Wrestling with Definitions: Pagansim as Connection or Reconnecting

Hello Friends and Fellow Spiritual Travelers!!

So In response to a comment I left over at Druid Journal on the first post of a series talking about Defining Paganism, writer and blogger Jeff Lilly left some kind words over on my Definitions Page!

Hey Pax! I really like these definitions, in their structure and substance, and I think they square well with what I’m driving at in my series of posts. In fact, I think you’ve covered the ground pretty exhaustively. In my posts, I’ll go into more of the linguistic theory behind word meaning and why “pagan” is such a tricky word to pin down, but I’m basically going to arrive at what you have here: a web of overlapping, interlinking archetypes. Awesome!

The thing is that those definitions ~especially the one for Paganism~ are STILL a work in progress, and I’ve been moving recently towards adding to the definition of Paganism, and I’d love some constructive or appreciative input/commentary!

So I recently heard about this new book God Is Not One, by Stephen Prothero…

There was a recent story about it on The Wild Hunt, with a follow-up article and some deeply fascinating comment stream discussions,  and a fabulous review over at Pagan Godspell.

It was Ruby Sara’s review that started me thinking about defining Paganism, again.  Especially this part….

Prothero’s unifying conceit for the eight religions explicated in the book is that each has four elements – a problem that the religion perceives, a solution to the problem, techniques for implementing the solution, and exemplars to demonstrate how to effectively go about it.  Prothero admits that this formula of “problem/solution/technique/exemplar” is simplistic, but it is fairly functional…though an excellent topic of debate would be whether all religions can be said to being with a problem – do the various Pagan religions, for instance, address problems?

Not only would I say that the Pagan religions address problems, I would like to put forth that in one way or another we strive to address the SAME problem and that that is a unifying feature of our diverse theologies and practices and group cultures!

It seems to me that the central problem that our many Paganisms address is one of Disconnection.

Disconnection from one another, disconnection between our true selves and the influence of our over-culture, disconnection from the Natural and Spiritual World(s) around us, disconnection from our Ancestors and from our Ancestral Cultures, disconnection from the Spirits and Gods present and/or manifest in the World around us…

The commonly found solution for this problem is to engage in Active Relationship.

Engaging in active and participatory and respectful and reciprocal relationships with our friends and family, engaging in the holy work of sort out our personal bull****, learning about and being conscious of the physical and spiritual World around us, finding ways to relate to or honor our Ancestral spirits and the honored and beloved dead, and learning about and begining to build relationships with the Spirits and the Gods/The Divine/The Ground of All Being.

The technique most often used to engage in Active Relationship is “Ritual”.

It is not enough to think about ones Active Relationships, at some point you actually have to start DOING something, no matter what species of Paganism you practice at some point YOU are the one who has to try addressing the Big Divine Whatyamacallit of your particular Paganism… even if it’s only on a private level in your household, and maybe you go to public rites and festival rites organized by others… but at some point in every form of Paganism to actually start being a Pagan you have got to use the language of ritual to begin and build and have most of your most important religious and spiritual relationships.  The quotation marks represent the fact that what that actual ritual is can vary widely and wildly depending upon which of the Pagan paths you practice and what subgroup of your faith you are involved in.

Our exemplars are ___________ .

There are as many exemplars as there are Pagan paths, and in somecases they have been known to crossover between Pagan faiths.

Anyhow that’s what’s been on my mind lately…

Peace,

Pax

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Stand up for justice, please…

Dear Friends,

I recently came across an article about an elderly gay couple Harold and Clay, who shared a life together for 20 years, who were forcibly separated from one another by the State of California when one of them fell ill.

Ignoring Clay’s significant role in Harold’s life, the county continued to treat Harold like he had no family and went to court seeking the power to make financial decisions on his behalf. Outrageously, the county represented to the judge that Clay was merely Harold’s “roommate.” The court denied their efforts, but did grant the county limited access to one of Harold’s bank accounts to pay for his care.

What happened next is even more chilling.

Without authority, without determining the value of Clay and Harold’s possessions accumulated over the course of their 20 years together or making any effort to determine which items belonged to whom, the county took everything Harold and Clay owned and auctioned off all of their belongings. Adding further insult to grave injury, the county removed Clay from his home and confined him to a nursing home against his will. The county workers then terminated Clay and Harold’s lease and surrendered the home they had shared for many years to the landlord.

Three months after he was hospitalized, Harold died in the nursing home.

Now given that the State of California and the County of Sonoma completely ignored the perfectly legal and well defined paperwork that these men had already filled out, including end of life directives and surviving power of attorney, it is probable that had they been married or civilly partnered those too would have simply been ignored in this inexplicable tragedy.

Please follow the link, spread the word, and do what you can to support GLBT and Elder rights in your area.

Peace,

Pax

New Moon 4/14/2010

Dear Friends,

Here is how I spent my evening…
I woke up at around 5pm and made some coffee and a peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwich for breakfast.  Showered.  Puttered around on the computer and ran to the store before sundown, and did some cleaning in my room.   It wasn’t going to be pristine but I at least put things in order and sorted my usual creatively exploded environment into piles…

… besides of the Theoi, Hekate seems to be the least concerned or bothered by the occasional mess as she stands a bit outside the usually more metaphorically Apollonian world of the Theoi, although I think she certainly appreciates some effort at the proper respects…

I set out a purple altar cloth.  Upon it I placed an incense holder, a stick of incense, the small black ceramic Sake bottle that I have adapted to use as a vessel/lamp in my honoring of Her, and a copy of the Homeric Hymn to Hecate.

To set my mind in the proper mood I listened to the Waterboys song Church Not Made With Hands and let my mind wander around the Internet… opening myself to Her inspiration and stopping off at a few interesting and synchronous spots along the way.  Then I took a deep conscious breath, and listened to Daemonia Nymphe’s Nocturnal Hecate.

I sat in silence for a few moments, then I took a handful of barley and held it in my hand.  Pouring it from hand to hand I contemplated the flavor, the texture, the taste, and the fact that for many in the world today and for so many in the ancient world this might be a meal’s worth of food.  When I felt I had truly reached some understanding of what I was offering, I poured the barley into the black ceramic Sake pitcher.  I placed the tea-light candle into the spout portion, and lit it.  I raised my hands to the heavens and read the Hymn.

Then I lit the incense from the candle flame and sat in silence for a while open to Her inspiration and being thankful for her blessings.

And now to work, and to Work, and to contemplate her inspirations…

Peace,

Pax

A note…

Dear friends

So I haven’t been posting a lot lately…

Some of this is due to a time delayed bout of emotional turmoil over the break-up with The Big Guy.  Some of this is the result of the worst allergy season that Central Florida has seen in years, the unusually cold and lengthy cold spells we had this last Winter have thrown the pollen production into overdrive!  Some of this is also due to a spell of insomnia.

For about 2 or 3 weeks there I was buying a whole bunch of novels and reading at work, when I wasn’t helping guests or working on the Night Audit paperwork that is…, and frittering around the internet when I was at home.  I have NOI been eating healthy, although there have been some token efforts in that regard.  I have not been getting anywhere near enough healthy physical activity (or excercise, but if I look at it as exercise I will look at it as a chore, which is entirely the wrong attitude towards it).  I have also been smoking too much.

I have  kept saying my daily prayer, and I was breathing into my Chakra’s and doing the Cleansing Life Force excercise often… but mostly I was just being for a while.  I didn’t Circle, I didn’t observe the astrological New Moon as a night of remembering and honoring Hecate, and I haven’t gone to Church unless I was committed to be there as an Usher or Greeter.   A chunk of this had to do with the previously mentioned allergies and the week long bout of insomnia and a good chunk of it had to do with needing some retreat time, some me time, some time to just read novels and be with my feelings and to retreat from things for a while.  I have also noticably slacked off in my blogging and writing here and elsewhere.

Letting myself lay mentally and emotionally and spiritually and religiously fallow for a while.

Now I am beginning to feel the need to re-engage my Spirit and spirituality and my religious devotions.  I feel… relaxed…ready to begin working on myself and ready to re-engage with the world and the Work of this lifetime.

More later,

Pax

Fascinating and distressing

I found this (rather funny) article on NPR about a futuristic survival community and it’s efforts to market and create a network (expensive network) of communal survival shelters for whatever impending doom you may be afraid of.

On the one hand, rather cool in a sci-fi futuristic kind of way I suppose… Yet I also feel deeply deeply saddened that the people who invest their time, talent, money and efforts on projects like these could be using that same energy to actively make the world a better, safer, healthier and happier place.

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Gordon’s comment on the sleek and modern design of the proposed shelter’s reminded me that this is a far cry from their one actually built facility…(Local News footage, here)