31 July, 2012

Briefly Bristled

Hey, Readers!

I feel like I've written a lot on here about things revolving around church. It makes sense, since the new UU community is the latest brand new development in my religious and spiritual life. However, I wanted to post about something unrelated to church, even briefly.

The only thing I have to say right now is that today, on YouTube, someone left a comment asking if I was a redditor, or a person who uses reddit.com, which I am not. I'm not actually very familiar with it, though I've seen it, so I decided to check it out. I searched "pagan" to see what kinds of interesting things there might be that I'm missing out on. The first thing I saw was an atheist man who's married to a pagan woman, asking if such a pairing was bound to lead down a negative road. This caught my eye because I'm currently dating an atheist. The second thing to I saw on the page--and the last, for after this, I did not want to look further--was a post titled something like "Let's forget Christians, Jews, and Muslims for a second. Let's talk about how ANNOYING Wiccans and other 'neo-pagans' are!"

I shouldn't have clicked on it. You know I shouldn't have. I know I shouldn't have. But I did.

The post was from someone who previously identified as Wiccan, but now only had very negative things to say. But, as is so terribly common, they were actually only referring to people who use the title but have no practice or knowledge of what they speak of. They were not at all describing an actual practitioner. I honestly can't remember any exact words now, because I looked at it over an hour ago and I will not look again. As soon as I saw the usual misinformation and generalizations leveled at us, I stopped reading closely, so my memory has thankfully allowed the information to slip away. I just recall the usual stuff, like the author claiming that all Wiccans are the way they described (when they're clearly not), that none of them know anything, that they will take information and practices from any culture that people know little about and call it their own but don't know any history, etc. Now, I'm an eclectic Wiccan, yes. My practice includes elements from other religions. That does not mean I don't know where they came from, what they mean, or why I use them.

Anyway, the post ended with a statement of annoyance--If you thought Christians and Jews and Muslims were bad/hard to reason with, try talking to a Wiccan! Sheesh! (Again, that's not verbatim, but that's what it said.) I also remember one reply/comment on the post, which was from someone who said they used to be pagan and then realized they were "a fucking idiot" and stopped believing it.

It just frustrates me so much, still, that so many people will post outright hatred like that instead of admitting that not every Wiccan or neopagan out there is like that. Trust me, I know those people DO exist, and they will either learn or turn away from the path when they realize it's not for them. I'm not saying the unfortunate stereotype has no basis in reality. But such individuals are not experienced practitioners, or not serious about the path. They couldn't be, or they wouldn't be so uninformed. I have not yet met a truly dedicated practitioner who is anything like that horrible imagined view of us. Even beginners asking me if Wicca would be right for them are dedicated seekers, and they do not insist on calling themselves Wiccan if they don't think they are. I've only come across a few people who seem to insist on being called Wiccan even though from our conversations it's been clear to me that they are not, that their beliefs simply lean elsewhere.

I'm not a traditional Wiccan, but I'm not an idiot, randomly claiming the title with no reasoning behind it. I know many Wiccans like me, who may not be traditional, but have genuine work behind us and genuine dedication to our paths. So yes, it still bothers me that some people not only are bothered by those who do not yet know things, but also go on to claim that ANY WICCAN is this way! I can only teach by example, but people who are willing to spread such lies and generalized hate do not seek out sincere practitioners in order to change their minds. They don't want to be shown how wrong they are.

This reminds me of a comment I once got. The person commented that they could see, from my videos, that I am clearly a very intelligent girl who knows what she's talking about and has a true connection to her path. They said that they agree with my well thought out perspective on my path. So far, so good. They went on to say that because of this truth they could see in me, and because they themselves agree so much with my views, I must be a pagan, and "NOT a fluffy bunny Wiccan." Their words. Verbatim. You bet I remembered that one. Their argument was that since I am knowledgeable and they agree with me, I cannot possibly be Wiccan because Wiccans, as they believe, are ALL ignorant, uninformed children who don't have any idea what they're doing.

Instead of rerouting their stereotypes and saying Wow, here is a Wiccan who is clearly NOT what I thought Wiccans were... I must have been wrong, at least some Wiccans must be genuine! this person refused to admit that their ideas could have been incorrect, and INSTEAD said I must just be using the wrong name for myself. Clearly. That is the only possible explanation.

Anyway, this is nothing you wouldn't have heard from me before if you watch my channel, but it still gets my goat. I am perturbed. I have a hard time understanding how some people who accuse us of being so uninformed can remain so terribly uninformed, themselves.


Cleaning Up After Vandals

This past Sunday, 29 July, I went to church only to find that it had been vandalized, probably just the night before. Here is a video of what happened and what we cleaned up.

Cleaning Up (Video)

In other news, I'm about to record a PaganPerspective video about how making videos is putting energy out to the Universe, and I just recorded a video about why I own a Bible if I'm pagan. The PaganPerspective video will be up in a few hours, since Tuesday is my day to post, and the Bible video will be posted to my personal channel on Wednesday since I'm uploading a medieval faire video to post Tuesday.


27 July, 2012

Growing Magick

In my previous post, I alluded to a subject I would be writing another post about and I haven't gotten to it yet. Before I get to that one, I wanted to share something new from yesterday.

I'm currently assisting with a theatre workshop for 8-13 year olds. They astound me in more ways than one. One of these ways is how open they are about their religion. They are still too young to know that theirs is not the only one, or that others could be offended by their constant referencing of their beliefs. I'm probably the only person involved in the workshop who isn't Christian, though one other person at least has similar tastes for metaphysical things along with her beliefs.

I know the kids are being raised Christian because they wear shirts from their church groups, camps, or other events all the time. (Adults who come through the building sport similar attire.) And when we play games with the kids where they get to make up stories or responses, it always turns to a stream that goes something like someone falls down > they got shot > death > Hell > the devil > Satan > evil. That is an exact train of thoughts that happened when I had them play "I Am the Sun," which should be a very happy and positive game. And the children seem happy while saying these things, of course. I don't mean to say they're miserable and plagued by thoughts of demons. But I think it's even more disturbing that they bring up Hell and Satan and evil as part of game-play, laughing and smiling about it.

So yesterday, I decided to have a little fun of my own and introduce some magick.

24 July, 2012

Elemental Lessons Service

The sermon/theme of church this week was "Elemental Lessons," and the visiting minister was my high school drama director. I arrived two minutes before the start of service, but they had already begun, so I missed the opening song and any announcements that happened. I got in and sat down (not the latest person, mind you, there were others) just before the main event.

The chairs had been rearranged into a circle of three rows, with four aisle breaks creating a section at each cardinal direction. I sat in the south, consciously choosing my sun sign's element. The minister--I will just call him Rev. for this post--explained that there are many different associations for elements and directions depending on the culture or practice, but that he would be using the Celtic alignments as he researched them. However, he did not go over each element in circular order, but chose the order to go over them based on how they would relate to the usual service structure.

For each direction/element, Rev. explained a bit of what it is associated with, gave some quotes or had us or just the choir sing a song, had us experience the element in some way if possible, and then had a microphone passed around for anyone to share their experiences of the elements.

21 July, 2012

Unitarian Universalism: My Experiences Thus Far

"Everyone needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul."         --John Muir 
Hey, Readers,

A little while ago I posted a vlog about a new UU church I found. I just wanted to add some text to that experience, since the vlog is fairly short. (Be sure to follow any links I've inserted in the text for more information, music, or videos!)

I feel I should start with how I came to know about Unitarian Universalism, and go through my experiences thus far. A few years ago (I'm not sure exactly when) I learned that Dancing Rabbit and Feather, friends of mine from YouTube, were UU Pagans, meaning that they are pagan and also share the beliefs of Unitarian Universalism. Having always considered myself a believer in the Universe and that we can find what is Universal in our beliefs, I was glad to know this existed. Then at some point, my senior year college roommate told me that she had been brought up UU. I think it was junior year that I learned this, so we were not roommates then, but that's how I describe who this person is. She is a great friend of mine and became my roommate. Because of this accepting upbringing, she is very open-minded and tolerant, but she also feels that she lacks structure to her beliefs, whereas that structure for Dancing Rabbit and Feather and myself would be the pagan side.

Our senior year of college (or university, for those overseas. I mean undergraduate school), a freshman girl started Dove & Chalice, a Unitarian Universalist club. My roommate and I attended the first meeting. There was little interest--if I recall, six people attended that first meeting, and by the end there were only three regular attendees. One girl stopped coming immediately. One guy only came on occasion, when his schedule would permit (we met at noon on Sundays, which conflicted with his workout/training most weeks). My roommate eventually stopped attending as well, because she was cast in the main show at the time, for which rehearsals on Sunday are at 1pm. By the end, only the girl who started the club, a male friend of mine who considers himself Humanist, and I remained.

10 July, 2012

Video on Labels

This is the text script from my PaganPerspective video this week. The video has an introduction as well as some more lines tossed in, so it's more than what you read here, if you want to watch it instead.

from MephistophelesMyLord
--There's recent movement aiming to clear up labeling misconceptions for a lot of Pagans who practice religious witchcraft. British Traditionalists obviously are not keen on solitaries calling themselves Wiccan, and some solitaries don't feel neo-Wicca identifies their practice or that title feels wrong in some way. More information on this can be found here: http://rootsofritual.wordpress.com/category/through-the-leaves/

(Not really a question, but a topic to discuss. I guess, think of the question as ‘how do we feel about labels, what is correct and what isn’t, who or what should determine what labels people use, etc.?’)

Labels are useful for letting people know a starting point of something about us. The exact individual differs from every other individual, even in the group, so we always have to ask about specifics, but labels help us begin to understand a basic idea. Beyond that, I don't think labels should cause problems. The individual should be asked what they like to be called, and why. It's up to each person to decide, not anyone else to tell them.

Now I will address the elephant in the circle. Hi, Frank.
Now I will address the thing you're all itching to hear about.
I call myself a solitary eclectic Wiccan witch. And I'm not initiated into a traditional coven. The blog post given argues that if I were truly dedicated, I would seek out a coven even if it meant moving. * You know what? Someday I want to, but as a recent post-grad with very little money, I'm not about to do that. I personally see no issue with me calling myself what I do, because I think there is a difference between a traditional Wiccan and a solitary eclectic. I am always quick to point out that I am not a traditional member and therefore do not speak with that experience behind me. But I have spoken to initiates about what I DO practice, and at least those I've spoken to haven't seen a problem with my chosen label based on my beliefs. Others WILL disagree with me, I have no doubts about that. But since I never claim to be part of that group, I don't stress so much about it. As long as we all know what we mean and can explain it to someone who asks, someone who may have another definition of our label, I think we can say whatever we personally choose. Now, if I chose that title willy-nilly because it sounded cool, yeah, I would be ticked off at me, too. ** The article seems to suggest that what I practice is not Wicca but neo-Wicca or some other name altogether. If it makes YOU feel better to call me a neo-Wiccan, go ahead.

The weird thing is, a lot of the people urging me to stop calling myself a Wiccan are other non-initiates who believe similarly to me, but who agree that only traditional initiates can use the label. The difference is that I don't let that stop me from calling myself whatever I want and just explaining it. Like I said, YOU can call me whatever you need to call me in order to feel comfortable. I also just say I'm "Pagan" a lot of the time because it's quicker to say!

If a label seems wrong to you, don't use it, even if someone else may use it to define you, or even if it means essentially the same thing. Say what you like. If a label speaks to you, and you feel a strong reasoning for using it, you should be able to do so. Likewise, if no label seems right, you shouldn't feel pressured to have to use one at all. A lot of people these days are going more towards the non-label idea and just talk about who they are, what they like, and so on instead of saying "I am a _____" fill in the blank.

I think it's helpful if we all have a basic definition for things, because like I said, knowing someone's preferred label is a starting off point for knowing something about them. But I think we all need to remember that not everyone uses labels in the same way, so we should always take them as JUST a basic starting point idea, and beyond that we have to ask the person about their individual characteristics. Or, you don't have to, but if you want to really know about them then you should ask. Because labels are for soup cans.

I believe two rather contradictory statements to each hold truth: 1) It's just a word, yet 2) Words hold power. That's why we go back and forth about things like this. On one hand, it doesn't really matter in the long run what word we use. On the other hand, it does mean something to us. That's why I think our first responsibility is to ourselves and what we feel comfortable with, if anything.

That's all I have for you this week on paganperspective, so thank you very much for watching and I will see you next time! Blessed Be & Goodbye!


P.S. Yeah, I did write this out before seeing that the title of Rich's video is "Labels are for soup cans." Hah!

* In the video I added on the idea that even if you move to find a coven, it may not be the right coven for you. So should we keep moving around until we find the right one? At this point in my life that's not possible, but someday I would like to experience group practice more so than I have in small groups already.

** Here, in the video, I put some text over the video mentioning that I once came across someone online who said that they call themselves a Wiccan but do not share any Wiccan beliefs and especially that they work against the Rede. Stuff like that is odd to me.

09 July, 2012

Update. Location, Universal, and Study.

Hey, Readers!

There are quite a few messages in my YouTube inbox that I need to address, so I thought I would update this before getting to those in order to track what I've been thinking about before, and then possibly what comes up after, because of people's messages! I've narrowed it to three main things I've been thinking about.

As traveling to England and Wales recently taught me, there is definitely something great about being at home. You have all your own things, a place to put everything, and you can get any one of your possessions right away if you find that you need it after not using it for a long, long time. Traveling was great, and I think if I lived over there, it would be fine to stay for long periods, but being away from my home was the hard part.

I've also seen this effect on me when I stay at my boyfriend's house for a couple nights. I love being with him, and I love staying at his house. Sometimes I really just need to get away from my home and the people there, and visiting him is the perfect way to do so. But I notice an effect on my practice when I go there, which is that I don't really grow much spiritually while visiting him. This is because there, I am a guest. I don't have my own space at his house, and I don't use my time there for study--I use it to spend time with him. This is fine, of course. I like taking time out from my week to relax on the weekends. It's just something I've noticed. I don't take time there to meditate, or to have circle, or anything. I know that if we end up living together this will be different, because I will have my own space, and he is fine with my practice so there wouldn't be anything keeping me from feeling like I could use my own space for my study. In fact that just means he'd be listening to my ramblings about it even more often than he does now! But I do wonder how people might keep up their practice if they are constantly moving, or if I were to travel for a period of time, how I would seek to ensure that I always have time to practice should I desire it.

Or, to be specific, what it means to be "too universal." Someone left a comment on one of my YouTube videos a while back, saying that I was being "too universal," and their view was that certain people should be left out. Without getting into that exact context, the concept of being "too universal" has stuck with me, and probably always will. I wondered, how could one be too universal if being universal is about everything and everyone? Why shouldn't I be accepting? And now, after several months at least (I don't remember exactly when the comment was, but I think it was under a year ago), I think I have come up with one example, whether or not it matches what the person originally meant.

I am well aware that my personal beliefs and practices are not Universal. I never felt they should be. Instead, what I attempt to do is to understand or at least acknowledge other viewpoints as I learn about them. Thus, I say things like "I do it such a way, but I know some people do this, and one person I talked to does this, and I think this other group has this opinion but I've really only read about that." I try to show that I do care (and know) that others do things differently, that my way is not the only way, that the person asking me for advice may prefer another way I happen to vaguely know about rather than my personal way. But sometimes I do find myself feeling like I'm not giving my own beliefs their due status by constantly mentioning other people's views. In other words, even though I do think other people's ways of doing something are valid, I sometimes feel it makes me seem unsure about my own beliefs. I say this because people often comment that they got a different feeling from what I said, when I actually fully agree with them as far as my personal practice goes, and I was just offering another perspective about what other people may do. I wonder if I'm not being clear as to what I actually believe.

I still don't want to ever say my way is THE way, or that no one does things differently. That goes against my belief in itself. But I wonder if the way I speak is sometimes "too universal," and perhaps I need to focus on my ways more, so that I no longer feel I am leaving them untied.

Actually, I now cannot remember exactly what I meant by this keyword when I typed it in the subject bar. There may have been a better word! Let's see. I have been thinking a lot about wanting to study more formally. I've always said if a teacher came along I would like one. I've also been thinking about how it's important to study other views as well, which may go along with the "too universal" point. In fact, I think this brings me to a whole other realization. I do think it's important to study all one can, and to learn about other faiths when given the chance, and especially to be able to have a basic working knowledge of something so that when it's brought up you're not left totally in the dark. But seeing as I've only just recently (as of graduation) begun to follow my OWN chosen path more than I have in the past, maybe I should go ahead and stop focusing on other ways, and learning about other people, and really focus on my own stuff for a while. Again, this is tough because I never want to shut out other ideas, and I always want to learn about other ways! It is part of my belief that this betters me, as well. However... maybe it is time to get serious and put off any outside learning just yet.

This is, of course, aside from the fact that next month, I will be taking a trip to Lily Dale, NY, which is a Spiritualist center. Granted, Spiritualism is part of my path, being defined on their website as "one who believes, as the basis of his or her religion, in the continuity of life and in individual responsibility," also stating that "Spiritualists endeavor to find the truth in all things and to live their lives in accordance therewith." The Lily Dale Assembly is concerned with the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of Spiritualism, so I will doubtless find much that fits my path, but it isn't exactly pagan and I am going with a group of others, including my mother, who is Christian-based. Still, for me the trip will be about how it can expand my personal faith.


Anyway, just some thoughts before I get into responding to a bunch of messages tomorrow! Thank you for reading.


02 July, 2012

Craft Show Saturday

Hey, Readers!

This will be the first time I'm using this blog for its intended purpose, which is to accompany videos by containing more information to go along with what you see! I'm uploading the video from this past Saturday's craft show right now. It was actually a small festival hosted by a diner, and there was food, music, a dunk tank, a bouncy race game, and just three stands of vendors. It was such a small festival that not many people even came by for the first three hours. But once evening hit, my mom (Rev. Rose) made a few sales. I ended up selling one pair of earrings, because mom convinced someone she knew to buy a pair for their girlfriend. But more than selling any of my items, the conversations our handiwork sparks are ever-intriguing.

There is a lot about this that is hard to explain because you all don't actually know me, and you're not in my everyday life, so I can't trust that you'll know my exact feelings on things I want to say and I don't want to seem harsh or overly-cautious because I'm talking to strangers. So I'm just going to have to say whatever I want to say, and trust that you'll remember that since I'm not telling you and you haven't been here, in my daily life, you don't know the whole story. Please do not assume that you do.


There is something to be said for both flaunting your spirituality, and for keeping it toned down. On the one hand, remaining proud and showcasing your faith through jewelry or dress but in a small way can allow you to be noticed by like-minded folk while not frightening away anyone who might otherwise come to your stand and buy things from you. This is the route I chose, figuring that my handmade items would give it away anyway, since I make a lot of things with pentacles and other symbols, and even the words "Goddess" and "Witch." On the other hand, one may choose to broadcast the tenor of their stand by hanging up large pentacle items for all to see. This is the route my friends chose for their stand right next to us. This may frighten away potential buyers who may be interested in your other wares, but as it proved, would also serve to draw any other pagans immediately to you. This is what ended up happening.