Divination, Part 1 (NaNoWriMo Series, 2015)

Essentially divination is a way for the human plane to contact a spirit plane and request information. The results are channeled in the form of specific cards showing up, runes cast in specific locations, etc. The receiver of the reading wants the message, but the reader is the person making contact with the spirit plane and being their tool for the drawing of the cards, etc.

There are many different methods of divining an answer to a question. Tarot cards and reading them is a system of setting a certain number of cards down in a specific pattern and based on the location and card, has a specific meaning. There are 72 cards, and each card has a specific meaning. There is a significant amount of symbolism contained within the pictures of each card. Many are often quite pretty, but the nice thing is, the meanings of each card is almost universally recognized by those who read cards for people. If you hadn’t noticed, I keep using the phrase some, not all, and just being all around vague as to who and how many believe in the statement I am about to make. But I digress. Tarot is not the only form of divination, although it is quite popular. Another form of divination is rune casting. A set of symbols in old Norse alphabet is inscribed on stones, wood, or any solid object that is drawn from a bag, or cast upon the ground. Like tarot, each symbol has a specific definition. Details are a little fuzzier as to the exact origins of this method. Another divination form is astrology. Well, rather the location of specific planetary objects as they align within this galaxy, and each planet is given a specific energy influence on the personality of a person when they are born, or have a specific energy influence on the population each day. More to follow on this topic. Crystal ball gazing, aura reading, tea leaf in a cup reading, palmistry, dowsing, etc, are all forms of divination.

I find that there is a unique paradox between those who profess being Christian, yet request divination readings, namely in the form of tarot card readings. Yet it happens.

Tarot cards are my personal favorite, as there is no discrepancy as to the expected meaning of the card. And I have had some amazing accuracy in being the reader, and being the receiver. I enjoy discourse with an Atheist friend, and while we were discussing a reading I had done for myself, he wanted to know if there were any other situations to which the meanings of the cards could apply to? I agree that there is a 100% chance that that can be the case. I have also done readings for this Atheist friend, and he decides often not to tell me what his chosen question is. And in those readings there are sometimes the most unexpected answer. He has outright laughed at me twice, and then had to take back and eat those words with humble pie as a side. Could the reader give you a reading that may not apply ever? Absolutely. As with all divination, the response is a snapshot in time for that moment with the present conditions and circumstances being taken into account (by the spirit world). Often times the response is given in the form of life advice. Who doesn’t like to receive advice on how to emotionally mature or manage a situation? Probably teens and young adults. Should you receive that message and change how you act or respond with that information in mind, then the answer is likely going to change. Should you go back and ask again and again? Probably not. I say this because you can drive the spirits nuts, and they will give you the middle finger, and you can drive yourself nuts. Another friend of mine observed that the reason why someone who is not usually friendly toward divination will get a reading because they are desperate. I make the same observation for the increase in lottery sales. Psychic readings are the one industry that booms during a depression phase in the economy. It is a sign that there is extreme discomfort in the present circumstances of that person, and a little bit of hopelessness as well, because not all people can leave their circumstances whenever they want to and walk away.

Spirits (NaNoWriMo Series, 2015)

There are a great many books and teachings that have a lot to say regarding this topic. I am a well read person, but after a little bit of reading some of these books my head begins to swim and I have lost where the author was leading me to believe, and living in the counter-argument that was forming in my head. Simplistically, (I think this is a science thing too) there is likely multiple levels of existence. Some call them planes. What I am in here and now is the human physical and conscious plane (human plane). Any being not on this plane can be considered in an enlightened plane, or somewhere else all together. Where are the dead? I have no idea. The spirits of the dead appear to have many options, depending on their chosen belief system. Reincarnating religions such as Buddhists, Hindu, and Krishna believe their spirits are reborn in a new baby, come back to earth to re-live life, either on a higher or lower part of the totem pole, until they have become the best possible person they can ever achieve. Standards of what that is is not published, and a little fuzzy. If you are of the Abrahamic faith (Christian, Jewish, and Isliamic) then you get one shot at being in the human plane, and then you move on to another plane of existence, your moral and ethical practices on the human plane being the determining factor in where you go. Follow a set of rules that was provided by a being from a different plane of existence, go to happy plane of existence; failure to do so finds you sent to a horrific plane of existence. A mulligan is provided upon request, in unlimited number (sincerity not required). Some Pagans believe that they are of the reincarnation group, and others believe they are of the being sent to a happy plane of existence group without the bothersome rules. Now whether or not any of that happens, only the dead know (hah! I crack myself up!).

Now there are some who believe the spirits that are in regular contact with the human plane have not been sorted into their plane of existence, or chose to stick around for their own reasons. Some Pagans have the capability to contact spirits and communicate with them. Their abilities allow them to do some, but not all, of the following: sense the spirit, determine gender, hear or sense a message, determine the relationship the spirit has to the person being read. How a reader does this can be various, and can stretch the limits of common sense and imagination.

However, if you are greatly influenced by conservative Christian groups, this can be viewed as a gateway to evil. Many times I encounter Christians who really like me, and are terribly afraid that I will be taken over by an evil demon, and that the things I know and do come from a great source of evil and I should stop.

Let’s explore Good and Evil, or, Positive and Negative. Pagans do not believe in the Christian concept of an ultimate negative being that has the capability to directly influence those on the human plane of existence in a manner that would cause harm and chaos to the rest. They do believe in energies that can be positive or negative. It is rare to find a Pagan that believes these energies can manifest themselves in a little more physical form to directly conducts acts of good or bad. Some Pagans use cultural appropriation from the Buddhists and Hindus and use the concept of Karmic balance. One external act of positive or negative causes the same in kind on you, in equal proportions. A majority of Wiccans believe that if a Wiccan does it, then it comes back on them-triplicate. Some Pagans have the ability to determine if an object, location, or person is exerting positive or negative energy. Some Pagans believe they can concentrate the negative energy into specific objects (called charging), then burn them to release the negativity out into the universe away from them and others. Some believe they can use their own positivity to concentrate positive energy into objects for long term, slow release of positive energy for the owner of the object.

It can be difficult to determine the credibility of any Pagan you happen upon who lets you know there is a spirit connected to you that is hanging out wanting to chat. If you happen to be in a space and place that it is expected that you get a message like that, say-oh- a psychic fair, then this shouldn’t be a great surprise and a cause of too much stress and pain. Whatever the circumstances, the following advice will always be the same. A person will tell you what they are being paid to tell you. I hardly believe that if you pay a psychic to tell you if you are haunted that they would tell you nope, you are terribly mistaken! I also would say that the state of mind you are in determines how vulnerable you are to suggestion. Being in an unfamiliar place, that can be slightly uncomfortable and creepy, that has you uptight and stressed out is a perfect moment to be told that the spirit of a long (or recently) dead relative is hanging out eating a snickers waiting for you to listen. When you chose to believe this, then you take on the extra stress of feeling attacked and targeted. Those with a vulnerable personality will likely either: request that the spirit is banished- and that will only cost you upwards of going into debt forever; or begin going into a psychiatric spiral of fear and depression. Keep yourself together people! Unless you have had your senses tingling without being prompted that something or someone was there, and you could sense who, then keep your head, and make your own common sense determination as to the credibility of the information being provided by any outside source.

So what are spirits likely to communicate. A lot of things. They are asked to weigh in on divination readings, or provide a message of love and comfort to the intended receiver to boost their spirits, or that they are too bored with the other planes of existence options, and just want to kick it with the rest of us.

What ever the relationship with a spirit, it will only go as far as you want to take it. Some Pagans believe you can banish a spirit and set up protective energies to ward any off, if you chose. The best time to communicate with a spirit? Samhain, more locally known as Halloween. Some Pagans believe that two planes of existence (human and spirit) are separated by something they can only describe as a veil. This separation, or separating (thing?) either gets weaker, thinner, or translucent, and provides optimal conditions to easily communicating with those on the spirit plane, whether they had made an appearance on the human plane, or not.

I am sure I am missing a whole host of other things I can say on the topic of spirits, but I am drawing a blank.

What We Believe (NaNoWriMo Series, 2015)

I have long hesitated to write this, and it has a lot to do with the variety of ideas that Pagans believe in. One thing may be true to one particular sect of Pagandom, it may be offensive and the opposite to another sect. Honestly, it can be viewed as a mess. I will attempt to give a very succinct answer, as I will give a quick once around the world of the highlights I think is good to know now.

Many Pagans believe in two deities, a Goddess and a God. Some Pagans believe that there is one universal spirit, and humans gender identify this spirit with male and female attributes. The Gods that are worshiped can come from any pantheon from any society, ancient or modern. Popular deities come from the ancient Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Hindu regions. Clearly this is not an exclusive list of the deities Pagans believe in, but it is often where new Pagans start before being attracted to one deity, or pantheon, or another.

A significant amount have focus has been given to worshiping, strengthening, and developing mythology around the Goddess. Of note, some Pagans believe that the Goddess is universal, but has many aspects to her. There are Goddesses who are nurturing, mothering, intelligent, warriors, city builders, protectors, hunters, key holders, and the list goes on. Their jobs range from being the Mother of All Creation, to the Destroyer of All Creation and anywhere in between. In many ways the Goddess can be viewed as a single dice, but with multiple sides. Many turn to certain aspects of the Goddess in order to beseech and request assistance from that facet of the Goddess. In many ways women have been attracted to this religion due to the primacy of the Goddess in it. They are not too happy with a patriarchy being the primary societal model, and long to find a tool to take back their power by having a strong tool on their side, a Goddess, that lends them credibility, authority, and power. Some early Pagan groups have taken this concept of returning power and authority back to women a little far. A few groups are exclusively female, and have strict guidelines for membership if you had not been born female. In recent years the broader Pagan community has taken exception to that, and has pointed out the reverse discrimination these groups are now practicing. Believing in the Goddess is not a prerequisite to being Pagan, but I have yet to meet a Pagan who does not profess at least a little bit to following one Goddess or another.

The Goddesses that initially come to mind are from the Greek and Egyptian pantheon. Isis, Hathor, Sekhmet, Diana, Demeter, Hera, Aphordite, Athena are some very popular deities. A few other Goddesses that are not main stream knowledge that are worshiped with similar popularity is Hecate (heck-ah-tae), and Morrigan. Some, but not all, Pagans have a tendency to classify Goddesses by their relative duties. Mothering Goddesses, warrior Goddesses, wise Goddesses, love Goddesses, etc. The one classification that is not apparent to outsiders is the dark Goddesses category. These Goddesses deal with deeper emotions and difficult life topics. Some deal directly with death, destruction, and depression. Some Pagans believe that these Goddesses are necessary for spiritual progression. To work with some of these Goddesses, or this facet of the single Goddess can be very freeing for the Pagan practitioner. It is psychologically healthy to explore your feelings to the utmost and accept them. Working with dark Goddesses gives a sense of purpose and expected outcome to those following her.

On a less focused note, not much effort has been given toward developing spiritual religious practice and dedication to the God. To clarify, the majority of Pagans do not believe this God is the same as the Christian God, however, there are a few Pagans who do worship this God as the Christian God. For clarification, I would suggest you do some searching for Christian Pagans. They are a real thing. Whatever the attribution, some Pagans believe in balance, and will worship the Goddess and the God equally. While there is some emphasis on the Goddess, the God has not been forgotten. There are some specific Gods that are popular for beginner Pagan practitioners. Odin, Thor, Zeus, Poseidon, Mercury, Horus, Oman-Ra, Jupiter, Cernnunous, Osirus are some very popular deities. Unfortunately there are no groups that have an exclusive desire to worship only a God, however, Odin and the Norse religion has come close. While there is a tendency to classify the Goddesses as described previously, there has been little interest in classifying the Gods in the same manner. Dark Gods are generally associated with their Goddess counterpart. Hades would be mentioned in the same breath as Persephone. Apollo with Diana or Artemis.

In addition to worshiping two deities, in whatever form, Pagans have in interesting tendency to give attributes to other unrelated things. There are some who believe that not only do herbs and plants have the physical property and capability to be used as medicine, but they also can have a spiritual energy that has specific properties. This belief extends to gemstones and semi-precious rocks and minerals. These two items are used to aid in spell work.

According to many Pagans, the use of spells will assist with accomplishing their goals. To put it simply, they believe that putting their intention out into the universe, with the aid of the energy properties of herbs, crystals, and other similar items, in a ritual, they will affect the laws of probability in their favor. As an atheist, it was a very difficult concept to grasp, and simplifying it down in this manner has helped me understand the idea of spell work better. Some Pagans who practice spell work can use a variety of means to send their intention and energy toward accomplishing this goal. Petitioning deities, using specific wording, creating a positive, clean, sacred space, using certain tools, and having a work space, choosing a specific time of year, day, night, or moon phase can be all a part of the creation and release of a spell. Does it work? In one of my a previous posts one spell did. Does it make us all rich? As someone I know put it, does it look like I would be here doing this if money spells made you win the lottery every time I wanted to? And if it did, why would I even let you know that I knew a spell that did? As stated before, affecting the laws of probability in their favor, and to be more specific, my personal belief that unless there is a lot of time and effort put in by a multitude of people, it may only be a minutia affect.

There are an abundance of covens, and an abundance of Pagan practitioners who are solitary in their practice. There are NO HARD AND FAST RULES REGARDING COVENS. I say this due to a coworker who was Druid mentioned that he knew that I had to wear white, and only have a specific role due to my lack of time in being a Pagan. I gave him a “whaa—?” look before he realized that he may have some different information that what I believe. Covens generally come together due to human nature’s need to work together and socialize as a group. Some Pagans stay solitary due to their personal journey of self discovery, disinterest in practicing with others, or a lack of agreement or friendship with other Pagans of similar practices and beliefs. Like any social club, you can find covens of all stripes. Typically there is a Priestess. Less common is a Priest. The purpose of the coven is either a universally recognized reason, because they are Pagan, Wiccan, Witches, or otherwise; or covens come together out of mutual interest and friendship. Their activities can range from mundane to spectacular.

Pagans can pray as a part of their practices. Others prefer to speak to their Gods only through ritual. Whatever the case may be, some Pagans point out that Christians who pray are doing the same as them, sending their intent out into the universe to affect a specific change. As you can imagine, this is not a wildly popular belief among the Christians.

Some Pagans believe they have supernatural abilities. My wish is that one day these beliefs will be validated as fact by the scientific community. As for myself, I have personally felt the Goddess, and I have witnessed some amazing coincidences that are often too regular too often. Divinatory systems are, at times, amazingly accurate. Some divination can seem to make absolutely no sense, yet after a while make perfect sense.

Pagans do have a code of ethics, with the addition of more by the practitioner. The first rule is if you are going to do something for someone, have permission by the person being affected. In many ways this prevents the receiver from accusing the practitioner from attacking them, if the outcome is not a desired one. Another rule is no recruiting. Pagans recognize when a person is a product of their environment, and not of a free choice situation. If a person is not right for the religion, they will make their own choice to believe (or practice) or not, and not be persuaded into it. While many of you may have immediately assumed one of the rules as “As you harm none, do as you will”, I have specifically avoided making this a Pagan ethic, as I do know those who do not follow this particular rule.

By no means am I an expert on all, or many of the Pagan religion. For me there is simply not enough time to explore to my heart’s content. Specific rules, ethics, doctrine (if any), dogma (if any), variety and differences in all of Pagandom just cannot be explored in any depth without making this a very long blog post (hopefully a book at some point). I encourage you to explore, ask your local Pagan, keeping in mind that their answer will always be from a personal experience and belief perspective, yet not a hard and fast rule for all Pagans. I have only touched on these topics that I have introduced, and I plan to explore them more fully in subsequent blog posts.

Celebration of the Seasons (NaNoWriMo Series, 2015)

With the season changes come an internal drive to celebrate. When there is an abundance, even present day families will take their kids out to a restaurant and celebrate with a feast, as their ancestors did before them. I believe that the determination as to when to celebrate has never been an issue with pre-modern man, they just celebrated when the time felt right. Today’s Pagan has a slightly more modern perception of time, and many Pagan holidays fall on a Solstice, an Equinox, or a day in between, called a Cross Quarter. These holidays are called Sabbats, which is a mixture between the Jewish Shabbats and Sabbath (as in Witches’ Sabbath.

A solstice is as it sounds, a scientific term used to describe the longest day or the shortest day. The summer and winter solstice is when the daylight is the longest, or the nighttime is the longest. An equinox is when the daylight and the nighttime is equal in length. There are two solstices, and two equinoxes. Pagans also celebrate the exact middle between each, making the number of holidays observed as an extra four holidays. While you are scratching your head wondering how do we keep track of them all I will explain. Take any Pagan holiday, and begin there. In exactly six weeks, there will be a new holiday. Every six weeks is a new Pagan holiday to celebrate, or approximately every month and a half.

During the fall, the fruit of the labors from spring to fall are all laid out before them, and they had accomplished a great victory, collecting enough food for the winter. With the surplus, they feasted! Pagans chose to celebrate this time of year with a feast of their own, Mabon (May-bon). Of course there is all sorts of kinky lore that goes with Mabon (NOT, we save that for Beltane). Ahem, back on a serious note, Mabon literally celebrates the abundance of the season. Some Pagan circle use this holiday as the start of their new year, others use Yule. Whatever the determination is, I use it as a time for be thankful. Other pagan circles use this holiday as the Witches Thanksgiving as well. It’s wonderful to be thankful, being grateful daily will remap your entire brain, and make you a more positive person. There is relatively little lore regarding any deity or supernatural event that causes this day to be a holiday, or to be any more significant than any other fall day. However, Mabon falls on the Autumn Equinox. That day is usually September 21st or 22nd. The day and the night are equal. From that day forward, the day is shorter, and the nights are longer.

Then we come to Halloween. Pagans tend to call this holiday Samhain (Sow-when). The word is a Irish in origin, as is many of the Pagan holiday names. A lot of creepy lore is attributed to this time of year. However, many Pagans view this time of year as a time to honor those who have passed on, much like the Chinese Ancestor Festival, Qingming. Altars are set up with pictures of loved ones with candles to light the area and create a somber ambience. (is that the right word, did I spell it right?) Yes, some Pagans believe that they can communicate with the dead due to this day being a special time of year for them, and the optimal time for communicating with the spirit world. You can find a whole host of Pagan websites to give you their version of the origins of Halloween, but for me, it signifies the deep fall time of year. It is this time that the weather truly changes, and those leaves have hit their peak, or it is shortly after their peak, of brilliant color and the drifting of leaves in the air. Pumpkins are truly done, and ready to be picked and made into tasty treats, and the true sharing of stores to even out the harvest has begun, or has just concluded. It is a moment to batten down the hatches, and be ready for colder days and things to go into hibernation.

We skip the whole month of November to mid December, just days before Christmas. Yule is a solstice day, and is that longest night I spoke of earlier. For those pre-modern men, tending the fire all night left people tired the next day, and to stay awake through the night stories were told. I found a whole host of stories for this particular time of year, which I urge you to look through some of my other blog postings for. Yule can also be a sanity check, a way for the community to determine who is entering a depressive stage, or is stressed too much. Winter has officially begun, and yet it has been too cold to do anything outside for a while. As a community, Yule is a way to brush out the cobwebs that have formed, and to check each other’s mental health. Of course, North American’s will tell you that this is NOT the time of year to get into a bored, depressive state. There is wayyyy too much to do, and too many people to visit. However, I wish everyone the best in finding time to be quiet, find themselves, and feel the community feeling of happiness every chance they get.

We leave Yule and go through the month of January, the first full month of winter, and into the beginning of February to Imbolg, or Imbolc (Im-bo-lick, or im-bolg). This is my personal favorite. Imbolc is a cross quarter day, halfway between a solstice and an equinox. This is a day to say winter is halfway done! Traditional holidays associated with this day is the American Groundhog Day, or the Catholic Candlemas. There are not many things to do during this holiday, except defy the weather, throw on your cold weather gear, and run around outside until you come to your senses and run back inside to huddle underneath a blanket with your coffee, tea, cocoa, knitting, book, or whatnot. I traditionally wake up before the sun rises and light candles in the window that the sun will rise up in, and wait for sun rise. I feel a glorious feeling every time I see and feel that sunlight, as it lifts my spirits up.

Next comes Ostara (ah-stair-ah). Now, if you ever wonder what the heck rabbits and chickens have anything to do with the Christian Easter, here is where you need to look. This holiday is a equinox day, in which each day after this is now going to be longer. By now, spring has officially sprung, even though it is likely that you can plant your garden long before this holiday arrives. This Pagan holiday arrives around mid March, even though the Christian Easter is later in the year, around mid to late April. I tend to see this day as one of the drearier days of the year, because it tends to rain for me. Those gentle spring rains are not warm, or loving, they are cold! But it does mark the day in which spring has officially began, and it is time to get muddy with planting!

Beltane occurs at the very beginning of May. It is holiday that I have the most fun in. As promised, there is all sorts of lore regarding sexuality, and sexual deviance. As a Pagan community, we are (supposed) to be non-judgmental, and are open to people celebrating new relationships with each other. I’m not going to say that there are not some really interesting things that happen, but it’s not really any of my business. I was not included, and it’s not my business to share. As a part of the Pagan community, we are expected to act with a certain level of maturity, and unwarranted drama is frowned upon. I really like this holiday because it really shakes off the winter time blues, and I can’t start being positive until this holiday rolls around. I become infected by the energy of the holiday and the camaraderie of fellow Pagans. This day is a cross quarter day, in the middle of the full swing of spring. There is much to be done, and spring planting to be done all around.

Litha (lith-ah) follows Beltane, and is the first day of Summer. It is also the Summer solstice, in which it is the longest day of the year. The day falls on the 19th-21st of June. Many call this day Midsummer, likely because days have already began to turn hot, and it feels like summer has already started. The two summer holidays get a little ignored by me. I am usually so very busy, and the celebrations are not as big a deal as the winter and spring celebrations.

And last is Lammas (lam-mas) or Lughnasadh (loo-nah-sah). Like it’s other summer holiday, Litha, this is often a little celebrated holiday. It is a cross quarter holiday, and the days are not noticeably shorter, but eventually by the end of September, the days and nights will be even in length. This holiday is generally celebrated on or near August 1st. Some Pagans celebrate this holiday as part of the first summer harvest. I generally think of it as the beginning of summer drought period, as most of the rain that has come is done for the year until Mabon. Then the season cools down and the rains return.

Lunar Cycles and Lore (NaNoWriMo Series, 2015)

The passing of a season to another gives rise to the observation of the lunar cycle changes, and with that the observation of the length of a day, that marks the daily passage of time. It has been observed by archeologists that ancient civilizations relied heavily on the sun, moon, and star positions to mark the passage of time. Their repeated patterns provided a reason for these people to determine how much time has passed. With it arose some of the normal questions you often hear children of present time to ask. What is next year? What is tomorrow? Why do the leaves change? Why is it darker most of the time in winter, but always sunny in the summer? How do you answer a child when you do not even know the answer. Often times I wonder if the pre-modern people were really good bull-shitters. I wonder how much they believed the tales we know they told. There is no way to determine level of belief of the author or a culture based on the fact that they wrote down the stories. Modern man is the author of some fantastic stories, which are all fiction. Did pre-modern man understand the concept of fiction and nonfiction? I digress, as this has brought up more questions to answer, and it allows me to make hypotheticals to the real answer, just like pre-modern man did so long ago.

Lunar cycles and solar cycles present a wonderful opportunity to track what time of year it is, and how long to expect the more difficult months to arrive. (poor phrasing??) There are approximately 13 full moons in the year. Each lunar cycle is approximately 29.2 days. For you math gurus out there, that leaves 2.2 days left in the year, officially. Yes, you are right! Now, forget what you know about the Gregorian Calendar (which is a solar calendar anyway, that deals with how often the Earth revolves around the sun). Jan-Dec is out! Now, each moon begins and ends on about the same time of year each year, give or take a day! They happen to fall on different parts of the month due to the calendar being really imperfect. Those religious holidays of Easter, Yum Kippur, and other lunar holidays, will always fall within the same time frame every year. If you are anything like me, having to plan around that extra ambiguous day or two will likely have me joining the protestors to riot for a less messy calendar. So, Gregorian Calendar is in. Some Pagans call the lunar days that are honored and celebrated an Esbat, however, it is not universally used as a term by all Pagans to mean a celebration of the moon.

But never fear, if Pagans are anything, they are deviant to the rest of the world, and they could really care less. The lunar phases are each honored as a way to motivate themselves, and to release negativity. At the beginning of each new lunar cycle, there is a period Pagans call the new moon. Scientifically, the new moon rises in the morning, travels the sky during the day, and sets at dusk. There is no moon in the night sky to see, but Pagans call it a new moon, as it begins a new phase. Pagans attribute new beginnings, habits, and what have you during these first few days of a new moon cycle. Coincidentally many women’s menstrual cycle is in sync to begin at either this moon phase, or at the full moon phase.

The next phase is the waxing moon, in which a sliver of moon can be seen for most of the day, and sets at the beginning of the night. Because the moon is transitioning toward the full moon, the same attributions that the new moon had is applied to the waxing moon as well. This phase can be called waxing crescent (looks like a tiny sliver), and a waxing gibbous (looks like it is halfway to being full).

Then we arrive to the full moon. Much ado about the full moon has been given through rumor, lore, and general hysteria. I wish I could be kidding on this, sadly, I am not. But, because of size constraints, I will allow you to hurry off and look up all the weird and wacky things that have been said about how a full moon can affect people, and not bore you with the details here. As for Pagans, we have the tendency to believe that we can absorb energy from the moon into ourselves or our work and intentions. For you Pagans reading this, yes I am purposely glossing over a whole lot of deity lore in this, but that will come later, bear with me people! I invite all non-pagans to spend time outside to observe a full moon. To be still in the night, and enjoy the sunlight reflecting off of it’s surface on to you. I hope you feel wonderful and moved by the experience. I hope you feel something there that you hadn’t noticed before. If not, we are not all made to experience the same thing.

Then we come to the waning moon. This moon follows the same pattern as the waxing moon, but in reverse. First it turns into a waning gibbous, then to a waning crescent, and then it disappears into nothing. As the moon slowly waists away, Pagans use this time to banish negativity, banish bad habits, or what have you. The us, it is a time to get rid of the junk that is holding us back, and to clean our house and selves of any lingering issues that we may have encountered over the previous month. Each phase of the moon has around 2.5 days of being in that phase, and each phase has a set time of day it rises and sets. You can literally set your watch to the moon, if you knew how. I will now pause to allow you to hurry off and conduct your searches to see how you can do that, or if I’m putting one on you.

Now there are some communities, depending on which one you encounter, that will name each full moon with a specific reference to the type of weather or seasonal activity that is during that time frame. Moon Magick by D.J. Conway is a wonderful source of moon lore and references to the reasons why the full moons are named specific names through out the year.

The Seasons for a Pagan (NaNoWriMo Series, 2015)

I hear often that a person is not a pagan, or a wiccan, or believe in my faith, but they do believe in being spiritual or keeping track of the seasons. It is interesting that the first thing a person does when they are being open minded is to take notice of nature. I won’t make a gross generalization and say that almost all Pagans are nature lovers, but in my experience, I have yet to run into a Pagan that does not have some connection or love for the outdoors. Campers, hikers, dog walkers have all found their way to appreciating nature in all it’s marvels. I know an author who takes some of the most amazing photographs from the oddest things. Of the grossest, and the most beautiful, are mushrooms on dog poop. Yup, they are pretty, and it is hard to see what it is they are growing out of, but there you have it. Old Ways facebook group has a daily beauty picture with an invitation for you to share your own picture of daily beauty. The author invites you to show gratitude for anything, and everyday supports you by asking you to share what you need a prayer for. Out of nature comes beauty, out of that comes gratitude, and from there a sharing of your burden. Science has proven that a chemical is activated within you to make you happy when you walk through the forest, and that you are exposed to germs that reduce your stress. Check out that fact here.Finland even has a word for the kind of walk you take to get the stress release that it induces. Like nature lovers, and those in tune with the season, pagans notice and appreciate the seasons of the year, and may feel a deeper connection, or read a deeper meaning behind each one.

As a girl I had a direct and distinct link to being with nature. I could climb any tree, hike any cliff, swim in any creek and feel free. As an adult I know understand the science behind why the nature walks has that kind of affect on me. I recently had to warn my friends in our coven before we went on a retreat, I change. I change in my personality, I become still, silent, independent, and introverted. I turn inward, and feel the beauty of nature and allow the wildness within me to roam free.

Can you imagine being a person that has constant contact with nature without the interference of modern day technology? Day by day you find your food, learn how to read the woods before a storm erupts, know the hidden secrets the animals have. When you happen upon them, you take the moment to watch their activities and learn a new food source. I find it very possible our ancestors were very engaged with the everyday stillness of the woods and nature.

Beginning in fall, nature makes an abrupt change in temperature and scene. The leaves change color, there is significantly more rain. Food is abundant, and the harvest and need to store the food before the cold sets in becomes a primary concern. Speculation as to how cold or severe the winter will be is made. Even now I hear my co-workers make the observation that the winter of 2015 will be severe, as the summer has been very mild, and the weather has unexpectedly skipped over the gradual shift to fall weather and into being cold all at once. We are all connected some way with nature, even though industrialization has brought us into well made buildings that insulate us from being constantly cold or hot. To my annoyance, it has also increase the amount of complaining one has to hear regarding how hot or cold the day is. In a way, being constantly comfortable in one temperature has removed our ability to appreciate and adapt to any climate. On one of my camping trips I took the family out to the woods during the last half of summer. None of us were accustomed to the heat, having had air conditioning for most of our summer, and the grumpiness set in. We were not used to being itchy from being a little sweaty. Our bodies were stressed and taxed from dealing with the heat. Add into that poor nights sleep, and viola, we had a semi difficult time due to our lack of practice being in the heat. I find that in the fall I pay attention more to the leaves that fall because I have the responsibility to rake and mulch the leaves into the flower beds. I fail to look up! Look up, enjoy the colors! See how day by day they make their way to being that brilliant red, orange, or yellow color before they all fall down!

Winter is the next season that affects pagans immensely. It is a time of introversion. We are all in some way ready for hot cocoa, warm blankets on the couch, tv, ipad, book, or music ready at our fingertips as the wind, rain, and cold howl outside our windows. I can see how this season can be viewed with a little triumph by pre-modern man. To be in a secure shelter that keeps the warmth in, and keeps your loved ones happy to be sharing your warmth can be viewed as the ultimate accomplishment. Throughout the whole winter you are mostly confined to a small space, and often with your own thoughts to listen to. You begin examining your life, and what your goals are. Connecting with those you have chosen to share your space with builds beautiful bonds that can be reminisced on in days to come. This is also a time of gift giving. I like to think of this gift giving as a time when members of the community came together to share goods with each other when one falls short. An abundance of apples to one, some extra meat from another, a little more clothing to them. It sounds Utopic, but it is a concept I have often pondered. I understand why that mom doesn’t really celebrate her birthday or Christmas, she already has all that she needs, but others do not, so that is where her effort and resources goes to.

Spring fever is no joke. After any kind of winter with limited activity can make anyone’s feet want to begin wandering out into the fields long before it’s time. A new energy is in the air, and all of those seeds with life energy is ready to be released out on to the world, and I love to go out and watch the miracle of seeds literally springing up from the ground! To be able to plan out your new garden, and watch with satisfaction the seeds popping out of the ground exactly as you planned it is very thrilling! I think this is also the busiest time of the year. For pre-modern man there is so much work to do, and stores are running thin, as nothing has had a chance to grow! Hunters likely had to range far and wide to find game for thin bellies, and gatherers had to take chances on plants they normally would not eat. I like to dig my hands into the ground and feel blessed for all the hard work that has gone into food preservation and study in best farming practices.

Summer time has it’s wonderful ups and downs. On the one hand you have plenty of daylight to get your work done, and plenty of heat to keep you lazy enough to avoid it! Cool swims in lazy creeks and rivers when you can splash your loved ones with icy water from the mountains is a wonderful excuse to avoid the mundane chores of home. Those with wandering feet take this time to traverse those lands to find far off beauty. I can picture nomads not being tied down to one place for long, and move from one picturesque location to another. For the settled family, evening time spent watching fireflies and contemplating the mysteries of life sooth the spirit. Drums beating in the distance speak to the wild at heart, and feasts with revelry occur as new friends and family connections are made. I always enjoy this time of year, as it screams opportunity to expand and push your limits, and be lazy all at the same time.

And we find ourselves back to fall.

Introduction, part 1 (NaNoWriMo Series, 2015)

I have to say that I give all credit for this idea to my friend Jessica for this idea. There are hardly any books on what Pagans believe that spell out dogma, (another word right here that means set of beliefs and tenants, doctrine, that’s it!), and whatnot in a manner that introduces the reader to the world of beliefs that Pagans hold. I have to admit, when I first began my path in 2011, I had to begin slow. I wanted to know what on earth I was getting into, and what the beliefs were, and what kind of mojo I was messing with that could irreparably harm me, or tarnish my reputation forever. I began my research with every single library book I could get my hands on. Admittedly, that was around 4 in total that “looked” safe. The rest were the kind that I would rather touch with a ten foot pole, as they promised with their cover to reveal to me the mysteries of being a psychic, commune with the dead, and be an overall truly witchy kind of person. Let me tell yah, I was not going to get that far into the mix that soon. Wayyy too scary, and wayy too deep! The first few books had the usual first chapter regarding energy, we are not evil people, I believe you, and have confidence, you will do just fine performing these spells. And that is what these books were, spell books! I found one book that attempted to dispel the mythos of Pagans being very evil people. (looking for it now, I will post a link later). So what are pagans, wiccans, witches, warlocks, etc? We are people. Just like everyone else, people who work, have kids, drive their cars around, and are living the American Dream. I want to give you the skinny on what the hype is, and why people are drawn to it. I want to provide you with a very vanilla understanding of the simple, yet complex answer I want to give to my friend without her common sense kicking in and giving her intuition the red flag to run away.
Many of our stories begin when we are older, wiser, and ready to be truly independent from the judgment of others. Some know that they are special in some way, but have not been free to explore what that special is. Many stories have roots in being raised in the Christian faith, and of a need to break away from that faith for one reason or another. Our demographic is very broad. The author of To Walk a Pagan Path explores this a little more, and points out that any Pagan can come from any life style, any profession, any ethnicity, and from any religious upbringing. We all look different, have our own thoughts and ideas on what Paganism is, and have some very individual approaches to the faith. I would love to say that we are all peaceful people, but that would be misleading. There are a few (maybe even more than a few) who are very antagonistic toward Christianity. Their reasons may stem from abuse received from those who follow that faith, or from being upset over the way the faith perceives the rest of the world. As you can tell, I am trying to be tactful, as this is not a war for me. I know there are plenty of Pagans who would disagree, and point out that Christianity will always be at war with those who are not of their faith, and especially those who are of the Christian forbidden sect of Witches. (yes, poorly worded, must fix that, I will have to think about it.)
As for me, I come from a varied background. I was not raised in any faith. My parents were very quick to point out the hypocrisy of the followers. These began a foundation of skepticism for me. When our family went through a major crisis, I turned to our local church to bring us back to sanity and bring our ship into harbor, so to speak. I like that there is a very strong foundation of outreach and assistance to those in need. Once it seemed that our family (who was admittedly drug kicking and screaming to church, yet loved every bit of it after the first service, and never left) had weathered the storm and did not need to rely on the church anymore, I went my own way. I wandered through Christianity like a kite, never really getting close, and only dipping low enough to see the nature of the church. After a while, I realized that I had no faith. I had no personal relationship with God, and that he had not spoke to my heart, soul, or spirit. And I couldn’t grasp the rules. I wanted to live a rich life in something that I could throw my whole faith into and be assured that I was choosing the right thing. My foundation of skepticism kept me from that. I had no personal experience telling me that what I was doing was right. So I was Atheist. So what? It wasn’t really a big deal for me. I had not realized that it would be a big deal to others. But I kept being me, and others adjusted. Those at work couldn’t stop seeing the good I was doing for the office, those in my friends circle have a relationship based on mutual friendliness, and not because we go to the same church. So nothing changed, it all stayed the same.
My daughter was the person who got me on this path. She wanted to be a wizard, not like Harry Potter, but a real one. She wanted a book that would teach her how, and she wanted those powers to use. I found one at the library for her age and stage, and it was exactly that, a book on how to become a wizard. A simple google and amazon search does not bring this book up at all, so I will need to find it again, and post it here. It was cute, I didn’t take her too seriously, and it was all in good fun. One day her best friend had gotten poison oak on her face. This child reacts very poorly to poison oak, and for it to be on her face is serious indeed. It looked like she would go to the hospital for sure if the medicine her mother gave her didn’t work that night. Arianna pointed out that she could do a spell to heal her best friend, and I agreed it wouldn’t hurt. I love giving my kids the reigns in which to actively do something to fix a situation themselves. So I make sure that we go to the library for the correct healing books, and she insists on a book for teens that has spells for healing. I agree and off we go. Note to the Pagans reading this. Yes, epic failure of ethics for not getting permission, nor that being my first understanding of the faith, always get permission! Picture this, a woman with three very “helpful” kids trying to properly set up a circle with a pentagram and candles, yes, real burning candles, at each point, with very limited room to actually maneuver, and holding a book, in the dark, reading off instructions. Go ahead, laugh it up! I’m psychic, I know where you live!
Ahem, anyway I set this ritual up with no real understanding and flour all over the floor (blame the book and the directions, I am blameless), and we are at the point of meditating on sending healing to the person in question. That is when I had my first Gnosis, when I concentrated on this nameless Goddess, she touched my heart and moved in me. Being the kind of person that I am, I needed proof this was not a fluke, and I retried this activity 8 times. Yes, each time I was touched (insert touched in the head here joke) by the Goddess. At this time I was pretty weirded out, and I quickly rushed through the ritual, and went to contemplate on “what the hell just happened?” Realizing I was on to something big, I did my research. The little girl with poison oak on her face? Well, she woke up the next morning with no sign of ever having it. For that family, this never happens. Fluke or not, I felt this was a nail in the coffin for me! My hope during this series is to distill down what we believe in the beginning paragraphs and then supporting information in the subsequent chapters. I would love to be whimsical and name this book What the Hell?, and subsequent books Ho-ly Shit, and G- Dammit!, but I will digress from this silly thinking for now. The topics I am going to elect to cover for now will be…..