Wheel of the Year (or Equivalent in Your Path): Does It Work for You?

English: Wheel of the Year with Fire Festivals...
English: Wheel of the Year with Fire Festivals and Quarter Festivals, Neopagan holidays (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Based on Louisvillian’s observation in another thread that they found they were not attuned to the wheel of the year, I wondered for how many of us it does work.

For myself, it does not work as the calendar dates of many of the festivals do not coincide in my area with actual conditions. This issue has worsened with my move from Toronto northwest to the mountains. It’s hard to celebrate mid-spring at the spring equinox when there is several feet of snow on the ground! At the earliest, the trees here leaf three weeks after Beltane (and in the worst years, not til June).

This does not bother me as much as it would have twenty years ago, so it’s not a priority to resolve how I deal with it. But eventually, I would still like to make a decision for myself on how to incorporate the wheel of the year. Will I move the festivals (this could result in many festivals between June and September, and none between Yule and May)? Will I leave them as they are and accept that my climate is different (what I am leaning towards as I like having something to look forward to on a regular basis)? Will I skip some festivals? Will I come up with my own festivals (in which case I’m looking forward to the Festival of the End of Mosquito Season)? Or … ?

For others, there could be different reasons the wheel does not work. Perhaps you live in a city and there is a disconnect with agricultural life.

1. Is the Wheel of the Year (or the equivalent in your path) important to your practice? Why or why not?

If yes:
2. Does the Wheel of the Year (or the equivalent in your path) work for you? Why or why not?
3. If not, what was your solution, if any?

Mirrors: Folklore, Beliefs, and Superstitions

An early 20th century Hallowe'en greeting card
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Branching out from another thread, I’m posing this as a discussion topic.

Mirrors. They come up an awful lot in various traditions, magical and non-magical uses, and superstitions. They are mentioned in terms of luck (i.e. breaking one resulting in bad luck), magic, divination (scrying), communing with the spirits (ancestors, ghosts, what have you), and sometimes even in terms of seeing through to another realm or seeing your “other half.”

I’m curious about the experiences and wisdom of other people, so consider this the thread to share your opinions, experiences, knowledge, and understanding of mirrors and all they entail in a magical/spiritual manner.

I know it’s a little vague as to a topic direction, so here are a few questions to pick and choose from to start the ball rolling:

What are some stories or bits of knowledge you’ve come across regarding mirrors or reflections that have stuck with you over the years (or an appropriate time frame to count as memorable)?

What is your opinion or experience regarding working with mirrors magically (communing with spirits, spellwork, divination)?

Do you put credit to the idea that breaking a mirror results in bad luck? And if so, what are your thoughts on methods to reverse or mitigate that bad luck?

What is your opinion regarding the idea of a mirror being a portal to another realm of existence? Or even a window into seeing your shadow self?

Daily Prayer

Virgin in Prayer, Engraving, Die heilige Jungf...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was wondering if daily prayer is a part of people’s paths and personal practices, as I find it very satisfying and grounding, though I haven’t heard very much about it in pagan religions.

My prayers tend to be of a Christian nature from a Catholic prayer book, just because I like the structure and am pretty open to various religious practices. I haven’t found pagan “daily devotions” that particularly speak to me, and I don’t have the talent to write my own. I know in recon paths people often should honour gods in their personal shrine, or give libations and prayers, on a daily basis. I personally don’t want to bother with incense and offerings every day, but I do like the idea of prayer. Some neo-pagans seem to do daily meditations and visualization work, though I’m not too interested in that. I prefer a more devotional practice.

Maybe because of my Christian background, I like the idea of long, traditional prayers from a prayer book done on a daily basis without much variation. There are ancient hymns to ancient deities that I have found, but not much in the way of prayers without propitiation, which is fine, just not what I’m used to.

I’m wondering what daily practice looks like for other people here.

How do you communicate with the Gods?

Libia, Cirene (sito archeologico), Tempio di Zeus
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m a Polytheistic pagan/Druid and have recently started out with communicating with Deities. I’d like to know how others go about this, and some guidelines for my practice.

How do you speak to the Gods? Is ritual needed? Do you do it in a specific place?

How do you know you are getting through with your communication? Finally, what is the response like?

Reflecting on recreating Pagan religion from Ronald Hutton’s book Pagan Britain

Imaginative illustration of 'An Arch Druid in ...
Imaginative illustration of ‘An Arch Druid in His Judicial Habit’ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have just had the pleasure of reading “Pagan Britain” by Ronald Hutton and was particularly interested in his comments about how one can recreate a religion, in particular from northwestern Europe which was no longer practiced certainly by 1000 AD and realistically not practiced prior to this time. Thus with no surviving tradition and no untainted sources how can we create a believable religion we can believe in. Here is some of his presentation and I would like to know how others feel about this position.

Hutton states that “it is impossible to determine with any precision the nature of the religious beliefs and rites of prehistoric British. It may fairly be argued therefore that present-day groups have a perfect right to recreate their own representation of those and enact them as a personal religious practice providing that they remain within the rather broad limits of material evidence”. So what is this broad evidence he refers to?

1. We can be certain that the pre-Roman British believed in and honoured a large number of goddesses and gods, with powers and functions related to the natural world or to human concerns and activities, and often particular to specific localities and peoples

2. they practiced animal sacrifice, in at least its minimal form: that the beasts consumed at festivities were consecrated to deities before being slaughtered and eaten; this is, again, because it was a universal custom across pagan Europe.

3. It is also possible to reconstruct the festive calendar of the ancient British, in outline, from historic records and comparative data.

4. The emphasis on the right side in burial customs and (perhaps) domestic layout is almost certainly related to a belief that it is lucky to turn to the right when moving, in the direction in which the sun moves in this hemisphere and which the modern age calls clockwise. This remained widespread in northern Europe until recent times

5. We can also be certain that the pre-Roman British possessed some sort or sorts of belief in the survival of the soul after death, not only because this is also general among traditional peoples but because Greek and Roman authors noted that such a belief was held with unusual fervor among the natives of north-western Europe.

6. The continued deposition of objects in natural places and at prehistoric monuments went on until the very end of Roman rule

7. Commentary by Christian monks about the residual and inappropriate behaviors of the newly converted Christians such as Gildas from 450 to 550. More specifically 540 – 547 where he recalled that his compatriots had once worshipped the divine powers inherent in the natural world and needed to change this view to that God created the natural world for the use of humans. (from another source here is Gildas quote “Nor will I call out upon the mountains, fountains, or hills, or upon the rivers, which are now subservient to the use of man, but once were an abomination and destruction to them, and to which the blind people paid divine honours,”)

I think this is an interesting start and am wondering what other people feel about his in the forum.

Difficulties with Eclecticism

English: Religious symbols from the top nine o...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had some difficulties with eclecticism over the years but I’m starting to think that’s the only way for me to go and really be true to my calling.

When I first had a yearning for it I really had no context to fall back on and could never even really get started, but after I was immersed in liturgical Christianity it became much easier to create ceremonies that were of substance and had a coherent theology.

But for a year or so there it kind of went bad. I burned out because I created a new system in a short amount of time based on ideas that were intellectually appealing but probably not from a place of spirit, that part of me that can simply say, “Yes, this is truth as I am able to apprehend it.” (In other words, something I truly had faith in.)

So over time I continued with organized Christianity but some rites developed that I still do and that have worked and have a lot of depth and beauty. But I feel more connected to that personal side of my spirituality than institutional religion and don’t feel right about converting to any other religions no matter how much I admire about them.

So…I’m taking a break from all of that to explore this because I feel a lot of things coming up and am about to create more and might simply cut ties with formal religion/church except for maybe a visit here and there. A lot of this has grown out of a spiritual encounter I had that is not easily classifiable. But I’m hoping I’m not going to burn out again or get frustrated. These are some guidelines I’ve developed for myself in the development of an eclectic practice. Some elements wouldn’t apply to all eclectics but this is what I’ve come up with:

1. Keep your ceremonies, theologies, and other practices related to the core tenets and goals of your path.

2. If a practice seems appealing from my own religious background or one I thought of in passing do NOT adopt it unless there is a clear reason to do so. The practice must be compatible with the core ceremonies I have developed or grow organically from them. (I have a method for how new practices emerge or revisions are made.)

3. Do not adopt deities or very specific religious practices from other religions you have no connection to or were never a member of. Instead use something from your own religious background or eclectic practice and adapt it with new associations to fill a similar need. (This one in particular is how I’ve discerned over the years that I should do it — it’s a disaster every time I do it differently.)

4. Do not assume that because a theology you have created is coherent that it is actually your belief.

5. If you are going to adopt a belief or new practice that will influence your ceremonies, do the intellectual homework, but do not burn out on this. Pray about it and discern. Then put it out of mind — if it re-emerges and I can truly give assent to it from a prayerful place then adopt it.

6. Do NOT rush!

7. Let some beliefs be held in tension, even contradictory beliefs if need be — something useful will come of it. Do NOT over-think it!

8. Let the path develop slowly on an as-needed basis: do not try to fill in gaps until you need to, especially if a practice from your religious background still fills that need and there is no need to re-invent the whole wheel.

As I said, some of these apply to me very specifically. (I could explain but it wasn’t really necessary right now.) What do you think? Do you have any similar guidelines or advice? Thanks.

Offerings and Issues of Waste

Bhoga (Prasad), Offerings for Puja (Prayer)
Offerings for Puja (Prayer) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

People make offerings to Deities and Spirits all the time. Yet there is one aspect that has always bothered me where this is concerned. People make offerings of food, drink, and many other things, but with this comes a concern for waste. The Divine does not necessarily physically consume the offerings. Whenever I hear about people making offerings of food, I think about the people who could be eating it. Offerings of ones own blood are risky and not simply because it involves cutting ones own flesh. I know the intent, but I object to the sacrifice of a living being. It’s soul is not mine to give away in my mind.

Instead, I often burn incense. Not just because my practice and philosophy has been influenced by Hinduism, Buddhism, and other similar traditions, but because nothing is left to waste. Offerings of burning candles are also common in my practice for the same reason. Yet, some times these offerings feel inadequate. I want to give something more, but I fear merely leaving the offerings out to waste. Even in the case of objects I worry about the people who could be using them. So how does one deal with the issue of waste?

Mixed Pantheon Patrons?

A depiction of Norse gods assembled as in the ...
A depiction of Norse gods assembled as in the Poetic Edda poem Lokasenna (1895) by Lorenz Frølich. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When you mixed patrons from different pantheons do you only believe in said god(ess) or do you believe in the whole of each pantheon but only worship the selected. For example, if you worship Loki do you also believe in Odin, Thor, etc.

Also does mixing different paths bog some of you down. I noticed right off from searching a lot of people seem to be following their own marching orders cause it’s what resonates with them. Perhaps that’s the allure I see with paganism (esp. polytheistic ones) that there is no one way. That two people can believe in a the same thing yet hold different ideals of it.