Got a misbehaving scrying mirror? Corny crystal ball? A pernicious pedantic pendulum? Here’s a quick way to cleanse them! Steep mugwort in hot water. When cool, “wash” your tools in the tea and let dry! Good luck!
I’m one of those witches and pagans that honours her ancestors weekly. I learn their names and their stories. Normally, I give offerings of thanks for all that they have done for my families just by living and teaching us how to survive. This past week I did something different. I thought of all I’ve given to the ancestors for offerings. More and more, no single “thing” I gave felt like it was enough – or appropriate. I decided to take a different approach. This past week, while I did light my candles for the ancestors, I gave no offerings. This past week I fasted for the ancestors. To be clear, I set a time for my fasting. I had a protein shake for early breakfast and set my fast end for dinner. As a diabetic and compulsive snacker, you can see where this would be difficult for me. It lasted eight hours. While I stuck it out with only having water, coffee or tea, I thought of my ancestors. From both sides of my family, my ancestors were labourers, farmers, soldiers, hard workers and harder spiritual workers. They came from not so poor families themselves. While everyone could read and write, not everyone had three meals a day, or even a bed to sleep in at night. They worked long hours in risky places for less than optimal pay even for the times. They served their countries and put their lives on the line for their families and friends. If they could make that sacrifice, surely I could stick out eight hours. If you ask my friends, they may regale you with stories of the feasts that were held in my home. Food is how we celebrate life and death. This time, I chose to recognize not just the lives of my ancestors. I recognized all they sacrificed so that I would have a better world to live in and make the world a better place for others. And so I did. After eight hours, I had my first solid meal. It was plain food. I don’t even remember what I had. I do remember thanking all those of my blood who only had one meal a day – maybe – for all that they have done for me and for their sacrifices.
As we people gather ‘round, we mark this space our holy ground. East, South, West, North, and Spirits of place, we call you forth!
Gods, Goddesses and Deities, of earth air fire and sea; Grant blessings here, and harm to none and bless our work that will be done.
Well that was the way it was supposed to go! I had the pleasure of leading the main ritual for this year’s Durham Pagan Pride Day. Usually the day has it’s challenges. Today was no exception. I completely forgot that I was vending, scrambled to make it all work and promptly realized that there was no way I’d be able to go home for my full ritual supplies and come back.
Thankfully MY community stepped up, stepped in and got everything going right for me.
While many are thanking me for main ritual, I wish to thank everyone who came out, supported the event, bought from vendors, helped set up and take down. My thanks to the local coordinator, Kat who made sure that I didn’t roast in the sun! I also want to thank my sister in spirit Lady Charissa and the Pagan Business Network for their contributions, ideas, support and general cheerleading! See, that was the gist of what the main ritual was all about.
I had pretty words all set up for it, too! Here are all the pretty words. I said most of them! I swear!
(I had the wreath set up ahead of time:)
Many pagans believe that we are all connected to each other – by energy, by faith, by commonality, by the myriad of deities that we honor. This connection is like a spider’s web. This connection is like fine embroidered stitching. This connection is like a network of nerves in our brains. This connection is like a map of veins in our bodies. And like veins we all go back to the source, back to one main energetic place. You can call it what you will: Heaven, The Summerlands, The land of the dead, another plane, another reincarnated life or back to the earth from which we came.
(This is where we strung three different lengths if ribbon around the participants. Some were looped. All were told to hang on to the ribbon.)
And yet, though we have this connection we are divided.
( Some were short, some long, some ended up with two or three pieces.)
We are divided by the different pantheons we honor. We are divided by the ways we honor Deity. We are divided by the songs we sing, the way we dance, and the magic we work. We are divided by the distances between us and our holy places, the distance be us and our chosen kindred and even by the festivals we can actually attend. We are even divided by those who can proudly claim their faith in public and those cannot for fear of unwarranted persecution.
Look at your ribbon, a representation of your connection to your deity and your people. Each of you honors Deity and your kindred a different way. Each of you can feel cut off from the source, alone, dealing with things you believe that no one can even comprehend. We all know this is far from the truth.
I have spoken to quite a few classes at Durham College about what it means to be pagan. For me, at it’s roots it means to spiritually survive, to connect to Deity and community the best you know how. To know that when we feel divide, all we have to do is reach out and make a connection. No we don’t wait for things to happen to us. I don’t know about you but my deities remind me that faith without work is dead. I can lift my voice in prayer, then I lift my butt and get it in gear.
(I showed them the wreath.)
You’ve seen and worked on a wreath like this before. However, this time, we will do something different. Look down at your ribbon, let a small amount your energy flow into it. Let those who are able come forward, and tie their ribbon to the wreath and to each other, to make the connection again to Deity. You can weave your ribbon through the vines making sure that your ribbon ties onto another one to be secure. You can ask for help! You can work together! You can tie your ribbon to only one or entwine it with others. All that matters is that you know that you are not alone and your community stands with you. If you are unable, will bring the wreath to you.
(We made sure everyone was included.)
Folk of Durham Region Pagans. This has been a very different ritual for Pagan Pride Day. We have celebrated the simplest and most holy of who and what we are – energetically connected to the Source, to Deity and to each other. That is truly magic.
Gentle folk, this is your Community Wreath – a representation of all that we are and can be. I will take this wreath with me to any pagan event I go to, to represent those who cannot be there and that those who wish to add their energy may do so.
Gentle folk is this acceptable?
(Thank the gods they said yes!)
And yet, even I can’t be everywhere. I propose that should there be an event that I cannot attend, the organizer contact me to have the wreath present, tie on more ribbons, to make more energy connections and then return it to me.
Gentle folk is this acceptable?
This is where we all empowered the wreath with our energy. It was amazing, awe inspiring and fantastic. What can I say?
It’s different in Durham! We’re a community, maybe divided by our paths, yet we are all connected through community!
On the Pagan Variety Show (December 16, 2013), we touched on the perpetrated stereotype of Poor Pagans. Pagan leaders see it and grouse about it all the time. There is no “Wiccan Hospital” or “Pagan Recreation Center” because “Pagans don’t have money.”
I call shenanigans. (I actually called it something else but you get my gist.)
Pagans have money. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise.
We know the story. There’s an artisan doing what they love as they sell their wares. Along comes someone who says they really want to support the artisan, but they just can’t afford to spend “that kind of money” on the item. The artisan folds and makes a compromise to either give an item or lower the price. You can imagine the fury when the artisan sees that same person who cried poor mouth walking along with an item from a different vendor – that was three times the cost, with a large coffee from TimHo’s or BuckStars and a fresh pack of cigarettes.
It’s like this for the event and group leaders as well. Yes, our guests all claim they can’t afford to drop five bucks in the offering bowl because things are tight. Those same guests will be more than happy to tell you about their new cloak, crystal ball or the dollars they dropped on a new drum.
Insert other expletives here ___________ .
Let’s look to the “well to do” religious cultures to see what they are doing to see how *they* manage to sustain the finances of their faith.
Everyone is quick to look (and point fingers) at what is the “blanket” Christian religion. Big churches? Check. Maybe not a big church, but the old building has been fully restored? Oh yeah. Choir robes? Yup. Daycare centers? Sigh. Day camps and summer camps? Some, yeah. Leader (priest, pastor, reverend, etc . ) that drives a decent to really nice car, roof over their head and delivers service to the community with a smile and a joyful noise? Checkity Check Check.
But there are two things that no one wants to see: 1: the congregation dutifully and consistently putting money in the offering plate; 2. The countless man hours of all the volunteers, knitting circles, paint crews, carpenters, drivers for the invalids and others who give their time and skill for their faith.
That’s called faith financial responsibility and hard work. If you aren’t scared of that? Let’s keep talking.
Yes. Most of the bigger “religions” have fostered, cajoled, or even demanded that their flocks and congregations tithe and give generously. For those who can math, that’s at least 10% off their net income. Sure, they can break it down to monthly and weekly payments offerings. However, they give, no whining, no wheedling, no compromises. And yes, there are times when even those who are part of a bigger group fall on hard times. I have seen it with my own eyes how a person gave over 10% of their unemployment check or a portion of the food purchased with social assistance “for those who are in need.”
Puts those Poor Pagans to shame at times, doesn’t it? Enjoying that coffee while your brother and sister pagans need food, a lift to the doctor or some help with ?
Yeah. Well, It doesn’t have to stay that way. So what can we do about it? The answer is both simple and hard.
We, as leaders, must learn to foster a culture of giving and generosity. My local druid grove, DLG, makes no bones about it. They state their financial expectations of guests upfront. What? There is NOTHING wrong with that. Even for my own Shrine, I state upfront, what is financially expected of those who attend. Just giving that little bit, yes giving up an impulse buy a week or budgeting in the donation helps. That little bit helps keep the doors open and the candles lit.
That doesn’t mean the participants are off the hook. We, as guests, participants, members, and staff remember that there is no free lunch – EVER. We, as guests, should be thankful that the leaders are stepping up and offer our assistance – even if we know it will be refused.
And we should always say “thank you.”