Pagan at Heart

At peace with myself and the world… or at least headed that way

Celebrating Lammas/ Lughnasadh 2014

With a baby due any day and a house full of just-moved boxes, I won’t be doing much to celebrate this day. I plan to observe it with a thankful heart though, as I prepare to harvest the fruit of my womb. 🙂

Nature is Sacred

Happy Lammas Everyone. Lughnasadh/ Lammas is one of the four ancient Celtic Fire Festivals mentioned in the Irish tale of Tochmarc Emire and is held on 1st August each year. It celebrated the beginning of Autumn, a time that ushers in the end of hunger and a bountiful abundance of crops. It is the first of three harvest festivals – that of the grains and potatoes (since they have come over from America). On this day we celebrate the first fruits of the season.

For the ancient Irish, Lughnasadh was named after the god Lugh, the Fair One, and is the only festival to be named after a deity. However, he is not a god of the harvest, but rather “a patron of all human skills with a special interest in kings and heroes.” It was said to have been started by him as a funeral feast and sporting competition in…

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Advice?

So… my baby is due August 20th. My mom is trying to plan when she should fly in to stay with us. She won’t stay any longer than two weeks, but it might not be quite that long. I’m trying to figure out what date to tell her. I did a tarot spread tonight to find a date and came up with one solid winner and few others that were okay. The date is August 5th, though, which is pretty early. My gut feeling is that baby will come earlier than the 20th, and since he already seems to be dropping… maybe very soon?
Eesh.
Has anyone else used tarot to try and predict calendar dates? How much confidence do you put in this sort of reading? What can I do to further test my findings?

New Beginnings

We’re in a new apartment now – all nicely smudged and blessed. I have my first altar set up here. I really like having an altar. I think it’s helping me stay centered, or at least when I stop and pay attention to it. I’m pleased with the set up and the special trinkets I chose to use. Motherhood is obviously featuring heavily at the moment. 🙂 I’m 36 weeks along today, so Baby should make his appearance very soon. I’ll keep you posted. Blessed be.

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Fundie Gone Pagan: Prayer & Spiritual Leadership

Last night I came to a conclusion about prayer and my own spirituality that I hadn’t previously reached. First, some background:

I’ve always known that praying aloud makes me anxious, but I never thought about it beyond acknowledging my shyness. Ever since puberty I’ve dealt with self-image issues and a crippling fear of doing things where people could notice me. Part of the fear came as a result of hating it when I made mistakes in front of people – I wanted to do and say things perfectly so that I didn’t look silly or stupid. Part of the fear stemmed from how I uncomfortable I was in my own skin due to hormonal imbalances that went un-diagnosed for years (that’s my way of saying I was unpleasantly plump and had trouble with acne). And then, you throw in my religious background of Christian fundamentalism, complete with patriarchal teachings and a constant demand for holy perfection. From family devotions to school to prayer meetings, the demand for praying aloud was pretty frequent. I very quickly came to the conclusion that there was little to be accomplished, spiritually, through praying aloud in those situations. Some prayers were genuine and perhaps powerful, but often it seemed that praying aloud was just another way to show how Christian you were. The young people were particularly guilty of this, with some teens even having a special voice they switched to whenever they started talking about spiritual things or were praying aloud (which I found sickening). 

So… praying aloud really wasn’t my thing. Perhaps the most bizarre and anxiety-inducing reason was a thought I heard taught in church from the time I was a small child: be careful what you say aloud, because Satan and his devils might be listening. For whatever reason, this thought terrified me. The idea seemed to be that, if you spoke aloud about your struggles, Satan would hear and then know how to better target you with temptation and attacks. After internalizing that teaching and all the ramifications that went with it, I developed anxiety over the thought of speaking anything aloud that might help Satan and hurt me/the cause of Christ. I’m not sure what the Biblical basis for this misguided teaching was… but it did serious damage to my mind as a child.

Now we jump to the here and now, with me relearning how to approach prayer. It didn’t take me long to figure out that Paganism is all about speaking things aloud. Why? Because saying something out loud makes it more powerful than simply thinking it silently in your head. Making a statement where it can be heard is taking a risk, because once it’s been heard it’s harder for you to back out of what you said. Make a statement where only you and the Divine can hear it, and both your body and the Divine knows and you will feel more obligated to stand by what you said. Spoken affirmations during meditation helped me realize this, and also were the gateway to a few spiritual experiences. Affirmations required me to set aside my anxiety and choose to speak my thoughts and what I wanted/needed to hear/say – it was very empowering. I have yet to participate in a group ritual, but I can imagine that speaking things aloud in the company of others requires even greater courage but produces equally greater results. When I pray in my own home, around my husband and step-son, I find myself riddles with doubt and worries about how I sound. Some of that harks back to the factors from my past that I’ve already described; some of that is due to the newness of praying as a non-Christian and wondering if I’m going about it correctly. Then, there’s the aspect of my gender.

In the fundamental Christian world, women are not hailed as spiritual leaders. Women can teach Sunday School, work at a Christian school, be saintly mothers and grandmothers who are powerful “prayer warriors” in their own homes… but women are not to be leaders. I once heard of a college-aged couple who broke up upon the realization that the young lady was the spiritual leadership in their relationship. Men are supposed to be responsible for/in charge of the spiritual leadership of the home while women are to answer to/defer to their husbands leadership. If a women “usurps” this position in any way, she endangers herself and her family by tempting God’s wrath. In my relationship with my husband, can you guess who is more spiritual and likely to wind up in a position of spiritual leadership? Yup… me, the wife… the woman. We both know I’m the spiritual leader, and Hubby is fine with that, but it’s something I’m still struggling with due to the patriarchal teachings from my upbringing. In general, I tend to look to my husband for guidance, approval, and even permission for every day things – it’s hard to not do that when it comes to spiritual things as well. I’m making progress in my ability to function as an independent person, much to Hubby’s relief and joy, but it’s slow. Anyway. I find it interesting that patriarchal religion deviates from what seems to be a historical norm of women being the spiritual leaders in their communities. Hubby and I were discussing just last night how we’ve both found it to be true that women are usually the more spiritually-minded gender. We both could recall the lament of many a young Baptist woman who couldn’t find a man who was more spiritual than she was. It’s ridiculous that we were taught that spiritual leadership was a gender role exclusive to men.

When I heard the story of Deborah told in church, it was told in such a way as to shame men for making it necessary that a woman step up and fill the shoes of leadership. Now, I find myself stepping into the shoes of spiritual leadership for my family. The importance of spiritual leadership becomes more apparent with each day, as our extended family seeks to Christianize my stepson. Buddy now asks about praying frequently, and yesterday he was confused that I didn’t mention Jesus in my prayers. With the birth of my son looming in the very near future, I feel all the more need to get my act together so I can provide him and Buddy both with the atmosphere they need. I want to show them what an empowered woman looks like – I am the queen and high priestess of this house. So many things I want to teach and share. Hopefully this is the start of a beautiful new future for us as a family. 🙂

Tomorrow is Summer Solstice. How did that creep up on me so fast? I’m afraid this year’s celebrations of the Wheel of the Year are going to be sadly lacking. Pregnancy is pulling all my energy and limiting what I can do; funds are limited as well. We’re moving into a new apartment in a few weeks, which is exciting. It was just brought to me attention that I should plan on cleansing our current space before we leave and then cleansing the other space before we move into it. I’ve never done anything like this before, so when I get a chance I’m going to look around for ideas. I’d really like to get a bundle of sage for smudging, but we’ll see. 

Pregnancy has been magical, especially when I’ve made sure to be outdoors as much as possible. Meditation and some very basic yoga have also been very helpful in keeping me in the right head-space. I lost my connection for a few weeks, though, and it was depressing and hard – don’t want to let that happen again. I’ve run into a lot of issues I had not anticipated during this pregnancy, so most of my energy has been going to surviving rather than to being “earthy.” Earthy is the term I’ve chosen in place of “witchy,” as I don’t feel comfortable calling myself a witch. The sun is shining today, so hopefully it will work out for me and the three year old to get outside for a bit.

Happy Solstice to you!

“Living The Path: Sacred Acts Everyone Can Perform” by Carolina Gonzalez

Humanistic Paganism

This essay was originally published in Carolina’s newsletter and then at as a guest post at PaganSquare.com.

One of the questions I get asked more often from our customers is “I want to have a Spiritual Path – how do I start?” – well, the answer couldn’t be simpler: Living It Every Single Day. Entwining your everyday life with a set of regular devotional practices will gradually increase and empower your energy, connect you with the energies and entities around you, ground you, and build the Personal Power you will need to have efficient results on more demanding practices like Spell Work.

There is something I would like to explain before we go on with the practices – while I am practising my path every single moment of the day, I do not live surrounded by Pagans and I do not speak of my path unless someone asks me…

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salt dough sun plaque

Fun

Ozark Pagan Mamma

With the Summer Solstice coming up this month, I thought I’d share this fun little sun plaque craft.

I used strong salt dough, because I had a batch on hand, but you can use regular salt dough as well. After mixing and kneading the dough, I rolled it out thick and cut it into a five inch circle using a lid for a template and cutting around it with a pizza cutter. I made a circle indention in the middle with a small jelly jar, for the face. The nose is just a small coil shape placed in the middle of the circle face and smoothed down with dampened fingers at the top. (Remember to dampen the surface of the salt dough before adding pieces.) I used my fingertip to make indentions for the eye areas. The lips are made from three tiny balls of dough pinched up on…

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So. You bought that book on Kitchen Witchery?

I love Southern Fried Witch. 🙂

Southern Fried Witch

cauldron

One year ago, a sweet magical student of mine asked me to teach her to be a kitchen witch.

I thought I’d wait for y’all to stop snickering.  First off, she needed her foundations and some discipline and it tweren’t time yet for digging into the the “major,” if you get my drift.  In our tradition, there are no shortcuts, no accolades, no nepotistic fast shots to the top.  And though she breaks my heart (all curls and honey drawl), I have waited for the day that she was ready to hone her magic in front of a stove.  That day is almost nigh.

IMAG0084 Alabama tamales and Fried Greens.

Now, I’ve read quite a lot about kitchen witchery on the “internets” of late; seems that the practice has grown in popularity alongside the commercialized food industry.  There appears to be a wealth of books out and about that incorporate pre-crafted…

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A Pagan’s response to the recent shootings in CA

A Pagan’s response to the recent shootings in CA

He nailed it. Love this guy!

Danu, Celtic Mother Goddess by Judith Shaw

As Mother’s Day approaches it’s nice to consider mother goddesses.

judith Shaw

Danu, of the flowing waters, Queen of the fertile land – Danu, the Great Mother Goddess of the Irish Celts, known as Don by the Welsh Celts, is the Creator Goddess of the Tuatha De Danann, the first wave of Celtic tribes to invade Ireland.   She is also known as Danann, Ana, and Anann.  She gave birth to all life in the land of the Celts.

No stories of Her survive but Her power remains strong. She is the most ancient of all the Celtic deities. In a silver flash of iridescence she appears in my mind’s eye.

As the “Flowing One” She is associated with the seas, wells, springs and the Danube River, gifting Her children the magic of transformation, inspiration, and wisdom. As an Earth Goddess, She bestows abundance and earth mysteries. She embodies the wisdom of living in balance with the Earth. She is sometimes associated with…

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