Posts filed under ‘How-To’
A lot of metaphysical/magical/Pagan ritual tools and statuary etc. are expensive, and cheap alternatives are often not very eco-friendly.
The ever-amazing Ozark Pagan Mamma (Tressabelle) has some great ideas for crafting Pagan decor
Crafting with Salt Dough– make simple (or complex!) wall plaques, deity figurines, beads etc.
Lupa also has lots of suggestions for eco-friendly ritual tools, including how she gathers ethically sourced animal parts and other items for her own artwork.
More links on an earlier post of mine- Practice- Simple & Frugal
If you aren’t sure what tradition you will be following (or creating!) this is a nice way to compare things a bit before you dive head-first into something! Remember also, that polytheist and animist practice doesn’t have to be based on a particular cultural tradition- either historic or living. One example of a modern, polytheistic religion is the Otherfaith, involving worship of eight Gods and a multitude of spirits. Though I’m not a follower myself, I find it fascinating to watch the development of the Otherfaith, the reflection of human diversity in their Gods (or rather are we reflections of the Gods?) and my discussions with Other People has added a lot of insight in my own attempts at finding modern inspiration.
Book recommendations from Galina Krasskova- Resources for Beginners & Not-so-Beginners
A list with lots of resources- Pagan 101
Celtic Polytheism– My resource page, which I’m always adding to!
Getting Started with Heathen Practice– Beth Wodandis’ guide to the basics
Natib Qadish- Canaanite polytheism
Kemetic Polytheism (Egyptian)
Hinduism (not necessarily polytheist, but I consider it a “cousin” religion)
Minzoku Neo-Shinto– great introductory e-book about folk Shinto, this is also a great place to look for ideas on adapting polytheism to modern life
Caer Jones has a bunch of great articles on her blog about developing devotional practices that can be useful for people of many traditions- or even folks who haven’t yet figured out what path they are on yet. Even if your practice ends up being totally different than what she does, it gives you some ideas to work with.
Striking the Spark: Oil Lamps- What, How to Make & Use Them
Part 1 History of Oil Lamps– symbolism, fuel options, types of oil lamps
Building Woo Spaces
Altars & Shrines– How are they different?
Before we go exploring Paganism(s), we need to be prepared by unpacking and repacking our spiritual and emotional baggage from our philosophical, and/or religious upbringings. We need to make sure we aren’t bringing things along that will drag us down, and make sure we are equipped with the right tools for what we might find! Even if you have been practicing Paganism for a while- or many years, sometimes it’s good to take a look at what you are carrying around, sort thru it and repack!
Initially I was dividing this up into questions for people who had a religious upbringing vs. a secular one but it felt like a rather artificial division- so just answer whichever questions seem relevant to you!
What religions or philosophies are dominant in your country, region and/or cultural background(s)?
Is there any status, privilege or social advantages that go with belonging to those religions?
If you were brought up with a minority religion or philosophy (this can include a secular/nonreligious one) how did this affect you and your family?
Are there customs and traditions you were brought up with that have religious origins? What personal and family meanings do they have?
What attitudes did you learn about people of different faiths or non-religious people? People in or from other cultures and countries- or even regions of your own country?
What attitudes did you learn about gender and sexuality?
What kind of ethics, morality or value systems were you brought up with? From what sources do these values come?
Views of death and the afterlife- importance or lack of- as compared with the value of this life?
Important for Repacking and Setting Off to Explore:
How have your views on these various issues changed over time, and what influenced them to change? (Education, talking to people with other views, reading/watching/listening to media, your own thoughts, experiences, etc)
Do you have any feelings of anger, guilt, frustration towards your upbringing, family members, clergy or religious communities? What work do you need to do with those feelings so they don’t get in the way of your spiritual explorations?
What positive things did you learn and experience from past religions you’ve participated in? What worked for you or didn’t? What helped you grow spiritually and emotionally?
Now and then after I mention my religion on Facebook, Meetup or heck, in person someone asks me to tell them more about Paganism, simply out of general curiosity or because they are interested in exploring it themselves. I’ve referred a couple people to the Four Centers of Paganism article by John Beckett.
I’ll start with Pagan Pride’s definition which I feel is broad enough to be inclusive, but not meaningless as non-Abrahamic religion tends to be.
A Pagan or NeoPagan is someone who self-identifies as a Pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:
- Honoring, revering, or worshipping a Deity or Deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal, or tribal mythology; and/or
- Practicing religion or spirituality based upon shamanism, shamanic, or magickal practices; and/or
- Creating new religion based on past Pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology;
- Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the Divine Feminine; and/or
- Practicing religion that focuses on earth based spirituality.
Ironically, after sharing that, I’m going to make the suggestion of backing away from the word Pagan/Paganism, since as you can see it is so broad- don’t worry for now, what label applies to you if any. I’ve been on my rambling path for 16+ years, and have use many different labels!
What do you want to *do*? One thing I can generalize about, is that Pagan religions are generally more about what you do than what you believe. Personal and communal spiritual experience matters more than the words of a holy book.
Who do you want to *be*? Pagan practices also give us many more choices than simply being a clergyperson or a layperson- sometimes there are no clergy, sometimes everyone’s clergy, sometimes there are many different spiritual roles- even ones that change throughout our lives- becoming an elder, for example. It isn’t as simple as decided you want to be a Druid, Witch, warrior, priestess of Bast and so forth however, you need to find what path is right for you, and learn to listen to what calls you, rather than what seems cool and glamorous!
There are many different approaches- even within the same tradition.
Here are some of the different approaches we’ll explore in following posts-
First Steps: Unpacking/Repacking Your Spiritual Baggage
11 Vocational Paths- Warrior, Priest, Bard etc.
Pop Culture Influences
Recommended book (general not Pagan-specific) Finding Your Religion by Scott McLennan
Way back when I read Ariel’s great series of posts on How to Make a Polytheist Prayer Book. I thought what great ideas! And then of course like most devotional ideas, it was forgotten about. Often I find when someone writes a long series of posts, it’s hard to find them all, so I’m linking them all here in order with some descriptions. I also am copy/pasting all them into a Word document to print off, and highlight parts to help me navigate it. (for my own use- do not re-post Ariel’s stuff- respect her copyright!) I’m not sure if it’s appropriate for me to post summaries here or not, so I will discuss my journey thru the steps and comment on how well they work for me, and note any variations I come up with as I go.
Step 1– Pick out a notebook- suggestions on what to consider
Step 2– Setting up the working notebook
Step 3– Finish set-up- Title, Table of Contents, Index
Step 4– Choosing a Spirit of Inspiration
Step 5– Make notes about the spirit of inspiration (epithets, attributes, symbols)
Steps 6, 7,8, 9– Write or adapt a prayer for inspiration for the project, make offering to spirit of inspiration and read/recite prayer
Steps 10, 11, 12, 13– Adapt invocation for inspiration prayer into a smaller prayer for more regular use. Consider when, where and how to worship on a regular basis. Shrine permanent or portable? What holidays will you celebrate that will need special prayers? Look for another notebook to use as a final prayer book.
Step 14, 15, Conclusion– Make a worship/devotional plan- with a list or chart. Choose a book to use as the long(er) term prayer book.