Saturday, August 25, 2012

Organized religion

Been pondering some things lately as I've skimmed some blogs on news about Pagan organizations.  And my personal (and I stress the word personal) opinion is that if Pagan groups were to organize, in less than a century it would resemble Christianity in form and function.  Because people are people, after all.

One of the biggest heartbreaks for me after leaving Christianity was finding out the Pagans weren't any better behaved.  There was as much backbiting, gossiping and vitriol withing the Pagan community as there is in Christianity.  It's just Christianity has more numbers and better press.  We get to hear it all.  Pagans tend to be a bit more tight-lipped and there are fewer numbers.

When I was exploring Druidry, I encountered several groups that insisted on the right way to become a druid.  And hardly any of them had the same requirements.  Some viewed Druidry from a philisophical perspective, others from a religious.  Some insisted you had to spend years and years of study before you could call yourself a true druid.  Others insisted if you claimed you were one, then you were.

And don't get me started on Hellenic and Asatru groups.  Lots of fighting amongst the various factions there.

Then we have organizations that have fallen apart due to bad management and personality clashes, not to mention the forming of factions within.

You've got reconstructionists versus neo-Pagans.  You've got hard polytheists and soft.  You've got people who think you can't worship a deity outside your ancestral line.  People who think you must have a pure nationality to worship the gods of that culture.  Organized versus intuitive.  The list goes on.

Why on earth would Paganism strive to something that doesn't work within the major religions, let alone fails miserably within the various Pagan groups.  Sure there are some that do work out.  It would be interesting to find out the difference in why some work out.  I suspect it has more to do with the people involved than the organization though.  And I'm sure there are covens and groves out there that are managed well and everyone gets along, but I have met only one person who has had that experience.  In person or in real life.  Maybe my world is too small.  Or maybe organizing something that is so organic is hard to do with success.

Circle Sanctuary seems to be an exception as well, but there could be things going on there that I don't know about, too. 

All this has made me convinced that solitary is the perfect choice for me.  Getting together with other pagans is fine, but dealing with a coven or a grove...I just don't think it would work for me.  I'm not inclined to be drawn to a group that has too many rules on how I may or may not practice my path. 

I understand the need for social interaction and having had "church" for over 50 years, I do miss that kind of weekly experience.  Part of me wishes I could get together with other Pagans from time to time but driving an hour in any direction would be the only solution to that.  And the community would be very diverse to the point of having to water down much of everything. ETA:  I'm thinking of something along the lines of a UU church here.

I could be wrong.  It may be that most of the groups out there are great and having few problems, but if there are, I'm not hearing about them.  I think any time you get people together under the religious tent, there are going to be people asserting their hold over others.  I just don't think Paganism is an exception. I said...people are people, even if they are Pagans.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Finding well-written myths makes the difference

Happily I found a book in my personal library called Druid Magic that has some stories of the gods in it and I loved reading those stories.  Maybe it's just the venue at fault and not the mythologies themselves?  I think I'll look for more reading from a "believer's" perspective.  I know the myths I grew up on were told as stories, not as something that wasn't true and had origins in this culture or that.

As a result of reading those stories, my opinions of the gods involved have shifted a bit, with a lot more understanding of what was the intentions behind the myths, rather than omg...the gods are behaving like bad little children.  I'm not interesting in dissecting each and every myth or digging through each word of an ancient writing to find "truths."  I spent a lifetime doing that in another religion.  I'm just interested in getting to know the gods, the spirits, the fae, and all other creatures of the other realms.

The cable guy came today to replace my dvr box and I had thoughts last night about putting my altar things away because it's very obvious what it is, and it's right next to the tv.  I decided not to, which was good in the long run because I don't think he even noticed it.  He was there to work and work he did!  Replacing all my cables just because he thought it would improve the quality of our service.  And he was the tallest human being I've ever seen.  He had to be at least 7 feet tall.  And weighed as much as a teacup.

The weather is spoiling me and I'm afraid I'll be disappointed soon when summer returns with a vengeance.  We've had daytime temps in the high 60s and low 70s.  And nighttime temps in the low 50s.  Tonight is predicted to be in the high 40s.  I love this weather best out of all the seasons.  I just don't think it's here to stay and when the heat returns it will be so hard to deal with.  But, as we never get more than a few weeks of fall before we start getting wintery weather, I'm going to enjoy every minute of this.  Although winter is my second favorite season.  Until about February.  Then it gets very old.

I haven't gotten a Blue Moon ritual written yet.  I have sorted out some books and things and found some interesting rituals I could adapt.  Not to mention finding some very good stuff in a book on spellcasting:  Power Spellcraft for Life by Arin Murphy-Hiscock.  I'm not very far into it but Zach has read it and really recommends it before I start writing spells. 

I've also decided not to focus on a hearth goddess as that seems to be a huge hurdle for me in moving forward.  I'm more comfortable with the Roman notion of household gods who take care of the mundane things but don't seem to have names or characteristics.  That seems to work well for me and has lifted a huge weight off of my shoulders.  Maybe not very Celtic but I'm not married to a rigid notion nor am I locked into a religion.  I may feel very uneasy with mixing and matching pantheons but this feels much more comfortable than a hearth goddess that I can't seem to connect with.  Time may change that but for now, it's the direction I'm going to take.

And having written that, I need to start supper and get the laundry out of the dryer so everyone has clothes to wear again.  I need to start hanging clothes out on the line but until I can get up and down the steps better, not going to happen.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Cowardly me

I had to back out of the blue moon ritual because it's just too far away and I would have to drive in too much traffic to get there.  It sucks not having anyone close enough to get together with but I do appreciate the invitation.  Just feel bad that I accepted and had to decline.  Plus my anxiety levels were on overload when I saw how much of Madison I would have to drive through.  In rush hour traffic.  On a Friday night.

So I plan on writing a ritual for Zach and me for the blue moon.  Won't be much but I hope it will be sufficient.  I haven't actually done magick yet.  I just don't have the energy for it but hopefully soon.

I was looking at some sites about the Welsh deities and I just wish they had a pronunciation guide to go along with most of them.  I did find one site that did but some of the pronunciations disagreed with other sites.  One of the problems with dealing with deities from another language, I suppose.

Another problem I have is with the mythologies.  I still have problems enjoying them.  It makes me like the deities less rather than get to know them better.  To be honest, the only mythologies I like are the Greek ones, mostly because they are from my childhood and are somewhat better organized.  The Celtic/Welsh mythologies tend to be a jumble of post-Christian writings with some stories brought down through tradition.  Hard to follow especially after all the Christianizing of them.  So I just plan to get to know them personally instead of through their myths.  I know the Greeks weren't any paragons of morality either and I did have problems liking the gods in spite of their myths.

And yet I know that this is the best path for me, the most comfortable and the most compatible with who I am.  I just mosey on doing the best I can.  How can I not walk this path when I get such a great response from the gods?

Monday, August 13, 2012

Good balance for now

I've been spending more time doing altar things instead of reading; more time focusing on the gods in my daily life instead of studying.  When I knit I watch tv but part of my mind is also on the intentions I knit into the baby things I hope to donate this winter, once I find a place that's not Christian oriented.  I don't want to donate anything through them because there is always a price to their charity:  listening to their gospel presentation and guilt-ridden/fear-mongering laden gospel presentation.  Perhaps not so bad in the more liberal churches, but certainly there in the fundie churches in my neck of the woods.  I don't want to go there at all.  I'll see if the library is doing something this year besides hats, scarves and mittens.  A Pagan charity would be ideal.  Maybe I can check with some Pagan sources.  I'd be willing to pay shipping to get them where they would be well-received.  I'm sure there are plenty of Pagan families who need warm clothes for their children, too.

My altar time has been amazing.  I hadn't realized how much I missed that connection of energy from the gods.  I haven't felt that for months, certainly not since I started drifting away from the Celtic culture.  Sometimes I think it's too intense to endure but I don't want to stop.  I'm sure in time I'll adjust to it and it won't overwhelm me anymore but in the meantime, I'm loving it.

I did do some reading today on the various mythologies in the Celtic realm and find I'm really drawn to the Welsh aspects of the gods.  Not entirely as there are some in the Irish and British myths that really appeal to me, but mostly it's Welsh.  I've had problems for a while feeling connected to Brigid.  Some days I think I am and then I go months without feeling anything at all.  I wonder if I looked into the Welsh aspect, it might help, because I know my aversion to her is because of the Christian adopting of her as a saint.  Not her fault, I know, but it bothers me.  I'll give Brigantia a chance, even though in my mind, she's still Brigid.  Maybe the difference of name will be enough.

I'd love to learn to speak Welsh.  Several months ago I got a course from the library but it was totally in print and no audio at all.  I can look around on the internet to find something audio.  I think the BBC has a free course.

For now, though, I knit, enjoy Nature and spend time connecting with the gods and that's enough for now.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Figuring me out

No regrets.  No second thoughts or looking back as I normally do when I change directions.  I feel really good about this decision. Aside from feeling foolish that I have had such a hard time finding a path and sticking with it, I feel quite at peace.  And yet, I don't seem to be the only one having this difficulty; I've read many a blog by Pagans who have changed their paths repeatedly trying to find the right one.  I suppose that's the risk we take when we get to choose our own path instead of just being born into one or having someone pick it for us.

I couldn't figure out why I was unable to draw from various pantheons until I responded to The Opinionated Redhead in the comments of the last post.  I don't see all the gods as various aspects of the God and Goddess.  I see them all as their own beings, not part of a greater whole. I don't believe there is only one or even two aspects of one god.  I'm a hard polytheist and believe that, while there may be some gods who carried over from various civilizations, one pantheon isn't the same as another with only the names changed.

ETA:  And I absolutely believe that people can believe what they want about this and no one is more right than the other.

I'm grateful to the Redhead for helping me sort that out because I couldn't figure out what was wrong with me, that I couldn't split up a pantheon and just wing it like others do. I really appreciate the input I get from the people who comment here (aside from the wingnut who decided I was going to hell for not worshiping her god which I deleted) because it helps me gain confidence that I can make my own decisions.  And that I'm not wrong for doing things the way that's right for me.  It has probably been so hard for me to forge my own path because for half a century I was indoctrinated, with a threat of eternal torment, that that was wrong.

So...this feels really right and comfortable and while I'm not carving it in stone, it feels different from the other times in that I feel so very settled this time.  With no urgent need to study up on anything or learn anything before I can proceed further.  I just feel like I can move forward with what I know and learn at a leisurely pace the things I don't know yet.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Change in the wind again...I hope for the last time

My path has shifted once again, back to where I first started when I left the religion of my birth behind.  I was really trying to fit into Heathenry because I truly did feel the call of the gods but it's just not who I am.  I'm a pacifist, lover of nature and wildlife and I really don't look forward to an end-time battle.  Nor do I really believe there will be one.

In the end, I suppose I'm saying no to the Norse gods.  I appreciate their calling me and inviting me into their world but it's just not something I fit well into.  I tried reading the mythology and found myself not particularly liking the gods of the Norse mythology.  Now, I realize the myths aren't scripture.  They're not who the gods actually are, but just as it's hard for me to separate the Bible from Christianity, I can't seem to separate the Eddas from the Aesir and Vanir.

Oddly, the book I had on Norse mythology also had a section on the Celtic myths and for the first time, I found myself completely won over by them.  I thought how well I could relate to them, to the love of nature and life and their views on the afterlife. How much I enjoyed their stories, after all.

I just hope this is the last switch I make.  I'm really tired of being so undecided, until I decide, and then I end up undecided again.

It's also making my efforts to work magick easier.  I feel like a barrier has been removed although I'm still very much a novice at it.  I got a book on runes but it's from a Norse perspective, which I can get around very easily.  I know some Heathens believe you can't work runes without the Norse gods, but I'm learning to be eclectic and I kind of think the gods of the various pantheons aren't nearly as territorial as we humans are about the accoutrements of our various religions.  Besides, I wonder if my draw to the Norse gods had more to do with the runes than with the gods themselves.

And I have to say that the Animal Oracle cards have spoken to me for the first time in months, so that must be a good sign.  I haven't touched my Tarot in a while but I might get those out tomorrow after my dr appointment. 

I missed Lughnassadh but my favorite festivals are coming up so I am wriggling in anticipation of Samhain and Winter Solstice.  And of course, Mabon is on my birthday eve so...

Friday, August 3, 2012

More reading material

I got The Poetic Eddas from the library last week and I only have it for two more since it's a 3 week loan instead of four like the rest of my books are.  Not nearly enough time to read it since it's not light reading at all.  I have it online free but it's not easy for me to sit at the computer and read books.

Same with a book on Runes.  I got it free on Kindle and am using the PC Cloud thing but it's just hard to sit and read, particularly when I'm trying to retain it.  So I broke down and bought Diana Paxson's Taking Up the Runes.  I looked around trying to find recommendations and this one seemed to have the best ratings.  Also the most ratings.  Most rune books only had one or two reviewers.  I got this one from a dealer and it was like new for a lot less than the price of a new one.

I really would love to get a Kindle for Christmas but I doubt we will be able to afford it.  I really love holding a book in my hands when I read, but there are books out there I would be able to get for free or next to nothing that I can't afford on hard copy.

I'm having some really bad insomnia problems lately so not much of anything is getting done.  I've tried herbal sleeping pills, teas, OTC sleeping pills and nothing is giving me consistent sleep.  It seems like it's getting a smidgen better but I'm not going to declare victory until I've had at least a week of solid, restful sleep.  Can't remember the last time I had that.

In the meantime, I'm knitting, watching tv and reading as best I can with a brain fogged by lack of sleep.  Thankfully I can renew the books at the library (aside from The Poetic Eddas) twice more.  That one has a waiting list so I can't renew it.  Who knew it would be in such high demand in this neck of the woods?

Off to bed and trying to stay awake long for the sun to go down.