Posts tagged ‘spiritual development’

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?

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May 16, 2015 at 12:55 am 3 comments

Approaching Pagan Religions

Now and then after I mention my religion on Facebook, Meetup or heck, in person someone asks me to tell them more about Pagan religions, simply out of general curiosity or because they are interested in exploring it themselves.

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 Isn’t Always Pagan

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:  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

Creating Devotions for Secular Events- Brainstorming

In theory, I believe there isn’t a strict separation between the holy and the mundane- to some degree there is, but the lines are blurry as with everything spiritual. I have been reading thoughts lately by Sannion, Galina and other folks about polytheistic devotion vs. social/political activism and where those lines should be drawn. I’m still sorting my thoughts out on this- as readers of this blog know, I see a commitment to social justice as a part of my spirituality. But I also strongly believe in separation of church and state, and don’t want one particular political dogma to be enforced in any of my religious groups. I will admit, I’m mostly an armchair philosophical polytheist with agnostic leanings (or vice versa?) and I keep meaning to motivate myself to become more spiritually active in spite of my doubts and my Sunday Christian background…it’s complicated.

Most of the community work I do is not explicitly religious- the groups I participate in may include Pagans, but of course we aren’t necessarily the same type of Pagan and we aren’t going to have prayers smack dab in the middle of a meeting! Being in a secular environment most of the time makes it difficult to stay in a spiritual frame of mind- I feel the need to go thru some type of paradigm shift!

But there are ways to incorporate your beliefs and even “sneak in” practices in secular settings without violating anyone else’s rights.

Pray, Meditate, Make an Offering before leaving to attend an event. You can also say a prayer- silently or aloud in some situations.

Arts & Music– if you are involved in planning an event that includes art and music, try to include themes, styles and topics that fit with your tradition or path but also fit with the mission and purpose of the event. There are tons of things that to me, have some type of spiritual association, that to other people will just seem like good music and art!

Nature– engaging with local elements of nature in some way and encourage eco-friendly practices (it could even be something as simple as bringing a potted plant as a centerpiece for a buffet) Think about the nature spirits, Gaia etc. as you do so.

Relating to People– practice values like hospitality in your relationships with others

Remembering History & Ancestors– Learn about the history of the organization, event, business, neighborhood, city etc. that you are working with. Incorporate positive aspects of that knowledge into your participation. Take into account negative aspects as you work for change/improvement and consider potential ripple effects on yourself and your community. (Wyrd/orlog if you are Heathen)

These are kind of vague, I realize but I am brainstorming here- I will work on making some specific suggestions by using examples of events that I attend myself in another post.

May 6, 2015 at 4:31 am 2 comments

Is UUism just my Spiritual Safety Husband?

Th term safety husband (or wife or spouse) refers to a friend that you would consider as a suitable if less than ideal partner to marry, should you not meet the spouse of your dreams, especially by age 40 or 50.  (I could comment about the rather messed-up tyranny of couple-dom that this concept promotes but that’s another post!)

Anyway, I have been wondering if UUism is really just my spiritual community equivalent of a safety spouse. After going thru lots of bad break-ups, I thought well, this “person” is nice, we have enough in common, share the same general values, zie owns a house and lives nearby, it’s a stable place to raise a family. I enjoy our visits together, but still wonder if I need a little more passion and good ritual in my life. Am I really being a good enough partner if my heart isn’t it this enough?

In the Pagan realm, I wonder if to find a stable community I’ll need to compromise and join a coven- there are many well-established ones here. Reclaiming shares a lot of my values, and they have a thriving community. But I don’t think my heart would be in that either. Non-Wiccans/Witches seem so scattered throughout the urban sprawl. Meanwhile I have a lot of trouble motivating myself to practice as a solitary.

Frankly in both settings, I have the similar situation of having people whom I’d consider close acquaintances but not really friends. I have known some of the regulars of the Wiccan Church of Minnesota (WiCoM) since I took a Wicca/Paganism 101 class when I was 16. (My dad signed off on it) They all know me by name, will say “Mariah, how are you doing? Haven’t seen in you in ages!” and even give me a (consensual) hug. There were a couple of people I ran into at Paganicon that wanted to get together for coffee chats. One of them was a person from the Cauldron Forum- several of the same folks that were there last year were present- Veggiewolf, HeartShadow (I know at least some of their actual names, just using the screen names for privacy and in case other folks reading this know them) It turned out one of the Kemetic peeps (sorry, she has a long Egyptian name I can’t remember!) lives not far from me so yay. So maybe I will make some new/old Actual Friends. I also think I should get together with folks on the BOP board and get to know them better.

Just generally continuing to Get a Life is good!

March 19, 2015 at 4:50 am Leave a comment

Finding my Path Again

As Paganicon approaches, I find myself re-evaluating my (rather dormant!) spiritual path. I think for the past year, with the depression, it’s kind of like I’ve been wandering through the mists and need to find the path again, only to find it rather hidden and overgrown. I need to do some weeding, replace broken pavement stones and such. Being a caretaker of an old house, these home maintenance analogies come very easily to mind!

My main focus has had to be managing the depression, becoming active and involved with my communities in a sustainable manner that helps me get away from sitting at home alone stewing in my thoughts. One aspect of that has been becoming a Director of the Bisexual Organizing Project, a way to give myself a job (even if unpaid) with responsibilities that helps me develop my self-confidence and skills. The next step is to psych myself up enough to start looking for work again. I don’t have a specific idea of what I want to do, mainly Please Not Customer Service!!! Or at least not certain types. This time I would like to network with other people with disabilities- particularly learning disabilities/autism/developmental disabilities, and perhaps their family members and so forth.

Anyway, I am ignoring spiritual approaches that others do that don’t seem helpful to my situation (the Put the Gods first type stuff) and looking for ones that do seem helpful. I am looking for spiritual practices that might help me build up my confidence, reduce my anxieties, and re-direct negative though patterns in positive directions. I am not sure if I believe in magic, but if I’m not mistaken there are magical techniques that are more about changing how you think than changing the world around you. Without being totally, The Secret and the power of positive thinking can totally solve your problems!!!

I am also trying to back away from more intense and extreme versions of activism and social justice stuff. I’ve noticed that I feel good about going to meetings and doing things in person, but online discussions have a tendency to get really negative and depressing, so I am avoiding or at least being more selective about participating in them. In particular, climate change/Big Environmental Problems OMG!! are things I avoid, which is difficult because it’s also a big thing at Unity Unitarian. I have sat through at least two sermons about environmental destruction one of which listed in detail all the types of species that were endangered or going extinct that made me cry. It was like, yes I get it, humanity has messed up, and all this bad stuff is happening, but there wasn’t much space in the sermon for redemption, and oh here’s something small and manageable that you can actually do. It just fills you with despair, not a desire to be active. There’s also a lot of elitist baggage involved which is really alienating to someone who doesn’t have much money.

The other political area that I have to get away from for sanity reasons is the anti-capitalism and anarchism. I am not an anarchist, but I hang out with some of them online, and they can be cool people with whom I agree with some things. But a lot of the stuff they write I have to avoid, it’s like drinking a giant depression dose. I am skeptical of capitalism in many ways, and I realize it has a lot of problems but I kind of need to set that aside and well believe in it enough to go find a job, keep it etc. It seems like we’ve gone to the opposite extreme of Keeping Up with the Joneses, to a contest of who can intentionally live the simplest life on the least amount of money, involving the least amount of working for “The Man” and feeling morally superior to people who have regular jobs. When I signed up to be Pagan, that didn’t mean signing up to be poor. Wanting a decent job does not automatically make me Scrooge. I feel like we can’t have real discussions about these things because there is too much political division. Well that was long enough. More on the path development thing another day!

March 6, 2015 at 11:24 pm 7 comments

Wrestling with God(s)

I’m a thinker who often over-thinks things to the point of worrying and getting depressed and angsty over Big Questions- and even little questions. What Does It All Mean? What is My Purpose ™? Do God(s) exist, if so, who are they, do they give a @#$* about me, and what should I do? In Hebrew, wrestling with G-d means Israel. As I was discussing in an earlier post, both Christianity & Islam seem to have more a tendency towards “This is the Way it Is. Just Believe and Obey- or you will make Baby Jesus cry or Allah will be displeased” Not always how it is, but those are dominant messages they tend to give us. Judaism, on the other hand often seems to have more space for wrestling with G-d, debating what does this verse mean- there are centuries of texts of back and forth rabbinical debates! I just finished watching a both hilarious and insightful web series called Dude, Where’s My Chutzpah? by filmaker Jessie Kahnweiler. http://www.dudewheresmychutzpah.com  It’s about a woman (based on Jessie herself) in her 20’s who is wandering rather aimlessly thru life, but then after her devout Jewish grandmother dies, the rabbi gives her a challenge based on her Bubbe’s wishes- to spend a year finding her “chutzpah” and figure out what it means to live a Jewish life/be Jewish. I don’t think I’m spoiling much when I tell you that Jessie finds the answers lead to even more questions! But seriously, go watch, regardless of your belief/cultural background, it’s fun.

So what does this have to do with Paganism/polytheism/UUism/Spiritual Label of the week?

I guess we Pagans are typically more concerned with what we do, and how and why we do it, rather than what we believe. I think theology and what we believe does matter to some degree, but it’s ok to be uncertain. It’s part of being human. John Beckett had some good wisdom about this- advising “Practice Deeply, Hold Beliefs Loosely” and keep re-examining your beliefs. Don’t get so stuck on them that they become obstacles. Of the many discussions over What Does it Mean To Be Pagan?! (oh teh angst!) one that struck me the most was from Steven Posch, an elder Witch of Paganistan*, who is generally more into Actually Doing Stuff than just arguing about how to do it online. He thinks Pagans are a people…an emerging culture. There are many ways to be Pagan, and it’s an essence that transcends and defies all our attempts to define it! We are a diasporan people, by choice and chance rather than historical circumstance, having to figure out who we are as distinct from the dominant culture(s), and varying at how much we differentiate ourselves. Now maybe you identify as Pagan, but don’t see yourself as part of “a people” or a culture. Once again, it’s not a perfect comparison with being Jewish, but really nothing is. Something to ponder at least.

As I’ve been exploring the polytheist faction that is branching away from Greater Pagan-dom and the Heathens who in large part already see themselves outside of it, I’ve realized that my people and my culture can still be found among the Pagani, and moreover the overlapping geeky subcultures that surround it. I am still a hippie Romanticist tempered with some pragmatism, practicality and post-colonial critiques of Noble Savage & Orientalist mindsets that pervade. I am not a Genuine Heir to Traditional Gaelic Polytheism, Irish or Scottish culture, ancestry or no. This does not mean I am phony, I am quite honest about who I am.  I think we sometimes have this haunting feeling of insecurity because we are not Authentic Enough ™ According to who? Anthropologists? Scholars of ancient religions? Sneering evangelicals or secular atheists? If we were that worried about “What Will The Neighbors/Interfaith PR reps/mainstream media Think?” we wouldn’t be Pagans, would we?

But seriously, look at other cultures that we think of as More Truly Authentic- y’know the ones we often feel tempted to “borrow” from because we need to jazz up our shabby American-Euro-mutt stuff? Native Americans for example- many of them have lost much of their traditions and culture. Many of them combine their cultural practices with Christianity. They create new practices as the need arises, or creativity inspires them to do so. Even more so- look at your fellow descendents of immigrants from around the world. What have they brought with them? What have they left behind? How have they adapted what they brought to fit in with their new environment? What have they added in from American culture and made their own? How has this been passed on to other Americans to the point where forget its origin? There are many German, and specifically Deitsch (Pennsylvania Dutch) customs that have sunk into the American mainstream- Groundhog Day, Christmas trees and translated carols like Silent Night (Stille Nacht), the Easter bunny and dying Easter eggs.

More about “tradition” and authenticity- https://paganleft.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/authenticity-whats-traditional-anyway/

*Paganistan- his term, now widely adopted for the Twin Cities metro area Pagan communities.

February 17, 2015 at 2:19 am 4 comments

A UU Pagan & a Muslim walk into an Irish pub

So, a couple of days ago my partner and I were discussing an article he had just read, written by a Muslim critiquing the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. More on that another day!

I made some comment about my accepting attitude towards Muslims, and he challenged this by bringing up an incident he witnessed in which I offended a Muslim co-worker/friend of mine. I found this rather ironic, considering that we’d just established that offending Muslims (intentionally or unintentionally) is not the same as hating or excluding them. Still, Little Miss Amateur Interfaith Diplomat has been racking her brain trying to remember what this was and recalled today that it was something about the story in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice Isaac to him, and then at the last minute, a lamb shows up as a substitute sacrifice. If I recall correctly, I brought this up after noting that fairy tales in their original forms were not what we’d consider appropriate reading material for children, but then children back in Ye Olden Days were not protected from “Scary Adult Stuff” in the way that they are now. I then noted the similar irony to the popular belief that the Bible is this nice kid-friendly book, the Abraham & Isaac story being a prime example of Great Ways to Traumatize Kids. Children’s Bibles typically include this story, along with Noah’s Ark, Creation and “the Fall” etc. (To be fair, we also need kid-friendly versions of Greek and Norse myths…) Anyhow, being a mom to 3 sons, and a Muslim my co-worker was taken aback to hear me speak ill of this story, she thought it was a nice one about having faith in God (which is how all 3 of the Abrahamic faiths typically view it) I can’t remember if I said much more, but I did decide it was wisest to let it go, and agree to disagree so no further offense would take place, especially since we were there to entertain the guests on the tour at an Irish pub, and more light-hearted conversation would certainly be preferable!

Thing is, even if it was somehow an appropriate situation for discussing, I’m not sure if there is really a way to explain without horribly offending Muslims, Christians and Jews alike how this story conflicts with my basic theological, philosophical and ethical principles. (And I’m sure some of y’all struggle with this one yourselves!) I have trouble imagining this story being used in a UU Religious Education setting (yes, Biblical material *is* included in our curriculum, along with material from lots of other religions!)

Some Christians approach this story by trying to connect it with God giving up his only son, Jesus in sacrifice instead of humanity- but Abraham doesn’t give up his son, as a lamb is sent as a replacement. This sort of “See, this old Jewish story *really* supports the Whole Jesus Thing!” is why I tend to prefer looking at Jewish interpretations of Jewish texts, with more than one viewpoint.

It’s also looked at as- in the Bad Old Days of idol-worship, people sacrificed babies, but now that the One True God has come along, we know better than to do that! According to this Biblical scholar, human sacrifice was a widespread but rare practice in the ancient Near East, including in Israel.

In the Qur’an, the son being sacrifice is Ishmael but the basic “Have faith in God” message is the same. Is this supposed to be more about obeying God, no matter what, even if what God asks seems crazy or impossible? Or is it about trusting that God will provide, even if a situation seems hopeless? Both are recurring themes throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. I’ve also heard claims that God doesn’t test or tempt people. (Just blame Satan instead, right?) Wait, are you reading the same book as me? Job? Joseph? Moses and all his buddies? Really, following this advice in the modern world could result in a lot of Bad Things- homelessness, unemployment, alienating most of your friends and family. Having your kid taken away after you threaten to sacrifice him or her.

Now I was raised Methodist, and we were taught that it was ok to interpret the Bible for yourself, and use strange Satan-influenced things like…(gasp) critical thinking skills. And it was mostly about Jesus, and his ethical teachings, not so much his death and God screwing with people’s heads. But still, I was like, what the heck do I do with this book that everyone says is so important? What does it mean? It was no wonder that I got into mythology and fantasy, and no one was claiming that those things had All The Answers, and yet I found deeper truths there, of a more poetic and less literal nature.

It’s funny that I still can go on about this, when none of this really matters to my religion, but still these stories pervade my culture, my memory. They are part of our heritage as Unitarian Universalists and we do talk about them even if we view them as less authoritative. They’ll be made into books, movies (hopefully not by Walden Media, please God!) again and again. Our kids will hear about them from *somewhere* and ask, and I will probably just end up saying- God acts like a jerk in the Bible. A Lot. Like a boss who makes arbitrary orders that don’t make sense.  Just don’t say anything about this to Grandma..

January 29, 2015 at 2:54 am 5 comments

Looking at Pop Culture Paganism

After writing about how non-traditional deities and spirits may or may not fit within my concept of polytheism, I was curious to learn more about the ways it manifests. Plus as I confront the truth, that really I am not all that culturally Celtic, I need to ask the question what is my culture, and how might I draw from it? 

Myriad Ways of Pop Culture Paganism– Answers from Vanaheim blog-

Pop Culture Paganism may include any of the following:

(I’ve bolded items that I feel open to exploring)

  • Using words and phrases from pop culture in ritual (for instance, “So say we all” instead of “So mote it be”, calling the quarters using Hogwarts Houses, etc.)
  • Using a picture or other representation of a character to represent a traditional deity (ie. using a picture of Yue from CardCaptor Sakura to represent Mani or another moon god, in this case, it was because the character looked like how I pictured Mani)
  • Using fairy tales, Arthurian legends or participating in the Hail Columbia! project in ritual and/or magic (all of these examples are examples of popular culture that is very old being used by modern people)
  • Related to the first, but practicing pop culture magick (as in Taylor Ellwood’s book on the subject, Pop Culture Magick)
  • Creating tools based on pop culture artifacts for use in ritual and/or magick (designing a tarot spread based on a character in a book)
  • Participating in and creating religious organizations/ritual and/or a sacred calendar based on works of fiction (Church of All Worlds, Storm Constantine’s Grimoire Dehara)
  • Traditional deities using pop culture entities in order to communicate with followers
  • Seeing a pop culture entity as an aspect of a traditional deity
  • Working with pop culture entities as archetypes
  • Working with pop culture spirits as egregori or constructs
  • Honouring pop culture entities as deities and/or spirits in their own right (this includes from one’s own work, although some prefer the term “modern culture Paganism” for this practice (Jack of Dreams uses “fictional reconstructionism” for this)

This feels silly but also fun. I feel like I’m taking off the corset of reconstructionism, and I can finally breathe. One of the things I love about paganism is the role that imagination can play in our faith.  

Ideas to explore:

*Jack from English folklore, the Fool as archetype in general (I see Fool distinct from Trickster) Robin Hood (I see him as a folkloric cousin to Fionn Mac Cumhal)

*Finding depictions of deity in pop culture- either explicit or ones that I associate- one idea I saw suggested (in a Llewellyn Witches’ Calendar from the earlier 2000s that I haven’t been able to find since) was Brighid linked with Rosie the Riveter in her blacksmith aspect, and I also thought of Betty Crocker as the hearth aspect. Any ideas for the poet?

*Using a story (from modern fiction, fairy tale, film etc) as a ritual narrative, psychological healing tool (particularly “Girls Underground” stories)

*Research local folklore/history (I’ve been talking about doing that for how long?)

Problems/Issues of Consideration:

*If it’s a live action TV show/movie, I have trouble mentally separating the character from the actor. Not as much of a problem with animation, unless it’s a celebrity voice actor whose character essentially embodies the celebrity. I was thinking about this in relation to Jareth, the Goblin King from Labyrinth, whom I’ve heard is popular with PCPs. Very cool character, easy to connect him up with older faerie lore, but yeah can’t separate him from David Bowie. 

*I’m more comfortable with older things that are out of copyright. It’s not so much concern for getting in trouble for infringement, though depending on what a person did (such as a public ritual) it could be a problem. It’s more that it’s something that exists primarily so some corporation can make money and it will change it as it sees fit.  So one’s personal vision will get screwed with. But with King Arthur & Robin Hood for example, people can do endless new creative things with, and there’s no one actor or depiction that necessarily sticks out in your mind in a way that’s distracting. 

*With stuff that is more recent, I’m more comfortable with things in books or static images than in TV/film. It’s easier to imagine it yourself rather than having the TV/movie version stuck in your head. 

Past posts that are related:

When the Gods Become Real,  Archetypes vs. “Real Gods” 

Snow Queen, Snow MaidenSpirits of WinterJack the English Trickster/Fool

August 15, 2014 at 3:42 am 11 comments

Witchy Blog Award

witchy-blog-awardThanks to Nornoriel of the Serpent’s Labyrinth for nominating me for this award!

The Rules:

  • Dedicate at least part of a post to receiving the award and share the award logo
  • Thank the blogger who passed the award to you
  • Answer the seven questions below
  • Nominate five Wiccan/Pagan bloggers (If you don’t know five other pagan bloggers, nominate as many as you can)
  • Notify your nominees of their pending award
  • Stop by Ayslyn’s Corner to add your name to the list of bloggers awarded (she’s got a big list)
  • How did you “discover” Wicca/witchcraft/Neo-Paganism? I was very into mythology as a kid, met a neighbor’s daughter who introduced me to Wicca/Paganism and lent me some books. Growing up I realize was already thinking like a Pagan- when people talked about “Mother Nature” I thought she was God’s wife, and since my parents taught me to be tolerant of other religions, I was confused that worship of other Gods was condemned in the Bible. Shouldn’t it be a choice? I thought. I also liked finding out the origins of holiday customs and superstitions, and that was another way I connected with Paganism.
  • Do you grow herbs? I have a very shady lot with acidic soil, so it’s hard to grow things other than hostas & ferns. Plus, the squirrels dig up everything else we plant!
  • Are you “in the broom closet”? If not, share your coming out experience. As a teenager my Dad thought Paganism was just part of my mythology interest and not a real religion but later he “got” it. My mother believes in fairies, so it wasn’t too hard for her!  I am open about my religion to people I know well enough to discuss religion with and don’t set off my finely tuned fundamentalist detector. I often tell people I’m Unitarian (they usually don’t know what that is either!)  If they seem more interested in talking about it, then I’ll further explain Druidry.  I live in a pretty liberal urban area (Twin Cities) so I have the luxury of being pretty relaxed about using my real name at public Pagan events.
  • What tradition do you follow, if any? Currently I am working on re-defining and re-building my spiritual life while recovering from a period of depression-related agnosticism & doubt. I am a member of Ar nDraiocht Fein, a Neo-Pagan Druid organization and a Unitarian Universalist– which for me is more of a philosophy than a religion, but my UU church is my primary spiritual community currently.
  • Do you consider yourself a witch, Wiccan or Pagan (or maybe something else?) I use Celtic polytheist or Druid
  • How much of witchcraft/Wicca are you able to incorporate into your everyday life? Right now as I mentioned my focus is on recovering from depression and anxiety, so I’m creating a list of mental health self-care virtues based on Celtic and Norse cultures and building off of that base. I am mostly an armchair philosopher/theologian/ethicist and writer, but am trying to motivate myself to get back into actual practice.
  • Do you have a familiar? If you do, tell us how you meet him/her and how s/he takes part in your practice (if at all) No, but one of my favorite anime shows is Zero no Tsukaima, the Familiar of Zero 😉 It’s fun- kinda like an anime version of Harry Potter.

Nominations for Witchy Blog Award:

Jack-a-Dreams

Writings of a Pagan Witch

Ozark Pagan Mamma

Scorched Ice

Mist Seeking

 

 

 

August 14, 2014 at 12:41 am 1 comment

Doubt and Moving Beyond it

I have been struggling with depression & anxiety off & on throughout this difficult period in my life. And along with those issues often comes spiritual doubts. Hence the sparseness of this blog. During the summer my grove put their rituals on hiatus (more on that later) and I didn’t attend services at Unity.

Last Saturday, I attended a Humanist event in the morning, and a Druid ritual in the evening.  I learned a lot from the talk the Humanists had on Global Hunger and I found the attendees to be interesting to talk to. There is a lot I can agree with them on- and I consider myself a humanist (lowercase)- but I still believe in the possibility of the Divine and “super”natural things.

I don’t think the world would necessarily be a better place without religion. Atheists argue that religion creates more bad than good- wars, oppression of women, gay people, poor people, suppression of science and freethinking. But like any human creation, we can use it for good or for evil much like science its supposed opposing cultural force. We still would probably be doing many of the good and bad things that religion can inspire, or using it to justify our actions- even if religions never developed in human culture. It’s another example of the “butterfly effect” we don’t know what would happen.

I agree there’s really no proof that God(s) exist- but there’s no proof that he/she/they don’t exist. I also believe atheists, humanists, skeptics etc. can be irrational and dogmatic as well. Some of the more militant atheists do give others crap for calling themselves humanists or agnostics- implying that they’re not true, well unbelievers.

I’m not exactly sure what I believe- but really is anyone? I think very few people are 100% sure about matters of faith. What I can say though, is that spiritual practice feels right. So I choose to be religious. And in spite of all the goofiness and disorganization of Pagans, they are still my community. Much like my own eccentric family.

November 24, 2012 at 10:58 pm Leave a comment

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