Problems with smudging

White Sage Salvia apiana Lamiaceae (Labiatae)....
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I have been attempting to smudge my house after the passing of one of our cats. During her passing I was extremely uneasy, I couldn’t sleep in my room and I constantly felt ill. Now after she has passed there is a lingering uneasy feeling through out the basement (Our other boy ginger cat [ the one in my avatar, isn’t he cute!] won’t even come down stairs now, which on the stairs and in my room are his favorite places to be). I have tried smudging and here is where my problem lies.
I can’t keep either of my sticks to stay burning. I have both a white sage and a cedar stick that will catch a flame and start to smoke but they won’t stay smoking, within a few minutes they burn themselves out and I have to try and re light them again and again. I have never had this problem before, any ideas/ suggestions?

Eta: I am not trying to use both sticks at once, I have just noticed that they are both not wanting to stay lit, the cedar one more so than the sage.

Thoughts on what happens when we die

All Giza Pyramids in one shot. Русский: Все пи...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ever since I turned around 35 or so(I’m 39 now) a good chunk of my mind has started drifting to a problem and the problem is this. I’ve always thought about it but it went from a “splinter in my mind” to “a fist sized rock in my mind”

There are many, many ideas in regards to what happens when we die. The vast majority of those ideas have about the same likelihood of being true (so far I’ve found one that I can eliminate with any sense of confidence*). The vast majority of them also have startlingly different consequences should you believe them and we don’t seem to have a way to determine which one of them is objectively true.

For example,

1. If you believe that the ancient Egyptians had it right then you should spend your time being ethical by their perspective as well as memorizing a lot of formulas and spending a lot of money on grave goods.
2. If you believe that the Muslims are correct then you better get right with Allah and be a good Muslim.
3. If you believe that the Baptists are right you better get right with Jesus and be a good Baptist.
4. If you believe the atheists are right then you better utilize every second of this life and not do anything else because this is all you have.

Notice that for all of those the consequences of those beliefs to this life conflict with each other. If you spend your time getting ready for Egyptian judgement then you will be a bad Muslim and Christian. If you are a good Muslim then you aren’t spending time memorizing spells and getting ushabi made. Because of this you can’t really “cover all of your bases”.

I have some speculations in regards to this, ideas about how not being grounded in a land of form can allow cultural variability to run wild, but no answers. Any choice I make is an incredibly serious gamble with eternal consequences.
No pressure, right?
I don’t know if there is a question or an answer to the reader here. I can say that from my understanding that a “midlife crisis” in some cases is trying to paper over or ignore this very thing. Also, from my understanding it is temporary. Statistically as people get older this becomes less and less of a worry.

Well, at least I’m not buying a Porsche and chasing 20 year old girls.

*For those that are curious, it is the Jack T. Chick version of Christianity. Long story short, if God is omnibenevolent then he/she would make it crystal clear what is needed to get salvation and it would be beyond doubt what needed to be done in order to not suffer eternally. It doesn’t even begin to make sense, even a little bit.

Can I be a Wiccan and not exactly believe in the God and Goddess?

English: The statue of the and Mother Goddess ...
Wiccan God and Goddess statues. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always been extremely drawn to pagan traditions, stories, and theology. However, when it comes down to it, my belief is that there are no personified God/esses.

My belief is in Universal source energy that comes from everywhere and shows itself in our sacred earth, moon, and sun. I believe that everything is energy and our physical bodies are a temporary division from that source energy. I believe that we call different energies “male” and “female” because that is the easiest way for many of us to grasp this concept. (Male energy being more directed and focused, shows itself in straight lines. Female energy being creative and spontaneous, shows itself in curved edges. Neither have anything to do with actual gender or sexuality.)

I believe when we thank the Goddess we are not thanking a physical woman who lives in the clouds, but rather energetic vibrations that live as both natural forces and deity. We can connect with this energy if we seek it out because everything is energy and vibration. We are not bodies with a spirit, we are a soul living a human experience. Our energy is a part of them and they are a part of us, and we are a part of each other. At the same time we are also separate. We need them to personify themselves in beings that we can relate to and give a face to so that we can speak to them like people and be open, honest, and clear.

I’ve been accused of being too heady. Instead of going inward and downward, grounding into the earth; I look upwards and outwards and often end up confusing myself and others. I think it has something to do with abandoning 2 decades of abusive catholic upbringing that was..abusive to say the least. I can’t believe with my heart anymore if I don’t pick it apart with my brain first. It also might have something to do with between my athiest boyfriend and friends and my catholic family I feel like I have to explain and know everything about something before I say I believe in it and follow it.

I like to study metaphysics and enjoy speakers/writers like Gabrielle Bernstein. However I also like to study Wicca and enjoy the works of Ann Moura and Phyllis Curott. Is there a place in the Wiccan community for a young woman who holds “May Cause Miracles” in one hand and “Witch Crafting” in another? Is there a place for a person who has symbols of the goddess representing the power in female energy, but is more likely to end a prayer or a ceremony in a simple “thanks” rather than “blessed be”? What about someone who thinks a daily yoga practice with healthy eating and honoring her body as a vessel for spirit energy is more crucial than having elaborate alters for every sabbat?(Though I do like to go out in nature and offer thanks. Last Samhain I carved a desire for inner peace on an apple and asked my guides for help, hoping I would be able to reach them do to the thinning of the veil. I buried it in the ground beneath a tree and gave thanks.) Is this allowed or common? Or is this sort of overlap generally looked down upon?

Anything special little things you always do on full moons?

I used to dread full moons a little bit, back when I worked in the medical field. I worked in nursing homes, and myself and several others I worked with always could swear that residents/patients were more restless and active than ever on full moons. Coupled with anxiety and agitation from dementia in the residents, and this usually meant every full moon night was total chaos in the facility (I worked the overnight or “NOC” shifts).

But after a bit I got into the habit of always wearing heavy lavender (diluted essential oil) on myself, and also carrying a small spritz bottle of lavender in my scrubs pocket, for the residents’ rooms. It definitely helped me stay calm, relaxed and friendlier amidst all the havoc and negative energy, and I noticed that several of the residents seemed to respond well to it, too.

I’ve been out of that line of work for a couple years now, but I still wear heavy lavender for full moons. I was thinking about it today, because I’m almost out and need to make more lavender perfume oil. I’ll probably use up the last of what I have come this next full moon.

Does anyone else have their own little tradition(s) that they developed along the way?

Malevolent Deities?

Goddess (Small)
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From a Wiccan or Druid point of view, are there any malevolent or ill meaning deities? I desire to keep everything all positive and, this may be a Christian point of view, but I don’t want to accidentally stumble upon a god or goddess who wishes harm upon me (since, ya know, most Christians believe that contact with any god or goddess apart from Abrahamic God is considered “evil”). How does this work? How does the notion of “evil” work?

Personal Relationship?

Sha'ar Hagolan Mother Goddess clay figurine
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was wondering if there was a protocol for how to keep in contact with Mother Goddess…can I have a personal relationship with her? Are there good offerings I can make? Can I go to her/pray to her for comfort? I only ask because when I find myself in a trying situation, I want to pray but I only know the Christian practice…of course I feel much more peaceful when I call out to Goddess (as I often imagined “Holy Spirit” as a woman figure when I practiced Christianity).

Sort of a branch off of that…is there any “pagan” belief system for how life began? I can see how reincarnation would work…I am believing that more and more…is it a cycle of life or were we created with love and purpose? I just want to believe that whichever supernatural power I worship loves me and wants me to live peacefully and successfully and I’m not just worshiping to get something from Father God or Mother Goddess.

Or is this all part of my own practice and I believe what I choose to believe? I hope that’s not the case because then I don’t want to imagine that Father God and Mother Goddess are pretending to care for me when it’s neutral.

Does this make sense?

Pagan, Christian and Buddhist Equivalents

Papst Johannes XXIII.-Kapelle 2007
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since I can’t sleep, I begin a very, very silly little pastime. I have observed, that some socio-cultural ‘patterns’ repeat themselves in several distinct religions, which I find humourous. Please fill in your own free associations in this regard if you find it fun to do.

Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans is for Paganism
what the Roman Catholic Church is for Christianity
and Chan for Buddhism.

Hard Polytheism is for Paganism
what Conservative Presbyterianism is for Christianity
and Theravada for Buddhism.

Eclectic Wicca is for Paganism
what Lutheranism is for Christianity
and Pure Land for Buddhism.

Platonism is for Paganism
what Anglicanism is for Christianity
and Tendai for Buddhism.

RDNA is for Paganism
what Liberal Quakers is for Christianity
and Modern Western Zen for Buddhism.

Persons who believe that Atlantis and Lemuria are geological facts
and that Wicca is a surviving religion from a Paleolithic matriarchy
are for Paganism
what Creationists are for Christianity
and those who believe that loka means ‘physical planet’ for Buddhism.

Thelema is for Paganism
what Evangelicalism is for Christianity
and Nichiren for Buddhism.

Golden Dawn is for Paganism
what SSPX is for Christianity
and Shingon for Buddhism.

Feraferia is for Paganism
what Eastern Orthodoxy is for Christianity
and Tibetan Buddhism for Buddhism.

The 19th century Druid Revival is for Paganism
what Methodism is for Christianity
and The Buddhist Society (London) for Buddhism.

Those who receive UPG, and tell everone they meet about it on a regular basis,
are for Paganism
what Charismatics are for Christianity
and those who receive visions of Guanyin or Tara, and tell everyone they meet about it on a regular basis, for Buddhism.

Pantheism, Paganism, and Life: Could Use Some Advice

I was raised Christian and still have respect for those beliefs and those people who hold them. However for years now, those beliefs just have not sit well with me. I have come to the realization that I cannot and will never be able to force myself to believe something. On the surface I have lied and call myself a Christian to avoid arguments and because I fear the people in my life will lose respect for me… but it is wrong.

I fear that no one will take me seriously. Paganism is, unfortunately, viewed as being a “joke” around here. I fear that I will be forced time and time again to defend my beliefs, and that if I don’t offer an explanation of my beliefs, I will be seen as being “silly” or “childish” (even being in my mid-20’s).

I envy those who live in an environment where diversity of beliefs is accepted. Where I’m from, if you aren’t Christian you have a stigma placed on you. Even in the work place, even at school. It is neither fair nor right. But I fear this, and it drives me to lie, which in turn makes me feel like a terrible person… I’m so tired of lying to the people in my life.

My true beliefs are very similar to pantheism- that Nature and god are synonymous. I do not know if I would consider myself a pagan at this time, but pagan rituals have always struck my interest and in the future may be a good way to express and celebrate my spirituality. I am now at a new stage in my life and am eager to learn more.

I guess I’m just seeking words of encouragement, advice, similar stories, reading/website recommendations, or any information you think would be of use to me. Anything will be appreciated!

Balance between “The God & Goddess” and Polytheism

English: The sculpture of the Wiccan Horned Go...
Sculpture of the Wiccan Horned God at the Museum of Witchcraft. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just to set the stage, I’ve been with ADF for a little over a year. Whereas many I’ve encountered came to ADF Druidry from Wicca-based models (i.e., either actual Wicca or Wicca-based stuff such as Cunningham’s works but non-initiatory) I came straight into Paganism and ADF at the same time as I figured Wicca wasn’t quite for me. Fast forward to today and the ADF model doesn’t quite click for me either, so I’ve been exploring other things including ideas from Wicca, general religious witchcraft, Feri, and such. While ADF has some good stuff and I remain part of my local grove because the folks are awesome, there’s a personal component I find lacking for myself in “bringing it home.” Witchcraft is proving to provide that internal development that I didn’t quite get with ADF’s models (no reflection on ADF… just how I jive with it).

Part of what wasn’t working was what I call the “deity du jour.” As a beginner without a solid relationship with a particular pantheon, I haven’t had a broad array of deities to call out and honor in relation to particular high days, workings, etc. And I feel somewhat disingenuous picking one or two for a ritual just because some source links them to a particular high day. Not that I’m beyond honoring a being for the sake of honoring, but I can’t base my personal Paganism around that.

In my current mode of thinking, there’s a Divine Source… that ground of being that everything emerges from. From there, the “God and Goddess” loosely duotheistic model has merit in that much in the universe is a dynamic between polarities. Yin and yang. Creation and destruction. Male and female. So I see the God & Goddess model having merit as embodiments of that dynamic… anthropomorphized representations of a myriad of things that emerge from a polar dynamic. From there, I can see how you get “the gods” and “the goddesses” as separate entities that emerge from that dynamic. Many of them are beings in their own right, yet still having ties back up the “family tree” to the divine masculine and divine feminine that then unify in that pre/non-gender source of all.

The place where it gets sticky is in ritual format. When I do rituals for my grove that’s not a question. ADF has a certain format I have to adhere to. I could just not help with rituals, but I want to support the group, especially since I’m one of the few willing to step up and do ones other than our senior druid. At home, however, I’m wrestling with how to work a ritual. This isn’t set in stone, mind you. I’m open to it evolving over time, but I still need to find a starting point.

Here’s points I’ve been mulling over:

1) I do have at least one deity that has emerged from the group of many to do some work with. So I get that they do step out as individuals.

2) If the more “duotheistic” (not trying to assert Wicca=duotheistic.. just using the term as a handy reference) model is based on polarity and the interaction between two sides of various spectra, what does one do if they have a male or female deity they work with but does not generally work with one of the other gender that is a “consort.” That is to say, if you work with Isis and Osiris you’ve got that covered… but say you work most notably with Herne and Elen of the Ways? Similar in some ways, but not related enough to draw a “consort” style relationship. It seems some folks I’ve seen talking about their model use A god and A goddess, but do not limit the choice to those that are paired to a consort-style relationship. It’s simply one embodying a masculine side and the other embodying the feminine to represent those forces in nature… not a “they’re totally gonna do it” kind of thing which I may be thinking of something that is a holdover from folks expressing distaste at Gardner injecting some of his… preoccupations.

3) What about basing early work in the “God & Goddess” model but establishing that the intention is that deities are invited to step forward out of the crowd of many if they so choose?

Basically the problem is that I see the merit of the harder polytheistic approach in some ways, but it also sets the stage for sampling like at a buffet, even within a single pantheon, and for me that seems to present obstacles toward developing deeper relationships. The “duotheistic” model keeps things a little simpler, but while I agree with the sentiment that “the universe doesn’t get upset at what you call it,” I also don’t want to disrespect the individuality of beings.

So, TL;DR version… I’m curious as to how folks that blend concepts into a duo-polytheistic model manage to do so.