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,




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

Imbolc From Ancient Times To The Present

​At the Mound of the Hostages on the Hill of Tara, the inner chamber is aligned with the rising sun on the dates of Imbolc and Samhain.

Photo by Paul Stevenson - From the Marsden Imbolc festival.   Imbolc is a pagan festival symbolising the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Here, a representation of Jack frost is driven into exile by the green man. Lots of fire representing the return of the sun. CC BY 2.0
Photo by Paul Stevenson – From the Marsden Imbolc festival.   Imbolc is a pagan festival symbolising the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Here, a representation of Jack frost is driven into exile by the green man. Lots of fire representing the return of the sun. CC BY 2.0

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:

Smooring The Fire From Carmina Gadelica

PEAT is the fuel of the Highlands and Islands. Where wood is not obtainable the fire is kept in during the night. The process by which this is accomplished is called in Gaelic smaladh; in Scottish, smooring; and in English, smothering, or more correctly, subduing.

© Copyright Joseph Mischyshyn and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence linked below. Fire before smooring.
© Copyright Joseph Mischyshyn and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons Licence linked below.

CC-BY-SA 2.0

The ceremony of smooring the fire is artistic and symbolic, and is performed with loving care. The embers are evenly spread on the hearth–which is generally in the middle of the floor–and formed into a circle. This circle is then divided into three equal sections, a small boss being left in the middle. A peat is laid between each section, each peat touching the boss, which forms a common centre. The first peat is laid down in name of the God of Life, the second in name of the God of Peace, the third in name of the God of Grace. The circle is then covered over with ashes sufficient to subdue but not to extinguish p. 235 the fire, in name of the Three of Light. The heap slightly raised in the centre is called ‘Tula nan Tri,’ the Hearth of the Three. When the smooring operation is complete the woman closes her eyes, stretches her hand, and softly intones one of the many formulae current for these occasions.

Another way of keeping embers for morning use is to place them in a pit at night. The pit consists of a hole in the clay floor, generally under the dresser. The pit may be from half a foot to a foot in depth and diameter, with a flag fixed in the floor over the top. In the centre of this flag there is a hole by which the embers are put in and taken out. Another flag covers the hole to extinguish the fire at night, and to guard against accidents during the day. This extinguishing fire-pit is called ‘slochd guail,’ coke or coal-pit. This coke or charcoal is serviceable in kindling the fire.

An Tri numh      (The sacred Three)
A chumhnadh,       (To save,)
A chomhnadh,       (To shield,)
A chomraig       (To surround)
An tula,       (the hearth)
An taighe,       (The house,)
An teaghlaich,       (The household,)
An oidhche,       (This eve,)
An nochd,       (This night,)
O! an oidhche,       (Oh! this eve,)
An nochd,       (This night,)
Agus gach oidhche,       (And every night,)
Gach aon oidhche.       (Each single night.)

by Alexander Carmicheal

From Sacred Texts Archive


Tea For Good Health And Pleasure

People have been drinking tea in some form or another and in many cultures for thousands of years in the known historical record. Who knows really when the first of our ancestors might have boiled some dried herbs or other leaves in some water and drank the resulting infusion? Historians say this refreshment likely originated in southwest China during the Shang dynasty as a medicinal drink. An early written record of drinking such concoctions dates to the 3rd century CE, in a medical journal by Hua Tuo. Portuguese priests and merchants were first introduced to forms of the drink in China during the 16th century and drinking it became popular in Britain during the 17th century. The British brought tea production, and consumption, to India, as an answer to the Chinese monopoly on the brew during that time.

Tea Infuser
Tea Infuser

Annie’s Remedy has a fine collection of do it yourself tea recipes that you might want to consider trying. Here’s one from their collection I borrowed to share and entice you to visit her site for more:

Chamomile, Lavender And Lemon Balm Tea

This good tasting tea is formulated to calm nervous tension and lift mild depression.

Cautions: Avoid licorice root if you have high blood pressure
Lavender flowers
Lemon balm
Add Ginger and licorice root to taste. Add 10 drops of skullcap tincture if anxiety is preventing relaxation
Additions: Honey (optional)
Recipe Instructions: Use one teaspoon of herbal mixture to each cup of hot water. Infuse for 5 minutes and drink warm before retiring.

Song of Tea by Lu Tung
The first cup moistens my lips and throat.
The second cup breaks my loneliness.
The third cup searches my barren entrail,
but to find therein some thousand volumes of odd ideographs.
The fourth cup raises a slight perspiration;
all the wrongs of life pass out through my pores.
At the fifth cup I am purified.
The sixth cup calls me to the realms of the immortals.
The seventh cup – ah, but I could take no more!
I only feel the breath of the cool wind that raises in my sleeves.
Where is Paradise? Let me ride on this sweet breeze and waft away thither.

This poem is in the public domain.


What?! Is It Monday Again Already?!

Monday – According to Encyclopedia Mythica, the name comes from the Anglo-Saxon monandaeg, “the moon’s day”. This second day was sacred to the goddess of the moon.

French: lundi; Italian: lunedi. Spanish: lunes. [from Luna, “Moon”]
German: Montag; Dutch: maandag. [both: ‘moon-day’]

Monday - Day Of The Moon.
Monday – Day Of The Moon.
Warning: Going to sleep on Sunday will cause Monday.
Warning: Going to sleep on Sunday will cause Monday.
And just like that. POOF! Weekend gone.
And just like that. POOF! Weekend gone.
Must be Monday.
Must be Monday.
Monday again? You've got to be kidding me.
Monday again? You’ve got to be kidding me.
Really Monday? Really??
Really Monday? Really??

Oh yes, as a moon loving, Goddess worshiping Pagan type I do enjoy basking in the light of the moon. But, as a working class stiff, the Monday blues can be quite real too. So I thought I would share some of my favorite memes today highlighting the humorous and sometimes frustrating side of the first day back to the old grind after what was hopefully a pleasant albeit eternally too short weekend. I hope you enjoy and I hope your Monday is better than what is portrayed here. Especially that last one, Egads! LOL! My weekend was mighty grand indeed. We took the kids to a wonderful double birthday party for some friends of theirs and ours then went to a marvelous housewarming party and jam session which featured an interesting mix of vibes and styles from Celtic to Carribean to African, Native American, Blues, Rock and more. It’s good to be eclectic! 🙂

Here’s a nice Irish joke to top it all off:

Paddy and Seamus were walking home from the pub. Paddy says to Seamus, ‘What a beautiful night, look at the moon.’

Seamus stops and looks at Paddy, ‘You are wrong, that’s not the moon, that’s the sun.’ Both started arguing for a while when they come upon a real drunk walking in the other direction, so they stopped him.

‘Sir, could you please help settle our argument?

Tell us what that thing is up in the sky that’s shining. Is it the moon or the sun?’ The drunk looked at the sky and then looked at them, and said,

‘Sorry, I don’t live around here.’

Sustainable Retirement – What A Concept!

What is retirement really and when did the concept come into being?
Retirement? What's that?

So, awhile back I was listening to a podcast and the topic came up about what retirement really is and what it should be.

I think we have been sold a version of it that serves others more than ourselves. In the days of old when families lived in large houses with multiple generations and had a farm, growing their own food and making their own stuff, old people didn’t “retire” as we understand it today. They simply did less physically demanding stuff as their bodies got older.  Maybe they helped maintain the farm equipment, tended the garden or whatever they liked to do. The thing is, they were around to impart all their life’s knowledge and wisdom to the younger generations and not holed away in some retirement home somewhere and forgotten about. How did we get from there to where we are today? Well, all that aside, here is an excerpt from a guy in Canada who makes some very valid points I think…


The concept of retirement is a relatively new one. Not so long ago, when we were a more agrarian based society, few people ever retired. Their daily duties just changed. As we grew older, we would take over running the farm, and then we would maybe step back and let our kids do that.  Maybe we would take over maintenance of the equipment or something little less physically demanding, but required experience. Maybe we would help out more inside the home. But flat out retirement to travel south or play golf all day was the domain of the ultra rich. Even then, most tycoons were still wheeling and dealing well into their 60’s and beyond.

Nowadays. with retirement plans tanking and pension funds bleeding out, we may find ourselves without the ability to retire once again. However, this time, we won’t have the farm to feed us and the multi-generational home to keep us occupied and close to our loved ones. If we’re very fortunate, we may be able to find a spot in a retirement home and sell our current homes to pay for it.

Me, I have a different plan. My plan depends on me getting prepared to take care of myself and my wife for as long as we are physically able. If my plan works, we’ll also be able to ‘retire’ early. That plan is preparedness.

When you think about it, if you can provide most of your own food, utilities, and medicine and your shelter is bought and paid for, how much money do you really need? Enough to pay the property taxes, run your vehicle, and take care of emergencies. Maybe you need some money for a bit of travel as well. But not as much money as two people working for more than 40 hours a week each generate.

It’s not hard to imagine a household income of around $100,000 a year or about $73,000 after taxes. (Remember, I’m in Canada. Our dollars are about 80% of the USD.) Now, we know a lot of people are going to have mortgage payments around $1400 a month, utilities of at least $400 a month, TV and Internet for another $200 a month, $500 for food, $400 for various insurances, $200 for gas for the vehicles…it goes on and on…

This post continues but I think that gets the point across. Retirement isn’t necessarily the old couple walking along the beach somewhere that they show you on T.V. as an idealized image in order to sell you into whatever investment scheme they are pitching to you. Retirement is about finally doing what you want to do instead of what you are required to do by obligations set by a society based on consume, consume, consume. Buy it now, pay for it later with interest until you are buried in debt. Start working your way towards liberty today!


Respect My Authority! Or, Maybe My Personhood?

“I fight authority, authority always wins” – John Cougar Mellencamp

Sometimes people use "respect" to mean "treating someone like a person" and sometimes they use "respect" to mean "treating someone like an authority". And sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say "if you don't respect me, I won't respect you" and they mean "if you don't treat me like an authority, I won't treat you like a person". And they think they are being fair but they aren't, and it's not okay. 
Sometimes people use “respect” to mean “treating someone like a person” and sometimes they use “respect” to mean “treating someone like an authority”. And sometimes people who are used to being treated like an authority say “if you don’t respect me, I won’t respect you” and they mean “if you don’t treat me like an authority, I won’t treat you like a person”. And they think they are being fair but they aren’t, and it’s not okay.
Admit it. You're not like the others. And that's not just okay, it's fucking beautiful.
Admit it. You’re not like the others. And that’s not just okay, it’s fucking beautiful.
You're dry humping my last nerve.
You’re dry humping my last nerve.

A Limerick: Oh, it doesn’t look like a limerick to you? Try this:

A dozen, a gross and a score

Plus three times the square root of four

Divided by seven

Plus five times eleven

Is nine squared and not a bit more.

So what do I like to do to wind down and relax after a hard day of fighting authority? A nice Guinness and some music always tames the beast for me. Won’t you play a little tune and sing a song of heroic deeds or love and loss with me? Is maith an scéalaí an aimsir (Time is a good story teller.) In days of old, the best place at the fire was reserved for the scéalaí ya know. 😉

To A Friend Whose Work Has Come To Nothing

Now all the truth is out,

Be secret and take defeat

From any brazen throat,

For how can you compete,

Being honour bred, with one

Who, were it proved he lies,

Were neither shamed in his own

Nor in his neighbours’ eyes?

Bred to a harder thing

Than Triumph, turn away

And like a laughing string

Whereon mad fingers play

Amid a place of stone,

Be secret and exult,

Because of all things known

That is most difficult.

– W B Yeats

They Don’t Write Them Like That Anymore

These days many lament the fact that public schools have opted to no longer teach how to read and write in cursive script citing that “kids won’t be able to read historic documents!”. A claim I call B.S. on by the way as my home schooled son, who never specifically received instruction in reading and writing in cursive, was able to read documents written in cursive without a problem as he demonstrated recently.

Bridge of Tears - Roadside stone Gaelic monument -The Bridge of Tears is where emigrants departing to America and/or Canada parted with family members remaining in Ireland, perhaps never to see one another again, with the emigrants just beginning a long walk to get to the ships and family members remaining in Ireland walking back to their homes in the opposite direction. Please write home! © Copyright Joseph Mischyshyn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.
Bridge of Tears – Roadside stone Gaelic monument -The Bridge of Tears is where emigrants departing to America and/or Canada parted with family members remaining in Ireland, perhaps never to see one another again, with the emigrants just beginning a long walk to get to the ships and family members remaining in Ireland walking back to their homes in the opposite direction. Please write home! © Copyright Joseph Mischyshyn and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for preserving knowledge in archaic scripts, even those which have only recently become obsolete. But, why stop at modern cursive? Why not teach Ogham, Runes, Old Gaelic Script and Egyptian Hieroglyphics in public school too? After all, some very important documents were written in those scripts too were they not? Ah, but those have been translated and reproduced in modern languages and writing styles. Ah-hah! Exactly! This is where the Declaration Of Independence and Constitution arguments start to lose water I say, playing Ye Olde Devils Advocate (an entity I have no belief in remember). True, things have been re-translated and reproduced in nearly every modern language spoken. But, do you trust the translators to get it right? Hmmmm, now we might be on to something here. I write something and I might mean it a certain way when I write it. A hundred years later someone else comes along and decides to translate what I wrote but that person might not know the context I was writing in when I wrote it. So they write the words that they think I might have meant because, presumably a hundred years later I’m no longer around to ask exactly what I meant. This is why, I believe it behooves us all, to learn old languages, old writing styles and try to understand things in their original context. But, don’t rely on the government school system to do it for you. The resources are out there and freely available. Take the initiative and learn these things on your own. It’s a very worthwhile endeavor.

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:



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!