It’s SO on!! (imbolc poetry blogging)

So I was going through my Witches Datebook/Organizer the other night and it occurred that I hadn’t heard anything about this years Imbolc Poetry Blogging?!?  I was alarmed!

I am also realizing that I should probably read Anne’s Hill’s Blog of Gnosis a little more often…

“Life is hard enough; why shouldn’t we take all the full moon weekend leading up to February 2nd to celebrate this patroness of the arts and healing, and read her a poem or two?” ~ Anne Hill, in 5th Annual Brigid Poetry Festival

This event has been going on for years now, and is one of those deeply cherrished events in the Pagan Blogosphere; I would like to encourage any of you Podcaster’s out there to take up this event as your own with an Bridget or Imbolc Poetry reading in one of your February episodes?

My first Poem is actually a repost of a my prayer for Haiti…

A Witches Prayer for the Haitian People

I Pray to You oh Mighty Mother and Forceful Father

I respectfully call out unto All the Holy Powers of the Universe,

Please bring all of Your Love and Compassion and Blessings to bear,

On the Island and the People of Haiti in this time of pain and suffering,

May the Holy Powers of Air inspire them and help them to communicate with their far flung families,

May the Holy Powers of Fire warm them and bring the healing of bodies,

May the Holy Powers of Water quench their thirst and bring the healing to their hearts,

My the Holy Powers of Earth feed them and lend them strength,

Blessed may You be,

Blessed may they be,

So mote it be.

Peace & Poetry to you and yours, and blessings to Haiti,

Pax

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Great Work and Life Balance

Our journeys should be like wilderness paths where sometimes the walk is fairly easy and sometimes we are walking uphill, or through tough terrain, we must occasionally find ourselves at cross-roads and make a choice of which way to go, we sometimes must acknowledge that this was not the best path and soldier on and sometimes we must back-track and try again, otherwise we are simply standing still.

Hello Dear Friends and Pagani!

So, this last week my dear friend Fey has been writing in her blog and facebook about her recent wrestling matches with some of her own personal demons, those painful memories and terrible experiences that are a part of so many of our lives.  On her podcast SpiritsCast she even had a guest host discussing the issue of having personal demons and how one can deal with them.

I have been leaving comments on her blog and facebook sharing some of my own recently learned/encountered lessons about being compassionate with oneself in the spiritual journey and how it is perfectly natural for past issues to come lurking to the surface and that the important think is to keep moving forward on ones spiritual journey and with ones spiritual practice.  I applaud her courage in not only facing these painful parts of her past and being ready to acknowledge and wrestle with and accept them as parts of her self, she is truly on the journey towards what T. Thorn Coyle calls Self-Possession.  I also must applaud her willingness to be so open with this struggle, but it’s not that surprising given her nature as not only a spiritual practitioner but a teacher.

It is a strange dance we who are on a spiritual journey sometimes end up doing…

There is our work and career life, what we are doing to feed the body and keep it clothed and sheltered and such.

There is also the everyday life, household chores and fun things with friends and hobbies we engage in for fun and to feed our spirits a bit.

Then there is the Work, either  discussed as the Great Work of Magic, the journey towards Self-Possession, seeking conversation of ones Holy Guardian Angel, or as the Spiritual Practices and/or Religious Observances that lift and sustain us in our spiritual journey.

The Great Work of Magic (or Magick for those that prefer…) is about a LOT more than mere spells, or even about ritual or magic.  It is about work with and deep awareness and acceptance of every aspect of our selves and lives.  It is about ethics and attitude and outlook, it is about mind and body and soul, it is as much about our physical and mundane lives as it is the spiritual and magical.

Yet in engaging in the Work as we begin to progress and move forward we will find all of our old issues and all of our history coming back up for us to actually accept them and deal with them, rather than trying to sweep them aside or bury them or run away from them.  This is usually the point where we start finding excuses as to why we can’t possibly continue with this set of spiritual practices, we get uncomfortable with some of the emotions and ideas and realizations and memories that may arise.

In discussing meditation and spiritual practice and discomfort and learning, Pema Chodron a Buddhist Nun and Monastary Abbot and Teacher says…

“Generally Speaking, we regard discomfort in any form as bad news.   But for practitioners or spiritual warriors — people who have a certain hunger to know what is true– feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back.  They teach us to perk up and lean in when we’d rather collapse and back away.  They’re like messages that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck.  This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.” – Pema Chodron in the essay This Very Moment is the Perfect Teacher from her book of essays When Things Fall Apart

I know in my own journey there has been a lot of running around playing shadow tag with my self and my past over the years.  Yet as I really begin to engage, once more, in my spiritual journey I also find myself finding a lot more of the me I used to be years ago.  Happiness and humor and courage and strength and some small measure of hard-won wisdom.  I had let a lot of these things lay dormant and dusty like a neglected altar in my soul.

Fey’s recent postings, and my own recent experiences and readings, have high-lighted something that I realize is extraordinarily important to remember, especially for us Contemporary Pagans.

The spiritual journey, and the experience of living our religions and paths, and our experience of spiritual and religious communities, should be many things; welcoming, safe, nurturing, enlivening and invigorating.  They should not always, or perhaps never, be entirely comfortable or easy!

Living ones faith or spirituality, truly trying to live up to your values and ideals and principles, really engaging in a committed and ongoing spirituality and spiritual practice should challenge us!

We should occasionally have to accept a wrestling match with our own personal demons.  Demons of our pasts, whether of terrible experiences from our pasts or of our own past failings and mistakes; they are there in each of our lives and we must be willing to actually look at and explore and deal with them.  There will be times where in living our goals and ideals and principles where we must wrestle with those times where our guiding values conflict with what is going on around us; sometimes the best and truest way of living our values is to do the more difficult thing.  Our journeys should be like wilderness paths where sometimes the walk is fairly easy and sometimes we are walking uphill, or through tough terrain, we must occasionally find ourselves at cross-roads and make a choice of which way to go, we sometimes must acknowledge that this was not the best path and soldier on and sometimes we must back-track and try again, otherwise we are simply standing still.

Having said that, I will also say that all of this courage and wrestling must also be balanced with humor and compassion for ourselves!  Courage in our spiritual journeys means also having the courage to say “Not Today…” or “I’m not ready yet…” or to ask ourselves “Why am I so NOT wanting to deal with ______ right now?!”.

Some days, despite our deep and purposeful commitment to healthy eating (for example) we want that dark chocolate and a glass of sweet dark red wine.  Some days we just do NOT want to go for our daily walk or to the gym.  Somedays we are just Not feeling as much like Ritual (or Circle, or Ritual, or Blot, or Church, or what-have-you) as we are in just having some me-time.  As long as we can look at these times and honestly say to ourselves that it is because in that exact moment that is what we need…. a little nurturing, a little comfort food, a little rest, or a little time for ourselves to just be, then that too is a very important part of our spiritual journeys!

Peace,

Pax

Goings on at Cherry Hill Seminary!!

Dear Friends and Pagani,

I hope, fervently, to someday pay off my student loans, get myself a  Bachelors (4 year degree) to add to my Associates (2 year) and eventually take classes with Cherry Hill Seminary.

They are an organization currently holding Seminarian classes on a variety of topics of use and interest to those seeking to work within ministry within the Pagan faiths.  You can read more about their Mission, Vision, and Values here.  In my searches to add them to the sidebar—> —> —>

I came across this address by the outgoing President of the Seminary which, I think, hi-lights the work of and need for this organization!

Peace,

Pax


UPDATE 01/19/2010
So Jaime over at Witchful Thinking posted an excellent overview of some of the many benefits of Cherry Hill getting professional Accreditation! (here)

Hekate and Hellenic Polytheism on the New Moon

Dear Friends and Pagani,

Tonight it begins…

I have made to myself a promise to deeply engage my spirituality & spiritual practice, and my religious practices, this year.  As I walk many religious roads this is a challenge, but tonight I begin to re-engage with Hekate, and really engage for the first time in a focused Hellenic rite for Her… a couple of days from now I will be engaging in my first formal Noumenia observance…

To start here’s a video to help me get into the mood…

This is the music that I will be listening to after I shower, shave and lay out some nice clothes… from the interesting band Daemonia Nymphe, a Greek band that uses ancient instruments and sticks to largely ancient and Hellenic Pagan themes…(info on their myspace and lastFM pages…)

I will post updates to this post tomorrow a little bit later, with more details.


… a little bit later!

So I started by shaving and cleaning up and changing into some clean, nice clothes. I had set up a candle, an incense stick (lavender) and holder, a length of rope braided into a rough flail, and my Athame, onto an small wooden chest with a purple cloth over it… although I need to get some good saffron yellow cloth since that color is associated with Hekate.

Now the fact that I include my Athame (a ritual dagger from Contemporary Religious Witchcraft) in a ritual to Hekate is going to cause some Hellenic Polytheists some wariness, or sneering condescension from the more fundamentalist minded.

In my researches I have found Daggers and Flails listed as items symbolic or associated with Hekate (I have yet to find any truly evocative Keys, which are also associated with Her) and using my Athame is both practical and symbolic.   First off, I just don’t have a huge supply of daggers to chose from and my Athame, in my case an all metal kris-style dagger with a dragon shaped handle is what I have on hand; of course the fact that it is not only symbolic of my will and identity as a Witch helps.  One of the most famous Witches and worshipers of Hekate (if not a very good model of healthy relationships or evenness of temper) in ancient literature is Medea; who is also associated with dragons.  Then too the Athame is used to draw a Circle, to make boundaries, so it partakes of some of the same limnality that The Night Wandering Maiden does.   All of these speak deeply to that core part of the soul that must be engaged for successful religious ritual.   So for me, when I am honoring Hekate, this bit of cross-over will work, at least for now… She hasn’t made any objections if She does, or the Lady and Lord do, I will find some other way.

Anyway, I set the altar up, cleaned up while maintaining silence, preparing myself to make an Offering to Her.  I lit a candle and listened to the music from the above video.  Then while the music was playing I turned off the screen and simply listened for a bit.  Once the music stopped I set myself before the altar and raised my arms in the Orens Position, as was done in prayers in the Ancient world; and, reading from a placard I have made I spoke the words of the Orphic Hymn to Hekate and lit the incense in offering to Her.  I then read my own invocation/hymn to Her in offering.

I thanked Her for her Guidance and Presence and Blessings in my life as I sought to honor the Theoi and understand and seek the Mysteries.  I asked for her guidance in how to approach the upcoming Noumenia and the worship of the Theoi and Spirits.

At this point I had the strong impression that I should get some barley to scatter for the next time I approach any of the Theoi in sacrifice; I also got the sense that She would urge me to wait a while, and study some more of the right practice and of the Gods of the Noumenia, and the Theoi in general, before engaging in that ritual.

I blew out the candle, and simply sat in darkness and silence for a while.  I ended my time with Her by simply saying “Thank You.” with my arms in the Orens position once more.   Then I left the room by backing out of it to give Her some privacy to enjoy the incense offered unto Her.

I will be reading more of my just recently received copy of Kharis: Hellenic Polytheism Explored and Greek Religion, and doing some more study online.  I will also be lighting a stick of incense in memory and honor of the Theoi on the Noumenia rather than the more formal observance I had been contemplating.

That’s all on the topic for now,

Peace,

Pax

Prayers & Work for Haiti…

Dear Friends and Pagani,

As you doubtless know a 7.0 earthquake has hit the island nation of Haiti.

(Stories on CNN, The New York Times, and New Jersey(dot)Com’s coverage of Wyclef Jean’s calls for donations to the Haitian charity Yele, on his Twitter feed)

In the midst of my everyday and my crazy schedule, my heart has been going out to the people of Haiti and I am trying to figure out how best to help.

I am particularly sympathetic to this issue as someone from Anchorage, AK.  The 1964 Good Friday Quake‘s devastation is something every Alaskan school child studies.  While I now live thousands of miles away, I also live with the knowledge that what historical records we have of the tectonic activity of my hometown says that there is a large earthquake every 20 years or so.  Anchorage is nearly 20 years overdue…  so my prayers and sympathies are very much with the people of Haiti.

When I have the chance I hope to take a candle and a card to the Haitian Consulate here in Orlando, which has a large Haitian population.

In the meantime I will donate what little I can to the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s earthquake relief fund (here) and for the moment am just spreading the word.

(more info on the UUSC at their site, and on wikipedia)

There is also an evolving discussion of the different avenues of donation going on at the relevant article on the Wild Hunt.

It is through there that I also found a list of Green Charities operating on the ground in Haiti, if you are as minded of long term aid as well as short term relief you might consider donating to them as well.

A Witches Prayer for the Haitian People

I Pray to You oh Mighty Mother and Forceful Father

I respectfully call out unto All the Holy Powers of the Universe,

Please let all of Your Love and Compassion and Blessing to bear,

On the Island and the People of Haiti in this time of pain and suffering,

May the Holy Powers of Air inspire them and help them to communicate with their far flung families,

May the Holy Powers of Fire warm them and bring the healing of bodies,

May the Holy Powers of Water quench their thirst and bring the healing to their hearts,

My the Holy Powers of Earth feed them and lend them strength,

Blessed may You be,

Blessed may they be,

So mote it be.

Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart


An Update…

Shortly after posting this I received an e-mail from PeaceNext, the social networking site of the Parliament of The World’s Religions, with a link to a CNN(dot)com list of charities working to aid the nation and people of Haiti…

Testings oneself, and exploring…

So I took an online Spiritual/Religious Belief System Selector Quiz over at selectsmart.com….  partly on a whim and partly out of a curiosity as to where Paganism and UU would fall in the standings… and interested to find out what else might show up…

1. Neo-Pagan (100%) Books, etc. Information link
2. Unitarian Universalism (97%) Books, etc. Information link
3. New Age (92%) Books, etc. Information link
4. Liberal Quakers – Religious Society of Friends (87%) Books, etc. Information link
5. Mahayana Buddhism (79%) Books, etc. Information link
6. Mainline – Liberal Christian Protestants (74%) Books, etc. Information link

Interesting, these results, and a little surprising on the mainline Liberal Christian Protestant listing…  There were actually a lot more listings, but these were the top ones…