On Breathing

Dear Friends,

So this is the first official entry on the blog with writings from my personal Grimoire, which I am working on.  It will probably be obvious to some that T. Thorn Coyle’s writings have had a strong influence on me in this section…

Inspire means both to breathe in and to fill with Spirit.  Air connects us with one another and with all of life around us, it fuels our bodies; awareness and control of breath can work wonders in ourselves and through us in the world around us.  Breathing in, taking in oxygen and life energy, air fuels our fire.  With breath we can raise power, call Spirit, connect with The Gods, and embrace the Numinous All That Is.  Our lives, our actions, all of our works of Spirit, all of our acts of Will, and all Magick begins with a breath.

In Through the Nose,

Out Through the Mouth,

Breathe Inspiration,

Let Go of your Doubt.

I prefer in through the nose and out through the mouth, but the key is a relaxed and even and steady and conscious rhythm.

On the inhale your throat should be relaxed and you should be as aware of the air flowing down your throat as you are of drinking down cold water.  The air is drawn down your throat and into the deepest part of your lungs, towards the pit of your stomach.  As you breathe in the air should first push out your belly, and then your rib cage and chest, raising your shoulders as your lungs fill to the brimming.

When you feel the breath pooling or tickling at the base of your throat, you can begin your exhale; breathing out slowly and steadily.  Breathing out through your mouth, your throat relaxed and the tip of your tongue touching the roof of your mouth.  Letting your shoulders slowly drop, your chest and rib cage and belly relaxing and contracting in turn.

So from here I am going to discuss Centering and then Meditation…. and I am still playing with the orders of the other items on my list.

I am coming to realize how central and important breath is in the work of Magick and Spirit and of health.

Which is  why I am trying to mostly quit smoking.  “Mostly”, because I will allow myself the very occasional cigar, but I want to be the one in control… not the nicotine!   It is also “mostly” because in similar situations in the past if I have said to myself I am cutting back, it means that if I break down and have a smoke early in the quitting/cutting-way-the-heck-back process I won’t fall over myself with recrimination but will simply return to the abstaining.

I had already quit due to time and money issues once before, then the Break Up happened and I feel … no I dove off that Wagon in an emotional fee-fall.   Even though I was able to pull myself out of a tailspin by twisting and curving and aiming my dive into the waters of spirituality and Witchcraft and Faith, rather than those of sensuality and self-destruction, I have been smoking way too much.

Peace,

Pax

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Regarding a couple of classics…

Dear Friends,

There are a couple of very eloquent and talented writers in the Pagan community who I see regularly on a particular online forum.  Learned gentlemen whose writings are reputed to be some of the sharpest and most intellectually convincing and heartfelt explorations of Pagan thought and polytheology.  Unfortunately my heart and mind tend to slam shut at the sight of their noms-de-Pagan.

This is because the very first place I encountered them is in the comment stream of a popular Pagan blog, where they are both frequently found pouring out their anger and bitterness and venom towards Monotheism in general and Christianity in particular.  Although in light of recent event over the last few months they have been throwing dog dirt upon Islam as well.  Anyone who disagrees with them, no matter how gently or politely,  is subjected to their ridicule and scorn; if the objector is Pagan then the legitimacy of their particular religious path and their basic intelligence are called into question.  In their ongoing campaigns of vitriol they will cherry pick their examples from the worst of human behavior in whatever form of Christianity or Islam or Monotheism they are currently attacking; or the particular form of religion/Paganism of those who dare disagree with either of these theoretically august personages.  When they are not insulting the intelligence or character of their detractors they will be found busily and casually ignoring any evidence or examples that counter their examples or might contradict their passionately proselytized prejudices.

They have given me a lot to think about and I am once again contemplating why it is that I have such a powerful emotional response when the two of them start writing about other religions, mainly but not limited to monotheistic ones. My reaction is often one of not just no, but a sometimes very angry “Oh Hell to the No!”

In my anger and outrage I have sometimes gotten rude and petty and pissy, again I apologize to them.

The more I think about it the more I have realized that when one of the two of them starts to vent their, admittedly well written, spleen on the topics of monotheism the two of them remind me of nothing so much as Jerry Fallwell or Fred Phelps or Anita Bryant or any of the many others who have tried to tell me all my life that as a Gay man I am evil and vile and worthless and without worth and value and values and that I don’t deserve the same basic legal rights as others.  There is the exact same sort of righteous anger, and venom. The same willingness to deeply research matters as long as the facts they find match their preconcieved notions, and to casually sweep aside anything that is counter to their set opinions. There is the exact same cruelty and condescension to any and all who disagrees with them, and the same willingness to comdemn them as wrong or suspect of representing “the enemy’. There is the same eagerness to force their opinions onto others no matter what it takes. The same willingness to play the martyr card the second that the system or popular opinion isn’t playing in their favor. The same sort of tactics, the same sort of fanatic zeal, the same sort of hatefullness, and the same sort of bigotry.

Then again the two of them aren’t all that much like any of the fanatics I’ve named, after all neither of them has ever showed the courage of your convictions to attach their legal names to their little opinion pieces, either int heir comments on other blogs or on their own. They are content to cower behind pseudonyms while spraying their negative opinions about like a cat marking its territory.

I do take comfort in the fact that for many, although admittedly not all, of the readers of the forums they comment in they represent the same sort of place within Paganism, that Fred Phelps or the Church of Christ Aryan occupies in Christianity.   So I shall let them spout their hatred and vent their spleens.

I shall pray for them.   I shall strive to resist the urge to give in to my own shock and outrage at their slings and arrows with the shaking of fists or giving them the attention and reaction they so desperately crave.   I remain content in the knowledge that for most Pagans the kind of bigotry, pettyness, and anger that they represent are absolutely NOT what the many Paths of Pagans Movement are about.

Still praying the prayers of Peace,

Pax / Geoffrey Stewart

The advice we give and the mirror of contemplation

So a friend recently sent me an e-mail detailing her wrestles with Depression and the hectic nature of her life recently… I responded thusly…

It sounds like you’ve been facing some cross-roads moments of your own this last year. I know that territory well myself, as you know I’ve had some this year myself. You mention meditation and exercise. I am diving into sitting practice myself and can recommend the book Kissing the Limitless by T. Thorn Coyle. There are a lot of excercises and meditations and journaling type excercises related to integrating the many aspects of the self that I know I have found deeply valuable as I have begun to wrestle with my own difficult and turbulent emotions in the last few months.

A lot of wisdom in there, that and When Things Fall Apart by Pema Chodron have both been helpful to me.

Embrace the stillness and silence to be found in mindfulness and meditation, I say this as one who is struggling to follow that exact advice, but NOW I know that the reason they are called spiritual practices is because we have to return to them again and again, open to ourselves and to the vagaries of daily life and sometimes we can settle into stillness and sometimes our hearts and minds are determined to flit around like hummingbirds. Yet return we must, lovingly to ourselves and to our practices, again and again.

Hold fast to your friends and family, I say this as someone who lost touch with a lot of his loved ones after the big move down; and who, for whatever reasons, has not always been as good at keeping in touch with our making new friends. You are a dear friend, and I will never forget your loving care in the aftermath of my break up with Gene. Or that green ink marker and the kindness you shared. Our friends and loved ones are the other mirrors of our contemplation in life, hold fast to them.

At the same time, I would say do not fear solitude; provided you have some clear boundaries between solitude and lonliness. Solitude can strengthen us but loneliness only leads to unclear thought and wrong action either towards ourselves or others.

Know that you are loved, and that there are many folks who are more than ready to share their friendship and loving kindness with you.

…I have often been, and tried to be, a good and compassionate and loving friend.  I would like to think there have been a number of times over the years where I have been able to be a good advisor and source of moral support and loving kindness.

“For Mine is the spirit of ecstasy,

and mine as well is joy on earth,

and love unto all beings is my law.”

How is it that it is only in the last few months that I have been able to turn that same Love, which I have so often been willing to shine onto others, inward?  Why did I hold back from approaching my own life, and work, and spiritual practice and Work, with that same compassion and love?  I mean the Holy Powers know I have talked a good game over the years, about self-esteem and spiritual self-love and such, but it feels as if only recently is it really sinking in.

Some of this comes, I think, from approaching my spiritual practice with discipline.  I have been writing and keeping a Practice Contract, as outlined in Thorn’s book, with myself.  (He dives to his paper journal)

Practice Contract 12-25-09 thru 01-25-10

I Geoffrey David Stewart, known as Pax, known as *****, hereby swear and affirm, by all I hold sacred and fine.

  • Each day upon awakening for the day I shall pray my daily prayer and Center and Ground.
  • Once each day I will breathe into each of my Chakras and perform the Cleansing Life Force exercise.
  • At least once each day I will spend some time in meditation.
  • Each day I will engage in some physical activity for exercise.

So mote it be, Blessed Be,

Geoffrey D. Stewart

Now I was a little ambitious and added 2 things, instead of just one, for this, my third practice contract in the three months or so that I have been trying to really actively engage my practice and growth and to do the Great Work.  I have been a little slack on the excercise portion of things, but then again it’s been an especially crazy time at work…

In the past I would have wallowed in a sense of defeat in not getting that excercise portion of things, I would have worried and criticized myself for not doing practice A at time B or for not doing such-and-such by the book or in the same exact way I had done it before.  I would have allowed myself to give up on the whole practice and wandered down the outmoded but deeply worn paths of my old selfs self-loathing and insecurity.  No more!!

Now, I simply sigh and smile and remind myself that I can return to my practice tomorrow, and if I do not get to everything today, that I can always start fresh again the next day.  As that great spiritual guru Scarlet O’hara said, “Tomorrow is another day.”

Paganism: Defining Ourselves…

Dear Friends and Pagani,

If you read this blog with any regularity you know I’ve been going through some personal changes lately, and if you check out the other pages here you may have noticed that I have been hopping around the Chrysalis site like a tree frog on amphetamines editing here and rewriting there and otherwise fussing with the site!

Today inspired in part by a discussion on the Pagans at the Parliament site, about how Paganism is defined,  as well as bouncing mentally off of the definitions I found at the Pagan Pride Project site and at the World Congress of Ethnic Religions, I did some work on the Definitions page.  Including the following attempt at defining Paganism…


After 18 years of active study and practice, I think that the many self-definitions I have seen of Paganism were so concerned with who we are (or are not), or have been concerned with demonstrating to the outside community that we are good and law abiding people,  that they have neglected what we are and helped to lead to some confusion within and without the Pagan Movement.  Here is my attempt at defining Paganism…

Paganism is a religious, spiritual, and social interfaith movement made up of several overlapping and intertwined religious and regional communities.  These spiritual and religious communities are a complex and sometimes overlapping network of people, including….

  • New Religious Movements grounded in the Western Mystical and Occult Tradition. (Golden Dawn, OTO, Thelema, Society of Inner Light)
  • New Religious Movements inspired by the Western Occult and Mystical Tradition and the indigenous religions and folklore of Europe.  (Druidry, Wicca, Feri, Other Traditions of Western Religious Witchcraft, Queer Spirituality, The Men’s and Women’s Spirituality movements)
  • Those who seek, either inspired by ethnic heritage or profound spiritual experiences, to reestablish and revive and recreate the indigenous religions of Europe.  (Celtic Reconstruction, Druidry, Heathenry, Hellenismos, Neo-Shamanism, Romuva and  other Traditions)
  • Those who have chosen to use a number of spiritual techniques and technologies found across time and in many cultures to access the spirit world in a direct and personal manner.  (Neo-Shamanism {See definition of Cultural Misappropriation})
  • Those who seek, inspired by ethnic or cultural heritage or profound spiritual experiences, to reestablish and revive and recreate the religions of the Ancient Mediterranean, the Fertile Crescent, or other Ancient peoples. (Aztec, Canaanite, Hellenismos, Khemetic, and numerous other traditions)
  • Those who are respectfully taking an active and welcomed part in the indigenous religions of other countries/peoples which are active in the West; where there is overlap into the rest of Paganism.  (Brujeria, Buddhism, Candomblé, Hinduism, Umbanda, Voudoun, and other traditions)

For the different Pagan faiths and paths there seems to be an overall theme of individual and group development into being a better person(s) (personal growth and perhaps enlightenment, although it is not necessarily phrased as such) by practicing certain rites, and developing our relationships with the Divine (or the essence of All That Is) and with the Spirits of the World Around Us (Land Spirits or Ancestors or Elementals, etc…), and living a number intertwining and overlapping virtues and values.

Through following our beliefs, and living our values, I think we Pagans end up building our relationships with others in our own communities and  groups and faiths and our regional communities.  This theme of growth and development leads us quite naturally into engagement with other branches of Paganism, and from there into engagement with the rest of Society.

There are many religions and philosophies that overlap and intertwine within and with the Pagan movement.  Including Neo-Paganism, Polytheism, Polytheistic Reconstructionism, Pantheism, Wicca, Druids, Heathens, Thelema, …and many others.

For more direct information about these beliefs, and others, you can check out the Online Resources Page for a fuller survey of many of the faiths and philosophies involved in and related to and influencing, or intertwined with, modern Paganism.

Or, at least, that’s my take on it.


First off I am still working on the Definitions page, along with a few of the others, as I refine and redefine myself and my thoughts in the wake of some big life changes.  I am still tinkering with this definition and with the definitions page, among others, but  I decided to offer this up here for input and discussion with others…

I think the above definition of Paganism has a lot going for it, including accuracy and not getting bogged down in discussions of ritual, theology, or magic/k.  However I’d be interested to see what other Pagans and non-Pagans think of it and maybe refine this definition further.

Peace,
Pax / Geoffrey

Notes on the Journey 11/02/09

It’s a New Year.

At least in some Trads and for some Pagans…  The whole Samhain as the Celtic New Year seems to be wavering out of fashion right now, although it comes and goes in popularity, or so it seems.

So it’s a new year time to scry the mirrors of my contemplation, re-read my blog posts to date, and think about my life and spiritual journey.  Where have I been and where am I going?  Samhain has always been a sort of turning point for me in terms of turning from activity out in the world to a more introspective time focused on myself and family.

I had set up an Samhain altar, and remembered and though about the Ancestors and Beloved and Honored Dead and the turning of the Wheel, and all that jazz.  Despite wanting to pick up my Religious practices as a Witch, one whose path and practice have been largely influenced by Wiccan writers and ideas, and despite my love of the Goddess and God, and my desire to reconnect with Them; I was feeling the need to explore other Witcheries than the Seasonal Mysteries or Connection with the Beloved and Honored’s, or the Lord and Lady of the Neo-Wicca.

Lately the Magic and Witchery that has called to the deepest parts of me has been reconnecting with me, myself, and I.

Partly this is the result of reading and contemplating T. Thorn Coyles Kissing the Limitless.  In reading, and doing the journaling and magickal exercises in that book I have begun to not only gain some much needed understanding of self… not just an awareness of my issues and habits and the many aspects of myself that have often times struggled within me and led me astray over the years, but perspective on them, and ways to engage with and deal with and accept and bless them and move on with the living of my life.

I really wish I could have found this sort of wisdom and these sorts of teachings within Witchcraft a long time ago; although admittedly had I found a Coven, I might have.  It’s possible that that was not meant to be a part of my Journey as a Witch in this lifetime.  I accept that, after all when I chose Witchcraft, and started walking this Wicca inspired road, I gave myself to the Goddess and God and asked them to guide me and to help me find the Mysteries and Teachers.  In many ways I think they have, Not that it’s been a quick or easy road, but They have guided me on my journey.

I have also realized that the Neo-Pagan Religious Withccraft stream popularly called Wicca is only one part of my personal journey both as a Witch and as a Pagan. My few years of steady observation of the Moons and Sabbats gave way to less and less practice and observance… still heartfelt faith and a love of the Goddess and God and a deep sense of my own Pagan self, but not much Witchyness for some years.  I reached a plateau.  At the time I figured it was the lack of Covens and the Lack of local Community that was my big stumbling block… and that is what if felt like… like if I could just find the right something I’d be alright and back on track.  This is where a lot of my passion for Pagan community comes from I think.

That led me into some detailed study of Ceremonial Magic/Magick.  Not very much practice though because I didn’t have an income to support that habit!  From Ceremonial Magick I wandered over into the Kabbalah, at least long enough and deep enough to realize that I was not ready for that work on either a personal level, or in terms of making a time commitment to it.  Then I floundered for a few years, and thought I had hit rock bottom when I lost a retail job and was unemployed for a few months… at the same time I was meeting the Ex who would later help me take rock bottom to new lows, I got back involved in the local community.

I moved across the country, not finding any immediate contacts in the local Oralando community, I started this blog and got an A.S. degree in Restaurant and Hospitality Management.  I did some growing up and learning and opened a place in my heart and life for Hecate and Dionysus and for the Theoi and Hellenic Polytheism.   Now I find myself learning about a new stream of Witchcraft from the Feri Tradition.

I am no more a Feri Witch than I am a Wiccan (as is an initiate of one of the Traditions originating in the New Forrest region of Great Britain), I am simply a solitary Witch trying to unscrew the inscrutable.

I am learning a lot about myself and my patterns, and more importantly I am finding guideposts as to how to create new and healthier patterns.

 

Happy Samhaintide!

Hey folks,

This is especially aimed at dear Jonathan, who mentioned he hadn’t seen Fantaisia 2000 !?!

So of course It racked this down online, watched a few times, wept like a baby for a little bit, felt better and now I am going to bed…  maybe I need to get a bunch of sad movies and be weepy for a bit?  Might do my spirit some good!

and… YES… I KNOW that the Springy vibe might strike some of you as more Beltainey and weird for Samhain (at least in the Northern Hemisphere) but living in this Sub-Tropical Wonderland that is Florida, somehow the Springy vibe fits with themes of Life, Death, and Renewal.

Peace

Pax

Perspective and Ruminations

Hello Friends, Witches, and Pagani!

So this new found awareness of the numinous presence of the Divine is still with or upon me.  While I am not one to be ungrateful for the blessings I am given by the universe, and I am seeking after a deeper understanding  of these things… there is a part of me that kind of wishes I could have some more mundane blessings…

Job advancement, a promotion or pay raise or something that moves me from the barely above minimum wage work I have done for my entire adult life so far…and towards the sort of management jobs I recently went several thousands of dollars into debt to learn more about.

On the other hand I have achieved the dream of writing professionally, I can achieve my dreams.

Then too, there is the fact that the me of a few years ago would have been too consumed with self doubt and pity about the work stuff to really notice or appreciate this strange new awareness of the everyday holiness of the world around him.  He would have been consumed with self pity, fear, and doubt, and drowning in them would have found ways to run away from his pain and his fear and dulled his senses so he didn’t have to face such things.

As much as I have learned to love myself, and as much as I understand the how and why of who I was (or how I behaved) even a few short years ago… in some ways I am glad I am no longer quite the same person that I was.  Or, to put it better, I am glad the person that I am (and that I can be)  is not allowing himself to be trapped in the same patterns and fear and foolishness that so weighed down the man that I was.

I am blessed by the Gods with a loving partner and good friends and the knowledge that I can achieve my dreams if I let myself face the fear of failing to try.  I have recently dug out all of my start-your-own-business books that I had bought in the year or two before meeting The Big Guy and going to school for Hospitality and Restaurant Management.  I’ve been puttering around the boxes in the garage and looking for my old Coffee House notebook…

I am trying to also spend some time each day writing… but I am having trouble getting my momentum started on that one… I think I need to try sitting in meditation for a while before I try writing… sitting in quiet and quieting my mind … stillness before the flow of creativity.

Just as every atom and cell of creating is alive with the touch of the Divine, the Divine is within us; we can learn a lot about ourselves by seeing what reflections we see in the mirrors of our contemplation on the Universe and the Divine.

Ruminate on that my dears!

Peace, and Love,

Pax