Sunday, February 24, 2013

What Do You Desire?

This came across my news feed yesterday. It took my breath away.

What do I desire? What if money was no object? What would I like to do with my life?

I would.....

Do everything. I would read a library or two. I would hike mountains and ride horses and surf and skydive and bungee jump and para-sail and cliff dive and cave dive and explore the sea and experience space. I would visit the world and speak 6, 7, 8, 10 languages and try to comprehend other cultures and see exotic animals and taste the fresh air and hear the unearthly sunshine through the trees and touch the spark of Life.

I would found grocery stores in the middle of food deserts that would be non-profit or at least would sink the majority of the profits back into the business and surrounding community. It would pay the employees at least a living wage - if not more-, and would provide benefits like Costco does. It would have a small time loan office where people can borrow money for necessities at a very, very low interest rate or perhaps no interest rate at all with the choice of giving what you can.

I would found a fully non-profit Temple that would offer everything from yoga to meditations to affordable, non religious child care that engages the children to worldwide celebrations that would raise money for community action and benefits. It would have its own garden with food for the community as well as the Temple. Maybe it will even have goats for milk and chickens for eggs. And it would have a membership, and the members get to choose where the extra money goes every year, like a Board of Directors would.

I would buy larges swaths of land and make them into preserves so no one could develop it. I would buy land and make it a natural burial ground like Circle Sanctuary has. I would advocate for legalizing hemp. I would also advocate for legalizing marijuana and taxing it. I would make a business out of Hempcrete and hemp foods and hemp building materials and hemp things.

I would be an interpreter, a physical fitness coach, a veterinarian, a doctor, a judge, a lawyer, a psychologist, a sociologist, a biologist, an astronomer, a scuba diver, a High Priestess, a singer, a dancer, an actress, a politician, an advocate, a protester, a hermit, a public speaker.

Most of all, I want to stay happy. I want to go to bed every night and know I have done something good for someone else for nothing in return. I want to help people.

What do YOU desire? Post in the comments!!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Ah, Lupercalia

This past week (Feb 13-15th) was Lupercalia, as I am sure you pagans know. For those who don't, it's a general "Spring Cleaning" ritual that the Romans used to do. In (late) honor of this holy day, how about a cleansing ritual? No need to sacrifice two goats and a dog, either! /BoNuS/

This picture comes from a cleaning service. O_o
First, cleaning! Yay, fun. Clean your entire house/apartment/living quarters and make sure that you continually focus on cleaning. Think about all the germs you are killing and any potential diseases being avoided. Think about how nice it will feel to be in a fully cleaned house. Make sure you get the walls; inside the closets, cabinets, and pantry; all the corners; even under your bed. If you have children you can encourage them to participate and help them (because kids like helping but are really bad at doing it themselves. Plus, it is a good activity to teach cleaning habits...).

Clean your altar too! Make sure to wipe off all the dust and pick up any tools you have and put them to your heart or head. Thank them for their service and charge them with love. If you have a permanent shelf, table, or place, clean the surface in a clockwise (deosil) motion. If your permanent place happens to be wood, you can take olive oil and lemon juice to clean it.

When the house is clean, it's time for the (more) fun part: cleansing and warding!

What you need:
One or two Sage bundles
Lighter or matches

Decide now if you are going to first banish any negativity and then charge the house, or if you will just charge alone and make any appropriate changes in the amount of items. Place all the items in the northern part of your house (or wherever you live), where you will start. For the water, you should put some salt into it and stir it deosil three time, but make sure that you have a separate dish for salt as well. Bless the items for their corresponding Elements. Say something like:

Guardians of the North, Spirits of Earth, ye who are the ground beneath my feet and the bones of my body, I ask thee to bless this salt with protection and prosperity for the benefit of this house and those who reside within it. Blessed Be! (Trace deosil either on the dish or in the salt as you say this, charging it)

Guardians of the East, Spirits of Air, ye who are the winds of secrets and the breathe in my lungs, I ask thee to bless this sage with protection and good will for the benefit of this house and those who reside within it. Blessed Be! (place hand over sage or have sage in hand and charge it with the intentions)

Guardians of the South, Spirits of Fire, ye who are the catalysis for change and the spark of life in my soul, I ask thee to bless this candle with protection and righteous passion for the benefit of this house and those who reside within it. Blessed Be! (Charge the candle and then light it.)

Guardians of the West, Spirits of Water, ye who are the persistent flow of of time and the blood in my veins, I ask thee to bless this water with protection and healing for the benefit of this house and those who reside within it. (Dip finger in water and stir deosil, charging it)
Pick up the salt and, depending on whether you decided to banish first or not, go around the house sprinkling the salt around. If you are banishing, say something like "I banish all the negativity from this house. No negativity may enter here." If not, say something like "I bless this house with the power of Earth (for the salt, you will change accordingly) and with the blessings of the Lady and Lord for the protection and prosperity (changing for the others as well) of those who live here."  Imagine you are drawing a protective circle around the house that will reach above and below the house as well, like a bubble. Do this for each of the other Elements, except that the difference is that with the sage, candle, and sage you will draw a pentacle on every window and door, including any that are in the house (for example, the bathroom doors and windows into another room). Make SURE to get into any cabinets, drawers, doors, closets, attic, basement, and anywhere else things can hide.

At this point, if you want to bless the house with a patron Deity or with the Lady and Lord, go ahead and do so.

 Enjoy your physically and spiritually clean house! Blessings.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

What If It Never Stops?

What if the progressive fight never ends? What if peace never comes, and equality of opportunity is never achieved? What if our struggle is in vain? What if, after all the civil rights battles we wage for all these different reasons, there comes a new, more important battle? What if humans are never equal, or have equal access? What if there is never peace? 
This is how I feel. Also, this isn't photoshopped.
A friend reminded me why we should fight. Carol Steinel, from Teh Portly Dyke (and several other blogs) commented:

"Some perspective (from just within my lifetime): When I was growing up, people not only beat their children regularly, they were encouraged to do so and applauded for it. I was forced to wear a dress to school (even when it was below zero) because I had a vagina. When I came out to myself (in 1968), the fact that I was gay meant that I could be hospitalized as a person who was "mentally ill" and could be jailed if I acted on my desires. The thought that anyone, anywhere would ever legalize same-sex marriage was BEYOND COMPREHENSION. Segregation still existed, and lynchings were not only happening, but applauded.

That's ONE PERSON'S (not even that long, really) lifetime. We are evolving. We will continue to evolve. We will have equality, and peace, and when we see what we've made of it, we will yearn for greater equality, and greater peace.

This is already happening. It has been happening. Don't let the news-media and the drama of people who like to fight convince you otherwise."
Forty years ago, mixed race couples were abhorred. The thought of a black President of the United States was inconceivable. Forty years ago, Christian was the default and being anything else was career ending, and being homosexual was actively persecuted. Now, we just made history by electing the first Hindu rep, the first Buddhist rep, and the first openly homosexual rep. Two days ago, Illinois became the 10th state to approve same sex marriage. All this and hundreds more examples like this happened in half a lifetime. 

But looking forward, there is still much to do. From Deaf Pride to Fat activism to Feminism to Religious Equality, there is much left. We still struggle with racism in this country after 55+ years of progress, let alone sexism, which is in its fourth wave of combat. 

I think that humans must be socially conditioned to segregate people and place them in neat, tidy labels. Take for instance the study that was reported saying white 9-month-old babies had a hard time telling African-American babies' emotions apart (they were actually called "racist babies." Google it). When you consider that these white babies probably were not exposed to black babies during the 4 month difference, it points more to conditioning than genetics.

What about the fact that in the Middle Ages, men and women (peasants) were fairly equal, because when you have to literally battle every day against starvation, every body is important in tending the fields and the chick isn't taking shit from the dude about sandwiches and kitchens. And lets not talk about how bodies weren't pathologized (but where still split; fat being viewed as more desirable. Only when someone suddenly lost a lot of weight did doctors start worrying).

What about the open (male-centric) homosexuality in Rome? What about the religious tolerance that was shown in Rome, the same place we get our democracy from?

"The religion of the Christians and Jews was monotheistic in contrast to the polytheism of the Romans.[16] The Romans tended towards syncretism, seeing the same gods under different names in different places of the Empire. This being so, they were generally tolerant and accommodating towards new deities and the religious experiences of other peoples who formed part of their wider Empire.[17] This general tolerance was not extended to religions that were hostile to the state nor any that claimed exclusive rights to religious beliefs and practice.[17]"
So then why has this changed? Where is the roots so we can kill it there? Why have we changed so much?

No, seriously. Can anyone answer this?

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Same Thing, Different Skin?

Recently there was a discussion question posted on a religious facebook page I follow that was a submission by an atheist. "[W]hy believe in deities and supernatural without evidence?"

Four of the first five comments said "faith" and is repeated again over the rest of the comments. Some said that there is no harm in believing in "something that encourages you to be a better person." One man even said "because... there has to be more."

Can you guess which religion this question was aimed at? If you said Paganism, Witchcraft, and Wicca, you would be right. Curiously, these are the same arguments made for Christianity (and other monotheistic religions). It seems that many pagans taken their old religion and just re-wrap it. Take the belief in Karma in our community:

Fear-based Karma sounds an awful lot like the Wiccan Threefold Law. It also sounds a like like the dogma of Christianity, where your actions can either land you in Heaven or Hell, and God is the judge and jury of you. Why? Why do this? Is it familiarity, or that you truly don't believe in anything else? Is it because you were sick of the company you had in your old beliefs and decided to put yourself elsewhere while still believing? Of course, there is absolutely nothing wrong with believing in the doctrine of Christianity, but please don't call it Paganism because it isn't.

Now, back to the question and comments; why exactly do you need faith to believe in the supernatural and deities without evidence? Faith is a dirty word, and if there is absolutely no evidence, then there is no reason to worship or "believe" in something. "Evidence" is a tricky word, however, and can and is manipulated to suit the need of whomever is using it. Personally, I have my evidence through personal contact, results, feelings, and experiences. My "evidence" is mostly subjective. Is that enough to convince others, especially atheists or scientists? No, and I wouldn't try to because Paganism is a personal path. Again and again, you will come across the "personal path" tid bit around the community because it is true. I will not have the same experience as the covenmate standing next to me or the solitary doing the same exact ritual. "Seeing, contrary to popular wisdom, isn't believing. It's where belief stops, because it isn't needed any more." - Terry Pratchett

Believing in something "because it doesn't hurt to have morals" is a poor argument.
It's Pascal's Wager.
"The Quirmian philosopher Ventre put forward the suggestion that "Possibly the gods exist, and possibly they do not. So why not believe in them in any case? If it's all true you'll go to a lovely place when you die, and if it isn't then you've lost nothing, right?" When he died he woke up in a circle of gods holding nasty-looking sticks and one of them said "We're going to show you what we think of Mr. Clever Dick in these parts..." --Terry Pratchett
 You can have morals without believing in a higher power. Not killing, stealing, or lying doesn't have anything to do with Gods or Goddesses, it has more to do with just being a good person in general. Perhaps some Gods and Goddesses care about whether someone does these things, but others couldn't care less and might even advocate for it if it teaches a lesson or is just fun entertainment. Some Deities are not good role models for morals as well. Take being faithful to one's spouse and the example of promiscuous Zeus. This kind of flawless role model is the structure of the omni-everything Christian God. 

Hecate by William Blake
Which brings me to another point: it has come to my attention that our Deities are being twisted. Hekate, for example, has been praised as a kind, motherly Goddess who cares about humans and their well being, especially the witches who worship her. Hekate is a night Goddess, a Moon Goddess, who presides over crossroads, fire, magick, knowledge of herbs and poisonous plants, necromancy, and sorcery, among other things. Her abode is the Underworld, and "Zeus the son of Cronos honored above all. He gave her splendid gifts, to have a share of the earth and the unfruitful sea. She received honor also in starry heaven, and is honored exceedingly by the deathless gods." Hekate alone heard the rape of Persephone and did not come to her aid, then ten days after Persephone was missing, Hekate finally told Demeter. She was the consort of Underworld Hermes, and both were leaders of ghosts and the springtime return of Persephone. She was highly regarded, powerful, and dark, not some fluff-and-bunnies kind of Goddess. Many other Deities are getting personality lifts nowadays, and it seems like the trend is towards righteous, loving, all powerful, and caring gods.

Lastly, there "has to be more"? Why? What if all of this is just in our heads, an idea that has persisted and only lasts for our short, troubled life? What is so wrong about saying there might not be an afterlife for our consciousness and the neural synapses that make "me" up will stop and decompose into the Earth? What if this is an elaborate lie to keep the masses in line? What if this world isn't real and only in our dreams we are alive? What are you scared of, that all of your hard work and dedication and rituals and spells and beliefs are empty and meaningless?

So, what do you do? If there really is nothing after this, what do you do? You do whatever it is that you were doing. What will you leave behind? The leaders in our community have done so much in their lives to further our causes, and they will forever be remembered; Selena Fox, Patrick McCollum, Starhawk, Jason Pitzl-Waters, Star Foster, and even Silver Ravenwolf. Even if you don't think you can do the extraordinary feats like these people have, you can do "small" things like volunteer somewhere, donate, or help someone.

Anyway, Paganism isn't Christianity and shouldn't be made into just another flavor of it. For many, it was the doctrine of Christianity that made us leave in the first place. I just hope that this trend ceases before I grow old.

As always, the Pagan Disclaimer: everyone has the right to their own beliefs and can choose what they want to do and how they practice without harassment or prejudice. Do as you wish, so long as it doesn't trample on the toes of others and deny their rights.

Interestingly, the Lola Witch picture comes with a pretty cool article on Fluff Bunnies and (a new term for me) Diet Wiccans. Pagans, Fluff Bunnies may be newbies or movie witches or whatever you want to call them, but they are still our brothers and sisters in spirituality. They are still our relatives. We can't discredit them or call them less of a Pagan because of what they believe, and that goes for the pagans I talked about above. Even Christo-Wiccans are still our relatives, despite how I feel about them. I firmly believe we are a family, and we should treat each other as such. Yeah, there is the crazy Uncle Ted who sucks his toes, and Grandma Silky who bakes weed brownies, and Brother Lambert who showers less than a French peasant did (history lesson, French peasants were known to shower only once a year), but they are still family. We should totally chastise and argue and even throw fits, but we should remember that we should spend just as much time congratulating, playing around, and having a merry time with each other. So, all in all, have a good time.