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. 🙂
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.
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.
Imbolc is mentioned in some of the most early Irish writings and there is evidence it has been an important date since ancient times. It was originally a pagan festival associated with the goddess Brighid and it is still observed today as such by Wiccans and Celtic based Pagans throughout the world today in various forms. For those following the Celtic method of time keeping in which nightfall marks the beginning of the next day, this holiday is usually celebrated beginning at sundown on February 1 and continuing through the day of February 2.
Brighid’s crosses are made in honor of her and dolls, called Brídeógs, are sometimes paraded from house-to-house. Brigid is believed to visit the homes of those who worship her at Imbolc. To receive her blessings, people might make a bed for her and leave something to eat and drink. Also, some folks leave items of clothing or household items outside for her to bless. Brigid may also be invoked to protect homes, pets and, for those living in the country, livestock. In Ireland and other places, special feasts are held, sacred wells are visited and it is also a good time for divination.
If you would like to make your own Brigid’s Cross they are fairly simple and easy to make with the right materials. If you have access to gather fresh green reeds or straw these work best. We’ve even made them with the kids out of multi-colored pipe cleaners as craft projects. The more flexible the material you’re using the better because you have to bend each piece in half so dry reeds will break on you. There are several good tutorials online you may use to learn how, including this one:
Competition is a fine thing in some circumstances. But, do we really need to compete over spirituality?
I believe a good spiritual path should fit like a nice comfortable pair of shoes. It should keep your feet protected and help you get where you are going without being constrictive or causing blisters. But, not all feet come in the same shapes and sizes right? My comfortable pair of shoes might be too big or too small for your feet. Not to mention, I might like black or brown shoes but you might prefer yours white or blue. In the end though, It’s just shoes, so what’s the big deal? If you’re happy with the ones you’re wearing and they get you where you need to go then what concern is it of mine why you don’t choose the style I prefer? Ah, but people can be awfully competitive can’t they? Whereas, you or I might have such laissez-faire attitudes about shoes, there are some stories of people shooting folks over a pair of shoes. But why? What is it about this man-beast that makes everything have to be about competition rather than just enjoying the journey? Frederick G. Naerebout of the Department of Ancient History, Leiden University, The Netherlands wrote an interesting study entitled ‘Religious Competition: Is It A Useful Concept?’ which I found to be an interesting read as I was researching the history of religious conflict in ancient times recently.
If you go to your church or temple and find the spiritual fulfillment and enlightenment you seek and I go to the forest and meditate under a large oak tree to find mine who is the lesser for it? If none of the above interest you and you’re content to spend the afternoon reading a nice science fiction novel or tinkering in the garage then how am I harmed? There’s no need to compete over everything. Just enjoy life and let your fellow man-beast inhabitants of the world do the same.
I’ve heard it said many times and have repeated it myself as it is so dawgone true. Event planning and organization is pretty much like herding cats. But that’s okay, once you start figuring out what motivates cats.
I’m by no means what I would consider an ‘expert’ at event planning and coordination but I have been involved in several at various levels over the years and have picked up some wisdom along the way which I can remember not having as I naively began my journey. The most recent one I am working with is called DFW Pagan Unity Fest and it was created by a local lady who is well respected and loved within our community. She is moving away though and I was honored when she offered to pass the torch to my tradition sister and I as the co-organizers of the event she started for a community which demanded it. I do mean demanded too because people around here really wanted to see the event happen then and they do now. To be honest, my tradition sister and I were considering not having it this year and maybe wait until next year because there wasn’t any seed money to take care of rental fees, insurance, porta-potties, and all of the other associated costs of putting such an event on. We figured, okay we’ll take a year off, have some fundraisers or something and revisit it next Spring maybe. But then the emails, messages and calls started coming. “Hey, is it happening? When is it happening? If not, why not? How can we help? We’ll front the money if needed!” Yes! People offered to help do whatever was needed to make it happen this year regardless. So we thought it over and collectively said “Wow! I guess they really want to do this. Let’s see if we can book a venue.” The venue was open for the date we needed so the whole thing kind of took on a life of it’s own and this amazing community of people are showing up and getting things done.
It makes me think of something I saw my temple brother post on his timeline on Facebook earlier this week.
A leader is best when people barely know he exists. When his work is done; his aim fulfilled; they will say: “We did it ourselves.” – Lao Tzu
It’s so true though and understand that by sharing this quote I am not trying to cast myself in the role of leader here. Indeed, I was ready to let it ride for the year. But the force of the community as a whole wasn’t having that. Where does this leader exist? Within us all, I dare say. We are all leaders in our own right when the time and situation calls for us to step up and say or do what needs to be said and done. I take great pride in the knowledge that I am surrounded by such wise and powerful leaders who can lead, even when people barely know they exist as leaders. Or, even when people know full well that they are leaders but they chose to lead from the sidelines so as to be a catalyzing force rather than a divisive force in the community. Wisdom tells us from where best to lead when and where the situation calls for it.
Most events I have worked with have been spiritual festivals of one sort or another aimed at predominantly Pagan minded folks. Sometimes they’ve been aimed at a particular segment of the community but more often they’re aimed at a broader section. These events usually have some common basic elements.
Rituals – People want to experience spiritual energy and collectively thank the divine (in whatever ways they perceive the divine) for being a part of their lives and the events of the day. They like to experience rituals as others may perform them and note differences in style and focus. It’s all a part of the exploration and sense of adventure, mystery and learning that following a spiritual path brings us. These are some of the things that are the catnip that some of the cats are herding in for. But not all.
Vendors – Ah the shopping! The wares! The stuff that looks good, smells good and feels good! How exciting it is to browse around and see so many different things that you didn’t even know you needed in one place. It’s a win-win. The vendors usually fund a large portion of the event by way of vendor fees but in return they access a potentially large crowd of willing and interested shoppers who will but their wares and keep them in business to sell another day. For this is the life of a retailer. They unite people with things they desire and in exchange they receive enough currency for it to be worth the trouble and effort. They work hard to haul their equipment and items out there, set everything up for enticing display, and keep it clean and protected. It’s not an easy life but some find it rewarding. Lots of the shopper cats flock to them like fresh cans of tuna. 😉
Entertainment – Oh the music! The dancing! The feats of magic and artistic imagery! Yes, there are cats who are drawn to the playful balls of yarn and the games of amusement and there are cats who just like to sit back and enjoy the show. These, too, become part of an organizer’s arsenal of cat herding tools of the trade. Dancers want to dance, players want to play and the vibrations carry througout the event adding to the ambience and energy. Ahhhh, smell the catnip? 😉
Workshops – Hey! Did you hear one of your favorite bloggers, authors, podcasters, or community leaders might be there putting on a workshop on that subject you’ve been interested in? Won’t it be cool to see them and hear what they have to say? Of course it will, just jump down off the furniture, arch your back and do that cat strut over to the workshop tent to see what’s going on.
Fundraising For Charity – Most events of this type are hoping to raise money for local charities and do some good in the community. It feels good to do good and it is also good publicity for people to see your spiritual or otherwise connected community doing good things. So buy those raffle tickets or bring those donations. Maybe even roll up a sleeve and give some blood. Good cats are drawn to good causes. Meow!
Kids Activities – The kids are coming along and they might not be much in to the shopping scene or the music that’s playing on stage. Maybe they haven’t heard the spiritual call to ritual yet and don’t care much about the workshop subjects. Kids want to play and if you can give them some activities to be involved in with adult supervision for awhile you might get some you time and they get to have some fun. Let those kittens come play with the ball of yarn for awhile so you can enjoy the show or visit the shops. Yes, this too is a good cat herding element to consider and if pulled off right the kids and the parents as well will appreciate it.
Sometimes, I think we clever apes get ourselves so wrapped up in thinking up ways to define, label, categorize and evaluate our spiritual experiences that we forget to just shut up and feel.
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy following the discussions on the finer points of belief like archetypes and the collective unconscious as an explanation for the the nature of the gods; whether or not unverifiable personal gnosis should be accepted as proof of divine existence; one god, two? fifty or thousands…or no god at all? A good discussion on these topics can be very intellectually stimulating so long as it doesn’t devolve into a heated argument. We human type critters have pondered these things, debated over them, killed one another and fought wars over these finite details of what is, or is not, the nature of deity since the dawn of time. But, sometimes, I think we’re thinking too much and just need to quiet our minds and experience things. I think, the truth is, none of us know with absolute certainty if we’re on this side of the veil and maybe not even when we reach the other. My thinking is that, perhaps, the big picture is just too big and we only perceive what we are able to then our minds try to organize, categorize, label and name things. Because that’s just what our species likes to do. We see shapes in the mists and grasp for a name to give them. We hear a voice speak to us with an otherworldly reverberance and try to wrap our heads around exactly who and what it was.
But, I’m thinking, life is better when there are still mysteries to ponder on and things we can not explain away or name. It gives us something to strive for. It gives life meaning and a sense of direction. It piques our curiosity and gets our creative juices flowing. It lets us know that there is still a reason to get up each day, live our lives and strive to achieve great things because maybe, just maybe, there’s something bigger out there watching and waiting. Waiting for us to grow and become. Maybe it’s the gods or maybe it’s just us. But it gives us meaning and purpose. But, set aside the thinking once in awhile and just enjoy the ride okay? Don’t overthink and get all worked up and decide the other guy has it all wrong because she’s not seeing it the way you do necessarily. It’s all a matter of perspective after all. That’s what I’m thinking. How about you?
“Nothing will end war unless people, themselves, refuse to go to war.” Albert Einstein
As the year progresses and people are looking forward to September and October while many of us hope for cooler temperatures folks are thinking and wondering once again about Pagan Pride Day and because I have, in the past, served as a volunteer and one year as a Co-Coordinator of the event a few are asking if I know anything about it.
Unfortunately, the answer is that I do not. Since I departed from the planning committee following the 2014 DFW Pagan Pride Day event I haven’t been in touch with the Local Coordinator or the Regional Coordinator for Pagan Pride Day. according to the international Pagan Pride Project page the Regional Coordinator for this area is still Virginia Darkelf as she was when I was serving on the volunteer staff for DFW Pagan Pride Day in 2013 and 2014. An email link is provided there for her. Perhaps she can answer folks’ questions about DFW PPD. I don’t see a listing at the page there for a Local Coordinator but as recently as last year it was Mr. Bryan Lankford. Whether he still holds the position or if it is open I do not know. As I said, I haven’t kept in touch with him so he would be the person to ask about his status with Pagan Pride Project. I do know that last year he posted the following to the DFW Pagan Pride Day Facebook Page:
Three years ago when I became the Local Coordinator of PPD I knew I was going to have several years of being really busy on the horizon. My plan was to get a good team together so everyone knew their job and could function without me needing to supervise. I succeeded in getting a great team together but unfortunately the year that I got too busy to devote a lot of time to PPD so did the rest of the team. This year I am working on my master’s degree, fostering three boys, working with two soccer teams and two Boy Scout Troops as well as now being Lead Teacher for my school and still performing magic shows. I have postponed making this announcement because I kept hoping I could squeeze in time to get PPD together but it’s really apparent that that’s not going to happen at this time. I really wanted to continue our run of successful PPD events and there were several people who volunteered to help, which I appreciate. However, I can’t devote the time to training new people this year so I’m sorry but we are going to have to call it for this year. We might be able to get something together next year if life slows down a bit. I will miss the event this year but I just don’t have the time to put it together.
He and I have both been very busy pursuing our own lives and taking care of things we need to do and neither he nor I have made an effort to stay in touch with one another so other than what has been posted publicly I am just as in the dark as any of you on the matter. My tradition was asked to host a ritual at the alternative event DFW Pagan Unity fest last year and this year which was put together by a team of local volunteers spearheaded by Becca Shugart. I think part of her reason for holding Pagan Unity Fest in the spring this year was specifically not to draw the attendance away from Pagan Pride Day in case it happened this year.
The DFW Pagan Pride Day website is still up at http://dfwpaganpride.org/. I know because I pay the hosting fees and domain renewal to keep it there. I set that up in 2013 while I was the Promotional Coordinator for the event and I stated when I departed that I had no problem with continuing to host the website and offer any technical assistance needed by anyone who would be taking over the running and promotion of DFW Pagan Pride Day. It doesn’t cost me much to keep it online and I have no problem doing it. If anyone who is officially with Pagan Pride Project would like for me to do anything with the website I would be happy to do so but so far no one has asked me to update any information on the page, transfer the domain elsewhere or anything along those lines so it sits pretty much as it did at the end of DFW Pagan Pride Day 2014.
I have no problem working with anyone who has a desire to put on a DFW Pagan Pride Day event. Admittedly, like anyone else, there are people who I like personally better than others. But I am willing to set aside any differences for the better of the community and work with whoever may take up the ball and run with it. I am still too busy to be a Local Coordinator or anything as demanding as that but, maybe next year? We will see.
Reason is the capacity for consciously making sense of things, applying logic, establishing and verifying facts, and changing or justifying practices, institutions, and beliefs based on new or existing information.
Think about it. Who owns the media? Might there be an agenda behind inciting racial violence? Don’t play their deadly game. Think!
Indeed. That’s why I distance myself as much as possible from negative people, bigots, hypocrites and such. Plant a seed of reason. Try not to be pulled into their storm, but pull them into your peace if you can. But if you feel yourself being pulled the other way it’s time to walk away.
If only we could all live up to it. Keep striving! The future is depending on us to be better than we were yesterday.
From the “Book of Taliesin” (a Bardic work from Wales)
No kidding. What happened to the future that shows like the Jetsons promised us? Why is it necessary in this heavily automated, technologically advanced world for humans to have to live as slaves, toiling in misery for scraps to survive?