Tuesday, December 14, 2010

christmas, yule, & yulemas!

In following the pagan path, do we automatically have to give up our more mainstream holiday traditions?

Coming from a Western Christian world, this of course is primarily related to the Christian tradition of Christmas. (Don't get me started on the the non-Christianess of it all... that's a whole other topic)! Now obviously, given all the pagan elements incorporated into this holiday, we could argue that it is, for all intents and purposes, not an exclusively Christian holiday at all, and as such, I'm still fully entitled to rejoice in the joys of this season.

Which is great, 'cause I love me some Christmas!

But isn't so great, because Yule is still very different than Christmas, you know? And ironically, in many ways, I find Yule a far more spiritually evocative celebration that the mass family festivities that go along with Christmas.

Don't get me wrong, watching my family celebrate is lovely, but watching my covenmates light their candles in the circle was transcendent. And they don't compare one with the other.

Which brings me to a larger conundrum in life as I attempt to bring my mundane life and my spiritual life together and think about the ways that one day, when I decide to have children with my partner, how I'm going to combine these 2 into the lessons that will shape my children's lives.

And the answer so far: Yulemas. I'm going to work to bring the best of both worlds into my life, and into the lives of the family around me, in subtle and sometimes not so subtle ways.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

post fluffy consumerism

I recently visited a local metaphysical store. I haven’t been there in years.

Really.

Years.

(Did I mention that I’ve been away from the path for a long time)?
I have to say, I was actually quite disappointed upon my return. Honestly. Most of the stuff at the store was just useless junk. The question is, was it always this way and younger fluffy self was just too enamoured of the "mysticalness" of it all or have things really changed that much?

Honestly? Has anyone else had this experience?

Maybe I'm just jaded with the celtic sarongs turned altar cloths and am looking for things that are simpler but higher quality? I don't need any more fairies or dragons or to be dripping with pentacles (not that I ever was...)

I just honestly don't have much use for the items in stock. And while I want to support local stores, I am finding it harder and harder to do because so much of the stuff that I would really use isn't actually found in my local metaphysical store.

Has anyone else had this experience?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Numerology and the Tarot: Six ( 6 )

http://www.angelpaths.com/numerology/numerintro.html

http://accessnewage.com/articles/Tarot/Tarot3.htm

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Coming out of the broom closet: Are you in or out?

As I return to my practice and devote myself to this lifestyle, I am often confronted with the decision to disclose or not to disclose my spiritual beliefs and practices. In my 20s, my response to this issue was to loudly decry any opposition and flaunt my heathen ways. Now, a more tempered 30 something, I find myself much more reticent about sharing my spiritual beliefs with others. And there are many reasons why.

First:

There are just some things that don’t go over so well around the water cooler and in order to maintain my neutrality and professional authority in my job, well, disclosure isn’t such a great idea.

However, that said, I can’t help but ask why. I have a colleague who proudly wears her cross around her neck, clearly identifying as Christian, and another who is Jewish, is absent for all the high Jewish holidays and is active in her community. I, on the other hand, play the neutral agnostic card in these discussions, shying away from any marker of religion.

I have come to the conclusion that there are 2 reasons that I don’t announce my beliefs:

Because I actually kind of hate having religion flaunted in my face (and I will freely admit that this stems from years of heated debate with Christians and a general sense of anger towards Christianity’s hypocrisy (which is different than saying all Christians are hypocrites) towards tolerating others’ religions). And because the fluffy bunny new age pagan identity that is so prevalent out in society makes me cringe at the thought of being taken in such a way. I want to be taken seriously in life and maintain the certain amount of professional credibility that I have been able to carve out for myself in my career.

Second:

My extended family and their community are very, very, very Christian. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t particularly care about their faith, other than to say that I respect their beliefs and love my partner enough to not want to cause undue/unneccessary family woes when there is no need to do so.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

how to choose a magical name.

I'm on a name hunt. Yup, that's right. I'm looking for my "magical" name. And this search has prompted a lot of questions on my end. I mean, I want to choose the right name. The name of something I wish to take on and embody.

Here are the questions I've come up with:

Do you want to take on the traits of an element, season, flower, or goddess? Or something else entirely?

Are you in need of strength, compassion, balance?

Are you interested in a popular name, or something more obscure?

Is it important that the name be of someone or something that is real, or are you more drawn to a name that is fictional and has a long literary history?

Does the name ring true to you?

And finally, have you sat on the name for a bit of time, just to be sure that it really is a right fit?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

canning the harvest

Although I'm a bit leary of glorifying traditional gender roles or romanticizing the past, I am very interested in gettting back to basics and taking charge of my place in the food chain (read: outside of the overly commercialized, processed realm of the grocery store).

For a long time I was a poor starving student who just never had time to try to green-i-fy her life or celebrate the seasons by immersing myself into the rituals that come with the turning of the wheel. But this year, I am proud to say, that I have finally managed to find the time and conquer my fears and can some of this year's harvest.



First I started with raspberry jam. It was easy, but I overcooked it so it didn't go so well. I promptly avoided any other canning until 2 weekends ago, out of fear of botching another batch of anything I made.

But no worries, I braved the world of tomato sauce making and it went well. 35 jars of my own tomato sauce later, I have a newfound appreciation for all the work our ancestors did (be it our mothers or our grandmothers, or even further back). Canning isn't hard, per se, but it's time consuming!

On the other hand, a batch of homemade pizza, with homemade tomato sauce and fresh veggies from our garden might have been one of the highlights of my summer. Eating the fruits of my own labour filled me with a great sense of accomplishment. And I love the sense of feeling connected with the food on my table.

Monday, September 6, 2010

the things we know and the things we need explained

Do you ever get surprised by the things people don't know? Things that seem common knowledge to you, particularly in a field of life you're interested in, end up being things that others don't seem to be aware of. Because I do... I guess I tend to take some of my knowledge for granted and forget about the fact that there was a time that the things I know had to be learned.

As I return to a pagan practice, immersing myself in books, podcasts, websites, etc, I am struck by how often simple concepts are clarified and defined for a target audience that I'd assume would understand such things. Don't get me wrong, there are times when I come across info that is unfamiliar to me, so I sit between both ends of the spectrum, it's just that I get thrown sometimes by some of the things that need explaining. It's a reminder of where I am on the path and where I came from versus where I am going.

Even though I am only returning to the path after years away, thus feeling like a newbie all over again, I'm reminded that I spent a lot of time learning about this path years ago and its information that I've never lost. I guess that I'm less of a newbie than I give myself credit for. On the other hand, this path is an experiental path... thus I'm still learning.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

how you influence your own tarot reading

I’ve been reading tarot cards, on and off, since I was 21 (so 12 years at the time of writing) and the longer I work with the tarot, the more and more I am amazed by how our own attitudes really are reflected in the cards each time we read.

Disclaimer: I am by no means an expert at the tarot. I dabble. I still use my books to help me out. I go through phases when I read cards a lot, and then not at all. So, like I said, I’m not expert!

As I mentioned before, I don’t think our fates are set in stone, and this is something that informs the way that I read the tarot cards. See, I think that when you read the cards you get a snapshot of where you are now. Today, when I ask a question, I get an answer that reflects my emotional outlook as it stands today. However, were I to ask the same question tomorrow, after some sleep, feeling calmer, my reading might be very different because my outlook on the question has changed.

What I find all the more interesting then, are the times when the cards/reading essentially stay the same. For whatever reason, be it because of a "fate" like scenario or the fact that the attitude towards the question remains the same, I find it fascinating to see how much things can change or stay the same based on our state of mind/attitude/decisions.

When I read for others I always stress the point that what I am reading is a snapshot, a glimpse into a possible future based on who they are, what decisions they've made, how they feel, their reactions and responses, and their world around them, right now. And that it can change, because ultimately nothing is set in stone. They control their own destinies.

Monday, August 23, 2010

questions about shared consciousness

If the world is an illusion and we in fact share consciousness, how can we differ so greatly? Oh sure, I get that we're different facets of the same whole, but why are we so fundamently opposed to one another? Why are we so busy vying for our own piece of the cake, screaming over one another to be heard, when in the end, we are all one?

I know, the question seems really simplistic, but aren't all the biggest questions really quite simple in nature, yet incredibly complex to answer?

Perhaps we compete for the loudest voice because we are caught up in the illusion and can't see the forest for the trees? (Could I venture into anymore idioms?) But in the end, we're only fighting ourselves. I mean, even though I would scream from the highest tree, announcing my belief that we must accept others freely for who they are, I am the first to admit that I am completely intolerant of people who are intolerant (I suppose that makes me a hypocrite).  And I would be the first to argue that I could never possibly share consciousness with someone who is against gay marriage or abortion or sex education, perhaps this is just my part of clinging to the illusion of the material world. But it's a heavy concept for me to wrap my head around because it flies in the face of the things I hold dear.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

finding a modern pagan path, for modern living

There’s a lot of negative discussion surrounding the idea of eclectic traditions that take a little bit from here and there and create a path out of various elements. While I can understand some of the intellectual debate that crops up around this issue, particularly from revivalist traditions that are trying to follow the old cultural paths (Druidism, for example).

But here’s the thing…. my 21st century self doesn’t really fit into the world view of Druidism or traditional pagan living any more than it fits into a big religion world view, so an eclectic rebuilding/combination of elements strikes me as more suited the reality that I live in.

While I know that this isn’t something that some will agree with, for me, it is a sort of no brainer. Particularly as a woman, I often find it challenging to accept older philosophies without question. I may find merit in many elements, but there is always something that seems stagnant and locked in the act of accepting an older tradition without some sort of revitalisation/rethinking of how it applies to modern life.

Monday, July 26, 2010

philosophies derived from palmistry

A long time ago I purchased a book (will link or add info later) on palmistry out of curiosity and oddly enough, the book’s explanation of the 2 systems of palmistry, Asian and Gypsy, have stuck with me and informed my own sense of “fortune telling” practices.

The book stated that the Gypsy tradition of palmistry only reads the left hand because it believes that our fortunes are carved out at birth, never changing, as our fates are predetermined. The Asian tradition, according to this book, reads both hands and then considers the differences between what was “set” at birth, and the decisions we’ve made (left hand=fate, right hand=decisions). According to this book, what we do with our destiny and how that then changes our path, is of greater significance than just looking at our fate.

Obviously, my bias is clear. I agree with the Asian system because I believe, wholeheartedly, that while life may have a map of sorts, how we get to where we’re going is largely up to us.

This same tradition of palmistry is something that I’ve extended beyond the book, into my life at large, in keeping with my mother’s love of the following proverb:

If life gives you lemons, make lemonade

We may be dealt a rough hand, or an easy hand, but what we do with that hand determines who we are. We are not defined by our circumstances, despite the blessings or curses they may bring. We are defined by the choices we make. Obviously for some, the choices are more difficult and more limited, and I respect that for some, my claims of “free will” may seem laughable and a middle class luxury. And sometimes they’re probably right.

Regardless, I’ve always found it inspirational to think about how the person we are has more to do with the decisions we make and they ways we go about living our lives than with where we come from and what we were given in life. And it's something that I think about a lot when I do other fortune tellings, like tarot or runes, because I don't think that the future can ever really be told, other than to indicate where you are, at this moment, based on the decisions you've made now.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

finding my way back, past the wall, to my practice

As I feel my way back to the pagan path, it seems quite fitting that I am asked to think about why I hit that wall in the first place and what it means.

When I moved to Montreal at the tender age of 23, I was fully committed to the pagan path.It fit, it felt right, it felt like home to me. I’d read Mirian Green’s A Witch Alone  and nothing else had ever really appealed to me in the same way.  I knew that I wanted to continue down that path and learn more and with that in mind I joined a local workshop about Wicca to learn more.  And learn I did. And even though some of it didn’t always fit, and it was a challenge to negotiate my way through the various paths and find my own voice despite my insecurities, I knew that I was on the right path. Things were slowly coming together and even though there were many other areas in my life that needed to be worked on and they were working against my spiritual path being fully realized, I was chipping away and making my way.

But then it all just sort of stopped. I don’t know if it was gradual or all of a sudden. I suspect that it was gradual because I can’t really pinpoint where or when it stopped. But when I went to events I just felt a disconnect. There were too many people with too many issues; too many people that I couldn’t take seriously; too much jealousy and insecurity about not being the one who connected with others; and most of all, too much fear about getting up there in the center of the circle, taking the next step, and learning to trust myself enough to move beyond my shadow role. I believed but couldn’t seem to get over my insecurities and my cynical flake radar. I just felt out of sync. So my insecurities took over and I second guessed everything, and so I retreated because it because less about the joy I found in the circle and more about why I was able to connect, which defeated the purpose of being there in the first place.

Perhaps my path is unique, perhaps not.

I know now that I needed that retreat. I needed to find me and my voice before committing to or participating in community building. I needed to test my path and see if it really fit. It wasn’t an easy time in my life, and I lived through some significant challenges in order to emerge stronger than ever. But all through it, through all the questions, doubts, fears, everything, is the knowledge that my beliefs held strong even if I wasn’t practicing. There were times I railed against the loss I felt from not practicing, from the disconnect I felt with my spirituality and my everyday life, which sometimes drove me even further afield.  And I tried to find it in other places and in other ways, but in the end, here I am again.
 So when I listened to Tommy Elf’s podcast this morning, I couldn’t help be admire the synchronicity of it all. I’m back and I’m surer than ever. And now that I have the faith, confidence, and sense of self that I lacked in my early 20s, I feel readier than ever to explore living my path.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

candles and sacred space



Recent events in Haiti have left me wondering about some of our prayer traditions, even in secular circles. Namely, why do we light candles in remembrance and prayer? Is it a leftover from pagan traditions or Catholicism? And if so many of us aren't either, then why do we do it in moments of collective sorrow? Because we do. When there is a school shooting, we light candles, for 911, we lit candles, for major earthquakes, we light candles. We hold midnight vigils, with lit candles. What is it about this act of lighting a candle that we are so attached to? 

What does it do?

Is it about comfort? Because let's face it, the warm glow of a candle is soothing. Or is it that the flames that lead us into quiet contemplation? Staring in the fire is sure to bring the least introspective of us into a meditative trance like state. Is that why candles appeal to us in these moments? Because they light the dark and allow us to look at the darkness within, a quasi beacon of hope to guide the way?

Or is it more about the ritual? About creating a sacred space?

In yoga and nia we start with acts that focus our intention. With Om or the act of stepping in, both traditions ask us to define our focus and create a sacred space before progressing. And soon the act becomes a ritual in and of itself and the mere act brings about the mental state we hope to develop within the practice.

Perhaps our candle vigils are a combination of these two elements. Whatever the case may be, lighting a candle, focusing my intention, and creating that sacred space, even if only for a few moments, really is a beautiful tradition.