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

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Pagan Parenting: Teachable Moments.

Image courtesy of Clipart Kid
As a parent, you are your child's first educator. Most people think of this in terms of teaching their children how to walk and other basic activities that go into a given day. We are, however, also the people who teach them lessons about ethics and values as well. In pagan households, it is a little more challenging to teach these lessons if you are somewhat isolated from a support network that can help reinforce those lessons (ie: the difference between a solitary pagan family and your local Christian parish).

Thus, you need to keep your eyes open for teachable moments. They come along with a great deal of regularity, however, so you are not left wanting for opportunities to teach. Just last night, for example, the boys and I had a pretty active conversation regarding the way that we get our food, the importance of taking care of our sources of food, and the importance of taking care of the environment.

My youngest was really upset that I was cutting up carrots for a salad. He was most displeased that I was making the carrot's 'dead'. This turned into a child-lead conversation where we talked about how everything that is alive feeds on something else that was once alive. When the kids started expressing sadness that our food sources had to feel pain and die, the conversation moved into a discussion about how it is best for us to make sure our food sources suffer as little as possible in their lives and in their eventual deaths. At which point my eldest asked about the Earth and why it was important to take care of the Earth.

By the end of the conversation, it was clear that the boys understood that empathy is a good thing; compassion and responsibility for their actions are vital; and that we are as dependent upon life around us for our survival as our pet fish Ghost is upon us for his survival. (This then turned into a discussion of what sort of new pet we should get when Ghost eventually dies. I had some challenges getting them to understand that we could not have a pet shark. The boy's reasoning was first that sharks are cool and, second, if we take care of the endangered fish, it will be safe and not become extinct. They did lament that it was unfortunate that they couldn't have a pet dinosaur.)

Taking that moment when the kids realize that everyday things have consequences and expanding their awareness to how they can be more fully engaged in the world, along with teaching them more about the traits that we are working to cultivate within them (and ourselves) is sometimes easier than others. Engaging them at their level and using evidence that is fairly concrete (or otherwise appropriate to grade level and their maturity) makes it easier for them to grasp difficult concepts. And, sometimes, kids can surprise you. When my eldest came out with that logical leap to taking care of the Earth and the environment is important, it was completely unprompted. And, you can take those moments and encourage them to explore the ideas. This often leads to them drawing conclusions that are along the lines of what you are teaching them if you make a point of presenting as much information as they can understand and helping them see what the logical answers to the implied questions are.

Monday, January 30, 2017

General Divination Overview

Here are some posts with general information about several divination practices. I will be adding to them over the course of the year. This post is the index page of this series. Other posts regarding the following topics can be found > HERE <.

Pendulums - Some basic information about how to use a pendulum and a simple exercise to practice.

Stichomancy - Introductory information about what stichomancy is and how it is used.

Runes - This is the barest of introductory information about this practice. It will be discussed in greater detail later this year.

Blank Cards - An overview of an advanced intuitive technique that combines cartomancy and scrying.

Observing Versus Seeking Information - Some pointers on technique for drawing information out of a divination session.

When Not to Do It - A bit of cautionary advice on when it is a poor idea to engage in divination.

Cartomancy & Tarot Posts & Lessons

Here is a collection of all of my posts on cartomancy and tarot. Some of these posts hit more than one category. They are 'filed' however under this primary category. Please, read and enjoy. Let me know if the links are not working properly. Thank you!

Tarot: Use for Spiritual Growth. - Tarot as a tool for spiritual development and personal growth.

Tarot: Use for Magical Work. - Tarot as a tool for spellcraft and related magical exercise.

Cartomancy: Playing Cards. - How to use a standard deck of playing cards for divination.

Cartomancy: Tarot Spreads. - An overview of tarot decks

Cartomancy: Tarot Spreads (Part I). - A tarot spread that I use with some success.

Cartomancy: Tarot Spreads (Part II). - Another tarot spread that I use.

Cartomancy: Tarot Spreads (Part III). - A tarot spread that I developed.

Cartomancy: Tarot Spreads (Part IV). - Another tarot spread that I use fairly frequently.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Community Discussion: Apolitical or not?

If you are in the United States, you are painfully aware of what has been unfurling over the course of the last few months. It is something that has been causing great consternation and upset for a good many people. And for good reason when you consider how closely the things being done parallel what happened in the Weimar Republic. When we consider things, a question arises: should a person of faith get involved with political happenings?

Christianity has the maxim of 'Render unto Caesar, that which is Caesar's. Render unto God, that which is God's.' and I have literally lost count of the number of places where I have seen it argued that the division between faith and politics must be absolute. Even within the Filianic and Deánic community, there is a strong pull towards staying out of politics. The concern that these things carry spiritual pollution is one that makes a good deal of sense when you see just how atrocious things get when politics are involved. In many cases, there are people who have chosen the path of pacificsm and abstaining from involvement in pretty much anything that looks like politics.

I am not going to argue that these people are irresponsible or something like that. I do, however, wish to note that silence in the face of horrible things happening can be taken as implied consent. People use it everyday to justify anything from child abuse to sexual assault, to racial hatred and truly horrific behavior. The expression 'the silent majority' is one that is bandied about as some sort of proof that silence equals consent and compliance with things that are happening. Please, if you choose silence and abstaining from action, make clear that you do not support that which is done supposedly in your name in some fashion.

Is there a division between church and state? Well, yes, historically there has been within the United States. That division, however, is breached when laws, legislation, and executive orders are set down to punish an undesirable faith under color of law. That division is breached when such things are set down to promote a specific faith. Sadly, it is not something that we can look away from and say 'These are the actions of crackpots. The republic will withstand this and all shall be well.'

As of right now, the people of the nation are in real danger. Threats are being made on multiple levels against people who do not fit the mold of the overculture. Threats are being made against the people who work to continue to keep the republic in good health by way of educating the populace and attending to their needs. When the EPA is put under a gag order and have their funding frozen, one must ask just what it is that the people in power are attempting to do here? When funding for things like Public Broadcasting is frozen and talk is being made of having one of the largest of free-to-public access points of information cut out of the picture, we must ask, what are the people in power attempting to hide?

Yes, we could argue all day how it is not 'spiritual' to roll up our sleeves and step into the mess to try to salvage the republic from these people's machinations. Sometimes spirituality and faith requires more than pretty prayers breathed in the peace of our personal sanctums. Sometimes we are called by the situation to step up and actively do things to enact our faith. Yes, some argue that this is the Kali Yuga and we are powerless to do anything about the atrocities that are unfurling and coming.

If you are of a mind to argue that all of this is simply fate and we're doomed, so why bother, please consider the following:

People said the same thing about the actions of oppressors repeatedly through out history. They who decided to throw up their hands and simply accept the evils done by those people generally did not survive or profit from it. And the oppressors were stopped by the people who rose up and said 'My conscience demands that I stand against this. I will not tolerate this happening.'

I, for one, can not tolerate what I see is unfurling. I am still trying to decide what it is I must do in resistance. It is my opinion that we are called to resist when evil begins to happen around us. Because in resisting, we are actively living out our respective faiths because we are choosing the act in accordance with what our faiths teach us.

The gods generally are ones to help they who help themselves. So, yes, continue your petitions for deliverance from evil. But do not tolerate it in your own life as well, because this shows the gods that you are working to change the situation. Help will come in unexpected ways. I am entirely sure that Dea's arrival to chase the beings who serve the Dark Queen was not expected, though I am sure that people begged for her aid.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Notice of Services Offered

In New York state, you need a note (at least in Livingston county) that tells them your covering is for religious purposes. I am ordained clergy through the Church of the Ancient Paths .

I offer my services in assisting you if you are local to me and in need of a note stating that your covering is for religious purposes. The letter will be sent to you via registered mail, this way everyone has a record that it has been sent and received. I will also be willing to assist in getting the letter notarized. I do not know if there will be fees associated with this process. (I need to look that up.)

Prior to sending you this letter, you and I will have an 'official' discussion where we talk about your covering needs - read you tell me why you cover and any other situations you may need an official letter explaining that you cover for religious purposes, as well as anything else you deep pertinent to the discussion.

If you are not local to me, I will do my best to assist you in your effort to have your right to headcovering as religious expression assured. There will be more information forthcoming on this matter over the next several months.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Pagan Parenting: Building Devotional Relationship

I am going to try to do a bi-monthly post on parenting in a pagan household. Please understand, much of this is a learning process for myself and what I am sharing with you is a combination of what I have learned from researching how others are approaching the spiritual education of their children and what I have cobbled together myself.

This week, I am going to share with you something that I have started doing with my boys. Up until this point, we have been very casual about devotional activities for the kids. They understand that the altar is a special space. They have learned that if they have something they want to give to the gods, they can set it there. They have also learned that if they have something they want to share with the gods, they can set it there. (Many matchbox cars and a few dinosaurs have been shared. A train or two as well, their favorite toys that they love are what they set up there to share. It is really sweet.)

The kids are curious and want to connect with pretty much any and everyone. This includes the gods and our ancestors. I was flailing around at a complete loss for what to do. Then I realized that I keep a prayer journal and they could perhaps keep one too. Where I post in my prayer journal on a daily basis, we are working with them to do so on a weekly basis (if we get organized enough for that). In the picture above is the working template that we're trying out.

I got the idea from looking at the pinterest pages of Christian folks who are homeschooling their children. As I saw the pages and worksheets that they had put together, I thought this was a great way to help them build their sense of connection with the gods. As such, I took the simplest elements of what I saw on these pages and put them together on to one.

The first element is addressing the deity they have chosen to write to and expressing gratitude for the good in their lives. It is such a simple thing and it helps a person to see just where things are going right for them. It works really well to help get a prayer session off on a good foot. Where the Christian folks have their prayer journals set up to address a single god, I left the line for the deity being addressed open. We're a polytheist household, so not the same god is going to be addressed every time.

The second element is asking the deity to help three people. I want to teach the kids that talking to the gods is not about asking for stuff. I want to help them understand that the value lies in other things, like establishing a sense of kindness and good will. As a result, I encourage them to think of three people that they would like to see helped out. This fosters in the kids a greater sense of empathy for others. It also helps them to look at the gods more as people they have a relationship with rather than ephemeral machines that dispense things if you put in enough tokens.

The final element is their own requests. I focused on the 'help' angle right now because the kids are very material oriented right now. It is positively maddening to have them asking me for new toys every time I turn around or they see an advertisement. As such, I am encouraging them to ask for help with things, to tell them something that they are proud of, and to share with the gods something that they thing is important. The distinction between things and goals is one that I think is going to serve them well down the road.

I feel that part of the objective here is to teach the boys that the process is often more important than the stuff that comes as a result. I am also working to teach them how to approach the gods as unique individuals. Right now, they have a great love for Sunna and Máni. They greet them every time they see the Sun and Moon. They tell them about their dreams and hold up toys for them to see.

Sometimes, the boys tell me about how they want to visit the gods. They talk about how they want to pet Sunna's horses and race Loki across the sky. They adore the idea that the gods take care of the world and everything there is. There is a little conflation of Sunna and Máni with the Sun and Moon, but they're slowly learning the distinction. They also are regularly excited by the idea that maybe they'll meet the gods wandering around in the world in disguise. Sometimes, they announce they are going to find the gods and bring them places that are special to them, like the park or the grocery store (which is special because that is where we get donuts, which are one of the best foods in the world according to my boys).

Giving them this platform to interact with the gods, I hope, will help them to feel more connected to them and foster a sense of love between them and the gods. The boys are so quick to love everyone to begin with, I think it will be wonderful if they learned to pick up on the care that the gods show them. And this is the first step in that process, I think.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Godspousery Notes: Sometimes the Work is not what we expect.

Hi folks,

I've been quiet here for a few reasons. One is I am still trying to figure out what I am doing in the process of organizing my writing stuff (which is challenging because there are a lot of proverbial moving parts here), updating the appearance and functionality of this blog, and trying to get everything that I have here backed up. (I have precious few things backed up and this is a problem. I want you to be able to refer to everything here when you have need of it. So, I need to be able to put things back up when something goes wrong and technical errors happen.)

The other reason is because I am in the process of functionally completely changing my life. My religious life, my emotional life, my daily get stuff done life are all in a state of flux right now. This is not because I am abandoning things that have previously been important to me. It is because I came to the realization over the last few months that I have some pretty major problems doing what I need to to be healthy. Thus, Beloved is helping me fix that. And we are also working on helping me to accept core truths about myself. The biggest challenge I have been facing in this process is the questions of 'what if I am wrong? what if I am doing everything wrong? what if I am a bad person because of [insert defining characteristic or traumatic experience]?' These questions are not something that is healthy for me.

Freyr and Loki have been very ... firm in their rejection of those kinds of questions. The refrain around my house right now has been three things:

  1. Needs trump opinions. Always.
  2. Don't worry about 'right' or 'wrong'. Is it 'yes' or 'no'? (This one is all about stuff like what makes me happy and being allowed to have help and such.)
  3. Everyone needs help. 
I have been struggling with these three truths. It's kinda funny in some darkly comedic way. I mean, I am super quick to help others, remind people they don't need to apologize for what and who they are, and always supportive of people doing what they need to for their own health and welfare. But, I am terrible about being so supportive and kind of myself. 

The other night, I was upset because I felt like I wasn't doing the spiritual work I thought I should be doing. This got a look of annoyance from Freyr and Loki said in pure sarcasm, "Because completely changing your life to be healthier is just a hobby, right?"

You can always count on Loki to cut right to the point with a single droll comment. So, that's what's been going on right now.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

New Year, New Notes.

It is the day after Epiphany, also known as Distaff Day. I did not get any spinning done today but I did set myself back to work. I have been engaged in a great deal of work to make things more organized so that I can rebuild the discipline of daily posting. I have also been working on things to improve my health and well being. The medical issues of the last few months are resolved now (thank the gods) and I am finally physically well enough that I can start to catch up on things.

I am still struggling with the mental health matters, but this is not a surprise. This has, historically, been a challenging time of year for me. I am working on overcoming these challenges. It is something that has lead to things like my reassessing how I want to approach my writing, my management of my time, and what my goals are for my various blogs. I am not going to abandon this blog. I am not going to be dropping the established foci of this blog either. Over the course of the month of January, I am going to be making some changes to how I do things.

Some of these changes are going to come about in how I am posting material. Some of these changes are going to come about in what sort of material I am posting. And I will also be adjusting things such as my posting schedule to make it something that encourages success even on my worst days. Ideally, I will have these changes done by approximately the middle of this month. This would be at the beginning of the next calendar month within the Filianic faith traditions. I don't know if I will be able to accomplish that, however.

Still, when the Low festival of Lucaid comes, I want you to keep your eyes peeled. I have some special things that I am working on. Some of these projects are directly related to Filianism. Some of them are related to my blended faith practices that include hard polytheism of the Norse influenced variety. And, some of the new material I am working on is going to be approaching the challenges of being a parent and raising children as something aside from Christian or other mainstream religions.

I deeply appreciate all of your patience with me over the last several months. I deeply appreciate your care and your support. Your prayers for my health and the well being of myself and my family have been a source of great comfort over the last several months. Thank you so very much for keeping us in your thoughts.  I look forward to sharing the grand adventure that awaits us over the course of 2017.

Happy (secular) New Year, everyone. May the gods whom you revere and love bless you and your home.

Warmest wishes from my household to yours.