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.

Wednesday Is Ruled By Mercury

Wednesday Is Ruled By Mercury

Archangel: Raphael

Candle colour: Yellow

Incenses: Lavender or fennel

Crystals: Citrine or yellow calcite

Use Wednesdays for spells for money-making ventures, learning new things, passing examinations and tests, house moves and travels, overcoming debt and repelling envy, malice and deceit.

Where possible, work in a windy place or when the clouds are moving fast across the sky.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Feb. 13th is Simplicity

Your Ancient Symbol Card for Today

Simplicity

A much revered swami said “Simplicity is the nature of great souls.” There is a natural sense of art and genius in Simplicity. Keeping things simple produces solutions that are not only efficient but work well and are easy to maintain and build upon. Whether it takes a physical form or is an idea simple constructs please our aesthetic self. Simplicity is soothing, because you don’t have to fight your way through layers of complexity to see and understand the end result.

As a daily card, Simplicity indicates a time when you will do well by looking for simple solutions, and avoiding that which cannot be easily understood or implemented. In short, if a plan can’t get you form point A to point B without any side trips, then it is the wrong plan. Look for answers that you see immediately, that sets the proverbial light of in your head and makes you exclaim Eureka!

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wednesday Is Ruled By Mercury

Celtic Comments & Graphics
Wednesday Is Ruled By Mercury

Archangel: Raphael

Candle colour: Yellow

Incenses: Lavender or fennel

Crystals: Citrine or yellow calcite

Use Wednesdays for spells for money-making ventures, learning new things, passing examinations and tests, house moves and travels, overcoming debt and repelling envy, malice and deceit.

Where possible, work in a windy place or when the clouds are moving fast across the sky.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Our True ‘Magical Tools’

Our True ‘Magical Tools’

Author:   Solonius  

Our ‘magical items’ are only mundane objects without inherent power! After much deliberation, I’ve decided that I must toss that match into the gasoline can. I feel that there is an undue amount of romanticism attached to what are only supposed to be the tools of the witch’s trade. We are supposed to be wise enough to know that it is our minds, through our focused thoughts, that perform our spells and ceremonies, not our tools.

Wren composed a very thorough and thoughtful essay on the types and uses of Magical Tools, posted here in Witchvox back on 16 July 2000. I highly recommend reading it for the knowledge that you can gain. I’m re-posting what I personally feel is the most insightful part of that essay:

— THE WITCH:
You are the most magickal tool of all. It is your intentions and energies that determine the results of any magickal work. Many Witches never use any other tool but their own personal energies! And some of the most powerful workings can be done without ever leaving your armchair. It is the focus, concentration, intentions and desires that reside within YOU that are the real ‘tools’ of the Witch! —

Here is what happens: We read a book that says we need these various tools to perform a spell, rite, or ceremony. So we head out to the local magic shop to find said tools, and we all know they absolutely must be cool looking! We decide that this implement would make a great magical tool. We ‘cleanse’ the object of any negative energies (Please explain that? Energy is energy; it only has potential directed by the user, right?) We name our tools. We keep them special by not using them for any other purpose. We hold them as sacred objects due to the use we place upon them. We have special clothes that we put on when we wish to do our ceremonies or cast our spells.

The question I ask is: WHY? Is it only to get us “in the mood?” Is it pretentious vanity?

It is the tip of the sword that makes the groove as we begin to cast our magical circle. What is our mind doing? Our mind is visualizing the cutting of the veil. Our mind is that which creates a magical space. It is our mind that makes that space a place where all things are possible. We know what a circle looks like, yet we use this romanticized object to perform a simple task a finger could do. Are we thinking that the tool is imparting some magical power instead of our minds? Do the Realms above the Physical Plane require the use of our physical objects to breach a veil… or is it our focused minds that do the breaching?

Our tools take on the aspect of talismans by investing energy into the belief that they contain power. A talisman has no power other than the power of suggestion. It is our minds that place the belief in the power of a talisman, not the other way around. Is it a certain pair of shoes, tied a certain way, that allow us to toss a basketball into a hoop time and time again? Or is it the amount of attention we pay to what we are doing that hones our skills? The shoes might help us with our traction, but it is our minds that grasp the laws of physics. It is our minds that understand that we should apply this much force to move the mass of the basketball the distance to the basket. Why do we invest our energy into such a belief that it is all because of our shoes?

I feel the answers are simply these: Laziness and self-doubt. If we can get a tool that has power invested in it, we personally won’t have to work as hard. Those tools are on isle 5: Black and Decker or DeWalt. By placing more focus on the tool, and not on how to focus our thoughts, we seed doubt in our own mental ability to accomplish the task without our really cool looking magical item. It is our thoughts and desired intent that require our concentrated efforts. It is our minds that require the effort of learning, and developing our focus to such an extent that we have confidence in our own abilities. That confidence leads to more success.

We can’t be very confident in our own abilities if we are still riding around with training wheels after years of practice. Are our minds so weak that we need these really cool looking tools, consecrated on the first full moon of spring by a 4th generation Grand Poobah of the 1st Circle of the Wolf’s Shrine, using real dragon’s tears? (My apologies if you think I’m talking about you.) Will we think that such a tool will assist us in gathering energy? For that to happen we have to invest energy into the belief that it will. A magical tool does not gather, storehouse or bestow energy; WE are the conduits!

It is our imaginations that gather the energy and it is our intended desires that direct that energy to our desired outcome. We perform that ceremony, spell or rite for a purpose. We gather energy through our mind to enact that purpose. The actuality of spell-craft is this; we must gather energy, and then direct that energy. By assigning esoteric importance to mere tools, we yield energy that we are gathering for the spell in order to maintain a belief that the tool has infused power for our use. Better that gathered energy be used to enact our purpose! When we gather energy for a spell, and we cast out that energy to enable our desire, what is left to inhabit the magical tool? Are we confusing ourselves into thinking we are focusing physical energy (bound to this plane type of energy) or spiritual / mental energy? Although it might be convenient to think of these two types of energy as similar, they are, in fact, NOT. (If you think that I am mistaken, pick up your magical wand and, through you, focus its magical energy that a paperclip might float up in the air. If you accomplish this feat, you truly are a POWER in the Universe.)

Let me back up a little. Are tools necessary? YES! The focus we achieve from them is their true purpose. That, and that only, is their true use. Did we need a special pencil to help us add 2+2 a long time ago? Did the pencil give us the self-confidence that we would come to the answer? We eventually learned that we didn’t need any other tool than our own mind to perform the equation. It doesn’t make sense to think that a pencil will provide the answer for us; it was only used to keep us on track and help us progress. Are tools useful? YES! The more complex the spell, rite or ceremony, the more we can use tools to help us stay on track and stay in focus. And in that respect, almost any tool will do, (first and foremost being our minds) as long as we are focused on what we want to accomplish.

By practicing on focusing our minds, eventually we see that everything else we involve in the process is distracting, energy-wasting fluff. I highly doubt that the Spiritual Realm requires our theatrical production, with or without the props or an audience’s participation, to receive the energy and intent of our focused desire. We have fooled ourselves into believing it does because of our own desire for some romantic pageantry. But remember this: A tool is only what it is (this includes the spell) … it is a means to an end.

My intended purpose here is to urge you to think about these things! I am not requesting that you accept my opinion as your own.

Be Well,
Solonius

Your Rune For November 6th is Naudhiz

bw-naudhiz

bw-naudhizYour Rune For Today

Naudhiz        

Naudhiz may foretell needs unmet and friction in relationships. You may be in a time where you should be very careful in whatever endeavor you take on. Also it may be that you are about to learn some of life’s hard lessons and come out the other side of this period a stronger being.

Today’ Tarot Card for Nov. 5th – Strength

Strength

Tuesday, Nov 5th, 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What has traditionally been known as the Strength card represents Nature which, however wild in its primal form, is tamed by our subtler, finer (feminine, interior) self. The will and passion of our instinctive nature does not need to be broken, but refined and brought to consciousness — so that all levels of Creation, inner and outer, may come into harmony.

The feminine soul-force contains a persuasive power that can nurture and induce cooperation from others, stilling disruptive energies by harmonizing differences in the spirit of collective good will.

 

Reclaiming: The Etiquette of Witchcraft

Reclaiming: The Etiquette of Witchcraft

The Etiquette of Witchcraft

This article by M. Macha NightMare appeared in the Summer issue of the
Reclaiming Newsletter.

The Etiquette of Witchcraft, Reclaiming Style

The greater community of Witchcraft- throughout the U.S. and abroad- has a few
rules of etiquette of which to be cognizant. I am well aware that ours is not
a religion of “rules” (especially in the ecstasy-based Reclaiming Tradition),
but in order for us to be free of inhibitions, to feel we are in “safe space,” to get the most out of what we are doing and to protect those whose identity as
Witches were it revealed, would compromise them in their mundane lives, it is
imperative that everyone know and agree to abide by the following general
policies:

1. First and foremost, a magickal circle is not for observers; it is
participatory and experiential. A circle is a religious rite and all
participants should conduct themselves in a manner respectful to the Goddess.
If one is not prepared to focus and contribute his/her attention and efforts to
the ceremony, one does not belong in the circle. If one does not wish to
participate, s/he should excuse her/himself before the pre-rite meditation and
grounding begins.

2. The taking of photographs is inappropriate and impermissible. As noted in
item 1 above, the ritual, and memories of it, are to be carried in one’s heart;
they are not a proper subject for objective observation and documentation. The
exception to this is when all participants have been asked before the ritual
has begun, and all agree; or when the ritual is “staged” specifically for the
taking of photographs, filming or videotaping. Photographing rituals requires
special tact and sensitivity.

3. Craft groups and circles are not inviolably solemn, but they are serious in
central purpose. Inappropriate talking, joking, laughing, etc. are not only
rude and disrespectful of the Goddess, the Mighty Ones, the priest/esses of the
ritual and other celebrants, but also they interfere with concentration and
continuity of the ceremony. She commands us to have mirth and reverence; humor
and laughter are gifts of the Goddess. Our attitude, conduct and energy should
reflect both the joyousness and the solemnity of this our celebratory religion.
There will be a period within the ritual for the sharing of food, drink and
good wishes, and time for conversation and merrymaking.

4. Since traditional lore teaches that consecrated object easily absorbs
energy (becomes “charged”), tools, such as wand, chalice, athame, jewelry, drum
and other ritual regalia, should not be touched by someone other than the owner
without the owner’s express permission.

5. Once the circle is cast, all celebrants should consider themselves in it
for the duration. It is preferable for one to take care of personal needs
before the ritual is begun, but if one finds it necessary to use the toilet,
feels faint or whatever, one can either ask for assistance or “cut a door” in
the circle and leave, carefully closing and sealing it afterwards. The circle
is intended to contain the energy and focus, and when it is casually entered
and exited, that energy can become dissipated or lost and focus shattered.

6. Anyone who is drunk, stoned or otherwise inebriated does not belong in
circle. In addition, the use of drugs or alcohol (this includes the smoking of
cigarettes) in circle is unacceptable behavior; it can show disrespect and it
puts the user(s) on another wavelength than the nonuser(s). The exception to
this is when the use of chemicals is sacramental and understood and accepted by
everyone in the circle.

7. People who invite others to rituals are responsible for preparing the
guest(s) as to what is expected of them, how to behave, etc. Guests cannot be
expected to know what’s going on all on their own, especially if it’s their
first Craft ritual, but much can be done by the person who invites them to make
them feel more comfortable and included by giving them some information ahead
of time about how things work and how people are expected to behave.

8. What occurs in circle is sacred and not to be talked about with those who
were not part of the circle. This mainly applies to small, private rituals,
and we in Reclaiming are more casual about rehashing big public ones, but if
one is invited to a ritual presented by another Craft tradition, this rule is
inviolate.

The above guidelines are freely adapted from archival material graciously
provided by Valerie Voigt.

Many thanks for reading and observing these few, simple, common-sense, but
essential, guidelines.

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 10

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – October 10

“I think that’s what unity is – knowing one another and coming together and working with no conflict.”

–Chief Alan Wilson, HAIDA

When we are aligned with spiritual values, we cannot be in fear or conflict. When we are aligned to spiritual values, we have the Creator whispering solutions in our ears. Unity is one of the spiritual values. When we value unity we value solutions. If we think this way, then we have no conflict within ourselves.

Great Spirit, let me see through Your eyes.

Your Animal Spirit for October 2nd is

Your Animal Spirit for Today
October 2, 2013

Bear

Bear represents a time of reflection and stillness—a time of entering the inner cave of  Self to contemplate life’s challenges. Bear often appears during times of confusion and unrest—those unsettling moments when you turn to everyone you know for answers—everyone except yourself. Go within, ask the hard questions—then listen.

You Got No Spells Yesterday, So Today You Get 2. Here #1

 

Oak Wand
Oak Wand

Imagine using this beauty to cast your spells with. Only a few more hours left and it will be long to one of our lucky friends,

Spell To Receive Divine Messages

Goal: To clarify a message that the Divine might have for you.

Items You will Need:

White Candle (you can also use a candle for each element: yellow, green, blue, and red)

This is a simple spell and can be used whenever it is needed,

I ask you help, O Elements

In receiving the message

I feel is waiting for me.

Power of air

Send in clarity

So I might focus on this message

Power of earth

Ground me

So I can shut out the distraction of everyday life

Power of water

Wash away obstructions

That keep me from seeing clearly

Power of life

Open my heart

So I  might freely receive this message

So mote it be.

 

A Bright & Blessed Thursday, Dear Family & Friends!

Witchy Cat Graphics & Comments
Good Morning guys & dolls! How are you doing today? I hope feeling very magickal. Can you feel the power coursing through your veins. Now let’s start this day off the way every day should start…

MAGICKALLY

A CALL OF NINE

By Chant of One – the Spell’s begun
By Chant of Two – it cometh true
By Chant of Three – it comes to me
By Chant of Four – through Heaven’s door
By Chant of Five – the Spell’s alive
By Chant of Six – the Spell I fix
By Chant of Seven – it flies from Heaven
By Chant of Eight – it’s at my gate
By Chant of Nine – the thing is mine

This is an old chant. It is a powerful chant and as you can read it helps you get what you want. *Note: Don’t use it on humans!

Goddess Speak To Me

Celtic Comments & Graphics

Goddess Speak to Me

A man whispered
“Goddess, speak to me”    
And a meadowlark sang
but the man did not hear.  
So the man yelled
“Goddess speak to me!”  
And the thunder rolled across the sky.    
But the man did not listen.  
The man looked around and said
“Goddess let me see you”  
And a star shone brightly.
     But the man did not notice.  
And the man shouted
“Goddess show me a miracle”    
And a life was born.    
But the man did not know.    
So, the man cried out in despair.    
“Touch me Goddess and let me know
that you are here!”
Whereupon Goddess reached down
and touched the man.
But the man brushed the butterfly away
and walked on.
 
                 — Author Unknown

Imbolc to Ostara

Imbolc/Candlemas Comments

Imbolc to Ostara

Imbolc (Oimelc or Candlemas) celebrates youthful potential, with the Goddess being venerated in her Maiden guise, while the Horned God is still in his infancy and childhood. That the Goddess has returned to Earth from the Otherworld, and that nature is reawakening under her magickal touch, may be evident in the tender green shoots of such spring-flowering pioneer as snowdrops, whose white blooms represent the Maiden purity.

WIND SCRYING

WIND SCRYING

Ancient Greeks practiced wind scrying in the sacred grove of Dodona, which was dedicated to Zeus. Paellas referred to this technique writing as “there is a mode of predicting by means of the air and the leaves of the trees

The method seemed to involve the hanging of striking wands from branches of sacred oak tress in a way that they struck resounding brass basins when the wind blew. Interpretations were made of these sounds and that of the wind. The wind gives itself naturally to scrying because it talks the same as you or me. Find a quite place in the bush where there is no noise of cars, music, etc. A place among the trees is the best. Find a tree and sit under it.

Casually focus your attention on the wind, blocking out all other thoughts. In time the wind will talk to you.

In order for you to scy the wind, you must, for a time, become the wind.

Egyptian dream scrying may be traced back thousands of years. The method used by the Egyptians was recorded in the Greek magical papyri which were written between 200 B.C. to 500 A.D.

In preparing to use the Egyptian dream scrying method you must not speak to anyone on the evening you plan to scy. You should remain in silence after the setting of the sun.

Do not consume alcohol on that day or engage in sex. You must refrain from consuming food for up to four hours before the scrying.

After having a warm bath you anoint your temples with olive oil. You will need an oil lamp which must not be coloured red or bear any inscription.

Write on a short narrow strip of white linen with ink mixed with myrrh the name of the dream God and the purpose for the dream scrying. Twist the linen strip into a wick and insert into the oil of the lamp.

Place the lamp on a table beside your bed. Using the ink draw the image of the dream God upon your left palm.

You must decide which God or Goddess you wish to use. Thoth was well used with the Egyptians.

Light your lamp. Kneel before the lamp.

Concentrating on the image on your left hand recite the following invocation :

“Thoth I invoke, blessed power of dreams divine, Angel of future fates, swift wings are thine, Great source of oracles to human kind, When stealing soft, and whispering to the mind, Through sleep’s sweet silence and the gloom of night, Thy power awake the sight, To silent souls the will of heaven relates, And silently reveals their future fates.”

You need to concentrate on your question you wish to know the answer to. Around your left hand wrap a piece of black linen about four inches wide and about thirty inches long.

The black cloth is called “black” of Isis. Blow out the flame of the lamp.

Now go to bed, clear your mind and go to sleep. Have a tape recorder beside your bed so that when you awaken you may record your dreams while still fresh in your mind.

You will find that the dream will come to you in a voice that is clear and powerful rather than in dream images. Sometimes the message is sent in cryptic form so take your time in working out the answer.