boreal: (Default)
2010-10-15 10:15 am
Entry tags:

This week's [community profile] the_thinking_pagan Friday Five...

I didn't really engage in any meaningful way with the questions last week, so I didn't respond to them.  Here are this week's, though...

1) What kind of altar tools do you like?
I have a lot of things on my altar that mean a lot to me, and that bring me peace and joy.  So I suppose that in a sense those are tools.  But I don't use ritual tools the way many Pagans seemingly do (no athame, for instance, no wands).  Sometimes I'll symbolically share a drink, but if I do, then I just put what I'm drinking on the altar for a bit while we converse.  There's really no one particular special cup for the purpose.

2) Would you go (or have you gone) on a religious pilgrimage?
Sometimes I spend a lot of time outside, for days and days, without sleeping under a roof, if that counts.

3) How do you decorate for seasonal holidays?
I have a carved wooden wheel of the year that I rotate depending on which sabbat is coming up next, but that's about it.  The world decorates itself naturally for the season, which is enough for me.  I appreciate people who take the time to decorate with appropriately harvested plants, or handmade crafts from natural materials, but killing things just to bring them into my house for my visual appetite seems wrong, and seeing others buy things made of plastic or other materials with a heavy-environmental impact really turns my stomach.

4) Do you connect Paganism to the/a feminist movement?
I personally do not.  But I understand why many people do.

5) How much do you share your religion with your spouse/romantic partner(s), if any?
He is agnostic, bordering more and more on atheist.  We don't share my religion much.  Which is fine, since it's personal.  That said, he has a very difficult time with winter, particularly given that we live in northern climes with far less light come Yule, so he and I do have a shared tradition of celebrating the winter solstice, because it holds hope and meaning for him as well.
boreal: (Twilight)
2010-10-03 04:55 pm
Entry tags:

The Pagan (um) Sunday Five

I never seem to get to these on Friday. Who cares about alliteration, anyway?

At any rate, the questions:

1) What places do you think are holy?
Everywhere is sacred (a word I prefer over holy for some reason), though some places leave me more awe-struck than others, and yet other places just give me a feeling of being special.  Admittedly, it's often easier for me to sense the divine in natural places which are more or less untouched by man.

2) How do you deal with children who want to learn your religion?
It hasn't really come up.  I've had children curious about whether or not I personally am religious, and given that keep my faith closely guarded, I've not been very open to discuss it with them. 

3) If you could appoint a public spokesperson for your religion, who would it be?
Given how eclectic I am, it would be difficult to find a person who could speak for my religion.

4) What one to three books helped shape your religion?
I can't say any one book has shaped my religion.  There are books I'm fond of, books with which I relate, but my faith comes from my own beliefs after having weighed all sorts of information drawn not only from books, but conversations and my own thoughts and experiences.  There's no specific source of written dogma upon which my beliefs have been formed.

5) How would you explain your religion to someone who's never heard of it?
I believe what I feel to be right, after much reflection based upon my time in this world, my observations, and my dealings with others.  I'm perhaps best described as a panentheistic monist, an animist, whose faith is actually quite grounded in science (much as that might sound contradictory).  I celebrate holidays tied to the solstices and equinoxes and the midpoints between them, eight evenly-spaced days on which I set aside more time than usual to reflect on the state of things.  I find beauty and comfort and guidance through ritual and mediation.  That's a short summary, though there's lots of nuance to explain if you have the time and interest in hearing it, such as why my faith requires respect for natural processes and tolerance of those who are different from myself.
boreal: (Winter)
2010-10-02 10:11 am
Entry tags:

Worship without Sacrifice?

Slacktivist has this morning made a post that, in full, reads as follows:

Happy Birthday Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. And thank you for giving us this:

Seven Deadly Sins
* Wealth without work
* Pleasure without conscience
* Science without humanity
* Knowledge without character
* Politics without principle
* Commerce without morality
* Worship without sacrifice

I found my reaction to this list to be very interesting, in that I could nod my head in agreement on all but the last one. Clicking through to the comment thread, a great deal of the discussion at the blog entry swarms around this last bullet as well. One of the commenters (MadGastronomer) thoughtfully states:

A sacrifice* is anything you give to your god(s). A sacrifice of time, of money, of energy, of material things. If you don't give something -- give it up unto god(s) -- then in what way are you worshipping?

*From the Latin for "to make sacred" or "to set aside."

Perhaps it's my panentheistic leanings, but the last one really doesn't click with me. I try to live with intention and balance, to be present in each moment and conscious of how each decision I make affects others, and to speak to the Divine often—more than daily, usually—to give thanks for my circumstances, to comment on beauty, to send energy to others who need it, to look for new ways of approaching issues, etc.

In my particular path, there's no need to sacrifice. The term sacrifice, to me, implies loss. Others see my actions as overly idealistic and think that I'm sacrificing my time or my money or my energy, but for me that's just part of doing what's right. It simply is. And it brings me contentment and joy.
boreal: (Moon)
2010-09-26 02:38 pm

Mabon, and a Double Dose of the Pagan Friday Five

I had a truly wonderful Mabon. I spent the day before, the day of, and the day after in a tiny one room cabin with no power, water, or electricity. It was just me, the boreal forest, a star-scattered sky, a nearly full harvest moon, Jupiter and Uranus shining brightly, the sound of the nearby stream, a light wind rustling the needles of the white spruce. Bright sunny days, surprisingly warm evenings, crisp mornings with a light frost. One of the evenings the moon was so bright that I easily navigated the trails without aid of a headlamp. Yes, a truly wonderful Mabon.

As I've been without Internet for a bit, I've not address the recent Pagan Friday Fives that were posted over at [community profile] the_thinking_pagan , so I'll do ten questions at once ).
boreal: (Twilight)
2010-09-12 09:41 am

The Pagan Friday Five

From a recent post at [community profile] the_thinking_pagan:

1) Do you believe in the concept of "sin?"
I believe that people can behave in a manner that is unnecessarily or thoughtlessly harmful (to themselves, others, or the planet), but the term 'sin' connotes a transgression that may in fact harm no one at all, a tactic used in some faiths to control followers and, in many instances, create unnecessary psychological harm.

2) What non-pagan person influenced your religious identity?
Myself.

3) How do you keep religion an active part of your daily life?
I try my best to live with intention, to be present in each moment, and to consider whether or not the decisions I make honor my Higher Self. I try to be grateful for the multitude of blessings I have in my life, and to ask for guidance and strength when I'm faced with difficulty.

4) Who knows you're pagan, and who doesn't?
My husband, many of my friends, at least one (perhaps both) of my parents. Very few people with whom I work. No one outside my home in the town in which I live.

5) When did you first identify as Pagan?
I always find this to be a very difficult question. I've been Pagan a great many years, since late elementary or early high school, but I only really learned of Paganism in graduate school (and then only when I met a Wiccan, and I don't identify as Wiccan), and didn't start to apply the term Pagan to myself until about five years ago. I'm still struggling for the exact labels for my beliefs... what is it about us that we feel we must label everything? But it is pleasant to be part of something larger and to have a way of winnowing out others of similar (if not generally like) mind.

Others' responses can be found here.

boreal: (Polar)
2010-08-22 03:27 pm

The Pagan Census

I've recently discovered the Pagan Census. I'm not sure if it's still active. The link is valid, and you can still take the survey, but the link I followed to find it was posted in 2009. Regardless, I completed it, and I would be very interested in reading the collective results. I've e-mailed the researchers to ask for more information.

There were a few questions that were open-ended and I thought I might post my responses here for posterity:

Please list any books that have been particularly influential
Magical Meditations: Guided Imagery for the Pagan Path by Yasmine Galenorn
The Body Sacred by Dianne Sylvan
The Earth Path by Starhawk
The Druidry Handbook by John Michael Greer
Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by Joyce and River Higgenbotham
Celebrating the Pagan Soul edited by Laura Wildman
A Woman's Guide to the Earth Traditions by Vivian Crowley

Please list any Pagan Websites, Blogs, or Internet groups that have been particularly influential for you.
The Wild Hunt (Jason Pitzl-Waters)
About.com Paganism & Wicca (Patti Wiggington)
Druidcast podcast (Damh the Bard)

Please describe the most important or one of your most important spiritual experiences.
On a few select occasions I feel as if I have truly been touched by the divine. Visited, reassured, sometimes brought to feel extreme joy in times when I most needed it. Such events are rare, and, in retrospect, a bit addictive. Once experienced, you want that same experience again, and from desire comes longing, and from longing often comes disappointment, even when everything else is going well.

Do you practice magic?
I practice what some would call magic. I don't consider it magic so much as symbolic practices during ritual, or transitive meditation. I don't feel I'm tapping into some higher source of energy outside myself when I do these things.

Can you describe a particularly effective or meaningful magical working that you have done?
To help rid myself of negative thought, or lay something to rest, I will often write it down and burn the paper on which the thought or issue is written. When something is particularly difficult, I may go to a bit of extra effort and write it in the sand at low tide for the ocean to wash away.

Have you ever experienced discrimination because of your spiritual path? If yes please elaborate.
Disapproval, but never out and out discrimination.

Please describe how and why you became involved in Paganism.
My beliefs have not changed since coming to the point where I began identifying myself as Pagan. I believe what I have always believed, and came across Paganism while searching for a label for my beliefs. I've been a Pagan in actual name for perhaps five years, but in reality considerably longer. I came to embrace the term Paganism because of its inclusive, non-dogmatic nature, and its tolerance for diverse beliefs. I'm also very fond of the Wheel of the Year, and the way that it allows me to evaluate my spiritual life on a regular basis.
boreal: (Default)
2010-08-21 11:37 am

An Introduction

A new journal, a new start, something I've been meaning to do for some time.

I intend for this to be a place first and foremost to write about my faith. I'm what you'd call an eclectic solitary Pagan. I'm eclectic in that I pull from a variety of belief systems. I'm solitary in that I generally practice my faith alone. I'm Pagan in that I find Paganism to be a generally welcoming, inclusive group of faiths. I've also come to find great comfort in observing the Pagan sabbats, often known as the Wheel of the Year.

What all this means is that I believe what I feel to be right, after much reflection based on upon my time in this world, my observations, and my dealings with others.

Unlike many/most Pagans, I don't observe a pantheon of gods and goddesses, but instead feel that there is one divine entity, with many different incarnations in different religions across the world. I guess this may make me a bit of a monist, and I have panentheistic leanings. I suppose I'm also a bit of an animist on some level; I'm not above speaking to a tree or a rock or the ocean now and then.

A more in-depth explanation of my brand of Paganism lies beneath the cut. )

Perhaps in part because of my monist leanings, and also by consequence of identifying as Pagan, I feel it's extremely important to be tolerant of other viewpoints and religions. So long as others respect me and my beliefs and don't attempt to convert me or proselytize to me, I get along with people of other faiths just fine.

Regardless of your faith, you're welcome here. Thank you for reading.