The Four Candles burned slowly.
Their ambiance was so soft you could hear them speak…
The first candle said, “I Am Peace, but these days, nobody wants to keep me lit.”
Then Peace’s flame slowly diminished and went out completely.
The second candle said, “I Am Faith, but these days, I am no longer indispensable.”
Then Faith’s flame slowly diminished and went out completely.
Sadly the third candle spoke, “I Am Love and I haven’t the strength to stay lit any longer.”
“People put me aside and don’t understand my importance.
They even forget to love those who are nearest to them.”
And waiting no longer, Love went out completely.
A child entered the room and saw the three candles no longer burning.
The child began to cry,
“Why are you not burning? You are supposed to stay lit until the end.”
Then the Fourth Candle spoke gently to the little boy,
“Don’t be afraid, for I Am Hope, and while I still burn,
we can re-light the other candles.”
With shining eyes, the child took the Candle of Hope
and lit the other three candles.
Never let the Flame of Hope go out.
With Hope in your life, no matter how bad things may be,
Peace, Faith and Love may shine brightly once again.
As a young man, Lincoln was a religious skeptic but later in life, his frequent use of religious imagery and language might have reflected his own personal beliefs or might have been a device to appeal to his audiences, who were mostly evangelical Protestants. He never joined a church, although he frequently attended with his wife.
I saw this on Zen to Zany on Facebook this morning and was so impressed with the profound wisdom of it I had to share it here as well.
I love this quote from Abraham Lincoln. How profound. We judge one another so quickly, form opinions based on visuals, or a brief encounter with someone and decide how we feel…and we might find that not liking someone has little to do with that person and much more about our own prejudices. Often we find something in them we don’t like in ourselves.
If we give each other the benefit of the doubt and get to know one another “better”…we may realize our first impressions were harsh and incorrect, especially if they were negative.
Living in a predominantly christian part of the world, I often find myself being asked some variation of this:
Do you follow the teachings of, believe in or worship Jesus Christ?
A lot of folks who have grown up in the “Bible Belt” haven’t interacted much with people of other faiths if at all in their lifetimes. Not due to oversight on their parts so much as the simple fact that the region is overwhelmingly Christian dominated and unless you are actively seeking it is rare to run into someone who is not of that faith. So, very often, the first questions people ask are of things specific to the Christian religion. Oh sure, there are Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. in their sphere of known “religions” even though these are all one denomination or aspect of Christianity. But Pagans? What do they believe in? Well, to start with, much as I heard someone say recently in an episode of Upon A Pagan Path, Paganism isn’t a particular religion so much as it is a movement. There are many distinct and varied religions which fall under the umbrella term Pagan. Among those varied religious paths there are some who call themselves Christo-Pagans or Christian Witches. They do see Jesus as a personal deity. I am not certain myself how the folks who practice those paths are able to reconcile their practice of Pagan ritual and Witchcraft with biblical scriptures specifically forbidding followers of those scriptures from doing so except that I know there are other ways of practicing Christianity besides the fundamentalist way. In my personal opinion, and again I stress I am only speaking for myself and not all of Pagandom here, those who practice any religion by dogmatically referring to scriptures which were written by man about their god are worshiping the book, not the god.
But in answer to the question as it pertains to myself. I see the central figure who is seen as “the messiah” by Christians to be a great teacher. Anyone would do well to follow the words attributed to him as a foundation of wisdom to live one’s life by. If he did perform the miracles attributed to him then surely he too is a god of his people and culture with divine powers. The one and only or one true god? No, I do not follow that line of belief. That is monotheism and I am most definitely a polytheist. Whether a hard or soft polytheist is debatable even within the confines of my own mind but I do not see “God” as a single parent. I seek wisdom and enlightenment from many sources and believe it is there for those who seek it. I believe that the divine is truly present everywhere and in all things. Omnipresent. I do not see divine teachings as being something confined to one set of scriptures or in the distant past but as something which lives and speaks to us every single day of our being if we simply open our eyes and ears to receive the messages.
I have found imbas forosnai (light that illuminates) in the lyrics of songs, the sounds of running water at a creekside and in the wind rustling leaves in the trees. I ask for guidance each morning and cast a rune to receive messages from my gods, ancestors and nature spirits. But, much as Buddhists, Native Americans who follow their ancestral religions and other followers of different religions which are not Christianity, I too do not follow Jesus Christ in the way that a person who identifies his or herself as Christian would. I especially do not follow the hell-fire and brimstone manner of practice which states that anyone who does not believe as I believe is condemned to an eternity of torment. That is, to me, quite plainly, insane. That a divine and loving deity would do the things, that some followers of that path, claim he would, even going so far as to conjure imagery from a 14th century Italian poet rather than from their own sacred scriptures to coerce others into believing as they do is reprehensible in my personal opinion. But as I said, I do know that not all Christians follow and practice their religion in this manner. My own grandparents did not, nor do my sisters, best friend or many other Christians I have the good fortune of knowing. But we all know that they are out there. I run into them all the time. They are the ones which worry me. The ones who seek to tear down the wall between Church and State and establish a new Theocracy. Because, we all know how well that worked out for us in the past. Some say, I shouldn’t concern myself with what these people do but when what these people do affects what kind of world my children will inherit it causes me to keep a wary eye on their activities and call out lies when I see them. I do not believe that the good Rabbi Yeheshua ben Joseph (Jesus Christ to most) would have condoned lying, violence and coercion in his name and when I see it I will call the dominionists on it. Sorry, but the best way to combat a lie in my opinion is to shed the light of truth upon it. Granted, Hypatia of Greece ended up paying the ultimate price for standing up for the truth when the whole world was turning against it. But given the choice between that and living a lie, I’ll take the truth. Some have told me that the dominionists are a small, fringe group of crackpots not to be taken seriously but I think they have more of a following than many realize and merit closer watching and more counteracting of misinformation with truth. Because if history has taught us anything it is that if someone is shouting a lie loud enough and often enough and no one counters it then more and more people will begin to believe it. Eventually enough believe it that we of reason and intellect find ourselves in very real trouble.
But none of that pertains to the original question. I think Jesus sounds like a great guy and a wise teacher. I think his followers would do well to focus more on his words and less on Leviticus in the long run. But when I have prayed it has been the gods of my own ancestors who did not hail from that region, the middle eastern portion of the earth, who answered me and it is their guidance I follow.
Anyway, that’s my two cents. That and about 5 bucks might get you a decent cup of coffee.
Yesterday was very nice indeed. We started the morning off by heading up to La Madeleine’s in north Arlington for a “Post Mortem” meeting with the Pagan Pride Day committee. We discussed how fabulously successful DFW Pagan Pride Day 2013 was and examined what we did that worked as well as things we can improve on in next year’s PPD. Our event ended solidly in the black as far as funds raised through sale of Pagan Pride bracelets, raffle items, snack sales, etc. Even after paying for the venue, honorariums for entertainers and speakers and printing expenses we have a decent amount of seed money available to put towards making PPD 2014 even better. We hope to bring in a headlining performer and big name author/speaker for next year’s event. We are looking at doing Pagan Night Out get togethers for anyone in the community who would like to participate starting in January, a Pagan Garage Sale sometime around March and a flash mob, awareness event near Beltane next year. These should all be exciting times. We will begin very soon to find a venue in Tarrant County which meets our needs and is available sometime between mid-September and mid-October next year. A lot of good points were brought up about how we can do better next year so look forward to seeing some neat stuff in the months ahead.
We had planned to attend the Steampunk November event down in Venus, Texas yesterday too but too many other things came up and we ended up having pizza and movies with the kids instead before heading off to celebrate Nattig with our wonderful Sumerian friends. The place was packed! Not one but two staves of misrule were passed as two temple’s of Sumerians came together to celebrate this Nattig. Inanna went to the underworld to meet with Ereshkigal and eventually found her way out of the darkness and into the light. It was said of our hosts on the back patio as we were preparing for ritual that their hearts are always so full of mirth and not one bit of malice is ever felt from them. This is so true! The energy we have felt at every Sumerian gathering we have ever gone to has been the most light-hearted, warming and fulfilling of any I can recall. After ritual there was much feasting, drumming and dancing as always and I got to hear my friends Gwilym the Bard and Monster jam on a rendition of Led Zeppelin’s Kashmir with Gwilym on his Les Paul Guitar and Monster playing a big Djembe. Then Jennifer belted out Joplin’s Bobby McGee with all the soul and feeling of Janice herself. Much hugging and love as we departed into the night, already looking forward to next time.
Saol fada agus breac-shláinte chugat, (Long-life and fair health to you.)
Seem a bit early for a new year’s resolution? Well, it depends on what calendar you’re observing. On the old Celtic calendar the new year was marked at the beginning of the month we now call November.
Samhain marked the end of one year and beginning of another. So, lately I have been pondering some changes I would like to make. I also, recently celebrated Samhain with my coven, Sacred Fire Temple, and along with two of my priestess sisters I ascended to second degree in the Esoteric Path of Enlightenment. At that observance our High Priest, Emryk, told us that now, going forward as second degrees in our path others will look upon us as ones who have knowledge and wisdom to share. We should take on more of a role as teachers to those seekers who ask things of us. We should guide and live our paths as a good example to others.
In that vein I am doing a little self work to be a little less caustic and a little more understanding of others. Maybe a bit more patient in accepting those things I can not change. But I also will strive to better be the change I would like to see in the world and in so doing, hopefully, inspire others to do likewise.
Don’t worry, I will still be me and my sense of humor is unlikely to change. (Or, maybe that is cause for worry.) 😉 But I do hope to foster more CoExistence in the little piece of the world I have some influence on (myself and those near me) because I think the greatest things happen when we all learn to accept one another for who we are and work together to make the world a better place.
In that vein, some of the topics I intend to write on for future blog posts include questions I have been asked here and there about my Pagan Spirituality and my answer, strictly from my personal perspective. Some of those questions are…
Do you follow the teachings of, believe in or worship Jesus Christ.
Do you follow the teachings of the bible?
Does your religion have a holy book or scriptures you hold sacred?
Etcetera. These are actual questions I have been asked at some point by curious friends and random people. My answers might surprise you a bit, or maybe not. Look for those posts to be coming soon.
Bless the corn and bless the maize,
Bless the nights and bless the days,
Bless the moon and bless the sun,
Bless us each and every one…
– Cianaodh Óg
“Fergus and the Druid” by William Butler Yeats
Fergus. This whole day have I followed in the rocks,
And you have changed and flowed from shape to shape,
First as a raven on whose ancient wings
Scarcely a feather lingered, then you seemed
A weasel moving on from stone to stone,
And now at last you wear a human shape,
A thin grey man half lost in gathering night.
Druid. What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?
Fergus. This would I Say, most wise of living souls:
Young subtle Conchubar sat close by me
When I gave judgment, and his words were wise,
And what to me was burden without end,
To him seemed easy, So I laid the crown
Upon his head to cast away my sorrow.
Druid. What would you, king of the proud Red Branch kings?
Fergus. A king and proud! and that is my despair.
I feast amid my people on the hill,
And pace the woods, and drive my chariot-wheels
In the white border of the murmuring sea;
And still I feel the crown upon my head
Druid. What would you, Fergus?
Fergus. Be no more a king
But learn the dreaming wisdom that is yours.
Druid. Look on my thin grey hair and hollow cheeks
And on these hands that may not lift the sword,
This body trembling like a wind-blown reed.
No woman’s loved me, no man sought my help.
Fergus. A king is but a foolish labourer
Who wastes his blood to be another’s dream.
Druid. Take, if you must, this little bag of dreams;
Unloose the cord, and they will wrap you round.
Fergus. I See my life go drifting like a river
From change to change; I have been many things —
A green drop in the surge, a gleam of light
Upon a sword, a fir-tree on a hill,
An old slave grinding at a heavy quern,
A king sitting upon a chair of gold —
And all these things were wonderful and great;
But now I have grown nothing, knowing all.
Ah! Druid, Druid, how great webs of sorrow
Lay hidden in the small slate-coloured thing!
Well, my smartass streak reared it’s ugly head again yesterday and I might have cost us a valuable resource in the process. Alas, it is my nature and as I am getting older I am trying to curb it but sometimes things do trigger my sarcasm button. One of those being, absolute statements. I shy away from stating much of anything emphatically because I know, sure as I do say something like “You will never find…” Or “This does not exist!” or anything like that, some smartass somewhere will prove me wrong. I know such smartasses exist because I look at one in the mirror every morning. Plus I live and work with a few. 😉
The point of contention revolved around a post I shared on that new Facebook Page I started yesterday for the site. I shared a link from Smart Witch about cinquefoil because I found it interesting, informative and useful. An individual who, despite appearances perhaps, I actually have a great deal of respect for as far as their knowledge and background in the community, posted a comment which simply read “Won’t be finding that growing anywhere around N.Central Texas.”
That may well be a true statement. I honestly don’t know. I have never seen it growing anywhere around here but whether it grows here or not was hardly my point in sharing it. We have many herb shops in the area in which to find useful herbs if need be or it might well grow here. So, I did a Google search and found a site apparently hosted by U.T.A. out of Austin that said the plant does grow in Texas (in Texas, not necessarily N.Central Texas admittedly). So I shared that and said that U.T.A. seems to believe it can grow here at least. (Still not sure why it matters if it can grow here or what the point in stating that might have been but never-the-less). Said individual (Not naming names because I didn’t ask permission to do so and feel it would be rude to do so otherwise.), came back and said ” I’ve never seen it” to which I replied, “Nor have I but it may well be out there somewhere.”
He came back again and stated “I’m pretty familiar with all the native flora around here.” and ” It’s native to N.E.Texas.. not here”. Both, to the best of my knowledge very true statements. This guy probably knows more about the native flora here than I could hope to muster. I want to learn more and have been working on that when I find time. This is part of the reason I regret how our little exchange turned out. An individual like this can be a wealth of useful information to have around. Anyway, I said “K. I’ve only walked a smidgen of North Central Texas myself. I am not so bold as to state that it definitely can not be found somewhere in North Central Texas.” Which is true. I have not walked every square inch of North Central Texas in recent times and seeds and pollen travel long distances on the wind. Also people do buy seeds and plant things in their back yard so, again, I would not be so bold as to say such a thing even if I were as knowledgeable on the subject as this guy is for the very reasons I gave up above.
The point is, tact and diplomacy have never been my strong suit and I am trying to work on that but it has been a lifelong problem. Old habits are hard to break but I am hoping as I become older I am also becoming wiser. So, this morning I was going through my friend’s list looking for friends I could invite to the new page and noticed he was not listed as having liked the page. I suppose after our exchange he must have unliked it. A pity that is, I believe, because had I not been so sarcastic or had I prefaced my sarcasm with a proper amount of ass kissing we might have had a valuable and knowledgeable individual on our page to share a bit of that wisdom with us. Or… we might have simply had someone hanging around to point out the perceived mistakes I make along the way. We may never know which. This same individual, when I first mentioned being involved with DFW Pagan Pride Day stated “Well, there’s something to miss.” So, it’s not like he’s much of a joiner or community oriented guy in the first place. 😉
Speaking of things which ordinarily prefer to grow farther east of us, does anyone happen to know of anyone who has successfully cultivated pawpaws here? I realize they prefer shady environments and more moisture than we typically get here. But it is something I would like to attempt.
Oh! About that Facebook Page. Yeah, I decided if you can’t beat ’em join ’em. If folks would rather interact there, that’s fine. I can live with that. I still say, things posted there are fleeting and lack the permanence a blog does but C’est la vie. I guess a big part of why I am so hard on Facebook is that Zuckerberg and his crew just roll out changes that effect people on the network in big ways without much of a heads up. They act like they own the place or something. Hey, wait a minute… 😉
Let’s face it. Anyone who knows me or has paid any attention to my posts knows I am not a big fan of Facebook or as I like to refer to them, the book of face. Why is that? Well, to start with it’s not that I find them totally useless by any means. It’s got a lot going for it in terms of social networking. It’s a decent way to find and touch base with people or get a snapshot of what’s going on out there. My beef with them comes primarily from their disregard of their user base and breaking things which previously worked in the interests of making people pay to fix them.
But it’s a free service and you are under no obligation to use it.
Very true. But I reserve the right to bitch and bitch I will. I will also point out those downfalls of the book of face that most people are unaware of. I don’t like the way they change up the rules after the fact and place it on the users’ shoulders to change up their settings time and time again to compensate for the changes. I don’t like the way content you have put there vanishes into the aether sometimes with no explanation.
I feel sorry for the folks who spend day after day on the network trying to promote their business, blog, organization or event under the mistaken impression that anything more than 20% of their total base of fans, friends or likers will ever see their posts. Most people have no clue about EdgeRank and how it works.
Will have to rewrite several paragraphs here which got eaten by the great maw! Arrrrrrgggggghhhhhhh!
Now there is something that will send me into a realm of pissed off unlike any that has ever been seen. Writing multiple paragraphs of content on my mobile app only to have it give me an error upon uploading then having said work vanish into nothingness. Was the glitch on my server or was it with WordPress? The world may never know. But never-the-less please bear with me as I try to recreate what I previously had written.
A couple of weeks ago, a dear friend of mine who owns a business here in Arlington was lamenting the fact that she had to reword her ad because the book of face was rejecting some of the content because her business sells “smoking accessories”. So I pointed out that the book of face was not the only game in town. She said yeah but they are the best bang for the buck that she has found. How true that statement is I am not sure of after I read an article here recently that said most of the hits paid advertising gets on the network comes from bots (automated scripts used by search engines, marketing firms and spammers to collect data) rather than actual human beings. But, be that as it may I suggested she also try putting some free and/or cheap advertising out on some other places like Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Craigslist Small Business Ads section, blogs and forums which are frequented by her target market and yes, Google+, Facebook’s arch competitor in the social networking market.
I see the posts by the people who claim that G+ is a “ghost town” and wonder what these people are doing. Putting up a scant profile and sitting back to wait for the world to beat a path to your door won’t work on any social network, including the mighty book of face. If you don’t get on it and socialize you won’t get results. I get about as much response on my G+ stream as I do on the book of face but I invested time into building my social circles there as well.
I’m not saying anyone should totally abandon Facebook but if it is your end all, be all then you are missing out on a lot and you might not be getting the “bang for your buck” or even for your time invested that you think you are.
I went searching for my friend and her business recently on Pinterest and G+. Nothing. How much does it cost to set up an account and a page at least on either of these sites? Nothing. So if it’s free advertising, why not at least do that?
That be all end all thing is what I don’t get. The reality is, only 20% of those people on your friend, fan, likers, whatever list ever see your post. Why not spread yourself around a bit more if your goal is to be seen and heard? I have this one friend who comes here to my blog, reads my article all the way to the bottom where there is a nice comment box or reply button depending on whether you are on the desktop or mobile version. Instead of replying here on the blog where it might foster further discussion on the article, she goes back to Facebook where she saw the original link and comments there? What’s up with that? Stuff on Facebook is only going to stick around on people’s newsfeeds for a day or two on average but on a blog it can be found and replied to months down the road even. I don’t get it myself but I can say that the masters of Facebook certainly know how to work a captive audience. I honestly don’t know why it irritates me so much though. It just does. I guess I don’t like overconsolidation in general. I think competition and diversity makes for a healthier marketplace whether we’re talking economics, biodiversity or social interactions.
I’m reminded of a Sci-Fi story I read many years ago in which human society had become very centralized, planned and organized. People lived for very long times if not indefinitely and so were able to travel interstellar distances and colonize other star systems. But nothing much had changed for thousands of years. Nothing new got invented, nothing much creative happened, society had stagnated. Life was simply existence with no passion and mystery. The hero of the story was hated by all because he brought that great society down and out of the rubble of the fallen empire people were forced to rebuild but in so doing found life once again.
With all of that said, I am starting a Facebook Page for the blog today. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know! But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em I guess. LOL!