A few notes…on what Paganism is NOT…

Dear friends,

A few useful notes, based on some rampant misconceptions I have seen carried abroad in my local Pagan community.  Please take the following to heart.

Paganism is NOT a substitute for the psycho-therapeutic process.

Paganism is NOT a fandom.

Paganism is NOT an excuse for religious or racial bigotry, not even when it involves Christianity or a black actor portraying a comic-book interdimensional being named Heimdal.

Given that Religion and Spirituality are synonyms, Paganism is NOT an excuse for long angry diatribes against “Religion” and in favor of “Spirituality”; especially when your anger and fear of “Religion” is rooted in anger at and fear related to your religion of origin.

Paganism is NOT a justification of your own personal lack or responsibility or maturity; NOR is Paganism or “tolerance” to be used as an excuse for others irresponsibility or maturity.

Paganism is NOT an excuse to engage in addictive or self-destructive behavior.

Paganism is NOT a synonym for Wiccan or Neo-Wiccan.

Paganism is NOT a synonym for practicing Magick, nor does a Pagan rite require an act of spell-casting.

Thank you,

Pax

PS – you may be wondering what Paganism IS, well I am struggling towards my own definition over here….

PPS- feel free to riff off any of the above points into a posting of your own, I will probably be expanding several of the above into paragraphs at some point in the future myself….

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When the Spirits take you for a walk…

Dear Friends,

So I had just gotten home from work, and was indulging in a cigar.   It has been an exhausting few days… busy at work and with a lot of scheduling changes and exciting new projects coming up…. and so I allowed myself an indulgence…

I stood outside before taking my things in, smoking and just being open to the moment and I felt a pull to the area I walked through a couple of weeks ago… so I started walking.  It was a subtle pull, sometimes a nudging push, leading me on a walk past the here-there-be-alligators pond, but not around it.  I stood for a while at a t-shaped not-quite-cross-roads part of the path and stood for a moment greeting the Spirits.

I tried to ask them what they wanted.  Did they want something from me?  Water?  Offerings?  Witness?  Caretaking?  I felt nudged to walk along, and pick up some of the paper trash lying by the path I walked.  There were a few pieces of paper trash that were close to the water, and underneath some tree branches, that were to be left alone… I thought about and was willing to pick them up but got the sense that they had been …. claimed?

Along the way there were some empty apartment units that seemed to call for occupancy, a message to find a place of my own rather than rooms with a roommate?  Get closer to land maybe?

So I continued along, pushed and pulled by the Spirits and found myself walking past a recycling dumpster, and along through the complex grounds…  and then back to my car and the door to my place.  The whole message of recycling is of course obvious, but it doesn’t feel like that was THE message.

The vexing thing was that there was no clear-cut message, but a sense of being watched and tentatively welcomed?  I don’t know maybe a sense of the Spirits seeing if I am capable of listening and being respectful?

I hope I was a good guest.

Peace,

Pax

The Lady

I Call upon and Invoke Thee

Oh Triple Goddess of the Witches

Mighty Mother Celestial

Black Robed and Silver Clad Queen of the Mysteries

Lady of Spirit and Inspiration and Magick

Ever-changing Goddess of the moon

Lady of the Groves and Gardens

Bride of the Sun

You who is at once, The Maiden of Creativity,

The Mother of Possibilities, and The Secret Wielding Crone,

I Invoke Thee by Perfect Love and Perfect Trust

Please be present in this rite in Thy Honor and Praise

Share with me Your Love and Lore and Law

That Thy Servant and Friend may be Fulfilled

Hail & Well Met

~Invocation, (c) 2010 Pax/Geoffrey Stewart

Dear Friends,

This, which I was determined would be the first entry in this little series, has been a tough post to write for all its brevity.  It is strange to note that I don’t have many dramatic or deep encounters with The Witches Goddess, the Three-fold Lady who is Maiden and Mother and Crone… a couple stand out… but Her presence in my life is a largely subtle one compared to some of my other encounters with Divinities.

The Charge

The Charge, or rather, Valiente’s Charge of The Goddess is the first time I can specifically remember encountering Her.  After all these years I can’t recall which version in which book or where I was when I first read it…. I want to say it was in the back of either Complete Art of White Witchcraft or Diary of A Witch, both by Sybil Leek.

I remember it was an older book.   Anchorage is blessed with some world class used bookstores because it can be ridiculously expensive to move to and from Alaska thus a lot of folks jettison stuff on their way out, I remember the worn pages of a paperback in my hand,the sensation of that light almost feathery quality of the page edges that old paperback books have.  I remember the old paperback/used book scent overlaying that slightest hint of Metaphysical/Occult bookstore.  I remember the slightly old fashioned type against the sepia kissed creme of the page.

I remember the words, as I read them, seeming to flow off the page, up my arms deep into my head and heart.  I remember how filled to bursting I was with Spirit and Love and Hope and Power as I first experienced a sense of Her deep and abiding love.

I remember the sense of the rest of the world receding and the sense of the words speaking directly to the deepest part of my soul.  Drinking down the words of the Charge, I can remember feeling changed.  Touched and Transformed by Her words, sent through Doreen, so many years before I was born.  She was there, and although Her presence in my life has been an often subtle one, She has been with me ever since.

A Voice in The Rec Room

This was one of the few, dramatic, moments in my experiences of the Triple Goddess.  An acquaintance of mine who was claiming to suffer from Multiple Personalities (Dissociative Identity Disorder) had had, or decided to have (which I say looking back on the episode with the perspective of many years experience of the ways people seek to suck up attention and specialness in dysfunctional ways) an episode.

I wasn’t entirely sold on the MPD, had some inkling it might just be attention seeking, but also felt that it was possible that there WAS some mental illness going on or at least some emotional troubles… so I did what any self-respecting Witch would do; I decided to turn it over to the Gods… or in this case The Witches Goddess.  This was early enough in my journey and practice as a Solitary Witch that She was in the spotlight of my practice at the time.

I had decided to try something different, and instead of putting the tools on an altar table or cloth, I arrayed them and the various notions and lotions and potions that inhabited my early altars around me in a circle, and Cast Circle through and upon them.  I did the usual Cirlce rites and then after The Rite, in symbol, I began praying to Her.  I asked Her what I could do for my friend and lay the situation out before here as I understood it at the time and prayed for Her guidance.

“Love him.” She said.

I.  Heard.  The.  Words. Aloud.  Not in the conversation-in-my-head-but-not-my-words style, which is the usual way I get impressions from The Holy Powers, but aloud.  Out, friggin’, Loud!

I spun around, startled, and knocked over the lit Candle for Fire… which luckily went out and did NOT ignite the synthetic orange shag of  daylight basement rec-room.  After a moment of processing this, one of my earliest this-shit-is-real experiences, I uprighted and relit the Candle for Fire and continued to pray for a time.  She, of course, was maddeningly silent after this, but I tried to remain content knowing She was and is there and will put a hand or word in if needed.

Reflection

Mostly I am aware of her on Full Moon nights, or nearly full nights.  The familiar embracing Presence.  The sense of settling in as I begin Invoking Her in Circle, the passionate thread that runs through me as the Blade and Chalice meet.  While I haven’t had a lot of woo-woo experiences involving Her, I have almost never really doubted She is there.

I’d love to be able to say that I have NEVER doubted Them or The Craft, but I am as human as anyone else and sometimes I wrestle with fear and doubt and confusion.  Always though, I return.  I return to Them and to Her.

Lately my relationship with Her has taken a bit of a turn as I encountered the Feri Trad way of addressing Her as “Holy Mother in Whom we live move and have our being”… this has resonated strongly for me and for my practice and I have incorporated that phrase into some of my own Craft.

Peace,

Pax

Intro

Libertas (whilst written before this series was conceived of, it fits a little too perfectly into the theme to be ignored…)

The Witches Goddess (this post)

The WitchFather

The Morrigan

Hecate

Dionysus

The Honored and Beloved Dead

Spirits of the World Around Us

Approaching the Cards and Coins and Cross-Roads Once more…

Hello Dear Friends,

So, I picked up the tarot cards again recently…

I’ve done a few halfhearted readings over the last few years, but I haven’t really opened myself to them… really approached the idea of divination/Tarot as a part of my regular spiritual practice ….  since January of 2009.  Which is when some new room-mates who were friends of my ex The Big Guy were moving in…. I was doing a reading after having cleaned house and I got the Tower and 10 of Swords and a lot of other doom-filled cards and I did the wrong thing.

I swept it aside and ignored it and was all like “oh sometimes you just get all the bad cards” or made some similar excuse… and I gave up on the idea of divination/Tarot as a regular part of my practices…. and ran into a lot of trouble and misfortune I might have avoided… or at least may have been able to soften the break-up if I had taken their counsel.  We human’s have SUCH a gift for denial and finding distractions from what we don’t want to hear.

The thing is, though, that part of the whole point of divination is to hear or see the things we don’t want to hear as well as the things we are curious about, it helps us gain perspective on our situation and sometimes perspective means not liking some of what you see and finding ways to work with or change it.

For Example…

This Morning I have done a simple 3 card spread… past-present-future …. and got The Hanged Man, The 3 of Pentacles, and The 4 of Cups.  (Cards kept upright, even in shuffling, because I am still relearning the meanings and admittedly still tentative in my approach to Divination.)

So we have time spent in suspension and contemplation,

We have financial gain and completion.

And, we have the potential for a period of distraction from the important things of the material and spiritual.

Not so bad so far…  Feels fairly spot on given my financial and career related concerns, not entirely related to the social occasion I have later this morning that I was inquiring about… but keep your mind on your money and don’t let things distract you from the things you need to me taking care of to succeed.  I can live with that message.

Now, lets see if I can find a way to face and read and work with the message the next time it’s one of the doom-filled portents and not some basic background info…
Peace,

Pax

Automotive Misadventures, The Fabulous Jonathan, and Spiritual Practice, Oh My!

Dear Friends,

So as you may remember I have been working at building my array and regularity of Spiritual Practices in my Pagan journey for a while now…. Meditation, both silent and focused, and Conscious Breathing and Grounding and Centering and work with my Chakra’s and (for those of us on the New Aquarian Frontier who are of the Witchy persuasion) of course Magick…. and loging them all daily along with my daily diet and writing I’ve done that day and any Professional development and physical excercise…

And my practice has been growing and becoming a regular part of my life.  So of course as I grew it eventually became time for a test.

My old car, the Late Great Volvo, had already had 170,000 miles on it when I bought it used for $1,700 a few years ago.  I had already spent more on it in repairs than I bought it for, almost double.  I have been reading and researching replacement vehicles and pulling together money and otherwise talking about getting a newer car.  However my A.D.D. blessed brain kept getting distracted by more immediate things… duties and commitments and exhaustion from a wildly varying schedule and all sorts of other life stuff… or so I told myself.

So when I stopped at a fast food place for some breakfast this last Sunday, and the car didn’t want to start, I shouldn’t have been so surprised.

Turn the key, nothing.  The lights came on but the engine did not turn over.   I figured it was the battery, and after some harsh lessons in the road readiness and charitable nature of many of my fellow human beings…. I called my boyfriend The Fabulous Jonathan.  He made the 45-minute to hour drive to where I was and we tried jumping the battery.  Repeatedly.   No go.   After a while the ugly truth dawned that it wasn’t the battery, it was the transmission.

For those who are even more automotive repair/maintenance challenged than myself (and I hope you live somewhere either blessed with fabulous public transit or which is very pedestrian friendly) that is both ridiculously expensive and the automotive kiss of death.

The Fabulous Jonathan set aside his own duties and chores for the Week-end and helped ferry me around town for a few days and look at cars and figure out how to invest my modest nest egg into a new vehicle.  I am now the proud debtor of a slightly used 2010 Kia Rio!!!

(brief pause whilst Pax does some calming breathing about his very first Car financing experience, which is really different from a Student Loan because you can’t really defer payments…. banks are a LOT less accomodating or flexible on Car Loans than Student Loans as I understand it)

So we exchanged Valentine cards on the 13th, and spent most of the next 3 days together.  He helped me get to work on Monday night, after I switched shifts around to have Tuesday off to go Car hunting.   We talked, a lot and laughed and shared stories from our pasts and he made a scary crazy making experience a lot less painful!  He is wonderful, and smart and cute and funny, although I am admittedly biased on the matter.  It was nice to know that we are capable of weathering storms together.

I am truly blessed to have found you Jonathan!

So sometime on day 2, even though I wasn’t doing my usual Journal / Log-booking of my practices, I noticed I was still breathing consciously, I was grounding and centering, and otherwise trying to engage the practices that help keep me on an even keel; even in the midst of maddening times.  That is why we do them, they help us to grow and be stronger and better people; being stronger and better people we are more aware and engaged in our lives and our relationships with ourselves, our friends and families, our Gods, and our Sweet Sacred Universe.

Jonathan was even patient with me as I got very snarly and with him at the Dealership as I sat with him waiting for some of the paperwork to go through as I wrestled with this tremendous wave of doubt and fear that washed over me.  He kept trying to reassure me and I kept getting mad at him… which I knew was bs and driven by the fearful and hateful parts of my self that have been hurt so often over the years – and sometimes allowed myself to be hurt rather than risk failing at not being a failure or a screw-up-… finally I just told him that this was my fear and I needed to face it.

Although I was more than a little bastardly about it, sorry my dear.

Sometimes you have to face your fears instead of running from them, which is of course one of the big reasons I had waited to buy the car or seriously scope out my financing options.   But I found a good finance rate and payments I can afford and even as I go scared further into the world or being a Real Adult ™, I am blessed by good friends and good fortune and the love of a wonderful guy!

I also find myself contemplating how small and limited I’ve let my life get in the last year or so as I faced the impending death of the Volvo and of how I avoided dealing with the situation.  I have many friends whom I could be sharing my journey with in a more personal face to face manner, and even with the hovering cloud of automotive doom I have been trying to do just that lately… spending time with Tracie the Red this last week-end…. and making it to various 1U events.

I have had a lot of “Once I have a newer car and a better job I can ______ and _____ and ____.”  Conversations/prayers/whatever’s with the Gods and the Universe in general lately….  Projects I could be involved in, events I could attend, activities I could take up…. not a new thing these conversations, but my sense of being actually able to tackle the various projects and promises is newer to me.   Its grown with my dive into Practice and Study in the last couple of years.

I can also see, based on that not-quite crushing wave of fear and doubt at the Dealership, that I have more work and Practice to do…

Now it’s back to the daily routine of work at the motel, and on my writing, and on my Practices, and in another couple of days it will be time to Circle again.   Then there are events at Church to volunteer on…   Opportunities to spend times with Tracie the Red, and my gaming buddy and proto-Heathen friend Aarnvast, and others….  More work to do polishing the resume and getting my ducks in a row to try for promotions at work….  More work to do around the apartment getting things in order there…

The adventure continues…

Peace,

Pax