Pagans: Loved, Yet Misunderstood

Pagans: Loved, Yet Misunderstood

Author: Davina Sullivan

“We are loved, yet misunderstood.”

Within the last few months, I have recently explained to my friends and family that I am a Pagan, and more than proud to say so. I have been asked so many questions sense then, it’s unbelievable. However, I’m glad that they asked because I’ve realized that many people in general has such a high misunderstanding, that we Pagan’s are judged unfairly. I have the opportunity to be able to help others understand and not judge us based on the word of others.

I was raised in a Baptist family, therefore, a great many of my relatives were upset, confused, hurt, or a combination of all three. My mother particularly, believed that being a Pagan was the devil’s way of tricking us into worshipping him, specifically because of the pentagram. I calmly explained to her that yes, the five-point star originated from the Pagan religion. After, that same star also became the Star of Bethlehem, which represents Jesus’ birth and carnation in the Christian religion. The bible explains this in the book of Matthews in chapter two. Lastly, Satanists took the five-point star and turned it upside down to claim as their own.

The image of the devil was the most difficult questions to answer. Even though I had explained that the image of Satan also originated from a Greek God, the Horned God named Pan. He has horns as well as hooves and carries a flute. That is where Satan’s image originated. Many didn’t want to hear my explanations or did not believe it to be so. Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. I only talk of the questions that people ask.

Another explanation that was quite interesting to give was the use of magic. I was asked questions such as, “How do you do magic?” “Why do you think magic is real?” “Don’t you think that God is the only one that can bring magic?” There was one question that I found very surprising, which was, “Will you teach me to do magic?”

When I was asked how to do magic, I simply explained that magic is just channeling what is already there. You are working as one with the elements of the earth to bring the God’s and Goddesses into your heart and soul to walk together into the Divine. This also brought questions about. However, I truly believe that no one can answer what the Divine is but you, and only when you feel it.

Those that has asked me why I believe magic to be real, this was the easiest explanation of all. Every time I answer this question, I smile and reply, “Because I’ve felt it. I’ve been there. I’ve become one with magic and have become one with The Divine.” Some are confused at this point, but the answer to this specific question is something only you can answer for yourself.

Many were respectful, many horrified at my response to God being the only one that can bring magic into my life. I respect those that live by the bible and God’s word. Though, I truly feel the connection with the Pagan God’s and Goddesses. My personal Goddess, Isis, has brought a light and a great sense of fulfillment into my life. I call upon her often and the magic that I have done and experienced is unexplainable. For someone who does not believe magic to be true, it will sound like nonsense to them. Until they experience magic for themselves and can answer that same question for me, there is nothing that I could say to them about working with Earth Mother to do magic.

There was one person and one person only who asked me to teach her magic. She is a very good friend of mine. I explained a few basics of my religion, and explained to her that being a witch and learning of magic by doing your own personal studies and research is the first step. Being a witch is something to be taken very seriously and to understand every aspect of everything or any spell before attempting to actually performing one. I also explained that I have seen those dabble in black magic, and that is something that will bring you sorrow and pain in the long run. ‘An ye’ harm none, do as ye’ will.’ I most defiantly expressed how important it is to keep the Three Fold Law in mind.

The purpose for me writing this paper is to express to anyone that is willing to listen that you should always be proud of who and what you are. It has taken me 24 years to find my path because it is sometimes difficult to step away from what you are so accustomed to and be able to search for your true self.

Religion, regardless of what it may be is a big part of every one person’s life. To lie and hide from your self is the most painful lie that anyone could tell. To be a witch is hard, it is difficult, it can be stressful and it can seem almost impossible to be accepted by society at times. In today’s world, yes, we need to be in society in some way, shape or form. Just remember, we are no better, nor are we any worse than any other person that may walk this glorious earth. Paganism is rejected by many, but accepted and loved by so many more. We have support and family to help us through these times.

Today, we have the wonderful world of technology! Take advantage of it. Witchvox.com is only the start. Wiccantogether.com is a lot like a myspace.com page for Wiccans. There’s plenty of ways on the Internet, not to mention the people around you that you have no idea are even there to help you.

I cannot express enough how strongly I believe that there are many that are afraid to be their true selves because of societies opinions of our religion. Be strong, stand tall, and be proud of who you are. Please, help, love and support those who need us.

In conclusion, we are loved, yet misunderstood. This is not our fault; this is our pride. I’m more than willing to help those who are misunderstood to understand. No matter the outcome may be, I am who I am. I’m being true to myself, and that is what is most important in my opinion.

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What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today’s World?

What Does It Mean To Be A Pagan In Today’s World?

Author:   Brid’s Closet   
 
What does it mean to be a Pagan in today’s world?

I was sitting by my desk, thinking about topics for classes at my store. Many topics come to mind, but nothing seemed to “jump” out at me. I brought up this subject to a good friend of mine (who is not pagan), and she brought up this topic.

What does it mean to be Pagan? A “card carrying” PAGAN?

Many people are still very quiet about their choices in life, even to how they practice their religion or their form of spirituality. Many friends of mine are still in the “closet” about being a Pagan or being Wiccan. That is their choice, but not mine. I have the wonderful opportunity to be open about whatever it is that I do because I own my own business.

My sons also have choice as far as to what they believe. My oldest was degreed by me, because that was his choice, and I am proud of him because of that. My middle son considers himself to be agnostic (like his dad), but still is always looking. My youngest is still not sure as of yet. He takes in a lot, asks a lot of questions and is processing what he receives. They are fine young men, all of whom I am fiercely protective and proud of.

Some keywords that come into my mind are “love, strength, happiness, comfort, inner confidence empowerment, and honor”. Being a Pagan has helped to see that I have the ability to make a change in my own life, whether it is on a magical level or a mundane one.

A lot of people come into my store asking very similar questions, but what I do most of the time is to explain what I am not:

I am not a Satanist (the term “Satan” doesn’t exist in the pagan world.)
I don’t work or believe in the devil.

I don’t walk around in black clothes all the time (though it is fun sometimes!)

I don’t sacrifice animals…or use them in any rituals (my dog does like to run in and out of circle sometimes!)

I don’t bash other Pagan traditions.

I am not evil, nor is my spirituality evil.

I don’t run round naked, except in the privacy of my own room (maybe!)

I don’t have sex with others in ritual.

I don’t insult or blast other religions. People have done that for far too long in history to Pagans. I won’t do that to others!

Nope…don’t do the orgy thingy either!

What I do….hmmm…

I do honor Mother Earth. I see the earth as a living and breathing organism.

I do believe that all animals have a soul, and should be treated and loved as we expect to be loved ourselves.

I do try to live as “chemical free” as possible. This means that no chemicals or bug killers are applied to my lawn. 2 of my animals eat the grass on my lawn if the weather permits. No bleached flour, raw sugar, recycled paper. A friend of mine raises organically raised chickens, so I have organic eggs!

I keep as many trees as possible on the land that I am blessed to live on. Trees block the sun and keep your home cooler!

I do honor other people’s religions and their chosen paths.

I go love the Goddess and the God, as I would honor my own parents.
I try to use cosmetic products that are cruelty free.

I do try to grow my own herbs and vegetables when possible.

I recycle my paper, bottles, plastic and cans.

I do a full moon ritual once a month and celebrate the 8 holidays in the wheel of the year.

I guess I could just go on and on!

Once, a person came in and asked me why I was insulting myself by using the words “HEATHEN”, “PAGAN”, and “WITCH” to describe myself! In his teachings, he was taught that these words were an insult. He was shocked that I was proud of these terms!

The word “PAGAN” actually means “country dweller” or “civilian” or “peasant”.
1: Definition: Refers to any of the pre-Christian, (usually) polytheistic religions, or those who practice them. Wicca is one Pagan religion, as is Asatru, Santeria, Voodoo, or Shamanism.

The term “HEATHEN” is old English for Germanic paganism.
2: Definition: Among non-Pagans, the term ‘heathen’ just means anyone who is non-Christian. But Pagans use the term to refer specifically to those who follow a Norse or Germanic path.

A WITCH was known as a “wise” person, an herbalist, a midwife or a medicine person. (I’m an Alexandrian Witch!)
3: Definition: A witch is someone who practices witchcraft (either male or female), regardless of their religious standing. Not necessarily the same thing as a Wiccan (someone who follows the religion of Wicca)

These are words that I have come to embrace and be proud of. These words open up conversation and dialog, so that others will learn, understand and appreciate. Sometimes people appreciate the information that is given, other times, they don’t.

As a Pagan, I’ve raised 3 fantastic sons, have a “metaphysical” store that I share with my best friend, counsel people, rehabilitate birds, rescued a dog, a chinchilla and a bunny (who think they own my home!), teach classes, train special needs people (personal training) and in love with the most remarkable man.

What does it mean to be a “PAGAN”?

It means being a mom, a lover, a caregiver, councilor, herbalist, a cook, storeowner, and a woman dealing with today’s modern world who practices a very old way of worship.

Bernadette Montana is a very eclectic 3rd degree Alexandrian Priestess, a pipe carrier in the Sun Bear Native American Tribe, professional Tarot reader, a mom to 3 sons, one dog, 2 parrots, a bunny and a chinchilla and owns a metaphysical store named Brid’s Closet in Orange County, New York. Bernadette@bridscloset.com

Thanks to Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of Pagan, Heathen, and Witch on the About website!

___________________________________

Footnotes:
Terri Paajanen who posted the definitions of PAGAN, HEATHEN, and WITCH on the About website!

 

The Pagan Man

The Pagan Man

Author:   Panisch Lockelear   

When you see images of the green man, Hermes, and the horned gods of many pagan religious paths, it is easy to deduce that the male role is important within out pagan society. When I was younger, I went from elder to elder seeking to understand my role as a male in the ways of the various pagan paths. Although my findings were varied, a single idea prevailed. One of a strong man, full of wisdom. A protector of the innocent and a hunter and provider.

This was somewhat different from the images I was exposed to as a younger pagan male. The men that made up most of the pagan community seemed to be a little more and a little less, when measured to this general sense or idea of a pagan man.

On first impressions of the male pagan, I saw a man full of strong drink, drumming from dusk until dawn, a savage sexual appetite, and servant to the woman of their choosing. On the other hand I could also see a man that cared about his own and all children. I found a wealth of teachings about the land we call mother, and the ways and order of the circle of life we all share.

I must say that many ways and experiences from the pagan men who influenced me greatly, were in my mind conflicting. How could a strong man be a hunter, provider and protector of his clan or those who he was sided and also be sub servant, nurturing and bow to what seemed like a lesser position within our religion?

The men, who I learned from, were all of these things and more. Why then would they seem to take a lesser position within our pagan community?

In talking to a man who had the greatest impact on me as a pagan young man, I learned a lot from my mentor and elder Pond hopper I think he had the greatest impact on me, because he seemed to always have time to answer my often strange questions. He took the time to explain this to me and what I noticed was these were teachings he himself actually lived by.

I remember getting into the subject of pagan male role models and I asked him who his were. His answer surprised me. He said ‘ the Grey Squirrel’.

His words hit home for me. ‘You see, the Grey Squirrel helps his mate to make a house in the trees for the family, he helps her in gathering nuts and food for the long winter’. ‘ When a wayward bird comes along to attack him and his young, he becomes a fierce fighter, yet to see the male Grey Squirrel with his young, he is tender and playful.’

I thought on this and quickly replied to Pond hopper asking him, ‘ well what about sharks or fish, who eat their young or leave their young to fend for themselves, never becoming a part of their life?’

I realize his reply to me now was to make me think for myself. He said to me, ‘ Have you ever heard on the television or read in a paper where a man hurt one of his kids or left his family alone?’

Then he asked me…’ Why do you think that is?’

Of course I had no idea at that age as to why. Later on he explained by simply asking, it is funny how we mirror nature and nature seems to mirror us? The fact is we are not being mirrored at all, because we are apart of this circle of life.

We must play our role in this circle. The only difference between the animals and us is the fact that we can choose. We can choose to either be like the Grey Squirrel or like the shark. I pondered this for many years and found a lot of honor in his teachings.

I slowly began to understand that a good pagan man could be fierce and strong when need be. He can be a hunter and he can be a teacher as well.

A mature pagan man also understands that he is apart of a larger circle as well and must learn to adapt, live and work within both the clan family and the natural circles he finds himself in. I learned that there is a natural order and there is a wisdom needed to be able to navigate this order. This is something the pagan male will strive to become comfortable with by making mistakes and testing his bounds.

Falling down, becomes our teacher and the prize is wisdom. I have fallen down a lot in my life and on my pagan path. For that, I thank the gods and pond hopper for the effort and the gift of time they took to raise me to be a pagan man.

I still strive to understand the mother Earth and her circle that I must be a part of. I learned that I would fall down and in doing so I will learn. I know now that the role of the pagan male is something different to all of us depending on the teachers we have had. The way we have gained our wisdom to navigate the circles we are in are important. They are as important and those elders who take the time to teach us.

I am reminded that in my life as a pagan male, I am a role model for those younger men who watch me. They look to me for the knowledge needed to find their place within the circle as hunters, providers, protectors, servants, and men of real wisdom. I know that I owe a debt to the circle of life.

I know now that Pond Hopper was a man that understood the need to lead by example. I also know that while I may fall down, this is not the end of me. To be strong enough to do that means that I am not relegated to a lesser role within the pagan religion. My role is very well defined and the gods and my mentors are my guides.

Getting Started

Getting Started

Author:   Lacran 

A lot of us have been here somewhere: the first time we picked up a book on it, the first time we had a Pagan/Wiccan friend tell us it wasn’t all about casting curses or eating babies, our first Google search on the subject. Maybe some of us even started out on the Witches’ Voice. Some of us maybe even found our way here after a lot of searching and an eventual suggestion from a friend or a family member out there somewhere. Some of the lucky ones were raised pagan and came here solely to post their own knowledge. Many of us are always still searching for more information as and when it comes up and always love having the opportunity to learn as much as we can. Some get really comfortable in one tradition and others, like myself, like to remain eclectic with their practice.

It’s due to this fluidity that a lot of my friends have become interested in my practice. One of my friends and I now has a partnership and she really wants it to turn into a coven. As of this writing (December 2010) , my friend has only been in her practice for a few months. As she lives a few hundred miles away in another city, we share our book of shadows through my Google docs (thanks to my much loved Gmail account) . It’s something that she really enjoys since it gives her an opportunity to learn about something that she wouldn’t have easy access to in any other way. More so, when she lives too far from a library to check out any of the books I suggest.

We’ve known each other for about three years; I’ve been a practicing Pagan since before I met her. Before that I was a practicing Christian and, for the most part, was miserable to the core. I learned through tedious numbers of Google searches and books checked out from the library on the subject. It took me a long time to read these books (and sometimes money in fines just so I could keep them longer due to a hold on the same title) and to find out whatever I could. I looked into everything that held my interest and anything that I could possibly get my hands on.

Having someone new under my belt like this, I could steer her mostly clear of the things I discovered were fake and turn her to places that I knew were more secure, places that I was sure would give her accurate information. Some of the books I’ve mentioned I was reading about it when I met her even made the point that Pagans and Wiccans didn’t eat babies within the first few pages of the book. Some of them even go after a lot of the other common myths that a lot of Americans have learned from their movies.

I know I’ve had friends asking me questions on my religion based on everything from the Disney movies a lot of us watched as children (and will probably show a lot of our own children one day if grandma doesn’t show these movies to them) to the horror movies that we see coming out every day. Even newer movies like The Princess and the Frog show images that are negative or incorrect images of what some of us believe.

It’s finding these kinds of things out that can make or shatter many peoples’ views of Pagans and Wiccans. Many of these people may even fear us because of what the media has to say about us. I’ve been one of the lucky ones; most of my friends have had no problems with my religion. Many of them aren’t afraid of any of the magick I do or anything that I currently practice.

There were a few who freaked out about it but others who didn’t. It’s the ones who stay that have learned the most from me, the ones who have seen through a lot of the myths that they’ve had the chance to ask me about. One friend has even embraced a new religion because I have been able to help her learn and this despite the fact that she lives so far away from me for most of the year.

These opportunities to learn are something that I always hope to be able to offer. I know I got lost on my own way to where I am now and would like to be a hand reaching out to guide others who ask it of me. I’ve chosen my own path and help others who have asked me for it without trying to convert anyone like so many of my friends have or that some of my peers have tried to do. Being a bisexual person, it’s one of the few places that I could consider a church and not have a priest tell me I wasn’t allowed or welcomed there. This Pagan religion is something that draws me and so many others and that will continue to attract more people as information on it continues to rise (both legitimate and illegitimate) .

Though the idea of a coven is new to me and isn’t something I thought I’d ever plan on doing anywhere other than online, the idea is also a bit exciting. The idea of being a High Priestess in a coven that I myself created and started is absolutely intimidating. It’s another way to get started in my practice that I never dreamed that I would be doing, no matter how long I had been practicing and how much I believed I knew.

Even now, with my entire book of shadows available to a friend, the idea that I could have more people working under me and looking for guidance has both its pros and cons. I am excited about having more people to share things with and to share what they were learning from various areas of the craft with me and yet I also am anxious about having people learning a lot from me that they may have never learned before. Even with one person, it’s been an experience and I love having the opportunity. It’s a version of ‘getting started’ that I’m excited to begin anew.

Pagans: Loved, Yet Misunderstood

Pagans: Loved, Yet Misunderstood

Author:   Davina Sullivan 

“We are loved, yet misunderstood.”

Within the last few months, I have recently explained to my friends and family that I am a Pagan, and more than proud to say so. I have been asked so many questions sense then, it’s unbelievable. However, I’m glad that they asked because I’ve realized that many people in general has such a high misunderstanding, that we Pagan’s are judged unfairly. I have the opportunity to be able to help others understand and not judge us based on the word of others.

I was raised in a Baptist family, therefore, a great many of my relatives were upset, confused, hurt, or a combination of all three. My mother particularly, believed that being a Pagan was the devil’s way of tricking us into worshipping him, specifically because of the pentagram. I calmly explained to her that yes, the five-point star originated from the Pagan religion. After, that same star also became the Star of Bethlehem, which represents Jesus’ birth and carnation in the Christian religion. The bible explains this in the book of Matthews in chapter two. Lastly, Satanists took the five-point star and turned it upside down to claim as their own.

The image of the devil was the most difficult questions to answer. Even though I had explained that the image of Satan also originated from a Greek God, the Horned God named Pan. He has horns as well as hooves and carries a flute. That is where Satan’s image originated. Many didn’t want to hear my explanations or did not believe it to be so. Of course, everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion. I only talk of the questions that people ask.

Another explanation that was quite interesting to give was the use of magic. I was asked questions such as, “How do you do magic?” “Why do you think magic is real?” “Don’t you think that God is the only one that can bring magic?” There was one question that I found very surprising, which was, “Will you teach me to do magic?”

When I was asked how to do magic, I simply explained that magic is just channeling what is already there. You are working as one with the elements of the earth to bring the God’s and Goddesses into your heart and soul to walk together into the Divine. This also brought questions about. However, I truly believe that no one can answer what the Divine is but you, and only when you feel it.

Those that has asked me why I believe magic to be real, this was the easiest explanation of all. Every time I answer this question, I smile and reply, “Because I’ve felt it. I’ve been there. I’ve become one with magic and have become one with The Divine.” Some are confused at this point, but the answer to this specific question is something only you can answer for yourself.

Many were respectful, many horrified at my response to God being the only one that can bring magic into my life. I respect those that live by the bible and God’s word. Though, I truly feel the connection with the Pagan God’s and Goddesses. My personal Goddess, Isis, has brought a light and a great sense of fulfillment into my life. I call upon her often and the magic that I have done and experienced is unexplainable. For someone who does not believe magic to be true, it will sound like nonsense to them. Until they experience magic for themselves and can answer that same question for me, there is nothing that I could say to them about working with Earth Mother to do magic.

There was one person and one person only who asked me to teach her magic. She is a very good friend of mine. I explained a few basics of my religion, and explained to her that being a witch and learning of magic by doing your own personal studies and research is the first step. Being a witch is something to be taken very seriously and to understand every aspect of everything or any spell before attempting to actually performing one. I also explained that I have seen those dabble in black magic, and that is something that will bring you sorrow and pain in the long run. ‘An ye’ harm none, do as ye’ will.’ I most defiantly expressed how important it is to keep the Three Fold Law in mind.

The purpose for me writing this paper is to express to anyone that is willing to listen that you should always be proud of who and what you are. It has taken me 24 years to find my path because it is sometimes difficult to step away from what you are so accustomed to and be able to search for your true self.

Religion, regardless of what it may be is a big part of every one person’s life. To lie and hide from your self is the most painful lie that anyone could tell. To be a witch is hard, it is difficult, it can be stressful and it can seem almost impossible to be accepted by society at times. In today’s world, yes, we need to be in society in some way, shape or form. Just remember, we are no better, nor are we any worse than any other person that may walk this glorious earth. Paganism is rejected by many, but accepted and loved by so many more. We have support and family to help us through these times.

Today, we have the wonderful world of technology! Take advantage of it. Witchvox.com is only the start. Wiccantogether.com is a lot like a myspace.com page for Wiccans. There’s plenty of ways on the Internet, not to mention the people around you that you have no idea are even there to help you.

I cannot express enough how strongly I believe that there are many that are afraid to be their true selves because of societies opinions of our religion. Be strong, stand tall, and be proud of who you are. Please, help, love and support those who need us.

In conclusion, we are loved, yet misunderstood. This is not our fault; this is our pride. I’m more than willing to help those who are misunderstood to understand. No matter the outcome may be, I am who I am. I’m being true to myself, and that is what is most important in my opinion.