…and to some to whom it may not. I published this last night on the Facebook Page and decided to publish it here as well in the interests of clarifying things.
Friends and neighbors,
I feel I should clarify something as there seems to be a bit of confusion. Those who have followed my blog for a long time might or might not have noticed a change in the tone of some of the posts published there and on the accompanying Facebook Page. While it’s true that when Our Pantheons Way was first launched its focus was on the DFW Pagan Community specifically and some of my own personal thoughts and musings on spirituality in general. It has always been a place in which I would publish my own personal opinions though and it still is that today. For a time, after I founded my own temple in November of 2014 I actually stopped publishing the blog altogether and considered just making it a time capsule of sorts; an archive of my old posts. However, as we began publishing articles and newsletters on Temple Of the Standing Stones and through Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition I came to realize there were things I wanted to say that did not fit on those pages. I have long held the belief that politics and religion should not intermingle very much if at all and that certainly it is poor form, in my opinion, for a spiritual leader to tell members of their organization who to vote for or what to believe politically. However, I do not believe that, as clergy, someone gives up their right to hold their own personal political beliefs or to express them outside of their religious forum.
When I began publishing articles on Our Pantheons Way again several months ago I made changes to the way the blog is described and the way it is categorized on Facebook. Our Pantheons Way is not listed as a Religious Organization or a page focused specifically on “Spiritual Enlightenment”. It is listed as a Society and Culture Website. It has one publisher and one admin and that is me. I reserve the right to express my personal opinions on Our Pantheons Way because it is my personal site. I will publish things on this page that I would not dream of publishing on Temple Of the Standing Stones or on Spirit Of the Sycamore Tradition because it is my opinion that those religious organizations do not hold a political opinion as a whole. They are made up of the bodies of the clergy and membership of the organization and individual members will each have their own opinions.
But here. I reserve my right to say whatever I feel as myself and myself alone. If you choose to attach my personal opinions to those or any other organizations I might belong to then that’s on you. I reject the notion that one gives up their right to have an opinion when one joins an organization.
Boosting the signal on this wonderful project at the request of some of my favorite musicians in the world:
PLEASE READ and follow this link! A universal matter! WE NEED YOU!
THIS IS NOT AN AD!
WE ARE NOT ASKING FOR FUNDING!
THIS IS AN OPEN INVITATION TO BE PART OF A MUSICAL PROJECT THAT CAN HELP US MAKE A DIFFERENCE GLOBALLY!!!
WE ARE ONLY ASKING FOR A LITTLE OF YOUR TIME.
All you have to do is help us spread the word! IT’s EASY AND FREE!
FIRST…Click this link! “LIKE” the page! Explore our goal and who we are!
SECOND… SHARE THE PAGE! ON YOURS AND IN YOUR GROUPS! Help us reach out and make this exponential!
LAST…INVITE YOUR FRIENDS and ask them to do the same.
PLEASE SHOW YOUR SUPPORT AND HELP by simply hooking in and Sharing the Project EVERYWHERE and consistently!
We are a group of Independent Musicians from around the globe who are creating a musical tribute and celebration geared toward raising awareness to benefit the ecological state of the world we all live in.
WE THE MUSICIANS are creating the music, recording and producing this project, called The Green Album at our own expense. Once this compilation is complete, 25% of all the sales proceeds from ALL 14 various artists will go directly to Rainforest Trust, an organization dedicated to preserving the Worlds natural endangered environments and the life that lives within! To learn more visit our page at this link! To find out more about Rainforest Trust go to their fb page or visit www.rainforesttrust.org! Follow the page daily for announcements and tack through the feed to see who is involved. Learn about the Artists and their music through the postings, videos, links and more!
The Green Album, produced by Tuatha Dea and Nightsong Studios will feature ALL NEW music with a GREEN theme from:
Tuatha Dea, Wendy Elizabeth Rule, Bekah Kelso, Ginger Doss, Celia Farran, Sharon Knight and Winter Jp Sichelschmidt, Damh the Bard, Brian Henke, Spiral Rhythm, Spiral Dance, Mama Gina LaMonte and Murphey’s Midnight Rounder!
Four Days and Three Nights of Pagan Music, Workshops, Vending, and Festivities.
Born of one man’s vision, this festival will take place at Cherokee Farms in LaFayette Georgia over the Memorial Day Weekend, 2016.
We will have almost 30 Pagan acts, close to 100 vendors, and an amazing array of workshops that are being presented by our musical talent.
Tickets are $100.00. This is for the entire festival! Seriously, only $100 for four days and three nights. On-site camping is included on a first come basis!
SOLD OUT! For a limited time we are offering 50 VIP passes for an additional $100.00. You will be able to buy them when you pay for your ticket.
NOTE: No tickets will be sold at the gate. All admission tickets must be purchased online.
Interested in volunteering? We have two volunteer types. If you are interested, please fill out the form on this page.
So who is Dr. Robert Michaels? You may be asking this if the quote included here has passed your screen many times over the past few years as it has mine, being attributed to the rapper Eminem. For the most part I’m not concerned about whose lips wise words pass through because I don’t feel that the words themselves become more wise or less so just because of who says them. Truth is still truth even if a chronic liar happens to speak it one time. Before any Eminem fans jump all over me I am not calling Eminem a chronic liar either. I actually happen to like some of his songs and before I learned it wasn’t actually him who said these words I simply thought “What a cool thing for him to say.” But, I feel it is time we give credit for this wonderful quote where it actually is due. Dr. Michaels, a doctor in the Detroit area, said this at an undisclosed high school during a commencement speech he was invited to give.
But, what this does serve to point out is that you can’t believe everything you read on the internet and it’s a good idea to check things out before blindly accepting them as fact. I too, have been guilty of sharing something a little too quickly because it says what I want to hear before making sure it’s actually true. I have been seeing, since the recent violent events and terrorist acts have taken place, a lot of rhetoric, a lot of propaganda, and a lot of outright fabrication making the rounds about this group of people and that group of people. Along with it some very bigoted and intolerant views have been expressed from many sides. Also, some very inspiring stories of cooperation and coexistence have surfaced from places which may have been expected in some cases or quite surprising in others. If any of us think that our particular ideology or philosophy of life is immune from being interpreted to radical extremes we are fooling ourselves. Some, from my atheist friends who have shared many memes ridiculing people who are praying for victims of violence because “Prayer is useless, why don’t you actually DO something.” they say. Well, I can’t speak for everyone who prays of course but I can speak for myself and I do believe in backing my prayers up with actions. I donate blood, food, clothing and money to causes or people I wish to help. I speak up and I vote on issues at hand guided by my own conscience and I will add that just because I am not doing what YOU think I should do does not mean I am doing NOTHING. I have seen it said that religion is the primary cause of wars and it’s unfortunately true that it has been a driving force behind some of them. But more often than not, religion is hijacked as a motivating factor to get people to support wars which are truly rooted in expansion of power and acquirement of wealth. I have been told that using Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao as examples of atheists who committed mass murders and other atrocities is not valid because their crimes were not motivated by their beliefs or lack of a belief in a divine power. Well, guess what? Neither are most of the acts which are usually blamed on religion. The key teachings of most any religion when they are properly adhered to are that we should treat others as we would like to be treated and we should strive to live in peace and harmony with one another. That’s it. That’s the basic message when you get down to it. Those who twist the meaning into something which compels acts of evil are NOT doing it right. But, lest you think that a lack of belief in the divine in and of itself gives you moral high ground over others, explain this guy:
A nutcase, is a nutcase, is a nutcase and we all have our share of them in our camps. Attacking peoples entire religion or lack thereof based on their radicals is counterproductive. Sure, pointing out specific fallacies in their words or interpretations is fair game in my opinion. We can discuss ideas until the cows come home and maybe find some common ground in the process but to paint an entire group with one brush is horribly ineffective in solving issues. I can’t say all Christians are assholes just because the members of Westboro Baptist Church are prone to acts of extreme assholery. Well, I could, but I would be wrong.
Despite their faults the Romans had a very practical approach to the many religions practiced in the republic and later the empire up until one religion was chosen to be the official religion of the empire. Believe me, as one who pulls heavily from my Celtic ancestry I see many faults with the Romans but this is one thing I think they had right at the time. To the Romans, religion was less a spiritual experience than a contractual relationship between mankind and the forces which were believed to control people’s existence and well-being. Most of the Roman gods and goddesses were a blend of several religious influences. Many were introduced via the Greek colonies of southern Italy. Many also had their roots in old religions of the Etruscans or Latin tribes. When the Romans conquered new lands they didn’t force the inhabitants of these new lands to give up their gods and follow those of the Romans. In fact, many were adopted into the empire and worshiped right along side their own. Isis of Egypt and Epona from the Celts are two very good examples. The Romans had atheists too and many forms of philosophy and thoughts on the meaning of life. Plutarch wrote “The superstitious man wishes he did not believe in gods, as the atheist does not, but fears to disbelieve in them.”
I believe the founding fathers of The United States of America were well aware of the history and practicality of the democracies of ancient Greece and the early Roman Empire’s approach to religion and governance. I believe this is why they sought to keep the powers of religion and of state separate when they drew up the Constitution upon which this representative democracy is founded. Different religions and other ideologies can coexist if their adherents agree to make it so. If I recognize that what I see as absolute rules for me to live by, handed down by my gods are just that, absolute rules for me to live by. Not necessarily you. Not necessarily everyone else in the land. But, in my sacred places and in my home, sure. If I don’t want to eat pork because my god says so then that gives me no right to forbid it for you. My rights end where yours begin. The state should remain neutral in matters in which no one is being harmed in any conceivable way. I think if we could all agree to live and let live in this way we could all be free to pursue life, liberty and happiness as we see fit. Shouldn’t that be what it’s all about?
I have a few quibbles too but it wasn’t always so. Polytheistic Rome had many religions and they got along okay. They waged war over good old fashioned riches, land and power. Which honestly are the true underlying reasons a lot of the wars categorized as being about religion are really fought about anyway. Religion just tends to be a convenient way to get the masses on board with killing folks who are occupying space the rich guys want.
I received this question from a wonderful person who has been attending some of our temple events in recent months and I answered it as best I could then got to thinking, others might also benefit from this conversation. So, with no names involved to protect privacy, here is an excerpt from the discussion…
Another thing I’ve been trying to figure out is how exactly to see the gods. I have a hard time seeing them as literal beings. I can see how they could be archetypes that represent a certain energy force that can manipulate or be manipulated, but I’ve felt more in the last few months when meditating and praying then I ever did from anything else I have ever tried before.
Hang on, I need to explain something so this will make more sense.
So before I started researching paganism I was an atheist. This spring I took a couple of philosophy classes and I started thinking about how I have been trying to improve as a person. I realized since some shitty things had happened with *my ex* my personal growth had been shifting toward intellectual, academic growth while virtually ignoring any emotional or spiritual growth. I had become incredibly analytical and skeptical about everything. So I decided to shift my focus and try to work on the other side of things. I started googling stuff, ended up finding some stuff about paganism, and here we are.
The point of all that is I suppose is to point out that I tend to have a hard time letting go of that skepticism sometimes. Even when I see signs, I have to stop myself from trying to logic them away.
For 22 years of my own life I considered myself to be an agnostic so I can relate with where you are coming from in some ways making the journey from an atheist’s perspective. Understand, there are some folks who consider themselves Humanistic and even Atheist Pagans so it’s not unheard of to come to this conclusion in your relationship with the divine. I, began my journey after having a vision which convinced me that YES there is something besides just me, my fellow humans and other living beings, etc. A Goddess actually spoke to me as far as I’m concerned and no, it wasn’t like you and I might speak to one another in person. It was something like a lucid dream but so much more. I can’t really describe it in terms that I feel do it justice other than to say I felt a presence and that presence did not feel like it came from myself or within my own mind. So, I have spent years since meditating on it, connecting in whatever ways I find and trying to wrap my own head around what the nature of that presence might be. I too, explored the concepts of Jungian archetypes and because they fit into my (at the time) more scientific and academic view on things that model worked for me for a long time but after awhile it just didn’t “feel” right anymore. By this time I was beginning my formal study as an Alexandrian Wiccan and my mentor was teaching me of the duo-theistic nature of the divine, the Lord and Lady, God and Goddess. This made much more sense to me at the time. I liked the idea of balance and that just as there are masculine and feminine energies at work in nature, so it would be in the world of the divine. The diamond concept of the divine seemed sensible too, that all gods and all goddesses are facets of the same divine source. I subscribed to this model for several years. Then eventually I began studying ADF Druidry. Druids teach that all gods and all goddesses are their own individual entities upon themselves. I struggled with this concept for quite some time before finally accepting it and ultimately, I do feel that these divine beings do have their own autonomy from one another, their own personalities and spheres of influence. But it seems to me that they are also, still, quite interconnected with one another in some way that I haven’t quite conceived yet and am not sure if I ever will.
These are the legs of my personal journey so far but it’s by no means complete. But the answer to your question is, I can not tell you how exactly to see the gods. The gods are a concept that we all have theories on and, much like the blind men and the elephant, I think we all may well have a piece of the truth but none of us can really see the entire, big picture. Your journey will be your journey just as mine is mine. How you see and interact with your gods will be a very personal matter between you and them. This is why most pagan religions focus on orthopraxy rather than orthodoxy. In other words, what we do is more important than what we believe. We all may have a ritual together or have some other spiritual experience together but we will each take something different away from the experience. While I might see a shimmering ball of light descend from the heavens, you might see a warrior goddess riding on a horse. We see what we need to see and we take that vision to lead us on our journey.
But, that being said, I too, find meditation to be the most effective way to prepare my mind and spirit for connection with the divine. It is the vehicle I prefer to use and I recommend it highly to others. I know, some use other methods and those are reported to be highly effective to. But I am happy with where meditation has taken me and I feel it deepens my connection with the gods, whatever they may be.
So, this one has been making the rounds lately and most of the time I just ignore it but it showed up in one place where I found it particularly inappropriate and admittedly I reacted badly to seeing it there because I felt that where it was posted was not the place for this particular type of humor. But why so? Well, I would like to take this opportunity to explain and to apologize to my brother who I sort of went off on when I saw it posted there. I said some things which were inappropriate myself and I feel bad about having done so.
The comparison between Miley Cyrus and Draco Malfoy is indeed mildly humorous and I see where that might be funny. What annoys me is the wording with the particular image which was used to create this meme. Keep in mind, I look at things from a Pagan perspective, particularly from Pagan culture as I see it and it is from that perspective that I perceive things. Also, I never really kept up with Miley Cyrus during her Hanna Montana years nor am I a fan of her music. But I do remember my daughter watching the show when she was younger for awhile. What I am trying to get across is that I don’t carry any emotional baggage because I am a fan of Miley Cyrus in particular (artistically I am not) nor do I carry such baggage as a person who is utterly shocked that as she became grown she threw off the childhood persona and began to express herself as a more sexual being. No, she didn’t particularly begin to get my attention until she started making waves by challenging the social norms. I am right there with her on her views of nudity and how people react to it as she revealed in this interview with Jimmy Kimmel recently.
See, what I don’t like is that the picture shows Miley Cyrus in what appears to be a stripper pose and further enforces puritanical ideals by implying that Draco Malfoy is going through “tough times” by having to strip for a living. Understand that as far back as I can remember. Well before I even realized I was Pagan, I never could wrap my head around why being naked or working in a sex related industry necessarily had to carry negative connotations or had to be a degrading thing. Some people (a lot if they want to be honest about it) actually enjoy sex and being naked.
Many people don’t realize that our modern words gymnastics and gymnasium come from the Greek root word gymnos. Do you know what gymnos means? It means naked. The ancient Greeks, the Pagan ancient Greeks, generally stripped down naked for sporting events. The first Olympic games were held in the nude. In most Pagan societies being naked was not looked down upon in the way it is in puritanical America. It was simply a state of being, a way to be comfortable and unrestricted in movement. It is said that ancient Celtic warriors charged into battle naked when confronting Roman invaders as a means to frighten them and to show that they had faith in their gods to protect them without the need for armor. Indeed, they fought and won many fierce battles. Whether the account of them being naked in battle is true however is debatable because it comes from their enemy, Caesar himself. But in any event, most historical studies of most Pagan cultures show that they did not hold the human body in quite the same view of detest-ability that modern Americans tend to. Granted among various tribes throughout the world, Europe and the Americas included, some were proudly naked while others indeed held a more reserved view and remained clothed.
Still, I have never been able to help but wonder if places like strip clubs would have even taken off in a majority Pagan America. After all, why pay money to see something you can see just walking down the street or hanging around at the pool or beach right? The very fact that such professions even exist or are looked down upon as a means of supporting oneself is based in the puritanical view that being naked is evil, sex is dirty and to make a living that way is degrading. I find those views alien to a Pagan culture personally. That is the crux of why I find the meme and ones like it offensive. But as with most things which don’t appeal to me, I usually just scroll by such things and ignore them. It’s only when they appear in places where I have no choice but to say something about them that I generally speak up.
One thing I have learned so far in my less than a year as a High Priest and therefore teacher, so to speak, is a thing I have heard many elders before me utter. But sometimes we don’t see just how true some things are until we’ve been in the driver’s seat and seen it for ourselves. It is frustrating at times but I suppose it goes with the territory and provides us with opportunities to learn and grow as well. That thing I am talking about? It seems, more often than not, that Seekers come and have no real idea of what it is they are seeking or that what they think they are seeking is ever changing. But they do know that whatever it is they want, they want it RIGHT NOW! Lol! So, I was inspired to generate a meme.
But you know, I can relate to both sides of this. I’ve been the seeker not knowing what it is I want too. Sometimes I still don’t. But I think I have developed more patience over the years and learned to give gentle nudges then wait and see what unfolds.
Anyone who knows me well knows that I find a lot to laugh at in this world. Humor is all around us if we look for it and my own tastes in humor can be described as what more refined and civilized people may consider crass and offensive but to each their own. Despite my love of jokes about sex, religion, world views and other things which might be controversial there are some things I do not find funny.
Mean-spirited Jokes – You know the old running gag on Peanuts cartoons where Lucy holds the football and just as Charlie Brown runs up to kick it she snatches it away and he goes flying into the air and falls on his butt? Even as a kid, the first time I saw that, I asked my parents “Why did she do that to him?” I didn’t see why that was funny. It just seemed mean. Well, I feel that way about most jokes where someone is made the victim in a cruel or humiliating way. I enjoy pranks just fine. Things where someone gets scared or put into a weird situation to see how they react. That stuff is funny to me. You know, Candid Camera type gags. But those clips of people having accidents, falling down and whatnot? I find myself cringing and hoping they are okay more than anything. It’s not funny to me when people get hurt or may have been hurt. Now, if I see that they are okay, sure it’s fine to have a good laugh then.
Body Shaming Jokes – We all have a body and they come in all shapes and sizes. I have seen beautiful people who were short, tall, skinny or fat and many things in between. I don’t like those kinds of jokes that say stuff like “Why is she wearing that? She doesn’t have the body for that.” I find such jokes cruel and a form of bullying. If you don’t like what you see, you don’t have to look. But I don’t think anyone should be shamed into fitting your idea of what a perfect body should look like. I applaud people who shake off the cultural shackles and shine regardless of what body type they have.
Racist Jokes – Enough said. It ain’t funny if it’s cruel and mean spirited. Now, I will put the disclaimer in there that there are some very talented comedians out there who can joke about our differences in a way that we can all appreciate and laugh, even at ourselves. But when it’s degrading or demeaning to someone, I am not down with that.
I do enjoy jokes about religion, even if it’s about my own religion, but I will make the same disclaimer that I made with race jokes. If they are done in a way which causes us to laugh at our differences without being degrading or demeaning it is much preferred. I like to laugh at ideas and concepts as well as people in general. We human beings can be a funny lot if you step back and look at us from a casual observer’s point of view. But those aimed at a single, individual person, are not usually funny to me. I say not usually because there are a few who I feel have brought it on themselves by being huge assholes in the public eye (Think Fred Phelps, etc.) But the ones which single someone out and are cruel in nature; the ones that sometimes people will comment on with words that would make you feel terrible if someone were to say the same things about you. Yeah, that stuff is not funny folks.
I get many forms of humor which I have noticed some people don’t usually latch on to including satire, puns, slapstick and more. But cruelty? There’s nothing funny about that to me.
LOL! There, I said it and y’all are too! You’ll spend countless hours debating the meaning of this word or the interpretation of that word and who did it this way or that way and the history of this that and the other to death. It gets to the point that no meaningful progress can be made or any community wide efforts gain momentum because everyone wants to row in their own direction and the boat ends up falling apart and sinking. Don’t get me wrong. I love the spiritedness of Pagans. The creativity, the resourcefulness, the outside the box thinking and the overall knowledge and wisdom of history, magick and healing. So, even though you’re a pain in the ass, I love ya. I love being at your rituals, your drum circles, your workshops and revel fires. I love the energy and excitement of gatherings large and small. I love the sound of drums and the smell of wood and incense burning in the air. Sometimes, I even love the debates. But other times I want to scream KNOCK IT OFF! Sheesh! Anyone know what I mean?