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Welcome dear reader to Chrysalis!

Chrysalis is one part online journal with a spiritual focus, one part bully pulpit for my opinions and ideas and observations on Paganism and spirituality and life in general, and one part page of resources for folks in or interacting with the Pagan Movement.  Originally I focused on spirituality, but over time I am realizing that whatever your religious persuasion it interweaves with every other aspect of your life, so you never know what you might find me writing about here.

Fair warning… ;-)

Feel free to poke around the various pages(links via page titles above ~ a number of them are under going revision btw…), or to scroll along the links and quotes and link-buttons on the sidebar, or, well heck, even read some of my posts if you want!

Peace, Pax

Wrestling with the evils of the world, and inside ourselves.

Dear Friends,

A few years ago I had a conversation with someone about injustice.  I made the point that here in the United States, the history lessons we receive often seem to take the attitude of “…But we dealt with it and moved on and are good…”  when talking about racism, sexism, and injustice of all sorts.

Unlike battles in some fantasy novel, there is NO final battle against evil.  The thing is that the nature of these tangled and painful evils, that lurk sometimes unseen or unrecognized in the world around us and in our hearts, is such that each individual and each generation must face them down.

This holds true not only of the larger evils of prejudice and injustice, but the more personal evils of fear and self-doubt.

The Gods demand excellence, whatever your path, and the world presents us with constant challenges to overcome.

Blessed be your Struggles and your Journey,

Pax

Where to turn?

Dear Friends,

The altar has been cleaned and rearranged and reconsecrated, an ancestor altar has been set up.  I am journalling in fits and starts, and engaging in my basic practices regularly.

I find myself wanting to write here, but at the same time I am …not afraid, but feeling uncomfortable with… the idea of opening myself up here again.

I think it comes from the fact while I was working and growing and developing as a blogger and writer here, other parts of my life were falling apart…I was at one and the same time running to the Divine and running away from life, lost on the road of my life’s journey.

It can be heartbreaking to realize that things have fallen apart.

Times like these often have me turning to the book “When Things Fall Apart” by Pema Chodron.  A collection of essays by that talented Buddhist Abbot and teacher.  At the same time I find myself lamenting the lack of books and guidance for the Contemporary Pagan.  It often seems like other more ‘mainstream’ religions have books and websites and resources to help guide their followers through the many rough and painful struggles in life.

At the same time, I can see that contemporary Paganism has these sorts of resources, just in different forms and places.  Websites, and blogs, and podcasts, festivals and workshops and our large and sometimes complicated tribes of Pagan fellow traveler’s.  The resources are there, but are trickier to categorize and find.  Many times the advice or guidance we need in the moment is interwoven with the writer’s observations of everyday life or the current dramatic scandal of the moment.

What do you think of these observations?

Peace and Blessings on your journey,

Pax

The Autumnal Equinox, and Returning to Life!

“Holy Mother in Whom we live, move, and have our being, Holy Father Who lives, moves and has being in every atom, every cell, and every soul, Help me to walk and work in Beauty and in Strength, Help me to exercise both Power and Compassion, Help me to remember Honor and Humility, Help me to do it all, guided by Mirth as well as Reverence, That I may be worthy of Thy Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, And that of Those around me. Blessed Be, So Mote It Be.”

Dear Friends, My thoughts, this Autumnal Equinox, are more on internal changes to my own life, rather than the larger changes in the world around me.  Although living in the subtropical wonderland that is Florida, for me at least, means that the changes in my own life are being mirrored in the world around me. I look at my journey the last few months and am reminded of something Mick Jagger said, “It’s all right to let yourself go, as long as you can get yourself back.”  I am on a road of returning to myself.  I am journaling regularly, and exercising.  I have been finding my old sense of humor and the urge and inspiration to write, here and elsewhere is returning to my heart and head once more.  I am engaging in various of my spiritual practices regularly. Grounding and Centering, Prayer, working with my Chakra’s and doing the Cleansing Life Force exercise; never-mind slowly starting back down the road to physical exercise. The irony of the Autumnal Equinox in Florida is that the End of Summer is actually when many of us in Florida start to stir once more from our climate controlled cars, houses, and work-places, and begin to go outside once more!   Escapes to the beach or the pool, become more extensive forays to parks and for some gardening.  The sweaty sweltering heat of Summer fades and the generally temperate warmth of Winter lures us into a greater connection with the world around us. Admittedly, with the occasional cold snap, or really cold night…I was so surprised to see houses with fire-places down here but every once in a while…. Now some of those observations are, I will freely admit, from the point of view of an all too sedentary former Alaskan with a work schedule that jumps and skips around like a sugared up small child! I am working on that, and on myself, and on my path REGULARLY once more.  So for this Holy Tide I share not only my daily prayer above, but also a song whose lyrics encapsulate some of my mood and attitude upon this turning of The Wheel. Blessed Be Your Journey, Pax http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YxaaGgTQYM

Standing at a cross-roads on my journey.

Dear Friends,

I am standing at a cross-roads once more.

As I posted on Facebook, “There are times where doing what is the right thing is the single most painful and difficult of options.

Sometimes, life beats you down.  6 or 7 years ago  I found myself in a place where my spiritual practices became the only source of stability in my life.  I was not willing to face the changes that I needed to make, I was not ready for them, or perhaps just not yet at the right cross-roads in my journey?  I fled into dozens of different retreats…online gaming, burying myself in tv shows…running away behaviors…letting go of projects and relationships and activities that nourished my spirit, my faith.  I let go of my practices and have struggled to pick them up once more.

Sometimes love, no matter how much love there is between two people, is not enough.

The moon, the stars and planets, the dance of the seasons, the inspiration of the Holy Powers…all of these come down to timing.  Timing is important in our everyday as well as our religious and spiritual work.  Sometimes, the time just is not right.

Then too, sometimes we are not ready to do what we need too, we set up all kinds of conditions or hedges against what we SHOULD be doing…either out of fear or exhaustion, out of kilter with our highest self and True Will…

it takes two people to make a relationship work and two people for a relationship to break down.  At the same time I look and tell myself I did everything I could; I find myself wanting.  My actions, my words, my choices…my excuses, my fears and insecurities. 

All the things I saw that were bad are now being drowned by recollections of the good, the joy, the love, the simple moments of kindness and care.

So now I stand in the cross-roads once more.  Taking some time in what folklore tells us is a place of power.  Trying to just be comfortable with the storm of memories and emotions playing around and through me. 

Blessed be your journey,

Pax

Letting your Freak Flag Fly…

Hello Friends,

Being Gay, much like being Pagan, means that sometimes ones friends direct questions about the whole of Queerdom (or Pagandom) to you.  Sometimes this is of the “whats this freakishness about” school of inquiry, and sometimes like below its more of a question for clarification….

So my dear friend and sometimes co-conspirator ‘Nyx tagged me in a post on Facebook asking the following question…

Am I wrong? Is the Rainbow Flag NOT all inclusive? 

“I have a question. LGBT is supposed to be a community and the rainbow flag is supposed to represent community from what I know. Why though are there literally tons of flags for each sexuality. Some people have even told me recently that the rainbow flag just means gay because lesbians and everyone else has their own flags. So I really want to know your thoughts. Are we going to become separate communities or have we already done that? When I post a rainbow flag does it no longer represent community and the only time I’m allowed to include someone is when I post their specific flag colors? Thoughts please…” -quoted by ‘Nyx, in her question, from a link from elsewhere on the Facebook…

Here is my response…

“Hey ‘Nix,

Well, these days I would say the flag is pretty darn inclusive but even the exact design of the Freedom Flag as it is sometimes known, is a fluid thing…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rainbow_flag

The LGBT community, and LGBT rights movements have a complex history.  This Link from Wikipeida may be useful..

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/LGBT_social_movements

It might also help to think of the LGBT community as being a lot like the Pagan Community, or a Venn Diagram, several overlapping circles of communities.  There are branches of the LGBT, or GLBT (to give the guys some equal time in the lead of the alphabet soup), community that have their own identity issues and identification needs and their own ideas of self-hood even within the larger GLBT community.

In the 1970’s when the flag first emerged, some LGBT groups felt that they were different communities better said to be allied with the Gay community, especially as the Women’s Liberation movement gained steam and the Lesbian community started to emerge into its own… and they had some conflicts politically and philosophically with the larger GLBT movement.

Then too we are dealing with the power of a symbol.  The Pride Flag, or any form of Pride Flag, represents an act of empowerment and a claiming of self-worth.

These days I’d say that the Rainbow Flag is mighty damn inclusive, but its inclusiveness has grown grown over time and been part of a journey through history and politics and culture.”

Hope this helps,
Geoffrey / Pax

Towards some new Beginings…

Dear Friends,

I am not sure why, exactly, the Gregorian New Year has been the Turning Point in my year this year, but that’s what it has been.

My work schedule allowed me to be home to toast in the New Year with The Fabulous Jonathan and share a New Years Kiss with him.  He is working through a number of health problems and finally beginning to take steps to deal with them productively,  I have been in contact with many of my family and friends vie phone and Facebook and reweaving strands of connection with many people I care about or who have touched my life for the better.

TFJ and I are striving to eat healthier this year for our health, and New Years Day we had a much needed heart to heart about the ups and downs of the last couple of years.  We have faced a lot of financial challenges, and the collision of our pasts as we stumble into, over, and around each others emotional baggage.  Yet we love one another and are in love with one another and we keep finding ways to talk.

That’s the key, isn’t it, to just keep talking and to remember that you love this person even when they are driving you mad?

On the spiritual front, I have already made some offerings of Oil and Honey Wine and Herbal Tea to the Household Spirits.  This is the week I will redress and dust off the Altar and begin reweaving my connections to the Gods and Ancestors…

They are there, and I take heart in my idea that They know that sometimes other connections and other parts of our Mortal lives take us away from our times with Them…

Now I need to go make some breakfast salad for TFJ and myself,

Peace, and a Blessed New Years,

Pax / Geoffrey

Musing on breakage and repairs

Dear Friends,

A Kintsugi cup  Image Found Here

A Kintsugi cup Image Found Here

So the other day I was exploring over on Facebook and found this video about how you can cut a glass bottle to make a cup or a vase or whatever.  Kind of neat actually, a bit of history a bit of do-it-yourself-ness and answers the question of what to do with some of those really interesting bottles I seem to find and hate the idea of throwing away.   Basically you place the bottle onto a turntable, make a small scratch with a diamond tipped tool, and then apply heat (like with a butane torch lighter) around the circumference of the bottle in line with the scratch mark, add just a little pressure and Voila!
The heat causes the the crack to expand all the way around the circumference… then you just have to grind or sand down the sharp edge.

Now, later that night I found myself musing about what a perfect metaphor this was for how easy it can be to be beaten down or broken in life sometimes…  a little nick or scratch,.. a little heat… a little pressure and… SMASH… your an emotional or spiritual wreck….

Yeah, I am  a big bag of laughs sometimes aren’t I?

Then, like a ray of light through heavy clouds, I remembered about Kintsugi, which is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer work that incorporates gold dust.  The pieces are put back together, the cracks and fault-lines are filled with gold, and the broken vessel is repaired.  Many practitioners of the Japanese Tea Ceremony will incorporate Kintsugi pieces into their sets.

My mind turned to thoughts of how regular Spiritual practice can help heal us in the times we are broken.  I also thought about how in some respects, Spiritual practice, if your doing it right… helps break us.  Growth does not come without some pain or struggle… Spiritual practices… the best ones anyway… they seem to require us to face what makes us afraid… to deal with the difficulties and fears and challenges and to then move past them.

At some point in the last few years I started to set aside a lot of my practices because I was engaging in them regularly…not to reach out and up to connect to the world or the Divine… but to endure the everyday… and I felt that that was somehow wrong or profaning the practices or …disrespecting them?

I can see now that that was SO damn wrong-headed of me!

It is through practice that we can be open to the healing, to wisdom, to inspiration.  It is NOT about not getting hurt, or broken.  It’s about picking up the pieces and finding a way to make them whole again!  Day in and day out.  Even when we aren’t feeling it, or when all it seems to be doing is making us feel a bit more settled…  practice is not about some cross-roads moment spiritual experience with lights and fireworks and whatever.  That can be one of the occasional benefits yes, but that should not be why we are practicing.  Its about finding the gold dust in life and repairing the cracks in the world with it.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey