Peace, War and My Druidry

By veggiewolf


A beautiful post, worth reading.

Originally posted on Treasure in Barren Places:

I’m currently having a hiatus from Facebook and other social media (though this post will no doubt automatically end up posted in some of those places), as a result of debates – if you can call them that – on Palestine and Israel.

At the same time, Cadno of the Druid Network has got me thinking about honourable debate. I do not think that honourable debate is actually happening on social media in response to this particular topic, at the moment. Nor do I think it’s happening much in person, although it may be slightly better face-to-face. But just barely.

I say this, writing on the verge of tears, because yesterday my wife SJ (who uses the pronoun ‘they’) and I were sitting in a cafe. SJ had a fancy coffee, I had a very nice cup of tea. SJ, who rarely gets emotional, was upset and trying to explain…

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Source: Fluid Morality

Paludal Dilemma – Real World Ethics

By veggiewolf I was listening to an episode of the Radiolab podcast this week called “For the Birds”, and was struck by the story they told. In short (from their website):
“…When the conservationists showed up at Clarice Gibbs’ door and asked her to take down her bird feeders down for the sake of an endangered bird, she said no. Everybody just figured she was a crazy bird lady. But writer Jon Mooallem went to see her and discovered there was much more to this story…”
The more to this story? Mrs. Gibbs’ husband had severe Alzheimer’s Disease and the only time he was present was when birds were in the yard and at the feeders. In the midst of her turmoil, Mrs. Gibbs found moments when she could almost forget everything she was going through – moments when her husband came back to her.
I recommend listening to the episode in full before pondering the questions I’m about to ask:

Where is the point at which the needs of many outweigh the needs of an individual?
Does that change when one side is human and one side isn’t?

There are a number of ways that I can look at this particular story, and …read more

Source: Fluid Morality

Working Through Trance-Portation: A New Approach

By veggiewolf So, in March of 2013 I tried to do a work-through of Diana Paxson’s Trance-Portation on this blog. It was a dismal failure – on my own, I was unable to read past Chapter 3 and write past the Introduction. I put the project aside and figured I’d just never finish the book and would be forever branded as a failure as a Pagan.
Okay, that last bit is an exaggeration. Kind of. Maybe.
And then, the book came up again in discussion on The Cauldron and I decided to join a group of people in reading through it. Yes, I know, but I actually think I might be able to get through the thing if I have people to keep me accountable. I can do many many things on my own but finishing Trance-Portation is not one of them. Sorry, Ms. Paxson.
The organizer of the group effort posted the initial discussion thread, on the Introduction and Chapter One, here, and along with it came a questionnaire. I decided to bring that questionnaire over here to answer fully, and then I will summarize it in the discussion thread. So, here goes! Wish …read more

Source: Fluid Morality

Overcoming Personal Skepticism and Childhood Guilt

To give a little background, I was raised in a strict Christian household. My parents were (and still are) missionaries to India. I even went with them to India on a missionary trip when I was 13. This was an unexplainable wonder and joy to me for so many reasons but also became a catalyst for my religious curiosity, much to my parents dismay. There was a moment on that trip when we had stopped at a store and I wandered into a small Hindu temple next door to it. I was enthralled, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and so different from anything I had ever experienced. I felt things when I stood there. My dad came to find me and I was reluctant to leave. He scolded me quite harshly for this and actually looked embarrassed because I wanted to stay and look around.

I had many books about Greek and Egyptian mythologies growing up (which were considered “safe” because they were fictional according to my parents) and became even more fascinated with learning all I could about other religions once we got back from India but all my research had to be done in secret.

I had never felt any kind of connection to my parents faith and resented them and it very much. Since the Christian religion had been so forced upon me since literally birth, it has been extremely hard overcoming that way of thinking. Even though I don’t believe (and never have) what they do, any time I have tried to set up my own path I feel blocked by so many years of Christian influence.

I feel very drawn to Ganesha, Aphrodite, Hathor and Thoth. I have read so much about them all and continue to do so. I have had a small altar for a while and I have loose rituals I perform. I find it beautiful and comforting.

But there is always a tiny voice in the back of my head that is saying, “This is wrong, there are no other gods! It’s Sunday morning, why aren’t you putting on your church shoes!” It weighs me down and is so discouraging.

I know this is probably something that will never go away but I feel that it hampers any real personal spiritual progress that I long for.

Have any of you dealt with something similar? What helped you overcome it?

Can Spirits Be Man-Made?

When I think of spirits (disclaimer: as a very “soft” polytheist, my view of supernatural entities in general is very loose), I tend to think of wild locations: the spirit of a river, a particular woods, etc. But can there also be spirits for things that wouldn’t exist but for human effort?

For example: Is there a spirit of Hoover Dam? Of the cities some of us live in?

I tend to think the answer is yes, but I’m unsure of the permanence of such spirits, or how they “rank” relative to the spirits of natural phenomena. (On the other hand, what happens to the spirit of a West Virginia hollow destroyed by the strip mining of the mountaintop above it?) I guess a lot depends on your definition of spirit.

I’m so convinced my garden in the middle of Manhattan has a spirit that I’ve named him (Verdanus), his focal point being the green man plaque perched on the ivy-covered chimney, from which he peers out and keeps protective watch on his domain, a tiny patch of roof bounded by the corners of the building, and no further. The fact that he may be nothing more than the manifestation of my own dedication to this oasis of green in a concrete jungle matters not at all.

What I find fascinating is that Verdanus didn’t exist until 13 years ago, when I moved in and grew this garden on the bare rooftop.

On a larger scale in terms of time and space occupied, I think the city I live in, New York, has a spirit. A cranky one, but magnificent nonetheless. But again, unlike natural phenomena like rivers and mountains, NYC is the resultant accumulation of the activity of people (lots of them), and it hasn’t always been here.

(But then, mountains and rivers haven’t *always* been here either; just on the time scale of humanity’s brief perspective, they’ve “always” been here.)

I’m rambling a bit, but I’m curious what other people’s takes are on man-made spirits and their viability.

(The) Ogdoad

By veggiewolf I wanted to write a simple post explaining The Ogdoad of Hermopolis, with a larger plan of later writing one about The Ennead of Heliopolis, and then culminating in a compare-contrast post of the two. However, like so many thinks that seem simple from the outside, looking into what I thought was The Ogdoad turned into an exploration of ogdoads. As in plural. As in…this is a way more widespread concept than I thought, and it isn’t limited to Hermopolis.
(Spoiler alert – ennead isn’t any more cut-and-dried. Just sayin’.)
First, let me get this out of the way: Hermopolis is the Greek name for the city of Khmwnw (Khmunu – Eight City; City of Eight), just as Heliopolis is the Greek name for the city of Jwnw (Junu – House of Ra). In this post, I’ll be trying to stick to the Egyptian names, except when specifically talking about the Greek period and/or Greek thought.
An ogdoad (literally four, doubled) is a group of either four or eight deities that are worshiped together. They are often doubles of themselves (four deities, doubled) or male/female pairs (four male/four female). The Ogdoad that we know best, the …read more

Source: Fluid Morality

You’re Gonna Show up to a Ritual in That? (Dressing up During Spells)

I want to talk about what kind of things a person can wear when they’re performing their magick.For me, I think I want something that reminds me of the ocean – a symbol of where my energy is drawn and what I carry with me as I perform. Granted, I know you don’t need anything fancy, but I’m really passionate about immersing myself into my practice, so I’d actually love to try and find more ‘formal’ wear, you know?

What kinds of things do you like to dress up in? How often? Do you feel closer to your practice when you do?

The Ethics of Tourism around Religious Sites

It is 3:08 am in Japan, still not quite recovered from jet lag….

So I went on my first little outing yesterday, and thanks to the wonderful ladies at the front desk (whose English sounds better than mine!) I was able to find the religious spots near my hotel. But here’s where things get strange. I visited the Gasshoji thinking I would be fine to take a couple of pictures, but when I walked in, I saw the cemetery and realized “this is where people keep their dead. People WORSHIP here.” Not only that, but it just had this aura of a place where I should not take pictures. It just didn’t seem appropriate.

I went on to the Benten chapel in Inokashima, but was too busy fangirling to even consider snapping a picture before entering. However, as I was in there, some other Western tourists crossed onto the little bridge and just stopped. They were talking loudly (I couldn’t understand about what; I think they were speaking in French). Then one of them took out their camera and started taking pictures.

And I felt irritated. They didn’t come in and look around. They just stood there and stared like it was another tourist site, and not a place where people (including me, actually!) were praying.

I wonder about all this because I know plenty of tourists flock to the Vatican and other famous churches, for example. That doesn’t make me so uncomfortable, even if the tourists are non-Western and know little about Catholicism. Maybe it’s because those big churches are different from a little Benten chapel somehow? Perhaps because the Catholic Church is a massive sociopolitical cultural organization, and a better analogy would be Japanese tourists walking into a small Baptist church and just gawking at the worshipers.