Thursday, December 30, 2010

Not playing that game anymore

I wasn't going to post today because I don't feel good and am a bit cranky but then I had to get away from knitting endlessly for a few and decided to go for it.  After all, I've been crankier.

I had to go to the store today to get some cold medicine because I've managed to catch whatever it is that Tom had over the weekend and Zach has now.  While there, I decided to look for a glass bowl for my altar to use for sacred/annointing water.  I had some specific ideas about how it should look...clear glass, handles if possible and not more than a dollar.  I know...pretty unrealistic.  I saw nothing at the store so I stopped at the thrift store on the way home and found nearly exactly what I was looking for, for 99 cents.  Gotta love it when a plan comes together. Thank the God/desses as I had mentioned it to them last night.

I came home and transferred my consecrated water to the new bowl and mentioned to Tom what a deal I had gotten.  So he walks into my room, picks up the bowl and turns it over, spilling the water all over my altar.  He then blamed me for it saying he didn't know it had water in it.  Sigh.  Of course...  I very patiently told him not to worry about it as I soaked up the water off of my cloth and my spirit beads, crystals, incense burner, etc.  I thought, since I was going to change it out later in the week anyway, I would just go ahead and change the colors to blue, which is what I felt like having on my altar during the interim.  He said, while I was mopping up the water, that he supposed that water was special or something, huh?  I said yes but didn't make a big deal of it.  He then volunteered to get me some more water from the faucet.  I told him I would take care of it but thanked him for it anyway.

Now...I wasn't in a friendly mood toward him anyway as he had made some remarks yesterday about me looking to find fault with Christianity and that's why I left it.  I've told him my story more than once, that I lost my faith from reading the fucking Bible...sorry...from reading the Bible in order to write a Nativity play for our church.  When I couldn't get the chronology to line up with the different accounts, I lost my faith.  He knows this as we have talked about it many times.  Yet he blames me for leaving Christianity because I chose to find fault with the Bible itself.  I knew this was going to happen eventually.  And this is why he keeps me confused.  Some days he's supportive and helpful, other days he displays attitudes like this, as if I deliberately was looking for "proof" to leave it.

And just the day before we had such a good talk about why I left and how I was doing so much better now.  He was so supportive then. This kind of thing exists in other areas of our relationship so I don't know why I expected this to be different.  I'm tired of being pulled in one direction and another so I have decided not to play the game anymore.

I think the time has come to just shut up about it.  I hate having to play roulette with something that is very precious to me.  I thought I could talk to him about it, but I was wrong.  From now on I'll just use this blog as a venue for discussing, sorting and sharing the spiritual things that are important to me.  Zach is going through a time where he just isn't interested in spiritual matters so I hate to unload on him.  I don't want to pressure him on his path. 

It's just one of the hurdles on the journey that gives me choices.  I can wait for it to disappear, walk around it or jump over it. As I don't plan on stopping my journey, I think I'll choose the least delay and jump over it.  I might bruise my shin but I'll be on my way sooner.

So after all of this, I changed my altar cloths, re-consecrated my altar and tools and blessed the water and just moved on.  Except the incense hurt my throat...that pesky scratchy sore throat I hadn't thought about when I lit it.

Well, my sneezing is interfering with my typing right now so I'm off to bed for some more knitting as I'm too grumpy to sleep.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Pathway ponderings

Now that the season is winding down, I'm trying to center myself somewhat by introducing rituals, both daily and seasonally, that mean something to me.  I've discovered that magick may not be my thing so much as my observance and reverence for Nature and connection with the God/desses are.  I'm not being dogmatic about it.  In fact, I refuse to be dogmatic about anything anymore.  But at least for now, magick isn't on the table for me.  What I'm comfortable with is lighting candles, visualizing, meditating and finding that connection with the God/desses.  Spells, not so much.

It's been an incredible year spiritually.  Not incredible in the sense that all was fantastic, but incredible as in, wow! I can't believe I actually did that!  It's still amazing to me that I left Christianity behind, considering the propaganda I was spoonfed my whole life.  Leaving behind the fear...or dare I say abject terror...over the thought of life outside Christianity was probably one of the bravest things I ever did.  Even if I did leave and go back a few times before leaving for good.  And any feelings I've had about returning have nothing to do with returning to Christianity, but the longing for the people and rituals I loved.  Alas!  I'm not the kind of person who can go through the motions.  I need the belief to be there or I feel a huge disconnect.

I'm developing ritual gestures that have meaning to me even if they don't resemble anything in Druidry or Wicca.  Instead of spells, I plan on focusing on herbs and crystals this year, studying hedge-witchery, I guess you could call it.  But mostly I plan on learning to be intuitive and following my heart instead of a book.  Learning about nature by spending more time out there.  Focusing more on the simple things, improving my talents, crafts and mind.  This first year was really a time of finding myself and my path and although it was wonky at times, it's been enlightening and educational.

I also have the freedom to do all this now that we are "out" to Tom and can function freely about the house.  It makes a huge difference to be able to practice your beliefs openly instead of hiding them furtively, as if they are wrong. 

I've also noticed that, while I still suffer from depression and probably always will, it's been much more manageable as a Pagan, than as a Christian.  The pressure is much less when you don't have to "work things through" as if your illness is a character flaw.  I can treat my depression (although without medication unfortunately due to possible fatal interactions with other medication I'm taking) naturally with exercise, better eating habits and lots of sunshine (not that I've actually done that yet) but better, I can acknowledge that this is not my fault and on those days when I can't get out of bed, don't beat myself up over it.

All in all, becoming a Pagan is one of the best things that has ever happened to me.  The days when I doubt my path have been reduced to minutes instead.  I'm becoming more familiar with Paganism in various forms and am letting myself walk the path for the enjoyment instead of the journey's end.

And I find that death isn't as frightening as it was as a Christian.  Although I'm not keen to try it out, the fear that my cancer might return isn't as heavy a burden as it used to be. 

Not to mention the friends and community online I've discovered.  I can truthfully say all of you have made my path an easier one to walk and I'm so glad you're in my life.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Axial tilt is the reason for the season

Merry Mithras, one and all!  It being his mythology and all.  Tom laughed when Zach and I greeted each other with this.  We had a good talk last night about my path, his family, my family and me taking care of myself.  He confuses me because we have such good talks like that but he can turn on a dime and be as un-understanding as he is understanding.

I'm feeling better and less nostalgic now that the day is actually here.  We opened presents last night, a complete change of tradition.  It went well and we got to sleep in this morning.  Until this afternoon, actually.  Zach isn't the reason we get up early.  No, the husband can't sleep in due to the anticipation of what's under the tree.

Me?  I'm just glad it's over.  Seriously.  On Christmas day I'm champing at the bit wanting to take down all the decorations.  I'll wait until Monday though, when Tom goes to work.

The house is tiny but with the decorations up, we're even more cramped and crowded so I'm glad to get rid of them.  I haven't really celebrated Christmas in years, truth be told.  I've merely endured it.  I guess I was leaving Christianity behind on a gradual basis for the past 5 years or so.

Off to lounge around, knit and watch Star Trek (the movie...mine) and How to Train Your Dragon (Zach's) and probably sleep off and on.  I'm not going to the family function because it's upsetting me just thinking about it.  I'll try some smaller family events over the course of the year.  Jumping in to a huge gathering isn't the best plan for me.

Hope everyone is enjoying themselves!  Have a good one...whatever you celebrate!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reflections on Christmas Eve

This is my first Christmas since leaving Christianity and it's not been without some angst.  I've found myself nostalgic for the pomp and ceremony of Christmas Eve services at St. Mark's.  Oddly, there is no other church I feel nostalgic toward but in the Episcopal Church I found the ritual and sense of spirituality I thought I had been looking for all my life.  Except I didn't believe anymore.  I still feel a bit cheated that I finally found the manner in which I could worship Christ and lost the ability to do so.

I have pondered of late returning to St. Mark's as an unbeliever who participates in a ritual that far outdates Christianity anyway.  I won't do anything during the holidays because I suspect this is a whim based on lost memories but I have been missing the people there.  I'll postpone the decision until long after the holidays.  Likely the urge will disappear the first time the alarm goes off to wake me up early to attend.  If not, then I'll just wing it.

I hesitate about going back for a number of reasons.  One being that if I do go back and find that I just can't do it anymore, then I'll be leaving again and have to go through the process of saying good-bye again.  Another reason is that there will be the inevitable questions about where I've been and where Zach is. He won't go back and I won't ask him to.  I get tired of trying to field personal questions.

On the other hand, I am lonely.  I miss having people in my life to do things with, even if only for an hour or so a week.  I am pretty sure that the solitary path is perfect for me spiritually but I am isolated enough as it is and could use some community.

One huge drawback is Tom.  He never liked us going to that church (it being nearly Catholic) and he has told me he didn't like me much as a Christian so it really impairs my ability to make a decision when I've got a good idea that one choice will bring discord into the home.  On the other hand, it's my spirituality and since he apparently only exercises his when it's convenient, I shouldn't let him interfere in my decision making.

One thing I know is that I am called to Paganism in a way I was never called to Christianity.  I am still very new to it and don't have the familiarity with it that I do with Christianity, but I do have the connection with Paganism that I don't feel with Christianity.  Within Christianity it was a struggle to keep my thoughts constantly on God as I was supposed to do.  In Paganism, it comes naturally to me to think of this God or that Goddess in the course of my activities, in a natural way.  I frequently commune with the Goddess (whichever one is beckoning me at the time) as I would talk to my mother or a dear friend.

I suspect this is all about being wistfully nostalgic because I have no desire to go back to that way of life.  I just miss the rituals now and then.  And the people.  Although I would wager that more than a few of them would distance themselves from me should they find out I no longer believe.

Ah, well.  These are the things I'm  pondering today but tomorrow it will be about the presents!!!!  I'm shameless, I know but it's not about me's about watching my loved ones receive.  That's the best thing for me.

Have a Happy Christmas however your celebrate it.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Merry Solstice!

It was a wonderful Solstice even if I didn't get to see the lunar eclipse because of the snow.  I had just started to light candles when my firstborn called and we ended up talking for nearly an hour.  At which time my intentions weren't as ambitious and the ritual became shortened a bit.

When it came time to perform the ritual, it seemed foreign to me and not exactly what I wanted to do so I winged it yet again.  Only this time I must say that it made for an incredibly intimate and powerful event.  After I called peace from the compass points, I lit the candles of the goddess and the god and placed my yellow (Lugh) candle in the holder.  At that moment I got such a tingling in my body that I felt as if I was in the presence of something much greater than I.  After a brief meditation on the return of the Sun and the Sun God, I lit Lugh's candle and nearly cried with the intensity of emotion.  Then I simply sat and talked to the god/desses about the return of the light and how blessed I felt to be called by them.  It was enough to just sit in their presence.

I do intend to incorporate established ritual into my life but I also plan on going with my heart when the god/desses request that, also.  Today Danu and I had a long talk in the parking lot of StuffMart, because that seems to be a sacred space for me, as odd as it sounds.  Zach and I have long used that parking lot to have heartfelt discussions and sort out things that have troubled us.  It was a safe place during a time of abject fear for us. 

There are times I just can't handle the intensity of energy and power that goes along with ritual so I use those times to merely sit and commune with the god/desses.  I have decided that it's time to begin my studies on magic although I plan on starting slowly and building up.  As I said, that intensity of energy overwhelms me at times.

All in all it was a magical experience even without the lunar eclipse.

Merry Solstice, everyone!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Feeling good about things

No pictures so far as it's been gloomy outside and I haven't opened up any curtains yet.  It's dark in here with my insulated, room-darkening curtains.  But cozy.

I've been doing some studying of late and then I have to take a day or two to ponder what I've read.  If I am able to remember it.  Darned memory problems.  I'm feeling good about the direction my spirituality is taking and I'm learning more and more about myself. 

I've discovered that I tend to be unaware of a lot of what goes on around me.  And in me.  I seem to be drifting a lot.  I've been trying to focus more and I think I'm making progress.  I'm feeling good about that.

I'm trying to make my preparations for Yule now instead of waiting until Yule to throw something together.  Feeling good about that, too.  I think my path is leading me to a blend of Druidry and Wicca.  I'm more comfortable with the Celtic pantheon rather than the Lord and the Lady but I'm also more comfortable with the rituals of Wicca rather than the Druid rituals.  So I'm feeling good about that, too.

On the other hand, I'm having a hard time with the Christianists I'm running into of late, or the ones who are messing with friends.  It's becoming more and more obvious to me that their brand of Christianity is so manipulative and so controlling as to be dangerous to the well-being of a lot of people I care about.  Unfortunately their brand is the one most widely practiced.  I'd love to go kick someone's mother's ass for her for being such a jerk to my friend, but since I don't know her and she's nowhere near me, I'll have to do it in my imagination.

I had an odd experience the night Jon (the kid who killed himself) died.  I had a dream...well, I'm not sure it was a dream, that I was in his parents' house, just walking through.  It was dark with some light from the outside street lights showing in through the curtains so it was a very black and white atmosphere.  I walked a short ways up the stairs into the living room and stopped in front of the kitchen, then I was back in my dream again.  The thing is, I felt awake, and aware of what I was doing.  The furniture was arranged a bit differently from when I was there last (several years ago) but I felt more like I was really there instead of dreaming about being there.  I was aware I was in my bed but I didn't feel asleep.  In fact, when I left the house, I laid awake in my bed for a while pondering it.  I had done this a long time ago when I was in the Navy and was involved in what we called white witchcraft then.  They called it shadow walking then.  I'm not sure what happened but it didn't feel like a dream.

At any rate, I'll try to get pictures of my altars soon.  If the sun doesn't shine soon, I'll try to arrange the lighting so I can get some taken.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Choosing my friends

I finally accepted that my family isn't interested in my blogs or anything I have to say on facebook and then my aunt decides to join fb and now wants to friend me.  This is the aunt who sends me fundie and tea party shit.  Without that baggage she's a lot of fun and interesting to talk to but I am out of the broom closet online and I'm not going back in.  Not to mention my parents don't know Zach is gay and of course, neither do my aunts and uncles.  My sisters and my nieces and nephews, my children and grandchildren know but not my parents.  And I don't intend to change that.  My dad isn't known for his tolerance about the subject and my mother hasn't accepted that he has Tourette's and OCD so I really don't think she'll be able to handle having a gay grandson.

So I've decided not to friend her.  She wouldn't like the stuff I post there anyway as I'm not shy about how I feel about the fundies and tea party people.  Not to mention all the Pagan stuff I post there.  This is also the aunt who decided I needed a lecture on not visiting my parents more often so I'm not feeling particularly generous.  I love her, but I'm not going to change who I am or how I do things.  And I'm not going to set myself up for lectures or "prayers" either.  I'm not going to advertise to people who won't understand it but I'm also not going to hide in the closet either.

I've been cleaning and organizing today and it's amazing how much more spiritual I feel when my house is clean.  Well, okay, cleaned up.  I haven't managed to achieve clean yet.  I'll try to get some pictures of my Yule altar and my kitchen altar tomorrow.  It's supposed to be sunny and above zero so I can open up the curtains and let some sunshine in.  Good thing I thrive in the dark of the year or I'd suffer from SAD during the winter months.

Actually I've been experiencing fewer depression symptoms of late.  I really must thrive in the dark.

I haven't decided on a new necklace yet so I'm going to knit myself a charm bag so I can wear my crystals when I need to.  I think that's what I want to wear now.  Maybe after the first of the year I'll decide if I want a pentacle or something else.

Off to finish up supper and curl up in bed to knit and watch some history documentaries.  I love this time of night.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Countdown to Yule

Yule is a week away and the possibility still exists that I might actually be ready for it.

Stop laughing.  I didn't say how great the possibility was.

I do plan on celebrating it though.  So far I've managed to be sick or beyond tired for every festival since becoming Pagan but this one I won't miss. I'm not setting my sights too high and hope to bring about a small, intimate celebration.  I have wondered if the energy drain was more about not protecting myself against the potent energies out there at the times of high holidays.  I plan on being protected this time.

I've been doing well having daily ministrations with the God/desses and have gotten in a few moments of meditation a day but I'm still having a great deal of trouble focusing more than a few seconds at a time.  Still, I persevere.  I think I will do better having a written prayer/meditation plan than trying to wing it because I spend a lot of time trying to come up with something to say and then I dissect it wondering if I said the right things.  If I can just write some things down and use them as a liturgy of sorts, I think it will flow more smoothly for me.  I found some prayers for Hestia as my household Goddess that I plan on copying down into a smaller journal for kitchen use.  I've got a bigger journal for my other prayers.

I have been having a flirtation with Hecate lately.  I call it a flirtation because I don't know if I'm called to her or not.  At times I feel drawn in her direction but most of the time I'm drawn to Danu and other Celtic God/desses.  We'll work it out, I'm sure, but for now, I just come when she calls.  In time I'll see the patterns emerge and figure out just what our relationship really is.

I forgot to mention that Tom found me a staff while he was out hunting.  It's about 6 feet tall and really beautiful.  I plan on sanding it down, polishing it and carving ogham on it.  And whatever other symbols I feel led to carve on it.  He confuses me because there are times he seems so condescending and smirky and at times disrespectful.  At other times he's supportive and helpful.  I'm kept guessing all the time which he'll be.

But for now I'm not guessing anything.  I'm smelling supper cooking so I'm off to finish it off and then my normal routine of crawling under the covers and knitting while watching my documentaries.  I've really been enjoying learning about other cultures and religions, something I never allowed myself to watch as a Christian because I was afraid I would lose my faith.  Who knew that I would actually lose my faith reading the Bible?

Monday, December 13, 2010

I won't be singing Winter Wonderland anytime soon

My encounters with Nature of late are not terribly pleasant.  I would love to enjoy the snow but shoveling it with mere shovels takes the pleasure out of it for me because I've got fibromyalgia and end up with my bff Tramadol and a hot water bottle instead of enjoying knitting or crocheting.

I trudged out through the 10 inches or so (so they ruler says 12 inches though) of snow in the back yard to refill the bird feeders.  They were frozen on the caribeaners I use to attach them to the clothesline so I had to whip the top off and stand on my tip toes to fill them.  I spilled some on the ground, but since the birds do that, too, it wasn't really waste.  Within and hour I had dozens of birds fighting for space.  They are nibbling at the suet but not a lot.  I've got a whole case of it so it looks like it might last me next year, too.

I went to put the sunflower heads out but they had gone bad and were wet and moldy.  I've never had them do that before so I don't know what happened.  What a waste.  I wrapped them like the book I read said to but maybe they weren't ready for harvesting and that's why they ended up pulp.  I still have some field corn though.  I'll try a different kind of sunflowers next spring though.  These were the black ones.  I got the seeds by mistake.

I got a song book from Debra in the mail today.  It's some restructured Christmas carols that I will most definitely enjoy singing.  While Tom isn't around.  Thanks, Debra!!!!

I'm off to befriend my hot water bottle and take a pill or two while my pizza is in the toaster oven baking.  No way could I cook today on top of shoveling and shopping.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

I was out in Nature today, but I can't say it was a lot of fun

As the snow was taller than Professor this morning, when I let him out he immediately turned around and came back in, looking up at me as if to say, "No fucking way!"  Animals seem to say it best.

But Zach and I tackled the snow and made a pathway as well as performing our obligations according to the city ordinance and providing a safe walkway for any idiot pedestrians out there.

I mentioned to Tom today that I would prefer it if he used a tv tray instead of my altar without going into any detail and he said he would but he was tight-lipped when he said it, which means he probably won't in the long run.  It's the best I can do for now.  I did provide him with a tv tray this morning when we watched a special on Merlin.  It was a pretty crappy documentary making all kinds of assumptions.  Apparently all Pagans base their beliefs on Merlin as the paradigm of true Paganism, in particular, Druidry.  And C. S. Lewis and Tolkien based their books on him as well. 

It did have its moments though as far as the history of Merlin goes and it was nice to actually hear Welsh spoken.  Not a total bust but not great either.

I watched Religulous last night. It was good in many ways but I did feel a bit sorry for some of the people who didn't have answers for him.  Only because that was me at one time.  I thought I had answers and very smugly condescended toward those who didn't see the brilliance of my logic.  Truthfully it was embarrassing watching them.  I'll keep it and watch it a few more times before I delete it from my dvr.  I want to remember some of the points he made.

Supper is ready so I'm off to eat my first meal of the day.  I just plain forgot to eat.  Between shoveling snow (heavy, tall snow) and snoozing in between, I just forgot to make a meal.  I did have some toast this morning but that's not a meal.

Hoping we get no more snow for a while as I haven't dug out the car yet and it is in a tunnel of 3 foot drifts in addition to being under a foot of snow.  But we wore out, Zach and I, and will just have to tackle it tomorrow.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Gains and losses

Just a short post.  We went to see Harry Potter last night and loved it but I couldn't help but chuckle to myself that, before leaving our fundie church, there was a sermon on the evils of Harry Potter, how it led children into witchcraft, that J.K. Rowling was herself a witch and her aim was to recruit as many kids as possible into Wicca.  I tried to set the pastor straight but he had read a book about it (not, of course, the books themselves) and wouldn't be budged on it.  Now that we're no longer Christians, I'm sure he's patting himself on the back for being "right" on the issue.  Still, it's a gain for me because I at least did the research instead of letting myself be manipulated into trusting someone else to think for me.  Now I think for myself.

We stopped at Pizza Hut for a bite afterwards and unfortunately I lost my rune off my chain.  The chain simply came undone.  I am trying to believe that it left me because its work was done and that it was time for me to find something else to use as a symbol of my path.  I have to admit that I felt a bit estranged from the rune most of the time and wore it mostly out of habit.  I do hope whoever found it will find it useful.

Now off to knit while the snow piles up outside.  I will go out and refill the bird feeder tomorrow morning even though that means I'll most likely have to trudge through around 10 inches of the wet, heavy white stuff.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Getting in the mood

I picked up a bell for my altar in the Christmas aisle.  It has a stag (or reindeer) for the handle which I thought was close enough to the Horned God.  Plus it was only a dollar.  I also bought a tiny tree instead of getting fake greenery.  Same price but having something living on my altar is better.

I'm doing much better at developing daily rituals and routines although it takes more than a few days for these things to become such a part of my daily regimen that I do them without having to remind myself.  Might take a year for that to happen.

I listened to Christmas carols on the way home from the store today because I was driving on a snow-covered road that had hidden the center line and it wasn't that easy to tell where the road dropped off either.  I just couldn't change channels while I was driving.  Fortunately none of them were actually Christian so I was okay with it.  I'm getting in the mood.  I have no idea why the past several Christmases were so dismal for me, but I'm getting excited about Yule so that's all that really matters for me.

Off to fix supper and then more knitting and crocheting of Christmas stuff.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Prayer, ritual and making it work for me

The altar is cleansed and the athame re-consecrated and the energy in my room is totally revitalized.  All is well.  I did try to put up a protection around the altar, making it unpalatable to anyone who isn't respectful of the sacredness of the space but to be honest, I'm not sure my husband will be deterred from anything like that.  He tends to live in his own world.

I've been missing church lately.  Well, I've been missing the ritual from church, but not the religion.  I really think I need to incorporate more daily and special ritual in my life from now on.  At times I wonder if the hunger for ritual is Nature's way of telling me to take the next step and crawl out of my comfortable box into something that includes taking risks and pushing the envelop of my spirituality.  I haven't craved it before like I do now.

So I'm focusing my studies on ritual, prayer and meditation.  Because I loved the physical rituals...the sign of the cross, genuflecting, bowing, etc...I have developed a few physical rituals of my own.  Touching my finger and thumb to my forehead, then to my lips, back to my forehead then to my heart and back to my lips.  It means to me that I pray that my intentions will always be well thought out and from my heart before I speak them aloud.  It might sound cheesy but I find comfort in it, especially as I tend to be impulsive.

Another one is to hold my spirit beads entwined around both hands in a prayerful position, hands at my forehead invoking the Goddess when I pray to her.  When I pray to the God I have my arms crossed at my chest, head slightly bowed.  I end both prayers with my arms open and raised halfway to the sky.

Prayer is difficult for me, having spent a lifetime trying to pray to a God who never answered, all the while believing the fault was mine. Prayer in Christianity is a lot about asking for stuff, demanding God deliver on his promises and begging tearfully for escape from whatever situation you've found yourself in.  And lots of adoration because he seems to need it.  A lot.  And thankfulness.  And adoration.  And lots of wallowing in self-pity for the multitude of sins since you can't go five minutes without breaking one of his rules, even if only in your thoughts.  And did I mention adoration?  Sure I was told as a Christian that prayer was just conversation with God, telling him my heart and about my day, but in reality it was more like the above.  I sure never heard of anyone, especially in public prayer, who ever just "talked" to God.

So I struggle with what to pray for with Hecate, Cernunnos, Lugh, Rhiannon, Hestia, the Morrigan, et al.  I don't want to be demanding and tell them what they need to do for me.  I don't want to be condescending and heap tons of false praise on them that feels more like obligation than sincere feelings.  Although I know they care about us, I'm not sure how involved they are in our lives.  I'm pretty sure they don't micromanage the way the old guy does.  I also believe they expect us to stand on our own two feet and not look for anyone to magically solve our problems for us.  So for now I tend to pray not for material things but for wisdom, direction, protection and ask to draw on their energy in order to work things out for myself.  I am able to talk to them as if they were in the room with me (and aren't they?) and even be conversational with them, something I absolutely could not do with the old guy.

Daily prayer also seems more natural to me these days, even if it's only a quick word or two or a loving touch of a picture.

It's hard to believe how much happier I am as a Pagan, too.  I can't believe the anguish and self-recriminations I struggled through as a Christian, never measuring up to the impossible standard set up for me.  I've even stopped beating myself up so much about my limitations. I'm growing more spiritually now than I ever did as a Christian.  And I never knew this kind of peace before.

I was watching a documentary about Thor today on National Geographic channel so I am getting lots of exposure to things outside the Christian-dominated world of religion.  Hopefully I'll be able to concentrate better soon and be able to remember more of what I read.  I manage better with audio/visual learning right now, with dvds and documentaries, but I'd love to start reading more about mythologies and folklore.  Just have to get to the stage where my brain is working better.  I am getting there though.  I'm in a much better place than I was a month ago.

Time to go finish up supper.  I have some patterns to knit and crochet some holly and ivy and some mistletoe since finding the real stuff is difficult around here.  I'd love some real evergreens but I get really bad headaches with a real tree in the house so I'm not sure having branches all over the house will work for me.  I'm putting up the tree tonight but no decorating until tomorrow.  I'm beginning to enjoy the season again.  I've dreaded it for so many years and didn't know why.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Learning to be opaque

In my studies yesterday I read that the sacred tree of the Bard is the Birch tree.  I found that really interesting because this past year I've found bark skin from the Birch in my yard before nearly every festival, something I hadn't seen before in the 12+ years we've lived here.  I know this can be explained away without having any spiritual connotations, but I choose to see the hand of the Divine in it.  More confirmation that my path is the right one for me.

I'm also feeling more and more that my path is not clearly defined by any one discipline.  I am most content finding my own way, learning those things that spark a fire in me and not putting a title on any of it.  I like finding spiritual nourishment from many different buffets.

Zach and I grabbed a bite to eat while we were out shopping today and ended up staying there for over an hour just talking about spiritual matters.  You'd think we could do that at home but we don't.  It's as if we have a barrier to speaking our hearts at home.  I know that I have resolved to keep my sacred things private even though I am "out" to Tom because I don't feel respected or taken seriously.  I can only tolerate the smirks and eye-rolls so much, you know.

And this from a man who hasn't opened his Bible in over 12 years and rarely ever went to church, not even to see  his son's dramatic productions.  This is the man who told me he knew back when we first married that I didn't have any faith because I disagreed with him on a matter of doctrine.  Me who had been a Christian all my life versus him who had been a Christian ten minutes.

I focus on the fact that I can be open and that helps.  But being open doesn't mean being transparent.  I'll keep the specifics to myself from now on.

I looked at the library today for some books on Wicca and there were none.  There used to be several books but the shelf was fairly empty except for anti-witchcraft shit.  Now, our library isn't one that caters to the fundies so I'm assuming that either they're staying checked out because they're popular or they're staying checked out because people want to keep other people from reading them.  And oh, yes, Christians do that a lot.  The homeschool support group Zach and I were members of in San Diego bragged about doing things like that as well as hiding controversial books in the library where they couldn't be found, like behind bookshelves or inside partitions.  I'll look them up on the database and put them on hold but it's a bit frustrating.

I'm planning on cleansing my altar tonight and reconsecrating my athame along with some other tools that haven't been consecrated yet.  I bought some picture frames today to hang some cards that Tana had sent me.  A lovely Yule card and another one she sent a while back of a group of women who look like they're practicing a ritual in the woods.  I never dared to put them up before.  As soon as Yule is over and the ancestor wall goes into the drawer, I'll put them above the altar.  You can't find cards like that around here, even at Hallmark.  It's so depressing that nearly every card I see has some kind of Christian overtone to it.

I'm feeling optimistic in spite of knowing that my beliefs aren't respected because in the long run, it doesn't matter.  What matters is that I don't have to hide who I am and what I believe.  But still, that transparency thing. 

I need to finish up supper and then off to do my rituals.  And then...we're off to see Harry Potter on Friday!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Not feeling respected

I had a bit of an awakening this weekend that brought me to the conclusion that some people, while claiming to be okay with my new path, don't actually take it seriously.  He used my athame to scrape something off his robe and laid crumbly biscuits on my altar cloth without brushing them off.  Yes, I could say something to him but I already did a while back and it made no difference whatsoever.  I'm a bit frustrated by it all and now need to re-consecrate my athame...and cleanse my altar.  He occasionally comes into my room to watch tv with me on the weekends but won't use a tv tray or even let me get him one.  It feels more like contempt for my beliefs than acceptance.

Then there is the eye-roll and the smirk when I start talking about my beliefs.  I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt but there is no denying that he thinks my beliefs are silly.

Still, the tension is gone between us since I left Christianity behind so I'm going to focus on being able to live more openly, even if I must keep the details to myself.  I'm just not sure what to do about my altar.  It's a tiny house and there is no other place to put it.  Besides, it's my altar and should be respected.

I've managed some studying lately, which always gives me a lot to ponder during my day.  Although I do love the Druid path, I would rather make my study more fluid and lifelong than look to achieving a "level" and moving on to the next one.  For me it's all about growing spiritually, emotionally and intellectually.  Not about getting boxes checked off.  Plus, there are aspects of other Pagan paths that feel right to me as well and I intend to incorporate them into my practice as well. 

I was thinking today I would love to start practicing daily rituals that weren't made up on the spot.  I'd rather have more formality to my rituals.  So I'm going to start my Book of Shadows tomorrow, after picking up some loose leaf paper for a 3-ring binder I picked up.  It's one I can decorate on the outside.  I prefer it to one that is already bound because I do tear pages out frequently.

I'm also looking at some prayers to incorporate into a book I can use for meditation purposes.  There is something more organic for me to write them out by hand rather than use the computer to print them out.  Plus I love writing them out.  I've always loved to sit down with pen and paper and write.

I'm hoping this winter I'll be able to stabilize my rituals and routines so by spring I've got a schedule to follow that feels natural.

And I'm really excited about Yule this year.  I'm excited about getting to light Lugh's candle again when he's reborn on Midwinter's Day.  I keep getting hyped up for the festivals but then when they come I don't seem to do much about them, but I really do hope that this Yule, I'll be settled and comfortable with the rituals.  Comfortable enough to make them a permanent part of my life.

Off to knit and watch The Odyssey on tv.  I've been a fan of the Iliad and the Odyssey since junior high school.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

I need a minder to shut me up

I'm a babbling idiot.  I ran into a friend from my old fundie church today and I just couldn't stop babbling about this and that.  And so help me, I even did the godspeak stuff, pretending I was still one of them.  I mean, it's not like they cornered me.  I saw them first and asked about their trip to Norway to see their brand-new grandson.  I think I lack social graces. In time, I'm sure I'll be more comfortable with who I am and will be able to talk without babbling.

It could be I was just lonely, too.  Tom told me once I come across as so needy that people shy away from me.

I'm getting excited about the upcoming Yule.  I've got my altar dressed for it and have my yellow (Lugh) candle ready to put in the candle holder.  I've missed my God and am looking forward to his rebirth on the Solstice.  I haven't had this kind of excitement and anticipation since...well many years ago.  It actually gives me hope that I am indeed healing emotionally and spiritually.

I've been trying to meditate again and I'm making progress.  I just get so distracted so easily and without a door or even a wall separating my bedroom from the rest of the family, it's hard to find a quiet time.  Of course, I could get up before everyone else and I did try that, but I kept falling asleep instead of meditating because I was still so sleepy.  And Zach stays up till around 3 a.m. so I can't wait until everyone goes to sleep.  Inevitably when I'm trying to meditate, the phone rings or someone comes to the door or something like that happens.

I am trying to be nicer to myself and accept my limitations instead of fighting them.  It does relieve a lot of stress.  I'm using the energy I normally spent on beating myself up to actually work on studying and on my crafts.  Hopefully I'm getting better at it in spite of the inevitable relapses.

Off to watch some documentaries and knit on some wool I spun a couple of years ago.  I'm sleeping in tomorrow.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I wrote Sad as the title for my mundane blog but this one will be Angry because, well, I am.

When we left our fundie church several years ago, Zach had been treated very badly by the sponsors of the youth group, given platitudes and having impossible standards set for him to live by instead of trying to make him feel better about himself or trying to work through what those problems were.  His Tourette's and OCD were treated like character flaws instead of real medical and neurological conditions, his need for medicine was called a crutch and he was disciplined harshly for responding in pain to a punch in the shoulder.  He never dared discuss his fear of being gay because he had heard many a sermon about the evil gays out to take over the world.  That remained locked in his heart until he felt free from them.

Yesterday another boy from that same youth group, who Zach knew and had worked with at church, killed himself.  He received the same platitudes, laying of hands and being prayed for that Zach and any other troubled youngster got instead of the help he needed.  Therapy.  Or maybe unconditional love.  I don't fault his parents; they did the best they could.  I fault the leadership of the church and the entire mindset that if you're troubled, it's your behavior that needs to change, you need to get right with God and you need to give yourself up to a deity who seems to have favorites that you're probably not one of.

I've been reading the inane babbling that comes from not knowing what to say but hoping that what you say provides comfort to the ones left behind to sort it all out.  They keep saying that Jon is in God's loving arms right now but according to their own belief system, Jon probably wasn't saved (based on his reckless behavior) so, according to their own rules, he's probably being tortured for all eternity now.

Ah, but that wouldn't comfort the living so they relax the rules and talk about how much God loved Jon.  Apparently not enough since the idiots he put in charge of Jon's spiritual growth could only fuck him up the way they fucked up my son. The youth ministers that both he and Zach were under were very fond of themselves and enjoyed the attention they got from the gullible and naive youth who put them up on pedestals.  They performed on stage every Wednesday night and any other time they got together, complete with tears, whispered anguish and the sad, emotional song designed to manipulate the vulnerable children into salvation.  Every fucking sermon was about how sinful they were.  Every fucking sermon was designed to make them feel bad about themselves.  I know because I was down there for many of them.  And Zach would tell me about them later on.

So they tell the family that Jon is in God's arms right now and that Jesus is personally comforting him, that God is keeping them in his loving arms and comforting them, that Jesus is comforting them personally.  They tell the family that Satan had attacked their son and will eventually blame the liberals for Jon's death. Because they are the ones who are throwing God out of the country. They're throwing out all kinds of Bible verses about sorrow and comfort in hopes that it might be true. And they're remembering that he was such a happy guy.  Me?  I remember him as both.  A wildly fun and comic guy who was deeply troubled beneath the surface.

I have no idea why Jon killed himself but I do know that it was a fear of mine that Zach might be contemplating it and the major reason we got the hell out of that church.  Had he really been contemplating it (apparently he wasn't, but I didn't want to take any chances) their responses to him would have been to blame it on Satan and his minions and lay hands on him while praying for deliverance.

I had a bit of a weep last night for Jon and the sadness of his leaving this life too soon.  I lit a candle and asked the Goddess to look out for him and guide him to the ancestors who would lead him to the Summerlands where he could finally find the peace he couldn't manage to locate here.  I'll continue to light a candle for him every night until Yule, alongside the candles I've been lighting every night as a vigil to the ancestors.

Just when I was trying to quell my anger and disgust for Christianity in hopes of learning to enjoy the mythology behind it.  I'm so pissed right now I don't think that will happen this season at all.  But I'm lighting a candle for Jon and being thankful he's out from under that awful burden of perfection and fear-mongering, although there were better ways to leave it behind.

I won't go to the funeral.  I haven't seen Jon or his family in several years although I'm "friends" with his mother on facebook but we never talk there.  I'm sure she's seen my many political statements and has seen that I'm no longer a Christian.  But this isn't about me.  This is about Jon and whatever brings them comfort.

Still, I can, in the privacy of my own home, express my disdain for a system that seems to consistently foment suicide in its youth.  I will thank the God/desses for enabling us to leave that system behind before my son was another statistic.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Studying, birds and a link to a giveaway

I got some studying done today.  I may even have retained a bit of what I read.  Time will tell on that, though.  Still, it's progress for me.  I'm still refining the path I am walking, discovering what sign posts are for me and which ones are for someone else.  Druidry is still very much a part of it, but I am rediscovering my first love, the Greek/Roman pantheon.  Maybe not so much from the aspect of worship, although Hestia and Hecate appeal to me in many ways, because I still feel very much drawn to the Celtic world and pantheon.

My bird feeders will most likely be empty by nightfall.  And I just refilled them this morning with fingers numb from the cold.  We finally have a dusting of snow on the ground so I'm getting double the number of birds I normally get.  I set out one ear of field corn, which I had planned to do after the first real snow.  So far no takers but they will probably sneak over tonight.  I've seen a male cardinal hanging around off and on today.  He looks so lovely with his bright red plumage against the partly snowy hill behind the feeders.  A touch of color on an an otherwise drab day.  But I do love these drab days.

I'm not going anywhere today.  Just too cold and I'm too behind on other things. So today will be a crafting day, a decorating my Winter Solstice altar and some housekeeping stuff as well.  Not to mention bill paying.

Nellie, whose blog I read regularly, is having a giveaway of some really lovely wood-carved items.  She is so talented!  So if you get a chance, go to A Bit of Gardening Spirit and enter.

Off to get busy so my fingers will warm up a bit.  I haven't turned up the heat much since Zach is still in bed.  Poor guy has that flu Tom and I had so I'm letting him sleep in. 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Feeling more optimistic

I'm feeling a bit cheerier today.  More cheery?  Whatever.  I feel more optimistic about my spiritual life.  And I gave myself permission to take a nap today instead of pushing past the fatigue and being miserable the whole day.

I haven't done any studying today but I feel more like it, more like engaging my brain and my spiritual muscles.  That's always a good sign.  I'll probably get a few pages in tonight and hope to get back to some daily candle lighting and meditating tomorrow.

I had hoped to stay home tomorrow but the yarn I needed and bought didn't make it home with me tonight.  The bag fell out of the cart on the way to the parking lot but I thought I picked everything up.  Apparently not.  It's another thing I tend to beat myself up over, not paying enough attention when I'm out and about.  I'll just go back tomorrow and get more yarn to make plenty of dishcloths for my mother so she can give them out as gifts.  She always feels obliged to give out gifts, little ones, to just about everyone so I'm trying to help her out a bit.  Plus I love knitting them.  I can turn those out at 3 or 4 a day if I'm not interrupted much.  And I've got the yarn to do it.

I'm feeling more and more convinced I made the right decision to embrace Paganism. As time goes by, I feel no regrets and only relief and a huge lessening of that burden on my shoulders.  I ran into someone from my old fundie church today at the store and didn't feel like hiding or avoiding her at all.  We never even talked about God or Jesus or anything like that.  We talked about the job we both shared there (props and decorations and set design) and how people don't take care of stuff.  LOL  I loved it that we still had things in common.

I'm almost ready to decorate my altar for Yule.  I won't be putting the tree up just yet as the house is small and decorations bore me after a while but I don't seem to get tired of my altar decorations.  Odd that.  Especially since my house is decorated right now with wet clothes drying on racks.  It's that time of year.  It would be nice to have them in front of a roaring fire but as we have no fire place (or room to put one) I settle for heating vents.  Which means the racks tend to be in the way a lot.  Good thing they're lightweight and movable.

Off to finish cooking supper and then I'm crawling into my pajamas (of sorts) to knit some dishcloths with what I've got.  I should get a few done before bedtime.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Figuring out how to escape

I've been so spiritually lazy lately.  Come to think of it, I've probably always been spiritually lazy.  I've let days go past without reading or studying or doing more than offer a quick prayer to the God/desses.  Part of that is due to my lack of concentration and part of it is not having any set rituals that I'm comfortable with.  But the biggest part is just being plain lazy.  I want to progress spiritually.  I want to grow and develop and improve my relationship with the ancestors and the God/desses.  I'm just a bit lazy about getting it started.

It's not just spirituality.  I have a hard time incorporating various disciplines into my daily life that I'm interested in but just too tired to do anything about.  And let's face it...just too lazy to make the effort to make the habits part of my life.

I'm also lazy about relationships.  I guess part of my laziness is due to the incredible fatigue that just swamps me but relationships are just too much effort for me right now.  So what else can it be besides laziness?

Depression maybe?  Possibly except I don't feel like I'm in the low part of my cycle right now.  I seem to thrive in the dark parts of the year.  Except I'm still so stinking tired.

I have all kinds of grandiose plans that never seem to pan out due to lack of ambition.  Or just plain fatigue.

I spend too much of my time beating myself up for not getting things done when that effort might be better spent on actually just doing what I can and not castigating myself for what I can't get done.

Maybe it's not really laziness after all.  Maybe it's just fatigue and depression immobilizing me.  Withdrawing from the world isn't laziness.  It's depression, for pete's sake!

I simply must stop being my own abuser and just cut myself some slack from now on.  I'll bet that if I could do that, I'd have more energy and interest in things.

How do you defend yourself against an abuser when the abuser is you?

I need to work this out and I think I'm on the verge of an answer.  If only I had the energy to really ponder it.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I won't be posting tomorrow because it's my official day off from everything including the internet (okay I might cheat and read the comics and news but nothing else).

I'm going to wait until December 1 to change my altar over for Yule but I'm not putting the tree up until the week of Christmas because my house is tiny and I get tired of the decorations pretty quickly.  It won't be much this year because our funds are depleted but we'll get Zach something at least.

And we'll have the crackers.

I'm okay with it because it's better to get nothing than to get something you don't really want or need just because someone has to give you a gift.  I'd rather get what I want during the year as I can afford it.  To be honest, I just can't think of anything I want right now anyway.

Well, more money would be nice.  Getting Tom's salary back with a raise would be even better.

Off to eat supper and curl up for the duration.  Knitting, crocheting, reading and watching tv.  My idea of a holiday.  If it stops raining, I'll go for a walk.  I used to take walks on Thanksgiving; I'd like to get back to doing that.

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Greedy birds, colder weather and fighting the desire to hibernate

The moon was beautiful tonight.  Low in the sky, full-ish and yellow and looking a bit larger than normal. I am convinced that I need to spend more time outdoors from now on since I feel a need to curl up in my bed all winter long, and that I need to manage my time better.  Now that I'm on the healing side of the hill I plan on trying my best to accomplish those things.  But tonight I'm going to crawl into bed, light a candle or two and catch up on some reading as well as knitting and crocheting.  I find those very spiritual activities.

I'm feeling better although I had a small headache today, which I'm sure will go away as soon as I take something for it.  I'm weaning off the cold medicine and echinacea.

My greedy birds have once again eaten all their food but the wind knocked the top off the gazebo-type feeder and it spilled most of the food on the ground.  I guess the squirrels, mice and rabbits will have their turn for a day or so.  I'll get out there and fill them up again tomorrow with a more stable feeder.  I hope two feeders will be enough.  I noticed they were eating some of the suet today.  It sure got cold enough for them to need it.

I need my bed so I'm off to curl up under the covers.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Clear heads, clear sinuses

I'm much better today in spite of little sleep.  Hoping to get back to reading and studying and developing new rituals and routines.  I do much better when my life is organized.

I saw a 4 year old documentary on Pagans in England with Professor Ronald Hutton on it and I got a bit of a crush on him.  I first heard him on the Druidcast from OBOD and loved his voice and what he had to say.  That he had long hair just clinched it for me.  I'm a sucker for long hair on men.  Zach used to have hair halfway down his back and is growing it out once again.  Tom wears his hair military short, darn it.

I missed out on Full Moon again and a Blue Moon, too.  I'm hoping that my habits will soon develop so I am prepared for these events and holy days.  I'm still drifting a bit.  I do plan on changing my altar to Yule after December 1st.  I won't put the Christmas tree up until nearly Christmas.  We're going to celebrate since Tom is still a Christian but I won't put any religious ornaments up or any religious decorations.  If it means enough to Tom he can put them up.

I'm hoping I can get my house cleaned up so I can smudge it before he gets home.  I'm still not terribly comfortable doing rituals around him.  I'm glad I have the freedom to practice my religion openly but I don't absolutely trust him not to mock my beliefs.  It's a long history that I used to have on my other blog but deleted because I didn't want him to read it and I got to thinking it wasn't entirely appropriate for me to use that blog as a punching bag.

Off to eat supper and then fall into bed and knit some more.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

I'm getting there

Thanks for the well wishes.  I'm such a baby about getting sick.  I used to be tough about it and work through it all, playing the martyr.  Since chemo I just end up whining.  I lost my competitive edge, I guess.

I was outside the other day hanging out clothes and saw some crows chasing something.  After a cacophony of crow music, one single-handedly ended up chasing the hawk off.  It was beautiful.  I love them both so I wasn't cheering one side over the other but it was a site to behold, watching them.  Then the next day I was on my way to the store after dark (which these days is anytime after 4:30 p.m.) and a barn owl flew right in front of the car as I was leaving town.  Gorgeous! 

Tom and I had a frank talk the night before he left for deer hunting in which he told me he knew years ago I didn't have any faith in God.  Apparently since he did, he could tell that I didn't. I admit I found the remark condescending because his logic was that since I had never had a "moment" when I realized I was lost in my sins, I never had a conversion.  I didn't want to argue with him but his logic was faulty because only in the evangelical world does that exist.  It doesn't work that way in liturgical churches.  But then again, he doesn't think liturgical churches take God seriously.  He told me that when I left St. Mark's.  He said that his impression was that no one there really took God seriously. 


Anyway, it's good to be able to talk about my beliefs openly now although there is always a smug look or an eye-roll that he thinks I don't see.  But he did take the amulet I made for him and said he would carry it in his pocket while hunting.  I don't know how much good it will do as I was sick when I consecrated it but I did feel a small buzz of energy from it afterward.  Very small, mind.

He did tell me that he didn't like me much when I was "religious."  I have to admit I was a pretty smug, arrogant know-it-all.  Because being right was the only way I knew how to practice my "faith."  I suspect I'm not alone in that either.

This morning I woke up to a huge black cat under the bird feeders.  Silly cat.  They were in the bushes waiting for her to leave 'cause they're not stupid.  Professor sure didn't like the cat in our yard but she just moseyed up to the back door where I was holding a frantic chihuahua and preened for a bit before wandering back to her own yard.  Professor was trying to get through the glass to eat her.  In spite of her being much, much larger than Professor.

We're looking at a possibility of snow on Thursday.  I'm holding out on putting the field corn out for the squirrels and crows and rabbits until the first snow.  I'm going to hang it from the pear tree this year because it gets buried under the snow.  It's the only time of year I feed them so I don't feel bad about it.  I've heard "lectures" from people who insist it's wrong because they come to rely on your handouts and won't forage for themselves, but I don't feed them yearlong.  Just the one gift a year.

Besides, I seriously doubt if anyone can keep up with all the wildlife in their neighborhoods to the degree they wouldn't have to forage for themselves at all.

Off to crawl into bed and hope I can get over this sinus infection that is a result of the wondrous flu I've been enduring the past week. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I'll be back

Down with the flu for now so I'm not feeling particularly spiritual.  I'll write more when I'm over this and am back to what is normal for me.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Trying to find the positive

I think I'm finally on the  upswing from the fatigue/pain flare up of my fibromyalgia.  At least I'm going to pretend I am so I can be more positive about it.

I haven't been studying much the past couple of days due to the brain fog that always accompanies the fatigue.  Not so much the pain though.  I've been known to have a clear mind throughout a painful period, which is one of the reasons I'd rather suffer through the pain than the fatigue.

I have, however, been forging a better relationship with the Goddess/Gods by just communicating with them.  A few lit candles and some silent time has done more for me than the studying.  The studying is beneficial, however, just not crucial for a relationship.

I have hopes of continuing on with the studies and keeping my daily observances...well...daily.  I also hope to spend more time outside as well.  Even though our "false spring" (how the hell can it be a false spring when we haven't even had winter yet?) is over and the temps will be dropping.  I'm feeling called outdoors.

For tonight, however, I'm just muddling through doing the mundane things.  Hopefully all this sleep from the past couple of days has done the trick and my body has repaired itself a bit.  Time will tell.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A few pictures but more of the same

I've been spending less time online and more time in crafting and studying but not enough in catching up with my chores.  I think that will come in time if I can get my health situation back on track.  I realize more and more how the health/spiritual connection is so central to a person's well-being.  When I'm so tired I can't function, my brain shuts down and I feel completely empty.  Now I just have to figure out how to work the two together.

I took some pictures of my Samhain altar.  They're not great because my bedroom is dark but I'll show them anyway.  I also took some pictures of the ancestor wall above my altar.  And the witch figure I got at the Thrift store for less than a dollar.

My crystals are in the center.  The lovely meditation beads are a gift from Tana (as were the crystals).  The empty candle holder at the rear is Lugh's candle holder.  It will remain empty until Yule when he is reborn.

You can see my corn dollie in the upper right.  I have a problem in finding other people's altars so much nicer and better decorated than mine.  I really wish I could stop comparing myself to everyone else.

The ancestor wall.  My God's Eye is there, too, along with some pictures of my grandmothers and grandfathers, Tom's parents as well.  The lower picture is my Goddess picture in three forms:  maiden, mother, crone.  I'll try to get a better picture of it.

There is my little witch next to a picture of my late mother-in-law. I keep my spare candles and holders on top of the entertainment center.  I have few flat spaces in my house and none that are empty.  I got a closer picture of my little witch but it was all washed out from the flash.  I'll try to get a better picture of her as well.

I wish I could say I'm learning a lot but what I'm learning is more about me than about Druidry or Wicca.  Which, I suppose, is where I needed to start anyway.  I'm learning to follow my intuition which is easier when I'm not in the deficit on energy.  And I discovered today that my concentration is coming back along with my retention.  The studying is helping in that area.  I had forsaken being able to learn anything since chemo.

But for now, I need to go lie down because in spite of getting sleep again, I've still got no energy.  I am taking notes to talk this over with the doctor next month though.  I'm thinking I've got Chronic Fatigue Syndrome as well as the Fibromyalgia, which has its own fatigue symptoms as well.  I'm also going to be talking to Tom about taking a few days away from it all (although I'm planning on staying in my room) on a weekend so he and Zach can do what needs to be done.  I just need time to not have to take care of anyone else for at least a couple of days.  I haven't had a day off from that in over 22 years.

I'm hoping when I get to the bottom of this, my blogging on both blogs will be more consistent.  And interesting.  How boring it must be to read about my pain and fatigue all the time.

I'm off to get the clothes off the line and into bed.  Zach is fixing supper tonight.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I need to find a spell for sleep

I ended up having a small ceremony of sorts at my indoor altar because I'm suffering through debilitating fatigue due in part to no sleep.  Or lack of.  I lit some candles and some special incense and spoke with my grandmother and my mother-in-law.  I was too tired to listen for a response but that's okay.  In time, now that the election is nearly over and I won't get woken up early in the morning with those frelling automated calls, I'll be back to barely functioning instead of not functioning at all.

I put an electric candle in the window to light the way for the ancestors.  I started out with a bigger candle but it was scented (vanilla) and gave me a headache.  I switched to an electric tea candle, which I have enough of, but I'd really prefer the bigger one.  Maybe as it's used the scent won't be so strong.  I'll keep vigil until Yule.

I'm still being amazed how supportive Tom is about all this. 

I wasn't even able to read at all yesterday.  My mind just wouldn't work well enough to retain a paragraph.

Still, I was able to watch a few documentaries that raised my blood pressure.  One was about the Gates of Hell which reminded me why I left Christianity and why I'm so glad not to be immersed in it anymore.  I couldn't handle all the salivating over the people who were being tortured in hell because they didn't check the right box.  But it did explain why so many "Christians" are in love with the idea of torturing people for information.  And justifying the death penalty.  Which made me think of human sacrifice since the Christians I have known in the past always attributed the death penalty to their God and how justice must be exacted and how God loves it when you kill off your prisoners.  Sounds like human sacrifice to me.  At least it's how the ancient Celts did it, and the Romans though they wouldn't call it that.

I won't be able to study tonight as I only got a few hours sleep before the asshole Ron Johnson called me this morning waking me up to tell me why I should vote for him.  Not a chance, I can tell you.  I'm not sure I'll be much good knitting either.  But I need to finish winterizing in case I break down and turn the furnace on tomorrow.  So I'm off to get something done before I crash.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Another day on the right path

Today's reading on the Earth Path (The Druidry Handbook) discussed various ways of being ecologically  responsible.  There was a list or two of various things one could do to accomplish this but since I already do over half of them and the other just aren't feasible, my reading felt a bit empty today.

I did read a bit in Druid Magic about shapeshifting (no, not like in Twilight) which was really interesting and had more to do with creating spiritual personas rather than actually turning into a creature.  I'm not sure this is something I want to pursue, however.  But it was interesting.

I also started reading in the Tarot book I got from the library since I really feel that's an area I want to work in.  I also got out my Scott Cunningham books to work through as well.  It was a pretty productive morning in spite of not getting up until around 10:30.  I would have slept longer but Professor doesn't like me staying in bed when he wants to get up.  It doesn't matter if everyone else is up.  He thinks I need to be awake as well.

I do need to focus on sleep but since I determined that I am the Moon instead of the Sun, I'm not going to struggle against my natural sleep patterns and try to get up early anymore.  I'll let myself sleep in and not fight getting to sleep early.  I just need to make sure I'm getting enough sleep. 

We didn't celebrate Samhain last night.  I really need to learn to put up barriers because every holiday that has gone by since starting on this path, I've had my energy completely drained to the point I can't do anything to celebrate.  I didn't figure it out until Sunday what has been going on. 

I am going to try to do something indoors tonight.  I just don't have the energy to go outside to set it up or to perform any rituals out there.  Indoors will be something simple and not overly exhausting although I do plan on going out to speak to Pearl, my beloved cat who is buried up on the hill and leave some gifts for the crows and squirrels.  It's all they get for the year although the crows have been known to steal the suet.

I will speak also to my grandmother tonight but I'll do that indoors.  She's been on my mind lately and I wonder if my gifts came from her.  She was a bit of a seer, I discovered, and I suspect her Christianity was more cultural than devout.  Not that she was secretly Pagan, but I do believe she was more in tune with the Otherworld than any of my other family.  And yet I knew her the least out of all my grandparents.

I'm also planning on leaving a meal for Pearl on my neglected outdoor altar, which I really do intend to fix up this week.  I just need energy to do that.

Well, I am off to knit for a while and watch some documentaries I dvr'd.  One about the Trail of Tears and another about animals.  I just can't remember which animal.  Hazy brained today.

Blessed Dio de los Muertos to everyone.  Or Happy All Saints Day to those who celebrate that instead.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

With the new year comes change and new perspectives

I have neglected both this blog and my journal due to still experiencing serious insomnia.  I don't think well when I'm sleep deprived and since thinking is required to formulate a post, it just wasn't going to happen.  Happily, I've gotten sleep the past couple of nights so I'm going to give it a go.

The more I study the Druidry Handbook, the more I question my path.  At least the path of pure Druidry.  I know that there is much about it that speaks to me and calls to me, but it is a religious path and not a philosophical one I am seeking.  The curriculum for AODA is hugely academic in nature, with a requirement of 9 books read on various subjects on Nature, study one of the seven spirals, blah, blah, blah.  It sounds like seminary, to be honest.  I looked into OBOD's curriculum which seems to be more experiential, which is what I'm looking for, but it's way out of reach and still too structured.

Then there is the notion that no one can really be a Druid because it takes so long to achieve that status.  That there are three levels of which you need to choose one.  You can be a Bard, knowing poetry, stories, music, etc.  You can be an Ovate, knowing the more spiritual aspects like divination, magic, etc.  Or you can be a Druid, the wise helping person who heals and teaches.

What if I just want to be an ordinary person who knows a little bit about all of that?

It made me question whether I really want to be a Druid after all.  By that I mean associate my path as such.  There is an aspect of me that associates with witchcraft as well.  Not Wicca, but witchcraft.  And I want that as well.  Green witch, hedge witch...something like that.  I love the magic of witchcraft more than I like the magic of Druidry.  I love the moon over the sun.  I love the night with a deep, deep passion.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the books on Druidry I'm reading but I also love the books on Wicca I'm reading as well.  I find wisdom in both.  There is direction and teaching in both paths that make me feel more like a balanced person.  I've seen references made to Druidcraft, which is the combining of both paths.  It has a more eclectic feel for me. 

I think I need to stop trying to put a label on what I am and just enjoy the learning.  I have so much I want to learn, especially in herbs, crystals, divination, magic.  And while I do love Nature and feel a reverence for her I don't want to forsake the modern world and give up technology.  I like the idea of simplifying my life, but I'm  not cut out for going back to the simple life.  I do what I can, but I don't want to feel guilty for loving television and movies and the computer. 

I just don't have a balance right now and I think that's why I feel so out of whack.  I am spending less time online and more time reading and knitting, as well as other crafts, but it's not about not using the computer. It's about following my heart.  I still struggle with mindsets from years of institutional religion, thinking I need someone in authority over me to tell me how to walk my path.  That may be, but it's not a person, especially not one who doesn't know me.  I'm more convinced I need to find my spirit guide and make that connection.

I discovered this week that the crow is my power animal so I plan on exploring that relationship as well.  I also think I need to write in the blog more often because it does help me organize my thought and focus.  I still write in my spiritual journal because there are things I that are just too personal.  Plus the writing is an exercise for me as well, different from this kind of writing.

I keep overthinking this...more baggage from my past.   I hope this blessed Samhain will be the start of a new year for me, a new way of thinking.  Learning to focus and meditate.  Learning about those things I have a passion for.  Learning to walk alone without fear.  And know that I'm not really alone, that I have the Crow and my spirit guide with me.

I'm excited about this, actually.  I feel more in control of my life in a way I haven't felt for many a year.  If ever.  I love throwing off the labels and following my heart, my calling.  I love not having someone over me telling me what I should learn and what I should believe.

It may sound silly that I have just figured all this out, but I have 50+ years of indoctrination to overcome and it's not happening overnight.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I won't go down that road

I did a lot of pondering about this path I have started down.  I looked at the website for AODA and the requirements for finishing the first degree Druid program and have decided that while I like the idea of formulating a goal with the end result making myself feel like a Druid, I don't like the idea that someone would test me to determine that I have reached that goal.  I lived for 50 years within a religious institution that measured spirituality based on their own criteria.  In fact Zach and I saw a bumper sticker just Monday that stated that you can't be both pro-choice and Christian.  That's what I lived with most of my life.  Someone determining what the parameters were that said you were a Christian.

I won't do that within Paganism.  I just won't.  I do like The Druid Handbook for a guide, and I can use the resources they have set out as an outline but frankly, I can't afford the out of print books they require for study.  It's my path, not theirs.  I can  understand them viewing it as the ancestors did, with the passing down of information and examining the candidate to determine they have learned enough to carry the torch from then on.  But that was then.  This is now.  We don't pass things down word of mouth anymore.  We have books, internet, movies, etc. 

I guess I'm just a bit rebellious about the whole thing.  None of this stuff is cheap.  We're talking hundreds of dollars in books because there's no way my library system has even one percent of those books. Not to mention the membership fees that seem affordable until you realize how much money you have to spend on books in order to achieve first degree Druid.  Then there's 2nd and 3rd degree.

Several years ago I tried my best to tithe to my church like a good little Christian, having been assured that God would honor my efforts and bless my socks off.  The end result was I couldn't pay my bills unless I stopped tithing because he didn't "bless my socks off" at all.  When I questioned it, I was told that my attitude must be wrong or I wasn't being responsible with my money because done right, that was the assured result.

I stopped tithing from that day forward.  And stopped listening to the annual money grubbing sermons.  Testimony after testimony about how God had blessed people with huge amounts of money because they tithed.  I can't begin to tell you how bad it made me feel, how unloved and inadequate.

AODA isn't saying you need to finish up their course to be a Druid, but they do dangle the titles around in a seductive way.  I guess I looked at Paganism, and Druidry in particular, to be more organic institutions. I'm not interested in joining something that acts like a church or a seminary. [ As a side note, a blog I read lately had an entry that seemed to put across the point that neo-Paganism is newer than Christianity so we should learn from them and incorporate those things we like.  I wrote a cryptic response that there was nothing I wanted to learn from an institution that had treated people so cruelly but the counter to that was one of sunshine and sweetness and how it was okay we (I wasn't the only one who didn't like her entry) felt that way but she thought it was a good idea.  If Paganism is going to start looking like Christianity, I'm outta here.]

And yet I do feel like I need interaction with other Druids. I've been looking into The Druid Network to join.  Membership fees aren't extravagant and their spiritual viewpoint is very similar to mine.  Moreso than either OBOD or AODA.  But I won't do anything without giving it a lot of thought so I won't decide until Samhain.

In the meantime, I intend to plot my own course of study using AODA's book and their recommendations, only finding books within my library system that are comparable.  I will most likely have to buy a book or two before I'm done with my one year Bardic study but it will be on my terms.  And after I've researched to find the best resources.

All in all, I'm feeling pretty good about it.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Commitment isn't a four letter word

One of my greatest failings is I don't often finish what I start.  As a result, I tend to avoid committing to things because I end up being unreliable which makes me feel even worse about myself.  So one of the books I got a couple of weeks ago is apparently the text used for initiation into Druidry for one of the American Druid organizations.  One I might be interested in joining.  But again with the commitment thing.

It actually sounds like a lot of work.  Not in the sense of manual labor, digging ditches and clearing the wilderness or building rustic huts for spiritual retreats.  No, it involves examining myself and my motives, exploring what it means to be a Druid, meditating, and journaling.

On a daily basis.

And yet, I'm not happy just drifting along this way.  Between the three books I own on Druidry, I have enough to go through a year's study, if not longer.  At the very least I could go from saying I am on the Druid path to saying I'm studying to be a Druid.  It may not seem like a fine distinction but to me it's the difference between renting or owning.  I want to own my spirituality.  The rent is getting too high.

So I bought a journal today and am setting forth with much fear and trembling that I might fail again.  I called upon the God/desses to help me in my endeavors, knowing that the responsibility is mine alone.  Ain't no sky daddy going to pluck me up and give me the courage and stamina required to do this.  And yet, knowing they are cheering me on gives me incentive.  They called me to this path so I'm pretty darned sure they're not going to be throwing obstacles in my way to "test" me.  I think they want me to succeed.

Sundays are difficult days to do rituals or study because I don't have any privacy on the weekends.  Where my son is good at respecting my closed curtains, my husband isn't.  He just walks in regardless without knocking on the nearest wooden structure.  In the scheme of things, though, it's not worth arguing over.  I just make adjustments as best I can.  Samhain is on a Sunday but I'll be outside and I doubt he'll follow me out there.  On the other hand he might be curious enough to observe, which I'm okay with because he's been terrifically supportive about both my and Zach's spiritual changes.

I found a nice, square black candle at the thrift store yesterday for $1.99 so I bought it and today when I went back with Tom to show him the new location, they had another identical candle out for the same price so I bought it, too.  And a cute little statuette of a witch, complete with green skin and black cat.  She's keeping vigil over my altar right now.

And speaking of my altar.  Tomorrow I will take a picture of it now that I have the wall of ancestors up.  I talked to my parents today finding out information about their parents.   When I put the pictures up I remembered something about my maternal grandmother.  She was supposedly a bit psychic.  She was good at locating lost things for people.  They would come to her and she would let them know where the item was.  I've been feeling her calling to me from beyond the veil the past few days, as it becomes thinner and thinner.  I also hear my beloved cat, Pearl, calling to me, too.  Hannibal is acting a bit strange and has spent many a day sitting just below her grave on the hill behind the house.  Normally he sits further up and over from there.

My Tarot cards are starting to bond with me but they're still not speaking yet.  I know this is the deck I'm supposed to have but I don't know why they're taking their time becoming one with me.  I'm going to pick up a book at the library that uses Rider-Waite and see if that helps because the booklet that goes with the cards is next to useless.  The meanings of the cards according to the booklet doesn't sound right to me.

I'm spending less and less time online and more and more time with crafts, housework, getting healthy and reading.  My life is so much better but I do miss running into people online.  I must make the effort to stay in touch.  It's very important to me.

Time to get ready for bed.  I'm getting to bed earlier as well and it seems to be doing me some good both with energy and emotionally.  I'm hoping sleep is the key to controlling my depression.

Have a good week everyone.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I begin to learn

I've started a sincere study of Druidry this week.  Not just gleaning from websites or absorbing from blogs.  Real books.  Our library is sparse on Druidry but Tana was delightfully generous and sent me some books, most of which I've already pored over and over, but I just recently started serious study of The Druid Tradition by Philip Carr-Gomm.  I love it, especially with the meditation exercises at the end of each chapter.  I especially like knowing the history of modern Druidry and the differences between various Druid organizations.

Sunday, after taking Zach out to dinner for his birthday, we found ourselves in a Barnes & Nobles bookstore magnetically attracted to the "New Age" section.  I found several books on Druidry but I found myself in a dilemma:  which to take home with me.  In trying to decide I found myself clinging to old habits and thought-patterns.  As a fundamentalist Christian I was always careful to buy the books that reflected the "correct" doctrine and were written by approved authors.  I discovered I was doing the same thing with books on Druidry.  Would Philip Carr-Gomm approve?  Would Emma Restall Orr?

I admit that I am not a reconstructionist and find some of their teachings dangerously close to the fundamentalism I left that things have to be done their way, which is the way of the ancestors. As in...the "correct" way.  Not all reconstructionists are like that, of course, but I have run into a few who are.

It bothered me that I was trying to limit myself to the "correct" teachings on Druidry so I just sort of gulped and picked two that really spoke to me, the ones that I couldn't put back on the shelves.  One was The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer and the other was Druid Magic by Maya Magee Sutton and Nicholas R. Mann.  Imagine my surprise when I got them home and both books are recommended by Philip Carr-Gomm.  The Druidry Handbook seems to be one that tries to take reconstructionism into the modern world.  I haven't gotten into the other one far enough to tell yet but I'll let you know as I do.

Intuition.  It means something.  I was taught all my life not to trust my own instincts because they were inherently devious and would lead me astray.  I'm learning that's not so because my intuition isn't my enemy.  It's a tool.  Not perfect and subject to misinterpretation until I learn to use it better but certainly not my enemy. My intuition also found one set of Rider-Waite Tarot cards.  These are the cards I learned on lo! these many years ago and the ones I would have chosen for myself, if I had had the chance.  I couldn't resist them so they came home with me as well.  I gave back Zach's deck to him and am trying to bond with my new set. 

Zach found a book that had him transfixed so I bought it for him as a birthday present.  It's Dancing with Dragons by D. J. Conway.  Dragons have called to him all his life so this book really means a lot to him.

When I mentioned on this blog that I was trying to learn meditation, Tana found a set of Spirit Beads and sent them to me.  They are absolutely beautiful and so charged with energy.  They are made of polished Jasper with a Goddess symbol on them.  I am so lucky to have such a friend.  Especially since I still haven't gotten to the post office to mail off my gift to her.  (This week, I promise!)  I used them this week in meditation and prayer and they felt so good and seemed to help me center so much better.  Not that I'm any good at it yet.  I still have so many distractions...both internal and outside distractions.  I plan on getting up earlier in the morning so I am the only one awake.  It's the only way I can be alone in the house.

I'm still organizing my altar.  I haven't gotten the ancestors up on the wall yet but I plan on doing that this week, too.  I got an electric candle to use in my window nightly until Yule as I can't use a real one without burning down the house.  And little electric tea candles for those nights I feel like I need a vigil candle going.

I hope to share some of the things I'm learning about Druidry in the future but today I'm a bit under the weather with a cold or something (again!) so I'm going to rest on the bed while spinning for a bit.  It relaxes me.  A lot.  I also feel a definite connection with Lugh when I spin for some reason.  He's been ever in my thoughts these days.  My candle for him is yellow and nearly spent, which is appropriate, I guess, but I can't find another yellow candle in the store.  I'll keep looking.

Until next time.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Beginning preparations

I'm starting my preparations for Samhain (and typing with a cat stretched across my forearms) and trying to absorb as much energy as I can out there.  I'm doing a bit better today and hope that is an upward trend and not an anomaly. 

Lovely Tana sent me a gift of spirit beads that are absolutely wonderful.  Jasper stone and a Goddess symbol.  When she read that I was trying to learn meditation she thought they would help me focus better.  I haven't tried them yet because I have no privacy on the weekends but I look forward to it next week.  I slept with them last night in order to bond with them and really felt some energy from them this morning as I caressed them.  They are living on my altar right now.  I really hope to use them when invoking Awen, which I am ready to begin doing.

Tom is going through pictures looking for some photos of his parents and any grandparents out there.  While looking we found some pictures of my grandfather.  I'm collecting them for my wall of ancestors for Samhain.  I only lack my maternal grandfather's picture now.  I wonder if I can get my mother to send me one without revealing anything.

I can feel something in the air.  I was outdoors last night bringing the cat in and we stood in the yard watching the sky for a while before coming in.  I can feel the veil thinning.  I don't think I'm imagining it at all. 

Tonight though is for spinning and more knitting.  It's Zach's birthday (22nd) and we're taking him out to eat tomorrow night but tonight is for staying home.  And being creative.  I plan on making more God's Eyes this week.  I hope to have pictures of my altar and wall of ancestors, too.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The changes they just keep coming

I probably won't be writing here every day from now on.  I don't want to give the blog up but I've had my other blog for a few years and don't want to give it up either.  Besides,  the readership is greater there than here anyway.

For people who read here, I invite you to my other blog Knitting with my shoes off if you're interested.  I am "out of the broom closet" over there so I do talk about Pagan/Druid things there.  I just don't talk about the spiritual/emotional sides of being Pagan.  This started out being a place for me to sort things out and is still that place.  But since I have a better grasp on who I am as a spiritual being, I don't always have something to say about it.

I'm not giving it up though.  I still plan on writing here, just not as often.  The time may come when I completely blend the two blogs but for now, I plan on keeping them separate.  Sort of.  As I said, I'm out there so I plan on writing more and more about the things I do as a Druid but the dissecting of how I do that and why I'll keep here.

I'm guessing I'll be writing a few times a week so it's not like months will go by while the crickets chirp.  I just have to focus my time and energy in other areas for now.

You know how it is.

I'm hoping my anticipation of Samhain will foster some excitement in me pretty soon.  At least enough to have the energy to prepare for it.  I'm dragging so much, both physically and spiritually, that all I want to do is stay in bed all day.  But that's just not going to happen any time soon.

See everyone in a few days.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Reflections on direction

I'm getting excited about celebrating Samhain, figuring out what I'm going to do where and when.  It's better than Christmas, in my opinion.  I worked a bit in the faerie garden trying to do something with the compost.  I wish I had someplace else for it but it's there and smelly.  I plan on covering it up for ritual but very soon it will be used to cover up the newspapers I plan on putting down to enlarge the vegetable garden space.  Anything to avoid renting a roto-tiller.  We did it the hard way in the Spring, with physical labor and a lot of sweat.

I had an opportunity to talk to Tom this morning about Druidry and what it is.  He seemed receptive although I thought I saw a smirk on his face when I mentioned magick.  I could be wrong.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt, but there is still no doubt in his mind that Christianity is the only real path.  At least he's not preachy or judgmental about it though.  He knows that's one thing that will drive me into silence and put distance between us.   It was good to have someone to talk to about it in spite of our differences.

I'm hoping to start making some charms, talismans and other things very soon.  I asked Tom if he would wear a talisman for deer hunting and he said he would.  Now I just need to research one to find out what to put in the amulet bag.  He hasn't shot a deer in close to 9 years.  I need to include protection in the talisman for all the wacko hunters out there who don't follow safety rules.

I decided to stop reading a book I got from the library that, while the information in it was somewhat useful, was couched in such terms that made any neo-Pagans look silly.  And the author kept applying nearly everything in Paganism to Christianity, which is not the way I think it goes.  I think it's the other way around.  In fact, I'm convinced that Paganism has more importance and credibility based on the fact that no religion out there exists without incorporating Paganism into it.  Without Mithras and Osiris/Dionysius and other myths, Christianity wouldn't exist at all.  Without including Pagan holidays (albeit Christianized ones) into the church calendar, I doubt if Christianity would have grown as much as it did.  So in my mind (and I'll admit it's a vastly empty place these days) Paganism is the more prevalent religion.  Various Pagan religions date far earlier than the Abrahamic, some being contemporary with Judaism.

One thing I love about Paganism is the way it grows and evolves instead of remaining stagnant and rigid.  I believe the God/desses grow up and evolve as well.  I had my fill of the letter of the law and the insistence of not changing one iota from the imagined founder's rule-book.  I'm not a reconstructionist by any stretch of the imagination, which is why I find myself aligning more closely with OBOD and The Druid Network rather than the American Druid organizations. 

I'm far from being educated about my path but I do know this:  I plan on moving forward, not looking backward.  I did that already; I won't do it again.  If someone feels strongly that they need to do things the way the ancestors did, then more power to them.  But I feel like the ancestors enjoy seeing us grow and take things to a new level.  I'll ask them on Samhain to make sure.

In the meantime, I'll work at learning and growing and hopefully as my path unfolds beneath my feet, I'll make progress at being the person I have it in me to be.

Just as soon as I get a good night's sleep.