Rites of Passage

I’ll never forget reading a book about rites of passage in one of my college classes.
The entire class, in fact, was about rituals and rites and how we humans make sense of the world.  I read about some more culturally disturbing rituals, in which young men are required to “take their elder’s seed” into their mouths to receive the knowledge and strength of their elders (they perform oral sex on their fathers, uncles, and grandfathers).  But overall, the threads of that class — how a ritual is structured, the purpose of a ritual, and all of those things — I see them running through my daily life.

I witnessed a Ph.D. defense yesterday.  Well, the public part. They do the actual defense in private, but I had an opportunity to watch him tell a room full of people about his research. Although much like a normal presentation, an oral dissertation presentation has an additional layer of both nerves and giddiness. It’s not uncommon to hear jokes intended to up the ante, like, “We’ll leave all the questions to your committee,” or, “I’m sure they’ll talk about that later.”

Rites of passage are all around us.  From the training videos at national corporations like Target and McDonalds to the elaborate customs and decorations involved in handfastings and weddings, there are often symbols tied up in our everyday activities.

This line of argumentation or description may be helpful to you in your encounters with the non-pagan world. One of the more common arguments from others is that magic isn’t real, or even worse, magic is evil. Magic, if you remember, is the simple act of demanding change from the world. Any time that someone declares “I do” or “I will” in response to a question or statement, they are engaging in magic. From the court room to the DMV, magic and rituals are all around us. Pagans should not be demonized for calling what they do, what it is. The only difference is that the rituals associated with paganism are less common than the rituals associated with church on Sunday.

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The Book of Shadows

Well guys, this is more of a Wiccan related post, but I think its important nonetheless.  If anyone else is an organization freak like me, your Book of Shadows has to piss you off.  If you have it in a binder, you still don’t have super cool formatting abilities – unless you do it yourself.  If you have it in a spiral notebook, you miss the opportunity to organize by subject – and chronologically is not always the best way to accomplish things.

There are no programs for the Book of Shadows either.  No programmer has taken it upon themselves to code a Book of Shadows program that you can use completely.  When I say completely, just think of all the categories you need –

  • Reflections
  • Meditations
  • Rituals
  • Spells
  • Stone lore
  • Herb lore
  • Animal lore
  • Plant lore
  • Divination – with sections for Tarot, Runes, Astrology

Is there a need for it?  I keep thinking to myself that maybe, someday, I’ll be able to build a site where people can register, store their book of shadows (I’d code it on entry to the database to be unreadable except by that user), update, use it.  But that doesn’t take care of the offline aspect.  Does someone (me, perhaps?) need to write a program (I’m thinking, VB .NET) for those computer savvy people so that they can have a place to store pictures with their information on herbs, or audio with their chants, with no fear of dying suddenly and losing the information, or losing their book to rain, tornado, ice storm, hurricane, etc?

I bring this up only because I have created a relatively dynamic, MASSIVE word document over the last few days with archives of my BoS.  As in, just using the stuff on my computer (I have about 8 journals and binders with relative, untyped, information in them, not to mention scraps here and there) I’ve managed to accumulate 173 pages and 45,000 words.  And I’ve only been doing this for 10 years.

Is there interest?

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 🙂