Pouring my Soul and Spirit out on Paper

Dear Friends and Pagani,

I breathe into my Center and I begin.

So as I have mentioned a lot lately, I am working my way through T. Thorn Coyle’s book Kissing the Limitless.  My method has been to read the book, and then to start re-reading each section and exercise and to copy the Reflections and Doing The Work exercises into one of the many blank journals I had handy.   This has been of deep value to me.

Being blessed with Attention Deficit Disorder, and one of its associated minor learning disabilities ~ fine motor control problems, writing things out by hand can be a time consuming and laborious process for me.  This is a blessing in that I have to take time to read and to copy, and in some cases to do the exercises.  I am forced by this method, and by my own individual blessings and boundaries, to think and to examine the ideas and questions in this work.  Even when I have not done some of the exercises I have found a tremendous benefit to the contemplation of the questions and to the ideas behind the exercises.

In the same manner that my break up with the Ex brought not only its own pain and challenges, this also brought so many things I had told myself “oh, I’ve dealt with that…” roiling back up to the surface; so to has beginning to really DO my work, and to start seeking after my Work, allowed many things to resurface in my life.  I am praying and working with my Chakra’s daily, and I continue to hammer at the simply MASSIVE wall of inertia I have towards regularly meditating.  I have started working with the Tarot again, started writing here again, I have also been praying and offering to the God.  I have been reading other books at works about the Chakra’s and the Feri Tradition of Witchcraft, and reading things about Hellenic Polytheism and Unitarian Universalism.

Inspired by all this renewal and all of these old and new inspirations, I am creating a new personal Pagan/Witches Notebook.  I am hesitant to call it a Book of Shadows, for a few different reasons, but have yet to come up with a satisfying turn of phrase for this journal and journey.

Why not call it a Book of Shadows?  Well, the thing is it is not confined to my practice or faith as a Witch.

I am copying into this notebook poems and ritual outlines, and magickal information, and prayers from any number of notebooks, Books of Shadows (my own from over the years), and books and sources of all sorts.  So if it’s the NeoWiccan Witchcraft of my 20’s, or simply a religious or spiritually themed  poem that touched my heart, or Prayers I have found or written in my recent explorations of Hellenic Polytheism, or prayers and pledges that touch my heart as I have explored Religio Americana, or simply inspiring quotes they are going in.  If it’s the Iron Pentacle from the works and writings of Feri Tradition; or the Cabalistic Cross and LBRP, or exercises related to Chakra’s… it’s all going in there.

I am pouring the many threads and patchwork pieces of my spirituality and faith and re-budding practice out into this notebook.  Once I have them all there together I can begin to examine and explore how they fit together and how to best wrap myself up in them as I move forward in and with my life.

Now I don’t want you to think all is rosy or easy in this work.  After having taken up the habit of smoking cigars again after the break up, I am still doing it despite a lot of talking about quitting.   I have been a terrible slacker about going to U.U. Services; partly because the 11pm-7am shift makes the 10:30am Sunday Services a bit of a challenge to get to on a Sunday… and partly because over the last few weeks I’ve had a Sty in my right eye (gone now) and some species of cold or flu (still fighting it off).  Despite knowing and having experienced the benefits of meditation I have trouble breaking through my previously mentioned wall of inertia about actually Sitting.  While I have started to eat a healthier diet with … what are they called again… oh,yeah vegetables and fruits; I am still a sloth when it comes to actually going out and physically excercising, even something as simple as walking more.  I have debt, Student Loans, I need to start dealing with.  I still find myself running into situations or interactions that bring all of the old insecurity and self doubt and self loathing roilling up…

BUT,

When any of these current challenges and situations starts to get the better of me.  Now I can breathe into my Center, and begin again.

There is a tremendous and slightly intoxicating freedom in that.  And that freedom comes from having taken the time to study and contemplate and do the Work.  Now if you will excuse me, I have some notes to go take and some mundane chores and work to do to help support the Work of my Spirit.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

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My heart is like the phases of the Moon

Dear Friends,

A fellow blogger, whose wit and wisdom and snarkasm I greatly admire is going through a rough relationship break-up.  He recently posted about the difficulties he’s going through…showing an incredible amount of courage and strength in baring his soul in that way.   I am thankful for his strong example…

It’s strange how things are interwoven together.

I was on a hunt today for some Beaujolais Nouveau for Thanksgiving when I saw a display of cranberries and nearly burst into tears.  Last year this time I was in Texas visiting the Ex’s mom and her husband’s familly and learning to make a cranberry relish for the big day.  A road-trip and adventure with the man I loved…. I love…

Even after the incredibly hurtful way he handled his break-up with me, parts of me still love him… the in love is, well definitely fading, it’s like the light of that emotion is waning within my heartbut it’s still there.

Then there is my personal journey of Spirit, re-engaging with Witchcraft and magic and with my relationships with my Gods.   Doing some of the work in Kissing the Limitless, and sometimes simply bouncing off of the excercises and contemplations in that work into my own realizations and transformations.

Then too there is Jonathan, sweet, funny, adorable Jonathan.  The unsought after, and rather determined, new boy friend… (I’m 37 for heaven’s sake…) …man friend?…. bear friend….  Whatever he is he is creeping across my heart like the Waxing moon.  This at once enchants, quite possibly literally, me and worries me.  When I burned the mixture of roses, and passion flower, and rosemary, and cinnamon and frankincense and myrre and copal; when I drew the smoking brazer around myself Widdershins drawing into me and too me my desires for prosperity and happiness and health and friendship and home and love… was this spell the right magic at the wrong moment?

I didn’t used to be afraid of Love, or of Friendship, or of Connection.  But you can lose touch with Friends, and fall out of Connection with yourself, and those whom you Love sometimes stop loving you…

I am pouring these thoughts and feelings and fears out here so that I can function and so that I can act and think in a clear and sane manner.   And now, I breathe.  I breathe into my Center, I align my Chakra’s and I get ready to sleep before work.  Tomorrow I will get to spend Thanksgiving with a wonderful new guy, instead of eating the frozen dinner I had been… well neither dreading nor anticipating, but expecting?

Even as I wrestle with these feelings I am grateful for my friends and my connection and every bit of love in my life.  My I increase my blessings, and the blessings of those around me, in the coming year.

Peace,

Pax

Toasting the Bountiful Harvest ~ Beaujolais Nouveau

Dear friends and Pagani,

I dedicate this Thanksgiving post to Night Wandering Dionysus and the rest of the Theoi Daitioi (Gods of Feasting).

Folks who look at the evolution of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday will often point out that the Pilgrims weren’t farmers or they would have had arranged to arrive earlier and harvest in October.   Luckily for us, they didn’t know much about farming; and however much the pilgrims really had to do with the evolution of the U.S. Thanksgiving, we get the opportunity to enjoy a superlative wine with our Civic Harvest Festival!

For U.S. Pagans, Beaujolais Nouveaux is the perfect wine to toast Thanksgiving in its aspect as a Harvest festival, as it is usually only a matter of weeks before that the wine in the bottle or glass was grapes on the vine waiting until the growers detected that they were at their peak, and ready for harvest.

Beaujolais Nouveau is the briefly fermented first batches of wine pressed from the current years wine grape harvest, Gamay grapes to be specific.  Beaujolais grapes are picked only by hand, as are the grapes of the Champagne region; both of which are strictly regulated under French law.  Beaujolais Nouveau also under goes a specialized fermentation process known as carbonic maceration, where most or all of the grapes are left whole and very little fermenting must is added, the weight of the grapes themselves helps crush the grapes on the bottom and aids in a fermentation process where the grapes ferment individually and relatively little of the harsh tannins present in the grape skins are pressed into the resulting wine, as is usually the case with longer aged and more traditionally pressed red wines.  All of this results in a fruity and light flavor profile.

It debuts in the Third Thursday in November, no matter when the Harvest begun, and its flavor profile tends to blend well with rich and hearty foods of the type common to the Beaujolais region, or of the sort that we in the U.S. associate with Thanksgiving and the Winter Solstice feasts!  The average quality Beaujolais Nouveau should be able to last a few months, and may take you as far as a celebration in March or even May.  An excellent vintage (in a good year for the grapes) you could very well keep it for a year!  Consult a wine professional or expert near you for advice if you are not sure.

In looking at a Beaujolais Nouveau you should be aware that the California wines marketed as a Gamay Beaujolais, or similar title, will tend to use a different variety of Gamay grape, and as they are grown in different land and microclimates the California Beaujolais will tend to have a different flavor profile than the French, in the end, try both and see what you like better and which blends better with your Holiday feasting!

Happy Thanksgiving,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart


Some informative links…

 

Beaujolais Nouveau Wikipedia Entry

Beaujolais Nouveau: History Behind the Third Thursday in November

10 Fascinating Facts About Beaujolais Nouveau

Its Party Time for Beaujolais Nouveau

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est Arrive!!

Giving Thanks to the Elders

(This is an open letter to the Elders and Leaders of every Path and Faith and Tradition within the contemporary Pagan Movement)

Dear Elders, Living and amongst the Mighty and Honored Dead,

 

Thank you.  Thank you for blazing the trails so many of us now walk.  Thank you for weathering the storms of controversies past.  Thank you for the courage and strength it took to keep moving along your own paths in the face of the many metaphorical slings and arrows (and occasional rocks through the windows) aimed at you; both from outside, and sadly sometimes from within, our communities.  Thank you for your scholarship and for your creativity and inspired inventions.  Thank you for your inspiration.  Thank you for your leadership.  Thank you for teaching and sharing your words and hard won wisdom and lore.

Thank you, thank you, a thousand-fold thank yous!

Sincerely,

Geoffrey D. Stewart, known as Pax

New Moon, Noumenia, and Me.

Dear Friends and Pagani,

A stick of incense burns upon my altar.  An offering unto the Theoi on the Noumenia.

In ancient times the Noumenia honored Selene, Apollon Noumenios, and The  Household Gods; including Hestia, Zeus, Hermes, Hecate, Appolon Ageieus, the familial Agathos Diamons, and ones honored Ancestors.   Many contemporary Hellenic Polytheists will take this time to honor and make offerings to all of the Theoi.

Technically I am three days late, as the first sliver of the waxing moon, which the ancients considered the New Moon and the start of the new month; however it was on a walk earlier this evening that I caught my first sight of the moon since the astrological New Moon.  It helps that I am being inspired by recent discussion of how to handle food offerings on the Neos Alexandria ~ discussion group on Yahoo.

The basic discussion was that once food has been offered to the Gods, it becomes blessed as They partake of its essence, and then the worshiper may eat the food offered to the Gods.   (the general feel, based on UPG and some historical sources, is that food offered to the Dead is better left out in the woods or perhaps burnt)  Because of my current financial status I have to rely on discussion groups and online sources of information about my worship of the Theoi.  Although admitedly almost 40 years of being a history geek have certainly helped to inform my online research… and I am finding a little money here and there to start buying books to increase my knowledge and understanding.

And still I practice.  I pray to Them, I make offerings of incense, and now apples, and water… maybe some juice or wine….  Practice, practice, practice… Pray, sit in meditation, breathe into my Center, going for walks, writing out my thoughts and feelings and doing my best to become the best me I can be; both for myself and for the Gods.

“Every day, in some small way, I reweave myself, I rebuild myself.”

I am not only dealing with the recent break-up of my increasingly mis-named Life Partnership with the Big Guy; I am dealing with all of the old patterns and hurts that I have acknowledged for years but never really wrestled with, everthing that came roiling to the surface after the break-up.

I am doing it though!  I am finding my way.   I am learning who I am and what is important to me.  I am building my spiritual and religious practices and figuring out how to work within and build upon my relationships with the Theoi, and with the Lady and Lord of the Witches, and the other Gods who I encounter and have encountered in my journey.

I am learning how to budget, and how to eat properly, and how to date and laugh and live and love; both again and for the first time.

For all of these blessings, and all of the blessings in my life, I thank the Gods.  I offer my words and sweet smelling incense unto Them.

Peace,

Pax

Pagan Economic Empowerment: Buying (and Selling) Pagan!!

Dear Friends and Pagani,

So I am working on my own self and spiritual practices and trying to rekindle my creative and spiritual fires.  Some of this spiritual hearth-building has involved journaling, and some of it has involved puttering and updating pages on this blog/site.   This has included some work on the Online Pagan Resources page.  Including the creation of a category for Pagan Economic Empowerment.

Now I have written before of my belief that it is important for the Pagan movement to start examining how we spend our money, and to find ways to increase the economic health and prosperity within our own local and regional Pagan communities in my posts on Invoking the Power of the Pagan Dollar.  This issue was highlighted for me again this October when The Wild Hunt did a story about a Wiccan who alleges that Bath and Body Works fired her for her religion.  It was actually in the comments/discussion of this last story that my thoughts on Pagan Economic Empowerment were rekindled.  Folks brought up the idea of a boycott, and then the idea of spending money with some of the Pagan purveyors of Bath and Body Lotions, Notions, and Potions on Etsy was brought up.  This is an excellent idea!

As I have said before if we spend our money in community, with Pagan owned businesses on Pagan made goods and services wherever possible we can build a stronger community better able to face the challenges the 21st Century will bring as the Contemporary Pagan Movement matures and grows.  If we spend our money with our fellow Pagans who are business owners and professionals, as well as our artisans and crafts-people, we can improve the economic and social status of our movement.  If we can empower our community through our economic choices then we can build a world where it is as unthinkable to fire someone because of their Wiccan Faith as it is to fire someone for being Hindu or Jewish.  (Not just as illegal, but as unthinkable…)

Now, what I am NOT saying, is that we should choose an inexperienced or shoddy good or service simply because it is Pagan owned/made.  Nor am I suggesting that in pursuing a Buy Pagan approach to our goods and services that we need Out ourselves or our fellow Pagans… being out as a Pagan is a personal choice and a life-long process.

I would also like to once again remind folks that a Pagan business can mean a heck of a lot more than simply a book & paraphenalia shop (or online store).  Spending Money at ANY Pagan owned business, with any Pagan professional, and on any Pagan made good will empower our community!

I am suggesting that if you have the option of buying your Pagan books and paraphernalia from a Pagan owned store, do so.  I am suggesting that the next time you want to hold a Pagan Pubmoot in your local community, you look at reserving a backroom at the quietly Heathen owned brewpub.  If you find yourself looking for a new home go with a Pagan Realtor.  When you move into that new home, and you are looking for a new local Doctor, look for a Pagan one.   If you have a Pagan Building Contractor/Remodeller in your area go with him for your remodelling needs at the new house.  If you go out to eat regularly, and you know some local Pagans work as Servers, go to their restaurants and ask to sit in their section.

(Oh, on that last one, leave a good 20% tip!  I know that 15% was standard once upon a time, but times have changed people!)

So I have covered Buying Pagan, what about Pagan Selling.  Well, Pagan business owners and professionals of all types, ADVERTISE!  You don’t have to completely out yourself to advertise in your community!  An add saying “your Pagan and Heathen friendly realtor”, or an add saying “please be discreet when making appointment” will work wonders in your advertisememts to local Pagan Newsletter’s and at the local Metaphysical/Occult shops.  Depending on your business and how out you are, you could expand to local coffee house postings or in the local Gay publications as well if you and your business is also Gay friendly.  (there is some overlap between the Gay and Pagan communities, or so I have heard…)

If you are interested in advertising and networking you might want to check out the Pagan Business Network, an international networking and resource organization.

Peace,

Pax

Spiritual Practice and Momentum

Dear Friends and Pagani,

So, as previously mentioned, I am working with T. Thorn Coyle’s book Kissing The Limitless recently.  The essays and visualizations and meditations and journaling exercises in it have really been helping me to reacquaint myself with, well, myself.  I breathe into my Center and pray daily and have been not only acknowledging some of my ongoing issues, but been able to poke and prod and puzzle them out.  Not only acknowledging them but actually understanding their history and place in my life in the past and in the present.

Its interesting to me how consciously breathing into my center has gone, in a few short weeks, from an exploratory practice to a habitual or reflexive action.  I also am feeling so much more, well, centered – and calm and capable.  I am also not feeling nearly as melancholy as I had been feeling lately after the break-up.  There’s a point in KTL, where Coyle talks about has as you build your spiritual practice you begin to find a momentum and daily practice builds upon daily practice.  I have been experiencing that lately.  Inspired by my work with KTL and by some of my past dabbling explorations of my Chakra’s I have also recently picked up and am working with Wheels of Light by Anodea Judith.  I have been working with my tarot cards recently, mainly shuffling them and simply spending time with them regularly… not a vigorous study… yet…

I have also been going for walks again, trying to get just a little more excercise and build up to going to the health center/gym in the apartment complex once I can go for a vigorous 30 minute walk without getting winded.  Moving again, and feeling like I am finally waking up after the break up.  Its like my heart and heart Chakra just shut down in the aftermath of that; a feeling rather like some personal pilot light went out within my soul.

In addition to rebuilding spiritual practices, I have been trying to rekindle my fires by reading my blogs(many of the ones to the right of the screen) and listening to my podcasts and looking for new ones.  Here’s a few podcasts that have been helping me rekindle my personal fires.

SpiritsCast

“SpiritsCast is a (mostly) pagan podcast that is recorded in Southwestern Ontario, but hopes to reach the world with education and information on alternative spiritual practices and beliefs. It is produced by Feithline Stuart, who is the former hostess of “The Dark Side of Fey”.”

So now I breath into my center, and ground myself, and open myself to the inspiration of the Gods, and dive into my spirit and self.

Pagan Centered Podcast

Another long running, and widely distributed Podcast with a discussion format and on occasion a lot of cussing.  Some folks have compared this podcast to drive-time DJ’s for the Pagan community.  Rarely dull and always informative.

Elemental Castings

A fabulous Podcast series from renowned Feri Tradition Witch and author T. Thorn Coyle.

Are three podcasts that I’ve been doing a lot of listening to lately in addition to my habitual listening of the Wigglian Way…

The Wigglian Way

A fascinating Canadian podcast entering its 3rd year, Sparrow and Mojo also are the only Pagan Podcast to be included in the religions category of the 2008 Podcast Awards!

So here’s to breathing to our Center’s and rekindling our fires dear friends and fellow Pagani,

Peace,

Pax