Category Archives: Uncategorized

Poetry Repost: Memorial Day for the War Dead by Yehuda Amichai

Memorial Day For The War Dead
Yehuda Amichai

Memorial day for the war dead. Add now
the grief of all your losses to their grief,
even of a woman that has left you. Mix
sorrow with sorrow, like time-saving history,
which stacks holiday and sacrifice and mourning
on one day for easy, convenient memory.

Oh, sweet world soaked, like bread,
in sweet milk for the terrible toothless God.
“Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.”
No use to weep inside and to scream outside.
Behind all this perhaps some great happiness is hiding.

Memorial day. Bitter salt is dressed up
as a little girl with flowers.
The streets are cordoned off with ropes,
for the marching together of the living and the dead.
Children with a grief not their own march slowly,
like stepping over broken glass.

The flautist’s mouth will stay like that for many days.
A dead soldier swims above little heads
with the swimming movements of the dead,
with the ancient error the dead have
about the place of the living water.

A flag loses contact with reality and flies off.
A shopwindow is decorated with
dresses of beautiful women, in blue and white.
And everything in three languages:
Hebrew, Arabic, and Death.

A great and royal animal is dying
all through the night under the jasmine
tree with a constant stare at the world.

A man whose son died in the war walks in the street
like a woman with a dead embryo in her womb.
“Behind all this some great happiness is hiding.”


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Posted by on May 28, 2012 in Uncategorized


Simple Womans’s Daybook 5/21

As usual, weekly, online or not, I take the time to reflect via as a devotional activity for Hestia. I encourage others to do the same.


Outside my window…
A rainy and stormy night turned into a beautiful cool May Day.

I am thinking…
About my stuffy head, and why it won’t stop.

I am thankful…
for signing a new lease at a new apartment complex, where I will have a room of my own to dance and do yoga in.

In the kitchen…
Today was pierogies, dill carrots and pears. Deliciousness.

I am wearing…
Workout clothes. Including a pair of shorts. They are the only pair of shorts I own.

I am creating…
Working on my audioplay for Made of Fail Productions. Kinda. More or less.

I am going…
No where until Saturday, when I go back to Stonehouse for a wedding.

I am wondering…
When I’ll have time to read my new whole living.

I am reading…
….far too many things to mention. Honestly. Husband gave me a collection of books to read.

I am hoping…
that more boxes miraculous appear like they have been, so we can pack more.

I am looking forward to…
Decluttering more. We’ve weeded out probably about 150 books, if not closer to 200.

I am learning
about all the things that we have in this house now. When did I get so much stuff?

Around the house…
Boxes. Boxes everywhere.

A favorite quote for today…
I’m re-watching West Wing:

Bartlet: Charlie, I wanna hire a woman whose voice I think would fit in nicely around here. She’s a conservative Republican. You think I should do it?
Charlie: Absolutely, Mr. President, cause I’m told that theirs is the party of inclusion.

One of my favorite things…
A late afternoon bike ride, today. Wonderful feeling.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Very little until the wedding, but a good friend is coming into town for it, and I can’t wait to see her.

A peek into my day…
This is my roommates dog. He’s one of two things I’m going to miss when I move, the other being my jacuzzi tub.

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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Pagan Blog Project: Justice

If I were the type of person to apologize for not posting I’d tell you why; I help run a successful Belegarth event, danced to live music, work finally is picking up, and I signed a new lease. But since I’m not that’s sort of person…

And? Stonehouse was saved for another year. And I got so much dirt on what’s going on from my brother-in-law, as well as a peek into the improvements they are already doing to the site. I personally really like the stages.

So onwards:


Dike is the anthropomorphized spirit/goddess of Justice in Hellenic Mythology. In Hesiod’s Works and Days, she’s discussed sitting next to Zeus and speaking to him of what we have done wrong:

“There is Virgin Dike (Justice), the daughter of Zeus, who is honoured and reverenced among the gods who dwell on Olympos, and whenever anyone hurts her with lying slander, she sits beside her father, Zeus the son of Kronos (Cronus), and tells him of men’s wicked heart, until the people pay for the mad folly of their princes who, evilly minded, pervert judgement and give sentence crookedly.”

But when we live a life worth living, one of righteousness and justice, and one we are willing to live out loud, we having nothing to fear:

“For whoever knows the right and is ready to speak it, far-seeing Zeus gives him prosperity; but whoever deliberately lies in his witness and forswears himself, and so hurts Dike (Justice) and sins beyond repair, that man’s generation is left obscure thereafter. But the generation of the man who swears truly is better thenceforward.”

Sometimes when pagans talk about divine justice, it’s either on an incredibly personal and inane level (no shit, one I came across was “I broke up with my boyfriend, is (goddess dealing with love) angry at me and punishing me?”) or it’s very impersonal. But Dike is a spirit, and one that outside of mythology, works more as a cause and effect — she is sister to Order and to Peace, a member of the Horae, who exist for the benefit of humankind, a true gift.

So here’s to Justice, and an Orphic Hymn to her:

“To Dike (Justice), Fumigation from Frankincense. The piercing eye of Dike (Justice) bright I sing, placed by the sacred throne of Zeus the king, perceiving thence, with vision unconfined, the life and conduct of the human kind. To thee revenge the punishment belong, chastising every deed unjust and wrong. Whose power alone dissimilars can join, and from the equality of truth combine: for all the ill persuasion can inspire, when urging bad designs with counsel dire, ’tis thine alone to punish; with the race of lawless passions, and incentives base; for thou art ever to the good inclined, and hostile to the men of evil mind. Come, all-propitious, and thy suppliant hear, till fates’ predestined fatal hour draws near.”


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Posted by on May 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Pagan Blog Project: An Indulgence

As was reported at  The Wild Hunt, Pagan Spirit Gathering’s new site, Stonehouse Park, is having a bit of zoning trouble. Now, this trouble isn’t in anyway the fault of PSG. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t been to PSG — June is an expensive month for me, and I am already going to Tribal Revolution.

However, Stonehouse Park is very important to me because I am a member of Belegarth Medieval Combat Society. I run events there yearly, in fact, my next one is this weekend. Because of the zoning and permit problems, our ability to utilize the site has been restrained, and it seems every day I get a new message telling me something else I can’t use.

PSG is not in any danger of not running this year — the owner makes it very clear that if the permit is revoked, he has the ability to run two events a year on the property. One is another Belegarth event and Pagan Spirit Gathering is the other. But future and continued use is very much in the air at this point.

Help us with some internet activism:
This is the facebook event supporting Stonehouse Park. On it, we’ve been coordinating our response, including a letter writing campaign.

This is the petition that we’ve been circulating for non-county residents.

Please consider working with us to save this site. It’s beautiful, and a great site for festivals, re-enactments, and private events. My brother in law also works there, and I’d rather not have him bum off his parents again in this economy, ya know?


Posted by on May 5, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Pagan Blog Post: Learning from Ignatian Spirituality

I’m pretty comfortable with my Catholic roots and the reality that it’s not all that removed from my life. After all, there is still good in it, despite all the scandals, rampant misogyny (Nuns are awesome), and the theology that I rejected.

When my brother was doing his pre-seminary work at Conception Abbey, it renewed a love that I had as a child for monks. Nuns seemed boring, although now I know better. I’m currently reading The Jesuit Guide to Almost Everything and I wanted to share some of the portions that I think can benefit most people, even outside Christianity.

Ignatian Spirituality is concerned with the now, and where God is now, and the call and response of life. When God(s) call how do we respond? Ignatian spirituality is contemplation in action — it’s grounded in the practical world. You have your reflective life that is evident in your community, that is active in all that you do. They are the order that finds God in All Things, and work for the Glory of God.

Ignatius set up the Daily Examen, which to me seems like a prayer journal. Each day, you do this:

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

2. Review the day with gratitude.

3. Pay attention to your emotions.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.

5. Look toward tomorrow.

A simple, and powerful exercise designed to really work on reflecting your inner life and bringing it outwards. As pagans, this is something that we are used to. If you work will, this is one way of working it without it being a type of witchcraft (something that is of importance to me, as witchcraft sometimes makes me uncomfortable. Magic isn’t always the same way for me, and I fully admit that this is probably a personal issue.)

If you are interested in learning more about the Jesuits/Ignatian Spirituality, to pick up the book I mentioned (it’s very accessible, without being condescending) or read through Ignatian Spirituality.  Of course, the Jesuits aren’t without their own scandals as well and while I don’t believe in throwing out the baby with the bath water it is always important to read about them as well


Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Pagan Blog Project: Hellenic Polytheism: Part One

Hellenic Polytheism, Part One

So, some god has thwacked you and you’ve come to the realization that you just didn’t have enough to do if your life. I’m so sorry. Welcome to the world of Hellenic Polytheism.

I’m going to do something a little groundbreaking for me: I’m not going to talk about gods in the introduction. Obviously, they are important, but an introduction format, to me, is too shallow to really start to understand.

Part of what I’m posting is from a workshop I was supposed to lead, but the group disbanded before the workshop happened. I’m using portions of my unfinished outline to flesh this out. In this installment, I want to address  concepts of methodology and a common ritual format.

Basically, Hellenic Paganism/Polytheism is yet another umbrella within paganism. In this case, it’s paganism that work with/worship/whatever word fits with the Greek Gods, and within a Hellenic worldview. This second part is important — there are many people out there who will call upon a Hellenic god from time to time, or even a majority of a time, but that don’t consider themselves Hellenic, or that the community might look a little odd at if they did.

This isn’t to say that everyone limits themselves to a Hellenic worldview all the time, but that their practice is grounded in it.

That being said people bring all sorts of methodologies to explore that worldview to the yard. Methodology is the how and occasionally the why of a religion — it focuses more on what you do, rather than what you believe, for the most part. Some methodology contains both.

Reconstruction generally works how it sounds: It re-constructs the religion and practices of an ancient culture for the current times. This is one that is often on a spectrum, with some people picking and choosing what they bring in all the way to people who rarely do anything that the Ancient Greeks wouldn’t recognize.

However, this doesn’t mean that Reconstructionists are living in the past. While Reconstruction requires a great bit of homework, its primary focus is on reviving practices that had previously died out, and not the cultural specifics. I consider myself to be somewhat of a Reconstructionist in methodology, my first source is primary texts, and my ritual structure is primarily ancient and I try to keep much of my view of the Gods rooted in that. But I have no desire to keep slaves or live in a separate part of the house away from my husband!

But all this still ends up as an evolving, living religion. Recons are looking into the past to help us now, because much still works with a bit of adaptation. For instance, many individual Recons have created their own festivals suited for where they live.

Reconstruction as a methodology tends to focus on verifiable history and primary sources. For Hellenics, this means going to the sources for looking at mythology, for instance, Hesiod and Homer give much of what we know. Secondary sources and the works of Classicists, Archeologists, Anthropologists and so on inform the rest.

Of course, there always has to be wriggle room — interpretations can vary greatly and there is always UPG or unverified personal gnosis. UPG is a term that I believe Asatru seems to have coined to bridge that gap as well. People will always bring their modern perspectives and their own personal beliefs, and in religious practice we find that people get new insights. UPG means that something you believe and have found works may not be transferable to the rest of the community.

One of my own is the association of peacock feathers with Dionysos. There is nothing in ancient lore that would bring the two together; in fact, peacocks are far more sacred to Hera. My association comes from first a gut reaction, then from my readings from Thorn Coyle.

When there is confirmation from others that they are getting the same response/reaction, it’s called shared gnosis, when you can find confirmation in history, it’s confirmed gnosis.

Reconstruction can be a very research intensive path, and a different type of research than other types of pagan methods might utilize.

Neo-paganism is what most people in the pagan community practice and there isn’t a good definition of it, because the beliefs vary so often. Some of the general ideas that seem to come through is a semi-soft-polythiesm, focused around a God and Goddess, following the Wheel of the Year, with a dying and rising god, and a goddess who goes through life stages as an expression of how nature works.

The beliefs of general neo-paganism don’t make it into Hellenic Polytheism very much, however the what you do, sometimes does. Things like modern approaches to the gods, based off of the poetic works of Robert Graves or other Victorian, Romantic and Enlightenment era poets, are fairly common, to various degrees of usefulness.

Rituals are what are often adapted to worship of Hellenic deities as many people will work with, call upon or offer to Hellenic Gods within different traditions contexts. Things like casting circles, more modern divination techniques, different ritual structures do abound.

There are groups within the Hellenic context who would decry the mixing of Hellenic and neopaganism. I’m not one of them — the Greeks were syncretics and would combine into the fold.

Archetypal Psychology stems from Jung, but the thread in Hellenic Paganism is generally through James Hillman. If Archetypes are an ideal form, the perfect model of traits, then  a Hellenic Archetypal Psychology takes these perfect forms  coming from Greek and Roman mythology. It’s here that we find concepts of “Mother Goddess” and “Trickster God”, who are generally not specific gods, but mythic patterns.

Since HP is predominately  hard polytheistic, archetypal psychology isn’t used to worship or honor the archetype but to use it to try to understand the gods and how we relate to them. One of the main authors that Hellenic Polytheists study here is Ginette Paris, with her works Pagan Grace and Pagan Meditations.

Personally, I’ve been known to mix all three general approaches, which is why I embrace Hellenic Polytheism as a label. I love reconstruction for its honesty, a neo-pagan approach for its inventiveness and a smattering archetypal psychology for how to relate and look sideways at what I’m doing, and at the gods.

Rituals and Ritual format:
One of the interesting things to look at when we talk about ritual format is what it is already similar to. If you have been to a Catholic Mass, the following is going to seem a little similar.

The first step is preparation. You gather everything you’d need for the ritual, washing hands , taking showers and so on, and likely lighting a fire or candle.

The next step is the processional, this can be as simple as a few steps up to the altar, or as elaborate as you can imagine.

You would next purify, declaring that the space is free of miasma and suitable for the gods, then make a small offering, traditionally of barley, but other things work as well. I often start incense at this point.

The meat of the ritual comes next: Invocation of the god or gods. You state your intentions, thank them, do whatever work here you wish, offering prayers, etc. From here is more offerings, whatever you have decided to do as the main offering.

Then libations, another form of sacrifice and concluding with the gods, thanking them again.

Now, this is similar to a Catholic Mass, because the Mass was more or less codified in Greek areas. They used what they were familiar with, after all.

As for prayer, that had a general format to (From Kyrene)

A basic outline of a prayer, taken from Walter Burkert’s Greek Religion on pages 74-75 is the following:
1.    Greet the god
2.    Address the god by his many names. The safest way to handle this is often to add “By whatever name or names you wish to be known by” in case you’ve forgotten something, don’t know one, or they have a preference that you can’t possibly know because you’re human (or haven’t read through Walter Burkert). The reference to this custom is on page 74.
3.    Make a reference to the times you’ve honored the god in the past (“If I ever threw pennies on the ground, gave you dice for your altar, or burnt incense in your name…” for the Hermes example above)
4.    Make the request
5.    Thank the god in advance. It’s only polite!

Now prayer isn’t always done in this format, but it is a pretty traditional way, borne through the various ancient sources that we have and a good place to start or to return.

Hellenic Rituals in general are sacrificial or votive in nature. Giving sacrifice (which these days, is usually not animal, though some larger groups will do it in the very traditional way — as in, you get fed afterwards!) and offering gifts of many sorts forms the backbone of Hellenic practice.

Part two of this series will deal with some common concepts in Hellenic Polytheism, and will be the second in the H’s for the Pagan Blog Project, but also part of a short series. Please suggest topics you’d like for me to address and I will do my best to do so.


Posted by on April 20, 2012 in Uncategorized


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Simple Woman’s Daybook 4/10

Once again, I do the Simple Woman’s Daybook as part of my Hestia practice. I encourage others to do the same.


Outside my window…
It’s a spring cool outside, and the sun is setting. Haven’t worn my winter coat in weeks.

I am thinking…
Of what things in my life are sentimental, and what is just clutter.

I am thankful…
for families; the ones we are born into, the ones we enter, and those we chose.

In the kitchen…
Today was pierogies, chicken with chili con carne seasoning, and honey carrots.

I am wearing…
lounging clothes.
I am creating…
I need to be working on my script for Sing Nothing but Sky or my waiver database. Guess what, not doing either.

I am going…
Hiking on Saturday , to sushi, LUSH and a Turkish Drop workshop on Sunday. Best birthday weekend ever.

I am wondering…
Whether to go shopping with my mother on Saturday, or take the gift card instead for my birthday. Time to look over the websites.

I am reading…
Gods above, why do I only do these online when I am reading Christian romances? I love the plot structure. It’s comforting, and I can ignore the Jesus in most of them. I think this one is called The Apothecary’s Daughter.

I am hoping…
That the weather stays clear, and that work picks up a bit. I’m spending the afternoons bored as all get out.

I am looking forward to…
See my weekend plans.

I am learning
To clean old jewelry. A friend gave me lots of dance jewelry, but  it’s in bad shape. I’ve got to fix them up.

Around the house…
We’ve started the purging. And yet, I’m getting my mothers kitchenaid stand mixer this weekend, as she ordered a new one last weekend.

I am pondering…
Why Kohl’s doesn’t have an “in store”  filter on their website.

A favorite quote for today…

One of my favorite things..
The wonderful bathroom items husband bought for my birthday: a bamboo tub caddy and a bath pillow. He’s trying to make up for years of barely affording to go out for dinner.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
See above: hiking, dancing, family time.

A peek into my day…
Very little work to be done at work. It is very annoying, but it means that people aren’t having as many disasters, and I can do some training.

No photo today; nothing interesting to take pictures of.


Posted by on April 10, 2012 in Uncategorized



Pagan Blog Project: Guidance

I haven’t had too many formal mentors in paganism. I’ve attended a workshop here and there, I’ve been involved with more structured classes with a few members of the community, but I’m one of those people that’s more comfortable with books and friends,  informal questioning, and lots and lots of applying my education.

So in combination with the gratitude from last week, and my theme of guidance this week, I want to list and thank those who have given me the guidance I’ve needed as a growing pagan.

  • My Parents: They may or may not be aware of my personal religion, but their strong faith and willingness to live it is an inspiration and building block for my own. They are my foundation for my ethical framework, my love of book learning, and my practicality.
  • The Catholic Church: Taught me the beauty in music, the joy in service, and a sense of sacred time and place. Mine is a complicated relationship with the Church, but I can’t deny that growing up Catholic did do me some good.
  • The Internet: I ❤ you internet. You brought me to my initial introduction to paganism, some of the people who have most challenged me, the best and worst information. I honestly wouldn’t be who I am today without you. I’m better for you.
  • My internet cabal from GaiaOnline. I hate and love you so much. If you want to know where I really grew into my learning loving self? It was during college and the Morality and Religion forums. Nowdays, I run with a newer Cabal, where I’m the nice one and it is still fun.
  • Various Hellenic peoples whom I inadvertently stalk: I’m sorry, I don’t mean too, we just seem to gravitate to the same places.


Books that have made a difference to me:


And these are only a smattering, and doesn’t even begin to include divine guidance, which is probably a topic for another day. Take a moment and look for the guiding influences, divine or not, in your practice. And thank and honor them.


Posted by on April 6, 2012 in Uncategorized



Pagan Blog Project: Gratitude


I have a love hate relationship with people who post gratitude statements on their facebook. I hate that they offer more of a story than what the post outright says but I love that people are focusing on re-framing their outlook.

One of the key concepts in Hellenic theology, really any Hellenic sort of paganism, is the concept of Kharis. It means Grace, but it’s tied quite well to reciprocity. I want to go more into the concept when we hit the K’s, but for now think of it as the exchange of favor and kindness between the Gods and mortals.

Being thankful, being grateful is a key was to keep this favor chain going. It is one of those things that we can offer freely, that takes so little effort and that has a tremendous impact upon the Gods. Why would they ever do anything for you if you can’t even say thank you. (and would it kill you to pour a little wine and honey in your offering bowl?)

My husband is going through a rough  patch right now. He’s not happy with our living situation and is constantly  grumbling and grumpy about it. We are only in this house for two more months and yet, every day is a countdown, every day feels like it gets worse and worse.

He’s asked me a few times why I am not upset about it. I have to keep telling him it’s because I’m living now in this moment, where I am grateful that I do get to live in a lovely house, despite the problems. Our rent is cheap, our space is large and the problem will be solved in a few months. I can’t control our landlord or the new roommate, so I am going to accept the problems and be thankful for the benefits it has brought.

Another good friend of mine was recently pink slipped from her teaching job at a Christian school, saying she was an under-performing teacher — when her evaluations say otherwise. Each day now, she is choosing to be thankful for the gifts that it has brought her, and whatever good comes her way.

Gratitude is a way of living in the moment, and choosing our outlook.It can be hard, and it isn’t going to work for everyone but it is a way of looking at the world, and I think, a beautifully pagan one.

So take a moment, and focus on something you can be grateful for, and make it an offering to your gods. Be heartfelt and honest. If it’s hard, cultivate it as best you can.


Posted by on March 31, 2012 in Uncategorized


Pagan Blog Prompt: Failure

It really shouldn’t come to anyone’s surprise that failure is what I wanted to talk about today. Failure sometimes feels like the one thing I’m really good at.

How do I fail? Let me count the ways:

  1. I can’t keep a ritual calendar going. Every time I’ve worked one up, I drop the ball and it just stops. With the exception of Anthesteria, I’ve not been able to celebrate the same festival two years in a row ever since starting in Hellenic paganism.
  2. I can’t keep a daily practice going. I’ve started them, many times in fact. They’ve lasted for months at a time even. But eventually I forget one day and it them just putters out.
  3. I don’t cut it as a recon and I’m not really all that eclectic, nor a witch. I’m somewhere in the middle, which is sort of aggravating all around and really makes me feel wishy-washy. This one might be not be a true failure, but it feels like one.
  4. Can’t keep with a local community….but I lurk on the edges of many.
  5. And really, A Dionysian who doesn’t like wine? FAIL right there.

There’s more of course, rituals that don’t work out, contacts that fizzle, writing that falls flat and DIES. Arguments and poetry, invocations and prayers. Sometimes things just don’t work all that well and I have to pick myself back up and reflect. That’s what failure does, it lets us reflect on factors in our unsuccessful endeavors.

Have a figured out why I can’t keep a practice of a calendar going? No, although I certainly know what the contributions are: disability, time, ineffectiveness, disinterest. And I keep trying to find what will work. Maybe my next experiment will be more fruitful.

Don’t be afraid to try a new and tentative thing in your practice. Play with new ideas and concepts. See where they work and where they don’t. Allow yourself to fail, and accept it gracefully when you do.


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Posted by on March 23, 2012 in Uncategorized