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Posts Tagged ‘trying new things’

I’m not sure where to start.

Obligatory: Start at the very beginning, a very good place to start…

Okay, with that out of the way…

This past week has been confusing, inspiring, lonely, emotional, raw and joyful. I started it with buying my first Tarot deck and today I cast and sat in my first circle. Ruminations on that to come.

I have been doing a lot of journaling, painting and reading. I read Phyllis Curott’s Book of Shadows and am working through Marian Green’s A Witch Alone, as well as Hafiz’s The Gift. I also picked up Who Wrote the Bible by Richard Elliot Friedman and so far find it informative and easy to understand.  I listened to numerous podcasts as I painted or as I wandered on my morning walks. I’ve worked with the Tarot deck. Friday I watched two documentaries that caused a kind of psychic schism, one that I’m still mulling over. Yesterday, I went to my home church group and left feeling torn, confused and sad. Today, as I said, I cast my first circle and now I feel…content. Whole. Peaceful.

So it’s been a quite a week.

What have I learned?

I have learned that I have serious reservations about Wicca as a religion, but not really any about witchcraft as a practice. I guess I’ve always had a solitary bent, and some of Wiccan structures/rites, especially traditional ones, are not for me. However, working with energy, revering nature, having a strict code of ethics, gathering knowledge of self, the earth and others, working with my inner self to ultimately help others—those are things that intrigue me. More than intrigue me, they call to me. Having a practice or a craft calls to me. It’s one reason I love yoga so much—it has so much to teach about how spirituality and personal evolution is about practice. It’s not about leaving your problems at a diety’s doorstep. It’s about taking daily action that ultimate adds up to something wonderful.

So Friday, as all of this was a blob in my mind, I watched two documentaries produced by Vanguard: Rape on the Reservation and Missionaries of Hate. The first showed stories of rape, sexual assault and battery against women on the Rosebud Reservation in South Dakota. The second showed the influence of American Evangelicals on the anti-homosexuality laws in Uganda.

The first one disturbed me, deeply, but as the second one started I knew it would be another matter. I have been struggling with the Christian label for a while, and with my association with a certain church. I knew that both were coming to an end, but as I’ve said many times—all of my friends and all of my community are within those two confines. I’ve been delaying really thinking about it and really taking action to free myself, decidedly, from those two things. The Missionaries of Hate documentary changed that when who should pop on the screen but Lou Engle. Lou Engle is an  American evangelical, prominent in the anti-abortion sector, who also runs a revival named ‘The Call’. He’s real into now-is-the-end-times and ‘family values’.

He is also someone who is highly venerated in my church. People adore this guy. And here he was, on the documentary at a rally in Uganda promoting ‘family values’. Of course, he has posted a backpedaling note on his website saying that he had no idea at the time that the anti-homosexuality bill included the death penalty for homosexuals—though he was there months after this became an international scandal, standing with key supporters of the bill and preaching about “trying to restrain an agenda that is trying to hurt families” (scroll to ~41 minutes).

And I just couldn’t take it.

And I know…I know….that’s not what all Christians believe. I know that a large majority of the Christianity community vehemently oppose people like him. And I know that the label is ‘meaningless’.

But is it?

Aren’t names powerful? Isn’t that why we chose to name our children based on the meaning of the name? And when the name begins to be weighed down with so much baggage when do you shed it? I know that some are proud to bear the title Christian, and they are people whom I love, deeply.

For me, though, that title is now a lie. My tacit association with HC is a lie. Do I love people there? Yes. Will this go over like a lead-fucking-balloon? Yes. When am I going to do it? I don’t know, yet. I need to write out specific reasons, with specific arguments. I tend to get flustered in situations like this, especially with lots of questions. I need to prepare, emotionally and spiritually, for the ramifications that this might bring. It sounds so dramatic, I know, but it really is a big, big, enormous change in my life.

So that realization, primarily, has left me feeling sunburned all over. I gave in to hermit like tendencies last week and this week seems to be headed into the same direction. I just want to write, and to journal, and to paint, and to consider. Truthfully, I’d like a SIGN. You know. One of those.

The closest to any SIGN I’ve had though are the quiet times in meditation, the peace I find on my morning walks, the insight I’ve gained since working with the Tarot. The complete calm I felt after I closed the circle today.

I don’t know what any of it is accomplishing, exactly. I’m sure in 15 years or so I’ll be able to tell you.

All I have though, is now, and now I feel…good. Still gun-shy. Still lonely. But comforted in some way, knowing that…there are things I do have. Like my husband. My cat. My books. My garden. The trees. The wind. The solitary blue heron that greets me every morning, observing the creek, way beyond his natural range. The rain that has intermittently spattered down on the hot concrete outside. It might not seem like much, but it’s enough to keep me going.

Edited: corrected the author of Who Wrote the Bible. It’s Richard Friedman, not Charles Friedman.

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I bought my first Tarot deck on Tuesday.

I started writing a post (for over an hour) about the experience of buying the deck, but it just didn’t seem to address the heart of that matter. I knew that I wanted to introduce the topic onto the blog, but all the words just seemed…flat. So I’ll put the topic out there, and perhaps later I’ll revisit the experience of buying the deck.

So let’s do a little play-blogging. I’m going to ask myself questions and answer them. Maybe we’ll get somewhere.

Why did you buy a Tarot deck?

I bought it for a few reasons. Primarily as a journaling tool, but I’m interested in other applications.

Why do you need a journaling tool? Especially one like the Tarot? Can’t you just sit there and think?

Again, I have a few reasons for this. I am a visual person and looking at something helps to agitate my mind and get me thinking. I’ve read in several places about Jungian therapists using the Tarot as an archetype tool to address their patients addictions and depression. As I am currently dealing with those two things (eating disorder and depression) I felt I needed a little help. I could just sit there and think, but a person’s ego, I believe, resists plumbing honestly into their own darkness. Without the help of a therapist, at present, I desired a tool that would guide me.

Did it work?

Yes.  I did a simple spread and journaled for well over an hour. I’m not sure of the proper word usage here. “It revealed” sounds too much like I believe the Tarot has a consciousness, which I don’t. Let’s say—the cards I drew, and the interpretations I drew from said cards and arrangement, helped me to piece together an overarching problem I’ve been having. It helped to see it visually, interpret it, then write in my journal.

Any after effects?

Yes. For the past two days I’ve felt more clear-headed than I have in a long, long time. This could be for a few other reasons: I’ve been exercising consistently (but I always do that), I had a great weekend, I dealt with some issues in my personal life that were reeking havoc (apart from the depression/eating disorder mix, though, certainly, a contributing factor to its intensity). Cart before horse? I don’t know. How about everything interrelated?

Does this mean that you are a PAGAN?

Labels, at the moment, are uncomfortable. I’ve always rushed into labeling myself too fast. I’m given to this cycle: extreme view-point, perfectionism, pride, fall, burn out. That cycle is so persistent in my life it would be almost laughable if it wasn’t so dangerous.

However. Let’s just say that I’m leaning towards paganism in…a more distinct manner.  The Christian label doesn’t fit me anymore, and I’m not “just” agnostic.

Then again, how useful are labels? Ah, the never ending battle…

Isn’t the Tarot a fortune-telling tool? One for divining the future?

I suppose one could use it that way, though I’d find that unethical both on the part of the reader and the seeker. I view it as a tool to hone intuition, to delve into current and past situations, to predict possible outcomes of acting out of those different places.  And while some might argue “that’s a fine line”—well, not really. Predicting the future is a very distinct action, and not one that I am trying to practice. I’m trying to gain insight, and, for what it’s worth, most people who use the tarot seem to view it in the same manner. A divining of self, not of the ever-fluid future.

Were you afraid to buy a deck?

At one point, yes. A few months ago I started playing with the notion of getting a deck, but I never did. Truthfully, I am still furtive when it comes to even being in the Pagan book section of Barnes and Noble, or the Metaphysics section of Half-Priced Books, but that’s more that I don’t want people to see me.  Buying the deck—I had to overcome some residual slime of hell, damnation, demons and punishment (!!!!).  Fear, fear, fear. But since I first played with the notion, till now, I’ve overcome that fear. Fear comes from misunderstanding, which is exactly what I had about the function and use of Tarot. And any paganism/witchcraft really….though, that’s definitely a topic for another time.

Okay. Well. So there it is…the Q & A. Much more concise than the drawn out ramble. Questions, comments, advice are always welcome.

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Last night I journaled, diligently making my way through the various journal exercises in the Paganism book. Pagan or not, the exercises are definitely the most valuable part of the book as they make you actually articulate your beliefs, etc. As silly as it seems I don’t think I’ve ever articulated, to myself, the nature of my beliefs about…well, everything. Myself, deity, religion, the world.

Anyway…! Tangent.

So, after I laid aside my journal I sat back on my pillow and thought, “Well, what next?” I’m fairly sure that delving deeper into some kind of Paganism is what I’d like to do next, but where do I go? I made a small list of the things that interest me:

  • Myths and mythologies, especially Greek and Celtic—not for reconstruction purposes though. Just general.
  • Wheel of the Year celebration and ritual, though the next time for that is Ostara/Eostre
  • Magical theory
  • The theology of polytheism, panentheism, pantheism, etc.  I’ve read, in a cursory fashion, A World Full of Gods by John Michael Greer. Perhaps I’ll read through it again.

However…I want to do something. I feel like I need to start trying things on for size and see if it works. I’m just kind of stumped about how to go about doing this: what books to read next (or read at all), etc. Suggestions?

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This morning the husband and I went to the local Unitarian Universalist Church. It was…nice. The people were friendly, the service was okay…There just seemed to be a lack of energy or vibrancy. My husband asked, “Why are they all here?”

I told him I thought it was because that, though they all differed in their spiritual beliefs, they liked the idea/desired spiritual community. He accepted that answer but still asked, “But what would a Pagan ceremony be like?” (A visitor-guy told us that there were sometimes Pagan services). I think it baffles him. That’s okay.

It didn’t baffle me so much as…feel…kind of…like…why? I think I’d rather find people more intensely interested in the same kind of spirituality/religion than I am rather than a general interest in…well…spiritual, but not religious, themes. They do have a pagan group, but on the bulletin it seemed like the group (and the church, in general) was going through some sort of transition period. There were allusions to problems they were trying to fix. Which isn’t a bad thing, but if the main group I’m interested in is dysfunctional, then…well, why go?

I know that some people have a problem with UU churches, citing “flakiness”. I don’t think that they are flakey, necessarily, just committed to the idea that as long as everyone in the congregation works for peace, love and justice it doesn’t matter what creed motivates you to do it. I respect that. The congregation we visited had tons of social action programs going on—homeless outreach, hunger walks, GLBT groups, etc. But still…I am not looking for a place to meet other activists; I am looking for a place to explore my spiritual walk in the context of community. I’m not sure I could do it there.

Will we go back? Maybe. We’ll see how far ambivalence gets us out the door next Sunday morning 🙂

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It started like this:

As usual, I sat on the couch at work today, bored. Bored and scouring the internet for diverting information. I had read my book, done the errands, fixed lunch and…well…scouring the internet or watching Days of our Lives were my options. I chose the internet. Going onto forums of different belief and just reading around. Even if I’m not interested in X or Y system of belief/religion it’s still interesting to read what people think.

I belong to one Pagan forum—Ecauldron—which I appreciate for their collective intelligence and knowledge on all things Pagan–they do advertise as being more erudite than most pagan forums. However, they weren’t really busy this afternoon so I typed “pagan forum” in Google and found my way to Mystic Wicks.

Mystic Wicks seemed to be busier and chock full of content. It has a different vibe than Ecauldron but still—I’m an interested seeker-type. All things are interesting. So I read about spells and dreams and herbs and god(desses) and stumble upon the crystal/gem section of the site. The site really is huge…to get to that section took me about 2 hours.

I’ve always been interested in stones and gems and know that a few ladies in my yoga class are really into it, so I gave it a click. I’m not really saying no to anything at this point—even things that make me feel foolish. I click through, and really, I’m pretty disbelieving.

The thing is…magic stuff…makes me feel…weird. I like the idea of it. And I believe in ‘magic’ perse—I believe in forces we can’t see, prayer, spirits and the like. I’ve had direct experiences with demonic behavior/demons, premonitions, prophetic dreams. So you could say I’m pretty open minded in general. But magic—eh? It gives me a weird vibe to approach doing it. However, something about the gemstones intrigued me today and since I’m generally not saying no to anything the next thing I typed in to Google was: “gemstones store austin” which lead me to Crystal Works. I made note to go another day—on my day off, Thursday.

Except the next girl comes early so I’m relieved of my shift. Still, I put it out of my mind and get onto Mopac, with all intention of zooming by the exit. But I don’t. I make my way onto 5th, then Lamar and then pull into the Enfield shopping center and enter a small store jam-packed with crystals, stones, prisms and statues and seeming to radiate light.

Crystal Works is a beautiful store. I could have spent hours pursuing the brimming shelves. Bells and wind chimes tinkled and the air smelled of beeswax and lavender. Who wouldn’t be enchanted?

As I walked around I tried to see if any stone “leapt” out at me, but none really did, so I began reading the tags and caught one called “labradorite–for the 3rd eye, for those wishing to find their spiritual path and open their eyes to possibilities and magic.”

A-ha. I confirmed the lore in the books they had, first, and then decided to get it.

I first picked up a small and muddy colored stone until the corner of my eye caught the larger, tumbled variety of labradorite. They were beautiful! A creamy green at first glance, but then in the sunlight they shimmered iridescent. I found one that fit into my palm, paid and walked out with my first gemstone.

I got home and meditated with it. Nothing out of the usual—I went through 10 sun salutations and then laid back to meditate, per usual, except I placed the stone in my hand.

I can’t report anything spectacular, except a kind of fear when I began. Like this was “wrong” and I was inviting in “evil spirits”. But I did it anyway…I don’t want to be held captive to fear.

We’ll see tonight though. I’ve been having very vivid, premonition style dreams/nightmares lately. I know this was anticlimactic! But I wanted it posted before tonight so…there would be some accountability if something -did- happen…

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