cedar_grove: (Storm)
I have spent several weeks in contemplation of when, for me, the new year should begin, or perhaps has already begun. I tell myself this, and not that it is procrastination against the beginning of an undertaking, or perhaps the opposite, a wish for a precipitous beginning of said undertaking. The fact remains, I have questioned, and still question when a new year begins for an individual. When does it begin for me?

As a Wiccan, should my new year have begun in November, as Samhain passed us into the gathering season of winter, or did my new year begin almost a month later with the start of a journey that has led me to the threshold upon which I now stand – or may even have unknowingly passed beyond already? Did my personal new year begin as a new year of my life began with my birthday on December 11th or with the new solar year, and returning light at Yule? Or should I simply do as most folk seem to do and say my new undertaking will begin with the new calendar year as 2016 gives way to 2017?

There are so many conventions that we follow, cultural and religious, and some that fall into both categories. The notion of the ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ have never appealed to me, and not just because many (if not most of the people I personally know) give up on those resolutions soon after making them – myself included in the past. Perhaps that’s why, through this soul searching, I have shied away from that option, and why I questioned in the first place.

Through my introspection, not just of recent days, but of many months, perhaps even years – and extrospection (though Google tells me that even though technically this is the anonym of introspection, it is rarely used), I have discovered a thing or two. This is the point at which I feel I must type the disclaimer that, if you think this part of my journal entry is about you, well… that’s your prerogative, I suppose, but this is my journal, and these are my observations. However, as the saying goes, if the cap fits… or the shoe fits, then… be Cinderella if you must.

There are too many people out there who can’t, or perhaps worse, refuse to see past the end of their own garden path. Such people trap themselves in their own misery, and as prisoners lash out at those around them, transferring their misery and negativity to people who are merely trying to help them realize their own state of being. I’ve been an enabler of such behaviors for the sake of a quiet life, because the gods know that when I’ve tried to do otherwise, all holy hell has broken loose.

Loyalty, like charity, must begin at home. Blind loyalty to other people or beliefs or any other thing that one can be loyal to is often self-destructive. Loyalty to someone or something that reinforces or promotes self-deprecation or a negative self-image, no matter who or what that someone or something is; what part that person or something else plays in your life, is an act of cowardice, not loyalty, and ultimately damaging for you and for others in your life.  As with love, if you cannot love yourself, you cannot properly love others – if you cannot be loyal to yourself, then your loyalty to others is misguided at best.

Ignoring the wise words of good friends and loved ones is just plain stupid and can only lead to trouble and pain. You might think your reasons for arguing the point (inwardly or outwardly) are good and valid reasons, but experience and hindsight will always come around like a two-headed dog to bite you on the ass. When that happens, you know the people that had your best interests at heart when they spoke the advice because, while they might remind you of what they said, they’ll never say, “I told you so,” and will just be there in quiet support while you find your feet after being knocked on your smarting backside.

There’s great sadness in the realization that sometimes, people will – by their own thoughts and actions – disqualify themselves from certain parts they have played in your life, and you can fight and flail all you like to keep them there because you want them there, but if that want isn’t truly and unconditionally matched, there’s little you can do but create a negative and toxic situation for the both of you that is ultimately damaging. Conversely, people can sometimes surprise you. When you least expect it, with a single word, or a short message, people you might have once been close to, that you didn’t even realize you missed, can give you a boost when you’re at your lowest ebb, and remind you that they’re still there.

In all of the above, I’m drawn to, and feel the need to also share a story that was given to me as a ‘lesson’ by one of those wise friends many, many years ago - a wonderful man by the name of Alawn Tickhill - who told me the Story of the Sparrow – and you can find it here.

So… anyway, the conclusion I came to, is that really and ultimately, when and why I start the undertaking is entirely up to me. Also, it’s no big secret what the undertaking is.  It’s just that I’ve been wanting to do more journal writing for a very long time now, and I thought, well, with a new year, it might be time to start this journaling journey.  I’d like to say I’ll write every day. Even though that might be my intent, I know that sometimes life is going to get in the way. I also know that’s perfectly fine.

What I write, how often I write, and why I write – well, those things are my prerogative and my responsibility too.
cedar_grove: (Eirian with a smile)

I don't like schedules. They deny spontaneity and stifle flexibility if you stick to them, and if you don't,  what’s the point of having one? The other problem I have with schedules is that it's rare that life, the universe in particular, rarely respects the orderly progression of tasks that you’ve so carefully laid out so that everything gets done in a timely manner. This can manifest in things not working out the way you intended, or other people asking things of you that mean adjustments be made, and if you’re anything like me you’ll put whatever it is that has been asked of you ahead of your schedule, ahead of the things you’ve planned (read want) to do after you’re done with the chores on your list of things that must be done.

Inevitably, those desired activities/tasks remain unfulfilled, initiating a stress response, leading into a spiral of negativity and resentment - unless you’re able to embrace true selflessness… a fully enlightened state of being that few of us, myself included, reach in our lifetime.

So what’s the solution? What are  the answers or the steps to strive for at the beginning of our golden solar path? I believe it’s a matter of learning how and when to say, “no” or, “not right now,” and not being afraid to take care of self while adhering to the schedule you made; recognizing when you need a moment of and for you, and not feeling guilty for doing so.

cedar_grove: (Default)

The value of a worthy woman is far beyond pearls. She obtains wool and flax and makes cloth with skillful hands. She rises while it is still night, and distributes food to her household. She picks out a field to purchage; out of her earnings, she plants a vineyard. She is girt about with strength and sturdy are her arms. She enjoys the success of her dealings; at night her lamp is undimmed. She puts her hands to the distaff and her finers to ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. She fears not the snow for her household; everyone is warmly clothed; She makes her own coverlets; fine linen and purple are her clothing. She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs at the days to come. She opens her mouth in wisdom, and on her tongue is kindly counsel.

--Proverbs31: 10-31

Women's efforts at sustaining hearth and home are less rewarded now. When money is the measure of a task's worth, unpaid labor is devalued and even derided.

So sad, so true.. and the saddest and truest thing is that women ourselves believe this... and society upholds it, in many ways, and mostly in the name of feminism and equality.

Okay - let's start by saying first off that I'm not against feminism, and I'm not against equality... just that to me, equality does not necessarily mean men and women doing exactly the same work, for the same financial reward... and feminism is not all about burning one's bra and being militant for women's rights. Women's rights, like anything else (including the rights of men) must be earned.

So... having established I'm anti-female-establishment... let me explain myself. Men and women are equally valuable in the male/female balance within life = equality. They may do different jobs - they may choose to live their lives in different ways to the traditional/expected, but each has their own worth in their own ways. Equality. Sure if Dan and Danielle have the same job in a firm, perform the same tasks, with the same level of competence and qualification, then of course they should be compensated fairly - equally. It would not be equal if Dan got a greater level of compensation simply because he does not have breasts and does not have to sit down to pee (unless he's really drunk and just can't handle standing). Equally it is not equal if the firm practises 'positive' discrimination and rewards Danielle more simply because she does, and can... and lets face it, since when has any discrimination been positive?

Standing up with a clear voice to speak for all that it means to be female = feminism. It is certainly not about putting men down. Nor is it about bitching and moaning about the inequality shown to women. It happens. It will always happen. Get over it. It happens the other way around too. Did you know that as a male, you cannot be a daycare teacher and be alone with chidren? You cannot sit a child on your lap, or put your arm around a child to comfort them if they are crying in class... accept a hug from a child who is simply happy to see you in the morning - most inappropriate - NOT! So... let's not heap the pot'o'blame on men. Rather, actually, the 'blame' is our own if we really want to blame anyone at all....

But... I somewhat digress...

When did it suddenly become 'uncool' to be a 'housewife' and mother... even a working one? I mean whether it's the woman or the man that does the home-making, and whether they work as well or not, when did there cease to be honour and value in what is an essential part of protecting and nurturing a family.

During the summer, and at other times when I am in NC, I spend my days engaged in those domestic activities. Laundry, cooking, cleaning, sewing sometimes, shopping for groceries... and I find it very empowering. I don't feel devalued or derided by it at all, no matter what society might think. Empowered by the knowledge that I'm keeping the home, looking after my guy... it might sound small, but there's great energy and life in that... at least for me.

I wonder if society realises how much it is stifling itself, it's own creativity in destroying this balance... The balance of male and female energies within each individual, as well as within couples - whether they be heterosexual or not.
cedar_grove: (Default)

She was beautiful in appearance,
and had a very lovely face;
she had inherited gold and silver
and cattle and fields, and
she maintained her estate
well and made it flourish.
No one spoke ill of her.

--Book of Judith

For each of us, too, our daily lives are the seedbed for the moments when we are tested.

Being tested does not have to mean huge great problems that we wonder how in the world we are meant to deal with them... but it is what most of us will think about when we are presented with the concept of 'being tested' and I am no different.

And it is my thought just now that in thinking in such a way, we - I - miss those opportunities to recognise other times in which I have been tested and have 'passed' the 'test.' Small moments where there was the opportunity to deal with something in a manner that was full of grace, or to panic and flail and be less than decorous about some small thing that crossed my way.

In missing those things... in missing those moments, I feel I somehow lessen my own engagement with my inner state of grace, and that this is perhaps one of the things that is missing from the peace of my sense of self.

Someone somewhere once said, Don't sweat the small stuff. I had a calendar that was all about that one year - one of those ones that you tear off a page for each day - kind of miss having one of those again - and while we shouldn't sweat it, I most definitely agree - we shouldn't ignore it either.

It's the small stuff that makes all the difference.
cedar_grove: (Default)

Let us begin. Let us sing.
Singing of the small corn.
Singing of the Large corn.
Singing as the evening falls.
Singing as the light dawns.

The light dawns and finds us singing,
singing as the corn waves tassels at us.
The dark falls and finds us singing,
singing while the squash waves leaves at us.

The earth rumbles from the beating
of our basket drums.
The sky rumbles from the beating
of our basket drums.

The rain comes. The rain comes

--Pima rain-making song

When the weather thwarts our plans this summer, when weekends are rainy and evenings damp, let us recognize the rain's necessity and thank the goddess for her bounty. The lush green fields and full larders will be our rewards.

Elsewhere in the entry this talks about a balance of opposites being necessary for a healthy life - rest and activity, waking and sleeping, as well as sun and rain, and all of those things... it's a very overarching concept to me that was summed up in this meditation... that of 'disappointment' and how we behave when things don't quite go our way.

I'll be the first to admit, I'm a screaming haridan. I don't deal well with disappointment at all, on any level. I've admitted it here now, and here on several occasions in the past. I sulk like a child. I get sarcastic, I behave in a miserable way. At such times I'm horrible to be around... even when I try not to behave this way. There's a certain self-centredness embodied in this reaction and to check myself from behaving like the spoiled child that throws the teddy from the pram when things go wrong, there's a necessity to step away - outside of myself. To be self-less. I used to be much better at that than I am now, and I don't know what I've lost or what I feel I've had imposed on my that I obviously feel the need to protect sense of self...? I don't know, at this point I'm just letting my mind ramble down pathways towards answers.

So narrowing down to just the weather aspect of this, which is where it began - this summer, yes, I'm hoping for a balance of sun and rain... of all those things that are needed for a healthy world, but also in a way that does not scupper too many plans. Mir and I bought a tent to go camping and I'm very much looking forward to being able to use it - even if not a million miles away from our home... Campingpod One here we come!

On a different, but related note - I'm kind of a little bit worried about my preparedness for being back in England, even if only for a weekend. I have no raincoat - few things for colder weather at all as a matter of fact, and footwear is either trainers or flipflops, (albeit smart flipflops) - which might not be entirely appropriate for whilst wandering in some places. LOL How bizzare to move from the intellectual/spiritual considerations, to worries that are entirely practical.
cedar_grove: (Default)

On the hillside outside the city, the Vestals encountered a humble man names Albinus, who was escaping in a cart with his family, along with other civilians, from a war. Even in danger, Albinus remembered what was due the goddess, and felt the impiety of riding with his family while priestesses walked, carrying their sacred objects. Leaving his family for a time he took the Vestals and their precious burdens all the way to safety in Caere.

--Roman author Livy

It honored Vesta, the fire goddess who was never depicted in human form because she was embodied in the flames themselves.


Do we as humans require symbols in order to relate to complex concepts? This is the question I found myself facing as I read today's meditation.

The conclusion I came to was a reluctant yes. Especially when it came to religion nad religious concepts. We find that most religions have some kind of symbol with which we identify them... the cross for Christianity, the Crescent for Islam, the Star of David for Judaism to name but three... and through those symbols we access a shared understanding of what it means to 'belong' to each and any of those faiths, (even when that understanding is not necessarily a prositive one).

Then we have the images we relate to as being representative of 'God' (or the gods in the case of polytheistic faiths, including paganism). Those images take many forms, granted, but the majority of people, if you say 'God' to them (or name a god), will more than likey see in their mind some kind of image which allows them to access their understanding of divinity. Sure it might not be the 'old man with a long white beard' or whatever 'in his image' schema represents god for us... but it's almost a given there will be something.

Why not just a feeling? Why do we have a visual? What is wrong with hearing/seeing/thinking the word 'god' and becoming filled with a sense of the universal divine? I confess this is not a question I can answer... caught personally somewhere between the two states... of 'seeing' and of 'feeling' Yes I feel that divinity in answer to the 'verbal' call of 'god' but also I'll have an image in my mind - a man, sometimes horned, sometimes not, but with a sense of presence that isn't visual, but is felt - it's hard to describe. I have a similar mixed visceral response to 'goddess' also. Female - one of four separate images, depending on which aspect of the goddess I'm trying to relate to at the time, but again, accompanied by the feeling, that sense of presence.

How was it for our ancient ancestors who saw 'fire' and felt/related to the divine in it? Or those Vestals, who knew their goddess dwelled within the flame they nurtured, and did not see Her as a separate entity from the fire? Did that bring them, or place them closer to the divine within?

And after a lifetime of living with 'images' and 'symbols' is it possible to abandon them for the simple understanding, the feeling of 'god' 'goddess' 'divine'?
cedar_grove: (Still life)

The forest is beyond my strength.
My rose is hidden far from me.
If the wood were less in length
My rose would be less far from me.

If I could have my precious rose,
I'd live in love forever.
If I knew what Shekinah knows
My exile would be shorter.

--Song of Rabbi Isaac of Laig

Like the rose-windows that shone in medieval cathedrals, the rose shines forth from spiritual poetry, embodying profound spiritual meaning.

I've always been attracted to roses, though not necessarily as a symbol of wisdom. I like the aesthetic shape of them, their scent... to think of them as a symbol of wisdom and to link them with spiritual poetry - that's new for me.

I suppose it shouldn't be, though I don't know why.

It may be because my experience of writing poetry has always been more of an emotional one than a 'spiritual' one. I've only written one with a specific spiritual bent, and that was a prose poem that I'm sure I've posted onto LJ before at some point... concerning the creation of life and the world through the love of the Lord and Lady of life. The rest of the time the poetry I've written has been an outlet for my emotions, and usually at a time when those emotions were stormy or intense

That is what feels 'normal' to me for the writing of poetry.. so am I sitting here now thinking that I should be writing poetry of a more spiritual bent? No, I don't think so. I just find it curious that I should have gone down this avenue of thought when beginning at the rose.

Taking the rose as a symbol of wisdom... deconstructing that symbol through meditation has been interesting - with the outer petals that are the simple, easy to access and understand wisdoms of every day life. They are soft, they are beautiful and we can smell the fragrance of the rose, but know instinctively that the greater scent and deeper wisdoms are coming from within... so we look harder, and we breath deeper, and the closer, more tightly budded petals of the mid and inner parts of the rose are revealed, slowy as the outer open to us, fall away for us to see - to understand the inner. This is the process by which we acquire our wisdom, through patience, watching and waiting, and living beyond the unfolded softness of those outer petals of the world.

We listen to... we see and seek, and breath the inner core of the rose.
cedar_grove: (All faiths)

It is pleasant, it is finally pleasant,
this world, this great world.

It is pleasant, it is finally pleasant,
this great world when the caribou come.

It is pleasant, it is finally pleasant,
this great world when it is summer at last.

--Eskimo summer song

No matter how difficult matters may seem, we can always find solace in awareness of the cyclical truth of all life.

As pagans this is something that is... almost overly emphasised in various aspects of our faith: the belief in reincarnation; the 'Wheel of the year' that governs the festivals and the march of the seasons; the law of return - the whole notion of kharma... what goes around comes around; the cycle of the moon as she waxes and wanes.

All of these things, an more, manifest themselves in our hearts, even when we do not truly or fully understand them or their full implications. Does it make us better people or better pagans to remember these things so to adjust the way we touch the world as acccording to these cycles? I don't necessarily think that it does.

Thinking about all of these things in the light of some discussions that have been floating around on Facebook recently, about extremists of any religion... I come to the conclusion that, depending on motivation, it is just as easy to become a radical pagan - or an evangelical pagan - just as it is for any other religion.

Okay, I will accept that living by the understandings and the tennets of one faith doesn't necessarily make you into a fundamentalist Christian, or an Islamic extremist, or an evangeical pagan... or whatever faith you call your own, there has to be that extra step, the idea of pushing what you believe onto others, and to me that means not necessarily standing there and trying to 'convert' people, but it also mean being open and vocal about what you believe without invitation.

Many of us jest sometimes, with phrases like "I might have been really bad in a former life..." when something goes wrong or whatever. Me, I try not to make comments like that, partly because I don't think they're funny, partly because it is like abrogating responsibility for something difficult that is happening in your life, but mosty because, to me, it draws attention to (evangalises) that particular pagan tennet. I realise also that it's a fine line.

So... yesterday I found myself getting... defensive and annoyed on behalf of Muslims, who yet again are being tarred and feathered with the same brush because of the loud voices of their extremists - with the voices of their prejudice and bigotted patriarchs - who have probably, and very sadly, irrevocably damaged Islam worldwide.

Who among us outside of Islam have actually read, and interpretted for ourselves, and without prejudice, the words written in the Koran. (Q'ran, however you wish to spell that particular holy book). Similarly though who among us outside of Christianity have read the bible and done the same? I must confess to having read neither from beginning to end... but then again, nor have I read other holy books and writings.

Perhaps we all should before we judge a religion - or a faith - by the loudest, and not always best, voices.
cedar_grove: (Default)

May earth, goddess of all creation,
mother of all that is and will be,
may she give us a great land.

May earth, with her mountains and plains,
her slopes and her peaks, may she open
herself to our needs.

May earth, with her rivers and waters,
may she give us enough to drink.
May she pour herself upon us.

--Hindu hymn to goddess of earth, Atharva Veda

Today, too, clearly articulating needs is the first step toward having them met. yes the expression of such needs is often me with reproach.

My greatest needs are emotional ones - right now at least. The need to feel valued, the need to feel validated and the need to feel needed and loved.

For the most part, those needs are met in that my wonderful guy gives all of these to me, and more... even when I don't express them. But frustrations, both those that I suffer from, and those of others, sometimes even my guy, can from time to time lead me not to feel such things. Lately I've been strugging with feelings of worthlessness.

On reflection I think a lot of it is tiredness. The end of a long school year with so much still to do that I'm falling behind on everything else that I want to be doing. But the argument goes that: should it really be something that I want to be doing I'd just go and do it. I would make time... put aside other things in order to have that time for things I want to do. After all I have so many hours after school in which to read, to write, to type up the notes from my daily meditations which I have at least managed to continue with - and notes for which I have many days worth of writing. The fact of the matter is that I'm bringing so much work home, assessments to mark, class work to mark, lessons to plan. Allowing the fact that I don't go out anywhere after school - or rarely anyway - to completely scew my work/life balance. There is no balance. I'm not alone in this.

So... no, the workload from work has not eased at all, but I have decided that enough is enough. Where did this come from? Two people, both very dear to my heart. First, (though someone Indirectly), from my wonderful guy... and secondly from my still tenuous, but growing connection with My Lady. My own needs, combined with those of my guys led me to partition the Lady for help in getting off my overworked hands and putting those hands to work in catching up with the things I want to do.

The answer came in somewhat of a surprising form... in a dream... (that's not the surprising bit - quite common actually)... it was a dream in which I was in an office in school, arguing with the head teacher, and the owner of the school. They were arguing with me about loyalty, and I was standing up to them and telling them that no matter how hard I work for them my first loyalty is to my family - to my husband, and the life we have together, the things we do and share, and then second to the families of the school. That nothing that they could say would change that, because that was the way it was, and should be. It was a very unsettling dream, but also in a way very empowering.

The upshot of it all is that yes - if these things are important to me, which they are, then I will adjust the balance of work, and my own things to so that I don't keep constantly flailing, and failing to do the things I want to do, and have said I am going to do.

Perhaps then I will learn to validate and love myself again (I don't like myself very much right now), and feeling it from myself might help me to feel it period.
cedar_grove: (Default)

Mother, you carried me
for nine long months.

Mother, you carried me
for nine long months
and gave birth in an hour.

Mother, you carried me
for nine long months
and bore me and raised me
to be kind and fair and generous.

Mother, you carried me
for nine long months
and bore me and raised me
to be kind and fair and generous
just like you. Just like you.

--Siberian folksong

We throw away, without recognising that it is our Mother earth who must attend to our refuse, just as our individual mothers picked up our toys in distant childhood.

During my lifetime I have seen the way we deal with rubbish (trash/garbage, call it what you will) change dramatically. When I was little, everything went in the trash. It didn't matter what it was made of, it got put in the trash and carted off by the men that worked the dustbin lorry - and incidentally, my granfather John Tanner used to be a refuse collector. Then some people... real hippies they were, (not) that I knew started making their own compost... it kind of caught on and almost everyone owned a compost bin. So... trash got sorted into things that would compost.. and stuff that still had to be thrown into the trash. That lasted for a long, long time...

Then came along this wonderful new idea - recycling. At first it was just bottles and cans, then slowly paper and cardboard... then plastic and now, all the trash gets sorted out and you'd think there wouldn't be any trash any more? Right? Things that make you go hmmmm.

So then I moved here - to Egypt - to work... my heart breaks, because here is what was everywhere else all those many years ago - no recycling, everything is trash. And the streets are literally overflowing with it. Even at school, everything was trash. Of course there are some of us that try to reduce that - we reuse the backs of pieces of paper we've had to print out for scrap paper, messages, kids to draw on etc... try to reuse boxes, and bottles... and joy of joys, our nursery is going to make a greenhouse out of plastic water bottles, and believe me, Egypt has a lot of those!

Mir and I have often talked about getting a compost bin... and maybe this summer would be a good time to do that if we get the chance. If we could do that, the actual trash in the house would be significantly lower. We'd compost the vegetable waste, be burning the rat litter, (and maybe adding those ashes to the compost, or keeping a separate ash pile), continuing to recyle as we do... then... what's left to trash - to go to the landifill? The thought is quite exciting really.

Just one small thing we can do for Mother Earth.
cedar_grove: (Default)

Mother of divinity,
face of infinity,
shine forth upon me.

Shine forth upon my prayer,
you who makes all things fair.
shine forth upon me.

Make me a fertile field.
Let all my projects yield.
Shine forth upon me.

Give me this dawn's rewards
Knnow you are well adored.
Shine forth upon me.

--Invocation from the Indian Rig Veda

Even as we acknowledge the incomprehensibility of life, the goddess provokes us to attempt to understand.

There are some things that defy explanation. Like is rich and varied, sure, and each new experience we have teaches us something; makes us a stronger person; gives us a perspective that we didn't have before. I know there must be dark to appreciate light, and I know that the act of making light casts a shadow... there must be balance in all things, but what do we do when everything seems completely out of balance?

Violence, poverty, disease, protest, corruption... and that's just here. Each one I'm sure is a syptom of the others, and until balance is restored somewhere, somehow, how can anything get better?

I'm keeping this deliberately short today... trying not to say anything any more negative than I already have.
cedar_grove: (Default)

Moon and sun rule the sky above.
Here on earth, the goddess rules.
Here on earth, the seven goddesses.
O goddess, pure and cherished one!

We sing sweet songs over and over,
inventing pleasing rhymes for her.
Oh, our songs are so sweet that she
forgives us anything to keep us singing.

--Sri Lankan song

We must let go of judging this world if we are to truly understand the goddess' truth. We cannot pick and choose, controlling life so that we only see what is pleasant to our prejudices.

Going along hand in hand with viewing things negatively, which I was speaking on yesterday, is the tendency to judge what we see... who we see... and apply our own prejudices to those things and people whose existance and whose lives touch ours. This one is a hard one... as passing judgement on all that we see is far too easy. Passing judgement on other people is something that we are in many respects taught and expected to do... mostly by our peers if not our parents, and the communities we move in.

How do we resist the temptation - curb the urge to jdge others by our standards and accept others, and their actions for what they are; to show compassion and understanding? And how does this change us as a person?

I suppose the easiest way to do that is to put yourself in their shoes... at least as best you can. It's what I try to do, but then to do that you also have to be able to use empathy, and let go of the very prejudices you're trying to avoid. It's... a bit of a minefield. There's a certain abandonment of self, I think, required.

A bigger question perhaps is how far should you take this non-judgementalism? I remember some time ago being extremely worried about what I would do, how I would manage if I were ever called for jury service. I always had the question in my mind: Who am I to judge another person? Well of course the inevitable happened, and I was called for jury service, and ended up sitting on two cases, one of Child Abuse, the other, picked at the last moment, which extended my service, was a murder trial. Think maybe the universe was trying to teach me something?

Am I still uncomfortable - yes, I suppose a little, but I think I learned that one can still be compassionate toward others even when they have committed crimes that have hurt someone... that it is the behaviour you condemn, not the person. That you seen to help the person by providing opportunities for them to make restitution, even if only in their soul or character. Of course this is the ideal, and sounds kind of fluffy to me even as I write it... The reality is those offenders probably would not have reformed in Britain's prison system, few do... and yes, I know that they too are judgements I am making - sweeping statements, though sadly the truth. Still the advice to 'criticise the behaviour, not the child/person' is the best way to deal with being as non-judgmental or compassionate as you can.

On a not entirely flippant note: I can't help but think of Michael Kenmore in all of this, from Stargate: Atlantis, and that adds a whole other dimension to all of this, that I'm not even going to go in to here... just that I couldn't help but think of him, as I'm typing up my notes.
cedar_grove: (Default)

Little May Rose,
turn around, turn around!
Little May Rose,
We watch you turn round!

Rose of the May,
come away, come away,
Rose of the May,
to the woods, come away.

How merry we are,
as the season closes,
how marry we go
from May to the roses.

--Alsacian folksong of spring

We can either mourn constantly for our losses, or praise the goddess for the brief beauties that flower in our lives.

Before I start - may I express my absolute annoyance at this whole "Star Wars Day" thing that everyone has going on today. I mean, I suppose I should be happy that something as Pop-culture in a sci-fi sort of way has caught on the way the whole May the fourth be with you thing has... but, p-lease... it was funny once upon a time... Not so funny now.

Then again... isn't this, in a bizzare sort of way exactly what today's meditation is about? The choice between mourning something (viewing something negatively) and celebrating the positive in it? Given the choice between two outlooks, is your cup half full, or half empty?

For the longest time.. far too long, I was looking at everything from the bottom of a half empty cup. It coloured everything I said and did, and I ended up dragging everything and everyone down into the depths with me. It was pointed out to me, none too gently, and yet with love, that this was what I was doing. I thought about it. I cried about it. and then I did something about it.

I try to be more positive now... and I recognise that I don't always manage that. Sometimes the stresses are very much and I succumb. But I have found, on the whole that keeping the cup half full works for me most of the time. It keeps the energy higher, the spirits up, and gives me a different perspective on many thing. It also makes me a kinder person... more compassionate, more patient...

Except, I have found an interesting thing, that is true in many other situations (like with ex-smokers), and that is that I find myself less tollerant with people who are 'negative' or 'moaning' or such. Sure I try to be supportive of their woes, but when they rejects my attempt at giving them an out - a positive spin - a way to see past what worries them etc, they reject the attempt and continue to batter all and sundry with their negativity - and it makes me ashamed that I also used to be that way.
cedar_grove: (Default)

We have been rambling through the night,
until the break of day;
and now we have come back again,
and bring this garland gay.

We bring this garland gay to you,
as at your door we stand;
it is a sprout well budded out,
from he touch of her sweet hand.

--Folksong from Berkshire, England

Similarly, there is that within each of us that buds and blossoms only when encouraged by a kind word or a loving gesture.

I must confess that I am terrible for this. There are many things within me that only blossom when they are encouraged by a kind word or loving gesture, or a loving word and kind gesture, either way... I recognise it as a failing in myself that I feel despondent far too easily if someone has been short with me - or has not spoken softly/kindly, or whose silence or words I have interpreted as disapproval, or similar. I am far too dependent on hearing those things that, perversely, I often do not recognise when they have come in the form of a gesture or action instead of words. Perhaps I simply need to learn to listen much better than I do.

I confess this is a short entry today... but lately I have not been sleeping due to worry, and due to the sense of self deprecation that I have slipped into due, for the most part, to the exact same thing I was speaking of in the entry today. Sometimes life just doesn't give you enough pick-me-up juice in your batteries. That's right where I am just now.
cedar_grove: (Default)

Summer! Summer! The cow's mild milk
and the goddess with summer within her,
and the yellow summer, and the white daisies,
and the goddess with summer within her.

--Irish May Day song

No longer the maiden, she is now the blooming young mother, giving birth to her innumerable children.

No longer the maiden...

Maiden, Mother, crone... White, Red, Black.. Green, Gold, White...

I remember, a time ago now, when there was great debate among the pagan communities and circles in which I moved, about which were the appropriate colours to represent the goddess in her various aspects. Those that argued against white for the maiden claimed that it supported the Christian view of a maiden as a pure (as in virginal) state of being, rather than an independent young woman, who is nubile and fertile, as seen in the green of the GGW crowd. It was a debate that raged at many meetings, sometimes literally... and looking back was really quite funny and worrying, both at the same time.

Funny, because, well... what a thing to worry about - you as a practitioner, use whatever colours work for you no matter what the reason. You use whatever speaks to your heart. And worrying because, well, if we get bogged down arguing about such things and trying to impose our will (of colours) on others, does that not paint us with the same brush as other religions whose 'one way' is the 'only/right way'?

For me, I have used (and sometimes still do use) both. I was taugt to use White, Red, Black, because... well that's what I was taught and I was young enough in the Craefte not to know anything to use as an alternative. Then I was introduced to the idea or Green, Gold, White... and I liked it... it worked for me. It spoke to my heart, because of my association with the goddess' fouth face. I figured if I was going to have a colour for the three main aspects of the goddess, then I wanted one for the Fourth Face of the Lady also... for which I chose Midnight Blue.

I can almost hear people asking, why not black... black would seem appropriate - the dark of the moon, when we cannot see her face but feel her influence in our blood, and bodies... Mistress of Magic. For me, black is absence... absence of light... it is empty (in spite of being what you get if you mix all pigments together), and the Lady is never that. But there is a certain darkness - a mystery - like the sky at Midnight that draws us to the Lady in her Fourth Aspect... and that is why I chose the Midnight Blue.

As I always have, I took what spoke, and speaks to the wisom inside my heart, and used what feels right as my signs and symbols. It is, I believe, called eclecticism... and I'm nothing if not eclectic.
cedar_grove: (Isis)

O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the angels, Queen of the May.
O Mary we crown thee with blossoms today,
Queen of the angels, Queen of the May.

--Catholic song to the Virgin on May Day

With the coming of Christianity, the old festival was discouraged, especially in the light of its highly sexual content... But the ancient symbolism held fast, though hidden...

As I was reading through this meditation guidance, and thinking on the festival of Bealtainne, I could not help but bring to mind last year (2011). We were sitting outside, Mir and I, with a fire in the old fire pit, when suddenly something Mir said made me realise that it was Bealtainne, we had a fire, and I could darn well jump it if I liked. Then again, I also remembered earlier in this year, when Mir and I had to get the new, metal, fire pit, because the old one finally broke. I remember sitting there with the new pit and thinking what it would be like to try jumping the fire over that one. I don't know why I should have thought that, but I distinctly remember the thought.

Fire and sexuality always go hand in hand for me. A bit of a chicken and egg question really is: which came first, my paganism or my association with fire and shared intimacy. Even I'm not sure, but definitely - each goes hand in hand with the other.

I guess I've digressed a little bit... as the initial quote was about how Christianity subsumed and then sanitised the Old Ways - the Old Festivals and the Old Gods. And it got me to thinking about impossible to answer questions... why is it that we, as a people, are so afraid of our own sexuality - afraid of it to such an extent that we use it, and allow it to be used against us, as a weapon? Why should it be wrong for such a devotional practise, (and I've spoken elsewhere in this journal about the sanctity of sexual intimacy, to be a part of faith, worship and the mythology of any religion, be that Christianity or any other for that matter? Why view Jesus, God, etc. as sexless and make the intimate sharing of ones body with another whom you love into something dirty, something that should be considered wrong - to be hidden away at all costs? It's very hurtful, to think about it logically, to reject something as life affirming as sexuality. After all, what brings new life if not the union of the masculine in nature, with the feminine, male and female, man and woman? Hurtful and confusing.

I know the simple answer to the question is, of course, control. For a church (or religious institution/body if you'd rather), to say how, and with whom on may legitimately share oneself gives that body an enormous amount of power over the individual, and the family, and thus the community - so I suppose that answers my questions quite admirably really... but I think there is more to it than just that, or else the Goddess lore, the old thoughts and symbols that have survived, albeit disguised, would not have done so, and we would all be living in a sexless world. But survive they had, deep in our innermost hearts, we recognise the sacredness of sex, and cling to that apron string of our Eternal Mother who bids us remember from whence we came.
cedar_grove: (Dawning)

There is a small black bee, which is my mind.
There is a blue lotus flower, which is the goddess.
Watch the bee fly straight into the flower!

The goddess' feet are black, just like the bee.
Black is joined to black! Mind to greater mind!
The bee finds tasteless any other flower.

This much I can apprehend. But here my senses
fail. I can see nothing more. She is such mystery!
Thinking of her, I dive into the sea of bliss!

--Indian poet Ramakrishna, to the goddess Kali

Seeking to think one's way to the goddess is like trying to walk to the moon. It cannot be done. But we can reach her nonetheless, transported by our inner wisdom.

For a moment, I must confess, I worried when I read this entry in preparation for today's meditations. My thinking began something like this: Isn't that exactly what I'm doing? Trying to think my way to the goddess?

After a long time of soul searching - of meditation on my meditations, I think I reached a sense of peace that no, this isn't what I'm trying to do. What I am trying to do is to find myself and to find a way to express my thoughts and feelings on the various aspects of the goddess, thoughts and feelings that I already carry inside of my heart and my head, and need to express to better understand.

They do say that by explaining something to someone else, you come to understand things better. This then is what I am trying to do - to express and understand my inner wisdom.
cedar_grove: (Resting Safe)

Too much love can ruin us.
But if you come with grace, dear goddess,
there is nothing so sweet and pleasing.

Let me be wise in love!
It is your best gift, mighty goddess,
unerring archer of desire.

Let my love be gentle.
Let there be no war of words, dear one,
or relentless anger in my bed.

--Greek dramatist Euripides, Medea

Love, the joining of one being to another in indeed the best gift of the goddess

Songs, films, novels, all cultural media has something to say about love, about joining with another person and the joys and happinesses - the gift that it is... and I'm not arguing that fact... not at all, because it's true. But like any gift it has to be looked after... nurtured, cared for... and most of all appreciated for the gift it is.

I think too many people forget that... and that's part of why the world is in such as state as it is, with people's relationships falling apart left and right - because people expect that just because they 'love' one another, they don't have to do anything to sustain it. So not true.

Working with your love for someone and they for you can be one of the most uplifting and strengthening powers in your life - it certainly has for me. It's certainly the strongest. Sometimes I will confess it's a bit of a bumpy walk/ride along the road, but that's why I remember the love, the gift, and then work at clearing away the issues. Because love is important... love is everything, and it is a journey.

A beautiful, wonderful, exhillarating, enthralling, peaceful, supportive, gentle, vital, uplifting, calming... life-affirming journey.

For me, there is nothing and no one with whom I would rather share this journey than my guy! I want for nothing inthe love we share, and I am incredibly blessed to have Mir in my life.
cedar_grove: (Default)

He laid his hands upon me, my shepherd.
He stroked my curly hair.
He poured himself like milk on me.
He filled me with his cream.

Now I caress him back, my shepherd.
Now I caress his curly hair.
Now I caress my faithful one.
Now I grant him a happy future.

--Hymn to Inanna, 2000 BCE

The literature of the goddess can do much to restore the sense of sexuality's true sacredness.

You see, this is something that I have always believed... in the sacred nature of sex and sexuality. For me that kind of interaction, that kind of relationship with another human being has always held a spiritual dimension that makes it holy or special, that makes it more than just the lust enacted between two physical bodies.

For me it is a connection between me and the divine self within me... and within that of my beloved also. I don't think anyone has ever managed to convince me otherwise than this.

That's not to say it needs must always be something with great solemnity and ritual... far from it... for all acts of love and pleasure are my rituals. So says the Goddess in the Charge, but that, at the heart of it - at the core, two people sharing together the kinds of connections that such a thing brings - that's something special.

Casual sex is, to me, an oxymoron.

It therefore troubles me somewhat the number of people who throw themselves into that kind of relationship without thought to their kharma, their spiritual connections, their ongoing journey. There is little that can link two souls like the joining of two bodies: give birth to someone, take someone's life, give yourself to another physically.

Of course this makes sexual violence against women and men into a much more serious violation in my eyes... because it becomes not a physical crime, but also a spiritual one, and that's a pretty big jump in many people's opinions... since so many people live just making a division between the two. I cannot.
cedar_grove: (Default)

When in my turn I dance in your power
Aida Wedo se bon se bon
When inmy dance I turn to your power
Aida Wedo se bon se bon
When in my turn I enter your trance
Aida Wedo se bon se bon
Then I will see who will smile tomorrow
Aida Wedo se bon se bon
Then I will see who will cry tomorrow
Aida Wedo se bon se bon
Then I will see who will die tomorrow
Aida Wedo se bon se bon

--Haitian voudoun song to the goddess

The great force of the feminine acts through us, whether we desire it or not. Embracing that knowledge will not change us into someone else. It will simply let us become more truly ourselves.

I know this is true, and this is one of the reasons that I am working so hard to find my path again. There are days when I find it easier to embrace the truth of that than others. I'm all too often a shrinking violet, which is not at all a divine feminine trait, and this makes me wonder just how it is that the goddess can be working through me at such times. I cannot think of any goddess of any pantheon who could be described as such.

Is my own perception of myself then flawed? Should I be thinking not in term that are negatively passive and week, but suggesting perhaps that I am bending like the willow in order to avoid snapping like the oak, at those times when I do not stand up for myself quite as I should. How can I reconcile the way I judge myself, and the knowledge that the divine feminine works through me?

There are other times when I do feel the goddess at work in me and through me. Times when I feel I am being particularly strong, or times when I am being particularly maternal or loving. These are the stereotypical images of the Great Mother though, and I would hate to think that my own perception of Her has been reduced to such a narrow, shallow focus. She is and always will be such a rich tapestry of different strengths and intelligences, of many influences. Intellectually I know this - notI need to recognise those things in my heart.


cedar_grove: (Default)

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