No longer pagan-pages.org

I am reverting this blog back to pagantoday.wordpress.com . This reflects my poor posting habits here. The simple fact is that I am no longer identifying as pagan. I am a humanist, with pagan leanings.

I will maintain this wordpress site as a resource for anyone interested in paganism.

Blessed Be!

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A Year’s Wrap Up

Well guys, it’s been a year. As usual, I wrote for a while and then trailed off as other things became more important. I started this blog when I was 19, and am now entering my 27th year. I’ve had some ups and downs, and plenty of learning experiences. Friends and family have fallen along the way, but I’ve kept trudging along. Enough of the dramatics, let’s talk about what I did this year to better myself.

1. Atheism

Yes, this blog is called Pagan Pages. And yes, I am an atheist. There are actually quite a few of us out there — those of us who still participate in pagan traditions and rituals without attributing experiences to the supernatural. The most important, real side-effect of my atheism has been a change in my attitude. My mantra has become:

I have one life to live. I better make it good.

And the choices I make now more accurately reflect the values that I want to live by. For example, I have donated hundreds of dollars of belongings to thrift stores that support public and mental health programs in the area, I gave some to an animal shelter that was vandalized, I rescued two dogs and found them homes, and brought a rescue cat into my own home. During Christmas, I was able to give a new tablet to a patient with cystic fibrosis, and I have some blankets and coats that I’m planning to take to a women’s shelter soon. My desire to help those around me is now being put into action, instead of just thoughts.

2. Disease management

Last winter, I took the plunge and finally saw a migraine specialist. He gave me a very simple treatment plan that I’ve been adhering to. My migraines are well managed now and I no longer worry that I’m going insane or have a secret brain tumor. I have strategies to cope with breakthrough headaches and ways to minimize episodes.

This winter, I realized that I needed to do something about my seasonal affective depression. Self-diagnosed, of course, but when you can’t crawl out of bed through most of October, it’s a problem. So I got a SAD light and some Vitamin D. The combo works. Do it. You won’t regret it.

3. Physical health and well-being

I’ve lost 37 pounds this year, taking me out of “Obese” — where I’ve been for the last decade — and into “Overweight.” I am at my high school weight. I plan to lose 60 total and then re-evaluate. No, I don’t have before and after’s. But I’ve started weightlifting, and I’ve gone from 18 to 12/14 (pants) and XL to M/L (shirts). I used myfitnesspal to track calories, and focused on eating reasonable amounts. I stopped drinking so much soda. No fake sugar (it’s a migraine trigger), and patience. Lots of patience. I can deadlift and squat over 100 lbs, bench and press over 60. That’s no small feat!

My turning point was when my OB/GYN told me that she didn’t want to watch me waste my life away in work and fail to take care of myself. I deeply respect her and took it to heart. Took me a few months to get over the criticism, but then I started to make changes.

That’s it for me, folks. What have you done this year? What will you do next year?

Reiki is no religion: Learning Reiki and its value system

Some people, probably not Pagan, tend to shy away from energy healing systems like Reiki because they’re afraid that it’s a religion, not a spiritual practice. If they dig a little deeper, however, they’ll find that they are mistaken.

Reiki operates on a simple principle: Healing energy goes where it’s permitted to go. Under this model, anyone can become a Reiki practitioner. A Reiki practitioner is anyone who has the skills to direct the energy, and who has access to the energy. Reiki has a long history of attunement: every Reiki practitioner can trace their “attunement lineage” back to Mikai Usuo, the founder or “discoverer” of Reiki energy.

The story goes that Usuo discovered the energy while meditating and, along with it, found several symbols meant to “unlock” access and attune others. The symbols help you send energy to a person, even across distance, and also “unlock” someone else so that they, too, can access the energy. 

I was initiated into Reiki sometime in 2008 and became a Reiki master in 2009. I do use it, occasionally, but as part of my push to raise funds for running this and other websites, I’ve begun to offer a Reiki healing service through Fiverr. For just $5, you can get a distance healing session along with free attunement to Reiki and a manual explaining how to use your new energy.

So why is Reiki not a religion? Because Reiki practitioners have one motive: heal. There is no supernatural being involved except in the pantheistic sense of the Universe being sacred and powerful. There is no homage to a specific god, be it Japanese or Judeo-Christian, nor is there an emphasis on theism in order for Reiki to work.

So, even if you’re a little weirded out by energy healing practices, I encourage you to give Reiki a try. The feeling of someone caring for you, if nothing else, is a great way to spend a few minutes. Unlike chakra alignment and other energy healing practices, Reiki has no dogma attached to it other than “Feel better! Now!” 

Invocations of Dionysus and Athena

Great Dionysus, 
Keeper of wine and fruit and merriment
I call upon you, great god of mystery
To join us in our celebration
And bring us down your wisdom, joy, and love
So mote it be.

Lady Athena, 
You who burst forth from your father’s skull
Mother of weaving and wisdom and war
I call to you now and invite you into our circle
And ask for the gift of your loving knowledge
So mote it be.

When God Talks Back (A Review)

I’ve been reading the book, When God Talks Back by TM Luhrmann as of late. I’m not all the way through it, but what I’ve read is interesting. And fascinating.

The author spends a lot of time with evangelical Christians to study how they pray and communicate with God.  What she finds is very similar to the relationships with the sacred described by other spiritual traditions.  Through active prayer and meditation, these people enhance their mental imagery and feel a sense of peace and love and joy come over them, and sometimes experience (hallucinate) god as being real in physical form.

It reminds me of my conversion moment.  I was a child, drifting to sleep, but still awake, when all of a sudden, I was overcome. I felt like I was being hugged by the best invisible force in the world. I was warm and cuddly and the happiest I had ever been.  And I understood that sensation as the sacred power of the universe come to greet me. 

Regardless of what you believe, those “conversion moments” can be powerful and drive you towards a blind faith.  I would offer the following advice: 

You can explore your mind, create a social connection with yourself, and still have divine experiences without attributing it to anything but your brain’s awesome power.  That being said, gods and goddesses and even Jesus are a powerful construct designed to help your brain get there.  So, if a part of you believes, let it go wild. Maybe you’ll feel as though you can “see the words [of prayer] written on their faces” or hear God’s voice behind you. As long as God isn’t telling you to hurt someone, you go on with your fine self!

 

No man (A song fragment)

I just want somebody to
Catch me if I fall
Don’t need you to be holdin’ my hand
Unless I’m hanging off a wall

Cuz I’m a different kind of girl
I need a strong and patient man
I don’t need a man to own me
I need someone to understand

I’ve been through some fire
And I’ve licked those salty flames
And now I’m gone, gone, gone
From there.

I don’t need a savior
Preaching from on high
I just need a lover
To see me eye to eye

Cuz I’m a different kind of girl
I need a strong and patient man
I don’t need a man to own me
I need someone to understand

I’ve been through some fire
And I’ve licked those salty flames
And now I’m gone, gone, gone
From there.

Down the rabbit hole (A poem)

I found salvation in your blistered, broken hands
In the warmth of your breath on my neck
As you drew the demons out

I found my freedom in your harsh and steady beat
You whirled me ’til my head stopped spinning
Gently dragged me back from hell

Wormed your way deep inside my aching, hardened heart
Made me love you til I came again
Bursting back inside that crowded room
Changed, but whole.