Making Room for all Genders in Paganism

Making Room for all Genders in Paganism

Author: Maggi Setti

In this age of women’s liberation, we still find a deep wound surrounding gender differences in our culture. How is gender expressed differently in the pagan community? Is there still a use for gender specific ritual spaces? Many of these questions are ongoing with many answers, but it is high time that we see these issues with new eyes as we approach a second generation of Pagan feminists, both male, female, and spectrum of gender identification in between.

At a public class I taught a couple weeks ago on developing energetic and psychic skills, I was surprised that that there was an equal number of male and female attendants. For Wicca, this is a rarity, as you will find the vast majority of Wiccans are women. The easy explanation for this is that women are more hurt by the patriarchal approach of mainstream religions and need the feminine divine more acutely than men.

In a personal conversation, a male Wiccan offered the idea that there are more women than men interested and involved in spirituality and religion in general. He used the example that most church functions, other than the priesthood itself, are run by women and often women are dragging their husbands to church rather than the men being self-motivated in attending. I think that if this premise is true, that women as a group are more spiritually focused than men in mainstream religions as well as Pagan denominations. We can infer that this phenomenon comes from at least two influences as follows.

1. Men are discouraged from being in touch with their soft emotions. It’s hard to be in touch with the greater picture and how one fits in to that greater whole, and at the same time, this suppresses much of one’s internal reality as well.
2. Much of adherence to the Christian religion, as it is currently expressed, depends on guilt and fear. There is more room for men to assert themselves, their ideas, opinions and what they want on other people in their lives. While this may be lopsided, it also allows for a greater development on one’s power and ego especially for men as a group more so than women. Women are more likely to struggle with fear and guilt, and feeling powerless, are therefore more susceptible to the disempowerment and subversion of the religions tenants.

Both of my points above would support that it is not the nature of women or men that make women more spiritually focused, but another example of how our culture is unhealthy and imbalanced. Unfortunately how the pagan community during the past 40 years has approached this is by creating overblown false egos for women and small-scale fiefdoms that breed infighting, confusion, and mistrust. I saw this in Sunday school as a kid, in the choir in high school, and still see it.

Women’s empowerment and healing the gap between the genders is not about the segregation of the sexes anymore though. It’s about building healthy egos, empowerment, self-esteem and ending the war of the sexes. Women’s only spaces were intended to be safe havens in which women felt supported rather than competing with other women. These spaces were meant as healing spaces to use ritual as a forum to connect with the feminine divine within each woman there, as well as the feminine divine of the group, the culture, and the Great Goddess Herself. Therefore these spaces are not about reliving the pain and hurt of what has been wrong with the system, but to encourage alchemical change within individuals so that they can build new paradigms of how they approach and express gender, but power, sexuality, self-expression, and self-worth.

All of this is about self-love and acceptance. Not acceptance that makes excuses for maladaptive behavior that is permissive our faults, but rather an acceptance to be gentle with ourselves so that we can motivate change, growth, and healing. “I love my body as uniquely my own. I am not flawed. I am as I should be.” Affirmations such as these help to let go of the cultural myth of the perfect feminine, youthful woman that does not exist.

Please note that I am referencing cultural expectations. Our culture oversimplifies definitions of qualities into white and black categories. If you can’t label someone, force him or her to go into a category until you are comfortable that you have him or her pegged. Much of the path of the witch embraces the grays of twilight and dawn and the myriad of shades of gray within continuum of many things. Where we fall on the continuum for many things including how we express gender, sexuality, our relationships, our connection to the Gods, will be different for all of us.

As Pagans we embrace our differences and still are able to work together, to manifest a new humanity. We need to be very cognizant of embracing each individual’s true expression of himself or herself: whether it be the gender labels they use for themselves in this case, or other expressions of self.

We can’t just look at women though. Women are not the only ones that have suffered from the imbalance of this “war of the sexes.” At Fall Frolic in Milford PA, I’ll be teaching a women’s empowerment class and leading a women’s only ritual. I’ve suggested to the organizers of Fall Frolic that we also run a men’s ritual at the same time. In fact, these rituals can do real magick upon the higher planes to interact in a spiritually fertilizing and polarizing way in order to heal the gender schism of the group mind of humanity. In my opinion, this magickal healing is the next step for building bridges for healthy intragender relationships.

How do we interest men in a way that retains their sense of strength, self-worth, respect, and power? How do we incorporate men into a religion that includes sparkly purple fairy glitter and witch Barbie? (Not my personal taste, but still an active stereotype) . How do we rebuild the archetype of the warrior for both men and women, working, fighting for a cause, and protecting their tribe?

I hope that there are Pagan men interested and willing to forge the way for answering these questions. We need all genders working together and creating new ways of relating to one another so that we can create a balanced future for our religion, our children, and our culture.

History of Modern Druidism

History of Modern Druidism

Modern Druidism, that is, modern Pagan Druidism, owes a debt of gratitude to the monotheistic fraternal Druid orders that comprise their not-so-direct predecessors. Some of these organizations still exist: many continue today as fraternal orders (much as the Elks Lodge and similar organizations), others have developed into more Pagan groups, as has occurred with the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD). More groups seem to appear on a regular basis, some lasting only a brief time, others leaving a lasting mark on society.

Probably the oldest purely American Druid Organization is the RDNA (Reformed Druids of North America). Originally, this group seems to have been almost anything but Pagan. However, some offshoots are quite Pagan in nature. The Major offshoots of the RDNA are Ar n’Draiocht Fein and Keltria.

Ar n’Draiocht Fein (ADF) was founded by a former member of RDNA, and at one time boasted the largest “Neo-Pagan” Druidic membership in the United States. ADF strongly advocates the “Indo-European” theories behind their spiritual traditions. Many local congregations maintain a traditional Celtic focus, while others strive to promote Norse, or even Greek, Druid systems.

Partially as a result of this broad spectrum outlook, and partially for other reasons, the Henge of Keltria was formed by members dissatisfied with ADF’s brand of Druidry. Keltria follows a narrower focus, that of purely Celtic origins.

Other Druid Groups and organizations appear to have come forth out of other organizations and other traditions, as well as many which came forth from the love and inspiration of a few devoted members.

The Druid Clan of Dana originated within the Fellowship of Isis. These Druids cling closely to not only Celtic, but also Irish roots and structure.

The Divine Circle of the Sacred Grove (DCSG)is an organization which calls itself Druidic and Pagan, but displays a decidedly eclectic basis. It also claims to have lineage to British Traditional Orders that are decidedly non-pagan fraternal groups. Some of the early history of the organization has some questionable entries, but it is unclear if the organization currently follows such practices.

The American Druidic Church was formed by dissatisfied members of the DCSG, but is little heard of outside of their California community.

The Druidic Association of North America (DANA) is a fledgling organization of Druid groves, based in the New England area. The Grove of the Golden Leaves is the founding and most substantitive of these groups. DANA places a high emphasis on scholarship and study in the traditional disciplines. The Celtic Traditionalist Order of Druids is discussed in depth in another article. While members of CTOD have been, and continue to be, involved in other organizations, CTOD does not claim to be ‘descended’ from any of these groups.

 

Source:

Empathy’s Mystical Occult Site

 

A Little Humor for Your Day – The Lottery

The Lottery

A guy gets home, runs into his house, slams the door and says, “Honey, pack your bags. I won the lottery!”  The wife says, “Wow! That’s great! I’m so happy! Should I pack for the ocean, or should I pack for the mountains?”  


He says, “I don’t care. Just get the hell out!”

Enhanced by Zemanta

WOTC Special Mini-Series Part 1 – Wheel of the Day

THE WHEEL OF THE DAY

NE – It is just before sunrise. You begin to wake. For a moment you may wonder what day it is or even feel confused about where you are. Your mind is still in an open slate.

EAST – During sunrise or a bit after you are preparing for the day. In your mind you begin to plan. What will you get done this day and how will you do it?

SE – It is mid morning now. As you begin to carry out your plans you demonstrate ‘who you are’ in this day. You choose if you are going to display a positive or negative attitude.

SOUTH – It is noon and early afternoon. You are occupied in the activities of your day. Now is when you carry out your responsibilities to your family and your community.

SW – As your afternoon continues you realize that you cannot get everything done that you planned. You decide what you will do tomorrow. It is a time for finding balance in your day.

WEST – It is evening, The sun goes down. The active part of your day is done. You sit back and evaluate your day considering what went well and what you would do differently next time.

NW – As you retire for the night you gradually let go of thoughts about the day. Your mind becomes more receptive. You may drift between sleep and wakefulness for a while.

NORTH – It is deep in the night now. You sleep and dreams bring renewal that prepare you for the coming dawn when you will begin to travel another wheel of another day.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Hail & Merry Meet To All Of The WOTC On This Glorious Tuesday Morn’!

Blessed Be Comments
Prayer for Pagan Unity

Dear Eternal Father,
there is so much unrest and disunity
in the world. Help us to embrace
each other and life in peace and
harmony in the Pagan way.
 
Dear Eternal Mother,
we realize there are many different
traditions and paths of faith. Help
us to see past the differences and
unite as one family in total harmony
and love.

So Mote It Be.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Daily Motivator for February 10th – One little joy

One little joy

A life of happiness and fulfillment is built piece by piece, one little joy  at a time. The moment you’re in is the perfect opportunity to add a little joy  to life.

Even when there’s something big that’s getting you down, you can find  something small to lift you up. Just one little joy can change your outlook in a  big way.

There is a lot of goodness in life, and it’s always good to be reminded of  that. You deserve a little joy right now, so go ahead and give it to  yourself.

While you’re at it, give some joy to those around you. Even a simple, sincere  smile can make a difference, so make wherever you are a more joyful place.

Decide that you’ll find some little way to be joyful, and you can feel the  positive energy flowing in you. Everything you do will be enhanced and improved  when you do it from a perspective of joy.

Add a little joy to life, right now and every chance you get. Those little  joys will quickly add up to a life that’s truly magnificent.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Daily Motivator for February 8th – Start the doing

Start the doing

Don’t be too smart for your own good. Don’t be too critical of your own  work.

Prepare for what you intend to do, and plan how you will do it, but not to  the point of obsession. Sooner rather than later, finish the planning and start  the doing.

Even though you won’t get it perfect, focus all your energy on getting it  done. Even though you may have your doubts, push on through them and keep  going.

Achievement is never clean or linear. Great achievement is messy and  inconvenient, daunting and often quite unpredictable, and it is worth all  that.

You have great achievement within you, today, in this place, using what you  have and what you know. What a shame it would be to never let that unique  achievement see the light of day.

So get busy right now and begin to let it see the light of day, on this day.  You have so much to give to life, and such exquisite fulfillment to savor from  doing so.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Enhanced by Zemanta

February 4 – Daily Feast

February 4 – Daily Feast

To stand alone does not mean there is no one else around. It means we are u na tse li dv-u na to tiv hi…. We think for ourselves in an independent way, using our heads rather than our feet. We fit life to us instead of letting it press us into a mold that would not makes us happy. Letting the world dictate to us is being one of the herd that runs – not because it is the right thing to do, but because we think everyone else is doing it, and so must we. Is it the right direction? Refusing to be swept along with every trend is cultivating our inner awareness of right and wrong. Awareness is there within us, but we have to hear it and heed it. This is why we were given intelligence – to stand alone so that we may have something to offer when someone else needs us.

~ Too many misinterpretations have been made….too many misunderstandings…. ~

CHIEF JOSEPH

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

Enhanced by Zemanta

Daily Motivator for February 4th – No need for frustration

No need for frustration

Frustration is a painful, debilitating feeling that can often cause you to do  things you’ll regret. So choose to quickly let it go.

Frustration, as automatic and overpowering as it may seem, is a choice. And  you can always make a different choice.

The habit of reacting in frustration is just that, a habit. Like any other  habit you’ve developed, you can get rid of it when you choose.

Yes, life regularly presents you with difficult dilemmas for which  frustration is a perfectly understandable reaction. Other than grabbing your  attention, however, your frustration never does accomplish much.

So once you’re aware of the frustrating situation, make the choice to find a  more useful, effective response. Step back from the desire for instant drama,  and work on creating some long-term positive results.

Channel the high-powered energy of frustration into intentional, focused,  positive action. Give yourself the option to act effectively and appropriately,  and you’ll find you have no need for frustration.

— Ralph Marston

Daily Motivator

Enhanced by Zemanta

Daily Motivator for Jan. 29th – Do this day right

Do this day right

Do this day right by getting it off to a good start. Do this day right by  giving it a meaningful, positive purpose.

You have precisely one opportunity to discover and to live the unique value  of this day. Get started on it right now.

Get started strong, and keep going with enthusiasm and love for the  possibilities. Decide that you will do something truly great with this day, and  then enjoy doing it.

Remember that every moment is a choice, and all those choices add together to  determine the quality of your day. Choose wisely, choose intentionally, and  choose to add great richness and meaning to your world today.

The immense value of this day is yours right now. Make good and purposeful  use of it so that tomorrow you’ll have no regrets.

Do this day right by living it with love, joy and authenticity. Do this day  right by bringing its outstanding possibilities fully to life.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Enhanced by Zemanta

Witchcraft, Ethics and the Role of Animals in Society

Witchcraft, Ethics and the Role of Animals in Society

Author:   Skye of the Hallowed Grove 

Witchcraft is more than a religion; it is a magickal way of life that encourages living with compassion and tolerance toward all of Earth’s creatures and working to heal and protect the environment as well as ourselves. We acknowledge that we are part of the great web of life, and this interconnection extends to all beings.

Our daily lives are intertwined with not only other human beings, but with the animal kingdom and the Land as well. Without this relationship to animals and the Land, our civilization would not exist as we know it. As Witches, it is our moral obligation as protectors of our planet to speak out against injustices towards other living things and our environment.

The Role of Animals In Society

In the pre-history of civilization, our ancestors were nomadic hunters and gatherers. As agriculture and the domestication of animals developed, small clans were able to merge into larger communities. Domesticated animals played an essential role in these communities, providing labor in the fields, meat and milk for the table, and skins for protection against the elements. The herds were protected and cherished, because man’s survival was dependant upon them. In the warmer months, crops were plentiful but in the harsh Winter months, the fields were fallow and communities relied heavily on meat and animal products to sustain them until the next growing season. The history of Imbolc is a classic example of the reliance on ewe’s milk for survival during Winter.

When animals were slaughtered for food it was done with great respect for the life taken. Many cultures would offer prayers of gratitude to the spirit of the animal. Ritual animal sacrifice was not uncommon during this period. These sacrifices were not senseless acts of violence but reverent ceremonies where the most prized and valued animals were offered to deity in exchange for something considered as having higher value – namely, favors and blessings for the community’s prosperity and well-being. These animals were extremely well cared for, as only “perfect specimens” could be sacrificed.

The method of sacrifice required a quick and humane slaughter (which was most likely far less traumatic than methods used in commercial slaughter today) . If the animal cried out, flinched or otherwise showed fear (“unwillingness”) , the sacrifice was considered null and void.

We won’t argue that throughout the history of mankind, some ancient civilizations were notorious for animal mistreatment, much of which was purely for sport. However, rural communities for the most part, were much more concerned with the welfare of their livestock.

Centuries passed and communities grew larger as human populations increased. Beginning in the eighteenth century, agriculture made improvements in farming techniques, which allowed for improved yields, which in turn supported the urbanization of the population during the Industrial Revolution. People migrated from the countryside and moved into large cities, distancing themselves from the Land that sustained them.

In the late nineteenth century, there was a movement towards mass production in industry, causing another surge in urban settlement. This again meant more people to feed, with fewer farmers to supply the food. As a result, the agricultural industry had to begin adopting the same mass production techniques that lead to the demand for more food. At this point in history, meat and animal products were not only considered a necessity for health and survival, but also an economic commodity.

Factory Farms and Animals

To meet ever-increasing demands for animal products, factory farms began to emerge. The first animals to be factory farmed were chickens. The discovery of vitamins and their role in animal nutrition, in the first two decades of the twentieth century, led to vitamin supplements, which in 1920s America allowed chickens to be raised indoors. In 1960’s America, pigs and cows began to be raised on factory farms. This innovation then spread to Western Europe.

The concept of the family farm, where animals had pasture to graze and room to exercise their natural behaviors, gave way to large-scale commercial operations whose sole purpose was mass production of meat and animal products. The well-being of the animals was no longer a priority. Family farms simply could not compete economically with these factories.

Today, there are now nearly five million fewer farms in the U.S. than there were in the 1930’s. Of the two million remaining farms, only 565, 000 are family operations. (1.)

Yes, the government now imposes rules and guidelines for factory farms to follow, but the sheer volume and speed at which animals are processed makes these rules difficult to enforce, and the result is extreme suffering for the animals. The factory workers themselves often become desensitized to the violence and suffering they witness and inflict on a day-to-day basis.

We find it rather ironic that society today shudders at the thought of ritual animal sacrifice in ancient cultures, when the widespread exploitation and inhumane treatment of animals in modern society is met with such indifference.

Disregard for factory farm animals persists because few realize the ways in which these animals are mistreated, and even fewer actually witness the abuse. Once aware, most Witches are appalled, not only because they support animal rights, but because they also know that animals feel pain and that morally decent human beings should try to prevent pain whenever possible.

Most of us are also completely unaware that the dairy and egg industry also contribute to an enormous amount of exploitation and suffering. Everyone should have an understanding of where their food comes from and how it was handled from farm to table. Earthlings and Food Inc. are two excellent documentaries that chronicle man’s relationship to animals and the animal farming industry.

Factory Farms and the Environment

The livestock from factory farms are major contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, which are thought to be responsible for global warming. They are also major contributors of ammonia emissions, which contribute significantly to acid rain and acidification of ecosystems. The term “livestock” refers to all farmed animals, including pigs, birds raised for meat, egg-laying hens, and dairy cows.

Livestock are also key players in increased water use, accounting for over 8% of global water use, mostly for the irrigation of feed crops. Factory farms are probably the largest source of water pollution, contributing to “dead” zones in coastal areas, destruction of coral reefs, human health problems and the emergence of antibiotic resistance. The major sources of pollution are from animal wastes, antibiotics and hormones, chemicals from tanneries, fertilizers and pesticides used for feed crops, and sediments from eroded pastures. (2.)

Thankfully, with the renewed interest in organic farming and agricultural sustainability, family farms are beginning to make a comeback. I’m sure most Witches would agree that this is at least a step in the right direction for ensuring better conditions for farm animals and the Earth as well.

Every Life Counts

Regarding other sentient beings as objects or property for the sole purpose of serving mankind is ethically questionable. So is attaching a value to the life of other species based on their differences from humans. This is known as speciesism, which is a form of prejudice and discrimination against non-humans. A double standard also exists in society regarding the preferential treatment of pets and the inconsequential treatment of farm and laboratory animals. If anything, we owe farm and laboratory animals a great deal of gratitude for their service to humanity.

The mainstream religious view is that animals were put on this Earth to serve mankind. This view may also be shared by some Pagan belief systems. A common theme in defending speciesism is the argument that humans “have the right to compete with and exploit other species to preserve and protect the human species”. Witches should examine these statements before accepting them outright.

Witchcraft, as a religion, does not take an ethical stance on whether slaughter and the consumption or use of animal products is morally right or wrong. Witchcraft does however, object to the exploitation, disrespect and inhumane treatment of the Earth and Her creatures. We realize that Witches may have differing views regarding the role animals play in our lives, but animal mistreatment is unacceptable no matter what view you support. Of course, it is up to the individual Witch to ultimately decide for themselves what is morally right and what is wrong.

Witches have always believed in our interconnection with all of creation (both physical and spiritual) , and with new insights into quantum mechanics, science is now suggesting that this interaction of energy and matter occurs at the sub-atomic level and perhaps even beyond into levels of pure consciousness. In light of this new paradigm, do we really want to be consuming fear, pain and unimaginable suffering, or even supporting it on any level? If we know what is going on, and we continue to do so, aren’t we just as morally accountable as the individuals who are inflicting such suffering? Animal exploitation and cruelty doesn’t just apply to the food industry, it extends to the clothing, pet and entertainment industries as well.

Do your karma a favor and do not support these industries, and educate others about these issues as well. Reducing (or ultimately eliminating) our consumption or use of animal products, and/or purchasing organic and local food when possible, is a realistic and attainable goal for anyone who is willing to commit to it. We may not be able to stop the abuse completely, but together we can all make a difference in reducing the suffering of animals and the destruction of our planet.

Veganism, The Compassionate Choice

Fortunately, with all the technological advancements in agriculture, a better understanding of nutrition and supplementation, and a wider variety of organic and plant-based food options available, consumption of animal products is no longer a necessity for health or survival. Individuals can now make an alternative choice as to how they wish to nourish themselves.

Strict vegetarianism, or veganism, as it is more commonly known, is a lifestyle option for modern Witches who are concerned with animal rights and animal welfare; the ethics of factory farming; the environmental and social benefits of organic farming and agricultural sustainability; and holistic wellness. Veganism promotes the health and well-being of both the individual and the planet.

For Witches who embrace a vegan lifestyle for ethical reasons, this could be considered as taking the “harm none” concept of the Rede to the next level. In this context, the Rede might be literally understood as meaning: do not cause intentional harm to anyone or anything and, to the best of your ability, avoid participation in the intentional harm of anyone or anything. “Harm none” basically refers to the intent, and under these circumstances the intent would be the reduction of suffering and the preservation of life.

There’s no doubt that veganism can be a challenge initially. It involves a complete lifestyle change and this change can be overwhelming for some. But it is not an impossible or difficult lifestyle and with time it becomes second nature. It does, however, require education, commitment and practice.

Witches work very hard at taking ultimate responsibility and control over their own lives and this can be an excellent exercise in self-empowerment, as well as a magickal and very rewarding experience. This is the essence of magick – causing change in conformity with Will.

________________________________

Footnotes:
1. sustainabletable.org
2. veganoutreach.org

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Daily Motivator for Jan. 27th – Making the effort

Making the effort

When you don’t feel like making the effort, the thing that will help you more  than anything else is to go ahead and make that effort. Even when you are too  tired or too bored, too distracted or too dismayed, the way out is to get busy  and put forth effort.

Wishing for things to be better won’t make things better. What will make  things better is taking positive, focused action.

Making excuses won’t make things right. The way forward is to make a real  difference by making a real effort.

Just because it’s difficult, uncomfortable and inconvenient, doesn’t mean  it’s impossible. You have what it takes to take effective action, and that is a  powerfully positive thing to do.

Instead of wasting your priceless time with procrastination, make good use of  the time that’s now yours. Spend that time making a meaningful difference.

What you get out of life depends on what you get out of yourself. Make the  effort, again and again, and give much more beautiful and meaningful life to all  of life.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wiccan Atheists and Agnostics

Wiccan Atheists and Agnostics


BellaOnline’s Wicca Editor

Can Wiccans also be atheists or agnostics? This may seem a strange question because the worship of the Lord and Lady is so central to many Wiccans’ daily spiritual practice. But the short answer is yes. It is possible to concentrate on the cultural aspects of Wicca rather than its religious concepts.

According to the Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, the definition of atheism is, “1. archaic: Ungodliness, Wickedness 2a: a disbelief in the existence of deity, b: the doctrine that there is no deity.” And, from the same source, here is the definition of agnostic: “1: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and prob. unknowable; broadly: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god.”

Atheists do not believe in deities. Agnostics believe that there is no way to prove or disprove the existence of deities. But that does not necessarily mean that atheists and agnostics limit their curiosity only to those phenomena currently verifiable by science. Sometimes it takes the scientific method awhile to explain things that previously seemed like magic such as the laws of gravity, solar eclipses, electricity, hypnosis, and acupuncture. An atheist might not believe in the existence of gods, but she might acknowledge flows of electromagnetic energy that make up the universe. She might keep an open mind about an individual’s ability to influence energy by honing intent through ceremony, which is another way to describe witchcraft.

Atheists or agnostics might believe in witchcraft but not in gods. Maybe they feel strongly that the universe invented itself to its own pattern – which includes the ability of individuals to influence the flows of energy through witchcraft – but the universe itself is not a sentient being that requires worship. Or maybe they believe that everything in the universe is randomly generated, including witchcraft. There are also Deists (not atheists or agnostics) who believe that a deity or deities existed long enough to create the universe and its energy flows, but then ceased to exist and left us all to our own devices.

A Wiccan atheist or agnostic might recognize no higher power than his own moral code. And he might see his moral code and experience as sufficient to guide him through the practice of any skill from accounting to knitting to witchcraft. This type of Wiccan is the opposite of the Wiccan I described in a previous article who is not interested in practicing witchcraft, but seeks only to worship deity.

Another type of Wiccan atheist or agnostic disbelieves in deity AND witchcraft, but finds a strong identity in Wiccan cultural concepts. This might include reverence for nature, a heightened awareness of environmental issues, attraction to Celtic and Anglo-Saxon history, and an affinity for seeking balance and symmetry between the male and female energies present within each of us.

This type of Wiccan is similar to a secular Jew such as J. Robert Oppenheimer, father of the atomic bomb, who was an atheist and a scientist, but culturally Jewish. A secular Wiccan might not be interested in practicing witchcraft, and might observe the festivals of the Wheel of the Year mainly as a way to enjoy and connect with the ancient harvest rituals and not as a religious observance. So, as you can see, there is much diversity in what it means to be a Wiccan, which means that our cultural and religious identity has the potential for broad horizons if we can accept our differences.

BellaOnline

Enhanced by Zemanta

Power Animals

Power Animals

A power animal, is a broadly animistic and shamanic concept that has entered the English language from Anthropology, Ethnography and Sociology. A tutelary spirit guides, helps or protects individuals, lineages and nations. In the shamanic worldview, everything is alive, bearing an inherent virtue, power and wisdom. Power animals represent a person’s connection to all life, their qualities of character, and their power.

Power animals are endemic to shamanic practice in both Eurasia and the Americas. They are the helping or ministering spirit or familiar which empowers individuals and is essential for success in any venture undertaken.

In the shamanic worldview, everyone has power animals or tutelary spirits which empower and protect them from harm, like guardian spirits or angels in the Abrahamic Traditions. The power animal may also lend its ward or charge the wisdom or attributes of its kind. For example, a hawk power animal provides hawk attributes, such as hawk-eye.

Power animals most often come to us in dreams, meditations, initiations, and visions.  You can have more than one power animal.  Your power animal at a given time can change depending on your life-path at that time.  Power animals are often attracted by one’s emotional needs of the person – viewed as protectors who help overcome fears and empower us.

The concept of a Power Animal is universal to all cultures. Tribal cultures  will recognize a Totem for the tribe, one for the clan one belongs to,  and one for the family that one is born into. In the United States, and  in other countries, the Tribal and Clan Totem still exists, although it  is thought of in a slightly different manner.

There are also totems for our adopted cultures, such as clubs or societies which we may belong  to, such as the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, the Loyal Order  of Moose, and the Lions Club.

Even Christianity, the prevalent religion  of this country, has maintained two Totem animals, these being the Fish  and the Lamb. Specialized Totems are also seen in organized sports, their  names being reflected in the team names. Example: Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Falcons

The next type of Power Animal or Totem is that which is personal for  the individual. These Totems are protective spirits which help us in our  everyday life. Everyone has such a Totem. Even today most parents give  a special protective Power Animal to their children and tell the child  that it will be protected over night by that Power Animal. They don’t realize that is what they are doing when they give a teddy bear to their little one.

We often unconsciously recognize the Power Animal affecting someone, and use terms which give away our unconscious recognition.

In the shamanic belief every thing is alive and carries with it power and wisdom.  Power animals are an essential component of shamanic practice.  They are the helping spirit which add to the power of the shaman and are essential for success in any venture undertaken by the shaman.

Shamans believe that everyone has power animals – animal spirits which reside with each individual adding to their power and protecting them from illness, acting similarly to a guardian angel.  Each power animal that you have increases your power so that illnesses or negative energy cannot enter your body.  The spirit also lends you the wisdom of its kind.  A hawk spirit will give you hawk wisdom, and lend you some of the attributes of hawk.

Everyone is thought to have a few of these guardian power animals or it is thought that the individual could not survive childhood.  Over the course of her or his life the person may have several.  If a power animal leaves and one does not come to take its place the individual is considered, by the shaman, to be disempowered and therefore vulnerable to illness and bad luck.

Power animals do not have to be mammals and can be reptiles, insects or sea creatures.  Any living creature can serve as a power animal.  (Plants and trees can serve as plant spirit guides.) Domesticated animals are generally not considered power animals because they already in service to human beings.  It is possible to have a domesticated animal, but it is more likely to have a wild untamed animal serve in the capacity of a power animal.

The gifts that a particular animal is thought to give an individual varies depending on the culture.  Although there are certain consistencies for certain animals.  A particular power animal can come to help you with an issue that is very specific for you.  It is important not to lock each animal into a category, and be open to the gifts it may be coming to share with you.

It is important to honor your power animal.  In many western cultures we are not taught to value animals or the gifts that they add to our life and the world around us.  In shamanic work the power animal is essential, for a shaman who has no power – is not going to have very good results.

On a personal level by honoring your power animal you let it know that its assistance is appreciated.  The spirit of the animal is giving up its mobility in order to spend its time with you and assist you with your life.  Also, by honoring the power animal we make a deeper connection with it.  Honoring it can be as simple a saying a thank you inside yourself, or getting an object which represents it and putting it where you can see it as you go about your day.

Shamanic practice honors and acknowledges the life and wisdom that exists in all things.  Everything is believed to have something to teach you and animals are thought to have a wealth of wisdom and protection to offer you.

If you would like to find out who your power animal is, consulting a shamanic practitioner is an option.  But to discover this on you own, you can ask for a dream and see if anything comes up. You can ask the power animal to show itself to you and if you start seeing one or another animal frequently that would be its way of revealing itself to you.

Power Animals are usually a reflection of your deepest self and also represent qualities which you need in this world, but which are often hidden or obscured. A mistake that people often make is to be dissatisfied when they find that their Power Animal is some non-ferocious animal like  a mouse. We tend to think that a mouse is not very powerful – that it  is meek and afraid. What they forget is that spirits are not limited to  physical reality and that size is irrelevant. Your Power Animal may be  a tiny mouse, but in times of need this mouse can and will change its size  and deportment to that which is appropriate to the occasion.

Source:
Crystalinks

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Daily Motivator for Jan. 9th – Stop waiting

Stop waiting

Don’t wait to be inspired. Get busy, and find your inspiration in making  something good and useful happen.

Don’t wait for the moment to be right. Go ahead and make the moment right by  what you do with it.

If you wish for fortune to shine upon you, give it a good reason to do so.  The reliable way to be lucky is to make your own luck with your own efforts.

The way to get what you want is not to beg for it or hope for it or demand  it. The way to get what you want is to do what you must to make it happen.

You know that, so go ahead and put your knowledge to good use. Feel the  irreplaceable satisfaction that comes from being master of your own fate.

Stop waiting for life to be the way you want. Start doing all you can to make  it great.

— Ralph Marston

The Daily Motivator

Enhanced by Zemanta