Blurb

Thoughts, lessons, and theology from an eclectic witch from a varied background.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Opinion: Benefits of Devotional Journal

Image from Pexels.
Keeping a devotional journal sounds like a lot of work. People tend to think of the practice of Bible journals when it is mentioned. While Bible journals is a method of keeping a devotional journal, it doesn't work for everyone. Not everyone is Christian or finds inspiration in the Bible. So, what are the people who are not Christian going to do? And why would they keep a devotional journal?

It is a very flexible practice. Just as keeping a regular journal or diary has as many different methods as there are people who use one, the same is true for a devotional journal. One person may find that keeping a written record of their prayers is helpful. Another person may find that a scrapbook filled with inspiring items, photos of important moments, and notes about their prayer life is most useful. And there may be yet another person who uses a book of abstract coloring pages for their meditative focus and as their prayer journal, wherein the meanings of their prayers is coded within the images by the colors used and the order of their application.

The devotional journal practice that you choose should be most comfortable for you and one that you feel has the strongest connection to the ones you are contacting via prayer. A person who has a devotional relationship with Brighid is going to have a different style of devotional practice than a person who has a devotional relationship with Al-Lat because these two deities have entirely different sets of iconography and symbolism connected with them, which is completely separate from the individual quirks of each person's own methods of communicating. The devotional journal is a practice that can be very helpful to either person regardless of their experience at engaging in devotional work.

A devotional journal allows one to keep a record of the prayers and observances they keep. It is also good for noting when said prayers are answered and what themes arise in one's prayer life. It is an excellent tool for building up into daily prayer practices. Devotional journals are also, generally, highly portable and allow one to enter into prayer in a fashion that is rather inconspicuous. If a person is in a position where they want their prayer time to be with out distractions, the focus of working in a journal can do much to filter out external distractions because a good deal of attention is required. A devotional journal also helps the devotee to find their voice, which is a good thing when the devotee is working on building their personal practice.

Prayers said by rote can not be forgotten when they are noted down in a journal. Instead, there would be a section for reference that one could turn to when it is needed. That, in many ways, is really the best part about a devotional journal. It is easier to remember things because it is not necessary to absolutely memorize them. Instead, a note can be written and depending on the style of journal writing used, there is going to be an index or some other sort of organization to the journal that allows for easy access of the notes.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Hiatus & Equinox.

Hiatus is the time of non-time in the Filianic calendar. At this time, the holy Daughter, who was slain on Kala (the day before, and the final day of the month of Moura), hangs upon the pillar that passes through all worlds. It could be likened to the time of mourning that Christians observe in honor of the time that Jesus hung upon the cross and then was laid in the tomb before his resurrection. This traditionally in the Filianic and Déanic communities is a time of deep reflection and a moment when all things come to a brief halt to await the resurrection of the Daughter. (This year, it comes on the day after the Equinox. Other years, it is the day of the Equinox, but it always falls on the 21st of March in the Northern Hemisphere and on the 21st of September in the Southern Hemisphere.)

Thinking about the future and discussing future events is generally considered taboo in this religious tradition. As someone who practices a blended faith, I try to adhere to this taboo, but there are things that simply force me to break it. A fine example is the fact that I have mundane things such as doctor's appointments and bills that I need to address. This requires some future planning. So, I focus my efforts on attending to only matters that require my attention at this time, so if future planning is done it is only what is most essential. Like others of the Filianic faith tradition, I cover my icons of the Daughter with a veil. I use a dark blue cloth, as it is the color associated with Moura and mourning. Technically, this is a time for mourning the death of the Daughter. I also try to keep my clothing simple and I generally go with darker colors.

It is also the Equinox, which is celebrated in Wicca and much of the Norse/Germanic based faith traditions as Ostara. Rituals are done to honor Ostara, the goddess of Spring and fertility. It is also considered the time when Freyr returns to the lands of the living after having been slain at the time of the autumn harvest. From this perspective, today is an auspicious day. Though there is snow on the ground right now, the sap is running through the trees and I have heard robins out singing when I was taking a walk this morning.

I sit here pulled in two very different directions today. The blessing here is the fact that the celebration of Ostara is not tied to a specific date on the calendar and the astronomical equinox does not fall on the same date every year (because precession is a thing and such), so I am not bound by a hard and fast date to observe Ostara and the equinox. I am going to use this to my advantage this year. I am spending time today treating life as though seeds are germinating beneath the soil and I am in a sacred period of waiting. Tomorrow, when the Filianic celebration of Eastre comes, I will celebrate Ostara at the same time. I am going to give my children some sweets for the day. I got that ball started early today with some donuts. I will also be invoking blessings on my seeds and such.

Today, I am going to prepare my 'soil' and wait. I am going to do my best to focus on what I need right now and address that. While I had wanted to have a few projects done by today, I recognize that life chose otherwise. And today I must accept this. Tomorrow, things will begin anew. I will be renewed. So, today, I will tidy things up and do my best to be as focused on the present and my needs as I can be. This day is a day of necessity and addressing what I must let go to proceed forward into a healthy new year.

Regardless of what ever festivals you celebrate at this time, may your and yours be blessed with happiness and health.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Moura Week 2: Thoughts.

This is a bit late. I think we're nearly half though week three of Moura. My sense of time has been a bit bent by the fact that I am not well. My anxiety has been through the roof and I have been struggling to put together coherent sentences. I also didn't exactly have a good day today when I had someone who was rather scary follow me as I was out on my daily walk. It was terrifying. I wound up darting into the Post Office to hide for a bit in the hopes that he wasn't going to try to confront me. I then kept looking over my shoulder on my way home.

I think I am going to resume my practice of carrying my cane or a walking stave with me. I am depressed right now and struggling with an enormous sense of despair right now. I am trying to ignore the unhealthy and just plain awful thoughts. It is very difficult, though. I feel like I'm falling apart. I'm not sure what to do about it right now. I pray to Dea for guidance. I pray to Loki, Freyr, and Odin for guidance. But my thoughts are so .. deadened by this sense of depression, I have a hard time perceiving their responses.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Moura Week 1 Thoughts

Something of a more personal post right now, I apologize if this is not very well done. I have found myself in the position of scrambling about and playing catch-up on all fronts. It is honestly quite exhausting. My health is somewhat better than it was a little while back but my brain is still not functioning quite right. This leads to a bit of shading to details and facts that is not accurate. This makes me additionally somewhat miserable.

I had planned to do so many things over the last week. I told myself that I was going to take the kids out and do fun things. I told myself that I was going to finish getting my pile of mending done, finally. I even told myself that I was going to get a big ol' heap of tarot reading emails finished.

Functionally, I accomplished a very small fraction of it and more of my time was spent trying to keep the boys from fighting. I feel rather demoralized by that. I don't know if I was going into the week hypomanic or not. I just know that I had set out a list of goals. I thought they were reasonable. And then each one passed me by with little to no work done upon them.

I'm not sure what the theme of this month is going to be. So far, it looks like learning to live with the fact that I am more limited than I once was and that I really just have to accept it. I'm not very good at that.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Moura: 13th Month & 5th Season

If you follow the Filianic/Déanic calendar, you will realize that we are on the second day of the month of Moura. In the Filianic/Déanic calendar, this is a month that is outside of the ordinary year. It counts as the thirteenth month of a twelve month cycle. It is also considered the fifth of four seasons. This is also the month that includes the intercalculary period known as Hiatus.

The Filianic/Déanic calendar describes itself as a solar calendar. The thirteen months, however, are highly reminiscent of the lunar calendars of the world. The intercalculary period serves as a time that allows for the calendar to reconcile that lunar influence with the solar calendar. It even happens in the Julian calendar. This would be why we have Leap Day at the  end of February every four years. In the Filianic/Déanic calendar, that Leap Day manifests as a second day in the period of Hiatus, which is a single day on all other years.

Moura is generally described as a period of purification and anticipation. Many compare it to the liturgical season of Lent observed in most Christian denominations. Moura is a time that many households of the Filianic/Déanic faith work on their 'Spring' cleaning. This is less a matter of 'time to clean everything up because it is Spring' that many others would present this concept as, and more of a process of cleansing the household (and ideally oneself) in preparation for the high holiday of Eastre, and the beginning of the Spring season of the calendar.

The dates observed in Moura include the first day of Moura, which is known as Moura Day. This is often a day of fasting after the Mardi Gras like celebrations of Moura Eve (2/19, the 28th day of the month of Brighe). Med Moura (Moura 14th, March 5th or 4th, on Leap Years) is a break in the austerity of the season. It is a feast day wherein mothers and creative people are celebrated.Also celebrated are people who act as spiritual guides for others. Given that my observances are of a more gender neutral orientation, I celebrate parental figures, creative people, and spiritual guides and teachers of all walks.

At the end of Moura (Moura 28, March 19 or 18th on Leap Years), the year officially ends with the observance of the solemnities of Kala. Kala is the date of the death of the Divine Daughter. All icons of the Daughter are customarily shrouded to reflect her death. These will remain until Eastre, the date of her resurrection and the beginning of the next year. Kala is considered the first date of the celebrate of Eastre.

After Kala comes the period of Hiatus. During Hiatus, thoughts and discussion of the future are generally taboo. The Filianist is encouraged to meditate upon the death of the Daughter and her absence from the world. Some will wear somber colors. This is considered an inauspicious period for beginning new things. Hiatus is technically not part of the calendar. Many who publish Filianic calendars will not post Hiatus upon their calendars.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Herbs, Treasures, & Tools.

Initially, I started out with this wild idea that I was going to write weekly posts about herbalism. I then realized I did not know quite enough to do so and the end result was my basically sharing what I was finding via research as soon as I found it. This lead to some poor posts and I stepped back to reconsider the whole matter. After a great deal of thought, I have come to a few conclusions.

First, I am going to start posting again about herbs and plants. Those posts will talk about things ranging from the basics on how to keep your plants alive to what the folklore surrounding the plants is. I will also have stuff talking about what bit of familial knowledge that was passed down to me by my relatives. Some of it is going to sound a little odd, but it actually does seem to work. I am also going to be posting my notes as I am engaged in my attempt again to grow something of a container garden this year.

Secondly, the posts about herbs and plants are not going to be the only topic that comes up at this time of the week. I am going to begin a series of posts talking about magical tools. I sort of started with that post I did a little while back regarding sickles. The next one is going to be addressing wands. There will be a short video to accompany these posts. The video is going to be featured on the main site. The text discussion (with some pictures to illustrate my points) will be available on the main site and the mirror site.

The third new element that is going to come into play here is something that I am not entirely sure how often it will show up. I am going to start posting about items that I find truly wonderful and special. I will be posting a picture of my treasure. I will also be posting a little bit of the story about how the object came into my possession and what I love about it. Some of this is going to be jewelry that I inherited, random stuff that my kids have made, and items that if you just saw them sitting on a shelf you would have no idea why they mattered to me.

I look forward to sharing this adventure with you. I hope that you have a lovely day and that something delightful happens to find you at just the right time to make you smile when you need it.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Amity Day: Love is Love is Love.

Today is commonly known as Valentine's Day. It is the feast day of the Catholic saint named Valentinus. The stories surrounding this saint all agree that his death was decidedly unpleasant (one variation included his being beaten with clubs and beheaded before getting dumped into a shallow grave before being disinterred and reinterred elsewhere by the Christian faithful). The general reasons for this man's death usually are cited as performing marriages for Roman soldiers who had been forbidden from marrying and his association with Christians. Precise details about this era are not as strong as one would like because there are multiple individuals known as Valentinus who died for approximately the same reasons. This is additionally confused with the very varied writings that made up medieval hagiography.

Within the Filianic/Déanic communities, February 14th (also known as Brighe 23rd according to the sacred calendar of these faiths) has become known as Amity day. This is the day where love is celebrated in its many splendid forms. Where as the secular over-culture that we are generally aware of focuses upon romantic love (of a very specific variety) on this day, the Filianic/Déanic communities have a broader perspective. Indeed, it is often found that a focus upon Platonic and familial love in these communities. It is not that romantic love is unimportant as much as Platonic and familial relationships more closely mirror the ideal relationship between worshipers and Dea.

There are many in the wider pagan community that honor this as the feast of Lupercalia. Lupercalia is an ancient fertility festival that is reckoned to have been celebrated at approximately the same time of the year. The festival is historically associated with wolves and the deity known as Faunus (who is considered a Roman cognate to the Hellenic deity Pan). The focus of this festival has historically been the celebration of fertility, the appeasement of unfriendly spirits, the increase of health and vitality in the community, and purification of the city. One would only presume that along with the focus upon purification of the city, there was perhaps a parallel focus upon purification within one's own home.

Today, the 14th of February is treated as a day of sanctioned debauchery along certain lines. The indulgence of people in extravagant purchases to display their affection, in having sweet treats, and physical displays of affection is so heavily entrenched in the over-culture of the United States that it seems some sort of strange irony considering how many people are judgmental of others for such indulgences at other times of the year. The ideas that there is a certain standard of behavior that is required to observe this day properly creates an incredible amount of stress and anxiety for many, many people.

There are people who are extremely upset that they do not have a lover to dote upon them. There are people who are extremely anxious that their displays of affection are not extravagant. The combination of the stereotypes of what a 'good Valentine's day' looks like and the general lack of reasonable allowances for people to express their affections in a manner that is most comfortable for them turns a day that could have been one for deep spiritual and emotional connection in to a day of anxiety, stress, and general misery for many people.

Thus, one is encouraged to focus more upon love as a concept at large rather than a specific manifestation, with the exception of how those manifestations enrich one's life. Taking time on amity day to focus upon acts of self care as healthy self love is just as valid as taking one's sweetheart out to dinner. Some would dare say that that moment of self care is even more important right now. Focus upon love as that all encompassing wonder that moves through the world.