By now I'm sure most Pagans who keep in the loop of such things know that Teo Bishop, who quickly gained fame in the Pagan community, has switched back over to Christianity. It wasn't done in secret, and if you read his blog, you get the sense that it wasn't a quick decision either. The issue I'd like to discuss, however, has very little to do with Teo's actual religious shift.
A Winding Path: Adventures of Life on a Magickal Pagan Homestead
My wife and I have made profound changes in our lives through green Paganism and simple, ecological living, which have resulted in unforeseen, yet very positive opportunities for peace, joy, laughter, and success. In fact, these opportunities have been so powerful, that I was stirred to share them with others, and not keep all these amazing discoveries to ourselves. We 'unplugged from the matrix' that is the cause of so much distraction and busyness in our lives and created a magickal Pagan homestead. I will share some of these discoveries of how, as a Pagan, you can simplify your life, while living more in sync with your purpose, nature and open up an incredible world of opportunity and possibility.
I'm sure many of you have heard or read something about at least one Facebook page with a title which many witches are finding offensive. I'm not going to give you access to them from this blog nor will I mention them directly. The quick fervor whipped up around the name of this page, led me to all kinds of questions, and a few extremely important answers...and some perspective. I'd like to share what I've learned, hopefully it can move all of us forward on this issue.
Facebook doesn't get to decide what hate speech is, the law does.
When I reported the page for 'hate speech', as so many others had done, I was also told in a very fast reply, by an automated system on Facebook, that the page wasn't 'hate speech', and so it wouldn't be removed. How could that be? The title sure looked hateful to me!
Who is Facebook?
Since I felt that Facebook was being negligent, I figured the next step was to report Facebook to someone, but who? A state attorney's general office? The USDOJ? I needed to do some more book work to know. As it turns out, Facebook was originally incorporated in Florida, but that was later moved to Delaware, a popular state for incorporation because of favorable tax laws....
"Even though modern culture has done it's best to corrupt art into a celebrity production machine, simply another form of entertainment, designed specifically as an opiate to the downtrodden, gluttonous, and vapid, it fails because the artist knows better. Art is magic. Art is one of the rawest shamanistic forms of connection with the universal source of everything, but only if the artist is brave enough to give the audience what it needs rather than what it thinks, or has been told, it wants." --Peter Beckley
More drama has surfaced within wider Pagan community within recent weeks, particularly within the blogosphere between “polytheists” and “humanists”. I put those terms in quotes to blanket a lot of people under them, and because after all I’ve read regarding either camp, I’m not sure I understand what those terms really mean anymore.
It has been over two months since I've written anything for Witches & Pagans. Looking back, it doesn't seem that long, but it's the truth. I've been on a journey, one that I hadn't planned on taking, and one that started as just an annoying, yet familiar pain. A problem I thought for sure I could handle, as long as I was strong, and just tried to push through.
Without boring you by explaining my medical history, I'm familiar with kidney stones. The first time, in 2011, I had them, I went to the emergency room, who readily pumped me full of drugs, told me to drink a lot of water, and wait to pass them. They passed. $4000+ to be told to drink more water.
In early March of this year, I got that familiar twinge in my back, and I was determined to not accumulate another $4000 of medical bills just to hear, "drink more water", so I drank a lot more water. The pain remained, steadily getting worse. I drank more water. I lost my appetite, and couldn't even keep food or water in my stomach. Then, on April 11th, I got really ill, not the kind of ill where you lay down in a dark room under blankets kind of ill. The kind of ill where your wife drags you to the car and races to the emergency room. I was in so much pain, and so sick that I passed out in the car.
As the year begins its inevitable change to spring, my attention on the homestead turns back to the outside, and more specifically to the gardens. With warmer days comes the opportunity to work outside once again. At first it’s in short shifts between rains and cooler days, allowing me just a tease of what’s ahead, but I still love it. Living the purposeful lives that we do affords us more opportunity for reflection, and planning, while still being able to be in the moment; I’m very grateful for it!
Some people love the idea of planting a garden, but talk themselves out of it by convincing themselves it’s either too much work or just won’t do well because they lack experience. That is exactly what I used to think too, and I also didn’t have the motivation to care for a big garden either. This was years ago before I came to the understanding of things I now have. I really wanted to have a garden, to grow some food and flowers, but didn’t know where to start, and wasn’t sure I’d want to keep it going. Motivation or follow through, is tough when you’re uncertain; so in steps intentional gardening!
As I’ve written in many articles, gardening is a form of ritual, a work of gratitude and veneration for the gods. It also has some practical sides to it, such as helping feed my family, and providing a source of peace and joy in my life, and it’s a good workout. Feeding my family is an important function of the gardens, so I have many rituals and other methods of using magick to help them. One of those methods is by using amulets. A lot of people believe that a magick amulet is simply something that one wears for protection or something purpose, but that isn’t close to the entire story of amulets or their uses.
There seems to be much confusion or conflicting ideas about both amulets and talismans, how they’re similar and different, and what forms they take. A comprehensive examination of amulets and talismans is beyond the scope of this article, but let me just submit to you that amulets do not have to be worn, or indeed take the form of something that even could be worn. Approaching this method of magick from that perspective certainly opens up a lot of creative possibilities; one of which is what I call the Garden Crop Amulet. This magick amulet takes the form of a sigil created using the A.O. Spare method, but reproducing the sigil, as with any amulet or talisman that may have one, is only part of the task.
Using the Garden Crop Magick Amulet
It is best to manifest this magick amulet when the waxing moon is at its fullest. The easiest way to manifest the sigil is to draw it on a piece of paper to be buried deep in the garden soil, or draw it on or carve it into a small stick that can be stuck into the soil. After drawing or carving the sigil, hold the paper or stick between two hands on visualize the pale lunar energy funneling into your head and filling up your form like a cup. When the cup is full, pour that energy into the amulet you’re holding changing it from a pale white to a vibrant, pulsating green. You should pour this energy not from your hands into the amulet, but from your mouth in the form of a single, committed breath....
There is a conversation topic getting a much-needed dust-off in recent days thanks to both the inaugural speech by US President Obama and a recent blog post by Sierra Club Executive Director, Michael Brune; environmental activism. I've written about how I feel an undeniable stewardship of the planet because of my religious views, which include not only the environment as being sacred, but that as a matter of practicality and selfishness, this is the only environment we have and we need to do everything we can to keep it healthy enough to sustain us, which invariably means approaching our life choices as part of the system and not separate and superior to it.
Just over a week into the new year and that means it's time to put some plans into action, and look at the year ahead. One of which is steering this blog's content in a more useful direction by providing practical information on how I bring "my" Paganism into my everyday life as well as further explaining more about my spiritual practice, our homesteading adventures, observations of the world and Pagan community, and how that all fits together, even if not perfectly.
Believe it or not, today is a great day for thinking about 'blue' moons! While I don't consider them anything special, plenty of people do. I do admit, however, that it's an extra opportunity to do some full moon-based magick! The funny thing about blue moons is that most people have no idea how to tell when one is going to happen without looking it up in an almanac or the internet.
In 2013 I plan to write more than I have in 2012, which was certainly more than in 2011. There is a growing interest in what one does on a "Pagan homestead", and what makes it magickal or Pagan. Today, however, I want to steer away from that to something I think many are very guilty of, even if you don't want to admit it. I'm definitely guilty of it, and this is my public proclamation to be better, to understand my worth and limits.
There is an often overlooked component to Paganism, it’s propagation, and the fostering of a tolerant environment in which it can, in its many forms, be fostered and actively encouraged to grow and flourish. That part isn’t the expected tolerance from others, it’s not the guaranteed, yet often unrealized, equality and freedom for those who have ‘alternative’ spiritual paths. It’s something closer to home.
Yule and the Winter Solstice are two separate events for me, with Yule being celebrated around December 21-25 just to keep up with family that celebrates Christmas, and the solstice being celebrated when it actually occurs, which for 2012 (5:12am CST) and 2013 (11:11am CST) is December 21st where I live. I wrote an article already explaining why I try to get so exact with the date/time of the celebrations, if you’re interested.
On the Winding Path, I have a couple of different rituals that are done around the time of Yule, besides the main one, because this is such an important time of year. Although I live in a climate where it’s unusually mild for this time of year this time around, there have been years of great hardship from harsh weather here. It is in the balance between all of those cold and mild winters that I place my mind when thinking of the Winter Solstice because it represents the breaking of the grip of winter upon the land. In northern climates, this was more true because they hardly if ever saw the sun around this time. There are symbols from the times of our ancestors which have been carried through to today, even by the usurpers of our traditions, like the use of evergreens, or celebrating for twelve days. On the Winding Path, we don’t celebrate for twelve days, but evergreens do play an important role in ritual and just a decoration because it reminds us and signals to us the promise of the return of spring.
In the little corner of the world where I exist, on the small 13 acre plot I call home, it is quiet. The hurly-burly of 'the shopping season' is far away from us, and that is something for which I'm very thankful. By-the-by, 'hurly-burly' is one of my favorite words picked up from reading Homer. At our place, this is not a time of holiday shopping, frenzied consumerism disguised as 'needing to stretch my money further'. Our families know that if we give any gifts at all that they were made by our hand. No, this is a time for something much different..
If you don’t personally know me, then this post is going to seem a little odd, mostly because if you read this blog you may have been under the impression that I’ve always loved gardening, and the myriad other tasks related to homesteading, even at the level we’re doing it, but you’d be wrong. Despite my acknowledging that I view at least some of these tasks as activity of veneration for my gods, I view all of them as chores, necessary activities that come with the lifestyle we’ve chosen here. We all have tasks like that, whether it’s as mundane as taking our the trash or not so mundane as driving your chosen livestock to the slaughter-house and taking delivery of a bunch of processed meat products. We also all have priorities for all the things that can take up time in our day like our jobs, families, friends, television, and yes, those chores.
One of the activities that is rather high on my priority list is using my computer to maintain websites, write blogs, and design new graphics and embroideries to sell, and read the news. I've always equated "working" with sitting in front of my computer. My computer has been a close friend of mine for decades, ever since I first sat down in front of the blinking cursor of the family Commodore 64 all those years ago. I've not ever been without a computer since then, and since about 1991, I’ve never been without access to some form of “internet” or “email”, even if they were FIDO and bulletin boards at the start. I’ve seen the potential benefits of being able to earn a living with my computer almost from the start, it’s a very powerful tool. Today, however, I was faced with a brand new experience, one that I did not ever foresee being part of who I am. Today, I wanted to be outside, doing all the labor, sweating, lifting, moving. and all the rest of it. instead of being in front of the computer writing, designing or anything else. So I went outside.
Many contemporary Pagans use some form of the Wheel of the Year to mark the Sabbats, the eight times of ritual celebration usually determined by the sun's procession, and the general seasons we experience. At least, that's what I was always led to believe during much of my training with different groups and traditions. Solstice and equinox mark the quarters of the wheel, and the midpoint between covers the "cross quarters". The odd thing is that we rarely actually do what we're saying we're doing here.
This is a deviation from my normal content because I think this is something really important that needs to be brought into more mainstream conversation.
In the fall agenda for the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS), there is virtually unknown case involving something in current copyright law known as the "first sale" clause. It essentially states that a copyright holder only has control over that first same of an item, meaning you can resell it for whatever price to almost anyone you want.
This one little word gets ignored in our lives a lot more than we’d like to admit. I for one have been trying to use it more when confronted with self-doubt, new things or even old things which I’ve tried to put off rather than dealing with because I’ve convinced myself that they’re some how easier to ignore than address…I’m human after all.
Incorporating spiritual practice into ones daily life seems to be one of those things that so many of us desire, but so few of us actually do. When I wrote an article here at Witches&Pagans about starting a morning routine which involved appreciation and an informal conversation with a deity, it got very little public response, but the number of emails and Facebook messages I got not only let me know that many of you read it, but that most of you are afraid to even try to do something like this on the off-change that you’ll some how “fail”. As is you can actually fail at feeling gratitude and appreciation for what you have in your life or that your god(s) are so ready to give up on you that they won’t even aid you during your attempt to strengthen your relationship with them.
See how silly it sounds now that it’s out there? I hope so. In classic “me” style, can I suggest that you do one small thing…get over yourself and try it. You have nothing to lose, and so much to gain. How much? That’s up to you, not me, however, it shouldn’t be about how much you can gain. I discovered long ago to let the “how” not even enter your mind. All you ever have to do is the work which would allow a “how” to manifest in the way appropriate to whatever it is you’re intending, and someone else takes care of it from a universal sense. I know, I got a little “new agey” just then, sorry....
Have you ever felt like you're missing out on most of the magick? As if everyone else seems to have magick in their lives all the time and seems so happy about, but you aren't sure how you achieve that while remaining true to your authentic self? I've been there! I know what you mean, although I believe that what you're specifically looking for is unique to each person, I can say with certainty that there is at least a basic formula to get on the right path.
I have a small confession to make, I used to watch wrestling on television. I know, I know, I was younger, I had a television, and I got caught up in all the fireworks, loud music, and drama that goes with it. I haven't seen any of that stuff in over a decade; it gets repetitive pretty quickly, and my brain isn't a fan of repetitive. however, one persona on that show, "The Rock", taught me a valuable lesson with his catch phrase, "Know your role, and shut your mouth."
When you live as rural as we do, surrounded on all sides by miles of forest and fields, you gain an appreciation for nature that I don't think I ever experienced when I lived in a city. I lived in Colorado Springs, a place which values it's natural spaces and proximity to fantastic recreational areas; it was even voted the fittest small city in the country. However, a lot of my time of living there involved driving back and forth to work through row after row of houses, watching entire neighborhoods and strip malls appear within weeks. I didn't feel the same closeness to nature I do now because it was something I drove to.
Living on our Pagan homestead, one of the things I've come to appreciate more than ever before is the changing of the seasons, and witnessing it on such an intimate level. I've only been able to discover this deeper exposure to it since our "Exodus". Well, it's no secret that the seasons are changing now that we're half way through August. The days are getting shorter, but what I notice more is that the morning shadows cover my gardens later each week. Also, some plants are beginning to die back, after having served their purpose and finally giving into the brutal drought we're experiencing.