people

Spirits on Individual Journeys

February, 2019

Indigenous people don’t learn by looking outside themselves; instead, they learn how to remember the knowledge they already possess.”

Malidoma Somé (Dagara elder and shaman)

I’ve been practicing and studying earth-based spiritual systems since 2000. In the process of trying to heal from deep depression and addiction, I’ve worked with many different teachers from many of the world’s traditions. In my darkest moments, I needed older, wiser, and mostly healed guides who could help me learn to listen to my inner wise one (A.K.A. Dreamer, High Self). When I was struggling the most on my life journey, I leaned heavily on their knowledge to get through those times and I am so grateful to this day for each and every one of them. Their ability to be patient, resourceful, and benevolent is the reason I am still here, healthy and free.

Although my spiritual teachers varied in the knowledge they shared with me and their methods, they’ve all been consistent in insisting on one principle: the real guide on any individual’s journey is their Dreamer. Whenever I had questions that needed answering, they always pointed me to my inner wisdom first. Sometimes, they would add to my original statement with information from their own lived experiences. However, more often, they would simply say: “See: You know already so go and do what your Dreamer told you to do.” It wasn’t unusual for them to send me out on ceremony to find the answers I was looking for when my inner guidance wasn’t feeling so clear.

One of my first tasks when I started studying shamanism was to identify the sound of my Dreamer’s voice. This may sound like a simple task to some readers, and perhaps it is for some people. I had so many different and competing voices in my head that this seemed to be an insurmountable mission. When I sat in silence, I heard voices of teachers, family members, mentors, friends and others throughout my life who thought they knew better than I did what I needed. By the time I was in my twenties, I had convinced myself that they were right. So much so, in fact, that I was lost; my inner compass felt broken. The most vicious voice was that of my own ego. In Gregg Henriques’ article “The Elements of Ego Functioning,” he describes the ego in this way:

Freud conceived of the ego as the psychological apparatus that regulated sexual and aggressive impulses and navigated the tension between those impulses and the demands and values of society. A more modern conception that is certainly related to Freud’s is to consider the ego as the self-consciousness system. The self-consciousness system is the narrating portion of human consciousness that reflects on one’s thoughts, feelings and actions and inhibits or legitimizes them to one’s self and to others. In this sense, ego is very similar to what is meant by the term identity, and ego functioning refers to the components of the self-consciousness system that relate directly to mental health.”

I realized that my ego had succeeded in convincing me that any decision I made that went against the confines of the identity it had created for me was a threat to my very life. On my blog, I wrote an entry entitled “Going Mental” in 2012. It describes the practice I began of having conversations with my ego like I would with one of my younger students to discover what it needed and how I can make it feel safe while still doing the bidding of my Dreamer. I saw that my ego was just trying to survive and keep “us” alive and this helped me to find compassion for it.

On the other hand, my Dreamer’s voice is always calm, benevolent, wise and sometimes firm but never cruel. She talks to me the way a loving parent would talk to a child. When I am making choices that are causing me to stray from my Sacred Dream (my life’s purpose), she gently pokes me. If I am not listening because I am preoccupied with mundane life tasks or if I heard her but choose to ignore her counsel, the messages come in a more insistent and often chaotic way until I correct my course. Thankfully, I usually don’t have to wait until my health declines, my relationships descend into a three-ring circus or I am in financial distress to learn these lessons any more. My daily spiritual practices keep me tuned in to my Dreamer’s voice so I can make mostly wise choices day by day.

I often remind worried parents about this fact in my work with families: They are not in control of their children’s journeys. This is tricky because parents are also responsible for the health and well-being of their children until they are eighteen in our society. As parents and guardians, it is easy to think we know better. And I often note that despite having parents who do lots right, some children still go down unfathomable paths.  I have seen this a lot in my twenty-year career as a teacher. What I have faith in is that our souls* are ancient and wise; many of us have lived many lifetimes and Great Spirit is patient in letting us come back again and again to this Earth plane to refine our characters. I don’t know if this resonates for you but this feels true to me: Elders have told me that ultimately on a spiritual level, each of us has a life purpose that only our Dreamers know.

When we validate a child’s interests, wonderings, and learning inclinations, we are following the direction of their Dreamer. I think one place where a lot of us adults get stuck is when we expect that children will have the same inclinations that we do or we rescue them from making mistakes. Mistakes are part of the learning process. Our Dreamers are also leading us in very unique ways according to our own life purposes, which may be really different than those of our children. Our children might need to make certain mistakes in order to learn what they came here to learn in this lifetime. While it’s hard to watch people we love make choices that cause suffering for them, it can also be a powerful life lesson in learning how to honour another’s path while staying firmly on our own as individuals. If we keep leaning into our healing in every lifetime, eventually we might not even need to reincarnate. Until then, I am glad my Dreamer is with me every step of the way.

*Please note that when I speak of the “soul” here, I mean the original essence of who we are that is made of light and can never be harmed. This aspect of us is always with Spirit, even as we reincarnate. Our Dreamers represent the essence of our soul; they travel the spirit world and guide us in our incarnations. I like to think of my soul as being the part of me that stays anchored to the Divine always.

Work Cited:

Engracio, Jennifer. “Going Mental” December 2012

Henriques, Gregg. “The Elements of Ego Functioning.” Psychology Today. June 2013.

Above art: “Ancestor Spirits” by Willow Arlenea

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About the Author:

Jennifer Engrácio has been a student of shamanism since 2005. Jennifer is a certified teacher who has worked with children in many different education settings since 2001. She is a certified shamanic coach, reiki master, and lomilomi practitioner; in addition, she runs Spiral Dance Shamanics. Originally from Vancouver, Canada, she now lives in Calgary, Canada with her life partner.

Engrácio participated in self-publishing three books that are now available:

The Magic Circle: Shamanic Ceremonies for the Child and the Child Within”

Women’s Power Stories: Honouring the Feminine Principle of Life”

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’s Shamanic Journey into Healing

For more information go to: www.spiraldanceshamanics.com

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon

Dreaming of Cupcakes: A Food Addict’S Shamanic Journey into Healing on Amazon

The Bad Witch’s Guide

January, 2019

The Bad Witch’s Guide to The Older People”

Or You get Better or You Get Bitter”

There are some people who never seem to get old. Their bodies might age, but something in their eyes and heart has remained or even grown. Then there are people who seem to crave death. Sometimes it is depression. Often untreated, under supported and dealing with the loss of a great deal. I have been the supporter of an older relative dealing exactly with this. Without support and indeed medication these folks become something dark and unpleasant. As The Veil grows thin for a person you start to see what might be beyond for them, a light or a darkness. This is not about religion or faith but an almost physical psychic presence around people near the end. Those near their light glow. There is a peace and beauty.

Then there are the other ones. A presence like black sticky smoke. A smell of something rotten or burnt like old tires or something sickly sweet. It seems to pour from them. I can not tell if it’s their mood, their energy, their internal mean-spiritedness or the manifestation of something else.

Older people are just that, people. They are neither saints or devils, but dealing with someone whom is dark and difficult because they are family is hard work. It is often hard physically, emotional and spiritually.

So how do you live with or be around this polluting force? Toxic parents, and relatives become no less pleasant as they age and some just use their frailties (real or imagined) as weapons to brutalise their children and spouses and grandchildren.

As a child of a toxic parent and one who watched someone become one in their last years of life there is a complex soup of horrible feelings. Guilt, duty, blame, shame, fear and pain.

As a witch I have to change my perspective.

I must squint at the situation sideways and think magickally.

Firstly the mundane. Is this person mentally ill? Are they depressed, grieving or suffering in some other way? Is mental health support possible? Many older folks have still have a lot of shame and misconceptions about mental health. Many have some really ugly or difficult coping strategies. From alcohol and cigarettes, to shutting themselves away, generationally we are in a much better place to understand mental illness today. Some might be struggling with side effects of medications, not knowing that their could be newer better medications or combinations out there. Some might not have been to the doctors at all. Avoiding what they think will be a frightening truth.

Reach out. Find charities and professionals that listen not only to what they say but your input too. It isn’t easy. We had a lot of doctors simply refuse to believe Pop’s had depression. That many of his other issues would have been solved if they treated that first. In the end it was as much that as his vices that killed him.

Of course you can not help someone who doesn’t want to be helped. This is perhaps a hard truth of our own we must face. The other option is also mundane and really tough. Sometimes you have to walk away. For your self, your health, sanity and well being. This might be a break, this also might be an end to the relationship. It is not our job to watch someone destroy themselves.

If neither of these two are applicable (life is complicated and messy) protect and cleanse yourself and space as often as you can. You might want to physically clean it as well as smudge. Adding salt and essences to your wash water can help. Protective wards, charms and crystals help a lot too.

There are a couple of things that can help absorb some of the toxic seep but they are not permanent measures. One is sacrificial house plants. Sounds macabre I know. House plants tend to die in the presence of such people, yet these little heroes can and do take much of this and convert it as best as they can. They don’t have to be fancy, and if you get a few you can rotate them around (increasing their lives for a short time). Ferns are good. One near where they sit, one in their room, one in the loo or near where they spend a lot of time and absorb a lot of yuck. Some quartz pebbles might even make them live longer.

The other is a salt and barely mojo. You can make up a big batch and keep it in a jar and change out and throw away the used one. How often depends on the person.

Once a month or once a week depending on how bad it is. This can go under a mattress, or sofa cushion or even into a pillow.

You Will Need:

Salt, the best kind you can afford.

Barley (pearl barley is fine)

Calendula oil

Parsley (dried)

Per one cup of salt you will need a tablespoon of barley and calendula oil with a teaspoon of parsley. This is the base mixture and you can add other things, like moss or wheat straw (again to absorb the energy).

Say:

Spirit of Salt I call to thee

Draw what is harmful away from me.

Barley keep the Dark away

Bind it here until I wash it away.

No darkness shall harm

With this charm:

Tenebris et non nocebit (And the Darkness Will Not Harm)

Tenebris et non nocebit

Tenebris et non nocebit!

Place in fabric mojo bag as discreetly or not as you like. Under the sofa cushion, or mattress is useful and make sure to empty them regularly. Dispose of the used mixture down an outside drain with plenty of water. Don’t put it in a river, but you could put it in the sea.

This mixture can be used for a circle ward around your home, too.

While none of this deals with the cause of the problem sometimes all we can do is muddle through and keep ourselves safe. In an ideal would this sort of thing wouldn’t need to happen but the world is often not ideal and we need to use our magick to keep us as safe as we can. Toxic relationships are difficult and draining and it can take a long time to heal from them. If a little magick can help you feel strong enough to say “no” when you need to then it has done you a great service.

Eleven Elders

November, 2018

This blog is based on a dream I had in Sweden, on the night of Sunday October 28th in 2018. The Big Bear Mother in the night sky (asterism Ursa Major) observed the spiritual darkness cloaking` Earth and decided to send down her seven lights as falling (or shooting) stars. I decided to type up this dream as a blog honouring the lives of the people who died in the shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh.

 

 

Eleven Elders

The Big Bear Mother in the Night Sky

Watches

Children starve in Yemen

Suffering inhumane violations in Syria

Child prostitutes in Sri Lanka

She sees Eleven Elders shot

At the Tree of Life Synagogue

In Pittsburgh

 

She tells her daughter

Little She Bear

To stay on watch

But she sends her own Seven Stars

Down to Earth

Shooting stars

Falling stars honouring the Fallen

Lighting other lights

 

They take the shape of Snow Flakes

Blanketing the cold shivering Earth

Like an infant seeking comfort

As The World Tree shudders

And quakes in grief

Over the wounding of her child

The Tree of Life

 

Seven Stars

Seven Lights

Of the seven-branched

Golden candelabra

Are lit

In the Tabernacle:

The Menorah

(Hammered out of

A single chunk of gold)

 

For eleven nights

A ferociously protective

Divine Bear Mother

Lends her lights to earthlings

Seven lights burn

In spiritual darkness

Guiding souls Home

And awakening the Elder

In Others

 

Imelda Almqvist, Kärrshagen, Sweden 29 October 2018

 

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About the Author:

Imelda Almqvist is an international teacher of shamanism and sacred art. Her book Natural Born Shamans: A Spiritual Toolkit For Life (Using shamanism creatively with young people of all ages) was published by Moon in 2016 and her second book Sacred art: A Hollow Bone for Spirit (Where art Meets Shamanism) will be published in March 2019.  She was a presenter on the Shamanism Global Summit in both 2016 and 2017 and is a presenter on Year of Ceremony with Sounds True. She divides her time between the UK, Sweden and the US. She is currently in the editing stages of her third book “Medicine of the Imagination” and has started her fourth book “Evolving Gods: The Sacred Marriage of Tradition and Innovation”

www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk  (website)

https://imeldaalmqvist.wordpress.com/  (blog)

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=imelda+almqvist

(YouTube channel: interviews, presentations and art videos)

The Bad Witch’s Guide

October, 2018

 

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Ghost Hunting

(Photo by Callie Gibson on Unsplash)

 

It is the season apparently for all things spooky…ooooh!

I don’t ghost hunt as a rule. I ghost shoo! That said I do understand the desire for some titillation and so, on some intellectual level.

It is easier in general to ghost hunt in cities than the wilds and better in Europe than the US purely down to number dead people over thousands of years. There are of course many kinds of haunting and spirit activity but violence and large amounts of people seem to imprint or cause haunting more often. My psychic American bestie used to hangout in New Orleans all the time without much hassle (but that could have been the others spirits influence, nudge, nudge) and was shocked, delighted and amazed visiting Chester for the first time! Chester is an old city, founded by the Romans in 79AD. It has much of the old town still intact as well as the later medieval town and its beautiful buildings. It doesn’t hurt that the river runs near it. Water is a great psychic and spirit conduit. She saw full blown colour spirit figures walking around, was touched, even got some stuff on film!

Hunting ghosts is easier if they are also seeking you!

That said the trend to go to derelict hospitals and such seems distasteful and a bit dangerous to me.

There are two main kinds of haunting. The restless dead (a spirit who is confused, frightened or lost, particularly one that doesn’t know they are dead) and an echo of an event that either happened over and over or was so traumatic it left a mark, a memory on a place.

The echo is just that. It doesn’t interact. It doesn’t change it is just the echo of a place remembering. It can be a bloody battle, a crash or someone leaving out milk bottles. You get a better chance of seeing one of these someone that has had a lot of people to imprint, or the sight of battle or trauma.

The restless dead can and are anywhere. This is why hospitals and the like can be bad because if they don’t know they are dead they can follow you home and get the hump when you ignore then. These poor souls often had a rough enough time in life, they don’t deserve it in death too. I dislike a lot of the ghost hunting shows, especially if they get shouty and rude.

All in all dead people are just that, people. Some of them are lovely. However some of the worst hauntings I have dealt with have been addicts and little kids. You want to see some shit go down have a ghost toddler wobbly. They will throw things, slam things and even bite! Crossing someone over usually requires years of training (which I have) and some reasonable sight, and friends and guides on the Otherside to help people cross.

All in all I’d rather living people than dead around me rather than getting cold or uncomfortable somewhere but to each their own. While I am medium I am also a witch. This means I don’t let spirit in my body, home or circle without permission, in fact I am strict when it comes to spirit. Granted I am a bit of a sucker for kids, but they are pretty easy to cross over.

A spirit guide or guardian is nothing like a haunting. A haunting is a spirit this side of the Veil. They tend to look like regular people whom slowly seem to drain of colour over time becoming shadows. They are stuck, either willingly or unwittingly and can be varying levels of troublesome. When a spirit crosses everything lifts. It is really beautiful. It is as though someone opened a window and let fresh air and light in. Spirit when they have crossed over is different. They are bright, glowing almost with the light of the Otherside. They can appear as how they saw themselves or even how they wished they had looked. They come and go at my request or their own desires rather than being stuck somewhere.

In general my experience with dead people has not been spooky, dark places. It is usually well lit living rooms on a sunny Sunday afternoon, or someone’s kitchen.

My advice is don’t go somewhere derelict especially without permission, you may end up as one of the ghosts! The floors aren’t clear, the ceilings are crumbling and you are far from help if you need it. I am serious these places are abandoned for a reason. If you want to ghost hunt, do a proper tour. You can do them in many cities and even some castles at least in the UK. Take a protective symbol with you (be it pentagram or something else) as a precaution. Cast a circle if it gets ooky. Don’t use a spirit or Ouija board*. Cleanse with salt water and smudge (sage, rosemary and frankincense are great) afterwards. Don’t get drunk or high and ghost hunt. You might be more open but you are also more vulnerable too.

If you are thinking of getting spooky closer to home (is your Aunts house haunted?) and decide to do some spell or rite or other please do not invite anyone or anything. Don’t use a spirit board or Ouija board. If you can get a proper and respected medium to attend do it. You would be surprised how often I get calls this time of year from folks doing this by themselves who get freaked out, and get caught out by something unpleasant. Some get attacked, some get sick, and some even have pets die! Mostly it is purely psychological and I turn up, check nothing weird is about and shut the door they opened. Again if you fail to heed my advice and you need to fix this, you will need a decent medium and they have every right to charge you through the nose (call it an idiot tax).

 

*Creating a doorway you can’t close is not a smart idea ever.

 

Celebrating Autumn with Norma Clark of Forevrgoddess Boutique

September, 2018

 

Autumn Smudge Bundle with Gemstones

Hello, I’m Norma with Forevrgoddess Boutique, I wanted to share some info on Smudging herbs, gemstones and smudge rituals.  I don’t know about you, but the first day of September feels magickal, with apples and pumpkins abundantly everywhere.  I think it’s the perfect time to do an Autumn ritual smudging to cleanse home, sacred space or people, to remove negative or stale energy, banish and release emotions, illness, and other energy needing to be removed from home or person, to prepare for the coming of the Autumn Equinox & Samhain. You might have seen a few smudging herb bundles in new age stores, witch shops or online, there are many to choose from.

Smudging has been done in ancient cultures to Native American, in Spanish countries like Mexico, through Central and South America. Some of these herbs are used in smudging rituals by Shamans.  Some of these herbs can also be used in blessings, after ritual cleansings of homes or people. You can perform a blessing within a home  to invite harmony, love, laughter, tranquility, happiness and prosperity, or what ever is needed at the moment. For personal blessings you can do any of these ideas as well.

You can typically find in stores or online: White sage,  Juniper, cedar, Yerba Santa and Palo Santo. Any of these bundles of herbs can be helpful. Combining them with gemstones and crystals is an additional bonus and can help give healing/loving energy to aid with manifesting the properties you need most. I’m going to talk about a few of my  small smudge sets from Forevrgoddess Boutique, what they can do to help cleanse, rebalance and refocus energy to a positive and harmonious environment or how they can be used for personal blessings.

 

Small Autumn Smudge Blend

Here we have a beautiful mixture of Mexican cinnamon, Cloves, Cedar, Rose, Rosemary and White Sage. Very aromatic smell. Here’s a information on a few herbs we use for our Autumn blend.

White Sage: Can be prefect for magickal workings – protection, banishing/ releasing, seek wisdom through meditations, helps with grief, good health, healing, longevity, and psychic awareness.

Red Roses: Love, respect, beauty, courage, passion, romantic love, blessings, attract, banish, consecrate/bless, devotion, happiness, harmony.

Palo Santo (or Holy wood): from Ecuador forests, Palo Santo – Shaman have used it to clear energy, and positive energy. To reestablish peace, balance enhance focus to meditation, heals people physical and spiritual level.

Cedar: Calming, comforting, purify, protection, healing, harmony, prosperity, abundance, cleansing, helps focus on goals and meditation.

Mexican Cinnamon: Brought from Mexico to USA. – actions, attraction, inner balance, dream work, harmony, healing, attract luck, peace, passion, protection, wishes, consecrate/blessings.

Our Small Smudge Set is portable, you can do a quick smudge ritual anywhere. The Small Smudge Set is in a little tin box (we’ll provide ritual at bottom of this article). You can either burn them together or separately.  If you decide you want it to be stronger then make a bigger flame.  You can  always break the smudge blend into little burnable pieces and use a small abalone shell to burn it in. (We carry various abalone shell in boutique in 2 sizes.) If you wish to get a little smell burn small bit of each, cinnamon, cloves, rose, and rosemary with a bit of sage. The choice is yours.

 

Autumn Gemstones

We selected these from our Wiccan Magickal Sabbat Mabon and Samhain box sets.  With autumn equinox coming soon, seasons are changing for fall. It’s the time of balance between day and night, before night takes over and brings winter.

Here are the Stones for Autumn:

Citrine: Stone of happiness, positive energy and thought mental clarity, abundance, healing, uplifting.

Carnelian: Motivation, calm emotions, banishes negative emotions, replaces with love.

Smoky Quartz: Dispel negative energy, protection, grounding, transformation, brings calm.

Tiger eye: Stone of wealth, protection, self-confidence, balance, grounding.

When charging or programming your gemstone, keep in mind the goal or desire you wish to bring into your life. Help manifest this desire to life, say a prayer to your deity, angels, or elemental, ask for their support to bless this new path you wish to journey on. Keep them in your pocket, purse or coin purse as a reminder of what healing qualities you wish to be blessed with at the moment.

 

Autumn Smudge House Blessings Set

House Blessings Manifest Kit

Brightest Blessings, I’m so happy you decided to change a new part in your life, for the coming of Autumn and all her glory. This kit is designed to help you focus you and your home or sacred space to help “manifest” a new beginning and bring in the desires in your life..

How to Set up your Stones..

You will noticed you have 6 gemstones and an Autumn Smudge blend. The Autumn Smudge blend is to cleanse the area and give it a fresh start with positive energy.

Gemstone Selenite: ( Don’t rinse in water or leave in sun) quickly unblocks stagnant energy and removes negative energy. It magnifies the energy of any other gemstone that’s placed upon it. Combine selenite with black tourmaline. It will protect home and clear any negative energy, and help in protection crystal grids. Expands awareness opens psychic abilities.  Brings mental clarity and deep peace. Helps with angelic guidance.

Gemstone: Iron Pyrite ( fools gold): recall beautiful memories, protective stone, attract wealth and prosperity, energy shielding stone, blocks out negative energy, positive stone. Relieves anxiety frustration and boosts self-worth. Great for memory, this stone helps when depressed or deep despair, luck, money, protection, strength, willpower.

Gemstone: Pink Calcite: balance emotions, calming, grounding, spiritual growth, love, Healing, self work, well-being.

Gemstone: Carnelian: career success, grounding, motivation, personal power, helps with creativity, good health, protection, stop – negative energy, stimulates the conscious mind, helps you focus on the present and current needs, helps over come difficult times, manifesting energy to have your desire come to life.

Gemstone: Amethyst: all healing (mind, body, spirit) inner peace, calming one’s mind, a sense of spiritual insight when in a deepen stage of meditations, protective stone, esp, psychic attacks, helps with grief or loss, releases tension, helps over come bad habits tendencies, and calm anxiety attacks.

 

Cleansing Stones

Cleanse each gemstone with smudging blend burning in shell, to ensure it’s a positive energy to help with your goal you wish to create. It’s to ensure the gemstones, which have passed through so many hands, to get to you at home, are cleaned of other’s energies that might not fit in. Hold stone in hand take shell and pass it over and under stone to encase it with smoke.

 

Arranging Gemstones

Once stones are cleansed, set up an area where your stones will be seen through the day (altar, mantel, etc..) arrange stones however you wish. I suggest to put selenite in middle and surround other stones around the selenite so the selenite will energize the other stones. Like a mini crystal grid. If you have more stones, flowers, candles feel free to add them, to help further the goal you have in mind.

 

Autumn Equinox Celebration Ideas

  • Take walks with autumn changing in your wooded area, feel the cool crisp air.
  • Collect leaves with family, and place them on your altar.
  • Or … Write with black Permanent marker in one word what your thankful for on your leaf then poke a hole thru it, tie a string and hang it where you can see it everyday.
  • Create memories with family and friends and bake autumn sugar cookies talk about what you grateful for or just spend time with them. (our Sabbat Mabon and Samhain cookie cutter and recipe box set is available check the boutique.)
  • It’s time to reflect this time of year on what Autumn means to you, the balance of day and night, finding balance within one’s life ( work, family, school, children, etc) and what goals you want to set for this month September or October.
  • Go to pumpkin farm.
  • Drink cider with friends and family, share sweet goodies.
  • Collect Apples.
  • Do some Autumn crafts with Family and Friends (look on Pinterest.com for ideas).
  • Go to some Fall Festivals.
  • Enjoy the fruits and the favorite foods we enjoy this time of year, did someone say “pumpkin spice.” Nothing to big, just go enjoy the Beauty of Autumn. May this Season of Autumn Bless you with Abundance, love, good health, and little wealth. Brightest blessings – N

 

Forevrgoddess Boutique Charge/Smudging Ritual

Ground/center calm mind, hold the Shell with Smudging inside in your Power hand and say a simple prayer ask for divine power, to bless the Smudging herbs, encircle Smudging herbs with white light.

Open a window.

Light your Smudging herbs in shell.

As it Burns try to focus on cleansing goal/ intent you wish help with. Feel smoke surround you.

Take cupped hand and brush smoke all over body or bless rooms of home, draw sigils with them in air and empower them to life, by visualizing a gold light and start to glow.

Visualize the negative energy, stagnant energy, negative emotions being removed and pushed out.

Feel free to use feathers or broom to push out smoke thru door way or window.

Visualize open window to push out negative energy and welcoming positive energy in. Feel spiritual and physical uplifting of emotions and cleansing.

Once done with smudging ritual, give thanks. Place Shell in a fireproof bowl if necessary to catch ashes and to let it burn out in a safe place.

Brightest Blessings to you – Forevrgoddess Boutique

Look for our Smudging set, blends in Candle, Incense, Sage Section.

***

About the Author:

Norma Clark I’m the owner of Forevrgoddess Boutique, I live in small rural Paris,Idaho Both me and Hubby are Wiccan with 2 beautiful children and gang of critters. I love to share, inspire, create many Magickal items for my Jewelry and Metaphysical boutique. Come sit for a spell and see the Magick of Forevrgoddess Boutique.

 

Lessons From Indigenous Communities: How We Can All Benefit From Some Of Their Principles by Guest Writer Omar Beretta

July, 2018

Lessons From Indigenous Communities: How We Can All Benefit From Some Of Their Principles

By Guest Writer Omar Beretta

 

(Photo by Pablo E. Ortiz on Unsplash)

Imagine this: you switch off your iPhone now, pack your backpack, and get lost in a tropical jungle in search of powerful lessons from Indigenous communities. You’d better have a passport, because Indigenous communities are rarely found in our backyard. And we need to go now, because Indigenous wisdom is rapidly evaporating in the heat of modern times, but there is still a lot we can learn from them.

But direct to access Indigenous tribes isn’t always easy. Not everyone has an enlightened employer that will support your mystical journey and time away from the office. Or, an understanding and loving significant other that will drive you to the airport without a return ticket.

What’s the bottom line? Accessing alternative sources of knowledge may change your life forever — and this is good news. But you do not need to burn all your bridges to take the first steps in the direction of a new understanding of life. Take one step at a time.

First – what does “Indigenous community” mean, exactly?

This may seem crazy, but Karl Marx got it right when he explained that the natural world is further and further removed from us and arrives only in a relatively processed, mediated form. And he wrote that in 1844. The immediacy of nature has been lost, and nature confronts humanity as an alien entity. Moreover, as the Marxist theorist Max Horkheimer would later put it, “The history of man’s efforts to subjugate nature is also the history of man’s subjugation by man.”

The chances of finding an authentic Indigenous community in a natural, pristine environment, willing to share their wisdom to a newcomer that does not speak their language, are next to nothing. What we can learn from good old Marx is that we have created a production system that alienates us from nature, and over the years it has generated an urban malaise from which I suffer, and, if you have read this far, probably you too. The bad news is that apparently this malaise can only be cured by accessing the wisdom of aboriginal communities, which have been almost entirely crushed by the very system of production to which we contribute each day by waking up, buying coffee, and going to work.

But even if we got lost for a few months in the Peruvian Amazon, we would discover that most of the Indigenous knowledge has already been formatted to the urban lifestyle. It would take significant time and effort to find a spot where white men and women have not already set up a spiritual shop to cater to our quest. And before the spiritual shops arrived, various churches roamed the aboriginal wilderness, turning original knowledge into a mere remembrance of things past.

So, if you only have one or two weeks to spare for your spiritual quest, do not shop in the Spiritual Supermarket. More importantly, do not buy that six-day, four-ayahuasca ceremony package tour to the Amazon, facilitated by white people that can speak your language. Rather, donate that money to a reliable NGO and wait for good karma to hit back. It always does.

Here’s the kicker: we may actually find powerful lessons in our backyard. We have the atavic need to be a part of a tribe, because it offers protection and the possibility of achieving greater goals. Some of us might have belonged to, for example, a gym tribe or a clubbing tribe. Over the months we found out, perhaps with bitter resentment, that the tribe we thought we belonged to was actually what is called a pseudo-community, a gathering that was not based on fundamental principles, merely on transitory activities. The day I stop going to the gym or reduce my clubbing expeditions my tribe will desert me.  

But perhaps you have a meditation tribe going, or you feel that you belong to a yoga tribe that has passed the two-year acid test. If you and the core tribe members are still meditating or practicing yoga after two years, your tribe may be ready for the second stage. This is advice I got from actual Indigenous masters in the Amazon, as well as from teachers at an intentional community in Scotland: first you need to have things in common, then you strengthen the bond. Finally, a real community is born.

Want to know the best part? Here is something that you can take away. Basic aboriginal wisdom: consume less and spend more time together. You can divide your tribe in three groups. On week 1, the first group goes shopping for organic products to cook veggie burgers. The second group gets together and cooks the burgers, while the third group rests. On weeks 2 and 3, the groups shift chores. This may prove more challenging than you think, because it entails coordinating people to get together once a week to do an additional activity that is not merely recreational; it supports the welfare of the tribe. Thus, we learn to put the interest of the collective before the interest of the individual. If you can achieve this, you have probably learned the most important lesson there is to learn. It is highly likely that your tribe will be decimated over the first two weeks, but you will learn who is for real. Keep it going for a couple of years, and abundant wisdom you never thought you had inside you will flow from your heart.

***

About the Author:

Omar Beretta is the co-author with Bénédicte Rousseau of Shaman Express. A former lawyer, yoga instructor and publishing company owner who – after a near-death experience – left his corporate career to practice yoga and shamanism, Beretta is now a full-time world traveler. He learns from people living in countries not yet fully spoilt by Western capitalism as well as indigenous communities. When he is not traveling, Beretta teaches creative writing workshops in Asunción del Paraguay. For more information, see www.yacarevolador.com

About Shaman Express: Amazon US link: amzn.to/2vKd4CZ 

Shaman Express

The Bad Witch’s Guide

April, 2018

The Bad Witch’s Guide to Pagan Moot Etiquette

 

(Photo by Tim Gouw on Unsplash)

 

I am a bad witch. There are a long list of reasons why I am a bad witch. Having been out of the broom closet for some considerable number of years I would on occasion get asked “but you’re a good witch though?” My response to that depending on the person asking but I found I started to say “yes, a very, very good witch” rather darkly as it usually got the point across.

I can only say in this piece my hexperience in British meetings and moots. I go through phases of being able to “people” and then just not. Some of which is my fragile health and some of which is my witches extreme low tolerance for bullsh*t.

I don’t go much to pagan gigs, camps and massive festivals. Not only can I not get to most of them (thank you British public transport), but my health would greatly suffer. That said I’ve gone to local (and non-local) moots or pagan meet ups around Britain since around 2001.

First off and I know this might sound truly bizarre to many pagans, especially as most are in pubs:

Don’t get drunk.

I’m serious. Mixing with a bunch of people whom you sort of know, most of which practice some craft is reckless and idiotic. You might disclose more than you meant to, might sleep with someone you then have to avoid on a semi-regular basis and look well, like a bit of an ass.

This doubly goes if there is a ritual or talk. You don’t want to be trying to do magick drunk (or for that matter high). Being open and let’s say, expanded, can be great magickal experience, however a public moot is not the place to do so. If you “must” drink, keep it slow and steady and alternate between soft drinks and alcohol.

Do pay attention to those who are hitting it hard and look out for them. You don’t have to go over the top, but make sure they are okay.

Be respectful.

You might be the greatest magick worker whom ever lived, had 50 years practice and studied with so-and-so, don’t you know, but if that means that you think you can’t learn something from the person/people speaking you don’t know anything. Be it a phrase, an idea, a practical something, everyone has something to teach you. Set down your ego for a minute and you might surprise yourself!

Don’t feed the drama.

If someone is being aggressive, or pushy or bitchy, don’t respond in kind. If they are looking for an enemy or fight, don’t give it to them. While women get a bad rap in my experience the men in pagan circles are the worst for this! This is about them, not you. Taking sides, in turns means factions and so on and so on. Many a moot has been destroyed this way! Apparently there is something about me that makes some people want to challenge me, regardless of how quiet or respectful I am. In my youth I fought like a tiger and as I have aged I just walked away. In coming back to moots, I just decided to see it for what it is. Pointless power play. “Yes dear, you are terribly powerful and important, arrange the seats how you like.” Again this means you might try things different ways than you are accustomed and you might even learn something!

This sort of power hoarding is not just pettiness. It speaks to the condition of the person trying to control. Observe them not just as a moot going but as a witch. People needing to play power politics to feel important are usually miserable, afraid and have some serious issues going on.

If you see someone becoming a regular target or see bullying becoming an issue try and defend that person. You can use magick or otherwise, but don’t hit the bully with a chair, however tempting it is.

Don’t sleep around at a moot.

A moot isn’t your local hook-up spot. There is a certain kind of guy who likes to hit on, leer and such to every young (and not so young) female in the room. It’s uncomfortable, it’s disrespectful and it’s gross. Like-wise shagging about in politics power plays (some women do this too) isn’t “magickal” and therefore allowed. It’s manipulation for petty gain and it’s awful. Sure, hook-ups happen, but, not being drunk helps make better judgement calls. This is your community. For want of a better phrase, don’t sh*t where you eat!

If you see, or know a person is a problem watch out for their targets and if it gets really bad speak to the person running the event. If it is the person running the event, go to their higher ups. This Might be Children of emis, the Pagan Federation or such like. If an assault happens to you or someone else, report it to the police. Too often these things go unspoken with the victims disappearing and the predator never being brought to justice. The consequences of not speaking out and not speaking up can be awful.

If there is a jar put in some pennies.

Most moots are run by donation, and speakers are often paid for this way too. It might not be a lot, but funding your local moot can really help. It is not usually a lot of money that is required and paying a little here will mean it keeps it alive and you don’t have to travel miles to the next moot.

Moot when you travel.

If you are going to another city, or town for a visit, check to see if there is a moot while you are there. I was visiting London and went to a moot and had a fabulous time! I even became friends with a nice bloke called Mike, who then became the President of the Pagan Federation U.K. It is always good to see how other folks do stuff and it’s a cheap night out!

Moots are about people. They are wonderful, complicated and terrible creatures. Pagans the same as anyone else. Don’t let a bad experience make you a shut in. Try a camp, or a gig, or festival if that is your jam. Try a moot, then try a different one. You are not going to get along with everyone all the time and some moots won’t be your fit either and that’s fine.

Witches Soul Work

November, 2015

Witch’s Soul Work: Community

People join community for many reasons, maybe as many reasons as there are people. I joined the Pagan community many years ago because I had a child and wanted him to grow up identifying with and belonging to a community. Some people join community to be part of something, or to have social interaction with others, because they are lonely, looking to connect with people of like mind, searching for support and healing, or many other things. When Witches or Pagans join the Sacred Cauldron community what are they looking for? If they don’t find what they are looking for do they verbalize it, ask for it or try to create it? Or do they just walk away. I find that people come to the community looking for nourishment and many other things, but few people join with the idea of participation and giving back. Then if one small problem comes up they dump the community and go back to ‘oh poor me, I’m all alone’. There is no accountability and no loyalty. After years of trying to include people it hurts to get dumped and slandered because of a small mistake. No one is perfect and no community is perfect.

A Wiccan community is not the same as joining a Coven. A Coven is a small spiritual group run by (hopefully) Elders who have many years experience and can give spiritual guidance and teachings. Many of the teachings in Wiccan Covens are oath-bound (not public) and all are confidential. What happens in Coven, stays in Coven! The Elders or Priest/esses will tell you what is secret and what is not. A few weeks ago one of the Covens closed. This Coven had been going for 11 years and the two main teachers were moving out of town for work and school. Also there was a problem with attendance in the Coven and many people were just not committed to coming. When the HPS decided to close the Coven she was criticized by some of the members and others went behind her back and complained about how devastated they were. No one stepped up and said: Well this Coven is important to me; I would like to give my time and energy to keep it going. Not one person said that. The Priestess stopped spoon feeding them and they all went home.

So what is a Wiccan or Pagan community? For us it is a place where Wiccans can meet to talk about their spiritual work, celebrate together and share. We can share teaching, work, crafts, services like healing and tarot and all the other things that regular communities share. We can create a place that newcomers can ask questions and a place for families. Community is the place we celebrate births, successes and weddings and support each other through funerals, illnesses and tragedy. When we belong to a community we feel as if we are cared for and that we are not alone. A community can be online but better a community where people can get to know each other in person.

My problem is that people want community and Coven yet they don’t want to give anything. There are a few volunteers that give all their time and energy and the rest show up waiting to be spoon fed the nourishment, support, love, friendship and all the other things they are looking for. Goddess forbid that someone should ask them for something in return or make a commitment! And if they pay a small fee to belong to the community then that is their only contribution and they then feel they are entitled to receive everything without giving any more. For example we ask the Witches in the Covens to give $15 per month to help support the Center and the Coven. For that $15 per month they get 3-6 hours of teaching per month in Coven, one on one spiritual support from their Priestess if they need it, a place to come and hold their meetings, candles, incense, tea and toilet paper, all the other things they might need. It costs us $2500 per month to run the center including rent, phone, insurance, cleaning supplies, toiletries, ritual supplies and so on. No one is making any money from this venture but the benefit we get from a thriving loving community is well worth it. It is very frustrating to see people sign up for workshops and then not show up, borrow books and not return them, come to the center and leave dirty cups lying around and not put away what they use. Even more frustrating is that they don’t offer to help with anything but when one tiny little annoyance happens they just walk away and criticize the community to anyone else who will listen. No one is perfect and community is not perfect. If you don’t like something, work to change it. If you are angry talk about it and try to resolve it. Treat people with respect and don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

There is so much loneliness in the world and depression and sadness. A lot of this is because people are isolated and don’t have communities. We need them! So why not open your heart and participate in your community and support it. Help the ones less fortunate in your own community and it will mean so much.

Musings of a Massachusetts Witch

June, 2010

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Well, first we need to understand what the word “bad” and “good” mean to humanity. Bad is defined as unfavorable, disagreeable, unpleasant, harmful, unhealthy, diseased and evil. Good being the opposite of bad is defined as favorable, agreeable, pleasant, honorable, loyal, wholesome and benevolent. Things we label as bad evoke negative emotions from us. They make us feel hurt, angry, disappointed, irritated, depressed. And good things evoke positive emotions such as happy, joyful, cheerful, wonderful, pleased and blissful. What we need to understand is that these are labels that we have placed on circumstances, people and situations we encounter in our lives. The Universe does not label things in such a way.

Now Christianity will tell you that we shouldn’t try to comprehend God’s plan. Our brains were created with the rest of our bodies by God therefore, we can only use them to the extent that He allows and to try to question his motives is truly presumptuous on our part. The Christian beliefs remind us that just by being human we are tainted by sin and are consequently not innocent. There are no good people. We are all bad and should not expect to be excused from the wrath of God. We all deserve to be thrown in hell for eternity. We are here only because God is merciful and gracious. And any suffering we endure here on earth is pale in comparison to the misery we would experience in hell.

Judaism tells us that bad things happen for a variety of reasons: discipline, punishment, being made an example for others so that they might change their ways, by personal or cultural history which brings about the circumstance, by choice or by removing oneself so far from God that the individual is no longer under His protection or guidance.

I discovered that some religions believe that bad things happen to everyone, good and bad people, for no reason at all. There is no meaning behind it. It just happens – like excrement. God didn’t make it happen. The individual that it happens to didn’t make it happen. The Devil didn’t make it happen. So there is no answering the question of why it happens. However, if you so choose you could assign a reason – if that makes you feel better and gives you motivation to endure through the bad.

There was a web site that I stumbled upon that informed me that I really didn’t want an answer to this question because if I had the answer then it would be easy to rationalize all human tragedy. I would become callous towards it and “tolerate others pain because I could neatly explain it away”. It tried to convince me that I should take my anger at the injustice and use that for a force for good. I should channel this outrage and “combat the pain in the world with goodness” to alleviate any suffering I witnessed. I disagree with this concept. Negative energies attract more of the like and just because I understand why bad things happen to good people doesn’t make me indifferent to their suffering. Just because I comprehend how to alleviate the pain others experience does not mean I am callous. In fact, the answer encourages me to help others help themselves. Understanding the why has even brought me closer to The Divine because I understand that s/he isn’t about punishment or judgment or pain and suffering. Yes, all those things originate from the Creator just as all things are the Creator however I understand that Source is love.

So, why do bad things happen to good people? The answer is simple. Bad things happen to good people because they made it so. They created it. It wasn’t a judgmental God who brought it down upon them. It wasn’t a disciplinary action or punishment for something they did or didn’t do. It wasn’t a chance occurrence. It happened because that individual manifested it. They are responsible for the bad thing. Difficult to believe, I realize that. You’re probably asking yourself, “Why would a good person want, for example, to be hit by a car? Or be diagnosed with cancer or any other disease or illness?” Well, notice I said that the individual manifested the bad thing not that they wanted it but that they created it. Most times individuals manifest things in their lives unknowingly. They create by default. They attract people, things and circumstances that they are thinking about and have strong feelings about. This means that an individual could most certainly manifest things in his/her life that he/she does not want or ever would want.

Let me illustrate this with a common example that I encounter frequently when doing Tarot Readings for people. A woman is interested about her love life. She wants a relationship with a good guy and she believes that she’s being positive about it and is open to a new relationship.

I’m out there and meeting guys. I just want a nice guy!” my client will say to me.

But if you truly listen to what it is she is feeling. You will hear. “I am out there and dating but I catch all the jerks. I guess that’s what I’m bound to get – a jerk. Or be alone for the rest of my life! All the good guys are taken!

And because her words and her feelings don’t match up she attracts that which is stronger – her emotions. Because of this she will manifest either jerks or no one at all.

If you worry about being assaulted, getting in an automobile accident, falling ill, losing your job, not having enough money … you will by The Law of Attraction, manifest them into your life experience. Spending energy thinking about scenarios and circumstances you don’t want will attract that same energy vibration – the one that matches your thoughts and feelings. So if you are worried about the safety of your home and someone else is planning a robbery – these two energies could attract each other. Manifesting in your life that which you do not want.

Now this doesn’t mean that because you understand why bad things happen to good people you cannot have compassion for those who deal with negative or uncomfortable situations. You are allowed to feel compassion, sympathy and empathy. What you do not want to do is to allow yourself to begin to dwell on the fact that it could be or may be you. Because if you do that then bad things may begin to happen to you.

Pagan Theology

December, 2008

Experiencing the work:  How you treat others

In the last column we talked about what happens once we have the experience of the Pagan divine.  What evidence do we have of that experience?   Does our outlook on the world change?  Does our behavior change?

While laser beams don’t start shooting from our eyes and we don’t get assigned a Harry Potter wand (though often those show up anyway) we should change.  We should change because we have had a transformative experience, one that we seek to repeat, and often do repeat, over and over again.

Last time we talked about what happens to our desire, a desire that changes from whatever was before to one focused on the Gods and Goddesses.  Now I’d like to ask what happens to how we treat each other.  Should anything happen?  Why can’t we just behave any way we wish as long as “it harm none”?

There are two, I believe separable, problems associated with this question.  The first is the question of what, if any [1], influence transformative religious experiences should have on ethical beliefs and practices.  The second is what effects an experience with the Gods and Goddesses has on our day-to-day behavior with respect to other people.  Obviously, given my own preferences for systems and philosophies over emotion and relationships, I’ll start off by discussing the technical issue of divine experience and ethical systems.

Influence on how we think about relationships

One aspect of ethical philosophy is the search for the underpinnings or justifications for ethical systems.  What makes us be ethical?  Why must we hold one or another judgment about behavior?

Clearly most religions answer this question by invoking some sort of absolute ideal, the god that gives the law and judges you when you don’t perform correctly [2].  Believe in the god, get your instructions in a book, and don’t ask too many questions.  Problem solved.

However that won’t work too well as a basis for Pagans.  The ideal god just doesn’t exist.  Instead we have “regular” Gods and Goddesses that exist just like we do in the messy world of reality.   They have the same, or similar, ethical dilemmas that we do.  They react to those ethical challenges, and often they react in a way that some would judge as inappropriate.    As an aside, we can also note that the “one god” has similar problems if it is all powerful, but still allows all this evil to exist in the world.  But that is a digression on evil that we should save for later.

So what is the relationship of Pagan ethics to the direct experience of the divine?  Is that a path to an ethical system, or is it irrelevant?

Any ethical system derived from a direct experience will be a fundamentally practical system, as opposed to one derived from ideals or abstractions.   The other attributes of the multiplicity of direct experience of the divine also come into play.  The Gods and Goddesses are individual, and as ethically complex and ambiguous, as we are.  As individual entities they carry the same radical challenge of existence, how to make something out of nothing [3].  By “nothing” here we mean the cognitive dislocation that comes from the radical proposition that we exist, we can make choices, and we are free in those choices.

The Gods and Goddesses face the same existential dilemma as we do. While the Christian god is in itself both the beginning and the ending, the completeness of perfection that combines both the existence and non-existence, our theology places the Gods and Goddesses in a messier, more realistic, dilemma.  This choice inherent in existence that they face is what makes the Gods and Goddess diverse.  It’s where we get the Morrigan and the Dagda.  The good, and the bad.  And even within the good and bad, we have the aspect of the other side.

Because of this shared existence, we also share responsibility.  Responsibility for our actions and their consequences.  Remember the three-fold law?  It is the requirement that we be responsible for our actions that connects the Gods and Goddesses with our ethical philosophy.  Do not mis-understand, I am not saying that the Gods and Goddesses somehow impose a responsibility for action on their followers.  Instead it is the condition through which we relate to them that spontaneously creates a requirement for responsibility.

How you execute this responsibility, and what it means, to you is not determined by the Gods and Goddesses rather it arises from the nature of the world.  Hurt and suffering are inherently things we would ourselves avoid, and thus must assume others wish to avoid that as well.  So we must not impose suffering on others.  While not getting into a general discussion of ethics, I believe this leads us down the path that we are each responsible for our own behavior, and need to develop an ethics through rational and thoughtful enquiry.

Something that the Gods and Goddesses can help with, because they’ve been doing it a lot longer than we have [4].

Influence in how we treat others

Just as in the above section I skimmed over the entire discussion of how we relate the divine to ethics, I’m going to move on and skim over how this impacts how we treat others.

Again, I’m not talking about particular ethical systems here. I’m talking about a general sense of how the divine existence influences how we should treat others.  The most basic statement of Wicca is “if it harm none, do as ye will.”  This can be teased into all kinds of interpretations, but it basically boils down to “do no harm.”  Two things stand out about this, it is placed in a passive voice: making it easy to avoid any pro-active actions we might take.  And it doesn’t tell us much what it means by “harm.”

Instead of working on this rather obscure saw, we might examine the fundamental aspects of Pagan divinity to see if there are any clues there.  If, as I argue above, existence of the Gods and Goddesses implies a sort of divine responsibility on those who follow them, then other attributes of Paganism might also bring forward shaping principles for how we might treat others.

Multiplicity immediately comes to mind as a key Pagan attribute.  And not just “many” but also “diversity.”  Pagan deities come in all shapes, sizes, attitudes, and behavioral styles.  This diversity makes coming up with a prescription for behavior difficult.  What are we to make of the violent, dark Gods and Goddesses.  Ones that embody death, war, and selfishness.  If we do not accept them as mere reflections of human actions, emotions, and traits, but instead see them as existential beings making choices, then we have to ask ourselves how we deal with the diversity of the attitudes and actions we find in the Gods and Goddesses.  In some ways this is similar to the book religions challenges in dealing with pain and suffering existing in a world created by a good god.  How does evil and suffering exist in the world when the one god is good?

For us the challenge is accepting Gods and Goddesses who might not be “good” by our definition.  They may be angry, greedy, warlike, or have a general tendency toward misbehavior.  This requires a deep acceptance of the neutrality of nature, the underlying neutrality of the world, towards good and evil, light and dark.  The nature of the Gods and Goddesses show us the great diversity of our own natures, and the ambivalence of the universe towards what we choose to do.  I believe this diversity in what we honor and worship requires that Pagans bring an acceptance toward others and others behavior.  We might wish to limit behaviors that harm or cause suffering, but we also understand that such behaviors are reflections of darkness that is contained in all of us, including the Gods and Goddesses.  We might not condone it, but we approach it by condemning the behavior and its suffering, not those who for whatever reason engage in it.

Another attribute that derives from the existence of Gods and Goddesses is the joy that comes from living in a world that is inhabited by magic and magical beings.  If we bring joy and love to our approach to the social world then we will value whatever we see, we will honor whoever we are with, because we know that behind it all is a divine intrigue, a puzzle, an interest, that calls to us constantly.  This knowledge of the divine in the world is always with us, because the world is always with us.  Thus the joy in perceiving the Gods and Goddesses should also be with us as we travel in the world and relate to others.  If everyone and everything is touched by the divine, then it demands our care, respect, and love.

This divine joy, a reveling in what the world is and how it exists, is a fundamental separation of Paganism from other religions.  We do not seek to deny the world, for there is really no other place to go.  Instead we seek a profound connection with the world.  The Gods and Goddesses provide that connection, for, like us, they too are part of the world, just beyond and slightly to the left of it.

While I’m sure there are many more attributes that can be derived from serious thinking about the existence of Gods and Goddesses, I believe that these two, diversity and inner joy, go a long way to shaping Pagan relationships.  Diversity demands that we respect all beings that exist, and remember that, just like the Gods and Goddesses, they may have behaviors that require understanding, perhaps even avoiding or controlling, but they are still inherently worthy of acceptance [5].  Joy demands that we treat the world as if it is divine, that if we see the Gods and Goddesses in it, we need to work to build on that underlying joy, and bring it out in our actions and relationships.

These and other concepts can, with time and effort, be expanded into a general ethical philosophy for Pagans.  While I’m only touching the elephant here, with more work and time, we can develop a way of being that has us striving to build joyful, accepting, relationships.   We may not always behave as if we’re building joyful, accepting relationships, but at least we know what we should be trying to do!

Obviously these concepts are different from the standard moral and ethical proscriptions and concepts.  They should be.  Most ethical thinking in the West has grown up under the shadow of the book religions, where proscription and prescription are the norm.  Where backing up firm rules is the role of ethical and theological thought.  Had Paganism won over Constantine, I suspect that the way we think about right and wrong would be very different today.  Acceptance, honor, respect, and an endorsing of that which brings joy would be some of the foundational assumptions behind ethical thought.  Starting with joy will lead, I believe, to very different places than if we start with sin.  We should remember those influences as we think about right and wrong, as we think about what we should do and why we do it.  And realize that simple prescriptions like “as long as it harm none” are simply resetting the system back onto the territory of the book religions by developing simple prescriptions to complex problems.

We can do better than that.

[1] I don’t want to go into a detailed discussion of ethical frameworks and philosophy.  I want to understand the relationship between experience and ethics, not dissect the entire connection between Paganism and ethics.  Suffice to say as background, for now, that I believe the most successful, practical, and inclusive ethical system that we can use will most likely be borrowed from somewhere else, not invented through Pagan religion.  Ancient ethical systems are obviously way out of date, and it would be silly to come up with a new one when there has been so much work done on humanistic ethical systems already.  But, I believe, an even more important point is that ethics deal with the relations between people, not between people and deity, and thus should be founded on practical and realistic measures of right relations between people.  Deities can referee, or can stand as judges or guides or helpers, but they are mostly on the sidelines of any ethical system.

[2] Because we have many Gods and Goddesses, some light, some dark, this becomes a bit of a problem for Pagan ethics.  Which particular God or Goddess sets the law?  And if they’re all different, how do they come to a consensus?  One way around such difficulties is to assume some sort of unifying God that hangs around in the background and sorts things out.  I think that’s a cop out, but that’s for another column.

[3] This is a very existential argument, and I must confess to being more taken with the existentialists than the Kantians.  Why shouldn’t Kierkegaard’s radical proposition of faith “what are you going to do in the face of the reality of faith” apply to Pagans as well as Christians.  In fact I think we see it applying all the time.  Pagans get out and practice the faith, in circles, at festivals, and all over.  What would drive that trouble if it were not for a sense of radical faith?

[4] This gives us an expanded humanist/existentialist approach toward ethics.  Choice, responsibility, individual use of reason to search for truth, but also added on we get the Gods and Goddesses to help us with our search for truth.  Sort of a humanist program with a bonus.

[5]  This does not mean that we can look evil in the face and do nothing.  Remember, that our ability to choose implies that we choose responsibly.  A humanist framework can, I believe, be built which results in strong arguments for treating people as worthy and having dignity.  However the radical departure between Paganism and humanism comes in the inclusion of the Gods and Goddesses as part of any ethical framework, and the role that knowledge of them plays in shaping the world, and how we behave in the world.