Tuesday, July 28, 2009

2009 Pagan Pride Month

Just wanted to plug Pagan Pride Month in September. The official website for the Pagan Pride Project is: http://www.paganpride.org/.

Anyone have any activities going on in their area? Now that the Open Hearth Foundation is stepping back from the Baltimore/DC festivities I'm not sure what's going on.

When Does Dogma Become Harmful?

We often talk negatively about dogma in the pagan community. But dogma, in it's pure dictionary sense, is really the philosophy of a religion. The tenets and beliefs that bind a religious community together is its dogma.

So when does dogma become bad and harmful?

I think it's when people stop questioning, or are discouraged from questioning. If we're made to blindly believe without having the opportunity to think it through and examine it from all angles, then we lose something.

What do y'all say?

Our Obligations to Our Community?

A community of interest gathers at Stonehenge,...Image via Wikipedia

What are our obligations to community?

I'm not talking the larger pagan community; I'm talking about our smaller, personal worship communities. Members of established physical churches often have a financial obligation to contribute to the upkeep of the church building and pay staff. They also often have responsibilities that include teaching Sunday school, helping with child care, etc.

So what about us?

My obligations to my worship community are sometimes financial. I chip in for after-ritual feasts. When we have special workshops and gatherings, I chip in my share of the bill. When I run ritual, I help purchase supplies.

My obligations are also responsibilities. I'm required to help run at least one moon ritual and one holiday ritual a year. I've taken on teaching responsibilities (though I don't have any students yet) and organizational responsibilities in my group. I'm also there to help support covenmates through difficult times in their life.

Not everyone in our group takes their responsibilities seriously. There's been a lot of tension in the past year about keeping our Covenstead clean after holiday gatherings, since we're on someone's private property. People haven't been good about cleaning up their own messes, and by ignoring their responsibilities they end up hurting everyone... the folks who own the property get mad, the same folks who live nearby always get stuck cleaning up, and those of us who have taken on "Elder" responsibilities in the group have to hear about it and have to take on the responsibility of cleaning up ourselves.

What do y'all think? What are your obligations to community? If you're a solitary, how can you apply the ideas of community to your personal practices?

Sunday, July 26, 2009

What is the Role of the Past in Reconstructionist Approaches to Religion?

I am interested to get an idea of the range of ways that people who see reconstruction as an important component of their personal religious belief and practice actually make use of the past in their contemporary understanding and practice of their religion. Do people mostly rely on the past for elements of practice and iconography? How about past understandings of deities (and the related metaphysics for that matter) and spiritual reality? How do people deal with the fact that many religions exist across braod swaths of history and experienced a lot of evolution and regional variation (often with more than one form current and significant inconsistencies or disagreements between them)?

The Gods of Your Environment

Wahkeena FallsImage by StarrGazr via Flickr

I've been trying to figure out my spirituality lately, looking into different branches of Paganism (particularly Celtic), and generally trying to find some way to categorize myself so that I can find a community to join comfortably with. It's not that I feel I need a category, but it's hard to know where to look for fellowship or what to read and study if you don't at least have some direction. One thing I'm beginning to realize is that I feel a real longing to connect with my particular landscape--Southern Vermont, in particular. And this is where I'm finding some trouble.

For me, any idea of the divine is tied to my physical environment. I have trouble with the idea of transplanting a mythology/pantheon/rituals of another place to my particular environment, but the religions native to my landscape--various Native American beliefs--do not feel like a good fit for me, mostly because it would feel like a gross appropriation of a religion and culture that I couldn't begin to understand or enter as a person of British/French descent.

So I suppose I'm just asking for some ideas--how do you all deal with the issue of the divine as it is tied to the particular landscape you live in vs. the particular path you have chosen, which may or may not be "native" of the place you live?

Maybe this isn't a problem for anyone else, but I thought I'd throw it out there.

What Do You Want Out of Religion?

Some people want a foundation for their personal morality and ethics. Some want relief from stress. Some want ritual and ceremony. Some want structure and familiarity. Some want to understand the nature of life, the universe and everything.

What do you want?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Who Sings Now? A Voice from the Forest

"As above, so below!
From tiny courageous seed, mighty strength will grow.
Heart of lightning,
timeless doors opening within my ancient bole...
I will strengthen and feed you; body, mind, and soul.
Dig deep!
Hold true!
I will awaken the primal King
and enduring Bard in you."

Monday, July 20, 2009

Religion and Hospital Stays

This question brought to you because I'm helping a good friend who's had hip replacement surgery this week.

She is also Pagan, and they've kept asking her if she'd like a chaplain to stop by. She's always replied "If you have a Pagan-friendly one, sure." They look confused, and reply that the chaplains are non-denominational, and nothing has happened. (She's fine with this: she'd be amused by the conversation, but she's not in any spiritual need, and if she were, I or a couple of other people would be happy to do what's needed.) After some digging around (the hospital does not make it easy to find info on the chaplaincy program), it's heavily supported by a coalition of Lutheran churches (not surprising for Minnesota, but perhaps explains why they're a bit more puzzled than they might be.))

So, my question is - if you were in hospital, what would you hope for? What would really annoy you? Would you like a visit from a chaplain familiar with Paganism? (Not necessarily someone on your path, but someone who could at least make sensible conversation about it). Etc.

Apollo's Birthday

Just wondering if modern dodekatheists still observe Apollo's birthday on the 7th day of Bysios, as per Plutarch?

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Orisha within Wicca

I was involved with Santeria a few years ago, received my warriors and had my head marked by Chango. Well, a few things changed and I decided Santeria just isn't for me. Up until recently, Wicca has always felt a little silly to me...maybe I was reading the wrong books or something...I thought it was a lot of talking to fairies and frolicking under the full moon. I finally stumbled onto some Wiccan sources who actually sound like reasonable, sane people and suddenly it's starting to make sense.

I've been reading a lot and just sorta thinking about which deities I'd like to have as my Matron and Patron...not making any decisions, just studying mythology and learning. Chango still sticks out in my mind, though, as does Yemaya, and I started to wonder tonight if they could be my Matron and Patron. I feel really comfortable with Chango and Yemaya has always felt like a mother figure to me. I already know a lot of the things they like and could easily involve them in ritual...not sure what I'd do if one of them asked for a chicken, though, lol. There's just a few things I'm not sure of:

1. As far as I can remember, orishas aren't considered gods in Santeria, probably due to the syncretism (I don't know their status in Yorubaland, but are the orishas of Afrika really the same as those of Cuba?). Is that a problem?

2. Also, the orishas are called down and possess their devotees in Santeria...would they even bother to answer if they were simply invited into a circle?

If anyone has experience worshiping orishas in a non-ATR framework, I'd appreciate it. I just don't want to be disrespectful towards them.

The Culture & Land of the People Who Originally Worshiped Your Gods

I was reading through the 'Do you acknowledge where your beliefs come from?' thread and it made me wonder - Do most people immerse themselves in the culture and history of the people that originally worshiped their Gods?

For both people who follow a reconstructionist practice or worship a certain cultures pantheon, and those who have just one deity or several from different cultures - Do you feel a connection to that(those) culture(s)? If so then why and do you feel it's important to the relationship you have with your Deities?

I'm interested in this, because I'm really green to the whole "pagan community". I've known Christians who had something of a fetish for all things Jewish(aside from the religion's take on Christ obviously).

So do most Kemetics have a passion for Egypt/ Hellenics for Greece etc.? Do many modern pagans feel the need to make pilgrimages to these places or anything like that?

I'm looking forward to hearing what you think.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sacred Journeys and Pagan Pilgrimages

City of ReykjavíkImage via Wikipedia

Altair's wonderful TCN blog about his pilgrimage to Iceland [TCN Membership required to view] has me wondering about the place of sacred journeys and pilgrimages on our individual paths.

Are pilgrimages a part of your path? If so, what places call to you- religious places, historically significant places, natural wonders, etc.?

To expand a bit on the topic, what purpose do such pilgrimages serve in a spiritual/religious context? What do you do upon arrival at your destination? Or is the journey itself the important thing? If you've made such a journey, has it changed your perspective or practice in any way? Are there drawbacks or problems associated with making sacred journeys?

Enochian Magic?

Holy Table as used by John DeeImage via Wikipedia

I have been reading and researching lately about Enochian Magic. I am very interested to hear from anyone who has knowledge or experience with this path. I see it as being tied to Christianity and I would like to learn more about how this system was developed and how and who is using Enochian Magic in the present. Thanks so much!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Do you Acknowledge Where your Beliefs come from?

This might sound like an odd question but since being on this forum its made me wonder. I personally don't know exactly what Pagan "path" I follow. I suppose I just take different beliefs from different places - does this make me a bad Pagan? Would I be classed as someone who cherry picks the best bits and the parts that are easier to grasp? Am I a fluffy bunny? I don't believe I am. Maybe I follow an eclectic Pagan path? Can that even be classed as a path? Can I just call myself a Pagan? Or is that too general?

Do most Pagans (I ask this because I have no contact in "real life" with Pagans) follow a specific path? Do they acknowledge the path they are on and where their beliefs stem from?

For those who keep a BOS

First of, a question that just came to me, is a BOS a Wiccan thing? I assume not but wondered what others thought!

Anyway, to the actual question/s, what do you keep in your BOS? (What information etc I mean) Personally, I keep everything from associations to spells and rituals. However I dont keep any experiences I have had in it - I have a diary for that (which I am useless at keeping).

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Teaching at Pagan High

FORT WORTH - APRIL 30:  Arlington Heights High...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Let's say there was a pagan high school, sort of a real live Hogwart's; not an online thing, but a physical place, complete with campus.

1) What would you like to teach there?


2) What do you think should be taught there?

For me, I would teach biology. Not only is it my primary area of scientific interest, but in many ways it's the window on the world that has led me to paganism. For a nature-based pagan like myself, I think it's must-have knowledge, with insights between pagan spirituality and biological understanding running both ways. (Interestingly, my dad was a biology teacher until he retired, so I guess I shouldn't be surprised.)

As for what should be taught, I think the following courses could be generally useful, almost regardless of one's pagan path:

--Phys Ed (sorely neglected by way too many pagans)
--Comparative Religion (a required course)
--Critical Thinking (another required course, equipping students to evaluate claims and seek out primary sources...the kind of thing we prize so greatly here at TC)

...and maybe a required Ethics class, although ethical values should be incorporated into every class, IMHO, so maybe a separate class wouldn't be necessary. Similarly, I think teaching tolerance would be part of the very fiber of the place--with so many different pagans running around, it would have to be.

God Conjuring (Or Creating New Gods)

Detail of Religion mural in lunette from the F...Image via Wikipedia

As I continue my Pagan path, one core beliefs is still sticking with me and I wanted to examine it a bit by presenting an idea.

Is it possible to conjure your own God(s)? I ask this because it seems that all world faiths have some concept of a deity. A large portion of these beliefs are very recent, thus making their Gods either a recent creation or borrowed from and older belief system. But if their God is indeed a new creation, wouldn't it be logical to say that we have the potential to conjure our own at will? People do this all the time. Lets say you put some faith in a spirit guide, Jesus, a loved one who has passed away. We all give this entity power by believing that if we put trust in it, then this entity will bring goodness to our lives in some form. This gives the entity a power that is similar and sometimes equal to the traditional Gods of old religion. Further more, if more people begin believing in the entity, wouldn't it eventually become a religion (IE The magic Conch from Spongebob Squarepants)?

Lets say for instance I want to create a God that looks like a giant chicken. If I believe in its existence and put some trust in it, it inherently adopts the personality and power of what we think a God should be. I know it may be amusing, but the Israelites did the same thing with the creation of the Golden Calf. To them it had power.

I believe in an essence that is above all Gods. This essence emanates in all things and bears God children (See Scott Cunningham on the creation of the God and Goddess of Wicca). So if this essence is capable of bearing God children, is it also possible that it will bear any God child at the time we need it? Truly we are a part of the Essence because we have life, the same life that was given to the Gods.

Thoughts, questions, comments, concerns?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Circumstances and Choice in Wicca and Other Pagan Religions

The Athame (black handle) and Boline (white ha...Image via Wikipedia

I am currently reading True Magick by Amber K. It has had several bits of wisdom so far that I have found helpful and given me plenty to meditate on. One of those things is the author's comment "that nearly everything in your life - every event, relationship, thought, and material object - is there because you chose it." She goes on to say, "What we have considered to be acts done to us, or coincidences, or accidents, are often events chosen or at least accepted by us on a level below our conscious mind." Later, in another section, there seems to be an implication that this includes illness as well.

I would like to hear people's take on this. Is this considered truth to most Wiccans? How about other pagan religions? At what point is this no longer true? Does a child choose to be born with AIDS? Does a person choose to be attacked and robbed? If a child grows up to have serious lung problems is it there choice or are they indeed the victims of the people that smoked around them 24/7? As you can see this could go in many directions. These aren't the only questions I am looking for people's takes on - just a sampling of where this idea is hard to grasp.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Lost Teacher, What Should I Do?

You see, a few months back, I was initiated and became an official in-training witch. Although my teacher being a Hellenistic Pagan, I felt a different path I needed to find for myself was out there. So, I started undertaking basic witch training.

Well, my path is not the problem I'm facing. The problem I am face is... Well, I am now out of touch with my teacher. At this point, I've been trying to train myself. Sorta, Well, more like, doing what I can, and using what I do know, to try and keep myself... Strong, so to speak. Well, Not to say I'm lost without a teacher, I just feel...Not, complete. Sort of, in the fact that I started with a teacher, and I may not end with one. I've been undertaking attempts to learn various things from...Well, however much I'll be scolded for it, the Internet, attempting to hold simple, solo rituals, keeping things very simple, in case I feel something goes wrong, I can easy fix my own mess. But, I'm kinda at a hump in the road, I don't know whether I should search for another teacher, or continue a solitary path. If I should continue my own path, How will I know I'm ready to be finalized in my training? for most of my time, I was following by example, and now. Not really having much physical connection with anyone magickally, I don't really know when I'd call myself "complete" from training. And no, contact with the original teacher is not possible. I even had a dream in which we reconciled, but, I feel that is something far in the future, if at all.

No, this is not a round-about way for me to ask for a teacher. I suppose, I'm simply asking for advice from teachers, or possibly people who've been through this. Because, I really don't know what to do.

And, my reasoning for using the internet as my resource - Well, books are pricey, and something I can't afford.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

What Does It Mean to be Active in your Religion?

A sadhu performing namaste in Madurai, India.Image via Wikipedia

This was inspired by Juniper's thread about turning to religion only when you need it. As I read it, the distinction came up in the thread between practising and non-practising, or active and non-active adherents of a religion. I'm personally still trying to work out what practices my faith demands, so I can't even tell if I'm actively religious or not.

But for everyone else, does your path easily distinguish between active and non-active believers? Can you say, for example, that someone of your religion has to do XYZ or else, no matter how hard they believe, they don't count as active? Does it always have to be actions that determine how active you are? And how important is it, even, to be active in your religion?

Thursday, July 02, 2009


Now, I know that offerings vary from God(dess) to God(dess), but that's where I'm finding I'm getting confused. I've read where some people offer things sacred to that particular God(dess), and then others wouldn't think about it, and then there are those who wouldn't offer something to a God because it was sacred to someone they really didn't get along with.(an Example of the 3rd one is with Aset, I've heard that she hates pork because its sacred to Set. (BTW I read this particular one on the HON Forums)) I'm curious because I don't want to offer the wrong thing.

So my question is what do you guys do? Do you offer things sacred to them? Do you avoid offering things sacred to them or their "Enemies"? Or is it just a Trial and Error type deal?

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Religion (Only) When You Need It?

Offering to the thunder God Thor - Old Sami re...Image by saamiblog via Flickr

What do you think of the principle of turning to religion only when you feel as though you need it? For instance at a time of stress, despair, or loss?

Do you think that there is anything wrong with turning to religion only at these times? Would you say that it is selfish? Disloyal to the God(s) involved?

Does it make a difference if there are no Gods involved with the religion you turn to in your time of need?

Does it make a difference depending on which religion you turn to?

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template