituals, or re-schedule a Sabbat, and that I can adapt coven rituals to my practice. But I also know that there are always people I can turn to. I might talk to my non-Wiccan parents about finding spirituality in ‘everyday’, or ‘mundane’ life (as I found out in recent months, my sort-of-ex-hippie Dad and New-Age-Spiritual Mum are great for those kinds of things) . I might go on the Internet if I want to construct my own ritual. I might ask some online Elders for their book recommendations or good websites.

The thing about being a solitary is, instead of having a coven Priest or Priestess as your teacher, the whole world is your teacher. You usually have to ask several people about one question and go through each answer until you can combine the facts you need and get your own. You may find spiritual answers in simple social contacts or in the workings of nature.

Not to say that coven members “miss out” on this, but it is often unrecognized. I suspect that since Covens are a quick resource, that problem solving may not be emphasized as much, especially with limited resources.

One of my mottos that I have come to revisit often is this: everyone has something to teach, everyone has something to learn, and everyone is sacred. So even if you’re in a coven, a solitary might be a good person to ask about making up your own rituals. Maybe that seemingly fluffy teenager over there really does have some good books to lend you. If you have no one teacher, you have to branch out to anyone that has the potential to give you knowledge – that means you have to find that potential in everyone.

There are pros and cons to every kind of practice. If you’re in a coven, you still need to be willing to branch out and seek information from people who don’t have the label of a third degree high priestess. Maybe those with less experience do have things to offer you. If you’re solitary, don’t assume that you’re 100% on your own, there are Pagan festivals and new age shops everywhere that are likely to have people willing to teach you a thing or two, and there are plenty of online communities or websites that list meet ups and moots in your area.

In the end, we all have to do our own self-teaching of a few things. No matter what path we’re on it’s always nice to have some sort of mentor to turn to, but keep in mind in the end it is you who decides what is best for your learning, and you are responsible for comparing and gathering information, and adapting to your learning needs.

A good example is taking a hike in a mountain forest. You can take an experienced Guide, or you can go in with your supplies and a map. If you take a guide, you’ll probably get where you want to be without wasting time, and you’ll learn a lot – maybe you’ll be able to become a guide for someone else someday if it’s really your shtick. However… You might go through the path with your backpack, flashlight, and map. This is riskier, because you have less experience. You have tools at your disposal and you need to know how to use them. You might get turned around. You might take longer than the tour group. But there is a potential for you to learn a lot of things that the tour guide will overlook.

Okay, so you might not get the mountain path right off, and that’s okay. But maybe you can learn a lot more about forests in general. You’ll learn the skills in how to find your way through the thick forests, and you might discover wildlife the guides will walk right past. Maybe you don’t know the mountain path so well, even by the time you’re done with your hike. But, by the end of it, you probably know a lot about finding your way when your lost, telling directions without a compass, using your resources, marking your paths, and you’ll even know your own strengths and weaknesses better.

Not to say that the tour group missed out, I mean hey, they had their fun too, and they get to do all kinds of stuff in groups that you simply don’t have the energy/time/resources for. But ultimately, it depends on what’s best for you.

In keeping with the metaphor, forests can be dangerous. Some more than others. Some places you simply shouldn’t tread without a guide, at least for a while. And never go in alone without supplies in the dark, when no one knows where you are to a place you’ve never been. You can ask a guide every now and then even if you aren’t in a tour group. And there is no reason members of that tour group can’t go on their own hikes.

Back to spiritual paths, that translates to this: go at it alone, if it suits your fancy. You will learn a ton, I guarantee you. You might not learn as much about traditional paths, but you will learn a lot about what your spirituality means. You will have the chance to dissect it, analyze each piece and synthesize it along with the paths of others. But be wary of where you go, and always be safe. You will need to learn to self evaluate, and other life skills.

Coven members may have these skills and they might be better at it than you, but you still have the chance to grow and explore your own self-definition.

I admit whole-heartedly that I have no coven experience to back this up. I have let several coven members read this and give me their thoughts, and I have spoken to many about coven practice. I am not bashing anyone who is in a coven – it is a wonderful way to learn, and I hope to have a similar experience someday. But I feel the need to stress that somewhere along the line we all need to self teach and self-explore. And if you make that self-teaching and solitary practice part of your everyday life, it gives you a lot of potential in the long run. You can learn things in unlikely places, and I think solitaries know that lesson quite well.

Remember:

Everyone has something to learn, everyone has something to teach, and everyone is sacred.

In the Arms of a Goddess..

In the Arms of a Goddess..

Author:   Aoibhin   

“I will love you, even then.” At the young age of seven, those words where comfort from my Grandmother. Now at the age of thirty, they have become my strength during hard times. You see, as a child, Nanny’s house was full of mystery and love, a place where hugs never ended and pride was shown in every crayon drawing on the wall. I will never forget the taste of her homemade gravy and biscuits, or what she called depression cake (sweetened cornmeal cake) . Yes those are all happy memories of my childhood.

When I was seven, while brushing my hair into a ponytail, she stopped and said she needed to talk to me. Caught off guard, I answered with a simple “ok”. What I didn’t know was what she was about to say would shape my life. She looked at me and said… “Things happen in life; they happen for a reason that is the greater good. When you have your son at a young age and you think you have failed, I will love you even then. You are my sunshine through the clouds and when I pass away, I will be yours.”

I dismissed it as crazy rambling from her. She did that often and so I laughed, “I’m not having kids, Nanny. I am going to finish school and be a veterinarian.” My Grandmother said many things when I was young that I just wrote off. Now as the days pass, I question a lot of it. Nanny was a Baptist to the best of my knowledge, but I wonder about that from time to time. I think she was really in the broom closet.

I have chosen to be Pagan and I found many of Nanny’s beliefs mirrored in my own. I didn’t know until I was older, and she was gone, how special a woman she was. I had heard the rumors in the family… of her abilities and how her family had moved around a lot. It wasn’t until my Grandfather passed in July 2011 that the family really started talking (even then it was limited) .

My Grandmother’s family was from Caves Cove in Kentucky, a farming area, where a large poorer family in a small town wasn’t uncommon. They held tight in that area to old wives tales and superstitions. The town was later bought out and flooded and is now a lake, with the family homestead under it. Before this, the family had already been outcasts from other towns and had moved around a lot. No real explanation was ever given concerning the need for so many moves other than the family was ‘just different’. ‘Different’, I was to find out, meant ‘blessed’. See, my Grandmother was totally right about my son.

My 17th birthday came and I had forgotten her words. I didn’t feel right and thought I had caught a virus. Maybe it was something else? I took a pregnancy test. I was positive. November 28th that year, I gave birth to my son. When I looked at him, I heard my Grandmother’s voice telling me she loved me. “Even then”.

I knew at that point my Grandmother saw this coming back when I was 7. She was psychic. Okay, I can handle that. Later on, I found out that not only was she psychic, she was also a healer. It was a gift passed down in the family.

When I say’ healer’, what I mean is, she had a strange talent… producing oil from her hands. This oil was shiny and warm. To produce this oil, she would rub her hands together, I remember them turning red and hot and then, like sweat, it would appear on her palms.

Once, after I had decided on my own to cut a wart off my finger with scissors, she healed it. The cut was pretty deep and bleeding a lot, but she cleaned the cut, blew on it, and the bleeding stopped. Then she rubbed her hands together and placed some of the oil on my cut. It had the feeling of a warm burn, and then the sensation faded. The wound soon healed. She did the same for my cousin when a game of double dog dare went bad. I refused a dare and the other kids were making fun of me. I grabbed a rock and threw it, hitting my cousin in the forehead. The cut bleed and skull was showing. Nanny made it stop bleeding, put her hands on him, and in three days there wasn’t even a mark.

Nanny had a gift of knowing… what seemed like everything. She had sayings like ‘if you kill a red-chested robin (a local bird) , you will never find your true love’. One B.B. gun later, and a robin down…I’m on my third marriage. My older cousin and partner in crime is on his fourth.

She also kept a horseshoe above every door… turned upright, of course, so the luck never ran out. A broom was left behind the door to keep out the unwanted, as she put it. Lambs ear was always grown next to the doors, as it brought luck and protection. Orange flowers of all kinds here grown too because orange is the color of happiness.

When she passed, the family covered all the mirrors in the house and turned the pictures down. They said it let her soul pass. Among the many things she taught me, love was the most important. With every hug she gave me, I am now convinced that a true Goddess hugged me. I feel blessed to have such an amazing person in my life. I hope that everyone who reads this finds some magic in his/her life, too.

Intolerance: A Curable Disease

Intolerance: A Curable Disease

Author:   Kestryl Angell   

For some years now, I have been in solitary practice and have purposely placed myself in a position that allows me to observe the growth of the modern Pagan movement in the United States. One very significant thing has come to bother me through those observations. One that leaves me, to say the least, perturbed with my fellow human beings of every belief system, but assuredly of some that call themselves Pagan, as well.

Now, I realize that everyone on this planet is here for his or her own reasons, as well as for cosmic ones. I also realize that everyone grows, physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually at his/her own individual pace. But some things, to my mind, are basic points of human respect and are sadly and sorely missing from a society that is supposed to be “the most advanced society history has ever known, ” as some would phrase it.

Though there are many points of human weakness that are causing overall weakening ripples throughout the newer generations when it comes to ethics, I feel that there are a few that are particularly problematic and need to be addressed at every opportunity. I hope to write about several of these in the coming weeks, as I feel that discourse is where all solutions may be found. With that in mind, I’d like to begin with a personal favorite.

Let’s begin with intolerance.

What, really, is the point of going through a life-changing, spiritual awakening, a “rebirth” as many coming to their Paganism as adults from other more mainstream backgrounds often state they go through, if all they come to be is not Pagan at all, but really could be better characterized as “anti-Christian?”

Coming to a new spiritual path does not automatically make the one you came from innately “wrong.” It simply makes it wrong for you.

Perhaps you did have experiences with the darker side of human nature packaged as harmful behavior, selfishness, egotistical preaching, the use of fear as a control and all the bad things that are written about in the news every day. That does not automatically make every single person that practices that belief system wrong, evil, awful, stupid or deluded.

Therefore, it is just as wrong to condemn others in a blanket fashion as it was for them to condemn the various Pagan paths throughout the course of history. In other words, coming to Paganism just so you can feel justified in Christian- (or other belief systems including alternate paths of Paganism from your own) -bashing is as hypocritical as the day is long! Get real and lose the excuses!

Allowing something to exist and realizing it is different from yourself doesn’t give you the right to pass judgment on it’s correctness for another soul’s growth or it’s validity in the Universal scheme of things! You are not their Creator/Creatrix. You are not here to live their path. In fact, you have no idea what is going on in their karmic path, in their personal development that might be assisting them to be learning lessons you don’t even have the strength to recognize, much less deal with yourself.

If you consider those who follow “younger” faiths than your own to be “deluded, ” it is you that does not understand the growth of the soul. It is you that is still struggling with the idea that the Universe has bigger plans than your little human eyes and mind can fully comprehend and it is you that is making a fool of yourself by stomping your proverbial feet and saying you KNOW better!

For yourself, yes – you may know that what you left behind isn’t what you need. For others? That is theirs to choose and theirs to choose free from your judgment and condemnation of that choice – just as your choice to become Pagan was your own and was equally as worthy of not being judged negatively by their fears or ignorance.

Just because you yourself happen to be in “spiritual middle school” doesn’t mean you have the right to pick on the “spiritual kindergartners.”

Furthermore, spiritual middle-schoolers don’t have anything on the spiritual college students and PhD s, but nearly every single time you will see them shining loudly in their personal struggle with their own ego by the way they attempt to play children’s one-upsmanship-games with their Elders, while showing glaring examples of their own ignorance by their complete lack of basic respect for the efforts, knowledge base and wisdom of the Elders they’ve been honored to come to know and learn from.

They would rather argue entomology of a specific word of a specific dialect than seek out the fullness of all meanings of the given word to more fully explore its meanings before making a decision as it applies to their own cause.

They would rather see other’s ignorance as “proof” of their own self-proclaimed greatness while never realizing that those things greatest in this world don’t need human declarations to make them great.

It was said by the writer, John G. Neihardt, “Humility is bowing before Truth. Humiliation is bowing before people.” Humility, Tolerance and Compassion are the internal partnership that should come to a truly spiritually awakened being – not their old set of personal and world grievances packaged in a new dogmatic format.

There are those under the Pagan umbrella who will say, “Well, I don’t believe in karma like that.” or “Respect is earned, not just given willy-nilly.” or “Well, in my belief system the world runs on the eye for an eye principle so if someone screws me over or makes me feel stupid, I can do whatever it takes to level that playing field.”

You don’t have to believe in karma to understand that what goes around comes around.

Universal principles exist and show themselves, with or without your belief in them or your petty arguments on terminology for said events. The seasons, the life/death cycle, “acts of God” weather and other Universal events will soon show you differently if you truly feel you’re the one in control of the entire world’s development!

The only thing that glaringly, embarrassingly shows, like a run in your brand new stockings, is your own overblown ego if you refuse to understand there are forces larger than yourself at work in the Universe as a whole.

Respect should indeed be earned within specific arenas such as professions and education, to name but a few. However, there should also be a basic, human respect of one living being to another, without the need to prove anything other than that they too are a person living on this planet with the same basic needs and desires as every other human being on the planet – good, nutritional food, clean water, community, family and the like. Even if their needs and desires don’t immediately meet or match your own doesn’t make yours or theirs any more or less vital or valid than the other.

As for the “eye for an eye” folks, all that happens when you take out the eye of another based on that principle is that you end up going blind, in one way or another, yourself.

I am not saying forgiveness is always the answer or that “turn the other cheek” is the answer in all situations either. But more often than not, when a human being thinks his or her own bruised ego, knee-jerk, forceful, violent ways are the answer; it is the opposite answer that is usually the one that would actually solve the problem for good.

Differences in personal dogma have been call and cause for the culling of our world populations for centuries, since the beginning of known, current history. Do we really need to continue to prove to ourselves that human beings can find constantly new and more awful ways to be horrendous to one another?

Furthermore, why are we still actually entertained by such violence or allow something as petty as big business concerns to be the reason our fellow human beings proudly go off to die by the hundreds of thousands in service to their country – with a very few that make it home alive only to find that they have no home to come back to?

This is not to say that I am all the “Light, Love and Happiness, Rainbows and Pretty Unicorns All Day Every Day!” kind of dreamer. I simply feel that the Universe itself already has chaos and death and violence in its own makeup without human beings adding to the mix out of basic ignorance, ego, selfishness and intolerance.

Mother Nature has that whole destruction thing down pat, people! She doesn’t need our scum covered little human toddler hands muddling up the works by trying to “help!”

Like kids in the playground sandbox, we’re still caught up, after all these centuries in basic Intolerance-based border skirmishes! Pagan communities are just as guilty of this issue as many Christian organizations and many of the “problems” that I hear bantered about in mainstream organizations are just as rampant in Pagan ones because we still aren’t addressing Intolerance actively as individuals, much less as a community! You cannot claim to be better than the thing you abhor and left behind if you’re guilty of the same crimes against humanity after you change sides.

Border skirmishes based on differences of dogma were a good portion of the basis of the Middle Eastern conflict since long before the US ever became interested enough in the business aspects that finally rooted our entry into the wars in the Middle East.

Border skirmishes based on intolerance, racial differences, religious differences are at the root basis of much of the gang violence rampant in Los Angeles and many other parts of the US and have even gone so far as to spawn their own subculture out of the necessities of their living circumstances rather than strengthening as a community to truly fight the issues that took them to that point of de-evolution that effects gang neighborhoods.

Border skirmishes based on Intolerance, lies and violence were what displaced every Native American in this country when the English, French, Spanish and others all came to a land the Natives had already figured out how to live harmoniously upon.

Did those people who were new here listen to those that had lived there for generations?

Oh no, they were seen as “ignorant savages” who knew nothing of community elderly and child care, community health care, balanced inter-tribal politics and trade or even the simplest necessities for making it through the winter alive.

Yet, here we are still stuck in wars where body counts, gun counts, missile counts and cash numbers, advertising and fear tactics, biological and chemical weapons of mass destruction threaten the supposedly “enlightened” peoples of this day and age? Seriously?

Can’t we just get out of the sand box, stop fighting over who brought the coolest toys or who can do the most damage and have some dang milk and cookies like good little spiritual brothers and sisters here?

Intolerance should have no place in the modern human mind.

Look to the simpler, tribal times of our ancient ancestors and to those who are still living in those harmonious ways in many places in the world today that we spoiled Americans call “third world, undeveloped” countries. Perhaps they don’t have our amenities in their homes, our advertising and fast and un-nutritious foods on every corner of their city streets or even have motorized vehicles.

But when women group together to gather the water for entire streets and neighborhoods while singing, serving more than just their own family’s needs every single day, it is we who could learn something from their joyful song and service.

When villages in South America that have disagreed for generations can work together to build pipelines for water for both villages’ benefit, we have something to learn from those “savages.”

When doctors and shamans in Tibet still ride donkeys or walk, sometimes for days, to treat the ill in body, mind and spirit and the community comes together to see to the needs of that doctor if the patient cannot pay for services themselves, it is our “modern physicians” and spiritual healers that could learn something about true caring compassionate healing for a patient and our community’s selfishly spoiled upper crust could learn what it means to make sure that all are cared for instead of arguing over whether or not our individual choices can remain as cushy as we’re selfishly accustomed to as we begin to explore a National Health care system in the US.

Get a clue, people! In the United States, our biggest sign of malnutrition is the over 65% of our citizens suffering from obesity! There are currently over 154, 000 US veterans – those that fought for our right to be this freely spoiled rotten – living on the streets, homeless!

Our ignorance, gluttony and selfishness is written all over us in our own fat flesh and high blood pressure ratings while these other “uncivilized” peoples starve from lack of food and clean water, but have us completely beaten on how to treat each other as human beings!

How can that be acceptable to educated, aware, community members? ANY community, much less ones who supposedly WORSHIP Nature’s balance and bounty?

Let’s also be keeping in mind that most of the other major countries of the world have already gotten some of these questions, such as National Health care, answered successfully decades ago and it is the US that is catching up and griping all the way about rises in taxes to help the overall common good of all Americans, top to bottom of the food chain.

Canadians are thrilled to only be paying 10% taxes right now, down from the 18-20% its been in the past to help pay for their health care system and other social amenities currently underdeveloped and desperately needed in the US.

Those in the UK have paid the English equivalent of anywhere from $10-20 per gallon for gasoline for years and yet Americans were having fits over gas hitting $4 per gallon within the last year? Who is it really that needs to get real, learn some Tolerance for people and for change and learn to attune as citizens of the world’s needs instead of for their own selfish, individualized gains and stunted, silent caste systems of bigoted intolerance so obviously still active in many places in our country?

How can it not be seen that intolerance is at the root of all of these issues…and that it is a curable state of being that, if taken on by the whole of a community, doesn’t really weigh all that hard on the individual?

As a student of the Universe, I do not look for a time when all people will “believe as one.” I do not believe that Harmony requires everything be alike, as that in itself would also be an imbalance. Diversity is a necessity of life. If sameness were the truth of how things should be, music wouldn’t have different notes that make up the chords that sing the songs of the Universe through orchestrations. Harmony is created when notes co-exist on different lines for their own sake and in their own timing to a rhythm that is greater than each individual note.

Therefore, what I look forward to is the day when individuals can learn from and about other’s beliefs without their own being threatened in any way, without fear or disgust. I look forward to the day when those that do not believe the same way can simply agree to disagree and still work for the common good of all living beings on the planet. I look forward to the time when tolerance and compassion is as common a pair of qualities in human beings as ego, laziness, selfishness and desire.

I look forward to the awakening of human beings to the idea that tolerance is not acceptance nor is it automatically an admission of support of the differing idea or practice presented. I look forward to the day humans sing in beautiful, diversified harmony, the song of the planet’s common good.

Tolerance is simply the ability to allow all things to exist, as the Universe would have them, not as you would have them. Tolerance means allowing even those things that you do not agree with personally to exist for those who do believe in them.

Tolerance is difficult, however, as it requires a type of fearful and fearless faith in the patterns of the Universe to be “correct, ” whether we human beings see that correctness, the fullness of the pattern or not. This is not a concept that many human beings find easy to comprehend, much less practice inside themselves or in their daily lives. However, if goals such as this were easy, there would be no need for the inner battles that make each of us better people.

I believe Tolerance is a worthy and attainable goal for every individual that can have the bettering ripple effect of creating a harmony as yet unseen by modern history.

Care to join the experiment?

Kitchen Cupboard Magic

Kitchen Cupboard Magic
Adapted from Witch in the Kitchen, by Cait Johnson (Inner Traditions,
2001).

We don’t usually think of sea salt and basil and apples as magical,
but our more earth-centered ancestors knew they were.

Here, then, is a list of some traditional herb correspondences;
choose one or more according to your desire. You can add a handful to your
washing-water next time you mop the floor:

Apples: Food of the Goddess, love. Add a few pieces of fresh or dried
apple to your water (but not too much or you’ll end up with sticky
surfaces!)

Basil: Love, fidelity, wealth, protection. A nice all-purpose herb
with a luscious summery scent.

Chamomile: Serenity and calm; purification. Smells like a blend of
apples and new-mown hay. While you’re at it, make yourself a cup of tea to
drink after you’ve finished cleaning; it’s very relaxing.

Cinnamon: Happy home, safety, healing, protection. The primal
home-and-hearth spice. Use pieces of cinnamon stick for your brew
(the powdered kind will turn into a gelatinous glop in the bucket).

Clove: Purification; promotes love and spirituality. Try it with
cinnamon–delicious !

Eucalyptus: Health, protection. Warm and fresh, actually kills germs.

Evergreen: Health, purification, vitality. A few sprigs of pine,
cedar, or juniper growing nearby, a few sprigs placed in boiling water will add
green freshness to your housecleaning brew.

Lavender: Love, friendship, peace, happiness, protection. Such a
sweet, relaxing, and calm-inducing scent–and it’s also an antidepressant.

Lemon peel: Purification. It’s no accident that so many cleaning
products are lemon-scented; lemon smells fresh and uplifting and cleanses
negativity.

Marjoram: Love, protection, antidepressant. You can sprinkle a little
of this dried herb in the corners of every room to promote love and
safety.

Peppermint: Purification, healing, soothing. A wonderfully relaxing
and refreshing scent.

Rosemary: Cleansing and protection; clears negativity; encourages
clear thinking.

Sage: Purification, wisdom. It’s no coincidence that the word
for “wise one” is the same as the herb’s name. A traditional ingredient of many
Native American smudge bundles, a strong sage tea will help clear your home
of negativity.

Sea salt: Traditional for purification and protection. If you’ve been
feeling vulnerable or weird and you only have time to add one
ingredient to your wash-water, this could be it.

Vanilla: love, happiness. A piece of the bean or a few drops of
extract will make your home smell and feel delicious.