Pagan Insights Project – October Round-Up


October has been a very busy month, not only on at TIP, but off-line as well, so definitely still trying to play a bit of catch-up. We”d also like to take this opportunity to send out a bit of love to all those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, and wishing a speedy recovery from any damages or injuries that have been incurred.  ❤ ❤

If you are new to the Pagan Insights Project, we’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you. If you you’ve been us since the start, we’d like to say a big thank you as well. We’ve really enjoyed reading your posts, and are looking forward to seeing further insights from everyone in the month of November.

Again if you are just joining us, please check out the main Pagan Insights Project page (linked above), and be sure to add your blog to the list of those who are participating. We also encourage everyone to leave a comment below, letting us know how you are doing with the project. If there is a particular PIP post from October that you feel is particularly worth sharing, please feel free to link it in comments as well.

Also a reminder, we are always looking for reader submissions for our Sacred Moments posts, so if you have a devotional, prayer, chant, please feel free to send us an email at submissions@theinformedpagan.org This can also include images of your altar or shrine, as it’s decorated for a particular ritual or celebration, or art work as well. If there is a particular TIP you’d like to see, please feel free to let us know. And of course, if you have any questions… just Ask A Pagan… we’re always happy to help!

Have a wonderful November!!

Advertisements

Sexual Orientation and Paganism


What does Paganism say about sexual orientation, if anything?

In a technical sense – Paganism, being an umbrella term that encompasses all non-Abrahamic religions – doesn’t really say anything at all, as each of the paths and religions under that umbrella may (or may not) have their own ways of dealing with the issue.

Having said that though, I think it’s fairly safe to say that in a more general sense many Pagans and their associated religions are in some ways more welcoming, or at least more sensitive to the LGBT community, than many of the more mainstream religions might be. However, that is not to say that you won’t find anti-gay, or even downright homophobic individuals or groups within Paganism as a whole.

Some traditions/paths that do have known stances…

  • If you look at recent events at PantheaCon the last couple years, to the controversy surrounding “women” only rituals and the comments and actions of Z Budapest (founder of Dianic Witchcraft).  This is an ongoing case where it is clear that those who are transgender, are particularly not welcome within certain paths.
  • We often hear about racism within some Heathen groups (though it’s important to note that this is not something that is at all condoned by the wider Heathen community), and along with that often comes homophobic sentiments as well. Interestingly in this particular case, it’s something that is not necessarily supported by the lore, as there are definite cases where the Gods – Þórr and Loki in particular, take on gender-opposite roles. In the Þrymskviða, (Poetic Edda) Þórr dresses up as Freyja in order to retrieve Mjölnir, which the jotnar Þrymr has stolen. In the Gylfaginning (Prose Edda), we learn that Loki is actually a mother. Having changed himself into a female mare in order to save Asgard from losing Freyja and the Sun and Moon, and as a result gives birth to Sleipnir. There is some indication though that it may have been considered “unmanly” for a man to do “women’s” work, however that didn’t stop Óðinn from learning Seidh. The following is an interesting read on the topic in general.
  • Within Wicca specifically, though Gardner himself was known to be extremely homophobic, my understanding is that many covens will welcome those who are LGBT. Something to keep in mind though, is that though one’s sexual preference, when one is not working with one’s coven, is generally up to them – due to the nature of the religion (being a fertility cult and all that entails), within ritual work, it all comes down to the plumbing (so to speak). Men take on the traditional male rolls, women take on the traditional female rolls, regardless of one’s normal sexual preference.
  • There are various groups who are completely inclusive, and clearly welcoming to those of all orientations or gender identities, there is Reclaiming, or Feri, and some Traditional Witchcraft paths – though those are more apt to be gender specific, such as the Minoan Brotherhood, or Dianic.


So in general there are many choices if one is looking for LGBT support within the Pagan community. Of course like any where else in life (at least until we can get to a point where one’s sexual preference/gender identity is no longer an issue), it’s matter of finding place that fits us the best.

Labeling One’s Path


I have read through all of your answers and looked through the site and I thought I’d just go ahead and ask since you give wonderful advice and guidance. I am struggling with an identifiable name for my spirtual path because I feel like I am all over the place, reading everything and overwhelmed. I’ve had people tell me to just follow my intuition, which helps for a while but then I’m back to overwhelmed-ville! I basically follow the season, moon phases, and like to feel connected to nature. Maybe I should say ‘I’m on my own personal spiritual path’ and be done with it. On a side note, most recently, I’ve learned how to pick the good info from the bad, after much reading so that helps me to find better information. (Such as this place…so helpful!)

It’s difficult, because there is often this sense that we need to be able to label something in a couple of words or less, in order to define who we are. It’s one of the reasons why some people cling (with an almost death grip) to the term Wicca, when it’s perfectly clear to all involved that it truly doesn’t really fit what they are practicing in any way, shape or form. Labels can be nice, especially if one is trying to give a general idea of what they are doing, without having to go into a lengthy explanation, however in most cases – who we are, and what we do, doesn’t usually fit into neat, and tidy little packages (no matter how much we might wish that they would).

One of the pitfalls of being Eclectic is the lack of a ready made label or name for one’s path, and because of the above mentioned reasons, it’s seems to be something that we often find ourselves dwelling on. Because most of what we do is so hard to define, I generally stick with basic terms, Eclectic NeoPagan, or just NeoPagan. I hesitate to simply say Pagan, just because that truly doesn’t really say much, other than “hey I’m a member of a non-Abrahamic religion”. However it also depends on who I’m talking to as well, sometimes if a vague answer will do, then Pagan will suffice. If I’m talking to people within the Pagan community (who won’t freak out at the mention of witchcraft), I might even go a bit more specific and say Solitary Witch, or Eclectic Witch.

In the end though, it’s really up to you – if you are comfortable without a specific label, then don’t feel like you need to have one. Though it can help give others a better understanding (if they are knowledgeable on the terminology), labels can also serve to pigeonhole us as well. Too often feel that if we are XYZ… then we have to do whatever XYZ is defined as, rather than feeling like we can expand our practices into other areas as well.

Dream: What Does It Mean?


I have had a dream where I see a boy with three crystals in a triangle the right side white the left purple and the bottom red and when he held them up to the sun they shined down on the earth what could they mean?

We touched a bit on dreams in an earlier post, and I will echo some of that here as well. One thing to keep in mind when it comes to dream interpretation, is that no matter what the dream dictionaries or symbolism books say, at the very heart of it all is…  what do those specific things mean to you?

While there are many generally accepted meanings to certain things, we have to remember that context and our own personal experiences, are key to understanding them. So while one person may dream of being at the beach, and think it is the most beautiful dream in the world – to someone who has an absolute fear of drowning, dreaming of being at the beach might very well be a nightmare to them.

In regards to your specific question – we’ll be completely honest and say that we have absolutely no idea what your dream might mean. Several of us got together and pondered it and nothing immediately jumped out at us. I’ve included links to some general meanings, however I would take this opportunity to ask some of our fellow readers, if you have any insight on this, please feel free to comment below. We would gladly welcome any assistance, as it pains us not to be able to offer even some sort of basic idea.

Potentially relevant as well, is the fact that sometimes, a dream is just a dream – so it could be that there really isn’t any sort of meaning behind it, other than you ate too much spicy food before you went to bed, or something that you saw on TV during the day decided to have a bit of fun with you while you were sleeping.

Some things to ask yourself…

  • Did you recognize the boy in the dream? Was it you, or someone you know, or someone completely random?
  • Do those particular colors mean anything to you?
  • Does the number 3 hold any special significance to you?

Links to basic symbolism…

boy with three crystals in a triangle the right side white the left purple and the bottom red and when he held them up to the sun they shined (or shined) down on the earth

Vows: Dissolving a Handfasting


My ex and I were handfast 4 years ago. The relationship changed this year. I would like to have a handparting to bring closure and move on. My ex says she performed a ceremony that released us from the handfast. I requested a 2 person ceremony, but she does not want to participate in it. The wording in our handfast document does not have the words “for a year and a day or as long as love shall last” . It  has stronger language “that lasts a lifetime”, through all the years, and “all your tomorrows”…

Any advice? She has moved on. I want to move on as well, but feel in limbo without a closure. I want to release her from the handfast with a similar ceremony as the original handfast
Thanks

So… the following is based on the original email that I received. I’ll add a bit more at the bottom, regarding the additional details that were sent as well.

This is probably the number one reason why I advise that any sort of oaths or vows made should be very carefully considered before they are undertaken. Also to be extremely careful with exactly how they are worded, because while certain things may sound romantic, or dedicated and make for a lovely ceremony – the implications are far reaching and we will generally be required to carry out what we’ve pledged. Having to later go back and break our word, or beg the Gods to release us, can definitely get a bit tricky. Even if you do manage to find that release, there will, in many cases still be some lingering energy between the two (or more) parties involved, even if it is diminished.

Obviously having a parting ceremony together would be the most ideal. However as that is not possible, if you can find out from your ex, the exact ritual she used – the next best thing would be for you to follow that in the same way, saying the same words, so that you are both on the exact same page as far as words and deeds. At the very least try to find out the wording she used, for dissolving the union, not that you can’t use your own if absolutely necessary, but it would be a good reinforcement if you are echoing what has already been said.

If you end up having to write your own parting ritual from scratch, be sure to acknowledge the original words that you spoke. You may find it easier to change the nature of the vow – from romantic love to the love of friendship, rather than attempting to break the bond entirely. You can find some good advice for how to structure your own ceremony here, as well as a sample ritual here (though it would obviously need to be modified for solitary use). The key thing is to symbolically part ways – either by cutting or burning the cord that was used in your handfasting (if there was one), or other symbols of your time together. Being sure to release any residual negative feelings (as much as possible), and allow yourself to know that the time has come to move on. Something to keep in mind as well, if any Gods were called on to bless the original handfasting, you will need to petition them in your ritual as well, asking that they release you from any vows made before them. It would likely be a good idea to make sure that you have some sort of offerings for them, to make that part go a little smoother.

Overall, let this serve as a reminder to us all, to always have a care with our words. Even though we may have absolute faith that we can keep such vows at the time that they are made (obviously we wouldn’t consider making them if we didn’t think we could), the truth is that the universe is ever changing, and everyone in it has to change and grow with it (or choose not to as those around us change and grow) – in either case what was true 5 years ago, may not be true today, or even 10 years down the road. So when we do magical workings, especially anything that involves binding or joining, or dedicating ourselves to a person, or a God, or any other entity or spirit – we need to make sure that we aren’t committing ourselves to something that we will later find ourselves in a position of having to back out of. There are reasons why handfastings use the phrase “or a year and a day or as long as love shall last” – it’s the out clause, that keeps one from being in the position of being an oathbreaker.

From the additional details that you provided…

You did mention that there was a “year and a day” intent in your original ceremony… this is really good. While it’s definitely still worth having a parting ceremony, there is a lot less “baggage” than as would be if it had not contained that intention. Basically even with the other stronger wording that you mentioned originally, by adding in the renewal clause (as it were), you both are free to not exercise your option to renew – which is what has occurred. So in this case rather than having to make a high pressured “sales pitch” to the universe and/or Gods in hopes they will release you from a seemingly unbreakable bond – it’s more a matter of just formally stating your intent to end the relationship, working through and letting go of any harsh feelings, and allowing yourself to look positively to the future.