“THINK on THESE THINGS”
By Joyce Sequichie Hifler
Regret is something everyone has, but no one can afford to keep. Being remorseful is commendable when we should be sorry for wrong behavior, but to live with regret is to add to it day by day. There are those who are unable to admit they have ever been wrong. But there are more who carry with them so much regret they are bowed in spirit.
Thomas Moore, the Irish poet, once said, “Remorse is beholding heaven and feeling hell,” but perhaps just knowing heaven can exist makes regret more hellish. And so often it renders the regretful almost powerless to lift themselves out of their predicament.
But there is forgiveness! A daily vow or affirmation can take us a step further in lifting ourselves above the things that cause regret. And if we’ve settled down in the middle of unhappiness to enjoy our lot in life, then, moment by moment, inch by inch, we shall overcome that, too!
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
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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
Elder’s Meditation of the Day – September 2
“I remember Dawson (No Horse) said, ‘Once you say your prayers, don’t worry about them. If you worry about them, they’ll just fade away.'”
–Chuck Ross, LAKOTA
Today I need to remember You are everywhere. I need to remember how much You love me. I need to know, Grandfathers, that You are always listening. Today I need to know how much You care. Today I will remember the advice of the Elders. “Say your prayers and then don’t worry – know that the Great One has heard you.” It’s so much easier to do this, Grandfather, when I feel connected to You.
My Creator, allow me this day to feel your presence. Let me walk the path of life today and talk to You many times. Give me faith, my Grandfather.
September 2 – Daily Feast
Everything has a reason. We may have to wait a while to understand, because much of what we see is a puzzle with all its pieces strewn about. The whole thing is there but in our present condition we do not comprehend the first thing about fitting the right pieces together. It is going to take some time. Maybe our dullness is necessary to keep us from making foolish moves. It is better to stand and let life creep back in and our blood to flow normally before we begin again. We still do not know the reason for something but we can handle the time better and we recover our sense more quickly.
~ We are all Seminoles here together. We want no long talk; we wish to have it short and good. ~
CHIEF JOHN HICKS – SEMINOLE, 1829
‘A Cherokee Feast of Days, Volume II’ by Joyce Sequichie Hifler
Feel your new strength
Over the last few weeks and months, you have grown stronger. Today, feel your new strength.
In living your life, in meeting the challenges, you have learned and experienced, become more capable and effective. Step back, look at yourself objectively, and see how those new capabilities can be put to good use.
The future is bright because of the effort you’ve put forth to work through the past. Every challenge you’ve encountered has left you with new, positive possibilities.
Feel your new strength, and feel the urge that grows within you to put that strength into action. Remind yourself of what matters to you, and see new, creative ways to expand life’s goodness.
Once, you had great dreams, goals and ambitions, and you still do. Now, you are stronger and more capable of reaching them than ever before.
Feel your new strength, and feel the fresh new desire it gives birth to, the desire to make a difference. With purpose, passion, and an inspired love for life, put that desire into action.
— Ralph Marston
The Daily Motivator
Creating a Garden Sanctuary
A Refuge of Your Own
A personal outdoor sanctuary is an important part of feeling connected to all of life.
Each of us has been blessed with an innate need to celebrate and glorify life. At a most basic level, we honor the forces that came together to bring us into being by caring for our bodies and our souls. To truly rejoice in existence, we must also learn to cultivate loveliness in those special places that replenish the soul. When we create a garden sanctuary, we are reminded that we are a part of both nature’s essence and something more. An outdoor retreat is a place we can surround ourselves in nature, beauty, and the life force. It is not difficult to create a sanctuary—we should endeavor, however, to create sanctuaries that speak to us as individuals.
Whether we have a yard, a grassy corner, a patio, or a porch at our disposal, our creative potential is infinite. Any of these spaces can become a magnificent garden. When we feel drawn to specific themes such as Zen, angels, paradise, or the ethereal, we should explore them. Décor and furniture crafted from natural materials like wood and stone blend seamlessly into nature. Yet we can also augment the natural world by filling our garden sanctuaries with statues, bells or gongs, or colorful flags. Running water, like that in a created stream or fountain, helps energy flow smoothly. If space is a concern, crystals and mirrors can fulfill the same function. Hidden features like concealed swings and reflecting pools veiled in shadow can surprise and delight. As your garden sanctuary evolves, remember to invite the elemental spirits of nature to assist you in your efforts to create a small pocket of harmony, beauty, and peace in your own backyard. If you have not already felt their presence, sit quietly in your garden and reach out to them. You will feel these earthly guides at your side as you continue to develop your sanctuary.
In the refuge of brilliant color, sweet scents, and stillness you create in your garden, the burdens imposed upon you by a sometimes hectic world will melt away. The splendor and tranquility of what you have brought into being will entrance you, allowing you to forget the constraints of time and space. No matter how large or small your garden sanctuary, the time you spend reveling in its pleasures will refresh your spirit and provide you with innumerable opportunities to celebrate life.
The Daily OM
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Author: Hallowed Order of Witches Liberated
The New Year aroused some thoughts in me that I wanted to share; hopefully some will be of use to new Witches or those considering some aspect of Witchcraft or a Pagan path. I would like to minimize the explanation of my own experience to that which is necessary for background of what I am about to share. I am an eclectic practitioner with a strong interest in Feri Witchcraft. I am a member of a coven and I am a college graduate now 37 years old.
Our coven has a presence on Witchvox and we tend to get a moderate number of inquiries concerning membership, general Witchcraft information from folks looking to explore a “new religion”, questions of a “how-to” nature and other interesting things. For the past ten years, our coven has had people come and go: some for better, some of whom we were happy to see leave. What I wanted to offer up for someone who is starting on their journey or considering such an endeavor are some ideas to think about, and some things to think about if looking at working with others.
One thing we have noticed repeatedly is that there are people seeking out our community and membership within our coven who are folks with problems (or who are getting over problems) that are better off not dealt with in a coven setting or are things that need to be dealt with in terms of help by professionals. While religions can be helpful in some areas, I strongly urge those who fall into this category to let religion wait until the problem has been resolved. Understand that this advice is not a one-size-fits-all. I am speaking of problems like exposure to some sort of abuse or violence, drug abuse and/or early recovery stages, domestic issues that have not been resolved, etc… In our short ten years, we have had multitudes of people petition for membership or participate in public events and some who made membership, who seem to be using religion as an outlet for dealing with bigger problems. Perhaps they are using religion to fill a hole.
If one is dealing with issues similar to the ones mentioned, it is generally a better idea to protect others from your issue and have it dealt with professionally with a counselor, medical professional, advocate or so on, rather than take it into a group who may not have the proper background to deal with the root problem. Our group suffered numerous times from people with addiction problems, victims of physical violence and some other issues who came into the group and nearly shut down effective spiritual work because their personal problems were not yet resolved. While our hearts are with these people, religion is often not the answer to a heroin problem, for example. One should deal with the addiction, and then explore the religion after the problem is solved. A victim of domestic violence may be attracted to a small group of empathetic people, but sometimes professional help is needed and the issues that come up following such a terrible experience can eventually become a poison of sorts in a group that works together very closely.
This leads me to my second suggestion: Be ultra-cautious in regards to any person or group you are considering for advice (or with whom you wish to work) who claim to have a million years of experience and a Pagan heritage that is 20 generations deep. Statements of this nature, in my experience, are usually lies. For some reason, Pagans in general — and particularly inexperienced ones — appear to feel a need to cite heaps of years of experience in the Craft in their resumes. The time that passes from the point a person considers her or himself a Witch to the present time does not directly equate to effectiveness in practice. A fisherman with 30 years of experience can lose in a fishing derby to an 8 year-old who is holding a fishing rod for the first time. Ability and level of determination are not directly proportional to “time in service.”
The overwhelming majority of modern Pagans (speaking for U.S. Pagans) are former Christians. That is the truth. If someone is telling you otherwise, it is worth asking (politely) for proof or otherwise substantiating his or her claim of multi-generational and unbroken lineage. It is often the same person who, five years later, is wishing you a happy “Mid-Winter Equinox.” You will figure out who is who as time goes on. There is also nothing wrong with someone who is willing to help you who has been practicing for a year, but feels she has a good footing on a particular subject. Think logically and use good sense.
Suggestion number three: your own thoughts are worth something. Often, especially when coming from other religious (particularly in the U.S.) backgrounds, it is easy for one to fall into a trap of seeking Truth from a book or seemingly credible online source. Print seems like it holds weight. Sometimes it does, sometimes it does not. What is important to remember is that when you get a feel for what you are doing and are able to perform to some degree on your own, it is quite possibly time to set down the books. Books and online sources are great for general information, starting points, correspondence lists and so on. Remember, though, your experience and your thoughts are important and are ultimately what will be your guide.
I have seen too many Witches fall apart in practice trying to adhere to what someone else has published to not mention this. If standing on your head in bright moonlight on the third Saturday of the month while burning purple candles and copal incense isn’t bringing you in touch with that one Goddess or God you were seeking to work with, then knock it off! Your path will be your path. And remember that when you are working with the next new person.
My last suggestion is that opposition or rejection by a local group does not disqualify you from practicing Witchcraft and there is more to the Craft than sitting in front of a computer. There are certain Pagan practices that require a long and somewhat formalized study period, or certain covens that exist that will want you to follow a degree plan or jump through certain hoops. All of that is fine. However, if it doesn’t suit you, understand that it doesn’t mean you can’t do what you want. Even those members of the most defined and restrictive groups are doing his or her individual thing within those respective groups. If you share your solitary experience with an online group, for example, and several people bock at what you’re doing, keep in mind that those are opinions. Also, it is often worth regarding what the person is saying, even if he or she is not saying tactfully. Sometimes great ideas come from what is hard to hear. And while not all of us have vast landscapes and groves within which to practice our own Crafts, there is more to being a Witch or Pagan than sitting in front of a computer and reading about it or typing about it. In terms of actual spiritual and religious practice, one can make something happen even within the confines of a tiny powder room. Keep your practice real, front and center, and worth your time and effort. It pays off.
In summary, I wanted to throw these few suggestions and ideas out there because, at least in our region, we noticed some trends and felt we had enough time and experience (and numbers of people dealt with) to make some non-professional and generalized observations. These thoughts are certainly not meant to offend and we hope the root of what is being presented is helpful. Enjoy your time in the Craft, make it substantial and, for the sake of the Pagan community in its entirety, please be a thinking and active participant. Look out for the best interest of others with whom you are working and take care to protect them from your own “funk”, if need be. Help will be there from the group, but try to address problems that require professional help prior to engaging a religion (meaning any religion) . Remember, there are tons of people who find religion in a jail cell or hospital bed. That works for some, but keep in mind what of yourself you are introducing into a group. Think, know yourself and practice love.
Has Neo Paganism Gone Too Far?
Has Neo Paganism gone too far? Have members of the organized religions diluted the real meaning of paganism to serve their own needs? Do the organized religions inadvertently use neo paganism to rid themselves of their mal-contents?
Prior to the advent of neo paganism in the mid 1950’s, paganism for the most part referred to those folks who believed in and maintained a genuine connection with Mother Nature and all she represents. Generally this referred to those folks who practiced a form of witchcraft, shamanism or druidism.
Neo paganism has taken what used to be and in some cases still is and has re-created it into something beyond recognition by those who practice the Old Ways.
Since many who now call themselves pagans were once and in many ways by way of behavior and thought still are, members of one of the organized religions, paganism is now a role p laying venture for many neo pagans.
Anyone who wants to rebel against his or her primary religious beliefs can now simply call himself or herself pagan. Since there is no litmus test so to speak, every borderline sociopath can pretend to be pagan.
The fact is that the gentleman who started Wicca and thus opened the door to neo paganism, claimed to have doctorate degrees from two different universities. These claims were later proven to be patently false. And so one cannot help but wonder if such dubious beginnings to neo paganism set the stage for the bewildering morass that we have today.
I personally have never had the experience of going from one set of religious/spiritual beliefs to another, having lived my entire life as a witch brought up in an Irish family. And yet the more that I see and experience in the environment called neo paganism makes me even more inclined to shun such a label.
For instance the concept of open acceptance and diversity are nothing more then rehashed ideals from the hippie era of the 1960s. Realistically these concepts were never tenets of paganism during the 10, 000 year or so, tenure of paganism prior to the neo pagan beginnings in the mid 1950s. Pagan gatherings from one area did not necessarily get along with pagan gatherings from another area. Even with folks from the same pagan ethnicity, there were different aspects and/or Deity that was recognized dependent on the geographic area in question.
And while such grand ideas sound appealing, they are far too altruistic to have any meaningful role in any group or community. We have to remember that we are dealing with human beings here. One has to only look at the multitude of pseudo masters, the massive egos and the many elitist groups that have sprung up under the banner of neo paganism to see what effect this has had on what was once and for some still is, a belief system based upon the realities of a mystical life. For those who shun the hype and glamour of “Hollywood” neo paganism, and practice paganism for what it really is, such realities extend far beyond just this realm.
Also, I personally don’t believe that such groups as vampires, werewolves, were-kin and what have you were ever intended to be recognized under the description of paganism. Prior to the advent of neo paganism, such entities were feared and shunned by pagans. Pagan history is full of tales and mentions many charms and talismans to protect against such entities. Do neo pagans pretend to know something that old line pagans don’t know?
It is not my place to say that these groups should not exist within their own particular belief systems, but I do believe that it is an oxymoron to include them under the pagan banner. Though, such a contradiction seems acceptable under the neo pagan banner.
And perhaps this is why there is so much uncertainty, disorganization, in-fighting (witch wars) and controversy within the neo pagan community. Even the title “community” is euphuism for a concept, which has yet to take on any valid substance.
Neo paganism is trying to take concepts, which have been in place for thousands of years and are trying to re-invent them to serve the self-serving society that is in place today. Such an attempt is bound to end in failure as so many other fads before it has done.
This is not to say that there are not those who quietly practice paganism for what it really is. Such folks know the real value of study, discipline, and an unending curiosity. For such folks the spiritual rewards are unending. For the discovery of one life mystery leads to the desire to continue such a trek through life. There is no overwhelming need to be accepted by a hostile society that has been inundated with antipathy over the concepts of religion/spirituality.
We are who we are and that is enough. There is no need to proclaim to the world that we are masters of the arts, for we know in our hearts that we are simply students of something much greater then ourselves. There is no need to accept everything and to be diverse in all things, for such concepts are unrealistic and have been unattainable over the entire course of human history.
Life is not all light and love, for such concepts belie the true nature of polarity. Pagans accept the dark along with the light, as these are the ingredients of life. Why subscribe to a fallacy that is unattainable in reality? Realism is the mark of a pagan as it pertains to real life.
Neo paganism is beginning to look like a stage for role players rather then a continuation of any valid belief system.
I say this because this because society today is rapidly becoming more and more insular. Moving further and further away from the ideals and experiences that Mother Earth once provided and to some, still does provide. And it was these very real experiences that paved the way for paganism. What used to be real life is now an artificial creation brought on by the hand of man.
And yet neo paganism seems to be following the same trend in regards to paganism as society is in regards to life. Simply creating a façade of what used to be to satisfy the desires of a spiritually lackadaisical people.
It takes a real effort to engage in the mystical arts, but such effort is hard to find in modern times. And so at the end of the day perhaps neo paganism does in fact have a “role” to play…
How Do Pagans React To Interfaith Relations?
Author: Silver Faery
How do interfaith relationships affect our lives? Is the struggle worth it in the end? How can we learn and grow from the people involved in this situation? Those are but a few of the questions that run through my mind.
My main view of an interfaith relationship is with my husband. He is a Satanist, and currently a member of the CoS; he is also in the United States Military, serving to protect our freedoms. He was Pagan when I met him, but over time decided to finally follow what felt right to him, and within the last two years took the path to get him into that area. He views himself as a “God, ” but still won’t deny that there isn’t something out there helping out and guiding. He just won’t worship them anymore. After being in Afghanistan once already, he learned that the Gods don’t really watch and – in his mind – care about humanity. Does this make him “evil” or “damned?” Well it depends on who you ask.
To me as long as he is loyal to his friends and family, truthful, and hard-working; as long as he will help those who he thinks deserves it, and is willing to fight for what he feels is right, I will support him. Though it does get comical at times:
Last year, we had taken our daughter to the park in town. On the way out I happened to notice him talking to a young teenage girl. I walked up beside him…in time to hear her ask him if he was Pagan. He stopped mid-sentence and said, “No, why do you ask?” She pointed to his Baphomet and said it was a Pentacle. He held it up for her to get a closer look. She then realized her mistake and stepped back like he would attack her! He then noticed me standing beside him, looked over and said, “But my wife is Pagan.” I wear a ring with a Pentacle on it, nothing too noticeable, but still there if you know what you are looking at. She didn’t see one around my neck. I showed her my ring. She smiled, and then looked shocked (for lack of a better word). We both get that a lot. She was Pagan; she had pulled her Pentacle out from under her shirt and was hoping to talk to him about Paganism. Obviously she had a lot to learn if she couldn’t understand why a Pagan would be married to someone like that! Then again, it seems to me a lot of people have to learn about Satanism before jumping to the wrong conclusions.
We have talked about how we are going to raise our children. My husband wants them to choose; I want to give them a “base” to compare other religions to. Both of us agree that in the end it will be the kids’ choice on what they want to be. Be it Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, or Satanist…we have the sources for all.
My group of friends is interesting as well. We are mostly Pagans, but we get Christians and have some good Christian friends that hang out with us as well as Atheists and Satanists. We are also one of the few (and I mean few) Gothic Groups in town. Which at times DOES not help our image any. We amazingly get along well: we all love similar types of music, most of us love to learn, and love to debate. We could care less about how a person was raised, what they believe in, as long as they don’t try to force it on anyone else around us. The Christians in our group are pretty opened-minded. They have no problems with us doing our rituals, just as we have no problems if they go to church. If anything, it makes for some interesting discussions. I have had them ask me questions, questions that most Christians can’t or won’t answer about Paganism. One actually asked me an interesting one. He asked if we could go to confession and get help from a Priest with us being Pagan. I told him no, we are not Catholic, so therefore we could not get help from that Christian denomination. He looked shocked that they would not help. This area is mainly conservative Catholic (which can be rather interesting at times).
I had a friend tell me that he was approached by “friends” when he first started to hang out with us…warning him that the Witches were out to take his soul and send him to Hell! He looked at them and said, “No, not really.” The guy didn’t get it. Finally our friend said, “Well I hang out with them because they are more Christian then you are and most of the people you know!” Something that we all took as an honor (especially from the friend it came from).
I had one friend tell me that his parents told him to stay away from us (after seeing one of us walking on the street). His reply was, “I am in my late 20’s and those are the friends that helped me out when I had to stop drinking! I will not stop being friends because they are Witches and on top of that Goth.” He was an alcoholic and was court-ordered to stop drinking; all of his other friends tried to slip alcohol into his drinks. We were the only ones that supported him, even though we all drink. Amazing how influence gets passed along and support gets remembered at the most interesting times.
We have to worry about people thinking we will curse them or even hex them. That’s a laugh, but there are times we use that to our advantage; it keeps them away from us. Probably not the best idea, but we get desperate at times. Do we ever do anything like that? Nope, but we aren’t going to tell them that. Because they wouldn’t believe us even if we did.
Dealing with Christians in general is interesting. If both sides are willing to listen and learn, you can learn wonderful things from each other. The problem arises when one or both sides don’t want to listen. I think the best time I have ever had in this town was when The Passion came out. For once I had people that were willing to listen and learn what Paganism was. Conversations were about different religions and what makes each one unique and how it improves your life! I just wish that it was like that always, not just because a movie came out…especially a movie that described one faith so strongly. And yes I did go and see it – on opening night actually! That was why I could understand where the people I was talking to were coming from. Just as I once in a while re-read the Bible and other Holy Books, again to keep that basic understanding. As well as why I am on Christian Forums, just as I am on Pagan. I think all religions are valid to the believers and that even though it is not for me, I should at least learn about it, just so I know where the other person is coming from. Being a true Christian is a way of life, just as being a Pagan is a way of life. It is much more than a religion or belief or path: it is what helps us decide on everything we say, do, and live. It should change as we learn and grow. Paganism is more fluid then Christianity ever will be, but if a person follows Christianity, you have to take into account that you might never get them to understand. And hopefully through your and all Pagans actions…you might one day get them to at least admit you are not a bad or evil person because of your beliefs.
Enough with Christianity! I know of some Pagans that are just as set in their ways. You know the Pagans that you run into in a chat room on-line. Those are the ones that call all other Pagans “fluffy-bunny” because they don’t agree with their views of what Wicca or Paganism is. The ones that, if you even think of correcting them, you are iggied on the spot. Those irk me to no end! Why? Because it’s Pagans like them that prove to Christians we are all idiots, just as unwilling to learn about them. It goes both ways people – you go into a room bashing Christianity or Paganism (depending on the main religion of the room) and you are going to get a fight and not find one person willing to listen to you. BUT if a person comes into a Pagan room that is Christian and asks a serious question and is willing to learn, DON’T chase them off; they might actually either help their local Pagans or become Pagan themselves. We don’t recruit, but if someone is interested, it would be in our favor to help them.
How Pagan is “Pagan Enough”?
Author: Bronwen Forbes
A couple years ago I attended a Pagan pride celebration as a workshop presenter. I won’t mention the name of the city, but will tell you it was in the southern part of the country – which means that even at the end of September the temperature was expected to hover near one hundred degrees by the middle of the afternoon’s events. Consequently I dressed my family, including my then 18-month-old daughter, in shorts and t-shirts. Silly me, I thought the attire was perfectly appropriate for the heat and the event.
Apparently I did not get the memo that “appropriate attire” for a beastly hot Pagan Pride event was flowing skirts (at least for the females) , glitter, and faerie wings and/or fuzzy cat ear headbands. Ordinarily this wouldn’t bother me, but a few days after the event I received a nasty email from one of the other attendees wanting to know how I *dared* show my face, much less present a workshop when I clearly wasn’t “Pagan enough” (the e-mailer’s words) to be there. My fellow attendee even went so far as to ask me how dare I call myself Pagan.
Ever since then I’ve spent a lot of time looking at my fellow festival or Pagan Pride attendees, comparing my appearance to theirs. Shallow? Yes. A sign of low self-esteem? Maybe, but I do it anyway. And what I’ve discovered is that, for the most part, I just don’t look particularly Pagan.
For one thing, I recently cut my hair after several decades of wearing it mid-back length in an effort to look more professional for my post-college job search (it didn’t work, and now I’m kinda stuck with short hair, but that’s another story) . Worse, I’ve even allowed my daughter to have hers cut just as short – and what kind of Pagan mom allows her child of either gender to have above-the-shoulder-length hair? It seems to be an unspoken rule that Pagan women have long hair. Does short hair make me not “Pagan enough”? *I* don’t think so, but judging by some of the looks I receive when I’m out in Pagan public, I’m guessing some people do.
I also prefer baggy jeans over Indian print skirts, t-shirts (admittedly ones with folk music, Celtic or Pagan motifs, or plain old-fashioned tie-dye) over peasant blouses, sneakers over sandals (Birkenstocks excepted) , daily showers over regular patchouli oil spritzes, and the only person in my family who owns a fuzzy cat-ear headband is my daughter. I also wear my religion-identifying necklaces tucked inside my clothes unless I’m in ritual. Not only am I in danger of ending up on an episode of “What Not To Wear, ” I could be ticketed by the Pagan fashion police any day now!
I heard a story once (and I can’t remember the source, to my chagrin) from someone who attended an indoor Pagan festival like Arisia or Pantheacon and wore business casual clothes – khaki pants and a button-down shirt – one day. Sad to say, this person received a lot of odd looks, and even reported that fellow attendees were very cool and standoffish, giving definite “You don’t belong here” looks. The next day, according to the story, the attendee appeared in more Pagan-y attire. Needless to say, the reaction of the rest of the conferees was much more warm and welcoming. If we as a religious movement believe that one of our tenets is Respect Another’s Path, the standoffish Pagans at this event were clearly the ones who were not “Pagan enough” – despite their attire.
Speaking of paths, I also started to take a very close look at my own – something I was also asked about at that same Pagan Pride day. Apparently my reluctance to answer (topic for another essay: where I come from, asking someone specifically about their path is usually considered rude) and my not-very-eloquent answer wasn’t good enough. My angry e-mailer took me to task for that, too. I guess compared to an Asa Tru Corellian Reconstructionist (the e-mailer, near as I could tell) , yes, my spiritual path is probably pretty dull.
But who is to say which path is “Pagan enough” and which path is not? If I serve a specific dog-connected deity by caring for and training my beagle, is that more or less a Pagan activity than organizing a weekly drumming circle? What if I’m a pretty decent dog owner/trainer and a lousy drummer? Does that make me not “Pagan enough”? It shouldn’t. But sometimes it feels like it does.
I have to admit that I’ve accused others of not being “Pagan enough” in the past. Back when I lived on the East Coast, ran or co-ran a major Pagan festival, led a coven, attended the monthly Pagan coffeehouse/concert on a regular basis, and held office in the local Pagan umbrella organization (that oversaw the major festival and coffeehouse/concert) I often thought that anyone who was not as active in the community as I was couldn’t possibly be “Pagan enough.” I was convinced of this…until I moved away from the East Coast to the Midwest – a part of the country that has a much lower concentration of Pagans than what I was used to. I literally had to rethink my definition of “Pagan enough” overnight. When there is no festival to organize, when there is no coffeehouse to attend or community offices to run for, is Bronwen still even Pagan, much less “Pagan enough”?
Of course the Pagans I then met who didn’t include so many – if any – open activities in their spiritual life probably wondered the same thing about me, only in reverse. After all, just because I’d been invoking the four directions for decades didn’t mean I had the first clue how to actually *use* those directions to, say, drive to someone’s house (“Turn north at Vermont Street.” “Is that left or right?” “It’s north.”) . I got lost a lot. And which, ultimately, is the more Pagan activity – attend a concert in a city with too much light pollution to see the sky or spend five minutes in the middle of a small-town street admiring every star in the galaxy because you can actually *see* them? Either way you choose, you won’t be “Pagan enough” for someone. Trust me.
Just because a person chooses to dress or participate to a different standard than you’re used to or you think appropriate, stop for a moment and wonder why. I’ve worn loose, flowing skirts and peasant blouses and, yes, patchouli oil and glitter at Pagan gatherings back when I was a) single, b) child-free and c) younger. I can still “dress the part” with the best of them – when I choose to, and sans faerie wings. But the previously-mentioned Pagan Pride Day was in a rather large city a couple hours from the small town I was currently living in, and my family had made plans to do some “big city” shopping after the event. I know I’m not the only Pagan who shops at Sam’s Club and Petsmart, but I see no need to advertise my religion in these places. Does this make me not “Pagan enough”?
In short, my fellow Pagans, if you’re an Asa Tru Correllian Reconstructionist, don’t snub the Neo-Wiccans you meet (conversely, Neo-Wiccans, don’t snub the Asa Tru Correllian Reconstructionists) . If you’re comfortable wearing a suit to ritual, it doesn’t mean you’re any less a Pagan than the person next to you wearing a black crushed velvet cape. The only person who can judge whether you’re “Pagan enough” is you. With confirmation from your God (s) , of course!
I Am Pagan
Author: Lady Wolfwind
I am Pagan. It’s that simple. It’s never really been a struggle for me. I didn’t understand the meaning of Pagan until I was older. My grandparents raised me. I called them Mom and Dad. My mother was old fashioned, as I imagined women of her generation were. She stayed home and Dad worked. She kept an immaculate home and raised a huge garden every year from which she canned and froze most of our vegetables. Her flower gardens were straight from the pages of a magazine. There was never a mention of religion or of a God in our home. They believed in right and wrong. They didn’t swear, drink or do drugs. They helped people when they could.
I took an interest in the occult at a very young age. Around the age of eleven or so I was hanging in the witchcraft section of the library. I checked out everything I could find on witchcraft, astrology, and the zodiac. I brought them home and never gave a thought to keeping them hidden. My mother read some of them, especially those concerning horoscopes and was fascinated. My older sister (biologically my aunt and quite a few years older than me) made sarcastic remarks. Soon her children were calling me a witch and telling me that I looked evil. I still didn’t take offense.
I’ve had various paranormal experiences, mostly associated with the deaths of my parents. I believe strongly in reincarnation. There’s really never been any other choice for me. I’ve been to college and I’ve studied various religions. None of them have made much sense to me. I never really felt I was on a path. It was more my life and the way I lived it and what I believed in. I always sensed I was different from other people. Other people are attracted to me, I am quite likeable, it seems. It’s just that I don’t think like they do.
My mother crossed over when I was fourteen and my father followed when I was twenty-two. My sisters have never spoken to me since. It’s okay. I have my own family. I have and am still raising 6 children. Kind of two families. There are four older children with children of their own. I have a daughter thirteen and a son seven still living at home. I know some of you think this is just another story of how I came to be Pagan. It’s not. I just had to fill in a little back history of my life.
Of my four older children the three oldest are girls. I am sad to say that we are not very close, in a traditional way. Growing up, I never mentioned religion in our home either. We speak on the phone; we email each other, etc. They live on the other side of the country. I long for solitude, for quiet. I don’t like the drama and the gossip. They tend to fight with one another and talk about each other and want me to take sides. I listen but I don’t have any comments. They will just have to work it out. I love them and they love me. They have the greatest respect for me as their mother. We know this. We just don’t talk much.
What this story is about is my relationship with one of the two oldest daughters. We will call her Nicole. She’s always been very intense. No amount of attention was enough. A lot of people would try to pay attention to her thinking she was neglected. They quickly found out that this was not the case. As she grew older she would tell others stories. Stories about how bad her life was. She would twist your words around to make situations more to her liking. She is very prone to deep, passionate spells where she is “into” something and that is all she can think about, talk about and so forth.
When I moved back across the country, more close to home, she was very upset. It wasn’t that she wasn’t welcome to come but she was in a relationship and had a child and another one on the way. She called me almost everyday. I knew she missed me. She would keep me on the phone for hours.
I never said much because she had to fill me in on every minute and every word every person said to her since the last time we spoke. I listened. I’ve listened for the last 4 years. She doesn’t know what I do in my life or how our life is. It is of no interest to her.
Awhile back she was “into” tattoos. She called and told me of her plans to tattoo her whole body. She was very excited about this and it’s all she could talk about for months. I told her that she might want to think about it very carefully before she did it, to be sure it wouldn’t be something she’d regret when she was older.
I asked her if maybe a couple of tattoos would satisfy her and not a whole body tattoo. It seemed that she took that as a sign that I didn’t agree with her and proceeded to tattoo her whole body.
It’s okay. It’s her body. If that’s what she wants, who am I to disagree? It’s just not something I would do. Okay, so now I get a bombardment of every tattoo she gets asking me what I think. “It’s pretty.” I tell her. And it is. So now she isn’t into the tattooing any more. I never hear mention of it. I don’t know how she feels about them or if she’s going to get them finished. What is upsetting to me is her latest obsession.
Don’t get me wrong. I am happy she has found something to be passionate about that doesn’t involve inking herself or drinking and such. She has two sons and it is good that they have some sort of structure in their lives. I want them to grow up well.
For the first few months she called me everyday and all she could talk about was God and how good he is to her. She’d talk about all the good people in her life. She was constantly posting on Facebook how her Father loved her and so on and so on and so on.
Okay, I get it.
In one of her rants to me on the phone about how other people lived their lives I made my mind up to tell her that I believed that everyone had the right to live as they chose. She, on the other hand, believes that the world should be converted to Christianity or else.
I have always kept my mouth shut. I didn’t need to feed the fire. I didn’t want trouble in my life or my life gossiped about. I couldn’t do it. I told her exactly what I felt and what my beliefs are. I told her that everyone has his or her own path and not everyone will believe exactly as she does. She ended our conversation by telling me that she understood.
Do I wish I had never said anything.
On January 31st, I was getting ready to go outside and say my thanks to the Goddess under the beautiful blue moon. My youngest daughter brought me my computer and told me I should read what Nicole had written. Okay, no problem. Posted to me was a brief message that she was no longer seeking my affirmation and as of tonight she is starting a new life with out me. She told me that she had erased my phone number from her phone and wouldn’t be speaking to me anymore. Okay, she’ll get over this and the phase will pass. It’s been like this before; she’s just not cut me off.
Then the fun started. She started calling relatives on the pretense she wanted to send them cards for the New Year, and ever so slightly changed the subject to my Pagan beliefs and “Can you believe that?” Something had to be done to save the souls of the two younger ones living at home still. Now mind you, I’m not raising them any different than I did the four oldest. I worship the Sabbats and Esbats etc. They are invited to join in and do. They find it enjoyable. I do not push my beliefs on them but will discuss it when asked. I want them to develop themselves and find the path that makes them happiest, even if it is one of the Abrahamic paths.
Nicole called my youngest daughter and tells her that I’m going to burn in hell and reads scripture to her. She tells her that Satan has spoken to me and that her Christian path is the only way. I have bibles being sent to my house, for crying out loud. Nicole tells her younger sister not to tell her that they talked or what they talked about.
I have tried sending Nicole emails asking her to please respect our privacy and rights to believe what we want. I have tried asking her not to disrespect my time as a mother by encouraging her sister to hide things from me. It doesn’t work. I finally sent her an email and told her not to call here or email sister, her younger brother or me. It seemed so hard. She’s my daughter. My youngest daughter sees this as terrible and thinks it’s forever.
I know Nicole. It will pass. She started bombarding Facebook with scripture to the point that I had to hide her posts. My status column was full of nothing but God. She recently sent me an email asking if she and her new boyfriend could come here to visit. I told her that she is always welcome. I again tried to explain my stance to her. This was days ago and she hasn’t replied.
I love my children. I tried to raise them right. My first priority was to be a mother. I don’t know what to do with this assault. I am Pagan. It will not change. I have been my whole life. I live simply. We live in the country. I have gardens and grow my own herbs. I have animals that adopt me. Most days you can find them curled up at my feet or following me around.
I do not have a cell phone; I do not use a microwave. Not because I don’t want to but because it just doesn’t cross my mind to. I have a dryer. I use the clothesline. I help out every person I can. My husband and I buy school supplies for children we will never meet, we donate food to people who cannot afford to eat. We counsel the kids who work for us to keep them off the streets and away from drugs. I feed the chicken and say a thank you every morning to the Goddess who has blessed me with this life. I do not preach to others, nor do I mention my beliefs unless asked.
I wanted to share this with all of you here. It’s hard when the ridicule comes from your own family, much less your own child. I don’t speak of it to anyone; I don’t share the hurt that has come from my inability to have a satisfying relationship with this one child. Life can be so hard sometimes. I’m sure that the Goddess has put this on my path so I could look deeply into who I am and ask myself what I truly believe.
I AM PAGAN. This who I am.
I Remember My Roots
Author: Morgan Tzaddi
I tread a fine line I think. Between adulthood and childhood, I mean. I’m 22 years old so I’ve been an adult for four years by society’s standards. I’ve been a Witch for six years. If you’ll notice, there is an overlap of two very scattered, very confusing, very arduous years of study.
It was apparent to me during childhood and seems to be the case even now that once the age of majority is reached, people tend to put on their rose colored glasses in looking back over their childhood. They don their ‘forgetful cap’. Having realized what seems to be a gap in the actuality of growing up and what is remembered during my childhood has helped me to retain the memories of the hardships of being a minor. It is from this position, looking back over a very subjective, short bridge into my minority that I shake a finger at us all.
I stumbled across Witchcraft at the formidable age of fifteen. One fateful day, I ran across an encyclopedia of Witchcraft and I was off! I cracked books and scanned bbses and sparsely spread web pages and became further involved, I became even more convinced I needed some help sorting through it. Everything contradicted the next, oaths of secrecy be damned! Personal books of shadows made public were fascinating but might as well have been written in another language for all it meant to me.
I lived with my father – who although he wasn’t the most available parent in the world was certainly available enough to make known that no daughter of HIS would fancy herself a Witch! I kept photo copies and notes in a three ring binder under lock and key in a chest at the bottom of my closet. I worked a job on weekends that afforded me minimal spending money and finally one day, I sent off for ‘To Ride a Silver Broomstick’ by Silver RavenWolf. I bought it from an online vendor at a time when shopping online was anything BUT mainstream or regulated. The check for the book went through my bank account containing my meager savings, but the book never arrived. I digress.
I made a few ‘Witch’ friends in my age group. They all more closely resembled the typical teen Witch image though. They wanted the glitz and glamour. I, on the other hand, wanted to feed that hunger that gnawed through my very core. Even with the internet at such a young stage in its life, the computer was the only way to make contact with folks outside of my realm. I e-mailed ‘elders’, I frequented bbses, I grasped past the shallowness of the “Glamour Witch” teens I knew for real contacts. I consistently ran into a brick wall. I’m too young. I’m only fifteen… sixteen…. seventeen.
So now I’m an adult. That magickal age of majority has long since been reached. Do I see the mysterious sense behind not helping out someone who hasn’t reached that age of magick on the mundane plane yet? No. I feel like I starved during those years. I feel like someone could have helped.
The Christian church wasn’t sued when they recruited me into their youth department. I never even asked for their religion and it was spooned down my throat. I dare say the courts would have laughed in my father’s face had a case been brought against the Baptist church who invited me to Bible School without his consent.
So, I stumbled through, rather well, if I might say so myself. In the eyes of a teen seeker, I am an ‘experienced’ Witch now. A mysterious magickal person full of arcane knowledge and crafty thoughts. That’s how I saw the mildly experienced not so many years ago. I can assure you that’s how they see us now.
Perhaps, you say, it’s not such an issue these days. Teens have access to countless sources that we have catered to them. They have kits, they have books, and they have web pages. Let them seek elsewhere!
Let’s talk about these ‘sources’. Granted, some of them are genuinely fine, complete, upstanding sources but I draw a line in the sand here. These days, we have ‘Witchcraft in a Box’ and books that take even the most esoteric concepts and spell it out in elementary words that get the point across but don’t begin to relay the true essence of the mystery that is the subject. It’s insulting. Rather than take the risk of teaching them, we spoon feed them a main-streamed, over commercialized, well worn copy of what should be a mystery religion.
If you want to see an example of the outcome, search the net. Go to your favorite search engine and search for ‘witchcraft pagan’. Notice how many web pages quote the very same popular passages from the same books and authors. See just how many web pages have nothing genuine or original to say about their spiritual path. Barring the creatively challenged folks in that group (it happens to all of us), these people are one-book wonders! These people are a product of what we call ‘training’ these days. Can you imagine an entire generation of Witches that know nothing but these popular sources? Who have never had the advantage of guidance and knowledge that only a teacher can give? Can you imagine trying to base your spiritual path upon what these web pages are sparsely trying to convey?
If our religion has a frontier, certainly this is it. We fight so hard as a community to be accepted along with the ‘Good ‘Ole Boys’ – to ‘roll with the Big Dogs’ but yet we shy away from guiding our next generation because we fear the very thing we rebel against. Being judged unjustly. The next generation IS our future. If we end up with a generation of one-book wonders who really believe that popular authors are the forefathers of our religion, I don’t want to be able to point the finger at myself.
Goddess knows I don’t have the time to be a full time teacher so it’s doubtful I would take someone under my wing but if someone has a question, I will answer it. If I feel I should expound on a subject, I will. I don’t ask their age. I give information as I feel lead to give it according to Spirit. If I’m to give them knowledge and mundane action is taken against me, I did as Spirit directed and all is as it should be. I haven’t forgotten where I came from and in looking forward to where I’m going, I won’t forget those just barely putting their feet upon the path beside me.
Unnecessary martyr? Necessary. The mundane world has never held my final word and it’s laws will not bind my greater path. If it helps to kindle or build the flame of someone else’s spirit, young or old, then Onward, Pagan soldier! 🙂
Astronomy Picture of the Day
Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.
2015 September 2
The Flare and the Galaxy
Image Credit & Copyright: Martin Mark
Explanation: Is this person throwing a lightning bolt? No. Despite appearances, this person is actually pointing in the direction of a bright Iridium flare, a momentary reflection of sunlight off of a communications satellite in orbit around the Earth. As the Iridium satellite orbits, reflective antennas became aligned between the observer and the Sun to create a flash brighter than any star in the night sky. Iridium flares typically last several seconds, longer than most meteors. Also unlike meteors, the flares are symmetric and predictable. The featured flare involved Iridium satellite 15 and occurred over southern Estonia last week. In this well-planned image, a spectacular night sky appears in the background, complete with the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy running vertically up the image center.
Saturn in Scorpio
Now Until Sep 17, 2015
Saturn is the last planet visible to the naked eye. For millennia, it represented the limits of the solar system and came to symbolize time, structure and order. Saturn takes about 29 years to orbit the Sun, spending about two and a half years in each sign of the zodiac.
Saturn is the planet that says “no” but means “yes.” The no comes from Saturn showing us what isn’t working, sometimes in the form of frustrating blockages or delays. But these help us see where we need to put in effort to make concrete changes. Saturn says “yes” as the planet of crystallization that brings energy into matter. Saturn’s presence in a sign of the zodiac shows us where we are likely to meet limits and how to construct something useful.
Serious Saturn in survivalist Scorpio forces us to face the bottom line. Life and death, sex, power and our economic well being can be pushed to the limits during this two-year transit. Concentrating our efforts where they are most needed may require eliminating ideas, activities, objects or individuals that distract us from these essential tasks.
Take account of your desires, even the inappropriate ones. Knowing what you want helps you become a better negotiator in relationships. Being nice is, well, nice but doesn’t touch the depth of emotion associated with Scorpio. Partnerships grow when they are rooted in honesty, especially with ourselves. We can compromise in pursuit of our desires but if we don’t even know what they are, all we’re left with are manipulation and chance.
Getting the most out of our resources is another expression of Saturn in Scorpio. Scarcity could be a collective problem but, ideally, will lead to more efficient systems of production and distribution. Cleaning up toxins in the environment and within our bodies and minds are other healthy expressions of this transit.
How money is handled, especially involving insurance and debt, grows in importance with Saturn in Scorpio. There may be even more abuses in the financial world but that could be what it takes to make some significant reforms. Borrowing for well-defined purposes and with a realistic repayment schedule is an appropriate way to use this cycle.
Sexual repression is a dark side of Saturn in Scorpio. The AIDS epidemic was at a very high level in the early 80s, the last time this transit occurred. Responsiblity for erotic inclinations doesn’t mean that they should be suppressed but rather that we deepen our understanding of them. Tantra, a form of sacred sexuality, teaches us about intimacy that is not possible when we deny this essential part of ourselves.