Posts filed under ‘How-To’

Ignore the Bullies, and Keep Being Awesome

The Bullies Don’t Actually Know You: A Vital Reminder in How Crowd-Sourced Jerks Work

Over the years, I’ve seen various people with eloquent and well thought out opinions and positive contributions retreat from online spaces because they couldn’t take the bullying and the obnoxious comments. Some people just make their blogs comment-free. Others retreat completely. This is all an individual choice, but the problem just gets worse whenever we do this- we cede more territory to the nasty people. Remember, they are a relative minority- the loudest, most obnoxious, often unemployed for a reason (nothing against unemployed people- I’m one of them after all!) They are not a true reflection of the entire community or subculture that they participate in online.

Now, building face to face, in person community is important, and I try to use the Internet as a tool for doing that- I sometimes hear from people in a particular community who poo-poo it all and think that they are better because they managed to find each other in (insert decade here) the old-fashioned way. Well, that’s nice, but not everyone happens to be in the right place to just stumble across other people of a particular religious, sexual minority, disability, hobby group or what have you. Sometimes you are dealing with people that are more in the closet about various things, and you have to find a way to lure them out- at least into a space they feel safe. For some folks, that space will continue to be primarily online. Some people are geographically isolated. They may not be able to afford to go to Pagan festivals, science fiction conventions, or bisexual conferences. They may have complex health needs, businesses to run or young children or elderly parents to take care of. They may even be homeless or living in a group home or mental institution, but Tumblr or Twitter are places they can reach the outside world on their smart phone and get support and information. For some people, this can be a life or death connection. So let’s not tell them that they are just “slacktivists” and lazy homebodies when we don’t know their situation.

These are the folks I’m thinking of who keep me writing online. I try to get past all the drama, just transcend, and remember why I’m here and what I’m doing. Moderate your comments- delete the abusive ones, the derailing ones, the ones that just don’t add to conversations. Write a FAQ or a “How to Be an Ally to Group X” (or link to either) so you don’t have to keep answering the same questions, but at the same time, don’t bite people’s heads off for asking them. Just say “Good question- please read the FAQ/101 Masterpost, and let me know if you want to know more”. When people tell you “your interpretation of feminism/queer theory/Norse mythology/Star Wars canon is WRONG!!! Tell them, OK then why don’t you make your own post/essay/ritual/interpretative dance/fan fiction/workshop and do it your way. Some people just want attention, any attention even if it’s negative. Sometimes we can re-direct them in a more positive direction. Sometimes they will just sit in the corner and pout and try to cause trouble another day. Sometimes they’ll surprise you, because you’re the first person to consider their pet theory/idea/project (even if you think it’s totally out there/impractical/silly) But if they are willing to create their thing and follow their groove while playing well with others, I’ll give them a shout-out, even if it’s not my cut of tea.

But I love the internet, because it’s a giant marketplace of ideas. Many of them are bad. Some of them are harmful. Some of them are good- and even really cool. So keep coming up with new ideas and developing them and sharing them with like-minded people. Keep Being Awesome.

Your Fandom’s OK, my Fandom’s OK

August 27, 2015 at 12:30 am 1 comment

Frugal & Eco-Friendly Pagan Decor & Ritual Gear

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.

Misc. Thrifty Craft Formulas

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

July 30, 2015 at 8:49 am Leave a comment

Getting Starting in Various Polytheisms

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.

General

Book recommendations from Galina Krasskova- Resources for Beginners & Not-so-Beginners

A list with lots of resources- Pagan 101

Specific Traditions

Otherfaith

Celtic Polytheism– My resource page, which I’m always adding to!

Hellenic Polytheism

Lykeia’s thoughts on setting up a Hellenic shrine

Roman Polytheism

Heathenry

Getting Started with Heathen Practice– Beth Wodandis’ guide to the basics

Natib Qadish- Canaanite polytheism

Setting up a Shrine

Daily Devotions How-to

Shanatu Qadistu- the Canaanite Sacred Year

Kemetic Polytheism (Egyptian)

Kemetic Starter Guide

Hinduism (not necessarily polytheist, but I consider it a “cousin” religion)

Super Simple Daily Puja

Shinto-

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

Shinto Resources

June 10, 2015 at 9:53 pm 7 comments

Caer’s Devotional How-Tos

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.

Growing Devotions

Part 1 Understanding Devotions

Part 2 Finding Your Center

Part 3 Connecting with the Land

Part 4 Embracing the Ancestors

Part 5 Knowing the Gods

Part 6 Returning to the Center

Striking the Spark: Oil Lamps- What, How to Make & Use Them

Part 1 History of Oil Lamps– symbolism, fuel options, types of oil lamps

Part 2 Constructing the Standing Wick Oil Lamp

Part 3 Constructing the Floating Wick Oil Lamp 

Part 4 Using Oil Lamps

Building Woo Spaces

Altars & Shrines– How are they different?

Personal Shrines 

Working Altars

May 24, 2015 at 9:25 am 2 comments

Unpacking/Repacking Your Baggage

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?

May 16, 2015 at 12:55 am 3 comments

Approaching Paganism- What and Why?

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

Culture-Based Religions

Magic & Religion

4 Intro to Syncretism

Earth/Nature/Eco-spirituality

6 Mystery Traditions

7 Shamanism Part 1: Origins, Spread in Use of Term, Part 2: Is “Cultural Neutrality” Possible? Part 3: Other Words, Other Worlds

Getting Started in Various Polytheisms

9 Patron Deities

10 Spiritual Specialists vs. General Practitioners

11 Vocational Paths- Warrior, Priest, Bard etc.

Pop Culture Influences

Related post of interest: PSVL’s Tips for New Polytheists, Jenett’s Seeker’s Guide (amazing set of resources put together by a professional librarian, of course!)

Recommended book (general not Pagan-specific) Finding Your Religion by Scott McLennan

May 15, 2015 at 7:40 am 5 comments

Project: Making a Polytheist Prayer Book

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.

May 12, 2015 at 1:15 am Leave a comment

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