Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Solstice, Solstice People!

So, the Solstice snuck up on me this year. 

Usually it's something like Lammas or Candlemas that sneaks up on me. This year it's the Solstice, probably because of all the Eksmas* rush and all the "omg Mayan apocalypse" End of the World crap that has been occupying my mind. 

Solstice falls two minutes after midnight on the 22nd, so I'll just celebrate at midnight. It's actually rather a pleasing time for it to occur, so I'm getting a bit excited. I haven't deliberately celebrated at exactly midnight for a long, long time. I suppose I should do it more often. It's a "border" type of time. Although I suppose it's only a border time because we made it so. Dusk and dawn are more proper border times. But midnight does appeal to one's sense of the dramatic.

I sleep mornings rather than nights, against my wishes tbh but what can you do - and as a result I tend to think of the New Day beginning at dawn rather than at midnight. This has become so ingrained in my mind that I become seriously confused if people start referring to pre-midnight as "yesterday" before the sun has come up. This was an issue when I was in hospital for my appendix at about 4 in the morning, and the doctor kept asking if the pain had started "yesterday" and I kept correcting him and saying "no, it was around 11 o'clock this morning". He gave me very strange looks. I mean I know it's only practical to have a set time for the day to end and the new one to begin, but socially can we change it? It only makes sense that "today" start at dawn.

You know what's been confusing me about the "End of the World" Mayan Apocalypse stuff? There are all these Christian groups who have latched onto it. Why would another culture's End of the World be like yours? Jesus isn't coming back, I mean, you'd get.... I was trying to think of a Mayan deity and the only one Who sprung to mind was Ixtab and that doesn't seem appropriate somehow. Not for the Apocalypse, anyway. 

And the Nibiru-pushers are pretty out-there. We know there's no such planet. Brian Cox said so. NASA said so. It's just a lot of New Age authors trying to make a buck. But the people who piss me off most are the people who say "if the Mayans knew so much about the future how come they're all dead?". They're not all dead, douchebags. The Maya people are still around. OK? So can we stop being cocks about that please. Thanks.

The "ascending consciousness" Age of Aquarius thing bothers me more, somehow. Maybe it's just because I'm such a cynic, but I really do not anticipate anyone "changing". I think when you get right down to it, there are quite a few people who seem to have this idea that their consciousness is already halfway ascended, or something, because they're "aware" of this change in whatever and waiting expectantly for it and therefore must be ahead of the curve. That really bugs me. I mean if everyone is meant to "wake up", what makes you think they're going to wake up in the direction you think they should? What if being an ascended consciousness means being a racist, sexist, abusive violent bastard? My idea of what direction humanity should mentally/spiritually "ascend" towards is probably different from yours, so I would bet mine (and yours) would differ from that of whoever it is that is meant to be installing Consciousness 4.0. 

I really prefer the idea of humanity battling to better themselves as a species rather than magical niceness descending from on high. I like the idea of conflicting opinions, society moving forward by pushing at our own preconceptions. The whole "awakening" I think is kind of creepy, like a mental system update from a suspicious organisation. I don't trust that whole sort of idea. I instinctively rail against it. I want to read the update notes before I agree to anything that changes the very layout of my brain. Maybe it's a Heathen thing. 

I mean think of how long I complained about the blogger update. I am not a person who likes change. (I'm working on that. It's very deeply-ingrained. But I'm working on it.)

But! Enough about the end of the Long Count. That's all so much irrelevance. It is Solstice and it is Summer and the sky is blue and the sun is warm and we haven't had too many unpleasantly oppressive days yet. Which reminds me.... Cyclone Evan is coming for Eksmas.

Now we here in EnZed love a good storm. We'll go down to the beach to watch the storm surge. I have memories of playing in the waves as a kid. We used to get a cyclone every couple of years. They were good fun. Now this one has caused serious damage in Fiji, but by the time it gets here, it won't really be a storm any more. It will be a low. And it will rain. For seven days.

Seven days of rain, over Eksmas and New Years. What happened to the glorious summer Eksmas of the Southern Hemisphere? How am I meant to have my gin and tonic on the deck while gazing at the sparkling sea? I like a good dump of rain as much as the next person but I don't know... you really sort of hope for the holidays to be representations of the season in which they sit. In the UK people think longingly of snow, I imagine. Here, we like stupidly blue sky and beach-cricket. But not this year, apparently. Cue 4 million people having a sulk.

Still, today is bright and sunny, and perfect for the Solstice. I even went outside, briefly. The sea looked very nice from the deck. (I know I sound like a complete shut-in but I burn easily and there's a big spread about melanoma in today's paper and I have a paranoia about cancer.) It's always a pleasing thing to have the sun around on a sun-based holiday, which the Solstice is for me. And tomorrow, Midsummerblót, and I'll drink to Tyr and Sunna.

Midsummerblót is a holiday I have a hard time putting my finger on. But one tries, one keeps on keeping on. Maybe I'll drink to Forseti this year as well. I've never met Him, you know.

*As mentioned previously, I tend to refer to the secular celebration of Christmas as Eksmas rather than Xmas. This is because the X in Xmas is short for "Christ", and I respect our Christian friends who are celebrating Christmas as a religious festival who might be a little annoyed with the related secular traditions using the same name. "What the shit do your celebrations have to do with Christ?" they ask. Fair enough, say I, so I refer to it as Eksmas (because I watch too much Futurama) or occasionally Annual Gift Day. Consequently I end up annoying other people who find "Eksmas" as a term offensive, but you can't please everyone, can you?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

God Musings

As most people will know by now, I worship a Horned God. A lot of people who worship a Horned God are soft polytheists, which I am not. Many others are Wiccans, and the Horned God they worship is a rather specific one with a specific name - again, this does not apply to me. 
I go a bit back and forth wondering whether the Horned God I worship is the god of Wicca. At present I'm fairly sure He isn't. It isn't outside the realms of possibility that one could worship Wiccan gods outside of Wicca, or even that such a god wouldn't require one to join a coven. (Although, fair cop, He may do in the future for all I know! But it would run a bit counter to everything required of me so far.) But I've said all this before.

I'm wondering again, as I read through something talking about Murray, where I stand here. I don't believe Murray's ideas. I don't believe they're based on anything particularly solid. (I mean she seemed like a fab old lady but that doesn't mean the things she wrote were equally fab.) On what basis do I know this God? How did I even find Him - or how did He find me? I reached out into the ether and He was there; was He waiting for me, or did He hear me call?  

It's times like this I wish I had made more of an effort to write down my thoughts and experiences Way Back When instead of just copying notes verbatim from crappy pop-witchcraft books. Take note, newbies: the thoughts and experiences you have, however silly or uneventful they seem at the time, are more valuable in the long run than copying stuff down from library books. Also, date everything. I hate not being able to remember when it was I first picked up a book on witchcraft.

It's hard to read about Horned God entities. That sort of thing is so full of irritations. You have a slew of books taking the soft-poly stance; a bunch that think Herne is a god (he's not); a heap that seem to think Pan and Cernunnos are the same entity; and the rest of them bang on the Murray drum until you can't hear yourself think. I mean, Janicot? "Oh yerss it is a Basque deity" well that's nice, would you like to let us know whence this information came? Oh, you wouldn't? Cheers for that.

I guess it serves me right for not yet having summoned up the courage to read "Witchcult in Western Europe" or "God of the Witches" for myself. For all I know everything is laid out perfectly soundly. Meanwhile dear Valiente, of whom I am fond because she wrote marvellously, insists that no one took Murray seriously because she was banging on about witchcraft being a religion and witches were teh evilz. I'm afraid not, dear. It's not a big conspiracy after all; she was just wrong.
But really all that's neither here nor there. I'm still no closer to really knowing where I stand here, or how I feel about how I got here. I can describe my UPG of my God all day if you like, so it's not like I feel He isn't there - and you never know, maybe it will correspond with yours. Or perhaps we just read the same books, eh? 
That's part of the trouble. A lot of these books that talk about a Horned God strike a chord occasionally, and then do an about-turn and wind up somewhere else. How much did I internalise from these books, and how much was pure UPG? And, when you get right down to it, who is that book talking about? Is it talking about the Gaulish Cernunnos? The Greek Pan? The Wiccan God? Some not-really-real-just-a-metaphor god? The same God that I worship? Another Horned God altogether?

Because to be honest, sometimes when I read these (often but not always soft-polytheistic) Eclectic-Neo-Pagan witchcraft books I wonder if they're just making shit up. Or rather, repeating something someone else made up. Like 80% of these books are just an echo chamber, repeating back to one another everything they've heard from everyone else. 
Triple Goddess, Horned God, pentacle. Add magick circle and mix until holy.

I'm not even annoyed, I'm just sort of confused. I really don't have a good bead on what, or indeed Who, many of these books are talking about. It doesn't help that half of them talk about worshipping "the Horned God", describe this entity in detail (whoever he is) and then sort of toss him out the window and suggest you worship gods A, B and C instead. Or (worse) provide you with a table of different gods to worship in different situations, depending on what it is you want. Which is just sort of weird to me. Why devote a whole chapter to a god in your book and then not really mention that god in all your prayers and rituals? 

I suppose in a way my Horned God is no more nebulous in traceable history than my Goddess. I guess it's the Horned part that really suggests He should have something more of a solid past; He has an element of physical description that She does not really have. I feel like I lean more heavily on UPG for Her.... and then on the other hand, there's something more in the way of just assuming when it comes to the concept of a Great Goddess. Like we all feel there should have been one, way back in prehistory somewhere, even if there turns out to be no evidence for it (not totally convinced re: the porn dollies, myself). A Great Goddess arises in rather a more organic way; it's less of a surprise to me that worship of Her should be adopted, even if at this point I remain unconvinced that the next person is worshipping the same Great Goddess as I am. Whether they are or not isn't particularly important, anyway; we're not worshipping together, so we can be worshipping the same Goddess or different Goddesses and really either way it's just as interesting. 

Speak to me of your Great Goddess, ditheists and goddess-worshippers. Let us exchange notes.

So I'm fine to accept that as a natural element of mankind, the tendency towards worshipping a Great Goddess. For some reason I'm a lot more sceptical when it comes to Great Gods. Maybe it is the "Horned" bit, the physical descriptor. The way people get hung up on calling their Horned God Cernunnos when Cernunnos is a specific deity Who already existed, and is part of an established pantheon. The whole Murray thing, with the "the devil = the Horned God" and all the associated blurred lines and grey areas. When one tosses out Murray's bollocks one is forced to confront many of the ideas she presented; if Gardner nabbed his Horned God from Murray and everyone else's version of a Horned God is derived in some way from Gardner's, does the whole thing fall down? Can we keep small pieces of Murray's ideas and discard the rest without being hypocrites?

This is all just idle thought; while I am occasionally bothered by not having a clear line of history on my God, I've had enough in the way of UPG to not be particularly distressed. I'm not about to throw my worship out the window, is what I'm saying. I am fairly sure He is there. And getting to know Him may be a bit like flailing around in the dark, and sometimes it's very slow going, but that's the deal, and I'm OK with that.

Antlers aren't technically horns, anyway. Does a god with antlers keep them all year, or do they fall off? Since it's always antler-time for some deer species somewhere in the world, does it really matter? Maybe antlered gods just like having antlers on all the time. Maybe consistent antlerage is a symbol of immortality. (Actually, I rather like that idea. Wouldn't work with the Wiccan god, of course.) Or maybe they are equatorial-brand antlers and just don't get shed.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pagan Insights #5

A bit late this month. Also, I'm thinking I should give them another name rather than just the numbers as we cycle into the new year. "Pagan Insights, Harvest Moon"? Or do it month by month? I'm thinking it over. I've never been sure about those moon names, anyway. I'm sure they're relevant if you live in Europe or wherever but "Wolf Moon"? There are no wolves here. Or much of anything. There are feral pigs. Feral Pig Moon? 


In Your Own Words
Felt off and anxious again this last couple of weeks which I have chosen to attribute to the summer on one side (ugh humidity) and hormones on the other. I've felt really sort of unsettled in an existential sort of way. So I've slacked on my work, and my prayer, and pretty much everything, in the hopes that if I don't think about it this sort of freak-out will go away. I think it's wearing off.

Post a Pic
But! Despite that I have been meditating most nights, and for the other night's meditation I lit a silver candle for the Full Moon. Here it is: 

New phone = fucking around with Instagram filters :3
Musical Musings
I've been feeling rather un-musical lately. All I've been doing music-wise in the past week or so is playing "Not in Nottingham" on the ukulele, because I've been gloomy and it is easy to play. That's pretty irrelevant spiritually, but I feel it must be said that I do feel a little bard-like when playing the ukulele. I played "The World Turned Upside Down" for Loki once. Hurt my hand like a motherfucker switching from E to B and back again. Anyway, "Not in Nottingham" is easy and satisfying to play, like the ukulele generally. If you don't have one you should get one, they honestly take like an hour to learn how to play, once you get it to stay in tune for 5 minutes at a time.

Action, Action!
So of course I am going to talk about how my meditation is going. And it's going well! I started to stop feeling anxious, and that worked for the first day like a fucking dream and then not so well on other days. But I think part of that was getting attacked by hormones. I have been working through some personal issues and stuff in and around the meditations so I think things are pointing in the direction of "better". If nothing else, I'm enjoying taking the time to stop everything and just sit quietly and have time to myself, even if my mind wanders. I've been mixing it up, and taking notes on how things go and what works and what doesn't.

One meditation I had, a couple of nights ago, I just focused on grounding and feeling like a tree. And as a tree I was thinking about change, how trees change through the year and so on. It's odd because change is one of those things I just think "oh well, change is inevitable etc etc" but actually I hate change, most of the time. I've changed in the past 10 years as have we all but I don't like to think about that. I don't like to acknowledge that I've changed or anything, even though I have, so I don't let myself have the luxury of change. But everyone changes. It's important. That's how couples grow apart, that's how people find new favourite things, new loves, new passions, new homes. Things that used to fit won't fit forever. And that doesn't even have to be a good thing - but it's not a bad thing either. It's just a thing. Everything changes. We all change.