Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pagan Insights #13

I like to do these on the full moon, which is still a few days away, but now I've had the thought to post if I don't do it now then I'll forget and it'll be another three months before I get around to it again. But I wanted to do one, because there were some things I wanted to post. Although now I'm here I probably won't be able to remember what they were.



In your own words
Man, what to say. I feel... good. I mean, health-wise, I'm always up and down. Yesterday was really hard with fatigue and sore tender points on my hips, but I have a lot more energy today. I'm learning to take the bad days as they come, and recognise them and take the time to rest.  You can't always do all things all the time. I'm getting really into the "planning" community, filofaxy stuff and that, and I've put a kikki.k planner on my Hexmas list (thanks Evil Supply Co. for that one!). I'm all into paper-crafty stuff, and papers and stamps and pens at the moment.... I mean I've always loved stationery and this gives me another out to go MAD with buying bits and pieces. If I could ever work out what exactly I wanted to go in it, I could put all this stuff to work in my Book of Shadows!




Post a pic
Here are a couple from my area. The first is a kererū, or NZ wood pigeon, sitting on the kowhai tree in my back garden. They love those things and fight with the tuis over them in spring and early summer. The second is one of the local beaches. The island on the right is the volcano Rangitoto.



Musical musings
Why is the thing I post here never really all that Pagan? 
My song of the moment is Lorde's Yellow Flicker Beat. I love this girl's groove. Did you see her at the AMAs? Daaamn though. Fuck it I'm just gonna post that video, because that lipstick smudge is PERF.




I love the way she dances. There's an ecstatic element to it.




Action, Action!
All my rituals seem to be late lately. I bought some framboise liqueur for Hel, Freyja and Freyr. I love that flavour, associate it so much with Hel. It's really more of an autumn thing, but my choices were limited. I've been slacking on my studies, which is bad of me. I tend to remember on Sunday night and think "welp too late now". I have to learn to plan my time better and then stick to that plan (which is the hard part). My head's always in the clouds.




Eureka!
I'm learning so much about history from Our Troth I. I assume it's accurate enough, though I'm not putting huge amounts of trust in it, as you never know when the author is not an established historian. So much of the stuff about the "Steppe Peoples" or early Indo-Europeans, pre-migration, is so fascinating. There's a long section describing ideas of who their gods were, and that they honoured "the sky gods on rectangular altars facing east, and the terrestrial gods on round altars facing west".  The idea of Tyr and Odin as descended from a one-handed "Bright Father" and a one-eyed "Seer" respectively is fascinating. Recommended reading for Heathens, definitely.



Saturday, October 25, 2014

Blue Skies, Green Grass

I love early summer.

In general, I'm not a summer person. The sun is too bright, and hurts my eyes. The heat is oppressive, as is the humidity. Summer lingers far too long, while autumn and winter are always too short.

But early summer is nice. Early summer brings with it a quiet contentment that suffuses through everything that lives. Plants grow and animals bask in the sun. The air is still cool enough to refresh so that the heat of the sun is not oppressive. The blue of the sky, the brightness of the colours, are a novelty. The joy of the season touches everyone.

By December the novelty will have started to wear off and the heat will be making me grumpy, but for now, with the first day of summer - Beltaine for some - on the horizon, I can't resist the vibrancy of the season.

I've been neglecting this blog lately. You don't know how often I think "Man, I should post to Hagstone", or taken a picture I want to post, and then thought, "nah, I'll do it later" and never get around to it. It was the weather that pushed me into it today. I was jotting down a few thoughts in a notebook and felt moved to write about to people who would understand. Though I suppose for most of you it's nearly winter.

I'm in a state of change, or at least I feel that way. I'm on a new medication for my fibromyalgia, which might help, I suppose. I feel more positive, like I'm getting on top of things at last. I'm branching out, trying new ideas, determined to make something of myself, to make positive changes in all aspects of my life.

In that vein I've started a Patreon for this blog. I figure it'll make me more likely to post, if nothing else! Don't feel obliged to back me, but do go and check out Patreon if you haven't before. There's likely some artist or other whose work you love that you'd like to back.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to read under a tree, and breathe the cool air. ♥

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Spring Growth

I'd slacked off on my Equinox ritual.

The Sabbat itself was two days ago and I was meant to do a rite last night, and the night before. But you know how these things are - sometimes they don't happen the way you'd like, and sometimes they end up better because you'd waited. 

There's a little bush walk near where I live. I take my dog there often, and he runs about amongst the trees while I stroll along the path. There's a little wooden bridge that I sit on sometimes, to listen to the birds and relax. Today when I headed out, it was the most lovely spring day you can imagine. It still is, outside my window right now. The sun is shining, but it's not too hot. There's a cool breeze. The colours are vibrant, but the light isn't too bright. The world is basking in springtime. So today on my walk, I took my time, enjoyed the walk.

When I got to the bush and let Rocco run around and amuse himself, I sat cross-legged on the little bridge. It was so easy to fall into a meditative state of mind. (I wonder if fibromyalgia helps on that score. Brain-fog can ease your mind that way sometimes.) I sat and then decided I would do my ritual then and there. 

I called my Lady and my Lord, and hailed the spirits of the earth. I hailed the elements and thought of the Equinox, and of the light half of the year into which the Wheel has now turned. I often resent spring, because it leads into summer and the sun begins to burn more harshly, but today was too lovely and it was only the joys of spring that filled me. I saw my Lady bedecked in blossoms with Her hair shining gold like the sun, and my Lord with new green growth curled around His antlers and climbing up His legs. I held my hands up to the treetops and sank my roots into the earth. The rite was brief, and interrupted once when I thought my dog had come across some ducklings, but wonderful all the same, and afterwards I strolled back and forth through the bush and found forget-me-nots and finches and tuis and fantails. 

When I gathered up my dog and started off home I felt more like myself than I have done in years.




Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Playing at Pagan

I wrote the bulk of this post after finishing Witch Crafting by Phyllis Curott. Something she said near the end of the book stuck in my craw. I've been musing over it for a while now, asking others for their thoughts.

Curott is not alone in what I'm about to discuss - those who have read The Spiral Dance by Starhawk will recognise it. It is the concept of the gods not as real entities, but as, to use Curott's words, "anthropomorphic metaphors".

I know there are Pagans who don't believe in gods. That's fine. There are Pagans who view deities as archetypes or, indeed, anthropomorphic metaphors with whom one can work to understand more about one's own mind, in a Jungian sort of way. But I had, heretofore, imagined that most of these not-really-theistic Pagans were up front about it. You come across them, from time to time. Even if one disagrees with how they refer to the gods, they tend to be honest about their beliefs. But, as I have discovered, it is not always so.

What I don't really understand is why a person would bother spending so much time and effort writing about deities they don't believe in, from the standpoint - or the guise - of a religious person. Why spew forth love over ten pages for a goddess you don't actually think is real? Why, indeed, hold ritual several times a year for a deity you don't believe exists? Why the pretence? It seems so dishonest.

I suppose it would explain all the rampant disregard for deities, cultures and myths you get in these books. They're not real, so why does it matter? Of course there are no mistakes (as Curott cheerfully tells us). It doesn't matter if you call in the wrong god (!) because not only is he just an aspect of this other god, this other god himself is just a metaphor.

But that reduces whole traditions down to just play-acting. People writing books about playing at being Pagans. You can understand it when teenagers get into it for a month or so, hold some dramatic rituals in the part and then lose interest and refer to it as their "Wiccan stage". Because... well, OK, you can't really understand it, but at least they have the excuse of youth, and at least they tend to get over it fairly quickly. But this sort of thing is on a whole other level.

Is this because so many people have based their practice on Wicca, but have not been initiated? have no way to contact the deities of Wicca? That would make sense; they try to contact the deities and, with no luck, assume said deities are metaphors and then focus their rituals on self-help and general back-patting.

For me rituals are always an experience of closeness and worship and dedication and love and friendship with the deity for whom that ritual is held. They are, usually, moving and important experiences. I'm fine with the concept that a ritual might be more for me than the gods, because I sometimes do get that impression from the gods while performing ritual, depending on the ritual in question. But I just have a great deal of difficulty with the idea that they have so little focus on the deities. If they're not a part of your faith, then they're not a part of your faith. Be honest about it.

There's a term, play-gan, and I forget who came up with it. (Sorry.) Pagans who view the whole thing as a giant LARP. Not believing in gods but pretending to hold rituals for them because it's fun... or something. It's fun to pretend to be a witch, or a Pagan, or a mysterious person in black who holds rituals with candles and knives!

I just... I don't understand it, and I find it both frustrating and upsetting.

Especially if you don't believe in the gods and then you go and write a book about the gods and how you worship them. I mean, not-really-theistic? Fine. Hold rituals your own way in your own space? You know what, totally not my business, like, whatever. Write books about your love for the goddess you don't actually believe in? That's where I get totally confused. It feels seriously dishonest to me. It does. Sorry.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Playing with Threads

When I was younger, I very much liked Tamora Pierce (actually, I still do) and I read her "Circle of Magic" series. I love storms and I was overweight and shortsighted, and more at home with books than with people, so I identified strongly with Tris, the storm mage. She matched me far better than any of the other circle-of-four mages, and in many ways I feel still does. I still wear glasses though I'm no longer overweight, and I'm still more at home with books than people. I still love storms more than nearly anything - wind and rain, thunder and lightning.

But I've come to realise I am also very much a "thread" person. Storms are impressive, and fun, and exciting, but thread is practical. With thread you can join two things together, mark things as your own, create clothes or latches or jewellery. When I make a new cord for a pendant, I do it by plaiting together three strands of thread, and I weave energy into them as I do so. A plaited thread can store energy. Embroidery can weave intent into cloth. I have a fondness for cross-stitch, as it's very simple and can also be done while one's mind is elsewhere. There's a sense, when one stabs one's needle through the cloth, of prehistory; I feel an echo of bone needles stabbing sinew through leather. That, though, is something I will never do, as if I was to do it it would be something of a waste of good leather! Other people can do it better than I, so I will leave them to it and buy the result of their craftsmanship. But I do like the sensation of needle-stabby, and I like making an image from something so simple as a cross. 

I would like to do more in the way of devotional pieces, but there are few good Pagan designs and the make-your-own programs are a bit strange. I wouldn't like to try a devotional piece designed through such a program and have it come out looking awful. So for now I focus on a face of Jack Skellington.

Knots have a finality to them. Witches' Ladders and knot-spells are some of my favourites because they are simple, but also because the act of trapping energy - or fate or desire - within a knot makes a great deal of sense to me. Of course, a knot spell isn't "right" for everything; tying knots isn't going to be the solution to every problem. But I use them when I can, because they appeal so much to me.

A part of me also rebels against the thread, because I associate embroidery and sewing - along with baking, cooking, housekeeping - with housewifery, which has never appealed to me and which I find rather repellent. Sandy from Circle of Magic was never really my sort of person, and nor was her mentor Lark. They were homey people, and I'm more what you'd call a hermit. I will, occasionally, bake, but I feel out of sorts when doing so unless it is early autumn and the right-sort-of-day to be baking. (I have made scones in the past. Honestly that's the only thing I can remember baking.) I'll also make something if I really have a hankering for it, but that's about it. I don't like to cook anything that takes longer to make than it does to eat, because I feel a time deficit if I do. I'd rather buy clothing than make it myself. But I like the sensation of cross-stitch, so occasionally I'll feel the need to do something with my hands while I watch TV, and off I'll go to buy a cross-stitch pack or a set of threads. I've discovered I prefer bookmark packs, as when you've finished you get something useful out of it rather than something you'll put in a drawer and forget about. It's also a bit of a mission finding designs that aren't insipid and distressing, but there are more little "Fuck You" collections around nowadays. I found one on flickr not long ago with a Black Books quote: "Whores will have their trinkets". Best thing ever. But, as I say, a part of me does not like the idea of working so much with thread. That's a part of myself that I ignore because thread is practical, and I'd be a fool to discard something so practical, simple and easy to find in favour of something big and flashy. When in need, a bit of stray thread from clothing will work just as well.

Even the act of tying things together has an appeal and a finality that works so well in my craft. Thread joins like to unlike. Thread transforms - but it doesn't transform in the manner of cooking, or of chemical reaction. Thread transforms in the manner of change of state: water to ice to water. Thread can be unpicked. Knots can be untied. It can be cut or unwoven. Pull in the right place and a whole working can be undone. Thread echoes magic; you can twist it around your fingers into shapes or capture someone's wrist. Other things can be tied - sheep gut, wire, plastic - to make music. Rope can hoist a sail or keep secure. Knots are magic.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Pagan Insights #12

It's been forever! I can't even really tell you why. I feel like I've been moving forward with the fibro and the anxiety, makin' important strides for myself, keeping up with my Heathen study even (for the most part!). I was meant to update this blog once a week and I've left you hanging for over a month (she says, flattering herself that you all look forward to posts). I figured, what better way to get back into things than with a PIP entry?




In your own words
Winter is here, but not as cold as it could be. Some days I find myself in a t-shirt, which bothers me, because winter shouldn't be t-shirt weather. Today is chilly, though. I've been waking earlier in the day, which is good. I even caught a few sunrises, which was a seriously magical thing. I think in my last post I talked about the magic of dusk, and dawn is magic too, in ways which are similar and at the same time utterly different. I want to experience more dawns. They are still and quiet and sacred. 



Post a pic
You get two pics! The first is from one of those dawns I was talking about. Low in the sky you can see the crescent moon, and above it, Venus. Apologies for the quality.... my big camera was out of battery (to my utter dismay) and I had to make do with a phone camera.





The other is a toadstool I found while walking my dog the other day. I love seeing these things, they're so story-book. I feel like there are more around now than there were when I was a kid. Shortly after taking this picture, the dog ran over it and squished it. Sigh.







Musical Musings
It's not really Pagan-y, but I am really into "The Joy of DH Lawrence" by Erik Enocksson right now.






Action, Action!
Haha oh man, I have been so bad at my nightly prayers recently. So bad. I can't even tell you. Once I've gotten into bed I just don't want to get up for my prayers at my altar. I keep reading about morning prayers and twice-daily meditations etc people do and think "I would be so into that" and then completely fail to follow up on it. I am a lame-o.





Eureka!
I bought a claw, in silver, because I thought it was beautiful. When I started wearing it it felt like it fit me in a way a piece of jewellery hasn't in a long time. This past Old Year's Night, I asked my Lady to bless it. It doesn't feel as much of a tool as my old pewter pendant did, but it still feels special in some way. It's interesting, though, that different metals feel a bit different magic-wise. I hadn't really thought about it before, although it stands to reason. Pewter I feel like I can really use as a launching pad, something to bounce myself off've or as an amplifier, while silver is much more sly and whispering and reserved. Maybe it has something to do with the way pewter is an alloy, and has been smelted together, while silver is just its own thing.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014


Winter's here already!

I hold winter-finding, my Heathen autumnal holiday, on the first cold day after the autumnal equinox. This year, it didn't fall until April 20th. It's a little unnerving, to have had such a long summer. In fact, now that the cold weather seems to be staying put, the change from summery to autumnal temperatures seems abrupt, and the cold nights have set in so quickly, and before I know it it's halfway through May and winter is here, already! 

It's good to be able to wear all my long-sleeved tops again, but we have no fire this year, so it won't be the same. 

I feel a bit cheated out of my autumn. I love autumn. The rain, the smells of the season, the long,  early twilight. The cool air and the peace. The blues and greens and browns - the trees knew when autumn was meant to be, and many have shed their leaves by the time it rolled around. 

And now it's winter - well. Not insofar as we've had a morning frost, or anything like that, but I went outside at 4pm today and the shadows were long, and the sun was so near to the horizon, and it felt like winter. The twilights are shorter now, too, somehow. That's something I'd never noticed before with the changing of the seasons. 

I haven't yet held my Old Year's Night ritual, but I plan to do so tonight. It's a week late, almost, but I keep missing holidays and I really feel that I have to hold this one, to usher winter in. It's my favourite holiday. My Heathen celebration will wait until I smell winter properly in the air. I'll know when the time is right. 

Sorry to have left you so long without a post. I feel like I've been a bit.... all over the place, for the last couple of months. It's really time to pull myself together - I mean, actually pull all my projects and bits and pieces inwards, and look at them and take stock and centre myself and work properly with them. But it's that time of year, really. Introspective. 

Oh but you have no idea how happy I am that it's winter. I missed this season so much. The summer was unbearably long.