Year and a Day Journal #13: November 13, 2015

I found out today that the Year and a Day Journal group on Facebook will be disbanded, meaning that these prompts will have to be generated by me, myself and I.  Goody.  Now I can be as introspective as I want (*sarcasm*).

On the flip side, there’s nothing wrong with that.  I know there are hundreds of facets of Paganism to address, and I’m sure I’ll be able to do it as the year goes on.  I’m over a month and a half behind, but I’m getting there, slowly.

Anyway, there are still some provided prompts, so I’m going for it.

Today’s!  What are the basic principles of the element earth based on research?

To that I say, Um….I don’t know?  I’m not even sure what exactly this question is asking.  If the question is how much do I know about geology, it’s like…not much.  I spelled “galena” correctly in the middle school spelling bee, but other than that, I’m pretty hopeless.

Maybe a better question would be, What do I feel when I interact with the earth?  But that question was kind of already being addressed in the Day 12 prompt.

Maybe I’ll ask myself instead, Why is the earth characterized the way that it is?  I feel like this is a relevant question for having just passed the solstice.  Why is the earth pictured as a female?  Why does she give birth to the sun?  Why didn’t the patriarchy grab up this opportunity to be represented by literally one of the most precious things we have?

I’m sure, no matter where this idea originated, ancient peoples recognized the cycles that the earth goes through, and they thought of it much like they thought of the cycles of the moon–that these cycles seem to be representative of the cycles of women’s bodies.  Plants start out tiny and young, become fertile and sometimes even pregnant with fruit, and then eventually become old and die.  This, just as the moon, seems to echo the triple aspect of the Goddess, in the Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

I’m sure there are a lot more reasons why the Earth is represented as it is, but I am too tired to answer a research question tonight.

Happy New Year, everyone.  Perhaps I’ll talk about my resolutions in my next post.

 

)O(

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Year and a Day Journal #12: November 12, 2015

OH GOD I’M SO FAR BEHIND.

I feel like that one Jenna Marbles video where she’s shooting cans of caffeine beverages and waiting for something to happen and she’s like, “Why isn’t it workinnnngggg???”  I’ve been a little hooked on Jenna Marbles videos lately, and I really should be using that time to study important things, or at least do my stupid Hogwarts studying, but hey.  Life.

Anyway, today’s journal post gives this prompt: Go somewhere where the earth is abundant and easily reached (like a forest) and describe how you interact with the element.

Is it bad that I’m going to reach all the way back to August for this one?  It’s not like I’ve not been able to go to a forest while I’ve been on this year-long foreign experience, but I definitely haven’t had the opportunity to go alone, or with somebody who understands the connection I desire to have with the forest.  So yeah, I’m going to reach all the way back to August, when this spirituality was still just kind of a big fat question mark for me (isn’t it still, though?).

When I’m at home in the States, I live near a pretty decent-sized park reserve on a river.  This reserve goes basically from my house to the next town over.  If you get on the bike trail, it’s definitely a good few miles.

In the summer, I was absolutely obsessed with biking this trail, going out of the park on the other side, and continuing to follow the trail in the neighborhood.  In this neighborhood, which had a delicious scenic view of the river, there were a lot of very different houses, obviously made by a variety of architects, and they ranged from pretty quaint to really nice.  Every time I biked this way, though, my goal was to at least get to this one all-wood house.  It was pretty small, had cute wind twirlies and chimes, and a stone patio, with a fire pit set into the patio.  I didn’t know why on earth I was so drawn to this house, until I continued my studies of Witchcraft and saw somewhere that it’s common for a Witch to keep a broom, bristles-up, by the front door for protection.  I’m not sure if this is actually common or if it was just a one-off post I found, but anyway, there was pretty much always a bristle-up broom by the door of this house when I biked past, and I do sincerely think there could be a woman who lives there who identifies as a Witch.  I’d kind of like to just go there one day and knock on her door and be like, “Yeah, I love your house, and also, are you magickal?”  I’m not sure if she would call the police or if I could start a life-long friendship with a nice middle-aged woman.  Both possibilities seem plausible.

Anyway, in order to get to this potentially Witchy house, I had to pass through the length of the park reserve on my bicycle.  The park, really, is gorgeous, and even though there’s a highway overpass running right over the thing, there are some wonderful spots.  One of my favorite places of all time in the park is actually a spot quite near the overpass.  You fly under the overpass, hearing the cars just roaring over you and echoing around under the steel and cement, and then you veer around this turn and suddenly you go under this canopy of leaves, like you went under a stage curtain half-raised, into what is basically like, Neverland or something.  On your right you can see the river, and on your left there is a strange area of trees where all of the tops of the trees are sort of curved in toward one place, like the ceiling of a cathedral.  Now, I’ve been over the world, to some of the most beautiful churches in existence, and yet this natural phenomenon made me feel as spiritual as any of the man-made places I’ve been.  Every time I went by this place, I had a moment of deep connection to…well, something.  I just remember passing by this way every time I was going to the neighborhood on the other side, and on the way back, there was this giant hill (awful to go up, but remarkable to go down), and I would just fly down this hill and stare up at the sky for as long as I felt like I could get away with, and as I went around the corner, there on the right was this natural church in the woods.

My interaction with the earth hasn’t always been great, I’ll admit.  Finally, toward the end of the summer, I got my best friend Ibis (mentioned previously) to come with me to this natural church.  We actually walked off the path and into the heart of this tree church.  Of course, it was nice in a lot of ways, but the mosquitoes were distracting, and I was looking around for poison ivy, and…you know, it’s never perfect.  It’s like when you see a picture and you’re dying to go there, and once you’re there it’s like, “Oh.  Cool,” and then you just want to leave.  It wasn’t that bad, but that’s the phenomenon I sometimes experience.

However, I do love the earth, and the greenery, and as long as I’m not being eaten alive, I like to spend copious amounts of time in nature.  There is nothing better than looking around and seeing thick trees everywhere.  I grew up in an environment like this, and I wouldn’t have traded the woods in my backyard for an in-ground swimming pool.  That’s how much I love trees.

I hope this next summer when I return to the States, I can go back to this natural church and really have a ritual there.  Ideally the mosquitoes won’t be so bad, but if they are, I’ll still find a way.  Sometimes places are too magical to ignore.

 

)O(

If I Went to Hogwarts

I’m sure that many Pagans out there, especially those that identify as Witches, have had people who said to them, “You know Harry Potter isn’t real, right?”  There are probably a lot of Witches out there who kind of wish that Harry and the gang didn’t exist, because now whenever they mention their identity, people are thinking of the pop culture phenomenon and not of the spirituality and the history behind that word.  They think of Bellatrix Lestrange or Hermione (my personal favorite) and they don’t really understand what’s going on in your head.

That being said, I’m not one of those people who is upset about the Harry Potter franchise, because I’m in the broom closet.  And, to be honest, I think that Harry Potter has done a lot more good than harm in this world.  Because of Harry Potter, the term “witch” isn’t just reserved for the creepy old women in Disney films who try to poison the beautiful main characters.  Witches can be powerful, smart, and kick-ass.  Most importantly, Witches are, well, people.  Hermione is a completely well-rounded character.  Being a witch is not the biggest part of her identity.  She is a human, who is also a witch.

Additionally, the Harry Potter series got kids (like me) to love reading and writing, and it’s never a bad thing to have a more-educated populace.  I will always be a HUGE Harry Potter fan, no matter what people say about it or how much people suggest that it has caused damage to the Pagan community.

Anyway, the reason I’m bring up HP is because the other day, on the Internet, I realized that YOU CAN TAKE ONLINE HARRY POTTER CLASSES, as if Hogwarts was really a school, but you could go online.  You actually get graded, do essays and stuff, and really study and do lessons.  Seriously, that’s pretty freaking awesome.  As soon as I did a little more research into it to make sure it was legit and completely free, I signed up.

Unfortunately, I made a couple of huge mistakes when I signed up.  One of them is that for a very brief moment, I imagined that maybe taking these Hogwarts classes would benefit my studies in Paganism.  I’m working toward educating myself on Witchcraft and everything (as you can tell by this blog), and I kind of thought, “Well, obviously not everything is going to be accurate, but what if there is actually some good info on here?”

Secondly, I signed up using my Witch name, because I didn’t want to use my real name.  The reason these mistakes are problems is because I really shouldn’t have associated this fantasy world of Harry, which is something that really took my whole imagination growing up, with my potential spirituality and religion.  By connecting these two things, which are very different, I’m basically guilty of what everyone thinks Witches are, which is believing fantasy to be real.  The moment I “enrolled” in my Herbology class and looked at the “syllabus” and first lesson, I immediately recognized how foolish it was to think, even for a moment, that “studying” at “Hogwarts” was going to help me in my spiritual studies.  The reality is that these two things are not connected, no matter how deep down I’ve always wanted to be a witch (with a lowercase “w”).

The truth is, since I was a little kid, I’ve wanted to be Hermione, or some witch from the Harry Potter universe.  That’s just how my life was, because that book series completely changed me.  Coming forward all these years and staring down the face of a new spiritual path, and I have repeatedly had to face the question, “Now, do I want to be a Witch?  Or do I want to be a witch?”  Being introspective is a part of this path, I know, but…damn, that question sucks.  What if all of this is just an illusion I’ve created for myself?  What if I’m not looking for religion–what if I’m looking for fantasy?

Time and time again, I’ve had to ask myself this question, and sometimes I’m too frustrated or tired to answer it.  But sometimes I really do think about it, and, once in awhile, I do make myself feel better.

Because, really, when I look at what Pagans are doing out in the world, when I talk to my Pagan friends, or when I watch the Pagan Perspective channel on YouTube, I see some people that really hold beliefs I want to understand.  I’ve already tried to understand the Christian God, and Jesus Christ, and in the end it just didn’t make sense to me like I wanted it to.  Paganism can be baffling and mysterious, of course, but the fact that you don’t have to adhere to one doctrine is pretty refreshing, and the fact that it’s self-empowering is also pretty nice.  And really, when I look back at messages I’ve sent to my friends, or when I think about how I feel when I’m in a forest alone, I know there is something there besides wishing I could make stuff levitate.  There is a real search for meaning in the Universe, and there are real fundamental beliefs that back this path.

I know that doubt is a natural stage of any process, but sometimes it’s hard.  I just have to pick myself back up and remind myself why this Path spoke to me in the first place.  And it wasn’t because of Hermione (although I still think that would be a freaking awesome name for my kid one day).

So I’ll probably take a look at that Herbology class, but instead of going at it like I’m Chloe the Witch, I just have to pretend that I’m some witch, and lose myself in the fandom of it, and know, that really, it’s just a fantasy.

And Chloe might be real life.

)O(

 

 

Bonus: My first Herbology homework assignment.  Actually some interesting questions here that I should ask myself on a daily basis.

 

Quick Answers: Who are you? What is your name? What is your gift? Everyone has a gift; some people are writers, potioneers, some people are excellent at charms, and others are gifted at drawing. (Plants are the same way, aren’t they). Please spend some time thinking about how unique you are, and how you contribute to the environment around you.

What does Herbology mean to you? Include what your expectations for this course are, your current perception of magical plants, and of non-magical plants. Are there any plants you already are knowledgeable in, and are there any plants which you are excited to learn about. Do you have any plants in your home? Why did you decide to take Herbology?

Yule Blessings

Today is my first Yule!  I know that sounds strange, because really, I’m twenty-two years old, but at least this is the first Yule I’ve had where I celebrated the Solstice, and not just Christmas (having been raised Catholic).

Of course, I’m still going to celebrate Christmas.  One cannot go twenty some years celebrating a certain holiday and building up traditions and then decide “eh, not anymore” and go with something completely new.  Some Pagans might argue that Yule is close enough to Christmas to just kind of switch them out and keep lots of the same traditions, but for me, there really is something in honoring Christmas, and saying, “Yeah, this was the day that Jesus of Nazareth was born, and he was a pretty cool guy.”  Plus, I am deeply in love with most Christmas music, and honestly, I’d really just be mincing words if I said that I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas anymore, because by celebrating Yule, I’m celebrating everything about Christmas, just not the word “Christmas,” per se.  So I might as well just call it like it is, and celebrate Yule, and celebrate Christmas.  I mean, who ever said no to two holidays?

Even more interestingly, in the country that I’m working in right now, they actually celebrate New Years like Christmas (it’s a bigger holiday), and “Christmas” (again, just mincing words in my opinion, but it’s cool) is celebrated in January.  So I get to celebrate Yule, then Western Christmas (Dec. 25th), then New Years (as New Years and as a big, Christmas-type event), then Eastern Christmas (which is basically just a religious day).  So FOUR HOLIDAYS FOR ME.  Of course, I’m not taking them all off work, but I get about a week or so coming up with no work, so I’m satisfied.

Anyway, I really wanted to do something special to celebrate the Solstice.  I’ve been slowly working my way up to bigger and bigger celebrations of each of the Sabbats, because I’ve become a little more confident in what I’m doing.  For Litha last year, I made some sun water and worked outside.  For Lammas, my family had a picnic and a campfire (remember, I’m in the broom closet, so there was nothing special about the fire for them, but I was pretty stoked).  For Mabon, my roommate and I made pizza and got our first paycheck (which is awesome because Mabon is for prosperity), and I got treats for everyone at work.  For Samhain, I got a little more gutsy and I actually decorated my apartment a bit, and then on November 1st I had a silent dinner to honor my grandpa, my grandma, my other grandma, my neighbor, and my dog–all of whom had died in the past two years.

So for Yule, I wanted to get pretty geared up and have a nice ritual.  So, despite not getting much sleep, I knew that I wanted to get up early and celebrate the moment of the Solstice, which was, for me, at about 7:48 am on December 22nd.  So, even though it’s really early for me to get up before 11:00 am (I work very late at night), I planned my ritual last night, got some stuff together for it, and got up at 7:20 this morning to get it all together.

I recorded a lot of what I was planning to do in my journal and used it kind of like a Book of Shadows, in the absence of an actual BoS.  For my ritual, I started by cleansing my room with water and salt, and then cleansing the closed balcony where I was going to have my ritual.  Then I decorated the altar with some pine boughs (very small ones) that I cut last night (no other option, unfortunately…the streets around here are kept notoriously clean of any natural debris, so I couldn’t find anything already on the ground), and got all my candles situated.  I made sure everything was on the balcony, then I cast my circle (which I’m not very good at, but hopefully I’ll continue to get better at that).  Then I sat down on the floor in front of my altar and started.  It was a little strange to sit on the floor of a balcony, because you can do like, no grounding there, but I think the ritual was very fiery and ethereal, so maybe grounding wasn’t entirely necessary.

So I’ll confess that I took a lot of the ritual from About.com and its spirituality section, but there are some pretty awesome rituals on there (who knew?).  Of course, I tweaked the ending a bit and put my own spin on everything.  The key idea was starting in complete darkness and contemplating what the meaning of the Solstice was for our ancestors, who knew that they were going to go months without being able to get more food and adored the Sun as the bringer of life.  Then one candle is lit on the altar, and some words are spoken about the meaning of the Solstice.  The second candle is lit, and the winter goddess is invoked.  Then the rest of the candles (and there can be many, and even electric holiday lights) are lit, and the reborn god is invoked.  It was such an amazing thing to go from sitting in complete darkness, squinting to read my journal notes, to having the balcony be flooded by candlelight, which was shining out of the windows to all of the town and the few people on the street below heading to work.

Once all the candles are lit, an offering of incense is given (the recommendation was frankincense, myrrh, or cinnamon on a charcoal disk, but mine was frankincense and pine in one of those water-based oil heaters).  Additionally, you can offer food, so I offered dried buckwheat and a cup of hot wassail.  One thing that’s tricky for me is that I don’t really know what to do with food offerings.  I guess that if I were outside, I would just leave them for animals or nature to eventually absorb.  But I can’t just leave them on my altar inside and let them get old.  So I drank the wassail, because I figure that having that energy go into me and then out into the world is a better way to offer it, and the buckwheat will maybe sit there for a few days, and then I’ll toss it out the window to the Earth (I could toss the wassail, but I’m three floors up and you never know if somebody’s going to be sticking their head out the window below).

Once the offerings are given, you can pinch out the candles and finish the ritual, but first I contemplated all the new things I want to bring to fruition in my life for the rebirth of the light.  I wrote them in my journal next to my ritual notes, and they filled a page.  I would love to check in at Imbolc and see how things are going.

Then I gave an additional offering of music.  I wore red/silver/green jingle bell earrings, so that the sound of the bells could be an offering, and then I sang a song that is near and dear to me, As the Dark Awaits the Dawn.  Not only have I sung this before in choir, but we sang an arrangement by one of my favorite people in the world (my choir director).  It also can be for Christmas (my choir director is Christian), but the words are very universal and have more about light than about religion.  So I sat on the floor of my balcony and sang this song.

As the dark awaits the dawn, so we await your light.

O Star of promise, scatter night, loving bright, loving bright,

Til shades of fear are gone.

 

As the blue expectant hour before the silvering skies,

We long to see your day arise, whole and wise, whole and wise,

O lucent Morning Star.

 

As the moon reflects the sun until the night’s decrease,

May we your healing light release, living peace, living peace,

Until your holy dawn.

 

Shine your future on this place, enlighten every guest,

That through us stream your holiness, bright and blest, bright and blest;

Come dawn, O Sun of Grace.

 

And the ending really is “Sun,” not “Son,” so really, this was a great song to sing for the Solstice, and I imagine I’ll sing it again and again every year.

The sun actually still is yet to rise.  Around here it doesn’t come up until 10:00 am in the dead of winter (and likewise, we have white nights in the summer), so I still have a half-hour, but now we are in the “blue expectant hour,” so the sky is lightening.  As the end of my ritual (it’s still kind of ongoing), I’m going to make a buckwheat breakfast.  I don’t think buckwheat is really traditional for the Solstice, but I’m working with the few resources I have.

So anyway, that’s most of what I did for my Yule ritual, but I fully expect to keep honoring the Yuletide season for the next couple of weeks, until the Eastern Christmas is over, definitely.  I kicked it off with a great ritual and filling up our Christmas stockings for my roommate and me.  He’s going home to his own country for Christmas, so I will be alone for the next week at least.  It’s okay though, because I made the stockings part of my Yule ritual, rather than for Christmas.

Anyway, I have to go and make the buckwheat to finish before the sun rises, so then I can greet the dawn.

Blessed Yule to everyone.  I am sending out love to you, wherever you are in the world.

)O(

By the way, if this blog post was kind of strangely written, keep in mind that I’m writing this way before I usually get up in the morning.

Killing the Planet

This is not one of the Year and a Day Journals, though it actually has something to do with entry #12, which I should be writing.  Entry #12 is about the earth, but in order to write it, I’m supposed to go somewhere where earth is, like, abundant.  Which, I guess I could say that earth is everywhere, but I think I’m supposed to go find a forest.  So…I suppose I have to go find a forest.  But not at this time of night.

Moreover, finding a forest seems really hard these days.  I mean, I’m probably exaggerating a bit, because I’m actually located in a fairly wooded suburban area, with lots of trees integrated into the layout of the town, and not far from here, there is a meadowy area with some space and a few trees, and I mean, generally when people think of the country that I’m located in, they think lots of space and nature.  So I guess that it’s not so hard to find a forest.  But in some ways, it is.  We’re cutting down trees, we’re messing with our planet, possibly irreversibly.

Even worse, sometimes it can be really, really hard to prevent destruction, even from your own actions.  For example, the town I live in does not offer recycling.  Yes, you heard me right–there is no recycling service in this town.  I don’t even think there is a major recycling service in this country.  The only time I’ve heard of recycling is one day per month, in a two-hour window that is nearly impossible to achieve and even harder to do without a car or some motorized vehicle in which to lug your recyclables.  So everything–everything–goes into the trash.

What is a Witch to do?

I try to be good to the environment, I really do.  I try to use glass bottles when I can, and I really try to limit the amount of plastic I use on a daily basis.  Sometimes, though, it’s unavoidable.  How can I live with killing the earth that gives us life?  What can I do to feel like I’m not a detriment to this gorgeous planet, when I live in a country that doesn’t seem to have programs to help it?

This time, I’ve got nothing, really.  I can just keep doing the little things they teach you to do to help conserve resources, like turning off the water when I’m brushing your teeth (my roommate doesn’t, and he is the first human being I’ve met who just lets the water run for ages, and even walks away from it while it’s just running into the drain).  I can keep my glass jars as tealight holders and I can use reusable cups instead of disposable ones at the work water fountain, and I can limit the amount of gas I use on the stove, but…is it enough?

I love the earth, obviously.  Otherwise I wouldn’t be interested in a nature-based path.  But how can I reconcile that as a human being, I’m the worst thing that has ever happened to the planet?

Just thinking out loud (er…in type…)

That’s all I got.

Blessed be!

)O(

Year and a Day Journal #11: November 11, 2015

Almost a month behind, but you know.

Today’s question: How would you describe your connection to the divine?  How would you like your connection to progress?

That is not necessarily an easy question for me to answer!  I guess the problem is that I was raised Roman Catholic, and while I think if I were Christian, or believed in God, I would still be Roman Catholic, the problem is that I, well, don’t believe in God.  I think I went through at least one too many philosophy classes and had to think about logic and watched Christians who were being really unChristian, and really, while I used to be quite religious, I feel like that’s something I can’t reconcile with my life.

I touched on this already with the #9 post, but really, ethically, I couldn’t back the Christian God.  One of these reasons was that, for me, it didn’t make sense that an all-knowing, omniscient God–who would, theoretically, know who was going to Heaven or Hell in the end–would bring souls into existence whom He knew would be going to Hell.  It’s like, why would a merciful God bring people into life knowing they will suffer in life, and knowing full well that they will suffer for all of eternity?  Why would He do that?  That is some messed-up stuff right there.  That is cruel, and sick, and even though people have said, “Well, that’s something that people have debated over, but you just have to trust that God wouldn’t do that.”  I’m like, “What?  No.  No, you cannot just give God a pass.  He’s GOD.  You have to hold Him responsible for some stuff!”  I mean, seriously.  If our theology is going to state that God is omniscient, you have to sacrifice that he’s merciful.  If he’s merciful, you have to sacrifice that he’s omniscient.  Somehow, they just don’t work together.

One of my favorite professors from college, whom I learned later on is Catholic also, wrote a paper about this very issue.  While I haven’t actually read it yet (now I feel bad), and theoretically it could change my mind on this matter, even then I’m not sure if I would want to go back to God.  Let me put it this way: when Christians talk about God, when they talk about praying, when they talk about deity and all that, I get this strange disgusted feeling, like the horrible sensation you get when you want to spite someone, or you see some awful injustice happening.  That is not how I want to feel toward my religion, and that is not respecting deity as I know it.  If my Christian friends knew how I felt about God when He’s mentioned, they’d probably be like, “Alright, yeah, man, we don’t want you anyways.  We don’t want someone who is going to despise God in their heart.”  After all, if God knows everything, He knows how I feel about Him.  Nobody wants a follower who hates him.

So, therein lies my strange relationship with deity.  To be honest, I don’t even know what I want from deity, or what kind of relationship I’d like to have with deity.  When I think about the Goddess and the God, generally supplied by Wicca, I think that’s my main reason for not wanting to be Wiccan (but rather, just be a Witch).  How can I possibly reconcile my opinions on the single deity I had to two more deities?  Even though the Goddess and God of Wicca are very distant from the Christian God in many ways, there is still the logic and philosophy that rules my mind somewhere deep down, and wants to say That just doesn’t make sense.  I mean, how much of a cop-out would that be if I just said, “Alright I don’t like Christianity for these reasons,” but in my next breath I turned to another religion and accepted their gods, which have many of the same flaws as the Christian God?

All of this being said, I have been studying Wiccan ideas.  I have read a lot of Ellen Dugan’s books, I’m making my way through Scott Cunninham’s Wicca, and in general I see a lot of Pagan resources that are directed toward Wiccans online.  I think if I want to be a Witch, I have to research what the mainstream Witches believe in.  (Can there be such a thing as a mainstream Witch?  I guess I mean the religion with which many Witches identify/are associated.)  But one of my Witch friends told me something when I was beginning to research paths, which was that even though she identifies as Wiccan, the Goddess and God for her are like representations of forces of Nature, of the Universe.  The Goddess represents the female aspects of Nature, and the God the male aspects, but they don’t have to be actual beings, seated on some heavenly throne, the way that the Christian God seems to be.  When a Witch pays homage to the Goddess, she is reverencing and trying to understand the female aspects of Nature.  And the same way with the God.  But perhaps the Witch is not necessarily praying to a real holy being in the sky or in some realm that is, you know, physically making love to the other deity on Beltane and stuff like that.  Like, these are stories and ideas of beings that are created to personify and attempt to understand the craziness of the Universe that is around us.  These are ways to reverence and organize the seasons, the forces of Nature that were once a real blessing and threat to human life (and still can be).  I don’t want to insult anybody by saying these things–you know it can be pretty harsh when you say, “Your gods don’t exist!”–but I’m just saying that, for me, I can’t deny the Christian God and accept other gods.  For me, they are all ideas of humans to understand the Universe.

BUT THAT’S OKAY.

The great thing about being a Witch is that I can believe this, and still be a spiritual person!  I don’t have to feel so guilty about not concretely believing in the Goddess and God (or, you know, the slew of other gods and goddesses available to Pagans), because my beliefs are acceptable to this flexible way of life.  If I were to identify as Catholic, but go up to another Catholic and say, “Well, I don’t believe in God per se, but I do recognize Him as a human-made construction coming out of an attempt by humanity to understand various aspects of life, such as purpose and death,” I would probably get any reaction varying from shock to disgust to confusion, but I doubt I’d get any sort of support.  And you know, I probably wouldn’t go up to a Pagan and say that, either, because it’s pretty harsh (and who am I to tell someone their god doesn’t exist just because I don’t believe in him?), but if a Pagan were to ask me about my concept of deity, I wouldn’t be afraid to tell them that I think of deity as an aspect of the Universe and not so much as a real being.  I think they would probably understand me, and share their opinion also.

The other great freedom about recognizing the pantheons of gods and goddesses as ideas but not necessarily true beings is that I don’t have to be pissed off about the flaws and shortcomings of various deities.  If I want to have a Tuesday ritual honoring Mars, I don’t have to worry about the fact that I’m paying homage to a god who has violent mood swings, and wonder Man, is this ethically okay?  Because what I’m really doing is paying homage to the very human aspect of courage and strength, and recognizing and respecting that sometimes violence does come out of that, and I must be aware of that fact.  I think we get trouble by brushing over these ideas, and trying to make everything seem so good all the time.  If I were ever to go back to the Christian God, I’d probably just accept the fact that sometimes God’s behavior is kind of cruel, and that’s an aspect of life.  But other Christians are going to fight you over that idea (ironically), because they want to believe God is peaceful and perfect, because they’ve built Him up as a real being who seriously rules the Universe and they can’t handle worshiping someone with flaws.  Lots of pressure on the big guy.

Anyway, I think I did actually somehow manage to tackle this topic pretty well.  I’m really glad that I have this blog to look back on in the future, and see how this journey is going and how my ideas change over time.  I hope they make sense, to anyone who decides to read this.

 

I’m wishing everyone a blessed Saturday/Sunday (Sunday for me, Saturday still in the States), and I hope that you cherish the divine aspect of the day.

)O(

 

Year and a Day Journal #10: November 10th, 2015

Ah sheesh, it’s December already and I’m only on day 10.

Progress progress progress progress….

Anyway, I suppose I’ve been putting off this entry for a bit because it’s tricky.  The prompt for today is: Take in the essence of the moon.  Describe the connection you feel to her.  Do the same for the sun.

Er…alrighty then…

I don’t know how other people studying this path feel when they get asked a question like this, because you know, having grown up in a certain life where the moon didn’t really matter whatsoever, most nights I’m like, What connection with the moon?? and then I put on my sweatpants and eat chocolate and scroll Pinterest until I fall asleep like that.  I didn’t grow up doing moon salutations or sun salutations or having anything more than a casual acquaintance with the night sky.  So even though I recognize now the connection I should probably be making with the moon, sometimes I kinda forget that it’s magic(k)al.

To be honest, it doesn’t help that where I’m living currently is pretty much the end of the Earth.  I rarely get to see celestial bodies.  The moon made a little appearance for the night that it was full, but most of the time it’s too much of a sliver to make it through the really tenacious clouds, or for me to even figure out where it should be in the sky.  And because I’m so far north, with the sun coming up at approximately 9:30 am and setting at about 4:00, it’s like…seriously, what celestial bodies are we speaking of?

Of course, I know they’re there.  And when I manage to get my butt outside before the sun gets too low (I work in the evenings, so I have zero motivation to leave my apartment at a decent time of day), I do enjoy the hazy gray light that kind of just settles on everything.  Once or twice in the last month we’ve gotten some direct sunlight, which produced a brief moment of elation within me before it was slowly eaten up by the clouds and the rotation of the Earth.

I guess during times like this, I’ve got to think back to the summer.  My first summer of Witchery.  As I’ve said before, I only started my foray into Witchcraft as January rolled in, so the summer was something special.  I remember my first full moon being home from college.  I think I had gone for a walk late at night by myself, and, upon realizing that the moon was full, I got home and ran inside.  I got my Tarot cards from my secret drawer and an antique blue bottle that I filled up with water before taking it outside.  Along the street, there were lights that were casting this awful orange-y glow on everything, but if I went halfway between them, the light that reached me was pretty much pure moon.  I stood there in the street, in the middle of the freaking street, at exactly midnight, holding the bottle so that the silver light was refracting through the glass, and holding my Tarot deck so that they were bathed in the moonlight.  And even though I had no idea what I was doing, I started speaking a poem about the moon offering her light to cleanse my tools.  It was like the first moment of Witchery, and when the midnight moment had broken, and I figured it was time to go inside before my mom was wondering where the heck I was (or before the neighbors saw me and called the cops), I stuffed my Tarot cards and the moon water under my shirt (so as to not be spoiled by the artificial lights) and I put the moon water under my altar table (which was cleverly disguised as a functioning bedside table.  The tone of that one is sarcasm because basically it was truly a bedside table).

I also remember Litha, which was really cool because it was a Sunday (so double the sun!!), but unfortunately I worked that day.  So I only got to enjoy a fraction of the time outdoors before I went in and spent my whole evening in super-bright retail lights.  I do remember, though, as I walked out of the store around 9:00 pm, watching the last light of the sun going away, and knowing that I had had at least a moment to enjoy the sun in its glory, and be thankful for its shining on me, and thankful for that moment in its full power before it would start to die away.

Lastly, during a different full moon in the summer, my best friend and fellow nature-lover (though not a Pagan), whom I will affectionately call Ibis (because one day I saw an ibis and I immediately thought of her–and her spirit is like a bird), came to visit me.  Very late at night again, toward the hour when the moon was supposedly the fullest, we snuck outside with a bunch of my journals that I wanted to cleanse before my trip abroad, and some other ritual-type things.  For example, I brought a round candle, which seemed very moony, and a piece of an oyster/clam/aquatic type shell that I had found on the river bank one day while riding my bike.  I also brought the moon water I had blessed the first full moon at home, and my Tarot deck.  We sat in the middle of the cal-de-sac, staring up at the moon, and saying the chant that I had written down from my first impromptu full moon ritual, and I seriously was just making it up as I went, but it was pretty powerful in its own way.  I remember that Ibis took it seriously, which I really did/do appreciate, and maybe she really did believe that she was working with the moon, too.  (Ibis, you know who you are, if you ever wanna be Pagan, girl, let’s study together and stuff; we’ll be the nature-iest, cutest Witches ever, and when we get tired of the mosquito bites, we’ll cuddle on your cloud mattress like we used to in college.)  She really took one for the team that night, because I got this sudden urge to put some water in the clam shell, and I was like, “Ready?” and straight-up poured the water on our heads like we were getting baptized.  She just said, “Brr,” and didn’t complain (like I said, we are BEST FRIENDS).  Again, I have no idea where the desire came from; I think I just make this stuff up as I go mostly, but it ended up being pretty cool and symbolic, to be honest.

Anyway, I can’t talk forever on the moon and sun, but sometimes it’s really hard to feel Witchy, especially when all plant life is dormant and even the sky is hibernating under a thick blanket.  I guess I just have to look back at what I’ve done in the past, and try to channel that feeling.  The moon and sun really do offer me something.  I think I’m just on a quest to find out what that is.

)O(

(Triple Goddess!!!)