Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Littlest Mermaid

I love this movie, all except the last 15 minutes. The mermaid is supposed to die and become sea foam. They ruined the myth part of it, but the story is well presented in Disney glory. We're watching this because #1Daughter picked it up at the library for the twins. They're fascinated by the songs and action.

Disney gets so many things right, but then they get so many things wrong. The mermaid living, for instance, is one of the wrong things. It wasn't a happy myth - if they wanted a happy ending they should have found another myth to use. Pocahontas is another one, changing the facts to suit their story telling. But they do provide such interesting stories, that are great springboards to teaching our children about history and mythology.

I know some pagan parents who won't allow their kids to watch Disney, because of the inaccuracies in the myths displayed. However, I have no problems with it. I simply watch with the kids. Since I'm involved, I can explain the history or mythology behind the story, just as I do when translating the Bible stories they hear at church. As a parent, it's my responsibility to explain these things, and I take that seriously.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Grape Vines

Today, I pruned Farnham's (and mine, I suppose) grape vines. When I first began visiting him, he had five, and now there are only three surviving vines. One of them is very large, and would survive just about anything short of a complete burn, but the other two are fairly small and fragile. They did need pruning, though, as he's never pruned them before.

So I took out the pruning shears, and set to work. I said a prayer to Dionysus, asking for his guidance for my cuts, and thanked him for this opportunity to serve him in a unique way. Then I set about my work.

It's scarey, taking a BUSH worth of grape vines, and cutting them back to a 7" stub. That's what the experts said to do, though, and it did feel right as I was doing it. But it sure looked odd when I was done. I trusted in Dionysus, though, and asked the vines for forgiveness as I pinched off their extremities.

We won't have grapes this year. There has to be a second year's growth for there to be grapes for eating. However, if this works as the experts say it will, we should have a huge crop of tasty grapes in two years' time. Since Farnham and I have a large grape arbor planned for the land in New Hampshire, we felt it was absolutely necessary to practice our trimming skills here, before we moved. As much as it would hurt to destroy those grapes, it was better to learn now, on vines that we'll be moving away from in a couple of years, than on new vines that we're desperate to get growing.

We have a wonderful plan for a grape arbor. It will be somewhat maze-like, with an entrance on the east side, and a path to walk along before you get to walk into the actual inner sanctuary. The "walls" will be properly fenced grape vines, all wired and lovely. During the summer, it will make the center a very private place. We would like to have a hand pump to a well, right outside the arbor/shrine, for hand washing and for watering the plants if they need it. Then, within, we have talked about the possibility of having a water fountain, although that is secondary. There will be a large, marble altartop, and hopefully a fairly sizeable statue of Dionysus. There will be a small building or shed, in which can be stored ritual items, perhaps robes, and the items we need to prune and care for the grapes. Ideally, I would like all those things to be consecrated to the purpose.

It's a large project, but we all eat grapes like they're going out of style, and being devotees of Dionysus, it just seems right to do this. There will likely be a small shrine to Hecate, somewhere nearby, for my lady. I had thought of putting her shrine within the grapes, too, but decided recently that it would not be right to do so. She and Dionysus, while "friends" in mythology, are not lovers or a couple. They just work together rather well. Housing them together would seem to be pushing them to be something they are not.

For Hecate, I am not sure what I want to do. I am thinking I would like to get one of the Hecate Triformus statues, with her looking in three directions. Then, I could put a solar powered lamp post over her, so that each evening it would light up. This seems appropriate to me, as she is a cthonic god, and also she is often seen carrying some kind of lantern or lamp. I would like to put a small offering bowl for her, there. It's possible that, if we plant barley (we've talked about it many times), I might put her altar and light and such in the center of the barley field. That would be something similar to Dionysus' grape arbor, after all, and a nice honor for her.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Tribute to Burns

It is Robert Burns' day. In tribute, I post up his poem, Bonnie Doon.

Ye flowery banks o' bonie Doon,
How can ye blume sae fair?
How can ye chant, ye little birds,
And I sae fu' o' care?

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings upon the bough;

Thou minds me o' the happy days,
When my fause luve was true.

Thou'll break my heart, thou bonie bird,
That sings beside thy mate:
For sae I sat, and sae I sang,
And wist na o' my fate.

Aft have I roved by bonie Doon
To see the wood-bine twine,
And ilka bird sang o' its luve,
And sae did I o' mine.

Wi' lightsome heart I pu'd a rose
Frae aff its thorny tree;
And my fause luver staw my rose,
But left the thorn wi' me.


Thursday, January 24, 2008

Nightly devotions

Most evenings, I take ten minutes or so to make devotions to my Gods. This is an outline of the general things I do each night:

Get ready for bed, taking the time to wash your face, brush your teeth, and wash your hands. As you wash, take a few moments to visualize the "emotional dirt" of the day washing away. This may take only a few moments, or longer. Don't feel rushed - this is your time to prepare yourself, as necessary, to present yourself to the Gods.

When clean, put on appropriate clothing. This could be anything from a robe to your night clothes. The only thing of true importance is that it is not dirty, and that it is comfortable.

Approach your altar. If you wish, cover your hair with a scarf or shawl. Light your candles, and incense if you use it. If you have offerings for your Gods, have them near at hand. Be sure to have a small snack and drink to share with the Gods.

Generally speaking, if you are talking to Olympic Gods, you should sit or stand with your hands palm up, and if you are talking with cthonic Gods (such as Hecate or Hades), your hands should be palm down. Talk to the Gods out loud, or if necessary because of family or roommates, whisper. Address the one(s) you wish to talk to by reciting epithets or singing a song. Then thank the God(s) for previous things granted. Close up with pleas for those things you desire. You may wish to promise some offering if your desire is granted. For example:

Lord Dionysus, God of the Vine,
You of joy and excess and wine,
I thank you for the wisdom you granted to me
In regards to the necessity of letting go from time to time.
You have given me love, and healed me of my anger.
I ask for your help finding a job for my love.
If you grant this, I will bring you fresh rosemary for your altar.

You may wish to meditate quietly, after this. Sometimes, answers are given during quiet moments. A wise man once said, prayer is asking the Gods for something, and meditation is being quiet long enough to get an answer.

Make your offerings, if any. They may be put into a small bowl if you are worshipping indoors, and then later taken outside or burned on the hearth. If the offering is something special to keep on the altar, of course, you wouldn't destroy it afterward. Share your food and wine, as these, too, are a type of offering.

When you are done, say goodbye. Then put out candles (and incense, if necessary) and dispose of your offerings in an appropriate way. Food and wine offerings can be burned in a fire or left outdoors under a tree or in a garden, as can anything else which is biodegradable. Never throw an offering away, though - that could easily be seen as offensive to the Gods!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Gods work in mysterious ways.

Sometimes I find myself wondering why they use the term "mystery religion." Then a variety of things happen and I remember again. Today was one of those days of enlightenment.

I had an odd night's sleep last night. I was restless but I slept relatively well. I was very tired when I went to bed, and I guess my exhaustion pushed me to sleep through the restless periods rather than waking up. Then, this morning, I really wanted some snuggle time with Gray, but the twins were up and moving, so we had "family snuggles" (which are wonderful in a completely different way, but don't fulfill that "snuggle naked with your lover" desire). I kept dropping off, because I was still tired, and when the twins finally decided to plead for their breakfast, I had a difficult time getting out of bed.

I did manage, and did a reasonable job on breakfast, and even managed to get the living room cleaned up, vacuumed, and the wood floor swept and mopped. Life was good, but I still didn't have much energy. With the snow reports calling for sleet and bad weather, I asked Gray if he didn't think it was much too dangerous for me to drive to the gym tonight, to attend my SPINN class. He agreed, with a smile, knowing I was just looking for an excuse. Since I've been going to the gym 4 to 5 times a week, my skipping out once wasn't concerning him.

Well, when sis got home, I went to the library with her and the twins, as I had promised to the day before. Around the time we had to leave, boytwin went into complete toddler meltdown mode, and I decided that the gym was going to be more quiet and enjoyable (and less stressful) than home... so I took the gentle hint from the Gods, and loaded up and went off to spinn.

I'm glad I went. It was a much needed break from the kids and the house, and the exercise was good for me. I'm being much more active lately, and I'm happy with that. In any case, I went to spinn class, enjoyed myself, worked up a sweat, and had fun. I fulfilled my exercise for the day, too. I see the fun part as being something the Gods intended me to do, which I enjoyed BECAUSE I did it their way. In other words, I got emotional "strokes" for doing the right thing.

One might, I suppose, argue that the strokes are otherwise known as "endorphins" and that everyone gets them, especially after exercise. I prefer my theory, though. The Gods want me svelte and happy and healthy, and able to worship them in the way they desire. Therefore, when I do things they approve of (exercising, for instance), I get a sort of spiritual pat on the head.

Perhaps I'm just being silly.

Friday, January 18, 2008

The President's Challenge

For those who are attempting to get into shape, and need a bit of support and "reason to do it," there is a neat thing called the President's Challenge. You can find information about it here. You can register quite easily, and track your fitness level. You can even form groups, and work together with your friends or family, or your work.

Amber Moon has registered to participate in the President's Challenge. Not everyone has signed up yet, but I hope that each of us will do so. There's no need to actually work toward the award(s) if you don't want to, although they are a wonderful goal. I admit, I would like very much to have a fitness award signed by President Bush.

I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about the statement that, "...your body is your temple." If it is, my temple is slightly unkempt, and I am working hard now to clean it up and set up the inner altar again. Working to make my body a fit place of inhabitance is a good thing for me to do as a priestess. It helps me, on a purely psychological level, to become a better person, more able to do my duties as a priestess and minister.

I still don't LIKE exercising, but I do enjoy the feeling of the endorphins rushing through me. I like the pumped feeling, when I'm done lifting weights. I like the feeling of intense relaxation after I'm done yoga. And I love the idea that, in a few months, or a year, my body will look better, more like I want it to look.

Oh, and as a total aside, I HATE the recent Visa commercials. You know the ones I mean, the ones that show how using your Visa card for everything, without looking or paying attention, is the way to go. Argh!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Drawing Down the Moon

Because the subject has been bouncing around the 'net for a while, I feel it is necessary to do some writing on the subject. As a preliminary, please give this link a read through (it is what sparked my need to write).

Let me address a couple of the author's statements directly:

Drawing Down the Moon is a core Wiccan spiritual practice. By drawing down the light of the Moon, you fill yourself with Divine Light, or the Essence of the Goddess.

While this is partially correct, the basic understanding is not there, in my opinion. While Drawing Down the Moon (DDtM for short) is definitely a core ritual performed by BritTrad Wiccans (and by some other Wiccans as well), her explanation of WHAT it is, is incorrect. One is not drawing in the light of the moon, nor are you filling yourself with divine light, or the essence of the Goddess.

DDtM is opening your body to the Goddess, and allowing Her to drive. Quite bluntly, it is allowing an outside force (the Goddess, or at least you hope so) to posess your body. Sometimes it is gentle, and sometimes it is very harsh, but it is definitely not for the faint of heart, or the inexperienced.

But this is too great a spiritual practice to be so limited. And nowadays, when all of us are becoming the Divine on Earth - and are needed to - everyone can do this practice. Not just before ritual, but anytime. Every time I see the Moon, I invoke Her light, even if only with a thought and a breath. In Wicca Spirituality, every woman (and man) can invoke the Goddess Within.

A few problems. First, yes, this IS that great a spiritual practice, and that is WHY it is limited to those who have put in the time and effort to study and learn how to deal with it. We do not allow high school drop outs to man the space shuttle, and we should be doing what we can to discourage the inexperienced from performing rituals like this. Second, NO, not everyone can do this practice. Its use should be limited to those studying to be in the Priesthood of Wicca. Otherwise, there is no reason to do it. One need not DDtM if one is practicing alone - if you want to talk to the Goddess, simply do so. You do not need an intermediary. The intermediary (the High Priestess performing DDtM) is there because it is a group worshipping, not an individual. Third, DDtM is not done before ritual, or after ritual, or outside of ritual. It is performed within a properly prepared sacred space (usually a Circle, but there are exceptions) and it is performed by two people (yes, that's right, TWO) who are trained in the act of DDtM.

Fourth, and perhaps most important, the author is mistaking the difference between invoking and evoking. Anyone is welcome to "bring out the Goddess" from within themselves. This is known as evoking. It is the active acknowledgement of the small spark of divine within ourselves. This is wholly appropriate for anyone to do, male or female, trained or otherwise. Invoking is what you are doing when you DDtM, and it is the opening of the psyche and body of a priestess to the Goddess, inviting Her to inhabit the priestess's body. When you invoke, you are inviting in an outside force, either to a sacred space (such as when you invoke the Guardians of the Quarters) or into your body (like in DDtM).

The author's list of things that DDtM "cures" is just ridiculous. Faith can certainly help with those things, but some of them require a doctor's attention (especially depression, because it's so easy to misdiagnose depression at home, and it can kill very quickly and unexpectedly). DDtM is a ritual to allow coveners to connect with and communicate with their Goddess, nothing more. While it is a very powerful ritual, both for the woman hosting the Goddess, and for those in her presence, it is not a cure-all.

The reason I decided to write about this, was because I have been annoyed with the large number of people who are going around touting a bunch of bull cookies about Wicca in general and DDtM in particular. I am no longer Wiccan, largely because of the fertilizer being so liberally spread around.

Some of the misconceptions about Wicca that currently annoy me:
  • anyone can do DDtM
  • declaring yourself Wiccan makes you one, overnight
  • history doesn't matter
  • alternatively, personal gnosis doesn't matter
  • Wiccans worship the Earth
  • "An it harm none, do what thou wilt," applies to everyone
  • it's okay to bash Christians/Muslims/(pick a religion)
  • forgetting to close down a Quarter will cause your house to flood/burn down/etc.
There are dozens more. It drives me buggy. I'm not Wiccan anymore, but it's like watching someone dis an aunt or something. I just don't know how to deal with it. Not being Wiccan, I don't really have the right to complain anymore, but I am still a 2*, and it burns in me.

I stopped trying to correct it a long time ago. There's a theory that says that any lasting religion has to go through these sorts of birth pangs. There have to be hard times, kooks, and serious students of the religion, in order for it to grow enough to survive beyond its first few figurative days. Ah well.

Sigh...

Herbert's Litany of Fear

I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

That's from Frank Herbert's Dune series. I remember the first time I heard it was watching the original Dune movie with Kyle MacLachlan as Paul. I was impressed... and spent days repeating it. Perhaps it is time to utilize it once more. It is a great mantra.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Commitments


The gym I belong to has a 20 week project, beginning February 3rd. It's called Health PA, and they offer a free month of membership to anyone who completes the 20 weeks. You're required to go to the gym at least three times a week, for at least 45 minutes per visit. I don't think this is going to be difficult, because I'm already committed to going twice a week: Mondays I go to yoga, and Tuesdays I attend SPINN class. I'm always there a third time, and often, a fourth.

There are a lot of benefits to participating. Some of them are silly: a tee shirt, a certificate. Some of them are more important, to me at least: weekly nutritional and exercise counselling, and a team to work with and encourage you. I think this is one of the best things I've done, lately. I'm going to officially sign up tonight, at SPINN class, but my SPINN instructor has already extracted promises from me. It's very exciting!

20 weeks seems like a long time, and it takes us into June. You only get one "free day" pass, for if you are sick or otherwise occupied. It's a little scarey. Yet, I feel this is something I need to do. You get to log all your exercise minutes, so I'll be able to see my own progress, charted for everyone to see.

I am doing this for all the right reasons. I want to be healthy, able to keep up with the twins, and ready to move to New Hampshire and deal with farm chores and animals and such. However, I have a couple of less humanitarian reasons. I really want to look better! I don't look bad, now, but I don't look the way I want to look. I want, very much, to have a sculpted hipline, and more muscular arms and legs. Perhaps that's a bit selfish, but I want it... and really, the other reasons were the ones that got me going to the gym. My self-image isn't important enough to get me off the couch, whereas the looming possibility of hauling manure daily certainly IS important enough.

I am sore today, after yesterday's greuling yoga work out, but I am looking forward to SPINN tonight. I know that each time I go, I improve my health... and my waistline.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Heinlein Meme

This one's been floating around all over. I got it from Dragon's Weave Wicca:

So here's the meme. Heinlein had this quote:

    A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.


Take this quote apart, and see how many you can say you're able to do.

Change a diaper. We have twins. They're two. 'Nuff said. LOL

Plan an invasion. I'd like to think I can. I've never won RISK and I'm only passable at chess, but I understand the basics. I could certainly plan resistance (and have, although not guerilla type).

Butcher a hog. Done it. Farnham and I did this 2 Christmasses ago, down in Virginia, with friends. We helped butcher 3 hogs, from "running around squealing" down to "packaged in the freezer".

Conn a ship. This is one I'm not sure I could do. I can pilot a sail boat or a motor boat, but a large ship is probably beyond me.

Design a building. We're doing this right now, for the buildings that will be in our "compound" in NH.

Write a sonnet. I just took a course on Chaucer's English, which is (honestly) much more difficult than Shakespeare. I'm not a classic author, but I can pull off sonnets and iambic pentameter with a small amount of expertise.

Balance accounts. Sure can. This I'm relatively good at. I'm also great at robbing Peter to pay Paul. :)

Build a wall. Yep, I can manage a decent stone wall.

Set a bone. I can do this. I learned it in St. John Ambulance.

Comfort the dying. I have done this, on a few occasions.

Take orders. I live with Gray. That says it right there. *grin*

Give orders. The children feel I do a fairly good job at this (too good!). I am alright at giving orders, but I am better at following them.

Cooperate. I can get along with others, even those I don't like, if it's necessary.

Act alone. I prefer to work alone, I admit. Sometimes I like a partner - for instance, Farnham and I really enjoy working in the garden together.

Solve equations. This one is difficult for me. I'm still sub-human according to Heinlein. :) I am gaining an education, though, and studying.

Analyze a new problem. I'm pretty good at it now. I learned it from Gray, more than anything else, though!

Pitch manure. I do this every year. Farnham and I pick up manure for our gardens.

Program a computer. I've done some programming in C, in the late 80s, but nothing else. The closest I can claim, at the moment, is the ability to code simple HTML.

Cook a tasty meal. Oohhh yes. This I can do, and do, frequently.

Fight efficiently. I can fight. I don't know how efficient I am. Gray beats me all the time. LOL... I'd like to fight better, though.

Die gallantly. Well, obviously I haven't done this one yet, but I like to think that I could lay down my life to save my family. If that's gallant, then I suppose I could do it. I'd prefer not to, of course.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Dedicated to my Gods

I had forgotten I promised a service to my Gods. An anthology of poetry and prayer is going out on the web in February, and I said I would write something for Dionysus and Hecate. I did three poems (I wrote one for Ariadne, too), because the Muses were kind. :) Here they are.

Hecate

You called to me, but I would not listen.
I spurned you, unable to see your dark beauty.
I thought you were evil, frightening, wrong,
But it was I who was wrong, so wrong.

The call became more insistent, and still I turned away.
Those many years ago, I was not experienced in your ways.
I thought I could ignore you, that you would go away.
I didn't realize you were the reason the word "persistent" exists.

One quiet night, I meditated, visualising myself as an owl, flying low.
I revelled in the dark, quiet wind in my feathers, and watched for
movement below.
Then, as I spied a mouse and began to dive, everything changed.

It was no longer dark and silent, but bright and hot and harsh.
My wings no longer responded as I was used to, and all was confusion.
I did not realize that you had brought me to you, unwilling to wait longer.
My body fell from the sky, and panic rose in my throat.

A piercing screech burst forth from me, and I heard your call again.
I knew I was hawk, not owl, and I pulled in my wings, responding.
I dropped, until I saw you standing there, glorious, alone.
When I landed lightly, on your vambrace, you hooded me.
All went dark, as so often happens around you,
And yet, I was no longer afraid. I was yours.

How do I explain to the uninitiated,
That you are dark, and yet not dark?
How do I show them your beauty, your allure?
How do I explain that your siren call has always owned me?

You are older than the other Gods,
And even mighty Zeus seeks your advice.
Yet you wield your cthonic powers quietly.
You have no need of grandeur. Why would you?
You hold the light that leads people out of darkness,

Out of the inner darkness that plagues us all . . .


Dionysus

Dark eyed, full-lipped, intoxicating God of Wine,
I call to you, I yearn for you!
You are as addictive as a drug,
As sweet as honey and as filling as the finest meal.

You come to me, to teach me, to use me,
And I am desperate to learn and be of use.
I hunger for more, and ache for the moments you are near.
I am your priestess, your vessel, your thrall.

Yet, not once have you demanded base servitude;
That is not your way.
Service is a gift of love, for you, a replenishment.
I devote myself to your uplifting!

Your lessons are many, Lord of Excess.
You teach us not to take ourselves too seriously
You show us the horror of excess,
And the folly of holding too tightly to the material world.

When I don my veil, and stand or kneel before you,
My heart swells, and my belly warms.
You are my God, my Lord; in many ways you are a lover.
My prayers and devotions to you enflame me.

I seek your wisdom, to be used in your service.
I desire your divine touch on my soul.
I give myself to you, afraid but standing tall.
I am Sofia Ariadne - wisdom of the starry night.


Ariadne

Half child, half woman, longing for freedom,
You handed Theseus the fated string.
He promised you freedom beyond your wildest dreams,
Yet he let that promise die on his lips.
How could he?

More woman than child, you woke on a silent shore,
Far from family and friends, far from love.
You must have died a little inside, that day.
He left your body pure, but raped your mind and soul.
How could he?

Then Dionysus came, and the world changed again.
You put away the things of childhood, to be His.
The Lord of Vines took your body, and healed your mind and soul.
He showed you the joys of being a wild woman!
How could He not?

You grew old with Him, secure in His love.
His crown adorned your head, like a hungry caress.
He never, in all the years, gave you reason to doubt.
And when you died, his love was so great, he decorated the heavens
with your jewels.
How could He not?

(c) Rev. Allyson, January 11th, 2008

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Aptly Named

The little blue book, The Eye Opener, is well named. It's a book for alcoholics to use, as a springboard to daily meditation, but I've always found that the 12 Step program stuff is useful for any spiritual journey. I've recently (since Jan 1st) begun reading my Eye Opener again. There's an entry for each day, and I try to read it at night, though sometimes I skip a couple of days and have to read back. That's what happened this morning.

I read two entries today: the 8th and 9th. Just a couple of excerpts:

"As sins bring punishment as a natural consequence, so right living brings its own compensations, not as a reward for good deeds done but as a CONSEQUENCE."

"Self-deception is very hard to recognize for if we recognized it, it would no longer be deceptive. Honesty with ourselves can only be acquired by diligent study of ourselves, our ideals, our ambitions and our motives."

Both of those statements really speak to me. I sometimes think of "rewards" for good behavior. However, that isn't the case. One should simply BE behaving well. There is no reward for doing that which one should be doing. The good things that happen when we behave well, are not a reward for our acts, but a consequence of those actions, just as bad behavior brings out negative consequences. Such a simple statement really makes me think, hard, about my daily life.

The quote about self-deception made me stop, too. I've talked about how I think this person or that person is deceiving themself, and been serious, but how could they NOT be doing so? If they knew what they were doing, they wouldn't do it. It would no longer be deceptive. The 12 Step programs advocate a serious look at one's self, doing a moral inventory. So often, people inventory only the bad things... but a TRUE inventory (as any store owner will tell you) has to include what's on the shelves, as well as what's missing and needs to be ordered. There must be a positive side to any inventory, or it will not accurately reflect what's going on in your life. I learned that a long time ago, when I was "working the Program" with Davydd.

I am glad I am re-reading this book, daily. I think I needed this. Very few of the entries are ONLY about alcohol. It's easy to substitute any addiction, simply by removing the word "alcohol" and adding in "that which I'm powerless over," whatever that may be. Drugs, drink, food, sex, family members...

It's a good day.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Work you were born to do.

Back when I used to attend Alcoholics Anonymous (I spent 8 years in the program with my friend, though I'm not alcoholic and now drink responsibly), I picked up all the usual books: the Big Book, a 12 Step manual, some of the history books... One of the books that I got from my friend, was a little hardback called The Eye Opener. It's written anonymously by someone in the program, as a daily reading to encourage thinking and reflecting. Each page is for a different day, and you can either read the day that you are on, or you can pick randomly.

The entry for January 7th:

On day you were awake, hopeless sot; then came a day when you were clear eyed and sober. You are certainly aware that you could not, of yourself, accomplish this miracle -- for it was truly a miracle.

This did not happen because you were selected by wild chance. You were chosen because you posessed the qualities that made you suitable for the work the Higher Power needed done. To say that you lack the ability to "carry the message" is to question the wisdom of God.

There is work here that you were born to do.

I read that last night, before doing my meditation and my offering to the Gods. It struck me, hard. There are times when I begin to doubt my ability to do the things that are before me. I need to remember that the Gods don't give me things that are too difficult for me to do; sometimes I may need to ask for help, or talk to someonewith more experience, but I can always find the answer, somehow. I need to learn to trust the Gods, and myself, and my own abilities.

There's a fine line between divine knowledge, and self-delusion, and it's so easy to get them confused. Is an idea that pops into your head something sent by the Gods, or is it just something your brain created in a fevered moment? Are you crazy, or are they really wanting you to write that poem/create that ritual/marry that couple? How do you judge what is real and what is fantasy? I think the answer is that you must learn to judge carefully, and be honest with yourself. The right answers will reveal themselves over time.

Right now, I am finding myself being challenged on the Hellenic front. Much of my personal practice is very Hellenic in nature, now, but I do not (yet, at least) consider myself an Hellene. Part of this is because I am not interested in reconstructing the past; I live in the here-and-now and have no interest in following the exact pursuits of people who've been dead for 2500 years. The other part, I suspect, is because I am afraid of stepping into a position where people will assume I have authority.

Within Wicca, I learned a lot very quickly. It was the correct path for me when I found it, and I delved into it with an open heart and an open mind. For many years, I continued to be stunned that people would turn to me as a leader. I'm so young, I would think, or so inexperienced. That isn't true, though, anymore. I'm almost 37 years old, and I've been practicing occult religions and spirituality for nearly 20 years straight. I'm no longer a shiney new penny, and I'm content with that. In the Hellenic community, though, I AM new. I haven't read the whole Illiad, nor the Oddessy, and I haven't read any of the classics. I know no Greek language, beyond being able to order great tasting food. I just have my feelings and revelations. The fact that some of them have turned out to be "right" is ... could be coincidence.

I'd like to be the student again. I miss that. I'd rather sit at Sannion's knee, and learn from him, despite being older than he is. He has so much to teach me! And others, on some of the Hellenic lists, have inspired me to great heights. I want to listen to what they say, and integrate it into my own knowledge base.

Yet, I cannot responsibly deny that there are divine reasons for me being right here, right now, doing what I am doing. I was born to do this work...

Monday, January 7, 2008

In Praise of Love and Devotion

Farnham and I have been trying to bring more of our spirituality to our daily lives. Part of doing this is making sure that everything we do, from eating to bathroom breaks, has a spiritual function. Our lives are in service to the Gods, and in service to each other, and our families, and the more our spirituality is in the forefront, the happier we are and the more use we are to others. As a way of being more mindful of the special things in our lives, we have introduced prayer.

Farnham wrote the following poem, as a dedication for our lovemaking. It is so beautiful that I felt it was necessary to share.

In Praise of Love and Devotion

In this intense moment,
in the joy and pleasure of uniting our bodies in love,
let our joining be an offering to the God and Goddess,
the eternal Male and Female that encompasses all life,
as a sign of our love and devotion to them,
as manifest in our love and devotion to each other.

Farnham - (c) January 2008

It's beautiful, and it is very much a verbal expression of our love.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Mystery Religion

For a very long time, when I was Wiccan, I thought "Mystery Religion" meant what I was doing. To some extent, that's true - Wicca is, in its most pure form at least, a Mystery Religion. It has certain rituals at its heart which are understood only through personal experience; they cannot be understood (usually... there are always exceptions) through reading or oral transmission. This is, in my opinion, the basis of what a Mystery Religion is.

What I practice now, is becoming a Mystery Religion, but of such a different form than Wicca that I'm practically in the dark. I find there are new things being exposed to me, at intervals, by my Gods. I gain little flashes of insight, on a semi-regular basis. These are not things I can explain to most other people. There are a few who seem to just "get it"... and I assume that these other people are also a part of the Mystery, in some way.

I have had a distinct impression, lately, that I am expected to do more than I am currently doing. This is a hiatus, a pause so I can learn about the new ways I have been exposed to. I am being given time to integrate and internalize the rituals. There isn't much of a difference, I'll be honest, between what I do now, and what I did when I was Wiccan. The ritual framework is different, but the feelings, and in some cases, the Mysteries, are the same.

I have been looking into a theory, that the Etruscan witchcraft presented to Leland in the late 1800s by Magdalena the witch, is the semi-direct descendant of the original worship in that area of the world (near Etruria). The original worship of that area would have included the original followers of Dionysus, and those of Hecate, neither of whom are true Olympians, and are only considered Greek out of courtesy. Both Dionysus and Hecate had much older followings, and originally were more "sweeping" Gods, more classical, one might say. The Greeks adopted them, rather than have their worship one-up the Olympians; a traditional strategy that worked very well. I believe that those original worshippers became, over many hundreds (and possibly thousands) of years, the Romani, the Italian witches, and eventually became the group of people that Magdalena was a part of. I have begun some research into this, although my lack of ability to speak or read Latin is hampering me. One of these days, I need to correct that.

In any case, I have a lot on my mind, and Mysteries are all around me. The three greatest Mysteries in my life today are the twins and my daughter. I love the three of them to pieces, and they love me in return. This is the basis of a good, comfortable life.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Sick and Tired

Truly sick and tired, I am. I have this cold/upper respiratory/sinus thing that's been going around, and I've been miserable. I'm tired, lethargic, and snappy. Ah well, I made it through New Year and my short holiday at the hotel in NJ. Life is good, even if I feel awful.

We set up a temporary altar while at the hotel, and braved lighting the candles even though it was a non-smoking room. It was quite nice, to sit and be together, in the candlelight, worshipping and meditating. I liked it, very much.

I don't have a lot to say right now, other than things are going nicely on most fronts. Blessings of the New Year to each of you!