Altar & Offerings,… & a birthday wrap up…

Dear Friends,

So the March Equinox passed with only a few brief prayers from yours truly, work and the mad rush of days conspired against anything deeper for Ostara… I was also a little moody and distracted this week, for a number of reasons, and distracted by some up-in-the-air things at work, and then too Sunday the 27th was my birthday.

Saturday night I was lured out of my lair by The Fabulous Jonathan to watch the Universal Studios Mardi Gras Parade at the park, after a brief but spectacular fit of moody-bastardy on yours truly’s part, need to work on those control issues of mine some more it seems.  I eventually went out and had a very nice time with Jonathan and his mom Kathleeen.  TFJ and I rode The Mummy, a requirement of any park pilgrimage, and then went back to where his mom had parked herself in the handicapped parade watching spot and enjoyed the imitation spectacle of it all.  I didn’t actually catch any beads, although I did get slapped in the face by a set… that counts doesn’t it?  (I kept trying to get Jonathan to show them his tits in an effort to get more beads, but he balked and alleged shyness.)  The Krewe of Dionysus float was especially festive this year as was King Gator.  Jonathan and I have promised one another that someday we will journey to someplace that does a genuine Mardi Gras parade and see a real one.

Then it was work on the overnight at the motel, then a brief nap and off to 1U, my local U.U. Church, for my regular Ushering shift, and some socialization with folks there and then I was taken out by my dear friend Sandi for the new and delightful experience of Vietnamese food.  Sandi is a retiree who became my first friend at Church and occasional pew-buddy, has unofficially adopted a number of us at Church and we are all very blessed for it.  Sandi and I have been working together on the food/catering committee for the upcoming U.U. Florida Disctrict Assembly coming up in April and as a consequence a number of us on the foods committee have ended up lunching together each Friday and discovered a shared delight in culinary arts and exploration… thanks to them I have discovered some fabulous local restaurants I might not have known about otherwise… including a nice Middle Eastern Deli and a fantabulous Thai Restaurant… and now a Vietnamese place.

I’d never had Vietnamese food before, and Sandi was my guide as I tried a fantastic Beef Noodle Soup… “Pho” something-something…. (here’s where being bad with names is a big hindrance) … and some Summer Roll (which are the uncooked, wrapped in rice-dough, rolls I knew as Spring Rolls in Anchorage…)  … and dish which featured a very yummy sauce and vegies and shrimp and chicken with some wedges of fried noodle cakes.  I find Vietnamese food hard to describe but insidiously delicious!

Jonathan, however is a strictly “Chinese” Buffet man… despite this deep flaw in his character I love him still.

So after Lunch I came home, passed out for a while, woke up and responded to numerous Facebook birthday greetings and called some of my family and friends.  Then more sleep.

Today, I woke up to thunder in the distance and the sounds of rain.  There is a much welcomed and blessed and needed rain falling intermittently today, and projected to continue throughout the week.  Florida has had intermittent but ongoing drought issues for the last few years, so any extended period of rain is to be welcomed…

I have been contemplating the sporadic nature of my devotions and spiritual practices of late, partly as the seasons change and partly as I have recently filled my journal and am starting on a new one.  I have reserved the first 9 pages or so of the new journal (gifted to me Christmas of ’09 by TFJ’s mom) for notes for myself about my goals and needs and desires and hopes moving forward… and that plus  the review of the previous journal has given me some food for thought and a nudge about practice and devotion…

So I have lit the candles on my altar, and poured an offering or water to the Gods and Guardian Spirits of my home.  The Money Candle has been cleaned and lit so the flame shines through the silver and gold lines of ink script on the glass, the Bridhid Candle from Imbolc has been lit, my Chalice is lit (it’s a U.U. thing my dear Pagans….), and a trio of black votives are lit before Hecate’s altar-shelf.

A cup of water,  a dish of rice, and some Lavendar mixed with Frankincense and Myrrh and Copal,  have been placed by the open windows, offered to the cleansing and healing and nourishing rains and winds and weather.

Rest and contemplation before game tonight, and then some much needed paperwork and maybe some professional development or some work on the some of my writing projects.

Peace,

Pax

So what do you see here?

Dear Friends,

So this list has been making the rounds of my local Interwebs….  It has been sticking in my mind, and I was somehow reminded of a fabulous quiz that Evn did

SO, I want to know what you see in the following quote?   Replies, observations, problems, counterpoints?

Spirituality Versus Religion

SPIRITUALITY SAYS THAT GOD IS WITHIN US AND THAT WE DON’T NEED ANYONE ELSE TO MAKE THAT DIVINE CONNECTION FOR US
RELIGION SAYS THAT WE ARE SEPARATED FROM GOD AND THAT WE NEED “THEM” TO MAKE THAT DIVINE CONNECTION

SPIRITUALITY SAYS THAT WE ARE FREE TO MAKE CHOICES ON OUR OWN AND THAT WE MUST TAKE PERSONAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR ACTIONS
RELIGION SAYS WE MUST MAKE THEIR CHOICES AND ACT THEIR WAY

THE THEME OF SPIRITUALITY IS UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
THE THEME OF RELIGION IS FEAR AND GUILT

SPIRITUALITY DOES NOT REQUIRE US TO MAKE DONATIONS
RELIGION HAS BECOME BIG BUSINESS

SPIRITUALITY SAYS THERE IS NO HELL, NO JUDGEMENT, NO ANGRY GOD… THAT WE ARE LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY
RELIGION SAYS THERE IS A HELL, GOD GETS ANGRY AND JUDGES US… THEREFORE, WE ARE NOT LOVED UNCONDITIONALLY

SPIRITUALITY SAYS WE ARE FREE TO CHOOSE OUR OWN PATH TO GOD
RELIGION COMMANDS US TO DO IT THEIR WAY

SPIRITUALITY SAYS WE GO TO GOD TO LIGHTEN OUR BURDEN
RELIGION HAS TAUGHT US TO FEAR THEIR GOD

SPIRITUALITY SAYS WE SHOULD NOT BE ASHAMED OF OUR SEXUALITY… THAT IT SHOULD BE A SACRED CELEBRATION OF LOVE
RELIGION HAS TAUGHT US TO FEEL ASHAMED, GUILTY AND DIRTY ABOUT OUR SEXUALITY

SPIRITUALITY TEACHES US TO HONOR AND RESPECT MOTHER EARTH
RELIGION HAS TOLD US TO “BE THOU FRUITFUL, MULTIPLY AND SUBDUE THE EARTH” I REPEAT… “SUBDUE THE EARTH”

SPIRITUALITY REMINDS US THAT WE ARE ONE WITH GOD AND ONE WITH EACH OTHER
RELIGION TEACHES DISUNITY AND SEPARATION WHICH IS THE OPPOSITE OF GOD

SPIRITUALITY SAYS GOD IS WITHIN
RELIGION SAYS HE IS IN HEAVEN AND THAT “THEY” ARE THE ONLY INTERMEDIARIES FOR US

SPIRITUALITY SAYS WE ARE BORN IN INNOCENCE AND PURITY
RELIGION SAYS WE ARE BORN WITH SIN

SPIRITUALITY TEACHES THAT WE ARE ON A LONG SPIRITUAL ADVENTURE AND JOURNEY WHICH WILL ULTIMATELY END BY REUNITING WITH OUR SOURCE
RELIGION SAYS WE’VE GOT ONE LIFE TO GET IT ALL RIGHT AND THERE IS NOTHING BUT HEAVEN OR HELL AFTER THAT

SPIRITUALITY SAYS WE ARE FREE TO EXPRESS
RELIGION GAVE US THE DREADED INQUISITION

SPIRITUALITY TEACHES UNCONDITIONAL LOVE FOR ALL
RELIGION GAVE US THE CRUSADES IN WHICH MANY WERE KILLED AND SLAUGHTERED IN THE NAME OF GOD

SPIRITUALITY TEACHES THAT WE SHOULD LOVE ONE ANOTHER UNCONDITIONALLY AND ALWAYS HONOR THE RIGHTS AND CHOICES OF OTHERS
RELIGION TREATED NATIVE AMERICANS, THE MAYANS AND OTHER INDIGENOUS CULTURES AS SAVAGE PRIMITIVES WHO “MUST BE SAVED”

SPIRITUALITY TEACHES PEACE AND HARMONY
RELIGION HAS CAUSED MORE WARS AND MORE KILLING THAN ANY OTHER REASON

SPIRITUALITY SAYS RESPECT ALL LIVING THINGS
I NEVER ONCE HEARD ANY RELIGION SAY STOP SLAUGHTERING MILLIONS OF TREES EVERY YEAR FOR CHRIST’S BIRTHDAY

SPIRITUALITY TEACHES US TO HAVE FAITH IN OURSELVES
RELIGION TEACHES US TO HAVE FAITH IN THEM

SPIRITUALITY SAYS WE HAVE ALL THE ANSWERS… THAT WE CAN FIND THEM BY “GOING WITHIN”
RELIGION TEACHES US THAT IT HAS ALL THE ANSWERS AND ONLY ITS ANSWERS ARE THE RIGHT ONES

SPIRITUALITY TEACHES US TO SEARCH FOR THE UNIVERSAL TRUTHS AND OUR HEARTS WILL TELL US WHEN WE HAVE FOUND THEM
RELIGION TEACHES WE HAVE NO CHOICE BUT TO ACCEPT THEIR VERSION OF THE TRUTH

WHICH ONE FEELS BETTER TO YOU? SPIRITUALITY OR RELIGION?
GO TO YOUR HEART FOR THE ANSWER IT WILL NEVER LIE TO YOU

and, GO!…

Curiously yours,

Pax

Feeling shaky and sad… and that is ok…

Dear Friends,

I awoke today feeling sad and emotionally tired, brittle, shaky, and on edge….  and instead of trying to cheer myself or distract myself… I just went with it.  I meditated and prayed and went on with my day and worked.  Still tired, still feeling blue, but I am also ok.

One of the lessons that the Universe has seen fit to share with me lately, in so many small and large ways, is that neither Religion nor Spiritual Practice are always fun or comfortable…. if they are something is very wrong!  Religion should, as the old misquote goes, comfort the afflicted ~and~ afflict the comfortable.  Spiritual Practice, if you are really pursuing it, should occasionally knock stuff loose that you have buried or need to deal with.

Then too, it is ok to not be happy all the time… there is this insidious idea that we should be happy and comfortable at all times and if we are not there is something wrong with us.. and that we should probably buy something or do something someone else wants us to do in order to get back to “normal”…

So I have sat with sadness today, and am still here… tomorrow/later today (ah, the joys of strange schedules and insomnia…)  I will work on my practices and do some housework and get things ready to do a belated Circle… I shall shake the jars that need shaking and start the new journal/practice-log and talk to the Fabulous Jonathan and go in to work again tomorrow.

Peace,

Pax

Mathematics and signposts….and a happy belated Pi day!

Dear Friends,

I am NOT much of a math geek, unfortunately.  Unfortunately, because I not only know from personal experience that there is no knowledge that is not power, but because I have seen the deep and abiding love and wonder that those who are fluent in the language of mathematics carry with them in the world because of their fluency.

I caught a glimpse of this wonder, once, thanks to a combination of an excellent Professor and my first immersion in Witchcraft in my early to mid 20’s.  The Professor was discussing some of the basic formulas and came to the area of a circle…

The area of a circle is expressed as πr2

Suddenly, as he was speaking it ocurred to me that…

“Well, since Π (pi) is an infinite number,  a Circle literally contains the infinite…”

Now, for the non-Pagan fluent in the audience, a Circle is one of the more widely popular ways of setting up worship/sacred space in the Witchcraft and Neo-Pagan segments of the Pagan community.  A Circle is drawn, usually in the air or on the ground, around the worship space and various spirits are called or ideas invoked to orient the Circle in relation to the individuals or groups cosmology.

Needless to say then, the idea above  rocked my young Witchy world…. sadly, not quite enough to dive into the rich and wonderful world of mathematics, but it was definitely a signpost on my own journey.

So I am going to wish you all a Happy (belated) Pi Day, and before I leave you today with a few videos to whet your intellectual appetites…

First, we have the (sadly un-embeddable on this blog ) video that inspired my musings on Pi and mathematics recently…

http://www.collegehumor.com/moogaloop/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=1948828&fullscreen=1

Wherein, a fabulously tallented young man briefly explains how numbers match up to Music and then performs a piece that attempts to musically express Pi to 32 decimals… describing it it sounds weird, watching it is sublime.

I conclude this with something that I feel should be a part of every Pagans curriculum…

Peace,

Pax

The Internet is a Magickal Tool…So why are so many people stabbing themselves, or others, with it?

Dear Friends,

Sannion posted recently about the evils of Social Networking and to a lesser degree the Internet… and on the one hand I can truly appreciate and understand where he’s coming from.   I find myself bouncing inwardly off of his words…

Every day I look out on a world grown stupider, crasser, less concerned with others, less aware of the higher imaginative realms.” ~Sannion in the above mentioned article

There is SO much anger and fear and hatred and division in the world… and it sometimes feels like wherever I turn they are infecting every aspect of life and discourse.  It sometimes seems that the places where people interact online have become pits of anger and despair.  It’s like Facebook, and the comments sections of blogs and pod-shows, and so many online places of potential connection and communication have become the 21st Century equivalent of shouting and throwing things at the television…

Or a virtual needle allowing us to escape the pains of our shared world for some inner illusory landscape.

Holy Powers how I do hear and feel those words, Sannion.

They echo many of my own thoughts and feelings lately.  I have been wrestling with some dark nights of the soul, doubting my place and my worth and whether all of my journey hasn’t been just a fools dance.  It can be easy to give in to the tides of anger and self-absorption and fear and crash against us all like tidal waves in this overculture of ours.  So many tides and so many people caught up in them, and thrashing about looking to tear others down and apart rather than work to create.

It is hard not to be eroded by them both, sometimes.

And yet.

There  are also the podcasts, and the blogs, and the sense of sharing and community that can arise.  Through the blogosphere and the Podkin and, yes, even through Facebook…. I have been blessed to make friends and connections with likeminded souls.  Some of them have wandered off to parts unknown or suffered a sea change into things rich and strange; others are still out there and here in my life sharing and listening and giving spiritual fellowship to one another.

I was priveledged recently to be invited into a private, members only, blog; a spiritual fellowship group of sorts of like minded souls who are all far flung friends of a particular blogger and FB citizen who decided to gather together some of her dearest friends for a place of Listening and Care and Community.

We are the ones who chose how the Internet can be used, how are we using it?  How are you Using it?  How can we use it in our communities of faith and inter-faith and choice?

Some choose to use it as a tool to spread a message of Spiritual Practice and Liberation.  Some give freely of their own time to  try to share their hard won wisdom and a love of using information technology and library science as an offering to their community.  Some work hard to  share News and information that may be of interest to their larger communities.  Some, burning with inspiration, seek to weave the tapestry of community of folks of similar experience and interests.  Some folks gather together to try to share the words of wisdom and inspiration that nourish our minds and souls.  Some stand up and use the Internet as a tool of caring and social action.  Some use their wit and hard won wisdom to dive into scholarship and writings in honor of their Gods.

Some of us simply try to share our own journeys, rant and rave occasionally,  and provide potentially useful resources to others.

Whom would you spotlight in a list like that above?  What sort of examples would you add?

What sort of example will you be?

Peace and Curiosity,

Pax

~Post Script~

Then too there are the countless lists and e-groups out their languishing for constructive discussion because of the worst behaviors and fanaticism of some of us… and yet, there too we have the power to choose….

Almost $10,000 in two days!!

Dear Friends,

The Earthquake in Japan hits home for me, in some ways literally.

I was born in Fairbanks and raised in Anchorage, Alaska, USA, aka  Earthquake Country.  The Tsunami had mellowed to a few feet by the time it reached Alaska, only a few feet from what my brother told me.   At the same time having grown up with pictures of, and hearing the living memories of, the 1964 Good Friday Quake.   Having grown up with earthquake drills in school as a kid.  Realizing as a teen that while it might help protect you in an earthquake hiding under a desk or table or standing in a doorway might also just make it easier for them to find your body in the rubble.  Knowing that the Anchorage area sees a major quake roughly every 20 years according to recorded seismic data and that the next big one is well over due, knowing that it could very well be my hometown and my family… Earthquakes always hit home for me.

My heart goes out to the People of Japan.

I was heartened when I read at The Wild Hunt about Peter Dybing’s observations and efforts to coordinate a Pagan community response.

(At the same time I am not thrilled that the chosen symbol for the thing was a pentacle, because of course for many of the Pagan faiths the pentacle has little or no personal or spiritual meaning… but I accept that sometimes in an interfaith community there will be growing pains and we will find a way on this issue as on others.)

I am so very happy to report that in the two days of its’ existence the Pagan Community Doctors Without Borders page at First Giving, established by Covenant of the Goddess First Officer Peter Dybing on March 14th is already nearly $10,000  towards their $30,000 goal.

Think about that.  $10,000 in two days… with mostly $20 here and $50 to $100 there….

This is inspiring, not just to know that one of the groups I tend to think of as my people, are doing good in the world… I’ve known that for a while now… but that we are doing it visibly!

There are those who will whinge that you should do charity simply for charities sake, but I say make every penny count.   I am fiercely glad, not only that people will be able to say it took them this short time to reach $30,000; I am glad that they will have a rough count of our numbers or at least of those participating who left a name…. because of course our friends and family members can participate to and support their family and friends in the Pagan community in doing good.  I am glad based on even the low estimates of how many Pagans there are in the U.S. that if each of us gave as we were able we could well overshoot the $30,000 mark!

I am too damn proud for words of Peter Dybing’s remarks on his blog

“Pagans from all over the country have donated and stepped forward to endorse the project. We received donations from individuals as well as organizations. To all those who stepped forward THANK YOU. We still have been unable to generate significant numbers of small donations. It continues to be the goal of this project to engage the entire Pagan community in a unified effort. If you are concerned that you do not have the funds to donate consider just a few dollars. Each of us can only do so much in these tough economic times. What is important is participation not the donation amount.”

Think about it…

The estimates of the number of Pagans (..and Witches, and Heathens, and Hellenics, and Druids, and Religio Romana, oh my…) in the United States ranges from 200,000 to 1 million.  What if ~each~ of us really did give as we could give to this one cause and this one venue…. if the lowest population estimate is right we’d raise 1 million dollars for Japan if each of us gave $5!

How delicious would that be?  What if “Pagan Community Donates a Million Dollars to Japanese Disaster Relief” made the news?  What if that were to replace the latest local wand-waving weirdo as the public’s image of Pagans?

Just think about it…

Peace,

Pax