Friday, May 11, 2012

The Pagan Blog Project: Jewelry and Judgement

So... am I the only one with either of these?

It is typical that, when something is a big part of your life, you tend to be proud of if and want to show it off - you know the deal. Well this applies to myself and Paganism; I am proud to be who I am, I am proud of what I believe, and I also happen to think that I have the right to be proud of it.
Therefore, I try to always wear my pentacle necklace, and sometimes my pentacle earings.

 Above: one necklace pendant I own
(NOTE: although these are not MY images, the resemble exactly what I have)
Below: necklace and earings I have

Who would think there was a problem with that? I'm not trying to rub it in people's faces, and I'm not wearing it for any reason or person other than myself. I wear it to remind myself of the Law of Three, I wear it to help myself think clearly and have a pagan mindset throughout my day.

(Of course there was a 'but' coming) Since I started wearing them, it has typically prompted questions from others who don't know what it means. No problem, and I try to answer... however, every time 'Pagan' comes up, their perception of me seems to chance. In their eyes, I seem to either turn into a tree-hugging, pot-smoking hippie, someone belonging to a cult, or someone who worships Satan and is therefore evil or insane. All common perceptions. And all unfair perceptions, as most of us don't fit those stereotypes.
I have become, within my school, "the freaky witch girl" because someone thought being Pagan meant worshiping Satan and practicing Witchcraft, and the word quickly spread.

In a different situation, a Christian boy (I am not say this could be said for all Christians! Just this one I met) at a volunteer RDA (Riding Disabled Association) I went to for a while, asked what the sign meant. As soon as the word Pagan left my lips, he accused me of devilworship and witchcraft. After that, he wouldn't come near me...
And though I can't remember why, I remember I'd given up trying to talk to the group of people and was leaving, and this boy, who had so promptly judged me, attempted to scewer me with a pitchfork from behind!

Not only did it hurt my body, it hurt my mind. What sort of world do we live in, if a boy litterally attacks a girl (with a pitchfork!) for her beliefs?
This judgement is not fair. It is not kind. Yet it still exists.
I've been told, "just don't wear the necklace then!". But WHY shouldn't I? I have a right! Just as any Christian has the right to wear a cross. Just like any Catholic is allowed to wear their Saint Christopher. The fact that simply wearing a necklace, that my beliefs, could have me attacked, shunned, and victimized is despicable. What is wrong with the world?

Further more, in my school: no jewelry is permitted, except in the form of a religious symbol. Christians may wear crosses, Maori's may wear greenstones, and Catholics their Saint Christopher, etc. etc. BUT whenever a teacher spots MY religious symbol, I am told to either remove it and put it in my bag, or be sent home and have a detention. How is THAT for biased?

So, here is my message. Be proud of who you are. Stand up for yourself, and don't be afraid to tell people what you believe.
Wait - isn't that exactly what I just said got me bullied? Yes it is. BUT (always with the "but"s!) if enough of us are doing this, and enough of us are strong enough, eventually the word will get out, and eventually we will be counted. Don't back down - don't let the teachers tell you that you don't have a right to show your beliefs if others can. Just be strong.
We cannot let the world think they can shun us, and put us down. We count as much as they do.

Further reading and links:

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Friday, May 4, 2012

The Pagan Blog Project: I DO believe in faeries, I do, I do

Well if you watched Peter Pan at all, you may have heard this before.
The question is, DO you?
There is an uncountable number of Pagan religions, each with their differences - and believe it or not, some of them really do beleive in faeries, some worship them, and then there are those that don't. That's okay, we can all still get along right?
Now, I'd like to point out that no matter which path you follow, (unless your path is entirely centered around them) it is not neccessary to beleive in faeries, no matter what someone might say. As I've said before, you can't force yourself to believe something.
First, I'd like to make a little note on the spelling. As with magick, I like to spell it the more uncommon way, "faerie" as opposed to "fairy" simply to distinguish between fiction and... religious belief.
It is common for Heathen's to believe in the fair folk, or the fey (faeries), as well as in many other cultures and religions. But then, whato or who are they exactly?
There are naturally various answers to this question. Usually, people envision small people of great beauty and magic... But sometimes they are simply spirits. The most general idea is that they are, well, fair folk - they can't lie, they are beutiful in their own form (not neccessarily to humans standards of beauty), and they come in many forms. Pixies, imps, brownies, nymphs, and fire, wind and water faeries... And they can be quite tricksy too! Should you offend or dishonour one, they are said to take their revenge, none too kindly. It is also a thought that you can only see them if either you believe them, or if they want you to see them. And don't forget of course, that they possess magick.

Personally, I'd love to believe in faeries! (Even if they could be pesky). Though, I have always struggled to believe what I cannot prove for myself, and as I have never seen a faerie...... But I can dream right? So, just to be on the safe side, I try to think of them from time to time, perhaps honour them by putting a little honey on a ledge by the garden?
For all I know they very well could be invisible to those who don't believe. Honestly, I think if the fae are out there, they are wandering spirits... humans in their true, etheral form.

Friday, April 27, 2012

The Pagan Blog Project: I is for Identity

Of course, the topic of identity applies to everyone, not just Pagans, and is really something that many wouldn't consider connected to Paganism at all.
I say different.
The definition of Identity is:
"The sense of self, providing sameness and continuity in personality over time."
"Condition or character as to who a person or what a thing is."
"The condition of being oneself or itself, and not another."
This means, Identity is the combination of everything about you, it is who you are, and therefore results in where you belong. Typically, this means, it's a very important thing and everyone should have an idea of their identity, but to know this someone actually needs to know... well, what goes into your identity?

The easy but vague answer is, everything.
But it gets so much more complicated than that.
Your family and friends, and even your enemies, are part of your identity. Your routines and daily events go into your identity. So does your favourite things, music, movies, books, fashion, activities, foods, and colours. Your opinions and thought patterns. Your interests and hobbies and tastes. They all mix and combine into the single, unique you. Your identity is the foundation of who you are.

Imagine, you've moved over seas away from your family to start a new career, and you wake up in hospital with a bandaged head... and you have no memories. What would you do? Where would you go? The doctors might be able to tell you your name, lucky you, but where from there? In your head, you have no address, no job, no friends, no nothing... No identity. Obviously, this could be terrifying and you would be stuck. Now, even with all your memories, it is still possible not to know who you are or where you fit in the world, what your purpose is, and therefore, you can get stuck - you can't move foreward if you don't know where you're going, and of course you can't go back either.
This is why identity is so important.

I'm going to now (because that was a large introduction), go on to talk about Religion and Beliefs, and how they are important to, and fit into someones identity.
Religious beliefs are a huge part of identity. This tends to be because religion itself has so many different parts of itself, just like identity. There are spiritual beliefs, practices, and influences. Religion can play a part in every aspect of our lives, especially if you're a 'practicing partitioner'.
Firstly, religion can play a huge part in spiritual growth, and ultimately, spiritual growth shakes the entire foundations of your identity - it is a change, and sometimes that change reverberates like ripples in a pond, out to affect everything in your life, and therefore affects your identity, who you are. That is why coming into a religion or changing faiths can be a daunting, terrifying, or maybe confusing - then of course there's the fact that this change might not even work or sit well with you, which makes everything so much more complicated.

Becoming a Pagan means adopting a whole lot of things into your life - it means changing part of who you are. The thing is, this could include any amount of things.
Activity-wise, it could mean meditating weekly, grounding and centering daily, celebrating the sabbats and esbats, practicing rituals, learning divination, or giving tributes/offerings to your deity.
In terms of beliefs, this could mean exploring what you think happens after death, whether you truely believe a god is out there, what control you have over your life or what is left up to karma or your deity.
It can also mean a change in your actions - if you believe in karma, you obviously are going to be watching out to do unto others what you want do un to you.
Then of course, there are your friends and family. From personal experience, I know that being Pagan can cause conflict with Christians, or just people in general who don't know the truth about it.

Now, if you're already Pagan or have another religion, what do you think would change for you if it was ripped away? Say you were forbidden to practice it, where would you turn for guidance?
Religion is a guide in many people's lives. It is an important part of who you are.

So, I'm hoping maybe this was an insight into how, even if you don't realise it, Paganism could be a huge, important part of who you are - a part of your identity. Comments? Opinions? Ideas?
Be proud of who you are, because without it, your are nobody.
Blessed Be.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Grounding and Centering

Not everyone knows the meaning of these two words, so I thought I'd explain.
The two, although different acts, are generally performed together and therefore mentioned as one. I guess, in essense, it is the process of swapping in and out engery in order to become more aware and focused.
It is a way of connecting to the earth, or the Goddess, either indoors or out, in public or in private, morning or night (or both!).

When you ground yourself, you are dispeling and riding yourself of negative energies.
To do this, find a place you won't be disturbed and either sit (back straight) or stand (feet shoulder length apart), and close your eyes. Focus on your breathing for a few moments to reel in your mind and then focus on your body; it helps to focus bit-by-bit, adding one section to another until you are aware of every limb (e.g. focus on feeling in your feet, then legs, thighs, hips, stomach, chest, neck and shoulders, arms, hands, head).
Next, imagine either roots of a tree extending from you (your bum if you're sitting, feet if you're standing) into the earth, or a shaft of light coming up from the ground to encompass/surround you and into the sky. This works as a channel.
Now banish your negative energies. It's probably helpful to think of all the things troubliing you (but one at a time!) and think of how it makes you feel, and send those bad feelings down the channels, into the earth.
Maintaining what you have formed while grounding, with the connection to the earth, now you need to replenish your energies, or else you are likely to be drained.
To do this, you can try and feel the energy in the earth and feel it travel up through your channel into your body, or you can think like a vacuum and feel it when you've sucked it into yourself. Allow this to fill you up - this can feel like tingling throughout your body, and it feels pleasant.
Make sure these are positive energies! Keep your mind on the idea of bringing calmn, positive, and happy energy into your body from the goddess.
Sometimes, people will also raise their arms to the sky, and envision engergy coming down (like miniature tonaedoes?) into you to join that of the earth.
Generally to end this process, one might envision their channels returning into their body. This is important to do, or you may continually exchange energy and this can leave you air-headed and dizzy, or even cause a drain if you aren't careful.
Try to do this (close your channels) without disconnecting from the Goddess or earth - it can bring reasurance to be able to feel this presence throughout your day.
Antoher note, make sure to appreciate (thank) the Goddess! This can be as simple as thinking kind thoughts toward her and saying "blessed be".
Lastly, it is a good idea to do this before bed and when you wake up. Regular practice will help improve your general mood and attitude towards life.
Keep in mind, it may take some practice to get the feel of this; it can be difficult for some to recognize or gain a feel for energy, but try not to be discouraged by this - it takes practice to perfect skills. It may be hardest for people who have not practiced meditation before, who are depressed, or have little or weak connection to nature / the Goddess, but that's okay, because the point of this practice is to fix that!

Good luck, and blessed be.
IMPORTANT: this process is different to everyone; it is a matter of finding the way that is right for you. I am not wrong, and neither is someone who does this differently.

Further Reading:
  • The Difference Between Grounding and Centering and How They Lead to Balance doesn't so much focus on the Pagan-like ritual explained above, but is still the same concept put under a new light - I found it interesting and thought it was a helpful way to think of it.\
  • How to Ground and Center is a different way to achieve this goal than is explained above; I think it is in a way slightly more complicated, if you think there should be more to it.
  • Centering in my opinion is more about energy manipulation than finding your center, balancing your life and becoming aware. It is an interesting concept and most likely very helpful to this process though.
  • Basic Essential Skills: Centering, Grounding, Cleansing, Shielding is a very interesting, highly helpful article and of course, contains various information on such things as listed in the title. It also explains the connection to working Magick for those of you who are witches!
  • Grounding and Centering has a good explaination of the two acts and another great way of performing them.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Winter Layout

I think I can safely say it's winter here now! It's getting awefully cold and I can't feel my toes half the time - not that we ever even get snow, it doesn't get that cold, so I'm just moaning about nothing I know.

So, in spirit of winter, I've got a nice icey theme going! Plus, I made my own blog banner, yay! (not too good a quality as I don't have the best photo editor, but I still love it).

Blessed be.

The Rise of the New Witches - an Article on Pagans

In my research on Paganism, I found this article, and couldn't stop smiling. It's not often you find these beliefs in the media, and I've looked before but only found negative or incorrect thoughts and responses. Finding this has made my day and I wanted to share it with you guys.
Please read the whole thing; it's interesting and cool - it's nice to know I'm not alone!


So it's a new moon tonight! I was at first going to do a post on how to celebrate the new moon, but... there really isn't much that I could find online in a short time-frame, so....

First, I'd like to say that I'm feeling reasonabley good recently. I started saying my prayers regularly, morning and night, as well as grounding and centering practices most nights and some morning. I swear, I can honestly feel the difference and more of a connection to the great mother. I highly recommend trying this yourself - it's only a 3-5 minute practice, very nondemanding and quite simple. I plan to do a post on my particular practices and ways regarding this another day for those who don't have their own or aren't sure exactly what they're doing.

And I thought I'd mention, before I started I had a weak-to-nonexistent connection to the Goddess. It was there when I first started out, but I got slack in my practices, and it faded, burried under every-day modern-world drama. Now that I'm taking time out of my day, just a few minutes before bed, to connect with her, I'm feeling much more guided, calmer, and over all so much better. Plus, my cat started coming and curling up to me! I origionally tried to connect to him, but his love was bought by my mums boyfriend with fish, and I gave up. He's a very detached cat and usually won't sit on anyone or anything. Now I can't get rid of him!

The Pagan Blog Project: H is for Handfasting

So, I love the thought of a Pagan Wedding - I know, I'm only 16, BUT in my future, I do look forward to this step in my stepping stones.
I think it's wonderful that I have an alternative to the tradition Christian wedding.

It's called a Handfasting, which is a cerimony of love where one marries another. Originally people performed the ceremony twice, the first time is considered "trial marriage" and lasts for a year and a day, and is made permanent when renewed.
Traditionally, either both hands or the right hands are tied together (generally with woven cords in symbolic colours) symbolising unison, and hense the term "tying the knot" when it comes to weddings.
It is not for certain people - anyone can have a handfasting, whether you're pagan or not, and whether it is of a man and woman, woman and woman, or man and man. That is the beauty of it - it is a private thing and can be solidified legally by a marriage certificate among other arrangements, but is not necessary as it is a swearing of love to yourselves, the witnesses, and if you believe in them, the Gods and Goddesses. To make this a legal marriage, there are various requirment depending on your country and you should look into this if you want to take this course.
The general proceedings include the tying of the hands, the exchangement of rings and vows, and occassionally, I've heard, the drinking of wine by the couple from a single chalice.
It is best performed at afternoon or morning, when both moon and sun are in the sky, signifying both masculine (sun) and feminine (moon) coming together - and of course, is supposed to take place outdoors.

Also, although an entirely different ceremoney, some combine the Bessom wedding tradition with the handfasting, in which the couple jumps over a bessom (broomstick), which was to be reversed (jump back over the broomstick) should the two divorce.
I thought I'd add that for those of you somewhat more Witchy.

There is no 'set way' to perform this ritual, and you can mix and switch it up all you like - after all, it is your very own ceremony and personal to you.
At the bottom of this page, you can find one of many forms of this ceremony.

Blessed be.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Sex and Sexuality

This is one subject that I feel needs addressing.
First, sexuality is not the same as sex - I must point that out. While sex is a physical act, sexuality is ones orientation or form of attraction to others.

It is common, especially among younger people, to shun and form of sexuality that isn't 'straight'. This is (not blaming, merely noting) due to the rise of Christianity, or so most would say. As this religion has ruled popularity for generations, it's no surprise that their belief that the only 'right' way is man-and-woman is widely believed. This consequently creates conflict and negative attitudes towards those who 'swing the other way'.
In terms of types, generally someone can be straight, bisexual, lesbian or gay - although there are others, and various terms and such, I'll be sticking to the main, common and widely known types.
As I've said, it is socially acceptable to be straight - it's the norm, and commonly viewed as the 'proper way' and a lot of people under this category (though not all) think it is wrong and disturbing to be anything else.
Then there are lesbians and gays - and I don't mean to lump the two together, but it is easier and I'm keeping this basic anyway - who are interested in the same gender / their own gender. Of course there are probably plenty of people who accept it even if they don't agree with it and people who don't care or mind either way. But you're always going to get at least a dozen who will hate and isolate someone for it, and things can get pretty nasty (or you get the sleezes who pick-and-choose who is allowed to be, such as those who find girl-on-girl hot but guy-on-guy sickening).
Lastly, there are bisexuals, who don't mind which gender comes knocking. This orientation is probably second-most common, and I know very many myself. I used to think that this would be somewhat more accepted by people, but I've actually found that there are many people who think it is worse that being gay or lesbian. I once spoke to a girl who thought that gays and lesbians were fine and acceptable but she couldn't stand bisexuals because they're indecisive - she seemed to believe that you should never date a bi because they could suddenly decide they're currently more interested in the other gender and move on. Though it's possible some people do do this, most probably don't. It's not a matter of who-you-feel-like-at-the-time, because both genders are attractive to that person - her belief is the same as a straight girl dating a guy, falling for a different guy and moving on.

Now that I've covered that, let's put sexulity in terms of religious belief. As I've said, Christian beliefs tend to stay true to the man-and-woman mind set.
Paganism, generally, is another story. Paganism is a very open and accepting, not only religion, but way of life. Pagans tend to believe "each to their own" and "live and let live", so you'll probably find that most don't care either way who likes who (though religion can't always rule every aspect of your life and it is possible to be pagan and still have a firm belief about what's right here).
Therefore, you don't need to 'fear god's wrath' or anything for likeing the same gender - it is okay, no matter who you are and which way you swing.
We are all equal.

In Christian belief (correct me if you know I'm wrong, this is sort of out of my pool here), sex and related activities is shunned excect in marriage (therefore true love), and in reproduction.
When it comes to Paganism, it varies.
In fact, I'm pretty sure it's different in every belief (even if just slightly) and I highly recommend looking into common thoughts in relation to it within your specific religion. Here, I will cover what I know of certain beliefs, and what my personal thoughts are.

First, most of us have either been brought up to think or have heard of the opinion that sex is 'sacred' or at least special, and that is why people believe in no sex before marriage and such. This is perhaps an important belief to maintain, as it probably helps to keep the activity from becoming a dull routine with no meaning.
However, it is also important to recognize that most Pagan outlooks are more 'out there' and free than most are comfortable with - if you ignore the side of our present day life where girls are posing nude on magazines as a sex image to become a desired object.
Paganism is not slutty or skanky or promiscuous, but it is also not full of set restrictions.
'Back in the day', when people feared God more, peopele wore a lot more clothing and covered a lot more skin and were more faithful and certainly less sexual. In those times, many pagan beliefs probably would have been frowned upon and shunned (which is why it is portrayed as evil). Many Pagans perform rituals in the nude - that is not sexual at all, but as the body was 'private', it was abnormal and probably shameful to others, but it is natural to a Pagan that is so inclinced.
In todays day and age, where people are running around in scraps of material, posing nude for the camera, and just generally use their body as an object to gain desire, Pagan's are probably considered modest - depending on the sort and the beliefs of course. I suppose here you get more into morals.

General Pagan belief is that the body is a gift, and it is special, as everything is sacred, and is therefore something to be celebrated - but know where the line between celebrating and objectifying something is.
A Pagan probably believes that sex is not something to shun, but instead something to enjoy - it is a gift of pleasure from the goddess, and ment to be enjoyed. However, 'celebrating' it is supposed to be a ritual - yes, sex is a RITUAL, one of love, to show desire and want as well as love and care; it is not a simple 'act' that one does with any old person, and yet is not restricted to a single person for your entire life. It is something private to be done with someone special.
In todays world, sex is in, and everything is being sexualized - even in children (check out bratz dolls). Everything we design and do is to make ourselves more appealing to the opposite sex and is thinnly discuised as wanting someone to love you, but is actually a cry for someone to sleep with you (even if you are too young to be inclinced to want that - it is what is learnt from those older than us and therefore becomes 'the norm' at a younger age). We subject ourselves to showing as much skin as is acceptable, and perform multiple acts to fit the perfect appearance in hope that it will make someone want us, but these days if someone 'wants you' it means they want to sleep with you.

Personally, I hate what fashion has come to. Showing as much skin as possible is actually horrifyingly slutty to me and screams for guys to get in bed with them. It's alluring, even with this opinion I myself find it alluring, that is because we are taught that this is how to get a partner, this is how you get someone's attention, and this is what it takes to be (and therefore feel) beautiful and wanted. NO. It should not be this way, and therefore I refuse to conform. I show arms and lower legs, and sometimes a bit of chest, but that's it - not stomach, not thighs. That right, for me, is reserved for the eyes of a partner only because I don't want to flaunt my body like an object. This is not to say I'm either ashamed of my body or against the 'natural form' (bare skin), but I will not use it to objectify myself.
As for who you have sex with, I find it appalling that people sleep with anyone (yes, that means one night stands and even friends!), because that is not a ritual, that is a desperate attempt to make your life enjoyable, though in result it actually ends up destroying it. I think it is definately sacred, a ritual as thanks to the goddess, but not so strict as to keep to one person after marriage. I think it is wrong to get in bed with someone after a week of dating, let alone less - you do not love that person, and they do not love you.
Worse, I've heard girls defending themselves with the fact that it wasn't sex - but instead other various sexual acts. IT'S STILL THE SAME THING.

I feel like this image really embodies what it should be. Firstly, it has the Goddess and her Consort, symbolizing love and care - and both being connected to one tree could be seen as 'being one' - kindred souls sort of thing. Secondly, it is in a natural environment and they are nude, showing that it is natural, and acceptable. This is the essence of it.

I really have so much more to say, but I don't know how to organise it and I know this has already been a very long post, so I'll leave it there and perhaps touch up on it in other posts.

Really I suppose it is simply about finding balance and deciding personally which things you personally think are acceptable or right. Also, I'd like to say that although most religions have certain beliefs, you can't force yourself to believe something and it is okay to deviate from that.

Opinions? Thoughts? Your beliefs?
Blessed be.