25 November, 2012

Messages from The Killian Star

Hey, Readers,
I have recently started and finished a book that's been sitting on our shelves for several years now, The Killian Star. It was written by Alyson E. Denny, who is a friend of my mother's, and that's why we have the book. I'm going to do a video review of the book, so I won't get too much into that here, but I do want to talk about something else which stems from my reading of it (which I'll probably also make a video about, but I wanted to write it out here, too).

It does seem that everything falls into place, that things come to me just when I need them. In this case, of course the book has been lying around here for an age, but it was only this past week that I said to my mother, "You know, I always wanted to read this, I'll get through it this week and give it back to you before you move." And that's what I did, and that's when it was able to give me its message.
Oh, wow, I've literally only JUST realized something... Alyson wrote in the front of the book a note to my mother, saying that she hoped my mom would glean the book's secret message. Now I can only wonder if she meant what I'm about to tell you about! Huh! I can't believe I didn't think of that until now.
Anyway, as I'll mention in my review, the story itself is very interesting but the book is in want of an editor. To me, having been a teaching and writing assistant for three and a half years during my undergrad career, it read like one of my students' rough drafts. It was much better thought out and planned than many of them, but the abundance of typographical errors, spelling errors, and moments when you can no longer tell which character is speaking because something was written incorrectly or left out... well, it distracted me quite a bit. Especially in the beginning of the book when the story is more in pieces. But after a while, the action consolidates and I was able to concentrate more on the story than the misplaced commas and quotation marks, and I did end up gaining something from the story, though I didn't realize it until Friday night.

There are actually two moments in the book that have played out for me this weekend, as follows:
1) In the story, a ghost tells the main character's friend that he will be able to hear the spirit's instructions as thought suggestions in his mind. He won't necessarily hear the ghost's voice, but suddenly he would know what to do. The character experiences it exactly this way, speaking aloud words that he knows he wouldn't have known to say on his own, so he realizes he must be hearing the spirits' messages.
On Friday night, my boyfriend came back into town for a visit and came to my house, after which we both drove our individual cars to his house so that I'd have my car to drive to church and back home on Sunday. It was snowing a lot for the first time so far this year, and I need new tires. Things were going along well until we got to an intersection that was very snow-covered, even with all the traffic, and my boyfriend signaled in front of me to turn left, which is not the way I usually go. I slowed down and began to slide off the road. I managed to stop safely, but then I had trouble getting the car to go through the intersection and onto the next road because my tires wouldn't grip through the snow. But I got through that, and continued along. Now, this road I'd never been on before turned out to be very downhill, and very winding. Not good in snow and with bad tires. Needless to say, there were several moments when I almost slid into other cars, into trees, off the road in general, and I was crawling along, trying not to lose control of the vehicle.

As I mentioned in my recent video about the deities I actually work with, Elen of the Ways is my helper on the road, so I squeezed my bag of lavender and asked for her help. I'd asked for her help before, but never when I was actually already in a dangerous situation. I spoke to her, mostly to calm me down. Then a particularly bad slide had me really frightened, and as I straightened the car back out I said aloud, "Elen, please help me stay safe, and tell me what you want as an offering!" Just then I turned a corner and saw a deer crossing sign. Deer being sacred to Elen, I knew that meant she was listening (remember, I'd never been on this road, so I didn't know there was a deer crossing sign ahead). I started to cry as I said thank you and continued driving along. I repeated, "Tell me what you'd like as an offering so I can give you a proper thanks," and immediately images came into my head, just like for the character in The Killian Star. I got three images, three objects, all three things I could easily find for offerings, for which I was grateful. One of the things, the first, was an apple, and I happened to be eating an apple before I started driving and had the rest on the seat next to me. The second thing was snow. When I arrived at my boyfriend's safely, I tossed my apple into the snow. (I should add at this point that I firmly believe that while many things may be commonly known about the gods, I think some things differ for each follower. Elen may have purposely given me instructions she knew I could follow at the time. For someone else following her, apples and snow may not be the answer. I am very grateful to have gotten my own answers, and feel free to test it out for yourself, but I'm certainly no authority and my experiences should not trump your own!)

I have never received an answer so quickly in that format before, of thoughts or images just popping right into my head. I've had things like the sign appearing, suddenly coming across or seeing something physical that relates to the message and tells me the gods are listening. And I've had reactions from the environment, like sounds of animals, rushes of wind, and so on. And I've seen images in my mind's eye, but never so quickly or as an answer to an immediate request, just more like in meditations which are drawn out. But I absolutely believe that the only reason I was able to get a message in that way, as a thought suggestion, is because reading about it in the book made that format come forward in my mind.
2) In the story, a Native American woman named Eva talks a lot about the importance of dreams and listening to them to gain insight. The main character of the book has a lot of strange dreams, and Eva encourages her to pay attention to them and try to find out what they mean.
Of course I've always paid attention to my dreams--dream analysis has been one of my favorite little hobbies for years--but again, this just came at such an appropriate time, that I wonder if Eva's reminders in the book didn't open my subconscious up even more to receiving messages that way. Last night, I had a long dream which took place mostly in a very cluttered new age shop. I remember paying attention to and looking for items that I am interested in in my waking life, such as different shaped incense burners, candles, and other altar decor. But it wasn't any of those things that turned up messages, it was a few small things that I didn't remember until I woke up. One, a silver chain and what looked like abalone shell necklace which was very over-priced. I remember in the dream, myself and a little girl were reading the tag, which said it was made from something with a really long scientific name, which basically means in my waking life, it didn't matter what the substance was. It was the other word on the tag that mattered: Apollo. The other item, a package of specialty incense sticks, which were, again, very over-priced. I remember thinking in the dream, I am not paying $4.00 for 5 short sticks of incense, that's ridiculous. But I flipped through them to see the scents, and just like the chain and shell necklace tag, the names of the incenses were all gibberish. Except for one: Hecate.

As you know from a previous blog entry, I've been thinking more about starting my relationships with several deities I've felt drawn to over the years, because I've always thought I should wait for messages and with none coming I thought none were meant for me, but I've realized that maybe instead of waiting I should just go for it and see how they respond. Yet, all of a sudden, here we have more! All these years I've never so much as seen a deity's name in a dream, and then I get TWO in ONE DREAM. One of which I wasn't even planning on getting much more into, Hecate. But perhaps my recent participation in a ritual in her honor, and my honest offerings to her, have begun that relationsip already without my conscious decision. I guess it is true that Deity chooses us in the long run, with or without a slight nudge from ourselves.

Apollo. Hecate. Dionysus. Athena. Elen. All have given me a proverbial "thumbs up" in one way or another, whether it be through messages, answered pleas, hijacked ritual experiences, or subtle clues in books. The other deities I've worked with have not been given quite enough attention yet to tell, but all will come in time.

There is so much work to be done.


Comment question: If you work with deities regularly, how did your relationship with them begin? How has it evolved?

11 November, 2012

Deity Worship

Hey, Readers,

This is the blog I said I was setting out to do in the last post!

Many of you should already know this, but I'll start with a bit of background. I'm a solitary practitioner most of the time, and I was definitely completely solitary for the majority of my decade-ish of practice (the early years, particularly). My path is Wiccan-based, but also eclectic, having been brought up learning bits and pieces from other cultures and always embracing those things that resonated with me. As I grew to learn more vocabulary and terminology, such as the difference between a hard polytheist and a soft one, or between a polytheist and a pantheist and an omnitheist, I obviously thought a lot about how I see Deity. I did a video for Pagan Perspective last week about how I view Deity and I have a pretty good idea of it now, but I used to not have the vocabulary to describe it.

To catch you up, my view of Deity is basically a cross between a soft polytheistic one and a pantheistic one. I find it hard to choose either one term, and I normally say soft polytheism, though my overall view definitely includes pantheism. In simplest terms possible, I recognize that many deities exist and I may call upon any of them when their realm of expertise is in question, but I think of them not as literal beings but as personifications that humans use to classify something far greater that we cannot understand in simple terms at all. And beyond this, I think that "something far greater" is one thing, ultimately. So yes, I recognize many, but I think they all boil down to one. And not one "God" but one Energy, one Force, one Balance. (This is all part of why I also feel so very at home with the Unitarian Universalist church!) I call this Force-Balance-Energy-Oneness "UE" or Universal Energy, because to me, that's what I'm talking about. I'm talking about the Energy of the whole entire Universe--and maybe parallel Universes, but that's another blog entry.

Finally, to the point, Cara!
Now that you've been appraised of the situation of my mind, I can discuss my thoughts as far as worship. Having these views as described above, I have always found the idea of having a patron God and matron Goddess strange, for me. I view them all as equal and necessary at different times (there is a whole other -theism term for that!), but also all as ultimately one, so... How could I possibly be meant to work with only a few? Could I be drawn to one or two? I know most about these, but then do I just ignore these others? Maybe some are more important to my life now and they'll change later? I don't know, I'll wait and see... That was my thought process, and so for years when people ask me, I've just said that I have not yet felt called to any particular deities, so I work with general Goddess and God. And that has been fine with me. But lately, I've been thinking. And that's dangerous. It leads to change. And to progress. Yikes. =)

So I've been thinking, and I've been wondering whether I've been taking the right approach. I keep asking deity to tell me if I'm meant to work with anyone, and to aid me in becoming closer to the God aspect, but I haven't felt any pull so I thought that meant I was alright where I was. But now I'm thinking maybe it means I just haven't listened very well. I got one brief signal about a particular goddess, and I did more research and thought "This could be something!" but didn't want to start working with her until I KNEW. No other signs came. Well, hello, Cara, that could possibly mean the ball's in your court, I thought! Then, over the summer, I started to develop a strong relationship (or at least a strong pull of one, and I was working toward the relationship part) with the spirit of Willow and Oak. There are two trees in my area that have been landmarks in my life, so I sought to work with them as connections to the divine feminine and masculine, rather than particular deities. Willow came much easier than Oak because I can see her more often, as she is out in the open by the lake and Oak is tucked back in the woods, ringed with prickers and poisonous plants and hornets' nests... Talk about a metaphor for my difficulty connecting to the masculine! Then there have also been other times where I simply honor a deity or speak to them, and even though they're not a deity I've "felt a pull from," or whatever it is I think I'm waiting for, something magickal definitely takes place! I recently prayed to Athena and felt a connection. At Mabon, I honored Dionysus and absolutely felt his welcome. I attended a ritual for Hecate and felt a new appreciation for her, and only since then learned that Willow is also sacred to her. I feel there are connections all around me now, I just felt that I shouldn't presume they were there before enough to act on them...

Thus, my question is this. Especially for those of you who DO work with specific deities, how did you know? And for my case, does it make sense to just go ahead and honor a deity that I'm interested in, or that I feel deserves a bit of notice from me, even though maybe they're not "my" deity? I joked to Dionysus that I'm probably not the kind of witch he'd expect to have as his friend, but I wanted to address him anyway, and I think he showed me a thing or two about who I really am. And I'd never met Hecate but I offered her things that I take very seriously. Another deity I speak to often, I actually learned about from one of my favorite fictional stories! Though, to be fair, it is based on historical events and religious background.

My problem is, admittedly, that I don't want to offend anyone (deity or human) by seeking a relationship that just isn't for me. I mentioned in my last post that I follow Chris' blog and he's a Hellenic polytheist who works with Athena, so is it shallow for me to work with her as an eclectic? Or when I speak to Thor, does it step on the toes of my Norse pantheist friend, Eric, who's made much deeper connections with that pantheon? On any other topic you'd hear me emphatically shout, NO! Of course not! Your connections are PERSONAL and whatever Deity says to YOU is said to YOU. Other people's experiences with the same deity may differ, because you are not the same people! Still, even though I do have a soft view of Deity, I respect each and every one of them in their many, many aspects and cultural forms, and do not ever wish to presume their place in my practice.

I hope to look back on this one day, knowing how long I've been mulling over these ideas, from a place of understanding in whatever I learn in the future. However it turns out, I know I'll laugh at this, for ever taking it quite so seriously. Thanks for being along for the ride.


10 November, 2012

Forgiveness & Doing Good

Hey, Readers,

The Universe has a funny way of always knowing what I need to hear. Sometimes this can be summed up with "Ask and you shall receive." Other times, I didn't ask, the Universe just knows better than I do! Haha. In this case, it's the latter.

I was originally coming on here to blog about deity worship, which I will get to in another post, but this must come first. I got on here to write about that, but decided to catch up on the only blog I follow on here, My Hellenic Life, written by PriestChristopher, as he was known on YouTube. I'm very glad that he linked me his blog before he decided to stop using YouTube, because that way I am now able to keep in touch with his writings.

While I was catching up on his past posts, which range in subject matter from politics to statuary to visiting Circle Sanctuary, my mother and I learned that someone we know got ordained as a ULC minister, which my mother is. And this posed a strange question with us, because the person in question is a pagan, so my mother is unsure of why they want to be a minister through a Christian-based (albeit Universal) church, and they also aren't very knowledgeable about paganism, so I'm concerned about whether they're going to go around claiming to be a pagan minister.

07 November, 2012

Election Day

Cross-posting this from my tumblr.


Today, after work, my mother and I got ready and went to the polls. It didn’t take very long. It was only the second time I’d ever voted. The first time was when I had just turned 18 and graduated high school. I voted for Barack Obama. I was so thrilled when he won, knowing that in my first ever presidential election, I had voted for something that actually turned out to happen. It was a cool feeling. I skipped the next few elections because I was away at school and didn’t care too much about the local issues, not enough to take the time to come home, at least. So today was the second time I’d voted.

I had this weird feeling, like I was just filling out another one of those bubble tests to show how much I’d retained throughout my education. And in a way, it was the same. What had I learned about each candidate, and how their views related to my own? Which one was best for me? It’s just a bubble. It takes two seconds to fill in and then the rest of the ballot, for me at least, is basically just local stuff we’ll vote on again soon anyway. It’s just a bubble and a sticker and a drive home.

And at home, I cried for about an hour. Why? Well, because the people I live with drive me batty. My mother and her husband, that is. Mostly the latter. It was back to just another usual day, full of confusion and anger and sadness at the state of my life, scrambling to pack boxes in a fury so I can get out of here, move in with my Grams, and bid my mother goodbye, and good luck.

I watched Sabrina cartoons and Doctor Who online for hours. I forgot everything (and not just due to the Silence). I forgot that I had worked today. That I had to work tomorrow. That I’m not sure if the guy at work is flirting with me. That I had voted today. That I had missed the turn and mom reminded me where we were going. That I had cried so intensely just a few hours before. That I live with someone who disagrees with everything I stand for. That anything at all was wrong. The only thing I didn’t forget that whole time was my boyfriend and how much I love him, and I never stopped texting him. He was the one that told me, “Obama won!”

Then I remembered.

I remembered that today was a momentous occasion. That something really very important had just been decided in a, truthfully, really strange way. A lot of people in the world—and in my country—agree with my viewpoints, think the way I do, care about the same issues, and care so strongly about those issues that they make it a big part of their lives. And a lot of people just don’t. I think it’s sad that whatever happens, some people have to be upset. I wish we couldall just agree, or live separately with the rules that make us each happy. But we live in a democracy. We had to choose. And I am so, so happy with the choice that was made. Even if you’re not. I can’t be sorry about that.

All day long, I ran through scenarios in my head about living a life where I love the monarch from whom we gained our independence more than I love the leader of my own country. I am happy to say that today is not that day. (Though, I still love her. And England.)

I’ve never liked politics. I’ve never liked history as it was taught in school. I’ve never felt a particular connection to this plot of earth I was born on, or its rules, or its mechanics, or a fair amount of its people. Even four years ago I couldn’t say I did. But today, I feel extremely proud of my country. For, I think, the first time ever. And you know what? I am sorry not everyone could get what they hoped for. But what some people hoped for is a life that takes so much of what I love away. And I’m not sorry they didn’t manage to do that.

Thank you.

I don’t know who I’m thanking. But thanks.

And on this blog, I can add on and say that for one, I am thanking Athena. She is the first deity that really sprang out to me this past year and made me think, I'm so stupid for not hearing her sooner. But I still didn't make the real effort to get to know her personally. I had merely done a bit more research but really added nothing more to what I already knew, just a few small facts here and there. There are other deities I talk to more often, even. But today, at work, surrounded by so many people who are just... ignorant and rude and childish and so close-minded that I know if they knew who I really was, more than just a housekeeper, they would not support me... I simply had to ask for her help. This is such a big issue, and so important to me. I didn't have time to myself, so I just spoke to her while I did my job. Cleaning a room, taking out garbage, I "spoke to [Athena] like [I] was talking to a friend," as the country song says. It was a last plea for a girl who knows better than to be over-confident in her candidate, or in the humanity of her people.

I don't know if it had anything to do with it, but thank you, Athena. There will be proper thanks later on. Right now, I'm sorely upset that I don't have any wine with which to celebrate, and sorely upset that I'm not already out of the house where my mother's husband hates everything I'm celebrating. But, lacking a toast and all my supportive friends at my side, thank you. Thank you, ALL. And good night.