Thursday, April 29, 2010

Beltane Chase Song? Folklorists in the house?

Many of you may be familiar with the "Beltane Chase Song," found in full here: (I chose this atheist link because it didn't involve purple, sparkly backgrounds.)

Now, I'm seeing this song described here and there as "traditional." Is it? Because it sounds suspiciously to me like somebody sat down and wrote it only a few decades ago. Probably because the series of transformations described closely mirrors those found in the story of Taliesin's birth by Cerridwen, only here, the female is being chased while the male is doing the chasing. The verses also closely mirror Isobel Gowdie's rhyme for turning into a hare. (I'd link, but this is easily googled.) I guess that doesn't mean some Victorian gentleman couldn't have been inspired by the Welsh story and composed this, or that the turns of phrase Gowdie used weren't common in traditional British verse. But I wouldn't know for sure. Does anyone have any thoughts?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Who Made You?

This question's been rattling around in my head for a week or two. To start out, I was thinking simply about Hermes, and his role in my life, as well as the goddess I've been struggling to find. Then something popped into my head that was incredibly disruptive to my way of thinking:

I don't believe Hermes created me. I don't think Belisama or Hathor did, either. Zeus is a chief god in the Greek pantheon, but I don't think HE created me. If none of these deities did, then WHO created me? Or am I a product of nature? If someone else DID, should I be worshipping them? Or is it perfectly all right just to go on acknowledging the deities that I do, while not knowing/ignoring the one who might should be acknowledged?

Though it's been in my head, it's a question that's a bit like a VERY sore tooth. I know it's there, but I don't want to acknowledge it, partially because I'm afraid of the answer..... but I also keep poking at it.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Need Some Tarot Advice

I've started learning to read Tarot cards. I'm not quite good on all the meanings yet, but I'm getting there. I've only done a few simple readings so far, and I find I like the Celtic Cross spread. I use the Gilded Tarot deck.

The thing is, I recently heard a story from a friend about a really good Tarot reader she went to, and it got me motivated to try and learn again.
Now I'm stuck with a deck that I'm getting used to, and not a very good idea of what to do from here. Apart from doing more readings to get used to it, are there any other ways I can improve my Tarot reading skills? Are there any techniques of putting the cards' meanings together that people find particularly useful? And should I try reading for other people, or just keep reading for myself until I get a bit better?

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Obligatory Beltane/Samhain Thread

So... what's everyone doing for the sabbat? I'm especially interested to hear from the southern hemisphere folks who are coming up on Samhain if you're working based on your seasons rather than the strict calendar year.

Information on Rhiannon?

Every time I hear that Stevie Nicks song on the radio, I feel as though I should be looking into information about Rhiannon. (And I heard it the other night coming home from work.) Does anyone have any reliable sources they can pass along?

Finding Privacy For Outdoor Rituals

For those of you lucky enough to be able to do rituals outdoors, how on earth do you find the privacy to do it?

I would love to do rituals outdoors. But I live in the suburbs in a rowhouse. I can't even go out and get the mail without having to chat with someone, and the backyard backs on to an alley between us and the street behind us. No privacy there. Local parks close after dark and I wouldn't feel comfortable in an isolated area without my husband with me. We don't have a lot of violence here, but there's been enough incidents over the years that I'd rather not tempt fate.

So... suggestions? Besides moving, that is. That's in our long-term plan but isn't a short-term solution.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Tarot Card Meanings Different than the Books

I'm trying to learn about Tarot. I want to learn Rider-Waite because they are standard and the symbolism is so widely used in other decks. However, I've noticed that when I pick up a card and try to interpret it, I often come up with meanings which are VERY different than the ones which are listed on websites and in the books. For instance, for the Two of Swords, I perceived "balance, harmony, trust." According to this site, the keywords for the card are "blocked emotions, avoidance, stalemate." What do you do when your gut reaction to a card is so different? Has anyone else had this problem when learning tarot?

Two Questions re: Tutelary and/or Obscure Deities

Here's how I stand. I have a fixed male deity that has been my patron for close to fifteen years now, give or take a few. I am happy with Hermes, adore him, love the relationship I have with him, and am grateful for his presence. However, recently I've wanted to have a more female side to things too (though to be fair, Hermes does encompass the balance of male and female in his being), so I have been searching for a goddess to also devote myself to. I tried Hathor for quite some time, but as of late, she and I have parted ways amicably due to many reasons I acknowledge, and reasons I'm not sure of at this time. We are just not compatible, though I still love all she stands for and what she can give.

I have been poking around names of deities in the Roman/Britain/Gallic areas, and have settled (for now, at any rate) on Belisama (also known as Belisma). The problem is, there is very, very little information about her. My friend Kim, a follower of Epona, says that with a lot of Gallic deities, you have to go to the source; ie: reading articles from the area, which in Belisama's case could definitely mean the Liverpool area of England, though she was known all over Gaul. I don't know how to properly go about searching for truly academic things like my friend does. I don't know that I have the mental stamina to do so, or the resources. All I know is that she seems to be calling me to her... or perhaps to her to guide me toward another goddess.

Question Cluster 1 is:
How does one really know an obscure deity who has the most basic of things known about her? For example, she's known to be a goddess of light, fire, crafts, the forge, etc. Kim tells me to meditate and listen to see if Belisama speaks to me, but will that really be enough? How do I know it's her talking to me, and not someone else? How do I know that it's not me just making junk up about her? Hermes is easy-- there's a lot of information and hymns out there about him, from Ovid to basic myths. He's got a very prominent personality. He's -there- for me, in my head, in my heart. He's not obscure. So. What do I do?

Question 2 is:

There's another goddess that I was interested in a while back and still am. Her name is Sequana, and she's a tutelary goddess... of the river Seine. I'm in North Carolina, in the States. Would devoting oneself to a goddess that is a goddess of one specific area, of one specific body of water, be a good idea? Would she be a relevant goddess? I believe that if a goddess or god of one country or another calls to you, even if you're not of that country, you should go for them. I'm not Greek, but Hermes works for me. But a deity that holds sway over one river, or one mountain, or one desert... It seems too specific to me, like I am barking up the wrong tree.

Thoughts on that?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Reclaiming/Feri/Third Road?

I'm following up on suggestions from other posters who noticed that I commented on enjoying the styles both of Starhawk and of Francesca DeGrandis and recommended that I further explore Feri. I'm also looking more at Reclaiming.

I was wondering--what other posters here follow any of these three traditions? How did you study? What resources did you draw upon? Are you solitary, or do you have a group to work with? I notice that all three groups seem to be concentrated in California, and I'm in NYC ... Plus, it seems to me that--at least with Feri--a lot of teachers charge rather a lot to train students. That is without a doubt out of my budget, plus, it gives me an uncomfortable feeling.

At this point, I'm trying hard not to spend any money, so I'm working with what I can get out of libraries and what I already own. That means I have De Grandis' two Third Road workbooks and Starhawk's The Spiral Dance. I was able to obtain a library copy of the Twelve Wild Swans, which is gorgeous and thorough. I think I might actually make an exception and buy it. In terms of Feri, I only have what I can get online for free: The Dustbunnies Book, which I've begun to skim, and The White Wand. Do you have other recommendations for inexpensive references?

If you work alone, how do you adjust the Reclaiming materials?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sad News: Elspeth Passed On This Morning (19 April 2010)

Elspeth's husband called me to say that Elspeth passed over this morning at home and in her sleep. No funeral arrangements have been made yet, but I will pass on the info when I get it.

As Elspeth has been very ill and has not been on the board much these past few years (and maybe only once in the past year or so), many new members do not know her. Long time members will remember her, as she is very hard to forget. Not to mention the fact that this board exists because of her. When we set it up on Delphi, it cost money to have your own forum on the service. I started it as a Yule present for her. She was very active on TC in the early days -- before her various illnesses caught up with her -- and was one of the people most responsible for getting this board going and giving it the direction it has had all these years.

How do you incorporate a patron diety into your Wiccan spirituality?

I've been looking into Wicca for a few months. And this includes praying to the Goddess and God, as well as other deities.

Lately I had been getting a strong sense of THE or A Goddess. And as I've noticed my spirituality taking different themes within each of the past moon cycles, I know that in this cycle I would grow closer and get to know this Goddess.

Well, via some signs and some sense, I believe the Goddess to be Brigid. What I don't know is whether I keep praying to the Goddess and God, as well as to Brigid. Or does this mean that I know who the Goddess is to me, and should now pray to Brigid and the God. (And then, one day, learn who the God is to me.)

Most of me believes that the Goddess and God are still as they are. Nameless, ultimate, and most inclusive. And even while keeping them most primary in my heart, I still payed some devotion to specific deities such as Hanuman and Krishna. So maybe Brigid is just now the most foremost specific deity and spiritual mentor.

Of course, this is less of an issue if one isn't Wiccan, and something like a Witch or Druid instead.

I know there's not right answer to this. I'm just looking at other people's experience and insights.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Genuinely Curious About Pagan Gods

I am not a practicing Pagan, but I've had a long fascination with Paganism since I was in high school (and I really was in it for the spiritual aspect). My path with paganism got derailed for various reasons, but I just keep coming back and wondering about it, despite myself.

I have 2 questions that won't go away, and I would greatly appreciate it if some experienced/knowledgeable Pagans could answer them for me!
1) I know Pagans can choose which deities to believe and worship, but does this mean that they assume that all the recognized/established gods/deities in our known history exist? How can they assume so, or how do you justify this belief? I guess the question could be turned on me: how can I justify my not believing that all these deities exist...and I guess I would just have to say: all these deities of "past civilizations" seem like creations of humanity to me. I do believe in some sort of spiritual force, but all these different and specific pantheons of gods...I can't help but feel like they are constructions of man. But I'm really not trying to piss anyone off here, I just really want to know what you believe and why...I just want to find some answers for myself, too! I would love to be convinced otherwise.

2) If you were to acknowledge good deities/spirits, then don't you acknowledge the evil ones as well? Are there evil ones?

Sorry that these questions are so basic...most of the readings I did on Paganism in high school was mainly on the practices of magick and not the theory. So yes, if anyone could answer these questions of mine, I would greatly appreciate it! Hopefully I haven't ruffled too many feathers or ticked anyone off.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Questions about the Pentagram rituals

I read that I should the Lesser "Invoking" Ritual of the Pentagram in the morning and the Lesser "Banishing Ritual of the Pentagram at night before bed. I have been doing this every morning, invoking all of the elements with their respective pentagrams, using my wand, and vibrating the names of God. I finish with the the part "Before me Raphael, Behind me Gabriel, etc." and the Kabbalistic Cross (which actually starts the whole thing also). At night I do the same thing using my athame and the banishing pentagrams. I guess let's start with the morning ritual. 1) What exactly am I doing by drawing the invoking pentagrams with the wand, stabbing the center, and vibrating the names? 2) Am I calling on the elements or the Archangels? 3) Am I asking them to protect me, or am I asking them for power? 4) Does whatever is invoked stay with me for the day until I banish at night? 5) If I were to use the same pentagram (say fire invoking) in all four directions, would I feel that element strongly with me?

6) As for The Banishing Ritual, am I banishing away the Archangels and is that rude? 7) Am I asking the Archangels for protection against negativity? Cool Am I banishing negativity? 9) Do the Invoking and Banishing rituals work like and On/Off kind of thing? 10) When using these rituals as part of other rituals, or ceremonies, would I do the LBRP after casting a circle or before? 11) Is the Lesser Invoking Ritual of the Pentagram the same as calling the quarters, and would this come before or after the Banishing when used in a ceremony?

Now The Greater Ritual of the Pentagram. What is this ritual used for (I can find tons of info on how to do it, but none on why)? Is it used daily like the lesser rituals, or only to gain certain energies, say for spellwork? I really don't know anything about the Greater ritual of the Pentagram, so any info or anecdotes are much appreciated.

Friday, April 09, 2010

When I get old....

...apart from wearing purple...if the day arrives when I can't manage on my own....what happens to me as a practising Pagan?

Options will vary depending on where one lives but most retirement communities or complexes that I know of are either Christian-oriented, occasionally Jewish or the kind of secular places that one hopes not to end up in.

Throw in factors like no children, no SO, rarely involved extended family and caring though also aging friends and the possibility of dementia which runs in my family. On the other hand, my passing ceremony I've already organized according to my Tradition so not a concern.

So what happens to an aging Pagan Witch who will want to celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats? (Mind you, if I do go gaga, I probably won't remember either)

Anyone else considered this issue....or perhaps you are all too young to do so as yet?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Feeling stuck

I've been reading books on Wicca and practicing on and off for about 12 years. I grew up in a strict Catholic home and felt forced to believe things that didn't feel right to me. I started reading up on other religions to find what fit best with the belief I had in my heart. Many pagan religions struck a cord with me and led me to Wicca. Through college and married life I have been studying on and off. I have had to remain in the closet since I started my journey and I feel like it has hindered me because I could never seem to find enough time to myself to focus on my reading. Thankfully my Husband knows and is open to it, but we are always on the go.

Today, I'm a stay at home mom with two kids and I watch my niece 3 days a week. I have been on "break" from practicing because of this for 3 years and now feel the need to get back to it. But I feel stuck. I can't practice the way I use to because of limited time (kids and family obligations). I try to reconnect and I hit a wall, I have all these ideas in my head that I can't seem to do. I'm second guessing myself and drawing blanks when I try to journal or can't focus when I try to meditate. I have thought that maybe I'm too wrapped up in my kids, keeping the house up, and family obligations to rekindle my spirituality. I'm a little frustrated at myself for not "just making the time," but as any mom knows, time for yourself is few and far between most days.

Has anyone else had similar experiences? How did you get unstuck? What type of simple rituals do you do? How do you balance family and faith? I would like to at least do a ritual on the Sabbats but need some very simple ones that don't take much time. any suggestions?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Paganism and the Esoteric Traditions

I am very much interested in learning a little more about the different pagan religions and how they interact with western esotericism. That said, I do have some questions concerning all these practices that I hope will open up some interesting discussion:

1) The reconstructionist religions seem very focused on recreating whatever rituals, practices, and beliefs that existed during the time in which those practices were contemporary. These are, as Randall pointed out to me, necessarily less associated with the Western esoteric traditions, said traditions being born far later than most of the recon religions. I would ask, however, how the recon religions avoid / deal with the infusions of modern esoteric thought into translations of the works they use for their reconstructions (as I imagine Renaissance writers who translated these works or kept them / spoke at length about them were most likely influenced by esoteric thought), or if they simply welcome it and accept it as an evolution of their beliefs and practices?

2) The only exposure I have had to any sort of pagan tradition are the ceremonial magicks practiced by orders like the Rosicrucians and the Golden Dawn. From what I understand, said magicks attempt to alter the Yetziratic (or even, for more powerful mages, the Briatic) realms that the effect will resonate back into the Assyratic realm. I am aware that this interpretation of magic is heavily dependent on a hermetic / kabbalistic worldview, and I am curious as to how other magic practitioners view the way that their magic influences the material realm (or if they even view it this way at all).

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Aging in the Faith?

I was listening to a friend's mother last night; she was talking about the ways her faith and religious practice had changed over her life. A lot of what she was talking about fell into the realm of changing priorities (like not practicing much for some time after having a child), but others seemed to be related to aging. They were changes that had more to do with her overall assessment of the sum of her life experience than with any particular event or fact within it.

It got me to wondering what sort of things people here had noticed when it comes to aging and their religious/spiritual beliefs and practice. Any takers?

In Remembrance of Chavi

The anniversary is come
This day once a year
Our hearts now are heavy
We’ll shed many tears

Chavi Ravenna
Your spirit lives on
Always we remember
Tho two years have gone

Our memories of you
Are now bittersweet
But close to our hearts
We ever shall keep

Chavi Ravenna
Sweet shining star
Always so close
Yet ever so far

Storyteller Cat
Dux Bellorum, War Duke
This day we salute you
And laugh through our tears

31 March 2008
In memory of Chavi

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