Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Blessed Hallows Eve: Walking the Underworld Road

When I started this blog, I decided I would keep up with it for no less than six months. I started at Beltane and tonight is Hallows Eve. It feels good to set and then meet a goal.

Please find below something I wrote several years ago for Samhain; I thought I would share.


Take a moment and rest, it has been a long year. The time has come and the veil has grown thin. The mist between the worlds permeates the air.

Perhaps you will find yourself sitting beneath a fairy tree drifting into sleep with dreams of times past, slipping through to the twilight realms. With the moon shrouded and cloaked in clouds above will you notice the stag of white? More importantly, will you give chase? Hunt the deep woods and crooked trail across this land, your inner spiritual landscape.

When you have found yourself led to a door before a hollowed hill will you knock? Or continue not realizing the hunt has been won? With the creek of rusty hinges enter the company of the pale folk, the inner halls, and the hill of the Sidhe. Here is the isle of the fated past,  the underworld road.

Ride upon the waves of an inner sea as you voyage to lands unseen. What encounters does your adventure bring? Through storm and turmoil journey and remember the eye of the storm is the calmest, at least until the trial has passed for now.

Perchance you may awake from the storm with a maiden beckoning from ashore. With an approach she may back away into the tangled thicket showing the way; one way that is. In a clearing you find a cauldron stewing and bubbling with a brew. All your hopes, dreams, faults, and actions past simmer here. It is time to stop and kneel before the altar of truth, gaze therein and see what elixir you have made. Thus you may sip of the knowledge of truth.

Blessed Samhain!

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Singing to the Directions: A Morning Devotional

This morning on the way to work, I did something I have not done in a long time; I sang to the directions. Growing up this is how I learned to ritually call to the four quarters; not by invoking or summoning. Which there is nothing wrong with at all, in fact I generally use a traditional invocation.

For those that don’t know, I grew up attending a Contemporary Pagan Church; specifically the Church of Rhiannon out of Middle Georgia. My Uncle was one of the founding members and my Dad became involved when I was very young. It is only in my adulthood that I have begun to understand how their practice, and the slight differences therein, has shaped the manner of my own practice. Let’s just say that CoR developed about itself lore and praxis that beget its own perspective, that although clearly Contemporary Pagan it could not be classified within the sphere of Wicca, Druidry, or any other similar path.  

In CoR’s standard ritual liturgy, they sang to the four directions. From about the age of nine until I left home years later, this was the way I saw the directional provinces related to. The method was simple; turn towards the east and sing the appropriate call, they used the same four mini-songs every time, and then the Thegn, Gate Guardian and Keeper of the Veil, would sound their horn, or conch, to open the gateway to that realm, repeat in the south, west, and north. The singing was not an invocation, it asked nothing of the powers of the direction, but only called to them and sang who they were. This singing was about getting the attention of the direction, revering said powers, and attuning oneself to them; a joining of unity unto them.

It is not something that I do very often, but I did it this morning. I didn’t plan it or even think about. I simply noticed the sun cresting the eastern horizon and began to sing the old CoR calls. It felt good, it felt right. Mayhaps (Maybe + Perhaps) I will make this a part of my morning devotional.

For those that have never done this, I encourage you to try, write a short three or four line verse about the energies of each direction and then sing it with abandon to each of the directions, while focusing upon nothing but allowing the song to connect the two.

Happy singing!

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Monday, October 29, 2012

Full Moon Tonight: Delving Inward

Tonight is a Full Moon. As such, I always go through a mental check list of the various influences upon any particular moon. I also start thinking about what my Esbat rite will consist of later. Of these two, I am going to list out the various things that come to mind, and I’m going to practice the fourth word of the Witch for the second.

There are four things that come to mind:

According to the Beth-Luis-Fearn Calendar as developed by CoR and promulgated throughout the internet via some of their lore listed within Beth-Luis-Nion calendar information posted by the Faerie Faith folk out of Georgia tonight is the Full Moon of Ruis. This Moon Month is associated with the sea as the tomb/womb of death and rebirth. It is the only Moon on the calendar that does not have a set length from Full Moon to Full Moon. Instead, the Ruis Moon begins at the 13th Full Moon from the calculated first back in November and ends at Samhain. This year the Ruis Moon month is three days long, a number associated with the three phases of the moon. Ruis is the period of descent into the tomb whereby the Lady will pass through the gates unto Her throne, ending at Samhain.

The next thing I thought of is that according to traditional lore associated with the full moon, and can be found in farmer’s almanacs, is that tonight is the Blood Moon. The Blood Moon is named so for two reasons. The first is that at this time of year with the field harvest done there was more time for the hunting of various animals before having to hunker down in doors. The Blood Moon is the blood of the hunt; so interesting associations there with the lore of Ruis and Samhain. It is also the moon by which farmers mark the culling of the herds; where old animals, animals not likely to survive the winter, and any needed for feeding people during winter were slaughtered. This traditional slaughter is the final harvest of the year. I am sure everyone can easily see why this moon is called the Blood Moon.

The next thing I thought of is that this Full Moon falls on a Monday which is magickally associated with the planetary powers of the moon. The moon is associated with the Underworld, rivers and other bodies of water, the mind in psychic function, mystery, silence, and the inner secrets of existence.

Additionally, tonight is the ninth day within the sign of Scorpio. Nine is numerologically associated with the moon, our Lady as Maiden, intuition, and the balance between logic and symbolic. The sign of Scorpio is a water sign, which puts it in the realm of emotions and the inward self, and is ruled by Pluto. Interestingly the planet (or once planet if you prefer) is named after an Underworld God: Pluto. This planet is about the relationship between personal and non-personal power and our ability to deal with severe change such as that brought on by death and/or birth. Scorpio itself is a very passionate sign, it’s kind of emotion is all about intensity.

There you have it; the lore and influences around tonight’s full moon. Happy Esbating!

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Washed in Blessings: Allowing the Light to be a Crown

My dreams are talking to me again and telling me things; but that is what happens when you foster such work. Just for kicks, below is a quick telling of the events of the dream followed by a quick interpretation. Oh, and maybe even a practical practice.
I was in brown robes standing/bowing in front of my altar in my Temple Room; all of the candles were lit and incense smoke was nicely wafting across it. A light then washed over me from the central candle, ye one from which the rest are lit, and as it touched my crown, the top of the head, I was instantly bald. At which point in the dream I was told, either by my own thoughts, just an understanding, or an ominous voice, that this was the manner in which an individual is given a name. Queue alarm clock. BAAAAAHN BAAAAAHN BAAAAAHN *snooze* #repeat until absolute last minute#
For and foremost the dream relates an initiatory death and rebirth. The shaving of one’s head in most religious traditions is a symbol of the severing of ego, the waking self that is tied to this particular lifetime and not the eternally reborn Self. That this death comes from the central spark is also interesting, it is foretelling of the process of undergoing said practice. It is at this point, when the all divine light enters the crown, which is a link to the unity of all, that is the point or level at which the individual is not but exists universally and is named so as that which is, the individual identity is replaced by the spark of the Godhead. So that is the message that came before I stepped upon the waking road this morning.
The whole dream reminds me of a practice common in several different religions; Hinduism comes to mind but I know it exists in other paths as well, they just have decided to hide from my conscious eye at the moment. It is a technique or practice of anointing oneself in the blessings of a flame that has had the spark of a God or Goddess seated into it. Essentially what is done is that the Deity or Divine is invoked at an altar before a symbol of such with a lit candle. The candle in this instance is both the fire and vessel, as it becomes the throne unto which the Deity sits. At which point any prayers are said and the hands are held over the flame as if to warm them. Once the palms have the warmth of the flame and Divine essence upon them, the palms are turns towards the individual and brought up to the forehead; they should be lightly cupped with the fingers tips reaching up towards the crown. In this motion the warmth of blessings, which can be felt on the palms, is brought to the third eye and crown allowing it to wash over the individual.
What lessons have your dreams brought you?
Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Feasting with the Dead: How to Dumb Supper this Hallows

My family and I have been involved in yearly Dumb Suppers for about a decade, and I individually have attended a variation of one for since my adultancy (it’s a word now!). Dumb Suppers are an old tradition that very quickly engrained itself into the customs of Witchcraft and the lore of honoring, remembering, and working with the ancestors.

It is particularly common around Hallow’s for two very obvious reasons. The first is that a large portion, albeit nowhere near all, of Witchcraft lore for working with the ancestors is tied to that time of the year; and the second is directly related to why most of our lore is tied to that time of the year: the veil between the realms is thinnest, thus reaching across in either direction becomes easier for either Witch or the Mighty Dead.

So what exactly is a Dumb Supper? In short, it is eating a meal with those that have departed; whose essence that does not perpetuate from life to life dwells in the Isles of Annwyn. Even shorter, ya’ are eating with ya’ dead loved ones and they with you.

Now there are a lot of ways to go about a Dumb Supper. I know that I have seen several variations with different folk, Traditions, and Covens. As a result, here is a basic format of a Dumb Supper liturgy:

-Set up a dinner table with places for all attending and one extra seat for the Ancestors.

-The place for the Ancestors should have pictures and other things that remind us of them, a small glass of water, a white place mat (if they are used), and a black candle.

-Serve everyone their food, to include the Ancestors. Make note to add no salt to the food given to the Ancestors. You want them to attend, right? Good! Then don’t give them salt.

-Everyone takes their seats.

-Invocations are given for our Lady and our Lord to bless and witness the meal.

-The Keeper of the Veil is asked to open a gateway between the worlds. As a note of practice, the glass of water is the focal point of where this occurs.

-Once the Veil has been opened, light the black candle and have everyone call the names of their departed to come and eat with them.

-The host tolls a small bell three times. From this point until the end of the rite, no one speaks.

-Everyone eats in silence and reflects upon their Ancestors. If people choose to place offerings, silently, on the Ancestor plate they may. Tobacco, whiskey, and anything that a particular Ancestor being honored was fond of in life all make appropriate offerings. Also if they would like to open communication, they can silently ask a question of their Ancestors and draw a tarot card from a deck, or other divinatory method.

-When everyone appears to be done eating/crying, the host for the evening will ring the bell three times. They will then thank the Ancestors for attending, put out the black candle, and ask the Keeper to close the veil.

-Our Lady and our Lord are thanked.

-Everyone retires to another room and chats and otherwise engages in things more merry.

The Seat of the Mighty Dead is honored in silent merriment at the feast of the heart.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Lessons of Disengagement

I have had to learn a hard lesson as of late. It is one that has been difficult, because when something that has given such love and beauty to one’s life is perceived to be attacked, misrepresented, or distained the inclination is to respond, if not negatively then in an attempt to correct. Neither one of these is acceptable. Each path must make its own way.

Their path is not my concern. Certainly the proponents of these very different ideas of the purpose behind practices we have in common, particularly those that originate in Traditional Wicca, follow a valid Craft of their own. They are Witches, just a different kind of Witch. Our paths long ago diverged from one another and that is okay. We hold ourselves up and we hold them up, each is valid in its own right without needing the other for a stamp of approval. Let’s just not claim to speak for anyone not on our path in sweeping all inclusive proclamations, because to do so is to misrepresent a path not one’s own from a position without knowledge of the essence of that path. This does not mean that one cannot, or should not, share the beauty that has been found in their own spiritual journey. There is much that can be gained there; if each path is allowed to speak for itself.

Acceptance and tolerance of other’s paths is something I have long ago learned, it is central to the Contemporary Pagan paradigm; however, sometimes life likes to return us on the wheel to a different angle and nuance.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Monday, October 22, 2012

The Center of Devotion: The Home Altar

A foundational aspect of my own practice, and the practice of many Witches, is the central use of a home altar in the praxis. Anytime I encounter someone that doesn’t have a permanent altar setup in their home I am taken aback for a moment. This is not to say there is anything wrong with their expression of their path, just that I find it peculiar.

Growing up all the adult Contemporary Pagans I knew, Druids and Witches alike, had altars in the home that acted as the center of their spiritual devotion. This particular list isn’t long, not from the lack of people having altars but because as a child and later as a teenager there were not too many homes of adult practitioners into which I was privy. Most of my interaction with the greater community took place through CoR.  The list includes my Uncle, whose altar is the first I ever recall having seen, my Dad had an altar setup, and the Priestess of CoR. As an adult, every Traditionalist I know has an altar or more, and off the top of my head I can think of three households that have Temple rooms; other than my own. This is why I have a hard time grok’ing when this isn’t the cast.

I set up my first altar in my early teens. I set it up for the simple fact that as a devotee I believed that having an altar was a part of the normal practice of my religion. I have an at least one, usually several, for different Gods and Goddesses, ever since. For that matter, I even have an entire room designated as the Temple, which has little else other than a large altar, and some supply cabinets for the operation of the Temple. In addition to the main one in the Temple, I have a small one in the bedroom, my wife has a multitier altar in the kitchen area for her hearth workings, and there is a small one in the kitchen for family offerings during family meals (which are nightly).

An individual’s altar is their spiritual center of the household, it is the hearth. As a devotional religion the altar is our sacred center, the navel, the axis mundi, that is the conduit at which an individual works in their relationship with our Lady and our Lord. The home is the Temple and its spiritual center is the altar. It is for this reason that many altars are setup in the kitchen or living room. Here is an earlier post I made about the center of the home.

I am of the opinion, and I am sure there are individuals that can and will argue otherwise, that erecting, maintaining, and regular devotional rites at an in-home altar are essential in the religious nature of Witchcraft, and the greater Contemporary Pagan practice.

How important is your altar in your daily spiritual life?

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Friday, October 19, 2012

Celebrating Differences and Similarities: Respecting the Beauty of Other Paths

I have been thinking a lot lately about the praxis of a Witch that is of a religious nature and how that informs one’s spirituality and acts as a conduit by which the Witch interacts with the rest of existence. In this statement the Witch in which I am referring to is the Contemporary Pagan Witch, meaning that they practice Religious Witchcraft within the parameters of that umbrella. Now I know that encompasses a whole host of folk that don’t necessarily have any agreement upon any practice, let alone the manner of that practice.

In a way it is similar to trying to make a list of practices and beliefs within Hinduism. For those that don’t know Hinduism is an umbrella term, just like Contemporary Paganism, and includes a very wide range of often contrary practice and/or belief. There are more forms of Hinduism than I think anyone could list, however, there are some things that are widespread enough to be taught as being a standard of sorts. Some of these include the adoption of family and personal Deities, the idea of karma and dharma, and the ritual puja; but even here there are some devotees that disagree.

 Likewise, if I said all Religious Witches work in a circle for ritual a portion of those referred to will state otherwise. I think that a lot of our community’s problems with bickering, uniting, and progress stream back to this. Unlike Hinduism our religions are fairly modern and do not have a precedence set where many very different paths can and are considered within the same family because of resemblances. This is Western thought baggage that has rolled over from the various orthodox religions from which most of our membership converted. As a backlash to the stifling of prior association with these religions many in our ranks are quick to react adamantly to any perceived attempt, real or not, of anyone telling them how to practice or what to believe. Yes, I recognize that the issue gets much more complex than this and that I am only touching upon one small portion; in my defense, this is a short blog post and not a series of analytical books. I just want to get folks thinking about it.

As for a solution? I will admit to not having all the answers but I do have personal ideas that perhaps others can add to. After all, this is something that can only be solved by conversation whereby everyone is a participant. I think that working towards any solution must first begin in recognizing the above issue and realizing that coming to a solution is possible. After that the steps get harder but I think that by putting an emphasis upon tolerance of differing practices and acceptance that others may do things differently and yet are still validly within the ranks of Contemporary Paganism is a good next step.

Going in hand with this is also the recognition that when an individual talks about a practice or belief that even if they say someone should or shouldn’t do or believe such, their words are not authoritative and only impact an individual’s path if allowed to. As the power is in the individual’s hands, don’t react in adamant venom to the attempts of others to share the wonder they have found in their path. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t talk about our differences because we should. Let’s just keep respect close when we do. There is a lot of strength and beauty to be found in the differences as well as the similarities; let’s embrace them and uphold one another.

So originally this post was going to be about the importance of keeping a personal altar unto our practice but I got a bit side tracked. Maybe I’ll post about that later.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

By Religion and Science Alike

I have grown weary of the science verses religion rhetoric as of late. The argument always pans out along the lines of: religion tried to pray the disease away and everyone died, meanwhile science went to Mars and there was much rejoicing. The details used on each side change but the discourse is the same. I cannot speak for the various fundamentalist expressions of religion within Western society. I can, however, speak a bit about Contemporary Paganism and even more specifically in regards to certain Traditions that exist therein.

The sentiment of what is trying to get conveyed is not lost on me. I completely agree that the examples are absurd and even worse so because they are true. However, blasting all within the spectrum of religion is hurtful. It is hurtful to those of us within the scientific and religious communities alike. It degrades who we are and devalues our intelligence, humanity, and compassion towards others. I’m not saying that the problem that fundamentalism poses shouldn’t be talked about. Nor am I saying that one is right over the other. All I am saying is that this rhetoric further fuels the division within society that creates the us verses them paradigm.

As a Witch I stand firmly with one foot in the realm of religion and one in the realm of science. Here though, I feel the need to digress yet again. I know that the Classical Monotheistic definitions of religion have dominated Western thought for a very very very long time. These same definitions are only further hardened against the perceived enemies of the fundamentalists by said fundamentalists into mainstream Western culture. Science/secularism/modernism are determined to be threats and so a line is drawn and a wall thrown up to keep the chosen in and the unsaved out.  But what able all the various religions and religious people that neither fall into that definition, into fundamentalism, or in any way reject science/secularism/modernism? Humanity is much more complex than this.

When I was a young Dedicant one of the many things I was told to do was to find and read all the books, which included books on science. In fact, I was specifically told to read books about science because it is important to understand how the world works. This is important because the theology of Contemporary Paganism is based upon the observable natural world around us. And guess what? So is science.

Even deeper than this, within our theology there is a firm rhetoric of balancing on one hand the mythic and on the other hand the literal. Our religion embraces science and our spirituality is informed by it. I and Witches/Pagans/what-have-you are perfectly capable of seeing the world around us simultaneously from the stance of religion and of science. There is a saying within the Religious Witchcraft community that relates our relationship with the world nicely; “If we do not observe Yule the Sun will not rise in the morning, but only a large ball of burning gas.” The commonality of the human existence needs to be emphasized and not further divided by stereotyping using definitions as if they were all inclusive when in fact they are not all inclusive.

So I know that was all a bit rant’ish, it is just something I am passionate about. No hard feelings science (or advocates thereof); I still love you.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Chiming in on "Gender Essentialism"

This short blog is in response to today’s blog post over at the Bishop in the Grove. Teo Bishop asked for people to sound off with their perspective, so I did. As most of the comments in his blog were not from Traditionalists, I thought it prudent to give the views of at least one Traditionalist.

Here is the question he posed, “I wonder how my Wiccan friends might respond to the idea that the Lord and Lady gave us our form, or that a trans person transitioning is the greatest insult to them.”

Let’s not confuse polarity, sex, and gender. They are not the same as taught within Traditional Wicca. Yes, our praxis expresses the duality of two Deities along the lines of the sexes; however, the core of the matter is the mystery of the creation of life derives from sex. The deep reality and focus of this schema within Wicca is the recognition of the relationship between ‘I’ and divinity as the ‘Other’ unto which the individual seeks to cast off the illusion of separation from and sit in the place of unity with. The manifestation of the Gods, our relationships, or us as individuals is not limited by Wicca lore; but instead each acts to inform the lore of the Wicca. The myriad of gender-sex combinations and the mysteries therein are each their own expansion upon the mysteries of the relationship between “I” and the “Other,” and the relationship that exists between one and the divine.

This is me speaking from a heterosexual perspective, so I invite my various LBGT Wicca friends to chime in with their own thoughts in regards to this. In my time practicing the Craft I have known two Initiates that have transitioned or are in the process of transitioning. They are not insults to our Lady and our Lord but are manifestations of them in all their glory and a credit to the Craft.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Walking Along a Path

I recently read a blog by Lazarus K, “Why Not Ganymede?” over at Where We Speed and it got me to thinking. I wrote the below not in response to his situation, answer, or the person he encountered. It is a musing that his blog sparked in regards to each person traveling their own path.

I am on a path; it twists, turns, has dips, hills, potholes, places of beauty, and difficult terrain. Likewise, you are on a path; and it twists, turns, has dips, hills, potholes, places of beauty, and difficult terrain. As I am not on your path, it is not my place to speak of what is underfoot. Nor can I compare my path against yours. Surely I think my path is the best… the best for me that is. I say this with the bias of the perspective from standing upon my path. I know no other; nor can I. In the end, each path, yours and mine, are equal in weight, each is the measure of divinity as it is manifested and expressed through a life. So walk your path, and I mine, and maybe on occasion we will learn from one another about the different twists, turns, dips, hills, potholes, places of beauty, and difficult terrain that each of us has travel through, while holding up the validity of each experience. After all, each path is the path of the Gods as we live them.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Threshold of Sickness and the Arrival of Rest

Every year, twice a year I get sick; with the onset of fall and again when spring arrives. It is part of the cycle of life that I come to expect. I don’t particularly enjoy having a head cold but there is something therein that I have learned to appreciate. This sickness, as much as I loathe the feeling of not being able to breathe is a threshold, a gate way through which I must pass in order to step into the realm of the next season. For that part, I am grateful, for I know once I return the state of wellness that I will firmly be seated in the providence of the wheel whereby the winds permeating the turning circle will be that of autumn.

Autumn brings several things for me; little things each one, but they all are important signals to my inner self that the time of rest has arrived. I mean this literally and figuratively. Literally because I sleep horribly when it is hot outside, but with the turn of the weather I have rested well. Figuratively because as the harvest and outside oriented activities of summer come to a close we find ourselves able to sit and be in stillness. The final harvest is not here just yet, but it looms.

The arrival of falls brings other things with it that I love, crave, and miss in the hotter weather. It also brings things that by winter’s end I will be ready to cast off. I welcome small fires in the woodstove, warm wool socks, and jeans (cause I mostly wear shorts in summer). In short turn I will be tired of always being cold every time I step foot outside, having to tote gloves, beanie, and coat everywhere, and any snow that lasts more than half a day… my Southern blood declares snow as a novelty that should not be part of the scenery. For now though, I will allow the moment of the season to sing its tune unto my heart.

But all of that is me, and how I immerse myself into the season. How about you? How do you know the season has changed?

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Muse of the Long Weekend: Craft All the Things!

This just past weekend was an extended one for me... oh, and the muse of Crafting gnawed on me. Here is the story in picture form!

Day 1 slash 2

Day 3 slash 4 (Previous Steps One and Two)

  That's not me.

Oh and I played Skyrim for about eight hours in there somewhere... and bought and put up a new bird feeder.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Friday, October 5, 2012

Old Horny at the Crossroads

Over at The Crossroads Companion, Skyllaros is offering the devotional anthology he put together, Hoofprints in the Wildwood, for free as an ebook. Awhile back I bought the paper version and must confess that I have found some very evocative and blood enflaming pieces of work therein. I highly recommend it; plus it is free at the moment.

The download link can be found here.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

God is XYZ, pt.2: Unraveling Natural Theology

As I pointed out in one of my previous posts, God is XYZ , I discussed how the nature of the Gods and Goddesses is an irrelevant moot point when it comes to Contemporary Paganism as a whole. However, the rabbit hole does go a whole lot deeper, and the Gods and Goddesses do have a nature. I’m just going to briefly touch upon it.

There are two primary theologies when it comes to religion. It should be understood that these are the lateral outer limits of the spectrum and that a particular religion and more specifically an individual’s spirituality tends to fall somewhere between the two. However, when categorizing religious practice and or belief one or the other is generally more descriptive.

The first of these is referred to as Revealed Theology. All three of the Abrahamic Religions and contrary to popular belief Buddhism fall into this category.  This in no way makes these four the same in any accord. The key characteristic that quantifies a religion as belonging to either side of the spectrum has to do with how or where the basis of their theology originate. In Revealed Theology, the essence of the theology comes about from one or multiple revelations of some sort. Here are two very quick examples: Sitting under the Bodhi Siddhartha Guatama obtained enlightenment and became Buddha and the teaching of Buddhism originate there from; On the top of Mount Sinai Moses received the Ten Commandments.

At the other end of the spectrum rests Natural Theology. Natural Theology does not originate in some revelation or spiritual teaching that has been revealed but from observation of the natural world. In all fairness to Buddhism, there is a lot of this going on as well; remember I said that it is a spectrum. Contemporary Paganism in this regards is very much seated in Natural Theology. This doesn’t mean that our membership doesn’t have spiritual revelations, just that the root of our theology is not based on such. The Western discourse as it has been dominated by Classical Monotheism generally makes two arguments here; one is that the revelations of Revealed Religions are indeed natural as ordained by God and secondly that since revealed orthodoxy is the will of God any theology without such is a false theology. However, Contemporary Paganism, and the other religions grouped into this category, sees the interaction of existence not as one divine will but of the many, in many cases the many are aspects or derived of a great whole, but even here the whole is not exercising an omnipotent and singular will. Semantics aside, the usual rhetoric of Natural Theology is of the numerous, after all the world around us has many and varied wills.

The nature or essence of the Gods is thus part of this same ideological paradigm. Our understanding of them and how we interact with them is derived from Natural Theology. Herein there is room for many different "–isms" within our theological framework. It doesn’t matter whether one views the Gods polytheistically, monistically, pantheistically, animistically, etc… each one of these is derived from individual observations and interactions through the praxis within Contemporary Paganism to explain the essence of the Gods as existing immanently as a natural part of existence; not apart from it. As such, we define the nature of the Gods. Please note, I did not say that we determine the nature of the Gods but that we define it.

The Gods as each individual defines them are interacted with as a reflection of the nature of the individual who worships them. Some would argue that we make the Gods, others argue differently; as far as Natural Theology is concerned, both are true in the sense that our interactions with the Gods are based upon individualistic ideologies and not orthodox group ideology. The truth of the matter is a personal issue; this is the rhetoric of Contemporary Paganism. In fact the only point really made is that our understanding of the Gods is derived from a stance of observation, interaction, and personal experience.

As individuals our tendencies are to interact with Gods in the manner in which we understand them, but also the particular Gods that we interact with derive from our own essence. For example, a Humanist Pagan may understand the nature of the Gods as existing solely as archetypes and so their interaction with the Gods is inwardly from this point of view. As the axiom goes, “Like attracts like.” That which exists at the heart of the individual’s being finds kinship with certain Gods, thus personal and immensely strong bonds are often developed leading to the mutual relationship that exists between a devotee and their Gods. It is my belief that it is partially for this reason on why Contemporary Paganism has taken on such an emphasis in having a Patron Deity, that and the Reconstructionist Traditions within our mists have had a larger impact than they are usually accredited with.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Preparing for the Day's Work: A Contemplation

A waft of incense and the brief scent of rose as the gift is presented in conduit unto the inner and outer center that is the altar of the heart, thereby it is sat in the place of mysteries for our Lady and our Lord to enjoy.

The work of the day has arrived and thoughts are turned inward towards the sacred mirror that reflects the hopes, dreams, gratitude, and mindfulness of the yet fated. Facing easterly this mirror is opened into a concaved vessel whereby the well may hold the glory of the Sun and the cycle of Now born anew. As the light descends, the utterance that vibrates and breathes life into the singular moment is “thou art,” forgetting not— I am that.

The center above is one as with the center herein, and in an instance the center below joins; the heart is as a bridge between the starry sky and the dust beneath the feet, all is one. The vertical axis of the spiritual landscape expands infinitely, a circumference ever widening.

Wherefore in the outer reaches of limitlessness, the stars rise as witnesses unto the holy names upon the lips of creation; lo do they stand before, behind, and at each hand around the seat of the soul. All joins at this threshold between nothing and everything, the divine light cast forth from this spiritual sun permeates all throughout.

Before the sacred altar tolls the bell sounding the attention of the divine pair; reaching out the stream between flows as consciousness is merged and sealed with a prayer. In the end, there is silence and the awaiting day.

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."

Monday, October 1, 2012

Cleanse/Clean: Somtimes it is Both

Yesterday at the house it was spiritual cleansing and redecoration day. A couple of days ago my wife went through and cleaned up her altar and changed out the seasonal wall hanging in the reading nook with the kids. Come this weekend, all of us took apart the small altar in the kitchen we use for offering portions of our meals before dinner and dressed it all up in harvest attire. After which the kids and I went up and cleansed/cleaned the temple room.

Both cleaning and cleansing are extremely important for several reasons in regards to the practice of Witchcraft, regardless of whether one in regularly engaged in magick or not. The first reason is simple; it is a matter of spiritual, energetic, and physical hygiene. As we go about our daily lives, various different situations, places, and interactions with other occur. As a result, our spiritual and energy bodies often collect the essence of those encounters, as well as through the creation of new bonds with other people and entities.

In addition to basic hygiene, cleansing oneself and the any space used for working by means of proper banishing is important. This rule is a simple one: If something was invoked, it NEEDS to be banished when the rite is done. Although it is very popular in some groups, absolutely no banishing followed by the statement, “go if you must, stay if you will.” The purpose of the banishing is being defeated in this sole moment. If for example elementals have been called up during a directional invocation, I do not want them hanging around after the rite. They need to go, and as a Witch we are not asking. For more on this please refer to the use of “So mote it be” vice “So may it be.” Banishing are not solely used for entities either, but of specific energies or our connection to them. Perhaps during a working the influence of a planetary sphere was tapped into and used; when the work is done, the link needs to be cut. There are some rare exceptions to this, but unless one is undergoing planetary initiatory work as found within the grimoire traditions, where there are methods to doing so, then a banishing is prudent.

Cleansing oneself also has another effect upon our magick. It allows the Witch to begin their work with a blank slate, without additional previous influences upon the task. One of the first thing s Witch does ritually is cleanse themselves, and the space they will be working. The methods vary in this. I am fond of a salt shower and sweeping the floor; the sweeping is both energetically cleansing and physically so. The standard Ceremonial and Wicca liturgy goes through a phase of ritually purifying, which is essentially cleansing, the space. All of this is so as to start from the place of potential

Cleaning is just about the energetic or spiritual, as mentioned above, but is about the actual physical cleaning of space. Debris can and often does build up over time in a working space. Therefore, an occasional scrub down of the space is warranted.

So there are the basics of why from a functional perspective. There are, however, a couple of other more symbolic associations in regards to why. Cleansing takes one back to the blank slate and as such is symbolic of the womb, standing in that place of potential. By cleansing oneself in the same manner every time before a rite, it becomes a ritual and is an aid in turning the mind towards the ritual mindset whereby it is in unison with this womb of possibility making the effort of the rite easier.

There is one more bit of Witchcraft lore associated with this time of year that I will briefly discuss. At the Autumn Equinox the lore of the Witch teaches that the Sun descends into the Underworld to later be crowned the Lord of the Mound at Samhain. What is rarely mentioned at this point, is that our Lady, after the Sun has departed, ritually bathes in the waters of the well. She does this before beginning Her own descent, at Samhain, through the gates whereby She is stripped of all Her worldly guises. Now there is a lot more around this tale, and it is not my place to get into just now, but what is important to note is the bathing and removal of worldly connection before entering the inward/below realms.

Enough about the lore and reasons; here is what was done to cleanse/clean the ritual room. Everything on the altar and additional work table was removed, as well as the various other items about the room (drums, staffs, swords, etc). I took out any offerings and disposed of them ritually. I used Florida Water to wipe down my altar and Deity statues. I swept the floor; both physically and ritually. I cleaned the base-boards with Chinese Floor Wash. Everything was reassembled; put back in its place. I then censed the room and ended with a Hermetic Rite that cleanses other planes of existence related to a place of being.

Do you clean/cleanse often enough?

Boidh se!

-Spanish Moss

"Lost in a thicket bare-footed upon a thorned path."