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Author Topic: General/Non-Specific: I Need to Start Somewhere  (Read 1058 times)

Leveret

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I Need to Start Somewhere
« on: February 14, 2021, 11:34:30 pm »
I'm not really sure where to start this, so I suppose I will begin by introducing myself.

I am really long winded and I have a lot that I want to get out, so if you want to skip past the navel gazing and get to the point of this thread, skip to the bottom if this post and I will put it in bold.

Please call me Rabbit. It is not my name, but it is what I go by online to people I do not know yet. It is nothing against anyone here. I just am paranoid about... well, most things, haha. That, and my mother (who I love dearly) is very Jewish and want nothing more to have good Jewish children and I am here, about to talk about how I denounced my birth religion and want to become pagan. I am sure she would never come across this site, but... for now I just feel more comfortable being anonymous, if that is okay. Just imagine me as a cute little white rabbit, like in my picture (yes, I am aware that is actually a snow hare).

Anyways, I am in my late twenties, over the moon happily engaged to my fiancé (we are both men, in case it comes up), and he is well aware of everything I am about to discuss. He is my rock, my best friend, and my soul mate. For now, lets call him Otter (an animal he really likes and identifies with). I am in my final year of my Bachelor's degree to get my BA in Psychology and I am currently working an internship with a mental health non-profit. My dream is to be a crisis therapist and help people recover from and functionally handle chronic mental illnesses such as anxiety, depression, and others.

Since my first rabbit's passing my fiancé (who was raised very Christian) and I have begun looking into and testing the waters of Paganism (and for Otter, Wicca as well). While he has put more of his energy into spells and the natural, plant/earth parts of Paganism and Wicca (please forgive me if the two are not close enough in practice to be used in tandem, I am still very new and ignorant to a lot of this) I have put my attention into mythology, animal spirits/guides, and the divine, specifically Ostara (I have also heard of her being called Eostre), since she is the Goddess of rabbits and through her, I feel like I still have a connection to my rabbit who passed.

I am really trying to find my footing in the world of paganism, if being a Pagan is right for me. I am used to Judaism where there are all of these rules and I have no choice but to be Jewish. I feel a bit lost with no one telling me what to do and how to do it, which I suppose is a bit sad, haha.

With Ostara (holiday) coming up, I really want to celebrate and give my energy and time to Ostara (Goddess) and do so in a way that would be respectful and meaningful, mostly for her, but for myself as well. Although I do not think I have done any "proper" rituals or worship, having her in my thoughts and communicating with her through caring for my current rabbit and honoring my first rabbit with gifts and offerings has brought me so much happiness, peace, and an overwhelming sense of security.

I don't know what I am doing, but I really want to learn and figure out where I fit in this world. I can elaborate more on myself, my feelings, and what draws me to paganism in another post, but I feel like this is really drawing on and I fear I will lose readers who could possibly help me, or even listen, if I keep rambling, haha.


Always, happy Valentine's Day if you celebrate. I hope that is okay to say. I celebrated, more for the excuse to be cheesy with my fiancé and spend the whole day snuggled up inside, watching Sonic the Hedgehog (since it was released a year ago today!) than anything. Regardless, I hope you have a wonderful week this coming week. Stay healthy, safe, and enjoy the snow (if you have it)! I know I would be frolicking in it if my internship was not remote from home.

Darkhawk

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Re: I Need to Start Somewhere
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2021, 12:51:55 pm »
Paganism and Wicca (please forgive me if the two are not close enough in practice to be used in tandem, I am still very new and ignorant to a lot of this)

Just a quick note:  "paganism and Wicca" as a phrase is sort of like "mammals and rabbits": one is a broad taxonomic category containing many critters some of which are very unlike each other, the other of which is more-or-less a specific thing (but you can have some nice arguments about whether it also means hares, jackrabbits, and jackalopes).

I am sure someone who is equipped with more brains than I have right now will be along in a bit, but what is brains?  Anyway, hi again (we chatted on Discord last night, so not first hi).
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Jenett

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Re: I Need to Start Somewhere
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2021, 10:12:03 pm »
I am really long winded and I have a lot that I want to get out, so if you want to skip past the navel gazing and get to the point of this thread, skip to the bottom if this post and I will put it in bold.

First, hi! We have no issues with long here, honest! (If we did, well, I wouldn't be here.) It's one of the joys of a forum structure. In fact, bear with me, this got long in reply.

(And to reassure about your next paragraph, many of us come from an Internet era where using your legal name online was not the done thing, and a bunch of other people agree that's just sensible. Or as someone commented when I started using Jenett routinely 20ish years ago for everything other than work, "sometimes your parents just don't know how to name you the right thing when you're born") All of these things are rather different than some of the more populous corners of the Internets, so I remain delighted there are places that don't do that, like here. )

On to your questions!

Paganism, Wicca, and other terms
First, as Darkhawk pointed out, Pagan is a very large umbrella term to describe a bunch of other things, and Wicca is one specific thread of that. I've got a section on my website that explain some of the differences. The other thing you may find very helpful is that Wicca is one strand of witchcraft, but it's not the only kind of witchcraft out there, and it's not the only kind of religious witchcraft, either.

(I am gesturing over there not because I have all the answers, but because it will spare us all from having me putting a couple of thousand words of explanation here. Feel free to ask questions about any of it in this thread or others, and I'm sure other people will have ideas too.)

So, on your topic of rules - Judaism is in some ways more generally seen as similar to many Pagan paths because where Christianity has an emphasis on belief, Judaism is more about what you do (obviously, there's a bunch of stuff where the reason to do it is sort of "I think it makes a difference somehow" but that's different than a religion based around a creed or statement of belief.)

What has happened is that for many strands of modern Pagan practices (including many of the witchcraft ones) is that they're formed around people wanting to do things a certain way together.

The two analogies I come back to about this a lot are either music or theatre groups or food. In the first case, there are tons of ways to do music or a play, but you have to agree on some ground rules about how you're doing this particular version together, or it will be chaos. With food, there are tons of ways to make a meal, and there are tons of ways to make a particular food - say, bread. But there aren't infinite ways, and some of the things that sorta kinda look the same will produce very different results. (Bread is different than cake!)

There are also some safety implications for some practices (like pretty much anything else in life.) So over time people tend to develop patterns of doing things that avoid repeated issues, or that make them feel lousy (for no good benefit) after, or that they just have no interest in doing, and so on.

However, most Pagan groups are not particularly large-scale hierarchies. (Even the ones that do have a significant leadership structure usually aren't huge, mind.) It's a lot more common, even in a practice that involves groups, to have a group that is largely autonomous in choosing what they do, but also in conversation with other people - in their particular tradition of practice, in their community, in the larger Pagan communities.

There's a complicated social dance between those two: groups that don't navigate that well over time will find themselves with fewer opportunities for some things, but most of the time it's this constant low-key shift of interest and focus and building relationships with some people over time, plus figuring out which practices work best for their goals.

Deities

There are a lot of different ways to approach deities. I'm a librarian, but I believe very strongly that if you're getting started, starting with some research is not a bad idea - and something a bit longer than the really short summaries you see in a lot of books. Some deities will have a huge amount of information available, and others will have much less. (Eostre is on the 'much less, but some' side, comparatively.)

The big things are to avoid making ongoing promises, and to take things slow and steady. Relationships with deities aren't exactly like relationships with people, but one of the things I think helps is to remember that we have some skills in forming relationships with people. Usually, we do not walk up to someone, peer at them, and commit the rest of our lives to them. It's a lot more common to say hi, get to know them, and then over time make more and more entangling commitments.

(My parents actually were a love at first sight story and got engaged two weeks later, and were very much lovingly married until my father died. But they also didn't actually get married until they'd finished their respective undergrad and graduate degrees two years into that. Even if you do have a sudden desire to make this a long term thing, there are still sensible stages in the process.)

With deities, that means get to know them.

Don't try anything super complicated right off. An offering or two, a thank you, some time in reflection or meditation are good places to start.

Make an offering for particular occasions. (To throw something else into the mix, many people include pets in the Beloved Dead they remember at Samhain.) The general advice is to keep your routine offerings super simple, easy, and adaptable. Save the more special stuff (anything that takes more time/attention/money for particular times when you want to do a bit extra. If you start all out with regular offerings, you have no real way to go up that's sustainable.

(My regular daily offerings are energy and a small amount - couple of minutes - of time. I do longer weekly ones that involve some incense, a candle, and a bit of liquid, most often wine. I pull out specific offerings and extra nice food stuff when I want more help for something specific, or it's a particular ritual event)

Set up a simple altar or shrine, with items that are meaningful to you and resonant to the deity you're working with. (The ideas you mention in your post are good. Honestly, I still really love dyeing eggs.)

I also usually suggest trying things that aren't research. In my witchcraft tradition, one of our assignments is to learn about multiple deities, by doing research on them, but also doing a creative project associated with them. Doing both really, in my experience, deepens the understanding. (If you're going to hang out with other Pagans, especially if you ever intend to take part in public rituals or community events, 'learn enough about this deity in an hour or two to decide if I want to be at a ritual focusing on them' is a really handy skill.)

I'm a fan of doing a playlist that I can put on - I have some that are seasonal, I have some specific to magical workings, I don't usually do deity specific ones, but I have occasionally. I also do a lot of small things like setting wallpapers on my computer and phone, passwords I type all the time, etc. to reflect current religious and magical goals and focuses. Making a meal that's particularly relevant works for a lot of people.

You can find out more about things I suggest for building or deepening a relationship in the articles on my website here, under the deities and and powers section. There are lots of options, so trying both the ones that feel really attractive to you and a couple of ones that feel a little more challenging often helps. (Not the ones that are distasteful or upsetting, but we often learn the most when we're doing something a little bit outside our comfort zone.)

Right, I think I'm going to stop there, this is plenty long, but please do ask more questions!
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Haptalaon

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Re: I Need to Start Somewhere
« Reply #3 on: February 17, 2021, 07:47:29 am »
Waves! Hello :)

I am really trying to find my footing in the world of paganism, if being a Pagan is right for me. I am used to Judaism where there are all of these rules and I have no choice but to be Jewish. I feel a bit lost with no one telling me what to do and how to do it, which I suppose is a bit sad, haha.

Not sad in the slightest, this is a total mood. I have ADHD, and the lack of structure kills me.

There are some Pagan traditions and groups which are more structured (particularly ceremonial ones, which have a very "classes and homework" approach i.e. these guys); and when I used to live in a big city, I know a couple of pagan/wicca-esque groups who would do in-person training. You can also find books which use a "year and a day" style structure to teach you something every month.

If you PM me, I'll send you a copy of my WIP manuscript for one, which is very generic. I wrote it for myself because I wanted structure but not for any religions that were on offer.

With Ostara (holiday) coming up, I really want to celebrate and give my energy and time to Ostara (Goddess) and do so in a way that would be respectful and meaningful, mostly for her, but for myself as well. Although I do not think I have done any "proper" rituals or worship, having her in my thoughts and communicating with her through caring for my current rabbit and honoring my first rabbit with gifts and offerings has brought me so much happiness, peace, and an overwhelming sense of security.

What you're doing so far sounds fantastic.

Wrt Eostre, it sounds like you're specifically looking to do god devotional work atm. You should keep an eye out for blogs by Reconstructionists (i.e. people who are "reconstructing" Greek or Egyptian religion). Even though I don't know anyone for Eostre off the top of my head, reconstructionists tend to think the most about gods and will have ideas of how to revere and serve them. I also think Crowley's Liber Astarte is quite a good one, it's on how to get very close to a divine power; it's very rooted in his religion, Thelema, and very OTT like all Crowley, but a lot of the ideas can be borrowed.

I don't know what I am doing, but I really want to learn and figure out where I fit in this world. I can elaborate more on myself, my feelings, and what draws me to paganism in another post, but I feel like this is really drawing on and I fear I will lose readers who could possibly help me, or even listen, if I keep rambling, haha.

I think I can speak on behalf of the forum, that we're a fan of people who have ideas and conversation to share  :) And if you're still worried, a lot of us still blog and share our ideas through longform blogging as well as chatting here- there's a thread where people can share their blog updates.

Best wishes to you and your fiancee

[Edited to fix link codes - SP]
« Last Edit: February 18, 2021, 05:22:59 am by SunflowerP »
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PerditaPickle

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Re: I Need to Start Somewhere
« Reply #4 on: March 20, 2021, 01:03:37 pm »
And if you're still worried, a lot of us still blog and share our ideas through longform blogging as well as chatting here- there's a thread where people can share their blog updates.

It can be found here:)
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