Saturday, September 29, 2012

Relationship Non-Negotiables in Fairytale

Well, this tale might not have actually involved a fairy. I forgot where I read it, since what she was, didn't seem to be the main point. Or maybe there were variations of the tale, one with a hulda, maybe, another with a fairy, maybe another with an undine.

But, the template of the story is something that I've found some comfort in lately.

Once upon a time, this mortal human man proposes to this magical otherworldly person. She presents to her would-be husband, the condition that if he strikes her more than twice? Then she must return to the otherworld. (I'll just call her a fairy.)

She fit in quite well with the people in this world, for the most part. The lesser part that didn't, was demonstrated one day that she and her husband had house guests, and for no discernible reason she halted her hostess duties to just stare out into space. (I remember this detail well, because I do that sometimes and I'm human.) Irritated, her husband struck her to get her attention.

At another time, they were at a funeral, and for no discernible reason she burst out laughing. Humiliated, her husband struck her again, and at that she sadly told him that was the second time he'd struck her. If he struck her once more, as per their bargain, she would have to leave.

And of course he did strike her a third time, although I don't recall exactly what the situation was. Maybe it was that she started weeping for no reason at all or when everybody else was happy-- for which striking her would really paint the human spouse as a capital-a arsehole and I would have left if that were the first strike.

I recently heard of this relationship coach/counselor, David Steele, who proposed (what was news to me, but rung true all the same) that we all innately have non-negotiables. That is, an aspect of another person that, if absolutely everything else in both your lives were utterly perfect, except for that, you would still leave. Most people just never learn to articulate them, or were never challenged into defining them... it's not that across the board people with non-negotiables are just intolerant and arrogant.

And I thought of the fairy woman in the story, how she definitely knew her non-negotiables and could articulate them. Physical violence: non-negotiable at this specific certain point. Perhaps this wasn't magic after all, unless you count the kind of magic from knowing who you are.

So, Steele's idea seemed to be that, everybody has these requirements-- and they're different for everybody, some people actually won't leave if they're abused by their spouse or partner, because it's negotiable for them, and that part of their nature shouldn't be judged harshly-- neither should people who theorize their non-negotiables, but find it negotiable in practice; or those who discover non-negotiables in the course of the relationship that they hadn't mentioned before because they just didn't know it themselves-- But once you know what your non-negotiables are, (says Steele) it's really best to hold out for somebody who is 100% compatible on that level. That was a comfort to me, to believe that we are all under this sort of magickal contract, of our own character and nature, at a vital level.

On another level, though: compromise. What I saw in the fairy tale was that for a time, physical safety seemed more of a need for the fairy than a non-negotiable. Steele defined needs as, an aspect of another person that you won't leave them over... but remains an issue every time they show it. (Actually, I define need as "you'll die if this is not met" whether you want to die or not, or whether somebody else wants you to live... whereas a person can be literally chained up somewhere to literally force them to live with a non-negotiable, so a need is far more basic than a non-negotiable to me. So, any other word for this definition of need, would be welcome.) This must be the "compromise" that folk wisdom says marriage is all about. Or, the "imperfections" that folk wisdom says we must come to terms with in other people-- and in the world we live in.

Those are different for everyone, too, is what I realized. What somebody sees as a "mere" need, can be non-negotiable for somebody else. And, in a good relationship, a relationship based on goodwill, the needs of both parties would be mutually honored. Too often, I see this minimizing somebody else's need: "You're being ridiculous, you're being oversensitive, this is just the way I am-- it's not horrible, it's not perfect but life isn't perfect and people aren't perfect and you're expecting..." blah. If acceptance of your violent impulsive tendencies are your non-negotiable, then... well, surely there must still be somebody out there for you. But if it's somebody else's need, well, there's this thing called "work" and this thing called "communication" that is also part of a relationship... and the fairy woman did give her husband some leeway to work out his violent tendencies.

(At the same time, I kind of can't help making those minimizations at the fictional husband. He married a fairy-- or a hulda, or an undine. They are weird. They are weird! They're... I mean... someone check my thinking on this? I guess I'm saying that he could have, like, learned more about her culture before signing up to have and to hold-- or, I don't know, just been more chill.)

So, in the fairy tale, I saw the human guy as actually very immature. He knew that he would lose his wife if he hit her, and he did anyway. This seems to stem from the fact that, unlike his wife, he didn't know what his needs were-- let alone how to express them constructively. "I need you to be fully consciously present when we're keeping the household running and when we're hosting my friends." "Right now I really need you to be sensitive and respectful of our attitudes towards death. If you can't, then I'll take you home right now and won't bring you to funerals in the future." Unfortunately, three strikes is still not enough leeway for him to learn.

So... thoughts? Have you heard a version of this fairytale, any different details that would be worth considering from this angle or another angle? How fluid do you believe these categories of non-negotiables and needs really are, in a relationship? Would you share yours?

Stumbling Upon Ritual-In-Progress, a hypothetical question

I was hiking in the woods up the hill from my house with my children, and we came across not just one but THREE obvious ritual sites (circles of stones, a makeshift altar that had spills of some sort, candlewax, one had an amethyst crystal left behind). All were fairly close to each other. I'd say about 300 yards apart? (My spatial intelligence isn't perfect though, to be fair.)

While we did nothing to these areas, simply walked around them, it had me wondering my dear little newbie mind...

I was mulling over if they were all from one group or one person. Why were they so messy and obvious? Wouldn't one spot end up being a favourite site that you'd come back to again and again?

And if it was several groups, what sort of protocol is there in regards to any ceremony/ritual performed outside when you don't live out in "the sticks"? What if there are other people you may not know within possible sight of you? Do you move? How much difficulty do suburban/semi-rural people have with finding locations that aren't elbow-to-elbow? And what sorts of apologies/politeness/respect can one offer on the worst case scenario of unintentional disruption?

I know I asked quite a variety of questions all on one thread. My apologies if these were answered elsewhere. I did a search, but alas, my brain only thought of a few keywords to use. Thoughts much appreciated.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Online shrines?

What's the general feeling towards online shrines? (as per sample:

I'm in the very early stages of building a website to house my paganism-related stuff - guided meditations I've written, spirituality-themed art, that sort of thing. I'm wondering about linking to ones that are relevant to deities I work with, or ideally building my own so I've got control over quality and fluffiness. Part of me thinks that'd be a sweet little way to show respect, but another part of me is thinking 'ewww, tacky, tacky! What ARE you thinking?!?!' I'm really undecided.

I'm worried it reduces deities to sparkly .gifs and trivialises the whole concept. But, realistically, I spend more time online than outdoors (don't knock it, it's been freezing here since May) so having little digital worship space makes a kind of sense.

ETA: They'd be in addition to whatever real-world work and tribute I'm doing, not a replacement. I also don't know that a deity would consider an online candle or prayer to count as much as a real one or at all..


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Hindering Help

So, I've only one IRL friend who is a practicing pagan for nearly 20 years now. She's been a tremendous touchpoint on taking my initial steps on this path, however I'm approaching some things I'm not sure how to process or handle.

I have young children who explore our woods and creekbed, as children are wont to do - including myself! They bring home treasures (stones, fall leaves, etc), and I am perfectly fine with that as long as they are not destructive in their "taking". My friend gasped in horror at this, especially once she knew that many of the stones were quartz. (We live on a large vein of quartz/rose quartz in granite, very common in our area). I view it as a lovely and positive thing they found such treasures that resounded with them, but my friend said we're disturbing and unrooting things that hold tremendous power I simply do not understand.

I do appreciate my friend for some of what she's helped with, but these are moments where I do not feel apprehension of consequence or feel that any disrespect to the earth has occurred. I don't want to offend and want to be open to guidance, especially since I am newly practicing, and moreso if I am erring.

How do you all handle someone who IS a help, an encourager in the path, but also stirs a second guessing in intuition?

Pagan Children in Public

So, recently I went to Pagan Pride Day in Raleigh and was pleasantly surprised at the number of children attending the festival. There seemed to be more this year than last year, and even though I don't particularly want to ever have children... ever... I do think about things from a semi-parental point of view every once in a while. Seeing all of those pagan children made me wonder... do these children deal with being pagan in a public setting, especially in a school setting? In a perfect world, we'd all be able to go to school and talk about whatever deity we worshiped, or what path we followed, etc, etc, but we all know that it's not always possible to do so, because of ignorance encountered by children, teachers, and parents alike who aren't pagan.

I know that not all pagan kids are raised as pagan-- some parents are waiting to let them choose later on in life when they are able to make the decision on their own, but even they must know that their parents are different and are likely to talk about it in school. "My mommy lights incense and stands at her altar and celebrates Mabon!"

How does a parent instruct their child to speak about their or their parents' faith in public settings?

If a parent says, "Don't talk about it" because of safety issues, do they tell the child it's for safety reasons? Does that impact the way the child sees the path their parents are following? (As in, "Oh, it must be a naughty/bad thing, since Daddy says other people might not like it/will get angry/won't understand if I talk about it".)

Older children have a greater capacity to understand why it might not be "okay" to talk about it in some settings, or why they might get the reactions that they do in school/public if they do talk about it, but what about the younger children who don't know that other people might have problems with what is actually not a problem? How do you say it's okay but "not okay" to be what you are?

Or, if you're fine with a child talking about it in public/non-pagan settings, how do you deal with that?

(And I am not in any way saying that it's not okay for a child to be raised pagan or say that they're pagan, or am I advocating that they should be secretive or silent or fearful about saying they are -- but it's not a perfect world, and sometimes, they might have to be.)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A Failure to Summon Death

A few days ago, on a lunchtime stroll around midtown Manhattan, I passed a pigeon that apparently had been hit by a car. It was flopping around on the sidewalk in a pathetic and hopeless attempt to right its twisted body. A well-intentioned young woman was trying to reach some humane society on her cellphone to come take the bird away to help it, presumably at some imagined pigeon healing center. (It was hard not to guffaw at her naivete.)

I stood there and knew the only thing that could be done for the bird was to end its suffering quickly. No doubt it was my imagination, but at one point the bird stopped flopping and seemed to look right at me with a plea to do just that. I figured it would be fairly simple: take the bird in my hands, try to calm it, and then give its neck a sharp, sudden twist.

I couldn't do it.

My beliefs say the gods are not only around us, but in us; in a very real sense, they *are* us. But I didn't have the heart/courage to summon the goddess of death, to make my hands Hers for a moment, when clearly that was what was needed.

What would you have done in that situation? What would your beliefs have called upon you to do? And in a very real, practical sense, what role does death play in your daily life? What role do you think it should play?

[Like many nature-based pagans, I also believe in the importance of balance to the natural order, including (especially) the balance between life and death. I think some mainstream religions fetishize life. Maybe because we're coming up on the autumn equinox, a time of balance, this incident and its implications keep returning to my mind...]

Monday, September 17, 2012

Getting chastised for using a money spell?

I'm on another site and someone asked about doing a money spell. Some guy answered that when someone he knew did it, it KILLED the person relative so she could inherit the death money. A few people there say it literally takes away money from someone else because they consider money finite, and one exceptionally nutty lady think's it's a crime the government should look into because if you create money from thin air, it's counter fitting.

I think it's time to find out the thoughts of people here.

I have no problem with a money spell and I don't believe they kill or take away from anyone. I also don't call others immoral for doing them.

Can we get a poll here? I respect everyone's views either way.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

'Pagan Classics' ...

I'm curious about texts and such that were / are so 'iconic' or classic that they've become a sort of assumed factual aspect of most modern Neo-Pagan experiences or have had a vast influence on same.

I'm thinking things like The Spiral Dance or Drawing Down the Moon etc. Good or bad throw 'em up and let me / us know what you think of them, what impact you've observed / experienced, and whether or not they're still useful texts in and of themselves or now serve as a historical point of interest.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

So when 2012 ends up being bunk - what's next?

So when the Apocalypse/Enlightenment/whatever doesn't come to pass at the end of this year, when's the next major event scheduled? How do apocalyptic dates get chosen anyway? Is there a bubbling cauldron of end-of-the-world events somewhere that gets dipped into every decade or so?

Just curious. I've been bored out of my mind with the "Mayan/Aztec Apocalypse" for years. I wanna hear about invasions of crab people or something like that.

How much god-bothering is "normal"?

I think it’s been pretty well established that not being god-bothered is completely okay and probably the default for most people. But…at what point does the pendulum swing too far in the other direction?

It occurred to me lately that I’m practicing my faith outside any living cultural context and that without that I have no one to check these things against and no clearly defined standards for what is the "norm". So when I read people saying things to the effect of “well, even the god-bothered aren’t god-bothered all the time” , even when they don't follow the same path I do... I'll be honest, it makes me feel really insecure about just how often I hear from them.

Are there any general guidelines here or is it so path-specific that guidelines are impossible? Is there a maximum acceptable level of god-bothered-ness in the community at large? In general, is there a line between “wow, you get a lot of contact” and “wow, you should see a therapist”? And if there is, is there any way to know when you’ve crossed it?

How do you do visualisation if you're blind?

How do you do visualisation if you're blind? Almost everything I've read on the subject of magic says that visualisation is essential.

Monday, September 10, 2012

How do you view the Gods and Goddesses?

How do you personally view the God and Goddesses?

Do you view them as mothers and fathers, friends, or just a
God or Goddess (controlling the universe and all that is in it)? I was reading the thread about people treating the Gods and Goddesses like vending machines, and it got me thinking. I used to be a Christian, and most of the people I went to church with treated/thought of Jesus as a friend and God as a father. So are the Gods and Goddesses supposed to be your friends, or like a mother or father?

How to know which deity to worship ?

How do I know which God/Goddess I am supposed to worship? I feel like most on this forum have one or a few select deities that they seem to spend more time worshiping than others. How did you know?

Monday, September 03, 2012

Ancestors Who Don't Deserve Honoring?

I've been making plans to expand my ancestral altar; it currently is small and only represents general family lines, so I want to honor some of the individuals I know of, such as great-grandparents.

But then I realized: my maternal great-grandmother had 14 children. The first seven, including my grandfather, were by a man who simply got up and left her destitute. The next seven were by her next husband, who refused to raise my grandfather (the eldest) because it was a son that wasn't his. My father wandered between two fathers that didn't want him until he joined the army, underage.

The second husband, I am told, made a very heart-felt apology after my grandfather returned, and amends were somewhat made. He was apparently a very hard worker and a good person, and deeply regretted the mistake. This was from my grandmother, who obviously would know, and apparently felt he was honorable. I would be happy to offer him a place at my altar.

But my actual blood-relative? He was a dishonorable person.

I am sure, of course, that my ancestors are a myriad of good, bad, and ugly, but this has struck me profoundly. I don't ascribe to the Christian concept of forgiveness, but I tend to be a lenient person when I don't have all sides of a story, and I believe that sometimes doing bad things may be necessary. But leaving children destitute in the Depression? I have a hard time justifying that.

Ancestor worshipers: how do you deal with this? Opinions? Options?

Your Perspective on the Devil

Quite simply, what it says on the tin. What's your take on the horny red guy (if that's what he even is)? What myths or other literature do you like that pertain to him? Does he fulfill the trickster archetype in Christian mythology or is he something else altogether? What do the names Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Faust or Satan mean to you? What about the Devil in pop culture (tv shows, books, movies, music, even the tarot cards)? What do you know of the history?

Mind you, I'm mostly interested in getting a good discussion going and also hearing a new perspective while I start thinking about a new creative project. Not so much on devil worship or Satanists and how the pagans will see him in Hell stories but what about the purpose and character of the Devil figure?

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Treating Deities Like Vending Machines

Put simply, lately I've noticed that one of my Facebook friends has this habit of treating deities like glorified vending machines. I'm sure you've all seen this, the sort of person who thinks that deities "owe them" something, the kind that decides that "deity X doesn't love me because they aren't around all the time", the kind of attitude that goes beyond reciprocity and straight into hubris (at least, from where I'm standing). Don't get me wrong, I think if a deity shows no signs of responding to you despite your making offerings, maybe you should look to a different deity, it's the 'me me me' attitude that's bugging the crap out of me! And I just want to say: "Look, some of us don't have the luxury of a godphone. Could you please quit whining about how deity X won't call like they're your S.O. and you reeeeeally want to go out on a date with them? Please?"

The thing is, I don't think there's anything I can do about it (myself and several of our mutual friends have tried talking to this person) but I could use some support. Can anyone relate? Maybe it would just be best if I just unfriended this person.

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