Sunday, July 27, 2014

O is for Offerings

This post will focus mainly on how I leave offerings.  There are, of course, a variety of ways of leaving offerings, but if you’re a kitchen witch, what do you do?  No one wants to just leave a bunch of food lying around on the altar, right?  It can spoil quickly, and who wants to offer spoiled food to the Divine?  It can also attract all sorts of unsavory creatures like fruit flies. 

Now, at Samhain, I will leave some food out for the spirits of the departed, but usually only while we eat.  What do you do with the leftovers, then?  You can either bury them or compost them, depending on the food items offered.   The dead feast upon the essence of the food rather than the physical ‘vittles’, anyway.
For a kitchen altar, I have made miniature food items out of polymer clay.  Pictures or other artificial food items can be used to represent the earth’s bounty. 

The way that I tend to send offerings to the Divine and to the spirits of loved ones is by burning representations of those objects.  I may write a letter or draw a picture or cut out pictures of food or flowers or whatever fits the purpose at the time.   To me, burning offerings is an excellent way of sending their essences to where they need to go.  I believe that the intent and message is sent through the smoke via the wind.  I have a little cast iron pot (my cauldron) that I use especially for burning offerings.

The next time you want to offer something but do not want to set out actual food or objects that might be stolen, try burning.  If you don’t have a pot, use a coffee can with some sand or dirt in the bottom, or go out in the driveway.  

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Catching Up: N is for Nudity

Nudity.  Does this word strike fear in your heart?   Does it make you uncomfortable?  Do you automatically think of sex?

We are an over-sexualized society.  Nudity is so strongly tied to sex in many contexts that it's nearly impossible for some people to separate the two.  Look at the whole public breastfeeding (non) issue.  In this culture, nudity and sex are not only connected, but they are also used to sell everything from perfume to cheeseburgers.

I could go on and on about this topic, but I'm really just using it as a segue into ritual nudity.   Working skyclad is a part of some people's practices.  It is seen as a symbol of liberation and as a way of connecting to the gods and to the earth.  After all, naked is the way we were born.

And as the sign that ye are truly free,
Ye shall be naked in your rites, both men
And women also: this shall last until
The last of your oppressors shall be dead

(Leland, 1899.)

It works well for some.  There are those who do find it very freeing, and it may help them feel more connected to the Divine.

 I don't do the skyclad thing.  I'm not big on being nude in front of a bunch of people I don't know, unless I'm going in for surgery or something.

This isn't because I am ashamed of my plus-sized body; I'm not.  I think that my body, as squishy as it is, is sacred.  It is the gift to my soul to carry it around in this lifetime.  I may not take the best care of it most of the time, but we'll talk about that later...

Because I see this body as my soul's gift from the gods, I prefer to cover it up and reveal it only to a select few.  I see it and I like it.  My boyfriend has seen it a couple of times.  Hell, I've even mooned people before.   I don't even show my hair to people, much less my other bits and pieces.  I don't think it's necessary at all.

The Divine knows what my body looks like already.  I don't feel the need to approach prayer or celebrations without clothing.  For one thing, it's not exactly practical in many cases.  Or legal, depending on where you're conducting your celebration/ritual/whatever.

For another thing, I am not approaching the Divine with my body. I am connecting to the Divine with my soul, my true essence.  I go naked in spirit.  My soul is laid bare before the Divine.  I may be wearing clothing on my body, but my soul is naked before the Divine.  And that's what works for me.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

N is for Newbies

This post might piss some people off.  That wasn’t an apology. 
Newbies.    The new Pagan or new witch.  We all know them, and guess what?  We all WERE new at one point in time.  Holy smokes!  We were all in the same place as some of these people!  Whoda thunkit?
This post isn’t going to bash newbies (much), but it is going to discuss the attitudes a lot of people in the Pagan community have toward those who are just beginning on their paths.

Ecauldron.com has this tongue-in-cheek post about types of Pagans.   The new ones are described as such:
1. Bright-Eyed Novice:
You just read this cool book about a religion where there's a Goddess and a God, and they meet outside in nature, instead of some scary old building. They think sex is GOOD not evil, and you want to know where to sign up.
Distinguishing Signs:
Mispronounces god/dess names, has to think a moment about which is deosil and which is widdershins. Has a shiny new athame (rhymes with "A-frame".)

Now, again, this is HUMOR, but unfortunately, a lot of people see the “bright-eyed novice” and either roll their eyes or bash them outright.  “How dare you not know such and such?  I’ve known that for years!”    Well, guess what?  You learned it from somewhere, didn’t you, oh wise one?

I’ve been a practicing (sorta practicing, anyway) Pagan for over 15 years now, and I honestly have to say I roll my eyes just as much at the more “experienced” members of the community because of their attitudes of superiority. 

That brings me to a HUGE pet peeve I have:  The term “fluffy bunny”.   As I understand it, the term can be used to describe people who are new as well as people who *gasp* don’t acknowledge the dark sides of the path.    Grow the fuck up, seriously.   Did you get into Paganism because you felt bashed for your beliefs and thought it would be fun to bash other people for their beliefs instead?   Does calling someone a fluffy bunny make you feel better about yourself?   If so, you might need to do some self evaluation there, sparky.

My approach is to listen, answer questions, and help guide people.  The path to the Divine is deeply personal, but sometimes people need help forging their own path.  I’ll let you borrow my scythe for a minute so you can start cutting down some weeds and start walking your own way, y’all.

I try to guide people away from what I see as the misconception that Paganism and D&D are intertwined.   *Whispers*  They’re not.     I’m not necessarily judging your path or your practice if you really, truly, honestly think you’re a dragon or a wolf or whatever, but I am seriously questioning your grasp on reality.  If you want to play fantasy games, go right on, but por favor, don’t attach that shit to me.  

Poor newbies get confused easily  at times, and some of them might think that that’s the norm.  Not so much.  

They are exploring. They are finding what works for them.  Some of them want to do only helpful things (aka “white magic”).  Others might want to pretend to be super-ultra-mega powerful dark witches or whatever, but again, they just need some guidance.   And possibly a boot to the head.   This goes for EVERYBODY, though, not just the newbies.

Not everyone wants guidance, and some people cannot be reached, but I still want to try, if only to protect my reputation.  Yeah, so I’m a bit selfish, but not entirely.

Some people never grow out of the attention-seeking phase.  I’ve known plenty who have, however.  This isn’t the fault of Paganism; rather that’s a combination of self-esteem issues and who knows what else.   Again, though, this isn’t something that only new Pagans exhibit.  I know way more experienced Pagans who are insufferable twits.

My point, after all of my ranting and raving, is this:  

New does not mean bad, wrong, or stupid.  It means new.  It means inexperienced and possibly in need of some more education.  Instead of being all high and mighty about your years of experience, why not try this:
·         Recommend some books by reputable authors.  Show them the basics and let them go from there.

·         Use all of your knowledge and experience to offer advice based on interest – Greek mythology, the Celts, whatever.  Factual, not fictional, please and thank you.

·         Stop using that annoying fucking fluffy bunny term before I puke through my eyes.

·         Foster a sense of community.  Work on bringing people together rather than driving them apart.