Spirituality – Living It vs. Reading It


The following article on living was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on July 7th, 2013.

Festival Drum - Living It!
Djembe By Campfire – Living It!

Each morning I start my day off in basically the same way. I wake up (hopefully) and look over at my altar which sits right next to my bed on a small shelf attached to the wall where most people would keep their night stand. If the spirit candle has burned out I light a new one. I light a tea light candle in the southern quadrant for the element of fire. I light an incense in the east for air. I check on my malachite and other stones in the north and my sea shell in the west. Sometimes I change out and have a chalice of water in the west or some other representations but these days that the basics of my altar. I light a healing candle if anyone I know of is in need of healing or other energies. Then I pick up my athame and cast an invoking pentagram followed by these words or something similar.

Great Goddess, Mighty God

You who are of me and around me

Guide me through this day

Show me the way through darkness and confusion

Grant to me peace, love, balance, courage, health and joy for this day.

So mote it be.

I place my athame back into it’s sheath (it’s a replica of a Royal Scottish Dirk which my wife gave to me as a gift) and lay it back onto the altar. I reach into my bag of runes and take out one for my guidance for the day. Write down what rune it was in my journal and a little about it’s meaning then go on to start my work day.

It’s a simple ritual and very Wiccan in style but I do it every day and it helps me to connect with the divine, ask for their guidance and feel I am off to a good start. If I were to miss it I would probably go through the day feeling lost because it has become an important part of my life and of my daily routine.


In the past I have done daily invocations in the style of ADF Druidry but since the Goddess smacked me upside the head nearly a year ago now and made it quite clear that I needed to get my butt back on my path this is the ritual which has been working for me. Later I may change it but I will likely always start my day with something like this.

We all have our own ways of reconnecting with the divine, the center, nature or however we describe what makes us feel….. for lack of a better word, right? That we belong? That we are a part of something?

I know that whenever I am out in nature I also feel the connectedness of the divine. Some of us need ritual, some of us don’t. We all have our preferred methods of divination. Some of us are heavily into magickal workings, some of us are more interested in learning our history and rituals. But we all, together are living our spirituality in our own ways. How do you live yours?

“Go out, go out I beg of you 

And taste the beauty of the wild. 

Behold the miracle of the earth 

With all the wonder of a child”

– Edna Jaques


Fear – Are You A God Fearing Person?

The following article on fear was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on June 27th, 2014.

If you are shocked by what I say then you obviously haven't paid attention to who I am. Fear.
If you are shocked by what I say then you obviously haven’t paid attention to who I am.

I was visiting my friend Camie at Texas Snow Store in Watauga as I sometimes do on my way home from work and a couple of guys walk up carrying a big box of banana nut bread for sale. She says, “Oh, you have to try this banana bread! It’s the best ever!” So, she goes running up to meet them and buys a few loaves for herself and one for us to share. She offers them a snow cone each to cool them off from walking in the afternoon heat and humidity and they come over and join us in the shade of Dave’s gazebo close to his Philly Shack restaurant.

These two guys are from a Christian based rehabilitation house nearby which helps drug addicts turn their lives around and change their habits. The banana nut bread they sell helps fund the program and helps the people going through the program get accustomed to the trials of everyday productive work and interacting with people. They tell us about how some of the people who are doing what they are doing don’t want to change their ways and instead steal the money made from selling the bread to go buy drugs.

But if the program can help 1 in 10 people pull themselves out of the gutter of addiction then it’s worth it right? I am happy to see people improving their lives through whatever means work for them. Now cynical me has thought on occasion about how these programs latch on to people when they are at the lowest points in their lives and most vulnerable and susceptible to persuasion in order to brainwash them into a manner of thinking which benefits the people running the program. Like, I said, that’s cynical me talking and indeed such programs do usually come with a stipulation that one needs to submit to and turn over their faculties to the particular organizations interpretation of what their “one true god” wishes. Essentially using it as an avenue to recruit more members. The very thing those of us from minority religions like Wicca and Druidry are often accused of.

But still, if this organization helps those people to make a better life for themselves then some loyalty in return is probably not too much to ask is it? Perhaps some of the Pagan organizations should take note if they ever become large enough and organized enough to fund such programs. 😉

But anyway, at one point one of the guys pipes up and asks us if we are “God fearing people.” I answered as I often do such queries. “I have no need to fear my god because I know my god loves me.” He wasn’t quite sure what to do with that answer based on the look on his face but it was no matter because Camie piped in with “Well, he’s spiritual but not religious.” So the guy says, well, the important thing is that we believe there is something bigger than just us out there. Which I agree with regardless of what form that something bigger might take on from one individual or another.

That phrase and others like it have always bothered me though. It’s a popular one in Bible Belt Christianity. “God fearing.” It smacks of being in an abusive relationship to me. Why should I have to fear my god(dess) if (s)he loves me? Perhaps fear letting my god(dess) down if my actions are not worthy of his or her approval or that I am not living my life up to the fullest potential the gods have laid before me. But to fear my gods themselves? That concept just seems odd to me. What do you think?

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Desperately Poor Or Just Not In The System?

So, I happened upon a video a friend of mine posted on Facebook and while the man certainly made some good points regarding the issue he was intending to shed light on, my mind wandered off into other things as it is often inclined to do. In it, he keeps referring to these people the World Bank calls “desperately poor” because they earn less than $2 per day on average in income. But, this assumes those people even live within the system the rest of us do and how relative things can be in terms of living and survival.

The system?
The system?

The dominant culture within our society of the industrialized world has no use for people who are not in the system of exchanging labor for money (which is in fact a certificate of debt) for goods and services (many of which were previously freely available to our ancestors for the taking from the abundance of the land or through their own efforts.) Have you ever seen the 1980 movie ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’? It’s a humorous, campy, obviously eighties flick but with an excellent message, I think, about the differences in cultures.

So, how many among these billions of people Mr. Beck refers to in his gumball analogy come from cultures for whom that $2 per day is neither here nor there because they live a life very much like their own ancestors in which money isn’t necessary? One simply lives off the land, shares with his family and neighbors and thanks the gods for the abundance offered? Not a taker culture but a leaver culture as Daniel Quinn referred to in his novels. The takers take it upon themselves to define how things should be and the leavers leave it up to the gods. Also, even among those who live in the world of money, what $2 may purchase in one part of the world can differ greatly from what it might purchase in another part so as a measure of “wealth” it is rather iffy in its own right. When Europeans first came to the Americas the natives who were living here made less than $2 per day too but did they consider themselves to be “desperately poor”? Probably not. Because theirs was a culture which lived in balance and harmony with the land. Oh, I don’t mean to imply that they did not know struggle and strife. Certainly there was disease and war among them. All human cultures are faced with these maladies. All I am saying is, whether or not $2 per day in income is a sign of “desperate poverty” is relative depending on the way the people live and what is considered valuable.

Just a few thoughts that wandered into my mind and now out through my keyboard. My two cents as it were.

Offerings And DFW Gaelic League

Today’s post is just a couple of offerings from my photo collection and some stories about them. I’m happy to share this glimpse of my life with you. 🙂

These were the offerings to the well which were collected at our Imbolc gathering. Soon we will offer these to the gods at a nearby body of water.
These were the offerings to the well which were collected at our Imbolc gathering. Soon we will offer these to the gods at a nearby body of water.

As part of our ritual in honor of the goddess Brighid last weekend we asked the attendees to make offerings of silver, coins, crystals and other items to the well which will be sacrificed to the gods. To complete this journey they will be taken to a nearby body of water and ceremonially offered to the kindred.

I just got my t-shirt yesterday from DFW Gaelic League. One of the offerings in their Cafe Press shop.
I just got my t-shirt yesterday from DFW Gaelic League. One of the offerings in their Cafe Press shop.

On the top it reads “Conradh na Gaeilge” which is Gaelic League of course and below is “Craobh Chairdeas Texas” or Friendship Branch Texas. I’ve known about our local DFW Gaelic League for some time and have even been a member of their Facebook group for awhile. But due to the class schedules and places not meshing with my work (for a living) schedule and my temple work schedule I have never been able to attend any of their classes. They do have some excellent online resources available though which I very much appreciate and I wanted to do something to support them and their efforts. So, I did some poking around on their site and found that they have a Cafe Press store in which they sell some products to raise funds. I thought, “Go hiontach!” and ordered this shirt as well as a sticker which I hope to receive soon. They usually set up an information table at North Texas Irish Festival which my family, friends and I typically go out to every year. Unfortunately though, this year my vacation plans fall on the very same weekend so I will only be able to attend the opening festivities on Friday night this year. But, we will get to see Williamsburg, Virginia at least and there’s always next year for N.T.I.F.!

Side note: There are similar organizations throughout the world. See if there is one near you at: Conradh Na Gaeilge.

 

Food, Friends, Games, Music And Good Times

Wildcraft is unique among games. Learning and cooperation are key elements.
Wildcraft is unique among games. Learning and cooperation are key elements.

I played this game with my son this past weekend and it’s a great way to teach kids (and adults) about useful herbs that might be growing nearby. I also like the fact that it encourages cooperation rather than cut throat competition to win the game. The setting is that you’re at grandma’s house and she wants you to hike up the mountain to fetch her a couple of pails of huckleberries. Each player starts with four herbs in their backpack in case they need them for troubles along the way. The troubles might be a headache, cuts, a sprained ankle or maybe a bee sting. You’ll have opportunities to gather more herbs, take shortcuts or deal with set backs. You also get to help your friends catch up or deal with the troubles which come their way. By the time everyone makes it back to grandma’s house before nightfall everyone will have learned a thing or two and had some fun. Last Yule we bought extras of this game and gave them as gifts. Find out more at Learning Herbs

We had some delicious food at our Imbolc gathering. Our friend Jenni is a trained chef and she turned this into a marvelous stew and herb roasted leg of lamb.
We had some delicious food at our Imbolc gathering. Our friend Jenni is a trained chef and she turned this into a marvelous stew and herb roasted leg of lamb.

Every time we get together, the food my friends and I come up with is always amazing. Maybe that’s why I’m always struggling with my weight? Oh well, first world problems I guess.

Guinness chips. These things are awesome! I have shared this addiction with my friends at work, my spiritual family and beyond.
Guinness chips. These things are awesome! I have shared this addiction with my friends at work, my spiritual family and beyond.
See? Even at our jam sessions. Because, why not, right?
See? Even at our jam sessions. Because, why not, right?
Happy housewarming Jay and Stevie!
Happy housewarming Jay and Stevie!

We had some truly magical vibes that night playing a mix of styles from all over the world on the fly.

Pagans, Integrity and Forgiveness

The following article on forgiveness was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on Father’s Day, June 16th, 2013.

Paganism is a living religion - Always changing, always growing! - Forgiveness
Paganism is a living religion – Always changing, always growing!

Happy Father’s Day to all my fellow Dads out there as well as moms who are having to be both mom and dad to someone. Expect today’s blog post to be somewhat convoluted as I have several things that have been bouncing around in my head that I wanted to write about today but no clear plan going forth as to how to go about writing on them. So bear with me as I juggle the duties of writing this along with my dadly (yes, I created a new word) duties of helping a young child who fell asleep on the living room couch last night and had an accident. Oh! and get him breakfast too! 🙂 So anyway, yes, as the title suggests I would like to talk a little bit about how Pagans in general (based solely on my own experiences) treat the concepts of integrity and forgiveness. A lot of Pagans seem to feel that forgiveness is a predominantly Christian concept and that people should be held accountable for their actions to the bitter end. Now, I am no expert by any means on the teachings of all the traditions out there and I write just as much so that perhaps some of you who are more knowledgeable can have an opportunity to enlighten me as I do to express my viewpoints. Anyway, whether forgiveness is a concept that comes from our own lineage or not my question is shouldn’t it be? One of the graphics I see come across on the book of face quite a bit that I usually share when I see it says that we forgive someone not always because they deserve it but because we deserve peace. Another says that holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. It just doesn’t work that way. Believe me, I am very much human and very much struggle with these ideas myself but ultimately I do see the wisdom in them.

Moving on to integrity. I also see a lot of posts, and have probably shared some myself, along the lines of “I do whatever I want and screw what you think about it.” Certainly our individuality and rebellious nature is a thing to be celebrated I think but there comes a point sometimes when the actions we decide to take might become harmful to others or show a lack of ethics or integrity. If we make an oath, take a vow or otherwise give our word on something then later take an action that shows we have not followed through on what we’ve said, whether we like it or not, others judge us on those actions. Whether they say it out loud or not the thought is still in their mind and they will deal with us accordingly. Sometimes our actions come with a price. They might cost us a great deal of trust and respect. So, certainly do what you want but understand that what you want and what is right may or may not be the same thing and consider what the consequences of your actions might be. But, since we are all human, we’re all going to slip up once in awhile. Let’s try to work on that forgiveness thing. Agree? Disagree? Please share your thoughts. I have to go do more dadly stuff.

Many Blessings All,

Cianaodh

 

References:

Starhawk On Forgiving – Thank you Vense for reminding me of this one.

The Goddess Brighid, Crosses And Imbolc

Still there are FlameKeepers who tend the sacred flame of Brighid on a 20 day cycle – 19 shifts, plus one day upon which Brighid tends the flame herself.

Brighid's Cross for Imbolc
Brighid’s Cross for Imbolc

Photo by Amanda Slater under Creative Commons ShareAlike License 2.0

Brigid’s , Brighid’s, or Brigit’s cross, also with the “Saint” prefix, or (in the Irish language) Cros Bríde, Crosóg Bríde or Bogha Bríde, though not recorded before the seventeenth century, is an Irish symbol. Though regarded as a Christian symbol, it may possibly derive from the pagan sunwheel and is sometimes mistaken as such. It is typically made from rushes or, less often, straw. For kids crafting activities, we’ve even made them from colorful pipe cleaners with good effect. It is comprised of a woven square in the center and four radials tied off at the ends.
Brigid’s crosses are associated with Brigid of Kildare, who is venerated as one of the patron saints of Ireland. The crosses are traditionally made on February 1st, which in Irish Gaelic (Gaeilge) (is called Lá Fhéile Bhríde (St. Brigid’s feast day), the day of her celebration. This feast coincides with the more ancient one of her pagan namesake, one of pagan Ireland’s most important Goddesses. Brigid, is associated with fire, healing and holy wells, blacksmithing, crafts and poetry. Her feast day celebrates the earliest stirrings of Spring, and is called Imbolc. Many rituals are associated with the making of the crosses. It was traditionally believed that a Brigid’s Cross protects the house from fire and evil. It is hung in many Irish and Irish-American homes for this purpose.

She is, perhaps,  one of the most complex and contradictory Goddesses of the Celtic people. Brigid can, in many ways,  be seen as the most powerful religious figure in all of Irish history. Numerous layers of separate traditions have been interwoven, producing Her story and impact on generations of those who venerate her. She moves effortlessly down through the centuries and has succeeded in travelling intact through time, fulfilling different roles in various times.

Sé do bheatha a Bhríghid, bandia na beatha. (Here is your life, Brighid, Goddess of Life.) – Pádraigín Ní Uallachaín

For more of her beautiful words and music please visit:

http://www.irishsong.com/

 

 

Are We Doing It For The Craic? Well, Yes…

Perhaps a transplant from elsewhere, craic has been adopted and become a quintessentially Irish word meaning great fun, shenanigans and a general good time. If you can crack a joke you can be part of the craic.

SPAR Craic 10k, Belfast City Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland, March 2015 - Photo By Ardfern - Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported
SPAR Craic 10k, Belfast City Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland, March 2015 – Photo By Ardfern – Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

My friends and I, study languages nearly no one speaks where we live or, sometimes that no one speaks anywhere anymore. We are fascinated by old, archaic writing systems which look like gibberish if you haven’t studied their meaning and maybe still look like gibberish even if you have. But we’re driven by a desire to reconnect with our ancestors in a way that isn’t passed through filters of a dominant culture which wishes to portray a world view that may not be in line with the one we are seeking. We believe that to truly understand it helps to see, hear and experience things in their original context as much as possible. So, yes, we’re serious about what we do. But, anyone who has reached that joyous point in spiritual enlightenment to understand that life is not to be taken too seriously can appreciate that you must also pursue things for the sheer enjoyment of it. Let’s face it, it’s fun to know things that many others do not and it’s fun to see the look on the faces of the straight laced, stone faced guardians of the dominant culture’s ways when you don’t march to their drum. When you dress a different way, talk a different way and enjoy different things than what people “ought” to do and they aren’t quite sure how to react or how to deal with you it’s good craic. It’s probably good for them as well because it puts them off guard for a minute or two and perhaps causes them to consider that life might be about more than going through the motions and doing what society tells us we should do. Sometimes, you just have to do it for the craic.

Slán agus beannacht!

 

Pagans Are People Too, See?

In the grande scheme of things Pagans aren’t that much different from everyone else. We may have different ways of viewing the world and different ways of interacting with it but we’re prone to the same lapses in judgement, self doubts, personality traits and character strengths and weaknesses anyone else might be. There’s good and bad in everybody to some degree.

The following article was originally published on Our Pantheons Way on July 28th, 2013

We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love... and then we return home. Pagans.
We are all visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to love… and then we return home.

During this past week I have been visiting several blogs and finding new ones to follow. I’ve commented on some great posts that I have read by others and in those comments the topic came up again of the fact that Pagans are people too. As people we all have our own individual styles, personalities and ways of doing things. It’s not like there is just one big universal Pagan religion and we all adhere strictly to it’s path and teaching. Paganism is sort of the Linux of the religion world (for those into the techy side of things you might get the analogy). We all bring our own inherited wisdom and customs to the equations, piece it together and roll our own so to speak. Sure, there are various traditions within Paganism which have a more designed view of things and people will come together and work within a system that works for them. It’s a little more complicated than the myriad of denominations to be found within Christianity though. Baptists, Methodists, Lutherans, Catholics, etc. all have different views, ritual styles, teachings about their “One True God” but they all call him by the same name and they all have variations of one sort or another of the same book. In Paganism the drift is much farther from, say, Wiccans and Asatruar or even from one Wiccan coven and another. There isn’t a universally accepted “One True” deity or set of writings that all must adhere to. Also, I should note, if you meet an Asatruar please don’t call him or her a Pagan, call him or her a Heathen. There is a difference and they will tell you all about it. I use the term Pagan to universally cover all paths that are outside of monotheism because it’s simpler when speaking or writing to do that than to have to say Pagans, Heathens, Animists, Magi, Reconstructionists, Hellenists, Druids, Lord High Mucky Mucks, etc. ad nauseum, blah, blah, blah. Sorry, but at some point ya just gotta grab one word and go with it or you’ll be all out of breath.

But that illustrates my point. Pagans are People. People in all walks of life have different ways of looking at things so labels just don’t stick all that well anyway. You really have to get to know a person before you can understand how their spirituality inter-relates with them as a person. That’s also why it’s a beautiful thing that there are some of us out there sharing our points of view. It’s good that there are many Pagans who are bloggers, podcasters, coven, group and tradition leaders out there doing their thing their way. Some people will come to my blog and say, well that guy uses profanity and tells bad jokes too much and isn’t “spiritual enough” (Yeah, I’ve heard that one before.) for me but they might go on over to another blog and find exactly what they are looking for and that’s fine. It’s good that we have that diversity because people have their differences but want to find other people who are more like them to relate with either as a friend, teacher  / student, or to get together with for spiritual ritual. It’s nice to have a fluid network within a community to allow people to shop around for what works for them rather than see a few that don’t fit, decide the whole thing is a bunch of hooey then drop out all together. I have several friends on my various online social profiles who love the stuff I post and share and others I know have dropped me from their feed or even unfollowed me. I don’t take it personally. I post what I like and those who are like me will enjoy it. That way I am happier because I am not trying to be someone that I am not and those who enjoy my posts are happier because they see someone else who thinks like they do. That’s true whether the people are pagans or something else.

In the shop where I work during the week I am an electrician / Industrial Waste Water Treatment Plant Operator. The people I work with are all facilities mechanics of one sort or another, Plumbers, Millrights, Electronic Technicians, etc. There are many personalities within our work group but one thing is certain, mechanic humor is different from admin humor. The folks working in the cubicles and offices don’t find the same things funny that those of us working on the shop floor find funny. It’s just the nature of the world. People are people. Some people like Coca-Cola and others like Root Beer. Me, I like Guinness. 😉

Anyway, I think I’ve rambled on long enough for this morning. I need to go mow the grass since we got all of that lovely rain last week and we have a double birthday party to go to later today. I hope you all have a blessed and wonderful week. Be good to each other out there and Hail The Gods! Whatever gods you believe in…

Damh the Bard – Pagan Ways live:

Who Built The Georgia Guidestones?

The Georgia Guidestones is a granite monument erected in 1980 in Elbert County, Georgia, in the United States commissioned by a man using the self-confessed pseudonym Robert C. Christian.

Georgia Guidestones - Public Domain
Georgia Guidestones – Public Domain

Some have referred to them as the American Stonehenge. Whatever you call them though, they contain a set of 10 guidelines, inscribed on the structure in eight modern languages, and a shorter message, inscribed at the top of the structure, in four ancient language scripts: Babylonian, Classical Greek, Sanskrit, and Egyptian hieroglyphs.

  1. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
  2. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
  3. Unite humanity with a living new language.
  4. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
  5. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
  6. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
  7. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
  8. Balance personal rights with social duties.
  9. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
  10. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

Who put these here and why under such secrecy? How is this 500,000,000 population to be achieved in a world of more than 7 billion now? Erecting this mysterious monument could not have been cheap so someone with fairly deep pockets was likely behind it. But to what end? What might their agenda be and how do they intend to go about achieving it? Are they a call for how humanity should rebuild civilization after an apocalyptic war or some other calamity? Some have praised their message and others have been stricken with fear at what they might represent but they are clearly there and someone spent a great deal of time and money to have them placed and did so under a secret identity so the big question is why? Any ideas?

Some have pointed to how the pseudonym R.C. Christian resembles Rosicrucian. That’s rather interesting to note as well but is there anything to it?

There was a movie made about them in 2012 which I haven’t seen yet. I wonder what they might have uncovered?