August 2012

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Aug. 4th, 2012

Exorcism, Demonic Possession, and The Aurora Shooting, An Ongoing Conversations

For the past two weeks there's been a discussion regarding whether the Aurora shooter (his name left off intentionally thanks to a interesting suggestion from Steven T. Abell http://www.patheos.com//Pagan/Wallowing-Obscurity-Steven-Abell-08-02-2012.html) is possessed. I have been reading the articles but trying to hold back from writing anything in the conversation. There are some very good and talented bloggers who have thrown their two cents in. They've brought there perspective to the table, and it's taken me some time to realize that while I appreciate their writing there perspective is not a better articulated version of mine on this occasion. I actually have some considerations that I haven't read yet. I was still hesitant to write and post my thoughts on this topic, but it seems all my other ideas on what to write won't come out until I've dealt with some of my concerns on this topic.


I have several problems with the Catholic version of possession and exorcism in general. I think Jason Pitzl-Waters explains very well in his article, “Why We Should Reject The Demonic Possession Narrative” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/wildhunt/2012/07/why-we-should-reject-the-demonic-possession-narrative.htmlrejecting, why an exorcism narrative considering Catholic possession is dangerous to minority faiths, especially an that practice magic or divination. He sums of my feeling of foreboding generally regarding both accusing people of demonic possession and exorcisms. Pitzl-Waters as always gives lots of connecting pieces that show the many different ways this practice and the attitude it demonstrates is dangerous in he present in the west and in other parts of the globe. To name one more, I'd like to point out the case of Anneliese Michel http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anneliese_Michel and how these good intentions to drive evil out can and do directly hurt or kill the people they are trying to help.


While I admire Pitzl-Water's work and find his article well written and informative, I don't find it applies as directly to the Aurora situation as I would like. There is no question that the shooter is guilty of terrible crimes, unlike his examples of innocents who've been hurt through Christianity's hunt to destroy a perceived evil. There is definitely evil going on in the shooting of innocent Aurora movie goers.


I found Mark Shea's response to Pitzl-Waters' article titled “Interesting Conversation about Demons” http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2012/07/interesting-conversation-about-demons.html

hostile, aggressive, offensive, and intentionally obtuse but it had one specific excerpt that speaks towards a difference between the other connections Pitzl-Waters makes and the current conversation regarding the Aurora shooter. Shea writes “Seems like the sensible thing, when confronted with an obviously demonic act, is to ask people familiar with the phenomenon of the demonic (ie. exorcists) if there might be a reason to do an exorcism.”


To be clear: I don't agree with Shea that there is need to look into exorcism or possession but I do agree with him that the presence of a violent, cruel act we do not understand committed by a person who seems to have been fairly ordinary until this point is jarring for society as a whole. It's not something we understand right now and are struggling to come to terms with. Accusing this shooter of demonic possession is difference specifically because of the the evidence of violent crimes and this aspect of the story is not covered in Pitzel-Water's article.


So here are my additional reasoning to reject considering demonic possession in the case where an evil act has been committed.


First, if one is possessed by demons or under demonic influence then one is in theory not in control of his or her actions and therefor not guilty of any crime. I have a hard time coming to terms with releasing someone from responsibility for an attack that was so clearly premeditated and thought out. Even if the man had a psychotic break of some kind this sort of planning (from how he executed shooting to how he booby trapped his house suggest both that he had an intent goal and he knew others would try to stop him). I would and do reject the idea of demonic possession simply because I believe he is responsible for his actions and possession would liberate him from any form of that in a way even mental instability would not.


Second, we've only just scratched the surface of the Auroa shooting. We know what happened, but we're still trying to piece together why it happened and what to do regarding what happened. There is real, honest, and solid investigations going on that to me, need to be exhausted before we turn to the supernatural. Why are we jumping to the unseen when we haven't finished exploring the tangible?


The opening of Fr. Dwight Longenecker's article “The Aurora Murders and Demonic Possession” (http://www.patheos.com/Catholic/Aurora-Murders-Demonic-Possession-Dwight-Longenecker-07-24-2012.html) is offensive to me where he takes urban legends and common technological failings and holds it up as proof to consider demonic possession. I reject even considering that a fictional character, the Joker, has demonic influence that may have killed Heath Ledger and now influenced another person. I reject that a suicide which happened after Ledger starred in a Batman movie and the shooting which unfortunately took place during a showing of a different Batman movie could in any way be connected via some supernatural evil that feels what, kindred perhaps, towards the persona of the Joker.


Worse Longenecker goes on to ask rational thinking people to consider possession because: “There was a weird phone message with bizarre guttural voices and moans.” Welcome to every stereo typed horror movie or supernatural thriller that involves possession or communication with the dead/ the otherworldly. Static or some form of signal interference or background noise clearly indicates something “other” being present and every time I have bad reception I should consider whether there's something rotten in the state of Denmark so to speak.


I'm being snarky and sarcastic, but I seriously do wonder about the stability of people who suggest otherworldly evil on these terms and who ask others to consider it. When Mark Shea derides others, specifically Pitzl-Waters and his pagan audience, for not keeping an “open mind” to possession based off of the evidence Longenecker presents, I can' help by goggle a little. Whatis there to consider but that some people would prefer to consider anything other than the idea that ordinary people can and do horrible unexplainable thing?


Beyond entertaining an absurd idea simply because it's one the United States majority faith wants us to, what is “sensible” in contemplating possession? Beyond that, the exorcism that Shea wishes the state would do if necessary (but as we aren't “civilized” enough for that he urges a grieving family to pursue tat end), brings us to unpalatable outcomes. It could easily lead to a possibly traumatizing/deadly results for someone who's mentally unsound. Or, if the USA were as “civilized” as Shea wishes, it could lead to a priest lighting incense, chanting/praying and releasing a sociopath back out into society. I bounce between the two extremes because we do not know why the shooter did what he did or what his mental state is. I only see bad possibilities going down this road though regardless of the surrounding details and therefor see no reason to consider possession. I am truly baffled as to what Shea and other Longenecker supports wish to gain in pushing a demonic agenda on us.


The third reason I reject a possession narrative is because of where it will lead. By this I'm asking: What will we do if we decide the shooter is possessed? Do we respect that person's right to participate or not in religious rituals as he may not agree to an exorcism, or do we steam role him because the “demon” is controlling him? Do we allow the man to have an exorcism and then release him back into the world or is this a practice only for his spiritual good where he will remain in prison either way. How can you be sure his motives to agreeing or disagreeing and do those motives matter? If the shooter really was possessed how did it happen and after exorcism how do we keep an already weak man from falling victim to evil again and doing something equally terrible?


If the shooter is deemed incapable of making a yes or no decision, do we turn that control over to his parents? Do we have to stand by and watch groups exert pressure on the family for the rights to exorcise their son? Will we see if they crumble to a false promises of returning the quite smart kid they loved to them if they would just let them kick out the evil that controls him now? Will they parade out a panel of “experts” they have that include both priests as well as doctors and psychologists who will pretend there is good science here as well as spiritual healing? That's cruel and manipulative in the highest degree. Even if one can't get worked up about the trauma the shooter might endure, who's cruel enough to do that to a family that's grieving and reeling from shock?


What part does the state play in this whole possession narrative scheme, and if they allow for this, what does it say about other minority rights? I know we're talking about a violent offender now, but if the Catholic church can make a case that static and the possible involvement of a fictional character makes someone “possessed by evil” and in need of an exorcism, then what other activities would be enough to qualify one to be “possessed by evil”? I don't want my country to begin sanctioning one religion's world view of evil or possession even if it's only in the case of someone who commits a violent crime. It's a slippery slope I'd just as soon keep off of.


Delphic Maxim#7: Perceive What You Have Heard

While this is a maximum I struggle with, I certainly think it’s crucial to Paganism full stop. One defining aspect of paganism is that we all strive to be more conscious in our daily lives. There’s a couple of key things one has to do if one plans to be an active participant in his or her own life and the world around his or herself.


First one has to pay attention to what’s going on or listen. There’s a ton to observe, hear, know, explore, and discover. Open one’s eyes, ears, mind, and heart and all sorts of new information, thoughts, and experience will traipse in.


Second one has to interpret what one sees and hears. For example, a co-worker may sigh a lot but is that because she’s sad, bored, frustrated, has a medical problem, or something else? These little cues are things one can pick up on, inquire about, or in some cases simply make a judgment on in one’s own mind. Step two is also known as perceiving.


Third, once one has observed and interpreted one’s surroundings, one needs to respond in a thoughtful and reasoned manner. The thing is that if one doesn’t first listen and second stop and interpret what one is observing, there is absolutely no way to make a thoughtful, reasoned, and conscious decision regarding the world around oneself. There is no magic, intention, or depth to life without these first two steps.

My Lammas Writing

Something I have struggled with since I entered the pagan path is holidays. What do you celebrate and how do you celebrate it? There's always kind of a wheel of the year-ish cycle, but how and why seem to change all the time.


It's Lammas which for me is more of a planning reflecting time than a holiday. As the first sign of the harvest, it signals to me to look back on my past year and see what I've been building, harvesting and otherwise growing. What are my first crops and what can I plan to harvest through out the rest of the fall? What will I be working on longer than the year and what comes into my silent meditation and reflection following Halloween? Here's the yearly review of what I have and what may come with me.


At Halloween I was deeply attached to a man whom I claimed I wasn't dating and who claimed not to be dating me. In reality I was on the brink of love with him and he was on the brink of the same by January. The whole thing failed to launch then and again in April/May when we picked up again briefly.


Late April early May, I started dating another man, and am still seeing him. Emotionally, I don't know how deep things run. I care for him and hold a lot of affection for him. I think I could love him, but my feelings right now are in flux over him. We haven't really had enough bonding time for it to be a bone deep hum. It's something I see growing in the field and am looking to nurture further. I'm already planning some of the bonding possibilities to see if we will be lasting or if I just like traveling with him. I do think there's more but my own uncertainty, the newness of the exploration, and lack of really deep connecting moments is going to hold me back and hold him back for that matter. I know what I need to do to cut these hang ups and I plan to have a better idea by Halloween, if all goes well, I'll have plenty of time to reflect and continue to work on this relationship through winter holidays as well.


Work wise, I was working a terrible job I hated and was looking to quit in October. I was hired on to a better company in a better position with better money and benefits and a competent nice boss. My evaluation is happening now, fingers crossed that all my building and growing goes well.


Friend wise, my landscape is sparse, has always been so. I recommitted myself to communicating with my best friend and I write to her now something of substance about twice a month.


Writing wise, I'm actually partaking in typing and jotting notes, so that's more than I was doing in October. It feels like everything is improving and I'm slowly fighting back bad grammar habits. It's like blazing a path all over again. I want to focus on different writing styles and formats. Something I'm struggling with in particular is being able to remember which person I'm writing in. I don't want to swap from “I” to “one” to “you”, I just want to pick one and run with it. I also want to refocus on tenses and stop slipping between the past and present. I won't be up for writing a novel in November, but I'd like to think my blogging, tarot readings, letters, and journals will improve. I would like to be able to write or attempt to write poetry by December too, but I'm still no sure that's in the cards.


Religiously I followed my usual cycle. I was strong in faith during Halloween. Huge parties and reveling for me, I know most pagans were busy being somber and serious during Halloween and scolding all the wayward pagans who see Halloween as a last year end celebration. The last feast, before keeping our heads down in an quiet and unpredictable winter, any I decided then that those pagans could win the most somber award. Don't tell me how to practice or that my practice takes away from yours and I'll be sure to do the same thanks.


The winter quieted me some, I did more hibernation than reflection this year than in past years, but with the work schedule I had, the demands of the man, and my desire of oblivion who could really fault that I had no time for writing down most of these reflections, meditating or beginning the process of character building that should come from some of those thoughts? I made strong in roads in February where I picked up yoga and gained free time which really jump started my prayer and further examine my revelations. It granted me time to make pilgrimages and worship out and about Alabama. It gave me time to consider my morals and blog some on them. I'm in the process of blogging on the Delphic Maxims, and I put in my own contribution to the pagan values month in an original tarot inspired post. I'm going to continue with the Maxims even though it does seem like others have dropped the blogging party for the time being. I've also begun to write responses and thoughts on other's religious posts and I think that is going to become part of my religious practice/ internet controbution.


This year I've been able to truly commune with my Gods as I saw best through rituals, meditations, and prayer. I feel more connected to Gods than ever before and I better understand some aspects of my place and practice. I have a more structured and comprehensive practice than I've had in previous years and I'm finding Gods have been particularly helpful in giving me more to contemplate and more inspiration on how to practice.


Other new areas are blossoming in my life which I'm trying to think of how best to grow. Having local Gods now, for example, makes me consider the limits of my God's influence. Ze is a local God centered in the Huntsville location whose reach I know extends into Madison, at least where I currently reside and where I'm looking to move to. I'm uncertain about whether Ze has any power where I work. I know Ze has an awareness of what goes on, but as I believe Ze is centralized around Big Spring, a natural limestone spring at Big Spring Park, I'm uncertain of how far that reaches out. I think Decatur/Trinity is a tricky transitional place where Ze has some influence but not the same as closer in to Huntsville. It's occurred to me that there are border places where Gods share responsibilities. Where I work is so close to the Tennasse River I wonder if that God has primary responsibility over what's on the banks with land gods taking a secondary position. The feel in the Decatur Trinty area is certainly different, though not hostile. This and some experiences I've had with other land Gods is something I plan to keep exploring and further understanding.


I feel far more connected to the land now that I have ever before, and it has turned my practice more environmental. Instead of simply using the wheel of the year and the harvest cycle as a metaphor, my surrounding land is actually mostly farm land and I'm learning a lot about the plight of farmers this year as we're suffering a serious drought.


I find myself praying for rain. I feel pulled to collect rainwater for various ritual use. So far I have been given three specific new rituals straight from my Gods to use rainwater for.


I have been pulled to meditation and contemplation near rivers, streams, marshes, swamps, ponds, retaining ponds, and man made ponds. Water and green growth weight deeply on my mind right now, even though I am personally barely effected by the drought.


Fast on the heels of this growing awareness for the physical use of the land, the common climate, and whether things are going well for farmers is the question of how does this affect my Gods. My city God has some farm land and some conservation land in Zer domain, but Ze's stronghold is a down town suburban area. There are some water restrictions for the county and certainly there is wild life suffering as much as people, but all of this seems as if it could be inconsequential or at least far more damaging to humans than to a God or Gods. I get the impression that while the drought is a consideration and not good and has Their attention, its not the primary focus on Their plate.


I'm also coming to learn about River Gods and tree spirits and why one is a God and the other a spirit. It's interesting but doesn't belong in words just yet.

Jul. 9th, 2012

Delphic Maximum #6: Know What You Have Learned

One addition I have here that I haven't seen: It is even more important to remain aware of what you have not learned or perhaps cannot learn. I'm talking about book knowledge, social experience, cultural knowledge, and religious mystery here.


Book knowledge can often be easy to uncover, though depending on the field of study one might find a limit to discovered material as well. Knowing what assumptions one has made or what gaps may exist in one's knowledge is core to moving forward in studies or in applying that knowledge.


Social experience is personal. One can never learn a lesson or teach a lesson to someone else. One can advise or offer suggestions, but there is a true and important limit to one's understanding of other people and other situations. When it comes to judging another's words, actions, or view point it is knowledge and compassion for this lack of knowledge that helps me communicate and understand another, not my actual knowledge on said subject.


Cultural experience is very closely related to social. I think it's important to acknowledge the two are separate but linked. Both obtaining cultural knowledge and knowing when one is out of one's known culture is more important than to me than knowing every cultural nuisance of one's home culture.


Religious mystery is something I think is core to talk about in the Pagan Umbrella. We aren't all mystery religions and we don't all believe in religious mystery, but enough of us do that we need to be familiar with it (at least as familiar as one can be with a secret). Speaking purely for myself, this idea of a mystery faith was almost impossible for me to grasp when I first started exploring paganism. I was raised Christian and the whole idea that there was something one could not or should not teach another about one’s faith or the universe was completely foreign. After all, Christianity isn’t just a revealed faith, but one who’s core tenant is to spread the good word far and wide. The concept that deity might want you to keep quiet or may choose how to disseminate information in a way that one cannot adequately share the knowledge, is beyond imagination.


I followed on in confusion and ignorance. I have to admit I often thought and felt unkind things toward people keeping religious secrets. It seemed to me like there was some kind of exclusive club I wasn’t being let into or some grand information that would make my world view fall into place if I only these people would give up the goods so to speak. Finally one person finally gave me an example of a religious mystery being experiential based and therefor impossible for them to relate to me as I had not had that experience and words couldn’t fully describe or explain the meaning of that experience. This idea was something that finally clicked for me in a way it just hadn't before. Suddenly the world of a mystery religion or a religious mystery made sense to me. It occurred to me, that I might already have a few of my own religious mysteries. I could tell people about the ritual and what I perceived as happening but no words would describe the fullness of my understanding or the way the information was imparted to me. It’s like trying to explain the feeling of white water rafting,. I can talk about the bumps and the sprays of water, the size and shape of the raft, the near misses with rocks, and moments where I was almost thrown out. The person I tell the story to can relate to a certain degree with what I’m telling them so long as I’m descriptive, but if they’ve never been white water rafting or they’ve seen a river or been on a boat, their understanding is naturally incomplete.


The point is that there is a ton I don't know and something the pagan community has given me is that now I'm certain I don't want to know it all and I don't have to know it all. That's a years in the making conclusion and one I have to come back to sometimes when I push too hard, but I'm certain it's not something I ever felt was ok before paganism. So know what you've learned, know what you have not learned, and know that you don't have to and should not learn it all.

Jun. 16th, 2012

Pagan Values Month 2012 Following the Tarot

This June is Pagan Values month (http://paganvalues.wordpress.com/).  I've been reading a ton a beautiful and wonderful assessments of pagan values, ethics and thoughts (many of which are linked either in the archives or at the facebook event page) and at the same time I've been wondering what I am going to write, if anything.  Some people have covered broad over views and some people have picked specific topics to dig into.   Some works read like a manual and some are filled with poetic imagery. 

I wanted mine to stand on it's own as something of value to me and to help bring something to this community posting session.   I've been struggling with how to do that.  While I enjoy posting on the Delphic Maximums.  It's helped to clarify my stance on a lot of issues, it's started to bring form back into my writing, and it's something concrete I can look at from blog to blog and see direct variances to discuss and understand, I don't think these laws really encompass my moral and ethics.  So much of my posting on them is about only in these situations does this apply, that I feel it doesn't encompass my world view.  Plus, what I've written on the Delphic Maximums has often been said better by others already.

As I often do in these instances, I went back to my Gods and the Divine and decided that I would do a tarot draw on what the universe felt like I should talk about for this post.  Below isn't what comes to my mind first or what is most important to me, but what Divine sought for me to focus on in this post.  It's an important lesson in and of itself: to know when one is lost and overwhelmed and to know how to seek advice either from Gods/Divine or from others around you.

Three Card Goddess Tarot Pull:


How I View My Morals Based On The King of Pentacles:


Things that strikes me immediately about this card: pentacles are associated with the earth, which is my horoscope element. This card is supposed to be about me and how I feel, and my draw is my wheel house element. Earth was also coincidentally the first element I really connected to and bonded with. I probably have the most similarities to fire or air and am most covetous of various water qualities, but earth is my stand by. When I need something, I go to the earth first. My worship is to land based deities. My practice is about focusing in the present or what is here in the earth realm.


I have to admit that while I like to present as fluid and dynamic, it's nice to think there's solid ground and back bone behind my values and morals. Nothing could say that more strongly than pulling a powerful earth suit card to start my June Pagan Ethics Blog Out.


The pentacle itself has heavy meaning to me personally as well. It was the first pagan symbol I was drawn to and it touches a chord deep within me that's hard to define on paper. I've always admired the math of the pentagram, put it in a continuous loop and there's a little poetry with that perfection.


Another interesting little note on the card itself is that the King in the Goddess Tarot is only the second highest card in the suit, female cards, the Queen in this case is ranked higher, so this reads as the Queen in most standard tarot decks. It suits because I'd want my moral view to be considered of a higher caliber of a face card (I want others to think my morals are a higher standard than they are hence the trick out goddess tarot king that's a queen) but specialized in a manner only found in the minor arcana.


This card says I don't want to talk about immaterial in regard to ethics, I want practicality that works in this world. It tells me that I' focused most on how I treat other people and how those people treat me. I value above all else generosity and nurturing. It's what I think I'm best able to give others and how I prefer to be treated. In particular, I want to help people to grow to be their fullest self. I have specific idea about how to best manifest that, but I acknowledge that each person's solution would have to be individual and would come only in his or her own time and space. I like the challenge of both understanding another human, seeing their multitude of options/talents, and watching/waiting so see where exactly they are in their journey and where they want to go.


I'd like to think that I offer a kind and unique perspective to those who want it. I similarly like to think I value other's kind and unique perspectives on my life when they are provided.


How My Gods View Morals (two cards one for each Deity): King of Staves and the Nine of Staves:


It fascinates me that both Deities I honor at my alter chose to speak to me through the fire sign of the minor arcana. It relates back in my head to the votive I light in their honor and interactions that cut through regular consciousness bright an sharp like little embers escaping a bonfire.


Fire speaks to both the intensity of feeling and relationship we have but also to how fickle and changing that relationship can be. In particular one of my Deities values change above all else, that Ze would speak to me through the most aggressively changing element isn't particularly surprising. Hospitality is also very core to Ze so the hearth symbolism is also fitting.


The King of Staves, which I pulled first, again speaks toward generosity. Instead of offering oneself to fellow humans to help grow and learn together as the King of Pentacles suggests, the staves suggests a mutual interest, particularly in the natural world, between my Gods and I. I seek them through the natural world. We share not because we want to or need to but because we are curious and desire to know more. We make gifts to each other and acknowledge one another. We do not entirely understand one another or the realms in which we live (though they certainly have more understanding of my realm than I do of theirs), but we believe that we want the same things are are moving in similar directions.


Our interaction and tentatively forming bond is still being woven together. It's a project that we don't know the outcome of, but are curious to see more.


The Nine of Staves pulled itself out of the deck when I plucked the King. In this instance I believe it's meant as a series of gentle reminders. One is that my interaction with Deity can not be stagnant. That is to say: 1.) My Gods are not satisfied with only rituals or meditations. I must take them with me into the actual world and act out what they want in my mundane life as well in ritual life. We can have all the conversations we want, but I need to work too. 2.) My Gods don't want me to do the same thing over and over for them or for myself. I have to do something different and unknown. I have to push boundaries, theirs and mine. I need to take risks, explore, and otherwise wander with intent and purpose.


Also my Gods wanted to remind me that while my relationship with them is deep and fulfilling, I'm never to tune out the world. I am supposed to interact with other people and inspire and touch them. I'm supposed to need and rely on more than my Gods, even if I feel like I could follow a solo path without other humans invading, I am not supposed to.


Its possible through this card that I am supposed to be seeking other gods. While there is value to what I have and how I practice, I'm still seeking and expanding. Where this journey will go, what else and who else I will meet is an open question. I'm supposed to stay alert to what is presented to me and respond to it as it comes.


That I'm supposed to be making a new different journey that doesn't look like something someone else is doing. There's a certain level of gloating in that, but there's also the immediate reminder that I’m going to mess it up. There is always unknown danger in the new path and there are always mistakes the first time you do something, that how it's supposed to be.


How the World At Large Views My Morals The Three of Swords:


I snorted when I first pulled this card. Three of Swords is the ultimate heart pain. In this circumstance it probably stands for many people pulling me many different ways kind. I wanted to pull another card for clarification but there are a couple of ways this can fit that I want to.


First it makes me think of polytheism and how to a monotheist this must look like a recipe for disaster. Most of the USA is Monotheistic after all, and if they could objectively look at my religion, perhaps the first thing they'd consider is how does one go from walking the one path with the one truth to walking many paths with many truths. I can go on about the pluses and minuses of polytheistic vs monotheistic outlooks but I would think the sheer conflict would strike people hardest.


The other aspect of this card might be that various people would like to pull me in different directions than where may faith is pulling me. If I care about this person, their views on faith do pull against my views in a way that might be hard or painful for me.


The aspect of this card that suggests a disturbing outside influence or an “other” force having a hand in my life is bemusing to me. Most people do recognize me right away as somewhat of an intuitive and I do find that this disturbs some people at first. I think those who haven't experienced some kind of divinity find it scary, especially when the concept of divinity presented isn't in step with the culturally common mythos. I generally take this as something to be proud of, that I have access to something that is valuable and that others want/seek. It's possible, though I've missed some of the darker things people think in this regard. It's in review but I'm not ready to call it.


Three of Swords makes me think of my family too, who I know view my religion as misguided at best and doomed for failure and pain most likely. They aren't the world, but I think they hold sway over the way the tarot answer the question.


This particular card also has the inner sacred eye on the heart the three swords are piercing. It reminds me that while these perceptions are not mine and they are not the truth, they can and do effect me. When I let this static in or when it floods past my barriers I let these people get into the very soul of my being and block off my energy and connection.

Jun. 12th, 2012

Delphic Maximum #5: Be Overcome By Justice

How I read this: surrender to justice. This maximum to me is the first powerful and evocative one. I think of a tide surging over me and through me. It is capable drowning in it's depth, suddenness, and force but the water itself can also be the birthplace of life and beauty. I think of looking up into the night sky on a new moon with all of the cosmos around me and how that makes me humbled and awed. I am a small insignificant part of this beautiful vicious universe. Then I think of the idea of following justice to the fullest and it makes me feel like I'm part of this irrefutable truth—an undeniable common good that will exist beyond me and sustained merit. It's the awe of being larger and more lasting than the self as opposed to the awe of my tiny place. Both are true and divine.


My less poetic self knows that justice is a human concept and any “good” I do may be lasting but is limited to human and possibly godly perspective. The stars don't care. When I'm in a less self righteous state of mind, I'll also happily acknowledge that Truth with the capital T may not exist and something that is just for me might not be just for others. In attempting to give others justice, I may even be perpetuating the opposite.


Above all justice is hard to define in what it is, what it looks like, and in how best to create it in the world. How I can help champion justice or accept it in the case of wrong doing changes face and structure. That people deserve justice is irrefutable but what that looks like is a lot of wiggle room. I try to walk through my day with compassion and empathy. I like to think that if all of us stopped to consider or even to ask one another what we would think is fair and endeavored to provide it for one another, our world would look a great deal shinier. This seems to be against the grain of a lot of people, and I can't say I manage to be the change in the world I want to see every moment of every day, but I know what it looks like and I know I'm grateful when I receive it. Were justice a warrior and the world a battlefield, I'd surrender to justice in a heart beat and serve her in whatever manner she deems best.

Jun. 10th, 2012

Delphic Maximum #4: Respect Your Parents

I really struggled with what to write for this particular maximum. I have the benefit of following a lot of established and well written bloggers through these maximums and their answers have helped to prompt more insight than I use in my writing. I take whatever my gut gives me and write it out before I've processed all the complexities and subtleties the subject offers. Part of that is nice because it would be days before I had everything I think written down and part of it is frustrating because sometimes what should have been my main point is lost in a side tangent because it took me three pages to write the core of what I wanted to get out.


So far, everything I've written has a tone of denial or been conditional in a way that I know my mother would source as my inherent contrary nature. Any absolute offered or implied absolute, I feel required to challenge. Even thinking of what she would say to these responses, knowing she would never read them and knowing that she would never be able to get over the non-Christian nature of them to be truly critical, rankles me.


My relationship with my parents is troubled and our primary area of stress ties to my non-Christ based faith. This stress does strain our ability to adequately display love or respect for each other.


And I do love my parents quite a bit. I want to please them and make them proud of me. I want us to agree on our standards for living and morality. I just won't do any of this at the expense of my sense of self or what's right, a strength of character than I credit entirely to my mother.


I still go to them for advice and I consider their advice heavily. It tears at me when I have to go against it, if that's the case, but it doesn't stop me from following me first. This consideration for their words and contributions should show respect. True, it is a respect I would offer anyone who gives me advice or shares their life experience with me, which makes me wonder if there is a certain quantity of respect one needs to give and if I've given my parents their fair share. Would they be insulted to know how I weight their words vs others? Do they feel slighted every time I do my own thing and does that come down to a lack of thought or respect or is it truly just a different world view? How much is enough, am I right or are they or is there some object middle ground? It's heart breaking for me and I wonder how many others feel this way in a quite corner of the world where they don't voice it.


I do think most people world over want to respect their parents and elders. We argue over what that means. We all want to assert that we value this without thinking about it and we want to assert that we do respect our parents. I know I am hurt by the idea that I don't respect my parents adequately but in the same moment I am hurt by the concept that I must follow their path or there is no true respect or understanding between us.


Because my relationship is fraught with the same insecurities I've had since teen-dom, this maximum makes me think of being young and how I treated my parents then. It was not always with the respect they deserved, particularly where paganism was involved. I violently rejected Catholicism. Now, I wish I could have been kinder. There was fault on both sides, but I have a lot more sympathy for their thoughts and feelings on the subject now. I feel like I'll always be trying to make up for that mistake. Its not something I regret what I told them then is essentially true though I regret how harsh and intense I was about it. Who knows, maybe nothing but that kind of rejection would have ever made them understand, I know on some levels now, they don't get it still.


In some regards, though I listen and consider counsel from my parents, I don't feel I respect them now because I am always holding back and couching what I mean to be at the level I think they can handle. Is it disrespectful for me to hold back my truth feelings and understandings for the sake of another's comfort? Is it it inherently disrespectful to reject another's view point or to believe one knows better even when the other has or possibly has more experience than oneself in the subject?


I don't think that a person has earned respect just because they reach the age or fertility, had sex, and were able to birth another human being. I've never been one to agree with the idea that one should have to respect any other being just because. My parents have been good to me. They provided for me above and beyond the bare minimum required. They have stood beside me in battle for what they think is part of my rights or part of what I've earned. They look out for me and my interests as best as they can. This sort of person whether a friend, family member or partner, should be cherish, valued and respected. It's always hard when their standards and yours don't line up though, particularly if the person in question was a care taker for you is all.

May. 30th, 2012

Delphic Maximum #3: Worship the Gods

My only response to this seems simply to be “yes”. I've gone through a lot of phases of divinity. I've spent large amounts of time considering different ways to worship, what worship means, and what form of worship is best for each god or divine presence. I've never been without praise, awe, humility, and reverence. I understand these concepts are tricky to grasp and mean different things to different people. That's a whole other series of essays I don't want to cover right this moment.


Huge swathes of my life, my time, and my plans are all part of doing and being in the name of my gods or divine energy.


For me, this knowledge of divine is innate within me. I have first hand experience that drives me in my faith and makes me certain I am on the right path doing the right thing for me.


A couple things I want to point out here for clarity. Worship does not mean that I follow blindly, refuse to acknowledge imperfections or flaws, or that I feel compelled to impose my will or beliefs on others. Also, ritual that defines worship does not have to be complex or ornate. The structure of ritual does not have to be either rigid or brittle. Worship/ ritual can be deep, meaningful, impromptu, and unique each time. I know that what is or is not worship can be touchy to a lot of pagans as is the whole idea of whether worship is a good or appropriate thing. For me, worship is a needed part of my life and practice.

May. 28th, 2012

Delphic Maximum #2 Obey the Law

I'm an American and the laws in this country are mostly good rules that I agree with. Day to day life I generally strive to obey the laws in paper and spirit. Some laws like rules of the road are not moral issues but just a set of guide lines that we need to follow as a society to get along. I actually value these guide line laws more than the “moral” ones because day to day that's what makes day to day coexistence possible.


All that said there are laws I'm morally opposed to, anything that attempts to obstruct gay marriage or that may limit a gay/bi/trans person's ability to work in a chosen field or live in a certain area. I'm also against any laws that restricts women's reproductive rights or rights to health care of any variety. I'm against laws that enable corporations to care less about their workers or the community in which they do business. I'm against laws that allow banks and other money lending groups to give money out at rates or in amounts that the group knows an individual will never be able to repay.


There is a lot I can do to combat this within the scope of the law and I do that. I write to my representatives. I go to protests and marches. I raise money for awareness and to support my causes. I stay as well informed on these issues as I can and have learned how to politely but firmly discuss my view with others to help raise individual awareness. I support legal challenges to laws I find unconstitutional and I've had occasion to bring the threat of legal action down on those not following the letter of the law.


Often time legal means of change, in a country like the USA are better than illegal means. It distances one from “extremism” which has become a four letter word in our political discourse. To be extreme means to hate you opponent and to be willing to slaughter to get your way, pair this with 9/11 and your cause is rejected before you even have the chance to really present it.


Beyond that, we're a country that is as a whole willing to listen to different perspectives and views. Our lack of homogeneity makes it hard to get any one thought enacted or to standardize curriculum, but it also makes us used to the idea that there are other views and that these views have validity or something to teach us. I think one of the few good things about a 24hr news cycle is that it shows people have interest in what others have to say on a national and global level. The pundits our loud, annoying, and offensive, but that you can make a living shouting is something uniquely American.


This doesn't mean I'm opposed to illegal means of supporting my cause when I believe it will do more harm than good. I think Martin Luther King Jr proves that sometimes one needs to make extreme and illegal moves to get ones point across. When an establishment is so prejudiced and opposed to your view that they will not allow you to get permits for a march or an assembly, sometimes the best thing one can do is go ahead with the march or assembly anyway.


I would help plan and perform a gay marriage in any state regardless of legality. I would help a woman or group of women seek reproductive independence in a safe medically sound manner regardless of cost or legality. I would teach youth a full sex education class including abstinence and I would reject ever teaching a child intelligent design because anything less is an insult to knowledge and a mockery of what our schools systems are in place for.


Were there a draft right now, I would help contentious objectors avoid going to war. If there was a draft right now and women were not included in the lottery, I'd help anyone who wanted avoid the draft as no draft that effects half of a fit population can be fair or just.


There are forms of eco- “terrorism” that I can't help but admire.


Even as I tell others to respect the limits of public land and the rights to private property, I know I don't do so myself. When I see something interesting on my drive I do pull over to investigate and often photograph it. I have no idea of the land is public or private. I don't know if I'm trespassing and whether I've put myself it to true and deep danger. I know I'm a curious and impulsive person who felt called and responded. I'd accept jail or a fine for the crime. This one in particular I'd agree is petty and stupid, but not morally wrong. In some ways, I think attempting to bar access to land is the bigger moral imposition.


I don't respect what I don't value and I've never been good at obeying that which I don't respect. It's often prudent to work within the law and to at least give lip service to the ideas or intent behind the law. It's not a moral mandate. Heck, one of the Gods I follow is Colombia and even she doesn't make it a Godly mandate to follow the law. Liberty, justice, and truth first for her and the law will follow from there.

May. 24th, 2012

Delphic Maximum #1 Follow God

Star Foster started a blogging party on the Delphic Maximums. While I know very little about these, I thought it would be interesting to look at them and see how they fit my own defined ethic. I thought it might help me focus on what if anything I should write about for June's Pagan Blog Ethics deal. For more information on Delphic Maximums or to see a round up of who else is blogging on them I suggest musings of a kitchen witch's post.

And now may I present my actual writings on the subject:


My first and instinctive response to “Follow God” is a simple “no”. It doesn't last long, but part of me violently rejects the idea that I am a being meant to obey or follow above all else.


Coming to Gods, for me, was a long and slow process. It's a state that is new and not at all natural. My Gods and I negotiate a lot. We both need to be fluid and respectful of each other in the process to get anywhere. The word follow is too forceful: full of surrender and action not necessarily in line with my will. Objectively, I realize follow has none of these implications, but emotionally, it's a word I reject.


There are all sorts of way to follow. Before I had Gods, there was still something sacred, worthy of respect, and bigger than me in the world. I took time to acknowledge, admire and learn from this nameless experience based thing. Often this feeling came from the natural world for from random acts of kindness others demonstrated. It was something I valued as transcendent and core to my own life. These were moments in time that I needed to honor and that I would cherish and carry with me. I think this qualifies as following God so long as the idea of God in general is not required to have too many human characteristics or human like will.


Separate from these moments of epiphany, or only loosely connected, was my magic and energy work. There is what I consider divine energy, but it also lacks a will as humans define will. It isn't a commanding human-esque entity to be followed so much as a power to be ridden, on a good day, and borne on a bad. It taught me, showed me, pushed me, and occasionally used me as a vessel which I managed with varying amounts of grace, but it never commanded as such or provided a road map.


The point here is that for me Following God means almost nothing. It's on par with telling me to live my life. There are very few moments in my life at this point where I am not aware of energy and deity. If following God means to acknowledge and honor God then most moments of most days I'm the model of this maximum.


On the other hand, I don't do commands well particularly if I don't understand why I'm being commanded or if I believe the harm out weights the good. If following God is something that's done without question, without discussion, and without hesitation then I really only have a 50/50 track record.


Furthermore: I don't think Gods know what is best for a human or for me in particular. I'm not certain one should follow every edict a god may choose to make.


Star Foster thinks there are two bits of criteria to judge one's ability to follow god. She asks us to consider:


1. Is what we are pursuing godly, sacred and of high virtue?

2.Are we following that instead of trying to drive the train ourselves?”



I have no qualms with her first meditative question assuming what's godly is paletable.


The second concern bothers me though. I'm all about driving my own train. Gods might be like life's GPS but I should be able to take a left when they want me to take a right: particularly if I don't like GPS' destination or if I just want to explore the farm stand over on the left. There are perfectly good benign reasons not to follow Gods. Indeed I wouldn't even necessarily call a farm stand stop directly disobeying Gods so much as leisurely following. While my interactions with a more human minded deity is very new, there has already been a time where I went left when deity said right and they just re-routed me to where they wanted me to be because in that instance it meant that much to them. If Gods can do this, I don't see what it matters how willingly or immediately I follow. When they want me to get there, I'll be there.


We all know what if best for ourselves or at least this is a core truth we should all strive to find with or without Gods. I think we need to follow the call that works best for oneself whether that involves Gods or not.

Oct. 3rd, 2011

Enshrined in sleepy warmth,
Perfume cloak of nostalgia,
Race through changing planes.

The blood is filled with bliss
And the heart pumps with music.
The last rally call fades and the soft
Victory trumpet echoes in the dark.

Dark eyeliner smeared eyes
Gaze unwavering
At skeletal remains.

A sharp smirk punctuates
Soft feminine features.

She knows excess and waste
She knows beauty and joy
She knows loss and hatred.
They are symptoms of change and endurance.

Her being lies in flux and conflict
In this moment she is conquer
And she journey home in a land
That is always the same and different.
Tags: ,

Jul. 15th, 2011

Organic Food: Sorry, I'm just not that into you

Dear Organic Food and Your Many Loud Supporters,

You are delicious and noticeably superior to you altered counterpart. In some cases you've made me realize that I do like item X so long as it's natural. All praise aside, I do not think of you as a profoundly moral issue or a factor in education that people are just waiting to discover. It's well known you taste better and are probably better for me. It's flaunted in every ad campaign that has even the littlest claim to organic material let alone actual educational and news media sources. You are so much better for me, and if I want you, I'm expected to pay a premium for my better health.

Beyond your lack of moral bearing, I think it's classist when people bring you up as a profoundly moral subject. We don't all have equal access to you with your expensive price tag and your appearance in limited stores. I've been hungry and looked longingly at you while choosing to purchase your cheaper counter part. It's what I had budget for and certainly veges of any sort are better than more processed foods. I think of people choosing to either eat better or to have themselves and their families feel full, and I understand exactly why processed is picked over you.

I know your supporters claim anyone who respects their body and the food they put in it should always choose you, but Organic food you aren't like smoking. People don't just pick up the processed food without thinking and unaware. Most Americans antagonize over their food whether for weight reasons or for pricing or for some kind of cache that certain foods seem to have at certain times. And people need to eat where they don't need to smoke. That processed food might be a need for many. They choose to eat that rather than starve, and I think even you organic would be hard pressed to say that starving is better than processed food.

Like many pagans I think there is something mystical in food preparation and like many liberals I think that corporations are amoral entities that will do what they can get away with and therefor need to be eschewed. Both of these beliefs do lead to you, Organic Food, being superior to processed food particularly when local. However: I acknowledge these things as ideals not as something in stone for all people to follow. Like most moral statements there are situational circumstances that alter what should or should not be done. Should I buy organic food for myself and only me with my money or buy processed food for my family and I: my budget can only support one or the other. Should I buy the processed food and give the excess to a food bank or should I buy organic food for only myself? Am I a good enough gardener with the time and correct soil/location to grow my own vegetables or must I rely on what comes into the stores? There are so many relative questions and some of them truly seem to have no good solution or right answer. Why would I judge other's choices or give advice in a manner that sounds like there is only one definitive conclusion a sane rational person would come to?

Organics you have much of my love, time, and money. My loyalty to you was easily won. You can have lots of things from me, but moral high ground is not one of them.

Sincerely,

Tigresslilly

Jul. 3rd, 2011

Freedom?

Star over at patheos.com asked" "What does Freedom mean for you as a Pagan?" http://www.patheos.com/community/paganportal/2011/07/03/freedom/ I'm going to try to answer that because it's the Independence Day and it seems the kind of question people answer around this time.

As an American female bi pagan person freedom is possibly the single most important thing I have the right to. That no one can deny how I feel or my right to live my life according to how I feel is hands down the gift my fellow humans have given me that I am most grateful for in this world.

Meaning and larger picture questions have always been important to me. To separate me from what I believe and the experiences I've had just doesn't compute in my mind. I think I'd die, not physically, but in my mind, I would just go away. But I know there are millions of people all over the world who are not allowed to be who they are religiously, sexually, artistically, or otherwise. I feel for them. I support any resistance they choose either personal or political. I can't imagine how painful and hard it must be to know you are something the way you know you have blood moving through you and to not be able to express it.

Ideas are dangerous. To be part of a group that doesn't choose to restrict thought is powerful, especially when that thought is often times wielded against the very institution that protects it.

Freedom is about contradiction. It's fluid and moving and never quite attainable. The concept muddles my mind when I think of it too much because it's all about allowing people to be in any state they choose. There are so many varied and different takes that what freedom looks like has to be just this mass of chaos and anarchy: the guts of humankind if you will all strewn about and turned around. Odd that the image like that makes me hopeful instead of worried when the monicker attached is freedom.

Jul. 1st, 2011

Forgiveness: Ideas I Struggle With

My most basic problem with forgiveness is just that I don't really know what it means. It doesn't mean you forget what happened. It doesn't necessarily mean that the other person doesn't face justice. It doesn't mean that you aren't hurt or that there aren't consequences. It doesn't mean that the relationship with the other person can go back to the same relationship you've had prior. I don't understand what forgiving someone means is all.

Media on this subject is confusing too. Some of them claim forgiving is good for your health. You let go of grudges, you're lighter, you less likely to be stressed or depressed. Others claim that not forgiving is the right thing to do. After all there are somethings that can't be forgiven apparently? Likewise sometimes the stress of trying to let go of an offense is too much. Sometimes remembering why you struggle can motivate someone and move him or her forward. I don't really know because I can't really pin down what forgiveness means or what it does.

Religiously forgiveness is muddled to me. When I was Catholic, of course it was huge within that faith system. Apologizing and forgiving were huge. But it seemed to me that no one ever trusted forgiveness that was given. I wonder what they were looking for and whether they were granting tat something to the people they forgave. I wonder if the kind of offense made a difference in their ability or if like God all offenses are equally grave if you aren't really sorry.

As a kid I remember being forced to accept apologies. I must have been 12 before I realized I didn't have to accept apologies and thinking that perhaps I shouldn't if the other person wasn't sorry or if I wasn't ready to let the slight go. The first time I refused to grant forgiveness, my family took me to meet with our local priest. It was similar to the meeting we'd had prior when I refused to apologize because I didn't believe I'd done anything wrong.

The main difference was that instead of just trying to compel me to say I forgave this other person, my preacher congratulated me on my desire to be honest and knowing my own feelings. He then tried to work me through to the process of forgiveness. This wasn't going to happen. I don't even remember what the slight was now. I remember I was angry, that this was not the first time this person had done this to me and that regardless of whether it was intentional or thoughtless my relationship with this person was going to change. Things weren't going to be the same, I was angry and this person should feel bad, why should I release them of that if their apology only made me more angry? What would the words be for me but noise? My priest tried to tell me intentions count for something and regret should make everything all right. I asked him why should I allow myself to be hurt continually for someone else's thoughtlessness, and then have to accept apology for it. It seemed too close to the victim claiming responsibility and I wasn't about to do that.

Poor Father Connelly, he was completely unprepared for me. I had been stubborn and angry when we'd last talked (and the guy had private chats with me a lot when I was growing up too many theological and complex questions for my parents to deal with). The year in between had made me more articulate in a way he wasn't ready to deal with. Kids don't generally flatly reject a priest's statement or counter it with their own feelings and thoughts. I guess people don't tell priests often that they don't believe not forgiving does damage to their immortal soul, or that if damage is done it is no greater than the damage of issuing a forced false apology would be on their soul, perhaps it's less. People apparently also don't tell priest that they would rather preserve their own souls as best as possible than help someone else's soul through forgiving them. We never spoke to my parents about what specifically had been said between us, only that I would not choose forgiveness and hopefully I'd be in confession soon for this slight.

I was lucky though, my priest didn't scare me, and I was already rejecting the idea that an all loving all knowing God would give me free will and then not intent for me to do what I saw as right. So many of my conversations with the man over the years could have been very intimidating otherwise.

Now a days my Gods say very little, if anything about forgiveness. Divinity is all for letting go of wrongs but this doesn't require forgetting. It's about not letting something ruin me, instead of trying to help assuage guilt in someone else for something they did/caused. I get to say "what you did was wrong, it hurt me and others in these ways and it hurt yourself like this" and then I get to set the conditions of how we move forward and what that incident will mean. I look at bad things as times for teaching and personal growth. Sometimes that growth means I avoid situations or people or tell them off or any number of not helpless open armed turn the other cheek acceptance. I'm not good at accepting when that's the only option provided.

My local God cares nothing for forgiveness. Hir occupation is on change and movement. So long as I'm not stagnant, how I'm keep moving and changing is irrelevant.

And for all this, sometimes I look at people and situations and my Catholic upbringing comes to the front and all I can think is that "This person needs to be forgiven". I suppose it could translate to "this person has baggage that they don't need to carry which correlates to guilt they have to let go and they need someone else to help them with". For me, forgiveness doesn't seem a good venue. Reiki, reflection, conversation with the other that does not have to lead in forgiveness are all possibilities. I just wonder if forgiveness is supposed to be about relieving burdens of others and whether or not the term has implications that are not required to relieve guilt. If so do these implications actually stymy the guilt relief process because we are asking to be healed by the person we have hurt in a way that might further hurt that person.

May. 25th, 2011

Insidious and Hoe it's Lead me to Possession/Other plane Reflections

TONS OF SPOILERS FOR INSIDIOUS DO NOT READ MORE IF YOU WANT TO AVOID SPOILERS!!!

About two weeks ago my friend and I saw Insidious. We’re completely obsessed with exorcism/possession/devil involved horror movies. Good ones, bad ones, no worth mention: we want to see them all and we have long talks and thoughts about them afterward.

Insidious was one of the good ones. At first glance it looks like it’s going to be Paranormal Activity meets child possession, but the movie strays from that formula into something new and different that the previews didn’t give away before we got to the theater (and that’s saying something because we saw this movie very late in it’s theater life).

Early on, it’s clear there is not something right in the father’s childhood that he or his family has intentionally kept hidden from his wife and children. We were five minutes in and my friend and I we pondering what could be wrong. He’s not real/a ghost: no because too many people have interacted with him who are not family. He’s has a hereditary haunting: no because weird stuff really doesn’t happen around him personally. He’s secretly a physical manifestation of evil in physical form: no because that’s his bio mom and his bio kids and this evil take over probably would have started way earlier since timing hasn’t seemed to be important in the film so far.

Turns out Dad’s an astral projector into the world called “other plane” where apparently lost souls and malevolent spirits chill out together, son has inherited this talent and “gotten lost/trapped” spiritually. These others want control of his body because they envy the corporal apparently and the longer the kid is gone the easier he becomes to possess.

We just started laughing there. How could Grandma have not worried for her grandkids if she had gone through something similar with her own son? Even if she was too worried to mention it when they go married or had children, when the kid falls into a “not comma” that science can’t explain, don’t you pull mom aside and talk to her about some shadowed past? Do you wait three months for things to get desperate? Hell no, you protect yours any way needed!

Ok so child rearing and family loyalty thoughts aside, as a pagan this movie stirs a lot of questions for me I thought I’d just throw out because.

1. Why to “demons” and malevolent spirits always want to possess of physical body? What can we do here that they can’t do there? I know the line is that they envy the living, but why specifically? Why the focus on pain and chaos and how come they can’t achieve these goals as they are?

2. In horror movies do you always view what entities are doing as scary or malevolent? I mean it often escalates to that “evil” vibe, but often these beings seem to start out in ways that I’d consider them just attempting communication? Is there a way to talk to them or to appease them before things escalate?

3. Traditionally I think of our world as the most physical of the worlds, but is there is one that is more material based, would you want to find it and invade it or otherwise alter it? Why or why not.

4. Are our views on demonic possession a reflection of our vanity? That our world is best, most special and that we are somehow envied or chosen? Does this attitude carry over to paganism and your practice?

5. As pagans we often seek to astral project or to interact with other realms, states of consciousness or beings beyond the physical, what are your goals? What are your preparations/protections? Do you think these beings view or have you ever encountered beings that view our communication as scary and threatening as we view their reaching out?

6. Horror movies often ask the audience to accept that we are both helpless against the supernatural and more powerful than they are for example: in Insidious the family could not banish the spirits or pull their son back while in our world, but once the father entered the other plane he became more powerful than the spirits were there because he was alive, it’s an odd contrast between power and helplessness, especially considering the ending—where does your faith stand on this?

7. Almost all modern day possession movies take the Catholic stance that naming acknowledging evil gives the evil power. They are not to engage demons in conversation while attempting to exorcise it, they are not to ever name the demon by name, they are to ignore supernatural tantrums that happen while trying to force the being out and yet, ultimately they have to attack the being directly to force it out. Pagans generally try to start a conversation and acknowledge the being from the beginning, and proceed differently depending on how things develop. Which way do you lean and why?

8. It seems widely acknowledged that the living have more power than the dead in these movies and that trickery or the living person surrendering power to the dead is how spirits and evil triumph—what do you think? Is the physical more powerful than the immaterial? Is experience and wisdom that many ancestors have if they chose to use it so immaterial in a fight? Why wouldn’t a being that knew it’s realm be more effective than an interloper?

9. With Insidious specifically the “other plane” seemed very like a fairy realm, what additions, subtractions, or rule alteration would those who saw the movie have made to the rules of astral travel and that plane if any?

10. Who here wouldn’t love a movie portraying a person’s struggle through the fairy realm? I mean that movie would be the best and it could be sold as an action/horror/fantasy.

May. 5th, 2011

Poetics from May Day

Gods can be heavy.
Knowing, Experiencing, Seeing
A dividing force
A choice given,
A choice taken,
No informed consent,
No going back.

There is peace and power in these worlds
Beauty, ability, and strength enough to sustain.
Being in two worlds,
Makes presence twice transparent.

You can see You can know
You can't lift or carry
You can't give or take

An observer in Their House
And failing participant in your own.

We bear their loads
We hear their words
We hold the same vanity.
Certain we will not shatter.
We aren't shattered.

Our world is mostly unknown,
No map agrees.

We go forth.
With love and light,
Power and Peace.

May we be change
May we be ready
Because Gods can be heavy.

May. 4th, 2011

Beltane and Bin Laden

Life has been moving in fast and hard since I've moved to AL and in particular since I've been in contact with the local god here. Let me try to pull this together in something coherent because part of my recommitment is supposed to be about beauty art and love too. Sitting in my little room haven I'm particularly reminded of beauty and art. Of a crucial part of my life in high school and parts of college where creation was the beautiful prideful and humbling experience that hollowed me out and threw me in depressions and that also made me something so much more than what I'd felt I was before. It was devastating and it was as necessary to my existence as breathing. There were glimpses there of something big and meaningful in that work and I can remember feeling so much more and so much greater than just me.

Over the years I've chalked that feeling up to hormones and puberty. It is easier to not make time to create and to live without the crazy highs and lows that come with art. I feel safer and more stable connected to the world and wrapped in a protective layer of doubt and logic. But going through my keepsakes and my old books and writings has made it clear to me that not all of it was puberty and vanity on my part. Some of it (not most of it mind you) is really good and there are some bits of truth and craft that hurt to be reminded of. It threw me into an entirely different sort of depression to think that my time as a young idealist and artist were over. That I'd lost that kind of visionary flare.

Moving huge life changes are shaking that out of me in bits and pieces. There is a need for more balance and control in me now than there was then. I used to single mindedly chase whatever passion landed in my head. I'd track an idea for weeks and months or for days without sleeping and on several occasions without eating. That kind of work is too destructive and I have other duties and responsibilities. The protective shell of college and hight school I hated so much is gone and now I have to co-exist in the real world along with these whims and callings. I have to judge what will actually be something, what actually is something with all these ideas that hours of crafting and exploring will lead me to nothing. Then it was all art and truth now it has to be tempered, and I'm hoping that with that will be some of that old beauty along with less depression and less time where I hate myself.

So Beltane without power or any real privacy was interesting. I meditated in the morning and spent some time re-reading parts of Drawing Down the Moon. Really the newer addition should be required reading for monotheists who want to interact with polytheists. It explains a lot of the inherent mentality differences between one vs many. It also explains Gardner's influence on the pagan movement's revival in a neat way where one can explain that yes we know our history and we understand Gardner, Starhawk and many other's history is not right and it doesn't have to be for there to be power, truth and influence from them.

I wrote a poem I'm certain to post later when I'm done wondering where it came from.

Just as I was thinking "oh this is kind of nice" or "no power isn't awful" I got a call that power was on at the center of town and my boss needed me back in at work to get the computer systems running, schedule employees for the next week, and take inventory. All I could think is thank the gods, its a Beltane miracle! My gods know me too well, because the continued relief that there is work and something to do is incredible for me. That something more is really crucial to my psyche. Beyond that I got my first hot shower in four days and it was possibly the most amazing thing to happen to me this year. Going into town also gave me a chance to honor my new Huntsville oriented god in the location ze chose to make zer presence known. I left a few sweets (though not chocolate) and poured out a little white zinfandel. Completely unplanned and impromptu on my part but it felt right. It was the most perfect Beltane I've ever had.

So then pagan coming out day happens and ding dong Bin Laden is dead! Talk about more change to process than I can take at once! I just had always thought that Bin Laden would run out of insulin or dialysis or die of old age. We'd find him dead in a cave or more likely someone else would find him dead in a cave and let the US know. So I was completely flat footed for how to emotionally deal with his death. I think I'm relieved and happy that this has happened for Obama's re-elcetion effort. I don't think it's justice. I do think the mob celebrations we see on the news look a lot like the Middle East's celebration of 9/11. I know they aren't the same for many reasons, but part of me worries about the similarities more than the differences. I haven't heard anyone say anything disturbing yet, but I'm waiting (fearfully) for the remarks about how it's a shame we didn't kill everyone in the compound or how we should have bombed the place or how we should bomb Pakistan. There should be consequences for Pakistan, but bombing them isn't what I'm thinking is appropriate. Violence is occasionally a necessary and powerful tool, but I've noticed that people find it hard to put it down once they've started wielding it.

I'm disturbed by how able Obama is able to politically negotiate. I can't decide if I'm please, disappointed, or worried. Time will tell if this is good I guess.

Another thing: I don't think that anyone's emotions on Bin Laden's death is wrong. I might deride certain actions or public expressions of that emotion because to a certain degree one can control actions, but how one feels is how they feel. All this shaming and policing of our emotional response and the threats about spiritual damage as a result of how one feels is deeply warped. That others feel the need to control such a core part of the self is wrong, upsetting, and grotesque to me. These people quoting, Ghandi, MLK and quoting scriptures might not be a more malicious demon then Bin Laden but they certainly hit closer to home and their veil of "good intentions" makes them harder to hit. How dare you tell anyone how they feel is wrong!

I'm incredibly outraged by these "save you soul and love your enemy" posts. Feel free to speak of how you are dealing with Bin Laden's death or how it effects you. Don't you dare tell me or others how to feel and even worse, don't try to make me feel bad or to make me think that how you feel is the only right way. I'm paranoid yeah, but this whole thing has 1984 for on my mind and it's all these little social and cultural bits that are dangerous. We are not all the same group with the same experiences and the same tolerances and reactions. What is right for you to deal with this world event is probably not right for me because we are coming from two different unique places. Honor that instead of silencing it please.

Also, why can't I feel both? Who are you to tell me I can't celebrate the relief with my family at a gathering and then go home and have a few minutes silence and perhaps light a candle. Can't I be happy about the rise of revolutionaries in the Middle East who seem to be questing for a voice and for change that may be better for them and for us? Why shouldn't I be relieved over the death of the last public face of Al Qaeda who still overshadowed all the potential good of these revolutionaries because Americans were so hurt by his attacks? And why does feeling that joy and be mean I can't also be sorry that it cost so many lives (including Bin Laden's) and bad blood to achieve this? Feelings are not mutually exclusive my friends.

Any how, I'm thinking I need a full week to appropriately celebrate the change and mischief of Beltane this year because Bin Laden happened on May day too and it's going to take more than a day or so for myself and probably other Americans (and those overseas too) to sort out what this means and to shake out all the little and large changes this might mean.

I feel sort of bad that between the tornados here and the death of an enemy the wedding of the century has been eclipsed (at least for me personally), but it was also timed appropriately for pagan traditions. I hope that's a good omen for them and I hope they were relieved to have some measure of privacy for once instead of disappointed. Best wished to them in any rate, and I only have mediocre interest for weddings that aren't happening to family or friends any how so you missed very little of my attention anyhow.

May. 2nd, 2011

Why- Because I'm Pagan!

For International Pagan Coming Out Day, I thought I'd try to create a list of beliefs that are what they are because I'm an eclectic neo-pagan with other court wicca and reiki influences. We might not all have the same beliefs and edicts but we have them.

So Because I'm a Pagan:

-I'm a hard polytheistic monist and know that's not a contradiction of terms
-I believe that there is no one right way for all of people to believe, worship, or live
-I don't have to proselytize in fact I don't believe it's right to proselytize
- I have rejected to concept of an all powerful all knowing diety
-I'm politically active especially in the field of human rights
-I value poetry and myth as part of my religious faith but do not believe these works are literal fact
-Science and faith are not in conflict in my life
-I value nature and honor natural seasonal cycles
-Color in my home and on my person are part of my energetic and magical workings
-I have a set infrastructure and rules in my life like any main stream religion
-I value freedom and independence above structure or tradition and my Gods are in alignment
-My intuition and personal experiences drive my faith and practice
-I'm allowed to doubt and question my faith, acknowledging the potential psychological or coincidental nature of my faith doesn't make me a blasphemer.
-My faith is in action and in this realm.
-I have belief in after life, but it's an after thought, not a primary focus.
-All is divine
-I embrace technology as another tool in my arsenal

Apr. 19th, 2011

Spiritual Meanderings and Updates

I just have a lovely full moon ceremony. Soaking in moon energy and being close with my guides is very soothing. It's a perfect little oasis in the chaos of my very busy life.

I've been having and crazy predictions I've had about my life, and recently I've had a real world experience that's made me far more inclined to believe them. I try to be a doubter when it comes to my spiritual crazy, so originally, I'd decided to discard my dream/premonitions until I'd seen something more incontrovertible. After all, the vision of koi fish in running water isn't very southern and isn't connected to a god, goddess, or spirit who would take interest in me. I figured my mind manufacturing the image is unusual but not out of the realm of possibility. Besides that I wanted to believe in these visions because there was so much largely good in them and they showed the fulfillment of many things I am working towards, it made them seem very fantasy.

That my room is now mostly designed in the same manner as my dream has more to do with me working towards what I saw, creating the truth to the vision instead of an actual premonition (there's something to be said for choosing a truth or for choosing a future, but it's not really proof that my dream is anything other than a dream that inspired me).

That the time line for me to pick up a job and that the job dress, hours, and location match up with my dream is eerie but not really quite enough of a sign to be anything but coincidence. I wanted a manager job and I've often dreamed of being "John Phillipe" to someone's "Chef Ramesy".

This past Friday, in the middle of the rainstorm, I had to trudge over to one of my sister restaurants and in doing so I went through the center of town's park. I had never been there or seen it before. When I went down the stairs, I saw that it was exactly to the detail, the place I had dreamed. I ran over to the river to see there were the koi fish that kept playing around in my dream swimming there. There are two pure white ducks hanging out in the water and the exact bridge.

So now I'm certain that series of dreams were a premonition and/or a divine message. I believe that I have been and am in contact with the spirit/overseer/guardian/ god(ess) of the Huntsville AL area. It seems kind of foreign to me to have a god or being outside of myself lead me. My guides and I are so connected, they feel like extensions of my soul. I'm not always 100% aware of them, they say things that surprise me, but it's like when you do a free write and put something down you've never consciously thought of but know is true. It's never been like when a friend or family member presents a new idea of thought.

I didn't think I'd ever settle down with any kind of pantheon. I'd had no personal gnostis (until now apparently) and while I've been investigating several gods in the past 6 months, all of them have had to be discarded for this reason or that reason. The timing is very rich in personal meaning for me, though I'm sort of stumbling through how one honors and offers service to a god--it's been a very long time since I've done any of that.

Still, last night we had a conversation where I learned more about this spirit's nature (I use spirit here because there is no inherent gender I've seen or sensed with this being) and zis goals, and they're all things I want. Ze's very high energy with a lot of change and goals going on. Ze brings in a lot of demands and change all at once. I can roll with that. I'm in a new place and committing myself to something completely new and specifically focused seems like it his more than worth the startup effort. I feel good about the changes I need to make, that they'll make me a more focused and disciplined person. Iti's kind of nice to have guidance and expectations outside those that you put on yourself and the ones society tries to chain you with. It makes me feel less alone and validates some of how I live my life and view my world. I know I'm at a tenuous point my my relationship with this being, we've just met and all, but I'm enthusiastic to build a long and meaningful relationship with Zer.


I know this sounds kind of crazy, especially when I lay it all out like this, but it is what it is and I'm not going to cover up how I feel or experience to conform with appropriate interactions with god or the earth. I won't ponder this in silence because it may push comfort zones. Anyway, has anyone else experienced something similar? Is my lack of interaction with any gods put me so far out of touch with what that would be like to not recognize what's going on? Please do share.

Apr. 18th, 2011

My First AL Field Trip to Cullman

Every year in Cullman there is a "Bloom Festival". Don't be fooled by the name as I was because it turns out there aren't a bunch of gardens and flowers. Instead there's a ton of generic crafts and a lot of over priced food to support a Catholic Prep school. It was very disappointing.

In an effort to see some flowers, I dropped some more cash (only $3 but on top of the $5 to get into the fair with only sale booths, the $8 for a meal +$1 for drink, this is an expensive event for no attraction) to go into the grotto. Instead of some beautifully landscaped shaded walk highlighted by some tastefully, arranged sculptures, I walked into one of the most creep and bizarre arrangement of Hodge-podged religious models of ever seen. "Brother Joe" (using his nick name was something done in the exhibit that made the experience more awkward as I’m not and don’t want to be on familiar terms with this guy) is a monk who apparently lived a dull cloistered life. To compensate, he built model replicas of religious sites across the world. So far, that sounds potentially interesting. It’s not my first choice to look at models of someone else’s faith, but I appreciate beauty and art regardless of the religion it’s connected to.

To make the model’s Brother Joe used a mixture of cement and odds and ends he found around the monastery. Still could be cool right? I mean there’s tons of pretty items we consider trash, glass, certain bits of plastic, aluminum, marbles, and sea shells. Pagan art consists of this stuff all the time and some of it is really nice.

As it turns out, Brother Joe had more than enough time to make dozens of large sculptures but not enough time to place marbles in a way that would be attractive or interesting. It looks like he just tossed marbles in and mixed it with the cement. However they mixed with the substance, is how they too shape, whether fully submerged, mostly covered, or on a major seem/corner of the structure.

This is odd because he takes the time to do some very pretty tile work. So I know he had the ability to do detail work. With all those marbles, he could have created a lovely mosaic or at least placed them on structures in a meaningful way, possibly with a color pattern.

The glass bits are cut in shiny incredibly sharp jagged pieces in top that make many buildings seem mean ominous and unfinished. Any of this would be fine for the castle of Hansel and Gettle, it’s less fine on the church of Hiroshima.

I asked myself if I’d be less creeped out if this was my religion depicted in poorly constructed trash. The answer is no, I’ve seen pagans to this often and think it’s tacky and sometimes creepy then too. There is a right way to used recycled materials and there is a wrong way. The right way involves just as much thought, precision, and attention a detail as the use of any professional material would. In some ways, it takes a deeper consideration because one is competing with professional grade and quality materials to get the same results.

One thing I’ll give the exhibit: from a distance the sheer volume of work is highly impressive. Then you get closer and see irregular details, shards of sharp glass, and broken shells it becomes creepy.

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