PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
PantheaCon 2015 was the medicine the doctor ordered. I keep hearing from con-goers about the life affirming rituals and community bonding that took place over the long weekend. I had a similar experience in which I feel like I grew in so many ways as I saw our community grow right before my very eyes.
I went to PantheaCon this past weekend. PantheaCon is a real, honest to goodness gathering of all sorts of folks that identify in some way as Pagan. It's made up of vendors and presenters and ritualists and authors and seekers and party people and dabblers and long, long time practitioners.
There were many moments throughout the conference that just made me proud of being a Pagan and more than a few moments where I was in complete awe of our community at large. As I was writing this piece, I noticed that I tend not to write about other people in the Pagan community, but rather about my experiences as a Pagan. So this is a bit of a departure for me.
So, last week I skipped my Pagan Experience post. Partly because I was in full production mode over at FiberWytch (still am, in fact), which tends to make me feel overwhelmed; as I still work at an outside job part time, and I have invisible illnesses, multitasking can be a challenge. I also have a tendency to become nonverbal when working full steam ahead on crafting projects. But if I’m going to be honest, a bigger reason I skipped it was that my reaction on reading the prompt was more or less “meh.” Because as a godspouse and spirit worker, I’m a spirit-centered pagan, not an earth-centered one. Or so I told myself.
Well then. A day or two later (while I was in the shower, as it happens), Odin set me straight on this notion. “Not earth-centered, is it? What about the Making? What about all of the plant oils and herbs you work with? Those plant spirits have a home, you know, and it isn’t out in the ether somewhere.”
The New Moon this month occurs on Wednesday, February 18th, at 3:47 pm (PST) on the cusp of Aquarius and Pisces (at 29°Aquarius 59.9' to be exact!) I talked about Aquarius in my last month’s New Moon post, so this month, although technically the New Moon is in the last gasps of Aquarius, I want to focus on Pisces. This is also my last in a year long series of New Moon blog posts which started with Aries, and naturally, should conclude with the last sign of the zodiac, Pisces, bringing us full circle.
Pisces is a Mutable Water sign, meaning that it is a threshold sign that bridges one season into the next – in this case winter giving way to spring in the Northern hemisphere. It also resonates with the emotional and subjective element of Water. Pisces is the Shapeshifter, the compassionate one, and sometimes, the escape artist. It is a sign that is tuned in to the intuitive realm, and often has psychic flashes and uncanny ways of knowing. As the last sign of the zodiac, Pisces often has a sense of somehow having been down that road before. Pisces' compassion comes from knowing what it's like to walk in someone elses shoes. Neptune rules this Water sign, and resonates with themes of the Rescuer/Victim archetype. Neptune symbolizes our urge to merge, and sometimes those with Pisces strong in their chart have difficulty with boundaries. Pisces must learn the art of not giving away the Self, at expense of the Other. Under the guise of being altruistic, giving, and endlessly in service, there is a darker current that can run through the shadow of this sign, and sometimes there are threads of the martyr sewn into Pisces' apparent selflessness. Some individuals with this sign or Neptune aspecting a personal planet or angle, identify with the archetype of the Saviour to the point where it is unhealthy, and they are in fact, giving for the glory of being the Redeemer. This is a tricky one, and is often unconscious, and can show up as co dependence to the outside observer. Pisces' task is to not become too identified with either the Redeemer or Victim end of the spectrum, and instead find a mindful balance of compassion for others and self care.
What does it mean to bless something? To honour your blessings? How can we feel truly blessed?
Most of us only come across the term “blessing” after someone has sneezed, but for me as a Druid it is an integral part of my religion. Alongside “prayer” however, the word can evoke memories of perhaps anti-pagan establishment. If we can set aside these connotations and simply see the word for what it is, we can fill our lives with a wonder and enchantment, or perhaps re-enchantment that can otherwise escape us in today’s modern, secularised world.
So what is a blessing? A blessing is when we awaken, when we fully come to the here and now and see the wonder of life. It is to be absolutely awake and aware of who we are, where we are, and how we work in the flows, rhythms and cycles of life. It is being aware of the gods and ancestors, of how each part is played. When we have awoken to this reality, life may flow easier, we may move through our days with more grace and compassion.
Being aware of our many blessings goes hand in hand with gratitude. If we give thanks for the blessing of lengthening sunlight, we awaken ourselves to the solar cycle of spring and the light half of the year. The sun gives freely of her gift, and this gift is a true blessing. When we give freely, when we are true to our selves and working for the greater good of the world, we too are blessing the world. The rain that brings the flowers is a blessing. The person who helped us out of a dark place is a blessing. A piece of music that sings to our soul is a blessing.
Being aware of these blessings takes us outside of ourselves, allowing room for a greater perspective that our narrow perception of the world can override. We have to shut off the internal monologue to be able to be aware of a blessing, to give and receive blessings with an open heart.
A mudra that links Star Trek, Orthodox Jewish liturgy, and the god of witches.
The “Vulcan salute” premiered in 1967 during Star Trek's second season. Series creator Gene Roddenberry felt that the words of the newly-invented Vulcan greeting needed some sort of physical gesture to go with them. Actor Leonard Nimoy held up his hand, palm facing out, thumb extended, fingers divided between the second and third fingers. In that moment, a pop-culture icon was born. Live long and prosper, folks.
Nimoy knew the gesture from his childhood. Six times a year in the Orthodox synagogue that his grandfather took him to, the kohanim—men from priestly families—would face the congregation, raise both hands before their faces making the same hand-sign, and pronounce the ancient Threefold Blessing: