Break

I’m taking a break from writing posts and reading other blogs for the month of Mounykhion. I will return by Thargelion 3. 

For those of you who don’t follow a Hellenic calendar, I’ll be “absent” starting tonight at sundown until May 3rd. 

Cheers y’all. Enjoy the month. 

Take Action

NOTE: For those of you with low reading comprehension, when I say no one ratted I am referring to the NON-VICTIMS IN POWER. I thought that would be pretty fucking obvious, but I guess not.

 

By now, most everybody has heard about Kenny Klein’s arrest for possession of child pornography. The comments have varied wildly, yet most seem to be utterly ego-centric as I was discussing with a friend yesterday. They tend to concern either how this is going to make the Pagan community at large look, or they tend to be worried about how they feel so betrayed and ultimately make it about their own fee-fees instead of looking at the fact that children were abused and exploited and that a few people KNEW about his enjoying of kiddie porn for the past TWENTY-FIVE YEARS.

That should be the really disgusting thing here, that people knew and no one ratted or tried to get him some psychological counseling and help. That is pretty fucking disgusting.

But you know what? We Pagans aren’t truly represented by the people who behave the worst on the fucking internet, which is where many of our detractors take their potshots at and from. We are better than the people who would want to lie and cover-up such a disgusting and wretched act.

We cannot undo the damage that has been done to those children. However, we can still take action to make the world safer for some.

1) If you are a part of a coven, demoi, circle group, or meet-up group, ensure that the safety of all members is GUARANTEED. Sexual harassment is not a laughing matter.

2) Consider getting involved with an organization like RAINN by volunteering your time or making a financial contribution. These kinds of organizations do a world of good for folks.

3) Finally, lets stand against the people who would support covering up such wretched actions. With your local group if you have one, organize a fundraiser for an organization who helps victims of sexual abuse and exploited children. If you are solitary, I’d bet two shinny pennies that you are part of an online group of some sort. Bring the issue up to them and see what you can do to help.

4) Do not let this fade from memory. Always be vigilant. If someone you know is viewing child pornography do everything in your power to get them to psychological counseling and help. Failing that, report them to the appropriate authorities. The burden of action falls upon the shoulders of the one who knows. By choosing not to act on your knowledge you are worse than the individual who commits the offense.

We, the Pagan community, have an opportunity to turn this horrific event into one which very well may save lives. The only thing that we need to do is ACT on it.

 

No delays now. Take action.

PBP: F is for Food!

The most basic component of hospitality is food! Seeing as I host rituals from time to time, I would like to discuss some of the foods I like to serve at rituals. 

NOTE: I am not saying these are foods that are ideal for offerings, but post-ritual human consumption.

 

Hummus

Hummus is an all around good food to serve at rituals. It is vegetarian and vegan friendly and usually doesn’t conflict with anyone’s dietary requirements. It can be filling and pairs well with a variety of bread and crackers.

Pizza

Assuming that no one attending your ritual has dietary restrictions, one pizza can feed about 2-3 people. They can be ordered from a delivery service, hand-made, or purchased frozen from the store. In America, pizza tends to be favored heavily by the general public and as such tends to be one of few “safe bet” foods. Remember though, if you are anticipating a large number of people it is a good idea to provide some sort of vegetarian option as well. 

Homemade Cookies

Homemade cookies are ALWAYS a good idea. If you have the skill and time to make them they make a great snack food while your ritual group discusses whatever topic you have at hand. As an added bonus you can set aside some as offerings for the gods, ancestors, and/or landspirits. 

Fruit Salad

Fruit salad is a great and healthier dessert alternative to serve for post-ritual meals. It is usually best to include honeydew melon, cantaloupe, watermelon, pineapple, and grapes, but experiment with whatever fruit you like! I personally enjoy adding marshmellow to the mix too. Again, this is another food you can make and have some set aside as an offering.

Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian chili is the last dish I want to talk about. Chili is usually pretty dang easy to make, full of flavor, and can pair well with practically any bread or bread like dish. It can serve as a side or as a main course and is pretty well approved of by most people. You can find a good recipe here

PBP: F is for Failure

I frequently fail. 

In fact, I would go so far as to say that for every one success I’ve had, I’ve had 3 or 4 failures. Failing is a part of doing and a part of learning, yet many folks are discouraged by failing. They are so afraid of failure that they don’t try new things and they set all their goals and standards low, or worse yet, don’t set any standards at all. Failure is a guarantee for pretty much every person on the planet who survives infancy. Children fail to execute tasks properly, teenagers fail to meet expectations from friends, family, peers, and themselves. Even the least ambitious adult is going to fail from time to time.

As we fail more and more often we get discouraged and stop actually DOING things. It hurts our egos to fail and to protect the fragile nature of that, we start aiming lower and doing less. Life begins to stagnate and you slowly fade into the background. 

The man who becomes great becomes so because he does not let his failures prevent him from pursuing his ambitions. When he is knocked down he gets back up, dusts himself off, and tries again. 

Lets look at an example that applies to many, many, many Pagans I have met. They decide that they are going to start doing devotionals every day. They do them consistently for a while and then all of a sudden they forget to do them for a few days and suddenly decide that they just aren’t cut out for it and give up on the whole thing. It isn’t that they aren’t cut out for it, it is that at some level they are embarrassed about forgetting or disappointed in themselves for forgetting. Sometimes they simply feel “unworthy” because they forgot.

The process of forgetting does not mean that you need to wail and hate yourself and just assume you “aren’t cut out for it.” No, you start again, and you go until you forget again and then you start again. You just start where you left off and try a bit harder next time. You’ll find that these multiple tiny failures will lead to a big success, a deeper relationship with the gods and ancestors. Then all that disappointment you felt in yourself will be well worth it. 

In a more general sense though, here are some things that I think it would be helpful to keep in mind regarding failure. 

Being able to fail means you have standards

That’s right, being able to fail in of itself means that you have standards that you abide by. In some settings they are strictly quantitative, such as failing to attain a certain grade in a class or failing to run a certain number of miles per week. Some measures are qualitative, you can’t quite put a finger on how much is or isn’t enough, but you know that you didn’t give it your best and thus feel you have failed yourself and others. Either way, it means that you have some standards that you are holding yourself to. 

Failure is a learning experience

You know that old saying “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”, well, there is a lot of truth to it. Failing is usually the result of a variety of mistakes or miscalculations (and sometimes just bad luck!) that result in the goal or standard not being met. Keeping that in consideration, it means that those mistakes and miscalculations can be accounted for and a person can usually improve their technique and skills to do better on the next go around. So yes, unless your failure somehow kills you, you are afforded a chance to improve your skills.

(I would like to note however that sometimes failure does not come as a result of merely internal and external factors. Sometimes failure can be the result of wholly external forces working against a person or group of people. While this is an unpleasant occurrence that I mostly get to avoid, I do realize that sometimes we fail soley because people are working against us, usually on account of our gender, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Keeping that in mind it is important to realize that you did not personally fail, but rather the other person(s) or group(s) have failed to maintain a basic sense of reciprocity and decency.)

 

Failure keeps things in perspective

When we fail we are forced to acknowledge the most essential fact: we are humans. Failing helps us keep our essential humanity in the forefront of our thoughts, it keeps us remembering that yes, we are human. We all know of people (both personally and celebrities) who had too much success too quickly and got hugely over-inflated egos. These people become arrogant, snobish, rude, and generally unpleasant to be around due to their massive successes and relative lack of failures. They have begun to perceive themselves as being somehow invincible. We implicitly acknowledge that failure keeps us equal when we say things like “I wish she’d be knocked down a peg” or “he needs to go down in the dirt for a while.” Failure prevents us from becoming far too full of ourselves. 

Don’t fear failure, don’t fear success. Learn from your failures, grow from them, and don’t allow your failures to prevent you from pursuing greatness.

The man who tries and fails still may go down in the history books, the man who never tries fades away after his death. Plus, really spectacular failures go great in memoirs!

PBP: E is for Enthusiasm

Do you remember the first time you prayed? 

I remember the first time I prayed to Yahweh back when I was very young and knew of only one god. I prayed to him in earnest, but it felt awkward, weird, forced and I didn’t understand why. When revivals happened and my family and friends were being “slain in the spirit” I eagerly waited for my turn only for nothing to happen, nothing to take place, and for disappointment to fill up my young heart. I always wondered why my younger siblings and younger cousins and everyone else could have such an event occur but it was always barred to me. 

Yahweh was not for me. I know that now, I was not meant for him. 

I was meant for a grey-eyed goddess.

The first time I prayed to Athena involved being horrendously drunk and being absolutely desperate. I cannot say why I reached out to her, but I spontaneously started praying to her for strength and steadiness, though I wasn’t a believer at the time. The second time I prayed to her, that is, the time that was more genuine and more desperate, I found myself in a dark place. I felt like I was drowning and I reached  out desperate for help, she answered. I was pulled from the mire. I was saved because yes, there are many divine saviors and mine throws a spear. 

Looking back at the first formal prayer I undertook always makes me laugh. I was so enthusiastic to pray that I just assembled what I could and what I had and did it every day and every night, I prayed. I began to become a zealous person, filled with the love of my gods my enthusiasm knew no boundaries. It forced me to act quickly, read a lot, and research. It carried me forward through time and my nights began to fill with reading and ritual work and prayer and planning. My zeal grew, my enthusiastic outlook on my faith slowly became all consuming and everything I did and do now points to a singular purpose, a singular desire. To serve my gods, to build a temple, to leave a legacy for them. 

The glory of the gods, yes, the glory of the gods fills me with enthusiastic fervor, a desire to see their glory and grandeur made manifest. This is not a nature nursed by only young people who still have stars in their eyes. Those who greet their gods and the rebuilding of their worship with enthusiasm, that enthusiasm is not unsourced. This zeal and fire is nurtured by those who have experienced the grandeur of the gods, it propels them forward in doing that difficult work, that joyous work. 

An enthusiastic heart is a divine blessing. 

ANNOUNCEMENT: CHANGE IN FREQUENCY OF PUBLICATION

Conor O'Bryan Warren:

An Important announcement about the newsletter

Originally posted on Musings Magazine:

There has been a change in the frequency with which the news letter would be published. It will now be published on a QUARTERLY basis. The submission deadlines are as follows 

Spring Issue: March 15

Summer Issue: June 21

Fall Issue: September 13

Winter Issue: December 13

This decision was made after much consideration and discussion. It was done so that folks would have more time to submit and create quality content for the newsletter. I hope you’ll continue reading! 

Conor O’Bryan Warren

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PBP: Division

Division is natural. The first organisms in this world reproduced by simply dividing themselves in two. They copied their own genetic material and split in two. These two organisms then grow to a certain size and then split. So on and so forth, with random mutations accumulating until you get some gay blonde hunk of human flesh with a fetish for uniforms and a love of curry (the two, of course, are completely unrelated.)

So, division, you see, has been vital to the existence of life. Right now you have cells dividing, skin cells coming into newness, hair cells pushing other hair cells out to hang around on the scalp fairly dead, if a sperm cell unites with an ovum it will shortly begin to divide in an effort to bring new life into existence. Division is constant. It is another one of those truths in life. Division sustains life. It is also one of those processes which if it occurs too soon can result in the parent cell and/or the daughter cell being defective, damaged, or destroyed outright. Worse still, if a cell divides too rapidly you know what it becomes? Cancer. At this it must be cut away or the whole organism can be lost. If a cell divides too slowly the growth of the organism will be stunted and it will never reach its full potential.

Division also seems to be something that applies to many other situations. In entertainment we see a proliferation of different movie genres and styles; in video games we see a similar thing with styles, genres, and platforms; in theatre we notice a wide variety of not only plays but also acting styles, directing styles, and stage design styles. These all split off (if even only in an abstract way) from a bigger “parent cell” and with time and dedication may grow to be a noticeable and popular style or even replace the “parent cell” as the norm. Not all of these divisions prove to be fruitful or useful though and thusly die out.

Division will be an inevitable truth for the Pagan community as well. Not simply in the sense that it consists of different faiths and traditions, that is true of many sub-cultural groups. Rather, it will spawn various other sub-cultural groupings inevitably (and I suppose some could make an argument for Paganism being the “daughter cell” of the Occult currents in the mid to late 19th and early 20th centuries). We can see this in one instance in that Heathenry seems to have formed its own sort of self-supporting and self-contained community, they have the capabilities to hold limited group meet-ups and are experiencing a high rate of growth in many areas. While “partnering” with the Pagan community may be something of a benefit to them, I suspect that it is not something that is fundamental for them to be able to grow. We too are seeing the rise of another sub-cultural grouping which has dubbed itself the Polytheistic Community. Unlike the Pagan community and sub-culture, it has a fairly cut-across theology (it consists of those who identify as polytheists) as well as reinforcing a culture of devotional activities and reciprocity. The wording also inevitably creates a slight issue in conception, not all polytheists are a part of this emerging sub-culture yet all persons of this emerging sub-culture are polytheists. It would appear (to me) that this is creating some confusion among certain persons, mistakenly conflating the Polytheistic Community (often shortened to Polytheists) with polytheism at large and then making further assumptions and just really confusing the whole shabang. I’m rambling though, the point is this, the Polytheistic Community is beginning (I think) to start the process of dividing, or at least attempting to divide. They are finding themselves in a weird liminal state where many Pagans still consider them intrinsically a part of the Pagan community, while others consider them a separate community in their own right, only time will tell where they shall drift. I’m expecting a daughter cell to emerge and then grow.

Now I suppose that comes to the somewhat pertinent question of where I consider myself in the scheme of things. First and foremost, I resoundingly, enthusiastically, and emphatically, count myself among the ranks of those persons who identify as Pagans. I don’t necessarily count my religion as intrinsically and necessarily a part of the Pagan community, but Pagans have been there side-by-side with me in worship and in education. Some of the best advice and best education I have received in regards to magic, divination, and life in general has emanated from the Pagan community. Do I get mad when I hear someone state that they firmly believe all gods and goddesses are one? Not at all. I really don’t care, as long as no one denigrates my beliefs I will leave it to the will of the gods whether or not the person is “corrected”. If they try to engage me in discussion about theology I’ll be honest and respectful and I expect them to do the same. I couldn’t care less what someone believes about the nature of the gods as long as they are not denigrating me for my beliefs, I know what I know and they know what they know, and I leave it at that. Their relationship with the gods is not mine to tend and you cannot describe blue to a man who has never seen it, so I don’t try. As such, I haven’t found mingling with the local Pagan community to be exceedingly difficult and have found it to be a great delight. They have shown me nothing but kindness

My own personal placement in the Polytheistic community is more complicated. Frankly, I do not consider myself a “part” of such a community, despite there being several folks whom I respect greatly within it. The confrontations and conflict generated within the community are far too frequent (and usually with the online Pagan community) and they often become far too hostile for me to consider myself a part of such a community online. I am a total wimp when it comes to prolonged conflict and seeing people mad at other people for weeks at a time, it exhausts me and makes me start to dislike people. To be entirely fair and square and honest though, the same would likely be said of the Pagan community if my interactions were limited solely online. Despite this though, I recognize that due to my personal goals complete uninvolvement  is quite impossible. So, I view  my involvement as being ultimately superficial. I have friends in it and may work with some folks due to goals in common but I do not identify as member of the arising Polytheistic Community, I’m simply a man with a polytheistic theology. (which does not automatically place me into such a community. Refer back to the delineation made, I stand by that. Such a community only exists by self-identification, polytheism is otherwise a theological stance which does not have an intrinsic indicator of praxis or other beliefs wrapped up in it.) I would also like to assert that thhis DOES NOT SPEAK to how I perceive the quality of people within the community. They are good people and despite the guises some folks take, all of the perceived “hard-asses” I think are kinder people than their online presence would have you think.   You of course are free to disagree with me on these thoughts and assertions and I’m sure many will. I’m sure there are those would vehemently and passionately argue that it isn’t a sub-culture and is rather a rising category of religions transitioning from polytheism to Polytheism on the world front, maybe in time, yes, maybe I could agree with that twenty-five years from now. Right now though, I’m simply seeing Paganism spawn a new sub-culture which is becoming increasingly independent of it and which (in time) will split from it entirely.

What I do know is that division is entirely natural, needed, and necessary, and that no one should be aggressive towards the Polytheistic Community as they attempt to divide themselves from the more general Pagan community rather than become an organelle within the cell. My own local Pagan community has been wonderful to me and evidently values both my presence, my religion, and my viewpoints. I also am beginning to realize that I may be exceptionally lucky in this matter, it appears that the decision to form their own community by various persons of polytheistic stances comes from being denigrated, ignored, and mistreated at Pagan events. So their hostility to the Pagan community didn’t really appear in a vacuum. . .

Who knows though, maybe I’ll piss just too many people off and get run off from everywhere! I’m sure it’d only take about one sacrificial goat to make the Neo-Pagans run screaming in horror. . .

 

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Uhhh, well, maybe later.