Beltaine!

Beltane celebrates fertility.  In ancient times this festivals celebrations were interwoven with many traditions relating to encouraging fertility in the fields and flocks and herds.  Strong themes of sensuality and sexuality are a part of the warp and weft of this Sabbat.    Within Witchcraft the union of the Goddess and God is intertwined with these themes.

Yet, what does Beltaine mean in a green and evergrowing land like Florida?  Bringing Summer in… what does that mean here?

Here in Central Florida it’s not like the flowers or fruits of the green and growing world are1 ever absent… Nature does go through it’s cycles and different fruits and flowers (and vegetables) have their own times of year and yet something is always blooming down here!  In Central Florida we are sub-tropical and two is the number of Seasons, not four.  A rainy season in the Summer/Autumn and a dry season in Winter/Spring. 

Summer brings challenges.  Withering heat and opressive humidity.  Hurricane season starts in another month or so.  Mosquitoes, Jellyfish, new generations of cockroaches, and Hammerhead Sharks are all creatures of summer down here.

And Yet, Summer brings blessings.  Cooling and quenching rainstorms each afternoon, bringing much needed water to a land left very thirsty from unthought out development and growth.  Hot evenings swimming in the pool.  Warm evening walks or time spent sitting on the porch swing sipping iced tea.  Time spent in the garden in the cool of late afternoon or early evening.

Beltaine is at the cusp of the changes from the Dry to the Rainy and we can celebrate the Rainy seasons return as the blessing of continued fertility on our peninsula.  Like anywhere else you give thanks for the blessings, accept the challenges, and, unlike elsewhere, you look forward to the cooling breath of winter.

Peace, and a Blessed Beltaine

Pax

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I am a Pagan Evangelical

I am a Pagan Evangelical. I know it may sound like a contradiction in terms, but it’s not. I was inspired to this point, in part, by the writings of Sara Sutterfield Winn. I first discovered Sara through her now dormant blog Pagan Godspell. (although I hope, I even pray, that she will feel the inspiration to continue that blog…)

“…Evangelism is zeal.  Passion.  To possess the wonderful infused light/darkness of Knowing the soul’s home and then embodying that in the world, through words, art, dance, prayer, the Good Work…just being.  To be moved by one’s religiosity to help others, spread joy, give sanctuary, feed strangers.  And to have the courage and skill to articulate these deep places when asked about them.  I never proselytize, but I aspire to be evangelical….”

~from the essay Pagan Evangelism on Sara’s website

http://www.gospelpagan.net/evangelism.html

To which I say…

“Blessed Be, Sister!”

Many people have no idea who or what we Pagans really are. That is sad, not because I feel they need to join us, but when rumors are sown in the soil of ignorance then fear will grow. There is already more than enough fear and ignorance in the world!

We are people of faiths, people of integrity and honor and compassion. We are people who strive to live the ethics and values of our faiths as best we can. We are people who live, and laugh, and love; a people who sings songs of the ancient Gods and exult in Their beauty, and in the wonder of Their beauty in all of Creation, and even within our own selves.

Yet, all too often, we are content to let other peoples speak to the world of and about us. Instead of taking our place in the full light of society’s regard we are content to keep to the shadows of other people’s distorted images and understandings of who and what we Pagans are.

Not only is our community content to let others speak for them, but often times it seems like members of the Pagan community are afraid to speak up for themselves. This is more than just tragic, it is dangerous. We in the U.S. have Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Religion, but rights mean nothing until and unless we invoke them. Stand up and claim your rights, or you may lose them.

Then too, there are those on the Christian Right who seem to believe that Christianity has a monopoly on values or virtues. This is, of course, not true but we can only prove this by spreading the good news of Paganism.

As a Witch, I say this as any Witch might… We can do this! We can share the Good News of Witchcraft and Paganism by sharing our Strength and Beauty with those around us, by using our Power and living our Compassion, by acting on our Honor with Humility, and by always remembering Mirth and Reverence we can not only change ourselves for the better; We the People, can change the world!

This is why I am a strong supporter of the Pagan Pride Project. These are the folks who have spearheaded the annual Pagan Pride events. These events bring Pagans together to build community, to show the world who and what we really are, and to do some good in the world.

I support these goals and would encourage each of you to support them as well. Stand up and invoke your rights! Sing of the Beauty and Bounty of the Great Mother! Hold Fund-raising dinners and events for your local charities, especially the Pagan-run or Pagan-friendly ones! Dance at a Pagan Pride event this year! Live your life in Their Praise and Presence!

Blessed Be,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

Your Pain does not make you special…

No, Child.

(Child in mind and spirit, if not in body, and a spoiled selfish scared little child at that!)

Your pain does not make you special,

It does not make you unique.

It does not allow you the right to break rules, or play games with other peoples lives or fate.

Your suffering is not unique, and contrary to what you may think,

There are many who would understand your pain.

They would even be willing to stand by you

To help you to deal with it and move on, oh only,

 IF ONLY,

 you would.

 

Your pain does not give you the right to say,

 And do,

 Whatever you want and then justify it later,

Placing the responsibility everywhere but on your own shoulders.

 

Your crocodile tears,

Oh so often shed, like a snake and its skin,

They no longer impress us.

Used to illicit our sympathy,

but you have proven a bottomless well

Of self pity,

Of Angst,

Of Mallice.

Grow up, oh special child, or get out!

Honoring Heroes and Reinventing the Wheel…

Honoring Heroes

Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday was on Sunday the 13th.  In the mad rush of days with work and life I had not looked at my personal Calendar.  I have just now lit some incense in offering to his Spirit and memory, in thanks for the gifts he gave my country and in the hopes that he will continue to watch over us in this election year.

I can smell the Sandalwood as I type these words.  I contemplated offering some Rum or Wine… Wine would have been appropriate as he was a wine lover and oenologist, planting some of the first vineyards in the U.S.

Reinventing the Wheel…

 I mentioned my personal Calendar.  I am in the process of integrating The Wheel of the Year, my newfound relationship with the Gods of ancient Greece, and my passion for the Heroes and Gods of my Nation, into a coherent and practical practice as a modern Pagan living in Central Florida, U.S..

April includes the Full and New Moons, WRCF Moon Circle, WRCF Beltaine, Jefferson’s Birthday, and Earthday on the 22nd.

Reinventing the Wheel is actually a fascinating little excercise, although its taking a while because I am doing it in fits and starts, everyday life keeps rearing its mundane head.   Not that that’s entirely a bad thing though, it gives me time to contemplate some of the underlying themes of the Wheel and my own relationship with the Holy Days.  (you know… the Sabbats?!?)

 The standard meanings of the Wheel of the Year are suited to a climate where Winter is a factor, living in the sub-tropical wonderland that is Central Florida the actual Seasons are much different from those of Britain… where the Wheel originated.  It’s tough to relate to Imbolc as a time of beginings when its also the Citrus Harvest.  Or to relate to Winter Solstice’s traditional meanings when you are in a land where people look forward to the cool temperate Winter as a relief from the brutal Heat and Humidity of Summer.

Still, I am glad for the opportunity to re-examine the Wheel and contemplate its underlying meaning and message.  Sort of a ‘be here now’ approach to life and spirituality where you try to attune to the rythm’s of the world around you, wherever you may be.

Peace,

Pax

Pagism, Patriotism, and the Highest Ideals

“Keep pure your highest ideal; strive ever towards it;
let nothing stop you or turn you aside.”
~From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valliente

 

As I write this I am a 36 year old man, a Witch and Pagan, a gay man, and a citizen of the United States. You know, just one of your ordinary run-of-the-mill members of “We the People”?

 

I was born in 1972 and some of my earliest memories are tied up with the tremendous groundswell of patriotism related to the 1976 U.S. Bicentennial. I remember fireworks, and flag waving, and a certain “go USA” attitude that permeated my early childhood. I remember School House Rock and the lessons of science (elec-tri-city!) and language (conjunction, junction, what’s your function?), but most of all I remember the U.S. History (We the People) and Civics (I’m only a Bill…) lessons.

 

The pride and fascination I felt regarding the founding of our country and those heroes of our nations past who helped to bring it in to being, or those who helped our nation become more than it was as it groped towards its ideals, or who shepherded it through the trying times of our nations history; are deeply woven through the fabric of my personality and identity.

 

I also, just barely, remember the broadcast of Alex Hailey’s Roots. I grew up in the 1980’s and saw the emergence of the HIV Virus and AID’s and our Governments lack of a response, the Iran/Contra scandal, Operation Condor, and many other examples of how the U.S. has been, and, in some ways, continues to be, imperfect. Yet, even while I admit that our history as a nation features failures to live up to our own ideals, slavery and the Trail of Tears among them, I do not think that these sad historical facts invalidate the ideals set out by the Founding Fathers.

 

We are a nation founded upon some of the highest ideals…

 

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that
among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

~from
the Declaration of Independence

 

~AND, let us never forget~ 

 

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
defence,
promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
ourselves
and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for
the United
States of America.”

~the preamble to the U.S.
Constitution

 

The Civil War, The Labor Movement, Suffragette’s, The New Deal, WWII, The Civil Rights Movement, Gay Pride, Pagan Pride; We the People continue to strive towards a more perfect Union. As a Witch I am commanded by the Goddess to follow my highest ideals. Patriotism, is for me, a part of my ideals. Given these facts what can I do as both a Citizen and a Pagan?

 

 

As a Citizen, I can educate myself. I can read, and watch, and listen to news reports and research issues that concern me. I can register to vote in my new county, and educate myself on the local issues in my new home. I can learn the History of my Nation, and read the U.S.’s founding documents… the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. I can begin to move from thought to action, supporting organizations that support and encourage Democracy, Governmental Accountability, Peace, and Justice. Writing letters and donating of my time and energy and money to causes I believe in.

 

As a Pagan, and Witch, as I study my nations History I can begin to honor the memories and spirits of the Founding Father’s, and Mothers, and the many Hero’s who have helped our nation in it’s strivings towards its own ideals. I can light a candle or incense, and pour libations for Jefferson and Franklin. I can call upon the Goddess Columbia or Lady Liberty, or Uncle Sam… the original ‘American Gods’.

 

And I can write of how my Patriotism and Paganism are intertwined, and how the ethics and values and morals of my faith impel me to be a more engaged U.S. citizen.

 

~~~links of interest~~~

Religio-Americana is a Yahoo Group for Pagans interested in ways of honoring our ‘American Gods’ and our Hero’s and Heroines.

 

Ceisiwr Serith’s Homepage is a fount of useful information and links from the author of A Pagan Book of Prayer. There are some amazing links for U.S. History amongst a lot of other wonderful information.

 

Charters of Freedom is a fantastic U.S. history website from the National Archives that features biographies of the Founding fathers, as well as images and transcripts of our Nations Founding Documents.

Surfacing to Polytheism…

Recently I have been thinking about Polytheism, specifically my own…

I am a Witch. Have been for about 18 years now. Dedicated my life and self to the Lord and Lady of Witchcraft as I understood Them.

The Horned God, Herne, Lord of the Forests and Fields…

The Triple Goddess, the Moon Goddess, Lady of the Fields and Forests…

Those were some of the names I have known Them by. Recently I have began to emerge from a spiritual and religious dry spell brought on, in large part, by moving across a continent. Part of this has been following a deep urging and offering a Part of my heart and life to Hecate and to Dionysus.

Though there are similarities between the four of Them, but they are different Gods. The Night Wandering Greeks are a very different from Those I have loved and done my best to serve for so long. For a while I worried that by accepting other Gods into my heart and practice I was somehow doing a disservice to the Lord and Lady of Witchcraft. This was, of course, silly.

The Gods know us as well as, indeed much better, than we know ourselves. Being Gods they have a better perspective on things. We can Honor and Love many Gods, just as we can in our lives love and respect and honor many people. I am reminded of those relationship diagrams where you draw a number of circles representing different people in your life or group, and you draw different types of connecting lines and arrows between the circles to represent the different types of relationship…

Polytheism is like that. There so many types and levels of relationship one can have with the Gods. I am sure I am not saying anything new here, but in some… parting the veil way… it is new to me. That in itself is surprising to me as I have been Pagan for so many years. Perhaps I had embraced Polytheism mentally, but not yet emotionally… or perhaps intimately?

After all our relationships with the Gods are the most personal, most intimate, relationships we will have in our lifetimes. Looking at my own upbringing I can certainly see how I was not ready in my late teens and early twenties, for serious complex multi-level emotional relationships… especially with the Divine.

For now, I will continue to follow my heart, guided by my mind in my relations with the Gods.

Peace,
Pax