Monday, February 2, 2015

Late summer is always a difficult time of year to feel spiritual. Too hot, too bright, and the heat is bad for my health, which doesn't help matters. So things can be tough. But I'm still trying to meditate as often as possible, to pray, to breathe, to stretch. And to read.

A lot of witchy-pagan books are just the author going on about nature this and seasons that. They can be very low on actual content. But sometimes - and right now is one of those times, for me - reading just someone's thoughts can be helpful. Even (or especially) if I disagree with them.

I'm reading Poppy Palin's Craft of the Wild Witch at the moment. I started it ages ago, became annoyed with her, and put it down. I've picked it up again, and started over. And yes, she uses a lot of genuinely ridiculous terms, but before I was reading searching for information. I was craving something new, something solid. Real, actual information I could get my teeth into. Now I'm just looking for something to make me feel. 

I do disagree with her, though. Palin talks about how humans make straight lines through everything, and how straight lines lead to people climbing over one another to get to the top. But the pansy, she says, has no such thoughts; it, and nature, live in circular lives where everything is interconnected.

And, yes, sure - but nature is all about competition. It's how things survive, and adapt, change, evolve. The pansy is colourful to attract pollinators. It reaches up to the sun to best obtain its energy. Grow too slow and another plant might block out your sun. It's everyone for themselves in nature, and it's far from peaceful and pretty. And humans are a part of that.

But that's fine. Another day I might get cross and write a diatribe, but today I am content to disagree quietly and let it go. Her perspective and mine differ. There's still things she says that provoke me to thought. 

I realised for example how much my focus on "property lines" - on barriers and fences - can hinder as well as help. That need to have personal space and keep everything else out is a facet of my personality, and not necessarily always a healthy one. I can acknowledge that and still cling to it. But the world doesn't always think that way. Home ranges overlap. The earth stretches on and on. The wind blows in many directions. I've let myself become to fixated on Mine vs Yours. Yes, this is my home, and no, I don't want every damn entity invading it, and that's fine and sensible. But I can't let that concept control all my thinking. I've become far too rigid.

I suspect that's the anxiety's fault. It's made me stiff and stretched me taught. I have to remember to dance, to go with the flow and follow the breeze, and notice again how things intersect and overlap and how the world stretches on. 

Reading various spiritual, magical, or religious books more regularly is part of my spiritual plan for this year, and this sort of thing is a big reason why. A lot of people move past reading books like this, and that's fine. I like to go back and remind myself of bits and pieces - though admittedly, these ideas might not be what the author intended to communicate. Potentially the opposite! The value's still there, for me. Quite possibly things would be different if I was a part of a Pagan group or coven, as I'd have other people bouncing ideas off me more often. That's not the case, though, and for me, I like the written medium for communicating ideas. I can absorb them at my own pace, take notes, scribble in the margins, and write blog posts about them. I can invite people to discuss those ideas (feel free to chime in in the comments!).

I bought some prayer beads from Etsy in January, part of my renewed focus on prayer and meditation. They're set out in sets of 3, 7, 9 and 21 and are a beautiful green-blue colour. I'd like to add a little brass stag to one end, to complement the little spiral goddess, but I haven't found one yet. They make a pleasant jingling noise and I enjoy running them through my fingers.

I also bought John Michael Greer's Pagan Prayer Beads which makes me itch to make some, but I think I'll stick with accumulating beads for a while. And since I'm not really inclined towards buying any at the moment, it may take a while. In the meantime, I'll see what's floating around on etsy if I ever feel a yen.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Spiritual Goals

A new year, and this time I'm not filled with the desire to start a new blog or something. This year I have a beautiful new planner, a desire for peace, and a few easy goals to keep to.

Greet the day, by going outside, breathing the air.

Stretch. Be physically mindful.

Meditate - every day if possible.


They're small and they're aimed at bringing the spiritual more into my everyday life. My planner has a section for spiritual matters, where I've written out the Sabbat dates and a few chants and prayers I've composed. What I'd like to do is make sort of collage shrines, as well, but I'm not sure at this point how that's going to work out. I suppose I could go through my mother's old gardening magazines, or something. I want them to be peaceful, and uncluttered. 

I'm going to exercise more often too, as I've fallen out of exercise lately. I'm a bit uncomfortable in my skin and keen to gain some muscle back. I have a few of the "30 days challenges" I've printed out.

And I've started work on my staff, finally.

I found it last year, early in the year, and had a mind to get it done by May and Old Year's Night, but that never happened. I've collected some bits and pieces I'd like to hang from it, but no more than that, and some sort of moth seems to have eaten all my feathers. So I'll need to find more feathers. An old key, preferably one I find naturally, but you know how some things are difficult to find. Hagstones. Shells. Things that are symbols of my craft, basically - things that hold significance to me. 

I sat down and sanded it today. The knobs where some twigs had broken away won't disappear, but they'll be good to hang things from. The wood is a bit more smooth now I've sanded back a little of the bark, and I think I'll leave it as it is, as it has a lovely grain to it with a bit of the bark still on, and even a hint of green. The stick is dry and dead, of course; it's been sitting next to my bookshelf for a year and was dry when I found it. It looks nice, though. 

My Path in the Woods is dark and overgrown, and I have paused, to sit in peace and wait for the way forward to become clear.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Midsummer musings

Hi everyone and Happy Solstice!

I'm about to sit down to my Summer Solstice ritual. Things are all over the place this year, possibly because I've been meditating way less than I should be. I feel scattered. Although, maybe that's just the fibro-brain.

A friend of mine and her band wrote a song about Christmas in the Southern Hemisphere - listen here. It's basically how I feel about this time of year. It's summer, and that's fine.... why have we adopted all these winter-based decorations? Can't we just celebrate the season we have? It's a great time of year to have Christmas. You can put strawberries in your champagne. You can play cricket on the beach. You can sit up until the sun sets around 9pm drinking gin and tonic on the deck. It's a great time to get together with family and exchange gifts and celebrate. And it's not like Midsummer wasn't a big celebration and time of gathering for the Heathens. Though they may have held it later in the year. No matter; the summer holidays basically last through until February. No one is expected to be productive from mid-December right through January. We even have two days off for New Years, presumably because everyone is expected to have a two-day hangover.

It's sort of odd, having been a Heathen and of a specific form of Hedgecraft for so long at this point. I saw a post on tumblr that used the phrase "Celtic Yule blessing" and my brain turned inside out in an attempt to wrap itself around that concept. Celtic. Yule. I went through "The Celtic religions don't celebrate the solstices!" and then "Why would a Celtic Pagan use the word Yule? That's a Norse holiday!" to a point where I tried to work out how a Celtic Pagan would even adapt a Heathen holiday for their own use, and why they would want to. 

It was hours later that I realised they didn't mean Yule, they meant eclectic-NeoPagan-Sabbat-at-the-winter-Solstice. Literally hours later that occurred to me. And then I got very slightly sniffy about it. Not of the "THEY NICKED OFF WITH OUR HOLIDAY NAME" variety, but of the "WHY WOULD THEY CALL THEIR HOLIDAY YULE IT JUST FUCKING CONFUSES PEOPLE" variety.

My brain still refuses to parse "Celtic Yule" as a concept. I just revert to "YOU CAN'T HAVE CELTIC YULE, THAT IS NOT A THING THAT HAPPENS". Then I throw up my hands and mutter to myself. Not a jab at OP, either; the person who posted the post was being helpful and is just repeating the basic ENP stuff that's been floating around for decades. It's not really vexing, it's just one of those things I find really odd and confusing. It probably annoys Celtic polytheists more than it does me. 

I've been seeing quite a few hedgehogs recently. Mostly squashed on the road. Last week I saw a little one rolled up in a sleepy ball under a hedge, and tonight, while I was walking my dog, I saw a little dark shape waddling across the footpath. It was a snuffly little hedgehog and he disappeared into the grass. My dog did not know what to think. Are they naturally more active in summer, or is it hedgehog breeding time, or what? I like seeing them around. Sweet little things. Plus they eat slugs, which is a godly duty.

Anyway. Time to take out the candles and set up the altar. It's ritual time.

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.

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.