Um, Silent July, August, and most of June…

So, I really had no intention of going silent for July.  Or August for that matter.  (Not that I don’t understand and respect the reasoning of those who did.)

I just sorta stopped being interested in blogging for awhile.

I’d like to think I was “doing stuff” instead of “writing about doing stuff,” and that was definitely part of it.  To  be perfectly honest though, it’s not like I was so busy with devotional practice and art I couldn’t slip a post in here and there.  I just didn’t have much to say I guess.

I decided to quit doing the Pagan Blog Project because, while I love it and enjoy seeing the posts everyone comes up with, I found myself feeling pressured to write just for the sake of having written.  (Also, when you’re in the middle of a ritual and find yourself thinking about just how you’ll word the description of the experience, it’s probably time to take a break from the internets…)

So, what have I been doing instead?OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’ve set up an altar to my ancestors and beloved dead.  At this point, I’ve yet to really begin regular offerings, but it’s good to have the constant reminder that they’re there.  I’ve found myself talking to them more often as a result, which has got to be a good thing.

Continuing my daily prayers and offerings.

I’ve also been doing art, devotional and otherwise.  I’m quite proud of the mask I made for Dionysos.

Also been doing regular life things like holding down a job and taking care of  a sick puppy.

Still, I like having the blogs.  I’m going to try to find a happy medium between never posting and never doing anything else because  I’m focused on writing about it.

Any suggestions?

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Fangirlishness

Once again, a ferocious debate is raging in pagan blogosphere and I find myself caught in the middle.  I’d like to be a partisan in one of these someday.  It looks like fun – all that righteous anger and willingness to take offense at the slightest contradiction must be really cathartic.

Respect.

Maybe next time.  On the whole “worshiping Batman” controversy, while many bloggers I have a lot of respect for rage on, I’m firmly in the middle:  I see the absurdity of both sides.

This all started, as far as I can tell, with a person saying “I do this thing.  It’s basically the same as what you do, just more modern.”

A bunch of other people responded with “It’s really not the same at all and here’s why.”

This quickly degenerated to “You’re an intolerant meanie!” versus “Yeah, well you’re shallow and vacuous!”

Then some other people, whose practice is somewhat related to the first person’s but really not what anyone was talking about, jumped in with “How dare you call me shallow and vacuous!”

And it all went down hill from there.   Me, I made popcorn and settled in for a fun read.

But it preyed on my mind and in the middle of the night, I decided to write this after all.  *shrug*  I hadn’t done a blog post in awhile and this topic interests me.

Stevie+Ray+Vaughan

Then there’s this guy.

On one had, I am a fangirl, pure and simple.  It’s in my nature to become obsessive about various pop culture phenomenon.  It took me a long time to learn not to be ashamed of that.  I will delightedly spend hours arguing with you about who was the best Doctor (Tom Baker, thank-you-very-much) or the relative excellence of Jimi Hendrix verses Jimmy Page (why bother though?  They’re both freakishly talented.)  I include Hendrix – as well as Jim Morrison, Marc Bolan and many others – among my revered dead.

I have found spiritual inspiration from Neil Gaiman‘s Endless.  When I visualize Ares, he wears the face of Kevin Smith.  When I was younger, before I found paganism, I considered the Force as a religious paradigm.

I have even written Harry Potter fan fic.  (Eep!  Didn’t intend to admit to that one…)

However, I work very, very hard not to be a fangirl about my Gods.  It would be blasphemous to reduce any deity to the level of Lucius Malfoy or John Constantine, even in my own mind.  (As a result, though, I tend to second guess the passion I feel for the Gods.  Something I really need to work on if my relationship with Them is to develop much farther.)

English: The writer Alan Moore Español: El esc...On the other hand, I have no problem believing that ideas and characters from fiction, if given enough energy over time from enough people, or perhaps really intense energy from someone who knows what she’s doing, can develop a life of their own.  They can be magically useful, so why not religiously? Besides, if Alan Moore believes it, it has to be credible!  (Blatant example of fangirlishness provided for your benefit.)

On yet another hand (I have lots of hands) I am a relatively hard polytheist.  Gods are Gods, heroes are heroes, thought forms are thought forms.  They’re not the same thing.  (Well, except Hercules – the hero who became a God.  And Dionysos – who has a grave and could be considered hero as well as Deity.  And…  not making my point really well here, am I?)

The thing is though, while no one believes that Batman or Lucius Malfoy were ever real, living humans, the heroes of ancient Greece were never thought of as fictional.  They are our glorious ancestors.  Even with a modern’s skepticism – (Is that really the grave of Achilles?  Or just the grave of some guy someone decided to call by that name?) – and nervousness about taking mythology too literally, I see that as a major difference.

But in the end, if you’re not practicing my religion, what do I care?  Because it will make “us” look silly in the eyes of those who lump us all together and who will probably never take any of us seriously anyway?

*shrug* I’m a fangirl.  I’m used to looking silly.

But if you say you are practicing my religion and what you’re talking about is extremely different – even to the point of being directly opposed or, at the very least, disrespectful – to what I do or believe, don’t I have the right to say “maybe not so much?”

Does it really all come down to words and titles yet again?  Who gets to decide what a Wiccan is?  Or a Hellenic Polytheist?  Or a Christian?  It’s really easy to say the members of those faiths get to define the term, but that’s begging the question.

Happy John Lennon Day!

This is a free account and I can’t imbed videos. So I’ll just make a strong suggestion: everybody go find a copy of Imagine (here’s one) and give a listen. Go ahead and do it now, I’ll wait right here.

Now don’t you feel better?  More hopeful about the future of humanity?  What, you feel like crying instead?

Yeah, I get that too.

Anyway, this post is actually meant to be relevant to this blog in more than just a John-Lennon-was-Awesome sort of way.  With Samhain coming up, like many pagans I’ve been thinking about ways to honor my ancestors.  For a long time I’ve wanted to incorporate an altar for the beloved dead and regular offerings in my practice.  I really want to include all of my “beloved dead,” not just family.  There are many among my beloved that aren’t related to me at all – I never knew them in this life.  Like John, they are not great heroes of my nation or direct benefactors of my family.  Yet, I adore them and they had a part in making me the woman I am today.

Ryan at Pagan Reveries talks about the cult of the poet hero in this and many excellent posts following it.  This is kind of what I’m thinking about, but not all of my beloved were poets, either.  Cultural heroes, maybe – as in heroes of arts and science?

Lennon, Morrison, Vaughan, Tesla, Einstein, Galileo, Lovelace, Byron, Shelley, Emperor Julian, Hypatia, Hildegard von  Bingen, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Josephine Baker, Rumi, Wilde, Bradbury, Vincent, Leonardo

Those of you who do honor your ancestors as a regular practice, do you only include those genetically related to you?  Or do you also honor those people who have made you who you are in ways other than biological?  Or do you feel this would be a slight to your physical ancestors?

Ancestors and Samhain

Back when I fancied myself a Wiccan… (Huh. Firefox’s spell-check recognizes “Wicca” but not “Wiccan.” One of the suggested alternatives is “Anglican.” This amuses me.)

Anyway, as I was saying, back when I considered myself a Wiccan Samhain was my favorite holiday.

This was partly because I always loved Halloween. As a girl it was a magical time when I got to dress up and roam the streets after dark. As an adult, well same thing really. I suppose I can (and do) roam the streets at night anytime I want now, but its more fun on Halloween. And the Weeping Angel costume might get me committed another time of year (outside of Comic-Con, anyway.)

But also as a religious holiday it had more meaning to me than the others. I can literally feel the veil thinning this time of year.

When we were living in the Bay Area, we would regularly attend Reclaiming’s Spiral Dance, which are still the most powerful public rituals I’ve ever been part of.

I guess that’s why Samhain is one of the only Wiccan holidays I still celebrate, in my own way.  (Imbolc is the other, because of a personal debt of gratitude to Brighid.)

Speaking of the veil thinning, I had a dream the other night about the little girl on the left. She was maternal grandmother. She passed away in the early 80’s. I spent most of my life, before and after her passing, actively disliking her. She did not like children, didn’t know how to relate to them. Since I was a child when she died, most of my memories of her are rather unpleasant because of this. (There are also some stories about her questionable treatment of my mother as a girl, but that’s second hand stuff.)

The thing is, since I’ve moved back to my home town and have been spending a lot of time with my mother (the adorable, but grumpy girl in the middle of the top photo) I’ve been learning things about my grandmother that have really humanized her in my eyes. On top of this, I’ve started to see how alike we are. (For example – I don’t do well with children either. I just had the good sense not to have any. Not really an option for a young married woman in the 1930’s, I guess.)

In my dream I first met “ghost” of my mother (who is alive and well) as a little girl. Then my grandmother. Both about the ages they were in these pictures. It made me really happy.

I’ve been feeling really bad about all the dislike I’ve sent her way over the years. I’d like to take this Samhain to try to heal that relationship.

Another ancestor I have unresolved issues with is my maternal grandfather, her husband.

I loved my grandpa.

In a way, he was the ideal grandfather – a great storyteller who knew everything. And what he didn’t know, he made up.

Everybody in my family adored him. And they still do. So I’m not going to go into any details here, since some family members might read this blog, but yeah. Issues. I’m not sure how to go about healing that one. But I’d really like to. Like I said, I practically worshiped him.

The thing about Samhain that I like, religiously or at least magically, is that it is the one NeoPagan holiday where I got real work done. Not that worshiping the Gods isn’t really work – obviously, its very important. But personally, I never really connected with the Wiccan mythic cycle, and being a solitary NeoWiccan, had never been introduced to the Gods of Wicca. So even at that time, these holidays were more about their other associations for me: Samhain/ancestors, Beltane/fertility (liked that one, too), etc.

The ancients that inspired my current path also venerated their ancestors and looked to them for aid and guidance. It was important to maintain good relationships even after death. Maybe that’s why Samhain still feels like it fits.