Moving In, Moving Out, Moving On

Well guys, it’s that time of the year again.  Time to move in.  I have to say this year has been remarkable.  I hope that this coming year will be less stressful but just as productive.

There is something unique about being a college student.  A sort of, suspended, existence.  Between home and on-your-own.  Where at college, you’re an adult – you can wear the adult clothes, do the adult things like shopping and cooking and paying your bills – but when you go home, you can laze on the couch while your mother is making dinner(if you’re lucky).

Anyway, I’m tired and distracted.  I may not be able to post on Sunday, but stay tuned for Monday!

Blessed Be!

The Sacred Cords

And you guys thought I wasn’t going to post!  There’s something unique to the Gardnerian tradition, found in the first degree initiation, which I thought I would touch upon tonight:  The cords.  They’re said to take your measure, to bind you to the art.  During my self initiation, I never prepared cords for myself.  I made my oath, took my time to meditate, and that was it.  But, nevertheless, there is wisdom in the cords.

It is a physical manifestation of your oath.  The actual initation text reads:

Take measure: height (tie knot); around head (tie knot); around heart (tie knot); around hips (tie knot). Prick postulant’s thumb; catch blood on measure. Place measure on altar.

This cord is then, in essence, charged with your oath.  The cords are relatively easy to make – but I knew that when I was looking to make them – among other things, last week – I couldn’t quite figure out what material to use.  I chose a nylon rope of decent thickness from Lowe’s.  A 50-foot section came in a package for less than $7.00 .  No questions asked about what I needed the rope for(it would be rather odd to explain that I was using the rope to measure myself and create a scourge for a religious ceremony).

For the nylon rope – if that’s what you choose – realize that it frays quickly, and so beginning and ending knots should be tied as well to prevent the entire thing from falling apart.  Also, in case you were wondering – I did not give my blood as a binding signature to the cord.  I feel that I am a woman, and I bleed every month in a covenant to the gods.  Anything more or less is unnecessary.

An interesting, quick, and enlightening thing to do when thinking about your own upcoming initiation – especially if it has not been done before or you are self initiating, and want to experience the power in the tradition, but do not have the ability to make the actual ritual happen.

Blessed be!

Wiccan Belief, Wiccan Tradition

So, the title of the post represents some of what users have used to bring them to my site over the past week.  I can’t really emphasize anything in particular – I would recommend the links to the right for more information about Wicca in general.  Yet, I do have something interesting within my own life to share, if anyone would be willing to cock a listening ear.

The conversation began as any conversation – and lasted for a long time about secret organizations, and what Wicca would have become if all of its secrets had not been leaked.  What if we had a way to exert control over the imposters?  An interesting concept, to say the least.

But then it led to me finally asking my high priest:  Who taught you?  Who taught them?  At first, he did begin to delve into our “physical” religious history.  He told me of the two different traditions from which he was born – of the charges he was given as a third degree, and where he has gone since then.  He told me of the three of the seventy three witches at the ’74 witchmeet who were part of his magical ancestry.  He told me of his ex-wife, who nearly went crazy while subjected to all of the knowledge and mysteries of the path in three months, instead of years and years.

But the discussion took a turn while we were talking, and ended at this:

Do not allow me to tell you of those who taught me, nor allow yourself to tell others of me.  We gain our spiritual knowledge, we move along our spiritual paths not from the wisdom of humans, but from the wisdom of the universe itself.  Our teachers are not our high priests and priestesses, but rather Jesus and Allah and Buddha, Adonis and Anubis and Hecate.  Diana, Aphrodite, Ra, Odin – let these be our teachers.

Wicca is a religion.  It is a hierarchal path to gain enlightenment.  Yet going through the steps – ascending the ‘spiritual ladder’ and gaining our marks of honor are merely recognitions that we have learned *something*.

But what lies between us and God(s)?  That’s our path.  And that is the single most important thing in any discussion of religions and philosophies.

Healthy Living: Keeping Balance

There is a visualization that I use, that I never really realized that I used until just this moment.  I was thinking, “well, what do I know about healthy living, anyway?” and then began thinking about a conversation with a friend that I had a few nights ago.  He was feeling depressed because his ex girlfriend had called to expressly tell him that he was a loser – right after his business partner decided to leave the business, among other things taking  a turn for the worse.  And so he told me that he felt like he failed at life, on and on – and I said nothing.  And a few minutes later, I found the words I was looking for.

You see, he may have the worst luck in the world sometimes.  His choices of ex-girlfriends are less than stellar, and the pure absurdity of some of the situations he gets into is almost unbelievable.  Yet, there is a reason that I deeply care for the man: Whatever he does, he does for others.  He takes this to the extreme.  He will spend an entire Christmas(he’s pagan, but still) devoted to others.  His entire savings will go to buying children of his neighborhood cool presents that their parents can’t afford.

Even what he does now, personal training, is aimed at helping others.  Since I’ve known him, he’s counseled pregnant teens, people suffering from suicidal thoughts and depression.  He’s worked as an in-home nurse, security – he’s planted trees and organized volunteer movements to decrease violence in his home town.  If there’s something that needs to be done, he does it.

At cost to himself, his livelihood, his health, and anything else.  Enter my analogy.

When you think of yourself, think of yourself at the very center of a very large, very connect web.  Each strand represents an interaction you’ve had recently where some of your energy and vibrations has left you to connect with that other person.  Not literally, left, but more – that piece of you has gotten scattered and disorganized.

If we were to look at this man’s web, I think that he would actually be pushed to a corner so everyone else could take his place in the center!

So, when you’re feeling unbalanced, a good exercise to use is to slowly imagine each strand of the web being pulled back to you, until it’s just you, with yourself healthy, clean, and whole.  And reminding yourself of this web everytime you promise someone that you’ll do something, or go somewhere, or think of something, or lead something – may just keep your priorities in check.

It’s great to do all you can to help your community – your family, your workplace, your friends – but doing it at the expense of yourself helps no one.

Have a great day!

Taming the Dragon

I recently acquired a juvenile bearded dragon here in Buffalo.  I decided I wanted to try raising a dragon as it may fare better under my care than did my leopard geckos.  In any case, I got it, and at first, it was as calm as could be – probably frightened out of its mind.

Anyway, we’re getting him settled in, and now that he’s got a little grasp of what is his – I’m not allowed in it!  My hand entering the cage, well, that’s just out of the question.  The little dragon will leap halfway across the cage to bite me(but my fingers are bigger than his mouth).  I spent all of the weekend trying to figure out the best methodology to tame the dragon.  I finally settled on a plan.

Whenever he hisses, I simply put a “green” into his mouth – he eats green onions, parsley, blackberries, etc – stuff high in calcium.  It surprises him.  And he can’t leap at my hand if there’s something in his mouth.  So he closes his mouth. Tears off the piece.  Calms down.

On Saturday, it took me three hours before I could get him to stay in my hand without wriggling or hissing.  On Sunday, he let me pet him a bit after about twenty minutes.

The Bearded Dragon is a desert animal.  Desert animals have a wide set of lessons from which we can draw.  The first is that of timing.  Knowing when to stay perfectly still and soak up the sun, and knowing when to sit in the shade can mean the difference of life and death for desert animals.  Similarly, knowing how to balance ourselves physically, mentally, and spiritually can mean the difference of life and death.

Desert animals also learn how to find alternative sources of water: mist and dew drops after a rain, certain plants, certain spots.  We can take this knowledge from desert animals and apply it to our own lives: and start looking in different places for spiritual knowledge.

The dragon can be fierce, and makes an impressive display when needed.  But they can also be calm and still and gentle companions.  Similarly, we must have the same sort of convictions: calm until our habitat – our home, our family – is threatened, and then voracious, daring, and protecftive.

The dragon, to me, seems to be about balance.  A lesson we could all take into consideration.

Fundie of the Week: Rev. George Hargreaves

I’ve noticed that Serenity has been following this show(Make Me A Christian) for a while.  I don’t get it – living in western NY(at least I don’t think) – but she did mention that he pricked a hole into the world of fundamentalism and then just leaped right in.  I went over to take a look….

Well, you can see it right there.  To me, and this is only after watching that one segment – the man seems reluctant.  It seems like he’s more performing for the camera and enacting the ideas of say, the producer – than what he really feels.  There was no passion behind any of his statements, at least how I witnessed it.

Her, either.  It was like they set her up for a fall, and they all knew that “fall” was what she had to do.  Taking it to “demonic powers” is a little far, but its nothing new.

I don’t know anything about the socio-religious atmosphere in the UK, so I’m not sure if I can really comprehend this to the greatest level.

But I do know that I was watching an evangelical preacher yesterday on our local Christian channel.  He was ranting and raving and pacing back and forth, but what he said – it hit home.  He was talking about the passages in the bible where it is said that some preachers will get others to heaven – but they, themselves, may not make it.  He ended this with a simple proclamation(repeated several times, of course: he must have been proud!): Go back to the source.

And that is obviously what this reverend needs to do.  He needs to go back to the source – the Old Testament, even – where there is some religious tolerance.  He needs to go back to the source of the culture we live in right now, and recognize that Wicca itself is gaining ground.  I know Wicca is a recognized religion in the United States.

He needs to realize that his religion was formed from hundreds of years of oppression.  When was the last time – before we sliced up the Middle East and GAVE the Jews somewhere to live – that the Jewish people had a sovereign nation?  Their history is muddled with being conquered by one people after another.  They didn’t have a choice except to be tolerant.  They were slaves and servants.  They were nomads with a strict male-dominated society because the men got the food.

Christians, born from a man who recognized the Jewish plight and decided to try something new, were once prosecuted too.  How tenuously do they use their own version of “The Burning Times” to justify their centuries of conquering and dominion over other religious choices.

Unfortunately for the Rev. George Hargreaves … We’re not living in the Crusades era anymore.  We’re not even living in the times of the Salem Witch Trials.  We’re living in times where the best thing that religious leaders can do in society’s eyes, is turn to interreligious discussion as a means to unite humanity.

And so, the Fundie of the Week award is rewarded for the Rev. George Hargreaves – be it for his inability to speak for himself and not for the camera, or his inability to recognize that we live in 2008, not 1008. 

A Year Gone, A Year To Come

Woot guys!  Today is my one-year anniversary as a blog on wordpress!  I’m not sure how many hits I’ve gotten today(am writing this a few days before so I don’t forget), but I’m sure it’s at least close to 10,000.  What an amazing accomplishment!

I never thought, when I started this blog, that I would get any traffic, much less a connected blogroll and a network of friends.  You guys – at least, some of you – have been reading everything from me being stressed about schoolwork to me contemplating issues that are hard to comprehend for anyone.  I began as a teenager, and am now twenty years old!

So much has happened in this past year – spiritually and academically.  I’m coming very close to my third degree.  My high priest and I have discussed it, and next time we see each other for ritual, I will be initiated into my third degree.  Academically, I’ve traveled the states and even to Costa Rica for various things, picking up tid bits of spiritual information along the way.

Thank you for being here – today, or yesterday, or a year ago!

With that being said, starting tomorrow, I’ve decided to add a bit of a schedule to this blog.  I’d like to touch on different topics at least once a week, or once a month.  That way, in the spirit of learning and the spirit of experience, I can keep myself motivated to write, learn, and express my opinions – and perhaps help others along the same route.

Mondays – Fundie of the Week Award.  I choose Mondays on purpose: because reminding yourself that intolerance exists at the beginning of the week may piss you off enough to do something about it.  Fundie of the Week award will be offered to *any* intolerant action, not just intolerance against pagans or wiccans.

Tuesdays – Life Speaks.  Hopefully, on Tuesdays, my posts will be centered around wisdom gathered from anything alive – plants, bacteria, fungi, animals.  Over time, we’ll get a pretty good database of traditionally derived data, myths, and meditationally derived data about various plants, animals, and anything else that lives.

Wednesdays – Healthy Living.  This section will contain just about anything to do with healthy living – be it a physical, mental or therapeutic, or spiritual technique.  Remembering in the middle of the week that we need to have balance in our lives – that can’t really hurt anyone.

Thursdays – Q and A or Stats Review.  A lot of my posts are inspired by either questions posed to me or reviewing my blog stats to see just what brought someone here.  So, Thursdays, I will compile the data, choose a topic, and go with it.

Fridays – Kitchen/Crafty Witch.  Hopefully this will inspire me to try to cook(and not burn the place down around my shoulders).  I also figure that I’ll be taking on stuff like altar decoration, trinket making, etc.  The Practical side of paganism cannot be ignored.  So, drying herbs, wand making, and esbat cakes: here I come!

Saturdays – Open day.  God knows what I’ll write today – but I’ll try to keep it fun!

Sundays – Reviews.  Be it movie, book, website or article, I hope to review at least one thing for you guys a week.  It will keep me reading, watching, and hopefully keep you doing the same.