Remembering and Reconnecting

Remembering and Reconnecting

Author: RuneWolf

I do consider my religion – Wicca – and my particular practice of it, to be Earth-based. Such a statement might seem absurdly obvious on the surface, but it is, I think, important to state it in this fashion. Wicca has within it elements of Ceremonial Magic, and it has been my personal experience that it is quite possible to become obsessed with and lost in the liturgical and ritual forms, to the extent that what one ends up practicing has, in fact, more in common with CM than with Wicca.

Now, don’t misunderstand me: We need ritualists and liturgists who can preserve the outer forms of our religion, and re-invent them as time goes by, so that we neither lose our traditional roots nor become mired in them. The creation, preservation and cultivation of ritual and liturgy are important, but I’m not talking about that here. I am talking about an unhealthy balance where an individual or group over-focuses on those outer forms, often to the detriment of the inner energies. So it is important, I think, that we remind ourselves, individually and collectively, that our religion IS Earth-based, and that, in my personal tradition at least, re-connecting with the Earth and Her cycles is one of the central concepts and objectives.

But then, what is this whole “re-connect with the Earth” thing, anyway? Sounds like a bunch of neo-Hippie, tree-hugging, New Age bushwa, doesn’t it?

Oh, contraire…

Western thought seems to enjoy lampooning and belittling whatever it doesn’t like or cannot understand, as if by satirizing something, it is made harmless and non-threatening. (This, oddly enough, is a very Celtic concept. Bards of Old Eire were feared for their power to debilitate a powerful leader by the use of satire.) Culturally, we will even go so far as to transform an inherently neutral or positive label – New Age, for instance – into a synonym for something wacky and outlandish. So those outsiders – or insiders, for that matter – who roll their eyes when they say or hear “re-connect with the Earth” obviously haven’t bothered to fully consider what that means.

We aren’t talking about sticking our feet into the ground and putting out roots. What we are talking about is simply becoming fully aware of – and experiencing as fully as possible – our relationship to the biosphere. For the most part, citizens of modern technological nations have fallen out of that awareness and experience. Some would argue that, without this awareness and experience, we as a species are doomed, because nothing short of these will prevent us from terminally fouling our nest. In more immediate and individual terms, however, I believe that a fuller awareness and experience of our relationship to the biosphere and, by extension, the Universe itself, is mandatory for true physical, mental and spiritual health. This is, as I understand it, the primary thrust of Taoist philosophy and religion, and is certainly a primary objective in my practice of Wicca.

Wicca, as I have said, is my religion. My spirituality, however, is Witchcraft. Some would not agree with this dichotomization, but then, as mother used to say, that’s why they make vanilla and chocolate. I make the distinction because I define those terms differently. Wicca is my religion – it is something I joined, a community that has a unique identity, and to be part of that community I am obliged, to a greater or lesser degree, to conform to the community template. I, personally, believe that there are certain things that I must agree to, that I must practice, that I must believe and that I must espouse, in order to be Wiccan. While there is certainly a great deal of individual latitude, I nonetheless believe that were I to deviate too far from the “community template” of Wicca, I would no longer be practicing Wicca. In the practice of certain martial arts, students are given a great deal of latitude to improvise and personalize the art. However, at a certain point, if that improvisation and personalization goes too far, that individual is no longer practicing that particular art, but something unique unto themselves that they have created there from. This is not a judgment on the art itself nor on what the individual has created from it; it is simply a statement of fact.

So it is, I believe, with the practice of Wicca, or any religion, for that matter. (But then, these are only my beliefs, and have no power beyond the tip of my nose.)

Witchcraft, on the other hand, I define as that body of techniques that enables the practitioner (Witch) to live in harmony with the rhythms of Life. “Life” here may be seen as synonymous with All That Is: an individual’s life-path, the greater community of Humankind, the biosphere and the Universe – in short, Everything. And those rhythms include the “bad” as well as the “good.” By this definition, Wicca is just another “technique” in my practice of Witchcraft, something which helps me to attune to the rhythms of Life. And this is, for me, as it should be: religion should always be the servant of spirituality. When that formula is inverted, we are left with dictatorial religious institutions.

When one truly seeks a deeper, fuller understanding of our connection to and place in the Universe, one cannot help but develop, I believe, a concern for the welfare of the “natural” world, i.e. the biosphere. Even if one were a staunch “scientific Pagan,” I don’t believe one could overlook the necessity of preserving an uncontaminated environment in order to ensure the survival of Humankind. And if one looks beyond mere survival, then we must recognize the necessity of preserving the beauty of unsullied nature as an adjunct to the mental, emotional and spiritual health of humanity.

Those of us who believe this face grave obstacles today. We are now ruled by an administration that is obviously bent on furthering the cause of “Big Business” – which has always been the destructive exploitation of the Earth for profit – at the expense of the environment. More and more, corporations are freed of the restrictions imposed on them by former, relatively saner, regimes. More and more, they are free to “rape and pillage” as they see fit, regardless of the destruction they cause. Nor can we simply blame “Western thought” for these travesties, as the policies of China in modern Tibet relieve the West of sole responsibility in the rape of the planet and the destruction of her children.

At times, it seems overwhelming, and it may well be an effort doomed to failure, although such failure will certainly doom humanity to eventual extinction. But we must try, each in her or his own way. I myself am not much of a “joiner,” and taking care of what little land is “mine” takes up most of my time. So you won’t see me at many demonstrations or protests. But what I lack in “discretionary time” I make up for in “disposable income,” and I can and do support the environmental cause with my monetary contributions. In the end, only money can defeat Big Money, so I don’t feel that this is merely a token gesture to assuage my conscience. And I do take an active, if geographically limited, part: there is a nature trail in the community near my home, which I avail myself of at every opportunity. As one might imagine, this trail is subject to all kinds of littering, not only from walkers but from nearby homeowners. When I walk, I always carry a trash bag, and I clean up what I can. When someone creates a mess too big for me, I make sure the community association knows about it, as there are strict rules regarding such abuse. I don’t know that my actions have ever led to the censure or fining of a guilty homeowner, but it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

Tattle tale? Snitch? Ratfink? You’re damn right.

And then there are the “little” things that all of us can do: proper soil management on our property; avoiding fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides; using “low impact” products; driving fuel-efficient autos; using mass transit when possible; recycling. It is gratifying to see that, in our neighborhood at least, we have a very high percentage of participation in the recycling effort. But then, these things should be “no brainers” for everyone, Pagan or not, in my opinion.

Perhaps the biggest difference between me and my neighbors is that, when I recycle or pick up litter, I see it as a sacrament, an acknowledgment that I AM RESPONSIBLE; not for the whole shebang, but for what I, as an individual, can do. I’ve always subscribed to the belief that “a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing.” On any given day, I can’t solve all of the world’s environmental problems. But I can do something, even if it’s only picking up one piece of litter. No action occurs in a vacuum; every action has consequences, and resonates along the Web of Wyrd.

Despite the odds, none of us are totally powerless; we can always do something. And sometimes, in the wee dark hours of the morning, that’s all we have to hold onto.

RuneWolf

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Shaman, Priest, Priestess, Pastor, or Candlestick-Maker

Shaman, Priest, Priestess, Pastor, or Candlestick-Maker

Author:   Alfred Willowhawk, DMsc, RMT, CTM, Shaman   

Humans are always reaching for understanding. Whatever their religious, spiritual, or non-spiritual philosophy, we are always seeking to understand the world around us. In our pre-industrialized world, we sought these answers from individuals who seemed to have a better connection than the general population with unseen realms. They were sometimes called shamans, druids, priestesses or priests. Our post-industrialized world calls these individuals, pastors, priests, and guides. Many individuals of western religious frameworks may disagree with this contention. This article will demonstrate that the term used is really immaterial; after all, “a rose by any other name will smell as sweet”, thanks to Shakespeare.

What is a Shaman and why is the term so popular today? We acknowledge that the term “shaman” is not of Celtic or Western European origin. It is actually Siberian in origin but has come to be applied to any Otherworld “journeyer” who functions as a guide for his culture and people. It has also become associated with First Nations, indigenous peoples, and Native Americans. We are not attempting to appropriate the term as used by First Nations or Native Americans.

The term ‘’Otherworld is a uniquely Celtic word, which has similarities to the Underworld of Wiccan and other neo-pagan places. It is a real place, not made up in the head of a person, where the deities and personkind interact. It also overlaps the mundane or physical world. Today, most individuals of Celtic descent and practice call this the Faery Realm. This realm is the depository of all the archetypes of being. Interaction with individuals within this realm can bring forth the entire spectrum of emotional, spiritual, and physical responses. Whether one feels fear, joy, excitement, or any other emotion – the journey to the otherworld is always revealing.

As an individual spends time there, many aspects of oneself become apparent. Deceit is not tolerated there and is easily perceived. The oldest known story of the Celtic Otherworld is the Immram Curaig Maelduin Inso or the Voyage of Malduin’s Boat. It was first transcribed in the eighth or ninth century in its entirety. It visits the thirty-three islands of the Celtic Otherworld and serves as a lesson for any visitor.

In our 21st century time, most individuals seem blind to this world. The Shamanic practitioner, or shaman, as we define it above, serves as the medium through which individuals can receive messages, and assistance from the deities. In our course, The Shamanic Soul: Path to the Sacred Self”, we assist the individual to begin and foster the connection with the Otherworld and their deities. It is not actually necessary to use a shamanic practitioner to feel, see, and touch the Otherworld. Recognizing and interpreting what is seen there is best done with a knowledgeable individual who has studied the signs, portents, and events that are recorded in the “songs” of the pan Celtic world to facilitate the actual intent of these messages.

Among the Celts were members of their culture who journeyed to the Otherworld. They were the Mystics. They were one of four classes including Bards, Healers, and Warriors. The Mystics’ primary function was that of mediator between this world and the Otherworld – as such they meet the widely accepted definition of ‘Shaman’. The Celtic Mystic utilizes the gifts of the Bard and the Healer but acts primarily as a conduit for messages from the deities, spirit entities and ancestors.

The Celtic Mystic or Shamanic tradition was systematically wiped out by the encroachment of the Romans, and later the Christians. The tradition was further impacted by the Celtic Diaspora, which scattered Celts to Brittany, Gaul, Spain, and Asia Minor. The Celts were spread over much of what is now Europe and into Asia.

The term “mystic” has the unfortunate definition of “one who practices or believes in mysticism or a given form of mysticism” (from the Free On Line Dictionary) . “Mysticism” is further defined as “1. a. immediate consciousness of the transcendent or ultimate reality or God; b. The experience of such communion as described by mystics; 2. A belief in the existence of realities beyond perceptual or intellectual apprehension that are central to being and directly accessible by subjective experience.3. Vague, groundless speculation.” I think you can see our problem… Because the term “mystic” has an even less precise definition than the term “shaman”, we choose to use the term “shaman” because it is more commonly descriptive of what we do.

Therefore, like other Shamanic Traditions, because it is what Shamans do, we journey to the invisible spirit world as a medium or mediator for the purposes of healing, divination and to discern the needs of the Earth (see Gaea) and return to this world to guide our people. The imagery, deities and myths we employ in our practice is Celtic/Indo-European.

The definition of Shaman is both simple and complex. A shaman is “one who knows”. We expand this definition as follows: The Shaman is one who knows the world on multiple levels in which he/she lives. The Shaman knows his mind, his soul, his spirit, and his guide. The Shaman knows her culture, her people, her Goddess, her God. The Shaman knows his enemy and his friends; her protection is in knowing.

According to Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits: Shamanistic Visionary Traditions in Early Modern British Witchcraft and Magic, Emma Wilby, 2006, Sussex Academic Press, “The shaman’s first encounter with his helping spirit is either deliberately cultivated or spontaneous. In tribal societies the deliberately cultivated initial encounter is based upon the rationale that an individual can only become a shaman if he obtains one or more spirit-helpers, and that therefore an aspirant shaman needs to work at magical techniques believed to encourage the appearance of such spirits. A survey of anthropological sources suggests that in tribal societies far more emphasis is place don the deliberately cultivated initial encounter than was the case in early modern Britain, although how far this difference is rooted in culture as opposed to the divergent circumstances under which information about these magical traditions has been gathered, is hard to determine.”

While we are eclectic in our approach to our shamanic practices, we are using our own ancestral and cultural history (Western European Celtic and Greco-Roman) . We do not practice any form of cultural appropriation or “plastic shaman ism”. We are NOT practicing some post-colonial cultural appropriation of First Nations shamanism. Any reference we make here or in our practice to First Nations culture, practices, spirits, shamans, guides, or deities is for historical and informational reference only and not an attempt to associate ourselves with First Nations Shamans. We welcome any criticism of our practice. We are always assessing and re-assessing our understanding of our calling.

It is our contention that shaman ism is “of the blood” — that is, one is born to a shamanic tradition and some crisis brings out the ability or burden or urgent need to practice shamanic journeying. This crisis can be in the form of an illness, disorder, mental or physical trauma. This vertiginous experience brings about the call of the Wounded Healer, which the shaman may have been experiencing for years, to the fore.

It is true that every individual has many woundings and our course The Warrior Within is designed to assist each individual to reach out and heal themselves, yet if one is called to be the Wounded Healer, then this serves as the point of recognition that he or she must accept and act upon his or her shamanic calling to heal him/herself and utilize these gifts to assist others in their healing or he/she will continue on in the illness, disorder, mental or physical trauma. These woundings, as stated above, usually take on a particular flavor and as Ms. Wilby states, “…he is usually alone at the time of his first meeting, and undergoing a period of intense physical and/or psychological stress. Often it is the naturally-occurring pressure of life which generate these stresses…’some great misfortune, dangerous or protracted illness, [or] sudden loss of family or property’ can bring an individual into contact with the spirits. As in early modern Britain, bereavement is often a powerful trigger.” (Pg 132)

The shaman utilizes the gifts and tools that they have developed in their own healing process to assist others in healing themselves. Therefore, for our purposes they are facilitators of self-healing and have the desire to assist others. As shamans we have the ability and/or responsibility to:

*Understand the roles that spirits play in the lives of our people.
* Cooperate with or control the spirits for the benefit of our people.
* Understand the spirits intentions as either good or evil or neutral.
* Use trance-inducing techniques such as singing, chanting, dancing, meditating, or drumming. (1.)
* Recognize and communicate with animals and animal spirits in their roles as messengers of the Otherworld.
* Enter the Otherworld on our own behalf or the behalf of our people.
* Deliver the messages from the Otherworld to our people.
* Guide our people in treating illness or sickness – be that in self-healing techniques, laying on of hands, or advising an individual to seek the consultation of a licensed medical practitioner. We do not claim or attempt to be the sole conduit of healing for our people and as such always insist that illnesses be treated by licensed medical practitioners.
* As Healers and Spiritual Guides, we DO NO HARM to our people.

The shaman then, serves as the conduit whereby individuals can, if they choose, access the other realms of beingness, or utilize the services of the shaman to go there for them. This is similar to the way that other western religious practitioners, priests, rabbis, pastors, seek guidance through meditation and prayer as well as intervention with the Christian god. A pastor will pray for intervention in their parishioners’ lives, and truly believe that the prayers are effective. The shaman does the same thing and has the same expectation.

The spiritual realms are much bigger and more open than we as mere mortals can understand. There is no exclusivity in access to God, Goddess, nature, higher power, etc. Every path is the same. Reach for the heavens and your highest best connection with all creatures of this and every other world. Do not allow your own view to become the One View – it doesn’t exist; a good thing too, as I for one would not like to live in a world that was restricted to my perceptions and understandings of the universe – it is SO much bigger than me.

Blessed Be and enjoy the journey!

_____________________________________

Footnotes:
1. We do not advocate, but accept the taking of mind-altering drugs to achieve trance-state.

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Remembering and Reconnecting

Remembering and Reconnecting

Author:   RuneWolf   

I do consider my religion – Wicca – and my particular practice of it, to be Earth-based. Such a statement might seem absurdly obvious on the surface, but it is, I think, important to state it in this fashion. Wicca has within it elements of Ceremonial Magic, and it has been my personal experience that it is quite possible to become obsessed with and lost in the liturgical and ritual forms, to the extent that what one ends up practicing has, in fact, more in common with CM than with Wicca.

Now, don’t misunderstand me: We need ritualists and liturgists who can preserve the outer forms of our religion, and re-invent them as time goes by, so that we neither lose our traditional roots nor become mired in them. The creation, preservation and cultivation of ritual and liturgy are important, but I’m not talking about that here. I am talking about an unhealthy balance where an individual or group over-focuses on those outer forms, often to the detriment of the inner energies. So it is important, I think, that we remind ourselves, individually and collectively, that our religion IS Earth-based, and that, in my personal tradition at least, re-connecting with the Earth and Her cycles is one of the central concepts and objectives.

But then, what is this whole “re-connect with the Earth” thing, anyway? Sounds like a bunch of neo-Hippie, tree-hugging, New Age bushwa, doesn’t it?

Oh, contraire…

Western thought seems to enjoy lampooning and belittling whatever it doesn’t like or cannot understand, as if by satirizing something, it is made harmless and non-threatening. (This, oddly enough, is a very Celtic concept. Bards of Old Eire were feared for their power to debilitate a powerful leader by the use of satire.) Culturally, we will even go so far as to transform an inherently neutral or positive label – New Age, for instance – into a synonym for something wacky and outlandish. So those outsiders – or insiders, for that matter – who roll their eyes when they say or hear “re-connect with the Earth” obviously haven’t bothered to fully consider what that means.

We aren’t talking about sticking our feet into the ground and putting out roots. What we are talking about is simply becoming fully aware of – and experiencing as fully as possible – our relationship to the biosphere. For the most part, citizens of modern technological nations have fallen out of that awareness and experience. Some would argue that, without this awareness and experience, we as a species are doomed, because nothing short of these will prevent us from terminally fouling our nest. In more immediate and individual terms, however, I believe that a fuller awareness and experience of our relationship to the biosphere and, by extension, the Universe itself, is mandatory for true physical, mental and spiritual health. This is, as I understand it, the primary thrust of Taoist philosophy and religion, and is certainly a primary objective in my practice of Wicca.

Wicca, as I have said, is my religion. My spirituality, however, is Witchcraft. Some would not agree with this dichotomization, but then, as mother used to say, that’s why they make vanilla and chocolate. I make the distinction because I define those terms differently. Wicca is my religion – it is something I joined, a community that has a unique identity, and to be part of that community I am obliged, to a greater or lesser degree, to conform to the community template. I, personally, believe that there are certain things that I must agree to, that I must practice, that I must believe and that I must espouse, in order to be Wiccan. While there is certainly a great deal of individual latitude, I nonetheless believe that were I to deviate too far from the “community template” of Wicca, I would no longer be practicing Wicca. In the practice of certain martial arts, students are given a great deal of latitude to improvise and personalize the art. However, at a certain point, if that improvisation and personalization goes too far, that individual is no longer practicing that particular art, but something unique unto themselves that they have created there from. This is not a judgment on the art itself nor on what the individual has created from it; it is simply a statement of fact.

So it is, I believe, with the practice of Wicca, or any religion, for that matter. (But then, these are only my beliefs, and have no power beyond the tip of my nose.)

Witchcraft, on the other hand, I define as that body of techniques that enables the practitioner (Witch) to live in harmony with the rhythms of Life. “Life” here may be seen as synonymous with All That Is: an individual’s life-path, the greater community of Humankind, the biosphere and the Universe – in short, Everything. And those rhythms include the “bad” as well as the “good.” By this definition, Wicca is just another “technique” in my practice of Witchcraft, something which helps me to attune to the rhythms of Life. And this is, for me, as it should be: religion should always be the servant of spirituality. When that formula is inverted, we are left with dictatorial religious institutions.

When one truly seeks a deeper, fuller understanding of our connection to and place in the Universe, one cannot help but develop, I believe, a concern for the welfare of the “natural” world, i.e. the biosphere. Even if one were a staunch “scientific Pagan,” I don’t believe one could overlook the necessity of preserving an uncontaminated environment in order to ensure the survival of Humankind. And if one looks beyond mere survival, then we must recognize the necessity of preserving the beauty of unsullied nature as an adjunct to the mental, emotional and spiritual health of humanity.

Those of us who believe this face grave obstacles today. We are now ruled by an administration that is obviously bent on furthering the cause of “Big Business” – which has always been the destructive exploitation of the Earth for profit – at the expense of the environment. More and more, corporations are freed of the restrictions imposed on them by former, relatively saner, regimes. More and more, they are free to “rape and pillage” as they see fit, regardless of the destruction they cause. Nor can we simply blame “Western thought” for these travesties, as the policies of China in modern Tibet relieve the West of sole responsibility in the rape of the planet and the destruction of her children.

At times, it seems overwhelming, and it may well be an effort doomed to failure, although such failure will certainly doom humanity to eventual extinction. But we must try, each in her or his own way. I myself am not much of a “joiner,” and taking care of what little land is “mine” takes up most of my time. So you won’t see me at many demonstrations or protests. But what I lack in “discretionary time” I make up for in “disposable income,” and I can and do support the environmental cause with my monetary contributions. In the end, only money can defeat Big Money, so I don’t feel that this is merely a token gesture to assuage my conscience. And I do take an active, if geographically limited, part: there is a nature trail in the community near my home, which I avail myself of at every opportunity. As one might imagine, this trail is subject to all kinds of littering, not only from walkers but from nearby homeowners. When I walk, I always carry a trash bag, and I clean up what I can. When someone creates a mess too big for me, I make sure the community association knows about it, as there are strict rules regarding such abuse. I don’t know that my actions have ever led to the censure or fining of a guilty homeowner, but it hasn’t been for lack of trying.

Tattle tale? Snitch? Ratfink? You’re damn right.

And then there are the “little” things that all of us can do: proper soil management on our property; avoiding fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides; using “low impact” products; driving fuel-efficient autos; using mass transit when possible; recycling. It is gratifying to see that, in our neighborhood at least, we have a very high percentage of participation in the recycling effort. But then, these things should be “no brainers” for everyone, Pagan or not, in my opinion.

Perhaps the biggest difference between me and my neighbors is that, when I recycle or pick up litter, I see it as a sacrament, an acknowledgment that I AM RESPONSIBLE; not for the whole shebang, but for what I, as an individual, can do. I’ve always subscribed to the belief that “a little bit of something is better than a whole lot of nothing.” On any given day, I can’t solve all of the world’s environmental problems. But I can do something, even if it’s only picking up one piece of litter. No action occurs in a vacuum; every action has consequences, and resonates along the Web of Wyrd.

Despite the odds, none of us are totally powerless; we can always do something. And sometimes, in the wee dark hours of the morning, that’s all we have to hold onto.

Religion: From A Witch’s Perspective

Religion: From A Witch’s Perspective

Author:   Crick   

Have you ever wondered why humans are so scared to face life and the spiritual lessons that are in waiting for each of us? I ask this because since the dawning of humankind we have created religions. Religion in all reality is a subterfuge and a distraction from the individual pursuit of spirituality.

A state of spirituality is a journey of the individual. It does not require the presence of the many such as is found within a religion. This applies whether a religion is one of the so-called organized religions, pagan, or one of the myriad other religions created by humans.

A religion comes into existence by the hand of a human, generally a man or group of men. A concept of Deity and the mysteries of life are created and then transformed into a specific dogma or set of beliefs. The only problem with this approach is that it is predicated upon the narrow precepts of one or even a few select humans.

This is fine, if such beliefs were confined to the originators of such beliefs. For each individual is entitled to the beliefs that define their personal existence in regards to Deity and the mysteries that comprise this existence of life.

But when such personal opinions are then extended to the masses, the concept of individualism becomes mired in the tentacles of censorship that goes by the label of dogma. When this occurs, the concept of individuality is lost.

Another concern with such an approach is that those opinions that form the basis for religions are based upon select human perspectives and are not the direct offering of Deity. Of course there will be those humans who will insist that their perception of Deity was the driving force that has inspired the particular religion that they themselves subscribe to.

However with literally thousands of divergent concepts of deity that has been proffered since the beginning of humankind, who is actually right and just as importantly, who is wrong? Is there such delineation when it comes to spirituality and/or religion? Does one person have to be right in order for all others to be wrong?

As individuals, each seeking their own definition and thus understanding of deity, this self-imposed quandary goes away. For as individuals, the belief in deity and the search for a comprehensive understanding of the mysteries of life become a personal pursuit and as such, do not require the approval of any other human being on earth.

Paganism was at one time a path that actually encouraged individual seeking and thus a personal sense of understanding. And in many ways it still is to this very day. However the specter of religion and the pressure of peer acceptance as defined by the few have stretched its tentacles into paganism as well. This modern attempt at conversion is commonly referred to as neo paganism. In essence, there is an attempt by some of these modern converts to turn paganism, which once defined individual spirituality, into a religion which follows the same parameters as the so called organized religions.

Why is this being attempted when it is blatantly obvious that organized religions and paganism are diametrically opposed in their approach to the concepts of deity and the mysteries of life?

The most obvious reason for this forced perception of dogma is the entrance of the many who formerly subscribed to an established religious pattern of acceptance in regards to their spiritual journey. However there may be a deeper reason for such an imposition of foreign values when discussing the parameters of paganism.

For instance why does humankind even need the anonymity of a concept known as religion where one can comfortably become a faceless member of a pre-conceived set of beliefs (dogma) ? And as already noted, said set of beliefs, which in every man-made religion on earth is defined by a select few.

Could it be because there is a segment of society who is apathetic about their spiritual beliefs? Could such folks be personally insecure of what they may encounter if they were to actually seek out their own answers to spirituality? Does this observation offend you?

If so, perhaps there is a gem of truth here that you may want to explore within your Inner self. When a select person or group of persons places the concept of deity and the mysteries of life into an imposition such as religious dogma, there is in effect a barricade to any real spiritual growth. The individual loses the gift of self-identity because they are pressured into a specific set of beliefs (dogma) , which limits any further exploration of the many possibilities that are inherent in un-fettered spirituality.

Many man-made religions have mechanisms in place that are designed to ensure that their members do not stray outside of the accepted parameters of belief has dictated by the few. Where is the freedom of the individual in such a setting? And where within the tenets of paganism do such man-made impositions apply?

These same man-made religions also have mechanisms in place to cast out those who dare to seek out the truths of life as they apply to their personal seeking and yet are outside of the accepted dogma of the particular religion that one is subscribing to.

In my personal opinion such an approach has absolutely nothing to do with any real concept of paganism. And so the push to “convert” paganism into the parameters of organized religion is somewhat troubling and may border on hypocrisy.

There is a common saying that “trying to get pagans to come together is like herding cats”. I personally hope that such an analogy retains some iota of truth as paganism wends its way into the consciousness of modern practitioners. Once those who follow the path of paganism lose the inherent right to live as individuals and once members of paganism lose the drive to seek out Inner truths, which are not restrained by the masses that blindly follow the lead of the few, then it is no longer a true spiritual path. Rather it becomes nothing more than an extension of the mind numbing control of religion.

And those who describe themselves as pagans, in all reality become nothing more than faceless minions of yet another man-made religion

The Daily OM for January 14th – Circling the Wagons

Circling the Wagons

Surrounding with Protective Light

by Madisyn Taylor

 

As we join our energy with those in circle, we become part of something that is more powerful than the individuals within it.

There are times when we may know of someone who is in great need and wants help, but we may feel at a loss about how best to help them. It is at such times that we can ask for help in surrounding them with support and protection, just like the pioneers once circled their wagons in the middle of unknown territory. Whether this means turning to an already established community such as a service organization or gathering support from diverse sources, a group of people can be brought together to help an individual or an entire community. It doesn’t always take money to help someone either–cooking, cleaning, driving, fund raising, or offering emotional support are all valuable and have the added benefit of the closeness of the human touch. In any case, the universe sends angels in the form of willing friends or strangers to gather their individual lights to surround those in need with the warmth of compassion.

Some people may have difficulty accepting or even recognizing aid when it appears in unexpected guises from unlikely sources. All we can do is to follow our inner guidance, give when we are moved to do so and shine our light to the best of our ability. As we join our energy with those in the circle, we become part of something that is larger and more powerful than the individuals within it.

When we act as part of a community of service like this, we are reminded that we are not only assisting an individual or select group in the moment, but we are serving the greater good. We are creating a better world, and can rest assured that help will be there for us as well. As we offer our own light to the collective glow to help someone through a time of darkness, all of our lights become brighter. We can live every day from this place of light, knowing the freedom from fear and worry that allows us to receive and share the protective and supportive light of life.

The Daily OM

Knowing Right and Wrong

 

Author: Stewart Bitkoff

On one level people want simple answers and to be told what to do. On another they want freedom to choose and make their own decisions. People are multi-level and have the capacity to make their own choices as well as accept direction from others. Discordance sets in when the guidance from others or authority does not fit what the individual wants or feels is right for them. In this case, the individual is in conflict and looks for something else.

Most people are taught a philosophy of ‘right and wrong.’ At an early age aspects of this protective mechanism are projected into daily life and are part of social and religious training. For example, if you do not get-up on time and arrive timely at school this is bad. As an adult, being late will eventually result in loss of job. Or as a youth, if you take street drugs, this will lead to personal problems and addiction.

It is difficult to disagree with these two maxims about daily life. Get places on time and do not take potentially damaging street drugs. However, to complicate matters other factors may be at play. Perhaps the individual is getting to work late because of an inner, hidden unease with this type of work. In time, after warnings by the supervisor, the worker realizes this and moves on. Or the youth experimenting with recreational drugs uses this learning in a future career in brain chemistry. Or in a more damaging scenario, after years of addiction the person sobers up and becomes a drug counselor who, because of personal experience, helps dozens of others.

From a higher perspective, looking at events: travelers are taught to take a more longitudinal and holistic view of the effect of specific actions. In real life, often it is not a simple matter of an action being ‘right or wrong.’ Actions are complex and involve others, having both a collective and individual effect. Before making many decisions it is wise to consider their long term and multi-level effect.

As an example, how about the common situation where your beloved asks- do you think I have put on a few pounds? Does this dress/suit make me look heavy? Sometimes telling the truth can be unnecessarily hurtful, particularly if the individual has been struggling with their weight. In this situation, I’ll leave it to you to figure out what is right or wrong; in most things, we are free to pick and choose.

Further when viewing the effect of personal action, it is impossible to know all the variables involved; particularly over a long period of time and actions that affect countless others. However, for the spiritual traveler, it is possible to know some of this and begins by asking the question: will this action bring me closer or distance me from my higher destiny?

The answer to this question may be thought out as well as perceived. First, we rationally consider and list the effects using what we term our common sense. Next, we use our intuition, requesting if the action will bring us closer or distance us from our higher self. Perception is intuitive knowledge that emerges from our collective consciousness. By turning inward, the traveler unlocks this holistic awareness and uses this answer along with their rational thought to arrive at an action.

At an early age, it is important to learn about the difference between right and wrong. It is important to learn some things are good for us and some things are not. Yet, spiritual teaching must go deeper, illustrating and considering the aspect of longitudinal effect and destiny. While one piece of chocolate may be tasty and even nutritious, twenty is not, particularly, if we are diabetic or prone to dental problems.

Most spiritual training programs teach the traveler to pray, or turn inward in some fashion or another before taking an important action. Within each person, there is an inner voice or capacity to know if an action will bring us closer to our own higher self and the higher destiny of the universe. Most people have forgotten to develop and listen to their own inner voice and have relied upon others to teach them about right and wrong.

This original social, moral and religious teaching, about what is useful in life, was intended as a beginning; and the traveler, as they matured was to be instructed on how to make their own more complex, intuitive decisions. For many, this has been omitted from their training and they continue to rely upon limited and simplistic learning constructs.

Many of which have been tied to a hidden and sometimes not so hidden ‘fear and reward’ system. In a sense, for these travelers, their thoughts on certain subjects have become fixed, often engineered by others.

*
Humanity is conscious energy
Burning like sunlight.
By reflecting the Light into this world
Humanity neutralizes personal spiritual darkness.

Embrace your own inner beliefs
And then travel beyond them.
Embrace higher knowledge
And as the Source Wills
You will become a sun unto yourself:
Knowing right from wrong,
Dissipating your own lower needs and desires.

*
What some call religious training and tradition:
Often is based upon historical and no longer accurate,
Incomplete information; also, in some presentations
There is tendency to misapply traditional exercises to this culture.
Further, many sacred books include
Selective reportage by believers and historians;
With altered teachings to control desired behaviors
Which were insisted upon by the ruling entity or clergy.

Remember many cherished religious traditions and behaviors no longer serve any real or spiritual function. However, they do increase people’s feelings of comfort/tradition and need to be viewed within their emotional framework.
*

The Law

Traveler: Holy One, tell me of the Law

Master: The Law is Inscribed on the heart of each person. Beneath the layers of dust- from selfish living- that surround each heart, is the Golden Rule. The Law is also Written in the Books and is known to all. It is written: That which brings you closer to your higher self and the Beloved is the Measure.

Travelers know what is right; yet, allow themselves to be deceived by their desires. If a traveler would ask their Higher Self or The Light to help make their decision- each would correctly and reach higher.

If you will pray, the Light will cleanse your heart and The Law will be inscribed upon it- Lighting the Darkness. SB