Archive | July 17, 2012

pagan prayer

It’s funny a lot of people think that we don’t pray and by people I mean both pagan and non pagan. It’s an assumption a lot if Christians make about us, that we don’t pray but pagans pray in a lot of ways.

So what is a prayer? According to several dictionary descriptions, it is an “earnest request” “an asking a favour of God” “a petition to an object of worship”. That wasn’t how I was taught in Sunday School but it’s how the dictionary defines it.

I like to think of prayer as a conversation with a friend. So it includes some of the things I do with friends like say thank you. I tell them I regard them highly. Yes, there is an air of request sometimes that is after all is what a spell is. A request for help in some way but sometimes it’s just appreciation for something. And it’s one of things I try to do when I write the children’s prayers I put on Littlest Druid blog.

I also use the Celtic prayer form of threes and nines and since I rarely mention a deity’s name even a Christian who appreciates nature could conceivably use them if they wanted to I suppose. But for me, they are thanks for the world I live in and they aren’t much different from how I’ve greeted the day all my life.

They are morning prayers because most of time unless something is wrong I’m the type of person who falls unconscious when they hit the pillow. I can read a devotional but I can’t really pray.

So yes, pagans pray and we pray in many different ways. We can pray in a wish. We can pray when we ask for healing for people we know and people we don’t know. We pray when we craft a spell, it really is a prayer with a physical component like lighting a candle. I love when pagans say they don’t do spells and then tell me they lit their Brighid Candle for something. You pray when you do divination because you are asking to see clearly into your situation. What do you think you are doing if it isn’t both a prayer and a spell? Prayer can be simple such as admiring the shape of a cloud or tree or the beauty of a flower or the light in a friend’s face. Crafting an amulet or piece of jewelry is a prayer if done holding the person’s image in mind or for that matter any gift you construct with a friend’s good will in mind. It’s also why I don’t make things or food when I’m angry or upset because that is a kind of prayer too.

You don’t have to recognize a specific deity or God to pray. It’s is simply the acknowledgement that you are not alone in the universe. That there are things greater than ourselves in the multiverse and that we recognize that and honour that.

So how did you pray today and was it for someone’s good? Because cursing someone is a prayer too.

More Wildlife stories from Tahquitz

More on Wildlife at Taquitz

Tahquitz ran year round. We had summer camp for kids and we had family winter camps. We had an Easter week camp and we had Outdoor Ed for a couple of schools during the school year. I did a lot of nature talks and walks and occasionally a Nature Ride.

One of the things I loved about working at camp was all the different animals that lived around camps. We always had a lot of gopher snakes around because they were attracted to all the mice because no matter no you tell kids no food they always manage to sneak some to hide. This is especially bad when you are working with kids that come from group foster homes. They feel the need to make sure they have something that is theirs and food often fits the bill since it’s portable and hideable until some critter decides it’s theirs.

I was always rescuing some poor gopher that had gotten penned somewhere by panicked children and I would take them out to the meadows and let them go but sometimes I’d keep one in a cage for a few days to try and get the kids to get to know snakes. There was one particularly docile one that I carried around in the front top pocket of my overalls. She liked to ride with her head sticking out of the pocket not unlike an Egyptian headpiece. She liked it there because it was nice and warm and safe from panicked children.

One of my favourite things to do was to walk into the Dining Lodge to give a talk with her riding head out in my pocket. I could clear that room in about 30 seconds flat and I would just stand there and pretty soon the heads would pop back in the door and the kids would return and they would start to ask questions about my passenger. City kids have a tendency to assume that all snakes are poisonous and evil so for me, someone they liked and trusted to stand there with a snake in my pocket and obviously not running around crazy had an impact on them. Soon they could gently touch the snake and stroke her smooth scales and we’d talk about how I knew she was a girl (egg slit) and what she ate and what she did for camp and what I was going to do with her. I’m hoping those kids stayed respectful of snakes when they left camp but I have no way of knowing.

One spring we had an Outdoor Ed camp and it snowed about 3 feet at camp. I have to admit that winter of off and snow is why I can happily live in Southern California and never go near another place with snow. I don’t like being wet, frozen or cold. I went out early one morning to the Arts & Crafts building to get ready to make some candles and do some nature crafts and the snow was absolutely pristine. Nobody was up at that end of camp and it was quiet and mine were the only boot prints through the snow. I was going about my chores and set up when I heard the funny sounds that quail make and across the snow came Mommy and Daddy quail and about 15 tiny little quail all in a long line. Peeping as they went. It was totally enchanting and funny as hell when a pair of the babies fell into one of my boot prints and got stuck. There was a lot of agitated peeping but I knew they would get out and they eventually did. If they hadn’t my leaving the building would have done it. But they got out and left in their long line and it reminded me of a Madeline story of the little girls following the nuns.

Stepping into the hornet’s nest

This is my opinion and my opinion alone but I have to say something about this.

There is evidently a new fashion in the sacred in the pagan community, head covering. I notice the majority of the people extolling this new fad allegedly told by their goddess to do it. A group are way younger than me. As someone who HAD to wear a hat to church and other places as a child and HAD to wear a dress to school back when every school had a mandatory dress code I think this is bloody stupid. I will not worship any deity that wants me to cover up. Period!

The women who came before me and the women of my generation had too many marches and have come too far to go back even as far as a hijab. There was a time when women were required to wear long skirts, to cover their arms, to wear only a wedding ring and discreet earrings and a HAT. IT IS NOT NOW. I remember those days and the hated church hat. One Easter mom even made me wear one with a veil. I spent the first two years of my life with a bonnet firmly tied under my chin. Why? Because I had a birthmark that showed on my head and looked weird until I grew a head of hair and to hide from the world the fact that I didn’t have normal eyes. Wearing a head covering is hiding!

I don’t care if it helps you feel connected to your goddess, in truth, you are stepping into the past. And goddesses need to move with the times too. This is not the 600BC or 600 CE’s, not the 1000 CE’s, not the 1400 CE’s, it’s not even 1950. It’s the 21st century.

I’m not going back to ugly hats that block my third eye and crown chakra. They are how I perceive the world, Why the hell would I block a sensory organ? I’m not someone who is going to wall myself off from the world. And in essence that is what covering the head does. You are blocking the world from your view, from sensing all that is around you. From feeling the wind and the sun and the rain. I don’t even carry an umbrella and the only reason I ever wear a hat is to prevent a sunburn on my part and ears.

Wearing a head covering blocks you from life and sets you apart. And maybe that is the real reason for these women doing it. It makes you the center of attention. Someone who is Jewish or Amish or Muslim is doing it for a valid reason but I’m afraid I suspect any pagan woman who is doing it likes to be the center of attention. At the very least they are Leo’s. These women may need to be the focus of attention and they want to be asked why they are doing it and that is a form of proselytizing and that is something pagans are not supposed to be doing. I’m not sure I would even take a student that covered her head on a regular basis. I would suspect her motives for doing so.

Or is covering the head the beginnings of agoraphobia and another way to express that kind of retreat from the world? Because covering your head is removing yourself from contact with the world. Nothing more and nothing less and if it isn’t done with being the center of attention in mind then it’s done for the opposite reason, to remove your self from the world and shows a lack of courage, in my opinion and this is only one pagan woman’s opinion, neither is acceptable.

We met on a beach on Sunday in our fun and colourful dresses and pants, proudly serving our Goddess out in the open. Her sun shining about us. Her ocean roaring and retreating in front us. Her warm sand under our feet. Her gentle breezes caressing us as we worshipped. None of which were blocked from us as they would have been with a head covering. You want to cover your head? Grow your hair! You can at least manage a good spell with a braided plait. I’m not sure I would even cover my head if I was undergoing chemo and if I did I would probably do what my brother did when he finished chemo the first time. Burn them!

I venture into the world with a head uncovered and unbowed to anyone or anything. It was too hard a fight by our sisters and our mothers to give in to that now.