Sunday, December 29, 2013

Introspection – Are YOU a Pagan Nutbag?

Introspection can help us learn a lot about ourselves, deal with our inner demons, and gain a little perspective in our day-to-day lives.  It’s good to do some self-examination and perform inner reality checks.  The challenge of course, is that not everyone has the same standards for what is and is not rational behavior in the pagan community.  I’m going to cite a few examples from people I’ve known over the years for you:

You may be a Pagan Nutbag if:
  • You have any secret self-description that basically amounts to “Chosen One”.
  • You refer to non-pagans as “mortals”.
  • You believe that only you (plus perhaps a chosen few) are holding back an extra-dimensional invasion of evil magic alien beings in flying black saucers.
  • You think that your spiritual evolution (or lack thereof) is unaffected by the health of the very real body you live in.
  • You think that you have “conquered” any emotion.
  • You tell people that you’re the reincarnation of any famous person.
  • You count goldfish, crystals, and infants as members of your coven.
  • You spend so much time telling others how to live the perfect pagan life that you don’t ever meditate or so much as light a candle yourself.
  • You spend so much energy criticizing others you have none left for your own growth.
  • You tell people you’re cavorting with faerie lords by moonlight when you’re really just drunk off your ass and trying not to fall down in the dark.
  • Your list of problems is longer than your list of skills or accomplishments, and you blame your lack of spiritual progress on being a sensitive empath.
  • You author a blog or host a podcast that no one reads or listens to, and you think you are an important voice in the community without being able to use two and too correctly in a sentence.
  • You insist that although on this plane of existence you’re on permanent disability, in another reality you’re the queen of everything and so people should feel privileged to kiss your ring (made from an old coat hanger) and bring you offerings of food.
  • You insist that everything, in all its forms, is for the greater good.  That’s just twaddle and you know it.  Sometimes things suck.
  • You insist that only the darker side of life is powerful.  Twaddle again, life isn’t monochromatic.  It’s a freaking rainbow, deal with it.
 And that’s just the short list.

We’re all a *little* bit off sometimes, and that’s part of what makes life fun.  But carried to extremes of self-delusion, what started off as a harmless quirk can take you deep into the realms of nutbaggery.  Or is that nutbaghood?  Either way, it’s a bad thing.  So how to avoid it?
  1. Make friends you can trust and be honest with.  Good friends are going to tell you when you’re edging too close to the line of professional nutbag.
  2. Regular spiritual practice.  The simplest acts, like meditating daily and journaling privately, can help you stay in touch with reality.
  3. Get off your butt.  Go outside and garden, go for walks, volunteer at something that helps others.  Getting outdoors in fresh air, interacting with non-pagans and getting away from the computer will help keep you grounded.
  4. Eat healthy.  I’m not saying you have to adhere to some strict diet, but keep the processed foods & sugars to a minimum and eat fresh fruits/veggies and you’ll stay grounded more solidly with less effort.
  5. Cut back on the fiction.  Really, reading is fun.  It should be.  All work and no play makes a dull pagan, but overdosing on fiction is a fast route to living in fantasy land.
  6. Be creative.  Learn to cook something new, knit or crochet, sew, paint, draw, sculpt… something that engages your right brain actively and creates something physical.  You get to use your creative juices for something constructive this way, without it dragging you into nutbaghood.
  7. Get some counseling.  Hey, reality slips for everyone sometimes, and if your friends are avoiding you or telling you you’re nuts, get a professional opinion.   Worst case scenario, you’ll get some therapy or medicine to help you with a serious condition, or they’ll say you’re fine and not to worry so much.

That was it, really.  Be good to yourself in constructive healthy ways, and be good to your friends.  Heck, be good to your enemies, it will make them nuts and maybe they’ll stop being dirtbags after they get some professional help.

Peace out, witches.

Alan

Monday, October 28, 2013

Sigils Made Simple



Samhain is most often thought of as either the time for working with the dead since the veil is thin, or the Celtic New Year and a time for new beginnings.  There’s another side-effect of the veil thinning that a lot of people don’t talk about much – magic is easier.  I started off with simple candle magic, and carving symbols into the candles to manifest my desired change.  Sigils are magical symbols used to focus your will on your desire, whether it’s a heart for love, a dollar sign for prosperity, or something more complex.

I posted this on Facebook a while back:

Make a potion from herbs that are good for improving mental clarity. Bless and consecrate it.
Soak light blue thread in the potion. Bless and consecrate it.
Take a hat that has a band of fabric around the inside of it. Purify it.
Sew sigils for mental clarity, focus, insight into that band using the herb-infused light blue thread. Bless and consecrate the hat.

There, now you've made a thinking cap.

I was just intending it to be a bit of fun, and had a few private messages asking about sigils and how to “find” them, and figured it was time to share a post on making your own.

There are books out on planetary squares and how to use them to create a sigil for what you desire, and whole systems of that sort of thing out there.  Lots of magical practitioners have a high rate of success with them, and enjoy the study and effort that goes into learning about them.

For some people though, sigils based on planetary squares have just been a source of confusion, consternation, and avoidance.  A long time ago, one of my teachers taught me a different way of creating sigils in case I couldn’t connect to (he said “tap into”) the power in the planetary ones.  Different folks, different sorts of magic I guess is the idea.  So I did my best to put a PowerPoint presentation together for you, and converted it to a YouTube video.  To explain what he taught me.

Essentially, turning the word or words that represent your magical desire into capital letters and superimposing them over each other to create a symbol is the method.  The video has no sound because I couldn’t figure out the voice-over piece, but here it is for your pleasure.  I hope you find it helpful!

Practical Sigils:  http://youtu.be/2mKHXkanPvM

Blessings,
Alan

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Dancing Your Talk



I’m probably not the only person to get more than a little tired of old clich├ęs in the spiritual community, but let’s take a look at one, just for fun:  “Are you walking your talk?”

I’m not going to say that I think it’s a bad saying, because it’s not.  It has given many people something to think about, reflect on, and do some honest self-examination with.  It’s succinct and easy to remember, and the mental imagery works to get the point across.  But it’s not enough, really.

Mainstream religion holds no appeal for me because I find most of it to be boring, rigid, or far too dictatorial for my tastes.  Original thought and questioning authority are discouraged in far too many churches for me to ever be comfortable with a spiritual path of that nature.  There are too many variations of “thou shalt not” in our world for me.  I’m not interested in slaughtering innocents or buggering bunny rabbits or anything, I’m talking about really stupid things like community associations that ban you from planting anything off of an approved list in your front yard or painting your house a different color.  Societal norms that are unwritten are just as bad, like clothing expectations limited to gender which keep men from wearing perfectly good kilts to the office.

Most of the pagans I know are far from boring, and are more likely to skip, hop, or jitterbug their way down their spiritual path instead of just sedately walking.  Many pagans are proudly flouting rules as often as possible, when doing so doesn’t endanger anyone’s well-being.  We are a more colorful, creative, boisterous lot of people than mainstream culture is generally comfortable with.

In keeping with the theme of balance that every Equinox brings, I do think we could use a little self-examination and bring our Intellect back into balance with our Ecstasy.

We have bodies for a reason, and while I don’t profess to know exactly what that reason is (because there could be many, different for each of us) I do think that we pagans (I doubt I’m alone in this) think more than we move.  There is a path to Ecstasy through dance and movement, time-tested and highly valued in other cultures.

Gabrielle Roth, in her book “Maps to Ecstasy”, has mapped out five basic, sacred rhythms “that are the essence of the body in motion, the body alive:  Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyric, Stillness”.  I highly recommend the book, and several of the videos on YouTube could be helpful in unleashing your inner dance to further move you forward on your ecstatic spiritual path, and open up part of yourself towards healing that you may find more exhilarating than yet another game of Candy Crush on Facebook  J

Check this video out, and notice that there is no choreography.  Each person is finding their own body’s need to move to the music.  This isn’t about sweating for weight loss, it’s about moving for Spirit – your Spirit.  Go ahead, dance a little way down your path and see if it feels right for you.


Peace out, witches.

Harmony and Blessings,

Alan

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sacred Music


I was listening to National Public Radio on the way home from work the other day, when I heard this beautiful, haunting singing. After the bus passed me, I realized it was in Latin and I paid more attention to the story about the nuns of Ann Arbor, Mich. recording choral music.

I enjoy sacred music, especially some of the work done by nuns and monks I’ve heard over the years. It got me thinking though, about how I define “holy” when it comes to music.

For me, the holy and sacred music my spirit yearns for instills a sense of peace, and communion with the Divine. Probably in part because I’m an introvert and quiet time is what I need to recharge my batteries.

I’ve listened to my share of ecstatic music, and thoroughly enjoy that too but while it pumps up my adrenaline levels it doesn’t fill me with peace. It does make great music to listen to right before doing any heavy lifting, though, because it strengthens my spirit and makes the work easier on my body.

I began running through all of the pagan music I could think of on the drive home, looking in my mental catalog for something that was overtly pagan and still filled me with that sense of peace and harmony. I found lots of songs that make me happy in my mental pagan collection, but nothing that touched me with the same peaceful vibe I was getting from the Catholic singers. Lots of chants from various Reclaiming CDs are associated with happy memories of our community Chant Jam sessions, and some are useful for focusing energy and intent during ritual, but nothing left me with serenity.

Is it something we’re missing in our community collective repertoire? Are we missing out on peace within our own community music? Many of us are free-wheeling independent thinkers, captains of our own destiny, etc. etc. but does that exclude us from peace and serenity? Can’t that also be part of our path, and our music?

I'm quoting one of the sisters from the article here in closing, and I've shared the link to the story for your reading/listening pleasure as well.

"We bring people back where the culture, sad to say, is selling them short," Sister Joseph Andrew says. "The culture is not saying you need silence; you need to calm down; you need to meet God in however you might choose to worship him. And I think when you turn this music on, something interiorly starts to calm down. And there starts to be a freedom to be able to really listen to God within."


Peace and Harmony to you all,
Alan

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Magic as Science – or at least Pseudo-Science



There's a lot of talk among magical practitioners about how magic is just like quantum physics.

Or that crystals, because of their piezoelectric properties are great magical amplifiers, since our nervous systems run on bioelectrical impulses.

But isn't that really just a bunch of hooey? A crystal's piezoelectrical properties don't really kick in unless it's under mechanical stress. I don't think squeezing a crystal tightly in our fleshy soft sensitive hands is putting it under enough stress to make it build up a charge of electricity.

We explain magic away as all sorts of semi-scientific things in order to make it sound more real. Personally, I think that means we're neutering our own magic by not believing in it enough to let it just be mystical instead of having to justify it to the Doubting Thomases of the world.

Even on Wikipedia, one of the least scholarly sources of data around, they say “Modern Western magicians generally state magic's primary purpose to be personal spiritual growth” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_(paranormal) ), which I find ludicrous. Magic can be practiced without any spiritual growth whatsoever, there are tons of people out there messing about with magic who are living proof of the petty vindictive things people are capable of. But still, even Wikipedia is saying that we modern Westerners are neutering our magic.

We need to embrace the mystery, the mystical, and let ourselves feel and practice magic without explaining it away into nothingness. Good magic is like a good golf swing – you have to let go and express a little wild abandon for it to be useful and make something significant happen.

Let the Moon be silver, eldritch, and full of power to share and focus. Let the night wind whisper mysteries of wisdom into your soul. Let the summer sun fill you with strength and power. Feel the Earth beneath you, humming with Life.

If your spells work, then you're doing good. But keep the magic and the mystery alive, don't lose your sense of wonder.

Peace out, witches.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Failed Expectations – When Icons Fall


Remember how disappointed you were when you were a kid and Santa didn't bring you what you wanted or asked for? Your feelings were hurt, like it was a personal affront. But as an adult, you look back on it and sort of laugh. The thing is, we never really grow out of that feeling.

My French teacher in high school said a swear word in front of me, and I was shocked because teachers just aren't supposed to swear. I even said something about it, and her response was “Oh, grow up”. She let me down, she failed to live up to my expectation of how a teacher behaves. My feelings were hurt not by her, but somehow by the world for not being the way I thought it should be.

I remember when my best friend from high school Luci died of leukemia at the tender age of 24 just how angry I was about it. It felt personal, because MY friend died in horrible pain. When I got home from her funeral and learned that my friend Eric had died of AIDS the day before, it just shattered me. That was my first experience with friends dying, and truthfully it royally sucked. It's not supposed to happen when you're that young. You don't... (wait for it)... expect it.

In each of those examples, I felt let down, hurt, and angry. But as upsetting as those events were at the time, I got over them. Broadening the scope outside of my personal experience though, think about any time your favorite political figure, music star, or actor did something that upset you. Tom Cruise comes to mind, so let's use him as an example. As a star, people idolized him, fantasized about him, and at one point in time girls (and some guys) got giddy over possibly seeing him in person. He's famous, which made him more attractive, and people poured a lot of their personal energy into this idealized mental image of what he was like.

The public created a thoughtform for Tom Cruise. Oh, the media and publicists help shape it like they always do, but the public feeds the energy into it. He had a good thing going, until the rumors about him being gay cropped up. Then between marrying Nicole Kidman, publicly announcing his affiliation with the Church of Scientology, saying some nasty things about Brooke Shields and the couch-jumping about his marriage to Katie Holmes, Cruise became a laughingstock.

He failed to continue living up to the expectations of his fans, and now he's spoken of with either ridicule or disdain. The energy shifted in tone and instead of positive, people pour negative energy at him when they bother to at all.

But really, that happens with any celebrity. I'll stop picking on Tom now. Your favorite blogger today may be someone you ridicule tomorrow if you don't like what they have to say.

So let's look at what happens on the etheric level. You like some person or sports team, you decide that they're worthy of your admiration, and you feed them energy. By aligning yourself with them that way, it feels as though you're sharing in the energy of the whole fan base, and it feels good. Their success feeds your ego and makes you happy because you're connected to them on an energy level. Their failures, however, make you upset because then it feels like you fail. You get angry at them for “failing you”, and the positive you fed them becomes negative. We all know that generating negative energy long enough over time becomes toxic, so if you keep it up you wind up poisoning your own aura. At best, you might disassociate yourself from them and break the connection.

But what does that do to them? In the weeks since the Paula Deen scandal started, it looks like she's lost weight and has lines on her face that weren't there before. How much of that is her body reacting to the stress of negative energy blasting at her from the public and/or being starved of the positive energy she's used to receiving? Pick any President, and look at the before and after pictures surrounding their term in office, and you'll see what 4 years in the Oval Office can do to a person. Toxic energy causes harm to us, and to the objects of our focus.  I think it also creates stress in the person we're focused on, which has physically harmful side-effects.

In discussing this subject with friends before writing this post, the following possible solutions to the dilemma were put forth:

  1. Don't form energetic attachments to public figures.
  2. Don't form attachments to anyone in order to avoid disappointment.
  3. Love everyone indiscriminately.

None of those are terribly practical, are they? I think we humans are always going to form attachments to public figures, but we should control how much importance we give them. Let people be human. We can't go through life avoiding all attachments, or we never allow ourselves to love. But we can't love indiscriminately without “bleeding out” on an energy level. I think the best we can do is to be rational about our own feelings of attachment and let other people be human.

If you put someone on a pedestal, it's going to hurt a lot of folks when it comes crashing down.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Worship - It doesn't mean what you think it means


It seems that some people feel that “worship” means bowing and scraping ones forehead on the ground in some slavish humiliation to the gods.

It does not.

From the Merriam-Webster dictionary:

1 chiefly British : a person of importance —used as a title for various officials (as magistrates and some mayors)
2 reverence offered a divine being or supernatural power; also: an act of expressing such reverence
3 a form of religious practice with its creed and ritual
4 extravagant respect or admiration for or devotion to an object of esteem

And reverence, from the same source:

1 honor or respect felt or shown : deference; especially : profound adoring awed respect
2 a gesture of respect (as a bow)
3 the state of being revered
4 one held in reverence —used as a title for a clergyman

See? There's nothing in there about bowing and scraping, chanting “We're not Worthy”, humiliating yourself, or slitting a goat's throat.

I think some folks in the pagan world see the word “worship” and flash back to something in their Christian past that made them feel less than great, and the word gets a bad rap. Personally, I treat my gods like friends and family (the ones you like) and dedicate acts of kindness and charity to them.

Some hard-core reconstructionists probably won't agree with me, but that's OK. I'm not telling anyone they have to do things my way, or live in accordance with my will. I'm just sharing what works for me, because it works so very well for me.

Worship is a word. A perfectly reasonable word. If you have negative associations with the word, go do some Shadow work, write some spells to help you get over it in your journal, and move on. Just think, when you're done getting over this issue, you have one less thing that pisses you off. Won't that be nice?

Peace out, Witches.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Gods, Heroes, and Violins...

The recent pagan blogosphere explosion over comic book heroes being likened to gods as expressions of the same archetypal ideas is.....

Welll...

Tiresome.

Honestly, it's an old and trite conversation that anyone who's been around the pagan community more than 10 years has heard before, although perhaps not with this much vitriol.  Generally we have these sorts of conversations while trying out someones latest batch of home-brewed mead or something.  It's right up there with the same tired old "what is a pagan, really these days?" conversation that I'm not going to get into.

So here's my thinking on the subject, do with it what you will.

For "cerebral pagans" who intellectualize everything and analyze everything, it's a perfectly fine conversation to have, speculating on parallels.  Anyone can see that in many ways Superman is the Heracles mythos revamped for a more modern era.  Still, it's a fun intellectual exercise, but not really the basis for a serious philosophical approach to the pagan mysteries.

For a hard polytheist, it's a borderline insulting conversation.  Frankly, I can't imagine how ticked off I'd be if I was a hard polytheist who worshiped Thor, seeing the comic books, cartoons, and movies basically making a mockery of my personal deity.  If Christians started seeing Jesus action hero figurines, and Jesus comic books where he's less than perfect, portrayed as having faults, and showed his bare bottom, they'd probably be incensed.  Making a mockery of someone else's sacred and holy god/tradition/thing is just enormously assholic.

If the conversation were a little different, where Superman and the other comic book heroes were likened to heroic archetypes instead of gods, maybe the whole thing wouldn't have gotten quite so explosive.  But I think it's too late to interject a note of reason into the larger conversation stream, unfortunately.  I almost wasn't going to comment on it at all, really.

But on the way home from work tonight, I was listening to National Public Radio as usual, and the most interesting story was running.  It totally made my inner music geek sit up and squee with delight.  Story link is here:  Playing Mozart

In the story, people were talking with excited reverence about seeing, touching, and actually playing Mozart's instruments.  The real deal from the 18th century.  It made me realize that these people, while not worshiping Mozart as a god, were treating his instruments as almost holy relics.  This was literally the high point of some peoples lives, and I don't blame them for their feelings at all.  I mean geez, Mozart touched those!

In the story, there was a comment made that struck a huge nerve with me:  "They're quieter than modern instruments and produce less brilliantly colored tones. They force the audience to lean in to appreciate them."

Maybe we, as a pagan community need to remember that sometimes the louder and more flashy things aren't as precious as something that requires our energy to pay attention to.  Open all of your senses and revel in the glory of a sunrise, the next time you're up that early.  Give your first sip of tea or coffee in the morning all the attention of a devout monk in a cathedral listening to the Pope for the first time, and really enjoy the experience in all of its minute details.  Maybe by living a more reverential life, we can more easily treat each other with reverence.

But what do I know?  I'm just a guy whose first word was "Batman", after all.

Peace out, Witches.

Monday, June 10, 2013

To Dare: Throwing off the shackles of other peoples limits


The title for this blog post is a bit misleading. It doesn't really take courage to reject other peoples limits or expectations, you just have to do it and accept that there may be consequences you can't foresee. You don't have to prove to anyone that you're "pagan enough", because you set your own limits for who and what you should be.  Back in the days of PI (Pre-Internet), when Llewellyn only had a few books out and everyone was trying to struggle through Drawing Down the Moon, if you were lucky enough to find a teacher of Wicca one of the earliest things you learned was the Witch's Pyramid – To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Be Silent. With a heavy emphasis on being silent about what you were learning, who you were learning it with, and what you were doing.

These days, lots of people have broken their old oaths and broadcast everything on the Internet. Well, almost everything... some of us old-timers still have plenty of secrets we don't make public. Unfortunately, the down side to everything being so public and so accessible is that people are learning everything on their own (not always bad), from potentially questionable sources (bad), without any structure or proper monitoring of their energies while learning new psychic and magical skills (potentially awful). Think of it like a weight lifter without a spotter – if your form is wrong or you're lifting too much weight at once, you can seriously injure yourself.  If you were learning to juggle, a smart person would start with tennis balls.  Some people are trying to learn to juggle with swords, and hurt themselves because they don't have the skills yet.

The really big problem I see with this learning model is the complete and utter lack of self-confidence. A lot of self-taught pagans these days haven't done the deeper Shadow work to throw off the mores and expectations of their previous religion. That, my dear readers, is the part that takes courage. Self-examination, objective analysis of your own motivation and patterns, and finding a way to live free of those old patterns. If you're looking to others for your validation, you're looking in all the wrong places. While it's true that in an initiatory Mystery tradition you have to be initiated by someone to really be a part of it, that's not the only valid path in the meandering forest of paganism. Without having someone around to validate what you're learning by teaching you, it takes more work to validate it internally - but it's totally doable with enough internal objectivity.  However if you haven't thrown off the need for validation or example from someone else, you're doing yourself a disservice, and the gods a fair amount of disrespect.

And here's why. Your connection to Deity is YOURS, not someone else's. Oh, a good teacher can help you find the way to build your own connections to the Elementals and the Gods, but in reality you don't always need us for that. If you ignore your birthright to connect to the Mysteries of the Universe, you're basically throwing the gift in the trash. Everyone has that access themselves, if you look deep inside enough and learn to listen without your ego getting in the way. That's what a good teacher is for – to help you find your own power. My happiest moments of teaching in the past have been when my students have realized that their connection and their way of touching the Divine was different from mine, but correct for them.

You're going to have a more difficult time finding and keeping your connection to the Life around you if you haven't let go of old patterns, though. There are many choices other people make with their spiritual practices that I simply don't agree with, and don't or can't understand. But you know what? My opinion doesn't matter, because that's their path. I just hope they're doing what's truly right for them and fulfilling for them in every way, without being damaging.

So become your own role model. Establish your own parameters for what a “good” pagan is, and then figure out how to live up to it. Routinely (at least once a year) re-examine what you're doing and how happy it's making you, to see if you need to tweak something to be happier and more fulfilling. Don't be shy about asking for opinion, but don't take anything someone else says as gospel. See how you feel about it, internalize what works for you and get rid of the rest. Don't be a sheep, be a nice independent goat.

And don't put other pagans up on a pedestal. They're human, just like you are. Celebrate their wisdom as part of the tribe, but don't pretend they're some Catholic saint, because they're not. Expecting them to be is really unfair. I adore Selena Fox, I celebrate the marvelous hard work she's poured into public paganism and the amazing strides she's made for all of us over the decades. That lady totally found her passion and dared to make it a reality. But she's human. She laughs, she gets sad, and I'm sure once in a while she even has moments where she loses her temper, or farts or something. I would love to meet her, and some of the pagan authors I admire, but only because I think we'd have a great time hanging out, not because I think they're going to poof me into some neo-angelic being with their presence.

Am I making any sense, or have I rambled too much? Feel free to comment or leave questions, I'll do my best to answer. Just remember, I'm not perfect and I don't know everything. Just like you.

Peace out, Witches.

Monday, March 25, 2013

My Psychic Day


So last night, I didn't do so great at the sleeping part. I just kept waking up, thinking it was time to get up. This is the primary reason I hate getting up before the sun – when you know you shouldn't be awake before sunrise, you never have to check the clock.

So anyway, I got up and did the usual morning routine, spiritual cleansing and got dressed for work and out the door on time.

I should have realized my shielding wasn't up to par when every single person on the freeway around me was like hearing a bee buzz at the edge of my hearing.

Got to the office, shielded the car from thieves as usual and walked into the office. Someone sprayed something “fragrant” in the downstairs lobby and I got upstairs as quickly as I could. I kept hearing yelling. Not angry, just yelling. But it was only in my head and I couldn't tell who I was hearing.

Then I got to my cubicle and the muscle tension started. I was getting bleedover from everyone. Here's what that means. I bad taste in my mouth and feeling like my jaw was clenched – the guy in the next cubicle is having problems with his wisdom teeth and is in pain.

Someone somewhere in the building was upset and it had me feeling a little nauseated.

Someone else was laughing about something sarcastically, and it felt like I'd just had a bite of really tart cherry pie.

I saw that somebody had scattered my circle of quartz crystals over the weekend, so I did a psychic cleansing on my space as well as the crystals and reformed them into a circuit to boost my shielding. Things died down to a dull roar and the inner noises went into the background for a while.

I went downstairs to take my manager a book, and his office door was closed. I went to knock, and I smelled poo and heard a toilet flush so I waited. Yep, there he was a minute or two later coming down the hall. I hate psychically smelling poo. It's just so … well... icky.

And then as we were chatting, I could feel how tired he was. Fortunately, I had a meeting at 9am to go to and didn't spend a lot of time in there with him.

One of the people I was meeting with was saying she was tired, but she felt alert and “bright” to me, so meeting with her was a nice respite from everything else so far that day.

That was just the first hour I was at the office. I'm home now, my nerves are frazzled from trying to shut everything out today especially at the grocery store after work.

I have felt arthritis, headaches, toothache, irritation, worry, and grief today (not sure who was feeling that at work) and I'm frankly exhausted. On the up side, no mental images of anyone having sex hit my radar. Thank goodness!

Hoping a night of sleep puts everything right again, I've already done the sage and frankincense thing in the bedroom. And if it doesn't, I'm putting on the hematite bracelet and putting the onyx in my pants pocket before I leave tomorrow. I may do that anyway, just in case.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Being Pagan

I was going to edit this and give it more order than stream of consciousness, but I think instead I'll just let you see how it came out of my head and through the keyboard, no editing at all.

----


I've seen a lot of people lately in various forums trying to define paganism with the apparent intent of using that definition to tell people what is and is not allowed under the pagan umbrella.

This is not one of those attempts.

Instead, I have chosen to examine my own feelings and thoughts on the matter and express them here, in my online sacred space. I am mindful that what I write may be offensive to some if they internalize it and apply it to themselves, but that is not my intent. I am sharing my worldview purely for the purpose of sharing. I do accept that other people see things differently and no one is required to live up to my personal definition of pagan, witch, wiccan, magician etc.

When I close my eyes and look at the world around me through my mind's eye, I don't see a riot of colors that can't be seen with my physical eyes. Magic doesn't work that way for me. I don't hear unearthly noises like the singing of pixies or anything. I do, however, feel things that can't be touched, seen, or heard. I feel a warm, vibrant sense of life all around me. It's like the sun on your back, or a stream rushing over your hand, but less tangible. It's actually closer to that feeling you got from the old-style televisions when you put your arm near the screen and the hairs would rise up. That feeling is what I get when I'm experiencing the flow of life.

In my perception and experience, ghosts, gods, elementals and nature spirits are just as real as you and I. Energy that is cohesive and directed by intelligence with emotional expression, but without physicality.

I perceive a spiritual plane of existence overlaid with our own that I think of as “the causal plane” where magical focus creates the change and it ripples into manifestation in our reality. In all likelihood, that idea is part experience and partly what I've read somewhere in the last 30 years. I've honestly forgotten what I've read in that period of time so I can't pin it down to a specific influence, but the concept works well for me. When I whistle up the wind, I'm focusing on the causal plane's wind moving and the physical wind moves after it (when it works). When I'm drawing down the moon into myself, it's liquid silver electricity that shifts my consciousness more into the causal than the physical reality. When I draw down the sun, it's golden healing fire that doesn't shift me quite as far, but strengthens the scope and breadth of my perceptions in the physical world to better connect to the causal and create change. I'm not sure if that's even close to explaining correctly, but when I'm needing physical strength I'll draw on the sun and charge up my chi that way. And yes, I draw both energies into myself at the same time without going insane, or exploding or causing any other damage. Because they're compatible, though different.

Being pagan, or a witch, is accepting that reality. That we live with spirits and other energy beings all around us and that magic is a real force that we can tune into and create change with.

My personal need for balance has me accepting the Goddess and our horned, virile image of God at the same time. I am both masculine and feminine, and I honor experience the creative force of the universe as both genders working in harmony. If I ignore Him in favor of Her, then I do Her a disservice by depriving her of her partner. I'm totally cool with other people sticking with one or the other, that's their path to walk. For my path, I have to honor both and I can't do it differently to accommodate someone else.

I am uncomfortable with fictional terms (like “muggle”, “guardian”, or “planeweaver”) being applied in real life. I feel like it's a line that shouldn't be blurred, even in jest. Well, ok, maybe in jest once in a while, but I've learned that if you use the same joke too often it can become an ingrained pattern. Too often, I've watched folks read or watch something fictional and immediately start equating it to real life and adopting the terms used by the author. That road leads to delusion, and away from the reality of magic I'm afraid.

I cringe when people say “Initiation doesn't mean anything”, because I've had some deeply profound spiritual experiences through initiatory life events. The titles that we humans create to go along with some of those initiatory experiences don't mean much, except inside our own carefully constructed social groups. The experience should always be honored, even if it doesn't conform to my personal idea of an initiation.

(Wow, that's really random and requires a lot of editing.)

Bottom line, being pagan to me means acknowledging the flow of Life all around us, and connecting with others of like mind in this plane and the spiritual planes.

Each of us has our song to sing, and whether it's a ballad, country & western song, heavy metal, or classical violin piece they're all valid. What doesn't work for me works for others, and it's not my place to tell someone they can't do it. I can, however, put in earplugs. I can accept it and not like it, without beating someone else up over it. And isn't that just the courteous way to interact?