boreal: (Winter)
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: (Polar)
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) 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.


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