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.

Celebrating Legends, Folklore and Spirituality 365 Days a Year for January 7 – Saint Distaff’s Day

January 7

Saint Distaff’s Day

In southern England, Saint Distaff’s Day was when work began again after the Christmas holiday. Saint Distaff’s Day was not a saint’s day at all, but rather a tongue-in-check commemoration of the day on which women returned to their distaffs of unspun wool.

The Wicca Book of Days for Wednesday, November 11th – Peace and Remembrance

Veteran's Day Comments
November 11th

Peace and Remembrance

 

This is the original cross-quarter day between the autumnal equinox and winter solstice. It is known as Martinmas, after St. Martin, and is observed with a traditional meal of salted(or preserved) food. Peace vigils are held at 11:11 AM to commemorate the 1918 for or meditate on peace on earth. The numerological significance of 11/11 is particularly powerful, since 11 is a “master number,” signifying both good and evil, while the combined numerals give a key of 4, representing the earth, the seasons and the phases of the moon.

 

Tune In

Harness today’s numerological power by meditating on peace throughout the world. Women should invoke the planets Pluto and Neptune, the element of water and the darkness and silence of the night to connect with the inner goddess, men should focus on their anima or feminine side.

 

 

The Wicca Book of Days
Observances, Traditions, and Lore for Every Day of the Year

Selena Eilidh Ash

 

The Daily OM for January 24th – The Whole Is Greater

The Whole Is Greater
Women’s Circles

by Madisyn Taylor

Women’s circles perfectly illustrate the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Women’s circles are formal or informal gatherings in the interest of bonding, sharing energy, and creating ritual. The origins of women’s circles are ancient, but their applications are as modern as the women who participate in them. There are no hard and fast rules as to how to form a women’s circle or how to run one. Some circles invent their own agendas, rituals, goals, and ceremonies, while others borrow ideas from sources as far-ranging as Buddhist or Native American cultures. Some circles are open to new members at all times, while others prefer to practice with a set number of members, closing the circle once that number is reached.

In a typical gathering, the women who are present sit in a circle. Generally, for the sake of cohesiveness, one woman is chosen to lead the circle each time. Allowing a different woman to lead each meeting allows for a multi-perspective approach to the process. One circle leader may choose to create and teach a ritual involving using the voice to release negative energy, while at the next meeting another leader may feel inspired to lead a silent meditation. On the other hand, a circle may choose to be more focused over the long term and gather around a particular intention, such as working together to determine a course for healing Mother Earth. When the healing feels complete, the women may choose to stay together with a new focus for their work, or the circle may disband.

At their best, women’s circles perfectly illustrate the idea that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The work that can be accomplished within the loving embrace of our sisters is far more powerful than what we could achieve on our own. If you are not already part of a circle, you may want to start one. Follow your intuition as to the women with whom you’d like to work, reach out to them, and set a date to begin. After that, you can simply allow the circle to create itself. Men need not be forgotten when it comes to circles and they, too, can come together to form their own circles and create strong bonds and healing in a way that is specific to all men.

The Daily OM

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A Little Humor for Your Day – Three Wise Women

Three Wise Women

Do you know what would have happened if it had been Three Wise Women instead of Three Wise Men?

They would have …

Asked directions

Arrived on time (December 25, not January 6!)

Helped deliver the baby (Midwives are also known as “wise women.”)

Cleaned the stable

Made a casserole, and

Brought practical gifts.

Pass this on to the wise women in your life.

Turoks’ Cabana

Let’s Talk Witch – Sanctifying the Temple of the Body

hecate4

Let’s Talk Witch – Sanctifying the Temple of the Body

Of all the spaces that surround us, of all the blessings we send out into the world, of all the things we honor and consider sacred, it is often our own bodies that are most in need of honor and celebration. Considered by many to be the vehicle through which our soul experiences the physical world, our bodies are indeed worthy of recognition as the spiritual temples they are. Too frequently we focus on our perceived physical imperfections, forget the miracle of the body’s ability to heal itself when we are ailing, or take for grannted the fragile balance our bodies need to sustain us, instead choosing to abuse ourselves with excess, deprive ourselves of adequate sleep or nourishing food, and engage in other physically and psychologically damaging behaviors.

For women especially, how we carry ourselves and think about our body is incredibly emotionally charged. We are constantly being bombarded with messages telling us how we are suppose to look and what we are supposed to wear. Women’s bodies have been objectified by a culture that has also programmed us to believe they are objects of sin and shame. Reclaiming the sacred nature of our physical form is a service both to our selves and to our sisters—it is a rejection of the old paradigm and a reframing of how women think about themselves on their own terms.

There is a Hermetic Axiom that states: “As above, so below. As within, so without.” One treatment and reverence for our body both reflects upon, and is a reflection of, the spirit that dwells within. How can you bring a sense of the sacred to your physical self? Perhaps you can incorporate a daily routine of self-anointing with oils you have blessed for this purpose and chosen to consciously eat wholesome foods to power your body-temple. Indulge in sacred spa days and pamper yourself with a luxurious bath scented with herbs and flowers that stimulate the essence of the Divine within. Wear colors and styles that reflect your personality and make you feel beautiful, rather than feeling like a slave to the trends of fashion. Adorn yourself with stones and symbolic jewelry that serve as reminders of your holy nature. And, perhaps most importantly, support other women in cultivating a sense of the self as sacred: discourage self-deprecating remarks, do not engage in disempowering body behaviors, and praise your sisters and brothers as the beautiful and perfect being they are.

While it’s useful and beneficial to create a physical sacred space, such as a hearth or garden, creating sacred space within yourself may be the best thing you can do for your spirit.

Excerpt from:

Making Space Sacred
Author Jhenah Telyndru
Llewellyn’s 2012 Witches Companion

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 4

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 4

“The honor of the people lies in the moccasin tracks of the woman. Walk the good road…. Be dutiful, respectful, gentle and modest my daughter… Be strong with the warm, strong heart of the earth. No people goes down until their women are weak and dishonored, or dead upon the ground. Be strong and sing the strength of the Great Powers within you, all around you.”

–Village Wise Man, SIOUX

The Elders say the Native American women will lead the healing among the tribes. We need to especially pray for our women, and ask the Creator to bless them and give them strength. Inside them are the powers of love and strength given by the Moon and the Earth. When everyone else gives up, it is the women who sings the songs of strength. She is the backbone of the people. So, to our women we say, sing your songs of strength; pray for your special powers; keep our people strong; be respectful, gentle and modest.

Oh, Great One, bless our women. Make them strong today.

Calendar of the Moon for October 9th

Calendar of the Moon

9 Gort/Puanepsion

Stenia Day 1

Color: Brown
Element: Earth
Altar: Upon cloth of brown set two green candles and the Thesmoi, the sacred figures to be put into the Mundus Cereris. They include snakes, phalli, and pigs all made of bread. Unlike the regular opening of the Mundus Cereris, only women with wombs can move the stone today.
Offerings: Thesmoi. Ritual sex is an appropriate offering for this day.
Daily Meal: Pork and bread.

Stenia I Invocation

We gather today in the name of Demeter,
To fertilize the Earth with our spirits.
The Earth yields to us, and gives us nourishment,
But we must return our energy to Her body,
Give and take in equal parts. So today we give forth
What energy we can. Bring forth the Thesmoi,
Give them the warmth of your love.

(The women with wombs take the Thesmoi from the altar, and bring them to any men with testicles to hold, bless, and place energy within them. Women without wombs and men without testicles must watch and chant, but cannot touch the Thesmoi once they are placed on the altar, for this magic must be that of fertility.)

Hail, Demeter! We bring you our gifts,
To be placed in the dark of your womb!
We bring you our hopes, our joys,
Our passions and desires, that you may
Enjoy them, and your womb fill to overflowing
And burst forth in goodness upon our world.
As you have given to us, so we give to you.

Chant: Mother Earth I sing to you
Demeter and Gaia
Mother Earth I bring to you
All within my hands

(The women with wombs carry the Thesmoi to the Mundus Cereris, roll back the stone, and place them within, also chanting. They reset the stone, return to the altar room, and announce, “It is done!” All who have been chanting cry out “Hail Demeter!” and the rite is ended.)

[Pagan Book of Hours]

Wishing You A Very Blessed Day On This Last Monday Of 2012!

 

Good Morning my dear friends & family! Well can you believe it this year is almost over. In a few hours, it will be 2013.  As I sit here I pondered is it a good idea to even look back on 2012? We have witnessed terrible events, even events that have absolutely horrified us. War, violence, killings will this be the legacy of 2012? There had to be moments of happiness and peace sometime during the year. But those moments don’t stand out in our mind. Perhaps it is because with the violence and killings a part of our hearts are ripped out. Some of the violence rips us to our very souls.

I will be the first to admit the violence the world has experienced this year has cut all the way to my soul.  Am I a better person for it? I don’t know. I know I am much more somber than I use to be. I know I don’t take any minute in the day for granted. I grab a hold of those minutes and squeeze them for everything I can get out of them. I believe I lost my innocence this year. Sounds funny coming for an older person, I am not really that old. But it still sounds strange. I believe I have emerged a new individual, a new Witch. I have a new determination. I want to fight back. I no longer want to stand on the sidelines and idly watch, I want to fight. I want to fight for peace, for all the wars to end, for all the violence to stop, I want to fight for a world that is fit for my grandchildren to live in. I believe the most of you do too.

It is time we all get off our brooms and do what we are suppose to do, help & better mankind and this world. This year we are going to make an effort to actually make a change in this world of ours. I have thought about it and thought about it, here is what I have come up with but I need your help for it to work. It is nothing complicated, in fact it is what we do best, chanting and releasing energy. Is that so hard? Here’s the plan, if you are with me:

Every month (starting in January 2013) at the time of the Full Moon, we will gather as one. How’s that you say? Our spirits can unite no matter where we are. They can come together as one. I will set a time, probably around midnight. I know quite a few work so it might be earlier, the more that participate the better this will work. So stay tune for the time. But at the allotted time, we will stop whatever we are doing. Go to our sacred space, light a white candle and begin to chant, as we chant we will build up energy. When our energy is at full capacity, we will release it into the World. The energy we release will be the energy of the Goddess. Her pure love, pure goodness and pure kindness will be released into our world. Can you imagine that?

Sound crazy? But it’s not. We unite our spirits in one chant, calling for all the violence, hatred, killings and murdering in the world to cease. Instead releasing the Goddess’ goodness, kindness and love to every man’s, woman’s and child’s heart on this planet. We can do it. We have the power to make this world a better place. It is our calling to do so. I can’t do it without you. Together we can accomplish great things. This year we will accomplish great things.

I hope you will join me in this huge undertaking. I believe the Goddess is calling us to do this. I believe our Goddess has shed as many tears as we have. Now it is our turn to fill the world with Her Love. If you are willing to help, please remember to look for the time of the ritual each month. Till then….

Love, Happiness and Much Joy for the New Year Ahead,

Lady A

 

More New Year Quotes Comments

Your Ancient Symbol Card for December 11th is The Swan

Your Deck of Ancient Symbols Card for Today

swanCardMED

 

The Swan

The elegant Swan is an ideal symbol of beauty and grace. Its flowing curves and fluid movement give an ethereal air of perfection realized. The Swan’s beauty embodies the feminine (Yin) qualities of intuition and sensitivity. But The Swan does not begin life as a creature who appears to be the creation of divine inspiration. Indeed at birth The Swan is an ungainly creature that lacks any indications of the magnificent being it is destined to become. The Swan’s transformation from ordinary to extraordinary have made it an emblem of discovering the beauty and power of your true self.

As a daily card, The Swan is a reminder of the beauty, creativity and power your true self embodies. In this period it is best to let the real you rule and be known to all–to remember who you really are and what you are really about. The Swan also marks a time when your creative powers may be at their zenith.

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 6

Elder’s Meditation of the Day – November 6

“It is well to be good to women in the strength of our manhood because we must sit under their hands at both ends of our lives.”

–He Dog, OGLALA LAKOTA

The women bring us into this life and nurture us as we grow up. When we reach our manhood, she supports us and sings the songs to help the family grow. The Elders say we must look at the woman in a sacred way. We must realize how special her powers are in brining forth life. The woman will bring balance to a man. The woman will help him see. It is said, behind every successful man is a supporting woman. Maybe we should examine how we are thinking about women. The Great Spirit says we should honor them. Are we respecting and honoring our women today?

Grandmother, Grandfather thank you for our women. Today, let me honor them.

A Blessed & Glorious Tuesday Morning To All!

Good Tuesday Morning, dearest friends!  I hope it is a beautiful and glorious day wherever you are. Today I have one word I want to emphasis, it is “VOTE!”

Today is a very, very important day. It is a day that if you don’t vote you could regret for the rest of your life. Seriously, I honestly believe the rights of women are at stake and also our Religious freedoms. Maybe you think I am an extremist in regards to these two issues. But I can guarantee you I am not. I have done my research and I believe with all my heart, we have a lot to lose if the wrong candidates get elected. Stop to think about it, then go to your local voting place and vote your heart. Whatever you do today, make your voice heard and vote!

The Witch Hunts of Old Hit Home

I have been thumbing through some of my books. Truthfully as I look through them, I can’t find anything at all that interests me to talk about. Except one thing that I learned about not to long ago that happened in my hometown.

All of my family came out of the mountains of Eastern and Central Kentucky. Most of the men were coal miners and the women were homemakers. I remember my father had come from a family of 13 children. There would have been 15 but two of them died as babies. My mother came from only a family of 3 children. Her baby sister passed on when she was 12 from lockjaw. She stepped on a rusty nail and there was no cure at the time. My father and mother met, married and moved to Western Kentucky. I grew up in this area and have lived here all my life. I always thought it was a very peaceful and lovely place to live. All those thoughts were scattered to the wind the other day. I learned of something terrible that had happened here. Down where the floodwall now stands on the other side of it, three witches were hanged. I cried.

The thought of those women or so called witches has been weighing on my mind. The is the first time, I had ever heard of the witch hunts and executions coming this far south. The details of the hanging are unknown to me. The names of the victims and what they were accused of is also. I want to know about these women. I feel a yearning to know. Perhaps it is a sisterhood or perhaps there Spirits are calling to me, I don’t know. But I want to find out.

I haven’t mentioned any of these to my husband yet. I know what he will say, “leave it alone. Don’t go snooping.” I had an aunt on my father’s side to just disappear. No one in the family ever talked about her. The only reason I know is because I did a little genealogy on my own. She showed up in the censuses and I also found a birth record of her. I even asked my sister about her and she had never heard of her either. It was always public knowledge that women on both sides of the family practiced healings and witchcraft. It makes me wonder if one of those women could have been my aunt.

I cannot even begin to think how to go about researching something like this. I know my husband runs across transcripts of Witch Trials no one had ever heard of before. He gave me one not to long ago about a trial in Pennsylvania that I have found no record of anywhere. I would love to find out more about these women. I would especially like to know if one of them was my aunt.

Perhaps this explains the strong feelings I have in regards to the Burning Times. Perhaps it explains why I am always talking about our Ancestors. I know I had several stoned and hung, distant ones not like an aunt. To me, an aunt is blood, real blood. I feel a responsible to find out what happened to her. Then I stop to think, if it was my aunt could I honestly handle the cruelty that I found out she suffered. Who knows if she was an actually practitioner? She might have been one of my relatives that was completely innocent. The thought of that makes me sick. The thought of her being tortured and no telling what else, just to make her confess. Then taken out to a gallows or even a tree and hung, it makes me cry. It is different when you read and heard about the old ones back in the 1600’s. But when you wonder if one of these women could have been your  aunt hung back in the early 1900’s. It hits home. It hits you square in your heart and soul.

The cruelty of people. How could people treat any of them the way they did? Did these people have any regrets? Didn’t they have any compassion for another human being? What happened back then, did the world go mad? I guess due to my tolerance and compassion for others, I will never understand it.

All I know is I want to know who these women were. Whether any of them were my aunt or not, I pray the Goddess gave them peace and comfort. I truly pray they were reborn into a much kinder and gentler world from which they came.

Today’s Runes for July 31 is Thurisaz

Ice Runes are most commonly used for questions about struggle, conflict, and achievement. Thurisaz represents a thorn, the most basic of barriers to our boon or our bane. In the case of hedges, thorns protect our encampments from that which skulks towards us from the outlands. In the case of rosebushes, thorns keep us from beauty. Though thorns are passive and have no thoughts, they puncture, tear, and may even be poisonous. Hence, this rune may also represent irrational violence and anger.