Discussion of my recent Beltane post…

So the ever fabulous Tracy the Red posted a reply to my recent Beltaine related post.   I should like to share it and my reply, with you my dear readers and encourage more discussion on this, here, and on the Pagan Community Builders list, and elsewhere in the community.

Anyway Tracie posted this to my comments section…

“Be careful there, darlin’ because Beltane is a festival that is directed at the Celtic fire God Bel and Aphrodite is Greek. She has Her own holy tides and we all know how stroppy She can get if She doesn’t receive Her proper worship. Beltane also doesn’t involve Maypoles either; that’s May Day. Maypoles are something Germanic peoples are into, even to this day. May Day itself is a day sacred to Freyja and is a lot more “Samhain-esque” than most would realize.

Wouldn’t mixing and matching deities and festivals fall under “cultural misappropriation?””

Well, I’ve written a small bit about cultural misappropriation recently, and also had a bit of a chat on the topic with Tracie the other day (pray for her air-conditioning unit folks!), so the topic is hovering about and well worth bringing up.  It is also an issue I have started to seriously wrestle with as both a Neo-Pagan Witch and a budding Hellenic Polytheist.

I have re-read the article, and I can see where, as a result of some inspecifics in my writing of it, I did commit some cultural misappropriation… or an least provide opportunity for it to flourish.

I would say there are two areas where I could have written things out better.

1. I did not write clearly enough about which Beltaine I was writing about.

Beltaine/May Day/Walpurgisnacht are three inter-related festivals that have some very different meanings for different branches of our Pagan movement.  I tried to speak to this within the post

“Especially this time of year.  Beltane, or May Day, is the time of year when many of us modern Pagans celebrate fertility and passion and joy and love and lust.”

Note the use of the word “many”… not “all”; but I should have been more detailed.

To a Celtic Reconstructionist, it is the fire festival celebrating the beginning of Summer and a festival for Bel.

To Heathens it may be a festival of Spring, and a time to honor Nerthus and Njord.  (for some Kindreds anyways….)

(And in both of the above examples different groups and individuals will have different observances, and ways of relating to and honoring the holiday.)

For the Hellenic Recons and well Beltaine really has little to do with the directly reconstructionist path.  Some have already celebrated Anthestreria.  (more on this Dionysian festival later)

Then of course for the Neo-Pagan and Witch and Wiccan communities the Beltaine Sabbat takes elements of  all of the above with a heavier focus on the light-hearted fertility and spring and a little less on the Samhaineque elements.

(by the by Tracie I am officially filing the serial numbers off of ‘Samhainesque” and going to be slipping it into as much everyday conversation as is possible)

It was this last iteration of Beltaine, one of the more widely celebrated ones (currently) in the Pagan movement, that I was speaking to in my recent article.

2. I did not explain a few things about my Hellenic Polytheism

See even though I am a self-described Hellenic Polytheist, and I am currently researching and involving myself in some Hellenic and Greco-Egyptian Recon subjects/groups… I am not a hard core recon… at least not yet, I am more than willing to concede that my thoughts and feelings on this issue may change and evolve, but here is where I am at the moment.

~I am drawn to the worship of the Immortal Gods, the Olympians, the Cthonic Dieties and a number of others from the Hellenic Pantheon, most especially Dionysus and Hecate with some burgeoning relationships with Antinous, Aprhodite, and Pan.  I make offerings of incense and pour libations of water and, as I am able, wine to Them whilst reciting from the homeric and orphic hymns and sometimes my own poetry striving to do Them justice and honor.

~ It is my heartfelt belief that the Gods are real are many and have always been with us, to paraphrase Plethon.  They didn’t go up onto some shelf at some point in History.  Thus they are as much a part of the modern world as say cell phones or Valentines Day.

~ At the moment I am welcoming the Gods into my life in the Modern world… Honoring Aphrodite at Valentines for example… and Dionysus during the two Florida Wine Harvests  (June and August).  I am looking at some of the Recon calendars… but my thing is I am not living in Ancient Alexandria or Athens… I am living in Davenport, Florida USA.   The agricultural and spiritual rythms, the rhythms of the natural world around me, are very different than those in the lands where the Theoi were first honored.

~This also relates to a similar difficulty I have had with the Neo-Pagan Wheel of the year since moving to Florida.  What does Beltane really mean in a land where fertility is never in question and Winter Solstice and Imbolc are the Citrus and Strawberry Harvests respectively?

So those are some of the issues I am trying to sort out for myself right now, and part of why I wrote of Aphrodite in association with Beltane.  I was not trying to claim that Beltaine is a festival of Aphrodite, more that Beltaine celebrates things that are a part of Aphrodite’s concerns…

I send my apologies to Aphrodite, Bel, any hardcore Recons reading the blog for any offense the piece may have caused.

Though, in the end, I must also stand by the posts core message of honoring fertility and sex and sensuality, honoring the Goddesses and Gods related to those things, and honoring ourselves through responsible behavior.

Peace,

Pax

_PS_ this may seem like a silly post to some, but if I am going to speak about how words and language has power I need to be very conscious of how I use them.  Also, if I am going to kvetch to people about a local Pagan groups “Native American” Pipe Cermony (which doesn’t actually involve ANY native americans nor any sort of sanction approval from the Lakota people whose ceremony they are stealing)…. well, if I am going to complain about such things I need to keep my own spiritual house clean!!

Stream of Consciousness on Offerings and Prayer

Shouldn’t it be magic enough that we come together in religious fellowship seeking, and achieving, in ritual a moment of gnosis through united prayer and offerings and communion?

As you know, if you’ve been reading and poking around this blog and its pages, I pray on a daily basis, and I make offerings of insence on a regular basis.

I was also, sort of, challenged recently to put more of myself and my experience into this blog.  I wrote the above quote just a little earlier today and find my mind returning to it.

I also have prayer and offerings on the brain lately… maybe I should work on the relevant pages… but I think I will just write some things out and see where they lead…

~~~

My offerings of incense…

I ready the incense cone or stick in my special dish of salt.  I have a lighter ready.

First, I breathe.  In through my nose, and out through my mouth.  A moment spent concentrating on my breath, on the rythm of it, focusing inward.  Centering myself as best I can.  Starting to tell myself, and the universe, that I am doing something special.   If I think about it, I also Ground, but for the purpose of offering I find it isn’t as necessary as it is for other things.

I stand, raising  my arms so that the upper arm is roughly paralel to the ground and my forearms are upright, my hands are open and palms upward – roughly paralel to my upper arms and the ground.  When I stand in this ancient posture or prayer, known as the orens position, there is a part of me that thrills to the knowledge that I am trying to speak with and honor my Deities in the same way that They were honored in the ancient world.

On the mental level, I know that repeating this position will help signal to the Universe and the Gods, my intention.  On the physical level I can almost feel the atoms and cells of my body tingle; the subtle parts of me that are also part of the Divine recognizing that I am trying to reach out and up and within to Them.

If I cannot stand, I will at least raise my arms.

When that subtle shift in …something… lets me know that I have gotten Their attention, I speak.

“I make an offering of incense to the Gods,

and the Guardian Spirits, of this Home.

Blessed Be, So Mote It Be.”

Then I bring my hands down and together, to my face, where I kiss them at the point where my thumbs meet my palms; sort of a physical ‘blessed be’ and a small gesture of my love for the Divinities, and our Guardian Spirits.   Then I bring them to touch my chest above my heart; this is sort of a physical ‘so mote it be’ and ‘thank you’, and a physical reminder that They are a part of me.  Then I lower my hands, pick up the lighter, and light the incense.

I will usually take a moment to stand there soaking in a small moment of peacefulness and Presence.  Then I will go about my day.

~~~

You can read about my daily prayer on the Daily Practice page.  I usually will be saying this when I am driving to work.  This necessitates a lack of prayer gestures… and a slight change of wording…

“Mother Celestial and Father Divine,

Let me walk and drive in…”

For most situations of prayer durring my day I don’t do much in the way of gesturing if I am at work.

~~~
I am minded of the commonly discussed definition of prayer as ‘asking Deity for something’.  That is so, so sad.

Prayer is speaking to, communicating with the Divine or Divinities of your choosing.  Prayer, and Offerings, and Ritual, should be about our relationship with the Gods and not about getting something from them!   The benefits of prayer and offerings are secondary to the truly important work of building and improving the relationship one has with the Divine.

That relationship nurtures our spirits everyday and nourishes our souls through times of trouble.  Those delightful fleeting moments of knowing are why the ancient monuments were built and why the sacred songs were sung.

I’d like to think I am another, budding, Gospel Pagan!

Notes from a Pagan Evangelical 12/10/2008

Now, in some ways I don’t feel like I am a very good Gospel Pagan.  I have a tough time accessing that Spirit filled part of myself that Sara, and some of the best Pagan authors and bloggers out there, seem to be able to write from so blessed easily.

This has been getting easier, recently, as I have been working on this site and building up some of the pages and contemplating things like my daily practice and my relationship with the Deities.  In some cases though I still feel more like a pallid imitation of folks like Sara Sutterfield Winn, and Diane Sylvan, and Sannion, and Phyllis Currot, and Evn, and Sia, and Pagan Mehgan and Markys ny Deseret; more like an imitator rather than a Spirit filled Pagan writer.

Then, every once in a while, some kind soul will post a comment, or nominate me for the Meta-Pagan feed, or e-mail me a note.  Then will I know that some magic has happened.

Other times I will feel the magic and the Spirit come upon me, it will be a sudden burst of inspiration; although as I write more about my Witchcraft and Faith and Spirituality, recently, I have begun to find some small somewhat consistent stream of Inspiration and Spirit.

Like that moment in Spring when the drip, drip, drip of the icicles and snow becomes more of a steady stream, not unlike a barely open faucet slowly blossoming with The Sun’s love into something new and wonderful.  In those moments some small wonderful thing begins to happen.

When I participate in or write of the Gifts of Giving, about making my offerings of incense to the Gods, or when I pour my libations and I feel touched and embraced by my nearest and dearest Deities.   It’s happening.  When I cast Circle and honor the Esbats or Sabbats of Witchcraft, it happens.  When I talk or write about establishing a Loving and Stable relationship with The Lady and Lord of Witchcraft ~ or of my budding relationships with Hecate and Dionysus, its there too.  When I seek to speak or write or live the gospel truth of my Pagan self seeking, not to convert, but to simply share the joy and wonder The Good News of my own Pagan experience, in those moments I am most true to the Gods, and to my self, as a Pagan and as an Evangelical.

The Journey goes on…

So I have been working on this site, adding links, and adding some new pages here and there, one of which is published if in continual progress.  The new page of this site is one on Daily Spiritual Practices.  An important topic and one that I can tell I needed some more reminders of.  Perhaps I should do like T. Thorn Coyle and regularly change my daily practices so they do not become routine?

On the other hand, while changing it up would help me remain mindful of my daily practice, as one blessed with ADHD routine… or at least structure, can very much be my friend…hmm… time to think on this I think!

I have also been working on an article I am hoping to sell for publication.

I am also now engaged in a permanent part-time position (hooray!) which in the theme park world is a lot better than being a seasonal employee.  Money is still desperately tight, but then I am not alone in that this Solsticetide Season.

Sunday will bring with it the Anniversary of Pearl Harbor and an opportunity to honor some of The U.S. fallen heroes, and those who currently stand guard over our freedoms.  While I may disagree with how we got into one of the Wars we are in, I will never hesitate to honor those who serve in the armed forces.

The Full Moon follows next week, with an opportunity to observe some aspects of my own personal Solstice observances.  Which I also need to think about in the near future.

Off to think and to bed!

Peace, and Blessed Be!

Pax