A Road in the Wilderness, a Solitary Seeks…?

Hey folks,

So I’m thinking today of how I as a Witch have walked a Solitary road.  It’s not been entirely of my choosing.  When I first felt the call to Paganism and Witchcraft, or rather when I first realized Paganism was a viable religious option for me her in the modern world, I couldn’t find much in the way of out (in this case meaning findable, not necessarily public) Covens in Anchorage.  The one option I did find at the time seemed not to be the right fit for me at the time, so I walked and occasionally stumbled along on my own.

Over the years my faith has remained pretty constant, although my practice of the rituals of the faith has wavered in and out of view.  I tend to think of it, sometimes, as the danger or difficulty of being a Solitary Witch in that sometimes you can get a little lazy.  On the other hand, in the last year or so I have also come to appreciate that sometimes lighting a little incense or pouring a simple libation is all you need to do, and the Gods do the rest.

I know I am seeking fellowship, others to share the journey; fellow travelers to talk with and learn with (and from).

I know I am seeking some structure and continuity.  I am at a point right now where I do not want to do ritual for myself, I want to be able to let go and give myself up to the ritual, to ride the magic of the moment, to fully give myself to gnosis.

Pax for Peace

When I was a kid, there was this country with a government that sought to control the media and peoples access to information. This government was a government of a few over the many and the rights and welfare and opinions of the people did not matter to the government. This government was feared world-wide. They were known to invade countries without any real provocation. They cared so little for the rule of law or justice that they would sometimes declare people enemies of the state and have them whisked off to parts unknown and far-away for imprisonment and torture. They were called the Communists.

You know? The Evil Empire? They were the bad guys? We, the U.S., were the good guys. We weren’t perfect but we had government for and by the people, We the People. The rule of law, and the highest of ideals as embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights… is any of this ringing a bell?

I’m going to go light a little Lavender incense and read some selections from the Declaration of Independance, and the Constitution, amongst others…

Peace and a Happy U.S. Flag Day,

Pax / Geoffrey

Room enough to Love Them all…

So Cat over at Quaker Pagan Reflections has been pondering her identity as a Pagan vs. Quaker in relation to her relationship with the Gods recently.  I felt compelled to respond to a recent post about her own recent realizations on the matter with the following…

Cat,

I can readily understand the self-questioning you are feeling as you ponder the Herne/ Light Dichotomy. I have been a Witch for nearly 18 years now, and gave myself wholeheartedly to the Goddess and God of Witchcraft.

Over the course of last year I felt an urge, or perhaps even a calling, and turned to the Gods of Ancient Greece in general; and Hecate and Dionysus in particular.

In the weeks after offering a place in my heart and life to Them, I felt a bit adrift… wondering if I had somehow betrayed or turned my back on the Lord and Lady of the Witches without meaning too.

At Beltaine I held the first full Witches Circle I’ve done for myself in a long time, and They were there.

I think I am beginning to understand that our hearts, our lives, our innermost sacred selves, are much larger than we realize; there is room enough and love enough in them for all the Gods, for ourselves and for all beings… we just need to learn to look in ourselves to find those doors and open them.

Peace,
Pax

I am realizing how foolish I was to think that the Gods would either miss-interpret my intentions or that They could hold against me following inspirations of/to the heart and mind that They gave me.

Love unto all Beings is Her law.  Gods are beings too!  Simple really…

Pax et Fort

Readers who’ve been exploring my blog may remember I have this daily prayer…

Mother Celestial and Father Divine,

Let me walk in Strength and Beauty,

Let me exercise both Power and Compassion,

With both Honor and Humility,

Let me always remember Mirth, as well as Reverence,

That I may be worthy of Thy Perfect Love and Perfect Trust,

And that of those in whose hearts you dwell,

Blessed Be,

So Mote It Be.

I was reciting it a few days ago as I approached I-4… I usually modify it as I approach the highway, my usual morning time to recite it, to “Let me walk and drive…” …anyhow, as I was reciting it I couldn’t remember if Strength or Beauty came first! I had written the post on Beauty the day before, and suddenly was faced with the possibility of re-writing it. Had I muffed the order, even though I was staring right at the quote from the Charge?

“Hmm…,” I said to myself, “maybe I have some more things to work through in regards to Beauty?!”

I now realize that when I was inspired to write the prayer, I rearranged the wording of Beauty and Strength, to Strength and Beauty. I find myself thinking through my own juxtaposition of Strength and Beauty in my prayer and the order of them in the passage from Valiente’s Charge.

Years ago when I first came to the Witches path, I chose the Craft name Pax et Fort, or ‘Peace and Strength’, because those two qualities were the goals I sought as I started this long strange Witches journey of mine. Strength was important to me, from the first.

Pax et Fort

Peace and Strength

There were plenty of times in my childhood and youth where I felt unhappy, at the mercy of others, helpless, and alone. I spent my late teens and much of my twenties working through the patterns of thought and behavior that were the legacy of a chaotic childhood complicated by my own learning disability and that most 80’s of problems, a dysfunctional family. I can’t say, exactly, why I chose Pax et Fort as my Witch name. I remember at the time I was offered a Dedication ritual by my dear friend Rhavyn thinking about who I was and who I wanted to be.

A Witch name should reflect something deep about ourselves or who we aspire to be, that was my thought at the time.

I wanted peace and strength… I wasn’t entirely sure what those were, I just knew that at the time I felt like I had neither and the Witchcraft felt like my best path to finding them. So Pax et Fort I became, and in many important ways Pax I remain. It’s still my nom-de-Pagan in the community and online.

The name I use privately in Circle has changed, and should I ever find a Coven to work with, will doubtlessly change again. The core of who I am has, in some ways, changed over time as I have lived and learned, and grown up a lot.

(or, is it that I have come to find and better understand my core self over the years?)

I suppose, since it is occurring to me at the moment, I should pour a libation and offer my thanks to the Lady and Lord for Their love and guidance over the years that helped me find myself in Pax et Fort; even as I am, simultaneously, striving to live up to this name, and to move beyond it to be even more truly myself.

Gay Days and other things…

So, Gay Days at the Magic Kingdom was Saturday. This combined with the fact that Late June is the first of Florida’s Wine Grape Harvests means its a good time to Honor and remember Dionysus, Lord of Revelry and Responsibility. June also marks Gay Pride, so I am choosing to Honor both Dionysus, and my Queer heritage and Honored Predecessors (my own idea for honoring Queer ‘ancestors’) in late June.

We set out at about 8 or 8:30 and our first stop was to Burger King for Breakfast, a
Disney outing tradition my Partner, our roomate, and I have.
Then to the Magic Kingdom. We took it easy this year, it was extra
hot, and also we’ve done a lot of the rides. We did Thunder Mountain
Railroad, and Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribean was down for
repairs (sigh) we did our usual Carousel of Progres visit, and for
the first time went to the Hall of Presidents.

Later in the day we connected up with some friends of ours and we
changed plans midstream, going out to dinner and then meeting our
friends back at our house for cocktails and an impromptu pool party.
A couple of gay couples and some drinking a laughter… a good way to
celebrate the new holiday! (new for me anyhow)

Later on, after everyone had gone or gone to bed, I poured a
libation. Lacking wine, I used the strongly mixed Malibu and Diet
Cokes that most of us had ended the day with.

There will probably be a few more somethings for Dionysus and the Honored Predecessors this month…
not sure what yet….

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I have been slacking a little in my writing and reading, but after this evening I have a couple of days off and I will be renewing my momentum then. I really have gone into what I used to think of as my Mid-Winter hibernation/introspection/quiet-time mode this Summer. As I have mentioned before the rythms of MidSummer down here in Florida is rather reminiscent of Midwinter in Alaska… you hunker down in your house, spend as little time as you have to outside (with a few exceptions) and you look forward to better weather ahead.

I am still sorting out some of my feelings about the virtue of Beauty, and my own looks. I am thinking about the next essay Strength, and my relationship with that particular Virtue.

In other news, I have recently started trying to add the Iron Pentacle exercise as outlined in Evolutionary Witchcraft by T. Thorn Coyle. It is exhilarating and a little unnerving to be doing something new with my energetic work, the Iron Pentacle is a lot more difficult than I thought it would be. I find myself wondering if this is a Solitary thing, or a your-mileage-may-vary, or a little bit of both?!

Also, I have been playing around with the theme for this blog, the pic in the banner is actually from Alaska of a river valley outside of Anchorage that I’ve been camping in.

Peace,

Pax

~~~~~~~~ Links of Interest~~~~~~~~~~~~

Lakeridge Winery ~ Vineyard and Winery outside of Orlando, FL.; it was somewhere on their site that I first found information about Florida’s grape harvests…

Witches Virtues: Beauty

Witches Virtues: Beauty

By Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

 

Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.”

From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

 

            Today I am writing about, working out the idea and my understanding of, the First Virtue; Beauty.

 

            When I started to examine the text of Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess for a deeper understanding of the Witches faith, this passage stood out.  This short, simple, passage lists 8 Virtues, or Values, that the Goddess wants us Witches to embody and exemplify.  In exploring these virtues I started by reading the dictionary definitions of each, since I believe that words have ~and are~ power, and listing those that seemed most appropriate in my BoS; I also collected quotes about each of them that seemed particularly apropos.

 

            At the time I thought some about all of this, but really didn’t write down or codify my thoughts on the virtues.  In retrospect this is in part because I was shying away from some difficult and deep level personal work.  Beauty is a goodly part of that. 

 

            For many years I looked at myself and considered myself to be the exact opposite of beautiful.  I thought of myself as ugly.  Just changing that idea was a part of my life journey of my 20’s.  It was not a conscious part of my work or journey.   Somehow though I went from someone who wore extra layer’s of clothes because I was afraid people would notice me, someone who habitually walked with his eyes down avoiding eye contact, someone who spent as little time looking into a mirror as I had to; to someone who posed for an art photography shoot in the nude, to someone who could walk with pride and didn’t mind being noticed, to someone who did a strip-tease for the talent portion of his competition in the Alaska Bear Cub 2000 competition… and won!

 

            Apparently though, I still have trouble approaching the topic of Beauty, so enough rambling!

 

            First let’s take a look at the actual meaning of the word…

 

Beau*ty

 

            1. A delightful quality associated with such things as harmony of form or color, truthfulness, or originality.  2. One that is beautiful.  3. A quality or feature that is most effective, gratifying, or telling.  4. An outstanding or conspicuous example.

 

            ~from the American Heritage College Dictionary, 3rd ed.

 

            (I thank the Lord and Lady for answering my silent prayer of guidance the day I chose this as my hardcopy dictionary, based in large part on the fact that their definition of “Witch” featured the word “Wicca”.  The above definition functioned as a seed bed for a lot of personal growth on my part as I learned to embrace my own beauty.)

 

            Let’s take a moment to look at a few other definitions of “Beauty”.

 

            Welcome back…

 

            In the information about Beauty, that I hope surfed too, I was particularly amused by the observations about physical beauty in Wikipedia and the studies that show that physical attractiveness is embodied in averageness…  where the photos of different faces were super-imposed and the more you averaged features together the more attractive the resultive face was rated.  Then too, the idea that attractiveness in women, as measuered in ‘ideal’ measurements, relates to likelyhood of fertility.   Some interesting food for thought in ones relationship to Beauty when you start doing this research.

 

            What about social power of beauty, how the students judged physically attractive get better grades than the ‘average’ looking students, who in turn get better grades than those judged unattractive?  Beauty is power in our society, but is this power only innate or is it a power we can tap into as we learn to look at ourselves honestly?

 

            I know in my own journey I didn’t find my own attractiveness until I was able to look at myself clearly.  It took me a while to stop feeling bad about the stronger chin I wanted or the thinner face, or the many other features I felt I was lacking in, to let go of my self-hatred, and self-loathing for what I wasn’t.  But I got there, for the most part, I still have the occassional relapse, but I can shake them off, now.  Once I was able to see myself clearly, I was able to accept and love me, for me.  It was then that I was able to start making the most of what I DID look like.  To walk with confidence, to embrace and invoke Beauty’s power in my own life.

 

            When I started to examine the Virtue of Beauty, I also looked at quotes about Beauty.  Here are a some that I particularly like, and that sang to me in my searching.

 

“Character contributes to beauty. It fortifies a woman as her youth fades. A mode of conduct, a standard of courage, discipline, fortitude, and integrity can do a great deal to make a woman beautiful.”

            ~Jacqueline Bisset

 

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul.”

             ~John Muir

 

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.”

            ~Confucius

 

“Beauty… is the shadow of God on the universe.”

            ~Gabriela Mistral, Desolacíon

 

“There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion.”

            ~Sir Francis Bacon (1561 – 1626), “Of Beauty”

 

“People often say that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and I say that the most liberating thing about beauty is realizing that you are the beholder. This empowers us to find beauty in places where others have not dared to look, including inside ourselves.”

            ~Salma Hayek

 

 

            I believe that the quotes that I was attracted to in my seeking tell me a lot about both myself, and, more importantly, truths about the Virtue of Beauty.

 

            The Virtue of Beauty is wrapped up in our actions.  Beauty is a verb, something one does, not just something one happens to have.  Beauty, as a Virtue, is about being effective and truthful and original.  Beauty reaches into, reflects, and nourishes our souls.  Beauty, being in the eye of the beholder is not only a reflection of ourselves, it is a reflection of the Gods, as indeed all things are touched by the Divine.   Beauty and the perception of it are something that is personal, as deep, as intimate, as important, as our relationship with the Gods.

            To be beautiful is to contemplate a life lived in harmony, and not only of form or color… 

 

            To be an outstanding example…”

 

            I think that this might be the key to why Beauty is the First of the Virtues, because in living the other 7 of the Witches Virtues, we cannot help but be Beautiful!

 

Yours in seeking Beauty,

Pax / Geoffrey

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

A couple of intriguing links…

 

 

A set of Philosophy related links on beauty!

 

&

 

The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty

 

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Witches Virtues

Therefore let there be beauty and strength, power and compassion, honor and humility, and mirth and reverence within you.

From The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente

 

 

            When I started to examine the text of Valiente’s Charge of the Goddess for a deeper understanding of the Witches faith this passage stood out.  This short, simple, passage lists 8 Virtues, or Values, that the Goddess wants us Witches to embody and exemplify.  I started by reading the dictionary definitions of each, and listing those that seemed most appropriate in my BoS.

 

            As I mentioned in my last post, I recently read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and how much I am enjoying it.  One of the aspects I love about this book is that in encourages one to seek out ones core values and then to prioritize and make decisions based upon the bedrock of your core values.  As a Witch, the 8 Virtues in the quote above are a part of my core values and in the Witches Virtues series of posts I will be exploring each of them in depth.

 

            I fully expect these posts to be interspersed with other thoughts and ramblings, so I am adding a Witches Virtues category so you can click on the series so far…

 

Peace, Wisdom, Mischief,

 

Pax