Is environmentalism part of Paganism? Part of Wicca?
Many Pagans believe strongly that environmental conservation is a necessary part of their devotion to the Goddess. However, if you go to Pagan festivals where there are many traditions represented you’ll find that others do not.
I was going to write this all not-judgy, and neutral, analysing the difference based on whether people believe in the Gods as literal beings or abstract concepts, or whether you are a religious Pagan who integrates your spirituality into your everyday life, a ceremonial magician interested primarily in energy workings and magick or a celebratory or ‘mead and cape’ Pagan. This is true, but in my opinion, not very interesting. Continue reading “Better Paganism Through Composting and Tree Planting”
Some festivals are the land of the Party Pagan, whose main interest in festivals are in costumes and mead (1). While there are definitely attendees who fit this mold, this is a festival that isn’t shaped for that purpose, something that is a relief to me. Sometimes it feels like the more religious Pagans are few and hard to find. Based in this experience, the sincere dedication to ritual that deeply engages the gods and the participant, clearly and well executed in this festival is a joy. Continue reading “Spring Mysteries Festival Review”
Beltane is a Pagan/Wiccan festival of sexuality and fertility, usually celebrated on the evening of April 30th or May 1st. When celebrated in a group, the sexuality is usually symbolic, represented by dancing around the May pole – which yes, is representing just what you might think that is meant to represent, and the ribbons encasing it, also, exactly what you’d think. Similarly a chalice and blade may form the central imagery in other rituals. While the traditional imagery is heterosexual, this imagery can be adapted to any configuration of humans you enjoy, again, *all* acts of love and pleasure are Her rituals. When celebrated privately, with just you and your lover, spouse or partner, the symbolism can be more direct, and can be customized to the bodies involved. Continue reading “Creating a Beltaine Ritual for Lovers”
The Pagan choir I lead was working on a new song for Imbolc a few weeks ago, Lisa Thiel’s Imbolc, from the album Circle of the Seasons. It’s a song for Brigid (pronounced Bridjid or Breed) with the following lyrics:
Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
Bless this house, and all of our kin
Protect this house and all within
Blessed Bridget come into thy bed
With a gem at thy heart and a crown on thy head
Awaken the fire within our souls
Awaken the fire that makes us whole
Blessed Bridget, queen of the fire
Help us to manifest our desire
May we bring forth all that’s good and fine
May we give birth to our dreams in time
Blessed Bridget comest thou in
Bless this house and all of our kin
From the source of Infinite Light
Kindle the flame of our spirits tonight
There are several different kinds of Pagans in the choir I lead. Some are experienced singers with little experience priestessing, some are experienced priestesses with little experience singing and performing and some are less experienced in either.
However, all are game for an experiment, and Pagan music being a largely oral music tradition, we do a lot of experiments with different ways of arranging and mixing the songs to make them more layered and interesting. However, this most recent experiment was quite powerful.
I paired up the members including myself set us each to sing the song in pairs, at our own speed, as if it was (and is) and invocation of Bridgid.
Myself and one other singer, who is a professional singer, very experienced as a singer but less as a priestess, went into a separate room, grounded and began to sing it, trusting Bridgid to guide us. I asked my partner to sing the song as if she was calling directly to Brigid and invoking the song as a spell. And magic happened. We connected to the energy of the song and inprovised a winding, tight, almost Baltic harmony as we sang the song. I could feel the power of Her flow through both of us an we just followed it.
Encouraged by this success, I went back into the choir room, and we all switched singing partners. My second partner was an experienced priestess whose singing is understandably quite a bit less polished than my first partner. For her my direction to sing the song as an invocation had a quite different flavour. A dedicated and devout priestess, the instruction to sing the song as an invocation to the Goddess Bridgid had the effect of pulling her deeper into the song, making the song real and rich and deep, as if it had been in one dimension before but now was in three. Her tone was better, her volume and tone varied with the meaning of the song, and it had the meaning she brought to it by her devotion. It was transformed by the presence she brought to it.
I think the lesson in this, from Bridgid, Goddess of Bards after all, is that sacred presence makes everything better, and that when songs (and life) mean something and you really attend to that meaning and connection with the sacred, it transforms what you do.
After we finished singing, we thanked and devoked Bridgid, because She was definitely present.
When I attend a Pagan festival, a public or coven ritual and other events I often walk away with some sort of beautiful and hand made token. It’s something that either I or the organizers have imbued with a positive, hopeful or seasonal energy. Some of these items I keep as a reminder of the experiences I had, and and some I completely forget the context or purpose. These items are sometimes on my altar for a short while, or they end up in a cabinet I store special treasures in.
But when is it time to let these magic pieces go? And how best to do it?
I came across the graphic at right about Mabon, also called fall Equinox, or harvest, which nicely summarized what the core magical work of the festival is. Celebrating and enjoying what you have grown, surrendering those things whose time has past, as the trees do their leaves, and expressing gratitude.
And then, as we do, without really intending to, I found myself sorting through my little magical items, reaffirming the continuing need for some and finding a home for it, such as the iridescent marble I received the day I dedicated to Aphrodite, and releasing others.
At the end of my sorting, I had several tokens from various festivals and rituals along with some sacred art I’d made, and some broken shells that had been part of the water section of my altar for several years. Putting them in a cloth bag, today I decided to head down to a beachfront park to release them.
Before I left I checked the moon phase. Two days past new is not a great time for releasing anything. It’s the time of new growth and increase. So instead of focusing on the releasing aspect of what I was doing, I thought about all the good will, good intentions and good magic still contained within these items, and focused on releasing it into the world to act with gratitude.
As I was leaving my house, as often happens, I had an instinct to bring something else – a symbolic art piece I’d done to love and accept all the pieces of my life I felt I’d failed in some way or which represented a failure. I’d created a beautiful ‘nest’ for these puzzle pieces, to surround them with love. And now, apparently, it was time to let them fly free.
When I reached the park I walked along deosil along a path that encircled the space and which led me toward the water. When I reached the shoreline, I had an impulse to walk down the rocks and look at the water. It was there I left my nest. I looked at all the pieces, and realized that the love and compassion I’d put into them as I’d placed them originally in this nest really had taken effect. I realized that there were ways that these roles of partner, activist, musician, and family member are being reinvented since then and, outside my conscious fretting about them, are transforming. So I left my biodegradable nest on the shore line and went on.
The rest of the items became a kind of decorative shrine at the base and branches of a tree I chose near the shore. The tokens on strings I hung in the branches to twirl in the fall wind and the rest I placed around the base. I’d held some of these items for over twenty years, like the little canoe and bowl commemorating a Samhain ritual vision I’d had. I found myself feeling grateful for the memories and energies each item represented, as I laid it down at the base of the tree in blessing.
Then I continued walking around the park till I’d made one full circle, and then walked it briskly one more time to empower my intention, that the items I’d laid there with gratitude release their loving, hopeful and good energy into the world to increase in my life and the lives of others. And then I opened the circle.
It seemed like a very good way to celebrate Mabon.
PS: What ways do you use to release magical or important objects well?