Sunday, January 19, 2014

Return of the PBP: A is for Athame

Long time readers may remember I gave the Pagan Blog Project a go in 2012, and gave up somewhere around L when I fell increasingly far behind. I had some frustrations with it, but I did also get a few great essays out of the project. Looking back now, I'm surprised how much I wrote. That, of course, would be part of the reason I stopped; I was putting a heap of effort into each post and it was tiring. I started to avoid doing it. I skipped the PBP last year; I'd been hoping for a different theme. I figured this year they'd have to change it, because I mean surely people have run out of things to write for X by this point. But a friend on a forum mentioned he was doing it sort of the other way around: picking something to write about, and explaining why he doesn't use this tool or subscribe to this belief. I might give that a go. And this time around, I'll only do it once every two weeks, or maybe even only when I can't think of something to write but i want to update.

So. Here we go.

A is for Athame. I don't use one.

I tried to, in the beginning. I've always liked daggers, ever since I was a child, so the idea of using one in ritual sounded like a bonus point for this religion i had discovered. A dagger is a good tool for channelling energy; it's metal and therefore a good conductor, and it's pointed at the end. It worked, sure. The problem was that it was... superfluous. I didn't need it. It felt good to use, and for many people that would be enough, but for me, after a while it just seemed unnecessary and irrelevant. It was one of those aspects of Wicca-derived ritual that didn't resonate with me; I didn't really grok all the symbolism (and how could I without initiation?) and the symbolism provided by the 101 books I was reading did not satisfy for long. And again, for many people the symbolism works. For me, it just.... fell flat. It didn't seem like enough. Purely as a tool, the athame worked for what I used it for, but I only used it for one thing: circle-casting.

It wasn't long after I dropped a few tools from my practice that I stopped struggling with circles, too. Again circles had always worked all right for me, but had seemed a bit pointless. I always felt awkward about them. Always felt unsatisfied. I think they would work a lot better in a coven setting, but being alone, it always felt... well, awkward is the only word I can really use to describe it. It was a poor fit.

So after a while circles went from my practice, and I started fooling around with new ideas for ritual. That has been good for me, as a whole. Not hemming myself in with a circle has given me more room to work both physically and energy-wise. (Again, this is not a one-size-fits-all experience. Some people can do more within a circle than they can out of one.) I incorporate more dance. I play more with smoke and light. I don't worry about accidentally exceeding the limits of my circle. I use hardly any tools, just candles and an incense holder (or a Hammer if I'm doing a Heathen blót), and in a way I wish I had more tools to use. Of course, not having them means ritual is a lot simpler to set up and perform, and I can do it elsewhere without lugging a bunch of stuff with me.

I like tools, or at least the idea of them. I've been gifted a wand and I like it, I like it as a thing just for having. I just.... have no use for it. I'm a person who likes things, who likes to collect, and it would be nice to have a ritual use for tools, even ones which are very unusual. And I'm always on the lookout for interesting things to do or use in ritual. (So, y'know, have ideas? Share 'em!) And so it was with the athame: I liked it as far as it went, but it didn't fit in with my practice. I still have my old athame, and I'm fond of it because now what it represents to me is those early days in which I explored Paganism and witchcraft. 

So, any knives in my rituals will be used for blood-letting. It's not something I've done in ritual before, but the option is always there, and getting a sharp seax for blooding runes might be interesting.

......I have to say, looking down this year's As on the PBP website, I'm very impressed at the range of subjects being blogged. I have to guess that some people have done the PBP before and are stretching further afield for topics, or perhaps more people are joining in. Whatever the reason, there's more variety, and a lot of intelligent looking posts. That's awesome. I can't wait to jump in.

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