pagan blog project

A is for Abundance

I have become increasingly aware of a theme running through neopaganism/neofolk thought patterns that I’m sure I’m not the first to pick up on. It’s just one that I’ve come increasingly sensitive to.

The basic idea is this-it’s perfectly fine to ask the gods/Universe/angels/whatever for ‘fertility’ or ‘abundance’ as long as you’re not asking for material items. It doesn’t matter why you need money (or food, and I’m going to touch on that in a moment), it’s against the ‘rules’ to ask for anything that you can actually touch-unless you’re talking about children. I mean, you can physically interact with a child. But they’re in a special class amongst themselves.

I have my pet theories on why this has happened, ranging from something tinged by Weber’s work on Calvinism to good old fashioned class blindness. But however it happened, this is the problem with it: abundance in the form of cash or crops or stuff in general, has a very very long standing history in mythological and folkloric thought.

There are the admonishments against too much stuff, ie greed-Midas didn’t end well. But the fact that he even got his wish is telling. Zeus turned himself into a shower of golden coins. The pathways back from Beltaine’s current emphasis on ‘fertility’ don’t have a straight line back to simple ‘gee I wish we could have more people,’ a lot of that fertility is framed around ‘gee, it would be awesome if this summer managed to produce enough food we don’t starve to death.’ As in, there’s definitely a ‘stuff’ angle here.

In fact, the undertone of ‘abundance is greed, but asking for children is awesome’ is fairly new and not really backed up fully in the folklore. People have been asking for kids right along, but there’s as much stuff warning about messing with human fertility as there is for asking for too much material items. There’s no real suggestion that fertility is better than abundance; there are as many or more warnings regarding the manipulation of love and sexuality as there are Midases and a love for too much gold.

But, should you be asking the Universe for abundance? And what is abundance in the first place? I ask the Universe for abundance daily, for whatever form of abundance the Universe sees fit that day-money, overtime, not missing my bus, easy social interactions. I just, put myself in the place I need to be to collect what I need. Ethically and historically speaking, there are schools of metaphysical thought that have no issues with abundance work (and not so ironically they’re paths that have always attracted a high amount of lower class and marginalized people-not great shock there. Also, common to American folk magic. That’s another tangent). There are generally limitations-it’s not going to be instantaneous, make sure you’re asking from a place of need, be willing to work…make sure you actually need the money-but it’s well within the limits of acceptable behavior.

A is for Acceptance

Stitched Panorama

I think that ‘A’ was for Acceptance the last time around and I just never got around to posting it, at least when I was working this meme on this blog and not on Widdershins.

Anyway. I know for a fact that last time I was talking about a completely different form of acceptance.

I just got back from vacation, and while I sort of see vacation like pizza-at least a bad vacation is still a vacation-this doesn’t rank in my 10 best vacations ever list. It was rough. I am however comfortable enough with myself now to admit, to myself at least, that when you find yourself in the middle of situations over and over again, maybe you’re the problem and not other people.

Where does all this leave me, other than with a certain lingering sense of embarrassment? With this both pretty heavy and fairly cliche lesson: you have to be able to accept yourself, including your faults. Having faults and making mistakes are both probably the best way for you to tell that you’re still alive. And one of the joys of being alive still is that you have the time to change.

I think that this is going to be harder for me to accomplish, and I may not even be able to to do: convince other people that I’ve changed. I have a horrible time telling people no, because I hate the lingering sense of guilt that comes with leaving people to their fates. However, I don’t see a lot of people running to my rescue. Maybe I should take that as a cue. I made the decision to tighten down my boundaries drastically on Friday so in fairness I haven’t given people a lot of time with this change, but I’ve already had people push back.

As long as I don’t swing too far in the other direction, I’ll be fine.

G is for Ghosts

Originally published in June 2012, I think that this entry deserves re-posting as part of Ghost Month.

I’m going all over the place with this list, aren’t I?

Do I believe in ghosts?

That’s an odd one. I definitely have a belief in the afterlife, born out of the odd synergy that has been my spiritual path. I have had some definitely…odd experiences that have shown me that I probably -should- believe in the presence of people who haven’t passed on completely or who at the very least enjoy moving back and forth through the veil.

On the other hand, I’m actually not certain that if one were to provide solid, replicated, peer reviewed proof that it was chemical A misfiring or a trick of the light or some such thing, I wouldn’t be against going oh, okay. and moving on with life. That’s the thing, I may be a very spiritual sociologist, but I’m still a sociologist.

Yet again, though,  a lot of what presented as evidence against the existence of ghosts doesn’t strike me as very solid either. I haven’t seen a lot that has been replicated- a lot of the ‘evidence’ tossed around seems to be of the well, we also haven’t proven it variety. People seem to take the stance that since we have no solid evidence for it, that that’s enough evidence against it. I know full well that EMF messes with your head, spirit photography is a hoax, orbs are dust mites, and mediums don’t disgorge cheesecloth.  But how do you explain things like children passing on information through dreams that they couldn’t possibly know because the last time it was said out loud was 20 years before that child was conceived?

I guess what I’m saying is that there’s a lot that I don’t believe. There’s a lot that I have a hard time swallowing even on my own path. But I’m also on the fence about a lot of stuff, at least until someone can hand me a full thesis worth of journal articles proving it false- and even then the sociologist in me wants to know what role it’s playing in people’s lives and the worth they’re getting out of it. I’m not currently ruling anything out- except orbs. I’m drawing the line at orbs.

O is for (Growing) Older

I shall not fear. Fear is the mindkiller. Fear is the small death that leads to total obliteration.

-Frank Hubert

Most people run their wheel from Samhain to Samhain. I run mine from Beltaine to Beltaine, because most years that’s when my sacred space opens and my social life takes an upturn again.

But last year was about healing, and healing isn’t always a pleasant experience. Last year was a brutal, nasty year full of stuff that I leave off of this blog because hey, this isn’t Livejournal and I don’t pretend to think that people care enough to come here and read about it. But let’s just say that I felt like a lot of nasty things got cut (or torn) out of my life. So we spent Beltaine in Buffalo this year.

HOWEVER. I do want to say that it wasn’t us just hiding in a corner, or refusing to face our issues (I shall not fear…). We had an invitation to have Beltaine with a part of my social circle that I do enjoy dearly (even if I do my normal I don’t know you well yet so I’m going to sit in the corner and knit by the firelight of poi dancers-did I mention we were on a corner lot in the middle of Elmwood Village?). It ended up being a wonderful weekend-and I don’t think that it would have been that way had we loaded up Seamus and headed into the Southern Tier.

Growing older for me is turning out to be as much about openess as it is anything else. I’m not going to pretend that I’m not smack dab in the middle of my mother stage still. It’s an odd stage, since I can’t have kids (…sorry for that huge admission, but there’s a reason that this blog is me and Mid and maybe a Betta fish.) but I’m certainly no maiden anymore and my croning is still a long way off. But it’s odd, I can feel the crone lurking somewhere in the back and on the edges, and She’s telling me to stop being so damn scared all the time.

I guess I could go all New Agey and talk about how the fear is the path way to maturity blah blah blah or talk about the Mother goddess protecting me blah blah blah. But frankly I’m not that type of blogger. That’s for other people to tackle, not me. But I saw a post on Something Oddly about using Dune in her path, it clicked, and being the sponge that I am, I ran with it. I still have no idea where this path is leading me, and knowing myself large sections of it are going to be very, very dark indeed, but I’m going to walk it anway thinking “I shall not fear. Fear is the mindkiller…”

(And this will be my final admission-other than maybe a turn or two with henna, I have no intention of dyeing my hair when I go gray. I will be a wild haired Crone. This is my promise.)

N is for Nonsense

I don’t laugh enough.

I noticed it the first time a couple of months ago. 2012 was a not great year for me. I ended up in a much better place than when it started out, but the road getting there was littered with a lot of pain. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but by the end of October or so it was starting to show in my personality. The ways that I discovered THAT are boring and not entirely relevant.

Anyway, I was walking along smiling openly and realized something odd. People were acting…nervous around me. It was very odd. They looked…suprised.

No, actually what they looked like was I had just pulled a Heath Ledger and they were waiting for me to start to demanding Why So Serious?

I think that part of what we’re taught about Being Adults is that Being Adults is much too serious to not take it seriously. Horribly akward statement and an even worse way to live life, considering how fleeting it is. There needs to be a place for dumb movies, stupid jokes, and completely enjoyable but meaningless moments.

It’s sort of like I’ve turned into the Mad Hatter, at least in my head. But it’s actually sort of liberating-and I’ll be damned but I’m happier now than I’ve been in years. It’s not that nothing matters, it’s that since everything ends, I might as well ride it out and find the nonsense in any given day. I have in fact thrown myself down the rabbit hole- and I like where I’ve landed. I certainly have bad days, but one of the lessons that my wanderings have taught me this year is that this will end and with more speed than I thought possible.

Sometimes it’s a matter of laugh or be laughed at.

M is for Movement

I don’t really ‘do’ resolutions. Frankly, they make me feel weird and I end up breaking half of them by the end of the first week of January anyway. I do better with goals, and even then they have to be fairly loose-ended goals at that.

Movement is one of those loose-ended goals that I’m making for myself for 2013. I have a couple of things in mind with where I want to go with that. I want to make sure that I’m not stagnating with my faith, and that I’m heading in the right direction at the same time. I’ve had a couple of people tell me that I’m one of their inspiration points, and while that scares the hells out of me a little, I want to make sure that their faith isn’t being misplaced. I want to do what I can to make sure that I’m using what control I do have over my spiritual life in a way that’s helping me to grow and not bogging me down.

I want to make sure that I’m at least placing the foundations towards happiness-even if it’s just trying to live more in the present and let the future sort itself out once it gets here. There’s a lot of stuff that I can only control in the present and I just need to let myself be aware of that and worry about the things that I can change at any given moment. I’d like to work on making some more local friends, since while I have a fairly wide social circle it’s pretty wide geographically speaking and I’m loosing what social base I have in the city.

And then there’s the big one-I need to actually move more. Movement is a big thing for my path, it can actually be a form of worship. I know that a lot of people have a lot of reasons why they don’t like exercise but I have a whole ball of things that I need to unwrap when it comes to my body. The thing is, to get slightly more personal than I normally do with this blog, is that I finally had gotten to where I was pretty solid with my body.

That’s…a huge thing with me. I spent a long time in 2012 working on being okay with what I saw in the mirror. And I had just gotten there. And that’s huge. I have problems with disordered eating and a fairly large problem with body dysmorphia. In some ways exercise helps with that because it centers me in myself and it does help with the stress and emotional nastiness. But weight loss also does really weird things with my head-I spent a large chunk of last winter, well, scared, to be honest, because suddenly people were paying attention to an aspect of myself that I really don’t want people paying attention to.

But I guess I’m going to grit my teeth and bear it because I don’t want to go back on blood pressure pills either. At least my doc seems to sense that there’s a wrongness in my force because she did gently tell me that weight loss isn’t really her desired result-just, movement.

L is for Light

I’m moving about as fast as molasses in January with this list. But it is what it is, and I love cliches today from the sounds of it.

The upside of going so slowly with this countdown is that L falls on a good time of the year-the next couple of holidays (Yule and Candlemass) are both about light. I guess that makes this a simple choice.

Yule is probably most familiar for its log- either the literal log, the 24 hour loop of a burning log that’s something of a seasonal joke, and the cake that the Swiss Colony sells each winter. The log’s burned on the solstice to symbolize the return of the light after the longest night of the year. The custom varies from country to country, but the log was generally burned sometime on or near Christmas, and the burning was generally a large part of the season. Depending on custom, the log may have been a huge tree trunk that would be burned for a significant length of time and kept to be burned the next year. Regardless of how the tradition is carried forward (mine is ceramic and it holds tea lights…) the log is burned to remind us that the light is returning during the time of year the nights are longest. People get together and eat food, give presents, and remind themselves of the comforts that friends and family provide us.

Imbolc, Candlemass, or Brighid’s Day is the first reminder of spring. Falling in early February, it fills a similar role as Yule-reminding us that the days are going to be getting shorter and we’ll be heading quickly into Ostara and Beltaine. Imbolc falls in between the first of winter (Yule) and the first of spring (Ostara). Some see the connection to Brighid (both the saint and the goddess) and the holiday as making it as one of the more feminine holidays on the wheel. It is certainly one of the most home-centric holidays, with its emphasis being placed on family and hearth as opposed to community and fields. Candles are lit to mark the lengthening days.