Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Mediums

 The last couple of days have been a bit indecisive for me.

Yesterday morning, I held my first interview for next year's internship, at the county Department of Social Services "Intensive Foster Care and Clinical Services" division. I'm not sure how much I will like that one, it seems like it would be better as a "back-up plan". The lady I interviewed with said they don't get interns very often, and she seemed a little flustered as to the internship acceptance process, as well as what kinds of responsibilities we as interns would actually have. My second interview, on Friday, is on the developmental pediatrics unit of a local very prominent hospital, which would look very good on my resume. I think I may hope for that one, and repeat the spell I did on the 19th to give it a little "extra" push. I'm still not *totally* optimistic though - when I first moved to South Carolina, I interviewed for a job there, with the same woman that I'll be interviewing with for the internship, and she never called back. Guess we'll see.

After the interview, I stopped by Bi-Lo to get a box of these Spaghetti Classics from Bi-Lo. They come with noodles, a pack of seasoning, and parmesan cheese. You boil the noodles, and boil some tomato paste and the seasoning together, then eat. It's perfect for if you're in the mood for pasta, but don't have an entire family to cook for. Yet this one particular Bi-Lo is the only one I've ever been able to find it in, so I don't get it very often, as I don't want to use a whole can of pasta sauce or a whole box of noodles, when I'm the only one who would be eating it.

I don't know if I'm only noticing it more now because I'm becoming more food-conscious, but I've noticed since embarking on this Flexitarian diet (abstaining from meat one day a week) that I eat more when I do eat, and I seem to get hungry more. The last couple of days, even though I eat at least two meals a day ( usually sleep through breakfast) and of course have snacks at varying times, I wake up in the middle of the night hungry. Now, I'm a whopping 107 pounds, so I'm not concerned or anything - if anything, it's probably a good thing. Perhaps it's my body adjusting to some of the more healthy foods I've been sort of trying to eat.

Speaking of healthy foods, I've been debating on switching my choice of regular grocery store. On the one hand, there's Bi-Lo, which I pass every Saturday as I go home from school (Saturday is my usual grocery day). Then, there's Publix, which has more organic, vegetarian, and overall healthy food options to buy, but still kind of limited, depending on which specific store location you go to - they all have MorningStar Farms, for example, but as far as a wider variety of foods is concerned, that's not necessarily the case. Then, there's Earth Fare . Now, I absolutely love Earth Fare. All the produce they sell is locally grown (within 100 miles), they sell some of the teas I like (such as sage and valerian root), they have all kinds of herbal products, home remedies, and such that can be used in home health or even spellwork. All their meat is free-range and/or organic (not that I cook meat), they have lots of vegetarian/vegan options, and they're overall a utopia for the health conscious food shopper. But, they're farther away and much more expensive. 3 days' worth of snacks and foods there cost about as much as a week's worth of food and snacks at my current regular places. So it's kind of a balance: closer, cheaper, yet less healthy, or farther, more expensive, yet healthier? I think while I'm trying to decide on a permanent place, I'll rotate around - go one place one week, another the next, etc. Now that the weather is sort of getting warmer, I'm sure I'll be going to the beach after class a little more often, and Earth Fare is right there on my way back.

In a perfect end to yesterday, even though it was cold and cloudy, after my visits with my foster kids for the day, I went to a local park and took some more pictures. Photography is quickly becoming a hobby, and is actually quite therapeutic and meditative. I should've done this years ago!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

On Reincarnation

I sometimes make the mistake of watching intellectually stimulating documentaries just before I have to go to bed so that I can get up early the next day. Just a half hour ago, I watched a documentary on History International called Science of the Soul. If it comes on again (which, it will, as educational channels tend to run amok with reruns), or if you happen to be able to find it on Netflix or anywhere else, I highly recommend it. In it, it discusses various views on the existence of the soul, and ways scientists are attempting to search for its existence.

Two stories in particular piqued my interest, one more as a curiosity as anything. The first was an interesting bit of trivia that I never thought about before, noted by an anesthesiologist: his study of the soul, of consciousness, points out that when we are put under for surgery, etc., we have no concept of time. I immediately remembered my latest surgery. When I sleep, I still have an awareness that time has passed. I dream, I wake up, and I know that it is later than it was when I closed my eyes. And then there's that whole "internal clock" thing, where you wake up at 9am, or 7am, every day, even though it's your day off at work and could sleep in until noon if you wanted and didn't set the alarm clock. But with anesthesia, you close your eyes, then suddenly you open them again and two hours, or six hours, have passed, but it's a concept you can't quite grasp. In this doctor's study, while treating anesthetized patients, he blinked a blue strobelight over their eyes throughout the procedure, while measuring brainwaves. The brainwaves showed the same neural stimulation that is shown when someone is actually conscious, with open eyes, looking at the light. I just thought that was interesting, and extra food for thought.

The other one that interested me, was an inevitable story on reincarnation, the case of James Leininger. James Leininger claims to have been World War II fighter pilot James Huston. His story is actually fairly classic in terms of who they showcase in these types of documentaries: a child, having nightmares about his past life's death, knowing details about that past life that nobody else would know, confirming those details with a living relative of that past life or some other form of document or visit to the "homeland", so to speak. His father published a book on the experiences, which I may add to my eternally growing reading list.  As an interesting sidenote, he also implied that in "heaven", he actively chose which parents he would be born to. That particular point I'm still undecided on, as I'm not sure I could see anyone choosing to go to, say, sexually/verbally/physically abusive parents, or as in my case, a single unwed mother and an adulterous father. But, if reincarnation is true, perhaps in the spiritual realm, our souls have deeper insight into what lessons we need to learn from one life to the next, an understanding that isn't comprehensible with our physical, limited brains.

 Personally, I admittedly do not give much thought about the afterlife. Maybe I'm wrong about what happens after death, maybe not. I feel that it is much more important to focus on how we live out our lives, than worrying about what happens when it is over. I know I do not believe in Hell, or at least not the evangelical Christian version of it. But I do believe in reincarnation, or at least that reincarnation is the view that makes the most sense to me.

All hyped-up past life stories and past life regression experiences aside (which, actually, I'm skeptical of - but then, I'm skeptical of hypnotism in general as well), I hold to the view that in order to experience all that life has to offer and learn all of the lessons Pleroma would have us to learn, sometimes we do have to be reborn. After all, how can I truly understand or fully have empathy or compassion for the homeless guy on the street, if I spend my whole life living in a mansion, with three full meals a day? A simplistic and perhaps easily refutable example, I know, but that's the best way I know to convey into words the concept I'm trying to relay with this particular reasoning.

Then there's the science of energy. Science says that energy cannot be created or destroyed, simply changed from one form to another. Druids, Witches, and others on the metaphysical paths often believe it is these energies that they work with when they hold a ritual or cast a spell. But what about when we die? The physical body is easy: it decomposes and becomes energy for the soil to give to the flora, which is then eaten by the fauna, and so on. It changes from one form to another. But if the soul exists, what form does it change to? And how long does it stay in that form?

And then there are more personal reasons, of course. One example is my sister. I remember once, when we were kids, she got a new doll, and named it Litha. What kid in the '90s would name their toy Litha? I remember a look of surprise on my mom's face, and her commenting on how strange it was that she would choose that name, as we have a long-dead relative by that name.

When my mom and her siblings were kids, my grandma went with my uncle on a school field trip to a local attraction, the Biltmore House. Even though she had never been there before, she knew where and what everything was, what it was all used for, and so on, as clearly as if she were one of the tour guides. The whole time she had the classic "deja vu" feeling. Even today, she refuses to go back there, ever.

For myself, I've had several similar deja vu experiences that made me wonder if perhaps I was connected with those places in a past life at some point. And I admit, I've somewhat felt that perhaps some of my interests in certain cultures (Celtic and Eastern, for example) lie in part due to having been a part of those cultures in a past life. 

There is a saying in Druidry, which is also sometimes repeated in Paganism in general, and I think I've even seen it in some Gnostic circles: "As above, so below."  The physical world and the spiritual world complement each other. In the physical world, life moves in cycles - the web of life; the food chain; summer turns to autum, which turns to winter, which turns to spring, which turns to summer.  So it makes sense to me that the spiritual world would follow likewise. Perhaps in the spirit world, there are an infinite number of souls, some active in the wheel of reincarnation, some not, to eventually reach full awareness of their true natures as spiritual beings and children of Pleroma.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Portrait of Life

Today's theme has seemed to be all about water, that ever-present element that I am so drawn to.

First, a friend and I went to Waterfront Park, a local park located along the Cooper River. I recently bought a new digital camera - a Nikon Coolpix P100, and I wanted to experiment with it. All of the pics shown within these posts, as well as my new profile pic, are pictures that were taken today with that camera.

  One of the more beautiful things about this park is the water fountain. It arcs beautifully in streams from the edges into the center.  It's a great thing to walk through on a hot summer day. 

Nature was in a very good mood this morning. In response to the late night rain, the sun had risen and made the morning nice and warm. Birds sang. Pelicans and birds I do not yet know the identities of swam in the river, digging for food and enjoying the Spring. 

After the walk in the park, we went to church. Currently, as part of its' Lenten practices, my church is holding an 8:30 AM Celtic Meditation/Contemplative service on Sundays before Conversations in Faith and the regular 11:00 Service. The service centered around water and spirit. Water is everywhere. Spirit is everywhere. The Natural World and Spiritual World are equally holy. If only more people realized this.

The Sunday School topic was "Who Killed Jesus?", a part of the "Saving Jesus" curriculum developed by the liberal theologians who also contributed to another class curriculum, "Living the Questions". It focused on Christians' history of blaming the Jews for Jesus' crucifixion, rather than who really executed him - the Romans, who were the only ones who were able to carry out death sentences. The discussion further turned to how society undermines the already underprivileged, and how much more commonly, for example, minorities are executed under capital punishment laws as compared to prisoners who came from Caucasian, middle-class backgrounds.  After Conversations in Faith, we went to the main service, which again focused on water and the spiritual connections of water.

After church, we went on a miniature graveyard tour given by one of the church members, detailing the history of the church, which I have detailed in previous posts. I took some pictures of some of the gravestones and their "soul effigies" (a Google search failed to provide me a description of the symbolism behind a soul effigy and what it is). I then took some pictures of some of the fauna as well.

After  this, we went to a local Irish restaurant and ate some lunch, before heading to the South Carolina Aquarium. This was my second time going to the aquarium, but the first time I got to really enjoy it, as the first time I visited, it was with a group of kids from work, and keeping up with a bunch of teenagers makes it hard to really enjoy such tourist attractions. I had a little more difficulty taking pictures in this setting, as it was indoors, but I still quite enjoyed it.

All in all, it was a very good day. It was a reconnection to nature, to spirit, that I needed after stresses of the week. And it reminded me once again of why I do what I do: life.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


As I may have mentioned before, for Lent, my church is encouraging its members to fast from something every Thursday, to end on Maundy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter). For me, I have chosen to fast from meat every Thursday, in which I only eat vegetarian foods on Thursdays. It is a spiritual practice to make myself more aware of what I am putting into my body, recognize spiritual solidarity with my animal neighbors, and help the environment by not contributing to the meat industry and its associated mistreatment of animals and carbon footprint via transportation of products, etc. At least for that one day a week. I will likely continue the practice after Lent by participating in a movement called "Meatless Mondays", which was begun more from a health standard, but also can be viewed with the same aforementioned spiritual standpoint as well - my decision to continue it on Mondays is primarily one of semantics (the name is easy to think of, and therefore, remember to practice), and the fact that Mondays are typically less busy days in my schedule and therefore may have a little more time to put more effort into my cooking.

This practice is one of many along the continuum of omnivore (on one end) and vegan(on the other). It is called Flexitarianism, in which either one is primarily vegetarian, but eats meat occasionally, or is generally a meat eater, but also engages in vegetarian eating on occasion. There are varying levels of Flexitarianism, and a practitioner does so for various personal/spiritual reasons. There are also Pollotarians, who eat poultry but not red meat, and Pescetarians, who eat seafood, but not red meat or poultry. I don't know that I can ever see myself becoming full-out Vegetarian or Vegan, but I find this Flexitarianism is at least a good start or middle-ground, and a good addition to my spiritual practice as Druid, Panentheist, animal rights supporter, and environmentalist. I can't recycle very well where I live, so this is something small I can do with what resources I have available to me. To assist with this, I stumbled upon a book at Books-A-Million, called Cooking Light Way to Cook Vegetarian .   This is actually a big step for me, as to date my cooking has been confined primarily to things like Chef Boyardee, Banquet, and other basic TV dinners, with the exceptions of MorningStar Veggie Burgers I occasionally buy. Hopefully this will help me to develop healthier eating , as well as teach me some basic independent living skills that weren't very well reinforced in my college years.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Creation Spirituality

 Recently, I came across something, I believe through either my church or the Celtic Spirituality group, called Creation Spirituality . It is a fairly recent movement within liberal/progressive Christianity, developed by liberal theologian Matthew Fox in the 1970s. Seeing as how Matthew Fox is an Episcopal priest, it is a form of mystical Christianity, yet it draws from the mystical versions of other religions, as well as indigenous religions, as well. Although some websites list ten principles, the website which seems to be most detailed, and likewise most common in a Google search, lists twelve principles (taken directly from the linked website):

1. The universe is fundamentally a blessing.
Our relationship with the Universe fills us with awe.

2. In Creation, God is both immanent and transcendent. This is panentheism which is not theism (God out there) and not atheism (no God anywhere).
We experience that the Divine is in all things and all things are in the Divine.

3. God is as much Mother as Father, as much Child as Parent, as much God in mystery as the God in history, as much beyond all words and images as in all forms and beings.
We are liberated from the need to cling to God in one form or one literal name.

4. In our lives, it is through the work of spiritual practice that we find our deep and true selves.
Through the arts of meditation and silence we cultivate a clarity of mind and move beyond fear into compassion and community.

5. Our inner work can be understood as a four-fold journey involving:
- awe, delight, amazement (known as the Via Positiva)
- uncertainty, darkness, suffering, letting go (Via Negativa)
- birthing, creativity, passion (Via Creativa)
- justice, healing, celebration (Via Transformativa)

We weave through these paths like a spiral danced, not a ladder climbed.

6. Every one of us is a mystic.
We can enter the mystical as much through beauty (Via Positiva) as through contemplation and suffering (Via Negativa). We are born full of wonder and can recover it at any age.

7. Every one of us is an artist.
Whatever the expression of our creativity, it is our prayer and praise (Via Creativa).

8. Every one of us is a prophet.
Our prophetic work is to interfere with all forms of injustice and that which interrupts authentic life (Via Transformativa).

9. Diversity is the nature of the Universe. We rejoice in and courageously honor the rich diversity within the Cosmos and expressed among individuals and across multiple cultures, religions and ancestral traditions.

10. The basic work of God is compassion and we, who are all original blessings and sons and daughters of the Divine, are called to compassion.
We acknowledge our shared interdependence; we rejoice at one another's joys and grieve at one another's sorrows and labor to heal the causes of those sorrows.

11. There are many wells of faith and knowledge drawing from one underground river of Divine wisdom. The practice of honoring, learning and celebrating the wisdom collected from these wells is Deep Ecumenism.
We respect and embrace the wisdom and oneness that arises from the diverse wells of all the sacred traditions of the world.

12. Ecological justice is essential for the sustainability of life on Earth.
Ecology is the local expression of cosmology and so we commit to live in light of this value: to pass on the beauty and health of Creation to future generations.

These principles are concepts that, overall, I find myself agreeing with very much. It seeks to recognize the Divine within all life. I have long considered myself a Panentheist, one who believes the Divine is both within and beyond creation. Since Creation Spirituality as a "formal" movement is still very new, it does not yet have any set of praxis, or practices, for living out life as a follower of CS, beyond meditation. Nothing quite as clearly laid out as, say, Buddhism's Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path. However, what it does provide in this stage of its development is a spiritual supplement, a deeper way of looking at life around you, and a deeper way of interpreting whatever spiritual practices or rituals the follower of CS already engages in. Like much earth-centered theology, there does seem to be a bit of Celtic flavor to it. As such, perhaps it will provide a bit of structure in the way I live out the more Druidic aspects of my own spirituality. In any case, it seems like a good way of spelling out ones' beliefs within a liberal Christian context, to someone who may not understand liberal Christian theology. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Falling into Place

There are those rare moments in life where, even if you're in a transitional period of life, things just seem to fall into place, and life seems to have a theme of sorts.

The full moon Saturday was amazing. I went to the beach and, although it was cold, the view was beautiful. I love the beach at night. The way the moon sparkled over the water. The sand cold beneath my toes. I barely even needed my keychain flashlight. It filled me with energy. Later that night, I performed a spell to aid my efforts in obtaining an internship for the next school year - I've been having some difficulties narrowing down my options, and further in getting in touch with the organizations in order to set up interviews (my school's procedures for getting an internship are basically the same as for getting a job - call the place, set up an interview, they say "yes" or "no). I don't do spellwork very often; I've noticed that when I try to force it, the words just won't come to me, kind of a spiritual writer's block, so to speak. But when the timing is right, I have no trouble coming up with the right words, materials to use, etc. It's like the Universe's way of telling me that the time, the energies, are just right. And, typically, the full moon is, after all, thought to be a very powerful time for those on the mystical spiritual paths.

Sunday was Ostara. The Spring Equinox. It seemed fitting that I was the churchmember scheduled to provide the Scripture reading for the day - my church, a member of the United Church of Christ denomination, places heavy emphasis on lay involvement, and not simply following the minister. The scripture for today likewise included one of my favorite Psalms - Psalms 121:

1I lift up my eyes to the hills— from where will my help come?
2My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
3He will not let your foot be moved; he who keeps you will not slumber.
4He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.
5The Lord is your keeper; the Lord is your shade at your right hand.
6The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.
7The Lord will keep you from all evil; he will keep your life.
8The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time on and forevermore.

This, to me, is not saying we don't have bad things that happen to us. God knows I've been through a fair amount of hell in my 28 years of living. But Pleroma will not leave me. The Divine Spark that is within me, that is within every living creature, every rock, every drop of water, is still there. Bad things happen to good people (and innocent animals, and so forth), and when that happens, I remember that I'm part of Something bigger than myself, and that I will come out of the situation a stronger person having survived it.

For Lent, the Celtic Spirituality group at church, of which I am a part, is holding a meditation service on Sundays before Conversations in Faith. The meditation service is a short time of responsive readings, singing, Irish meditation music (a woman playing a harp), with the leader reading a passage on a chosen topic. The theme for today was "New Beginnings". It brought to mind not only the new beginnings symbolized by the holiday - the first day of Spring - but also the preparations I am making for a new school year that is to come soon. The theme for today's Conversations in Faith discussion was compassion, and how can we have compassion for others, as well as ourselves? The teaching in church was, likewise, on love. Love your neighbor as yourself. Who is your neighbor? Everyone. Everything.

After church I went to a local park and read a chapter out of the book we are reading in the Celtic Spirituality group, before going and buying an amazing (so far) new digital camera. Tonight, to finish off the day's activities, I held a solitary Ostara/Spring Equinox ritual that I found from a Pagan newsletter I subscribe to. It was very calming, and focused on the balance between light and dark, winter and summer, old and new. Ostara is a time of balance, so such things should be the focus on this holiday. I thought of all the things I want to do, but don't seem to know how or where to start. I want to recycle, but the county I live in has virtually no recycling program - if we want to recycle, we have to take it to the recycling plant ourselves, there is no curbside pickup like with trash. I want to eat healthier and buy more local, but the only places I am aware of are our local grocery stores, which, while they do have good local/organic options, I just don't know recipes or how to actually go about cooking the food, nor do I have time to learn very much right now, between work, class, and internship, all three consisting of separate schedules. I want to experiment with an indoor/windowsill garden, similar to what many people who live in more urban areas do, but I'm lucky if I remember to adequately and consistently remember to water the one houseplant that I do have. I know I have the potential, and am getting better at the self-discipline. I just also know I have a tendency to take too much on, and end up not doing any of it as well as I could have. So I think these things are goals I'm going to try to keep in mind for "after graduation", to bring greater focus on these spiritual growth practices, once I have achieved my academic goals. Things seemed to be falling into place intellectually/emotionally this weekend; maybe someday things will fall into place for me to put it all into practice.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Link: SeaWitch.Org

 I have added a new link to the links section of my blog, SeaWitch.Org. This is a great website for Pagans, Witches, Druids, etc. drawn to a heavily water-based path, such as myself. It provides spells and correspondences which make use of various water-related materials, such as seashells, seaweed, rainwater, snow, and spells or rituals best performed at the beach or near some body of water. It's given me ideas for some crafts I want to take on once I have more free time, such as making a set of seashell runes (I already have plenty of seashells, and have a paint pen - I just need the time to actually do it). If anyone wants to experiment, or finds themselves drawn to the sea, then I recommend this small but informative resource.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Enter Manannan: Walking Between Worlds

Whenever I first became Pagan, I went full-out from monotheist to polytheist. I honored Brigid, Fortuna, and gave an "honorable mention" to Manannan Mac Lir , Celtic god of the seas and storms. At that time, I did not give him much notice, I simply included him because of my affinity for beaches and all things aquatic. Around that time, I was living closer to mountains (and later, the urban/suburban Chicago areas), none of which were very close to a true beach/coastal area, so perhaps that also made it difficult for me to relate to that particular deity.

Whenever I discovered Gnosticism and felt the pull towards becoming a Gnostic, my energies became more focused in that direction, with its basically Judeo-Christian worldview and language. I began once again attending Christian churches, and said goodbye to any deities I followed, and hello to their Christianized counterparts as Saints or Angels, as well as a couple of Gnostic entities I follow - Sophia, Aeon of Wisdom, Abraxas, Aeon of balance, and Pleroma (in a nutshell, this is basically kind of the Gnostic terminology for "God"). I came to the conclusion that Druidry was my expression of nature spirituality, and Gnosticism my expression of Deity. And then, a few things happened.

One nudge came about, strangely enough, in Religious Education, basically the United Church of Christ's version of Sunday School. At the time, we were doing a series of discussions concerning varying viewpoints of who Jesus is. At one point during the discussion, one woman mentioned that earlier in life, she rarely gave Jesus much thought. Then, she went on to describe that she was a Reiki practitioner - an alternative/New Age health practice in which the practitioner balances the energies/chakras of a client by calling on varying spirits for aid. She went on to describe her surprise that Jesus was one of the spirits who came to assist during one of her sessions. Now, I'm undecided as to the validity of Reiki, personally, as I have never had any involvement in it, but I digress. My point is, that she presented with a very unorthodox view of Jesus, and it piqued my interest.

The next nudge came about, once again, through my church. This time through the Celtic spirituality group I am attempting to participate in, when schedule allows. One member, upon being asked about the well-being of another member who was not at the meeting, noted how said member had held a bonfire on Imbolc. This, once again, caught my attention. Up until that point, I had felt that I was probably the most "unorthodox" person in the church, which although very liberal, was still, after all, a Christian church. A mainstream Christian, celebrating Imbolc? It also surprised me to hear another member, basically the head of the Celtic spirituality group and very active in the church, comment "I don't consider myself Christian. I just like That Jesus Guy and think he had a lot of good things to say!"

The third, and most recent, nudge came about through the OBOD forums I frequent on occasion (see Links section). Whenever I went on the trip to Asheville and Cherokee back in December, I bought a handmade medicine bag, which currently contains in it the various gems and rocks that came with it. Recently, I finally got around to posting a topic on the forums asking for advice on items to put in it to wear or keep with me. A responding post stated that it sounded similar to Manannan Mac Lir's Crane Bag(kind of a Druid equivalent of a medicine bag) and redirected me to The Temple of Manannan Mac Lir (also added to Links section), a website dedicated to Manannan. Suddenly, I felt a call, as if he were showing up and yelling "Hi! Remember me?" Through readings from that website, and the wikipedia article previously linked to, I realize that there's more to him than just water associations. He is associated with oceans and the weather. He is also a "psychopomp", or one who guides souls to the afterlife. Additionally, he is a trickster god and known for his sense of humor. He is likewise affiliated with wisdom(I seem to keep getting drawn to Wisdom deities/spirits, without even knowing that's what they're associated with), as well as magical knowledge. His associations include the hawthorn plant, the crane, and horses(interestingly, in addition to being an aquatic-based person, I used to be extremely into horses - had over 100 figurines and statues at one point as a kid).

I'm beginning to realize that a lot of the struggle I've had these last few months with reconciling my Gnostic experiences with my previous Pagan experiences, and balancing out the somewhat Christian-oriented Gnostic viewpoint with the more nature-centric Druidic viewpoint, have been about labels. I'm still trying to, in a sense, fit a label. "If I'm going to be Pagan, I have to do this, this and this, and believe this, or that." "If I'm going to be Gnostic, I have to believe this, and do that." But I'm coming to realize that I have to let that go, and just be who I am. And what I am is an eclectic syncretization of the two. Gnostic and Pagan, not Gnostic or Pagan. I'm realizing that I'm what is known in Pagan circles as a "soft polytheist" - the belief in the existence of the many deities in the various world cultures, but believing that they are facets of expressions of the same Supreme Unknowable Being (what I as a Gnostic refer to as "Pleroma") , like different sides of a diamond. I believe that Christ is one incarnation of Pleroma. I have not gotten any sense from Pleroma that it is "wrong" for me to honor the Saints I honor(St. Patrick and St. Brigid[although I may now once again begin referring to her by her goddess associations rather than Saint, as I feel like I related more to that]), the Angels I honor(Gabriel), or the Aeons(similar to deities, I believe) I honor (Sophia and Abraxas), so why not Manannan as well, if I feel called to add him to my personal pantheon? I think I will speak with him a while, and see what comes of it.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


I've decided I'm going to attempt Lent this year.Last year, I had plans to, but did not follow through very well. This year, however, I did some brief research on Google, and came up with a few ideas.
I think that in my attempt to take Lent more seriously this year, for Lent I'm going to drink only water, limit my facebook usage to only messaging and my status updates, and use that time for deeper spiritual practice/spiritual reading, as well as being more focused on my schoolwork - namely, my daily prayers and devotional readings; perhaps the Rosary, of which I have a Gnostic version; and more consistently reading the current book for the Celtic Spirituality group, as well as Christopaganism: An Inclusive Path
Due to growing up Southern Baptist, I wasn't really introduced to it until I joined the United Church of Christ.  I thought of cutting out things like internet and TV, but being a student, some technology I just *can't* give up, and TV has become a big way to unwind and de-stress, although I am trying to limit the amount of TV I watch. And being kind of small, traditional practices such as fasting would be kind of bad too. Although I may try the traditional practice of not eating meat on Fridays, a practice that is commonly used to become more aware of the less fortunate who may not be able to afford such luxuries as meat. In any case, I like the idea of using Lent as a time to focus yourself, get rid of unnecessary things, or put more effort into other things you may want to do to bring more balance into life. So I'm experimenting with it a little to see how things go.

In other news, things have been a little frustrating for me lately. I'm being given even more responsibilities for my last two months at my internship - one of the houses on my caseload has been switched to another caseworker; in exchange, I now have both of the other original houses on my caseload back, in addition to the current houses, leaving me with a caseload of 6 houses and 7 kids. All of which I have to cram into two days. Which may mean my participation in the Celtic spirituality book discussion group may be spotty for the remainder of this semester. This has me frustrated, because it feels like every time I try to do something for myself, expand my social circle, improve my social life, something comes up that leaves me unable to keep it up. Along those lines, it seems that there's little likelihood that the internship will offer me a position at the end of the semester. I can understand why - my supervisor's superiors are directing their hiring efforts towards people who already have their Masters' degrees and licensures - I just wish she had been a little more professional and actually made sure with them that it would even be a possibility before bringing it up with me and getting my hopes up.

On another end, I feel like I've become lax in my spiritual practices again. I really do struggle with self-discipline. I wonder sometimes if there's such a thing as a "lapsed" or "non-practicing" Druid, the same way one might be a "lapsed" or "non-practicing" Christian, Jew, etc. I don't get to go out in nature much, I have trouble with meditation, I barely remember the last time I've performed a spell. I feel like I've been so consumed with the non-spiritual/non-magickal aspects of life, that I'm almost right back to "Druidry 101" in those things - struggling with how and where to start, wondering if performing spellwork sporadically(as opposed to on a regular basis) makes one "less of a Druid", and for that matter, how to decide which life situations warrant a spell as opposed to solely mundane methods. And for that matter, how connected to nature can someone be, if they never seem to have time to actually go out in it? How can one claim to follow an "earth-centered spirituality", if they're never, well, around earth?

Speaking of nature, the one positive thing going on right now is that I'm on Spring Break from school and internship. Since I make my own schedule for my paid job, I am taking off of work as well. If the weather is cooperative, I hope to go to the beach and/or a couple of local nature preserves within the next couple of days. The week is going way too fast.