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Author Topic: Helpful Suggestions for a Neophyte?  (Read 1141 times)

Peripeteia

Helpful Suggestions for a Neophyte?
« on: September 25, 2011, 12:36:51 am »
I admit that I'm currently an amateur in seeking a religious path that suits me, so my apologies if the following story comes across as inexperienced or incoherent:

Last night I attempted to perform a ritual/prayer session to mark the autumnal equinox; I had been planning it for a while, essentially to mark my first spiritual holiday outside of the Catholic Church.

Since I live with my parents and siblings (I share a room with my brother), the only place in the house where I could be alone and unheard was the basement. A few days prior, I had gathered some materials into an old cigar box and, once my parents had fallen asleep, I used them to set up a makeshift altar on a chair.

As best as I tried to carry out the ritual/prayer session, I was unable to properly focus; my brother was still awake, and the slightest sound caused me to pause for a few seconds to listen to whether or not he was moving about.

When I had gathered materials for my cigar box, I included a mixture of herbs and nuts and other fun stuff, of which I had intended to burn a small portion as an incensic offering. A few seconds after I ignited it, I heard footsteps from the floor above.

I panicked.

I blew out my candles, doused the half-burnt mixture with a glass of water, threw a towel over it to keep the smoke down, and stashed all of my materials away. Even when it became clear that my brother was just going to the bathroom on the floor above and not, as I had feared, about to walk down the flight of stairs, about to grab his fourth can of nighttime pop and/or warn me of an encroaching zombie horde, I was too shaken to try to continue.

In any case, it was 3:00 am. I was scattered and tired, and it would have been pointless to wait for my brother to turn off his x-box and finally fall asleep, so I just went to bed.

Basically, does anyone have any suggestions for focusing and preventing future midnight Mabon mayhem? It certainly wasn't as stress-free of an experience as I was hoping for. Also, I probably should have researched this more thoroughly, but how would I more properly burn/offer a homemade concoction? I had placed a couple of pinches of my mixture into a tiny paper ketchup holder (the kind one would find in a burger joint), and used a few toothpicks to elevate it enough for a small fire to go underneath.

Anyhoo, thanks for taking the time to read this, and I'll be more than happy to clarify anything that I left inadequately explained.

(And to anyone who was left wondering, no, I do not believe that "incensic" is a proper adjective, but it still seems like it would be a pretty useful word) :cool:
Wé cildra biddaþ þé, éalá láréow, þæt þú tǽce ús sprecan rihte, forþám ungelǽrede wé sindon, and gewæmmodlíce we sprecaþ.

SatAset

Re: Helpful Suggestions for a Neophyte?
« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2011, 01:52:59 am »
Quote from: Peripeteia;22073




Why are you offering incense?  And to whom?  

While you are in that situation, maybe you should consider offering something else that will get you less weird looks if someone catches you.  Offer an apple, a pear or any fruit or vegetable and eat it or put it in a bag and throw it away in the trash.  

If I remember correctly, Mabon is a harvest festival so offerings of food grown in fields is a great offering for this holiday.  So this could be bread, or fruit or vegetable or nuts even.  

As just general advice goes, read up on mythology, folklore or other topics that interest you that aren't blatantly Pagan.  Read through the forums and website here and gather more information.  

Since you mentioned Mabon, are you looking for Wiccan religious material, general Pagan religious material or something else?
I am the Goddess of Who I can Become. I mix the magic of the sorceress with the blade of a warrior. I walk the liminal pathways to see the face of the Goddess, both terrible and kind. As She stares back at me, I tremble in awe and ecstasy.  --SatAset

Jenett

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Re: Helpful Suggestions for a Neophyte?
« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2011, 07:28:40 am »
Quote from: Peripeteia;22073

Basically, does anyone have any suggestions for focusing and preventing future midnight Mabon mayhem? It certainly wasn't as stress-free of an experience as I was hoping for. Also, I probably should have researched this more thoroughly, but how would I more properly burn/offer a homemade concoction? I had placed a couple of pinches of my mixture into a tiny paper ketchup holder (the kind one would find in a burger joint), and used a few toothpicks to elevate it enough for a small fire to go underneath.

 
Honestly, if you're in a situation where you might be interrupted, I would strenuously avoid using fire - there's just too much that can go wrong, and could be dangerous.

In the example you gave, what would happen if/when those toothpicks burned through? Waxed paper - like those ketchup cups - will not burn easily, gives off a fair bit of smoke, etc. And it's not going to make good incense because whatever you have in the cup is not going to get hot enough to smoulder without burning (which is what makes incense, well, incense.)

At best, it's going to be really messy and very ineffective. At worst, it could be really messy, incredibly smoky, set off your fire alarms, and/or otherwise be really hard to handle. And setting off fire alarms will get your family asking what you were doing.

Also, realistically, any incense you burn, even if you're using the right tools, leaves a smell - sometimes for a few minutes, sometimes for hours, depending on a lot of variables. People notice smells, so again, they are likely to wonder what you've been doing, which is not a good way to stay private about it.  

There are lots of resources out there that discuss, in various ways, practices you can do with limited space or resources. In general, they fall into a couple of categories:

1) Do stuff in some place where you have a little more freedom (a relatively quiet space outside, like a less-trafficed area of a public park). Some people make arrangements with friends who know they're Pagan but who have more space handy.

2) Do things that fit the space and resources you have. This generally involves using a modified set of tools - but it's possible to do a great deal with, say, a single candle in sturdy holder, a bowl of water, a divination tool of your choice, paper and some colored pencils or markers, etc. (Candle not even required, though it's handy for certain things: it makes a great meditation focus, for example). Oils are quite portable, and can be used for scent (depending on what you're using, a drop on your skin, or in a carrier oil on your skin, can work quite well.)

Likewise, avoid anything that involves burning stuff (whether that's incense or something like burning paper) - generally, you need additional tools to manage this well. Or things that need to be left set up, or that will take you time to clear away if someone comes downstairs.

If you're going to use incense, a small stick of incense (like the short Japanese kinds) are very quick to stub out if you need to, and they're a lot safer when lit, for example. They're often available in natural food stores, places that sell things like soap or perfume.

If your goal with the incense is to make an offering to a particular deity, there are some simple liquids that can work - depending on the deity, pure water (if you don't have a good natural source, spring water from the grocery store), olive oil, wine if you're able to buy it (and if not, varying kinds of juice might be appropriate), bread, honey, cream might all work (and except for the cream, none need refridgeration).

If those aren't possible, offerings of poetry or invocations, acts of service to something that deity values (volunteering for a related cause),

3) And this is the harder one when you're starting (and I think it has some long-term complications if you jump to it too soon), but it is possible to learn to do a great deal of magical and ritual work by visualisation. The trick is that it takes some practice to learn how to do it effectively, and that practice is best accompanied by being able to walk through steps, at least initially.

I've got a couple of pages on my website that might be helpful to you: safety notes and some ideas for different issues at http://gleewood.org/seeking/practices/safety-tips-and-notes/ and a low-budget way to get started with a range of practice at http://gleewood.org/seeking/practices/sample-tool-plan/
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Re: Helpful Suggestions for a Neophyte?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2011, 02:01:46 pm »
Quote from: Peripeteia;22073
I admit that I'm currently an amateur in seeking a religious path that suits me, so my apologies if the following story comes across as inexperienced or incoherent:

Last night I attempted to perform a ritual/prayer session to mark the autumnal equinox; I had been planning it for a while, essentially to mark my first spiritual holiday outside of the Catholic Church.

Since I live with my parents and siblings (I share a room with my brother), the only place in the house where I could be alone and unheard was the basement. A few days prior, I had gathered some materials into an old cigar box and, once my parents had fallen asleep, I used them to set up a makeshift altar on a chair.

As best as I tried to carry out the ritual/prayer session, I was unable to properly focus; my brother was still awake, and the slightest sound caused me to pause for a few seconds to listen to whether or not he was moving about.

When I had gathered materials for my cigar box, I included a mixture of herbs and nuts and other fun stuff, of which I had intended to burn a small portion as an incensic offering. A few seconds after I ignited it, I heard footsteps from the floor above.

I panicked.

I blew out my candles, doused the half-burnt mixture with a glass of water, threw a towel over it to keep the smoke down, and stashed all of my materials away. Even when it became clear that my brother was just going to the bathroom on the floor above and not, as I had feared, about to walk down the flight of stairs, about to grab his fourth can of nighttime pop and/or warn me of an encroaching zombie horde, I was too shaken to try to continue.

In any case, it was 3:00 am. I was scattered and tired, and it would have been pointless to wait for my brother to turn off his x-box and finally fall asleep, so I just went to bed.

Basically, does anyone have any suggestions for focusing and preventing future midnight Mabon mayhem? It certainly wasn't as stress-free of an experience as I was hoping for. Also, I probably should have researched this more thoroughly, but how would I more properly burn/offer a homemade concoction? I had placed a couple of pinches of my mixture into a tiny paper ketchup holder (the kind one would find in a burger joint), and used a few toothpicks to elevate it enough for a small fire to go underneath.

Anyhoo, thanks for taking the time to read this, and I'll be more than happy to clarify anything that I left inadequately explained.

(And to anyone who was left wondering, no, I do not believe that "incensic" is a proper adjective, but it still seems like it would be a pretty useful word) :cool:


I just waited to move out of my mother's home before even seriously looking into Paganism. If she caught me practicing behind her back the issues it would have caused would have been...very bad.

I've heard celebrating pagan holidays can be as simple as taking a stroll through a park and admiring the changes. You can also work on meditative and visualization exercises at home and by the time you move out you'll be golden. (That's assuming meditation and visualization is necessary for all of these paths.I'm new,too)

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