A Common Question About Wicca or Paganism and Being Wiccan or Pagan in 2017

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Last year I used my oracle cards and asked if a particular goddess was trying to reach me. I turned a card over and it was Rhiannon. I already had an image of her on display, and my shrine to her grew quickly and naturally into a thing of such beauty that I’d like to share it, but I feel it should be kept private.

After a few months, I found my that my thoughts often turned to The Morrigan. I felt her as strength, autonomy, and ultimate feminine power. She is, after all, regarded by some as the personification of Ireland.

(Rhiannon is a Welsh deity familiar to most because of the Stevie Nicks song. I LOVE Stevie, but she wrote the song because she was inspired by a character in a novel, not the goddess. If you are interested in Rhiannon because of the song, research the goddess. Books are best. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a book just about Rhiannon as I did with The Morrigan. I did find and buy this book and found it eye opening. It has chapters about 13 Celtic and Norse goddesses including Cerridwyn, Brighid, Eostre, Freyja, Aine, Danu, Modron, Hella, Branwen, Maeve, the Valkyries, and Morrighan. If you want to read about the fictional character that inspired Stevie Nicks, you want this book. I found the hardback and paperback in the same used bookstore.)

Okay, now that we have the list of books out of the way, let’s talk Wicca, altars, and 2017. You can bet your buttons that anything with the words “religious freedom” in it no longer applies to us in the U.S.

I’ve been interested in Wicca since I was 12. I’m 44 now. I started my Wicca journey with The Mists of Avalon and The Spiral Dance. Guess I didn’t get the book list out of the way after all. What I learned from The Mists of Avalon was what it means to serve The Goddess. The library copy I read had an index listing The Spiral Dance as source material. Wiccans generally refer to “The Goddess,” “The Triple Goddess,” and, more popularly today, “The Spiral Goddess.”

What if more than one goddess seems to pick you? I believe in individual manifestations of The Goddess. Believe me, if She wants you to see Her as one or more particular deities, She’ll make you see it.

With my shrine to Rhiannon and then The Morrigan opening my door and announcing herself, I was concerned about having shrines to multiple deities, especially deities from different pantheons. This forum discussion helped me tremendously. I set up a separate shrine for The Morrigan. It’s much darker than my shrine to Rhiannon but, as with the construction of Rhiannon’s shrine, it almost seemed to create itself. I honor both of them on holy days and throughout the month, especially on the days/nights of the New Moon, Full Moon, and Waning Moon.

Now, 2017. They’ll use their religious freedom nonsense against us eventually. How do you want to live as a Wiccan, a pagan, a heathen in 2017? If you’re already out, you’re out. If you’re not, you must be knowledgeable about your religion and your REAL religious rights before you come out. Hell, if you’ve been out, you should have the ACLU’s phone number in your phone. Many of us are by nature solitaries and we despise dogma, and lately there’s been too much of that in Wiccan groups (and too much of men running groups and chastising women.) If you don’t want to be in a coven, don’t feel obliged to join one now. But consider a quiet support system. You can find your sisters and brothers on Twitter. You can find me there.

Beware of white supremacist, homophobic “pagans.” They’re out there openly now, particularly if you identify with Norse goddesses and gods.

Blessed be, Sisters and Brothers.

The Goddess Rides Tonight

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Male reindeer shed their antlers during winter. Females don’t. Santa’s reindeer are all female.

Dasher and Dancer and Prancer and Vixen, Comet and Cupid and Donner and Blitzen. Rudolph makes nine, 3X3, three and nine being numbers sacred to the Goddess.

“Of course Santa’s reindeer are female. Only women could drag a fat man in a velvet suit around the world in one night.”

But I’ll get serious now and suggest you read this article, or reread it, for Yule.

https://gathervictoria.com/2014/12/04/doe-a-deer-a-female-deer-the-spirit-of-mother-christmas/

The Soothing Feeling of Tending an Altar

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Tending an altar, for me, is a lot like tending a garden. I actually have two little live plants in matching bud vases on my altar. They’re chrysanthemum sprigs. Somehow they rooted, even though they never get any sun.

When you tend an altar, you remove the burned down candles daily. I keep a tall white jar candle on my altar all the time and replace it each new moon even if it’s only burned down a little. I keep the old ones in case there’s a power outage. I sometimes use votive candles for special things. The best way to get them out of a glass holder is to fill the holder with hot water from the sink (NOT boiling water) and wait 15 or 20 minutes. The candle wax will separate from the holder. If it comes out in a big piece and you can’t get it out of the holder, repeat the hot water so that it softens and you can bend or break it. Let the holder return to room temperature before you use it again.

I make sure my little plants have plenty of water. I empty and refill the little ceramic bowl of water I keep on the altar. I remove the ashes of the incense. It has quickly become a relaxing ritual, tending the altar.

Everyone’s altar should be different. It doesn’t have to look like the standard pagan altar layout you’ll see in a lot of books about Wicca. You can have any goddess image that makes you happy. I don’t have a god image on my altar. Most men frighten me. If you’re a man and you’re reading this and you would never dream of doing anything to harm a woman, I ask you not to be offended and understand that my fear comes from being abused by my father and ex-husband and verbally assaulted by so many man online.

I like a lot of things, a lot of trinkets, a lot of color. My altar is bright and looks like a summer garden. I finally met the Goddess who touches my mind, heart, and soul. I have a gorgeous statue of Her. In Her mythology, She was a queen. When I speak to Her in my mind, I call Her “Great Queen.” She was also the subject of a horrifying lie and abused by Her husband because of it. She bore up under the abuse and was vindicated. That is one reason, I think, that She came to me.

I have paper dolls on my altar (away from the candles.) The only thing I have that isn’t bright and lovely is and old tarnished silver tray that I keep under my incense burner. It belonged to my grandmother. So did the big old tatted doily that I use as an altar cloth. I found a wooden incense burner–at Walmart, of all places–with a gold butterfly on it. Sitting in front of my altar is a lot like sitting on my porch looking at my summer garden.

I have had depression for many years and often have no motivation to do anything, but every day I tend the altar. It’s a small thing, but it’s something, and it makes me feel grounded and connected to something good and beautiful when the world outside is descending into madness.

On the path

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Finally confirming to myself that I am a Wiccan has made me so much happier than I’ve been in a long time. I became interested in Wicca when I was a young teenager, after I read The Mists of Avalon. I wanted to go to Avalon and live among the other girls studying to be priestesses. The library copy that I read almost 20 years ago listed The Spiral Dance as a source of some of the information about pagan religions in ancient Britain. So of course I read that next and I had the same almost giddy feeling that I have now . . . but I was at private school, and my choice of reading material did not go over well with the school. And my mother was not cool with Wicca at the time, so I didn’t feel free. After I graduated from high school, in my twenties, I still didn’t feel free. I couldn’t have a real altar. An altar is important to me. I had to try to observe the holy days in secret. I hid my books about Wicca and paganism with my fantasy novels. The few people who knew about my beliefs mocked them. Every Wiccan has heard the “oh, can you wiggle your nose and turn me into a toad?” thing . . . well, every Wiccan of a certain age.

I got interested in Buddhism in my late 20s and early 30s. I met my ex-husband on a Buddhism forum. After we started living together, it became clear that his idea of Zen Buddhism and my interest in Kwan Yin did not mesh. I got lost. I felt like the mocked teenager again. His family was Christian and I started thinking about my first years of school at Catholic school and how I felt safe there as opposed to home because home was chaos, and I became interested in the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene again. His family accepted that. They never really accepted his Buddhist beliefs. I got a Miraculous Medal and wore it 24/7 the last two years of my marriage. I felt protected. I know now that I was always looking for the Goddess, first in Kwan Yin and then in the two Marys.

The Miraculous Medal, the prayer specific to the medal, and the Hail Mary helped keep me sane while my marriage deteriorated. I still think that my nephew (by marriage) who was born with a normally deadly bowel obstruction recovered due to a miracle. My sister-in-law told us that when the surgeon came out of the operating room after my nephew’s second surgery she said “we didn’t do this. This was a miracle.” Maybe it was. Maybe I was just mistaken about who was responsible for the miracle.

After I moved home, I gradually began to feel . . . unfulfilled. I had no desire to go to church. I talked to my mother. Although she is a Christian, she told me that she no longer had a problem with Wicca. She’s actually interested in Celtic mythology now. She’s interested in the ancient Irish goddesses because our heritage is predominantly Irish. I set up a beautiful altar. I sit outside and watch the leaves fall and the birds and squirrels eating the sunflower seeds I put out and I feel a visceral connection to the earth and the animals and the changing of the seasons. I’m rereading all the books I had to hide so long ago. I mentioned in a post a couple of days ago that a friend got me really interested in Tarot cards. Actually, this post is a lot like the one I wrote a few days ago, but I was so struck with happiness today sitting outside, feeling the chill of autumn finally after a long summer, picking the last of my basil, deciding which plants to try to overwinter inside that I had to write about it again. I don’t expect to ever be part of a group. That’s not my thing. I like talking to other Wiccans online, but other than that, I prefer to be solitary. You can find dogma in Wicca too, and people who insist their way is the only acceptable way.

Most of the people I know are Christians and they’re not the sort to try to push their beliefs on anyone. They respect my beliefs. It’s really wonderful and I’m lucky. And my friends are kind and charitable and have a genuine desire to help others and I respect their beliefs.

My life is still uncertain and stressful. It didn’t magically change when I made the decision this is what I am. But my beliefs help me deal with the problems in my life. I’m starting to look at people and situations differently. In some cases, I look at people with a kinder eye. In other cases, I realize that some people don’t have my best interests at heart and I feel now that I have the fortitude to deal with them instead of being a doormat.

That is what the Goddess gives women. She gives us our self-esteem back. She gives us our power back, if we’ve relinquished it. She gives us a different way to look at the situations in our lives, and we’re able to deal with problems if we can’t solve them.

This has happened to me very fast after a year of agonizing over which path is right for me. It’s like being a teenager again and discovering Wicca but having an adult’s freedom.

It’s like waking up from a half-existence and being fully alive.

Blessed be.

rhiannon-stevie-nicks

Rhiannon by Stevie Nicks-1982

Brigid, the Goddess Who Endured Despite the Church

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I have only two quibbles with this article. In all my research regarding Brigid, I’ve never read anything connecting her to the moon, which is in some ways is a refreshing change from Wiccans that almost dogmatically insist that the Goddess is represented by the moon and the God by the sun.

My other nit-picky point is with “Brighid’s cross” being included in the list of things that represent the pagan goddess; it is my understanding that the cross-like symbol belongs to the non-existent Saint Brigid. I actually feel validated by the fact that, according to this article, the Catholic church de-canonised Brigid.

Not mentioned in this article is her connection to the British goddess Brigantia. The name is simply given as an alternate name for Brigid. I’ve read that Brigid and Brigantia are thought by some to be the same goddess.

Other than the issues I mentioned above, I found this article to be informative and useful to anyone interested in studying Brigid. The title is particularly apt as it emphasizes this goddess’s contradictory nature.

Brigid: Goddess of the Flame and of the Well