08 November 2011

The Garden of Life

Autumn is a time of harvests.... the seeds we planted and nurtured over the previous seasons have come to fruition and we now see what we have grown and what we have to get us through the winter. Now we must prepare for the coming year, some seeds need to be planted now to rest in the earth over the winter, some we must plan and prepare for spring.... What are you growing and nurturing in the garden of your life?

03 May 2011

A ritual for our favorite morning ritual

I am one of those people who try to incorporate the everyday things into my spirituality. Part of that probably comes from a book I read in the mid 80's called Chop Wood, Carry Water by Rick Fields. So in the spirit of the everyday sacred moments I shall now endeavor to combine two of my favorite things... coffee and ritual... this will be a semi-serious Pagan humor philosophical experiment. I'm going to include the whole thought process of developing this. That way you also get a sense of how to put together a ritual. See it's humorous and educational... REAAALLLYYYY. lol

Why coffee? I'm well known for my coffee, for example... an 11 year old who had only known me for a couple months, bought me a bumper sticker saying "There is to much blood in my caffeine system." That should give you an idea how much coffee I drink! Speaking of which my cup is empty, so I think I'll get another...

Why ritual? Simply because it pleases me to mark the moments of life. Some people mark their lives with music or art or poetry or with a job well done... me? I do lots of odd and seemingly random things that interrelate different parts of my life.

Where to begin? Maybe I should combine the process of brewing the coffee, with a simple invocation.... ah I know... a ritual to make the coffee pot a ritual tool, sort of a blessed and charged item which turns the act of brewing into a sacred act with a simple daily prayer to recharge it as it recharges you.

So what do we need?
Well a coffee pot, obviously...

some coffee, I prefer whole bean and grinding it when I make a pot, so I'll include those...

a way to define sacred space, this could take many forms... I'll go for the four classical elements and a simplified ritual form. For me the kitchen is sacred space anyway. It is where the alchemy of cooking takes place.

I will write this rite the right way for a solitary practitioner.

For the sake of consecrating the coffee maker, I'm going to assume you have a outdoor place you prefer to do ritual, if not, then modify accordingly.

Materials required will vary according to the type of coffee maker you use: On the altar there are coffee scented candles, coffee maker, coffee grinder (if you have one), small bowl of used coffee grounds, and whatever containers you would put out for the sugar, cream, chocolate, etc even if you only keep a little on hand for guests.


(Take the small bowl of coffee grounds and sprinkle around the circle)

Grounds of coffee past
purify where thou art cast
Let only good things come to me,
And as I will So Mote It BE!

(Take the milk and sprinkle around the circle)

Milk where thou art cast
Give protection that will last
Let only good things come to me,
And as I will So Mote It BE!

by the air of the peculator and the drip, the fire that heats it, the water that transforms and the grounds of earth, bound together to bring forth the sacred coffee, come now and join me in this rite.

Hail and welcome Lord Java... keeper of the hidden secrets within the dark depths of the coffee cup, watch over us and give us the strength to get through our days.

Hail and welcome Lady Caffeina... who comes to us in many forms, watch over us and guide our thoughts to that which allows efficient use of our time and energy.

I bring forth these coffee supplies to be blessed and sanctified in your names. As the grinder takes the whole beans and reduces them to smaller useful part, so to shall the large issues of the day be made smaller more manageable part to make things run smoother. Let the carafe be a symbol of the cauldron of rebirth, so that it may bring forth a brew that will renew my body, mind and spirit with each new day. Allow the symbolic and chemical alchemy of the process that turns these separate elements into a glorious cup of coffee so that the air that is my breath, the fire that is my spirit, the water that is my blood, the earth that is my body will be renewed each day.

Lord and Lady and Elements of air, fire, water and earth I honor you with each cup I drink. Stay if you will, go if you must and visit often to join me for a cup of coffee.

Blessed be.

Remember that where ever you set up your coffee station, you have dedicated it to renew your spirit. Take care of it and keep it clean. Create your own little saying for the morning while making your coffee. Keep it pre-coffee simple... like "Good morning lord and lady. Earth my body, water my blood, air my breath and fire my spirit"

If you are fortunate enough have a coffee maker with a timer, you can make the ritual a little more involved if you so desire.

Well that is it for now. Hope you enjoyed my ramblings.

May you live as long as you want and never want as long as you live.

10 February 2011

Religious Pluralism and Relativism

Religious Pluralism sets aside conflicting truth statements and instead focuses on universality and unity of all religions. Religious Relativism on the other hand resolves the conflicting truth statements as being manifestations of divine/human relations. That is to say, religious relativism sees the truth as having been interpreted by certain people at certain time from the perspective of their own cultural upbringing. For instance show a Hindu who knows nothing of Jesus a common picture of Jesus and he will interpret it from the context of his understanding. So different people in different places can quite easily see and experience the exact same thing, but the interpretation and understanding will be different.

To go with a cooking analogy... Pluralism is like taking a few different soup recipes and keeping only what is common to all. This may give you a very nice soup base, but it will lack much in style. Where as Relativism will allow you to enjoy your soup of choice as it is or even different unique flavors of each soup according to your changing desires.

It is obvious I have a bias toward religious relativism. I have a strong preference for rich traditions, high ritual and the subtle theological distinctions where the change of a single word can utterly change the meaning. However I only enjoy it in so much as they can be practiced without being disrespectful toward other traditions.

Yes even though I am an eclectic mystic Pagan, with smattering of Buddhist philosophy and other eastern religious studies... I do still enjoy the occasional Mass and attending Gregorian chant when the opportunity arises.

25 January 2011

Spells... mundane and ethical considerations

I want to write about spellwork, since this is the most asked question I get. I won't bother with the does it work or not, its not my job to convince you if your not interested. However for those who are interested here are my thoughts.

Mundane considerations....

No spell will function properly without the mundane work and just because a spell works, even if you get exactly what you ask for, doesn't mean it will all work out for the best. As an extreme example, say someone did a spell to get a specific job and gets it, however if they are not truly qualified and capable of the job they will end up getting fired, their professional reputation will be harmed and in the end they will be worse off then before and that is assuming they don't end up getting charged with some sort of crime for falsifying their abilities. Also, to follow the previous example, if you don't apply for jobs, your find work spell is not exactly likely to work.

There are three things that should be considered before any spell work.

One, is what you think you want, actually what you want. Do your research on it, whatever  it is. Think of all the people who go to college to get a degree then find out they don't like the work that they just spent years and tens of thousands of dollars to get.

Two, if you get what you ask for is it actually something you are ready for... mentally, physically, spiritually. This is an entirely personal judgment call and that honest self examination is probably the hardest thing of all.

Three, do some divination to see where that spell may take you, what may happen and if this is the right thing for your life path. Sometimes getting the thing we want now actually takes us down a different path then is actually intended for our lives.

Ethical considerations...

Using magic is no different then using any other tools when considering ethics. If you wouldn't do it with mundane methods, then you shouldn't do it with magic either. Lets say you could make a million dollars appear out of thin air (Nope, you can't but follow me here) this would mean one of two things... either the money was taken from somewhere, in which case it is theft OR it was manufactured out of thin air, in which case it is counterfeiting. If for some reason you'd still be alright with that, well there are much simpler and mundane methods to do so.

Curses, I'm not a fan. However, if someone is doing something illegal and the cops aren't catching them, well a little spell to cause all evidence of their crimes to find their way to the right authorities would in my opinion be fine. After all, if you turn out to be wrong about their criminal behavior for some reason, then there wouldn't be any evidence and there is no harm done. If you wouldn't murder them or torture them with mundane means, why would you think it would be ethical to do it magically?

23 January 2011

My view on private Pagan libraries

I highly recommend that every Pagan, Wiccan and Heathen have their own private library.

Books I highly recommend for a good understanding for your private library of the history, philosophy,  practices of the modern Wicca and Pagan religion.

Isaac Bonewits- Bonewits's Essential guide to Witchcraft and Wicca
Isaac Bonewits- Real Magic
Margot Adler- Drawing Down the Moon
Starhawk-The Spiral Dance
Starhawk-The Earth Path
Michael York- Pagan Theology
T. Thorn Coyle- Evolutionary Witchcraft
Ronald Hutton- Triumph of the Moon
Robin Wood- When, Why...If

Topics that should be represented for expanded world view. Each of these have a special value in creating the larger picture of thought and practice. There are more ways to go with each of these subjects that whatever your preference you can find ones that fit your vision, yet still give you more information then you had before.

General Topics
World Religions, World mythology, Psychology, Anthropology, Optical Illusions, Labyrinths, Cooking, Gardening, Sustainable Living, History, Rites of Passage, Logic, Art, Music, Theatre, Divination, Physics, History of Science, Alternative Architecture,

Then you should have at least 4 books on whatever tradition you are most interested in. Over half those books should be on the traditional culture that its about, with the smaller part being modern practice.

Specific Traditions
Celtic/Druid, Norse/Teutonic/Heathen, Wicca (If you're claiming Wicca you better be familiar with Gerald Gardner), Hellenic, Egyptian, etc. I'm a believer that the re-creationists library should have about 95% scholarly texts regarding their tradition. If you're going to recreate the ancient practices you need to know all you can about the culture, philosophy, religious practices, political history and interaction with other cultures that you can to fully understand their mind set.

Eclectic Paths
While this is often viewed as an anything goes sort of way to do things, it shouldn't be. Usually there will be some defining feature that links the various parts of your path. That can be about anything from the garden to cooking to philosophy to healing to science to anthropology to meditation to a focus on one tradition with add ins from other traditions in an attempt to enhance the basis. Total whatever goes is really chaos magic/spirituality. Which has its place in the grand scheme of things as well, though I suppose its to much to ask the chaos folks to admit their chaos... perhaps that isn't chaotic enough of me?

22 January 2011

Dedication, Initiation and traditions

This is basically a discussion of terms and definitions that I believe are essential to the discussion of Wicca and Pagan traditions, though just as valid for others as well in my opinion. I agree with many that the terms initiation and Wicca are thrown around to lightly by some. For me this isn't a matter of status or exclusion, but rather simply a matter of accurate communication.

Self initiation seems to me like reading a bunch of books on physics without any classes and declaring yourself a physicist. I'd say a scholar perhaps, but not a physicist. This isn't to say you can't learn a lot and sometime even know more then someone who has done the work to become a physicist. It has more to with giving the term for someone who earned the title and respect of others who also did so. I am a firm believer in the validity of self dedication, but its not the same as initiation. You simply can not perform the rites of initiation on yourself, since part of an initiation is not knowing entirely what is going to happen. It is in part that feeling of uncertainty and mystery of the moment that one simply can not do if they are in control of the situation. Only the most extreme fundy Pagan and Wiccan have a problem with self dedication, but I can certainly understand the term self initiation rubbing people the wrong way.

Wicca, despite the many random Wicca books available, is a specific tradition with specific practices. There are a few different branches, but they all stem from Gardner. I have some Wiccan training and use the basic form, but I would not call myself Wiccan. Its not my tradition no matter how similar in form we are. I prefer the term Pagan, though even that is a questionable term. I'd be much happier with the more creative Wicca books if they called themselves “insert term” Paganism, rather then Wicca.

Pagan or more appropriately NeoPagan, is the modern term used for those who practice an Earth based spirituality that may or may not have specific historical traditions. These can be from recreationists that try to duplicate ancient traditions to people who pick and choose from all available ideas to create something uniquely their own, and everything in between.

Tradition, what gets me is the number of people who created their own tradition. I don't understand that generally. Tradition takes much more then one persons practice or even one groups. For the first group its their practice, when other groups start separating off then I'd say its sect (yeah my religious studies classes are showing, but then ass other groups start breaking off of those and hundreds of people are now doing what the first group is doing, only then can you really start calling yourself a tradition. Also if each group is breaking off and then modifying what is done, its not a tradition. You wouldn't say Christmas Palm trees are traditional, but they are still part of some peoples practice. That is the sort of distinction I'm trying to make with this.

Another term that causes a lot of confusion is Witchcraft. I don't think there is an easy answer for this one. Much like Pagan this is a sort of blanket term that covers a lot of area and worse yet is that different people using the term don't want to be associated with others that also use the term. A Wiccan is a type of Witch, but there are also Satanic Witches and atheistic Witches that despise when people say Witchcraft is a religion. I'd say I have to side with the atheistic Witches on this one. Witchcraft is essentially a series of practices involving herb lore, spellcraft, etc... but there could be a dozen people using the same spells, herbs and tools, but each could be different religions. So I'd have to say Witchcraft is a type of practice and one that is very eclectic in borrowing whatever works. Many Witches are spiritual or even religious, but the practice is not in and of itself religious.

Essential References for basic Pagan Scholarship

Margot Adler- Drawing Down the Moon

Isaac Bonewits- Bonewits's Essential Guide to Witchcraft and Wicca

Ronald Hutton- Triumph of the Moon

Starhawk- The Spiral Dance

Michael York- Pagan Theology