Variety is a wonderful thing

Image by Flickr user mantas_tr.
Romuvan priestess officiating ritual.

One of the things that I love about ADF is the variety of beliefs.  In a survey that I did for a class a while ago. The survey included responses from OBOD, ADF and general Californian Pagans. One of the questions asked had individuals select one of the options for how they define their theology. 32% of the responses were either Archtypist or Humanist.  That’s a lot of folks who consider themselves pagan, and mostly druids, who are not theists.  While in ADF we tend to have more theists and non-theists, there is still a wide variety of beliefs.

The ADF Core Order of Ritual requires us to act as if we believe that spirits act as if they are different aspects or individuals – but it doesn’t require that we believe that.

At Pantheacon this year, we called upon the Spirit of Unity to help us remember that we are all part of the community, we’re all part of the world, we are all connected.

It’s a good thing to remember – that we don’t all need to have the same belief to come together, to support each other and to be there for each other.


Image by Flickr user mantas_tr.

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#GetOutside

Roses on the Wall
Flowers against a garden wall

Many of my photos on Instagram include the hashtag #getoutside. The reason for this is to encourage everyone who can to spend some time outside. It’s easy for us to forget our connection with the rest of life, to forget our connection with the plants and animals and the spirits of nature that exist outside of our day-to-day awareness.

Even if you live in a big city, or a small city like I do, there’s an opportunity to get outside and experience nature, to connect with life. I don’t generally spend time to go to parks, or go on hikes.  We have a park with an animal rehab/rescue zoo-style area.  We’re even members of the “zoo” but we go there only a couple times a year. Even there, the animals are contained and the plants are manicured.

PerigrineFalcon
Blind Peregrine teaches us about falcons

But even in this world of manicured plants we can connect with nature.  Outside of my third story window is the top of a tree, and there are little songbirds and squirrels who live in that tree. As I walk along the road, heading to the shop, I see birds and squirrels – in addition to the pets being walked. All of this helps me to connect with nature in the concrete of the city.

Beautiful Weeds
Beautiful weeds in the garden

One or twice a week, I walk to or from work.  It’s a bit over 3 miles, so it takes a chunk of my day.  Still, I experience frost on the leaves, the songbirds building their nests, the struggle of the weeds in the grass, and walk through gusts of flower puffs. At the same time, I’m staying away from cars, crossing bridges and highways, and staying aware to stay alive. In this way, I connect to life.

In our hectic world of virtual connection, it’s easy to forget our connection to life. Where ever you are, take what opportunities you can to experience the outdoors. If you can’t get outside, if you can open a window and experience the outdoors that way. Look away from the screens, and SEE the world around you.


Image Credits: All photos by me

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Do You Really Need a Patron?

Cerridwen Statue on my altar
Cerridwen Statue on my altar

Admittedly, this is a bit of a hot button topic for me. In the Pagan world, I find a lot of people using the terms “Patron” or “Matron” to refer to a particular god or goddess that they are working closely with.

The traditional meaning of patron that I learned is an individual who is your supporter and protector. There’s a very deep level of relationship between the patron and the individual. When I’ve heard people use the word “Matron” in this context, they usually mean a female patron. There are individuals who have this depth of relationship with a god or goddess. Many of these individuals call themselves a priest or priestess of their god, but not all do.

In ADF, we often talk about finding your patron god as part of your journey, but do we really need one? Need? No.

Consider your relationships with the gods in the same light that you have relationships with people. Sometimes we have one really close friend, sometimes we have a couple of really close friends, and sometimes we have a lot of relatively close friends. And then we have all the other people with whom we have different levels of relationships.  The gods and goddess are similar to that. The exact nature of the relationship is a little different in how we interact, but there is a range of relationships from super close, BFFs, to individuals who you just casually wave from across the room. What relationships you have with the gods and goddess is up to you. The amount of effort you put into the relationships may affect the closeness, but like with humans, not every relationship works out perfectly.

Work on your relationships – with whatever beings you desire – and see what happens.

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The Challenge of Moving

CreekOur Landlady told us that she was raising the rent – raising it further than we were comfortable paying. So we’re moving. And I really don’t like it.

This discomfort is completely aside from the effort of packing, and organizing the moving of utilities and internet, not to mention the extra expense for new security deposits and paying people to move our lovely – but heavy – furniture.

Our new place is great. It has a wonderful area for entertaining, and it’s providing me the opportunity to re-work my Craft/craft room to more accurately reflect my current interests and activities. Yes …. UGH!

I finally figured out what it is … this place doesn’t feel like “home” anymore. Half my stuff is in boxes and I can’t unpack yet, and so I can’t do what I want, when I want it. In a couple days I move. I now realize that I need to claim the new space quickly. So I have a home – even if lots of stuff is still in boxes.

In my family, we have a symbol that means that “this is home.” It’s a simple lock with hooks to hang keys.  So I’ll take that item and put it in the new place first thing. Then maybe, I can have “home” again.

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Women’s March

March for Women's Lives, 2004 from Wikipedia
March for Women’s Lives, 2004 from Wikipedia

I don’t usually venture into politics on this blog, but I feel that it’s a good day to do so.

Today people throughout the US are marching in the Womens’ March – standing up for their rights. There are marches in many different towns throughout the US, and in towns that don’t have organized marches, people are still getting together.

The goal of the march is a great goal – every human deserves to be respected. We, as humans, have the right to be treated equally, to be treated with respect, and given the opportunity to succeed as much as we are able.  Everyone is different, everyone’s limits are different – but no one should tell you what your limits are.  Your limits can only be determined by you.

From Women’s March on DC web page reflects how this March came about.  It’s about the current batch of politicians and what behaviors the media and political parties seem okay with.

The rhetoric of the past election cycle has insulted, demonized, and threatened many of us – immigrants of all statuses, Muslims and those of diverse religious faiths, people who identify as LGBTQIA, Native people, Black and Brown people, people with disabilities, survivors of sexual assault – and our communities are hurting and scared. We are confronted with the question of how to move forward in the face of national and international concern and fear.

I hope that one day I can live to see a world where we don’t have to worry about this anymore – at least not at a national level.

If you can’t march, for whatever reason, lend your energy to those who do.  I once heard Selina Fox say that for every front line protester, there was 1,000 people behind them.  We can’t all be on the front.  If you’re not at the front, I urge you to do what you can to support them.  People can’t effectively protest without support – money, letters/calls to politicians, people bringing them food, re-tweeting, liking, commenting.

May these Marches have the desired effect.

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Caring for Charity

A while ago, I made a blanket for charity as part of an offering to Freyja. I asked for something pretty big and it worked out – so something pretty big was returned. So I made the blanket, and then left it out at a train station with a hand towel, a bar of soap and a note that someone who needs it should take it. I have no idea who took it, or if someone even tossed it in the trash, but the next morning it was gone. It felt so great to make something that I would just send into the world.

Since then, II’m currently working on 2 blankets for Project Linus and am on the lookout for additional charities to make items for. It’s one of the ways that I can help people outside of my little space. Each of the blankets are worked with a spirit or god in mind so that the spirit of the being is infused into the yarn.  One of the blankets is focused on the Harry Potter world – with each of the houses represented – focusing on working together even if we’re different.

Charities provide care and help for people in need – both for the people that they give items to and the people who help out and work at and with the charities. As we consider gifts for our fiends and family, perhaps we can also consider gifts for those who are in need.

 

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Perry the Dream Guardian

Perry the PlatypusMy husband and I enjoy watching cartoons – especially those that are designed for adults to enjoy as well as kids. One of the cartoons that we enjoy is Phineas and Ferb by Disney.

In the cartoon, there’s a character called “Perry.” Perry is a platypus who is a pet that doubles as a secret agent. I’ve got a stuffed Perry on my bed. He’s fierce and kind, understanding and respectful but still gets the job done … and there’s a point to me talking about a cartoon.

In my class on the Process of Magic by Taylor Ellwood, we talk about using thought-forms and other beings to help us. A few weeks ago, I had the idea to leverage all the energy and attention that had been given to Perry to help me with an issue I’ve had sleeping. I took the stuffed Perry toy that I have and talked to it. I asked him to help guard my dreams like he guards the boys in the cartoon. Every night I ask for what kind of dreams I’d like to have that night. It’s usually something like “restful” or “good” or “pleasant” but I have occasionally asked for “none.”

Phineas sleeping with PerryIt’s been working decently overall.  My dreams have not left me overtired, or waking up frustrated or angry.  Dreams that would normally have me end up frustrated have somehow avoided the emotion – like someone was defending me from it (Thanks Perry!). Asking for no dreams didn’t work though .. I still got random dreams, although without the level of frustration that I normally get when stressed so it was an improvement.

Next, I think I might try a sigil and empower my Perry to help out a bit more with deeper sleep and remembering my dreams.

It’s an interesting experiment in pop culture magic.

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How do you Journal

Creating a Book of ShadowsFor years I tried to keep journals – separate journals for different things – and I rarely wrote in them. I would always find a reason not to journal. I was never sure why.

Recently I discovered the bullet journaling community and all the different options out there! I’ve started journaling again – this time in one journal.

I find that having everything in one journal really helps. Right now my journal is a bit small, but it’s working so I’m going to keep using it until the book is full. There’s monthly pages where I keep everything key for that month, and daily pages where I track my to-do list, and sometimes the phase & sign of the moon and the sign of the sun. There’s also pages to track my coursework through the ADF Clergy courses.

Some weeks I journal more, some weeks I journal less. There are pages for meditation journals, and pages where I put my thoughts from my readings.

I’m almost through my first journal, and have purchased a new one from The Book Roadie for my next journal.Journal

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Spirituality When You’re Sick

An interesting thing about spirituality, I find, is that it’s easy to do when I have time; it’s harder to do when I am busy; and it tends to get forgotten when I’m sick. The irony is that I need that connection so much more when I’m not feeling well, but I let it fall to the wayside. I’m sure there are other people out there who manage to maintain that connection even when feeling ill, but I’m not one of them. Or at least not without reminders.

In my most recent bout of post-travel illness, I was reminded by my shrines. I have shrines in my bedroom and in my craft/brew/Work room. Yet, while I kept telling myself that I would go and make offerings or do a devotion … I just curled up under a blanket and coughed. I was aware of the gods and spirits. I did go outside to feel the sun on my face and tend to my plants (some of which are dedicated to spirits). But doing more than that was … not happening. It was not until I was on my way to feeling better that I started to do stuff. I did the bone breathing, I did some trance work, I did some devotions and made offerings.

I don’t know what to do, how to train myself, to actually keep the connection better when I’m feeling ill.

Then again, maybe it’s enough for now.

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Many Gods West 2016

Olympia WA
View from the hotel

A couple weekends ago, I went to Many Gods West in Olympia, WA. It was my first time at the conference, and I was very happy that I went. Nikki and her crew put on a wonderful, educational weekend filled with new information, new experiences, and great community.

The hotel itself had just completed a renovation, and they did a great job. The rooms were huge, and the bar was lovely.

I arrived on Thursday evening, after my roommate, Brendan, picked me up from the airport. Thursday night, we were both tired and ended up eating dinner in the hotel bar. It was a great choice as we met a couple of wonderful people who we continued to get to know through the weekend.

Friday morning was mostly devoted to finding friends and getting registered. A few folks who I knew from California came up, and I got to meet a few more friends from California who I hadn’t met before! It’s funny how you end up meeting people at conferences – when those people live just 30 or 40 minutes away from you ☺

The Opening Ritual was lead by Sean Donahue – and I knew that I was in the right place. Although Sean’s opening prayer and ritual were not in the tradition that I practice, there were a lot of overlaps. There were enough overlaps that it felt familiar and welcoming. Here were a group of polytheists who were coming together in community and learning. And that was amazing.

Next up was the Plenary session of a panel discussion on building pagan community. The panel was chaired by Druid and Blogger John Beckett and included ADF’s Archdruid Emeritus Kirk Thomas, Heathen skald and co-founder of the Golden Gate Kindred, Ryan Smith, and the co-founder of Mother Grove Goddess Temple and Gods & Radicals, Syren Nagakyrie. It was great to hear everyone’s different perspectives on how to build community. In general respect for each other, a clear path to address disagreements and troublemakers, and a whole lot of work goes into building pagan community.

That evening was a double ritual for me. The first ritual was a ritual to the goddess Rhiannon by Phoenix LaFae and Gwion Raven. The ritual was about handing off the stories that are told to us, about us but aren’t us. We were offered to hand off these stories to Rhiannon – she can help us get rid of them, or at least to carry them for a time.

The second ritual of the evening was the Dionysian Revival ritual by Jason and Ari Mankey. I’ve only been to a Mankey ritual once, and this one was different but just as impressive. We started out with a traditional Hellenic invocation and ended up with a bit of a dance party …. And a trip to the underworld in the middle. It was a great ritual and a lot of fun.

That night I managed to stay up until 5 am talking with people. There were so many great conversations! As a result of the excessively late night, I slept through my planned morning session, but the rest of the day was great.

Saturday, the vendor hall was open, and I got a new rune set, a new journal, talked with a few folks from the Olympia/Seattle area about different Heathen practices and just had a great time talking with everyone in the vendor room. I also spent time in the Community Tea Room hosted by Emily and Raye with tea donated by B. Fuller’s Mortar & Pestle and Radiance Herbs. The teas were awesome, and I’m looking forward to trying more of them in the future.

This day I attended a talk on multi-traditional practice by Willow Moon where he talked about balancing the Witchcraft and Buddhist traditions. Although I am generally pagan, I do work with multiple traditions so understanding how he did it gave me some ideas.

One of the sessions that were planned got canceled due to the presenters being unable to attend, so Alf Herigstad hosted a Sumbel. It was my first Sumbel, and it was a cool experience. After the toasts, a few of us stayed and chatted and drank mead.

The next session that day was the ADF Ritual. The ritual was hosted by Cascadia Grove, and they very kindly let Kirk, Sean and myself have parts in the ritual. Kirk Thomas was the presiding clergy for the ritual. It was a great ritual where we invoked Tailtiu.

That evening consisted of dinner with friends old and new, and an evening of mead and snacks and conversation.

Sunday was the last day of the convention, but the schedule was still pretty packed. The first session was one of the most moving sessions of the convention. Alf Herigstad presented his views on Animal Sacrifice. The workshop included a good grounding in the historical context of animal sacrifice. Alf then went on to describe how his Kindred performs animal sacrifice – from raising the animals to their final moments and how they are honored. It was a very moving workshop, and Alf had most folks in tears at least once.

Mural in Olympia, WA
Mural in Olympia, WA

The second session that I went to that day was a workshop on Gnostic Polytheism and Animism by Sara Star. The workshop started out with the question “Who writes the Myths?” By the end of the workshop, the response was “me!” Each of us has a responsibility to communicate the UPG that aids the community and helps to unwrite some of the harmful stories.

I stayed through Monday and walked around Olympia to check out the cute little town.

Overall the event was awesome, relaxing, educational and all around success. Nikki, Sean, and the Warding crew did a fantastic job of keeping the energies balanced and the convention going well.

I’m looking forward to going to Many Gods West next year.

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