Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pagan Tomb Under St. Peter's Reopened

I remember several years ago, when I was young, visiting St Peter’s and the Vatican. I knew about the necropolis under the city- what history minded Pagan tourist didn’t? And I asked the tour guide about it. Imagine my delight when she assured me that it would be on the tour. Well, it wasn’t. She’d misunderstood me and she took me instead to see the tombs (if you can call them that) of the dead Popes. They are more like sitting rooms. Elaborate and elegant (and really very Pagan) sitting rooms with dead bodies in them. I remember thinking it was kind of sad that these men couldn’t rest in peace with all these people filing past them every day. I remember thinking the same thing when Pope John Paul couldn’t even die in peace a few years ago. But whatever.
Now the necropolis is being reopened. Now, maybe, people will be able to go see it. Makes me want to make another trip to the Vatican. But alas. Now I have to waite for my kids to grow up before I can afford to do that sort of travelling. But they’re still working on uncovering the tombs, so it’s just as well. And then I can be like those pilgrims I scoffed at drooling over the Popes tombs, over tombs of people I haven’t a clue about. Just that they were Pagan Romans once. But the tombs tell the story. This particular tomb is decorated with family history as well as images of the Gods. Man. I can’t wait to see it.
Read all about it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Desecration at Stonehenge

In an article from the UK Guardian I learned that stonehenge has suffered an act of vandalism. Two men who took off in a car before they could be approached broke off a piece of the heel stone- with a hammer and a screwdriver (!) - a souveneir, I suppose. I can see the temptation to do this. I mean, I’ve been an archaeologist. Tell me I’m wrong to covet some of the cool stuff that gets dug up! Especially from sites scheduled for demolition (which most of our sites were). When I was in Greece I was tempted to take home bits of ruins. I mean, there were crumbled bits of marble everywhere. I wouldn’t have had to break anything. But no. I left it there. Where it belongs.
Now I can’t speculate too much because I don’t know these guys. But could they have been driven by the desire to own something sacred the way Catholics want bits of saints?
But to desecrate a sacred site for the sake of having something to take home with you shows just how much you don’t respect it. It’s a very narcissistic act. I mean, wouldn’t a handful of dirt, a pressed flower or pebble off the holy ground have served as well?
Of course, this bit of history could show up on ebay. It wouldn’t surprise me. It would be a little sad though.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Spiral Scouts in the News

So this is kinda neat. I found an article out of Fresno, California about Spiral Scouts. If you’re not aware, Spiral Scouts is a scouting organization for people of alternative faiths. You know, since the Boy Scouts is all about bigotry and exclusion which is really sad since it’s such a great concept. (The Girl Scouts are a-okay!) Anyway, it’s been around for awhile. According to this article it’s only 9 years old. I thought it was older than that. Anyway, I took my kids to a few meetings a few years back, but I ran into the same old problem of not having anything in common with my fellow Pagans and my kids thought the other kids were all too weird for them. It was also awkward for me being the only working/single mother in a room full of brownie baking homeschooling housewifes. It was, in fact, totally weird. The leader was Wiccan, so she did everything the Wiccan way which also made me uncomfortable. Spiral Scouts groups each do things their own way and the way it was done at this particular group was too heavy on religion that had nothing to do with my religion. Though that certainly wasn’t the Spiral Scouts organization’s fault. And as the article says “According to the SpiralScouts Web site, the organization was created by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church. “While SpiralScouts was developed based on pagan beliefs and practices, it is designed to be adaptable to work with any faith (or to be completely secular) as well.”" I wish this group had gone that way. I thought about forming my own group, but I didn’t want to step on the leader’s toes. As pushy as she was that her way was right, she really was a very nice person- and she’s well-connected. Best not to step on toes. I do alot of bowing out gracefully around here, it seems.

So I quit and started the The Sacred Hearth Circle with a bunch of folks I already knew. We still don’t have all that much in common, but we cooperate.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Pagan Prisoners' Rights Addressed in the UK

You’ll recall from my earlier blogs that a civil rights commission was reviewing policies on religion in prisons and well-known prison chaplain Patrick McCollum appeared before that commission to testify on the treatment of Pagan prisoners.

Well, we haven’t heard much about that after it happened, but the UK seems to be a step ahead of us. Under advisement of the Pagan Federation (and I’m sure other groups as well), they have revised their rules to require and allow certain religious paraphenelia. The Pagans gave a little to get a little of course as Jenny Percival of the Westminster Editor reports “the Pagans have decided to tone down what are seen as the more exotic and striking forms of their worship and ritual, such as carrying flaming torches.” which makes perfect sense to me. While prisoners still can’t have athames or swords (a decision I heartily agree with!) Pagan prisoners will be allowed to collect and decorate wands and Muslim prisoners will have prayer mats.

Not everyone is thrilled about this new development and there have been more than a few disrespectful remarks. But this gives me an opportunity to point out good, unbiased reporting versus bad, biased reporting.

First, take a look at this article–

Some negative comments were recorded. Word Pagan is capitalized, putting it on equal footing with other religions, such as Christianity and Islam, which are always capitalized and the article is forthright and to the point. Nice.

Now, take a look at this one.
Paganism is not capitalized and check it out; no Pagans were interviewed in the creation of this article. Only the detractors.
Take a look at the starting sentance of each article. They’re almost identical but…
The first one says: “Prison officers have been ordered to allow Pagan prisoners to take twigs into their cells to use as magic wands.”
And the second one says: ” Prison bosses have been instructed to let pagan inmates keep twigs in their cells…to use as wands.”

What a difference capitalization and a couple of dotdotdots make. Kudos to Jenny Percival. James

Slack on the other hand… is a slacker.

I don’t think I’d want a wand if I were in prison. Not that I plan to go. I just don’t ever use a wand. I can understand why incense and candles would be a problem and I probably wouldn’t get those. I think I’d want a cauldron with water and sea salt. I think that’s the only thing I’d really need (if I couldn’t have candles). Except maybe on Beltane. Then I’d need a wand… and my Priest.

Pagan Weddings

As you may or may not know, I’m getting married in August (woo!). So yea, I’ve been reading alot about weddings. I came across this article in the Modesto Bee about Pagan weddings and I thought cool! It’s neat to see how Pagan wedding traditions are expanding more into the mainstream. I am (obviously) going to have a Pagan wedding and handfasting and I have invited my best friend from New York, who is Catholic, to spend that week with us. We were talking about the wedding and how I’m only inviting a few select people because I don’t want anybody freaking out on me.

And then she said something that rather surprised me. She said, “Why would anyone freak out? I’ve been doing some reading and the Pagan traditions are so beautiful!” And I thought wow. That goes to show how you take things for granted when you’re inside them. I never thought about how beautiful they are. But yes. They are.

I have read on many different news groups that Pagan weddings, or handfastings are not legal. This, by the way, is bullshit. They are just as legal as Christian, Jewish and Muslim weddings. All you need to do is have two witnesses and a legal clergy sign your certificate afterward. And yes, there are plenty of Pagan clergy to be found. Just look under your area at WitchVox. According to the article there are about 1.2 million Pagans in America today and it seems to me that Pagans have a much higher clergy to layman ratio than any other religious group so you should have no problem finding someone who is ordained to handle to particulars for you. It’s so easy to have a Pagan wedding these days, even the non-pagans are doing it.

So maybe I will have a bigger wedding (or maybe I won’t) and invite Grandma and my aunts and uncles. The plan was only to invite my mom and sisters and Circlemates. But we’ll see how I feel as the date grows closer.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Weirdness and Wizardry in Florida

A Florida substitute teacher has lost his job, and may not be given anymore assignments because he’s been charged with Wizardry.

First, I was not aware that Wizardry was a charge that was worthy of firing someone over. I mean, is it a crime now? Is it even sort of a crime? Do people take it seriously enough to complain about? Have they been reading too much Harry Potter? Again?

I dunno.

But the really amazing thing about this whole getting fired for practicing wizardry thing is the nature of the wizardry itself. It was the old disappearing toothpick trick. Yessir. Prestidigitation. Not magick. Magic. Stage magic. You know, like the old disappearing quarter trick your weird uncle insisted on inflicting upon you over and over and over again? Okay, so maybe that was weird enough to get fired over, or at least not get invited to dinner. But I don’t think we’re talking about that sort of weirdness. My son’s teacher shows him card tricks all the time. She’s a good teacher. I hope this isn’t a precident.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Celebrate the Self!

Note that this ritual is described as a solo ritual but it can easily be adapted for groups. Simply sit in a circle and share your affirmations together.

Any time is a good time to celebrate how wonderful we are, but the enthousiasm and joy of Sagittarius and the bright energy of the full moon make the full moon in Sagittarius a particularly appropriate time for this ritual. This is also a good ritual for Valentine's Day.

Prepare ahead of time by taking the time to buy yourself a gift and a bottle of your favorite wine (or other beverage) and making your favorite meal (or ordering your favorite takeout). Take a relaxing ritual bath and do some things to make yourself feel pampered. Put on your favorite outfit and settle down in front of your altar (you may wish to place a mirror near or on your altar, so you can see yourself) and light a candle. You may also wish to have your favorite album playing in the background.
Establish your sacred space in whichever manner you prefer.
Light a single candle on your altar.
"I light this candle in honor of me, for I am the most important person in my life. My actions and my choices have brought me to the place I am now and only through my own courage and wisdom will my dreams be made real."
(If you are doing this in a group, the leader should light a candle and change I to we and My to our, etc.)

Count coup
Run through a list of all of the great things you've accomplished in the past year. Talk about the challenges you had to overcome to see these things come to fruition. Talk about what you learned in the process and congratulate yourself for a job well done. Say it all out loud or write it down if you're alone. If in a group take turns speaking and congratulate one another- but don't forget to congratulate yourself as well.
"I am very proud of my accomplishments. I am very proud to be who I am. I feel that I deserve a special gift of congratulations for all the great things I do and so I present myself with this gift."
Open up the gift you brought yourself and admire it. Put it on (if it's wearable) and maybe even take a picture.
Get up and dance for awhile in celebration of yourself and the joy you bring you. Dance until you are tired.
Pour out libations:
"I am the physical representation of the Divine on the Earth. Through me Divine energy is manifest in matter. Through me the Gods experience the pleasures of mortality and through the Gods I may experience the wisdom of eternity. I offer this wine and this food to the Gods in thanks for myself."
Now, eat your favorite meal and drink your favorite beverage. This is the feast of celebration of you!

Other ways to celebrate yourself:
Write a poem or a song about yourself and your accomplishments.
Draw, paint or sculpt a self-portrait.
Get a cast made of yourself or your favorite body part.
Make a collage of some great pictures of you.