Concepts of Home

First off, I apologize for leaving the last post at the top for so long.  I got involved in life, and its been putting me through a grinder as of late.  The stress is hitting me a tiny bit – only this morning, mind you – as I face a meeting with my professor that will either make or break our relationship.  No worries 🙂

So, this morning is the first time I’ve felt homesick, ish, the entire time I’ve been here in sunny Florida.  I think part of it is the weather – it has to be in the fifties here, and its reminding me of the spring at home.  Late spring, but spring.  And then I get to thinking.  Summer is the only time – that height of summer – where we don’t say goodbye.  In the spring there is high school or college graduation, in the autumn there is the start of the school year or college…Christmas is all about seeing those people you see once a year (my family celebrates Christmas culturally, not religiously) – and Easter is much the same.  So, the weather I’ve been feeling up until this point – summer – has not caused me to reflect at all on being away from home.

The other part of it is my dreams.  I had one of those dreams where you wake up and think you’re somewhere else – I thought I was home.  Then I realized I wasn’t.

But what is home, exactly?  This is a question which has plagued me most of my life.  I had a wonderful childhood, wonderful school, wonderful everything.  I’ve had a stable family and home all of my life.  But as a college student, I struggle with the concept of home.  When I am at college, I consider the place where my parents live “home” – but I refer to college as “home” when I am at the place where my parents live.  I feel most at peace and at home in the midst of a ritual or a moment of awareness where I realize that the Gods, the Ancestors – they’re all near.

If you don’t have a religion or a path that makes you feel at home – you should find one.  The feeling of being there – at peace – nirvana – is something most unconsciously strive for, for most of their lives.

I am a bit homesick, yes.  Homesick for my dogs and my cats, perhaps my parents (but I do talk to them) – for the northern woods and the northern snow, and the sights and the wind and the water.  But, it too shall pass 😉

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Fetish, Gardner, and the Scourge

For some reason, I feel driven to write about sex – well, not sex.  Fetishes.  Fetishes are those feelings…those needs that you have, perhaps from a prepubescent age, that are sexual, but not related to a directly sexual act.  Depending on the type of fetish, it may become a lifestyle.

This post is being created because I people watch, and often, fetishes are the butt of everyone’s sexual jokes.  “I don’t do that” someone will say haughtily, when I know of an instance where someone engages in that behavior because they can’t help it.  But, those with fetishes and alternative desires are not diseased.  The engaging in the behavior is a choice.  They are not weak for having strange urges.  And that discrimination, less recognized than that against homosexuals, but no less hurtful – upsets me.

Because fetishes are of interest to me, I have accumulated a fair amount of knowledge over the years – as any exploratory teen would attest to.  Within that knowledge, I have found many ‘case studies’ of those people who, as mentioned before, had these urges from a prepubescent stage of their life, before they knew what “sex” was.  Are fetishes genetic?  Do they run through families or the father or the mother?  What spawns fetishes, if they’re not genetic, but present in prepubescent stages?  People with fetishes can’t *all* have screwed up childhoods or abuse stories.  Most don’t.

And those who have fetishes are not driven to those, and kept beyond their abilities to use their brains.  By this, I mean that, people with fetishes are intelligent!   Just because something drives them, doesn’t mean it controls them.  They can even go so far as to discuss their lifestyles with dignity and a fair amount of contemplation.

And this brings me to my next point.  The “Sacrifice” within a Gardnerian ritual involves the scourge.  You scourge the initiate as their test, and the act, itself, is very ritualized.  The act, though perhaps not intended to deal a massive amount of pain, is certainly not intended to deal pleasure.

How then, are those who follow the Gardnerian traditions expected to participate within the rituals, if they possess any sort of domination/submission, spanking, whipping, or other masochistic fetish?  For men, how are they supposed to kneel, skyclad, and receive their strokes without reacting to it as they have in the same instance, with their partner wielding a similar instrument?  How are women supposed to live out their ‘darkest’ fantasy of being whipped, while maintaining proper etiquette within the circle?

Is there something inherently wrong with becoming aroused in a circle that was not cast for sex or the Great Rite?  Is there something inherently wrong with becoming aroused during the scourging process?  How about the binding?

We value sex as pleasure, yet it has its place, too.  Should there be an alternate ritual process for those who enjoy the beating?  Or are we made – regardless of fetish – somewhere deep inside, to all get a little aroused from the scourging?  Was Gardner, from whom we receive the scourging rituals, himself a sadist or a masochist?

Does this bring into question the integrity of the rituals at hand?

I will try to tackle these questions at a better time than 2 o’clock in the morning; one by one.  Any comments?

Eclipse Energy

What does an eclipse do to the earth?  When the three planetary bodies are in alignment?  This is the question that I’ve been pondering in the back of my mind since yesterday, when the full lunar eclipse occurred.  Should we conduct a normal esbat during the course of an eclipse?  Why or why not?  Do Gardner or Sanders or Crowley or Valiente mention Eclipse energy?  Why wouldn’t they have?

I think that eclipses are anomalies to us – humans – as a general idea or fact.  We don’t know what to do, and I’m sure, in the past, we didn’t know if the world was ending or not.  They occur only occasionally, and I can’t even remember the last full eclipse I saw, although I know I’ve seen one.

I also think that eclipses represent the ultimate balance.  It is the night – or day – when you are whole, when the cosmos are *Actually* in alignment.  It seems it would be a great time for grounding.

But, keep in mind:  there are two sides to the coin.  The relationship can either be viewed as in balance or in conflict.  It seems like there would be a realm for a source of trouble.  For those of you – like I – who do deal with fluffy bunnies or some variation of those who profess a belief in the ‘supernatural’ – you may have found that you had to deal with them a little bit more last night, than usual.

I didn’t actually see the eclipse, by the way – the night was cloudy.  So what I had hoped would be an experience worth writing about was, in all actuality, me playing guitar for 3 hours and people-watching.  I did meet a group of people who I hadn’t known before – which is common on a new campus – and we had a nice long discussion about childhood, religion, ghosts, energy, and light bulb jokes.

Back to our regularly scheduled program.  By the way – there’s a discussion going on on the post: The Black Cat Conundrum which you may want to check out.

Blessed Be!

Healthy in Your Own Way

Let’s talk about health and happiness. Obviously they’re related – the healthier you are, the happier you are. Yet, is trying to conform to someone’s idea of a method to being healthy going to make you happy? I don’t really think so – and this has come from two solid years of working out and discovering “Health Tips” and “Training Methods”.

But to be honest, without going into specifics: What makes you happy is what is going to work. Now I’ve found a nice medium in the past two and a half to three weeks. I work out 5-6 days a week – M-F and either one of the weekend days – and I rotate between cardio and weight training. For my cardio, I make sure that I’m doing what I want to do: if I don’t want to be in the gym, then I take a run or hop on my bike. For my weight training, I do what doesn’t hurt a shit-ton, but still makes me feel good.

I get up three hours earlier than I have to to work out. I wake up and work out – then I shower, write, and read the news / browse the internet / check my email. Then I eat, then I go to class.

“Eat before you work out.” I’ve actually found that for me, not eating helps my motivation and gets me awake. And let’s face it: if I eat, but don’t feel motivated, that’s not a very good way to work out, is it?

“Work out in the morning and your metabolism blooms.” Actually, a lot of the time, I still get tired in the afternoon – like I always do, regardless of my workout / wake up routine.

What does this have to do with paganism – you’re probably asking as you begin to trail from reading this post. Everything.

A healthy body fosters a healthy mind – you stop beating yourself up so much – and your healthy body also fosters a quieter mind. I find its easier for me to concentrate, easier for me to meditate after I work out. Bettering your body is also like upgrading the temple for the gods.

Let’s face it. Healthy living – living in moderation – is something we all should strive for.

Plus, something’s gotta counteract all that mead you drink at our festivals 😉

Blessed be!

Issues of Faith

Hey guys –

I made that post title (now that I think about it) sound much worse than it actually is.  I’ve merely come to a realization over the past week or so about the issues and concepts of faith in both myself, and I believe humanity in general.  For centuries, those worshippers of any religion who consider themselves leaders – priests – have the same message.  “Go back to God!”

For Christians, you are made to feel guilty if you have not attended church or prayed lately, or didn’t go to the brunch held to raise money for a sick kid(you probably should feel guilty for that one).  For every priest or priestess, the main issue, the main goal, is participation.

I’ve found through self observation that whenever I am “off” – I am upset, or not as happy as I normally am, or I am angry, or frustrated, or sick – I become more…pious.  I know this sounds completely selfish and down right wrong to admit, but its true.  When I am content and satisfied, I do not necessarily feel the need to do a full out ritual to celebrate something or perform a spell to better myself.  I’m guessing that you feel the same.

We look to religion for comfort.  We look to it for strength when we have none, patience when we are tired of waiting, and freedom when we feel chained.  This is not something new or unusual, but rather a state of being.

It could be argued that the less we “need” active acts or rites of participation along a path, the more we have reached god(s).  It is also argued that you drift from the god(s) in question without those active rites of participation.   The answer?  Self-Evaluation.

When I am happy, I do still speak to the gods.  It is informally, as a child to its mother, or it is even just a silent moment of contemplation and feeling ‘home’ within.  When I am pushed off of my center, I speak to the gods more loudly, more clearly.  I do those things to state, “I am still here, I am still your child.”  I do those things to reaffirm my relationship to myself.  To remind me where I stand.

I check my own behaviors – what am I doing on a daily basis to put me in this mood?  What sort of energies are in my life that I should work on altering?  What cycles are repeating in my life that I no longer want?

I check my own faith – am I happy?  Am I content?  Do I still have that at-home, die-hard, happy-go-lucky, belief that it’ll all work out?

We all walk our paths in separate ways.  The gods may liken us to pebbles in a river at flash-flood – drifting along with no control, hitting random ideas and concepts along the way – at some points in our lives, leaving us dazed at best.  But there are those times – the good times – when we are standing along the shore with them, content and happy and not necessarily needing outward displays of affection.  Don’t mistake that for a loss of faith or a lack of religious piety.  You’re not alone 🙂

Simple Gifts

Tomorrow I shall post about that special holiday, but for now, let us speak once more of gifts and sacrifices and our relationship to the gods.  This idea has been sitting in my “unwritten” folder for a few days, and its just dying to come out.

Let’s say you leave a bundle of flowers somewhere for the Gods, and walk away, offering it as a gift.  How soon – if you visit that spot frequently – should you go back?

For me, at least, I feel that my gift has been accepted if the present that I leave – be it a carving, food, flowers, or some other gift – is gone.  I realize that in a practical sense, as magic creates opportunities, it is easiest to believe and understand that some other physical entity takes the gift from the spot – be it an animal or a human.

It’s kind of like leaving cookies for Santa, in my psyche – whether or not it should be is up for discussion.  A sacrifice is something you are giving away.  A true sacrifice then, would be something which you offer completely.  If you go back to ‘check on it’ – are you not claiming ownership, especially if its still there?  A true sacrifice should be something that occurs just like a spell – it happens, and you leave it be.

Yet, things happen in due time, and someday, perhaps you or others will find something inline with my current experience –  that the sacrifice that you leave that is even non-edible, is gone in an hour.  Maybe 2.  Definitely by the next morning.  And I begin to ask myself:  Are the gods that close to us?  And I realize, its not my place to question, in this instance and this instance alone.

Sometimes, trust and faith are the gifts left to us, and we must take what we will from them.

Calling All With Brains!

Hey guys –

Since 2003, I have been blessed with the creation and management of what my co-administrator and I deem “our baby” with full affection. The Order of the Gecko is a group dedicated to the research and discussion of various religions and philosophies. When I went into college and my partner began a new business however, the Order suffered. It is a dead site, now, but I am looking to rejuvenate it.

Previously, the Order was little more than a forum and a small database of information regarding the different subjects at hand. It was a small community of friends. You can view the old site, here.

On March 28th, 2008, and perhaps earlier, we will be launching a brand new version of the website. This new version will be using Moodle, a course management system, and will be intended for a more teach-learn-discuss website than it has ever been before. I am extremely impressed with Moodle, and it fits very well with the site’s objectives and purpose.  The link I have provided is that of our test server – which is completely functional.

Traditionally, the Order requires certain things of its members: You must be over 13, you must be willing to contribute to the forums or the research, you must have a religion, and you must have an IQ score greater than your age(lol). I am easing the registration and application process for a while – which required an interview for entry.

We are looking for teachers and students. For teachers, you must be relatively knowledgeable about your topic. You may teach about anything under the topics presented on the site – Spirituality, Religion, Philosophy, Technology, Science or History – and design the course as you see fit. For students, all we ask is a willing heart and an open mind. Keep in mind, also, that you can be both!

I look forward to this new era of the Order of the Gecko.   I hope that you, my loyal readers – can join me on my quest to make this a great community of thinkers.  If we – the young, the old, the generation of *now* – do not change the world for our children – who will?

We will return to our regularly scheduled programming now.