As passionate as I am about building Pagan community, it’s been more than a couple of years since I was actually active in my local community.
Part of this is the change of moving across a continent, and then persuing my schooling and working, and then trying to cobble together some species of income producing jobs.
Another part of this is that as I have been involved in my Pagan and Queer communities over the years I have had a lot of chances to experience and think about things like public events, and public rituals, and club and organizational set-ups and governing bodies, and over the years I have developed some strong opinions on these matters.
Now I know that this can be a difficult thing, where folks may disagree about the process of how to go about building a community. I also know that I haven’t delved as deeply into the Orlando Pagan community as I could in the past.
Then too, there have been some areas where my experiences and opinions have conflicted with what is going on in my local community have led me to pull back from IRL involvement (in real life for those not up on the net-speak) here in Orlando. I want to change this, but I am not sure how to involve myself in my local community. The venues I’ve tried don’t seem like a good fit… I know, I know,
“so try some other venues/groups/events, Pax!”
I am going to be working on that. I am also re-evaluating whether I want to try again with one of the local groups I’ve looked into.
I am also going to be blogging about some of my strong opinions…
So the 27th was my 37th Birthday. Go me!
Anyhow, I had arranged to take a three-day week-end from my two jobs with the intention of reveling in some me time. One of the things I have/had/hope to do, before this week-end is over is to get some substantial writing done on my new column in Thorn.
I am discovering though that trying to say something resonant and meaningful is a lot tougher when you are trying to do in months in advance!
There have also been several times where I have tried to sit down to work on my Fantasy novel/world stuff for my collaboration with my dear friend Incubus, and my Aphrodite novel project, and any number of articles and I just feel kind of flat-lined… creatively speaking.
I suspect part of this is a lack of discipline on my part, and my old, old, friend… fear of failure. Time was I would let FoF stop me from doing things, I would let myself be miserable rather than trying to do stuff that fed my spirit becuse I was more afraid of even a small failure than I was of stagnation…
It’s rather like being less afraid of drowning than of looking silly clinging to the life-preserver!
of course now I am feeling a little less creatively blocked… maybe I just need to commit to a daily free-writing here…
So in the comments section of a recent Wild Hunt post we have seen the resurrection of one of the great and ongoing debates within the Pagan movement…. Our Chosen Names.
The practice of choosing a special name for oneself upon embarking on the Pagan path is the heir of several cultural streams. Christianity, and Islam, both have some precedents for choosing a different name upon formalizing ones commitment to them (or having ones commitment formalized by ones parents in childhood).
Within Witchcraft we have the tradition of choosing a Witch name for use (in some Trads ONLY) in the Circle. Ceremonial Magick and the Western Mystery Traditions have also used the practice of in-group names, with varying degrees of success.
Then too within the emerging Pagans of the 1960’s counter-culture the use of nick-names with a certain flair was nearly a requirement. (Check out some of Ronald Hutton’s work such as Triumph of the Moon or his lecture about the Horned God from an OBOD gathering for some interesting information to the effect that No, Paganism wasn’t suddenly reborn in the 1960’s…thats just our spiritual ‘baby boom’ … you may also want to check out the Pagan History website while you’re at it…_
Choosing The Name
The choice and use of an alternate name is both Spiritual and, according to a number of older texts, for reasons of Anonymity. Spiritual in that (among other things) this special name a trigger to our senses that something special is occurring and also serves as a direct way of identifying ones inner essence to the Universe or the Gods or what have you. Anonymity in that, as the old Witch saying goes…
“Witchcraft doesn’t pay for broken windows!”
Now within different streams of Paganism and Occultism there seems to be a variety of traditions and variations on traditions for choosing one’s name. I will deal with Neo-Pagan and Witchcraft related traditions as I really cannot comment on the naming practices within Cermonial Magick and the Western Mystery Schools. I will also be using some of my own names as an example….
One pagan gal I know chose Phoenix as her Pagan name (or part of it) because of a life-long fear of fire and her desire to face that fear, embrace it, and conquer it. My friend Mama Rhaevyn, acutally originally chose “Lady Rhaevyn” with the Lady being not a liturgical title but a reminder to her of the importance of manners and ethics and of being a Lady and striving to the best person she could be for her God and Goddess.
Some folks who have already found their power animal or totem or spirit guide or what have you will go with that as a part of their Pagan name. Others will be inspired by names and figures from the past, thus the plethora of “Merlins” and “Morgaines”… although why more of those so-named don’t get into more scuffles I don’t know!
Then you have folks who are inspired by folk-lore, and herb/plant lore, and the stories of the Gods and of Their cultures. Folks will look to these sources for names and words and ideas that resonate with their souls on that same deep level where we first feel Spirit or The Divine.
(or at least that’s the idea… more on this later…)
Then you have folks like me. When I first started this journey of mine onto the Witches path I was overwhelmed with choices and possibilities. Then, somewhere, I found a referance to the idea of choosing a name reflective of the qualities you either posess, or desire. That resonated strongly with me, it felt right on that deep level where the Goddess and God and Witchcraft and. well, all of this stuff felt right.
So I chose my first name of “Pax et Fort”, ‘Peace and Strength”, which were a large part of what I was seeking as I embarked upon my journey into Witchcraft and Paganism. Over the years I have added too, and edited, my Witchname… at least with the Gods….all of the personal growth and life lessons I have been blessed** with have changed me on my innermost spiritual levels; for me this seemd the right way to go. Other folks believe that the chosen name is one that reflects your innermost soul or self and its full potential and so it does not change except in the most extraordinary of circumstances, if at all.
**(Please note: They didn’t always feel like blessings at the time!)
Now I am generally known as Pax or Geoffrey in the Circle and out depending on context… and for now I’m fine with that. I have one or two possibilities should I be priveledged to innitiate with a Coven with its own naming practices but for now in the Community and in Circle I remain Pax.
Using the Name
This is where a lot of the discussions, debates, and diatribes begin…
The general pattern seems to follow one of two paths, Either folks find a Pagan/Witch name and use them inRitual and in their local Pagan communities. Or, folks will have a Ritual (mainly a Circle as this seems to be within Witchcraft) name, and a Pagan use name for use in the Pagan community, and then of course there’s ones given name; unless of course you’ve legally changed your name to (one of) your Pagan ones.
The troubles start with members of the Pagan movement interracting with members of our larger communities, especially the press and the government.
Folks don’t always seem to have a sense of the appropriate anymore, and any effort to point out that legally changing ones name to “Goldmoon Leaf Treevixen” or “Albion Uther Oaken Greymantle Otherkin” might make parts of the larger society have trouble taking you seriously. Sadly suggestions of this nature often gets one accused of being mean, or intollerant, or a closet Christian (this last one usually hissed by some Lady Crystalmoon Bunniethighs who just got done ranting about how much more tollerant we pagans are…), or all manner of other accusatory angst-muffinry on the part of those you are trying to advise.
Names have power folks, but they also have a context. Names are a part of how we interact with the larger Universe and the world around us, knowing what to call yourself and when is an important part of being an adult. If, for example, you have the nick-name “Doobie” or “Keg-man” you are simply NOT going to want to mention it, or have it mentioned, at a traffic stop.
Context is always important in communications, there are folks in the Pagan community who know that if I am outside of a Pagan context I may very well not answer to “Pax”, because I am not listening for it in that context.
When I decided to be out of the ‘broom’ closet (if you’re Heathen is it a Hammer closet?! What about the Hellenismos and Celts?!) I just started signing pieces with both my names. Partly, because it’s important to be open and honest in our communications, and partly because “Pax” is fairly tame compared to “Lord Mountebatten AutumnWolf von Gardner”… and by associating Geoffrey with Pax I wasn’t in a position to do either of them harm
Well I really don’t have a satisfactory one… this is one of those aspects of Paganism where each of us must make our own decisions, hopefully being a bit more conscious of how our words and choices and actions affect and interact this folks around us and our own lives.
I would also direct you to the continuing conversation at The Wild Hunt…
Pax and Geoffrey
Not to be missed!
So I was doing a little early morning grocery shopping today when I felt a pull towards the Wine aisle…
I had been promising myself, and informally Dionysus, that I would buy and offer some wine when I had the money to spare… I had (for a brief moment) money to spare so I opened up to the Numinous and wandered the Wines aisle looking at various labels and types… trying not to worry about the price until I was to be confronted with it…
Thankfully I found an ideal wine that was reasonably priced. Dancing Bull Chardonnay ’07. The name, and the logo caught my eye immediately, and I was relieved to find it a reasonably priced gift from the God at $9.99.
I rushed home and as time allowed in the afternoon I set up my altar. I had decided to combine an offering with my resolve to build and maintain my wine tasting skills and hard won knowledge of wines. What better way to honor Dionysus than to savor and appreciate the fruit of his vines?
I had saved some of the wine-tasting sheets from my Wines classes and prceded to set up an altar for this impromptu celebration. I cleared my bedside table and set up a Tasting Altar beside my permanent Altar. I had blessed water both in the Chalice for West and Water and in a separate cup for cleansing the palate and perhaps for making a double libation… at a certain point I tend to go with the ritual flow…
Everything was ready and I was set to begin when I realized I hadn’t consecrated the little metal bowl for the Libation to be poured into. I picked it up in my hands and brought it close to my mouth…
“I bless you and consecrate you, oh creature of metal that I might work wonders and ritual in honor of and in the name of the Gods, Blessed Be!” I said as I tapped the side of the bowl, letting forth a ringing bell-like tone.
I paused a moment to gather myself together. Then, kneeling on a pillow before the altar, I raised up my arms and hands in the Oren’s position as I read one of the Orphic Hymns to Dionysus…
“Dionysus I call,Loud-Sounding and Divine, Fanatic God, A two-fold shape is Thine, Thy various names and attributes I sing,
O, First-born, Thrice-begotten, Bacchic King: Rural, Ineffable, Two-Formed, ObscureTwo-horned, With Ivy Crowned, Euion,
Bull-Faced, and Martial, Bearer of the Vine,
Endued with Counsel Prudent and Divine:
Triennial, Whom The Leaves of Vines Adorn,
Of Zeus and Pershephoneia Occultly Born.
Immortal Spirit, Hear My Suppliant Voice.
Give me in blameless plenty to rejoice:
And listen gracious to my mystic prayer,
Surrounded with thy choir of nurses fair.”
I then said a few personal words of greeting and thanks and offering to Him.
I poured the Libation unto Him, and then poured myself a glass…
Wine: Dancing Bull Chardonnay
Price: $9.99+tax (yours may vary)
Color: A pale to medium White wine with a yellow/gold color to it and great clarity.
Aroma: Aromatic and perfume like with strong elements of Pear and fruit blossoms (that slightly powdery flower scent?) and Golden Raisin.
Taste: Somewhere between sweet and slightly dry there was just a little bit of acidity in the syrupy texture and fruity taste. I noted, again, Pear and an overall Syrupy texture and taste, hints of fresh green grass and a hint of a coppery taste.
Pairing: Any simple Chicken dish (where chicken and herbs are predominant… you’d want to be careful with the bbq sauce… a very sweet fruity one if any) Sea food, especially any white fish. I could also see this paired with a fresh pastry or bread of some time as an appetizer or brunch item… Croissants perhaps?
I am feeling a little Dionysian inspiration to work on something about Wines and Wine tasting and put the Virtues article on the back burner… will have to meditate on that.
Here’s a close up of the Tasting Altar…
Hello my dear Pagans!
So once again the Wheel of the year has turned and Spring, officially, has Sprung. The major sign of this turning here in Central Florida has been the Citrus Pollen, which has inundated us for days, is soon to be joined with the Live Oak Pollen.
(Can Live oaks get Mistltoe?! I’ll post a picture of it soon but we have some species of Bromelliad growing in the branches of one of our Liveoaks… lightish green rounded tipped leaves, whitish berry?!)
Anyway I am once more trying to unscrew the inscrutableness of what the Wheel of the Year means to me in an environment where Citrus Harvest is in December and a nearby down’s Strawberry Festival has come and gone in February and early March.!
Personally, and for no particularly well documented reason, I tend to think of Ostara as the Children’s Festival. Fertility and Birth seem wrapped up in the colored Eggs and Hares and Chicks (baby birds, not Hippie Girls ~ although Hippie Girls are cool too… Fundamentalist comic book publishers are, however a little lower on my list!)
Just as Imbolc celebrates new things and beginings and creativity, So too does Ostara continue those themes and interweave them with the exuberance of Childhood. (And for most of my lifetime, back in Alaska, the first real signs of Spring… as opposed to the return of the light)
It suddenly occurrs to me that one of the things I have always seen within the Wheel is a symbolic progression through various stages and points of our lives… perhaps that shall prove a usefull hook in writing about the Sabbats and the Seasons… hrmm…
Anyway my dear ones… I am off to surf the Pagan Internet for a bit looking for crafty, culinary, and creative ways of honoring this holiday.
Hello Friends, Witches, and Pagani!
So this new found awareness of the numinous presence of the Divine is still with or upon me. While I am not one to be ungrateful for the blessings I am given by the universe, and I am seeking after a deeper understanding of these things… there is a part of me that kind of wishes I could have some more mundane blessings…
Job advancement, a promotion or pay raise or something that moves me from the barely above minimum wage work I have done for my entire adult life so far…and towards the sort of management jobs I recently went several thousands of dollars into debt to learn more about.
On the other hand I have achieved the dream of writing professionally, I can achieve my dreams.
Then too, there is the fact that the me of a few years ago would have been too consumed with self doubt and pity about the work stuff to really notice or appreciate this strange new awareness of the everyday holiness of the world around him. He would have been consumed with self pity, fear, and doubt, and drowning in them would have found ways to run away from his pain and his fear and dulled his senses so he didn’t have to face such things.
As much as I have learned to love myself, and as much as I understand the how and why of who I was (or how I behaved) even a few short years ago… in some ways I am glad I am no longer quite the same person that I was. Or, to put it better, I am glad the person that I am (and that I can be) is not allowing himself to be trapped in the same patterns and fear and foolishness that so weighed down the man that I was.
I am blessed by the Gods with a loving partner and good friends and the knowledge that I can achieve my dreams if I let myself face the fear of failing to try. I have recently dug out all of my start-your-own-business books that I had bought in the year or two before meeting The Big Guy and going to school for Hospitality and Restaurant Management. I’ve been puttering around the boxes in the garage and looking for my old Coffee House notebook…
I am trying to also spend some time each day writing… but I am having trouble getting my momentum started on that one… I think I need to try sitting in meditation for a while before I try writing… sitting in quiet and quieting my mind … stillness before the flow of creativity.
Just as every atom and cell of creating is alive with the touch of the Divine, the Divine is within us; we can learn a lot about ourselves by seeing what reflections we see in the mirrors of our contemplation on the Universe and the Divine.
Ruminate on that my dears!
Peace, and Love,