Thursday, November 29, 2007

Pagan Home- and After- Schooling Brainstorming

How do we bring education home in a Pagan-friendly fashion? While we're at it, how do those of us interested in a Pagan oriented religious education go about it? There aren't many Sunday schools for the out-here set.

My child being young, I've focused more on compiling resources and preparing myself than a specific curriculum. Groups such as Spiral Scouts and 4H look very promising, and I've noted a number of schools/camps such as Outward Bound and Concordia Language Villages that can spotlight specific skills. Our library is stocked with books needed for either a Great Books or Classical plan of study. I'm using the food science aspect as an excuse to stockpile Good Eats DVDs.

How have others dealt with this?

"Take what you like and leave the rest" Paganism

don't want to spark an argument here. I'm just too curious for my own good.

I know that people have issues with "take it and leave it" paganism. I understand and agree that in doing this, we are stealing and disrespecting a culture. Absolutely, no argument there.

But, I'm thinking about ecclectic pagans. Would you say the same about them?

Personally speaking (since I tend to be a "take it and leave it" pagan), I think that if you give proper respect to the culture, then it shouldn't be a problem.

Aside from that, would you say it is better to take certain things from your own culture (say you are Native American, African, Irish, Italian, whatever) and incorporate that into your practice?

Your thoughts?

Paganism As Innovation?

It seems until the last decade or two, modern day Paganism established itself from the inventiveness and creativity of its practitioners and yet many of the Pagans I have met believe they are preserving a continuous, prehistoric religion of Goddess worship and prefer to retain each text and ritual as sacred writ. How have any of you developed, elaborated or extended what you learnt from Pagan texts with your own experience?

For example, I am intending to articulate my own path in a formal Book of Shadows based on my Wiccan and magical self-training that integrates my own poetry and prose with an academically rigorous examination of the history and theory of magic. It means a lot to me to know there is an element of creativity in my religion and that there is something I can make of it that will be my own.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Green Man and John Barleycorn?

Does anyone know of references that connect the Green Man with the "John Barleycorn" ballads?

Friday, November 23, 2007

What Have You Gotten Done?

Maybe we all need a little space to pat ourselves on the back.

So, what has everyone else accomplished (faith/religion-wise) this year?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Prayer Beads?

Ok, just a quick question about prayer beads. Roll Eyes

* Do you use them in meditation? why? why not?
* How do you use them?
* Are they helpful?

Partners And Paganism?

I'm curious to know how those of you with, or who have had, non-Pagan but open-minded partners have gotten them involved in your religion? I am certainly not implying conversion or getting them involved against their will. My fiancé flirted with Wicca shortly before we met four and a half years ago. He didn't do much beyond reading Wiccan texts and while he found it all very interesting, he's ultimately very happy being "somewhere between Atheist and Agnostic" (in his words).

As I've recently begun to take my religion to the next level and challenge my understanding with research into a variety of Pagan traditions, as well as magical practices, my partner has voiced interest in getting involved. I know above all, he's most interested in showing support to me, rather than as making a conscious decision to seek out Paganism as a religion for himself. I'd like to know from those of you who have been in similar experiences how you got your partners involved, or at least more informed about your religion, and whether or not it resulted in a good or bad experience for you both in the end?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Building a Modern Kemetic Temple

This is something that's been on my mind for complicated madness-in-motion reasons, but the practical parts of it are worth throwing out for people to chew on.

Ancient temples were built to some very exacting standards, all of which are deeply rooted in the theology of Egyptian thought. This is not minor stuff, folks, but a part of the underpinning of the universe here. :} If we are going to, in any way, be thinking about building sacred sites or mansions for the gods, this is stuff we're gonna need to think on.

An ancient temple was a fortress, walled against the disruptive chaos that might leak into the world around it. It was a magical support point, pinning down reality in one location, with the spellwork not merely written on its walls but inscribed in the very shape of the construction. The stabilising influence of the perfectly constructed temple extended to the world around it, helping to hold things in place and maintain ma'at.

The walls were laid out with reference to the astronomical truths of the area, to get the alignments in tune with the cosmos. Foundation walls were dug down until there was groundwater in the trenches, a layer of sand was poured in, and then construction proper began -- the groundwater being a manifestation of Nun, the neutral uncreated, the well of possibility; I'm guessing that the sand was intended to be protective, possibly a reminder of the encircling desert that kept invaders rare.

The sanctuary of the god included a columned hall in which the columns were carved to look like marsh plants, bundles of papyrus, similar things -- plants hearkening to the First Time, the creation of all things on the benben, which was logically speaking a swamp. I think all non-Amarna temples got narrower and darker, sloping upwards, as one got closer to the abode of the god, seated in darkness on the mound in the instant before creation, constnatly in the act of bringing forth reality from unlight. (Amarna temples were open-roofed so one could see the actual sun disc.)

This is what the ancients built -- a carefully designed fortification that pulls back through time to the moment of primordial creation, centreing on the god, from Whom order could emanate, spreading outwards through the recapitulation of time and from there into the rest of the world.

(This is from memory -- the book I'm pulling this stuff out of is 'Temples of Ancient Egypt', which goes into more detail about things like the fortification origins of the temples, some more structural stuff, and so on. The book is .... lemme see if I understand how to make the amazon link, here. It's a cool book, if you're a GIANT NERD.)

Obviously, building on that scale is an undertaking that's a bit beyond modern Kemetics at this time.

So what can we do that gives respect to the importance of these things, of rooting in the Nun and protecting ourselves, of retreating back through time and into the dark to find the emanation of the god Who holds this place? What is a scale that's workable and doesn't abandon the hope of building things fit to hold the world together?

Are Deities Tied to Place?

An interesting point came up in another thread and I wanted to expand on it, as it has been on my mind lately. How tied to place are Gods and Goddesses?

In ancient times, Deities were often seen as existing only in certain areas, and were thought of as being Gods/Goddesses of certain lands. Often they were tied to specific landforms as well.

Sometimes they merged or were adapted to other lands but not as a rule. There are recorded cases of statues/idols being "loaned out" to other societies. And of course there were societies who usurped or replaced the Gods of others.

My personal experience with this is that I do like the ancient Egyptian Gods, but I live in the mid-western US with a totally different climate than ancient Egypt and I don't think they are a good fit environmentally. On a spiritual level I feel a connection, but they are far removed from my current climate so there is no connection in that area at all. When I lived on the west coast there was much more of a climate connection.

My feeling on this is that I don't think most ancient people (there are exceptions - Hebrews for example) toted their Gods about. When you went to a new land you encounted the Gods of that land. Is carrying a God from one land to another a recent concept, influenced by the ways of Christianity and Islam?

Native American gods were once the only Gods of where I live. Now there are people here of many faiths and churches of many denominations around every corner. Can I really bring ancient Egyptian Gods here too without my beliefs becoming an invasive religion to the spirit of the area?

To boil it down I guess my question is this, Can you really remove deities from their native lands? What is lost or gained by doing so?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Staying Within a Faith that Rejects your Values?

I've been curious for some time now as to why people continue to identify with a faith that differs substantially from their values. For example, when you look at how the birthrate has dropped substantially in countries like Italy and France, you can be sure these folks aren't adhering to the Roman Catholic Church's teachings on birth control. Many other folks disagree vehemently with church policies on things like female ordination, but they still remain members of their local parish and support the Catholic church through volunteering and financial contributions. (Note: I'm not trying to single out Roman Catholics, just provide an example with which most people will be familiar.)

Why do you think that people remain in religious organizations that clearly clash with their values?

Holiday Recipe Exchange

'Tis the season for me to be in the kitchen and I'm getting tired of making the same four side dishes every year. The ubiquitous green bean casserole is just plain getting on my nerves. Undecided

Would anyone be interested in exchanging favorite recipe ideas for holiday meals (or for that matter, any meal this time of year)?

Friday, November 16, 2007

What Happens When Deities Get Mad (Nowadays)?

People speak of how dangerous certain deities can be. I certainly believe this to be true, but have no personal experience with it myself. I am pretty sure I'll sound like an ignoramus here, but HOW exactly are they dangerous? What do they do? I know the myths surrounding several such Gods, but what do they do to people now? I'm sure it's not always the same, but does anyone have an example? I have not noticed anyone turned into a spider, a pillar of salt lately.

As for the latter, Yaweh doesn't really do that (particular punishment, at least) anymore. Based on the Torah, He is pretty titchy, but He doesn't seem to be doing many things that strike terror into people's hearts lately. And I don't count certain actions of His followers as counting as scary things He himself has done or would even approve of.

Maybe the deidties have simply become more subtle, doing only things that are either scientifically understandable or else doing less understandable things to only one or a few people.

It's possible that much of the annoying or sad things in my life have been caused because Yaweh got mad at me, but I just don't think that's why my gravy has a tendency to turn out runny and my mother drives me nuts. Christianity's conception of God may be behaving a little differently now that Jesus is part of Him though. And I trust Jesus not to give anyone runny gravy.

Anyway, my point - or my question: if someone pisses off Kali, Loki, or the Morrigan etc. what should they expect? I have no plans to piss of said deities, but I am pretty curious. And would refering to a deity as immature or moody piss the deity off? Does it depend on the deity? Obviously it would be totally inappropriate to say such things during a ceremony, but I can see how those assessments would come up in casual chatter.

I mean, what may happen? Most of you don't believe you're going to be sent to Hell if you piss off some God. Are you going to be tortured by bad dreams? Are you going to get turned into an as yet uncreated bug? A pillar of some sort of cooking seasoning? Have all your kids murdered by a plague? Get hit by a car? Suffer from chronic itching? Be forced to watch Gigli? Have to spend more time with your mother in law? Fall madly in love with Mr. Bean? Suffocate under a pile of beanie babies in a freak accident?!?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Prayer Structure/Methods?

I am interested in the utilities of the different methods of prayer. For instance, do you find that a simple self-made verse fulfills your spiritual need, or do you feel the need for a more complex series of words and gestures? Or do you feel that neither of these do the trick, and prefer a well thought out and structured ritual? Whatever your preference is, how do your Gods feel about it?

Any Good Books on Medicine Wheel and Native American Shamanism?

I'm a beginner in this subject, have only read a few books which were generally on shamanism, but would like to have something about Native Americans that doesn't toss different tribes together as if it was just one 'Native American religion'. Overview books appreciated though.

I'd like how-to-do-it books as well as anthropological ones. Even neopaganic ones, but please nothing where you can't tell what the author invented and what he/she took from various tradition. (Nothing against eccleticism, I just want everything labelled.)

As I'm now shocked about my long wish list myself, let me say that I appreciate every suggestion, even if the book isn't perfect in any way. Just give me a warning so I know what I'm getting.

Beginner Gods and Goddesses?

I was thinking again, always a dangerous past-time, and I thought about the children of pagans and how they were introduced to the worship of different deities. Would you introduce them to your own gods? Or find them one that agreed with their intrests? Are there any you would forbid them from messing around with?

For those of you without children, who would you recommend to a beginner?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Reading Too Much into Everyday Things?

So Everfool wrote this on another thread:

"I've regularly seen people decide that this or that random event, or their latest purchase, or whatever, means that they've been picked out by a deity. It isn't that I have a problem with people finding something *spiritual* in an event, as that tends to reflect a more personal and internal feeling. I find it somewhat incredible that many suggest a practically concrete and *obvious* spiritual event."
Similar discussions have come up everywhere and usually result in a lot of "Oh, you know when people come to paganism, they're discovering their spirituality and everyhting is all new and shiny and they're still learning." But I've known folks who have been pagan for years who still take every little thing as a sign or omen of something or of someone trying to communicate with them, or encouraging new folks who think that every little thing is a sign of something to continue believing that it is. For some people, NOTHING can ever be taken at face value, and to suggest that something might really not have a significant meaning or that it's a coincidence is frequently akin to high treason and likely to get one flamed....I also said this in the same thread:
Someone sees a crow on the telephone pole and OOOoOH it MUST be a message of grand importance from The Morrigan, with whom they've NEVER had any past experience. But suddenly, this crow must mean something. Or "So I saw some horses in a field today and then when I went to the bookstore, they had a book on horses in the window. I think Epona's trying to tell me she wants to be my patron goddess." There's never the possibility that it's national horse week, or their making special note of it being Justin Morgan's birthday or the Kentucky Derby is three days away.
I've seen people posting on other forums, what seems to be every few minutes "the cream swirled clockwise in my coffee today instead of counterclockwise and I forgot to add enough sugar, do you think it's a sign of something" or "My cat's been more affectionate lately than usual. I just know it's because Bast is trying to send me a message" or "My dog turned seven years old on the seventh of this month...why is the number seven trying to get my attention? Huh" (These are actual examples that I've seen in the last few years of things that seem like they have much more obvious logical reasons...there's always a possibility that there might be other significance, but taken alone, it's FAR more likely that it means nothing. dog turned seven on the seventh? Well geez. I think that's about as significant as the fact that I once turned two years old on December second. Unless you die before reaching that birthday or were born on leap year, everything that was ever born has a birthday like that.

Enough examples, you know what I mean.

So...WHY is it such a horrible thing to put forth this suggestion that something just be taken at face value, or to wait and see if anything else related crops up before jumping to the "Oooooh mystickale special" conclusion? why must it constantly be encouraged by some folks that every little thing be looked at as some huge omen or sign or mystical connection?


Oh...just a note, this is NOT commentary on the thread from which this tangent originated. This is a "general pagan world" discussion.

Mr Cunningham's Books

When I first started looking into Wicca and Neo-Wicca a few years ago I picked up a collection of books, which included Scott Cunningham's 'Guide for the Solitary Practitioner' which I found to be written well. I then moved onto more advanced books and haven't looked back since. Therefore I have never picked up another book by Cunningham, and just browsing through my 'Pagan' shelf on my bookshelf I have decided I would like to.

Could you please help me to decide which book would be the best to get? Because there is a multiplicity of themes that he has covered! Any suggestions and information on contents would be much appreciated!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

What's on your Altar?

I've just started putting together things for my first altar, and it got me wondering what everyone else has on theirs...

My altar is going to be dedicated to Hermes and so I far I've got a candle dedicated to him; a small silver jug and libation dish, a few coins and a picture of Hermes. I'd like to also get some frankincense incense, a small statue of him and maybe a small pot of strawberries (I read somewhere about strawberries being sacred to him and i thought it might be a nice place to pour water libations).

What about everyone else (feel free to show off a little bit)?

Parent/Child Relationship/Respect in Paganism

Briefly in another thread, I saw somebody stating that it is not okay to lie to one's parents about one's religion. This reminds me of something that has largely bothered me about many Pagan discussions I have witnessed.

Due to the fact that my parent's actions caused me to end up in foster care, I am certain I'm rather biased - but the whole "Your parents deserve (insert anything other than 'the respect they've earned' here) because they managed to breed" bothers me. I agree that many, possibly most, parents have earned a lot more respect than that which their children give them. However, religion is a private thing which does not require being told or explained to ANYONE, let alone a person that will judge and attempt to control said religion - whether or not that person is a parent. A lie to an owner - and a parent owns a child's body (not soul) unless they beat or molest said child, at which point the state owns the child's body - is not the same as a lie to a partner, friend, or kin-minus-ownership.

A long time ago, I memorized this bit of The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. It easily and eloquently explains my feelings on the topic at hand:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.

What are your views on the relationship between child and parent as mandated by your spiritual beliefs?

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Religions Imposed Morals and Society?

There has been a lot of discussion about religion and morals, I was wondering...

How do religiously imposed morals or behaviours effect society nowadays when there is Very little consistency in the religious beliefs of a community?

Wednesday, November 07, 2007


I am NOT meaning to offend, I really am curious. I know a lot more about Buddhism than I do Paganism so just as a point of reference... Buddhism is tradtitionally pantheistic/nontheistic. How does pantheistic/non-theistic Paganism differ? How are they similar? I've noticed that some Pagans identify as both. Is it mainly the practice of each that makes them different, or underlying beliefs/philosophies?

Why is It So Important to Some People that all Pagans be the Same?

Why is it so important to some people that all Pagans be the same? It could be that they're all "earth-based" or politically liberal or follow the Rede or Wiccan calendar. Or any other generalization you care to put in here.

Personally, I've never seen it as important (or accurate, for that matter). It comes up occasionally (and yes, this is one of those times on a blog I read and post on), but I really don't understand it mainly because I can't fathom me telling everyone what they believe, why/how they believe it and how they worship.

Why do you think it happens? What is your response/reaction and how do you handle it?

How is Spirituality Relevant to Anything?

Today I was journaling on the Earth element, coming up with all sorts of meanings and correspondences, and feeling like I was doing really well. Then a little voice interuppted my bliss to ask, " is this at all relevant to spirituality?"

Which then snowballed into, "How is this spirituality relevant to anything?"


No wonder I've had such a hard time actually practicing religion (though I'm good at studying it). I've not figured out how religion fits into everyday life. I know some people use religion to set their moral code, but I lived for over 20 years without religion and didn't steal anything or kill anybody. So I guess I don't need it for that.

Why is religion important to you? Why do you need it in your life? How exactly does it relate to every day tasks such as doing your job or shopping for groceries?

These are the questions I guess I need to answer myself, but I would like to hear your responses. And for those of you atheists hanging around, why DON'T you need religion? All points of views would be greatly appreciated.

Religion and Moral Codes?

A while back I was having a conversation with a (typically non-judgemental) Christian friend of mine who said to me that she believed a religion could not truely be a religion unless it had a set of moral codes. She said her moral codes were the Ten Commandments of the Old Testament and the teachings of Jesus in the New.

Consequently I am wondering, in your own religion do you have any moral code(s) that you try to stand by?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

How Important are Dreams to You?

How important are dreams to you? Religiously I mean.

Personally I dream often and in great detail. I don't often have dreams that I would consider to be predictive, and I have yet (I think) to have a Lucid dream. Still, Dreams seem to be very important to my religious practice, though I don't always understand how to utilize them. That's why I'm asking for some other perspectives on this. What type of dreams do you have? And how, if at all, do you make use of them?

Frustration and Not Finding the Words?

There are so many ways to go and things to learn in the pagan world. Personally I've found several areas that really interest me, and I've done my best to explore them. I feel like I have a pretty good handle on my beliefs and know enough about the beliefs of others that I don't generally sound like an idiot in polite conversations. And yet... I feel like there is something more that I need. The problem is that I just don't know what to ask or say anymore. I feel like I've discussed most of the things I really want to know with people, and I keep getting the same opinions and responses.

Does anybody else feel this way? Like they have a question but just can't find the words for it? Or maybe you just don't have any idea what it is that you are neglecting? How does one go about figuring that out? When your spiritual life starts to feel stagnant how do you stir things up?

Saturday, November 03, 2007

What is Divination?

This might seem awfully basic, but I'm curious as to what you folks think separates divination from an educated guess? Is it the methodology used? Is it the content of the question, e.g., "what does the future hold" sort of question? Does it necessitate some sort of contact with spirits, or an altered state of consciousness? Is it related to psychic abilities?

Magic vs Religious Ceremony

This is a spin-off of the Medieval Spells thread.

Quote from: Star on Today at 01:08:25 pm:
You can find correlations and things that look similar to magic, but I find it a little offensive to insist that it's "really" magic even though they don't believe it is. (And just because it looks similar doesn't mean it's the same thing anyway, really.) Sort of along the same lines as fundies telling us that we "really" worship Satan, you know? If we don't want them redefining our religions for us, I think we ought to offer the same respect in return.
Okay, so what is the difference? I am asking this with no biases - can a religious Ceremony, even something so common and basic as Baptism or Communion qualify as Magic? If so, why? If not, why not?

Friday, November 02, 2007

Finding Time for Religion?

So, here I am in front of the computer. I'm nearly 20, wanting to venture into my religion more and more each day but not having the time to do so. I should, but I don't.

Why? I work like the rest of the (American) world, 45 hours a week. On top of that, I watch my close friends daughter quiet often as we live together. If I do have any time, my body is often going "DO NOTHING! REST!" at me, which I have to comply.

But, how did you as a young (or even later in life) find time in your hectic life to truly figure out your religion, to read and to actually do things such as your first casting?

Tarot and Poetry Analysis

I'm currently taking a confessional poetry class and we are covering Sylvia Plath. Knowing that Plath read tarot, one of my class members proposed that figures from tarot appear in the poem "The Bee Meeting". I would like it if you folks could take a look at the poem and see if you agree with this assessment. If you do agree, I would be interested to know what card you assigned to what characters or situations within the poem. Thanks!

Poem is here:

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Offerings: A Question

Upon completion of a ritual last night, I suddenly found myself in a bit of a problem: I had no where for my offerings to go.

I live in an apartment, with no garden space or dirt to speak of, not even in the little courtyard. All of the parks that are convenient are very nice, but largely made of concrete, and the ones with a bit of earth, so to speak, are a fair distance away.

I don't want to leave my offerings just any old place, and I don't have anywhere nearby to burn them or bury them.

After a few moments, I couldn't think of anything else but to just put the offerings in the trash. I asked the spirits to whom the offerings belonged if that was okay, and I got the sense of "hmm... well, if you can't think of anything else... it's okay... but think of something else, eh?"

So. This is my question. Any of you urban pagans have the same problem, and if so, what do you do? Where or what are some good methods of... disposal--as it were--of offerings? Any suggestions or thoughts are much appreciated!

Divination Tools- What's Your Favorite?

I thought I'd ask this one because I work well with most divination tools except that I wont use a ouijah board at all. I use tarot, pendulum, crystal ball,tea leaves, runes and even on occasion dice and dominoes. I think the tarot is what I use most, and it depends on the question and my mood which I use. I've been doing divination most of my life and am usually very accurate when I do a reading for someone else. So what is your fave and why?

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