Thursday, 30 October 2008

Reflection

Perhaps its the time I year; I don't know. What I do know is that I am spending a lot of time reflecting on what I do, how I do it, why I do it and so on. To that end, neither this online journal, nor the one I mantain for my family has seen any activity.

I've noticed other bloggers have slowed down a bit, too. Its not that I don't have ideas on what to post, just that the ideas I do have are not as cohesive as I would like before posting a comment. There is activity in one quarter, which I am watching with a keen eye, but I have to say I am not contributing at all. I waiting to see what's left when the dust dies down and this seems to be a theme with me this month.

If I have time on the weekend, I hope to do some meditation out of doors. A long walk through the local woods, which I've not seen for over two months, would be nice and, as its so familiar, it would be condusive to clarifying my thoughts.

Tonight marked the end of several "honouring the ancestors" projects, too. It was good to take part and talk openly about various ancestors with others. If it happens again next year, I will take part again.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

The Ancestors

An interesting question was raised in a pagan forum recently: When using the term "ancestors", to whom are you referring?

My answer was not complete, but I wrote the following:

Firstly, I refer to those in my bloodline, i.e. direct ancestors such as grandparents, great-grandparents ... to that end, I undertake genealogical research as best I can.

Secondly, I refer to my bloodline clans, i.e. those with a similar surname to myself, and my paternal and maternal antecedents in Ireland, England, America, France, etc.

Thirdly, those who lived on the land of my ancestors, perhaps alongside them, especially when visiting those places.

Fourthly, those who lived on the land, where I currently reside, before me, such as the Britons, the Romans, the Angles, the Normans, and so on.

And, finally, those with whom I may have an affinity. This category I find hard to define. Another response was more erudite, referring to ancestors of "blood, place and craft", but I would redefine it to "blood, place and craft/spirituality". By craft/spirituality, I mean those who have preceded me in my endeavours. For instance, when I undertook Reiki (over a decade ago), which I consider both a craft and a spiritual calling of sorts, I always maintained images of Usui and Hawayo alongside those of my blood relations. Spiritually, I would also refer to those pagans who lived on these isles prior to the Romans. They are my spiritual ancestors. Were I an artist of any sort, I would probably consider those who had gone before as my ancestors, too, but its not really as simple as that. I wish I had the words to explain, but I don't. Perhaps others can provide the definition I find so elusive?

Friday, 24 October 2008

Six (Not So) Random Things About Me

I have been tagged by The Shepton Witch and Bee-Leaf.

The guidelines are:

  1. Link to the person who tagged you.
  2. Post the rules on your blog.
  3. Write six random things about yourself.
  4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
  5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
  6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

As this blog is specific to my pagan path, I will endeavour to keep my revelations relevant to posts I've made here.

1. I was raised Catholic, but renounced that religion at age 19. I had known for quite a while I didn't hold with any of the tenets of the church. Actually, I was seven when I starting asking awkward questions of my parents and my primary school's nuns and priest.

2. I was born in Australia, a country with which I have little affinity. I always felt like a stranger in that land, but I never knew how much until I emigrated.

3. My ultimate goal is to move to Scotland, which I feel is my "true" home. I had never been there until four years ago, but the country stole my heart.

4. I am attempting to learn to speak Scots Gaelic. I was going to learn Irish, but when I discovered Scotland, I changed my mind. Now all I need to do is find a local tutor.

5. The gods bypassed me when they were doling out creativity: I have none whatsoever. I have several family members who are artistic, being musicians, painters, dancers, cake decorators, seamstresses (my uncles can all sew), leadworkers, and so on.

6. I have a sneaking suspicion the god of the Christians/Muslims/Jewish exists; its just I've never encountered him, in any way, shape or form. I have a feeling he's hiding from all those people pleading with him to solve their problems in the (mistaken?) belief he is all powerful. Just one of the many gods who cause me to consider myself a hard polytheist.

So, here are the six bloggers I'm tagging.

Beirn;
Caroline Hardy;
Hermit Life;
Kit Berry;
Sara Macha; and
Wendy Mewes.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Moderating Message Boards

Further to my post "Moderating Fora" of 27th May, 2008, I find myself being asked to moderate another pagan message board. Having just asked to "step down" from moderating the forums of a pagan magazine, I'm not sure I am up to the responsibility.

Although I have regular internet access, its on my work computer and my time on the web is limited to "free time" during my shifts at work. Its not the most suitable situation if you are a moderator and have to take action against trolls, mediate in delicate situations or just keep an eye on the messages in general. I'm just not always available and my situation is unlikely to change until the New Year, when I hope to get home internet access.

I felt honoured to be considered for this position, as the fora in question, and many of its members have been good to me. Its undergone several changes, owing to rifts, and its a kind of Marmite to pagans (they either love it or hate it), but those that I respect have remained true to its ethos and so have I. I haven't been privy to most of the rifts, as these seemed to have occurred behind the scenes and, as such, I have been sheltered from a lot of the personality problems of the site. This would all change were I to accept the position as moderator and its something I have to consider carefully, as I dislike personality wars, preferring to stay with those boards that relish good, robust debate based on facts or experience leaving all personal agendas aside.

I have gained so much from participating in said fora, and I feel a debt is owed. In repaying such debt, I want to give 100 per cent. and I am not sure I can commit to that, at this time. I've asked for some time to consider the idea, and its been granted, but, out of respect for administrators, I don't want to leave them hanging without any additional support. I just wish there was a way to cruise the position until 2009, but I don't think that would be fair.

Decisions, decisions ...

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Bumper Sticker Quotes

Was looking for a particular bumper sticker for my recently acquired car and, in the process, stumbled across these quotes, which tickled my fancy and made me smile.

"Things haven't been the same since that house fell on my sister."

Which, of course, relates to the witch in Oz. Some further searches yielded the following:

"Dear Dorothy, Sick of OZ, took the ruby slippers, find your own way home. Love, Toto."
"Auntie Em: Hate you. Hate Kansas. Taking the dog. Dorothy"
"Don't make me call my flying monkeys"
"The witch of the west was framed!"

Frivolous I know, but I really enjoyed reading them.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

To whom do we turn in our darkest hours?

I saw this question (I've paraphrased) posted recently in response to a post on what constitutes a playgan, and felt somewhat smug that the term didn't seem to apply to me.

"If you were in an accident and your life was in the balance as you lay in a pool of blood. No sign of an ambulance; your prospects fading with every second.

You raise your head to the stars, and with what energy you can muster, say a little prayer". To whom do you address yourself?"

The responses were of interst to me, as I have been witness to self-proclaimed pagans offer prayers to the Christian god when in dire straits, not even anything life threatening, when I would have expected them to turn to the pagan gods or local spirits or, if witches, to resolve the matter themselves, even with a little help from friends proficient in witchery. Its what I do.

I have been in a few bad situations in the last few years, and one that could threaten my life just over a month ago. I turned to my gods first and also roped in some witchy friends and resolution followed within three days ~ three days seems to be emerging as a pattern. Even minor situations where my dignity is in danger, I will turn to the local land spirit and ask for assistance rather than pray to some distant god, (not of my faith) who seems overwhelmed with requests from millions of pleading followers on a daily basis and unable to help more than a select few. I have always been granted assistance, with a little bargaining, and have been happy to pay my dues at the earliest convenience.

Once upon a time, I might have appealed to the Christian god, but I don't believe I ever expected anything to happen. I certainly can't ever remember any kind of happy resolution resulting from my requests. How much more comforting it is to be able to place my faith in the hands of my friends and my (pagan) gods, as I do now. I guess that why I was smug when I read the scenario above: playgans will never feel that comfort because they don't have that kind of assurance.

Isn't it also disrespectful to the gods themselves: professing to honour one and then turning to another when times are tough? I'm not sure the any of gods would approve either and, if feeling mischevous, might be inclined to cause more problems for playgans.

I might also question the magical abilities of anyone that resorted to prayers to a god outside their tradition in order to resolve their issues. I admit to being next to useless at physical self-healing, so I rely on my friends in those situations, however if its a friend or family member of mine, I can usually resolve the matter myself without the need to appeal to any outside force. So I wonder why those who claim to have any magical ability would resort to Christain prayer - if indeed they are witches.

Is it possible I am too smug, and too quick to judge others? After all, the (pagan) gods can be fickle and have been known to refuse to help their followers. I've read instances where Odin did this in times of war, leaving his people to the hands of their enemies. So, if Odin were to desert his followers during battle, and those followers were aware of the Christian god, would they too have switched allegiance in desperation? Would they behave any differently from today's playgans? I wonder ...

Monday, 6 October 2008

Time Wasters

Why do they do it? Where do they get the time?

It always amazes me to see people register at sites simply to stir trouble, such as the recent atheist who insisted on pushing his/her own agenda at a forum for those interested in the pre-xian gods of the British Isles. In the space of four days this person managed 60 posts, reviving old threads and stirring up trouble. Some saw his/her posts as an attempt at honest debate, but I saw it as stirring as this person did not read the respondent posts carefully, preferring to goad the members of the site into arguments and raised temperatures by deliberately misquoting or misrepresenting what was said. When called out, s/he then decried that the respondents' faith was weak if it couldn't stand up to questioning ~ poor logic. Erudite answers were provided, but this poster preferred to misinterpret meanings in order to push their agenda, which seemed to be that the gods didn't exist and anyone that believed otherwise was delusional. I later learned that said troublemaker had been banned previously, at which point it became clear they had registered in the hope of causing trouble for a respected member, knowing said member was also a moderator, who could scupper their plans but was unable to get internet access.

Apparently, this person has indulged in similar behaviour at other pagan or pagan-related sites. Why does an atheist feel so compelled to proselytise to pagans, or anyone for that matter? Perhaps they feel their position is unstable?

This, however, was not the only instance of "too much time, not enough brain cells" to come to my attention this week. At another, privately run message board we had a new joiner for whom the inevitable questioning by established members was too much and they left. When said new joiner left a cutting remark upon leaving, two of the established members joined other sites where (it was later learned) the new joiner had registered. In other words, they have decided to stalk this person simply because he left a cutting remark when departing. These people are registering at a site, where they have no commonality with the members ideals, for no discernably sensible reason.

Personally, I have better things to do with my limited time than run around after people who have bothered me (on the internet) simply to stir trouble. I mean, what will it achieve? I don't think I will ever understand this type of behaviour.