Monday, June 29, 2009

Cleansing


People talk about beauty being a state of mind, and to some extent that is very true. If you don't believe you are beautiful, you probably aren't. However, there are many physical parts to being beautiful, and many emotional ones, too.

I am currently on the second day of a week long fast. It's not a terribly difficult fast, and as long as you keep drinking it doesn't feel too bad, but it's definitely changed some perceptions for me.

The fast itself is simple. Day one you give up sweets, caffeine, highly processed items like white bread (whole wheat is fine), etc. On day two you give up meat (but fish is okay), dairy, all bread and pasta and rice. On the third day you switch to fluds, but can drink broth, non-caffinated tea, juices, and the like. The fourth day is just water. Then you reverse the process.

I'm finding that today I was very tired. Not exhausted, or without energy, but just plain old tired. I felt like I needed to spend most of the day doing indoor things that didn't take a lot of energy. In a way, it feels as if I'm changing my focus from outside to inside, from physical chores to mental and emotional ones. It's a nice change, to be honest.

Tomorrow will be difficult, I expect, because there will be no solid food of any kind. Today I got to eat fruit, tofu, shrimp... tomorrow it'll be just chicken broth and water and juice. I am glad to be doing this, though.

I am noticing a lot of interesting physical things. My face is breaking out, and I have felt "greasy" pretty much all over. I'm hoping this means my body is expelling whatever toxins it can. I have a few aches and pains that seem to be at the forefront right now, claiming more attention than I want to give to them. While I'm not feeling run down, I am feeling like I need a good night's sleep or four.

Mentally, I find I'm drifting a lot. Keeping my mind focused on a particular task has been difficult today. I seem to pop off into daydreams or internal conversations. When I was out earlier with Farnham, I found that I was feeling very "high", as if I'd taken some drug, even though I had not. It was a pleasant sensation, but I'm glad I wasn't driving or doing anything important.

I'll try and write more about the fast tomorrow. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Church?


This past Sunday, sis and I joined a church together. Yep, a church. :) It's a local congregationalist group, made up of the original three congregations that were in the area in the 1800s: the United Church of Christ, the Methodist Church, and the Unitarian Universalist Church. It's a very interesting blend.

I find myself interested in how comfortable it feels within the walls. Some of it definitely has to do with Rev. Alison, who is the pastor there. She's very open-minded (barely blinked at our being poly and didn't blink at all when I said I was a Hellenic Polytheist), friendly, loving, supportive, and kind. I like the fact that she, like me, sees the word "minister" as a verb, not a noun. It isn't a title to be worn, but a job to be done. I appreciate that in someone I am turning to as clergy.

The church is much more Christian than I am normally happy with. The UCC part seems to be the most dominant of the three branches, and that's reflected in the style of sermons, the Bible readings, and the hyms sung. However, there is an air of humility, a feeling that they don't know it all, and that they have no claim on god(s). There was a long discussion last week on the idea that god doesn't fit well into human made boxes. :)

I will be "preaching" there on July 19th. I offered to help out if Rev. Alison was busy, and she happens to be going to a family reunion that weekend, and needed a replacement. So I'll be at the pulpit, with the formal glass of water, with all the "gear" on. It's exciting, and it really stretches my understanding and my spirituality, in good ways.

It's interesting, finding a place where sis and I can meet and worship together. She's so very Christian, and I'm so very NOT, that it's unusual to find a spiritual home that feels welcome to us both. This is, in my opinion, a very special place.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Shrine video

Enjoy!

Monday, June 8, 2009

NA's Artistic Agon 2009


Well, I didn't win this year, but there was good reason for that. The other entries were stunning. I'm not shy about voting for myself if I think my writing is better than someone else's, but I could not in good conscience vote for my own work. The other entries outshone me by a mile!

I'm proud to be a part of Neos Alexandria's agons. I love that it helps keep alive not just our community, but the traditions of times gone past, when excellence was rewarded richly. The sense of friendly but stiff competition that used to underlie American society has died off in this era of "everyone wins" (*cough* bullshit *cough*). I was sorely disappointed when I realized I wasn't even in the running, but the flames of competition burn inside me now, and next year I'll be doing something much more worthy of the contest!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Frightened of Witches?

Urine, Fingernail-Filled 'Witch Bottle' Found
by Jennifer Viegas, Discovery News

June 4, 2009 -- During the 17th century in England, someone urinated in a jar, added nail clippings, hair and pins, and buried it upside-down in Greenwich, where it was recently unearthed and identified by scientists as being the world's most complete known "witch bottle."

This spell device, often meant to attract and trap negative energy, was particularly common from the 16th to the 17th centuries, so the discovery provides a unique insight into witchcraft beliefs of that period, according to a report published in the latest British Archaeology.

I'm not sure whether to cheer or cry. Every time someone unearths something like this, it turns into a hue and cry over whether witches really existed in the 1600s. This brings out the people who claim to have "Wiccan family lines going back to the middle ages," which drives me nuts because the term Wiccan did not come into use until the mid 1930s or later.

I do believe that something outside of the usual was practiced in Britain during the Middle Ages. There are enough folk stories around and archaeological evidence to show that something was going on. I do not, however, believe there's some kind of unbroken line of women dating back to pre-history who practiced Wicca, etc etc. We won't even go into how the common people of the Middle Ages couldn't read or write, as a rule, and therefore couldn't have kept a "Book of Shadows" or anything else of that sort.

That said, this bottle doesn't even have anything to do with witchcraft, except to prove that the common people believed it existed and they needed protection from it. It was meant to protect you from witches, and was not made or used by witches.

Ah well.

More on Values

Another one for International Pagan Blogging Values Month.

In my book, I talk about the various Delphic Maxims. These are the moral guides that defined "the Greek," or "the Hellene" in ancient times. All Greeks were, throughout the Hellenic time period, aware of and conversant with the Maxims. Most scholars now believe that the Maxims were not only used as a moral code, but as a way of teaching foreigners both the language and the way of thought espoused by the Greeks.

With that knowledge in hand, it's exciting to look at the various Maxims, and examine them in the light of both history and modern times. I think it's vastly important (hence, writing the book!) to look at the Maxims with extreme care in light of our modern times. They give us a deep and abiding look into the way our ancestors thought. They also show us how little has changed over thousands of years. Humans invariably think relatively similar to one another.

There are so many excellent choices to work from:
  • Restrain the tongue.
  • Keep yourself from insolence.
  • Accuse one who is present.
  • Live without sorrow.
  • Deal kindly with everyone.
  • Struggle with glory.
  • Control the eye.
  • Pursue harmony.
We have discovered a total of 147 of these Maxims, so far. Some of them seem contradictory, perhaps to remind us that no one set of rules is right for all moments. These are not "commandments" as in the Abrahamic faiths. They are not meant to be the answer to every situation. They were meant, and ARE meant, to stimulate thought in a certain pattern.

I find the best ones for me are the ones that make me struggle. I have the Maxims written up on little cards, on a ring. When I'm having moments of doubt about myself or my life, or I need something to think about, I will flip to a Maxim randomly, and worry it to death. I'll study it, think about what it meant 2000 years ago, and what it means today. Sometimes, I write about my thoughts. Other times, I keep it all to myself. Regardless, I spend time actually working on my personal morals and ethics.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

International Pagan Blogging Values Month

International Pagan Blogging Values Month was started by Pax over at Chrysalis. I've been reading his blog on and off for several months, and find much of what he has to say interesting or thought provoking. Having seen many of my online friends participate in this particular bit of blogging fun, I have decided to throw my lot in with this, and do some writing of my own. The idea is to write about pagan values, morals, ethics, etc.

I have written about neo-pagan morals and ethics on several occasions. I've mentioned that a lot of neo-pagans seem to shy away from the idea that they might posess morals and ethics, seeing them as some sort of property of the Abrahamic faiths. I believe that this idea is thoroughly wrong.

In order to live a fulfilling life, one must have morals and ethics. They don't have to be codified rules like the Ten Commandments, but you should be aware of them.

The "big ones" are easiest, of course. Don't mess around sexually with little kids. Don't kill people without provocation. Don't steal things. Don't lie unnecessarily. Most people will agree these are "No Brainers", things that are just correct.

The little things are what trip us up, along with moments of extenuating circumstances. If your child is starving, is it okay to steal food? If someone is threatening your life, is it okay to kill them? Is it wrong to lie about your beliefs if it's going to cause pain and suffering for yourself and/or others?

There are things I consider absolutes. Don't lie. Don't cheat. Never break promises. Live up to your responsibilities. There are more lax morals. Don't steal if you can avoid it. Pay your bills on time. Don't spend tomorrow's money today. Then there are the things which are ethical sticky points in my current society, but which I have no comments on, such as public nudity, marriage between same gender partners or multiple partners, and the casual use of marijuana as a social drug (like alcohol). I follow the public rules when I'm in public, because I've chosen to live in an area that doesn't support public nudity or multi-partner marriages, etc, but that doesn't stop my beliefs.

Honestly, the state motto for New Hampshire is one of my favorites: Live free or die. I do believe that. We must live free, in the heart, in the mind, or we'll die. So I engage in nudity in the privacy of my home, or deep in the hills that we own. I live with my poly family of five, and love it. And I show my support for the legalization of pot (though I don't smoke it anymore, for a variety of reasons).

I'm rambling... the toddlers are demanding attention, and so I need to go. I'll try and blog more about ethics and morals another time.