Ch-ch-ch-changes!

I’m working on making some changes around the house (its back to school time–time for post-summer vacay cleaning frenzy) and personal-life wise (nothing bad, just some post-summer slump recovery), which should hopefully leave me with more blogging time (I have about three dozen half-written posts in my drafts to finish up and start moving out, lol).

 

In the meantime, I leave you with some good reading:

In Defense of Ecclectic Paganism @ The Allergic Pagan

Hospitality and the Witch @ A Word to the Witch

In praise of the Wheel of the Year @ Under the Ancient Oaks

 

Stand-by for some new content, some blog redecorating, and maybe even a name change!!

And have a blessed day!

 

Edited to add:  If you had problems with links, I apologize…I neglected to check to make sure that they worked before I posted and I cut and pasted wrong (I always forget that wordpress includes an http:// already, lol…)


Thank you Margot Adler

I was in the car this morning, on my way to work, when I heard that Margot Adler had died in her home yesterday.  She was 68, and had been battling endometrial cancer for three years.  If you don’t know who Margot Adler is, its either because you don’t listen to NPR (she was a correspondent there for some 30 years), or its because you’ve never read Drawing Down the Moon (a book which, IMO, should be required reading for Pagans in the US).

If you are an American Pagan, you should know who Margot Adler is.

I first discovered Margot Adler in the summer of 1991 at the public library.  It is thanks to Mercedes Lackey that I had heard of Wicca, but it is due to Margot Adler that I learned what it was…and so much more.  I took the book home and read it (and its not exactly light reading for a kid in junior high) from cover to cover in 3 days.  If you haven’t read Drawing Down the Moon (or DDM as it is sometimes abbreviated), you’ve missed out on a critical piece of Pagan history–part ethnography, part journalistic review in long form of the Pagan community by a journalist that is also a Pagan, Drawing Down the Moon was probably the most accessible material about Paganism as a family of religious traditions availible in a time of a nascent internet (and dial-up at that).

I checked that book out four times that summer, until I had enough babysitting money to buy my own copy.

Margot Adler was my gateway to an entirely new world, by introducing me to an entirely new outlook on the world that surrounded me.  Her words were…they were like a plow, preparing the fertile ground of one that had already made a complete rejection of Christianity, and preparing it for the seeds of inspriation that would come from other books and a lifetime of experiences.

We are not evil. We don’t harm or seduce people. We are not dangerous. We are ordinary people like you. We have families, jobs, hopes, and dreams. We are not a cult. This religion is not a joke. We are not what you think we are from looking at T.V. We are real. We laugh, we cry. We are serious. We have a sense of humor. You don’t have to be afraid of us. We don’t want to convert you. And please don’t try to convert us. Just give us the same right we give you–to live in peace. We are much more similar to you than you think.

~Margot Adler

Many in the Pagan communitites across this country (and the globe) live in places where they fear to be open about their beliefs.  When I realized that the *something* I was religiously actually existed and had a name, there was no Pagan “coming out day” and no real online communities (and offline communities were not accepting of minors or even easy to find in the first place)— the only way to learn about Pagans was to read books or hang out in AOL chatrooms (using dial-up).  The only Pagans I “knew” were a friend’s mom that was Wiccan and Margot Adler.  Margot Adler was my impetus to take the idea of being Pagan seriously. Not just to take myself seriously, but to demand (nicely, of course) that I should expect my religious beliefs to be taken seriously, regardless of how unorthodox they might seem to others.

Margot Adler is the reason that I never thought that I had to live “in the broom closet”.

To some, she’s been a voice on a beloved news outlet (whether by voice or print), to many she’s been a friend, and she’s been a wife and a mother.  I’ve never met Margot Adler, for me, she’s only been a voice in my head from one of the books that have shaped my life.

Thank you, Margot Adler.

May the Lord and the Lady bless you and keep you.

May you be reunited with your beloved husband in the Summerlands.

We are all part of the life cycle. Like a seed we are born, we sprout, we grow, we mature and decay, making room for future generations who, like seedlings, are reborn through us. As for the persistence of consciousness, deep down, I thought, ‘How can we know?’ Perhaps we simply return to the elements; we become earth and air and fire and water. That seemed all right to me.

~Margot Adler (quote source)


Food for Friday: Flowers

thalassa:

A random rehash…I originally wrote this in February (of last year to boot), but when do we usually have flowers? Yeah…makes sense to repost now! (actually, it would have made more sense to repost in April, but better late than never!!)

Originally posted on musings of a kitchen witch:

Flowers can be food!  

Its not quite the season for flowers around here, but its coming.  And that means its time to bring out and dust off all the spring green and early summer foraging and herbal stuff (plus, I’m cleaning out my shoe box of recipes and other cooking info)!  For this week’s Food for Friday, I though we could talk about eating flowers.  

When we think of culinary herbs, we don’t often think of flowers.  But…nasturtium, rose, chamomile, redbud, zucchini or squash blossoms, snapdragon, violets, yarrow, calendula, lavender, citrus blossoms, hibiscus, clover, bee balm, borage, chive blossoms, honeysuckle, jasmine, daylily, geranium, lilac, mint flowers, and pansy (to name a few, here’s some more) can all be used in food.  Be careful of allergies when using flowers in food, and be sure to leave poisonous flowers alone!

Preservation Methods: 

  • Drying–Hang freshly harvested (best time is…

View original 553 more words


ruminations on authenticity and validity

Over the years, I’ve seen a number of explosions in the Pagan blogosphere (also Facebook, Tumblr, etc)…explosions that tend to be discussed in much quieter and compassionate ways in real life and on close-knit internet forums.  Debates which have turned ugly over things like worshiping superheroes, whether or not a literary figure can be worshiped (I know/know of a number of folks that have adopted the pantheon from the Kushiel series by Jacqueline Carey), the role and context of “invented” or modern deities, and which (possible) historical mythological figures really are gods (or just worth worship) or not.  Debates which, at the heart of them, seek  to establish whose worship is authentic or valid.

I was reminded of debates like this in a conversation that came up on Pagan Forum recently(some of you may know that I am an admin/moderator and co-owner over there, even longer than I’ve been blogging).  The subject itself wasn’t contentious (though I could see it perhaps going that way on other platforms), it was just a discussion asking for information about Cernunnos.  If you are familiar with Cernunnos, you are probably aware of the dearth of information that is available regarding him (if you aren’t, you can glean quite a bit from this post).  Cernunnos aside, I was reminded of a wider and recurring theme in Pagan debates, the problem of validity and authenticity.

About 10 years ago (when The Hubby still considered himself a Druid and I dabbled in that direction) I ran across an essay on the ADF website comparing OBOD and ADF which introduced me to this problem of validity vs. authenticity (in an admittedly ADF and OBOD context) that I’d been aware of, but not really known how to address:

In a study of the remarkable shamanic forgeries of Carlos Castaneda, anthropologist Richard de Mille has pointed out that there are at least two different kinds of truth at work in discussions of spiritual traditions. First is authenticity: does the tradition come from where the author or teacher says it comes from? Are the claims the author or teacher makes historically or anthropologically accurate? This is one obvious form of truth, yet as de Mille points out, it must not be mistaken for the whole. There is also validity: is the tradition effective? Does it accomplish what it says it can accomplish? Are the claims the author or teacher makes spiritually accurate?

A tradition can be authentic but not valid, and it can also be valid but not authentic. Much of the material in OBOD these days is valid but not authentic. There’s no good evidence that the ancient Druids had anything to do with Stonehenge, for example, but OBOD still does summer solstice rituals there. I can testify from personal experience that those rituals can be overwhelmingly powerful.

To OBOD members, the validity is justification enough for the practice, and some OBOD members make the mistake—a very common mistake in alternative spirituality, as it happens—of assuming that validity is evidence of authenticity, that the rituals must be historically accurate because they are spiritually powerful. Meanwhile people critical of OBOD—and this has included some ADF members—fall into the opposite mistake of assuming that inauthenticity is evidence of invalidity, that the rituals must be spiritually ineffective because they are historically inaccurate.

To some Pagans, validity is justification enough.  To others, authenticity is the only justification.  People on both sides forget that validity and authenticity are not two sides of the same coin, but completely and utterly different coins all together.  One could, of course argue that validity and authenticity together would be best…but what may be historically authentic isn’t necessarily universally valid.  And then there is the problem of determining authenticity in the first place…

I’ll admit my bias.  I like authenticity, but I don’t require something to be historically authentic for it to be valid.  I do require it to be honest though–lying about the authenticity of a practice or belief is just plain shitty.   How accurate information is about the historical context of a deity has absolutely and utterly nothing to do with the validity of the worship of that deity or the experiences that the practitioner has.  Or, put more bluntly, whether or not a god is “real” doesn’t impact how “real” the religious experience of that god is (unless you have a hang-up on the matter).

Lets be honest here….complete disclosure.  A good chunk of the “historical information” we have about ancient cultures (particularly those without a written record) is woefully incomplete, filled with conjecture, and riddled with giant gaps. I say that because I know it is true on a smaller scale about the fossil record, and biology gets *way* more funding than anthropology and archaeology–societies of people are tons more complicated and nuanced in terms of behavior and motivation and their internal monologue and motivation than dinosaurs and Precambrian whatnot.

Time only preserves a smattering of that which is preservable. Worship doesn’t keep. The gods don’t make good fossils. Ideas erode when the people that have them die, and when the people that came after them change their ideas.

Archaeology gives us insight into what ancient people may have done.  Mythology (when its been written down) can offer us a culture’s snapshot in time about the relationships between the gods and between men and gods.  Anthropology can teach us what cultures living in similar states and environments do and believe to make parallels between disparate peoples.

But at the end of the day, we don’t  know what ancient Pagans (whether they be Greek or Roman, from whom we have comparably tons of written accounts, to the Picts or the Celts, from whom we have relatively nothing) actually did, what they actually thought, how they actually worshiped, or what they actually believed.  We have ideas about these things–in some cases, great ideas that are well researched and supported by data (one might even call them theories, lol)… in other cases, we have unverified personal gnosis–opinions that have been developed by personal experiences.

And unverified personal gnosis (UPG) is something that often gets a lot of flack in the Pagan community.   Your personal experience of *enter god here* can’t possible be as valid as that of the person whose experience of *enter god here* because theirs matches the historically authentic references.  Poppycock!

Gnosis is not better simply because it is shared (sometimes called shared personal gnosis, or SPG) or because it has been confirmed or conforms with history.  Certainly one might look for and desire confirmation–either historical confirmation or peer corroboration.  Yes, take that UPG with a grain of salt!  Yes, compare it with other practitioners!   Yes, doubt and question your beliefs and experiences!  But don’t let historical authenticity be the defining context for your spiritual experiences (as opposed to informing and shaping them) because it will end up restricting them.

Religion is a language, a set of symbols (regardless of how “real” one feels they may be) that is culturally derived and interpreted.  Cultures are not static–they evolve because the conditions of a society (and how it interplays with other societies and its environment) evolve. Religion is a part of culture that also evolves, and the gods evolve (or at least our interpretation and understanding and interaction with them) evolves because we are evolving culturally and religiously (and at an exponentially speedier speed than we are biologically!).

The gods aren’t static, they aren’t still, they aren’t unchanging.  The gods exist because (whether we are talking about historically authentic ones or newly valid ones) people believe in them, they worship them, they experience them…whether they actually “exist” (in some sort of literal/physical form, on this planet or some other universe or dimension or whatever) or not.  If you want to know the gods, sure, you can start by looking to the people that do worship them (today or yesterday)…or better yet, go forth and worship.  Exprience it for yourself.  If the god cares, if you are “doing it wrong”, they are capable of letting you know (I’ve yet to have this crop up as an issue in worship).

I think that ultimately it doesn’t matter whether or not a particular deity was worshiped by the ancient whomever.  We don’t even know if the gods really exist–we have opinions on whether they exist or not (and for the past few years, its been my opinions that “real is irrelevant”).  Even if we work under the assumption that they do exist (because we’ve “experienced them”–goddess knows the human brain isn’t capable of fooling itself, lol), we certainly don’t know where they come from or how they arose or formed in the first place.  Heck, we can’t even agree if there are one, two, or two million of them.  Never mind trying to agree on things like the best way to interact with them or anything.

The human experience of deity is infinite….or at least as vast and varied of every single person that has ever walked upon this Earth (then again, I’ve been biased on this matter for a while).  Why choose any god to worship? I can’t see any reason that some guy 100 or 1,000 or 10,000 years ago’s experience of the divine is any more accurate or valid for being old.   Appeal to antiquity (or appeal to tradition) is still a logical fallacy.   There must be something else to it, something besides plain old authenticity.


Third of July Musings

I’m drinking tea… (is anyone surprised?) Peppermint and lemon balm

…and listening to music.

Why my daughter wants to learn to play the violin:

Get your munchkins to listen to Vivaldi, by listening to Frozen:

Same guys, different song, gorgeous video (Kung Fu Panda meets Chopin):

I’m pissed off about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision. It does not bode well for the religious freedom of individuals when businesses are allowed to have religion.  Lets play this out to its natural conclusion…

  • I’m a Christian Scientist and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover vaccinations because its against my religion.
  • I’m Mennonite and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any sort of plastic surgery because its against my religion.
  • I’m a Scientologist and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover mental health services or medication because its against my religion.
  • I’m a vegetarian as per my religious beliefs (there are several religions that qualify here) and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any nutritional counseling that includes meat, or any transplant or treatment where animal parts are used.
  • I’m a Jehovah’s Witness and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover blood transfusions because its against my religion.  Because I am a particularly strict JW, I also feel that any organ transplant is against my religion.  I refuse to allow my business to cover those as well.
  • I’m a Catholic and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any birth control.  Also, I refuse to cover any treatment that puts an embryo or fetus at risk.
  • I’m a member of the Followers of Christ and a business owner, I refuse to allow my business to cover any medical proceedure, period.

Except that apparently only the Catholic example isn’t too “loony” for the conservative (Catholic) justices on the court (read Justice Ginsburg’s dissent for a short list of when the court has gone against the sincere beliefs of individuals).  Which leaves me to determine one of two things, the 5 men that came to this conclusion don’t think reproduction is something women have the right to control or they think corporations are more important than people (or some combination of the two).

Businesses are not people.  Businesses do not have religions, people do.  People are people.  People have “natural” rights (that’s a topic for another day), not businesses.  And your rights as an individual stop where mine start.   If your religion tells you to do X and not to do Y…then you do X and don’t do Y.   You don’t force your employees into a position where they are economically compelled to do X and not do Y in your stead.  If you can’t handle the division between you as an individual and your business as a secular and profit-generating legal entity, start a religious non-profit or get the hell out of business.

And fuck, religion should have nothing to do with health care anyway.

And fuck the broader implications beyond healthcare.

[/end rant]

And now, for something completely different… It looks like the worst of Hurricane Arthur will be out to sea when it works its way up to us tomorrow…

Thanks Poseidon!

Some pre-storm fun...

Some pre-storm fun…

Awesome quote (having mentioned Poseidon) I just ran across:

You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?

~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

6 Posts I really think you should read:

And a bonus because I laughed my butt off…

Soap Crayon Munchkin Magic

Soap Crayons

2 tablespoons water (or herbal infusion)
~1 cup soap flakes
30-40 drops of foor coloring

Blend til smooth and paste-like. Fill an ice cube tray or in soap molds and let dry several days.

Choose colors and herbs (if you choose the infusion route) for different purposes…lavender and lavender for peaceful sleep, pink and rose for healing a sad heart, yellow and sunflower for Sun magic. If you want, you can even charge the water before hand using a appropriate crystal as well.

Use the crayons on your tub or shower walls to mark vigils, pictures, phrases, etc for ritual baths or shower meditations to bring healing, blessing, etc.

Why I love honey (Part I):

I admit, this is gonna read like a one-woman infomercial, lol.

Honey is deliciously drinkable!  In the summer, forget energy drinks, add a teaspoon or two of honey and a splash of lemon or lime juice, and a dash of lite salt (check for contraindications before using lite salt, which can be replaced by sea salt in these sorts of recipes, though you’ll be missing out on the potassium then) to your bottle of water.

Big-batch Honey Lemonade:
1/2 c honey
1/2 teaspoon lite salt
1/4 c lemon juice
7 1/2 c water

Mix. Makes 8 8 oz servings at 60 cal per serving, 17 g carbohydrates, 16 g sugar, 72 mg sodium, and 85 mg potassium. (Very Tasty Recipe from the National Honey Board)

Honey is bake-able! If you are interested in baking with honey as a replacement for sugar, there are a couple of tricks to keep in mind: Reduce the liquid by 1/4 c for each cup of honey used, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees. Use less honey than sugar that the recipe calls for–usually no more than half. Honey is sweeter than sugar, so you don’t need as much….though replacement requires some experimentation.  (If you are diabetic, keep in mind that honey is still a “sugar”…)

Also, honey is cosmetic!  Honey is medicinal! Honey is magical!  But I’ll get to these another time…

Hope you have a Happy 4th of July! 

Hail Mr. Franklin, Presidents Jefferson, Washington, Adams, Madison!

 


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