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30 Days of Paganism Day 30: Places of spiritual significance

For me? I could wax poetic on Greece, but I’ve never been there, so why bother. Here’s places for me

Local:

1. This one tree in the ISU Quad’s Fell Arboretum.  I don’t have a picture, but there’s at least one tree with a strong willed nymph about her.

2. My altar. Sometimes I just sit and smile.

3. The Constitution Trail I love biking it in the early morning when everything is blooming.

A little less local:

The grounds of http://www.conceptionabbey.org/, which is where my brother went to pre-seminary. When I graduated college, we immediately went to his. I spent time in the spars guest quarters and roaming the grounds. I think it sparked my love of simplicity, and only furthered my latent want to be a monk.

The Hills of Alabama and the Ave Maria Grotto, which were early influences on what I find beautiful.

 
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Posted by on July 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism, Day 29: The future of Paganism

I’m not sure where paganism is going. I think we are going to see more stratification, more differentiation between the broad types. And I don’t see this as a bad thing: Eclectic Paganism is not the same as Reconstruction, which isn’t the same as Traditional Wicca which also isn’t the only type of Religious Witchcraft.

But I also think we are going to see people being aware that labels and lines are able to be blurred and that syncretism is a normal function of religion.  I think we are in a position to do this responsibly, to do it with an eye towards respect, which means calling out people who are, well, doing it wrong. And I think arguing is fun and can be constructive.

Within the circles I run with, paganism looks a little more local, but solitary. Singles and pairs living their lives with their gods, and living honestly. There will be trends and fads, there will be drama and policing. There will be workshops, cons and festivals, most of which I won’t attend.

I think there’s going to be a bigger rise in self-publishing. Right now, there’s a lot of devotionals, but I think there’s a market for more as well.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism Day 28: One misconception about Paganism you’d like to clear up

I think I’ve done a lot of that: we don’t all practice witchcraft, we’re not all earth-based.

The only misconception I can really think up is the idea that pagans really have anything in common. I’m of the opinion that in addition to being a catch-all, opt-in term, paganism is also scene. Which means that there is a huge range of beliefs but also a huge range of involvement within those beliefs, the community, what have you.

It makes much more sense to me to engage with it as a scene rather than anything else, to be honest. That way I can interact with the mystics, the researchers, just as much as the people who love the music and the artwork. I can respect the pagany equivalents of the Christeasters as well as those with ritual calendars that leave no unsacred day as members of the same scene, rather than as a person of a similar belief system.

It’s very freeing.

 
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Posted by on June 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism Day 27 How your faith has helped you in difficult times

Because this is really personal, it’s going to be briefer than usual. I’ve got a small laundry list of disorders. The physical ones are really the least of my worries. ADHD is my every day life, and depression comes and goes. (It, thankfully, is in a “go” period right now).

And I got through some of the worst bouts since middle school  during college because of a variety of things: cheap therapy provided through my school, my loving then-boyfriend, and well, discovering Dionysos as a god who encourages you to break bonds that limit you. Developing a mystic side also gave me a way to channel my experiences into a positive reinforcement.

Religious has never been a fix all for my problems. It’s there in my life, and it is part of my coping toolkit, and ever-present. I hate it when people say that religion is crutch, particularly when they say it with scorn. Crutches are useful, and that sentence reeks of people who like to catch disabled people not presenting as disabled.  Like the companies that scour facebook for a person with FMLA for depression looking happy or having a good day, as if it is proof that they can’t be depressed.

When I’m depressed, I smile more. That’s a coping method too. Uh, this was a digression again. In real short terms, I pull upon my strengths and one of those is religious faith, as is the faith that whatever it is, will pass and I will get through it.

 
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Posted by on June 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism Day 26: Any “secular” pastimes with religious significance, and why

Well this one is pretty easy for me. When I moved back to Central Illinois, I started bellydance lessons. I had tried back in the suburbs but the class was canceled. Sadness. But I started taking classes and I fell in total love with dancing.

In college, I wrote poetry. Some of it is pretty good, others I prefer to forget. That muse has pretty much left the building, except when coming up with quick devotional offerings. But dance, man. It’s been four years and I still haven’t gotten tired of it. I’m in my studios 3rd level class, mostly by sheer determination rather than any actual skill. My dance goals are to be good and engaging enough to perform outside of student shows eventually. I don’t really have a specific style, but if I must have a label, I’ll go with Triberet.

I started dancing in part because I viewed it as a devotional activity for Dionysos. I look forward to class every week –an hour where I can learn amongst women that I don’t feel catty about, that we laugh and learn, and I can try to focus my attention on one thing that Dionysos inspires readily, a will and need to dance.

And while I view it at a devotional activity, it’s also now my main hobby outside of the raging internet addiction. I’m attending Tribal Revolution later this month, and managed to get myself into the Rachel Brice workshops. I feel vastly under-prepared for them, but I’m looking forward all the same. I’m going with two of my best friends, and I get to go shopping for shiny things. It’s going to be great.

Besides this, I do view certain reading and researching as devotional. But not everything — that needs to be mindful. I’m also learning bread-baking as a devotional activity, and so is the herb garden I’ve started.

 
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Posted by on June 3, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism Day 25: Priest? Clergy? One or both? Neither?

…All of the above?

I’m recently coming out of a period where I believed with holy fervor that I needed to be a priestess. And not just a household one, but a big time leader. I blame my brother, because seeing him go through the process of Ordination was inspiring. He ditched his secular life in service of his god.

…okay, not that being a manager at a truck rental place is any sort of important secular life. At least at the insurance company where I work, I can say that I am helping people recover. Priesthood has been good for the brother, even if he had to undergo empathy training. This is my family folks. This should explain everything. Very well-meaning, very dedicated, no social ability whatsoever.

But I felt I needed to do something similar. But while I wanted (and still kinda do) to be a monk as a kid, I don’t have the temperament for it now, particularly since there isn’t a broader community to do it in. I do benefit from structure, but I have a hard time getting it going on myself. This is a digression, isn’t it? See what I mean. Structure, darling girl. I barely can keep my head on. I’ve heard of one other Hellenic in Central Illinois, and while they are close, it would still mean driving, and that’s more terrifying than anything else. I get lost in straight lines.

But between my brother, and a series of people I was watching and reading on LJ/other blogs, etc, I got a little caught up. I’m mostly over that now. Other than in the way that if you are the one contacting the gods, you are a priest. Or that we are all priests, oh, you get the point. I’m not part of any local community and I do things all on my own, what’s the point of professional clergy without it? Part of my simplifying process that I am working on is releasing the things that I don’t desire, or that aren’t good for me. This desire is one of them.

Does paganism need pro clergy? If that’s what you need, go for it. It’s good to have those resources. But Hellenic Paganism is first a religion of the household, and clergy is few and far. And I’m good with that. I’ll be devoted to my gods without needing that validation, without being an uber mystic, just a small everyday mystic.

Maybe when I’m old I’ll become a monk. Because monks are still awesome.

 
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Posted by on June 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism Day 24: Personal aesthetics with magic and ritual

My personal aesthetic is more or less simplicity. I say prayers, give offerings, research, read, sing and dance. I don’t do a whole lot in the way of smells and bells. As I focus on simple living, I found that the trappings mean less and less. I focus on what the gods seem to want more, offerings and reciprocity as well as honor and praise. I like to live through my faith, and while sometimes the mundane looks that way on the outside, on the inside, even cleaning can be an act of worship. Just ask my kitchen, which got a serious act of worship done on it today!

I recently changed up my altar. I ditched most of the decorations I used. No altar cloth. A couple of candles, a focal point for Dionysos and Hestia, a statue that I love, and offering bowl and my prayer beads. It’s been one of the best things I’ve ever done for my spirituality. I’ve been happier as I freed myself from those constraints. I’ll use them when I need to, I still like incense and scents as an offering after all.

So yeah, my personal aesthetic is simplicity. Who would have ever guessed? It’s kind of funny, because I love Catholic Mass where everything means something, even if you aren’t aware of it. That’s a mindfullness of its own, but I’m going through a time where I need to strip away the layers and find what is enough.

 
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Posted by on May 31, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism Day 22: Paganism and major life events

Again, I am not entirely sure what was going through my head when I planned this day. In the context of my life since I’ve become a Hellenic, my major life events are graduating and getting married.

I didn’t really do anything special when I graduated, because there wasn’t time. I moved out of my college apartment and went to Missouri for my brothers pre-seminary graduation. The closest thing to special religious time I got there was that since it was at a monastery, I took some time to go for a walk and be silent. Which after the hecticness which is your last few weeks as a senior, is important.

Then I got married. I think if my husband had any inclination towards religion, I could have done more. After we moved in, I dragged him to my altar and made offerings to Hera, asking her to bless our marriage and our commitment to each other.

But other than that, there’s no kids and it seems silly to keep dragging my husband to the altar. I try to do an extra offering to Apollo and Artemis around my birthday, as I think it’s appropriate being a twin. But it does make me wonder what I will do when there are children, how will I incorporate my faith while respecting my husbands wishes? I’ve got ideas, but nothing in words and nothing ready to be written. Which is pretty much my thoughts on having kids right now anyways. They are ideas, but nothing ready to gestate!

 
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Posted by on May 29, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism: Day 21: Other paths I’ve explored

Oh where to begin?

There’s the “OMG! I’m wiccan” phase from early high school, coupled by the “Nah, I’m better than you, I’m Pagan and a pantheist” stage. There was the short period of time where I worked with an actual Wiccan coven, but since my memory is more or less made of a strainer, I can’t remember even who the HP was.

In a previous post, I talked about how I came to Hellenismos, and that’s really the story of the other pagan paths I’ve explored. Before that, I was Catholic, had a falling out on theological grounds, and read a lot.

It’s not really that interesting because, well, I’ve done most of my exploring without any intention of leaving where I’m at. I like learning about other religions and other paths.

 
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Posted by on May 22, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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30 Days of Paganism: Day 20 Paganism and my relationship

I think I’m hitting the home stretch here, and if I wasn’t so bogged down at work (We are behind. Very very behind), I’d be cranking these out.

You’ve been reading these, so you get the gist of what I believe — Greek Gods, attempt at consistent practice (which right now is yoga. I know, I’m shocked too), grounded in Dionysos and Hestia. The big reveal? My husband is a big fat nothing. I think he’s technically an agnostic, but I think he is more along the lines of indifferent.

And so that causes conflict. I don’t ask him to do anything with me, unless we are visiting people. He doesn’t begrudge me space for my altar, the money I spend, the time I take, this blog, nothing. I do sometimes feel indulged rather than respected, but that’s okay.

There’s talk of a so-called “God Gene”, or genetics that predisposes you to religious belief. I think I have it, I’m pretty sure husband doesn’t. I think he is as supportive as he can be, and I wouldn’t have him any other way.

Because we have a lot that we do share: a profound love of space and exploration, of history, of people. We both find the world fascinating and awesome. And that works for me to be able to share my spirituality with him.

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

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