Saturday, September 11, 2010

deer totem

I found this website that has Native American Astrology. I have no idea how authentic the idea is, or if they just took what's general for each time frame from Western or Chinese or both and made a NatAm one, but I kind of like what it has to say about mine, which is Deer:

Deer: May 21 – Jun 20

This Native American animal symbol is the muse of the zodiac. The Deer is inspiring lively and quick-witted. With a tailor-made humor, the Deer has a tendency to get a laugh out of anyone. Excellent ability for vocalizing, the Deer is a consummate conversationalist. This combined with his/her natural intelligence make the Deer a must-have guest at dinner parties. Always aware of his/her surroundings, and even more aware of his/her appearance, the Deer can be a bit self-involved. However, the Deer's narcissism is overlooked because of his/her congeniality and affability. In a supportive environment the Deer's natural liveliness and sparkly personality radiate even more. He/she is an inspiring force in any nurturing relationship. Left to his/her own devices the Deer can be selfish, moody, impatient, lazy, and two-faced.
Sounds basically like Gemini and Monkey combined, and not at all like Obsidian Knife, which is my Aztec symbol (again, according to the interwebs).
So now I'm Gemini Metal-Metal Monkey Obsidian Knife Deer. I figure I'll just keep collecting up symbols like this.
I've never really thought about deers as a totem, but maybe, in these terms, it makes a little sense. Generally I gravitate toward birds-- big scary ones like Hawk and Raven or little cute ones like Finch or Wren-- or go for symbols rather than animals. Lately I've been identifying with feathers, acorns, ferns, kelp (weird, right?)-- places where creatures live or what they leave behind, rather than the animals themselves.
But on the other hand, we're all works in progress, changing all the time. So maybe I'm just between creatures. Once I was Dragon, then I was Cat, what will I be next?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

sources: the meanings of the planets, part 1

from here:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

notes: how to be a polite pagan when converters are around

Paragraph two:
I'm the sort who can't just brush people off-- especially when there's people who are learning to do what they feel they are called to do, like there was yesterday when I was going to pick up my paycheck and my schedule. I don't like being rude, and I don't want to be sacrilegious to any religion, and I didn't have time to explain just what I felt was wrong about what they were saying or doing, especially not in a public street in front of my favorite wine shop. So I played along. I listened and let them do their spiel, I accepted their little booklet, I let them pray over me and feel the pride of getting through to someone, and then I went on my way.

Just because I have no interest in their giant church or their teachings, doesn't mean I have to be rude to them when they're just doing what they think is right. I've been through that point in my life and I've concluded that it's not for me, and I won't be going back to the Church, but I have no right to challenge their faith, and no interest in doing so.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

notes: witchy 101 - building an altar

Choosing an altar.
Point 1: I have both a permanent and a travel altar, because I feel comforted by redundancy, and I think I'd like separate tools for others to handle, vs the ones that I'll handle entirely on my own. I also have a sort of transient almost-altar-- a shelf above my altar proper-- where I put random things that I like, that were once on my altar, but have been moved or are no longer needed. My permanent altar is a little shelf about a foot and a half long that one of my previous Circle-mates gifted to me one Yule, sitting on top of a lovely table my mom gave me when I moved into my first house, that I retopped with hand-painted majolica tiles. My travel altar is a basket where I keep all my travel tools, a handful of supplies like charcoals and matches, and a cloth, and they just get spread out on any available surface, including the ground, when they're needed.

Point 2: I'm in love with the amazingly complex Catholic altars in the big Cathedrals, and I'd love to have something that big and special in my home, but there just isn't space in my house, so I keep it smaller. I live with several other people, none of which are Pagan, and so I have to respect their wishes not to have half the living room devoted to the Goddess.

I'd love to have a segmented board that's carved and woodburned and then lacquered until it's shiny that would set up across any two stones or stumps or whatever, and then break down like a Bedouin tent when I leave, but I just don't have the skill for that. If I did, I'd also have furniture that broke down easier so I could move more easily.

Point 3: There is no North wall in my room-- that's a double door and a closet-- and so my altar faces South, but it's right next to my bed and between where I sleep and where I put on my makeup in the morning, so I see it constantly, and it serves the purpose of reminding me of my beliefs very well.

Choosing decor:
Mine is all mostly found and gifted, but I like the color green, so a lot of it is green and that helps to pull it all together. Also helping is the fact that everything has a reason for being there, even the things I don't use much, and most of the items have specific memories associated with them. That helps me keep on track as I work.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

out of circle experience

Isn't this a lovely Circle? I wish it were mine, but alas it is not-- it belongs to the Leodis Circle, which is not here.

With Halloween coming up on us quickly, the History Channel has been trotting out the same specials it shows every year, and every year I get this weird feeling watching them. Aside from the fact that I think some of their details are foggy or glossed over, or at least many-times-repeated regardless of accuracy, there's this strange disconnect between watching a Circle on TV in a show that doesn't really know what it's taking about, and being inside one. See, there was this High Priestess somewhere north of here where it's actually cold. They were casting the Circle and Calling the Quarters, they were chanting The Circle is Open and We All Come From The Goddess, and these are all things I do with my own friends when we manage to get together, sometimes even on my own, and they're amazingly powerful in that context-- but watching them on TV like that, separated by the screen and the cameraman and the editor and the livingroom furniture with it's lights... It's just weird.

I don't really have much to say more than that, but the feeling has been nagging at me. The weirdness, like when I dream that I'm out of my body and watching myself. The vague almost-embarrassment that they'd be on TV like that, their precious faith exposed like a play for all the people who watch the History Channel, probably mostly for kicks instead of for knowledge this time of the year...

It's just weird.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

notes: descent myths and the modern pagan

Paragraph one:
In my own personal Palimpsest view of the metaphysical world (which I'll explain and argue for later), the God is both dead and in the underworld with the Old Goddess, getting restored and rebuilt for his rebirth, and he's transformed into the stag that guards the herd and the sleeping Winter Goddess, who is also being restored and rebuilt so that she can give birth to him at Yule. Just as she's the Moon and the Earth year round, he's the Stag and the Shadow in winter.

The official Trad-Wicca Descent Myth is a lot like Inanna (or here, too). The reasons and motivations are just shifted around a little. I'm still unsure how I feel about this story; I prefer Inanna's, or the Palimpsest version...

Paragraph two:
Really, most Descent Myths would fit; NeoPaganism is flexible like that.

- The stories / translations disagree on why she's there in the first place-- usually, they just say she went down, though her sister already hates her, so this isn't really a great idea. The Wiccan story gives her the motivation of wanting to know how Death works.
- Worldly power doesn't mean anything to the Underworld. You arrive there the same way you arrive in this world, naked and powerless.
- Since you can't be alive there, and you can't leave once you're there, the only way is to make you match the situation: Inanna has to die.
- This is also Dmuzi's resurrection story; it seems the Oldest Gods repeated each other's stories alot.
- The beings that go to retrieve Inanna are sometimes a very pretty boy-- but he doesn't please Ereshkigal or become her consort the way they seem to think he should; she's maybe an early angry feminist, and ideas like not marrying and holding power might have been weird and hard to deal with that far back. This is conjecture; I'll have to look into that.
- Some of the stories say that while Inanna was dead, Ereshkigal was 'like a woman in labor', which seems to indicate that they switched roles for a bit, and neither was all that happy with it.

- Sometimes, it starts with Set trapping him in a sarcophagus and tossing him in the Nile, and the sarcophagus floating all the way across the Med to get trapped inside a cedar tree and then built into a palace, but to me, this feels like a comment on another culture appropriating their myths to base their own power on. I'd like to study that anthropologically, if I ever manage to get into a school for that...
- Did Osiris also guard the Sun on it's nightly journey through the Underworld? I think I remember that, but I couldn't find it; maybe that's my brain weaving stories together again.

Demeter and Persephone:
- There's an idea that this explains how marriage happens, too; if so, I'm glad I'm not marrying in Ancient Greece or Rome.
- There's also an idea that Persephone was an Underworld Deity before she was a free-floating nature deity, and that makes the story seem different, switching the focus-- though I haven't decided which way it reads now. Maybe I need to start writing papers on mythology.
- 'Wife' and 'captive' seem to be interchangeable in these stories. I wonder if there was an idea that after she was kidnapped, she came to love her Underworld captor? Was love even something expected of marriage? This needs a new story. It also implies that she was forced from maidenhood to womanhood, usually by force. This is uncomfortable in a modern context; how was it experienced back then?
- At one time, Persephone was the parthenogenic daughter of Demeter; she didn't need a man for creation, and maybe that's why she had to be kidnapped by a man and imprisoned in the Underworld?

Wikipedia is great for reminding me how the myths go, and for getting all the links together in one place: AND

This didn't really add much, but it's interesting and I found it while researching this: - Narratives: Descent Myths and the Great Flood

Monday, October 19, 2009

i have faith

- that overall, people as a species are pretty damn amazing
- that there's something out there that cares about us, even if it's just us, and that that's okay
- that religions will eventually level out
- that people will eventually all be educated enough that all this crap will seem barbaric and old
- that faith is good enough, whatever that faith is in
- that god/dess is big enough and powerful enough that science and philosophy fit inside and explain just how amazing she is

conservatives debunk paganism?

This conservative review of a book debunking Paganism pisses me off on several levels.

One: It's very poorly written, with sentences that don't have much to do with each other and big stretches of weird dogma, and doesn't review the book so much as point out the most scare-tactic-type drama-mongering inside it. It makes so many assumptions of fact, regardless of whether it's actual fact or not, that I want to smack the author for bad scholarship.

Two: It conflates Modern Paganism with Nazis and communists* and conflates vegetarianism with Satanists, while seemingly not understanding what Satanism is, and doesnt' even acknowledge the fact that, historically, everything founded has a concurrent opposite value. Also, Alister Crowley was a devout Christian and a healer. He just happened to have decades if prophetic dreams.

Other problems I have:
- There seems to be very little awareness of history: The semi-incoherent rambling about God the Mother completely ignores the fact that Catholicism already worships Mary as close to the level of the Trinity and the historical research that suggests that before the Old Testament was solidified (and even the fact that it was-- by a council of people with agendas that are well-documented in the Middle Ages), there's evidence that Yahweh was one of several gods, and he was probably married. I won't even get into the idea that Christianity is riddled with branches and reformations, and that when it was first forming, it was concurrent with Mithraism, which seems to be the source of many of the symbolisms it uses.

- Feminism is not the same thing as Goddess Worship just because a lot of Goddess Worshipers happen to be Feminist and Feminists think women deserve equal rights. The barely-veiled woman-hating that comes across time and again makes it seem like the reviewer maybe needs to see a therapist about his mother.

- Occultism and Paganism are not the same just because some people practice both and sometimes topics overlap.

- Religions are not validated by other religions. Every religion that's ever lasted has been hated by at least one other. Christians were hated by Rome; please tell me how that is different than this? When there were only a few hundred or a few thousand Christians bucking the Roman system and getting in the way of the dominant religious practice, how was that different than this? And who is he to intimate that it won't last? Everything is based on something that came before and started by someone. Every religion has a place and a time where it started.

-Paganism is not one thing. It's not Jews-Christians-Muslims and then Everyone Else. It's thousands of other religions and views and philosophies, many of which do not even begin to work together.

- Do half the people commenting have anything to say for themselves? Even if they fully believe the passages they're quoting, it's bad discourse to throw out a quote without a frame for the argument at hand, or an interpretation of how it even matters to the problem being discussed.

- How is Wicca a scam? A scam requires something to be taken from you, generally mony and goods, while Wicca has no built-in habit of tithing, no multi-millionaire TV preachers, no megachurches... Check the definitions of words you use. Also, how does the existence of Salvation Army justify the things I just listed? Just because some branches are good doesn't mean they all are.

- It's out of date. Like, decades out. And people are gobbling it up. Isn't there anything new in that world?

- My brain. She cracks.

Silver Lining:
The very first comment pointed out that he's cracked. After that, for every spouter, there was someone willing to argue and try to get a straight answer. Amazing.

* Nazis were fascist, everyone under the control of the government and all wealth belonging to the leaders; Communists were about everyone being on the same level and all wealth belonging to the people, evenly, even if that's not how it played out. They're opposites, mostly, and people following one don't often like being confused for people following the other. Neither, that I can see or know of, has much to do with the founding of Paganism, except maybe that Hitler was obsessed with entirely misinformed and warped old religions and occultism, and neither was Of The Church. Communism wanted to abolish religion, whether pagan or Christian.

notes: five deities for prosperity

This is a subject very near to my heart this year.

Everything counts as Prosperity if it improves your life, I think-- health, wealth, good luck, good opportunities, family health, stress-free living, money, food, savings, having a lot of friends and things that you love to do...

Other deities considered for the five: Tezcatlipoca (but he was too dark and unreliable to call on for prosperity), Pluto (but the wealth of the underworld is not something the living want to mess with unless they're miners), Tyke (But she was more the determiner of fate than the giver of prosperity. I think Lakshmi and Abundantia are the best for this topic, the most all-around.

See, the thing about a ritual is that it's personal. I'm sort of informal. I don't plan out every word and ever step beforehand, I just gather the things that I feel I'll need and hash out a basic floorplan for the working, and then see how it feels as I work through it. If you're more of a defined thinker, feel absolutely free to call all the Quarters, name each and every step in rhyme, and perform a full High Magic Ritual to get the job done. I just prefer to do that sort of thing with a Circle or a Coven, and do my own workings in a much less formal way.

I've seen raw emeralds and diamonds and such for sale at rock shows and on eBay, so if you have them, that's a good start for a spell to draw riches. But they aren't necessary. Anything that signals wealth and freedom from want for you will work as the token offering.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

notes: living as a pagan in the south

On Examiner.

First paragraph:
It's hard making generalizations about Paganism because of the total lack of centralization, and because so many of the traditions evolved independently-- the world didn't start out with one massive religion, no matter what the ones in power would like us to believe.

Second paragraph:
The massive amounts of publication in the Pagan religions section sort of makes it look like it's more of a solid, unified mass than it really is. I think this is because of a need to reach the solitary starters-- people who have been studying for years with a coven don't really need the books, and they aren't as likely to share all their Mysteries, either, so that means the ones that do share get all the press. Which is somewhat misleading.

A quick Google search pulls up a lot of sites for Pagans in Florida, but not much at all about being a pagan in the unique climate of Florida, which is nothing at all like England or Germany or Scandinavia or any of the other places where the main traditions seem to come from or where they draw their influences from. I really think that accommodations need to be made, especially if you come from somewhere else.

Third paragraph:
I'm generally inclined to gravitate toward the Middle Path between any two extremes, anyway; maybe you aren't, and that's great. Live what's good for you.

Fourth paragraph:
I'm not sure I really believe that any branch of paganism goes all the way back to the Paleolithic unbroken, but I do think that archaeology and paleontology have a lot to teach us about how people once lived and believed, and there's more than enough reason to back track, find your genealogical roots, and see what spiritual sustenance you can get from them. I think how we deal with the unknown and the stories we tell ourselves and each other are linked to how and where we evolved and lived for so many generations, and there's a racial memory that can trigger and pull us back to where our ancestors are. There's value in that.

There's nothing wrong with making it up as you go. One of the greatest perks of Paganism over most other religions is that it's customizable, and therefore you can say 'whatever, I do what I want' and have that be a valid argument. The divine gave us free will, right? Why not use it. Find your own way back.

Fifth paragraph:
I don't understand how a religion based on love and compassion and humility gets off being so condemning, but I'm glad that not all Christians are like that... it's a shame that more of the ones who aren't don't step up in defense of how it should be and in protest to how it's being done, though.

I'm both highly amused and terribly scared of this shirt. But since I fall more in line with not really over-revering sacredness, I'm okay with the personalization of the pagan equivalent of Amen, and I like how that personalization ties it to the region. We're a regional species, identifying self with place, and that shouldn't be denied. Even if I have Editorial Issues with the word 'y'all'... ~;)