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Dree yer ain weird – A Pagan Blog post

Something most Scots have heard if their family still keeps its culture. To “Dree yer ain weird is to follow, practice, suffer your own destiny.

The underlying theme of growing up is to find out what you are meant to do and do it. But how many of us actually do, do it? Sometimes it’s easier to go with the flow or what our parent’s ideas of what we should grow up to be.

Oddly enough it goes handily with the Church of Scotland/Presbyterian view of predestination and the belief in free will that I was raised with at church and that doesn’t change with my paganism. I do think we choose our own individual destiny even if it’s in not choosing and going with the flow. It’s still a choice and you still exercised free will to not make a choice.

And in a weird way, coming out as a lesbian helped me make choices other than what my parents had in mind because once I had decided to throw out the conditioning to be straight and settle down and provide grandchildren, I was free to decide what I did want to do. I could decide who I lived with or if I lived with any one at all. I was free to choose my dreams. I’m free to write anything I get an idea to write about and thanks to technology be a published author.

It freed me to take the next step and follow what my grandmother had been teaching me and expand into a pagan life. It freed me to determine my own spiritual beliefs and ethics and not to blindly do what I was told without thinking about it. From what I read on Facebook, a lot of my high school contemporaries are still living their lives the way their parents did. The ones I find interesting are the ones who by some circumstance have made their own choices and are not the people they were in high school. Sometimes, not always the best choices but they made choices outside of what would have been pre-determined by their parents. I just found out a friend in high school who I really liked a lot and admired his creativity died of AIDS 10 years ago. He made his own choices to not grow up in Glendale and get married to a nice girl but to be a creative human being and from what I know of him in high school, come out, and I wonder if he regrets those choices or loved the time he had after making those choices.

I think we choose lessons to learn before we return to earth. Each time we return we choose new lessons. We choose the people we have those lessons with. Sometimes it’s learning that certain people are toxic and are working their own set of lessons.

The choices we make after we are born put us in circumstances to learn those lessons. And if we don’t complete the lesson then we get another chance if we would like in the next life. I hope I always choose lessons of love and creativity.

So do ye choose ta dree yer ain weird or are ye dreeing someone else’s?

R is for Reality

R is for Reality

Or in this case – Magical Reality. Reality is mutable. It depends on the person’s viewpoint and if in a group, the group’s agreed upon on reality. The dictionary definition defines reality as the state or quality of being real but we all have an idea about what is real and what is not real. A synonym is verisimilitude and that is closer to what I think the definition is. Versimilitude is the appearance or semblance of truth.

An example of unique reality is whether you know or see ghosts. I know ghosts exist and they are part of my reality because I have seen them. There was a man who used to stand by my bed as a child and just watch me sleep. The man is also part of my sister’s reality because he also stood by her bed. We knew it wasn’t my dad because my dad snored louder than a Lear jet and we could hear him down the hall. However, he never stood by my brother’s bed downstairs so he wasn’t part of my little brother’s reality. We figured out who he was as adults. The original owner’s husband who had two daughters. We think he thought he was watching his daughters. My mom wouldn’t believe us but my dad did.

The same can occur at a coven or other magical group’s workings or even at a public ritual. TOILA used to put on large public Samhain rituals and the first time one of the priestesses brought her kids to ritual things happened. One kid freaked out because when we called the spirits of the dead, he saw them come and D came and got me to talk to M and her youngest daughter just thought she was at a really cool Halloween Party since she had been warded before she ever got there in case she went home and told where she had been to the ex-husband. Two separate but very real worlds on the same plane.

The majority of our coven shared a large house when we started but one pair bought a house in a neighboring city and were moving on November 1. So part of our Hallows ritual was to clean house of all the magical workings we had done. The house was always a little strange. The TV went on and off by itself. If you were in one bedroom asleep on the bed someone non corporeal would come and bounce on the end of your bed and when you turned the light on no one would be there. Lights came on and off by themselves in the middle of the night.

So we started at the top of the house with brooms sweeping the energy and singing and it quickly became apparent that someone was running in front of us and they were getting angry. Two of us could see her and the rest could feel her anger. When we were done we sat in the circle in the living room and it felt like we were being watched from an outside window and then from the living room rafters and that there was a lot of anger involved so we started singing calming songs. Someone came in the front door which we had left open and sat in an opening in circle between K and I and I could see her. She was in an early 20th century blue cotton flowered dress and seemed to be a bit slow or developmentally disabled. It was clear she thought that we had been playing once she had calmed down and was bouncing up and down like a small child that wanted to play. She was adult sized but her demeanour was very child-like. We tried to make clear to her that it was time for her to go and that we were leaving. I’m not sure if we got through because every time I go by that house it’s for sale, again.

She was very real to me and I ended up grabbing a piece of paper and drawing her for the others so that they could see what I saw. She then became part of their reality as she hadn’t been before except energetically.

So, where am I going with this?

Do not assume that your experience in circle or in any magical working is the same as the person next to you. It isn’t. It can’t be because we all have different degrees of openness, experience and training. If you aren’t open to it, things may or may not happen and different people’s senses. My reality may contain a priestess calling down the goddess and it may also contain the goddess she drew down or there may be nothing there at all. And that is okay. We all see/know/believe what is essential to us at the time. And someone who says they saw something may also be lying. Such as some people who after a guided meditation have elaborate stories about what happened on the meditation and they are flat out story-telling and trying to make themselves important and the person next to them had a very profound experience and chooses to say nothing because it was personal or so overwhelming they need to process it.

It’s all alright. We each do what we need to do to create the reality we desire and the person with the elaborate story may have nowhere else in their life where they can stand out. In their mind, they have found some place they feel they can be important and it’s alright. It’s still creating a reality that is real to them, maybe not to you but it’s real to them for that moment even if it’s just a momentary ego boost in an otherwise dull life.

So what is your reality as you walk through the world? Did you see the raven from the tree observing you? Did you see your totem dragonfly buzz you to get your attention? Do you live in your “real” world or someone else’s? Are you someone else’s creator of reality? Are you real, Velveteen Rabbit?

Q is for Q & A with an old pagan fart

Q & A on paganism of the last 30 years

1, How long have you been a pagan, wiccan, etc?

I’ve been part of modern paganism since 1984 when I met Merrie Foerster and started studying with her group but I was part of a family tradition of folk ways from when I was little.

2. What’s changed in that time?

So much. A lot of the elders I met in the 80’s are gone, Marion Weinstein, Marija Gimbutas, Isaac Bonewits, Monica Sjoo, Scott Cunningham and others are gone now.

When I first entered the community it was mostly female and very few people called themselves pagan. Everybody but CES and the small Asatru group in LA was Wiccan. Dianics were among the biggest active groups in LA and there were several out and active groups of women. There were some 1749 Wicca groups and a few Gardnerians but most people seemed to be solitary that came to Harvest Moon and later to Long Beach Womenspirit events. Now there are a lot more straight men which I’m not always sure is a good thing because I see women sometimes reflexively defer to the men and that didn’t used to happen as much. The big names in LA were women and now that isn’t necessarily true.

The community has diversified as to tradition. There are more types of Wicca and more types of paganism and more territorialism than there used to be and more tendency to say they have the one, true and only way and to have blinders to other people’s practices. The only place you used to see that was among the different Dianic groups.

There used to be a lot more newsletters now the only one I know that is still around is the Rowan Tree Church’s “the Unicorn.” The rest are gone and who knows where the archives of those publications are. A lot of knowledge has been lost and from not that long ago.

There are fewer gatherings now too. There used to be more public ritual than there seems to be now out here because the community has gotten so splintered. It used to be you could go to a FERAL event which were about once a month for a concert or dance and see most of the community, BNP and everyone else. There was Harvest Moon in fall and Pacific Circle in May and numerous other small gatherings.

Now there is Pagan Pride and Long Beach Womenspirit and that’s about it.

Is the tech different?

Everything used to come out by newsletter or if you were a techno pagan there were bulletin boards on line and later chat rooms that were free for alls. Now everything is Facebook. No more chats and no more BBNs

How is the community now?

It’s younger, at least the visible AKA the internet community is younger. It’s not as well read sometimes as the students I used to have. They are more influenced by the media than most of us were. The media was mostly negative pre Charmed, Practical Magic and Harry Potter. Positive media was mostly Marion Zimmer Bradley, Bewitched, D&D and maybe, the Wizard of Oz.

How has your personal practice evolved?

I’m more of a Druid than a Wiccan anymore. Still have a Dianic outlook many times. I can only stand straight male energy in circle in small doses. I no longer feel the need to practice by the phases of the moon. My moon bloods are long gone and there is no lunar pull at all. I don’t feel the need to use ritual tools when I’m practicing by myself. I’ll use my hands for any tool I need. Tools are highly overrated. Even when I was in my 30’s I tended more to Granny Weatherwax than Magrat. I’d rather use headology. (see Terry Pratchett) Unlike a lot of Dianics, I have a sense of humour that can get me in trouble. I still tend to be practice in the Emperor’s New Clothes Coven, membership of 1 as well as being a member of COMMA and TOILA, Http//:www.mothermountain.org & http//:www.toila.org.

I think some recons take it to the land of silly. Our world is not the world of the ancients. Trying to replicate it exactly is not going to happen because no matter how much we’d like it we can’t bring it back. I spent a very long time without hot water and flush toilets working at summer camps and it ain’t that much fun. Do you really want to live pre-vaccines for polio, and small pox? I don’t! The lack of the measles vaccine was why I was born blind. I like fabric softener. I like allergy medications that save my life. I like living past the age of 40. I like underwear with elastic. I like having a cup of camellia sinensis tea available to me and not coming by camel over spice route when it would have been way beyond my price range. I find it funny how many recons put themselves in the wealthy classes and not the slave or peasant class which would have had much less free time or money to pursue their spirituality and more concerned with having enough to eat. So while I pursue family traditions and a lot of Gaelic spiritual traditions you will not find me wearing urine cured tweed like my ancestors even in the mid 20th century did. I remember stinky imported Harris tweed. Not fun to wear in the rain at all. You smell like pee and sheep.

I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian because plants are sentient at least to some extent and I have more empathy with plants that with many animals. I only eat meat I would feel comfortable killing and trust me I’ve been around a lot of mean chickens and would have no trouble snapping one’s neck. I have no problem with killing a turkey or with fishing. I couldn’t kill a deer having come face to face with one. And having had to run from a homicidal pig, I could probably do it. Cows are just too damn big and they kick too damn hard.

I tend to the practical first. I do what works. If it doesn’t I won’t do it. I’ll excuse myself if your ritual bores me or trips the foolishness button. If something seems stupid, life is too short not to say so or leave. I’ll be 60 years old next year and I don’t have the time to put up with newage crap.

Anyway, This was the only Q I could come up with this week.

Q is for Quiet

Q is for Quiet

With all the running around we do sometimes it’s really hard to be quiet. I don’t mean meditation. I mean to just sit some place outside and to be quiet and listen. If you live in a city find a park or someplace you can be safe and sit with your eyes closed.

Sit down because standing would be one more thing to think about. Close your eyes. And for a moment just be. You can also do this when you wake up in the morning.

With your eyes closed, listen.

I mean actively listen. This is not a passive exercise.

What do your hear?

It’s okay if the first think you hear is the trash truck or a car alarm or the buzz of your cell phone by the bed but go deeper.

Can you hear the neighbor’s sprinkler?

Count the birds you hear. Who is singing in that morning chorus?

If you have mockingbirds in your area see if you can identify all the different calls they are mimicking. How many car alarms, other birds or animals are you hearing from them.

Who else is making noise? What directions are they coming from?

Can you hear the wind?

What other weather do you hear?

Lie or sit there a while in stillness.

Just be, quietly.

N is for No one is guaranteed tomorrow

N is for No one is guaranteed tomorrow

Today I’m wearing one of my favourite t-shirts for casual Friday. “Dance as if no one was watching. Sing as if no one was listening. And live each day as if it were your last. Irish Proverb”

For some reason this shirt gets weird horrified looks on the bus but it is the truth. No one knows when they are going to pass the veil. And unless you know you have a terminal disease you can’t even guess when your last minute will come. So isn’t the best thing to do to live each day as if there were no do overs? That means having no regrets about when we should have been kinder. Be kind all the time. Have no regrets about telling someone you love them. Tell them often so that there is no doubt.

If there is some adventure you want to take, some book you mean to read. Some story you need to write down, do them!

You don’t know until it’s too late what you “should” have done. Live without “should”. Greet the Sun every morning and if there is no sun, greet the clouds and rain. Feel the wind instead of rolling the window up because it might muss your hair. Pet your kitty, hug your family and friends. Greet the green of the trees, Welcome the birds. Watch the ants on the sidewalk. Be present, BE HERE NOW!

It’s never too late to be the person you dream of being. Be it!

Give thanks for the time you have been given.

Don’t waste time with people who are negative and nasty.

I know we as pagans generally believe in reincarnation so we do get a “do over” in a sense but it won’t be the same as this life you are in now. Be responsible for who you are and make who you are the best you can be.

Greet the day and the people you see with a smile, it makes people wonder what you know that they don’t.

As we used to sing in Girl Scouts:

Life is for living

Love is for giving

And joy is for passing around

Make friends with each other

And love one another

And let’s let the music abound

Life is too short to waste it on gloom

Don’t let your love slip away so soon.

So join hands with each other
And love one another
And let’s celebrate ths good day.

So life is for living

Love is for giving

And joy is for passing around

M is for Music in ritual

M is for Music in Ritual

Maybe because I was raised in a musical household but I could not do any sort of ritual without music even solitary rituals need music.

Music changes the atmosphere and casts sacred space faster and more immediately than the spoken word. Music takes you out of your right brain and into the creative brain from the moment it starts. It makes you shift gears without a jarring disengagement.

Our coven has always written its own music even if it’s bastardizing Yule carols besides using chants we have gathered on the way. It’s a very organic part of ritual and sometimes even happens during ritual spontaneously.

TOILA has always had a lot of talented music makers. So it comes naturally to sing together and to create chants and songs. At the very least we always have the Knot of Isis chant but we always include music, sometimes with drumming sometimes not. We sang for the Heiromum when she was dying and it calmed her and soothed her when the drugs weren’t working as fast as we would have liked.

Even if you think you can’t sing you should be including music. Music comes from the heart and that is all that matters, where your heart is. Head is not as important, thinking too much puts you back in the right/logical brain and you will find it much more difficult to find sacred space and to raise energy.

Thanks to the internet it’s a lot easier to find chants and songs to use in ritual. You can find Robert Gass, Moving Breath, Reclaiming, Laura Power, Libana, Emerald Rose and others on Amazon as well as others or on CD baby or Ladyslipper.

But should you be inclined there is non-pagan music to use such as soundtracks or Celtic music or old 60’s folk music or camp music and things like John Denver or others from that era.

There really is no excuse for not using music in ritual other than lack of imagination and very few pagans suffer from that.

L is for Lammas

Lammas/Lughnassad/Loafmas is one of my favourite sabbats. My coven always has a backyard bbq and some times we have baked bread/challah during ritual. Preparing the food and eating together and giving thanks and cleaning up has been the sum total of the ritual and for some reason it’s the most fun.

Sometimes we have started with a morning trip to the Saturday farmer’s market to choose the table decorations and food for the ritual.

When we are making the bread we all take turns kneading it and directing our thanks and good wishes into the bread we will all eat together during the meal. Lammas as the first of the three harvest sabbats was traditionally dedicated to the first grain harvest just like Samhain is for root vegetables, nuts and animals that were culled so as not to have to be cared for during winter.

We spend time in the kitchen slicing vegetables and marinading whatever is to go on the fire.

We cast a circle around the bbq to cook our various offering since some are vegetarians and some are not.

When all is ready we feast! We talk about what is happening in our lives. We give thanks for what we have been given that year. We enjoy each other’s company.

Lammas is probably the least stressful of all the sabbats when it comes to celebrating. We like to eat and we all enjoy putting the meal together and eating, even doing the dishes together is fun.

M is for Murray the Parking God

Okay, so I’m a bit behind. 

There are  different parking deities around the country but in Los Angeles the best parking god is Murray. Murray has always come through for me. I know in San Francisco they pray to Squat and Dianics tend to invoke Asphalta but Murray is my guy.

 

Murray likes to have a ritual every once in awhile and the Pallas Society used to get together for a ritual every year.

 

Murray is invoked by a tire gauge for Air in the East

A road flare (unlit, of course because we are inside) for South

A container of antifreeze for West

A chunk of asphalt that someone picked up for North

And spirit was invoked with an orange traffic cone of power

The circle was cast with jumper cables

 

Then Murray was invoked by singing his sacred song:

“Oh Great Murray

Parking paid or free

You are the god

Who watches over me”

 

Then the participants would tell grateful stories of Murray.

We asked for Murray’s continued protection.

And dismissed the elements.

 

Food shared afterwards had to be obtained by driving through a drive thru lane at a take out restaurant. No fair walking into the market. I usually drove through KFC for a bucket of original recipe but there were also big bags of tacos, drinks from the drive thru at Del Taco for a macho sized ice tea, and one smart aleck brought antiacid from the drive thru Wahlgreen’s pharmacy.

 

Murray’s wife is Zelda who is the goddess of shopping and their daughter is Tiffany goddess of teens in shopping malls.

 

I is for the Fellowship of Isis – pagan blog post

I is for Fellowship of Isis, a bit early but none the less:

http://www.fellowshipofisis.com/ Old website

https://sites.google.com/site/fellowshipofisiscentral/fellowship-of-isis-manifesto New website

I belong to the Fellowship of Isis which is an international group and locally to the Temple of Isis/Los Angeles http://toila.org as well as their Druid Clan of Dana and our local Hazelwood Grove.

The Fellowship of Isis is an International organization dedicated to She of 10,000 names and that any one can join for free if they agree with the Manifesto and the Statement of Ethics. It was founded by Lawrence, Pamela and Olivia Durdin-Robertson back in 1976 and only Lady Olivia is still living and just celebrated her 96th birthday.

The Fellowship is divided into three arms, the Fellowship of Isis, the Druid Clan of Dana and the Noble Order of Tara. People usually join their local Iseum or Lyceum if there is one and we are lucky to have several in our area and we also have one of the Circles that Olivia allows the Circle of Pelagia. http://www.circleofpelagia.net/ There are five Circles and Stars chartered directly by Lady Olivia and the Iseum of BunniHoTep is part of that Circle. There are only 8 Members in a Circle. I just looked at the Directory and it looks like there are more Iseums in California than in any other place in the world which probably explains part of why Lady Olivia comes out to visit Isis Oasis in Northern Cal every year at Columbus Day weekend. This is the website of the Star of Elen http://starofelen.org/index.html

https://sites.google.com/site/fellowshipofisisliturgy/ This is the list of specific deity rituals but our bunch usually write our own for our public and private rituals. Along with our sister group Long Beach Womenspirit we put on two public Faires each year at Summer and Winter Solstice as well as public rituals for Yule and sometimes other holidays. Our next Faire is June 23 at the Long Beach Unitarian Church and anyone is welcome to come. We have a wonderful time and you can shop til you drop as well as enjoying all the day long entertainment.

Here are a list of the members who are authors and illustrators and such. https://sites.google.com/site/fellowshipofisiscentral/foi-members-who-are-authors-editors-illustrators-publishers I’m sure you will recognize some of the names and it will give some ideas for books by other new people. I’m honoured to be able to be a part of the list.

We have attunements that are world wide that anyone can participate in wherever they are in the world every morning . “Lady Olivia writes that although the times listed for attunement at Clonegal Castle are GMT, every member can tune in between 6:30 to 8:30 in the morning and evening in their own particular time zone.”

http://www.isisoasis.org/ this is the retreat center where the annual retreat is held at in California.

You don’t have to be a follower of Isis to be a member. We have many people that follow Brighid, Quan Yin, Hecate, Yemaya and many others. You just have to be a follower of the Goddess. Anyway, you are welcome to be a part of the organization as part of the group or as a solitary. All I know is that I have met some of the best people in my life as a part of this organization.